Saturday, December 29, 2007

Apathy, panic and a blessing in disguise

My favorite husband and I headed out to my last chemotherapy session yesterday for the ovarian cancer. It was snowing, which lifted my spirits a bit- but I was apathetic and tired, tired tired, as the steroids had kept me up much of the night - tossing and turning. He dropped me off, and went to run errands for an hour or so, while my pretreatment would presumably be happening.

The nurse said my CA125 was 25. Another increase. Still within normal limits, but not heading the direction I want it to. Then she told me that the pain I have in my side is a concern to the doctor, and that he did not want me to have the chemo until he had examined me. She said my blood tests were all fine (including my liver enzymes - and the pain is in the area of my liver). Of course, he doesn't come into the office until the afternoon. This freaked me right out! If I didn't get the chemo that day, I would not have it until after the new year. I have had my heart set on finishing THIS YEAR and not dragging it on into 2008. So, I did what any tired, bald and disappointed person would do - I burst into tears. The kind nurse pulled me into a private room until I calmed down (quickly, thankfully!) She told me to come back at 1 - and that I would be the first to see the doctor. She said that they could probably still treat me if he cleared me for chemo.

I called my husband to pick me up - and explained what happened. He also calmed me down - by taking me out to breakfast :) (he knows the way to my heart - that's for sure!) Then we ran some errands (mostly to keep me from worrying about the appointment).

The doc examined me, and couldn't feel anything. I knew it was nothing - and wish I had never mentioned it. BUT because it was in the general area where the ovarian cancer was removed, and because it felt to be my liver, I am glad I mentioned it just in case. I feel like I'm turning into a hypochondriac! :) By this time, it was near 2, and they said they could treat me! YIPPPEEEE! No more apathy regarding this last treatment - now I was excited! Hence, the blessing in disguise part of the title.

I found out during my treatment, that it was the kind chemo nurses who said they would stay late at the office, to ensure that I would be treated. They usually leave at 5, but because of me, stayed until a little after 6 pm. The staff there is just so kind. I think they understood my crazy notion that I had to finish this year - HAD to!

So now the chemotherapy is over, and once the side effects are done (should be better by Thursday), I will be back on my way to normal. Maybe a different type of normal now that I have gone through all of this. Maybe more patient? Definitely more understanding of those with illnesses.

But I know I am not done with this, and won't be for a long time. I have to set an appointment in four weeks to see the oncologist, who will order blood tests, and a CT or CAT scan. Once those are done, another visit with the gynecological oncologist (the expert) for his review and suggestions. I think I will have appointments every three months for a while. Oh - I also have to have my chest port flushed out every three months, to keep it from being blocked. I am glad I picked a place close to home for the treatment! The doc initially said I should keep the port in for five years, due to the high rate of ovarian cancer recurrence. I'm hoping to have it out in two to three years and to never have to use it again for chemotherapy. But, I'm going day by day.

You buy the ticket - you take the ride (Hunter S. Thompson)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Final chemo - and odds and ends...

Tomorrow is the day I have been waiting for since July and August of this year. My final chemotherapy treatment. I am so excited for it to be over, and I am also terrified. I am terrified first of the side effects that I know I will have. I am terrified that I will find out that I went through all of this for nothing. I am terrified that I will have to go through it again at some point in the future! Ultimately, I am terrified about not doing anything proactive in regards to the cancer, and maybe having it come back.

I am excited that I will get my hair back starting in a month or so. I am excited that I won't have to go through awful side effects every three weeks. I am excited to start 2008 with no chemotherapy planned. I am excited to have energy again, and to start reclaiming my health!

Now for the odds and ends:

I have great family - both mine and my favorite husbands. Over the holidays, everyone was so kind and supportive. His relatives have unfortunately had a lot of cancer touch their lives, and I think it gives them a 'magic touch' when it comes to talking to those of us who have it. I can't even recall the particulars - just good positive energy on Christmas eve eve when we went to his family party.

Of course both celebrations with both of our immediate families were wonderful as well! I was a little tired and cranky for my family (they always get the best of me!) but it went much better after I ate some food. Lately my mood has been affected by hunger. I used to be able to go all day without eating, and be fine. Now I am cranky cranky cranky. Thankfully, they understood, and I still got my presents. ;)

My aunt and uncle changed their holiday plans, and drove here for the holiday rather than have us drive there. This was wonderful - as I certainly would not have been able to make the trip this year (already had taken a lot of time off of work). I am so glad they did - it was great to see them, and I promised them I would make it up to them next year. We had a wonderful holiday visit, and squeezed (squoze?) a lot into a short time. Even though they cheat at cards they are all right in my book!

