Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I was able to get down to California earlier this month (between treatments) to see my family. It was one of the best visits I've had down there. We managed to get most of the family together for dinner one night (there were 32 of us. We took up 2/3 of the restaurant and that did not include all of us!) One of my nephew's took me Christmas light sightseeing in a part of town where every house is decked out with lights. It was just a very pleasant time. Everyone was so glad to see me, some asked if I would move back down there. Of course, that is not going to happen, but it's hard for them to be so far away from me as they all want to help and be near. And I too, wish we could be closer.
I have a wonderful family – blood relations, by marriage, and my church family. Because of the tremendous support we are receiving here, I was able to reassure my California family that I am being well taken care of. This comes as great relief to them, and they have been amazed at the generosity of all that are helping us.
I had treatment #3 the day after I got back on the 12th and will have #4 on the 26th. Side effects are not too bad except that I'm beginning to get mouth sores again and having intermittent tummy aches, so am trying to stay on top of that. Of course, energy level is down some but thankfully I am able to get rest.
These days I have a heightened awareness of each day and appreciation of what it contains. I'm noticing small pleasures – walking outside and taking in a deep breath of fresh air, dew dripping off the trees, listening to the rain, playing with our puppy. A couple of weeks ago while it was raining, I looked out the window and the sun was out too! And that's how life is right now. The sun is shining right along in the darkness. Blessings abound in the midst of trial. How can I be anything but thankful to a God that He alone can create such a paradox? I have been reassured that all will be taken care of, no matter what. And this brings me peace.
I wish for all a very blessed Christmas season and wonderful times with your families.
Thanks for prayers. Keep 'em coming! Lord bless you all!
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I am sorry to report that the PET scan did indeed show cancer activity. It is showing in several areas in my abdomen, at the initial site, as well as spots around my liver, which is hard to say the depth of them from the scan alone. This, of course explains why I've been feeling the way I have. Even though my blood work still looked good, it's obvious that the CEA level will not be an accurate guage. He told me all along that it can be an ambiguous number.
I found out Monday evening. Doug and I went to see Dr. Neville yesterday. He had me start chemo today. One bright spot is that I won't have the drug that causes neuropathy and the cold sensitivity. That was the most irritating side effect last time. They are replacing it with a different one, which comes with it's own side effects which I hope will be more manageable than dealing with neuropathy.
The current plan is that I have 4-6 treatments (2 week intervals) then another scan. If it goes back into remission I will more than likely do the IPHC surgery we were going to do last May. We've already contacted the doc up there and he concurs that we do chemo first and get it in remission. My being a candidate for this surgey will be particularly dependent on the cancer not being in any other organs. Only the liver appears to be involved at this point.
I want you to know how valuable and powerful prayer is! I'm more and more being blown away by God's love that is pouring through you, dear ones. You have truly been His hands.
We will keep you posted. If not before Thanksgiving, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with your families. Savor these moments. Make them unforgettable.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Hi to all,
As life has it's many demands on us, I am finding it's taking pretty much all my energy to just get to work and keep up with the house. With Doug as a full-time student now, I am currently the main breadwinner in the family, which is stressing me. The better I was feeling, the more I was working. Things were going OK but then I started feeling not too tip top these past few weeks. I realized that I was pushing myself again. I came home from work this week with rather severe stomach pains. The doc thinks it's acid reflux or something like that, and is treating it as such, but I was unable to work for the rest of the week, and that stressed me out again!
I requested an early PET scan (were going to do one in December). So I had one yesterday (Friday) and should know the results by mid-week. My blood tests still look good. The CEA level went up some (2.5 - it was 1.9) but is still in the normal range. The doc said it can fluctuate alot at these low levels.
I want to trust that when it's time to make that decision, we'll have more direction.
We would sure appreciate your prayers as we travel through this phase. I will let you know next week what the scan shows.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
"Don't think about it so much." -found on the inside of a Dove chocolate wrapper).
I had my monthly blood check on Monday, and my two month doctor visit yesterday. Everything still looks real good, in fact, the CEA level is even lower - 1.9!!! So, this is very encouraging and gives me yet another respite and something to be very thankful for. The neuropathy is still with me and may be something I need to get used to for the duration.
Doug has started school and so far is doing well. This means, though, that he is not working at this time. Finances are tight to say the least. We will re-evaluate after this school term as to if he needs to work a weekend shift. I am working pretty much full time for now.
So, things are good and moving along, intermixed with some very big challenges. I believe one of the lessons I am in the process of learning is how to live in the 11th hour, one day at a time, no worries about tomorrow. This is difficult for someone who really likes all her ducks in a row!! I've forgotten these last couple of weeks that God is in control and is bigger than any problem I can come to Him with, but through a series of events, He's showing me, once again, that He is in the big AND the small things. So, this is a lesson that I hope to grab hold of soon! I need to keep looking to Him and not to the circumstances.
Thank you for continued prayers. They really, really do make a huge difference.
Any thoughts are welcomed.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
The one resolution, which was in my mind long before it took the form of a resolution, is the key-note of my life. It is this, always to regard as mere impertinences of fate the handicaps which were placed upon my life almost at the beginning. I resolved that they should not crush or dwarf my soul, but rather be made to blossom, like Aaron's rod, with flowers.
- Helen Keller
Well, after waiting for a few days for the doctor to call, I decided to call about my test results and got the nurse to look them up on the computer (doc was out of the office today). To my surprise, the CEA level is down 3/10 of a point! (anything lower I'll take!!). So, it is currently at 2.0 from 2.3 six weeks ago. This was exceptionally good news to me, as my mind was starting to wander into the gloomy zone. I'm a bit anemic, but the nurse said for an oncology patient my blood levels are 'stellar'. So, wow, what more could I ask for this day? Now I can rest easier this weekend!
