Archive for September, 2012

Chemo Treatment #4 – Day Five

Sun Sep 23– 2012 Chemo #4 Day Five– Second Day Off

OFFICIALLY 1/3 of the way through. Four sessions out of twelve.

I know I haven’t written about the other chemo days, but really.. there hasn’t been much to write about. Friday, the second day, I was tired and feeling some constipation issues. Saturday was more of the same. I spent all morning in bed. Woke up early but really didn’t want to get up so turned on the TV and ended up watching several movies. When I did get up I didn’t do much more than move my butt to the couch. I came close to taking a Compazine but didn’t end up feeling like I needed it.

Bowel issues continue to be the bane of my existence. I take softeners morning and night, two Senakot at night and drink Miralax as needed. I am going but the side effect here is  extreme flatulence. Going to add Gas X to my med regimen to see if that helps. Otherwise my co-workers will definitely think twice about wanting me back.

I feel like I’m a sixth grade boy, all my thoughts seem to be scatological in nature. Maybe once I make the 5 year NED mark I don’t talk obsessively about poop and farts. It’s sometimes difficult to think of myself as sick right now. I have no issues other than chemo side effects. A little first bite issue that comes and goes for a few days. The cold sensitivity in my fingers is annoying when I want something out of the fridge. It doesn’t seem to affect my eating or drinking anything cold, just my fingers. My lips do get a bit tingly if I eat ice cream :).

Today I felt better and ended up doing a few chores around my pig sty of an apartment and made a big pot of chili. It’s definitely that kind of weather around here.

Had a nice long talk tonight with my brother and sis-in-law from Kansas City.

~~Gayla

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Chemo Treatment #4 – Day One

Wed Sep 19 – 2012 Chemo #4 Day One – Chemo Lounge

Session Four — YAY.

They were able to draw my blood this week from my port. Last session the nurse couldn’t get it to draw. When you get poked as much as a cancer patient does, being able to do your blood draw from your port instead of adding a vein stick each session is BIG.

This session I saw Daisy, the NP. She is great! First off, my WBC was good so NO NEULASTA this session! Second, she okayed my use of cimetazine and melatonin. She even commiserated with me the lack of availability of CBD. She gave me a good proactive protocol to help with my constipation issues.

My CEA was tested today but the results weren’t in right away.

I asked about follow up testing. Daisy said that they would probably be doing the CEA every other session and would probably have me scheduled for a scan half-way through my 12 sessions and every three months for a while. My maintenance chemo would probably be six more months of the same regimen minus the evil oxaliplatin (the kick your ass part of the cocktail). To be fair, the oxi is also a kick cancer ass part of the cocktail.

Daisy said she had a stage IV colon cancer survivor patient in another one of their offices and she was going to ask this lady if she could pass on contact information so we could talk. I would like to talk to someone ahead of me in treatment and doing great.

Infusion went well and I had my benadryl nap right on time lol. After infusion I went and got Em and we went out to eat and stopped to get my new meds. We also stopped at Fava Tea a wonderful store near here and I picked up some Ginger Mint green tea. Between the ginger, the mint, and the citrus I am set for keeping the nausea at bay. Drinking a hot tea in the morning will also help with my constipation.

Can you tell I had a good day? 😀

~~ Gayla

Asgara – I’m not a princess and I don’t need saving… I’m a freakin’  QUEEN and I got this shit handled.

Getting Ready for Number Four

I talked last week about going back to work. I think I’ve been premature. At times I think I’m ready and I am bored and want to be at work but at other times I get nervous about future chemo treatments. I know that the effects can be cumulative. I already feel I won’t be able to put in my full hours during chemo week. If I stay out a few more weeks I will have LTD to fall back on when I can’t work. That will help me until the end of chemo. Hopefully, things will be better by then and I can come back to work full time and feel good about it.

It was a big decision and I stressed over it all week but I can’t in good conscience give up the LTD option.

******** WARNING TMI PARAGRAPH *************************************

Last week I worked three days and was terribly constipated the entire time. I won’t go into too much detail about fixing the issue, just say I used every laxative at my disposal for several days and in the end my fix involved a rubber glove and a soaped finger. After things were fixed I felt like I was anally compromised by a Mack truck.. from the inside out.

