Saturday, May 31, 2008

"Be Positive!" Join us in a Card Shower

I'm helping my friend, Shanna, get the word out in regards to a card shower for a 13 year old girl named Jessie. If you have the time, please put a card in the mail for her to brighten her day and show your support! :) I know it would mean the world to her. Feel free to pass on the info too. Thank you! xoxoxo Shauna

Hello everyone! I am writing about someone really special and I would love your help. Jessie is a 13 year old girl in my son's junior high class. She is a sweet, young lady that is battling bone cancer. Jessie is undergoing chemo and has already endured surgeries for both the cancer and to reinflate her lungs. This girl has been through a lot since her recent diagnosis at the end of April. I am currently organizing a card shower for Jessie, so if you are interested in participating, please do so!! The idea is that everyone would send a card to the P.O. box listed below and we would then be able to deliver a bundle of good wishes to Jessie. This little girl would love to get good wishes from all over!! Jessie's theme is "Be positive" or "B+", like her bloodtype. Isn't that cool!??! Thanks for taking the time to be a part of this. I appreciate it!

Mailing info:
"B+" Jessie
P.O. Box 538
Monrovia, CA 91017

Thanks, everyone!Shanna

Friday, May 30, 2008

I'm Featured!!!

Wow, that was fast! I just gave the interview yesterday!

I'm the featured writer for Write Around Portland. Check it out!

Just got back from getting unplugged from my chemo pump, "Fillup". Glad to be free again. Now to survive the next few days of not feeling particularly well.

Dave and my dad will be carting my daughter to her soccer tourney out in Hillsboro for me this weekend. I hate to miss those. HOpefully once we get my chemo schedule back on track (Memorial Day Holiday messed it up), I will be front and center for the rest of them this summer. Being a soccer mom is my favorite sport and job!

My cold trigger is not as pronounced as the previous times I did this type of chemo and the buzzing in my feet have gone back to deadness, which I much prefere. Now to see what the next two days bring. Maybe I'll have an easier time this go round.

Wondering what movies are out this weekend. Next week is our last week of school. Pet Day and Field Day and Ice Cream Sundae Days await us. I'm bummed today I had to miss the Egg Drop in 3rd grade to get my pump disconnected. I remember Spencer's Egg Drop and what a fun day that was. They had to design containers to house fresh eggs using all recyclable materials. The teacher drops each from the roof of the classroom and then opens up each one to see if the egg broke or was still intact. It's quite amazing the stuff they come up with! I hope Kaelin's egg survived! I guess I'll miss out on the photo ops. Wah!!!

I hope you get a chance to read my interview. Thanks for checking in with me here!

Love to you all! Enjoy your weekends!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Rare and Necessary Time

A Rare and Necessary Time is the name of the Write Around Portland Anthology that was released tonight. It contains the powerful words of participants in 18 workshops held across the greater Portland area this spring. If you're interested, you can purchase copies SOON from the bookstores listed here. You can find my piece on page 139!

What a powerful night as each participant walked up to the microphone to read their wonderful words, each one a gift in itself. Each one touching a different part of you. So many different walks of life participated in these workshops. It was amazing to see them all together in one room and to see the safety they felt sharing their work outloud and in print with the rest of us. And the support and respect the audience gave each and every one of them. Very powerful and moving.

We had two rows of women and their guests from my Woman Living with Stage IV Metastatic Cancer Support Group. What a great fan club they were for each other! Paris and my mom came along and we picked up Penny on the way. (thanks so much for driving Paris!)

As we were finding our seats, I look up and see Fran, my daughter's 2nd Grade teacher! She tells me she is here to listen to John, her 2nd grade teaching assistant, read his piece (on page 149). He was a participant in a workshop put on with the Dougy Center (children and families that are grieving). He read immediately after me. It was so powerful and moving. I was so glad I could be there to share in that moment and to hear him read his piece about his brother.

Cancer is a beast, but it has opened some doors and connected me with amazing people, such as my support group, The Living with Life Threatening Disease Class I'm a patient teacher for and the Writing Around Portland Workshop. It has connected me to people I wouldn't have met otherwise. Special, amazing people. Doing special, amazing, brave things. They are all my heroes and heroines of the stories. They inspire me. Thanks for that.

Update on today:

My chemo went longer than I expected/remembered. I met with a doctor at 8:30am and then was infused and didn't get done until 2pm, so I missed my group today. They sent me home with a pump of 5FU, attached to my port and it must go with me everywhere until Friday. I start my nupregen shots on Sunday, have next week off and then back to it on Monday, June 11th. It's amazing that as soon as they started the Oxcilliplatten drip, I could feel the neuropathy in my feet intensify and really start buzzing. Whereas before they just felt "dead", now they are buzzing nonstop and that's really annoying and uncomfortable. The cold trigger started right away too, but it's not as intense as I remember it being before.