I know that I will make it through this season of life only by God's grace. Life is not slowing down in the Easton home, or anywhere else, for that matter. In fact, with Doug and Daniel starting LBCC on the 24th and Doug also working weekends soon, Amy, now a Sophomore at CV, and me back working (nearly 30 hours a week)... well, what more can I say? Yes, lots of grace!!
Please pray with me that I spend my days learning more and more how to focus only on what's truly important, and let all the other inconsequential activities and busyness fall away; and to spend the best of my energies on the things of eternal value (where neither dust nor moth destroys - Matt. 6:20).
Thanks once again to all for your many prayers and thoughts. I do believe they make the difference! I will continue to keep you posted. I'll try to get some motorcycle pics on here soon too!
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
I'm back working, not quite full time, but up to about 27 hours last week. It's good to be busy, although it's kind of hard spending my 'good time' at work when I'd rather be taking advantage of what's left of the summer! (who wouldn't?) But, life marches on regardless of our situations. Bills need to be paid!!
That's not to say I'm not sneaking in some fun time. We had a good ride last Saturday to the coast. It felt good to be riding again. And, we have a new addition to the family: a puppy! Amy has been wanting one for some time now. After much searching, we finally settled on one. Her name is Hazel, she's an 8 week old boxer. So far, she seems to be a very calm doggie, even for a puppy. She's pretty much Amy's dog, at least for now. I'm taking a low profile on this one! Amy just loves her!!
So, next blood check is Sept. 3. Kind of nervous but also feeling that I'm resting in God's hands. This cancer thing is so huge, that one has to lay their hope in something much larger, no matter what may come down the pike. There's a point of surrender, not to be confused with giving up, but it's the best way to walk through life in general, I'm finding out after 52 years!
Anyway, hope you all have a nice rest of the summer. I'll keep you posted.
Monday, August 6, 2007
The plan now is to have my blood CEA level checked once a month, see Dr. Neville in 2 months, and have a scan in 3 months. My CEA level is still at 2.3 (3.0 and below is normal), so he is pleased with this. (Did you know that everyone has a CEA level? Even healthy people? I thought that was interesting). After looking at the scans they did in Seattle, he considers the spots on my lungs and liver to be 'in remission', although it's still not clear to them exactly what those spots are/were???
So, for the time being, I'll work on getting my energy level back up, my tastebuds back, and feeling back to normal in my hands and feet. Hopefully I'll be able to be off chemo long enough to get some hair back too! It would be nice to feel and look 'normal' for a while and enjoy life.
All this is so much in God's hands. I'm just trodding along this pathway, trying not to bargain too much with him, (let me see my kids graduate, let me see them married, let me see my grandchildren, etc...) but to listen to him, stay connected to him, trust him. This is all I can do with an uncertain future. But then again, aren't all our futures somewhat uncertain? Heaven knows, you could be driving happily along on a bridge, and the next moment, it's crumbling beneath you. Is there any rhyme or reason? That is the question, isn't it?
Enough philosophising. I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer. I will stay in touch.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
- -- Spurgeon
We saw the ND on Monday and was encouraged. It's amazing how much more time they take with you than the MD's. Two hours of talking and putting a plan together to help build my immune system back up. He's starting slow (thankfully we're weren't innundated with a bunch of stuff) and for now it's mainly dietary stuff and a few supplements to help rebuild. To hold me accountable, we agreed that I would email him once a week with what I'm eating day to day and if I'm taking the supplements! This is what I need! I'll write more on that and him later.
I am beginning to feel better as the days pass, and as soon as the sores in my mouth are gone that will make a big difference. It's amazing how a few little sores can affect the whole body!
Thanks again for your prayers of support and I'll let you know what Dr. Neville says on Friday.
Friday, July 27, 2007
In the meantime, I will be seeing a natureopathic doc (Dr. Weizer) through the Providence Cancer Center in Portland on Monday. He himself is a cancer survivor. He mainly treats cancer patients, particularly with supplements and nutrition, so I look forward to building my body back up and feeling good again, for, Lord willing, as long as I can. Hopefully, as I build up my immune system, my body will have a better chance of fighting. Should I need more chemo down the road, my body will at least be stronger to handle the side effects.
The one thing I like about this ND is that he works with a team and there is also an MD on staff, so they seem really balanced. Plus his fees are half of what I was going to pay down in Ashland, so this is more do-able for us. Dr. Neville was surprisingly OK with this and is interested in what Dr. Weizer recommends for me.
Friends and family, don't fear. I will track closely with Dr. Neville through this whole process. He will check me regularly (not sure how often yet), and I certainly have not closed the door to more chemotherapy or even more surgery should I need it in the future. But for now, I really, really need a break.
Fall plans: Doug will proceed with nursing school come September. Daniel is going into the welding program at LBCC (pray he gets a grant!). Amy will start her Sophomore year at CV, I will keep working as much as possible. And we'll keep praying for God's will and sustenance through this all.
Please continue your prayers for peace in our home and hearts. Every step in this process brings questions and what ifs. Pray we keep our focus and not be derailed by the uncertainties, and live each day to it's fullest.
Thanks again for your caring support,
Saturday, July 14, 2007
I am definately feeling more of the side effects, and have also been rather depressed these last few days. I think it's due in part to the steroids they give me along with treatment. Also, I am so impatient because I want to be out doing things and have such low energy right now. My blood levels have started to change a bit (chemo reaction) so should I go for the next 3 treatments I can only imagine what I might be feeling like by the last one (ugg). I just don't know if I'll be able to psyche myself up enough to finish all 12 cycles. If you asked me today, I'd say no way.
But, this is not a day to make decisions.
