Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Surgery Went Very Well

It was a long, and sometimes very frustrating day, but we made it through. Angie went in to surgery at about 3PM, a short 4 hours later than expected. As you can imagine, Angie was not thrilled with how far things deviated from THE plan, especially after not eating or drinking since last night. The surgeon came out to talk to Sharon and I after surgery at around 5:30. I then tried my best to shed my technophobeness and post from the hospital waiting room but I was foiled by technology - I thought it would be fun to let everyone know how everything went during surgery before Angie even knew. So, how did the surgery go? When we met with the surgeon just prior to surgery, he mentioned that the anomaly on the scan that would require removal of her lower right lobe may be benign - good news. We also found out that the resident was Canadian too (anglo) and that he was moving to Toronto - I wonder if the Brunswick House is too low brow for a doctor. As it turns out, they removed 6 thingamadobobbers (3 were cut out, 2 were cauterized, and one was stapled out, whatever the heck that means) AND they did not remove her lower right lobe. He said they removed a pretty small amount of lung and the incision was smaller than expected. All good news, so she should recover pretty quickly, so quickly that they might do the left lung as soon as 2 weeks from now. We'll get biopsy results on what was removed in a few days. I'm sure a more entertaining version of our day will be forthcoming. Now quit checking the blog and get on with your lives. Enjoy your day.

Surgery has been delayed.

Hey everyone - it's Charlene. I know we're all waiting for an update and hoping that Ang's surgery went well. I just got a call from Grant. Apparently, there was a scheduling mixup (and I'm being nice when I say it that way) with Ang's surgery, thus resulting in a delay. She has yet to go in and is just now meeting with the anethesiologist. The latest update is that her surgery will be at 3:00 this afternoon - let's all keep our fingers crossed that there aren't any more delays. I know I don't have to ask, but please continue to send good thoughts and prayers that the surgery goes well. We'll have an update for everyone by tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I think I am ready

Actually, I am ready and I have had a great month off. I have had dinner with friends, smelled spring, walked with my family, ate dinner and tasted the food, laughed, grouted the shower (apparently grout falls out even when you have cancer), spray painted way more than one person should, and simply lived. So, it was a nice break and I am ready to go. The bills are paid, Grant knows where stuff is, the kid care calendar is out, the teachers know, and the parents know. I have been cheered on, prayed for, emailed, and voicemailed. Tinkerbell flowers showed up too. Now, it is down to showering twice and showing up. People have told me to laugh before surgery, think positively, keep my eye on the target, and pray. Here is the thing about that. I usually go to the chapel at Mason and Nolan's preschool. No matter what I have going on there is always 5 mins in my schedule to slip away and pray. But here is the thing, when I sit down, no words come to mind. I have everything to ask for but I can't think of what to say. I just sit there in silence and hear myself breathe. I try and get something to come out and nothing, what does that mean? I have thought about it from every angle, but I think it means that I have nothing to ask for - it has already been done. I have nothing to worry about because it is already taken care of. My challenge is to wait and let it unfold. My biggest worry is that I wake up tomorrow and it is not good news. My biggest anxiety is getting to the surgery so that we can get good news. See my problem? I just have to wait. Tomorrow I check in a 9:00am and surgery begins at 11:00am. It is supposed to last 90 mins with two hours in recovery. Grant will blog as soon as he can, but there are not promises. Be patient - this will be the challenge for all of us. Thank you for all the good wishes, prayers, thoughts, help, and crazy emails (Susie!). Love, Ang P.S. Karen I got it should check you voicemail more!!! :)

Monday, April 27, 2009

This says it all.... Patrick and Mom, turn up the volume on this one - you have to hear the music!!!! Love, Ang

