Sunday, February 28, 2010

Going going back to back to work work!

Tomorrow is the start of a new month and the start of a normal week for me! I'm going back to work for the week! I'm beyond excited, I feel like it's the first day of school. I haven't worked a regular shift at work since February 6th. I hope my legs can hold up! Ha.

Nothing too exciting happened today. My "wound" is healing great. I am in a lot less pain than I was yesterday so that is just great. I hope to sleep like a baby tonight too. That hockey game was intense and I really don't even like hockey but I was glued to the TV. During one of the intermissions I picked up a book that was given to me right when I was diagnosed by my Mom's Uncle's daughter, Barbara. It's called "Crazysexy Cancer Tips" by Kris Carr. I just thought I would peruse it, but after I read 3 pages I couldn't put it down. I have never read a book from cover to cover in one sitting and I did just that tonight. I couldn't stop. I was so intrigued by everything in this book!

It is written by Kris Carr and she's a 31 year old that still has cancer. She has a cancer that is just kind of sitting, not doing anything and it really isn't curable. Now isn't that rare and weird. The book was just great. Lots of real life experiences and excerpts from other young females that have had cancer and how they have dealt with it. It covered pretty much every topic you could think of relating to having cancer. It talked a lot about diet. I have some thinking to do and I have heard from a lot of people that now that I have cancer my diet is especially important. There are certain foods that I should be eating (which I'm not) and certain foods I should avoid (which I'm not) that will help my immune system and in fact ward off the cancer. It was really really interesting.

I even signed up for a chemo angel. She mentioned it in the book and there is a website that you can go and sign up to get an angel. It's a real person but it's all Internet based and this person helps you thru the tough times. They try and match you with someone similar to you, etc. etc. They send you letters, small gifts, encouragement, etc. So, why not? May come in handy down the road so I applied. I know I have an ARMY of a support team, but this angel knows first hand what I'm going thru. I should find out in 7-10 if I have another angel guiding me. :)

So, that's about all she wrote from here on this last day of February. I'm looking forward to a new month with new adventures and more ass kicking. I think I'm doing a pretty good job so far and don't worry, I plan to keep it up!

Onto March...

Love you all-E

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A sense of normalcy...

Hello there, I thought I would check in and let you all know that I am healing and recuperating great. I slept pretty good last night even though I had super weird dreams, but that's OK. I had to sleep only on my back too...sleeping in any other position is too uncomfortable right now. So be it, that's fine. Sleep is still sleep regardless of the position you are sleeping in!

I didn't get up until almost 11am today and then my Dad came to pick Mom and I up for lunch. Then, it was home to relax. I took a nap too and have just been vegging and watching TV and the Olympics. What fun.

I have to admit besides the uncomfortable aches every now and then from this port healing into it's spot I feel amazing. I feel like my old self. Who would think I would have cancer? Sometimes I don't even think I do...

I am going back to work on Monday. I am going to work 5 shifts...yup I am. Well, I'm going to try my darnedest and trust me I won't overdo it. If I don't feel like it I won't...but right now I don't see anything stopping me. I'm climbing up the hill on my roller coaster in the treatment cycle and I feel like I'm pretty close to the top. And for Pete's sake I can't sit at home any longer... and my dogs told me they are sick of me. HA. (Just kidding, I don't think that's possible). So any of you that want to come see me, this is your chance! I'll be at Loco all week except Tuesday and Sunday until 5pm so come in and say hello! I know you all have missed me...hee hee. ;)

I am going to attach the pictures from my big hair event the other day. I hope you all enjoy the pics...I have stopped scaring myself in the mirror and have become comfortable with my new do.

That's the latest from here. I'm off to bed to listen to the pitter patter outside (yes, it's raining again, but it always rains during the Phoenix Open)...so it's fitting.

Till tomorrow, and g'nite--

Love, E



So hard...
There it goes!
Wow,there's my hair!

The new do!!
Mommy and I

What wig? I didn't lose my hair!!

Remember, it's not a port-o-potty...

Today was port day and it wasn't port wine or anything dealing with a port o potty...it was the installation of my port catheter to make my treatments easier and so I won't look like I shoot up drugs in my arms...ha. It's a pretty common procedure for people getting multiple chemotherapy treatments. It really makes life easier and everyone is telling me I will be glad that I have it.

According to my recovery nurse I have the "Cadillac" of ports...so I'm pretty happy with that.

So, you wanna hear how it all went? Here is a recap...

Mom and Dad arrived bright and early to pick me up at 6:15am. We were of course early...we check in, got registered, got my stickers, went up to the 2nd floor and then I was promptly called back to start prep. Only 1 could go back with me so Dad went with me first. Mom waited out in the waiting room. I had to produce a pee sample (to make sure I'm not pregnant), change into the lovely gown, put on my stylish socks and climb into bed. All while my Dad turned his head...ha, funny story on how that all went down, but that's one to tell you in person...

Nurse this and Nurse that were coming in left and right to do this and that. Hook me up here, take this there, put this on me here, etc. etc. That place runs like a well oiled machine. Not a glitch. The best part was when the bartender came in to mix me up my sleepy time cocktail. HEE HEE. They started off with just a relaxing drug and oh boy was I relaxed...I was giddy and I felt drunk! Yes! I said bye to Mom and Dad (oh, they let Mom come back when I was all hooked up and stuff) and off I was down to the surgery room.

Dr. Schuster was johnny on the spot. I guess he likes to go in early so early it was. My surgery wasn't scheduled until 8:45am, but they wheeled me away at 8:05am. Sweet! Let's get this over with. I remember getting to the surgery room and them helping me move from my bed to the table, but then after that I have not the slightest clue as to what happened....I was in la la land.

The next thing I remember I was in the recovery room waking up...I felt coherent, I knew where I was, I knew what had just happened, etc. etc. I could seem my "wound" and all was well. Not too much pain then but then again I was still "under the influence" and they also used a local anesthetic on the wound. I got some ice chips (mind you I hadn't had food or any water since 11pm the night before) and then she gave me some grape juice because I had the weirdest taste in my mouth from the drugs. My vitals were good and after about an hour Mom and Dad were back in recovery to see me! Oh, when I woke up and it was 9:05. Mom and Dad said Dr. Schuster came out and said that everything went well at 8:45 so it was a pretty fast procedure.