I did get a treat today in the chemo suite, actually two of them. Two very special women were there infusing at the same time as I was. I can't say it was a treat from their perspective though, as they were getting chemo. But I got the chance to get a hug from someone dear to my son and our family and to see that she's doing well and staying strong and positive. It was nice to check in on her every now and then and meet her husband. I wish her well. I also had the treat of meeting a fabulous lady that had read my blog and emailed me out of the blue and share our stories. I was so excited to meet her and she found me via my dragonfly glasses! She too lives in Beaverton and has a young family and stage 4 cancer. She was full of smiles and laughs and positive energy and it was just a treat to be in her presence! I don't want to say any names in case of patient confindentiality, since I didn't get their permission to mention our encounters. I want to respect their privacy. They know who they are and some of you may too! Big hugs going out to you girls this chemo week!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxooxox

I'm now off to bed to snuggle with my pump of 5FU. Darn thing snores! I think he needs a name. I know I won't be kissing him goodnight. It's like being chained to your idea of the least compatible person for two days and nights in some bad trainwreck of a reality show. I'm thinking F... U are good choices for the abbreviation of the chemo in the pump. If you know what I mean. Frank? Fred? Fillup? lol hmmmm...maybe Fillup? a play on Phillip but with the F and U from the 5FU. And it's filling me up. I think that fits. Fillip it is. :) Any objections? Have all of you chemo girls named your pumps?

Sweet Dreams Loved ones.
Thanks again for the support and for reading my blog and checking in on me. It means the world to me.


ps. prepare yourselves, i'm going dark tomorrow with my thoughts. it's only appropriate being chemo week and all.

pss. my son's not going to get better enough to drive him up to mt. st. helens to meet up with his class. :( but his appetite is improving, his ear ache is improving, but his cough is just wicked insane!!!! he coughs so hard he throws up!!! (TMI!) I do think he's sleeping better too. Now it's a matter of gaining his strength and energy back. You should see how skinny he is. You thought he was skinny before. He's a toothpick now!!!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Poetry Reading

Everyone is invited to attend the Spring Anthology Release Party and Community Reading sponsored by Write Around Portland tomorrow night, Wednesday, May 28th 6:30-8:30pm at The First Methodist Church in Collins Hall 1838 SW Jefferson (at the Goose Hollow Max stop).

I will be reading In the Valley of the Shadow of Death, which is included in the anthology ( a collection of writings from the writing workshop participants, which will be available to purchase at Powell's Books). Other participants will be reading their writings as well. Would love to see any of you there who enjoy that sort of thing. It's been such a healing thing for me and a great way to express my fears and feelings regarding my situation. The writings by the participants are very powerful and moving.

I was also asked by my Writing Workshop coordinator to be their featured writer on their homepage! They want to interview me this week and take my photo. :) I'm so honored. I'll let you know when they post it!

Update on our lives:

Spencer hasn't gotten any better (except for his ears!) so he stayed home from his 7th Grade class trip to Mount Saint Helens today. They are going to be gone thru Friday, so if he's feeling better we may coordinate a ride up for him Thursday. He hasn't been sleeping or eating and has no energy or stamina and is suffering bad headaches and vision problems too. He woke up with crusted over eyes and I'm wondering if he may have pink eye too??? When it rains, it pours.

Kaelin had today off of school (teacher writing report day) and she went to a 3rd grade class swim party at The Sunset Athletic Club to celebrate Beatrice's birthday. What a great place and what fun they all had! Now we are off to soccer practice. Tomorrow and Thursday Kaelin has field trips and Friday is the Egg Drop (more on that later!).

Tomorrow I start my aggressive chemo again, with an 8:30am appt. with the doctor and then the Folfox/avastin. I will be infused for several hours (oxcillaplatten and avastin) and then sent home with a portable pump of 5FU for a couple days. Friday I will be unhooked and then usually the next 2 days I will be completely and utterly wiped out, so with the holiday, I will be down Sat. and Sun. and will miss Kaelin's soccer tourney. :( Wah!!!!! I will get next week (the last week of school!) off and then chemo again the following week. Unfortunately, I'll be going every other week for chemo as long as I can stand the horrid side effects of naropathy and the cold trigger.

Thanks for reading this far and for checking in with me/us!!!


Sunday, May 25, 2008

How I Met Your Mother

Saturday it cleared up long enough for us to go wine tasting/winery touring with our friends, The Kamin Family, from out of town (California). The last time we had seen Steve was when he came to visit us 12 years ago. This time he came with his wife Tara and their beautiful 13 month daughter, Sydney Claire. We had trouble getting together earlier in the week due to Spencer's birthday, Kaelin's portfolio night and other commitments. But the weather cooperated on Saturday and we went wine tasting/touring in Newberg. We went to Ayers and The Brickhouse. I can't drink alcohol due to the 10" of intestines missing etc. but I sure enjoyed the scenery and company and what great photo ops! Dave isn't really a wine drinker and after passing on the first winery, he partook in the second and was very pleasantly suprised at how much he liked it and enjoyed the taste! Steve and Tara didn't want to lug the glasses home, so we have some great souveneirs! I highly recommend winery touring/wine tasting for a way to spend a nice sunny day, especially if you have out of town guests!

A little history lesson...