Saturday, April 25, 2009

So, I got cleared by my onocologist

for the surgery. I met with him on Friday. We didn't have much to talk about but that I will do fine. This is real surgery (as opposed to anal fissure, c-section, port, etc.???) so I will be hurting for a while. We will see what to do with the left lung after the right is done. Call him when I check in so that he knows where to find me after surgery, etc, etc, etc. I did go over the pre-surgery prep with him. Two things in particular: One, I need to have a heart doc listed. Shockingly enough, I don't have one of those. I have everything else, so I told him I was putting him down. Two, apparently I have to take two showers before surgery. One the night before and one the morning of. On the second shower I am required to wash my hair with shampoo only. No conditioner or hair products of any kind. I am also required to wash with soap and not use any body wash, lotion, cosmetics, deodorant, etc. When I read this to him, he said, "That is because some of those things are flammable." I looked at him and said, "What are they doing? Closing me up with a blow torch?!?!?!" He said, "No, but they may want to cauterize (sp) something." And I replied with, "What are they doing? Waving it around willy nilly (sp)?!?!?! You know, THIS (hand circling the front of my body) takes WAY more than soap and shampoo. My skin will be parched - I am a cancer patient and my hair....MY HAIR will look like something between the mad scientist from the Muppets and Elmo." I can't even get a hair pic through my hair without conditioner. ARE THEY KIDDING ME?!? No, apparently not, and I am required to follow directions. I said fine, but I am bringing lotion and hair products for afterward! I might even bring mascara. That should throw them for a loop. Anyway, off of my rant. As I get closer, my stomach goes sour every once in a while, I start to sweat, and I think, "I hope this is easier than they are telling me it will be." For example, the nurse told me, "Okay, so the only thing I want you to remember is that you will wake up with a chest tube coming out of your chest. It will be VERY LARGE and filled with red puss. Some people are confused by this and think they have woken up during surgery. (FABULOUS.) You haven't. You will be fine, it is just a little thing you have to be prepared for." LITTLE?! Like I was prepared for Stage Four Rectal Cancer? Radiation to my butt? Chemo? And then I exhale and say, "Just another chapter that I will be done with and then on to happier things." Okay, here is some housekeeping things....I will be at Swedish Hospital. They will allow my visitors, but remember you will be looking for Elmo - not me. However, you cannot be sick, no children, and I will be pretty drugged up, so I may not even remember you coming by therefore you may not get "credit" for doing so. hehe I am not saying don't come, but I am saying that it may be scary, so be prepared. I will try and blog, but Grant may do it for me. I will have my computer, but I am not sure I will be able to type or make any sense with all the drugs. Also, I am doing another calendar for food and such....I know, you are saying, "Will it every end????" But if you would like to be on it and do not receive the emails from Sarah, you can email her at I continue to be amazed at the never ending generiousity that is bestowed on my family. Thank you - my life is much easier with all the help - you have no idea. Happy Saturday, Ang