I got my discharge instructions (had some good chuckles with Mom getting my clothes back on...man was I giddy from those drugs) and I was out the door on my way home at 10:30am! Whew! I was and still am really achy at the site. It's on my right side and I'm right handed so it's a little uncomfortable. I'm taking some Vicodin before bed so hopefully I can sleep good and hopefully not be in too much pain but after taking my nap today I think sleeping on my back is the most comfortable because otherwise the gravity pulls it down and it hurts. Boo.

I took a picture of what it looked like earlier and that's comedy in itself. It looks like I have a 3rd boob or that my boob was raised. It's weird how it photographs. It really isn't that big and you really can't see it at all. If you look at me from the side you can see that I have a raised area...that's where the port is. You can feel it too obviously but I haven't tested that out yet...I'll wait till I heal. It's like I have a fun little toy inside of me. I wonder if I will go off going thru security at the airport...

This evening was fun though. My Mommy is here being the best nurse ever. They asked that someone be with me for the next 24 hours just to make sure I'm OK so she's spending the night. My Aunt Laurie came over after she got off work and brought us dinner (soup, salad and bread sticks from the Olive Garden...yum!) and we just played game after game tonight! It was a lot of fun and the time went by really fast. My cousin Gary also came over later in the evening and joined in on the fun.

I can't believe that it's 12:30am and I'm still up, but hey, I can sleep in tomorrow and I have all weekend to relax. My port is in, it's ready to go, I just need to heal a bit!!

So, another chapter is closed and from now on it'll be smooth sailing until the end of chemo in June!! Yippee skippy!

The Vicodin is kicking in and I'm getting really really sleep...goodnight.

Till tomorrow...

Love, E

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Where's EB?

If you find her, will you please return her because the new EB looks nothing like the one I saw this morning! I guess the old EB will return, but it'll be awhile. For now, I have to stop scaring myself when I look in the mirror! Yikes!

Today was a roller-coaster of emotions. I started off by getting up at 7am...and here I was complaining I had to set my alarm...well, it never went off because I woke up before it. Ha. I went to the newly remodeled Loc to clean clean clean. The place was a MESS! We were hoping to open by lunchtime, but a minor water issue caused us not to open till about 4pm. All is well though, the place looks great. It's amazing what a little paint can do...

From there it was time to chop chop chop! I arrived at the salon with my Mom and sat in Aimee's chair waiting for the big moment. Well it was a moment for sure...I cried. It was tough but at the same time it felt great. Hard to explain all the emotions going on in my head during that time. I'm actually tearing up right now thinking about it. After my ponytail was chopped it was just so weird to look at it. There was my hair just sitting in my hands. Bizarre. I got a wash after that and a good head massage...ahhhhh. Then, it was time to snip snip snip. From this point on I didn't see what was going on because Aimee put a blanket up over the mirror. No fair. So I just sat there and watched my Mom's face the whole time. She was a big fan...she has always loved my hair short and boy did we go short. I just hoped I didn't look like a boy and that I didn't have a mullet. Well, I don't have a mullet...I could have a haircut that resembles one found on a male, but who cares. I really don't. I'm happy, I'm free, it's liberating and it's new. It is what it is.

After I was done with the shocking reveal and a few more tears it was off to shop for a wig! There's a wig store right down the street from the salon so Aimee, Mom and I went to check it out. The first wig I tried on was exactly what I wanted. Go figure! It was like it was meant to be! The color was almost identical to my hair color before (maybe a smidge darker) and the length was pretty spot on. It was just so me. I felt like myself with this wig on. Imagine that. I seriously could have put that wig on and went back to Loco and told them I cancelled my hair appointment and they would have had no idea. HA. I should of, but I didn't. I want to wait for my big wig debut until a later date..duh, obviously when I have no hair.

The best thing is that I can write off my wig purchase. All I have to get is a prescription from my Doc for a hair prosthetic! Very cool!

Mom had other things to do, so we departed from her and I took Aimee to lunch. I was starved. By now I needed a nap...but thankfully that didn't happen today because I'm sooooo ready for bed now. It's a good thing too because I have to be up at 5:30am!! Yikes.

It felt good to have a FULL day today. I felt almost normal again even though my body wasn't a fan. I feel like I have run a marathon. My hot tub is calling my name.

So that my folks was the conclusion of another chapter of my journey. It was tough, but it's over with and now it's onto port surgery tomorrow. Woo hoo. I get to have a cool little contraption inside my chest. Aren't you jealous?

Oh, I will post some pics of the new do this weekend. Mom took all the pictures and for some reason she has a mental block when it comes to uploading pictures so we will tackle that this weekend.

Think good thoughts tomorrow for me during surgery. They do put me under so this should be interesting. At least I'm guaranteed some sleep on the operating table. Ha.

Tomorrow is a new day...

Love, The New E

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Say goodbye locks...

Say hello locks of love...today was kinda hard. Today is the last day that I will have my beautiful long hair before I get it chopped tomorrow. It hit me this evening...and as I was getting ready to go meet my Loco girls. Wow, this is the last time I will be straightening MY long hair. Seems surreal. I haven't had hair this long since I was a kid and the fact that I worked so hard at it and I have to lose it and it's NOT my choice really hurts, but hey, I gotta face it. I'm looking forward to a drastic change tomorrow. It's going to be great...I'm sure tears will be shed...but what's done will be done and I'm sure in the end it will be liberating. I mean who wants a long mop hanging down their neck when it's 110 out? Not me...I'd prefer to be bald. HAHA.

Today was the best I have felt since one week ago that I started treatment. I had great energy, I actually made coffee this morning, I got a lot done, ran some errands and fit in a couple zzzz's too. So, overall it was a GOOD day...just a little emotional.

