Friday, November 30, 2007

A bit of good news....

As I go into the weekend, I am doing better. Managing the pain, the bleeding is done for now, and monitoring my activities. One thing that happened just today made me feel not so useless. There was a new woman at Radiation yesterday. We started chatting and she has advanced lung cancer. She was nervous because she had her first chemo yesterday. That is all it took. I quickly assured her that she would be fine, told her what to expect, and gave her my tips on what helped me get through it (complete with written list for her doc to approve). I told her, "Yes, it will be hard, but do this and it is manageable." Today, I saw her and she said to me, "Because of you, I wasn't scared of chemo." Okay, so my day was made. I finally helped someone. Bob said, "Pay it forward." So, I did. Today another woman started talking to me about her husband. He is nauseous, and will not eat." I told her Ensure Plus and Ginger Altoids. Choke down the first and carry the other EVERYWHERE. Hopefully, that will work for him this weekend. I left the waiting room today waving saying, "I am here everyday at 11:00!" like a comic says as he leaves the stage. Oh well, it was fun and it make me forget that my butt is on fire. 14 to go......20 days left....... Have a great weekend, Ang

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Yesterday was good, today not so much

Yesterday I had three doctor's appointments all around my bleeding and pain. The Radiation Oncologist told me that he didn't want to lessen the dosage because he wants me to have the best shot at the tumor never coming back. He explained that this is part of the deal and that I just need to get through it. He assured me that there will be no permanent damage, I will heal as soon as treatment is over (December 20), and all will be as it was. He asked me, "Can you do it?" I replied with, "If you tell me we have to do it, I will find a way to get through it." I then met with the Colon/Rectal Surgeon and he helped me with pain management. He was hucking samples at me left and right and told me to try everything until we find was will make it tolerable. He is great. A while back he told me he was going to do missionary work and that he may not be the one to do my surgery. I was crushed. I tried to be happy for him, but the words, "Well, that is quite inconvenient for me!" fell out of my mouth before I could stop them. Sometimes my mouth is way faster than my brain. Yesterday, I apologized for that previous comment and asked me when he was leaving. He smiled and said, "Well, a few things came up, so not until 2009." I looked at him and he said, "Yes, you are one of them." I just looked down almost started crying, but I was too happy to cry. I am truly evil, Anyhoo.....things started going downhill last night. Sometimes it all is too much and with my kids at my Mom and Dad's for a couple days, I let down and it all came out. Nerves, worries, gratitude, self pity, anger, and, of course, pain. With all the doctor's appointment, driving into Seattle twice, and stopping by Costco (yes, that was a bad choice), I realized when I got home I did too much. I was up most of the night with my bowels making me pay for it and I didn't sleep much. So, today was crap, but I went for treatment. I cried most of the way there. I got myself together to go into the building, Angela, at the front desk saw me, hugged me, and smiled. Everyone took care of me, but not too much today. I saw my oncologist afterwards and he said, "We are not starting chemo (pill form). It will make everything worse down there and I don't think you can take that right now." I replied, "If you say we have to, I will find a way to get through it." He looked me in the eye and said, "I know. Now, you let me worry about the treatment and you just get through this." And, with a smile and a hug, I slowly leave, drive home, and get to the couch. I watch TV and wonder when I will desire the food on food commercials again, answer the phone, and rest. Just now I had enough energy to blog. Don't worry, I know tomorrow will be better than today. So, if you will excuse me, I need to go write on the bathroom mirror "16" and cross out "17" in red lipstick. That is how I am getting through this - red lipstick on my bathroom mirror. When all else fails, lipstick never lets you down. Tomorrow, I will write"15" and I will be half way done. Love, Ang

Monday, November 26, 2007

Maybe there is a place for me in the medical industry!