Please pray for me to know when to say 'enough' or if I should go the full 12 cycles. Of course, it will depend on how I'm reacting, too. I don't want to wimp out on treatment, but I also don't want to break my system down. I keep telling myself it's only 6 more weeks.
As I finish up chemo, I will need determination to eat well and do the things that are going to help me stay healthy. Please pray also that I am led to the people who can help me get on track and suggest the things I'll need for my particular health needs.
Thanks to all, hope you are having a good weekend.
Monday, July 9, 2007
I went to have treatment #9 today and ran into a snag. They are not completely sure why but right after drug #2 started, I got very dizzy, sweaty, my blood pressure dropped to 70. The nurses are really on top of things, I have to say. About 4 of them came in the room. They stopped the drugs, hooked up saline, layed me flat, gave me oxygen, kept checking my BP, and gradually it came back up. I was having some intestinal pain and they said it could have been due to a nerve that's attached to your intestines. If there's a problem, your BP drops. Anyhow, it was scary but thankfully it passed without too much complication.
So, we called it a day, but I go back tomorrow and see if I can finish the treatment. I'm sure they'll be watching me closely at first.
Anyhow, I had a terrific motorcycle ride on July 4 with Melinda (went to Independence, saw the preparations for their big 4th celebration, then headed through Kings Valley and on home. Then on Sat. I went by myself to the coast via Hy20, stopped at Ona Beach for a bit, then headed home through Waldport up Hy34. It was a great ride, and I was pooped when I got home.
I think I try to pack too much into my 'good days' but it's so hard when the weather is nice and I know I have only a few days in which to do stuff. It's doubtful that I'll be able to make it to family camp this weekend (I'll miss seeing the 'family').
I hope you all are fending well in this warm weather and that you are having a great week.
Thanks for all your prayers. God is leading and guiding, even amidst making some pretty tough decisions. I do so cherish your support! Please pray I get through this treatment tomorrow successfully.
Monday, July 2, 2007
I've definately decided NOT to have the surgery at this time. I can still be a candidate at a later date should the disease not progress outside the abdominal cavity. So, surgery went to the end of my 'options list' for now.
I'm thinking I'll do treatment #9 next week then take a break, or at least ask the doc if I can spread them out a little more (at the suggestion of a friend). The side effects are definately building up.
I'm researching nutrition (serious nutrition!), cleansing, etc. and reading some interesting cases of those who have benefitted from a stringent regime. This will be my next challenge! To be diligent about what I'm putting into my system, detoxifying, taking this very serious. Please pray that I will muster up the energy and determination to follow through. And if you know anything about this, I'd love to hear from you.
Other requests for this week:
- Doug and Amy are taking a motorcycle trip to Christmas Valley tomorrow and Wednesday. They need the time away, but I'm trying not to be anxious! Please pray they have quality time together and for safety, and for me to not worry.
- Amy is very concerned about me (projecting too far into the possible future) and is going through a very confusing time right now with other things as well (lots of tears lately). Please pray for her peace of mind and that she can sort through her feelings. I have to say that my daughter is the most precious thing on this earth to me. I want to tell her that everything is going to be ok, but who can say? I try to stay hopeful in our conversations, but it's hard for anyone, let alone a 15 year old, to live with this type of uncertainty.
This whole disease is such a strange, surreal process. With this first course of treatments coming to an end, I'm stepping once again into unknown territory and frankly, the reality is sometimes overwhelming. There are so many emotions that I too, am sorting through, to find amidst the clutter, the place of peace, rest, and faith. I know it will come, I get glimpses of it, but what a roller coaster ride this is. God's word comforts:
"Immanuel, if I could go into space, you would be there with me. If I could go to the bottom of the ocean, you would be there with me. No matter where I am, I cannot be out of your presence. No matter where I go, your hand will guide me and hold me tight." Psalm 139:7-19
With all that said.... Happy 4th!! Go Celebrate!!
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Just before I left for Calif. we heard from Seattle (actually Doug called them). They had scheduled a pre-op appointment for July 10 and surgery for July 16! But hadn't called us yet! That was kind of annoying, considering I'd left two messages the week prior.
So, I ran this all by my family. With the exception of my dad (who didn't know what to think) they all think I should have it. (Confirmation?) So, I thought I had made my mind up about having it, I come home and now I'm waffling again. I'm just not convinced that this is the right path. There is not a settled-ness in my spirit. I think this goes beyond the general fear factor. There just is not enough significant positive data. From all I read, this COULD double my life expectancy (in 1/3 of patients) should I not suffer from complications (infections, fissures, pulmonary problems, needing subsequent surgeries), or even death from the surgery itself. Of course, these are always risks with any surgery, but the percentages I'm reading, in my opinion, are pretty high, particularly since these studies are based on a group of 40 patients, the other on a group of 60. (Not a large data base). The latest data I'm reading is from 2004, since this is relatively new, particularly with colon cancers. They've chosen me as a good candidate because of age, state of disease at this point, etc. This is 'cutting edge' stuff, and I would be a good one to add to the data, I suppose.
On the other hand, I am responding really well to the chemo I am now receiving. My CEA level (3 and below is normal) has gone down even more in the last two weeks and is now at 2.1. My oncologist is not completely convinced of the surgery either. He seems 50/50 on it. Also, we have not exhausted our resources in terms of treatment options for me at this time. At some point, the chemo will stop working (in terms of data), but no one can say when that will be. I could live just as long with what I'm doing now and not have the surgery. But, of course, no one knows for sure.
So, it's a gamble either way. I'm thinking I'll take my chances and just stay with what I'm doing now and see where this leads. In the meantime, if anyone out there can read the future, please let me know!! :o)
Again, please continue to pray for wisdom, mainly peace in my spirit. We are facing many challenges within the family right now too (kids, we have to put our dog down, finances, etc.) In any event, this time of our life seem to be posing some of the biggest challenges we have yet to face. Please also pray for my daughter Amy, as she's very worried about me lately. I am very spent this week (emotionally and energy wise).