Spending time with the Loco girls tonight was amazing. I wish we could do it more often, but we can't. This was a special circumstance and I'm so glad we were all able to get together outside of work and just have fun. I needed that. It was a great way to end an overall great day. :)

So, tomorrow is a busy one...probably the busiest day I have had in a long time. I mean I have to set my alarm clock to get up tomorrow. I don't think I have done that in a few weeks...what a life, huhh? I'm ready though...hope it tires me out so I can sleep like a baby tomorrow night in preps for surgery bright and early tomorrow...

I'm off to sleep with my long hair one last time....

Till tomorrow....

Love, E

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Headache Smeadache...

Hola! Well I am happy to report that I didn't have to count any sheep last night. I still didn't sleep that great, but I guess it was better than it has been. I woke up with a SPLITTING, I mean SPLITTING headache though. I swear if it isn't one thing, it's another. Remember yesterday when I was talking about how I was scared of the unknown and what side effect would pop up next? Well, here comes another.

Thankfully the magic mouthwash really was in fact magic and the pain in my mouth/jaw has subsided for the most part. I'm still swooshing every 4 hours because I don't want that awful pain to come back, but for the most part I have that problem under control. Now I have headaches. I mean we all have headaches now and then and this could be a combination of a few different things...chemo, non-sleep, and the fact that I have pretty much eliminated caffeine from my diet. Well, not 100%...I think I've had 2 sodas in the last week...and no coffee. Maybe I'm crazy. This headache this morning was like a million times worse than when you wake up after a night of drinking. So crazy. I think it probably was a migraine, but who knows...I've never had one before. A couple Ibuprofen later I was golden...thank goodness but this damn headache keeps creeping back.

So, needless to say I didn't do much today but rest and try and kick this stupid pain in my head. I also started a pool service. My pool is pretty low maintenance to begin with but in all actuality it's too much for me to handle right now and it requires energy and time...time I have, but energy is limited. Especially with summer coming up, I just figured it was a wise decision and luckily I have a pool company connection. Thanks Loco. :)

I did get out of the house though...I went to see "Valentine's Day" with Aimee. It was a really cute movie, lots of good story lines, a great cast and just an overall good feeling movie. It still didn't change the fact that I still hate Valentines Day...

I think tomorrow I may muster up some energy to do a bit of cleaning and laundry and a trip to the grocery. It's also girls night out dinner for sushi with the Loco girls. I'm excited for that. It's not often that we can all get together and hang out (outside of work!).

So, that's the update for today...I am hoping that tonight I get good sleep and I wake up without some stupid pain of some sort. Can I be so lucky?? Damn right I can...

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I love you tomorrow...

Love, E

Monday, February 22, 2010

Counting Sheep

Hey there everyone! Sorry I didn't write yesterday but I really didn't do a darn thing on Sunday so I didn't really want to bore you with my do-nothings. It was such a nice day to do just that too..it was rainy, chilly and just blah. That's how I felt too. I hit an emotional bump late Saturday night and it continued into Sunday, but that happens and I think if I wasn't emotional during any of this, something would be wrong. Hey, I think tears are good and it did make me feel better to cry and cry and cry.

Why am I sad? Well, there are a millions reasons why, but mostly because I'm just scared. It's scary to not know what's around the corner, what side effect could pop up, how will I respond to the next treatment, etc. etc. etc. I have always hated the UNKNOWN. It's hard too when I can't sleep and I just lay there in complete silence listening to my dogs snore...then my mind starts to wander and it ponders this and that. Hard to shut it off sometimes. So, enough with that...I got my crying out for a few days.

Now, today was a much better day! Although it was raining AGAIN, I had some good energy and I was excited to get out of the house. I had to go into Loco and finish up what I didn't last week....I just didn't have enough energy to get it all done on Friday. We are closed right now for a mini-remodel so it was the perfect time to be in there and get stuff done and not be distracted. I finished EVERYTHING I had to do and I feel so much better. I spent almost 3 hours there. I left because I was starved and it was almost my nap time. Ha.

I have been feeling pretty good. My energy definitely wears thin and I get tired after doing the silliest things (like showering and getting ready for the day!). I think I mentioned before that I started to developed this weird mouth thing. Well, it's still there and I called Ironwood today and left a message for the chemo nurses. In fact, I think it was worse today than it has been since it started on Friday afternoon. It's really hard to explain, but it's like the nerves in my mouth go berserk when something enters my mouth...sharp pain protruding thru my jaw and into my face. It's SO WEIRD. I can eat, it doesn't hurt after I get the initial few chomps out of the way but man do I have to prepare myself for the first bite!! Ha. They promptly returned my phone call and she prescribed me some mouthwash. Ok, fine. I'll try it. She called it in to my pharmacy and I was to pick it up later.

Well, this is called "magic mouthwash!" The damn bottle better be magic, it cost $57 with my insurance!! YIKES! It resembles pepto in color but doesn't taste bad at all. It does have lidocaine in it. So, I have to swoosh around a teaspoon every 4 hours. I have done 2 swooshes now and I have to say, I think it's helping. I did a swoosh before dinner and then I ate...well, eating still hurt like b*&^% but it wasn't nearly as bad as previous times. So, I'm hoping this magic mouthwash is doing it's trick. This whole side effect is bizarre and even the nurse didn't really sound like she knew what it was. Oh, how rare I am...

I hope to get out of the house again tomorrow and maybe see a movie...I have dinner with the Loco girls on Wednesday night, getting my hair chopped on Thursday and then Friday is surgery day. So, it'll be a busy week...let's hope my strength holds up! I know it will...it's getting better every day!

On a good note, I'm done with that darn Prednisone until March 10th so I hope I won't be counting sheep tonight or for the next two weeks...

Tomorrow is a new day...

Love you all--E

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Pitter Patter...

Today was a perfect day to do nothing and that's exactly what I did! I slept just about as good as I did the night before and by my definition of good, it was bad. I seriously went to bed and woke up a half hour after I laid my head on the pillow thinking it had been hours and it was only a half hour. It's like my nights of sleep take forever. I guess because I keep waking up in the middle of the night. Last night I was awake for about an hour around 4:30am and decided to text my brother who I knew was working. Ha. He said he was actually feeling tired so I "woke" him up! It's kinda weird texting your brother at that hour, but hey, he entertained my while my dogs were snoring right beside me and I lay there wide awake.

