Friday, October 29, 2010

Round 4 of Chemo

Since I never fully regained 100% after Round #3, I am combining a few of my posts from a cancer patient website for this blog post.

Night before:
So I’m ready for round #4 – as ready as you can be. I actually was nauseous the last couple of days and I know it is my body bracing for this round. Stupid Round #3 was so nasty I’ve been really dreading this one. Luckily, last night I had a nice long Reiki session. First, I feel blessed to have found a Reiki practitioner only 7 miles from my house. Plus, she has a lot of experience dealing with cancer patients. The session really zapped me – which has always been the case for me. I just seem to be very receptive to Reiki. I’m hoping that all of the clean eating this week added to the Reiki might help me cope with Round #4. I’ll definitely let you know.

Evening of:
I actually do think that the Reiki made a difference. The nausea wasn’t near as bad this time. Still there but last time I wasn’t even sure I’d make it through the premeds. 6 hours this time so not bad but still a long day. I enjoyed watching Evil Dead – it had been a long time since I had watched it and was giggling nonstop at the “Zombies.” Let me tell you my Zombies are much more fierce. Now I plan to relax and pray for sleep. I’m going try the two valium trick and hope to sleep till time for my Neulasta shot.

Morning after:
Thank goodness the 2 valium trick worked again. I slept for 10 hours straight last night. Now it is the battle with nausea…wee! my favorite part. Take the Zofran and the Emend but still nauseous and added bonus the Zofran headache. Thankfully my husband is home today so I have a ride to the doctor for my Neulasta shot and someone else to deal with all the food smells. Talk to you all soon.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cancer is nasty but I've met worse.

I have a lot of people who comment on my great attitude and praise me for staying so positive in the face of cancer. It makes me feel like a fraud.  Cancer is an evil nasty disease but I've met much worse face to face.  At least cancer is a thing...a disease...a faceless, emotionless, entity.  Imagine that cancer was a person and not just any person but a parent or a caregiver. 

I've met those people.  Parents who care more about their own selfish desires than about the well being of their children.  Caregivers who would rather be drunk, high or stoned than take care of their sons or daughters.  People who think children are property and have no rights other than to serve them.  Cancer is a domesticated pet compared to these people.

Most of you know that I worked and volunteered with the CASA program. I know that many people would prefer to believe that child abuse and neglect are not problems in their own community.  It doesn't take much to know that isn't true.    Listen to your evening news.  Last week on mine there was a report of two toddlers, scalded and drowned by a caregiver.  Open your newspaper.  In my local news, there was a story about teenagers sexually assaulting children in their own neighborhood. 

I am confident that with advances in science eventually there will be cures for most cancers. This may even happen in my lifetime.  Do I think child abuse and neglect will end during my lifetime?  Unfortunately not.

I know this sounds rambling but I'm sorry.  Last week, I heard so much hateful speech directed toward the GLBT community by so called Christians that I started to wonder.  What would happen if instead of judging others, the all powerful Christian right movement used their time, energy and money on protecting our most defenseless, the abused and neglected children in our country,  Maybe then I could envision a world where all children are loved and safe.

We love because he first loved us.  If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar.  For anyone who does not love his brother, who he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.  And he has given us this command; Whoever loves God must also love his brother.  1 John 4:19-21.

For if every man were to regard the persons of others as his own person, who would inflict pain and injury on others? Hillel, first century AD rabbi.

If you are interested in learning more about CASA, please check out If you want to understand why this is so important to me, I recommend you read the books by Dave Pelzer, "A Child Called It," "The Lost Boy," and "A Man named Dave."  These are honest accounts of his life as a battered child.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Another busy weekend

The Duff family has another busy weekend planned.  Another volleyball tournament today followed by Brandon All Sports Bingo tonight.  So I'm sharing a quote from my facebook friends at the Lymphoma and Hodgkin's Disease Awareness and Survivors Club.  Enjoy.

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is bliss, taste it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.
~Mother Teresa

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Life as normal is a good good thing.

Sorry I haven't posted in a week.  Believe me when I say that can be a good thing.  This time it was a sign that life this week was busy and back to normal for the most part.

Gary had Monday and Tuesday off because of his birthday.  He believes and I totally agree that when you have vacation days left you really should never work on your birthday.  This year was much different than last year's Las Vegas birthday trip.  Monday involved going out for lunch at Max and Erma's and then hitting Costco to purchase food for the Varsity volleyball team dinner.  I know Crazy Cancer Mom hosting 12 girls and their coach at my house 4 days after Round 3 of Chemo.  Honestly, I knew Gary was going to be home and I had no intention of doing anything more than buying lasagna, salad and garlic toast at Costco.  One of my favorite lessons from cancer has been there's nothing wrong with taking the easy way.

Tuesday was Gary's birthday and I treated him to lunch out at Harvey's right here in Ortonville.  We joked that it was a far cry from dinner at the Strip House and tickets to Peep Show that we had a year ago.  Harvey's does offer a great breakfast menu and breakfast foods continue to be one of the things I can tolerate quite well.  The rest of the day involved baking goods for a bake sale for the varsity tennis team and heading out for the last home volleyball game.