Steve's apartment is where Dave and I met on April 28th in 1990. Dave and Steve lived in the same apt. complex in Santa Monica. Steve was throwing a suprise birthday party for his girlfriend at the time, Kris Miller, who happened to be a good friend of mine. So my friends and I were there to celebrate. I used to have a crush on Dave when he played basketball at UCLA, but I had never met him and he graduated 2 years before I did. My crush moved onto Troy Aikman, our star quarterback, so I had forgotten about Dave when we were at this party. Out of sight, out of mind. LOL We had all gone out the night before partying, so we weren't really up for a party, but we went anyways because Kris meant a lot to us. My roommate Sheila pointed Dave out to me, "That's Dave Immel over there." And I said "That's not Dave Immel, I would know Dave Immel if I saw him." He was watching Star Trek on the TV and my friend Rachel was giving him a hard time, pretending she liked it too. Before I knew it, my friend Kris dragged Dave over to me, introduced us by saying "Shauna, this is Dave. Dave, this is Shauna. She likes sports too." And then he noticed the big scar on my left leg (ACL reconstruction) and we began talking about surgeries (he had a lot of them). He asked me what section of the newspaper I read first. I said "sports" and it was all over. He says he was hooked! It seemed like it was that point that my friends were ready to leave and they dragged me with them (they were driving). I so didn't want to go. I had a boyfriend at the time. He played soccer at UCLA. I left thinking that nothing would ever come of that encounter. A few days later I got a suprise phone call. Dave had asked Steve, who had asked Kris, for my number and he called me! It was the last person in the world I expected to call me! I was scheduled to go to Catalina with my boyfriend and his family for the weekend over Cinco de Mayo. But Dave had asked me out and I couldn't say no. So I lied to my boyfriend and told him I had a bunch of homework I had to do. Dave and I went on our first date on Cinco de Mayo, I think we even double dated with Steve and Kris. Our date went so well that after that weekend, I had to break up with my boyfriend, who happened to be the sweetest and nicest guy, but I knew Dave was the one for me. I lied and told my boyfriend that I was getting ready to graduate (he was an underclassman) and that I was going to move away so it would be easier to break up now than later. My roommate Sheila and I had planned on moving to Sun Valley and being ski bunnies after we graduated. But then I met Dave and everything changed (Sheila went to Sun Valley though!). I felt so bad hurting him by breaking up, I didn't want to hurt him more by telling him I had met someone else. He showed up at graduation with flowers for me. Dave showed up at my graduation party at my apartment afterwards and met my whole family. We dated for 2 months after I graduated and then we moved in together and we've been together ever since. We moved to Portland in late summer/early fall of 1990 and then we moved to Australia where Dave played pro basketball and I played on the NSW state women's team that Dave coached and got to tour with the men's team. It was a great way to see the country (we traveled by bus) and we met and made so many wonderful friends. We moved to Kent after our year downunder and then to Seattle. We were engaged for two years before we got married (my wedding had to be perfect and we wanted to get married on the 3oth, as Dave's jersey number was #30), as well as the dryest day of the year (the last weekend in July). So we were married July 30th, 1994. We went to Disneyworld for our honeymoon and it was there that the magic of Disney blessed us with conceiving Spencer, who just this week turned 13.

So thanks Steve for playing a big part in our relationship. For had you not thrown that suprise party for Kris, we wouldn't have met and lived happily ever after (or as close as we can get to it minus the stupid cancer). Thanks for taking time out of your busy lives to come visit and bless us with your presence and for stirring up memories of the good ole days!


PS. Kaelin and I went to see Indiana Jones today (Sunday). We enjoyed it! We finally got thru the first 3 movies on DVD.
PSS. Took Spencer to the Urgent Care today. Turns out he has an ear infection and Bronchitis due to his allergy symptoms turning into ear/lung infections. He's not contagious, but he's probably going to miss his class trip Tues - Friday to Mount Saint Helens. They are camping and hiking and caving and learning about volcano's etc. for the week. Bummer.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Thirteen Candles

Little Dude's now a teenager!!!

Today is my first born's 13th Birthday. 13 years ago today, I was in Ballard Hospital in Seattle with my husband by my side and a whole army of friends and family pulling an all nighter in the waiting room, anxiously awaiting "Roo's" arrival. 13 years ago today, our lives changed forever. We became parents. Our parents became grandparents and our siblings became uncles and aunts. Most importantly, I became a mother. It was the greatest day of my life.
In typical Spencer fashion, he took his own sweet time coming out. Happy and content where he was and not very motivated or eager to leave his warm, comfortable surroundings just yet. Just like now, he needed to be pushed and prodded to get going. He needed to be nudged. I pushed for 3 hours as he held strong and refused to leave his warm confines. His home of the last nine months.
The doctor got all dressed up in some sort of HASMET (sp?) type suit and tried to vaccuum him out with a machine that looked like something the men from "Ghostbusters" carried. But he was all turned sideways, refusing to budge. A specialist was called in to "extract" him, like a dentist removing wisdom teeth. This doctor was considered an expert in the Forceps department, having delivered over 10,000 babies that way over the years. He reached in, grabbed him with the forceps, turned him and "extracted" him. It's no wonder he was stuck, what with his size 15+ head and all!
I laugh now thinking about it. Realizing Spencer is who he is. That he was born that way. That even the doctor had to drag him out of the womb, kicking and screaming, just as I have had to drag him any and everywhere, still kicking and screaming because he's just happy to stay home and chill. Just as he was 13 years ago today.
I'm very excited and grateful to begin this journey into teenagehood with him. There have been periods where I wasn't sure I'd even make it to this point to see him turn 13. People say that kids grow up so fast and that you don't want to be in a rush to see them grow up. For me, and my situation, I'm very thankful that they do grow up fast. I could be living on borrowed time and I want to pack in and experience as much as their life journeys with them in the time I have left.
So I am very excited about Birthday #13 and all that it brings and I can't wait until #14 rolls around!!
Happy Birthday Little "Roo." (his nickname when he was in my belly and we didn't know what sex he was).
Mom aka Shauna
PS. Tonight we celebrated at his favorite restaurant, The Sushi Boat, where he ordered Udon Soup and opened up his gifts: his first cell phone from us, a Bleach Wii Video game from Kaelin and Tien Tae Jitsu lessons (he's an orange belt) for the summer from GRannie SEattle! He scored!!! AFter dinner he got some Mochi Ice cream on the house and then we went home and he had a Baskin Robbins ice cream cake!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Results Are In