I have great friends. One talked me down from a near panic earlier this week (I don't even know if she knows it) when I was really stressing out about this last chemo. She reminded me that I have to take it one day at a time, and stop worrying or even thinking about the future - because it won't do me a damn bit of good. She (as usual) was absolutely right, and I thank her for it. I may need a little more reminding JKE (please see the first paragraph of this post!) - so please, keep the insights coming :)

And all my other friends and family as well, who don't point and laugh (at least not in front of my face) regardless of how silly I look in my head scarves, and without eyebrows and eyelashes...

I have found that I am a hair product junkie. I haven't had hair since September, but I still find myself perusing the shelves of shampoos, conditioners and other hair products. Crazy - right? :)

Wish me luck tomorrow - they drew another CA125, and I'll find out the results in the morning. Remember - we want a very low, low number!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! The Bears game yesterday was fantastic!! Yes, it was cold and snowy and very windy - but we dressed for it and it didn't bother us too much. Plus, we had access to an interior area where we could go if it got too cold. A wonderful game especially since the Bears won! (sorry Packers fans... )

I even had the energy last night to go to my in-laws family Christmas party (where the whole extended family shows up). That was good - because they had all heard of my ovarian cancer diagnosis and had sent me cards, and I wanted to show them that I was ok. It was a lot of fun and I am only sorry that we didn't get there a little earlier since we missed seeing some people.

I am experiencing some anxiety again about my upcoming chemo on Friday. It is nice to know that it will be the last time this year (and hopefully - ever) that I have to worry about chemotherapy. Its funny what the mind can do - Just thinking about it, I can already 'taste' the chemo, and feel the poison before it even enters my system. Good thing that I have a busy week ahead to keep me from dwelling on it.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2007


We braved the dreaded "mall" yesterday. I am happy to say that we got a lot of shopping done! We aren't finished yet - there are some loose ends to finish up, but we took a big chunk out of what we needed to get.

I am not over-doing it this year. The remaining shopping I have to do - either I know what I'm getting, or picking up gift cards. The shopping really exhausted me though. Not sure if I can rightfully blame the chemotherapy for that, or if I just hate shopping ;)

The good news was that it snowed! We have nearly a foot on the ground now. Of course, we saw a lot of cars in ditches, and off the road yesterday. I'm just glad we weren't one of those...

Normally, I would be having chemotherapy this coming Friday. I am SO GLAD to have an extra week off because of the holiday! I think my body needed the extra recuperation time to recover from the last one. The holidays are a perfect distraction too, to keep me from worrying or thinking too much about the cancer. I'll save that activity until next year. Today is my company Christmas party, more shopping this week, and next weekend is the Bears/Packers game that we have tickets to. PLENTY to keep me distracted!

Happy holidays everyone!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Pocket Kings

Pocket kings were his downfall. This just wasn't the year for my favorite husband to make his debut into the celebrity world of poker at the heartland poker tour.

He did get to play a while - about four hours before he finally busted out. I know it was a wonderful experience for him! Also, Chris Hanson from the tour (who commented on my blog on an earlier post) came up to the table while he was playing and said hello. He recognized him from the picture on this blog. If you read this - thanks Chris! I think you made his night - and gave him a little 'respect' from other players at the table for a short time ;)

He did so well to get into this tournament - and I am very very proud of him.

On a different topic - we went out and bought a new refrigerator today that will be delivered on Tuesday. I look forward to having a clean, new fridge. Any bets on how long it will stay that way? ;)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

If it ain't one thing...

it's another. We came home last night to find our ice cube bin filled with water, and a warm freezer and refrigerator. Hmmm. My favorite husband cleaned what he could to see if it was just the coils or other problem, etc. No such luck. I guess it is probably the compressor.

It looks like our Christmas gifts to each other this year will be a new refrigerator. Thank goodness for good credit and places out there that offer free financing for a while. At least we didn't have a whole lot of food that was ruined. It is actually a good reason to get rid of a lot of stuff (especially in the freezer) that has been there longer than it needed to be ;)

Other than that, things are going well! I am feeling much better now. I went to work Thursday and Friday - but probably should have just stayed home on Thursday. I am still really tired and my energy level isn't what it used to be. I just need to accept my limits, and try not to push them too often. It is really frustrating to not be as 'able' as I was, even just a month or two ago! Patience - I just need patience.

Chemotherapy is tricky. "Cumulative" is the key word for anyone about to undertake it. It wasn't until the third and fourth treatments that I started to realize what I was really in for, and each time has been progressively worse. However, each time I am learning to better deal with the side effects, and what I can to limit their severity. It is all a learning process, and everyone handles it differently.