Thursday, April 23, 2009

So, it is a week later

and I have less than a week to go. I am almost four weeks out of chemo and I can EAT ICE CREAM AGAIN. Not great for my ever growing butt, but I am throwing caution to the wind. I have been frantically "getting ready" for not being able to do anything around the house for three weeks. Bills, cleaning out my inbox, making all my insurance phone calls, preregistering for surgery, talking to nurses, coordinately childcare for the next three weeks, etc. etc. etc. It is exhausting getting ready!!! Oh, and get this, I carried Nolan from one end of Southcenter Mall to the other. Wow - I couldn't have done that two weeks ago. Chemo sucks! Okay, couple good stories.....last weekend, we went with two other families to Great Wolf Lodge. It is a ridiculously huge indoor water park and lodge that you must stay at to go to the water park. All I can say is, IT WAS REALLY FUN!!!! We played hard on Friday night, and the morning of Saturday. When my family went for nap, I told everyone else we would be back around 2:30. Well, at 2:30, I was trying to get Nolan up and he was having NONE OF IT. I did everything this side of shake his head and say, "WAKE UP WAKE UP WAKE UP!!!" Mason said, "It is still rest time and I need to watch some TV." Grant probably saw the utter confusion in my face and said, "Why don't you go and we will meet you later." So, I went - don't have to ask me twice. I went on all the big slides with my girlfriends, with their kids, heck with pretty much anyone that would have me. I looked for my family, still not there, went to the "bar" got a drink with my girlfriends (Malibu Rum is 21% - just my speed) and said, "Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am the cancer patient." Finally, I went and got my family at 4:30. WHATEVER!!!! We had a great evening, had a pizza party in on of my girlfriends rooms, and fell into bed only to be awaken by Mason puking. Yep, that was fun. And he was too tired to go to the toilet or even move his head over the trash, so it was all over him. We had three twin beds, so we changed beds until that one got covered. Then we called the front desk, they got more sheets, remade both beds and very kindly said, "This happens - don't worry about it." I then got up every time he coughed to put his head over the trash. In the end, we were on the road with a puking child at 8:30am on Sunday. As soon as we got home (at 9:30 am) and I made some pedilite, he settled down and slowly started coming out of it. Thank goodness he didn't get sick on Friday night! Okay, next one.....on Tuesday I had a lung function test to see if my lungs were strong enough for this surgery, if I can survive it, etc. So, I show up and the guy takes me back to this room and puts me in a Plexiglas box and has me do all kinds of breathing, panting, holding my breath, etc. I told him that Grant told me I was going to get light headed. He said, "Maybe. We will see." A real orator that one. I was prepared for this to last 2 hours (as they told me). I was out in 20 mins. As soon as I realized that they had "predictions" on how I would perform (which he told me), I asked how the predictions were arrived at. He said, "They are based on formulas that take your weight, age, health, etc. all into consideration." MMMMM. I replied with, "So, how am I doing?" (This is after the first 3 minutes.) He said, "You are right on." Well, that wasn't good enough, so I thought - GAME ON. I spanked test after test....exceeding predictions. If there is an opportunity to compete, BRING IT ON. So, I didn't get light headed, my "capillaries are functioning at a normal level" and everything that chemo was supposed to hinder, didn't. So, after dealing with me, the gentleman said, "You are not the competitive type are you? So, are you going to go home and tell your husband he is a wimp?" I smiled and replied, "Good judge of character are you?? I am going to do much worse and you tell that surgeon that I spanked this. So, much for their formulas. Cancer rules don't apply to me." And I bounced away back to my life. HA. Happy Thursday, Ang

Friday, April 17, 2009

Here is the plan....

