Friday, March 30, 2012

Back To Normalcy

Today I'm. Dismantling my medicine case and pink messenger bag. It's back to a normal purse for me! I don't need 5 medicines at a moments notice anymore!

Friday, March 23, 2012


This past Monday I had my last chemo. Hopefully ever.

Mom sitting with me at chemo
It was really short. I couldn't have one of my regular chemo medicines. It causes temporary lung damage, which I've experienced too much of. It shouldn't be too big of a thing though.

It was a little bittersweet. I'm so glad to be finished, and I'm ready to get on with my life. It was sad though. Over the past 6 months I've gotten to know my nurses and it's sad having good people leave your life.

It's also scary. For 6 months my main goal has been getting better. The nurses gave me my schedule for the month, and a lot of my decisions were made my doctors. Especially things like what over the counter medicines can I take? What can I eat? A lot of my life has been ruled by cancer. Now I'm facing down making my own choices again, going back to work, and generally living life.

It's exciting, but it's scary! I was up and down emotional for a week (a lot of you may know I don't deal with major change all that well, which might also be a factor).

I still have next week for my food restrictions. My doctor told me I can go back to regular food sooner, but the instructions on the medicine said two weeks, and I'd rather play it safe.

It seems I've avoided a blood transfusion this cycle, which is great. My red blood cells were a little low, but not low enough to be a problem. My white blood cells, however, are another story. They were extremely low, so much so that my neutrafils (white blood cells that fight bacteria) didn't even show up on the chart. So I've been in "quarrantine" this weekend. Luckily my neulasta shot will probably kick in tomorrow night and I can go back to normal.

I don't know exactly where we go from here. I do know that just because chemo is over, it doesn't mean that my treatment is over. I will still have to see my oncologist and get a lot of scans and stuff. On Monday I see him to get my blood checked, and find out what the next steps are.

I know I have to get a bone density test. One of the side effects of the chemo has caused some probable bone issues, so I have to see if I need treatment for that. I also need to get a third PET Scan in about 4 weeks. If all is well then I can get my port removed, which I can't wait for!

Also, my hair has started to grow back! I've got little fuzzies all over my head which is super exciting. I can't wait 'till I can get my first haircut :)

So the chemo's over, but I'll still be posting updates as they come. Thanks for all the love and support and prayers, you guys really helped me get through this!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Home Stretch!

Last week was rough. Two weeks ago my red blood count was low. I didn't feel super sick, but I was exhausted. Constantly. I was on the border of needing a transfusion and not, but we decided to hold out and see what happened, since I was borderline and felt ok.

Last Monday was the same deal, and I was going to have my blood tested again on Thursday. I spent Tuesday pretty much asleep, and slept for 12 hours that night.

Wednesday I woke up, got up and was extremely dizzy, I knew I needed more blood. Josh called the doctor to see if I could get my blood tested that day and we set that up. One of the lead nurses called me and said since I had my blood taken on Monday they could just set me up for a transfusion and bypass more testing. I said great. She then told me that the hospital didn't have anything available till Friday. If i didn't feel like I could wait I could go to the emergency room.

I decided I couldn't wait, and I'd go to the emergency room. It turned into a one night stay, and the whole thing was sort of a debacle that I don't really want to talk about. The biggest highlights being the fact that it took 5 tries to access my port, and they decided to give me an IV anyway, and the prisoner wearing NOTHING but a hospital gown who kept passing my second room to get to the bathroom.

I felt so much better after getting more blood. Let's hope that was the final time.

Onto better news...

Yesterday I started my FINAL round of chemo!!! I am just tickled about this. It's really exciting and I cant believe it's finally here! Mom has been taking pictures of me with all my caregivers, which has felt like the end of Summer camp, when you get pictures of all your friends. I may post them up here for you guys.

I'm really happy that the weather is so beautiful for my final chemo rounds, and that spring is starting right when ai'm starting my new life as a healthy person.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lazy Bones

Everything's going well, and I'm coming up on the end of treatment which is epic. I'm halfway through my penultimate cycle!!