I have also been thinking about my ovarian cancer diagnosis, and how extremely lucky I was that I started having symptoms that sent me to the doctor. It felt like my appendix was inflamed, or about to burst (that's the best way I can describe the twinge I felt in my right side that finally sent me to the ER). I had no other real definable symptoms. I have been reading about women who never knew or had any symptoms of ovarian cancer, until it had really spread - and those women didn't generally last long (although there are always exceptions!). Granted, I wish I had symptoms sooner ;) but I am glad that I had any at all. The cancer was discovered in enough time to give me a fighting chance. Many others have not been as lucky, and I feel for them and their families.

OK- enough 'cancer perspective'. Have a great weekend all!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


We take a break from our regularly scheduled documenting and whining about ovarian cancer, for an important announcement.

My favorite husband parlayed a $20 bill, into an entry into the Heartland Poker Tour (HPT)!! He won a small tournament, entered a super-satellite and won that for an entry to the satellite, which he made it to the top 20% in order to win a seat to the main event! He is amazing.

He will be playing Saturday night at the Majestic Star Casino, and hopefully playing Sunday, and finally Monday, when the final 6 players compete. That final table will be televised.

It has been a dream of his to compete in a large scale tournament of this sort. But we certainly could not have afforded the $2,500 entry fee! I just wanted to say how proud I am of him, and his skills. Congrats honey - and good luck!

Saturday, December 1, 2007


I got to see some snow this morning! It was beautiful. Now, it has just turned to icy rain, but it is dark so it doesn't matter. I hope for more snow tomorrow. I also hope that the Bears win - a girl can dream, can't she??

I don't feel very well today. I have my usual, day after chemo, rash. That is a typical symptom. I have an awful taste in my mouth - another typical symptom. I can eat apples and tomato based products (pasta and marinara sauce, etc.), but everything else tastes funny. Even water tastes funny - which is bad because I need to drink as much as possible in order to flush the toxins OUT! I have been drinking cranberry juice - that tastes fine. My hip joints really hurt - that is a symptom that has been getting worse each time. And finally, a flu-like headache, general malaise, and the ongoing nausea. Honestly, I'm not whining - just documenting! ;)

After a few more days, I will feel better. Then, I will only have to go through this one more time! It is hard to believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. My dear friend told me that 'there is a light at the end of the tunnel - just don't run into it and get hit by a train.' Actually, I think she said it better. I just don't remember the exact wording.

You will also notice that I will be using the term 'ovarian cancer' more frequently, so people who are trying to find info about ovarian cancer via a blog search may be directed to my blog. (see, I slipped the term ovarian cancer in again! You barely noticed!!)

I'm tired - so I am going to lay back down on the couch. That is where I will remain for several days. Good thing it is comfortable, and there are plenty of cats around to keep me company.

I'll report back in a few days when I'm feeling better.

(ovarian cancer!) ;)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Chemotherapy number 5

It went fine. I did feel nauseated during the taxol part of the drip (three hours of wonderful, queasy, nausea!!). The nurse said it was probably due to the toxic accumulation from the therapy. She gave me some additional anti nausea medication, which I will gladly take.

Now I am just sitting at home, still slightly nauseated, and burping. Oh yeah - that has been another usual side effect. It is because the chemo kills the cells in the lining of the stomach and esophagus, and any other fast growing cells in the body. I have been trying to burp the alphabet - but I haven't got past "d" yet. My favorite husband lovingly (I hope!) calls me Barney from the Simpsons, because of this side effect. Thankfully, it only lasts for about five days or so.

The side effects are definitely starting sooner. I'm already super tired and nauseated (even with the medication), and I have a sore and swollen throat (again, from the cells dying). I guess that my body is getting acclimated to the steroids, because my energy level is really down now too. I doubt I will be very mobile this weekend. Oh well - its hopefully going to snow, and I can look out the window from the couch to watch it! I DO hope that it snows and snows and snows some more. I really love snow! (really? YES REALLY!) Plus it will cover the leaves remaining on our lawn... ;) Also, I like to believe that the side effects are indications that the ovarian cancer is being targeted and killed.

The nurse told me that I could donate the Amitriptyline medication to them, and that it would get used. That is good, because I didn't want it to go to waste. This was the antidepressant medication that was prescribed for the numbness and tingling (neuropathy) that I get from the chemotherapy. She did recommend that I hold on to it for now, just in case the neuropathy gets worse. She said that it HAS helped other patients. So there is still a chance that I will take it if the symptoms get worse. I hope they don't. I really don't want to take medicine that will also affect my mental state. So far those symptoms haven't gotten worse!

Have a great weekend! Say a prayer for me if you get a chance! More importantly, say a prayer for my favorite husband, who has to put up with me for the next four or five days. ;)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Another appointment

Those of you paying attention will remember that I had a gynecological oncologist appointment Monday. He is the one who 'optimally debulked' me (removed as much cancer as could possibly be removed), and probably the one I will ultimately thank for saving my life.