My nerves were everywhere yesterday. So much so that I started crying when we got to the surgeons office. When I cry anymore it is not loud or like sobbing. It is just tears that run down my face. No sobbing, no change in facial expression, no breathing change - just tears. I got myself together enough to get through the appointment. He is a really nice guy with one draw back (according my by husband) that he played well upon their meeting. He is a frenchie. That means French Canadian, but he studied at U of T (University of Toronto), spent some time in Ottawa and in Alberta, so he was "tolerable". Not that my husband is prejudice or anything. Anyhoo - I liked him. He took me through what my situation was and how we were going to handle it in excruciating detail (Grant LOVED it). I saw my scans (which I have NEVER looked at), he drew pictures, and then laid it out on an easel on how they decide whether or not to do surgery. 1. If the primary site is controlled. (My rectum) check! 2. No other sites other than lungs. check! 3. All disease in lung is removable. (This is where I started to cry - was it? Is it? Please God say it is. And then he said, "It is, but you are going to loose some lung and we are going to do one side at a time." fine - whatever - check! 4. If I had enough lung left over to live and lung capacity to survive the surgery. He assumes that will be true, but I will need to do one more test. On the "easy" test, I measured 100% lung capacity. check. and 5. There is no better option. So, he believes that I am a good candidate for the operation and that this is the way to go. Here is the scary part. This will be physical surgery. We decided to do my right lung first. It has always been worse than the left and I just feel that it needs attention first. I will have an incision from my back at mid rib cage to the front horizontal to the ground. He said this will be a very big scar. (Luckily, I have sons so they will think it is cool.) He will split my ribs, cut one of the two muscles, move the other and PHYSICALLY HOLD MY LUNG TO SEE WHAT AND HOW EXACTLY TO REMOVE EACH SITE. Now, here is the other part. Before I thought there was one in my right and two in my left. Well, he said that he is going to take anything that he deems suspicious. That means five in my right and three in my left. In my right, he will completely remove the lower lobe (sp!) which has three spots, and staple out the other two. New ways to use a stapler! The left which will be done at a later date will be done cutting one away and stapling two. So, here are the other items I got to learn. There is a 1% chance I will die in surgery and there is an outside chance that I have what he referred to as a sandpaper coating of cancer all over my lungs that a PET or CT would not be able to pick up. If that happened, he will close me up and there is nothing that can be done. After he told me that fun bit of info, I looked at him and said, "Well, we are just going to decide that that is NOT going to happen." He said, "That sounds great to me." So, I agreed to all this and then said, "When we doin' it? I am free next week." He said, "No. You have been on Avastin and that is a serious drug that impedes healing. We need to wait." I responded with, "Rules don't really apply to me. So, next week is good. Call my oncologist. He will clear me." He looked at me and gave me the, "Yeah no" look. Clearly, he didn't know who I was even though he had lunch with my colon/rectal surgeon that day who said hi to me through him and when I said, "Oh, he is on of my favorites." He replied with, "I am pretty sure the feeling is mutual." with this Canadian edge to his voice like, "What is this a frickin' love fest???" I like him and I am sure I am winning him over! ;) Anyhoo, the date of the surgery is the 29th of April in the afternoon. Recovery time will be 2 to 3 weeks since I was never a smoker (6 weeks for smokers). Kids there is a good reason NEVER TO START! I will be in the hospital for 3 to 6 days and cannot lift ANYTHING for two weeks. So, I will probably live with my Mom and Dad where my Aunt is living because her house is being raised and where the boys will be. She will have a full house and my Dad is having knee surgery on the 27th - GOOD TIMES! We are currently trying to see how best to work this all out and to see if we need help. So, Karissa, Leslie, Jane, and Jen - you are all on alert. It doesn't look too bad right yet, but we will learn more as we go. I will tell you more as I know, Ang

