Saturday, April 28, 2007

Ok, so it kicked back...

After all of my excitement over how well I was handling my first treatment, it turns out that I just wasn't waiting long enough.

Friday was pretty horrible. I had aches all over which could have been from the Neulasta shot I got on Thursday (said to cause bone pain) or could have been from the dacarbazine, which includes flulike symptoms among its side effects. I also felt like I had a huge bubble in my stomach all day, and no matter what I ate or how I stretched out, nothing took it away. It was pretty miserable.

Oh... and my hair hurts. My scalp is extremely tender, which I understand from Googling is part of the hair loss process. I haven't lost any yet, but the tenderness is making me very aware that it's coming. I decided not to blow-dry my hair at all today because I don't want to speed the process along.

Fatigue was my last but most present symptom. I went out briefly to get my driver's license picture taken -- with my own hair -- and found it to be an effort to lift my purse onto my shoulder and walk for more than short distances without resting.

Thankfully, I'm feeling better today. I just have to remind myself that this is serious business and that I should enjoy these good moments while I have them.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Chemo Adventures, Part 1

One down, eleven to go. I'm going to call this one "kicked in the butt" since I'm really feeling pretty good overall, a little tiredness today but then again I *was* out at the mall. :) In addition to taking my anti nausea meds I am making sure to eat small regular meals all day to avoid feeling sick.

The morning we went I was pretty calm, surprisingly. I sat around a lot when we first got there, partially to get "training" (basically explaining everything and all the possible side effects). Then I got an IV -- they had to stick me twice unfortunately as one vein "rolled" -- and waited while they sent blood off for testing. That will happen every time so they make sure my blood counts are ok to do the chemo. I was able to eat lunch while waiting and bring entertainment (they have DVD players to borrow if I want!)

After some delays they finally got the chemo upstairs. I took anti nausea drugs first and something for anxiety (woohoo!) Three of my four drugs are "pushes" meaning they come in a big syringe and the nurse slowly pushes it into the IV. A couple of them stung a little but it wasn't bad. The first two were done then I got one hung on a drip. That one took 30 minutes. Then I got another small push and was done.

I am getting a port installed in my chest (under the skin) prior to the next session - it will alleviate stinging in the veins and the problems with multiple sticks. I meet with the surgeon on Monday and then they'll do the procedure the day before my next treatment (May 8)

I'm feeling very optimistic. I know there's still the potential for fatigue or other problems but I'm taking it one step at a time.

Hoping it's a trend that I kick more of them than they do of me!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Surprises I actually like!

When I got the mail today, I stared at the padded envelope in my hand and thought "I didn't order anything..."

But look!
A package courtesy of Catherine with the sweetest show of support... a strength necklace.

This, for the person who cried on the way home from learning her diagnosis while listening to Christina A.guilera sing "Fighter" on the radio... "I am a fighter... I ain't gonna stop..." Ah well. I'll get there. I know there will be many many tears between now and the point in the future when I finish treatment and (hopefully) get clear scans, and this will be one more thing that will help me get through it.
It's perfect Catherine. Many many hugs and thanks.
And of course, we need one of me wearing it, with my new short do:

Thursday, April 19, 2007

It worked!

All the positive thoughts helped - my heart is fine and I'm cleared to do whatever treatment the oncologist wants to do.

My first chemo appointment is Wednesday at 10:30.

I am not sure I know how to handle the feeling of the other shoe not dropping, but believe me, I'll take it.

What happens while you're making other plans...

Life has gone on, though not as usual.

I had my tests and scans Friday through Tuesday. I laughed when they turned on the radio during my PET scan (out of courtesy since it was a half hour) and it was playing"Walking on Sunshine."

During my bone marrow biopsy, the material kept falling off the needle before the PA could retract it. We never got any but had to stop because the pain was getting harder to deal with.