Today I obviously didn't do much, it was raining off and on all day, a bit cool here and it was just a delightful day to spend in my recliner and on the couch. I took a shower and I had a visitor (Karen, one of my regulars at Loco) whom it was really nice to see. She brought me some baked goods, a potted plant of different cacti for my patio and a rain gauge! Then, it was lunchtime and nap time!

I have developed this weird pain in my mouth. No sores...I think it's more of the nerves in my mouth. It's so hard to describe but man does it hurt. Whenever I put something in my mouth...as soon as it hits my tongue my nerves go crazy...very very painful. I can feel it in my jaw and in my ears. SO WEIRD. It only lasts maybe less than a minute or a few chews and then it goes away...but man that initial entry of food SUCKS! It hurts when I drink too sometimes and also when I cough (which I just realized a bit ago). So hopefully this doesn't last long, but if the problem is still there on Monday I will call my nurses and see what's up! I don't recall reading anything about this particular side effect, but I'm sure it's related.

Heck, if this is as bad as it's gets, I can handle it. It's just weird wondering, "what else is around the corner?!" The unknown is obviously still there, and I have always hated the unknown.

For instance my hair. They say I'm going to lose it, but when? I get so scared to brush my hair or touch it for fear it's going to start falling out. I am in fact getting it cut pretty darn short on Thursday because I won't be able to handle it falling out while I'm in the shower or what not. Plus, it's annoying me because it's so long and it's in the way and I just don't need to deal with it right now. Ha. Of course I would rather not lose my beautiful head of hair that I have worked so hard on, but on the bright side, it will grow back. Yippee. :)

So that my friends is the update for Saturday here in chemo land. I'm watching the Olympics with Frank by my feet with the back door open listening the remnants of the rain. What a life.

Tomorrow is yet another new day...

Love you all--E

Friday, February 19, 2010

Today was a TIRED day...

Hello all, today was not as good as yesterday. I didn't sleep very good last night and I believe that is partly due the Prednisone that I'm taking. Just restless sleep. Sucked. I would wake up thinking I had slept for hours and it would have only been 45 minutes or an hour. Ha. I survived though, got up, had some breakfast and took my meds. I really was only up about an hour and decided to go back to bed. I did for almost 3 hours. It felt great.

I got up again and decided to head to Loco to get some food and get a little work done. Well, you don't really know how much energy driving takes out of you until your energy is already compromised. I was pooped by the time I got there. I had some food (I've missed Loco's food!) and then did some office stuff, but I started not feeling good and just wanted to get home so the work would have to wait until another time.

I got home and took another nap for about an hour on the couch. That was nice as well. I am just so tired today! In fact, I'm going to bed as soon as I finish my taping of the Olympics. (I'm addicted). I have also developed this weird jaw pain. It's super hard to describe but it is a side effect and definitely not a comfortable pain! Ugh. It hurts as soon as food enters my mouth, but only for a few bites and then goes away. SO WEIRD. It's like the nerves/muscles in my jaw are affected by the chemo or something. I just hope it doesn't get worse.

So, that's the update for today...just a tired day. Today is a new day and I really am believing in the saying "one day at a time". I thought I would feel great today seeing as yesterday wasn't such a bad one, but man, I felt worse! Still pluggin' along though!

I hope everyone has a great weekend. I think we here in AZ may have some rain. That will be a nice treat.

Oh, I forgot to mention but I got my surgery scheduled to get my port put in next Friday. So, that's the last thing that needs to be done and then I just have chemo treatments till June! I'm a little nervous for this surgery because they do put you under...but I'm sure all will be fine and I have all the time in the world to recuperate!

Thank you all for your continued emails, Facebook messages, texts, phone calls, etc. They mean the world.

Tomorrow's a new day...

Love you all--E

Thursday, February 18, 2010

It's like a really bad hangover, but different...

Hi there everyone! I survived another day and I keep on going!! I can do this! I know I can!! It really isn't THAT bad. If all of the treatments result in what I dealt with the last 30 hours or so I can definitely handle it! My mom is thoroughly impressed as to how I'm feeling. She thought for sure I would be hugging the toilet last night, but I didn't! I knew that getting sick wasn't going to make me feel better (like it does when you have a hangover or the flu) and I really didn't want to "lose" anything I had in me so held it all down! GO ME!

I got some GREAT sleep last night. I went to bed at 10:45pm and I woke up at 7:30am this morning I swear in the same position. My arm was even asleep because I had slept on it that long. Ha. I got up to use the restroom and that's when I felt like I was hit by a truck. Wow, it took me a minute to get up, I was super wobbly and dizzy (like I was really drunk!). It's quite comical to think about it now. I was fumbling all over the place. Made it to the bathroom and the back to bed. I slept for another couple hours. I didn't really want to get out of bed because I didn't feel like moving but I needed to take my meds and eat some breakfast.

Mom had spent the night and she has developed a bad cold so I think I feel better than her! Go figure. She was a great nurse though and made me an English Muffin with peanut butter on it so I could take my meds! It actually tasted really good. A couple hours later I felt hungry again and I had some leftovers of the beef stroganoff from last night. OH YUMMY! It was delicious! Then it was time to take a shower and get ready to get my shot.

I had to go to Fry's to get another prescription filled so we went there first to drop it off. Then, to Ironwood to get my Neulesta shot. It was a piece of cake...it burned a little bit but that was because it was cold going in (they keep it in the fridge). This is a white cell booster that will help them grow faster! Yippee. I may feel some side effects here in the next couple days like my bones feeling sore, but I will deal with that if and when it happens.

After the shot, went back to Fry's and got my prescription and a couple other things I forgot the other day and then it was back home. I sent Nurse Mom home and it back to my "station" for a much needed nap. I felt like I slept for only half hour but it was about an hour and a half. I needed it though.

So ya'all I've been doing very very very good. I am really happy with how I'm feeling, I mean I didn't really know what to expect because you hear so many things, but I know it could be worse. I think attitude has a lot to do with it and mine has been great. I can't sit here and feel miserable for myself. I just take it one day at a time and do what I can. :)

Thank you again for you support and nice messages. I love hearing from you all. :) It means the world to know I have such an ARMY out there thinking about me, praying for me, smiling for me...it's amazing. I am so blessed.