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Meeting with the Lung Surgeon

I probably haven't posted this yet and if I have forgive me, but a few weeks ago I was referred tot he cancer rehab program - basically PT for cancer survivors. This is to help minimize obstacles and maximize your good days. So, I have been doing that and, because of this, I am spending more time around the hospital. Well, yesterday, I had some time between my appointments and I stopped by my colon/rectal surgeons office. He was in the office, which is rare, and I gave the staff there an update to my situation. He asked who my surgeon was, and I didn't know at that point. He said, "I want to know who is operating on you just to make sure." I told him I would be sure to contact him with the name and, as I said good bye, they told me to be sure to tell them when the surgery is. I told them that I would and said, "I don't think his guy will ever meet anyone so happy to have them cut them open!" My surgeon laughed and said, "I love the attitude! You have the best attitude." Well, I got the lung surgeon's name in the afternoon and set the appointment. The woman helping me was very nice and she made it sound like they had been waiting for me. I called my c/r surgeon's office and upon hearing his name gave the thumbs up. WHEW! I am set to meet with the lung surgeon on Thursday. I am a bit nervous, but all of that will go away when I meet him. I just need to know what I need to do, how much time to heal, etc. I leave the rest to him and Grant. More on, Ang

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Well, that was fast...

So, my oncologist called last night which was really fast. I told him I wasn't expecting a call until Friday night or Monday and he replied with, "I can call back if you like." FUNNY FUNNY HA HA. Okay, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that the cancer has not spread to anywhere else. The bad news is that my spots are not gone and one is measuring bigger by 1mm. (There is a level of error to this so it may or may not be "bigger".) He feels that we are (finally!) at the stage that we need to talk to a lung surgeon and CUT IT OUT. He said and I quote (loosely), "I think we just want to get these guys out of there and with the fact that it hasn't spread the is a possibility that we may just be done with this." DONE. That is right - done. Of course, I would be monitored like crazy and watched like a hawk, but I may be done. I had to let that sink in a bit, but I also had been expecting something like this. I knew in my heart it wasn't gone and, as I have shared with some of you, I have always believed that "three" would be a factor in this journey. Three years, three protocols, three something. Just a feeling I got deep in my soul. Maybe from my guardian angel that has been watching over me this entire time, I am not sure, but the message was always three. As if I was to hang on, expect, anticipate, "three". So, when my oncologist said, "So, you ready for this?" I replied, "You're the man and I am going to do what you think is best. Let's do it. When?" He said, "Someone will call you tomorrow, met with him next week, and then we will schedule surgery." (I later emailed him asking if I could have some private time in a room after surgery with my removed tissue and a hammer. He didn't respond. I guess that is a no.) My recovery time will vary tremendously based on how the surgeon will do the procedure. Some methods are one week; others are six, but let's just remember that this is my trifecta (sp - I don't gamble much). I have never been lucky at the track or in Vegas, but I have always been lucky with my health. I had two single pregnancies from one egg retrieval and two transfers (one fresh; one frozen) and only with five embryos total. Do you know the odds of that??? They were about the same as me getting Stage Four Rectal Cancer to the lungs. What were the odds of me keeping my hair? Of living this long??? Of being able to live after 30 treatment of full on chemotherapy only having to reduce on additive. Never needing fluids, Vitamin B shots, only being hospitalized once for a migraine - not cancer. My oncologist or one of my nurses said to me once, "Clearly, the rules don't apply to you. You shouldn't have gotten this, you should have lost your hair, you should look sick, etc. Clearly, the rules don't apply." Maybe they don't. A long time ago through my tears I looked in my oncologist eyes and asked what my odds were. He refused to tell me. He did say they were not in my favor and I replied with, "I am an only child, niece, and only grandchild. Who will take care of them?" He looked straight at me held my hand and said, "Maybe you." I believed him then, I believe him now, and for the first time in a long time I am planning out more than six months. I think I may just be the happiest person this lung surgeon will ever met. I will be like, "Dude, when can I get on the table!" So, I am practically gleeful that, at least for now, I can believe that I will be done (as least of a while). Thank you for all your prayers, thoughts, crossed fingers and toes. They make a difference I am sure. Happy Friday, Ang P.S. I started this post on Thursday night, but didn't complete it until Friday - That is why the date says Thursday April 9th....


So, my scan is this morning and all I am doing is trying to fix normal life has done its number of little inconveniences to me this week. First, my laptop has a virus. One that the more you try and fix it, the more it destroys your computer. When I broke down and called HP they said, "Did you make recovery disks?" I said, "No, the documentation said that you can do it without disks." They replied with, "Well, if you read it closely, it says you should make disks." It does in 4 point type on the BOTTOM OF THE PAGE that says in 24 point type, "Restore WITHOUT DISKS!" (Seriously, my Mom purchased this laptop for me when I was diagnosed in 2007 to take to the cancer center and have downstairs, so I didn't have to do the stairs all the time. You really think I was going to read all the documentation for back up disks???? I didn't think I was going to be around long enough to use them?!?!?! Is that a silver lining?? That I am here long enough to have a virus???) So, a $125 bucks later and a new one year warrantee agreement later, the disks are on the way. Then, I have misplaced my cellphone. I would like to say someone stole it, but it was too pathetic to steal. Maybe we will find it today. Then, my Grandma calls last night at 9:30pm and said her wallet is missing and she believes it was stolen. I went over what was in it and she said, "Well, the normal stuff...Social Security Card, Checkbook, ID, Key to the building, etc. etc. etc." I am like, fabulous. (Didn't you get the memo NOT to carry your entire identity with you????) Well, we need to change your bank accounts, get a new id, new ssc, etc. etc. etc. Then, I realize that I can't do any of that because I will be in a scan when the banks open and will not be able to do really anything outside the house until bank close on Thursday. So, I get to call my Dad this morning at 5:00am, but Mom answered. I explained everything and we reworked the schedule of events this morning to make it possible for Dad to help Grandma this morning and possibly still get to Mason for pick up. Mom is watching Nolan since he doesn't have school and Karissa is dropping Mason at school this morning so that my Mom can take Nolan to indoor gym. Confused?? Well, add this in, I am going to ask Karissa to look for my cellphone at Preschool when she drops Mason in the art closet where I was planning next week's art project. If you have ever been in a preschool art closet, you know what I am saying. It is organized, yet so chaotic I broke into a sweat upon entering it. I have to have her do it because, my Dad would run from the art closet screaming, and preschool closes for the weekend right after Thursday class. Okay, big breath. So, after downloading today's schedule to my Mom and she working it all out for me she said, "Now, Angie, this is all going to be fine. Your Dad will take care of his Mother, Karissa will find the cellphone if it is to be found, and I will make sure the boys are to and from everything, but here is the thing I need you to do - take care of yourself today, or I am going to get really mad." (Mad is scary in my family.) And I start to cry. All of this could be so much easier if I didn't have these scans, treatment, appointments, etc. I could handle all of it, but I can't and I am humbled by all the people I effect everyday. So, you may be asking, why don't you do this when the kids are in day care on Fridays. My mom and Karissa won't let me - they say Fridays are for see why I cry????? Gotta go get dressed and in the car for my scan. Cross your fingers that ALL of this works out - love, Ang