I rest on the faith that God is bigger than all this and He knows all our needs. None of this is a surprise to Him.
I can say am convinced of one thing, and one thing only; that He will take care of us NO MATTER WHAT happens.
I am open to your input at any time. I treasure our relationships!
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
"Your spiritual family is even more important than your physical family because it will last forever... our relationship to other believers will continue throughout eternity. It is a much stronger union, a more permanent bond, than blood relationships. When Paul would stop to consider God's eternal purpose for us together, he would break out into praise: "When I think of the wisdom and scope of his plan I fall down on my knees and pray to the Father of all the great family of God, some of them already in heaven and some down here on earth."
I have family members and friends already in heaven. I have many more down here on earth. Your love and support have humbled me beyond words. I often feel undeserving. As we received from you this past weekend in particular, I knew that, no matter what, my family would be taken care of. I believe God wants to pour out his blessings on us all. But we must be willing to first make ourselves vulnerable to both Him and one another. I believe the more we surrender, the more we can receive (on all levels), otherwise we experience God and His power in trickles, not torrents.
I am going to see my dad and my family (all 30+ of them!) this weekend. I'm leaving tomorrow after work and driving to Redding to my sister Terry's first. My dad needs to see me as much as I need to see him, maybe more. He's been through this cancer thing with me once when I was 20. That was one of two times I saw him cry. The second time was when my sister Laurie died of cancer at the age of 42 after a long, strenuous battle. I'm not sure of his spiritual status, he doesn't like to talk about it. But, he has been amazed at the outpouring from all of you as I have shared things with him. This speaks volumes.
I have not heard back from Seattle yet! I will have treatment #8 next Tuesday...
I would appreciate your prayers for stamina these next 6 days, and to have the opportunity to show God's light and hope to my family in San Jose.
Thanks once again to all. Your love has touched me deeply.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
After much hemming and hawing, searching the web, asking lots of questions, waiting for 3 angelic visits (ha ha)... I've decided to have the surgery. (no, the angels didn't quite appear).
Now, I'm waiting to hear back from the scheduler person in Seattle. First, we'll need to go back up there for another consultation, meet the GI oncologist, then hope to get on the surgery schedule as soon as possible. (See, now that I've made up my mind, I just want to get it over with!) Plus, we do have some time restraints, such as, Doug starting full-time school in September, his health insurance going away at that point, stuff like that....
Depending on when I get on the schedule, I'm probably looking at 2 months healing time. So, hopes is that I can get in as soon as possible and be back on my feet by then.
Now, this is not to say that should God decide to close this door, I will certainly listen. But (to the wise counsel of a friend), we make decisions to the best of our abililty and then trust God to continue to lead and direct. I think it's kind of hard for Him to guide us when we're not moving! Like trying to steer a parked car, or sail a ship that's anchored in the harbor.
I would ask for prayer for wisdom, timing, positive outcome of surgery, finances, etc. I'm also wanting to get down to San Jose to see my dad before I have surgery.
Thanks to all for the many prayers, thoughts, and kind gestures that have come our way. This truly is love in action.
Thursday, June 7, 2007
Heard back via email from Seattle doctor this afternoon. A bit of conflicting info as far as the scan, although his report sounds better or maybe clearer than the scan we had here. Here are his words:
"I have personally reviewed your scans. There are 3 small nodules in the right lung, and 1 small one in the left lung. They are really too small to call metastasis right now. At this point they are "indeterminate", but it is posssible they could represent colorectal mets. The liver mass is a cyst, not a metastasis. There is not that much disease visible in the abdomen. At this point I think you are a reasonable candidate for an aggressive approach to your peritoneal carcinomatosis, ie debulking/ IPHC, since there is no clear evidence of extra-peritoneal metastatic disease. If you are interested in this, then I'd like to see you back to discuss, and have you see our GI med onc to help w/ the intraperitoneal chemo." Dr. Gary Mann
So, good news is that he doesn't really see it anywhere else, at least through the scans, which makes me a 'candidate' for the surgery. "There is not that much disease visible in the abdomen." I'm not exactly sure what that means. The looming question now is, do I do it or not?
I spoke to Dr. Neville this afternoon after he also read the email, and he will be receiving the full report in a few days. Being true to his profession, (and after I pressed him a bit!) he's not leaning too far on the surgery side, though he says this is the 'cutting edge' for now in terms of this type of surgery. He's not had a patient with colorectal cancer that has gone through this surgery yet, since it's a relatively new procedure. He said he's had patients with stage 4 colorectal cancer who have done well with just the chemo.
Since the chemotherapy is systemic (goes through the whole system), it is also reaching the peritoneal cavity. On the other hand, one advantage of surgery is that they can actually see what perhaps could not be evident on the scans. If there is more disease in there, they can cut it out. As he said, this would be an aggresive approach.
I need real clarity right now! I want to make a wise decision, but there are variables on either side. I feel secure with Dr. Neville. He said there have been many advances in this area, ones that they didn't even have two years ago. If this current 'cocktail' of chemo doesn't keep it at bay, there are other ones we can try. And in another two years or more, who's to know what other advances in medicine will have been made...and maybe not such aggressive measures.
Do I just stay on the course I'm on now (6 more cycles of chemo) and hope the odds are in my favor? Or do I do everything that is available to me now while I am still relatively healthy and can handle a surgery like this, thinking that, in the long run, this will significantly increase my chances of survival? Decisions, decisions, decisions...
In any event, I am starting back up on chemo Monday. I feel much better emotionally today than I have the last few days. Thanks for holding me up in prayer!! I can feel the difference.