Tomorrow is another day...

Love, E

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

1 Down, 5 More to Go!

Well everyone, I made it through my first chemo treatment!! Hip hip hooray!! Now have a beer for me and celebrate because I had enough cocktails for one day. I got there a little before 1pm (my appointment time) and I didn't get brought back to the chemo room until about 1:20pm. I picked a chair (in the back corner) and soon realized that would be the 1st of 4 chairs because the sun kept following me! Ha. I waited some more, got my anti-nausea medicine for home and the pill I have to take before my treatment starts. Then, she got me hooked up to an IV (on my left forearm pretty much) and in went the more anti-nausea medicine in a drip IV line...that took about 1/2 hour to empty. After that she came back (Anne was my nurse today!) and she put in a separate syringe of one of my drugs (I can't remember which one) right into my IV. That took about 5 minutes...they insert 2 of them (not sure why but they do and they have to monitor the IV to make sure it's all working properly). After that one came my red one...and it was cold, but it felt good because I've been hot all day long!! Weird...but I think it has to be a side effect from the Prednisone that I started taking this morning. This HUGE syringe she brought out contained my red juice. That took a bit longer to get in...probably about 15 minutes.

After that I was given another IV bag with my final cocktail in it. This one took a little over an hour to drip I think but as soon as it was done, I was able to go! Yippee!!

About halfway thru the last cocktail it hit me like a ton of bricks...man I'm tired and really weak! I just didn't want to move and I still feel that way but that's to be expected!

We got home, my Dad, bless his heart couldn't take the mess on my driveway anymore from a shedding tree so he did some yard work for me and Mom was just inside with me. Shortly after Dad left my Mom got to fixing dinner. I was pretty hungry and it sounded so good at the time...but I missed my window of opportunity. SO SAD. The nausea was starting to kick in. The thought of food did not sound good at all. Mom thoroughly enjoyed it though and I hope I will enjoy the leftovers tomorrow. I was still drinking lots of water and just holding it in!!

I have done great though...no hugging the toilet yet!! I'm very proud of myself and so is Mom. She's shocked that I haven't ran to the bathroom yet. HAHAHA. I did get down an Ensure drink too...I hadn't eaten since this morning's breakfast and then some crackers during Chemo so I knew I had to eat something. That has settled just fine.

The BEST part of today is that I can already feel it working. Those cancer cells are dying as we speak because my pain has subsided. You have no idea how good this feels!! I haven't taken a pain pill since 12:30pm today and I was up to every 4 hours so this is VAST improvement!! I'm so happy.

So besides being weak, tired and bit nauseous I'm doing GREAT! Oh and I have occasional small bouts of hiccups!! So funny. Let's hope tomorrow isn't any worse....

Thanks to everyone for the positive thoughts today. I appreciate it more than you know...they definitely worked.

I'll check back in tomorrow to let you know how Day #2 goes.

Love you all---

E

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tomorrow is a BIG day...

Hello all, well I wasn't going to write until after my treatment tomorrow but I decided I wanted to. I like to type and since tomorrow is a big day for me, it will probably do me some good.

Let's see, I left you on Friday after my meeting with Dr. Nabong. I didn't do a darn thing Friday night or all day on Saturday, I just didn't feel like it. I have realized that my energy is precious. It runs out very very fast. Sunday I got out of the house though. Mom and Dad came and picked me up and we went to a late lunch at Cadillac Ranch at Tempe Marketplace and then we went to see "Sherlock Holmes". It was a good movie and they definitely left it open for a 2nd one. I was completely exhausted after my outing (which seems silly, but I am definitely starting to feel the aggressiveness of this cancer.) It just takes a toll on me. So, Sunday night i just relaxed and rested.

I got out of the house again yesterday to Loco. I needed to get some stuff done and usually Monday's are my office/catch up on paperwork day so that's what I did. It was also the first time I had driven my car since last Tuesday. Poor Wonda was feeling so neglected! It was nice to get out, but of course I was exhausted once home.

Once a month my family and friends get together for a game night. It was supposed to be at my Aunt's house last night but she came down with a bad cold a couple days ago and for the sake of my health and my Mom's she decided not to host it. Everyone came to my house instead! Fine by me because when it's my turn to host in April I may not feel like it...so it really worked out. Game night is always so much fun. We are such a competitive group of people, I love it. And of course the distraction was great for me.

Today I got out of the house again! I know, 3 days in a row and tomorrow will be my 4th! Ha. It's also SO FREAKIN' NICE OUT that I couldn't sit inside anymore. It's only been 75 degrees here the past few days here...LOVE IT. And from what people have told me Vitamin D is very good for me and guess what? That's in the sun! :) Today I had to get to the bank, went to Fry's to get my Prednisone prescription that I start tomorrow for 5 days and I also got a few groceries. Home to eat some lunch and take a nap. That seems to be my routine. I do something and then I'm tired and need a nap. Ha. I know my Dad and Lyda are proud of my new nap taking skills...I may start to become a pro like them! Hee hee.

I read a lot this weekend on chemotherapy. They gave me lots of information to go over and I figured I better read it before I start. I think my biggest battle/obstacle I will go thru is eating. There are times when I am not going to feel good, I may have sores in my mouth, I'm nauseous and just don't have an appetite. Well, NOT eating isn't an option (as most would do if they had those symptoms). I have to eat, it will keep my strength up, etc. etc. So, I have to tell myself that I will probably have to force myself to eat sometimes...but it's for the best! I don't want to make this any worse than it may be.

Tomorrow will probably be a hard day. Even though I was diagnosed almost 2 weeks ago with cancer I feel that tomorrow is my first day of my journey. Up until tomorrow nothing really has been done to fight off this cancer...but once my chemo cocktail gets whipped up and starts dripping into me, the fight begins. Those cancer cells will soon realize they messed with the wrong girl (thanks Stacy!). I will know too that I will start to feel better and if I'm sick, it's no longer because of the cancer, but it's because of the chemo. I may not react to the chemo very well, but we do know one thing that will--the cancer (thanks Bro.). I think it will really hit me when I sit in the "chemo" chair and get hooked up that wow, this is really happening to me. Although I'm scared to death, I really am excited to get this started. Now that I'm starting, I can start counting down the days till I'm back to me!