Email from my doctor today:

Hi Shauna. I am out of the clinic tomorrow, and so will e-mail you the results here, so you are not waiting until Wednesday when I return.Overall the results are stable. There was a little more fluid in the abdomen then on the last scan, next to the mass in the omental area that we have been following. The mass itself however has not grown, which is good news. The thickening of the bladder wall was improved, which is also good news.I think that the combination of the increase in fluid, along with the slight rise in the CA 125 as we had discussed, is enough change however to warrant a switch in the chemotherapy approach, as we had previously discussed.I would recommend a switch back to the FOLFOX/avastin, as we had discussed. Please let me know how you feel about this; if it is okay for us to plan for this, or if you want to discuss further. I will be working at the Sunnyside Hospital next week and so it looks like you will see one of my partners next week.There was also noted that you have a lot of stool in the colon ,and so constipation may be contributing to some of your symptoms as well. I will ask the nurses to call and talk to you about this to advise you on some things that may help.JL

The nurses called me this morning to advise me on starting a serious bowel program to deal with the constipation. The meds and chemo contribute to that, but they are also concerned that I may have a bowel obstruction or blockage. So I need to really focus on this and try to resolve it in the next few days. Overall, the findings are much better than I had anticipated, so I'm glad to hear that. I'm a little concerned about the bowel situation but will hope that it's just constipation and can be resolved. I know this is all TMI (too much info) but this is a serious problem that I know a lot of the ladies in my support group fighting cancer experience. It's one of their main complaints. The pain meds and chemo really mess up your pipes! I've also put a lot of weight on lately due to the chemo and steroids, fluid and probably the constipation issue. The fluid and weight issue plus the constipation have really made me feel "full" and my lungs seem crowded so I get out of breath easily. All of that was really making me worry. So here's hoping my bowel program of stool softeners and laxatives and avoiding dairy, bananas, white rice and applesauce will help to regulate me!! (how embarrassing is sharing all of this???)

Thanks for reading this far and for supporting me!


Monday, May 19, 2008

Still No News

Haven't heard back from my doc yet re: the CT scan.
Hopefully I'll hear something tomorrow.
As of now, my carboplatten chemo is scheduled for after Memorial Day.
It might change to the Folfox (oxcilliplatten/5FU/Avastin) every other week starting then. Waiting to hear about the CT scan though.
Cross your fingers, toes, arms, eyes, legs and heart. :)

Glad to see another Monday!!!

3 weeks of school left. School's out June 6th!

Spencer turns 13 on Wed!

We have out of town guests (friends from our college days at UCLA) coming into town Wed - Sunday. So we'll be touring Oregon with them hopefully.

Spencer leaves on his class trip to Mount Saint Helens next Tues - Friday.

Crazy schedule from here on out. Buckle up!!! The ride's going to get bumpy!

Sweet Dreams.
Off to watch Dancing with the Stars!


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Weekend Warriors

It's been one of those weekends! We went to a 3rd grade girls pool party on Friday. It was great to escape the near 100 degree weather in some cool water with some great school friends! They spent the entire time having contests off of the diving board, from model poses, animal impersonations to ugly people and most athletic. Kaelin won "most athletic" jump off the board. I took over 200 photos with my digital camera in the 2 hours we were there!

The only time Kaelin took a break from the pool and contests was when they announced that there were cookies to be had! She was the first one out of the pool!Friday night after the pool party we went to sushi and the movies to see "Prince Caspian" (the sequel to the Chronicles of Narnia movie) with a school friend and her mom. We ran into another school friend while we were there, so it was great fun for the 3 girls to sit together.
Saturday morning Kaelin had her last soccer game. She wasn't feeling very well, but played anyways. They won 8-0. Instead of playing keep away, the other team opted to put in all 14 of their players on the field against our 8 and kept playing. It was great fun to see our girls keep control of the ball, even with 14 vs 8!
Kaelin had her professional dance photos and so she had to get all made up with makeup and costume. Afterwards we had lunch with a friend and then we went to her team party at the coaches house. We were there from 630-11pm! We all had a great time. What a great bunch of girls, siblings and parents. It's nice when you play on the same team for several years, you really build relationships and bonds and friendships with everyone involved.
Today we took it easy and then Kaelin had a birthday party at the gymnastics place. They ran around like crazy for an hour and a half. Tonight the kids and I ordered pizza and watch "Raiders of the Lost Ark". Dave left Friday at noon and didn't return home until 9pm Sunday night!
Only 3 weeks left of school and then it's summer vacation!!!! So we have a very busy schedule coming up.
I'm guessing my CT Scan results will be in Monday. I'm bracing myself for the news.
I hope you all had great weekends and were Weekend Warriors too.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Simba & Me

I just finished reading the book, Marley & Me
I laughed out loud through most of it, and then cried like a baby through the rest of it. I loved it. I totally could relate to the the characters and the dog. We've had three great dogs in our years together (Skanzi, Rafiki & Simba) and I could find some of each of them in Marley. Anyone that has ever owned a dog, will get a kick out of this book, and even those who aren't dog owners will enjoy the story. I highly reccomend it to everyone!! When I finished, I wanted to run out and buy like 25 copies and pass them out to everyone! Spencer enjoyed it too. I heard him laughing out loud himself while reading it. I got the uncontrollable giggles in the middle of the night using my night light while Dave snored beside me. What a fun read.