I welcome your thoughts and insights,
We finally heard from Seattle Monday around 1:00pm. He wanted to see us. So we high-tailed it up there, spent the night and went to our 11:15am appointment. What was supposed to take 45 minutes, took about 4 hours.
After he reviewed the scans done here in Corvallis, he said they weren't clear enough. So, he had me do a CT Scan there. (got to drink two bottles of gross stuff, IV, etc...)
He said he would email us yesterday with the results.... but he got called into surgery Monday afternoon and was still there as of yesterday afternoon. As of this morning, still no word.
He will only do the surgery if he does not see the cancer anywhere else but in the abdominal cavity. Since I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, he recommends doing it even if he can't see any cancer in that area. He said this will 'never go completely away'.
The surgery takes at least 6 hours, 3 hours of which I lay on the table while they flush heated chemotherapy through the peritonium (sp?) cavity. The incision will be big, about 11 inches, stem to stern. During surgery, he would remove any organs, or parts of them, that he thought needed to be removed (i.e. colon, stomach, pancreas, etc.) I'd sign a waiver going into the surgery, not knowing what I'm going to come out with (or without, as the case might be). Oh goody. I'd spend two weeks in the hospital up there, then 4 to 6 more recovering at home.
In a third of patients who have this, this doubles the life expectancy to 5 years. Of course, there are always the two ends of the spectrum. Those who don't make it, and those who live beyond 5 years. I have to say, after describing all the facts and data to me, I left there very depressed and discouraged. Not the encouragement I hoped to hear.
Now, as I wait and consider the 'facts', I am working to rally my spirits back up. I won't get into it here how these stages of news has me on an emotional roller coaster. As much as I tell myself to trust God and not think too far ahead, next thing you know, I'm on the coaster again.
Waiting to hear from doctors. Waiting to hear from God.
I'd appreciate prayers for clarity for all involved (me, my family, and the doctors). There are still question marks in my mind that I guess will only be answered in time, as I go through this process step by step.
I will let you know what's decided... as soon as we know.
Thanks again. I am blessed to have so many kind-hearted friends as you.
Monday, June 4, 2007
"There are no shortcuts to any place worth going." (forgot author)
"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence."
- Helen Keller
I just love simple quotes. They can say so much.
We'll as of this morning, 11:00am, the Seattle doctor hasn't seen the scans. I'm going to work. If he sees them today and he's very clear on surgery, we'll take the trip tomorrow, up and back.
I'm starting treatment next Monday, the 11th.
I'll keep you posted. I'm going to work. :o)
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Now, I took that to mean that perhaps the written report didn't indicate enough significant cell activity to warrant surgery (thinking positively!) When Dr. Neville looked at it with us, he was straining to see anything, so this is why I'm thinking in this direction.
What I'm hoping is that they get the CD's in time to look at them and make a decision. It would sure be nice not to have to go, and also, not to need another surgery at this time.
Prayer request: Seattle doc sees the scans in time for us to cancel our trip if need be, and that he doesn't see anything significant enough to warrant surgery.
I did decide to do some more chemo. Dr. Neville suggests another 6 cycles. I will start next Wednesday and will decide when to stop, as that has always been left up to me. I'm thinking maybe 3 more. But we'll see. It's been great to have this extra week off!! Still some side effects and the doc said that it could take up to a year for them to fully go away. Sometimes they stay with you.
On another note: I've been riding my motorcycle and have had some great rides. One of the neat things about riding is that when you pass another rider, there's this 'wave' etiquette, or like a high-sign. Those gestures can mean a number of things (at least to me who reads into EVERYTHING!!) They could mean, 'hey isn't this cool'? 'hey, fellow rider' or just 'hey'.
My waves mean, 'hey, I'm having a great time, hope you are', 'you take care, be safe'. Sometimes I give a 'peace sign'. I have even prayed for riders I've passed.
I think riders realize that, while this is fun, it can also be dangerous. It's in that realization that we can relate all we've learned and love about riding, and express that in a single wave.
So, fellow sojourners, consider yourselves 'waved' at this week by me. 'You take care, be safe. Yes, this can be a dangerous, unpredictable ride, but it's also fun and can be downright exhilarating!' Enjoy life while you can still 'ride'! Don't wait!
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
In my case, he considers my condition 'chronic', which, in the longrun, I may have to go in every 6 months, or a year, or two, to get treatments. Like a 'maintenance' program. They just don't believe that this will ever go completely away. So he suggests I get 6 more cycles of chemo for now, or whatever I can and am willing to tolerate.
He also wants us to go up and confer with the doc in Seattle. So, we should be doing that in the next couple of weeks. He doesn't want me to go any longer than a few weeks without continuing treatment, so I might get a little break here (or a big one, depending on what I decide!)
I'm still weighing my options, still need to talk to the docs in Seattle to make final decisions on more surgery, treatment, etc. I am still considering and praying about alternative medicine.
My doctor said should I decide to do that, that he'd like to be checking me regularly to make sure things are still looking good. It would be a leap of faith but part of me is very curious to see if it would work, and of course, I'd feel great while doing it.
So, we'll keep you posted as we go. I attribute this good report to the many many prayers going forth on my behalf.
Thank you, thank you so much,
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Side effects of treatment are definately accumulating. I'm feeling pretty crummy these past couple of days, in all honesty. I was running a slight fever last night, and this is a first. The nurse said that often 6 cycles seem to be a cut-off point, sometimes people go on to have 12, but by then they are pretty wiped out with virtually no good days. Even now, having 3 or 4 good days every two weeks is not much fun... I can't begin to imagine doing more without doing some irreparable damage to my nervous system and organs, so I will definately need to be hearing from God, for wisdom and direction in the future, despite what the scan shows.
Please pray for me as I also look into alternative therapies, and decide if this is the way I'll try for a time.
