Thursday, February 8, 2007

Thursday, February 8, 2007 - The Oncologist Meeting

Dear Journal With No Name;


Well, what a day! It's going to take some time for all of this to sink in, but the next 6+ months is going to be a lot of medical appointments and quite the road ahead of me. Who would have thunk a pain in the left side could turn into such a production number??

I went to Steve's house at 11am, and after a cup of tea, we went to the Cancer Agency. The first half hour or so was spent filling out forms, forms and more forms. Once those were filled out, we went up to the second floor, where we waited in a waiting room for about 10-15 minutes or so. Nurse Nancy came and got us and took us to a small room that had an examining table and a couple of chairs. She had me fill out yet another form! She then got me a gown to change into, so Steve stepped out of the room, I got changed, and then he came back in. We were now waiting for the oncologist. It was about this time that Jo found us, so the three of us waited for the oncologist.

Dr. Sharleen Gill is my primary Oncologist and is she ever nice!! She has a very calming air about her, is friendly, and can talk without breaking into Doctor lingo. I really took to her and am glad that she is going to be a main character in this ongoing journey... and what a journey it is going to be!

Yes, I will be doing the chemo, but then, we all knew this was most likely going to happen. The reason for this... if I don't have the chemo, there's a 60-65% chance the cancer will return. If I do have the chemo, it cuts that risk factor in half and there's only a 30-35% chance the cancer will return. It's kind of a no-brainer... let's go with the better chance that it won't return. I will actually be getting two kinds of chemo:

1) Fluorouracil (other names: 5-Fluorouracil, 5FU, Adrucil)
2) Oxaliplatin (other namesL Eloxatin)

In the next week or two, I will be going to VGH (Vancouver General Hospital) to have a "Porta-Cath" put in. This is a catheter into one of the main veins by the heart, that has a port which will be placed at the collarbone, just under the skin. It will be through this port that the chemo will be injected.

I will be getting 12 treatments of these two Chemo drugs, 1 treatment every 2 weeks for 6 months. This will start 3-4 weeks from now. Dr. Gill wants to give my incision a bit longer to heal because ideally the incision should be healed before I start the chemo. There's only about 2 inches of the incision that has not healed... but it's possible that it may not be healed by then. If not, then she says we'll go ahead with the chemo because it's important that the chemo starts 8-9 weeks after the surgery.

Now... how this will work. I will go to the Cancer Agency on the day of a treatment and will be hooked up (to the port at my collar bone) to one of the chemo drugs for 3 hours. Once that is done, then they will hook up the second drug, and attach a small, portable pump that I can carry in a purse, fanny pack, belt, etc. I can then go home because this pump will regulate the drug over the course of two days. Prior to getting the 3 hour chemo, I will be given anti-nausea meds... and will have them for the days I'm on the pump chemo too.

Ok... but it doesn't stop there. I will be meeting with Dr. Ma on Monday, the Radiation Oncologist. There's a possibility that I will have to have radiation as well. During the surgery, when they were taking out the 24cm of intestine, that included the tumour, they found that the abscess that was created by the tumour was attached to the bladder and stuck to the abdominal wall. Taking it off the bladder was not too much of a problem because they could cut it off (the bladder self-heals), but they could not cut into the abdominal wall. So, they had to peel the abscess off the abdominal wall. Now, by the naked eye, they feel the margins were clear and it came off fine, BUT, one never knows if some microscopic cancer cells may have been left behind and are attached to the abdominal wall. This would not be a good thing to leave them there if that is the case. I'm not sure how the Radiation Oncologist makes the decision... but Dr. Ma will determine whether he recommends that they radiate that part of the abdominal wall, or if he doesn't think it's a high risk, hence no radiation. So, I will find out on Monday if I'll be getting radiation as well as the chemo.

So, tomorrow (Friday), I go in to see my regular GP so he can check my incision and decide whether I need to stay on the antibiotics for another week (staph infection in the open part of the incision) and we can talk about my treatment plan that is coming up. After that appt. with Dr. Fay, I'll be coming home, because Greg T. will be coming over later in the afternoon and we are going to go to a movie (Notes on a Scandal) and then go out for dinner.

