Writings of a teachermom, choosing to stay home with her kids, while loathing all domestic responsibilities! In late Aug. 2008, I was diagnosed with Triple Negative breast cancer. After surgery, chemo and radiation, I was given theall clear. However, in the late summer of 2008, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which metasticized to other areas.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Not a costume...really

Yesterday, Max's preschool had a Halloween party. Since my mom and Sara have been doing the pickup and drop-off lately, none of the parents know me, nor do they know that I have cancer.

Because Max wanted me to (not because it's Halloween), I wore the pink wig to drop Max off. One parent who was walking out with me asked, "Are you Britney Spears?"

"Um, no," I said somewhat unsure of how I should respond.

"Well, didn't she wear a wig like that when she shaved her head?"

Right then, I wish I would have totally freaked her out by pulling off my wig and then saying, "Well, I guess I am Britney!" to reveal my bald noggin.

I didn't though. Instead, I just said that I wasn't sure, and continued on to my car.

That would have been a good one though.

And as I sit here tonight giving out candy, with a very spooky set-up outside, I'm tempted to really scare those little kiddos by answering the door bald.

I wonder how many would run off screaming then!

Happy Halloween!

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Blues

Yesterday I had to do some shopping…at the Mall of America. If you don’t live in Minnesota, the thought of going to the mall sounds exciting. If you live here, you often dread it. It’s just so big. And walking, and walking, and walking is not what I’m really in the mood for lately.

But my mother-in-law is getting married at the end of next week, and we’re flying to Detroit for the wedding, so I needed to get a dress.

These were my requirements.

It needed to be dressy enough for a wedding.
It needed to cover my mastectomy scar.
It needed to cover my porto-cath that sticks out about half an inch.
And it needed to be either light blue, cream or navy blue. (the wedding colors)

Well, I could handle the first three requirements, but the fourth one was quite tricky. Apparently blue is not the color for winter…a lot of magenta, but not much blue.

I finally found a dress at Express, but it’s more of a teal, than a navy. But after hitting every corner department store at the mall, trying on almost every navy dress that looked presentable, I just didn’t have the energy to search anymore.

So a version of blue it will have to be…sorry Ma.


On a totally different note…

Today when I was getting out of the shower, Cameron came into the bathroom and out of habit said, “Mom, when you’re done drying your hair, will you come downstairs and get me breakfast?”

I gave him a puzzled look with my bald head directly in his view.

“Ooops,” he grinned sheepishly. “I forgot that you got your head shaved.”

It was quite funny.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

You've Got Mail

I’ve had some really great care packages lately.

My friend Lauren from Utah, who actually wins races, sent me a hot pink running skirt that I’ve been wanting forever. She wants me to wear it to chemo…but my legs are not that pretty, and I think she forgot about Minnesota temps in the fall. It’s definitely going to be my inspiration to get on my treadmill this week.

My friend Lanette from Pennsylvania, sent me the Cari's Crusaders t-shirts for my family, a great pink tee that says "Conquer" across the front and an Encouragement and Praise CD that she made beginning with the absolutely appropriate song India Arie song "I am Not My Hair."

My Aunt Patricia, who is battling cancer herself, sent me a breakfast in bed tray, complete with all the fixings. Yesterday Cameron made me get back into bed after being up for a while so that he and my mom could serve me the yummy pancakes and syrup.

My Aunt Sally sent me dozens of soft Philly pretzels. Now if you’re not from the East Coast, you don’t know what you’re missing. These are certainly not for the Atkins Diet consumer, but they’re the perfect post-chemo food. And Ella can munch on them without choking.

Finally, my Aunt Nancy sent a Halloween package for the kids. This box contained snacks, coloring books, puzzles and one lovely fairy costume for Ella. For Ella I say. But guess who has claimed the costume as his own!

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Feeling Better

Nothing like a little church to get me out of my funk.

I wish every day was Sunday!


Saturday, October 27, 2007

A picture...sorta

I’m not sure why this hair thing is bothering me so much. Yesterday it took all my might not to just break down and cry all night. Part of it was just plain fatigue from the chemo. And I think that chemo does stuff to you emotionally as well. But with the hair gone, it’s like all of this is more real…..as if a huge scar across my chest wouldn’t be enough, right?