Simba and I have been palling around together the last several days. Last night we went to the dog park with Jacie and Mokie (Simba's girlfriend!) for an hour and a half while we waited for our girls to finish acrobatics. Then we met them at Puparazzi this morning for pet pedicures (toe nail trims) and self service bathing! They both came out all clean and shiney and fluffy!!! Simba got to pick out a toy when he was done (check out the best selling Marmut in the photo below, with a long tail and not one, but two squeakies!!! One in the tail and one in the body, both sounding different!). Afterwards, we hit the Carriage House to get the car washed and vaccuumed out! Simba and I sat outside in the shade while we waited for the car. He played with his toy and I read my book. Then we went and picked up the kids together after school. He's already gotten one squeakie out of the tail and is working on the body now. His toys never last long but boy does he sure enjoy them while they squeak!

Here's a photo of Spencer in all of his glory. Sitting at the table, a bowl of Cookie Avalanche soy ice cream in one hand and a video game strategy guide in the other. He turns 13 next Wednesday!! EEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek. I'm going to have a teenager!
Tomorrow morning I have to drink that stupid CT scan prep stuff at 740am and then get a CT scan at 940am. I'm NOT looking forward to it. Maybe it will give them some more answers and they can figure out a better plan of approach. I just don't have a good feeling about it because I can feel it inside of me and it seems to be spreading over a larger area. It's like I can feel the underside of my skin and it's like having open sores on them or something. That's how I'd describe it anyways.
But I will follow that up with a fun day. Lunch with a friend, a pool party after school and a movie with more friends (Prince Caspian, the new Narnia movie).
Dave's going out of town this weekend to a hoop tourney in Yakima and we have a soccer game, Acrobatic photos, lunch with a friend, an end of season soccer party and a birthday party to attend. So it's another busy one!
Hope you all have a great Friday! I'm off to watch Smallville and Lost and do laundry!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bad News

Got my CA125 (cancer marker that is a trend to watch for my cancer) back today.
Last month it was 112.
When I was diagnosed in June 2006, it was 174. The highest it's been.
After my surgery in June 2006 and with chemo through a good part of 2007, it had gone down to 22. The lowest it's ever been.
My bloodwork from last week came back and it's up to 143. :(
Which means the chemo (carboplatten) probably isn't working.
I'm supposed to get a CT scan this week, and that should give us more info. If it's changed for the worse, or not changed, then we will probably switch back to Folfox/avastin (every other week).
That's geared more towards GI based cancers.
That one had the side effects of the naropathy (numbness in hands and feet) and the cold trigger.
I'm bummed.
I had a feeling things weren't going the way they should though. I can feel it inside me. :(

At least I had a good day today.
Got a load of laundry done.
I walked 40' UPHILL with Paris.
Went to the chiro to deal with the MVA effects from being rear-ended 10-17-07.
Talked to Janelle on the phone.
Got a call from Ellen, and met her at Borders to go book shopping and lunch. Got my very favorite coffee drink.
And then met Paris and Natalie and got a manicure (they got pedicures).
Picked up the kids.
Tried to take a little nap with Simba at my feet. Ended up reading "Marley and Me" instead. Laughed out loud!!!!
Paid the bills (very late).
And now I'm waiting to hear from Ellen because I think we're going to go see a Chick Flick tonight. Good thing since I need something to take my mind off of this CRAP now.

Have some shows to watch tonight (American Idol and Dancing with the Stars!).

I'm always grateful to see another Tuesday.

Hope you all had a good Tuesday and got more good news than bad news.
Sometimes life just sucks really alot ya know???


Monday, May 12, 2008

Chemo High

So after feeling like crud for several days after chemo, I usually get this chemo "high" in which I go into a mania phase for a few days. Can't sleep. Can't sit still. Go go go go go go go go. Comes in handy when I have a lot to do. Which I usually do after being down for several days. Don't know if this is normal or what? Anyways, here's a run down of my day...

6am wake (an hour early because Dave kept hitting the snooze button and I couldn't go back to sleep!!!!)
745am take the kids to school
830am walked the Powerlines Trail (about 45 minutes UPHILL!) with Paris
Sold some books back to Powells Books
Dropped off a load of consignment stuff at Baby and Me
Went to the Sprint Store and had them clear my old phone so I could donate it.
Filed papers and worked on the office.
Did a load of laundry
Emptied and loaded the dishwasher. Cleaned my kitchen.
Swept and mopped my kitchen.
Watched an old episode of Smallville while I folded clothes.
215pm went to pick up the kids.
Dropped off a load of donations at the Rummage Center.
Read the newspaper in the pick up line at school. Also did the crossword and Sudoku.
Took Spencer to The Hoop to have a basketball lesson with his dad.
Came home and made dinner for Kaelin.
Checked emails.
Took Kaelin to gymnastics.
Drove to the dogpark. Noticed my purse was missing. Drove back to the gym. Found my purse in the lost and found (chemo brain!)
Drove back to the dogpark.
Walked the park and threw the ball for Simba from 630-730pm.
Picked up Kaelin from gymnastics.
Posted on my blog...

