Thursday, June 14, 2007

Thursday, June 14th, 2007 - Last Visit with Dr. Ma

Hiya Bloggy!

Hahaha... maybe I should change this to say it's a Once a Week blog rather than a daily journal? Then again, once summer is over and the winter blahs set in, it may very well go back to being a daily journal. I guess I should just leave it and we'll see how often it gets updated. The funny thing is.. when I do get over here to update it, I really enjoy the free-form forum where I can just start babbling and see where it takes me. Obviously, I don't have a structured way of reporting on the blog.

Now, I guess I haven't reported on formalities such as blood work and the like. So I should get that done. I have the last four weeks' blood work results which I keep forgetting to mention. HA! As time goes on, my memory is getting worse and worser :D I KNOW it is all because of the chemo and the impact chemo has on the brain, but golly gee whiz, it can throw a girl for a loop! I can see where, if one were to attempt to work during these treatments, it would be extremely frustrating for oneself and one's co-workers then the most obvious things are hard to remember. And concentration... not a chance! Ok, where was I? Oh yes... blood work results. I'll just list the main ones. I am STILL showing in the "normal" range which is phenomenal considering what my body, blood and immune system has been going through this past 5 weeks (more on that later with a report from what Dr. Ma, my radiation oncologist has to say).

Ok.. here are the results. The numbers in brackets are the "normal range"... the numbers with an asterisk are the numbers that have fallen out of the normal range.

May 22, 2007:

White Blood Cells (4.0 - 11.0) 5.5
Red Blood Cells (3.80 - 5.20) 4.52
Hemoglobin (115 - 155) 118
Hematocrit (.35 - .45) .365
Platelet Count (150 - 400) 269

Liver Function (40 - 95) 57

May 29, 2007:

White Blood Cells (4.0 - 11.0) 5.1
Red Blood Cells (3.80 - 5.20) 4.17
Hemoglobin (115 - 155) *111
Hematocrit (.35 - .45) *341
Platelet Count (150 - 400) 223

Liver Function (40 - 95) 57

June 6, 2007:

White Blood Cells (4.0 - 11.0) 4.7
Red Blood Cells (3.80 - 5.20) 4.22
Hemoglobin (115 - 155) *114
Hematocrit (.35 - .45) .354
Platelet Count (150 - 400) 235

Liver Function (40 - 95) 46

June 12, 2007:

White Blood Cells (4.0 - 11.0) 4.6
Red Blood Cells (3.80 - 5.20) 3.84
Hemoglobin (115 - 155) *109
Hematocrit (.35 - .45) *.328
Platelet Count (150 - 400) 245

Liver Function (40 - 95) 55

Soooo... the good news is that overall I've managed to keep pretty much in the "normal" range, which means my bone marrow has been producing the red/white blood cells it needs, as well as the platelets. This, in turn, has managed to fight off any bugs or infections that a normal, healthy immune system does on a daily basis. The fact there is some fluctuation there is due to the fact my system is being bombarded with both the chemo and the radiation, and has been bombarded with one or the other since early March and is still holding it's own. Yayayaya me!

Today was my 22nd radiation session... only 3 more to go to complete the radiation treatment. It was also my last visit with Dr. Ma, my radiation oncologist. He told me today that he is extremely impressed (and surprised) at just how well I am doing. The amount of radiation that I'm getting is pretty severe, as was the chemo I was on before starting the radiation. He told me that he has another patient, same age as I am, same kind of cancer. She was getting exactly the same treatment (dosage of radiation and dosage of oral chemo) that I am getting. After two weeks (10 sessions) he had to stop her radiation/chemo treatments and admit her to hospital. Her body just can't handle it at this high of a dosage. So she is now in the hospital, being rehydrated and medicated so they can get her in a condition where she hopefully can handle a much lesser dosage of the radiation and chemo. Then there's me... who is driving herself in every day, then driving herself home, still doing errands, grocery shopping, laundry, dog walks, etc. I laughed when, 2 weeks ago, they had a nutritionist meet with me to go over whether or not I had the energy to cook meals for myself, was I eating, did I need help in these things and should they arrange for some home care help. Of course, when the nutritionist met with me, she could see I was totally fine, and could easily be mistaken for a caregiver, not the patient (grin).

I tell you, I firmly believe that my success is because of my strong beliefs in the Laws of Attraction. You attract what you put out. As far as I'm concerned, I am one healthy female who was given this challenge but I will beat it and be healthier than ever. I do not dwell on how sick I should be... but rather on how healthy I should be :)

Dr. Ma even admitted he was surprised that I am doing so well... whereas I just assumed I'd do well and was wondering if I was being too much of a whiner with some of the side affects that I do have.

