Wednesday, February 20, 2013

No More Chemo!

I am officially done with chemo.  I went to get treatment on Monday and met with my oncologist beforehand as usual.  I told him about a new symptom I started experiencing this past week.  My fingertips hurt.  It's not the same kind of shooting pain I experienced before that would come and go.  This time it feels like my fingertips got slammed in a car door and the pain doesn't go away.  They throb and are numb and if I try to use them it hurts horribly.  I can't really do anything with them that requires for me to pinch two fingers together or that requires me to apply pressure with my fingertips.  I also have what looks like bruising underneath my fingernails.  I didn't really think too much about it.  I honestly have been trying to ignore it and with sick kids, it's not like I've had much time to think about it anyway.  Well as soon as I told Dr. Kass about it, he got this pensive look on his face.  He then informed me that I'm done with chemo.  He's not giving me my 12th and final treatment of taxol.  He said that the benefit of me getting that last treatment does not outweigh the risk of the neuropathy getting a lot worse with this last treatment.  He said I've had enough treatment with the 6 chemotherapy during pregnancy and 11 more afterward.  I was in such a state of shock when he told me this.  I'm not very good with changes in the plan.  I know I'm too black and white but missing number 12 just didn't feel right.  I actually told Dr. Kass that he should go ahead and give me the treatment anyway because it's just pain and I can handle the pain.  Silly... I know. I really trust Dr. Kass.  He knows what he's doing.  Besides, this pain in my fingertips is really inconvenient and I really would rather that it not last for months and months.  So that's it... no more chemo... just like that.

I'm really looking forward to having a life again.  I feel like now that I'm done with chemo I can get back to being me.  I have gotten so worn down physically and emotionally that I couldn't even get excited to be finished with chemo.  My sister asked me if I was excited to be done and I just sat there thinking about it and finally I told her that I am too tired to even know how I feel.  I'm ready to move on from this place.  Next stop... six weeks of radiation.  

Me and my wonder nurses

Friday, February 15, 2013

Sick Kids

After kissing Zeek on the mouth all day long, I took is temperature tonight and he is running a fever just like his 3 older siblings. I kicked myself as soon as I realized he had the fever. The other kids are sick and I should have been more careful. I thought I had kept Zeek protected from them enough that I wouldn't have to protect myself from Zeek. As a mom, it is one of the worst feelings in the world to have sick kids. I just want to hold them and make them feel better. Zeek is feeling miserable and tonight as he was snot nosed and crying, every fiber of my being wanted to just dismiss the danger he poses and scoop him up and kiss away his tears. I'm sure I've already been exposed but if there's any chance that I haven't, I need to keep my distance. My counts are low and I so desperately don't want to get sick. Besides... I really need to start growing hair again and if I can't do chemo this Monday then my hair growth will be set back an entire week and that is completely unacceptable. John took Tobias to the doctor this afternoon because he's had the fever for 5 days now. The doctor prescribed tamiflu for the other 3 kids. I called around to every pharmacy in Ventura and none of them had it in stock. I finally found it at a pharmacy in Oxnard. That is some really expensive stuff. I'm hoping the cost reflects the effectiveness.

Prayers are so greatly appreciated!

Monday, February 11, 2013


It's chemo Monday!  Chemo Monday means steroids.  Steroids mean I have enough energy to come up with the words to update my blog.  Number 11 of taxol chemotherapy complete.  Number 17 total since I was diagnosed.  That's a whole lot of chemo.  ONE MORE LEFT!  In one week from today I will receive my last infusion.  That statement seriously brings tears of joy to my eyes!

Today and yesterday have been two really hard days for me emotionally.  I have been inundated with a complete assortment of crappy emotions.  Those crappy emotions have been exacerbated by a child with a 102 degree temperature, a piece of my son's braces falling off, my daughter crying herself to sleep last night because she's afraid I'm going to die because I got too close to her brother with the fever and then she was feeling sick today, a baby who didn't take a good nap all day yesterday, and then to top it all off I only got two hours of fitful sleep last night.  I  couldn't fall asleep and then when I finally did, I could only drift in and out of sleep and woke up to every little sound as if I was listening to hear the front door open.  Some of those crappy emotions I've been feeling are associated with guilt.  I have a pretty bad case of mommy guilt.  I feel guilt for not wanting to hold Zeek when I'm feeling exhausted and out of energy.  I feel guilt for constantly scolding my son who has ADHD and showing my constant frustration with his inability to follow simple instructions.  I feel guilt for hating homework.  Homework is exhausting!  Homework is by far the most unenjoyable parenting responsibility.  The list goes on and on.

