Still Here

It’s been a while since my last post and a lot has happened (sort of) in a short amount of time.

Last Thursday morning, post chemo, Ed took me back to the doctor for the Neulasta shot.  It was actually a fairly uneventful appointment:  a typical weigh in, blood pressure check, and then shot in the stomach.  This time, I did take the pain medicine on our way out the door and another one that afternoon.  That seemed to help because I felt fine on Thursday.  It all started to kick in on Friday.  I was tired and took a couple of good naps that day.  Saturday was rough.  I was REALLY tired.  It’s hard to explain exactly.  I guess the best way to describe it is, “I don’t want to get out of bed and feel like I could sleep all day long.”  I didn’t sleep all day, but didn’t do much of anything.  On Sunday, I woke up feeling a little better.  I did manage to get out and take a “stroll” that day but still got a good nap in that afternoon.  Today, I was still not perfect but much better than how I felt over the weekend.  I am clearly on the upswing.  Hopefully from here, each day gets a little better!

This chemo round was similar but slightly different.  The cycle seems to be similar.  I definitely had the chemo fog I did the first time.  I wasn’t or haven’t been “sick”…thank goodness.  They pump me with so many anti-nausea medicines before they drip in the chemo – they must work for me.  I was achy again but it didn’t seem as bad as the first go around.  This time, the fatigue was worse and seemed to lead the charge.  I was just wiped out like I have never been before!

Gracie documenting the buzz cut!

Ed has been so supportive during this process.  Yesterday he showed another big sign of support by taking the number 2 clippers to his hair.  Many of you know he has really wanted to shave his head for a while.  My diagnosis with breast cancer just helped move that decision forward.  I was concerned about Gracie’s reaction to both her mom and dad losing their hair in the same week.  But after some discussion, including her in the process, and help from my mom, Gracie got on board quickly.  We let her hold the clippers and she helped take photos of daddy…one of which we wanted to share with you and hope you enjoy.  In a weird way, I think that whole process will help Gracie when I lose my hair or we have to shave my head…whichever comes first.  My hair is hanging on, but thinning very quickly.  It’s actually lasted longer than I expected, but it won’t be here for much longer.  I’m getting all the scarves ready as we speak!

On another note, thanks to everyone who has donated or signed up to participate on our team in the Komen walk/run this Saturday!  I will be there.  I am not sure I will be running, but I will be out there walking.  If you haven’t but would like to, there is still time. You can check out the link in the right column on the blog.  Plus, Ed tells me he plans to put more details about Saturday out shortly.  Stay tuned.

 

Chemo Round 2

Round 2

Chemo Round 2 is officially complete with four treatments to go.  As so many people have pointed out, I am now 1/3 of the way through the six treatments.  It was a long day…a little longer than expected.  Ed and I arrived at 11:00 a.m. Shortly thereafter I was called back to the lab for the routine vitals and to have the needle and IV tubing placed into my port.  From there we met with my oncologist.  We talked with her about the first round of chemo and the side effects I experienced.  Ed and I had a few more questions for her and then she did a breast exam.  By touch and with the help of a small ruler, she estimates the tumor now measures 3 to 3.5 cm.  That’s good news because it is shrinking (the tumor was originally approximately 4 cm plus).  That also means the chemo is working.  We were very pleased to hear that.  So far, so good!

I was then off to the chemo room.  Ed walked me back there, waited until I got settled in a chair (with a pillow and blanket), and then was off to pick Gracie up from school.  I sat down in the chemo room at noon and Ed was back to pick me up at 5:00 p.m.  So, it was a long day but the time did go by quickly.  I managed to make it through a number of catalogs and magazines; and spent time on my iPhone.  I did take a short nap but promised myself that next time it will be longer!  I am not sure why I did not sleep more!  Too much going on around me to watch I guess.  Although, there is nothing too exciting to report from my fellow chemo patients. Everyone seemed to be in good shape and on their best behavior.  No snoring.  No throwing up.  Everyone was quiet and doing their own thing.  It was quite crowded though.  Most seats were filled.  I did manage to land a corner chair which is prime real estate because you get a little more room between the chairs next to you.  Like last time, I was one of the youngest in the room.  I noticed the woman next to me was close to my age.  Later I caught a glance of her wristband which lists name and birthday. She was 36.  She finished her treatment before me and when she got up to leave I noticed she was pregnant.  Wow.  Can you imagine?  That’s tough and brings a whole different element to having cancer.

