Wednesday, March 30, 2011

News.....good and bad

I have been healing nicely. I am home with the kids, going to PTA meetings, Kent School district budget meetings, working a little, and sleeping HARD at night. Yes, I am probably doing more than I should, but I am staying in my restrictions and to do less would just not be me. Last night, I got the call on my pathology of my tumor. All margins were great except one. My oncologist had already called the surgeon to see what he thought. The good news is that the surgeon is optimistic that this will not be a problem but that we should watch it "just on case". The leash/noose around my neck just got a little tighter. Will I ever be DONE with this? So, it is medium news. Am I happy? Not really. Clearly, I wanted different news. I am also a little wary of these things. My tumor was not supposed to come back after the first round of chemo and radiation. It did. We thought we got it all out of my lungs after bilateral lung surgery, but it came back. And now I am supposed hope that this doesn't turn into something. You have to excuse my doubt, but there are only so many times you can be optimistic and be shot down. I did clarify what would happen if it does come back. If it does, I will have a colostomy. It is possible that it would be temporary and that the area could be reconstructed. Pause....what a frickin' process....sigh....breathe. But all that is for another day. "Keep your eye on the prize, Ang" I tell myself as I crawl into bed with Nolan just to watch him sleep. "Keep your eye on the prize." To see Nolan's next birthday, hell to see his 16th birthday! As my first colorectal surgeon said, "Ang, you will not die from this in you bum. We can fix that. It will be, and our focus has to be on, your lungs." Refocus. Readjust. Feel the leash that I doubt (at least for today) I will never shake and keep going. Big breath. Tomorrow they take the filter the put in my vein for surgery out. Minor surgery, but still surgery. I asked if we should just keep it in and the response was a long list of reasons but the one I liked was, "in some cases it can dislodge and go straight to you heart and kill you...". Okay - see you Thursday then! Why didn't they start with that one???? I will be okay. Thank you for all the calls, emails, thoughts, and prayers. If I did not get back to you, it wasn't because I didn't want to. Thank you. Oh, they are up gotta go! Love, Ang

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

No complications....

We were in the 80%. Pathology comes in five days. Really loopy. Love, Ang

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Thank you and I am so grateful for you....

This post is to say thank you for all the emails, phone calls, text messages, posts, etc. Many of you want to know how you can help and, well, the best thing right now is to pray, cross your fingers, do whatever you personally do, tomorrow at 11:30. I am praying that all goes well and that my surgeon is able to perform the surgery without complication. Many people have asked about the help calendar. This is always a little difficult for you because I feel that I have received so much for all of you - but if I don't respond, some of you will hunt me down and make me. Yeah, you know who you are!!!! I have decided to take a break from the food calendar until after April 15th as I am off of chemo and can do more cooking. Plus, I think there are some mystery things in my freezer we need to eat anyway. If you would like to sign up for the new food calendar, please let Sarah know. She can be reached at The kids are taken care of by my folks during this surgery, so they are covered. Lastly, Sarah mentioned to me that she would like to put together some Dinner's Ready meals for me. Dinner's Ready is a meal program where they put together meals and deliver them to your house for your freezer. I have used them in the past and they have also been gifted to me. They are tremendously convenient and well received. If you would like to contribute to that, contact Sarah. (I have a really tough time asking for this because money is involved, but I have been assured that people have previously mentioned this and I should just put a cork in it.) As for that, I am doing very well. Insurance is pre authorized, paperwork filled out, prep started, PTA meeting over, and the boys packed. It is sweet how they pack up, choose their PJs, and just get ready like this is NO BIG DEAL. I am very lucky and, tremendously thankful, for all of you. Love, Ang

