Monday, April 26, 2010

A Great Weekend!

Wow! It has only been a couple of days since I last posted, but many wonderful things have happened!

Joe's birthday was yesterday. Joey had to work, but came down from Flagstaff for Friday and Saturday so we could celebrate together. Friday night, we all went to Michael's lacrosse game. They lost by one point, but played really well. Michael had a great shot on goal, but it hit off the goal post! Darn! I know I post a lot of lacrosse pictures, but I just love them, the sport, and of course, Michael!

Then, after the game, we all went out for dinner at Fuddruckers. We're into good food with very little wait right now. We sat in the Elvis Presley corner booth and just had a great time, talking and laughing and being with each other. Home to open Joe's present. We got him a poster of a Detroit billboard that has a picture of a Corvette on it and says, "They don't write songs about Volvos."

It was a great night! On Saturday, we decided to do spur of the moment family photos since we had everyone here. A friend who works with Joe, Veronica, does photography as a hobby. He called her and she agreed with very little notice to meet us and took them for us. Thank you, Veronica! You're awesome! I can't wait to see how they came out! When we got home, Joey and Joe, put his toy chest together. It is beautiful!

Saturday evening, Michael had his senior prom. He looked so handsome in his tuxedo and his date, Angela, looked like an angel in her dress. Michael spent a lot of time working with Joe to restore their 66 Corvette. He used it for prom. Pretty cool!

Yesterday was Joe's actual birthday and we drove up to Boyce Thompson Arboretum for the day. The weather was beautiful, the flowers were all in bloom, and we had a wonderful time together!

See, I told you it was a great weekend! But wait! There's more! My nephew, Brian, competes on the crew team for Moorestown High School in New Jersey. On Saturday, they competed in a tournament with somewhere between 40 and 50 other schools. Their school was the only public school competing. They came in 3rd! Then, on Sunday, they competed in a second tournament made up of public school teams and they won gold! Because Pam has been spending so much time out here with me, this weekend was the first time she got to see him compete. I am so happy for and proud of Brian! He is an awesome young man! And, I am so glad Pam was there to cheer him on!

This is a picture of Brian and his team (he is the third from the right) recieving their medal on Saturday. I tried to upload two other pics, one of him with Pam and one of him rowing that Pam emailed to me, but for some reason can't get them to do it. If I figure out how, I'll put them in my next post.

And, finally, Pam is arriving late this afternoon! We go back down to Tucson on Thursday for chemo and to see Dr. Livingston and she wanted to be here for that. We are also treasuring our time together with my health status so precarious right now. I finish up my radiation treatments on Wednesday and I'm so hoping I'm able to get a trip in to visit her family and Joe's family in NJ. We'll see. I haven't noticed any improvement since the last chemo. It will be interesting to hear what Dr. Livingston thinks.

Well, this was a long post, but there was a lot of good news to share.

Love you all!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Sometimes a gal just can't get a break!

I woke up Monday quite a bit shorter of breath than I have been. I thought maybe it had something to do with stopping my steroids, so tried to wait it out, but was no better by Tuesday. One chest CT scan later and I now officially have a pulmonary embolism. I'm starting to believe Janaya and some of my friends who have been trying to convince me there are real situations that no other words but a certain one that fits! UGH!!!! (No that's not the word, I still don't say it, but I have thought it a time or two recently!) I've researched and I guess it's not that rare of a thing to develop an embolism between being on chemo and steroids and oh yeah, having cancer. The good thing is they don't put you in the hospital anymore for it as long as you're stable. Joe gives me a shot of blood thinner each morning and evening and that's it! Hopefully, over the next few days, the clot will start to dissolve and I'll be able to breath easier again.

Then, to top that news off, I bit into a soft hamburger (organic, grass fed beef) for dinner tonight and a corner of my back cap broke off my tooth! See what I mean about getting a break? Call into the dentist first thing tomorrow. :>(

On the good news front, Michael's team won their lacrosse game last night and I was feeling well enough to go and watch him play. It was a nail biter, but they won 12 to 11. His team still has a small chance of making the playoffs this year. It would be the first time in five years.

Joey called today and is going to come down on Friday. Michael has a game and then we're all going to go out to dinner to celebrate Joe's birthday which is Sunday.

I drove over to ASU today to have lunch with Janaya during her break. Poor thing was in shorts and freezing, so we went to the bookstore and bought her a pair of sweats.