Saturday, (HO HO HO!) we are having a second family Christmas, since I was in the hospital for Christmas. So the whole family, extended and otherwise, is going to be there -- Dad, Erin, Don, Rod, Karrie, Pat, Jerry, Michael, Jeffrey and their girlfriends, Helen, Meghan... and possibly Theresa. Full house... turkey dinner!!! (grin)

Sunday, I join Mimi, Nathan, Babs, Mitsuo, Tamara and Dave for dinner because we are celebrating Mimi's birthday.

Then Monday I see Dr. Ma about the possibility of Radiation and on Tuesday, Jo, Steve and I go to Chemo School for an hour or so (grin). Don't ask me! I have no idea what we will learn in Chemo school or if there will be a quizz... but the three of us will be going so they can hit me over the head if I forget something!

There, I think I've covered everything... after we were finished at the Oncologist appt., Jo went back to work at the Children's Hospital and Steve and I went back to his place and watched Oprah. She did a special on "The Secret" which, if any one reading this has not seen that DVD, try to get your hands on a copy. It's brilliant and all about how positive thinking and changing the way you form your thoughts can bring you anything you want. I won't go into a lecture here, but suffice it to say, my friends and I all LOVE The Secret and are trying to live our lives with this way of thinking and living. Oprah's show on it was great!

I am now home and have the first episode of Survivor on... but I'm really waiting for Grey's Anatomy!! That's my favourite show, so must see it!

Ciao for now!


Thursday, February 8, 2007 - Pre-Consultation Meeting

Dear Journal without a name, yet:

Hahaha... thanks for the suggestions, gang! I'm still pondering a name. It's got to be something that just strikes me as "Aha! There's a perfect name!" The ones that have been suggested are great... but haven't quite struck the right chord yet. So the Journal will go nameless until that right name shows up and becomes an AHA! moment! :)

Well, for anyone reading this, wish me luck! Today is the consultation appointment with the Oncologist(s) and staff at the BC Cancer Agency/Hospital. I am going in with a blank slate... I really have no idea what all will be discussed, but am assuming there will be information on my case up to this point, the plan for treatment (IE: Chemo, what kind, how long, etc), blood tests and other medical vitals/stats and who knows what else.

It is just after 9:30am as I'm typing this, so I am going to take Bridget out for her morning walkies and constitution... and some fresh air for both of us. I'll them do something with this hair, throw on some makeup (where it falls, well, we'll call that being made up) and then I'll be heading over to Steve's place. We'll have a cuppa tea or something at his place and I'll get to see his artwork... then the two of us will head over to the Cancer Agency/Hospital. Jo, who is at work, will meet us there, so the three of us will be consulting with the Doctors/Staff.

Wish me luck! Keep sending those positive thoughts, prayers and healing lights. I may not be home until this evening, but at some point this evening I'll update the blog with what I've learned today.

Ciao for now!


Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Tuesday, February 6, 2007 - Catch Up

Dear Journal,

I swear, I'm going to have to come up with a nickname for this journal, so that I'm not always addressing it as "Dear Journal". Hmmm... anyone have any good ideas, leave a comment here :) Whimsical is great... I figure, since I named all my body parts prior to going into the hospital, the journal should have a name too :)

Anywho... let's see what I have to report this morning...

For some reason I woke up, wide awake and ready to start the day at 4:30am!! What the heck is wrong with this picture?? So, I actually was very productive and got two loads of laundry done before 7:00am (grin). I then puttered about the apartment for the rest of the morning.

Then, it was off to Dr. Fay to get the remainder of the staples taken out of my incision. I am now STAPLE-FREE!! Considering the staples normally would only be in for about 2 weeks after surgery, I was glad to get them out since it's been 4 1/2 weeks that they've been in.

