Saturday, March 24, 2007

March 24, 2007

A new day

I'm trying, really, I'm trying, but all I want to do is crawl back into bed. Rachel's leaving on a spring break trip to DC (how ironic -- it's where I work, and yet I can't even think about work). We need to do some last minute preparations, and I want to sleep! She got up at oh-dark-thirty to go to a soccer game (thanks Marlene for driving her) and came home, soaking wet, having played in the rain. She took a quick shower and soon she'll be asking me, gently, to take her to the store to buy some cool jeans for the trip. Well, maybe I can go out and find some food I can eat.

Things I like: Tea. Little shortbread biscuits. Ramen noodles. Applesauce. Popsicles. Hot baths.

I am eating like an old lady!

My friend Carol Ann sent me a nice letter and some gifts from her last trip to Belize. She has such wonderful stories! That's because she is NOT AFRAID OF ANYTHING. What an amazing woman. On her way back from sunny, tropical Belize to Anchorage, she stopped in King Salmon, Alaska, where the windchill was -59 degrees. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaack. I am sure I wouldn't have a thing to wear.

I know I need to get strong so I can visit my friends! I have trips planned (in my mind) to California, Oregon, and Alaska by the end of the year. Who knows?

I'm providing a picture from my last trip to Oregon with my friends Sandra and Dianne. It's so beautiful out there. I think wide open spaces make me feel better.

Friday, March 23, 2007

March 23, 2007

Walking Upright Again

For the last couple of days I have been nauseated and, yes, praying to a porcelain god or two. This chemo is not for wimps. I haven't been able to eat much. Yesterday I went to the UNM Cancer Center for a second opinion by Dr. Melanie Royce, a well-known oncologist and clinician. As some of you know, I went to hear her speak at a Comadre A Comadre meeting a few weeks ago and I bird-dogged her with questions. I had already had this second opinion appointment arranged, yet I wanted some answers then, not 2 days after chemo. She was so gracious that evening and actually pulled me aside after the meeting to address some of my concerns.. On my visit yesterday, she recognized me from our earlier meeting. Then she observed that I was in bad shape and gave me this really big, expensive pill call Em-end (emesis-end) and made me lie down in one of their rooms for a half an hour! You know those exam rooms are hard to come by, but there I was, waiting for the pill to take effect. She said she couldn't do the consult unless I was coherent. So we had the consult, and she gave me some great ideas. She thinks the tumors in the two breasts may have had two different origins, and she wants them all tested for the ER, PR, and Her-2. She expects that the results will be different for different tumors, and they can treat them differently and get optimum results.

I also asked her about my prognosis, based on all the documentation I brought to her. She couldn't give me one and said it would only be a guess at this point. Here's the zinger: After my surgery (when they biopsy the tumors they remove), if everything looks like we think it looks now (Stage II, T2, N1), my prognosis will be good. If it's spread farther (Stage IIIA or IIIB), then the prognosis will be much, much worse (her words).

She also did the most interesting boob massage (paying attention now?) and all she did was unhook my bra. No gown, no formal office procedures. It was like getting felt up in high school. Alas, she was looking for lumps. She is a delicate Asian woman, and she exclaims in a high, girlish voice: "Oh, you have lumpy breasts!"

Or, as Shania would say, "I feel like a woman."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

March 20, 2007

Day 1 of 265: Get me through 2007!

Today (March 20) I had my first chemo treatment. The place was in an uproar because all the docs were late coming back from some big meeting. So I arrived at 9:15 and didn't get started on chemo until 1:00. The waiting room was full, and all the chemo chairs were busy. My mom waited with me that entire time! We did see the oncologist at about 11:00 but then had to wait some more while Dr. Marshall wrote up my chemo orders. After this first time, it should go more smoothly. Tomorrow I go in for a Neulasta shot, then in a week I get more blood drawn to test my blood cell counts, and then in two weeks I'll have my second chemo.

Barb Jordan, the expert text messager, contacted me several times and then waltzed into the chemo room about forty-five minutes before I was all done. We had a chance to talk while we waited for the nurses to complete my drip and then do all the paperwork. It worked out well to have her there near the end. I had plenty of time to talk to the nurses and the dietician after my mom left and before Barb showed up. All the text messages were great, too! I will have to work on my texting speed. I am a Slowski.

For those of you with morbid curiousity, I have a port-a-cath installed in my chest and it makes the IV so much easier. I didn't feel anything. I have adriamycin and cytoxin for four treatments, then four treatments of Taxol. My hair WILL fall out. I will feel nauseated and fatigued. I won't sleep much at night, but I will be dragging during the day. I will feel achy. My immunity will be suppressed, so I can't be around crowds or sick people. There may be other symptoms, but those are the typical ones.

Today at 5 pm I feel great! But I'll update you all later. Thanks to everyone who called, wrote, sent or brought unusually large packages and small tokens, said prayers, and did the girlfriend thing to the extreme. I really appreciate it.

WHAT I KNOW FOR SURE: I never knew how many friends I had. Life is good.

Livin' with attitude!