Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday, March 30th, 2007 -- Blood work and Oncologist appt.

Dear Bloggy,

It's Friday!! And so ends the first two week period of Chemo Session #1! As a recap (for those just joining us), my chemo session period starts on a Monday where I am hooked up to various bags of goodies, including the chemo drug "Oxaliplatin" (other name: Eloxatin), Leucovorin (is used to "rescue" normal cells but not cancer cells), and then various liquid combos of calcium/magnesium and folic acid. Prior to being hooked up via the PortaCath that's installed just under my collarbone, I take 1 Ondansetron (aka Zofran) tablet and 3 Dexamethasone (aka Decadron, Hexadrol or Dexasone) tablets. These meds are to prevent or reduce nausea and potential allergic reactions that can be caused by the chemo drugs.

After a 2-3 hour period where the above is put into my system, I then get another bag of calcium/magnesium, and then a 20 minute drip of Fluorouracil (aka 5-Fluorouracil, 5FU, or Adrucil). This is the second chemo drug and the 20 minute dose is to get it into my system, but then I am hooked up to a portable pump that looks like a baby bottle, that has an internal balloon filled with the drug. I go home with this and it is dispersed into my system over the course of 46 hours. While this is happening, I take a Dexamethasone tablet every 12 hours starting the Monday night and ending the Wednesday morning.

Today, I had to get my blood work done at the lab at the Cancer Agency and Dr. Gill (my oncologist) would compare it to the last set of blood work, which we are using as the baseline. I passed with flying colours! My white blood cell count is down a tad, but within the healthy range. Hahaha... and no, I have not lost any weight, as a matter of fact, I have gained 2 lbs (grin). So much for my thought about being able to lose some weight while under treatment!

Anywho... one of Dr. Gill's associate oncologists met with me before Dr. Gill came in for the appt. My mind has gone blank so I can't recall his name off the top of my head, but he went over what side affects I had experienced. I told him that the worst was the nasty, nasty headache I got the Monday night after I got home from the Cancer Agency and lasted through Tuesday. He isn't sure which drug may have caused it, although there's a good possibility that it was caused by the Ondansetron that I take before the treatment starts. I told him that I tried my prescription Tylenol #3 with codiene, but they didn't even touch the headache. It was getting so bad, I broke down and took one of the remaining Oxycodones I had left over from the surgical pain. Good move! It worked like a charm and the headache disappeared. I should have probably taken it Monday night and the headache would not have been an issue.

So Dr. Gill came in and her associate left to go get me a prescription for more Oxycodones. Dr. Gill went over my blood work results and side affects I had experienced. She was very surprised that I had experienced (other than the headache) such mild side affects. Yes, there was some mild nausea and upset tummy, but I did not get the fatigue or exhaustion. Nor could I really say I was so miserable I couldn't get out of bed. Maybe I'm just clued out (grin)... after all, we all know I have a very high tolerance to pain and to drugs. So I may very well have been feeling tired and like I had been hit by a truck, but it just wasn't registering with me. Even though we are now at the end of the 2 week period (1 week of chemo/side effects, then 1 week to rebuild/relax), she says that I look great and have obviously weathered the treatment very well.

Soooooo, on Monday we start Chemo Session #2. Only THIS time I will have the oxycodone nearby should the headache start up again.

Now, here is something interesting! Dr. Gill (chemo oncologist) and Dr. Ma (Radiation oncologist) have gotten together to finalize the chemo/radiation treatment plan for me and get them scheduled so there's a smooth transition from the injected chemo into the radiation then back to the injected chemo. Originally, I was going to be given 12 chemo sessions over the course of 6 months.. with a break in the middle to do the 25 radiation sessions. NOW, they are going to try me with 4 injected chemo sessions over 2 months, then the radiation session, but she has changed it so that I will be given oral chemo meds that can actually be counted as part of my chemo plan. Once the radiation sessions are over, I'll go back to the injected chemo but instead of doing the remaining 8 sessions, she says we will do only 4 sessions and depending on how well I'm tolerating them by this time, will determine whether I can do another couple.

She is very pleased with how I tolerated the first session but says that by the time we've done the above, I am going to have been bombarded with a lot of chemo and radiation and she thinks I will probably have reached my limit by then. If I can tolerate more, then we will re-evaluate then, but she won't be one bit surprised if my system has had enough and won't be able to take anymore. As it is, it will be a fairly long period of "rebuilding" time after we have stopped.