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


They are back together.....yipee....can you feel my joy???? Scan tomorrow at 7:15 - Ang

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sometimes I forget

to post and then I realized how many people read it. I am fine. I have actually been enjoying my two weeks and I had chemo this past week. Chemo did go as smoothly as it did the previous time before Girl's Weekend which makes me wonder how much "intervention" I got on that round so that I could make it to that weekend. For those of you who know the story which it isn't many, so don't feel left out, the round before girls weekend was administered to me on March 17th. There is a lot around St.Patrick's Day for me far, far beyond the holiday. Things that make you go HHMMMM. Anyhoo, I don't have any witty stories, but I am suffering from sleep deprivation right now.....yeah, it is 3:30 in the morning!!! Since I sent Grant away this weekend (weekend free of cancer - thank you Robin), my aunt has been staying with me to help with the boys. She has been great. She helped me get ready for bookclub, watched the boys when I have to "go - NOW!", read to them, bathed them, and we even went to Fred Meyer WITH the boys. She deserves combat pay for that one. It was fuchsia start day. What was I thinking!?!?!?! But I digress.....when Grant is gone Mason has gotten in the habit of "having bad dreams" and needing to sleep with me. That is okay since Grant and I are not both in the bed. (I make my Aunt sleep in the study on an aerobed and she keeps coming back. Our family loves torture.) So, for three nights, I am woken up by, "Mommy I had a bad dream." Okay, I am a Mom I can deal with that. No feet in my face, he doesn't snore, easy, BUT THEN, my neighbors son had a argument with his girlfriend AT 1:30 in the morning OUTSIDE their house. If you have ever been to my house, my neighbors are REALLY close to me. So, I hear the entire sorted details of a 25 year olds traumas. I then hear something about, "If you can't take your boy to McDonald's then..swear swear, swear, swear swear swear..." and I am thinking, "This isn't seriously over McDonald's is it???" So, they leave in the her car and come back 20 mins later and get this, I am just about asleep and BAM! all I can smell is McDonald's. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?! SHE TOOK HIM TO MCDONALD'S?!?!??!?! Swear swear swear swear swear, throw McDonald's bag at him and OMG I can't believe this.....OMG you are so swear swear swear swear......exit girlfriend. So, as I am laying there thinking, I really want to sleep, I was THIS close to going outside and saying to her - not him - her, "Seriously, tell me you didn't take him to McDonald's cause sweetie he just wanted a last meal, he tortured you to do it, you did it, and now you are still at the same point you were but you are out $5. CLASSIC. The saddest part is why I know this, but we won't bore you with that. So, I am going to try and go back to bed. I have physical therapy tomorrow for cancer rehab and scans this week. I am trying to enjoy this time, but I am nervous. I don't know what the scan will bring, I am again being graded on a test I have no control over, and my fate lies in it hands. The docs are going back to the table with my scans and deciding what to do with me. I will leave that to them. So when you close an post like that you can definitely see who COMPLETELY INSIGNIFICANT my neighbor's boy's troubles are, but, unfortunately, it is all he can see and he feels it (too much). Back to bed, Ang