It’s like now when I look in the mirror, I see all those sick people surrounding me at the chemo place. I just look old and sick…and I feel that way, too. Plus, my smooth head seems to be emphasizing the “fine lines” on my face. Now what’s up with that?????

I’ll be okay. Just need some time to get used to it I guess. I certainly realize that it is temporary. And it’s not the end of the world.

Last night I went to a little Halloween party my neighborhood was having. I wore the pink wig Max chose. One of Cameron’s friends told me he liked my hair and asked if I colored it that way. I explained to him that it’s a wig and that I don’t have hair under it. He was all smiles, “Really?” He could hardly control his excitement.

Later that night the little boy’s mom called me and told me that her son said he wants her to have cancer because he wants her to have pink hair like me!

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Thursday, October 25, 2007


The deed is done.

My hair has been shaved.

And that's all I can write right now.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My hairlairious helper

The other day Cameron wanted me to read him my blog that I was working on. Then he asked if he could write something to put on my blog. It took him awhile because not only did he have to figure out what he wanted to say, but he had to figure out how to spell everything, then find the letters on the keyboard, and then correct his spelling. (Plus he had a million distractions with his brother and sister, the TV, homework, playing with friends, arguing with me, etc.).

This is what Cameron wants to say about his mom’s cancer. I want to help her pull out her hair out. We are going to have to make her food. She already had chemotherapy. I want Mom to feel better. I am sad about it.

What a sweetheart he has been lately. Today he wore his "Cari's Crusaders" shirt that my friend Lanette sent him, and during his freetime at school, he made me a card.

Below are some pictures of him pulling my hair out...because he thinks it's quite funny. This was two days ago. Yesterday I had my 2nd round of chemotherapy (1/4 done). Now when I run my fingers through my hair, dozens of strands fall out each time. The shower is just a mess. I'm getting it cut tomorrow afternoon.

You can still order popcorn to support Cameron's scout troop. Please go to www.orderpopcorn.com and input TEJTEWX when it asks for an Order Key. The chocolate carmel popcorn is to die for!

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Have pencil..will scribble

Along with being a talker, my Ella is a little writer!

She picks up a crayon or pencil and without any instruction, has actually begun to hold the writing utensil properly. (Max can’t even do this!) Sometimes she just grabs it with her fist, but then independently adjusts it to the correct form.

Then she proceeds to write all in her coloring book, on the pictures in the newspaper, on the cover of cards I need to send, and her latest…on the faces of my niece Chelsea and her boyfriend, posing as a beautiful couple for their Homecoming Dance. (Sorry Chelsea).

I definitely need to raise up the markers, for fear that my walls will be next.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Strand by strand

So far the fallout has been like this:

On Saturday, I ran my fingers through my hair, tugging a little, and a couple strands came out. Then every time I did this, a few more strands came out.

On Sunday, running my fingers through my hair, without even tugging, caused strands to fall out. It’s not a whole bunch, usually about 3 or 4, sometimes more. Cameron actually thought it was funny and asked if he could pull some out for me.

Today, when in the shower, several strands continually came out, enough where I had to constantly ball it up to put it in the trash for fear that it would eventually clog up the drain.

It still looks the same (I think).

My husband asked me if I wanted it to fall out…probably since I keep talking about it to him. And the answer is of course not. But in reality, it’s going to happen, and I hate to have things linger. I just want to get it over with I guess.

I figure I will make it through this week, and then on Saturday make an appointment with my wig consultant to have my hair cut off and my wig styled. I’ll probably bring all the kids so they can see what’s going on, and not be too freaked with my bald head (although I don’t think Max will sit and watch). And Cameron will finally get his own little mohawk he’s been begging for forever.

By the way, at his own request, Cameron started a blog entry tonight about my cancer. He'll finish it tomorrow and I'll post it then. Should be interesting.

Also, if you'd like to order some popcorn to support Cameron's scout troop, please go to www.orderpopcorn.com and input TEJTEWX when it asks for an Order Key. The chocolate carmel popcorn is to die for!

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

I'm losing it.

The fallout has begun.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

A good time

Cameron had off from school on Thursday and Friday, so Melvin took off work on Friday and is not on call Saturday or Sunday. We have deemed this weekend to be "Family Fun Weekend."

The kids decided that our family fun would begin on Friday at 5:30 AM, when Ella trotted into the boys room to wake them up...then waking me up.