I can't thank my friends and family enough for all the support I have received and I know will continue to receive. I hope you all are enjoying my blogs...I feel better when I write them...it's kinda therapeutic.

I will write again tomorrow (I'm sure I'll feel up to it) and let you know how my first cocktail went! I know you all will be curious. Mom and Dad will be with me and then Mom is having a slumber party at my house tomorrow night just to make sure I'm OK. She's also going to make my favorite dinner...beef stroganoff! YUM! I know I will eat that!! :)

Till tomorrow...the journey begins.

Love you all--

E

Friday, February 12, 2010

1 Serving of Chemo Cocktail Coming Up!

Helllllo everyone! I have returned from my visit with Dr. Nabong today and we received the best news that we could have at this point in my journey. My heart is tickin' like clock-work, my bone marrow is NOT compromised and my PET Scan showed no other tumors other than in my groin/abdomen area...so I'm at a Stage 2 folks! The best news we could have heard! He didn't seem alarmed with ANYTHING in ANY of my tests I had done this week. Thank GOD!

They are recommending (even though it is up to me) that I do the bone marrow transplant upfront after my chemotherapy treatments. I think I would be an idiot to not have this done as scary as it may be. It truly is my only chance at a definite cure and given my age I really really really don't want to experience this again in my life. So, I'm going to agree to it...unless they have a different plan of attack down the road. There is still some talking that is going on with Dr. Schriber and MD Anderson as a matter of fact. But as of now...this is what is next for me!

I start my first chemotherapy treatment on Wednesday at 1pm. My treatments will be hopefully limited to 6 and they will be 21 days apart. Each treatment will last about 1 1/2-2 hours each time. The first one is going to be done thru my arm, but I will have to get my port put in my chest after the first treatment because my arms won't be able to withstand another treatment after the 1st one. I already am getting that procedure scheduled (supposedly it's only a 20 min long process, but they do put you under). The following day AFTER each chemo treatment I go in for a shot of Neulasta (it's a white blood cell booster, a drug that helps your body make more of its own natural white blood cells to help protect you against chemotherapy-related infection). Every treatment except for my first I will have to go in the day BEFORE my treatment to get my blood work done. They will then be able to see how my counts are and to make sure that I am in fact ready for my next cocktail! Dr. Nabong will run another PET scan after my 3rd treatment to hopefully ensure that these cocktails are doing their job!

I am so relieved that I didn't hear any BAD news today...I don't think I could have taken anymore of that, but I am still scared and nervous for Wednesday because I'm not sure how my body will react to the treatment...everyone is different. The first week after each treatment will be the worst, but I will just have to find out for myself. My Mom is going to stay with me the first night to make sure I don't have any reaction to anything and my symptoms are OK. She's the best! :) As I have in everything else, I'm going to go into thinking the best and that I won't be super sick! I'm a tough cookie!!

I have been in quite some pain from that stupid bone marrow biopsy. In fact, I really can't drive right now. Part due to the bone pain and part due to my tumor (and part to the pain killers I'm on...they make me loopy!) I have just lost a lot of muscle function in my right leg so putting the pedal to the medal doesn't really work. I'm hoping that once I start treatment I will feel relief SOON!

I/we/Loco have also decided that it would be best to take me off the floor schedule for the time being. It's not fair to me, nor the girls to have to cover for me STAT if I don't feel good so I would rather just not be scheduled and if I feel like working then hopefully they will give me a shift or 2. Like I said before I don't know how I'm going to feel when this all gets started so I'd rather be safe that sorry. I still plan on doing my managerial duties, paperwork, payroll, office stuff, bill paying, etc. etc. Most importantly though, I need my rest and I need to focus on myself and getting better. Don't worry though I WILL be back, better and stronger than ever before! I just have to do some ass-kicking first!! :)

I am still grateful and truly blessed everyday for all of you in my life. I am still completely overwhelmed with everything as I seem to be getting hit hard with so much information, but luckily I have a few days to process it before I get more information! HA. I have a lot of reading material to keep me occupied this weekend, as well as the Olympics to watch and I have a hot date with my Mom and Dad on Valentine's Day for dinner and a movie. Awwwww. The best Valentine's EVER!

One day at a time is how my life is going...and trust me they keep going fast (which is good!!!). I feel like I just got up today and look it's already 6pm. I hope that time continues to fly so I can get back to being ME.

Have a great weekend everyone and HAPPY STUPID CUPID DAY! Ugh, how I hate this day. Always have. Such a lame day. For those of you that are into it, enjoy it though.

Till the next time...

Love you all--Erin

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Well, that was just plain WEIRD

Hello all! I survived my 2 tests!! Let's see, I left you on Monday telling you about my visit with Dr. Schriber. Nothing really too exciting happened yesterday besides going to the lab and getting bloodwork done and finding out I had to collect my pee pee for 24 hours. That was fun! NOT. Glad that's over with. Now, onto today.

I was up bright and early at 5am, Mom was going to be here at 5:45...well, Dad came too! I had an inkling he was going to be there for support as well and he sure was! We were off to Banner Desert at Dobson/Southern. The place was dead, I had no idea where I was going so it took a bit to figure that out but we were finally pointed in the right direction. I got checked in the the MUGA scan first. Mom and Dad were able to come back with me and they actually watched the entire process.

First she put an IV type thing in my arm, drew out some blood and then it had to "cook" for about 20 minutes. They were putting some tracers in my blood and then after that was done, they put the blood back in me, I laid on the bed and then 3 different pictures were being taken of my heart for 10 minutes each. Well, my back is already killing me and I'm already in pain so laying on my back was super uncomfortable but I made it. That was painless, easy and over with...