I have tenderness in my left side and now the skin is starting to break down on the front, left side. I have also been getting some bouts of diarrhea.. not too serious, but definitely a nuisance (hey, I have places to go, people to see!). Two of my main complaints are painful feet/legs which makes it a bit of a challenge to walk and lower back muscle pain on the left side. Dr. Ma explained why I was getting this.. basically, in a nutshell, the radiation is like a microwave. I am being cooked from the inside out. Now, at the end of my treatments we are starting to see the results of burning from the inside to the external skin. Inside it is much more serious and what I am feeling is the burned internal tissue. As for the lower back muscle pain.. one of the zaps is taken from underneath the radiation table through the back.. so the radiation is going through the muscles to get to the abdominal wall. Hence, those muscles are inflamed and burnt as well. The feet/leg pain is a result of the oral chemo and not the radiation. That is why he can't believe how well I'm doing because inside of me is the remains of a war zone :)

Anywho... Dr. Gill, my primary oncologist, is going to give my war zone a nice rest after the last radiation/chemo session. We need to give my body a fighting chance to bring down the internal swelling before we start up with the aggressive chemo again. So I get 4 weeks of NO TREATMENTS!! Yayayaya!

Hahaha... not that I'm going to be lazy. As I said in the previous entry, I will be involved with Theatre Under the Stars this summer. They are being very accommodating knowing that I will be going through chemo treatments while we do the shows. But what a great way of keeping myself distracted, eh?? :D

Oh... and I must share the little Diva's latest additions to her wardrobe :) My friend, Brisi, who lives in Tennessee has this wonderful website for pets --
is a great site for ordering gifts or treats for our loved critters. So check out the little diva (grin)...

Hehehe... those Desperate Housewives have nothing on Bridget!! Here she is in her Desperate Housedogs t-shirt!

This is going to be Bridget's way of joining a good cause! She is going to be quite the hit around the city in August when there's the big weekend walk for Breast Cancer Research!

Now, although you can't see the words on this one... on the back of the shirt, in sequins, is DIVA DOG. And that she is!

Well, again this has been longish, so I'll stop here :) Over and out...



Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sunday, June 10th, 2007 - Nothing much new

Hiya Blogster,

There's not too much new to report but I relaized, once again, the days have gone by between posts. And, yes, trying to catch up is a bit difficult since (grin) I can't remember much past the last 24 hours.

This past week I completed the 4th week of radiation, so I have 7 more radiation sessions to go. 5 this coming week and 2 the week after. I think I've sailed through this pretty darn good. No major side affects other than I do get tired easily, I have problems with memory and concentration and the big challenge is walking. The walking challenge is not because of the radiation but because of the oral chemo. Sooooo, I think I may have mentioned at some point that Dr. Gill had changed my protocol with the chemo to only take it Mon-Fri, when I get the radiation, but to take a break from it on the weekends. When she made this change, it was not because of the feet, but so that I could regain some of my energy that has been very low. But alas, that hasn't seemed to help with the feet... OUCH!! The only way of describing it is, when I walk, besides the joint/arthritis pain in the knees/hips, every step I take it's like I am walking on a dozen tacks or nails in my heels. So one does not want to walk too far with that kind of pain. I do take pain killers (Tylenol #3 with codiene and/or Oxycodone with 400mg of Ibuprophen) which doesn't get rid of the pain 100%, but it does help, especially in the mornings.

Anywho... only 1 1/2 more weeks to go with the radiation/oral chemo and then Dr. Gill is going to put me on a 4 week break so that I can rebuild my system a bit before we start the aggressive IV chemos. The good thing with doing those, I'll be back on the steroids for 3 days our of every 14 day period... and those, not only help with the chemo side affects, but are miracle pills for the arthritis/joint pain. With a little bit of luck, the heel pain will be gone and Bridget and I can build up our walking regime again. Of course, the yucky trade-off is I will have to deal with that hypersensitivity to cold where I need to wear a glove to take anything out of the fridge and I can't drink anything cold. Yikes! With summer and the warmer weather here, I can't imagine how I'm going to survive with nothing cold to drink!

But... the above is my whining (grin). I try to offset that with keeping myself busy with stuff that doesn't require using my feet/legs, my memory, and/or the need for serious concentration LOL!!