I've been having such a hard time motivating myself to do ANYTHING though. It kind of stinks. I guess everything's finally catching up to me. At least I'm getting a lot of reading done.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Give me blood, blood, gallons of the stuff...

All has been going well. Last week I was feeling fine and took myself around to some craft stores and everything. Then, last Monday I went to chemo, and my nurse told me I needed to have a blood transfusion. That was a total surprise because I felt fine. Luckily it was outpatient this time. I still had to go to the hospital, but it only took 4 hours. So for the first transfusion I was in the hospital 7 days, the second one for 3, and the third one for 4 hours. Not bad!

Everything else has been going pretty steady, and I don't have a lot to report on. I have had to try really hard to stay hydrated, so I'm pretty much always drinking.

Coming off the steroids this week was really hard. It always makes me tired, but I just feel like this week I was especially tired. Yesterday I took 2 naps (I'm not much of a napper).

Also, Josh got me a Kobo (e-reader) for Valentine's day which was an awesome surprise! The first e-book I bought was Watership Down, and I'm already 10% finished. I'm LOVING the Kobo!

Monday I'm starting my 7th chemo cycle. Two more to go!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Still Hydrating

When I was at the doctor's on Monday for routine bloodwork my heartrate was high. I had to get an extra bag of saline (hydration). Everything's been ok since then.

All the chemo is finally caught up to me though. I keep running around wondering why I'm so tired and my mom and Josh keep reminding me that I'm on chemo, and it builds on itself. Before, when I would feel normal it would last for a whole day or more, but the time I'm feeling normal is less and less. I'm spending more and more time resting (of course, a lot of that is doctor's orders). I haven't been to work since before my first hospital trip.

I suppose it was a matter of time. I tend to push through things, but this isn't really something you can push through. On the bright side, I've been finishing small projects. On top of that, I've beat 2 video games and read 2 books (working on my third of each). I can't even tell you how many movie's I've watched (so glad to have Netflix).

It's nice to have time, but it was hard to accept it. Sometimes I feel like everyone's out living life while I'm stuck in the apartment filling the time. I'll just have to live it up double time when I'm finished with treatment.

Friday, January 20, 2012

I'm Still Here

I've stayed out of the hospital so far, which is great! There's a lot of little things about being there I'm glad I don't have to deal with.... like having to unplug an IV pump every time I go to the bathroom.

At this point in my cycle, along with low blood counts, I end up in a lot of pain. The shot they give me to boost my white blood cell count causes pain in my chest and lower back, but doesn't always happen. One of the other chemo drugs I have, called Vincristine, gives me a lot of bad symptoms (which sucks because it's such a teeny tiny amount of chemo. It doesn't even come in an IV bag, they use a little syringe to give it to me). I get earaches, mouth sores, and terrible leg pain. The pain in my thighs is the worst. The first cycle I could manage it with Tylenol, but every other cycle I've had to use a stronger pain medication to manage it. It only lasts a couple days, which isn't so bad.

Hospital time comes around when pain time comes around, and here's why I'm really glad I'm at home. When you're in the hospital they don't want you to take your own medicine, so they can be positive of what you've been taking, and how much of it so they don't accidentally kill you or something. (Makse sense). So when pain would show up I'd have to call a nurse to give me my medicine. Since I was in a hospital, and not the only patient there i would have to wait a while to get my medicine sometimes. It was such a relief last night when I woke up in pain and could just get up and get my own darn Tylenol.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Getting Fluids

Well, it's that time in my cycle when I have traditionally ended up in the hospital. I even packed a bag in preperation. Sure enough I started getting nauseous yesterday, which is abnormal for me. Today doing the dishes gave ke a dizzyness that wouldn't go away.

The doctors were going to check my blood on Friday to make sure I didn't need another transfusion, but I called them and they saw me today. My blood levels are fine, thank God.

I'm getting extra fluids right now. Here's hoping that's all I need, and can avoid the hospital this cycle!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Good News, Everyone!

So I'm at my halfway point in treatment. This means PET scan time! I had it done on Wednesday, and my appt. to see the doctor for the results was on Friday. Well, he called me on Thursday afternoon with the results because they were awesome and he's such a good doctor.