We had a nice little break before my bone marrow biopsy so we went down the street to Village Inn and got some breakfast. I took my meds, ate a little (my nerves were kicking in) and then it was back to the hospital. Got checked in right away. I had to go upstairs to the lab and get 2 more viles of blood taken and then I had to return them to the front office lady. Didn't wait too much longer and I was taken to the back. Mom and Dad got to join.

I got up on the bed and pretty much just waited. They were all pretty surprised that I was being put under for this procedure and that I opted to have just local anesthetics. Well, I don't recall having a choice...so local it was. They "prepped" me mentally, I waited for about 1/2 hour and off I went. I was quite nervous. Ugh...it's agonizing not knowing how it's going to feel, the anticipation, etc. etc. I just wanted it over with.

Well, they were right in every aspect of how they explained it. It really took me quite some time to describe how it felt. First it just felt like bee stings when she was putting the anesthetic in...skin first then deeper. She kept asking, "Can you feel this, can you feel this?" Finally I was like, "No" and off we were. Well, it felt weird. That's the best way to describe it. First it was like she was grinding into my bone (I know you all are cringing and thank GOD I wasn't able to see what actually was happening...I was laying on my side). Picture a wine opener going into a cork...that's what I'm assuming was happening. Then, the bad 10 seconds. The weirdest sensation I have ever felt. And man did it hurt...but not that bad. It was only 10 seconds...and she kept telling me to take breaths and by then it was over. It felt like a rope was being pulled out of me...I could feel the sensation all the way down my leg and into my feet down to my toes. That was just the nerves being hit. SO WEIRD. It felt hot, like it was burning...literally like something was being pulled out of you...well, it was! My bone marrow!! Marrow is just a thicker blood so that's why it takes a bit longer to get out. I was soooo happy when that part was over...but I wasn't done yet. That was just the worst.

Then, she went a corkin' back in and did the core biopsy. That didn't hurt that bad, just more pressure maybe a few grimaces, but definitely nothing like the 10 seconds before that. Then, finally she was done and out she came. She just had to make sure that the sample she got was good enough and I said, "I know it is, it has to be!" They were happy with my positive thinking and look at that, the sample was perfect!! She showed it to me too...it look like half a red toothpick. Weird.

They cleaned me up, put a 2x2 bandage on me, a little pressure and off to recovery I was. They just monitored my stats, checked the area for bleeding (none) and then Mom and Dad came back...we were there maybe 20-30 minutes and off I was!! The entire biopsy took maybe 20 minutes. Not bad at all. I may have to do that again in the future but I still won't be put under. It wasn't that bad that I couldn't endure it again...but I definitely don't want to!

So, my day of being poked and prodded and grinded is over with. The word of the day is weird. So weird.

I feel pretty good today. I'm a little sore back there but I don't think the anesthetic has all worn off yet. I'm very sleepy so I'm off to take a nap. Thanks for your positive thoughts today...I have one last test tomorrow morning, my PET scan...that will be a real piece of cake compared to today!!

Love you all--

Erin

Monday, February 8, 2010

IF IF IF...sick of the word IF.

Hello all, I know you have missed me this weekend. I thought about writing a post about nothing in particular but that's boring so I just waited until I could write about some good stuff!! I hope you all enjoyed your weekend, did some partying and hopefully didn't worry about me! :)

I had a good one, I was able to work on Saturday (made it thru the day) and then spent Superbowl at Mom and Dad's house for a great Superbowl party. It was a lot of fun and it was a nice distraction.

Today my meeting with Dr. Schriber went good. At first I wasn't sure why I was there and I don't think he knew why I was there either. He usually doesn't see people until after remission or after they relapse so to see me so early was a little odd. But, we go on and chat and discuss this and that. Finally the light bulb went on and I was there because I have T cell Lymphoma, not B cell. That puts me at a high risk and typically with most T cell cancer patients they give you a bone marrow transplant following chemotherapy (and once I'm in remission). It is still possible I won't have to go this route, but we discussed IF I had too...

Basically there is a large chance, almost a guarantee that with a bone marrow transplant I will be cured. I would like to think so if I was to endure this 4-6 month process. Yikes! Without going into too many details because it's still a "maybe" 3-4 weeks of that would be hospitalization. Wowzers. I am pretty sure though I would come out of it cured and basically a new person. That's the positive! The negative is of course I think I would be at my absolute low during this time. Kind of scary, but the end result is great.

There are still too many unknowns that have to be answered before they will decide if this is for me and I think I will find out on Friday when I go back to seeing Dr. Nabong. I got my 3 tests scheduled for this week. I have my MUGA scan and my bone marrow biopsy on Wednesday (back-to-back) starting bright and early at 6:15am. Then, I have my PET scan on Thursday at 7am. Everything has been ordered STAT so the results of everything will be in by the time I have my 1pm meeting on Friday. Yippee!

The best part of the day was when I finally got some drugs. Those of you who know me well know I don't like to take things unless I absolutely need them. Well, I am in a TON of pain today and he could see it and asked Nabong if they could start me on something. THANK GOODNESS. So, I've taken 2 of my 3 pills (I can't take one until the morning) so hopefully I will feel some relief!

The other interesting thing is that my brother Ryan will be tested to see if he's a bone marrow match for me. Nobody else. Only siblings can be matches(of my immediate family). We have a 1 in 4 shot so he will just have to get a blood test here soon.

He also thinks I'm at a Stage 2. I asked why not Stage 1 and Stage 1 is if only 1 lymph node has been infected...well, I obviously have more than 1 so that's why I'm at Stage 2. The PET scan will tell us for sure.

My Mom may go into more detail with her email that she sounds out to peeps but I figured why bore you with the details of this bone marrow transplant if it doesn't pertain to me. So, maybe if I get the word then I can tell you more...but right now, just keep your fingers crossed that everything comes back clean this week with my tests!!

Other than being in a little pain, hobbling around like an old lady, I feel great. I am still super overwhelmed with everything and the amount of support I have and the emails I have gotten, but it just goes to show me that I truly am blessed. It's unbelievable and I love every person in my life. Thank you all for your continued support. It means the world...

Till Wed!

E

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Meeting with my Oncologist...