Wednesday was as usual a very low energy day for me.  Even though I did not get the steroid high this time, I did feel the withdrawal.  I treated myself to a day on the couch watching all of my recorded shows on the DVR.  You know your week has been busy when you are just watching Desperate Housewives on Wednesday.

Thursday it was all about varsity tennis.  I was so proud of our tennis team for qualifying for states two years in row.  I had volunteered to be one of the parents staying with the team in Grand Rapids the night before the event.  These are a great group of boys.  Thursday afternoon we all headed to Grand Rapids for an early start to the MHSAA championships the next day.

Friday morning bright and early we had the boys to the damp chilly tennis courts.  By 10 in the morning, play still had not begun and I made the executive decision that Zach and I would be staying another night in Grand Rapids.  I was tired and knew that as the day progressed it would only get worse.  Despite the chill, it was enjoyable watching our boys compete.  This definitely was another level of tennis play but our boys gave it their all.  We were even able to celebrate one win for our #1 singles player, a great accomplishment.

2010 was a great season!
Zach and I enjoyed spending the evening with another family that decided to remain in Grand Rapids. We did dinner and movie seeing "The Social Network."  A very interesting movie about the creation of Facebook.

Driving back Saturday morning was not bad at all, despite MSU and U of M both having home football games.  Interstate 96 seemed to be a mix of both State and UofM fans.  When we reached I-69, the spartan flags were everywhere.  So glad they had great weather for a homecoming win.

When we reached home, I started the laundry right away because we had fun plans for the evening.  Our friends had invited us to attend a Thor Ramsey comedy show.  Their church was bringing him to town.  Zach and I were especially looking forward to it because we are fans of the "Thou Shalt Laugh" DVDs.  Check them out on Netflix, great clean comedians.  Thor Ramsey did not disappoint.  You know it is a good comedy show when you are digging for Kleenex because of laughter tears.

So now you have the Lymphomanic week in review recap.  Today will be a lazy day for the most part.  We may do a little yard work since the front lawn is a sea of pine needles.  I am looking forward to a week of feeling good and more life as normal.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Round 3 update

Sorry this is going to be short but quite frankly round 3 is kicking my ass.

I'm pretty sure I had more energy after running my first full marathon than I have today 3 days post chemo.

Luckily, right now the side effects are confined to a little sore mouth (which the Ann Arbor mouthwash is helping with), nausea (which is good because eventually I will learn how to spell that stupid word) and extreme fatigue (napping is good).

Positive news:  Zach and I had ice cream and a nice drive in the country today.  The trees in Michigan are looking amazing. Gary has the next two days off so I will have plenty of help at home.

That's all she wrote because nap #3 of the day is calling my name.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Recap of Round 3

Since I wasn't blogging live from my chemo chair, you can probably tell that Round 3 was different from past rounds.  First, I was nauseous right off the bat.  Murphy's law: I had not packed any saltines so I was happy that I had a nice thermos of ginger tea and baked lays chips.  It seemed to help a little but definitely wasn't feeling good this time.

I feel sorry that my good friend, Lesly was with me and I have no pictures to commemorate the day.  The camera was in my bag but trying to think happy not gaggy thoughts took all of my energy during this treatment. 

Things went  much faster this time.  Premeds took the normal amount of time but Rituxan and Cytoxan seemed to go much faster.  Lesly left for a trip home to let Sydney (Duffy's girlfriend) out and Gary came for the afternoon shift.  The good news was I was almost finished by the time he arrived at the cancer center.  From start to finish it was just about 5.5 hours.  So I was home napping by about 3:30.

The couch has definitely been my friend this time.  Lots of napping to deal with the fatigue and soup and saltines to deal with the nausea.

Thankfully, I was able to sleep last night and really am not feeling the manic effects of the Steroids today.
The guided meditation is working wonders for calming me down and relaxing me enough to allow me to rest.  More good news is that I have found a local Reiki practitioner and will be adding that therapy to my healing practice.

Have a great weekend and Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ready for Round #3

I'm up early this morning doing final preparations for Round #3 of R-Chop. Which really means last minute cleaning just in case this is the round that really knocks my feet out from under me.

I know that Round #2 was just about twice as bad as Round #1. I developed new side effects and some of them were not fun. I joked with the doctor this week that I'm just working my way through the list of possible side effects and by the time I reach Round #6, I will have experienced them all.

The good news is that most of the side effects can be controlled with either prescription or OTC medications. My least favorite side effect cannot. That is the vision problems. Luckily, last round it only lasted about 4 days and this time 2 of those days, Gary has scheduled vacation for his birthday. So no worries about trying to drive blind.

I am also happy to announce that my mediation/prayer room is finally decorated for my healing quiet time.

Thanks to all of you for the beautiful cards and a special thanks to Maddie and Sophia, my nieces, for the wonderful artwork.  It makes me smile when I'm not feeling good.