***********************************************************************

I did have some really annoying cold sensitivity off and on at the beginning of last week but it has disappeared this week.

I have chemo number four tomorrow. When it’s done I’m 1/3 of the way through. YIPPIE.

I want to talk to the onc’s office about cimetidine, which is basically Tagamet. There are studies that show that this can inhibit in vivo growth of human colon cancer. Melatonin is another supplement I want to discuss. Again there have been some studies that show that it can induce cell death in cancer cells.

The last thing I wish to discuss with the doc is cannabidiol or CBD.  Studies have found that CBD, a nonpsychoactive component of the marijuana plant, is a potent inhibitor of breast cancer cell proliferation, metastasis, and tumor growth (along with other metastatic cancers).  Unfortunately, Wisconsin is not a medical marijuana state and CBD is still considered part of a schedule 1 drug and is not legal for use even though it is nonpsychoactive. Please click on the first link in this paragraph for the pertinent information.

One thing I did want to share with any readers I have is a predictive tool found on Memorial Sloane Kettering’s site. MSK is one of the top cancer centers in the country. This tool is called a Nomogram. I fill in the information from my pathology and surgery reports (one item I’m not sure about) and this tool is meant to show probabilities of being disease-free five and ten years after surgery based on the information I fill in. This is not probabilities of mortality, it is probabilities of recurrence.

If I assume the one item I’m not sure about is positive, I show a 1 in 3 chance of being disease free still in five years and a 1 in 4 chance of making it to ten years disease free. If I assume the item I’m not sure about is negative then my numbers jump to 1 in 2 for five years free and 1 in 3 for ten years. These are all odds of being found NED (no evidence of disease) that I will gladly take.  Mayo’s Adjuvant Tools give different but better numbers.

For anyone wanting to play around with my numbers, I am 52, tumor was in sigmoid colon, my CEA was 90 but tool only allows a high of 64, TNM stage was T3, differentiation was moderate, I had 0 positive nodes out of 7, there was perineural invasion and I’m assuming positive on vascular involvement, and I am in chemo after surgery.

~~Gayla

Asgara Queen of Confused

Back to Work

Well I did it. I made it through my first day back at work. In fact I made it through nine hours back at work.

Yesterday, day five of chemo week, I had more energy and was feeling pretty good other than cold sensitivity.

I tried to go to bed early so I could make sure to get to work in time for the Monday morning meeting. Of course, I had difficulty sleeping. I ended up getting up before my alarm and took my time getting ready. I was feeling ok until I pulled into the parking lot. Then nerves hit big time and the tears started welling up. I did manage to keep them at bay until walking into the office. They had signs all over my work station welcoming me back. I saw them and lost it. Walking down for coffee with one of my wonderful co-workers I was worried I’d scare the students as I was walking down the hall crying. 🙂

The day went pretty fast and judging from the virtual pile of work I guess they DO need me. It took me a bit to get back into the swing of things but I think I will be feeling more confident by the end of the week. It will be a bit of a juggling act to cover my hours during my chemo weeks. I am only 30 hours a week but half of every other week I don’t know how many hours I’ll be able to get in. I’m hoping I can get in some extra hours on my off weeks to hold over and cover the on weeks. I’m working on some plans with my boss.

I had a long informative meeting with hour HR benefits manager. She gave me several options for now and the future and I have this week to decide just what direction I want to go. One of the options involved not actually coming back to work until the middle of October to get my 90 continuous 90 days in for future use of long term disability. This is not an option I think is viable. I am going a bit crazy being off and I know my team is short staffed even when I am at work. Unfortunately if down the road I need to take time off again I will have to start my 90 days all over again, but I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

I will say everyone at work is being very helpful and caring. I love my job.

~~ Gayla

ASGARA QUEEN OF THE UNIVERSE

Chemo Treatment #3 – Day Three and Four

Sat Sep 08– 2012  Chemo #3 Day Three – Pump Day – Day Four

Like I said in my last post, things are looking better again and I’m off the pity pot.