Okay, so I went to radiation today and told them my story. They said, "Let's get you in with a nurse today!" The nurse said, "You are seeing your oncologist today." And off I go, bothering everyone with my butt issues. I don't know what bothered them most - the fact I was bleeding or the fact that I had replaced two of my meals a day with protein drinks. Oh oncologist was like, "Why are you here?" I told him the concern from downstairs and he said, "Well, we will manage the pain and talk to the radiation oncologist to see if we need to reduce the amount of radiation for a bit. As for your blood, your counts are coming up, so whatever you are eating - keep doing it. It's working." Thanks Rik for introducing me to USANA (where I get my protein drinks). So, I meet with the radiation oncologist and the colon/rectal surgeon tomorrow to see about dosage and pain management. Beside that, this is normal. Welcome to butt radiation! I just kept saying, "As long as I don't poop, I am great! Can you do something about making me not poop?" And they smile and shake their heads. One of the triage guys said that I should get my girlfriend that wrote me poetry (which I shared with the office) about my rectum to write me a poem about poop avoidance. With that, I am leave laughing my butt off and I hear them all laughing to my ears......Happy Monday, Ang

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Well, this is harder than I thought

After having a great Thanksgiving, I have been struggling ever since. It is not a constant struggle, but one that occurs every time I go to the bathroom. I love rectal cancer - it is a BLAST (literally)! When I was given the option of doing radiation instead of surgery, I jumped on it. Pooping in a bag didn't sound fun and all the people I talked to said, "Radiation? Oh, do it! It is that bad. You can drive yourself to and from treatment, you are a little sore, but it is doable." Now, I remember all of those people were Breast Cancer survivors - not rectal cancer survivors. Let me paint you a picture......radiation dries out your skin, darkens it, and makes it really sensitive. That doesn't sound bad, does it? Well, now run poop along it everyday. Yeah, that part hurts - BAD. So, while I can enjoy food now, I try not to eat. This is my reality...I choose which meal I am going to eat for the day, then I replace the other two meals with protein shakes (thank goodness I can drink them cold again since I am not on the drug that gives me the cold sensitivity anymore), I have to use suppositories every night to "disinfect" the area, sitz bath every time I poop, and rest. My thinking is that if I limit my intake, my output will dramatically reduce and I will limit my pain. Get this, none of my colorectal buddies have done radiation so I didn't get a warning on this and I didn't put two and two together before we started. Brilliant, uh?!?! Now, I do have "windows" of opportunity where I appear normal. I went to Target yesterday to get stuff for the house, complete Mason's birthday supplies, etc., but I was home within two hours just in case. I focus on 25 days until my radiation treatment ends (19 more treatments) and then I am back to what I know - chemo. My last day of treatment is the 20th of December. Yes, I will call the doctor, but I will see him on Tuesday, so I am trying to wait until then. I am hoping there is a topical treatment to dull the pain, but seriously beyond that what can they do? A girl has to poop every once and a while! Signing off while sitting on my ball, Angie

Monday, November 19, 2007


As I woke up this morning, I was thinking about Thanksgiving and all the things I have to be thankful for....I was overwhelmed. Yeah, I am not real thankful for getting cancer, but if someone had to get it, I am glad it was me. Here is why.....Grant and I have enough financial security to handle this, Grant's company has amazing health care coverage for us, I love my house, we have heat and electricity everyday so my family is comfortable, I have so many friends and family that take care of us, I have seen friends I haven't seen in years that cook and clean for me, I always have enough food for me and my family, I have friends that still give me crap, I have amazing medical care, I have amazing nurses, I have amazing doctors, I have good cars that can get me to and from all my appointments, I have reserved parking for radiation, I can still afford gas, I have two healthy, amazing, wonderful kids that make me smile everyday, I can drink cold things right now, I can eat ice cream again (that will change when I am back on chemo), I can feel the tips of my fingers again, I can feel the bottoms of my feet again, I still have hair, I still have fingernails and toenails (although they are on the edge of breaking off all the time), I can still scrapbook, I can print pictures at home, I still have a sense of humor and was laughing so hard last night it hurt, I am married to an amazing man, my youngest flirts with my Mom, my eldest insists on calling my Mom upon his return home from their house to say, "Don't worry, I be back soon. I am with Mommy and Daddy now, but I be back soon.", there is always enough food at Thanksgiving for one more, my neighbors, and the list goes on forever. So, be thankful today for all the little things that make our lives what they are. When we are born, no one promises us forever, health, happiness, or joy. We create it everyday with every moment. All we have is right now. So, if you burn the turkey, smile and call it jerky. If someone doesn't bring the stuffing, eat more potatoes. But most importantly, be thankful that you had the opportunity for both. Happy Thanksgiving week, Ang

Friday, November 16, 2007

Halloween - FINALLY!