Monday, March 21, 2011

My vacation from myself

This is the morning after my scrapbooking weekend. I had a wonderful time. I didn't get as much done as I wanted, but I did take time to go for walks, talk so much I have almost lost my voice, hot tub, etc. How this came about was, a friend (Bethany, who has said she never wanted to be on my blog - hehe) asked me to go on her scrapbook weekend with her group. In the scrapbooking world, this makes me a guest - not a regular. I knew only one other person and, while I have always admired and liked her, my connection with her is with Bethany. In all actuality, I really did not know if I was going to make this trip. Between surgery, chemo, and everything else that goes with the cancer roller coaster, I RSVPed a very firm MAYBE. But alas, I was able to go. On Thursday morning, I remember looking at the mountains from my car saying, "I am going THERE." Eastern Washington has always been a source of relaxation, family, and growth for me. I grew up camping and fishing there. My Aunt's cabin is there. We have extended family there and we also have connections that are as closer than family. In addition, I went to Gonzaga University in Spokane which really sealed the deal for me. When Bethany picked me up on Friday, I literally exhaled when I got in the car. We were on our way, then we then jumped into another car, and took off for the "other side". The weather got better and the passes were clear. We rolled into town, got some lunch, and checked into the bed and breakfast. It was on the hillside, with a view of the valley. The accommodations were very comfortable and the set up was great. Each person had there own six foot table which is lots of room to spread out with a view outside. The food was AMAZING. All our meals were included and I could eat it all, yeah!! While working, we chatted about girl stuff, getting kids into schools of their choice, coming of age, following our dreams in the next chapter of life, and asking advice from other women that worked in those fields. Only a few of the women knew I had cancer. The three I rode over with let me comment on it. They responded, they didn't shy away from it, but they (and this is the important part) did not dwell on it. There was no TV and I don't have a smart phone, so no Internet. I stayed up until midnight both nights - INCONCEIVABLE FOR ME. I disconnect so much from my day to day life, I almost forgot to give myself my shots. On Sunday, I packed up and my Dad came to get me. We then went to a 85th birthday party of one of our "family" at 1:00. We took the back roads, so I saw new little towns I had never seen before. I saw people at the party that I hadn't seen in over five years. It was really touching and special to spend time with them. Then, back in the car and back on I-90 where I saw for the first time the wind generators near Vantage. It was raining and foggy. They loomed in the distance, but they were, dare I say, beautiful. So, big and graceful. I was in awe just from their size. It was amazing. I got home in time to meet the boys at a hockey game for the last period and overtime. Home, quick bath, and then to bed. Grant asked me about the weekend and I told him how much fun it was, how much I disconnected, and how I would go back if an opening comes up again. And then it I was getting ready for bed, it seemed like the weight of my cancer/life was starting to rest on my shoulders, go down my spine, into my legs. The weight was back and what is funny is that I have never felt it so physically before this moment. The preop paperwork I had to fill out, the nurse I have to call on Monday, when do I stop my blood thinners?, the ads and coupons in the Sunday paper, the COBRA insurance payment I have to make, Mason's Teacher Conference, picking up Grace so that she can babysit during the conference, getting the frig ready for when I go to surgery, dinner - oh, Thank God, dinner is coming tomorrow...the list goes on. I didn't sleep well waking up every two hours with something else to remember to do. LIFE. CANCER. LIFE. Some may ask, "Was it worth it to leave?" Oh yes, because now I know what I could feel like when I beat this for good. So, for now back to bed to cuddle with the boys before we start the day, smell behind their ears and kiss them a million times. I will get to all of it. Just one thing at a time. Surgery is Wednesday at 11:30 and, if all goes well, I will be home by 6:00pm. Love, Ang

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Set in motion....