So, PetScan this Friday morning at 7:30am. Results on Wednesday, the 23rd. We'll keep you posted.
As always, I rest in God's hands
Sunday, May 13, 2007
To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
And I might add, to win the respect of people in general, not only the 'intelligent'. Remember, our light shines in the midst of darkness. We won't know this side of heaven just how much that light reflected on those around us. And I suspect it's going to be much more than we realized, and in ways we never anticipated.
Treatment #6 tomorrow. Scan on Friday the 18th...
Appreciate your thoughts and prayers,
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Gentlemen, why don't you laugh? With the fearful strain that is upon me night and day, if I did not laugh, I should die.
- Abraham Lincoln
A very wonderful group of friends came over today and worked for three hours on our house! Yardwork, planting lovely flowers in my front yard, dusting, cleaning my floors... wow!
I am humbled by the outpouring of love and support that has come our way. This also shows me just how much can be accomplished, how much encouragement we can be to others, when people come together and work toward a common good. How powerful the hands of Christ are!
My two darling children (15 & 17) even surprised me with a dozen red roses and two types of dark chocolate (they know me!) for Mother's Day.
It's a good day. Now I'm going to take a nap!
Happy Mother's Day (tomorrow) to all you hard-working moms out there.
Friday, May 11, 2007
"Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible."
I'm feeling better the last two days, though still dealing with the neuropathy. Talked to the doc about these headaches and nose bleeds and he's withholding the drug that causes these on Monday's treatment (it is the Avastin, as I suspected). I am thankful for that! One less thing!
I hope you all have a great weekend!
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Prayer request: We are waiting to hear if Doug is selected to the nursing program. We should be getting a letter any day now. Please pray he gets accepted. Also for resources for the next 2 to 3 years as he studies and works full-time. I will also need to work full-time as well. This is ONLY going to be made possible by the grace of God! But, He can handle it!
Before I was diagnosed, I remarked a few times that if we 'made it through the next two years, we could make it through anything' (meaning Doug in school full-time, raising and providing for our two teens, finances, etc.). Little did I know what was coming down the pike!
But, I am excited to see how God will work. When things get just waaay too big (why do we so often wait until then to surrender?) well, this is when He can really be allowed to come forth and work remarkably in our lives. I can't wait until life becomes peaceful to feel that things will be allright, particularly in the long-run. I need to find that 'place' in the midst of the torrent. Life and it's demands are not going to stop just because I am ill. Still, it is crucial that I carve out times in the midst when I can stop, rest, meditate, enjoy life. And I believe I am learning how to do that. And strangely, there's a peace in me that I can't explain, except in that perhaps I am learning more and more how to surrender and trust (not in any way to be mistaken with giving up and living in denial). We still have our part, but in this, I feel like mine is very small comparatively.
Does true success mean we conquer sickness and trials, or is it truly that we conquer the despair and hopelessness that can so easily accompany it? Does the outcome depend on me or God? Or are we in this together as a team? There's much to say about teamwork!
Blessings to you this week,
Monday, April 30, 2007
I'll have one more treatment on May 14. I am scheduled for a PetScan on the 18th, and get results on the 23rd (which is Doug and my 20th wedding anniversary!) Hope we get a good anniversary gift that day!
All my blood levels are doing good at this point. The CEA level (kind of a cancer 'marker') was down to 5.5 today from 8.5 last time, so that's a real praise!
Now, I'm beginning to feel like the rubber is really started to meet the road as I near the end of this first go. The doc's perspective is that this will not completely go away with chemo only. Chemo is viewed as palliative care (keep it at bay as long as possible, keep the patient comfortable). I may still not be a good candidate for that surgery if there are still spots on my liver and lungs, but he will talk to the doc in Seattle after he reviews the scan. Plus, that surgery is sounding more and more invasive. Gee, do I want to do that? I am going to bring up the subject of radiation again, but they say it's not really an option. I need to find out more about that and why. Of course, we'll get all the details should we head in those directions.
It's possible they can do some zeroing in on the liver, but we have to wait and see. If there has been a change, decrease and it seems I'm responding well to the chemo, then I will probably be looking at more cycles of that. I am looking at some of the natural options more and more and at some point, will try those as well.
I would appreciate concerted prayers from now to PetScan date that we will see a significant change for the better, if not completely clear! The doc said "well, best case is we look and it's all gone." Even though that would be unusual from his standpoint, wouldn't it be a wonderful testimony to the power of prayer! I would love to stand before that doctor, and be able to tell him how mighty and faithful is my God!! He's my 100%.
In any event, we shall see what we shall see.
I just have to send you a couple of pictures. I had two great rides this weekend, one I wandered
off by myself (which I love to do) went about 60 miles. Then on Sunday, Doug and I went through Kings Valley and meandered around to I20 then back to Corvallis. So, that was about another 50-60 or so. Had a great time and feel I can settle into this treatment week a happy camper (or rider, as it were).
Hope you all have a great week.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
I've been at work this week working on our newsletter and program, so am putting in at least some hours there. It feels good to be doing something productive and to be among my co-workers. They are such awesome people!
Sidenote: If you think about it, this might seem a small thing, but I'd appreciate prayers to know what to do with one of my cats, Shanzi. She is what I would consider my 4th child, and she's very sick. It's strange, but she started to go downhill right afer my surgery. The vet thinks she might have cancer, if you can believe that! But, of course, we don't have the resources and it's just not feasible to do any tests on her. She's 12 years old. She weighs 4 pounds, is virtually skin and bones, and her care at this point is wearing on us. It's hard to know what to do because she doesn't seem to be in pain, she's still mobile and eats ravenously (she's in a constant state of hunger), but if I feed her too much, then it comes right back out... enough details.
Thanks, have a great weekend!