So, how am I feeling?  Fine.  A little tired but O.K. so far.  Now we just wait and see what sort of side effects appear.  I am hoping it is similar to round one so I know what to expect, but not any worse please.  Time will tell.  Ed takes me back tomorrow (Thursday) morning for the Neulasta shot which is used to stimulate the growth of “healthy” white blood cells in the bone marrow.  It is also what caused the bone pain the first go around!  So, this time I will take a pain medication in advance.  It can only help.

We are excited to report we have a new feature to the web site!  Thanks to my IT department for adding a Resource page.  Check it out!

Round 2

Twas the night before chemo, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.  Just kidding!

Ed and I both are gearing up for tomorrow.  I am happy to report that I did get a good workout in today, got the car detailed (not sure why since it’s supposed to rain), did a grocery store run, washed laundry, and managed to run a couple of more errands.  It’s been a busy day for the Gaile girls!  I’ve told some of you or maybe I have mentioned this before, but I find that I “nest” before a chemo round.  I’ve got to have everything in order since I know I will be down for several days.

Good news.  My hair is still around.  But, not for long.  At the rate it is coming out, and with chemo tomorrow, I estimate I will be shaving it off  the end of the weekend or maybe I can stretch it (with a scarf or hat) into next week.  We shall see.  I did get the pre-tied scarves in the mail yesterday.  Oh, it’s weird.  I tried them on again this morning and liked them better than I did yesterday.  It’s just getting used to it.  I also found a video on-line and figured out how to tie the scarves that I have.  I still need to practice some, but made some progress today.

Gracie is really doing well under the circumstances.  We continue to include her in this process and are working hard to communicate with her at an appropriate level and at the appropriate time.  She knows mommy’s hair is going to fall out, but like many I am sure she is hoping it’s really not.  As we get closer, we’ve been talking about it more and including her in the scarve shopping and tieing lessons.  Cute story.  When I put Gracie to bed tonight I walked her through the day tomorrow.  I wanted to be sure she knew what to expect.  Here is what she said to me:

“I don’t like this strong medicine anymore, mommy.  I’m going to throw it away.  But how am I going to throw it away if I am not at the doctor’s?  Maybe I need my own car so I can get to the doctor’s and throw it away.”

We laughed.  I reminded her that mommy needs the strong medicine to make her better.

We are ready for tomorrow (as ready as we can be) and will keep everyone posted.  Thanks for all the kind words, thoughts, and prayers!  Ed and I are extremely appreciative!

Gearing Up

It’s been a while since I have written so I thought I would check in and let everyone know how things are going.  I have really had a good, “normal” week.  I did have one day that was a little weird.  Not exactly sure why.  It wasn’t awful, just weird.  I wasn’t feeling completely right.  I describe it like a really light version of my bad days after chemo.  Who knows.

I have been gearing up for next week.  Wednesday is the big day.  Chemo round 2.  The good news is it will all be done in one day this go around.  It is supposed to be a 3 to 4 hour appointment.  I will be all geared out with a cute bag, magazines, books (thanks to my friends), and my new iPad2 (thanks to my IT husband) which should be arriving on Tuesday.

I finally did buy some scarves on-line this week.  I bought 3 pre-tied scarves from two different web sites. Both web sites my mom found for me (thank you).  They slip on like hats.  I thought I would start with a few and see what I like and what fits me well before I order more.  I do have a bunch of scarves that I personally have or people have given me (thank you), but I still need to figure out how to tie them.  I do have “how-to” resources that have come my way, but I just need to get it done.  I am not sure why I am procrastinating, but I am.  But I can’t for much longer…

So, someone in the Gaile household is losing hair and it’s not Ed.  I took a shower this afternoon and noticed my hair is starting to fall out.  Uugghh.  Maybe a little earlier than I was hoping, but right on schedule per the oncologist.  It’s not in huge clumps – yet – but it is coming out.  It’s not necessarily noticeable on my head, but was noticeable in my hands.  As much as I have geared myself up for it (and tried to get everyone else ready too), I can tell you it’s still not easy.  But, I know I have to keep it all in perspective.  It’s short term and it’s necessary to get rid of this cancer in my body.  So, here we go into another phase of this process.