And wouldn't you know it? In the last week I have developed a staph infection in the part of the incision that has broken down and is taking it's own sweet time to heal. So now, I am on an antibiotic (Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim 800mg/160mg) which is a combination of two antibiotics. One of them is a sulfate which so far (knock on wood) I'm not having any allergic reaction to. Apparently it is common for people to react to the sulfates. Of course, being that it is taking this part of the incision so long to heal, a staph infection is not unexpected.

After work, my four friends (Anne, Janice, Lynn and Erlene) came over, loaded down with the makings of dinner! We had a wonderful dinner of Halibut, organic new potatoes, green beans and carrots... followed by a lovely pavlova for dessert. It is always great when you can have a girls night of chatting, catching up with what is going on in each others' lives, etc. I had a wonderful time!

After they had left, I had planned on unwinding at the computer... doing up a blog entry or catching up on some email. But after taking the dog outside, I realized I was really, really tired. It's interesting how I'm doing so well, no signs of fatigue, and then it just hits me. So I figured I'd crawl into my comfy bed, watch tv in the bedroom as well, have the laptop and do some email from bed. Hahaha... I lasted all of 10 minutes and then I was out for the night (grin).

Today is going to be a slow day... I'm going to go to the grocery store at some point to pick up some milk and some edamame beans for CB (my bird). But that's about it. After work, Keith (Farkle) is going to pop over for a visit, so I'm looking forward to that!

Okey dokey... time to throw some clothes on and convince Bridget she really does want to go outside to do her business!


Sunday, February 4, 2007

Sunday, Feb 4th, 2007

Dear Journal,

So much for the best intentions of making a daily blog entry. It hasn't happened yet and I really thought that I would be able to. Hmmmm... whatever happened to my chatterbox fingers?? (grin)

I guess I'll just have to do a quick summary of the last couple of days. Friday night, I went out for dinner with my friend, Doug, who lives in the apartment building across the street from me. We just went around the corner to Milestones and had a wonderful dinner and talk. Haha... I couldn't believe it. I really did think my appetite has come back, well, I feel like I'm eating a good amount.. certainly way more than before I went into the hospital and way WAY more than when I was IN the hospital (when I didn't eat for 3 weeks, only liquids). But I could not get through even half of my Kobe Beef Meatloaf, which was delicious but way too much food. After dinner, we went next door to The Boathouse, which was a combo restaurant/pub, for coffee and dessert. Again, could not finish my dessert... but it sure was good and not something I'd normally indulge in (a wonderful warm bread pudding). But, we had a really good evening and before we knew it it was 11pm.

On Saturday, since I have now been given the OK to drive, I drove out to Ladner with Bridget to visit Darrel, Judi, Peter and Lluke/Ellmo (their two Old English Sheepdogs). Driving out there was no problem, other than I couldn't get over the traffic on the Granville St. Bridge on a Saturday afternoon. It has NEVER been that congested... bumper to bumper going both ways over the bridge. Had a wonderful visit and I think it was about 9:30pm or so when I left to come home. I got home no problem, but by the time I did get home, I was tired... and now the muscles were starting to ache. I put that down to getting in/out of the car, but who knows.. it may just be that I'm using them more now. But I was one sleepy camper!! So sleepy that I didn't even hear Mimi come in in the morning to do the bird :)

Today, I was so darn lazy and lethargic. No energy! I had a few light chores around the apartment that I wanted to get done... in particular, doing some tidying up because 4 girlfriends are coming over tomorrow (Monday) night after work and they are bringing/making dinner! That should be a hoot.. 4 of them in my teeny, tiny kitchen?? (grin) But it should be fun... we do have some good laughs when we get together!

Meanwhile, I go in to see Dr. Fay in the morning. The remainder of the staples will come out. I'm not sure if there is anything more we can do for the part of the incision that is taking it's time healing or if we just continue applying clean dressings to it. We'll also get the results back from the culture sample that he took last week to see if there is any bacteria or infection in the incision.

I reckon after seeing the doctor, I'll come home. Hopefully I'll have more energy tomorrow because I will want to do some of those chores I didn't get done today. Tomorrow is another day!! :)