Pam arrives again on Monday!

And, a bulb that Joe's mom sent out to me for Christmas two years ago bloomed for the first time this week and as you'll see below, the blooms are gorgeous!

So, maybe that word isn't warranted after all. Setbacks keep coming at me non-stop, but there is a lot to celebrate, too!

Love you all!

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Fun Surprise

Hi, everyone. Joe and I had a great weekend this weekend. I spent most of Saturday resting after getting my new port and chemo on Friday. I was still tired Sunday, but feeling pretty good. I ran some errands with Joe. I stayed in the car, but it was nice to just spend time with him. That is one thing this disease is teaching me. Sometimes (most times) it is just the nice, normal, ordinary times spent with the people you love that are the most important and meaningful.

Then, in the afternoon, we rode out to the Chandler Airport. Joe loves airplanes and likes any excuse to go out and watch them land and take off. Before I was sick, one of our favorite things to do was ride our bikes out to the airport for breakfast and watch the planes. If you haven't been out there for breakfast, go. It's fabulous!

Well, yesterday, my good friend, Carol, had told us that the B-17 Bomber, Sentimental Journey, was going to be at the airport and that because her son was payload specialist, she was going to get to fly in it from Chandler to Falcon Field in Mesa. She was so excited! She is the girl equivalent of Joe when it comes to being enraptured with planes and flight! Joe and I decided it would be fun to go see the plane and that we could take pictures of it taking off for Carol, too. When we got there, we took the tour of the plane and then walked across the tarmac to talk with Carol. Unbeknownst to us, while we were touring the plane, she had talked with her son and found out that there was an extra seat on the flight and Joe could have it if he wanted. If he wanted?!! Are you kidding me?!! He was so excited. He and Carol were like two little kids at Disneyland! I kept my feet firmly on the ground, where they like to be, and took pictures, now of both of them taking off.

It was a great day!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

First Course of New Chemo Completed

Hi, everyone. Sorry I have not updated the blog in a bit. I've been wrestling with all the new emotions that have come with my diagnosis and just wasn't sure what to write.

Joe and I went up to Tuscon yesterday. I got a new port put in and I recieved the second dose of my new chemo regimen. I now have two weeks off before I go back. Right now, we're keeping all body parts crossed, hoping the cancer will respond to the chemo. The chemo makes me shaky and tired, but overall it is pretty tolerable. The last couple of days between last week's treatment and this week's I actually felt almost normal!

I found a cancer support site called Inspire where there are many women, some with the same type of breast cancer that I have, who have fought it for a long time. I found their stories encouraging.

My family has been amazing! Pam was here until Wednesday and was my rock. She just listened to me and supported me and loved me through all kinds of emotions this week. Having her for my sister will always be one of the greatest gifts I've had in my life.

Joe and I were totally overwhelmed at first and were feeling pretty hopeless. We have had to discuss and make plans for a worst case scenario - not easy, but we've done it and now that we have, it feels like we can move past it and focus on the fight ahead. I love my family and my life way too much to give in to this disease easily. I know so much of it is out of my hands, but I am going to go at it with all the fight and spirit I've got.

The kids are so inspiring to me. They have been so strong and loving and supportive. No matter what course this disease takes, no one can ever take away the gift I've been given of seeing them grow up into such wonderful young adults. The three of us picked out toy chests and ordered one for each of them. I will be placing books in each of them to share with their own children some day. Reading together with them as they grew up was always my favorite part of the day. This will be a way of passing that on.

I am enjoying the beautiful weather. Joe bought me a chaise lounge chair and a big red market umbrella and put them out on the patio so I can sit and enjoy the weather, rest, or read. Joey came down for two days. He, Janaya, and I spent Thursday at As You Wish. He had asked me to make him a picture frame. We had a great day together. Michael is going to prom next weekend and I was able to make it out to the mall to help him pick out his tux. So, it feels like we are reaching a new "normal" around here and it feels good.

Just one picture today. Janaya and Andrew (who we love for being her rock through this) stopped by on their way to a wedding. Andrew wasn't dressed yet, he is in the wedding party, but here is a picture of Janaya. She is just gorgeous, inside and out!

Love you all tons!

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Good Day!