Hello all! Well, today was a good day...better than yesterday thankfully. I didn't hear anymore bad news. I truly think that was the hardest part...finding out I have cancer. Now, I'm ready to move on and tackle it. Of course I have moments, but for the most part I am being as strong as I possibly can!

I went to Ironwood Cancer and Research Center today in Mesa. I met with Dr. Scott (Dr. Nabong's Physcian's Assistant) first and got a bunch of questions answered from him. To make a long story short I have a VERY rare case of lymphoma. To be exact I have Angioimmunoblastic T-Cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Whew. It accounts for 1% of all Non-Hodgkin's Lymphomas. When Dr. Nabong came in he said, we are just shocked. It's not something they see in a HEALTHY 31 year old! You all knew I was rare right? Ha. I'd like to think I am special. :) So, here's the plan.

I have to have 3 tests next week. 1. A PET scan. This will determine what stage I'm in and see if there is any other shaninigans going on anywhere else. KEEP YOUR FINGERS CROSSED THIS COMES BACK CLEAN!! 2. A MUGA Scan. It's to test my heart and make sure that blood flows thru it like it's supposed to. The chemo treatment could affect my heart so they are making sure it works properly to begin with and then they have something to compare it to during chemo. 3. A bone marrow biopsy. This is gonna be painful. They go in thru the pelvic bone and get some bone marrow out. The thought it makes me cringe but I need to get it done. This cancer is aggressive so I MAY need a bone marrow transplant/stem-cell treatment after chemotherapy.

Yes kids I'm having chemo. Yes kids I'm losing my hair. Ahhhhhhh. It'll be OK though...it's all part of the process to get me better!! I can do it, I know I can. They think probably only 6-8 treatments and they spread them out like 1 every 3-4 weeks. So it doesn't sound like I'll be out of commission for that long. Maybe just during my treatment week. It's aggressive so I'm pretty sure my treatment isn't going to be easy. I'm in for it.

I'm meeting with Dr. Jeff Schriber on Monday. He's a top-notch oncologist and bone marrow doctor. Should be interesting. So, everyone can breathe easy this weekend and enjoy the Superbowl and please don't worry about me. I plan on doing the same. I won't know anything new until next week. It gives me a few days to process all of this and as we all know, time is the best medicine...

Thanks again to all. I probably will never be able to say enough thanks but just know that everything is much appreciated. It's absolutely amazing. Thank you thank you thank you.

Erin

To catch you all up to date...

Hello there everyone! I have never done a blog before, but I think under my current situation I thought it would be nice to start this. It will not only help me log everything that has/will happened but it will keep all of my supporters, friends and family in the loop! This isn't going to be an easy journey, but I'm ready to start and conquer it.

Here is how it all started...I'm going to insert how my Mom described it...

"To bring you all up to date—Erin’s been experiencing pain and swelling in her lower right groin since last September. She went to her OB/GYN at that time and was told that she probably had swollen lymph nodes and to wait 3 months. Swollen lymph glands usually mean an internal infection but blood tests at that time were clear.

The swelling never really subsided and her pain increased these past few months so Erin went back to her OB doc and he referred her to an orthopedic surgeon. This doc came to the conclusion that it was probably a hernia but to confirm that an MRI was done Friday, 1/22. Well there wasn’t a hernia—but there was “something”—and to find out what that “something” was Erin was in for a biopsy Friday, 1/29 at Banner Gateway Hospital. It takes forever to get prepped for these procedures but at long last we were ushered into the procedure room to talk to the doctor doing the biopsy, Dr. Friend. He asked Erin what she knew and she reiterated pretty much everything I’ve just written. He asked her if she had seen the MRI herself and she said “No”, so he took us back to a computer monitor and showed us the “slides” of what they found. It’s a tumor, about 4.3 cm in size (I guesstimate that to be about the size of a nickel) nestled right next to her bladder. Dr. Friend first took samples of her nodes—had they come back normal he would have gone right to the tumor for more samples—but her lymph nodes were abnormal which meant “there’s something wrong in Denmark”—procedure done. I waited in the lobby for the hour it took all this to be done and then was escorted to Erin who was in recovery—she was under “conscious sedation” but needed to be monitored.

Both Dr. Friend and her surgeon were there with Erin and they recommended to us that a full CT scan be done . . . #1 to make sure there was no hemorrhaging from the biopsy and #2 to see if there were any more of these tumors hidden about. Thank the Lord no other tumors, just a small spot on her lung which was of no concern.

SO . . . the samples they took from her lymph nodes went to a pathology lab/pathologist to be examined. Exactly what is affecting them? Because of their inability to function properly is that why the tumor is there? There’s a litany of questions we hope to have answered but with this all initiated last Friday we had the weekend to endure before getting to actual business days of work in the lab!!

I asked Dr. Friend, point blank, what’s the best we want to hear on these results? . . . and this is when Erin about fell out of bed and I off my chair . . . he said “You want to hear that you have lymphoma.” Good God—you never want your doctor hoping you have cancer (lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph nodes) BUT in the scheme of everything else THIS COULD BE lymphoma is the easiest of cancers to treat. "


I got the dreaded phone call at 5:12pm last evening (Thursday February 4th) from my Dr. Schuster. The only word that came out of his mouth was lymphoma. He said it was very aggressive, he had already been in contact with my now oncologist (Dr. Nabong) and how Dr. Nabong wanted to see me ASAP. I asked him a few more details and this is pretty much all I know right now. I have aggressive large cell Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. (I will refer to it from now on as NHL..funny because I hate hockey). It's best treated thru chemotherapy.

Of course hearing those words you have cancer are not easy. I never thought at my ripe age of 31 I would saying that and quite honestly, those words don't feel right coming out of my mouth. I am probably still in a bit of shock and trying to process this all.

I am meeting with my oncologist today at 1pm. My Mom and Dad have been right by my side and they are accompanying me at this appointment. I'm nervous, but yet anxious to hear what he has to say, to learn more and get on the right track to kick this nasty thing. I will write more later and fill you in on how the oncologist went.

Thank you all for your support, prayers, kind words, nice gestures, hugs, tears, oh my gosh, it's so overwhelming. I truly am blessed to have all of you in my life.

Love you all...Erin