I apologize for not posting until now. This has been a VERY long three days and I have been emotionally exhausted for a lot of it. So, here is the update...on Sunday night, I emailed my oncologist and told him that Grant and I decided to go for it, do the surgery trananally, and focus on the 80% with no complications. I received an almost immediate positive response with an "!" in it. He NEVER does that. I take it as a good sign. :) Monday morning, I left a message for my surgeon with the scheduler and said, "I am so sorry that you have to take these kind of messages, but make sure you underline and emphasize the 80% part, kay?" "Absolutely, Angie." Monday, midday, I received a call back to tell me that my surgery is going to be the 23rd of March. I was like, "Okay, he said "soon". Is that soon?" Apparently, it is. She gave me all my instructions over the phone....packet to be sent....filter to be food or water day of. "Okay?" "Okay." Here we go again with "okay". Funny thing...I still had an appointment set for chemo, so I decided to cancel the chemo part, but keep my appointment with my oncologist realizing that I have not really gone through all the tests result from the last week. Tuesday, I show up at 8:27 for an 8:20 appointment. No blood work is ordered and I go and sit down. I am called back at 9:50. Clearly, it is not a good day for them already. I sit down with my oncologist and we go through all the tests....CT scan shows no cancer, but my spleen and liver are showing mild stress...onto the liver ultrasound....liver is sluggish, but everything is going in the right direction....spleen is backing up because of sluggish liver. Why? Because of chemo. Can I do anything to make it better? Nope. Will it ever get better? Probably not. This is the down side of prolonged chemotherapy. Will this ever be a problem? Don't know. Well, this is just a ray of sunshine. Let's switch subjects! Onto the the PET locations are still there in my lungs, but they are not glowing with cancer, so after I have my butt operation and healing from it, I will be back in chemo. No light chemo anymore. That is off the table since my butt tumor started growing again. I am not sure for how long, but if the past is any indicator at LEAST four treatments. So, the bad news is I will be hitting a YEAR of treatment - my longest yet without being in remission. The good news is for some strange unexplainable reason, my surgery was scheduled after a weekend away with my girlfriend for scrapbooking (this weekend), and before, but at the end of my healing process on my butt, Maui. Maui will be the first trip Grant and I are going ALONE on for more than two nights for non-medical reasons while I am feeling WELL since Mason was born - YES MASON, not Nolan. There are a couple other things coming up too and with careful planning I may just get all those of GOOD weekends. So, I will focus on the 80%, keep all my plans in place for now, and keep on movin'. Thank you for all your prayers and thoughts - they make a difference! Love, Ang

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Okay, this is too hilarious!!!

This was given to me by Lisa - my talented poet for colorectal cancer and now photoshop expert! BRAVA!!!!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

What a difference a day makes....