After a very. long. morning. of puzzles, castles, TV and some flinging hard toys at each other mixed with kicking each other, then some time outs in bedrooms, Daddy finally woke up around 10:30, after spending all night at the hospital.

We settled into lunch and a game of Monopoly. Cameron rendered us bankrupt!

After some much needed naps all around, we headed to Block E in Minneapolis for some dinner, bowling and arcade games.

My mom used to be in a bowling league when I was a little girl, but said she couldn't remember when was the last time she bowled.

Still got it baby!

Cameron getting ready to bounce his ball off the bumpers.

Max getting a little help from Daddy.

Ella waiting her turn.

The winning form!

It is FINALLY supposed to stop raining today. Which means, along with probably the rest of the Twin Cities, we might head to the apple orchard (the one with the winery attached of course). The Family Fun continues!

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

The truth is...

I’m afraid my blog might be unintentionally misleading. Everyone keeps commenting on my strength and good spirits. Well, ask any adult who lives with me, my spirits have not been very high lately.

It started with this cold that I caught about 2 weeks ago. Then I had chemo, so the fatigue, nausea and cold continued. This week the nausea subsided some, but the fatigue and cold are lingering, and actually the cold is getting stronger, with this very annoying and somewhat painful cough. Then the thought of chemo starting again is just bringing me down.

Honestly, if it wasn’t for my kids literally pushing me out of bed each morning, I could see myself spending the entire day under my down comforter, being the opposite of strong.

I don’t dwell on it in my blog because what am I supposed to do, write how crappy I feel everyday? (And I have some relatives who would be sick with worry and concern).

So I try to go along with the daily routine..with a ton of help from my mom and Sara. And I am trying to spend time with my kids and doing fun things with them, but it takes all my energy to do so. And when I have the opportunity to hang out with friends or with my husband, then my spirits are usually up.

I just don’t want to be put up on some pedestal, but I don’t want to be pitied either. It is what it is. And we’re all just getting through this. Really, I'm just fine.

Just wanted to be honest.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It'll just hurt for a second.

Sara and I took all three kids to get their flu shots today.

All three of them were screaming their heads off BEFORE they were even given their shots.

What a fun afternoon!

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hair today...gone tomorrow?????

I haven’t lost my hair…yet. They say it usually happens sometime between day 10 and 14. Day 10 is tomorrow. They say you feel some tingling in your head, or aching like a pony-tail headache, when the hair fall-out first starts. And for some it’s very gradual, others it’s in chunks. Every time I feel any sensation in my head lately I grab a hold of hair to see if it comes out. So far, nothing….which is good…and not good. Because I haven’t had my hair colored since July, and it is long overdue. This two-tone look is not very flattering. But I wasn’t going to spend over a hundred bucks for something that was only going to last a month before it disappeared!

Anyhow, I decided to make a list of all the good things about being bald BEFORE the deed actually happens. Because I think when it does happen, I’ll be too freaked to find anything positive.

1. I get to wear a bunch of cool scarves that my Martha Stewartesque friend Angela made for me.

2. I can literally jump in the shower and be ready in 15 minutes…like my husband does every morning! (He’s not bald…but he doesn’t have all the maintenance like I do).

3. I’ll save money on getting my hair colored and cut…although if you knew how much good wigs cost, you’d know that such money has already been accounted for.

4. Hasn’t every woman ever wondered what she’d look like bald? Now I get that chance.

5. When all is said and done, I’ll actually get to see what my real hair color is when it grows back in (although this might not be a good thing).

6. I won’t have to purchase a Halloween costume! Let’s see, what could I be…that chic from the movie Alien, that monster from The Adamms Family, an Egg...oh wait, I could be Britney Spears!

7. People will be able to tell that I have cancer and might make me some brownies…ala Desperate Housewives style…I could use some of those!

8. I won’t be having any bad hair days!

Okay, that’s all I can think of right now. Any others to smother all the negative ones I’ll be feeling each day?

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Obviously not very toned.

My little Max can be quite the charmer. Those eyes and dimples will melt you. And he is forever bringing me flowers that he picks (usually dandelions). But he also says some really sweet things that can turn you to jello.

Whenever I cook something he really likes he goes on and on about how DELICIOUS the food is. If I wear a dress he'll look at me, smile really big and say, "You look like a princess. You look like cute!" It makes up for all those times he completely ignores any instructions I give him and continues with whatever task he is choosing at the moment (like packing a lunch box with 6 different snacks).