Now here it is 830pm and I've got more laundry to do, kids to put to bed and shows to watch.

Hopefully tomorrow will be another productive day!

I've been using a step counter and my goal is 10,000 steps a I already have 10,500!
Go me!

Hope your Monday was a good one! I'm grateful to see another Monday!!!!


Sunday, May 11, 2008

It's Good to be a Mom!

Here's the perfect card that Paris sent me for Mother's Day!!! Goes with the whole Superhero theme and all!

First of all, I want to give a shout out to my mom, not only because it's Mother's Day, but because her 63rd Birthday was yesterday!!!! Happy Birthday Mom! Love you!!!!!
My husband treated me to a new pink phone for Mother's Day. Isn't it cute? It's simple too. Just the way I like it. Check out the dinosaur I was using before. My husbands old PDA. I'm talking one of the first ones made! I hated that thing and I could never figure out how to work the darn thing! It was heavy and thick and ugly and just plain STUPID. I'm so happy to have a cute, cheap pink one that is user friendly!!! :)

I also got my air conditioning in my car fixed for Mother's Day. It was blowing HOT HOT HOT air and it's supposed to be 90 degrees this week. I don't do well with hot anymore. I will melt. This is the third thing we've had to fix on my car this month. I hope three times the charm and we're done for now.
I started to come out of my chemo stupor last night and was so so so happy to start to feel better again!!!!! I awoke this morning to the vacuum cleaner going full blast as my kids took turns vacuuming the different levels of our house! They treated me to Noah's Bagels and my favorite coffee drink on our way to pick up my car at the shop across town. Dave went to work and I locked us out of the house, so we killed time this afternoon at the dog park with Simba and driving around before Dave got home. We then all went to see the movie "Speed Racer" at the IMAX. I totally wanted to see it since it was my favorite cartoon when I was a kid and I had a big fat crush on Speed Racer when I was in 3rd Grade!!!! It was a pretty good movie. Very different. Good message. Not bad acting. A little overdone, but they wanted to make it look cartoony I guess.
After the movie Kaelin used some of her money she had been saving and bought a Speed Racer Wii game, so the kids ended out the day playing that while I cleaned up my desk and filed papers and Dave worked at his desk.

After being down for a week, I'm not even sure what this week has in store for us. Recap of last week: Kaelin enjoyed her class trip and they won their soccer game on Saturday (which I missed - that tells you how bad I was feeling!).

Now I'll leave you with a shot of "Birdie" peeking out from under his newspaper under his cage!!! It's his favorite spot!!!

Hope you all had a Happy Mother's Day and that you made happy Memories!!!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Feeling less paniced & Positive thinking

I think it was good to get all of that off my chest. And with the chemo week, I have to take a lot of meds. One of them being Ativan, an antianxiety that makes you sleepy and helps you get to sleep, but not necessarily stay asleep. It's habit forming, so I only take it during chemo week. It also helps with the nausea. I only take it at night during chemo week. But it helped get me to sleep last night and I actually slept for almost 6 hours last night, without waking up and sitting straight up in bed in a panic, which is so good for me compared to lately. We were up at 6am getting Kaelin to school for her trip by 730am. She was very excited to be on her way.

The following is an email that was sent out tonight in regards to the 3rd grade class trip so far!:

I got a call at 8:30pm from Vicki to report all is going very well on their trip!

They had a fantastic day with an excellent marine lesson on animal adaptation, and loved their Aquarium visit. They were so excited with all the touching pools! In addition, they did an amazing hike on the Estuary.

They had a hearty dinner earlier in the evening, and when she called were watching a movie and afterwards would be ready for the 9pm bedtime. She said it's lovely there at Camp BB!

Don't you want to be one of our kids?!

I'll keep you posted as I get reports from the Whale Cove trip!?

Another good thing that happened to me today was that in my support group we had a guest speaker. A nauropathic doctor from Providence, who is a cancer survivor himself. What a nauturopath does is focus on health and the absense of disease, while an oncologist focus' on killing cancer. He talked about the importance of mind, body and spirit. About how important the spirit is. That a positive self perception has been proven in studies where aging patients live 7.5 years longer. That those with a greater will to live and positive self perception live longer.

Patients tend to get in a place of wanting to survive vs thinking "what's the point?" with everything they must experience and endure. And then they have trouble acting. To be or not to be. You need to decide. Being in the middle is where the suffereing takes place. A positive attitude is being present. That doesn't mean that being positive means being "rah rah gung ho" all of the time. That gets really tiring. Courage is living in the parameters. In the moment.

It helps to have physical tools to do every day. To be proactive. Things to make you feel better.

The mind: it's important to walk through cancer with people beside you and with those who have come before you. It's better to not worry alone. So thank you for letting me share my fears last night.

The body: Stress and cancer and challenging treatments are hard. The big question is how to create health in the body while undergoing cancer treatments. It takes psychological and physical tolls.

A quick little explanation of cancer: cancer grows abnormal and fast. Oncology/chemo puts things into the body to kill the cells. It works because the cancer grows faster. Faster growing cells get more/eat more of the chemo. They are more susceptiable. It also kills other fast growing cells, like the hair. The biggest effect it has on the body is the mouth/throat/tummy/intestines/elmination. These change every couple of days. Thus the diarrea, constipation, loss of nutrition, mouth sores, etc.)