Yesterday I was able to take my pump off at 11am. My daughter finally got to see me remove the pump. She has had to work the other two removal days. While I was feeling good she took me out to lunch.  I had to get home quickly as the bathroom was calling me quite urgently.

It seems like my schedule is turning into constipation at the beginning of chemo week, then release when pump is removed followed by frequent visits each day the next week. Ok, potty talk is done for this week (as long as things stay normal).

Last night I didn’t take any sleep aides. I seem to wake up more in the middle of the night if I don’t take some Benadryl. I don’t like taking something every night but I like to sleep through the night.

Today is my lazy veg day. I turned on the TV and stayed in bed till almost 11. My daughter came in and watched TV and cuddled up with me. I liked that. I haven’t gotten out of my jammies all day. I haven’t needed to take any Compazine today but I didn’t eat much. Food just doesn’t sound good. I have had cold sensitivity when reaching into fridge. Soda cans are held with my sleeve over my hand. The sensitivity is an almost burning tingle today, but it’s totally manageable as long as I remember.

I missed my niece’s birthday and my daughter’s friend’s open house. Just don’t feel like leaving the house on my day four.

I start back to work on Monday. Getting nervous.

~~ Gayla

Chemo Treatment #3 – Day Two

Thu Sep 06– 2012  Chemo #3 Day Two – Pump Day

In 12 and half hours I will officially be 1/4 of the way through this initial chemo regimen. Tomorrow it will be 8 weeks since diagnosis.

I’m going through a serious pity party tonight. There is nothing different about tonight. My pump day is going well, a little cold sensitivity but nothing unmanageable. I’m just teary and pissy and mad and sad. Tomorrow this will have passed and I’ll be fine until the next time.

It’s times like this I wish I could be a religious person. I wish I could believe in an after life. People think that atheists are in rebellion against the idea of god or the idea of some outside authority. Many atheists I know wish they could believe. It would be a comforting thought, but you can’t make yourself believe in something. You either do or you don’t. And I don’t. 😦

Bah, enough of this. No one wants to listen to me bitch and moan.

 

~~ Gayla

Asgara Queen of the Needy and Attention Seeking

 

Chemo Treatment #3 – Day One

Wed Sep 05 – 2012 Chemo #3 Day One – Chemo Lounge

Third session. On Friday morning I will officially be 1/4 of the way through this part of my journey. This is the first time I went by myself.

They tried to draw my blood through the port but it’s being stubborn and they ended up having to stick my antecubital area. That’s the inner elbow for those not in the know. 😛 Good news is my WBC count is up and I don’t need the Neulasta this week. Doc said probably every other week. My platelet count is low, below normal, but not to any dangerous point that the doc would want to watch bleeding closer.

My incision is all but closed and Doc said we would probably start the Avastin in four weeks. So not session 4 but session 5. It has quite the list of side effects. /sigh

Speaking of…

Cold sensitivity is hitting me this session. Why didn’t I have that ice cream LAST night. 😛 I stopped at the gas station to pick up some soda and ice cream ( 🙂 ) and reaching into the cooler really sent my fingers to tingling. Almost painful but not quite. Used a glove to reach into fridge and freezer to put stuff away. Later I used the glove to get the ice cream out and dish it into a small dish. I wanted to see if I would be able to swallow cold items. Some people say it feels like swallowing ground glass. I was able to eat a small amount of ice cream if I let it warm up in my mouth before swallowing. The soda had the bitey glass effect but for some reason I didn’t mind it and drinking the cold soda is still ok. It’s just hard to hold the bottle.

I stopped into work after chemo today and spent several hours visiting and talking about some of the changes that we’re going to put in place. Both for my testing purposes and the actual layout of our workspace. I got to meet our new intern and visit with several old co-workers. I will be attempting to head back to work next Monday. Everyone is being great and it seems like they will be more than willing to work around my … um .. deficits. I was so worried that they would realize they didn’t need me during this enforced 8 weeks off, but in reality it seems they DO need me and my job is waiting. Piles and Piles from my job are waiting. 😛

~~ Gayla

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