But yesterday he was in my room when I was getting dressed. He touched my butt and said, "This looks fluffy!"

Okay, maybe he needs to work a little more on those charming skills...especially before he starts dating.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Wonderful Race...Wonderful Friends

I have some really good friends that I live far away from.
My best friend Lanette flew out here a couple weekends ago squeezing in a brief visit after she heard of my diagnosis. It was so nice to see her, even if it was for just a day and a half.
This past weekend, even though she was back at home on the East Coast, she did something else very special. She organized a team to run/walk the Women's 5K Classic Incorporated, which is a race for women's cancer awareness. About 8 or 9 people ran/walked in honor of me, including my sister Dana, my friend Lanette, her sister Jaye, her nieces Nia and Keiko, her cousin Gayle, and some other friends and family members..a couple people I don't even know!

I truly felt special and honored. Especially since they made shirts that said "Cari's Crusaders" that had a picture of me and my 3 kids. And although I was halfway across the country, Lanette kept me updated throughout the race, e-mailing me pictures with her iPhone. I felt like I was actually there, as Lanette captured all the silly stuff that would interest me.

The Start...awesome balloons

The very short bathroom lines...at an all girls' race...unthinkable!

The very cool uniforms of another team named Martini Mamas. I want those metallic tights and pink running skirts!

Everyone waiting to begin.
Part of the course...how beautiful!The Divas...Gayle and Keiko...looking fabulous as always.
Thanks so much Lanette. You are truly the best friend a girl can have...even 1000 miles away!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Conference on Cameron

Yesterday I had a conference with Cameron's teacher. I was almost late because the boy forgot to get off at his bus stop...which is directly in front of our house! So I literally was chasing down the bus with my car. Apparently he was talking to a friend who gets off at another stop, so he just forgot about his own stop. Totally does NOT surprise me!

Nor did this surprise his teacher, as we both laughed at his absent mindedness. She said he's super smart, works really hard, but can be somewhat of an airhead sometimes. To which I responded that he gets that from me. She said he'll come over for reading group sometimes with nothing..no book, no supplies, nothing. Then she'll just sorta ask him if he forgot something, and then he remembers that he actually might need a book for reading group. She said that he's very well-liked, a real sweet heart and very polite. She also said that he's the best writer in the class. Now seeing that I'm a writing teacher, I beamed at that bit of information. I guess all that journaling I forced him to do this summer actually paid off.

Overall the conference was a success. Although I'd still like to see more advanced work being done for the kids who can handle it, I am pleased that his teacher seems to be organized and I certainly see much progress in Cameron's reading this year. She also told me that he has journaled about me having cancer. It will be interesting to see what he writes when I lose my hair. I bet he'll have a blast drawing a picture to go with his text.

Chemo Update: Still feeling rather nauseous and tired throughout the day, with a slightly elevated temperature....just high enough to make you not want to do anything, but not high enough to make you want to sit in the house all day either. Hopefully this will have worn off by tomorrow. When people ask me how it feels, I tell them it feels like your first trimester of pregnancy. You just feel like crap. But I am fortunate, because of the advancement in medicine, I'm not barfing my guts out like you used to see in movies or read about in books when a character had chemo. I just keep reminding myself that.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Like a Mack Truck

Can someone please explain to me why my son seems to think that with three adults in the household, I am the only one who can make him his instant oatmeal breakfast? And at 6 AM?

I finally made him wait until about 6:30, when I had had enough of his whining in hunger, and I managed to crawl out of bed and get him his grub. By then my mom and husband were up, and thankfully they sent me back to bed.

Obviously I was feeling my chemo today.

I slept in for a couple more hours before I made my way downstairs just in time to see my mom take Cameron out to the bus, while the other two hung around inside.

A couple hours later I crashed once again, for about an hour or so, waking up very hungry. After some food I decided that I needed to get out of the house and at least walk. Well, I ended up running/walking for about a half hour, and I felt really good. But after my shower I felt weak again.

After finding a thermometer that I was pretty sure hadn’t made its way up any of my kids’ butts, I took my temp. It registered 99.5…so slightly higher than normal, but nothing that a little Tylenol couldn’t cure (100.5 is the temp I’m supposed to call about).

The rest of the night I felt pretty tired and weak. Yeah, I’d say chemo has hit. But this fatigue should dissipate in a couple days.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Yeah, I do have kids.