Antibodies are produced in that tube (mouth to elimination) so the immune system is hit.

The tube is lined in good bacteria and that gets compromised.

Protein becomes harder to digest, so patients usually see a 40% cut in protein. There is a protein deficit. It's hard to get protein into the body.

How do you maintain under severe stress (treatment and emotional)?

How do you build a person back up from the inside out?

1. By rebuilding the gut and immune system (the good bacteria) thru probiotics.
2. By eating easy to digest, dietary proteins to maintain lean muscle mass. Losing lean muscle mass is usually an indicator of a poor prognosis)
3. By stressing muscles through 40 minute daily weight bearing activities and walking. Tests have proven that this contributes to a 50% less recurrance rate in women with breast cancer.
4. Give the body what it needs to fighter cancer nutritionally and supplementally (vitamin D, folic acid for mouth sores, glutamine. Probiotics. Fermented stuff. Chew food to get the enzymes. Stress and treatment affect creating enzymes. They also help the immune system get in there and kill the cancer.
These have all contributed to the outcomes of survival.

The body wants to be healthly and in balance.

This is all stuff I know and had been following in Reno, yet thrown back into my chaotic life at home, it all spun out of control and I've had a hard time following my routines, especially when going down once a week every 3rd week to chemo. Getting out of my routine and into the chemo/prescription routine for a week. It's always harder to switch on and off and I have to be careful about mixing all of the meds and supplements. It was just something I needed to hear today. To know that I'm doing the right things, regardless of how my cancer is progressing. That I can't give up hope. That I can still fight.

Next week I'm supposed to get a CT scan to see how this chemo is working. If it doesn't come back good, we are going to reassess and maybe go back to the treatment I had in the beginning with the folfox 5FU Avastin every other week. Not looking forward to that because of the side effects of the naropathy and having a week on and a week off. That was a tough one, but I did it for 11 rounds. And then my cancer was at bay for a few months before returning.

Ok, so you can see I'm feeling a bit better and you can worry less about me now, right? And you got a little/big long lesson in cancer. Thanks to Ken Weizer, ND Naturopathic Physician in Intergrative Medicine at Providence thru a talk with our Women with Stage 4 Metastatic Cancer group. So I've paraphrased him and hopefully didn't mess up his words too much.

At group, they also passed out a handout for a class called Stress Reduction Through Relaxation that I might register for. And I have scheduled some appointments with the cancer counselor at Kaiser after having Spencer back in to see the children's one.

Thanks for reading this far and for all of the nice emails to make me feel so supported and loved. I'm really trying to pick myself back up. I'm not sure when I'll get back on here to update as the effects of chemo have really started taking their toll on me, seems earlier than usual. But I guess that's normal. It gets harder and harder each time. So just be patient. I'll resurface again soon.

Love you all.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Chemo was a go...

All my blood work came back great, so they infused me with chemo on Monday. I'm feeling fine so far, it's usually Thursday on that I feel pretty bad. Just so many meds to stay on top of, along with those shots to recolonize my white blood cells.

I've been a worrywort lately, having some panic attacks in the middle of the night. So in turn, I haven't been sleeping really at all. I've been kind of "circling the drain" again lately, so I apologize if I don't seem myself or if I'm a Negative Nelly lately. There is just so much going on in our lives right now and we are all stressed and I feel so helpless and hopeless. I'm trying to work through it and past it, but sometimes I just get tired of getting up every morning and putting on my smiley face and pretending that all is well. It isn't, nor will it ever be well again. It just is what it is and I have to make the most of it. Doesn't mean I have to like it. I definately have my ups and downs and right now I'm feeling so overwhelmed with life stuff that I've been kind of withdrawing into myself and not able to answer emails and phone calls etc. like I'd like to. So please be patient with me. I promise I will try and get back to a good place soon. I just don't understand why life has to be so flipping hard on top of having cancer. You'd think the cancer would be enough for one person to handle. But you add all of the domino effects that it causes, and it just gets too much to handle. Why can't it be easy to make up for the hard stuff of the cancer? Alot of bad things have been happening to people I know and love lately too, which is weighing heavily on me. Friends getting diagnosed with cancer and others going through family and health crisis'. Financial burdens. Children's emotional well beings. It just gets to be too much and sometimes I just can't handle it all. It's too much. Too hard. Too scary. And too unfair. I can't take anymore. Especially since I'm stretched so thin from not sleeping at night because i'm worrying. And with the chemo on top of that. I can't help anyone, let alone myself. It's scary to think that.

I've been journaling a lot about fear lately. We even discussed it in our support group last week. I'm hoping to share some of those peices with you all in the next few days.

I'm still trying to work on my Christmas cards and get those out. And I've been spending a lot of time getting Kaelin ready for her overnights class trip. Kaelin leaves for her 3 day class trip to Whale Cove on the coast tomorrow. We have to have her at school at 730am. The packing list is always so long and specific and is probably more work for the parents than the kids. And we have to pack them a lunch with like 4 snacks. More to do!!! I'm almost looking forward to not feeling well from the chemo so I can have some days in bed to rest although I know I will regret saying that. Once you start feeling bad, you feel like you always will feel bad. Like you will never feel well again. EVER. And that's the worst feeling.