Anyway - I didn't write anything about it, because no new pertinent information was provided at the exam. He just said I'm healing fine, I look good (well - THANK you...), and he wants to see me after chemo is done.

That is the current state of things. I will know nothing more until all the chemo is done. Wait, wait, wait. Then wait some more. I am in a medical limbo. They will give me a CT scan after chemo - but not until at least one month after. They will monitor my CA 125 - but not until after chemo. I will continue on with my life - after chemo.

At least by going through chemo, I am actively fighting the disease (I hope). At least by finishing chemo, I will feel as though something has been completed. Of course, there are no guarantees. Can you tell I'm confused?

I think the hardest part for me is the fact that cancer will always be an unanswered question. Do still have it? Will it come back? Is the ovarian cancer hiding, waiting for me to feel safe, only to crop up in a cozy place like my lungs or liver?

The closer I get to finishing chemo, the less stable I feel.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm still feeling great! The next one is on Friday (my second to last treatment). I'm trying not to think about it, and just enjoy the long weekend.
I hope that you all enjoy it too!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Happy Birthday to my favorite husband!

We have always been strong, and this year has made us stronger. You bring me joy every day. I dedicate the following poem and quote to you from my favorite poet (cheaper than a gift - right?) :)
I love you - happy birthday!

i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

-e.e. cummings

The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.
-ee cummings

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

At the oncologists

Another good report. He still says I'm 'breezing' through this. I told him he should have seen me two days ago... :) He is very kind - and he said that he is sorry that I have to go through this. I've found that many doctors are not compassionate - he seems to be.
He answered most of my questions. No more CA125 tests until the treatment is over. He was not concerned about the slight increase in number the last time. He's not worried about the kidney pain (thinks its associated with the neulasta). He will not talk to me about follow up treatment until after my treatment is done.
Most importantly, he allowed me to move my last treatment to December 27th or 28th (I'll have to check with the chemo nurses for an opening). He said I could even wait until after the new year, but I want to get these done before the new year as I had previously planned. Yes - he said six treatments should be sufficient and he will NOT be adding more treatments! That is such good news to me! In the darkness of this past weekend, I started worrying that I might only be half way through if he decided on 8 treatments. I am so glad I don't have to worry about that now!
I'm still tired, but I am feeling buoyed by the knowledge that I only have two more treatments left!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Side effects

Those words sound so innocuous. When I used to think of side effects, I thought, a headache, maybe some nausea - you know - minor issues that are easy to overlook and ignore. I have come to find that side effects are not so simple or easily discounted.
I told my favorite husband on Sunday that I don't know how much more of this I can take. In that moment, between tears, I fully meant it. I just didn't think that I could take much more. I don't know if it was the pain or feeling sorry for myself, but Sunday was hard. I can't even describe what is so bad about the side effects. Maybe it is the sheer quantity of them-all piled on at once with no relief. Maybe its the emotional aspect of going through chemo and knowing that I am doing this to myself - I am to blame for these effects.
I am happy to report that I feel much better today. I'm not 100 percent, but I feel so much better, and no longer poised at the brink of despair. :) I just have to remember my mantra - if I can hang on just a day or two, everything will be so much better!
I have my oncologist appointment tomorrow, and will let you know how that goes. For now, I am just so happy to be feeling better (even though I am still 'couch bound' for the most part).
Now I promise - no more whining until the next treatment!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Number 4

Just got back from chemo number 4. It will be my 2/3 point (although I won't consider it to be at that point until after the side effects have gone away sometime next week...). So hopefully on Wed/Thurs - I will be 2/3 of the way through!

I'm tired. I've noticed that I've been tired. I could blame it on the chemo, but I am going to blame it on the weather (although fall is my favorite type of weather...). Hmmm, maybe I'll blame it on the time change! I do know that lack of sunlight affects many. Could be all of the above.

I spoke to the nurse again about my neuropathy (the numbness in my hands and feet). She gave me a prescription for Amitriptyline. Once I got it, brought it home, and googled it - I find it is an antidepressant. Antidepressant??? I'm not depressed! I'm tired and bald, but certainly not depressed!! :) From what I found, it may 'mask' the symptoms. Blah. I don't want to mask anything (except extreme pain, thank you vicodin!). I can live with the numbness, it doesn't hurt, it's just annoying. And I could do without the extra side effects of this antidepressant - some of which are similar to ones I already have (hair loss, insomnia, etc.). Finally, I don't want to take more pills - its just more of a strain on my system and my liver.
So, I have an appointment with my regular oncologist on Wednesday late afternoon. (The following is being written mainly as a reminder to myself - because I have a memory now the capacity of a pea). I will ask him if the antidepressant can cure or prevent further neuropathy. If not - I won't take it. I also need to ask him about some kidney pain. I need another CA125, and I need to ask if the increase is something he deems significant or not. Most importantly, I need to find out if he is planning to sneak additional treatments in my plan. OH - and I need to change the date of my (hopefully) last treatment, because I think I am going to the Bears/Packers game that Sunday, and I want to be able to enjoy the game and Christmas, without being sick.
I have an appointment with the gyne/onc (the specialist) on Monday after Thanksgiving. That will be good - I need to run down this treatment with him, and hear what he suggests.

