Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving

We have survived Thanksgiving 2010.  20 people for dinner went smoothly.  We actually had plenty of room and could have easily sat another family or two.  We divided into two big tables.  The parent table and the non-parent table because we couldn't really call it the kids table,  Crystal and Juan are over 18




I enjoyed the fellowship if not the food this thanksgiving. I told Gary this morning too bad I wasn’t able to taste and enjoy all the food this year. I might as well have been shoveling in cardboard and Styrofoam. The good news is some things tasted delicious. My sister in laws pumpkin crunch was excellent with a glass of chai tea for breakfast and the smoked ham was perfect with the glass of Zinfandel. All in all considering the chemo mouth not a bad celebration.

Now I know what I want for Christmas.  My taste buds back to normal. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Round 5 Update

I wish I could say that chemotherapy following a normal PET Scan is in some small way different than my other rounds of chemotherapy but it really wasn't.  My body has become accustomed to the 21 Day routine of R-CHOP so that the nausea begins a few days before the next treatment.  "Ritual Poisoning" is what one of my cancer buddies calls it and she isn't fair from the truth.  After a few rounds of chemotherapy, your body begins to brace itself for the next round, anticipating the poison. 

My friend, Jean, was my chemo buddy for this round.
I feel blessed to have had so many friends willing to sit with me through the long day of chemo.  This round, my friend, Christine, dropped by for a visit.  It worked out perfectly because Jean could head out for lunch and keep the smell of food from my queasy stomach.

This round wasn't any faster than the rest.  Mainly because it was a very exciting day at the cancer center.  It was a very busy day in the chemo room and then there were two adverse reactions right in a row. Not for me, I’m a model patient. Plus, I’ve learned what symptoms to speak up about and which ones to just keep quiet because if you speak up they will just slow down your drip and you’ll be there until the cleaning crew comes in for the evening.  The other big news is the shortage of Adrimycin.  I guess it is a nation wide shortage. So for this round I received an alternative drug. Nurse says the side effects are similar so shouldn’t have any big changes.

The side effects this round seem to be the same old, same old.  The good news is that I did switch out my anti emetic.  Instead of Zofran, I am now taking Zytril.  Although I still had quite a bit of nausea this weekend, I did not have the excruciating headache that usually accompanies the Zofran.  I slept almost all of Saturday but was up and around most of Sunday.  Just three little naps.  I plan to enjoy the next couple of days before my steroid crash by preparing for Thanksgiving.  We are looking forward to having a visit with Gary's family and hosting our Canadian friends with a dinner for 20 on Thursday. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thankful Thanksgiving!

I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you: I will sing Praise to your name, O Most High.  Psalm 9: 1,2

Thanks to all of my prayer warriors.  My PET Scan results are normal.  No new disease and no active cancer cells.  I was praying to be cancer free by Christmas but this is beyond my wildiest dreams.  Not only will I be cancer free for Christmas but with my last round of Chemo scheduled for December 9th.  I may actually be feeling pretty darn good by then. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

To Write Love on Her Arms

Posting today in support of this great organization.  www.twloha.com
As a survivor of suicide, I can tell you that it is not something from which you ever fully recover.  The statistics are terrifying.

Quick Numbers

-121 million people worldwide suffer from depression. (World Health Organization)
 - 18 million of these cases are happening in the United States. (The National Institute of Mental Health)
 - Between 20% and 50% of children and teens struggling with depression have a family history of this struggle and the offspring of depressed parents are more than three times as likely to suffer from depression. (U.S. Surgeon General's Survey, 1999)
 - Depression often co-occurs with anxiety disorders and substance abuse, with 30 percent of teens with depression also developing a substance abuse problem. (NIMH)
 - 2/3 of those suffering from depression never seek treatment.
Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide, and suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers. (NIMH)

Treatment can make a huge difference for a person suffering from depression.  Drug therapy is an option but it angers me when general practitioners prescribe these drugs without requiring psychotherapy.  I personally believe this borders on malpractice. I hope that someday treatment for mental health issues is afforded the same protections as any other chronic condition.  Can you imagine a person with diabetes being told their insulin is limited to 20 per year?  How about a patient with emphysema being limited to a certain amount of oxygen?  The public wouldn't stand for it.

If you are reading this blog and are depressed, please seek treatment.  I can highly recommend the book "10 days to Self Esteem" by Dr. David Burns.  I just purchased Joyce Meyer's book "Power Thoughts." It appears to put a spiritual spin on cognitive therapy.  I will try to write a review when I finish the book.