Okay, the first one shows you Mason in full costume and the next two are my favorites - my two moment......Love, Ang

Well, my Radiation Oncologist

knows me pretty well already. I met with him yesterday and told him about my nausea. He listened calmly, changed position in his chair, and then nicely said, "Fatigue isn't typical this early in the treatment of radiation, but I have experienced patients that have a lot of anxiety and adrenaline (sp) around the change in protocol. See, radiation is easy compared to chemo and with the change, people get nervous, and then about 3 treatments in start to relax and, consequently get very tired for a few days. Does this sound like you?" I looked at him and said, "Apparently, you have met me before...." I wanted to say, "SHUT UP!!!", but I thought the better of it. So, with that knowledge, I have started to relax. I slept really well last night - no vomiting thank goodness. I am also going to set up an appointment with my social worker. She is good at reframing things for me and getting me back on track. After my radiation appointment, I went up to visit my buddy Bob. I think it is HILARIOUS that I can go into the treatment center and say, "Where's Silent Bob?" and EVERYONE knows who I am talking about. We talked for a bit, laughed, I met another one of his cancer buddies, and just had a good time. He gave me a T-Shirt yesterday that has a half filled glass of water and says "Half Full" (not half empty). He said something like, "This personifies you." and I was happy for it. Sometimes I loose track....cry....wonder what this cancer has in store for me and then something happens like Bob and my T-shirt and I am remember that is just that simple - half full - nothing more, nothing less - half full. Thanks Bob. Love, Ang

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Who said radiation was a breeze?????

I guess I bought into that a little too easily. Obviously, the doc that told me that didn't think about two small children. I am so tired, my Mom is picking up the boys today and keeping them until Saturday. What would I do without my Mom and Dad? It is weird because I am usually okay until about 3:00 and then I am just done. I guess I should have paid attention to the platelet explanation.....something about having more fatigue during radiation because you have so many platelets in your pelvis as compared to the other areas of your body. Yesterday, I said to Mason, "Fine, you don't have to take a nap, but you do have to be silent and still for the next 20 mins so Mommy can take a nap." Funny part is he fell asleep for two hours and I only got 20 mins because Nolan got up. I wasn't feeling so good until I called my Mom. She told me she could take the kids, I vomited (I think it was nerves), and I went to bed at 7:30. I should just check in to the old folks home now. As for my overall health, I am doing okay. Radiation is truly easy - hop on the table and seven minutes later you are done. But, with the boys and Mason fighting naps I am struggling a bit. I guess it is hard because I was feeling so much better, I learned how to manage chemo, I was planning things with my friends, and then new protocol, my new restrictions, my new way of life. Who would have ever thought I would miss CHEMO?!?!?!?! Love, Ang

Monday, November 12, 2007

Apparently, I am not invincible

Well, rediation is going well and now I know it is working. I have felt tired, my nose has been bleeding since my last chemo treatmnet, Aunt Flo came to visit - so much for menopause due to chemotherapy, I am loosing feeling in my fingers and the bottoms of my feet, and I almost blacked out this morning. However, I was dumbfounded when I was told that we were going to hold off for a week to start oral chemo. I was like - I can do it, let's do it and my oncologist was like, "Let's talk Monday or Tuesday of next week. People need a break from this sometimes. Remember, we have been firing some heavy doses of chemo at you and with radiation this is fairly typical." He went on saying something like 80% of your platlets are in your pelvis....I stopped paying attention, so don't quote me on that one. "Fairly typical - I am not fairly typcial...." All I could think about is that I failed. So, I have spent most of the day trying to see the silver lining of "having a week off", but I am also mad that we just can keep gettin'er (sp) done! Oh well, this is for a reason. I am exhausted and I will take care of myself better this week, have other people run my errands, and sleep more. If I could just get Nolan on the new time schedule that would be great - 4:30am wake ups are brutal!!!!!!! Have a great week - Ang

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Today, Yesterday and Tuesday......