Glancing through my previous posts, I noticed they were all about my cancer, and nothing really about my kiddos. So here’s an update:

Ella, despite her adorable locks, cutie pie smile, and melodic singing voice, she is quite the force to be reckoned with! When she is angry…which is over a dozen times a day, whenever she doesn’t get exactly what she wants…just watch out! She throws whatever is in sight, including plates of food and cups of milk, she slams doors, she throws herself on the floor and slams herself into walls and couches. All with these huge grunts of anger. Melvin said she has his temper. So it was quite appropriate then what happened when she wanted a yogurt she saw on the counter, even though she had just had one, and Melvin pushed them aside and walked away. That little girl saw him do this, yelled out No! and literally ran after him and bit his leg!

On a more positive note, the girl counts things all the time, and can count to ten independently. I think it started with me doing 1-2-3 behavior count ever since she could hear! She also likes to sing. Anytime she hears music, she picks up the tune rather quickly and starts doing her own little version. She also is a motor mouth. She'll jibber-jabber for a full minute, very intent on getting some information across, and I'll have no clue what she's saying, except for a name here or there. It's hilarious as she actually things she's saying something that the rest of us just might be able to comprehend. She even adds facial expressions and hand gestures to go along with her "words."

Cameron is finishing up soccer…I don’t know which one of us is happier, as it has been a very wet and rainy season. He’s enjoying the fun of Scouts, but not the “work” of Scouts. He told me the other day he didn’t want to do the work in the scout book. I’m not going to make this a big deal. If he doesn’t put effort into it by January, I’m not letting him continue with it.

He seems to be doing very well in school, but is forgetful with his things as usual…even completing a perfect spelling test, then forgetting to turn it in! I have a conference with his teacher later this week. This should be interesting. Overall, Cameron loves to just be outside with his friends, playing football, riding his scooter or catching bugs or he especially enjoys hanging out inside playing on the computer. He’s also taking a liking to card games.

On a difficult note, he has been having meltdowns almost every day for one ridiculous selfish reason after another. We’re weaning him off his epilepsy medication to see if this will help, but so far I don’t see a difference. Maybe it’s just a 6 year old thing…but I sure hope he outgrows it soon.

Max is very independent now with dressing himself, brushing his teeth, and is now finally starting to do puzzles on his own. Since school has started, he’s taken more interest in his “homework” books and is doing a little bit better with knowing some letters and sounds. However, he also has decided that he doesn’t want to go to school anymore. Whenever it’s a school day, he cries that morning (repeating at least 30 times that he doesn’t want to go to school), or puts up a stink in the parking lot. When I pick him up, he’s all smiles and can tell me some great things that he did that day. And when I ask him if he had fun, he’ll respond “Ye….No!” He starts to say yes, then realizes that if he says yes, it means he likes it and shouldn’t be putting up a fight the two mornings a week that he goes. Maybe it will just take time. Max also has an interesting power of producing all out tears one second, and then if he finally gets what he wants, or more likely lately getting distracted by something else, he turns them off like a faucet. It drives me crazy…but at least he turns them off. That’s Cameron’s problem, he dwells and can’t get the tears to stop falling.

And to give a little update about chemo. Today felt like a regular day…not really over fatigued, just a little nauseas sometimes…nothing too out of the ordinary. I had to get a follow-up shot that burned going in. However it’s supposed to boost my white blood cell count, but possibly make my bones achy. That’s it on the cancer front!

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Initial Post Chemo thoughts

I finished chemo around 4:30, and I have to admit it wasn’t bad at all. Well, except for two things:

Despite the fact that I was given prescription numbing cream, it hurt like hell when the tech inserted the needle into my porta cath. She told me that I must’ve rubbed the cream off, and gave me instructions for how to apply it more effectively, which includes big globs and Saran Wrap.

I was placed in the chair directly in front of the television tuned to the TV Land channel, and I had the privilege of being exposed to a Leave It to Beaver marathon! Could it be any worse than that? ME…watching June Cleaver? Ha!

My mom also commented on the lack of warmth in the décor and set up. I think her exact words were that it was too busy and looked like an assembly line. Yep, queue up those patients, stick ‘em all with needles, switch a bag every now and then, and send them on out. I was glad that she came, and she got some good Hollywood gossip reading done.