So, with glee in my heart I call my colorectal surgeon on Friday morning to see when I could get an appointment. 11:00? Okay! I was in Gig Harbor dropping off my taxes, but heck I could make it. So, off Grant and I went. I dropped him at work and up the hill to what I thought was going to be easy as pie. When will I learn. I was so happy about the lungs, and we were monitoring my butt so closely I never thought I would be faced with the following. It went something like this...."Angie, the tumor is growing and it is to the size that I may not be able to take it out like we discussed (through my anus) and get the margins I need. There is also a chance that in getting the margins I could poke a hole in your vagina and with all the radiation damage it may have trouble healing and they we would possibly have vagina leakage of stool." Really? He actually said, "vaginal leakage". And all I could think is, "I missed the window, I screwed this up with all my chemo fainting, and panic attacks." The tears fill up in my eyes and he looks for the Kleenex. There is none. The box is empty - so is my heart, my energy is gone, and I am done. What a difference a day makes. He says, "Angie, there is no right answer, but you have a choice to make. A full colostomy or we take the chance and see what happens. In any case, it needs to happen soon." "Okay." I reply defeated and looking down at the floor. "You know, I am not afraid of a colostomy, I just thought.....y'know, what you said to me a few months ago...." "I know....It was that way.....It is just that it is growing too fast...." "Okay, so you will talk to Hank?" "Yep and then I will call you." "Okay." I get dressed, check my face and my hair, and start to leave the office. I take a deep breath and he says on the way out, "I may not get to you until 6 of so tonight." Exhale and under my breath I said, "No, we are going to wrap this up by 3 if I have anything to say about it." I leave out the side exit, cross the street, up to Hank's office, see Anthony the Security Guard and, as I am blowing by, I say, "Anthony, what is wrong with this picture?" and quick as can be he says, "Angela, you ain't supposed to be here. You were supposed to take Friday off." "That is right, Anthony, you don't miss a thing do you?" "No, Angela, not with you." "Good man Anthony." Up the stairs, blow past check in, and straight back. I wait and chat with the nurse until Hank comes out of a room and I say, "YOU." with the eye to eye signal. "I just saw him and he needs to talk to you. And, I want to get this wrapped up. It is not good news and I just want it over." I know, I have some nerve to talk to him that way. My Mother did teach me right, but, y'know, sometimes a girl has just had it. He says, "Well, what did he say?" I told him and he said, "Okay, I will call and then I will call you." "Okay." "Okay." I turn to leave and he says, "Wait, come here." Hug, exhale. Wiping the tears away before I turn to go, I leave the office. It is quiet and I know they are all heavy with my dilemma. I just had to get out of there - too much sympathy and I will LOOSE IT. I get to the garage and my car and I am okay. Crap, I need gas. So, I go my Costco and my surgeon calls, "Angie, I talked to Hank." 1:15 - nice. "And?" "Well, he asked me odds and the odds are that there is a 20% chance that something will go wrong if we take it transanally (I know - NICE WORD)." So, that leaves 80% chance that it goes well. "So, what now?" "Well, I think he wants you to take the risk, but you have to make this decision. So, whatever you and he decide, you let me know and I will set it all in motion for next week." "Thank you - you know - for everything." "Okay you, try and enjoy your weekend." I am starving and I there is an Arby's (my dirty little secret) so, I get a small sandwich, tons of Arby's Sauce, and a Jamocha shake. I decide NOT to go into the restaurant just in case someone calls and I get to say, "vaginal leakage" and "colostomy" out loud on a cell phone. Pretty image, isn't it? So, I am parked in a sawdust supply place and I am happily eating my very saucy (sp) sandwich and this old man is carrying his lunch box and going into the building. He looks at me, frowns, and calls back to his other old man buddy and says something to the effect of, "Young people these days eating in their cars. It is disgusting." Little did he know he was inches from meeting Jesus himself. I felt like saying, "My window is DOWN old man and I can hear you even if you can't hear me - V-A-G-I-N-A-L L-E-A-K-A-G-E!!!!!!" But I didn't because my Mom did raise me better than that and in an odd way it reminded my of my Grandpa that I loved. He hated eating in the car. "You should stop and eat in a restaurant with REAL food, not this McDonald's business." So, I just smiled at him with sauce on my lip and sucked on my shake. 2:20 - Hank calls - right on time. He runs through the conversation that he had with my surgeon and ultimately says, "Now, I have to tell you, I am bias in this. I know I shouldn't be, but I am because I don't want a colostomy for you. So, you know my choice, but you need to make it not me." I respond with, "Well, I think I need to focus on the 80% chance of everything being just fine. I need the weekend and I need to talk to Grant about this, but I believe I will probably take the chance." "Okay." "Okay." I AM SICK OF SAYING "OKAY". Well, off to the rest of my day, cancer discussion wrapped up by 3 - right on time, check. I will think about this tomorrow. Love, Ang or Scarlet - because I pretty much acted like her ALL day. :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Could this be true?????

So, I literally JUST got word about my PET scan and the reason I am up is because I have a family friend hanging in the balance of whether I see her tomorrow. She is visiting my Grandma for lunch and would like me to come to help so that we can get Grandma out of the center and, I know, to see me. We have fun together. She is a hoot. What a sport - I don't know how people put up with me, but then I have to put up with me.....anyway......I digress.......So, here is the news. The area in my bum, according to the scan seems to be bigger (bad), so I have to get into my colon rectal surgeon to have him "look" at it. GOOD TIMES. If it is, we need to take it out. I still have blood clots, but apparently they are "better". That means that they can now use a filter, or something like that, so we can do the surgery anyway. O-K-A-Y. Don't really get it, but don't really care - I am operable. But here is the news that we, my oncologist and I, were both like, "WOW, could this be real???" The scan report said that my left lung is clear. CLEAR. With tears INSTANTLY running down my face I said, "How can that be?" He said, "I am going to review this with the other docs and verify it, but yes, this very well could be true. This is good news." DAMN STRAIGHT it is good news. I am not so far gone not to know when I hear really really GOOD news, but I am baffled. How did the lungs disappear so fast from January when it was so frickin' persistent?!?!?! God, I so want this to be true. If it is true, I could be in day surgery next week and cancer free by Friday. This is quite the turn around from the beginning of this week and, "Oh, we need to check your liver...Oh, we need a PET now.....Liver is sluggish, but nothing bad will probably correct itself after you are done with thinking, "Whenever that happens!".......PET/CT folks - "Hey, you are back!....Is that good?"....How are you??...Sick of scans and fasting....I am taking Friday off........or am I? Tomorrow (Friday) I call the colon rectal surgeon, if he can see me, I go. If not, I wait till next week. My oncologist will verify the scan and tell me on Tuesday before chemo and so the story goes - unpredictable, crazy, hopeful, scary. I wonder what is on the ceiling?!?!?! Love, Ang