Well, radiation, at least at the beginning, is a snap AND I get a power nap. Yep, I have gotten so comfortable with the torture position I can sleep! I think there may be work for me in the CIA after this. Today, Thursday, was my first radiation appointment. Yesterday, was the dry run. The people there are so nice. They are explaining everything to me - remember they are looking at my butt. They are telling me, "Okay I am going to draw on you now. Okay, I am going to take some pictures of the drawings. Okay......etc.etc.etc." I think they are trying to protect my modesty or something. Little do they know I would now whip off my pants and show my butt to the janitor if he or she seemed to have a good reason to see it. Very sweet those people......very sweet. Some of the patients - not so much. I got the evil eye for parking in the radiation parking lot until I followed her into the treatment center smiling and saying hi to everyone. I guess she was surprised that I was a patient. I was tempted to say, "See you tomorrow!" to her, but I thought that would be cruel. You never know other people demons. So, I am getting to know a whole new group and, as usual, I am making my mark. Yesterday, I brought in a Christmas present that I bought (who it is for shall remain nameless) but it plays the music of "Low Rider". I showed it to Angela at the front desk and played it. We laughed and were dancing around. Most people in the lobby thought it was funny, but there are usually a couple of people that don't appreciate me. Too bad - I wasn't born a wall flower and I don't intend on being one now! Okay, off that rant...Tuesday, Tuesday is the day I was to talk about. So, after resting and laying low for most of of the day, I really needed to get to Fred Meyer. Not knowing what radiation would bring, I wanted to complete the boys clothes for the holidays, buy some food, and get hair dye. Where else than Fred Meyer! The problem was, I was not sure I could do it. I had not been out of the house with both boys since June. I take one or the other or I save my errands for Friday when Mason is at daycare or the weekends when Grant can take one. So, in my quandary, I decided to ask Mason. I explained my fears, my limitations, and what he would have to do if we went. You know what he said in a very sort of "CHARGE!" tone? He proclaimed, "Let's go the the store - YEAH!!!!!!" and went running for his coat. I guess I couldn't say no at that point. So, we loaded up and went. Mason was a dream. One of my limitations I explained to him was that he needed to really help Mommy. So, when I dropped, and broke, the baby food jar he immediately started saying in a very loud voice, "Hey, we need help. Mommy spilled and she needs lots of help." Sure enough, they came to help and Mason was sure to say, "Good job. Thank you. BYE BYE!!!!" He put stuff in the cart, feed Nolan Cheerios, and kept saying, "Just one more thing." Even if we had 12 more things.......wonder where he got that phrase? In any case, he was dream and we got everything we needed - even the Christmas PJs. Before I buckled him in the car, I told him how proud I was of him. He smiled from ear to ear, hugged me, and said, "You're welcome Mommy!" My boys were great and Mommy got a little bit of her confidence back. I could do it and that felt so good I could taste it. Happy Thursday, Ang

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Radiation starts tomorrow....