In memory of my dad, who is loved and missed daily.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Danell's Official Side Effect Power Rankings

I haven't blogged much about the side effects from chemotherapy.  Some of that is because I don't really want to give much power to them.  Plus, every cancer patient has a different experience with chemotherapy and every patient experiences side effects to differing degrees.  I joked early on that it seemed like each round of chemo brought a new and exciting side effect.  That really has remained true.  Part of me wonders if that is because as each new side effect appears, I learn how to cope or deal with them so the next time I actually notice the new ones.

So, I decided to give my side effects power rankings.  The higher the side effect is ranked the more desirable a side effect it is.  Imagine if you could pick and choose your side effects you'd select the ones ranked highly.

#1 - Hair Loss, by far, not a bad side effect to have.  Sure, it is a hassle and a half some days to decide what I'm going to put on my head and it is the most obvious sign that I have cancer but it really doesn't bother me much.  I'm actually excited that when chemotherapy is finished I will find out what color my hair is ...I've been highlighting or coloring my hair since I was about 16 so this should be very interesting.

#2 - Weight Loss - Hey, as a woman that has dieted longer than I've been coloring my hair, totally self explanatory.  The only reason it doesn't rank higher than hair loss is because I'm also losing muscle mass.

#3 - Fatigue - I really can't complain about the fatigue since I am still able to sleep quite well.  Now that the Steroids don't give me the manic high anymore, I actually am enjoying the rest.

#4 - Vision changes - Blurry vision and dry eyes still bother me about 5-7 days out from chemo but aren't really much worse than typical allergy eyes.

#5 - Mouth Sores - the Ann Arbor/Magic Mouthwash really does make a difference.  These would be ranked higher if it was a persistent problem but like the vision changes they peak around day 3 and are usually gone by day 7.

#6 - Constipation - Not fun at all, I have finally learned to just start the Senokot-S on day 1 but still the first week is never good and makes me feel like a grumpy old woman.

#7 - Dry mucous membranes - I'm really talking about one particular area in general, which let us say is drier than the Sahara desert.   I guess this is a perfect time to prepare for menopause.  I've found some relief with a product called Liquibeads, it is hormone free which was a requirement given to me by my Cancer center.

#8 - Peripheral neuropathy - Which is just a fancy way of saying I have tingling and numbness in parts of my hands and feet.  It has really gotten worse with each round and bothers me even more now that it seems to have taken hold of my right hand.

#9 - Nausea/Headache post treatment - these tie because unfortunately they are closely related.  The nausea is bad despite the Emend and Zofran and the Zofran and Emend cause the intense headaches.  This round I am going to talk to my doctor about switching the Zofran out for a different anti emetic to see if it can make these side effects a little better.

#10 Chemo Brain/Chemo Mouth - Another tie because these two are my absolute most hated side effects.  Confusion, distraction and memory loss are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to chemo brain.  I love to read and chemo brain has made that a chore.  Chemo mouth is just as bad because it makes it so much more difficult to get the nutrition and hydration needed when going through chemotherapy.  Favorite foods are no longer appealing.  Water tastes horrible.  These take away some of the best pleasures in life.

So there you have them the latest and greatest chemo side effect power rankings.  I actually had a discussion recently with some fellow cancer patients about chemo side effects.  We decided forget about water boarding, chemo would probably be a more effective interrogation tool.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Post Round 4 Update

video
So Round 4 is officially in my rear view mirror.  Here is a video from that day...some of you have wondered what the cancer center looks like.

I slept almost the entire weekend.  Saturday was definitely my worst cancer day so far.  I told Gary no way no how was I doing any more rounds of Chemotherapy.  I guess that was the cumulative effect of all that chemo.  It really isn't surprising when you see my blood count.  Although the Neulasta is keeping my white count in the safe range, I have almost no lymphocytes left.  Which when you have Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma, you really are trying to get rid of lymphocytes.  Luckily, Gary had Friday off and was available on Saturday to handle Shelby's last volleyball tournament I was sad to miss it but boy did the hours and hours of sleep feel good.  Saturday night, our friends Jim and Lisa brought dinner for the family.  I was feeling well enough to visit during dinner and watch a few innings of the World Series before heading back to bed.

Sunday was not only Halloween but another day of mega-sleeping.  Although in order to mix it up a little, I napped in three different spots.  I was awake long enough to see the kids dressed for trick or treating.



Monday found me feeling more like myself.  I told Gary I guess I'll put up with two more rounds of Chemotherapy but will just plan accordingly.  Hibernation isn't such a bad thing anyway when it is getting chilly.

Next up for me is my Restaging PET Scan which is scheduled for November 9th.  I discussed it with Dr. Black at my last appointment and best case scenerio is two more rounds of chemotherapy.  That means that even if there is no evidence of disease, I will still complete the 6 rounds of chemotherapy.