Ok, Negative Nelly here signing off...
Thanks for listening and being patient with me.
Love ya all.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Chemo: Just Another Reason to Hate Mondays...

I always get a little (ok, a lot) grumpy and stressed come Sunday before Chemo Mondays. My poor family. So much not to look forward to. The two weeks off go by so fast. Too fast. It's just a reminder too of what our situation is. And I worry about how my family will fare with me down for several days. So much to do, so little time. Even less time when you are down 1 week every month. It's kind of nice to feel a little normal for a couple weeks before facing chemo again. You are just so relieved and happy to feel good again. Here's hoping my blood work comes back normal tomorrow so I can get chemo. Even though I don't want it, I do. Makes no sense to me at all.

Ok enough for some good news and fun stuff!!
I need to thank my friend Angie in Indiana for sending me a Box of Hope this weekend!!!
Inside were two beautiful pictures to hang and a bunch of matted quotes having to do with "hope"! I love it! Thank you Angie!!!!!

I picked up my new glasses on Friday. Here's a photo where you can kind of see them, plus you can see how thick, dark and salt and peppery my hair is coming in! See the cute dragonfly on the sides? Our weekend was a whirlwind. Friday night Dave and the kids and I went to the movies and saw "Iron Man." It was a pretty good movie! A little violent with some shooting and blowing up stuff. But the acting was really good and it's been a long time since we went to a movie where it was hard to find seats together and where everyone clapped at the very end! If you go see it, stay through the credits. There's a suprise at the end! On Saturday, Kaelin had a soccer game, they won 5-1. After the game we declared every Saturday offical "Slurpee Day" (it's Kaelin's favorite treat! Mine too when I was a kid!)
Spencer spent all day Saturday at a classmate's Bar Mitzvah. He got picked up at 945am and returned home at about 1145pm after a day of ceremony and then dinner and dancing at The Portland Art Museum. Saturday night Kaelin had another dance competition (New York On Stage) at The Oregon Convention Center. Their Spider Dance won a Gold. (whatever that means?). Here group went on at 9pm, and even though we didn't stay for the 1010pm awards, we still got home late!
Sunday Classic Soccer tryouts started. Spencer tried out for a team that his friend is on from 11-1230pm (after that crazy day at the Bar Mitzvah and late night...) and then again from 6-730pm. They didn't go so well and he hasn't made the team yet. He can try again on Monday night from 730-9pm if he wants, but not sure he will. He's kind of lacking passion and confidence at this point. He's really been lost the last few years. Not sure if it's the adolescent thing and/or the whole situation with our battle with cancer. He's just lost interest in everything lately. Doesn't help that he hasn't been feeling well either.
It was the Spring Festival at school today, so we spent the middle of the day there. I volunteered in the craft room, helping kids etc. make fairy crowns and bookmarks, paint pots and decorate Mardi Gras type masks from 1245-145pm. Kaelin performed with her class (dance and instruments) and so she had to "dress up". This is her idea of "dressing up": skirt (only cuz she had to) with shorts underneath, tshirt with sparkly words (that's fancy right?), a hoodie in a color beside navy, black, or red and some Converse sneakers! After the performance, she and Spencer ran around with their friends and played the games and did the big slides and bouncey house and eat a lot of junk (sno cones, cotton candy, pizza) along with some fruit. Spencer and his 7th grade friends even brought a soccer ball and played a pick up game. At least he has passion for that. They play every day at break and lunch.

In between soccer and the Spring Fest, we hit the book store (the new Manga is out! Naruto #29!) and we took Simba to the doggie park for a serious romp!

Now we are all tuckered, beat and tired and Grumpy!!! Stick a fork in us, we're done!!!!

Hope you all had wonderful weekends!!!!


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Christmas in April, now May

So I finally got to some of my Christmas cards. Remember how proud I was of myself, getting our Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving and ordering my Christmas cards? I was determined to stay on top of the game. Well, that lasted all of what, 5 minutes? Life happened and I found myself with about 200 unaddressed Christmas cards. I kept meaning to send them. New Years came and went. Valentine's Day came and went. I came and went to Reno. I blinked and here it is April. Well, now it's May. I decided that since the postage was going up mid-May, I needed to finally get to my Christmas cards. I mean, I paid for them and had them sitting on my desk, I might as well send them out, better late than never right? I mean, maybe now that people don't have hundreds of other Christmas cards to read at the same time, they might actually get a chance to read it. And what a nice treat, stretching out Christmas like that. I actually have been carrying the Christmas cards around with me in the car, waiting for some free time here and there. Well, guess what I did the other day, when my car died and I was stranded for a couple of hours, waiting for a rescue? I addressed envelopes! So don't be suprised if you receive a Christmas card in May. I'm very late, as is my norm lately, but can I pull the cancer card and blame it on chemo brain too????? And don't be too concerned if you haven't received a card yet and expect one, I ran out of envies and had to order more. And if I don't have a current addie for you, then you are out of luck unless you email me your current one The photo on our Christmas card is from when we went to Disneyland in September 2007. When a lot of you helped us make that trip possible. Mickey and Minnie both are in the photo, because it's from our private Meet and Greet with the Fab 5 that was arranged especially for us! You can see how happy we all are. What great memories.

It's never too late to send Christmas cards to let people know you're thinking about them.