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

No chemo yesterday and the 80/20 rule

My red and white were so down we could not do chemo. And when I asked about my scan he said - no lie - "When did you do a scan?" I replied in a defeated fashion, "Friday." He looked at me and to the ceiling (Are my results on the ceiling???) and said, "Let's look now." So, the long and short is that the blood clots are better, that my cancer continues to shrink in my lung, that we need to ultrasound my liver to check for chemo damage, and........we need to do a PET scan to really determine where we are. REALLY?!?!?!?! Did I give someone the idea that I like to drink contrast every week? Whatever! So the nurse deaccessed (sp)me and the phones started going and I left not really knowing what to think. What I do know is somebody got an earful because I got both scans scheduled in record time and, in all the messages they were like, "We will get Hank the results ASAP!" I am currently waiting for my liver scan after the first fast, PET is tomorrow. So, back up to last night, Grant and I didn't wait to waste an evening without kids and my eating restrictions were loose so we went out and as I was telling him about the events of the day. I said, "We have been fighting for eight months on three little bits of cancer. I was a death's door three and a half years ago, riddled with cancer, and it took less time. Why isn't this over?" Grant said, "The 80/20 rule.". I did not know what that was so he explained, "It takes 20% of effort to do the first 80% and 80% of effort to do the last 20%." pause for can imagine my face, yes? Does he not have a filter? Then I looked at the ceiling. I will let you know when I do!!!!! Loves, Ang

Monday, March 7, 2011

Just got an email that

I will be on the cancer treadmill for another month. I did not get specifics on the scan, we will go over those tomorrow before chemo. My assumption is that they blood clots are not gone and we have to continue with blood thinners and chemo light for a least another month before we can check again. I will have more news tomorrow. At least now, I can plan my life for the next three weeks. As for me, I am disappointed, but to be standing up disappointed is better then not standing up at all, if you know what I mean. I will be better later. Loves, Ang

No news yet....

Nope, nothing, don't know, and I don't know what that means, so please be patient and wait with me.......waiting is the test, y'know! Loves, Ang

Friday, March 4, 2011

This past week and waiting for my scan

So, I have to say from last Thursday to now I have felt great-even normal. I ran errands for the house, for CRETE, for the kids, WOW. I went for walks, played in the snow, and read at Mason's school. I went on a date with Grant. I vacuumed the whole house, not just the downstairs, but apparently, I have lost my touch because I sucked Nolan's Buzz Lightyear balloon up in the vacuum. I know I was screaming and hopping around, but I saved him - thank goodness! The anxiety set in last night about the scan that I am waiting to do right now. This scan is to see if the blood clots have dissolved. The reality is that they have not, but there is an outside chance they have. So, if they have, and my cancer it still stable, I can go to surgery and hopefully be back in remission. It would be two surgeries - one on the butt, one on my left lung, but I am up for it and even, oddly, hoping for it. If the clots are still there, I will continue on chemo light for another month and we will try again. So, here I sit drinking my contrast, waiting. I feel like I am one point behind with 2 seconds to go, drawing a foul, and at the free throw line. Problem is I can't see the basket. ....wish me luck.....please say a prayer.....cross your fingers for a little miracle today. Thank you! Loves, Ang