Friday, March 18, 2011

Moving Down the Tunnel

The end of the tunnel is near. You know the one - the one that's dark and scarey and seems to go on forever. You know the one - it is rumored to have a light at the end of it. I think I can see that light!

Three more herceptin treatments. Two new bottles of the experimental pill, lapatinib. The Herceptin is given to me via lifeport. It is a targeted medicine that destroys the HER-2 protein that was in the cancer and causes it to be very aggressive. Lapatinib is being tested to determine if it helps prohibit the cancer from returning. At the end of this treatment there will be a 6% chance of the cancer returning. Anything under 10% is good. I am very optimistic I will not see another 5 months like I did in 2010. Already 2011 is looking good.

Today in the chemo lab, I met Amanda. Her mother and I went to high school together. Amanda is a beautiful young woman, mid 30's I think, two daughters, a husband, a newly earned Registered Nurse degree. Amanda has breast cancer. She earned her degree and passed her state boards all while facing the fact she has cancer. She's had the surgeries and lost her hair. She's sick and achey from the chemo. She's very courageous. She will be fine. I look forward to getting to know her better.

After my treatment today I had lunch at a chinese buffet and stopped into Hobby Lobby. I've always been an evesdropper. Sitting in a restaurant I enjoy overhearing the people at the tables around me. I don't do anything with what I hear or usually repeat it to anyone else. Besides, I don't know those people! Today as I was examining something hanging on the wall at Hobby Lobby, I heard a woman say, "I am on my way to the clinic to get the results of a biopsy that was done on my breast a few days ago." That's all I heard. She continued talking to an acquantance but I don't know what else she said. All I heard was "biopsy - results - today" I moved to her side and touched her hand. She looked at me, puzzled, and I said, "I'm sorry. I don't mean to interrupt but I couldn't help hearing that you are going to find out the results of your biopsy today. I just want to tell you that no matter how it turns out, I can tell from the shirt you are wearing, that you will be ok. You will be fine." She looked at me stunned and said, "I hope so. That's what I'm counting on." She should have said, 'that's WHO I'm counting on" For the life of me, I couldn't tell you right now what her shirt said. But it referred to God and something about her faith in him. I would give anything if I knew what her results were. I have thought about her and prayed for her several times today.Don't know her name. Don't know where she lives. Just know she was frightened.

Talked to Vicki today. She's Mike's niece, the daughter of one of his late sisters. One of the three sisters he had that died of ovarian cancer. Vicki is a breast cancer survivor. She calls to check on me periodically. She goes for her yearly check up next week. She voiced what we survivors all think of - will it come back? That's one of those questions that doesn't have an answer. I refuse to make myself sick worrying over such a question. The possibility exists that it could come back in any and all of us. But I will live each day as a survivor. I will try not to waste time. Time is so precious. We think we will be here forever. But God says in James 4:14, "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." Sounds like we're pretty expendable, doesn't it? I want to accomplish a lot of things before my "mist" vanishes. Not necessarily leaving "things" as a legacy because quilts are a nice way to do that and I want everyone I love to have one. Rather, I want to leave this world making a difference in someone else's life. Hopefully, the woman I spoke to at Hobby Lobby today will get some comfort from what I said. Hopefully, if her diagnosis is not what she wanted to hear, she'll find courage. If her diagnosis was exactly what she wanted to hear, maybe she will encourage another woman who is waiting on results of a medical test, too.

Monday night I am going to a breast cancer support group. It's the first time I've attended a group like this. I'm looking forward to hearing what other women have to say. This "club" I found myself a member of, is not what I would have chosen. But it's what I got. And I'll do my best to help someone else get through it.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Where Have I Been?

September? That was the last time I've blogged? That was a long time ago. All those months seem like a blur. Am I really back on my feet? Am I really able to eat again? Am I really only going to the chemo lab once every three weeks? Can you believe I actually miss my chemo nurses?

Let me backtrack. Mainly for my own benefit. Right after chemotherapy was finished I began radiation. That was a breeze compared to the chemo. Being at the hospital radiation lab every morning before 9 a.m. for six weeks was rather a drag but it wasn't painful and it didn't make me sick. And let me say, the medical personnel in radiation were wonderful, sweet, caring, concerned professionals. I appreciate every one of them. I finished up the treatments on November 1, the day after my birthday. I got home that day and received a phone call from an online fabric source where I order quilting fabric. I had won a $100 gift certificate! Could a day get any better? I had a wonderful birthday, finished radiation and got free quilting fabric! WOW!

Things were humming right along. My appetite and strength was coming back. So was my hair, slowly. Then almost two full weeks later, on November 12, 2010, I woke up at 4:30 a.m with a knife sharp stabbing pain in my stomach. By 8 a.m. Mike had me in the emergency room and I was being examined. This was a pain I'd never experienced before. I couldn't do anything but bend over double. Making a long story short, after the CAT scan, I was told my intestines had twisted. The surgeon wanted to operate as soon as possible. I was admitted and placed on the oncology floor, since I was a cancer patient, too, and to keep the chances down of my catching an infection of some/any sort. So on Saturday morning, the 13th I was taken to surgery where I had 18" of my colon removed. What??? Yep, and it had nothing to do with the cancer or treatments. I was unable to eat or swallow anything until the doctor was sure my colon was functioning properly again. On Wednesday, November 17, I was finally able to eat again. I had existed on ice chips and huge bags of IV "stuff". Oh, the pain meds weren't bad either. The first food I'd had in 6 days was artificial scrambled eggs and jello. Best tasting food I'd had in months!

Mike came to the hospital every day and spent the night with me every night but the first one. I recovered quite quickly, or I thought so, and was able to come home on Thursday morning. After having been up and about and beginning to get back on my feet from the chemo and radiation, I found myself once again glued to my recliner. About another four weeks of down time and I was pretty much good to go again. There were a lot of medicines I had to take, a lot of medicines I had to quit taking, and dressing wounds three times a day.

I shall pause for now and post another chapter in this journey later today or this week. Thank you, Lord, for your Love and Grace and Healing.