Thank you for bearing with me on that last part :) Chemo brain is a true symptom. Sometimes, I find myself sitting and staring at nothing - not knowing that time has passed, not thinking about anything. Its a very strange sensation for me. I have never had a good long term memory - but my short term for things I want to remember, was always excellent. Not anymore! Stupid brain (said in my Homer Simpson voice). ;)

Have a great weekend! I'm going to try to...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Life and loss

There is a funeral I am going to tomorrow. I mentioned my friend in an early post in September. She was a breast cancer survivor who graciously loaned me her box of turbans and headwraps when she found out I was going through all of this. She passed away - thankfully NOT of cancer (I'm sure she would agree with that statement. It did not beat her in the end!) but due to medical complications from something else.

I remember when she went through her chemo treatments. I didn't see her often, but she looked so good, and was always smiling when I did see her. She rocked those turbans- and the pink ones really lit her up. I thought she never had looked more beautiful. Little did I know at the time, that her experience would be one that strongly influenced my outlook when I found out my diagnosis.

When I found out about my cancer it was after she had beat hers, and had all of her hair back. I thought "Beverly went through this so well, and is doing so well now - I certainly can beat it too!". I even talked to her about it . She told me how losing her hair was the hardest thing for her, and how she cried as she threw the garbage out the day it fell out. Her openness with her experiences through chemo helped prepare me for my treatment- more than any website ever could. For me, she was the face of experience, bravery and strength.

I will miss her, her smile, and her infectious laugh.

Friday, November 2, 2007


Sorry that I haven't posted in a while. I'm feeling good, and there is nothing for me to bitch about ;) Hence the blog silence.
I am feeling a little pre-treatment anxiety for the next one (next Friday), but it's nothing I can't mentally talk myself down from.
I hope that all had a good Halloween!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

clawing my way back

I see the light at the end of the tunnel! I was back to work today, but was so tired, tired, tired. I'm still not 100%. For this treatment, my side effects started earlier (Saturday evening), and are lingering longer. But who cares - I'm good for another two weeks!

Sunday, October 21, 2007


It looks like a beautiful day outside, from my vantage point laid out on the couch. I love fall days. I wish I were out walking, or riding my bike, or even raking leaves. I have pumpkins to carve, and work to do, but no energy and no 'ooomph'.
Just a few more days. Just a few more days...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Halfway through - or not?

Chemo went fine today (as usual). I did get the results of my CA125- not bad news, but not good news either. It went up from 19 to 21. It was 19 before I even started chemo. After these two sessions of chemo, I had hoped that it was going to be much lower - so that was a small disappointment today. However, considering that it was 321 before surgery, and 192 immediately after surgery, and normal range is below 35, I guess its still ok.

The other news I got from the chemo nurse, was that the doctor often extends the 6 treatments to 8 treatments in patients with ovarian cancer, who are young and healthy. Young? Me?? ;) Yes - she said. I am glad that she told me that. I had my heart set on finishing this year, but if that is not to be, its ok. I would rather know of that possibility now than to find out after my fifth or sixth treatment. So maybe I'll be celebrating the Chinese New Year (guess I'll have to Google the date of that!) instead of the usual New Year. However, extended treatments are not a sure thing yet. I want to do everything I can to cure this, but I also don't want to keep doing these treatments if they don't seem to be helping. I have an appointment with the oncologist after my next one, and I'll talk to him at that time (especially about the CA125).

Well, I did start taking the b-complex vitamin and the glutamine. If that doesn't help with the numbness, then I will take writer's advice from my previous post and ask about the pills she suggested (whoosh - the name of it just flew out of my head! Glad I have it in writing ;))

Guess that's it for today - have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Oncologist appointment

I had an appointment with my oncologist on Friday. He said (and I quote) that I'm "breezing through" this chemotherapy. Well I'm glad HE thinks so! I am pleased that things are going relatively smoothly. He said that my blood tests have been better than his, and that's after having chemo. Guess thats because of all the clean living I've done! ;)

I did tell him about the numbness in my hands and feet. He suggested I start taking a b-complex vitamin, and if that doesn't work, to start taking glutamine. Sigh - more pills.