 

Chemo Round 1 Lab Work

I had a doctor’s appointment today.  It was just for lab work (post chemo round 1) so we expected it to be a fairly short appointment.  It was actually the first appointment I have had where we had to wait.  It was annoying actually.  We are busy people with things to do!  Ed and I sat in the waiting room for 1 hour before they even called me back.  I went straight to the lab where it didn’t appear too busy.  Not sure what happened there.  “My girl” was out sick i.e. the one I mentioned in a previous post that dropped the expensive shot.  Good news:  I learned she wasn’t fired.  Bad news:  She wasn’t in today so the lab was running inefficiently.  So I asked the woman filling in for her if she was going to take blood through my port.  She said she could, but it might be easier to take it from my arm.  No problem.  So she got ready and inserted the needle into my left arm.  No luck.  While she moved the needle around trying to find a vein (fun), I suggested she try my right arm where I could see what appeared to be a plump looking vein.  Out the needle came and we re-grouped.  Then she inserted the needle in my right arm.  Success!  Then Ed and I had  to wait for the results which she assured me would only take 5-10 minutes.  We impatiently waited.  My oncologist’s nurse (who we really like) came out and shared that my blood work looked good.  My white cell count was good, my hemoglobin was good, and something else I can’t quite recall was good too.  So we were “free” to go.  I did ask, “What if they weren’t good?”  She said that if my white cell count was low, they would have prescribed an antibiotic because I would have been at high risk for infection, and if my hemoglobin was low, I would have had to get a blood transfusion.  Neither one of those sound appealing, especially the later, so I am glad my report was good!  Here’s hoping for positive lab results after each and every chemo treatment!  Round 1 is officially over…I guess.  I am expecting that I will remain in good shape until we do this all over again.  For those keeping track, my next chemo round has officially been scheduled for next Wednesday, April 27th.

On another note, many of you know Ed is a tech dork and very interested in social media i.e Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, etc.  He is addicted to Foursquare and has gotten me into a habit of “checking in” when we go places. Restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores, etc.  How about Georgia Cancer Specialists?  Strangely, I did check in each day during my first chemo round a couple of weeks ago.  Surprisingly, I am not the only one checking in via Foursquare.  Well today, I checked in.  And, guess what?  I am now the “Mayor” of Georgia Cancer Specialist.  Ha.  I am pretty sure that is nothing to be proud of, but it does make me laugh in a weird sort of way.

 

Had a Good Weekend

I am happy to report I had a great weekend.  The sun was shining and I felt really good.  I would say I am about 95% back. There still are some weird things going on with my body that would keep me from saying 100%.  But overall I am pleased with where I am today, post the first chemo treatment.

I got to show off my new haircut.  It seems that most people genuinely like it.  Ed and I do too.  I am learning to style it and taking tips from my husband – which is sort of funny.  At one point we were standing in the bathroom both getting ready and I had to ask if I was using the styling “goop” they gave me for my hair in the correct manner.  I wasn’t used to using that type of product with long, straight hair.  Anyway, I’ve learned quickly and am enjoying how easy it is.  I always thought I was “wash and wear” before (since I rarely to never used hair products), but now I truly am “wash and wear”.  It’s so easy and amazing how much time you cut off your getting ready routine!  I will enjoy that for the next couple of weeks. After that, it might even get easier i.e. with no hair.

Tomorrow, I go to the doctor for labwork.  I am not completely sure what to expect, but I know they will be taking blood and analyzing my blood counts/levels.  I think I will get results before I leave the office.  I will have to go in for lab work with every chemo cycle.  So this is the first.  I will let you know what I learn and how it goes.

Top on my list this week is scarves.  I need to see what I need and learn how to tie them, all in preparation for my bald head.  The oncologist estimates my hair will be falling out the beginning of my second chemo treatment cycle – which lands the week after Easter.  I’ve got to get ready for that!