Hehehe... so where I have said "One down! Eleven to go!" I can now say, "One down! Seven to go!" :)

Tomorrow, Bridget and I are off to Dad's in North Delta. I'll be leaving Bridget there while Pat and I go get a pedicure in the afternoon. Then we we will go back to the house and order in food for dinner because we are going to watch "Happy Feet!" The DVD came out on Tuesday and yes, I was there to buy my own copy. I sooooo LOVE this movie!! When it was in the theatres, Mimi and I saw it at the Imax theatre and I fell in love with everyone of those penguins (grin). Sooooo tomorrow night, Pat, Jerry, Dad, Erin and I will be hunkered down to watch them little dancing penguins :)

Sunday will definitely be a chores day to do up those chores that I know I won't do next week because Monday, Jo will come over and off we'll go to the Cancer Agency to start Chemo Session #2. Hmmmm... I might bring the laptop and we can watch a movie while there! Now there's an idea!!

Have a great weekend everyone!!


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Wednesday, March 28, 2007 - Chicken Soup For the Soul

Hiya Bloggy!

Ok.. be forewarned, today's entry is going to be a long one because I am going to be posting two days in his one entry. Heck, I think even I will go and make a cup of tea because if you think it's going to take you a long time to read it, imagine how long it's going to take me to type it?? Hahahaha!! Now that I think of it, I think I should be cleaning my keyboard... what a mess it is!! But first... a nice hot cuppa tea... be right back.

Ok... I'm back! Everyone got their beverage of choice??? :) Nothing more soothing at night than a nice hot cuppa tea! So, let the blogging begin...

Tuesday, March 27th: I have to mention Tuesday because this is the day I got together with my dear friends, Lelani M. and Michael F. It's hard to believe that we have known each other for (mumble-30 years-mumble), give or take a few years. I can't even tell you which one I met first, but suffice it to say, we were all much younger then (grin). We used to do shows (theatre productions) together and, like now, I always had my camera with me. Mind you, back then, I don't recall ever having a problem with the batteries dying on me... something that happens quite frequently nowadays and trust me not to have spare ones with me when I need them :)

Anywho...these next two pictures show me (remember now, it's all about ME! (grin)) with Lelani and with Michael.

Lelani is in town, which is why the three of us could get together. She is one of the headliner entertainers on the Princess Cruise Lines so will be gone for long stretches of time, hence us getting together often is not necessarily possible. So I was thrilled that we could get together yesterday.

Michael is going through his own adventure too!! He has two different strains of leukemia, of which I can't, off the top of my head, remember the names of them. But this has in no way affected his sense of humour or outlook on life.

For this get together of ours, I think I mentioned in a previous entry that I had an idea for my first scrapbook project. Unfortunately, I didn't have a lot of time to put this together, since I only thought of it last Thursday. I decided to put together a small "Memory Book" for each of them. Being that I have taken so many pictures over the years, I have oodles from back when we did shows together and/or spent time together. So I made an individual small book for each of them... and it was a real warm, fuzzy feeling to see how both of them reacted to their book of memories. Hmmm... let me see if I can upload a scanned page from each of their books...

There were approximately 20 6" X 6" pages in each book, and each page had 1-2 pictures on it with a different background of paper, buttons, bows, pieces, etc. I would have also added text to each page, but decided not to so that Lelani and Michael could add their own text/memories if they wanted to.

This first page, with the orange gingham background (which I picked to match Lelani's orange poodle skirt), is a page from Lelani's book. Both these pictures are "in character", back when we did the Western Canadian Premiere of the musical Grease! Lelani played Frenchie, the beauty school dropout (grin) and these pictures were taken outside because I believe we were in a parade, advertising the show.

The second picture is one I had of Michael which I really liked. I had oodles of black and white pictures of him and two other friends that I took one day when we all spent a day in Stanley Park. Neither Michael or I can remember WHY the four of us were there and taking all these pictures, all we remember is just how much fun we had that day!

Anywho... the pictures brought back lots of memories and we had the most pleasant afternoon going over the years we've been friends and all the history/memories we have together. I LOVE get togethers like this... talk about giving one the warm fuzzies!

After we had our visit and went our separate ways, I did take a short cut home through Stanley Park. I still can't get over the devastation wreaked on the park from the major wind/hurricane force storm we had back in November. I don't think the following pictures do it justice, it's one of those things you have to see in person for yourself. For anyone living in the Vancouver area who has NOT driven through the park in a long time, I recommend you do take a drive through the park, especially around Prospect Point. It will move you to tears!