He will be testing my CA125 this week before chemo (thats a blood test for the protein created by the tumor - I want it to be very very LOW) .

Oh yeah - my 1/2 point chemo is on Friday! At this point next week I will be halfway done. It does feel like the time has flown by.

It is really strange, parceling my life into these three week increments from treatment to treatment. I just get back into the swing of work, and then I'm off sick again. The months are passing, but I just look at the calendar to determine if I will be "well" for upcoming holidays and events.

My favorite husband and I had a good time this past weekend. However, the trees in Michigan had not changed color yet. Maybe we can go back in a few weeks - I really love fall colors! We did hike on Friday and Saturday - climbed some sand dunes, and walked by the lake. The memory of the fresh fall air will get me through this next treatment.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Out of town

We are leaving for Michigan on Friday - hopefully to see some fall colors, and breathe some fresh air! It is our substitution for our yearly vacation and wedding anniversary trip. Well, a mini substitution until we can 'properly' celebrate once all this chemo is over. Our anniversary isn't until the 18th - but my third chemo (my halfway point!) is the next day so it would be hard to celebrate next weekend.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

(and those paying attention will note that I haven't mentioned the Cubs - and I will NOT mention the Cubs - so please do not mention them to me... :) )

Friday, October 5, 2007


Its a great feeling to know I am going to feel fine for the next two weeks. Those 'down' days really make me want to utilize the good ones! So, yes - feeling fine.

I am having some side effects that I didn't want. I notice numbness in my left hand and foot. Its like the feeling right before a part of your body "falls asleep", except that it just remains in that odd, numb, nearing tingly state and no amount of movement wakes it up. Its not from lack of circulation, but an actual effect on the nerves. Ah, well - I'll talk to the oncologist about it when I see him in a week.

I wonder about just how wise it is for me to put all of these toxins in my body-toxins so harsh that they can't touch your skin. But you hear the word 'cancer', and you just go along with the flow. It was presumed that would be the course of treatment. I didn't research any other treatments, or other options. I didn't even ask. I guess we are all so programmed to automatically think chemotherapy when cancer is a diagnosis.

But I should have at least asked.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


I am back on the upswing. Monday and Wednesday were really really bad - but now it is Thursday. :)
I'll update more later, but at least I am good for a couple of weeks.

Friday, September 28, 2007

CUBS TAKE THE PENNANT! Oh - and my second chemo.

Priorities. The Cubs won their division tonight! WOO HOOO!!! Something special seems to happen so far, on every chemo day. My first was done on my dad's birthday, and ovarian cancer awareness day - and now this for my second chemo.

I feel great - I'm all hopped up on steroids. If things go like last time, I will be awake and alert through Saturday night. The downslope will begin Sunday afternoon through Tuesday. At least now I am prepared for it. I know that giving myself the shot tomorrow will be easy. I know that I will have severe bone pain. I am ready for those now.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The hair is gone...(sung to the tune of 'the thrill is gone')

Yep. It's gone. In the shower this morning it was coming out fast and furious -fistful after fistful. At that point, all I could do was laugh. I threw on a baseball cap (and I do not look good in baseball caps!) and went to work. The bald spots were noticeable.

Tonight, my favorite husband used the clippers and cut my hair down to near nothing. My head is lightly fuzzy still - and feels cool to rub!

I will shave it down soon though. But I didn't want to put my head through too much too soon.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Cubs WIN

Yes and still in first place! It was a great game, beautiful day, even chilly in the shaded area where we were seated. I think my father in law really enjoyed it. He treated us to pizza after the game as well, which was very nice. A good time was had by all!

I still feel great - except when I'm pulling out fistfuls of hair...

Friday, September 21, 2007


As in, my hair. I noticed it yesterday. Today even more is coming out. I don't even want to touch my head because I don't want to pull away a handful of hair. The drain is clogged with my hair. I am not ready to shave it all off yet. We have a Cubs game to go to tomorrow, and I don't think I'll feel comfortable just yet in public with a bald head. Maybe I'll shave it on Sunday. It will probably be easier on me losing it in one fell swoop, instead of a slow strand by strand by strand, where every handful makes me want to weep.

Psych out

My favorite husband and I went to a shrink on Tuesday night. Don't worry! It was at the cancer care center in our area, and they ask that you meet with them before using their programs. It was an interesting, and somewhat uncomfortable experience.

Why do psychologist/psychiatrist types act like morticians around cancer patients? We were upbeat and cheerful, but she had a grim look on her face, and just kept nodding her head. It seemed she was thinking 'poor deluded people' or something. Don't get me wrong, she was nice and all - but she didn't personify 'hopeful' in her demeanor. ;) It is nice that they offer the service though. I'm just glad we don't have to do that again.