Well, I have survived the first treatment of my new chemo regimen in pretty good order. Very mild nausea and no vomitting. Based on the prechemo teaching and the number of antinausea med prescriptions they sent me home with yesterday, I'm very pleasantly surprised!

One bad side effect is they gave me over three liters of fluid during the process (I guess it's important to keep your kidney's flushed with this chemo). I have blown up like the Michellan Man! My left arm and leg are three times as big as my right! Unsightly and uncomfortable! Hopefully, some of it will have gone down by tomorrow.

Great news! We got Joey a car! Now, he will be able to get back and forth from Flagstaff around his work schedule much easier. It is a four-door Nissan Sentra and very nice. My first car was a Sentra. It was a great car and I loved it. I think he is in love with his already, too, based on the smile on his face. You can also see how swollen my face is!

It has been great having Joey home this week. He fills the house with his sunny spirit. He works as a cook up in Flagstaff and has been cooking us wonderful dinners each night. It's made for nice evenings around the dinner table. It's also been nice that he's been able to go to a couple of Michael's lacrosse games while he's been here and cheer him on.

Enjoyed the weather today. I actually got out on my bike for a couple of miles. I thought I'd just do a short little stint, but once I got on, it felt great. For some reason right now, riding my bike is easier on my breathing than walking, though I did do a little of that, too.

Well, off to bed for the night. Just touching base with everyone.

Love you all!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Change in Focus

Hi, everyone. Sorry for the lag in updates. It's been a very overwhelming week and I've just needed some time to get my mind and emotions wrapped around all the news I have received. As I noted in my last post, the cancer has spread to my bones and a spot on my spinal cord. Dr. Livingston started me on monthly Zometa to help with the bones and I've started radiation treatments to the spot on my spinal cord. I am on treatment 7 out of 20.

Since the tests that showed these results, I had a chest CAT scan that shows some cancer in my lungs and possibly in the space surrounding my lungs, and a spot on my spleen. I don't know about anywhere else because I think that is all they were able to see on this particular scan.

The scan also showed quite a bit of fluid around my lungs and that is partly why I have been having so much trouble breathing. They removed 1200cc of fluid from my left pleural space yesterday and 1100 cc from my right pleural space today. Already, my breathing is somewhat better.

So, we are really truly in fight mode right now, not for a cure, but for a possible remission period and time. Initially, Dr. Livingston was hesitant to treat me concurrently with chemo while recieving my radiation treatments, fearing permanent damage to the spinal cord. Dr. Tannehill, my radiation oncologist was out of town until last night, but got right in touch with me and Dr. Livinston last evening when he got back and we've been able to come up with a plan to start chemo that should be safe tomorrow. I will be going up to Tucson early tomorrow to get started.

It is a very scary time for me right now, but it does feel good to have a plan in place. I'm realistic about my prognosis, but also have hope that some people do attain fairly decent periods of remission. It is all going to depend on how my cancer reacts to the chemo. So far, it has been pretty darn resistant and aggressive.

So, my plan is to continue to use my blog to keep people updated with what is going on medically with me, but to also put the focus on the wonderful things I am finding to celebrate in each day. And, in spite of all the bad news over this last week, there has been plenty to celebrate, too.

Pam is here. She went up to Flagstaff Sunday morning to bring Joey down for a visit. He has to go back up on Saturday to return to work, but it has been wonderful spending time with him. He and Joe are going to look at a car this evening, so that he has a way to get back and forth from Flagstaff without worrying about the bus schedule. This will also help him commute between his job and classes at the community college this fall. He looks great and is such a happy spirit!

Janaya and Andrew came over for Easter breakfast on the patio. We made chocolate chip pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream on top! YUMM!

The weather has been beautiful and I've been spending a lot of time outdoors just enjoying it. I put in new planters at the front entrance and they look really pretty.

And, I actually was able to get on my bike and ride a mile around my neighborhood yesterday. It feels good to be able to do normal things like that.

Michael has decided that spending $12 for a haircut is way overpriced and so enlisted my help the other night in a home do. When Joey arrived from Flagstaff on Sunday, he had done his own, too! I will have to get a picture of them together. They look so much alike!

Easter Morning Pictures

Enjoying the spring weather spending time outdoors planting.

Well, that is it for now. Probably no update tomorrow. This new chemo can be a bit rough and they told me to plan on an eight hour day in Tucson. I have been feeling all of the love and support coming my way and as always it sustains me.

Love you all!