Saturday, April 21, 2007
But the upside (thank God for upsides!) gradually, things will start to feel 'normal' again, energy comes back, and I feel like me again. Most importantly, the end goal is that these drugs are doing what they are meant to do. A very strange journey indeed.
I've gained back some weight, (don't want to gain too much!) but this has made the doctor happy. With all the wonderful meals and treats friends have been showering upon us, it's no wonder! What a blessing you all are!
I am looking forward to next week (my off week) and perhaps having enough sun breaks to take a cycle ride or just get out and enjoy Spring.
So, two more treatments (April 30 and May 14) providing all my blood counts and organ functions are still good). After that, we'll do another scan and go from there providing what the results are.
Thanks once again for all your prayers and support!!
Friday, April 13, 2007
Here are a few quotes and thoughts I've come across in the last few days:
"A day dawns, quite like other days; in it, a single hour comes, quite like other hours; but in that day and in that hour the chance of a lifetime faces us." -(from the web, by Maltie Babcock)
"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord
And whose trust is the Lord.
For he will be like a tree planted by the water,
That extends its roots by a stream
And will not fear when the heat comes,
But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
Nor cease to yield fruit...
Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed;
Save me and I will be saved, for Thou art my praise.
Jeremiah 17:7-8, 14
We are not called to trust blindly (though granted, sometimes in darkness it feels that way). We need to be proactive in what time and slice of life has been given to us. We are created in the image of God, and He is a creative, powerful God. So, we too are called to be creative, wise, discerning, powerful in the spirit that He has breathed into us. Because of this, I believe God has called me to begin each day in newness, strength, and healing.
He is guiding me to let go of the past, not to worry about my future, and mostly to enjoy each day resting in His care. He is my 100% surety in a life of chance and uncertainty. Until He tells me further, and because up to now, He hasn't told me otherwise, I believe I am to consider myself to be healed on this day, not by my strength or sheer determination alone, but by the same power that created the heavens and that raised Christ from dead flesh. Yes, my life can be extended through many supplemental means (i.e. treatment, nutrition, etc.) and my human survival instincts lead me to these measures, and these things in and of themselves, are good. But in the end, I'm convinced, that He's the only one who knows the exact number of my days, whether they be just one more, or 40 more years. (I've asked Him for 40 because I'd like to live to see my nineties!)
Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed;
Save me and I will be saved, for Thou art my praise (trust, anchor).
Thanks again to all for your caring support and prayers.
Have a great weekend. Let's hope for some sun breaks!
Friday, April 6, 2007
The CEA level was checked this week (kind of a marker). It was up a little bit, but doc said not to be concerned as this happens in about 1/3 of patients during the first few treatments, as the dead cancer cells get released into the bloodstream. It will be checked again in another 4 weeks. Hopefully by then we'll see a decline.
I should be doing better next week in terms of energy. I have 3 more treatments to go then we'll do the scan. From there, we'll have to see what's up.
I hope you have a great Easter weekend and celebration.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
They are holding off on the surgery consult for now. There are still some questions I need answered as to why, but one of the docs is off next week, so I need to wait. Apparently this surgery can be quite invasive and they want me to finish these first 6 cycles of chemo first, then take another Pet scan. From there they'll decide if the surgery will be helpful or not. So we wait.
I hope you all get a break this next week sometime, to take time and enjoy life. How we scramble so. As they say, take time to stop and smell the roses (or daffodils).
Monday, March 19, 2007
I went in to the office for about 15 hours last week too, and it felt good to be there working and helping out the staff in the office as much as I could.
Today was round 2 of treatment.
The doc added another drug, actually a bio-therapy drug called Avastin, which slows the growth of blood vessels that supply the tumors. I guess these grow faster than normal vessels, and are not as hardy. So, I got 4 drugs today along with the anti-nausea stuff. I'll have to watch for elevated blood pressure and possible bloody nose with this one.
I can feel the neuropathy already (cold sensitivity), but I am better equipped this week, since I know what to expect. I feel so much stronger in this past week, and really turned a corner sometime mid-week (realized it as I was laying in bed wide awake one night). I know it's all the many prayers and thoughts being directed on my behalf. It's been incredible.
So, day one of treatment 2... I'm going to see how I do and will get work done from home and if I'm doing OK, go in to the office too.
Many incredible things have happened with us, even amongst the doctors we deal with. It's the 'timing' of things, that otherwise one could just not plan for... things that are helping take the edge off and helping us breathe a little easier. Some are big things but alot are little things, like a friend dropping by (with coffee!) just when I needed someone to talk to, or a timely phone call or card in the mail. Some have been financial helps, and those have been awesome to receive.
Here's a small one: I bought a loaf of bread at the co-op awhile back. It was bread I could digest and it is very healthy and tastes great. As I stood in my kitchen eating a piece of toast, because that's all my stomach wanted at that point, I read the label (Dave's) story on the back. It totally blessed me, as it tied in somewhat with my relationship with my oldest son, Matt, and to see the success this fellow now has. If you want healthy bread try 'Dave's Killer Bread' (yup, that's what it's called). Get it at the co-op and we just saw it at Fred Meyer in the health food section, too. Good stuff. Read the labels!
So, many things to be grateful for...the warmth of the sun, realizing how many people love me (I think we'd all be surprised to know just how many lives we all touch)... an awesome supportive husband, wonderful co-workers and friends...blooming flowers... motorcycle rides with the wind in your face... my teenage kids... family... the promise of spring...
Have a great week
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Next (2nd) treatment is Monday the 19th. They'll check my white count beforehand to make sure it's good. I've had a fair amount of energy, so I'm thinking thus far, it's probably OK.