I stayed for a support group meeting. It was also interesting - but I am not really a talker, and it may not be for me. I'm glad I went though, and I may go back another time. You always have to try something before discounting it.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Why a blog?

You might ask...
When all of this started, I wanted to gather as much information about what I would be going through as I possibly could. I looked at medical sites, cancer sites, chemo sites - everywhere. I also looked for blogs of others who were going through or already finished this process. I wanted to know what others had experienced and gain some insight as to what I would be going through.

Unfortunately in my search for other ovarian cancer bloggers, I noticed a trend. Many of the sites I found were indeed written by ovarian cancer patients, who had died from the disease. On each of these, someone else had posted the last post, indicating that the person had died. Reading those didn't offer much comfort. There are some blogs of survivors, and I do appreciate having those to look at. So I wanted to add another survivor blog to the mix.

I am not naive. I know that the odds are not in my favor. I know the published survival rates, and life expectancies. However, I don't need to immerse myself in the negative so I'll just keep reading the ones where the bloggers are still alive ;)

Of course, I also have this as a way of keeping anyone who may be interested, updated on my medical progress. In that vein - I still feel great!

Saturday, September 15, 2007


By my own father! I had forwarded the blog address to him, my sis, and my favorite husband just to get some feedback - with the explicit request not to forward it to anyone else. What does he do? Promptly forwards the link on to others. I guess that goes to show how closely he reads my e-mails... ;)

It doesn't really matter, since I had planned to either pass along the link eventually, or delete the blog. I still have those choices. My dad just bypassed my usual 'back and forth' mentality.

So welcome, anyone sent here by my dad! :)

The window guys are here, and I can't wait to see what the new ones look like when they are installed!

Have a good day!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Quick update

Last night was my company's' annual open house. It is always fun, and I am usually one of the last to leave (that should surprise no one)! My job is to be the photographer. It works well for me, because then I don't have to be in any pictures. Granted, I am not a good photographer, but I am good enough for the purposes of these functions (I don't put my thumb over the lens). My favorite husband showed up around 6:30 and got to enjoy food, drink and a great steel drum band. The weather was perfect - clear, upper 70's, light breeze... perfect! We had a good time - our clients are always fun, and even though some 'schmoozing' is involved, it is not difficult to do with that group.

Last night though, I was tired! I do think it is still from the chemo. But I did feel good enough to last until 9 PM (big deal, I know). Not being able to enjoy a drink or two was also disappointing. I want to make sure my liver has an optimal chance with the drugs I'm getting. The oncologist said no alcohol too. I guess the rebel in me won't stand up to cancer (probably the wisest choice).

Today I feel GREAT. Not just good - great! I haven't felt this good in a while and never this well after an open house (hmmm...that could be due to a combination of things). I got some work done at home, and ran a bunch of errands in minimal time. Now I'm cleaning, because the new windows for our house are being installed tomorrow. I plan to feel this good until after my next chemo treatment.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Back to work

and feeling almost back to normal! Who'd a thunk it - a couple of days ago I was sure that I was dying. Today, I had minimal bone pain, and felt almost human again. Hopefully this feeling will last until the next treatment. I think I can handle two and 1/2 awful days. I'll just drug myself up really good for them.
Speaking of drugging. I have never ever liked taking pills. A few aspirin for me was about all I would do. Once in a great while, I'd take some type of decongestant - but I'd have to be really very sick.
After the hysterectomy, I still didn't like taking pills. I took over the counter ibuprofin, and only took one or two vicodin while healing. At that time I just didn't need all of the drugs - the pain, thankfully, just didn't affect me that badly.
However for the past two days, I was taking vicodin every six hours (just one, but still!). Maybe that gives you a better idea of how bad I felt. The good news is that it helped ease the bone pain, and made me sleepy.
I now do not fault anyone, even myself, for having to rely on those pills. I don't anticipate taking more until the next treatment.
Everything at work was fine. Now I have an idea of how this treatment will affect me, and I can schedule my work appointments accordingly. It will feel so good to have things on some type of manageable schedule (or am I just kidding myself). I just have to avoid sick people, not get any infections, and buy a wig and I will be good to go!
Take care

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

But can I survive chemo?