Well, I got the okay on radiation and I am going to start on Wednesday. If all goes well, I will also start a pill form of my chemo Monday which is a lower dose than what I was taking before. I asked why I couldn't keep doing the same chemo with radiation and the answer was, "You would die." I thought, "Well, all righty then, I guess that defeats the purpose." I was experiencing a lot of anxiety around changing the plan, getting child care organized everyday, and burdening so many people for the next little while that I started to cry yesterday and Mason saw me. He came up and said, "Mommy, are you sad? Do you need a hug?" I said yes and as he hugged me he said, "Everything is going to be alright." I replied, "Yes, it is baby. Yes, it is. Thank you." Then, he said, "Okay, I go play with Nolan now. BYE BYE!" All boy that one, but sweet and kind just like I wanted. I am so humbled by the fact that people are so willing to change their lives so that I can go to these appointments EVERY DAY (M-F) during the holidays. Coordinating all that has been so easy - thank you. Still elated by the news from Monday the 29th about not seeing any cancer on the PET, I have been doing a bit too much and the weight of it hit on Sunday. I was exhausted. I need to remember slow and steady. My Grandfather used to say that to me. "Angie," he said, "Slow and steady wins every time. Slow and steady." I miss him. I didn't pay enough attention to his advice until I got older, but he was the best Grandfather a person could have and the only relative that I had no blood relation to. HHHMMMMM.....maybe there is something to that (grin). So, off I go, starting tomorrow everyday to be zapped in the butt, lose my skin on my hands and feet - fun, and feel guilty for leaving my kids everyday, but time will pass soon enough and I will be better. I was thinking the other day about how I am going to repay all of this. I thought, "I am really good at washing cars. Maybe I can wash everyone's car? I will do one family a weekend until everyone that has helped me gets their cars washed." Then, I started counting it out and, if I did it right, I would be busy every weekend until 2010. Maybe I need to rethink that one...maybe two families a weekend - that would be 2009....and the stream of consciousness continues.......have a great day, Ang

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Halloween Part II

November 1st was Halloween Part II in my neighborhood. I was so excited. I dressed Nolan up in his Tigger outfit. He was a little annoyed with the hood, but he took it in stride. Mason was another story. He was tired from Treat or Treating at Preschool on Tuesday and out with the big kids at Karissa's on Wednesday. So, there was a fair amount of coaxing that went into getting his Tigger outfit on. (Yep, both boys were Tigger. Remember, Tigger was really popular a while back and we have a lot of hand-me-down costumes. Plus, Tigger is one of Grant's favorites so it is an easy sell on us!) I finally found the right bargaining tool and said, "If you put on your costume, you get to go to the Manca's (our neighbors)." On it went, and off we went. He didn't mess up this time since he had a lot of practice earlier in the week. (At Karissa's he said, "Happy Birthday!" at one house.) He told all the neighbors what we were doing and how many houses we had left. Grace and Sam Manca went around with us, and the funniest part was when Grace and Sam Trick or Treated at our house. Mason was a little hesitant to give them candy, but he sucked it up and did. We came home, counted our candy, took pictures (which I will get on the blog soon), and went directly to sleep. Both my Tiggers went easily and quickly dreaming of candy, jack o lanterns in the neighborhood, and pumpkins. So, really, in the end, it was the perfect Halloween for everyone. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Love, Ang

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween Part 1 and Radiation Prep

Yesterday, Mason got on the phone with me and sadly said, "Mommy, I want to come home." My heart sank, but I replied in a upbeat way and said, "Sweetie, you will come tomorrow, but tonight you get to Trick or Treat with Quinn, Grace, and Emma." He squealed - yep squealed -, "HEY! I GET TO GO TRICK OR TREATING! BYE MOMMY!" So much for my heart, but he was thrilled which makes me truly happy. In talking to my parents and seeing the emailed pictures from Quinn, Grace, and Emma's Mom, Karissa, Mason had a blast. Halloween Part II is tonight because my neighborhood is about the best you can have. My neighborhood is doing it again at 6pm for me. How amazingly cool is that??? So cool. One thing I can say is, it is definitely cooler than prep for radiation. I can't even blog the details of it. One has to experience the positions of torture that they make you stay in for ridiculous amounts of time, the probes that they insert in you (remember rectal cancer!!) and then the pictures they take. NO LIE. PICTURES - LOTS OF THEM - ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!?!? I can assure you, those pictures will not be "hot" on the Internet - I already asked. Anyhoo, looks like radiation will start next week, but I have to get final clearance from my Oncologist, so we will see. Get ready Mom, Karissa, and Trina, I will be hitting you up soon.....Happy Halloween!!!! Ang