If you remember from before, a PET scan is where they inject radioactive glucose into the bloodstream, and then basically do a CT scan. Cancerous cells show up as glowing on the scan. When I had my first one done it showed infected lymph nodes all through me, and infectoions in my liver and lung.

On this new scan nothing was glowing! That's great news! The doctor said that I was in clinical remission which is so awesome! The doctor said that the places that were cancerous just showed up with dead tissue now.

I still have to finish out four more chemo cycles, in case there are microscopic infected cells, but they're going to lower the dosage of what I'm getting. So we're hoping that I wont be as sick all the time, and that I wont have to go back to the hospital.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A New Year!

I'm home from the hospital, and very thankful it was a short stay this time! I have tons of pictures from my excursion.

Sleeping at the oncologist.

Josh and I waiting at the oncologist for a hospital room.

I was really greatful that the oncology floor was opened this visit. The nurses and techs on the oncology floor of Howard County General are all just great people and gave me really wonderful care last time I was there. They knew the little ins and outs of people receiving treatment and how to deal with all the oddball side effects.

They even wrote a little message on my white board, everyone remembered me!

I did get a blood transfusion again. I didn't need platelets this time though, which was great.
My mom is queen of sneaky sleeping pictures!

My "fresh blood" as I referred to it!

I was neutropenic again, because my white blood cells were so low. Going in I only had about 150 white blood cells. A good number for someone going through treatment is around 20,000! When you're neutropenic you can't have fresh fruits or veggies, and everyone has to be super careful when coming into contact with you. Lots of gloves and masks were worn around me.

I have no recollection of this picture being taken.

During my transfusion there was a clot in my needle which is kind of crazy. Apparently that's something that can happen. I was glad it didn't go into my port, because that would have meant getting medicine injected in there and stuff, and I don't know, clots near your heart is never good.

A family friend had made us a couple chicken pot pies which was awesome, because we all know the luck I had with the hospital food last time. I was eating great all weekend.

 So I had to spend New Years Eve in the hospital, which kind of stunk. I wasn't planning any crazy parties or anything, but you know, no one wants to be in the hospital on a holiday. My mom got some goodies for Josh and I so we could have some fun on our first New Years as a married couple.
Like hats!

Sparkling Cider didn't work out, so we toasted with Pepsi and Giner Ale!

Almost Time...

Happy New Year!

I was still neutropenic.... so this was the best we could do for a New Years kiss!

Hat swapping

It was fun to celebrate together. I was on pain killers, so I fell asleep pretty soon after the new year. The nurses got a kick out of our hats.

Although I went in the hospital because of a low red count, they wanted to keep me in there because of my low white count. Last week, before all this my blood counts were low, and my doctor put me on antibiotics to preemptively stop an infection. They worked. On Saturday one of the doctors told me that although my red count was good after the transfusion, if he'd sent me home then I would be back in 24 hours with a fever and infection, becuase I just couldn't fight it off myself, and I needed to wait until my white count was out of the danger zone. We were all expecting me to go home Monday.

Well, at 4:30 in the morning on Sunday I woke up in horrible pain in my back and chest. It was so bad I needed help getting in and out of bed to go to the bathroom. See, there's this shot they give me called Nulasta. What Nulasta does is tells your body to produce white blood cells, and white blood cells are produced mainly in the lower back and the sternum. It takes about 4-5 days to kick in, and my last Nulasta shot had been Wednesday.

Boy did I feel it.

But, it blasted me enough that my body produced enough white blood cells that I was able to go home Sunday! I'm still low, I think I was at around 3,500 whites when I left, but I'm still climbing.

I'm really glad to be home, and that all the doctors took pre-emptive measures so I wouldn't bottom out like I did last time, because that was pretty scary.

Oh, did I mention that I've passed my halfway point in my chemo schedule? I couldn't be more excited about that. This Wednesday I will be getting a PET scan which will tell us how well the chemo has been working, and I've got an apointment Friday morning with my doctor to see how it's all going! If the chemo has been 80% effective we will stay on this path. I can't wait!