Yuck. Well, I felt great on Saturday! We had a wonderful time at my friends wedding reception. I did notice that I was tired - no surprise since I hadn't much sleep the previous days. She looked wonderful and happy, and the food was great too! We danced to a few slow songs (the only ones I can get him to dance to).
Oh - and the neulasta shot? That went just fine. The needle was long, but very very thin and I didn't feel a thing. I won't have to worry about that part next time. My husband was a great help with that! I don't think I could have given the shot without him.
Sunday I felt ok - just a little tired. I managed to go grocery shopping, but then the 'other shoe fell' so to speak. I was suddenly weak and exhausted. Yesterday wasn't much better. That continued through today (Tuesday), although right now I feel somewhat alright. I'm not quite ready to enter the world again though. I have been borderline nauseated, and nothing sounds good (as far as eating). I have been eating fruit (peeled because of pesticides and herbicides) and some soy yogurt. I am certainly not about to wither away to nothing.
I think that most of my worse side effects are from the neulasta. The bone pain is awful! It stimulates white blood cell growth, and I sure can feel it in my marrow.
There is the update. I hope to be back to (somewhat) normal by tomorrow.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

worried about nothing!

Chemo went just fine. I didn't sleep much the night before, and then had to get up at 5 am for some 'pre chemo' drugs. I just couldn't fall back to sleep after that. It was the first time I've seen the sun rise in many years. The last time was probably from being out all night ;)

In my mind, I wasn't too nervous about going. I really just wanted to get this all started.
When we got there - there was some great news that also helped me relax. Before my complete hysterectomy/omenectomy, my CA 125 (a tumor marker) was 321. Testing it a few days after surgery, it was 192. However, the day before chemo they ran the test again and it was 19!!! Nineteen!! what a beautiful number. Normal is in the range of 0-25.

Now, I know not to get my hopes up, because these numbers fluctuate. But it feels so good to be back in the normal range, which may indicate that not much, if any, of the limited cancer remaining in me is growing and generating the proteins that cause an elevated CA 125. If they go up again, it could be a sign of tumor regrowth somewhere in my body. Its nice that they have this marker test - it may prevent or initiate another surgery, depending on how the numbers go.

The chemo itself went very smoothly. I did not have any immediate reactions to the taxol/carboplatin cocktail I will be getting every three weeks. The oncology nurses are wonderful, and a few of the patients being treated were friendly as well. Others didn't make eye contact - but I guess they are in a scary mental chemo place. I hope I don't get that jaded (?) unfriendly (?) more likely - sick.

I felt fine after the chemo - still no noticeable side effects. I took an anti-nausea pill last night, not because I was nauseated, but because everyone told me to pre-empt any nausea with the pill. I'll probably keep up on it until Sunday morning, when I will stop, and see if any nausea starts.

I also understand that side effects don't often happen until a few days after the treatment. Believe me, I will post about any side effects with no holding back! Beware of potential ugly details to come ;)

My wonderful husband has been a rock through all of this. My surgery has caused me to go into surgical menopause. I recognize the hot flashes - he recognizes the mood swings! I am not usually an outwardly emotional person. But lately a day doesn't go by that I don't find myself on the verge of tears. Usually about nothing - too! Sometimes I can stop them in their tracks. Other times, I just let them loose and then laugh at myself.

I know I have been neglectful of him at times, because I am so focused on my healing and myself right now. I also feel like a medical burden (even though I am 90% back to normal) because I never anticipated these types of issues this early on in my life. Maybe I try to pull away in order to let him distance his feelings from me if he wants to - because this is not a path we chose. He doesn't let me get away with trying to distance him, and I am very thankful for that! I love him very much and appreciate his strength and wisdom during this time. I am very lucky to have such a strong and loving support system in him. He lets me know that he loves me more than ever, in his words, actions and deeds. Now I need to focus on doing the same for him!

My family, husbands family and friends are also being wonderfully supportive. I have made some great choices in friends in my life - and they are the best anyone could ask for! I never realized the actual importance of having that support network available, to reach out to as needed. People have let me know that they are there. Although I haven't had to tap into that network much in my life, it appears to be there, still strong and growing.

I am learning so much through this process. I guess that there is always a silver lining. I am learning (through the medical community and insurance dealings) to be more patient. I am also thinking more about my day to day living (LIVING) - since I just found out I am not invincible (what a bummer).

I am hoping to continue feeling fine today. A friend from work (another wonderful support for me!) is getting married. She has really helped me through this process too - and I must go to her wedding! Even while planning her wedding, she bought me some 'head wraps' for when I lose my hair. She works in the adjacent cubicle to me, and, due to close proximity, has really followed the phone portion of this cancer journey. She is a beautiful person, and I am glad to count her in my network of friends as well.

Another older friend lent me some headwraps she had from her breast cancer ordeal which was wonderful of her! Some look really good on me, and some look better on my husband.
I bought a couple of head wraps myself, and look forward to the day that I can give them away ;)

Whew - I have talked enough for now. Enjoy your day!

Friday, September 7, 2007

September 7

I guess theres no better place to start. It is ovarian cancer awareness day, my dads birthday, and my very first chemo treatment for this disease. Why not start a blog today too?
I'll get into the specifics soon enough -but wanted a jump start on this process.