So, this week (ok, I had to cheat and look at my appointment book - hahahaha!)... I met up with my Aunt Eileen and cousin Holly. I can't believe I took my camera to get some pictures, which of course I'd post here, and totally forgot I had brought my camera!! See what I mean?? Darn memory!! And I could have got some great ones of little diva Bridget telling off Holly's gorgeous black lab, Nelson. He is the sweetest black lab with a wonderful, calm, gentle temperment... but when Bridget would go out to explore the backyard, Nelson would follow her and hope that she would play with him. Instead, she would yell at him and tell him to back off... which he thought was her way of saying "Let's play!" Hahahaha... it was hilarious to watch them... as time went on, you could tell Bridget was not at all perturbed that Nelson was there, but she had to yell at him anyways just to remind him that SHE was the DIVA and HE was to listen to HER! I have no idea where/who she gets that attitude from!!! :) Anywho, Eileen, Holly and I had a wonderful visit and we really must get together more often. It's really hard though since Eileen lives on Saltspring Island and doesn't get to the mainland too often.

Now let's see... I think it was Wednesday that Nurse Donna was suppose to come over to flush out my portacath with saline solution, but lo and behold, Nurse Carol showed up. Now this is like a time warp!! Back in 2001 when I had the "Oops, sorry, wrong person" hysterectomy surgery, which ended up me having a major post-op infection... I had to have home care nursing for about 5 months for changing the wound dressings. Well, one of the nurses back then was Nurse Carol! That was 6 years ago!! As soon as we saw each other, we both recognized the other... and she was getting the feeling of deja vu when she came to the apartment building because she remembered being here before. Hahahaha... well, she's made an appt. to come back July 4th to do the portacath flushing again and it will be interesting to see whether her or Nurse Donna come because they both enjoy coming over because we get yakking (gee, who would have thunk poor, shy me would talk up a storm when they are here?). Carol and I had lots to talk about since we last saw each other. I sure enjoy those home care nurses...they are all so wonderful!!

Oh... and I met Kimberly, the Volunteer Co-Ordinator for TUTS (Theatre Under the Stars). Part of me keeping busy and getting out of the apartment is that I'm going to be involved with TUTS this year. One of the reasons is a lot of the people I did theatre with 25 years ago are involved and the other reason is I need to have something I can do in the summer that doesn't involve being out in the direct sunlight, since I (the sun goddess) are not allowed to be in the direct sun because of the reactions with the chemo. So TUTS will be perfect... I'll be with friends, it's in the evenings, and even though I will be there at 5pm or late afternoon... the sun will be behind the trees at that time so I won't be in the direct sunlight. Perfect! Of course, it will be interesting at night when it cools down... I'll have to be careful with the hypersensitivity to the cold. I'll probably be the only one there with a pair of wool gloves "just in case" :) Anywho... I will be taking on the position of Box Offic Co-Ordinator BUT they are being ever so accomodating because of my "condition" :) We are going to get three other volunteers who will be Co-Ordinators as well.. so the 4 of us will know all aspects, policies/procedures. One of us will have to be there at every performance to supervise AND if I can't make one of my performances, then one of the others will be able to cover for me. Meanwhile, I will work with Kimberly with organizing the volunteer box office staff, scheduling, training, etc.

Last night (Saturday), Joan, Eva and I went to Christ Church Cathedral (corner of Georgia and Burrard St) to take in the concert of the Good Noise Gospel Choir, conducted by Marcus Mosely, with guest singer, Lovie Eli. What a wonderful concert! I had arranged tickets through my dear friend, Nancy Herb, who is in the choir and she had a solo number with the choir backing her up. She was wonderful!!!

Today, I had a list of apartment chores I wanted to get done and it looked like a perfect day for it. It was gray, with the threat of rain (we only got showers here and there, no like the rain we got yesterday). It was so strange to take Bridget out and all the roads were shut down to vehicle traffic because all day it was an International Triathlon. When we went out in the afternoon we did go to the road because the bicycling part of the triathlon was happening... so we stopped to watch. Ha! These are no ordinary bicyclists.. they went by so fast it was like a blur!! Anywho, I'm sure they were happy with the weather... mild, very light showers... which is better weather for them than the scorching hot of the sun overhead.

Needless to say, no chores got done. I was tired, lack of energy and had a nagging headache. So Bridget and I napped and basically vegged out. Right now, I'm on the computer (surprise, surprise) and watching the Tony Awards! (sigh) Watching them make me really wish I was in New York and could take in some of these shows!! Hahaha.. of course, if I was there right now, I would have a hard time, or a painful time, walking around... but it sure would be fun to be there!

So, that's about it... I was going to say, no rest for the wicked... but that seems to be all I've been doing is resting!

Ciao for now!