Like I say, I'm not sure that the pictures really do the area justice. We almost need before/after pictures. Where you see sky, you couldn't see the sky through the thickness of the trees. In the last picture, where you can see the water and the buildings across the water (West Vancouver), you NEVER could see through the forest of trees to that view before. This goes on and on throughout the park and it really is very emotional to drive through.

The Parks Board will clean up the mess and replant. Since Stanley Park is part of a rainforest (as is most of the Pacific Northwest), nature will take over and there will be regrowth, but we will never see, in our lifetimes, the magnificent growth that was there after centries of nature.

Oh... how depressing! How did I get on this subject? Oh yes... because I took the shortcut home through the park from North Vancouver. This park is a wonderful park to come into just to relax, de-stress and contemplate life, so it is a very important part of town for me.

Ok... that was Tuesday... a wonderful day and yes, I can honestly say I was really tired Tuesday evening... and even slept in until after 8am this morning (Wednesday).

Wednesday, March 28th: Today was another lunch date with two other friends! While getting ready to go for lunch, I got a surprise call from Bonnie (from Seattle). So we had a quick chat and it was great to hear from her!

It was now time for "The Ladies Who Lunch" (apologies to the musical "Company"). I went for lunch with my two buds, Lynn S. and Anne K. We went to Milestones in West Vancouver, so Anne, who lives out be UBC picked me up on the way to West Van.

Hahahaha... whenever we get together, it's always good for some serious laughter, and today was no different! I'm STILL cracking up!! Lynn, bless her sweet heart, said that she had made me some homemade Chicken Noodle soup. Now, we all know that Chicken Noodle soup fixes whatever ails you, so chances are, it should be the magic pill to fix any reactions to the chemo treatments. Sooo, Lynn is the Queen of making homemade chicken noodle soup and I was going to be the lucky recipient of it.

Hahahaha... well, Lynn had a wee accident! She had the container of soup in a plastic bag and she was holding the bag while she was driving. I bet you can guess what happened! She came to a stop and the bag/soup went flying and half of it ended up all over the floor of the passenger seat! But she did manage to save half of it!! Hahahahaha!!

Well, when we left the restaurant, I just had to take a picture of the boo-boo! The first picture is Chef Chicken Noodle Lynn and her little mini-Cooper... the second picture is the "oopsie" (grin). Just my luck, the camera batteries died, so I couldn't get a picture of second-in-command, Anne K. I really must pack extra batteries in every purse!!

Speaking of purses, I had changed purses so that I only had a small one with me today. I distinctly remember taking my camera and wallet out of my big purse and putting both in my little purse. Well, being that I took these two pictures, you can tell that I had my camera with me... but no wallet. That is a little concerning because one does NOT want to misplace one's wallet and I REMEMBER putting it in my purse. Sure enough, when I got home the first thing I did was check my other purse and voila! There was my wallet. DEFINITELY a classic case of Chemo Brain!! No wonder people don't want me to go driving by myself when under the influence of chemo... although that doesn't explain today since I'm not on chemo today ;)

So that's about it. Tonight, after he got off work, my friend Keith came by for a visit and to wait out rush hour before he headed home to Squamish. We had a nice visit but I was still so full from lunch, it never dawned on me to offer him something to eat! Can we blame Chemo Brain for this too???

And one more thing to blame on Chemo Brain... my hair is starting to thin/come out a lot more than what it was doing when the doctor put it down to stress. I have a lot of hair, so I'm still going to be good for awhile, but definitely, I'm losing lots of it on a daily basis. I'll see how Chemo #2 week goes... and maybe Chemo #3 week before I may have to make any hair decisions.

Ok... I warned you this was going to be long... and long it is! I am now going to take my Chemo Brain and my little four-legged diva to bed :)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Monday, March 26, 2007 - Visit to work

Dear Bloggy,

I'm a day late, I think! I didn't get to put an entry in the blog yesterday, but then there wasn't much to report. I spent the day trying to finish a scrapbook project I had started and I actually managed to get it finished!! Yayayaya! But more time was spent at the kitchen table with my scrapbook supplies than was spent on the computer... hence, no Sunday entry :)

Today was one of those picture perfect Vancouver spring days!! After weeks, it seems, of monsoon rains and wind, we had gorgeous sun... and it was warm! Ha! I got spring fever.. there was no keeping me inside today. So first things first... Bridget and I went for a 1 mile walkie before breakfast. Then we had breakfast. I left soon after and started wandering, heading towards the downtown area. I had my trusty camera with me and I was feeling great! I will share some of the pictures I took at the bottom of this blog entry.