I developed a fever yesterday morning after feeling pretty good from my cold for the past few days. We went into the office on the on-call nurse's advice. My doctor's nurse was like "why did you come in?." But I'm glad I did, as they did a chest x-ray to make sure I didn't have pneumonia (I don't) and prescribed me some antibiotics for bronchitis.

Oh, and then the PA told me my PET scan results were back.

We waited with tension in our throats as she went to print them off.

The oncologist came back in with them. While they can't say for sure until the bone marrow aspirate sample is back, at this point I am stage III nodular sclerosing Hodgkin's. I have enlarged lymph nodes in my neck, chest and abdomen, though thankfully not any of my organs, or my pelvis. Praying that the bone marrow will be clear so I don't jump to stage IV. Now, even with the higher stages Hodgkin's is still thought to be very treatable, but there are some prognostic indicators that go down somewhat with the higher stages. I'm not thinking about those right now.

Also, I found out that I will be seeing a cardiologist (today) because something didn't look the way they wanted it to on my MUGA (heart) scan. If there is any question about my heart function I will not be doing the standard chemo regimen (called ABVD) but rather an older one called MOPP. Which has a greater incidence of side effects and possible infertility.

I will update later if I know anything but if you read this this morning and can send a thought or prayer my way, I would appreciate it.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Wasting no time

My appointment with the oncologist was yesterday.

According to my ENT it was, anyway. According to the oncologist's secretary, they had no record of me whatsoever. *sigh*

Luckily (even though I cried and G raised his voice a little and they told us not to make a scene even though they were telling me I'd have to come back in a week) the doctor made time to see me.

The doctor seems nice, and has already told me the shell of the plan, details to arrive very soon. They scheduled me for four tests -- a MUGA scan to check to make sure my heart can handle the chemo on Friday, a PET scan on Monday evening, and bone marrow biopsy and pulmonary function tests on Tuesday. Treatments will start shortly therafter -- all chemo, no radiation unless there's something big on the PET scan. Chemo will be every other week for about six months.

When I asked about fertility, he said that there's usually no problems with it. But when I told him we were already seeing an RE (to which he answered "I know") he said that it would have to go on hold, and seemed to offer no discussion. That's a big, scary decision to have to have made for me... even though it was looking like IVF was my only shot at having a biological child anyway, it doesn't help to be thinking that I need to do something life-saving that may take that option away from me for good. I don't know what to think. The few things I've looked up on my particular chemo regimen (ABVD, which is the first letter of each of the four drugs I'll be given) says that fertility is usually preserved. But does the fact that mine was declining somewhat to begin with have any bearing? Should I even be worrying about this now?

I'm sure there's a lot more I'm going to be worrying about in the near future, so maybe I should be trying to worry less overall. (Ha, good luck.)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Vegas wouldn't take these odds.

It's Hodgkin's lymphoma.

According to the National Cancer Institute, Hodgkin's disease occurs most often in people between 15 and 34 and in people over the age of 55. It is more common in men than in women. And yet this 36.5 year old female has it.

I found out in the frozen food aisle at our local supermarket. When I answered my cell phone and heard the male voice of Dr. F, I knew.

Actually, I knew all this time. It was as if my body was trying to tell me something. I can remember looking at myself months ago, before the itching really got so bad, and thinking "there's something wrong with my body." At the time, I thought it was just fertility related, but as things started to make themselves clearer, and this diagnosis became a possibility, my mind just adjusted to it and said "that's it, then."

Did I mention that I start my new job tomorrow?

I am not sure whether I will continue this blog, or start a new one. There's a lot of personal history in this blog that I've kept anonymous, which is now a lot easier to tie to me and G with this diagnosis. Although there's a lot to talk about regarding infertility and cancer and what I'll do about it, so maybe a new blog is the thing. At this point, I'm not ready to make that decision.

I thank you all for your thoughts and prayers thus far, and hope you'll keep 'em coming. I think I'm gonna need them.