By the way, if you'd like to reply apart from this blogsite, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, March 9, 2007
Side effects... a real sensitivity in my hands to cold (neuropathy). This came almost immediately. It feels like when your foot falls asleep and you get that electrical tingly feeling. Well, that tingly feeling stays. I have to handle cold things with gloves on (getting stuff out of the fridge, etc.). This should subside in another day or so. Today it's not as pronounced as earlier this week. The nausea is there but so far am able to control it with the anti-nausea med.
I will have 5 more cycles of chemo (they are using a combination of 3 different drugs). The 6th cycle will be around May 14. Then another PET scan. We'll probably head up to Seattle at some point during this time to consult with the surgeon up there.
It's still so early in my diagnosis and treatment (I'm also not fully recovered from the surgery). I am being challenged to the depths of my soul and faith. I know without a doubt that this experience will definately change me and my family. As Doug said, usually you can look ahead and see where a certain event or task is likely to take you. In this case, we cannot, at least as of yet. All I know, is that this is big, and I abide solely in God's mercy.
In the meantime, I will work to highlight the days I'm feeling well and enjoy life as normal. It's so easy to stay focused on the illness. I don't want to do this.
Thanks again for all your thoughts, prayers and support. We could not do this without all of you!
Monday, March 5, 2007
The doctor hopes the systemic chemo will shrink these areas, and said we will keep an eye on them. His plan is to do 6 cycles of the systemic chemo (3 months) then do another PET scan to see where things are at.
In the meantime, Doctor Neville will contact Dr. Mann (surgeon) in Seattle. He suggests we still go for the consult with the Doc in Seattle; as to if and when we'll do surgery, that will depend on how I respond to the next 3 months of chemo.
I see Dr. Neville again on the 19th and will probably have a bunch more questions for him by then.
I had my first treatment today. It was kind of scary at first, and now I'm waiting to see if I develop any of the side effects they mentioned and to what degree. I'm carrying around a little pack with a pump that I'll wear until Wednesday. Then I'll be free (hopefully) until the next treatment on the 19th. During this time I'm hoping to get out on my cycle!!
Along with so many dear friends and family members, I have tremendous support through the hospital chaplaincy and hospice folks I've come to know in the past couple of years. I will be looking into therapeutic massage, maybe acupuncture, relaxation techniques, and definately diet and nutrition to help my body as much as I can!
I appreciate all your thoughts and prayers. I'm still not very worried, there's just not a whole lot I can do but hope for the best, live one day at a time, and always remember Who's hands I'm in.
Our God reigns!
Let your spirit be strengthened.
Our God reigns!
Let your spirit rejoice!
Our God reigns!
Though it's sometimes through darkness;
There is light in our darkness,
Our God reigns! – Pam Mark Hall
Saturday, March 3, 2007
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
I don't know who knows what but I'll try to fill in some blanks. This one will be longer than most, so bear with me!
Last September I was being treated for diverticilitis. After 5 months of back and forth with doctors, scans, and declining health, the docs kept saying that I had a very inflammed area in my colon from the diverticulitis (I was on antibiotics for 5 months!) this wasn't kicking it and I wasn't able to eat much. Got very uncomfortable.
We spent Christmas in California and during that time I started feeling really bad. So, finally, I decided it was time for surgery (duh) What can I say? I'd been feeling bad for so long that I kind of got used to it and was ignoring the pain.
Surgery on Jan. 29th started as a routine resection (they took out about 6 inches of colon and sewed the two ends back together, cool, huh?). This was supposed to fix things and then I'd be a happy camper. Well, to everyone's surprise they found a tumor growing on the outside of the colon (they typically grow inside). This is why they hadn't seen it clearly on the scans. Unfortunately it had spread to the surrounding lymph nodes and tissue. So, they call this stage 4 metatastic colon cancer.
The surgeon said he got about 95% of it but there is tissue wrapped around my sacrum that he couldn't get to. The liver and stomach looked ok.
I had the port-a-cath put in last Friday (inserted just below collar bone under the skin to administer chemo without having to poke me everytime). Really comfortable, NOT! During that surgery, the doc accidentially nicked my lung, so I spent last weekend in the hospital on oxygen. The doc let me come home Monday and the lung issue should completely resolve once the hole heals up. Another nice little 'bump' in the road.
So, the plan is to begin chemotherapy next Monday (5th). I will do 4 cycles of chemo (every other week for 8 weeks) then we're more than likely looking at another surgery to get the rest of it out. This will take place in Seattle at Washington University hospital. They will try a relatively new method where they pack the surgical area with heated chemotherapy while I'm on the table. I can write more about that once we get more details.
How am I physically? Getting stronger each day (just in time for chemo, but it's supposed to not be too bad.)
Mentally? Well, lots going on in my head, but I am trying to stay focused on each day, not look too far ahead, stay hopeful and realistic at the same time. More on that later.
My faith? God is a God of 100%! He's done it for me before (I could tell you lots of stories), I know He can do it again if it be His will. I battled cancer 30 years ago and He showed up powerfully then, He's maintained my health all this time. He gives me each breath and sustains me by His mercy.
The family? Doing pretty well. We're keeping the lines of communication open, letting the tears come when they need to, trying to maintain as much of a 'normal' life as possible. Doug is my absolute rock! And as an added bonus, I have my own personal CNA in him!
I've got awesome doctors (the gastroenterologist calls every once in a while to see how I'm doing) she even called me from Hungary while she was on vacation! She's like a guardian angel! So, I feel I'm in good earthly hands too!
PRAYER REQUEST FOR THIS WEEK: I will have a PET and MRI scan this Friday. This will tell us if there is cancer anywhere else. This test is monumental for me. If the cancer has stayed localized, then things look pretty good.
I'll go for now. Will let you know about the scans and how chemo is going. Write back if you like. Thanks to all for the overwhelming love, kindnesses, and support we've received! It's truly humbling.