I ended up at Staples downtown at Burrard, across from the SkyStation. What the heck... I splurged and bought a set of ink cartridges for my printer. I've been working on scanning old photos to use in a scrapping project and have enhanced them to bring out a better quality.. then printing them. I could just see, in the middle of a project, running out of ink ;) Since one doesn't know which colour ink one would run out of first, I bought the set of 4 (3 colours and one black). I also picked up some neat acid free stickers and whatnot for my scrapping supplies :)

I was now only about 3 blocks from work, so I decided to walk over and pay them a visit. It was good to see everyone again... although there were some who weren't in today!! Dave??? Where the heck were you and why weren't you there when I decided to grace you with my presence???? :) Luckily, Charmaine, Mala, Shirley, Dan, Ken, Kerry, Janice, Rob and Donna were there! So we had a good visit and lots of laughs :)

I then took the bus back up Burrard St. to Davie... then walked home from Davie and Burrard, stopping in at Cobbs Bakery and London Drugs on the way home. Once I got home, I turned around and went out again... this time with the little four-legged diva. We ran into a fair amount of people out walking their dogs, so joined up with Lynn and Tkoh (gorgeous Golden Retriever) and went for another block with them.

By the time I got home again, I was TIRED. I don't think it has anything to do with the chemo, I was just tired from all the walking and fresh air today :)

Tonight, I did some more scanning of pictures while watching "Dancing With the Stars", as well, called back a bunch of voicemail messages that were starting to stack up.

The following pictures are a taste of Vancouver on a pretty spring day. I have to admit... I'm very partial to Vancouver in the Spring, WHEN it's not raining ;) But alas, my eyes are drooping and I can't concentrate on the local news, so I'm going to head off to bed, where my little four-legged diva is already hunkered down for the night. Next time I make a blog entry, I think I better be more awake! (grin)

Ciao for now!


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Saturday, March 24, 2007 -- Winner!!

Hiya Bloggy!

It's pretty late at night as I'm typing this. I reckon it's technically Sunday, but I'm still up so it's late Saturday night for me :)

I didn't get an entry done yesterday. I guess I just got so busy I wasn't on the computer that much yesterday. I am working on two small scrapbooking projects that I have to have done for early this week, so I'm on a timeline (grin)... and since this is the first scrapbook project I've taken on, I know I'm going to be super critical of it and wished I had more time to perfect it. Oh well. I shall have some pictures of it when it's done, so one day next week I'll put them up.

Meanwhile, yesterday morning I had the queasies but the rest of the day I felt great! What a difference 24 hours can make!! But then, this morning, I had the queasies again and had them off and on throughout the early afternoon. I was going to a birthday dinner in the late afternoon and didn't know until the last minute if I'd be able to go. The problem being, I could probably just bite the bullet and suffer through the queasies, but driving there and back... not sure it's a good idea to be driving when you are queasy...that can be very distracting. But, I did start feeling better about 3pm, so I got ready and off I went. The drive into Richmond went well... and we all had a nice dinner. Then (oh oh) it was off to the Casino!! I love casinos, but they truly are the work of the devil (grin). I can not seem to put money into those slot monsters fast enough... hungry beasts that they are!! I was not doing well, then I'd redeem myself somewhat, then I'd throw it all away again. But, on a positive note (grin), I was not queasy nor was I tired! LOL!!!

Well, as it was getting time to leave since I had gone through all my money in my wallet (NO Cheryl, back away from the ATM machine!! Do NOT go there!!), I decided to throw my last $40 into a Dollar machine. It took a couple of tries, then a couple of winning $10 here, $4 there... and finally, THREE TRIPLE 5-BARS!! Yippeeee!!! A smart $845!! I played a little more then decided to quit while I was ahead (it's bad enough being a fool with her money, but a stupid fool to boot???) So I cashed out at $800 and went home!! How is THAT for willpower, huh???

Anywho, it is 1am now and I'm feeling so darn good about the fact that the queasies appear to be gone. I am not "fatigued" or even "tired"... if anything (grin) I'm now an insomniac. Oh great!! A gambling, insomniac fool!! Something everyone should strive to be in their lifetime :)

Tomorrow, my nose has got to be back to the crafts. I still have to print off a bunch of pictures and then start scrapbooking them. Once the pages are all done, I'll either have to take pictures of them or see if I can do a decent job of scanning them :)

Mind you, if the sun comes out tomorrow... that could throw the scrapping plans askew. If the sun actually comes out, Bridget and I are definitely going to go walking!! It's been raining for 40 days and 40 nights... or something like that... or we are collecting animals for a boat, or... heck, something was going on and it had a lot to do with water and rain :)

Ciao for now!