I felt perfectly fine when I left, and at about 7:00 the nausea started to settle in. It hasn’t been so bad, just that uncomfortable sensation one experiences when he/she starts to feel carsick. I took some meds, and once I got the kids to sleep, was able to eat some crackers, and relax in front of The Bachelor, I felt better.

Tonight I get to take some Ativan….and that should be N..I..C..E!

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Pre-chemo thoughts

I think more than being worried about all the crazy side effects, just the fact of having all this lethal substance in me, plus all the nausea medication, and some extra injection I get the next day, really creeps me out. It’s a wonder ones body doesn’t just collapse in confusion.

I’m actually a nervous nilly right now, pacing around the house, knowing I should be better prepared with what I should bring and expect, but not really wanting to deal with it all.

Deperate Housewives last night dealt with Lynette’s chemo. She wanted all her friends to come with her. Me, I’d rather just be alone. My mom is coming with me because she feels she needs to, but I have a stack of books, a stack of thank you cards, photos to edit on my computer, and some serious sleeping that I could do to keep me preoccupied. Plus, I might have some old men hitting on me if I go solo (ha ha!!!). I told her she could come as long as she didn’t expect me to sit and converse with her for the full 2 ½ hours! (Of course I’m sure I’ll be thankful that she’s there with me, when the time comes!).

But the reality is: Less than 2 hours from now I will be hooked up to a machine where they will be injecting poison into me.

I commented to my friend Angela, “Isn’t that what they do to you on Death Row?” Her response was, “That’s right. Death to cancer!”

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Painting the town Pink

Chemo starts tomorrow. So last night, my Mom's Spiritual Spa friends and I all headed out on the town...one last hurrah before the nausea and fatiuge of chemo begins on Monday.

Except since some of us stayed out until the bars closed, not arriving home until 3 AM, the nausea and fatigue started without the chemo!!!!

Thanks Ladies for a wonderful, exciting evening of food, desserts, dancing, drinks, fun and friendship!

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Friday, October 05, 2007

To turn off, or not to turn off

Okay, so here I go with more medical “stuff” that I may or may not be correct about.

In addition to going through all the joys of chemo, I’ll also get to go through temporary menopause. Sounds like so much fun…anyone want to join me?

Let me see if I get this right:
When you go through chemo, the poison not only attacks the cancer cells, but healthy cells as well. It often attacks the ovaries by destroying the follicles, and usually…usually being the key word here…the ovaries come back and all is fine. But sometimes the ovaries don’t come back, and I would be stuck going through menopause at 34 years old.

My other option is to take an injection of Lupron. This will definitely shut off my ovaries for 3 months…thus inducing temporary menopause. Since the ovaries will be shut off, it’s unlikely that the chemo will attack them. And after all the treatments are done, they’ll “come back on” and all should be well…should being the key word.

Now I don’t have to do this. It was actually Melvin who asked the Oncologist about it. And she agreed that it’s something that we could do. I, of course, lean on my husband’s medical expertise and asked him, if it were him, what would he do? He said take the Lupron.

So the decision has been made. And I told him, “Well, okay, but you’re the one who’s going to have to live with me.” Hot flashes? Moodiness? In addition to all the chemo side effects. Is he sure HE wants to deal with this?

Oh, I just thought of something…I wonder if it will make me gain weight? If so, that might be a deal breaker. I might have to rethink this decision…I do have until Monday to decide.

What would you do?

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Meow ow ow ow!!!!!

I had my second physical therapy appointment today. Mainly it's to help with the lingering pain, scar tissue and stiffness due to my surgery...mainly the lymph node removal.

My therapy session was anything but physical. I actually got to lie down for a good 15 to 20 minutes, listen to soft music, with a heating pad wrapped under my affected arm. Of course I took a lovely nap.

Then I just had to continue to lie down while my physical therapist did some special massages and rotated and stretched my arm. It was all pretty painless.

I take that back...physically, it was pretty painless. But I made the mistake of asking my therapist if she had any kids...which then led into a conversation about her "child"...aka her cat...who has diabetes...who she takes to a chiropractor. Now that conversation was a bit painful.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Oncology Report

Yesterday I finally had my appointment with my Oncologist, so we can get on with the next phase of fighting this cancer.

When I walked into the waiting room, I thought I had accidentally ambled into the local Senior Citizen’s Center instead. I am not exaggerating when I say that I don’t think I saw anyone under 60…possibly not even under 70. I certainly stuck out…but I guess that’s a good thing.