Last night my sister called at just the wrong time.  I ended up unloading all of my crap onto her, venting my frustrations, and crying my eyes out.  This morning I woke up feeling despair and like a failure.  I went to chemo and sat through it like a zombie, too tired to feel or think.  On the drive home, the steroids started to kick in.  I got home and tried to take a nap but the wheels had started turning in my mind and I couldn't turn them off.  I got up out of bed and put my hands to work crocheting myself a hat.  As I was sitting there I started to think about this past ten months and the different places I've been emotionally.  I thought about the ups and the downs.  This current period of feeling down has been a long one.  I have been feeling "poor me" for a couple of months.  I knew my weaknesses would be revealed through this process and surprisingly I'm not embarrassed by it.  I can look back and read the tone of my blogs and see the "poor me" in my words.  I can recall conversations where the "poor me" is palpable.  The hope at the end of this journey has been too far away to allow myself to feel it.  Without hope, what else is there?  The answer for me... self pity.  As I was sitting there realizing how pathetically human and imperfect I am (like this is totally some kind of profound revelation), I cried out to God in my heart.  "I am done trying to fake it through this part.  I want to be filled with joy despite my circumstance.  Fill me with joy."  And that was that.  Tonight I look at all those crappy emotions I was feeling and they don't seem so bad.  I can't dwell on those crappy emotions if I'm filled with joy.  This will be a daily struggle for me... to not just know that I am blessed but to feel the joy of those blessings.  I want to not only feel the joy of His blessings but to share His joy as well.

"Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you."
Psalm 86:4

"When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy."
Psalm 94:19

Monday, February 4, 2013


It's Monday... the chemo kind of Monday.  Ten down, two to go kind of Monday.  The kind of Monday where I can see that light at the end of the tunnel getting so much closer.  The kind of Monday where I actually thought about having hair again (tear).  All I could think about while I was in treatment today was that I will be finished in two more weeks!  I want to tell everyone in the treatment center (where they've stuck me with needles and pumped me full of poison) that I'll never see them again because I am done with cancer forever.  But can I say that?  Can I say that  I believe the cancer is gone and will never return?  I'm so afraid to say it because I'm afraid of being wrong.  But you know what?  I said it anyways!  I said to my nurses, "Two more treatments and I won't ever be back."  Of course it's not true because I love my nurses and when I go to see my oncologist for my regular check ups, I will definitely stop in to see those wonderful ladies who have taken such good care of me.  In the end, if I'm wrong... well then... I'll just be wrong.  But I am believing with as much as I can that I am right!

For the past several weeks I have really been struggling.  My treatment has been so long and drawn out.  It has been such a long time to be in a place physically that I have no control over.  I am miserable physically.  I've complained about it all before... over and over and over again.  It's getting old.  I'm sick of complaining. I just want to fix it already.  I'm ready to get on with my life but I can't because I'm stuck in the muck of side effects from chemotherapy and discouragement from all the extra pounds I've put on and not being able to exercise until this stupid cold goes away (going on 3 months now).  Today I even started with a new side effect from the chemo.  I am now experiencing numbness, tingling, and throbbing pain in my hands.  This is bad new for the mom of a baby that needs to be carried... especially for a mom who really dislikes asking for help. I thought I had avoided this common and dreaded side effect but here I am experiencing it right at the end...and thankful it waited until the end to rear its ugly head.

At my appointment this morning, Dr. Kass (my oncologist) informed me that my counts are borderline low and he expects that they will stay there for the rest of my treatment.  I'm assuming that this means my cold will be staying for a little while longer as well as the continuous bloody nose and the mouth sores as my body can't heal very well while my counts are low.  Continued prayer for the health of those around me for the next few weeks, please!

I'm struggling physically which leads to a heightened emotional struggle.  When I find I am overcome with frustration and discouragement, my perspective on life needs to be put in check.  Today I was reading an update from my friend who like me was diagnosed with breast cancer while she was pregnant.  I hope she doesn't mind that I'm quoting her but what she said brought tears to my eyes because I see so much beauty in what she said.

"I am jealous of old ladies.  This morning in radiation, two old ladies were complaining about their cancers.
Both had lumpectomies and were now in for their required radiation.  I wanted to stop them and tell them
how envious I was of them and their YEARS they have been on this earth probably raising babies and
vacationing and living life.  Old ladies look at me and my skin and want it.  I want wrinkles.
How ironic, huh?  I long to be old and vertical.  Ladies...those in their senior are so blessed.
Think how many people wish they could be like you and never got a chance due to cancer, tragedy, heart
disease, etc.  You are the most blessed people of all!  A grandmother in my opinion has it all...
being able to see your children's children.  So don't be envious of youth....
Be thankful for you have been blessed!"

I was impacted by another quote I came across tonight from a book called Same Life, New Story.  I LOVE this book.  I believe this book to be so relevant as it talks about changing your perspective in order to change your life.  It reminded me of a conversation I had with a dear friend this past weekend.  We became friends in high school and then lost touch for many years.  We got together one on one for the first time in a long time and caught up on life.  What was shared was so painful but there was so much beauty in it.  Pain is part of life.  Life is beautiful.  My friend shared the pain of her story with me and I saw beauty.  When I was first diagnosed I was told I would look back at this year as the "lost year".  I hope not.  I don't want to lose any time at all... even if that time was filled with pain.  My hope is that those who know me can look back with me and see the beauty in my painful journey.  Perspective put in check.

"Life is a whole string of nows knit together with friendship and songs, 
heartaches and tears, fears and courage, passion and compassion, 
depression and elation, patience and impatience, and more...
So don't miss life.  
Take up your life and walk, whether it's happy or sad,
 angry or disappointing, ecstatic, hopeful, heart wrenching or tender.  
You name it.  
Just don't miss it."