Yep, it's been awhile again, but it's because I have been busier than usual. I'm not even sure why, but when I stop to see what's on my agenda, it does appear that I am juggling a bunch of things at the same time. For instance, I am doing the Publicity for Metro's season, which means the current show that is on stage (SPIRIT LEVEL by Pam Valentine) and the January show (HERE ON THE FLIGHT PATH by Norm Foster). If you recall, Norm Foster was here in town last spring and we had a wonderful experience meeting him, driving him to/from two rehearsals of another one of his shows (OPENING NIGHT) that we were doing back then and then we had a Talkback Session with the audience after one of the matinee performances with him. It was a big success, so it just happens that we are doing another one of his shows in January. Norm has been described as "Canada's Neil Simon". ;)
Anywho, I'm also doing a Christmas show with a different company. This is an Equity Co-Op (Mountain Theatre Collective) and Pacific Theatre (at 12th and Hemlock). There are 5 brilliant performers in this show -- Diana Kaarina, Damon Calderwood, Seana-Lee Wood, Lalainia Lindbjerg and Benjamin Elliott -- and for any of you in the lower mainland, you may really want to seriously think of taking in this show (Dec 10 - Jan 1). Pacific Theatre is a small venue, only 126 seats, so you might want to reserve your tickets early (604-731-5518)
I also want to mention that earlier last week, my old gang from my government job had a wonderful Retirement Party for me, even though I retired back in February. Because of my health at the time and the possibility of kidney surgery, then I got busy with the summer theatre down at TUTS, we finally all found time in the Fall ;) It was lovely and so nice to see the gang again. Although I have been able to visit now and again, since my diagnosis, I have been off work for 4 years! Can you believe it, it's been that long? So I'm surprised anyone remembered me
Speaking of health... I'm a little concerned. Hopefully, this too shall pass when we figure out what's going on. As you all know, I have been on chemo (pill form) since June. In September I had a CAT scan and the results were very good... the largest of the tumours had shrunk by 30%. That made me very happy... and makes it very worthwhile to continue with the chemo. The next CAT scan would be 3 months later, which will be December 7th... and obviously, we are hoping for another good result. We won't know until my Dec 9th meeting with my oncologist. Now, considering the Sept scan was so good, I was really not too concerned about the Dec one other than it will be nice to hear that the tumours have continued to shrink. The side affect I've been feeling with this chemo is pain in the heel of my left foot (the first round it was severe in both feet, but I have increased my nerve-pain med, so now it's just in my left foot), and of course, the painful neuropathy in both feet, but I had that before starting this pill form of chemo. I am really looking forward to being able to have a break from the chemo just to give my foot a running chance at getting over the chemo and being normal again (as normal as a damaged foot can be).
Well, the concerning part has been that although the CAT scan was great, the CEA (tumour marker) readings were not going down. At first, they went up by a fraction... then in late October the reading was 6.9. Now, just the blood work I had done this week, the CEA is at 8.5. This is a slow climb, but so far, the CEA readings have been very accurate for me and when it shows a rise, then usually there's a reason for it.
Sharlene (my oncologist) sent me an email tonight at 11pm (does that lady never go home to sleep??) to say send me the CEA results because she knew I was concerned about them and we didn't have them on Thursday when I was there to see her. She said that they've gone up again but this does not change our plan which is that I will finish this 8th cycle of chemo (which I start tomorrow) and then have the CT scan on Dec 7th. It will be that scan that will determine what is causing this rise in CEA... if there is something happening in the lungs (existing tumour(s) that may not be responding to the chemo, or new tumours that have cropped up and are not responding to the chemo), or if it is the "lesion" (tumour) in the kidney that may not be responding to the chemo and is growing. Those are the two areas she is concerned with... if it is the kidney, then after this CT scan we will see when the kidney surgeon can fit me into his schedule and do the RFA procedure to zap that tumour out of the kidney. If it's the lung tumours, then it may mean changing chemo from the oral chemo (which we thought was doing so well) to an infusion chemo, which means getting the port put back in my chest and doing the chemo by IV and pump. Please send your thoughts my way that the oral chemo is still working and that we don't have to go to the IV chemo... and not that I want there to be a problem with the kidney, but if that is what is causing the problem, then send thoughts that this procedure to zap the tumour in the kidney will go as smoothly as it did when the radiologist in New Westminster zapped that tumour in my lung.
It just is never ending, is it?? Meanwhile, yesterday, the weirdest thing happened to me and this has not happened since the few months before I was diagnosed. I felt just fine and off I hobbled over to Davie Street (1 1/2 blocks away) to the hair salon that my guy works out of every two weeks. I got my hair coloured/cut and was feeling great when I left the salon. I got home and was about to sit down at the computer when I started feeling queasy in my stomach. So I decided to lie down and have a bit of a nap, even though I had a ton of stuff I needed to get done. I got up about an hour later and really felt sick to my stomach. Now, I knew it wasn't food poisoning because the only thing I had to eat since the night before was 2 pieces of toast and a cup of tea. But sure enough, I got sick to my stomach. Nasty, quite violent heaves. When I was finished, I felt a little weak, so went back to bed... but within 10-15 minutes, I was feeling just fine. And have been fine ever since. So it's not food poisoning and I think that eliminates a flu bug since a flu bug would last at least 24 hours.
Now that I know my CEA has gone up, I'm even more paranoid as to why I got sick to my stomach out of the blue. Like I say, that happened before they knew what was wrong with me... mind you, at the time, I had a large tumour that was more than 3/4 blocking my intestine. I don't have any tumours in my intestines... at least, not in September when we had the last scan.
Ha! So as you can see, even when one is feeling good, there is always something going on and always something to worry about. Heck, I think if all the tests/scans showed that all tumours had shrunk down to nothing and the CEA was back down to 1.0 - 2.0, I would end up worrying wondering "Why?? When does the next shoe drop!?!?"
Well, I think I better head to bed. It's now 12:30am and I am getting up in the morning to head off to the BC Children's Hospital. I am volunteering at an event to bring awareness to their "Shaken Baby Awareness Program" and to bring awareness to new parents about "Purple Crying". Purple crying is when a new infant cries so hard his/her little face turns purple. This is not normal, but there's not a lot of awareness out there about this... and when a baby is crying that loud and that long, that's when tired parents are susceptible to shaking their babies. But when the crying is this bad... it could be a serious problem. They are finding more and more often that babies who die of SIDS have had this Purple Crying syndrome. So there is an event tomorrow where they have had a bunch of volunteer knitters knitting little purple newborn caps to give to ALL parents of newborns for the next week. There are something like 3000 of them that need to be sorted and tagged, as well, there will be knitters on site, and the media will be there.
So there you have it. Not much else I can add until we have that scan... and now, when this was going to be a scan that was more just a formality, I will be on pins and needles from Dec 7th when I have the scan to Dec 10th when I see Sharlene.... and that wait in the waiting room will be incredibly anxious. Of all the things one has to go through, that is what I hate the most... the waiting.