My husband was able to arrange his schedule to come to this consultation, and that is always a relief for me, as he can translate any mumbo jumbo that I may mix up. My Oncologist, Dr. Murphy, is from Ireland, so she has an incredibly cool accent. Not one where you struggle to understand, but one that had just enough exoticness to it that you can’t help but enjoy the sounds coming out of her mouth, no matter what the negative information may be.

Like our other visits with the surgeon, she went through the protocol for the treatment, and then she and my husband had their little doctor chat while I twiddled my thumbs. Some people might get annoyed that they’re being left out of the conversation, but not me. I’m more than happy to let someone else process the details. For me, I’ve just been on information overload. I’m sorta like, just tell me where I need to be, when I need to be there, and I’ll show up to do whatever you need to do to me so that I can be healthy again. I know some people cringe at this, for I really should take control of my care and make informed decisions, but honestly, no decision I make will be as informed as a well-recommended doctor’s. So I have no qualms about giving up the reigns and just going along for the ride. I left her office with a handful of prescriptions and a spinning head.

I then had blood drawn from my porta cath….first time that was used….and it still hurt when I was poked with the needle. But I was given a prescription for a cream to apply before I come to chemo to numb the area. And that’s a very good thing.

Later that day I had to take a Chemo Class at the same facility. There were only three of us in the class, and surprisingly there was a girl who seemed to be my age. But no one looked like they wanted to talk, so I managed to keep to myself…although it took all my strength not to crack jokes during the video they showed about what to expect with chemo. Like when the lady who had gone through chemo said that some days just making the bed will take every ounce of strength you have. No problem there I thought..I never make the bed. Or when the instructor in the video said that an occasional glass of wine or alcohol is okay…just use your better judgment. Does one even have better judgment when consuming alcohol?

After the video and me asking a few questions, while the other two chemo class students remained silent, we took a tour of the facility. Basically we go into a big, cold, sterile looking room with a long row of hospital-looking lounging chairs. You get all hooked up to your IV and you sit. There are a few TVs to watch if you’d like, or you can stare out the window into the back parking lot, or watch all the techs in vibrant colored scrubs hurry about. It’s not very homey.

At the end of the tour they asked if we had any questions…and of course I did. Probably the most important question of all: Do you have wireless internet in here? With so many elderly people being serviced who probably have never even touched a computer, let alone gone online, it didn't surprise me that the answer was No. But I had to at least ask.

While there, I experienced what I do during most of these drawn-out appointments or tests…just this feeling of complete disbelief. I seem to flip flop between feelings of “I can’t believe this is happening” and those of, “Okay, let’s just get this all over with.” It’s as if I’m physically there, surrounded by all this obscure “stuff”, but I’m not really emotionally there at all. Because although I know this is all real (I’m not in denial of this happening), what I’m experiencing is so far out of my regular schema, that I don’t even know what to think or feel sometimes. So I just try to remain upbeat and get through it. Until I can be home, with my children and husband, where everything feels real, and right, again.

Anyhow, this is the deal:
Chemo begins on Monday, Oct. 8th. It will last for about 2 ½ hours. I return the next day for some injection.
This will go on every two weeks for approximately the next 4 months.
The first half of my chemo will be harder and more intense…worse side effects than the 2nd half. (I’ll list the actual drugs in a different post—when I can find the papers they gave me in the mess of stuff accumulating in my bag).

Apparently I’ll feel really tired and nauseous the first couple days, then things will perk up, with some diarrhea and/or mouth sores popping up in there at some point. Then by the last couple days of the 2nd week, I’ll be feeling quite well again, just in time to start all over.

I’ll begin losing my hair before I even start my second dose of chemo.

Can't wait to start....only because I just want it to be all done!

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

For medicinal purposes only

Went to the Oncologist today. So much to say.

But I'm going to watch some Weeds right now...not do weed...but watch the Showtime series.

Just need to relax...and enjoy some wine...before I can't really drink anymore.

Will update everyone tomorrow.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

The cat's revenge

Remember a couple weeks ago when I wrote about Max's little girlfriend Abby stepping out on their relationship when he was at preschool?

Well, two can play at that game.

It doesn't pay to let down with this cutie pie! Especially when there are old older, more experienced, girlfriends around.

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