a week off of treatment, by Judy

December 2, 2010

I’m doing much better, emotionally and physically, after a week off of treatment. Since my treatment would have fallen on last Fri., and the oncologist’s office was closed on Thurs. and Fri., she decided that I could skip a week.

It would have been my “easy” week anyways (of Herceptin only), but it was nice not to have to go in at all. I had a great Thanksgiving, seeing most of both sides of our families. In addition, Energy Boy stayed at Sister #2’s house for the weekend. I know he missed us and we missed him, but I think it was good for him to get away from our house and so much cancer-stuff there . . . even when we don’t talk about it, I feel like it’s in the background of everything we do. I hope he doesn’t see it that way or doesn’t notice it, but I don’t know — he’s pretty quiet about this stuff.

I’ve been trying to prepare him for what’s about to happen. Tomorrow I get my head shaved. I seem to have strong follicles and my hair hasn’t fallen out yet (according to nurses and literature, it should have been gone by last Fri.). The same thing happened the last time; it took longer than they said for it to come out. But I’m also doing the same thing that I did last time — getting my head shaved before it comes out. I just feel better doing that. The thought of big chunks of my hair coming out just makes me feel horrible. I much prefer doing it this way. I have symptoms that my follicles are weakening even if my hair hasn’t fallen out — much more comes out when I brush it, and if I give it a little tug, several strands of it come out.

I’m not happy about this, but I feel like I’m as ready as I’ll be.
So tomorrow afternoon I’ll visit my hairdresser and she’ll shave my head. I already have a wig and I still have most of the hats and scarves from last time. I’ve found most of the scarves. I don’t know where the hats are. I can’t even remember if I gave them away. Chemo Brain!

I also have an appointment with my oncologist, Dr. Funky Glasses (Dr. FG) tomorrow. I have to write up my list of questions so I don’t forget. It seems that once I’m in that examining room, all the questions I have just go out of my head.

So, onward. I just have to focus on the end result — getting rid of the cancer and especially being around for Energy Boy. That’s my goal.

Thanks so much, everyone, for your incredible support. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.
_____________________________________________________

Cross-posted to Just Enjoy Him.

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A New Year (Sheri)

December 30, 2009

2010 has got to be a better year than 2009. I’d rather not live through another year like the one I’ve just gone through. I’ve heard about women who have battled cancer for YEARS! Not just one year like I have, but more than one – you know, like two years! Or more!

There is one woman whose blog I follow – she’s going to be receiving chemo treatments for the rest of her life. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around that. How do you wake up in the morning knowing there is no end to having poison pumped into your body? I can tell you how: you just do. She’s been called “amazing” and “strong” and “an inspiration,” but like me what she really is is a mom. There are days you wake up and think: That’s it! I don’t think I can do this anymore! But you remember all the people who love you and you love back. And you try very hard not to imagine a world in which your children grow up without their mother, but sometimes you do think about it and it makes you stronger; it gets you out of bed. Your determination grows and you know you’re going to kick some cancer butt (for me that lasts about 15 minutes then I start whining again.)

It’s funny what chemo will do to your brain. When I say funny, I don’t mean “ha ha” funny either. I mean funny in a sense of “give me a second, I’m having a hard time even remembering my name right now”. Today I heard my children having this conversation:

Jacob: Do you remember the day we had to dress up at school as the person we wanted to be when we grew up?
Allison: Yeah, I dressed up as a teacher. I wore boots, a turtleneck shirt and blue jeans.
Jacob: That’s how teachers dress?
Allison: Yes! Duh!

I didn’t say anything even though I was thinking: That’s how teachers dress? But mostly I was thinking how I had absolutely no memory of this dress-up day for them. I was hoping my daughter would ask my son what he dressed up as – I was too ashamed to tell them I didn’t remember this day. And then I thought back on all the special moments I should have remembered this past year: my son’s birthday in April; my daughter’s birthday in July; valentine’s day; Easter; MY birthday… all of it is blank. All of it! I’m sure Tom or my dad or maybe even I took pictures. I’m going to go find those pictures and stare in amazement that I was part of those days.

The point is: cancer stripped a year of my life as a mother from me. I was too sick to help out in the raising of my children, and the things that I might have actually done, I don’t remember. This was only one year for me. One. The number one doesn’t sound like much, but when it comes to the life of my sweet children – being robbed of one is painful. I pray my nightmare journey with cancer is over – if it is not, I will do this coming year exactly what I did last year…survive anyway I have to. I’m a mom – it’s what we do.

trustmeitsnothing


First Cycle: Xeloda & Tykerb (Medical Update)

August 26, 2009

(cross posted from Coffee and Chemo
————————————————————————————

The magic number for cancer seems to be 3.

So far, all my chemotherapies seem to be based on 3 week cycles (with the exception of the bone drugs, which are on a 4 week cycle).

Today, I completed the first 3 week cycle of Xeloda and Tykerb (Lapatinib).

Xeloda is taken every day, twice a day, 4 pills each time, for two weeks straight, then one week off.

Tykerb is taken every day, once a day, 5 pills each time, for the entire three weeks.

I meet with my doctor tomorrow to evaluate the first cycle.

I imagine things will continue pretty much the same for the next cycle.

I am super tired, but I do not know if that is from this regimen, or the radiation, or the previous chemo, or the Bar Mitzvah, or having a house full of guests for almost a month, or the beginning of school, or whatever. There are so many possible explanations; I don’t even know how to figure it out!

Besides that, I have the following side effects:

1. Low appetite (not the worst thing for me at this time)

2. Mild nausea (not too bad; no need for drugs)

3. Mild stomach upset — sometimes constipation, sometimes diarrhea (not too bad; when necessary, I take drugs to prevent diarrhea)

I am also very thirsty, but it might just be the heat.

I had a week of migraines, but they might have been because I was not drinking enough.

I keep forgetting things. That might just be because I have a bad memory. I feel like it is getting worse, but I cannot tell for sure.

I am still bald. I am getting used to it, but I still wish my hair would start growing back.

The bald thing is really hard on my kids.

I am in a bit of a slump emotionally. It could be from the whole brain mets thing or from my family leaving. Who knows?

I am so tired of having cancer. I hate the way it sucks up my energy.

For every hour of activity, I need three hours to recover. (There it is again, the magic number)

I just wish I did not have cancer.

I want it to go away.

The longer I live with the cancer, the more I am forced to face the fact that it is not just going to go away.

Tomorrow, I have to start taking all those pills again.

I hate it.

Please pray (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,
RivkA


People’s HealthBlogger Awards

December 21, 2008

A few weeks ago I thought it might be a good idea to enter Mothers With Cancer in the People’s HealthBlogger Awards. The Awards are for any bloggers who write primarily about health or healthy living topics. That’s certainly MWC! Plus, the Awards are sponsored or invented or made up… (whatever) by a website that is forever sending me all sorts of email invitations that I quite rudely delete and ignore. A little more visibility with our target audience would be nice compensation for the probable carpal tunnel I’ll eventually get in my Delete Finger.

Anyway, that great idea was a few weeks ago (I think). But, as I’ve been discovering, my mind is as water tight as a leaky dinghy at best… and a colander at worst. So I applied and promptly forgot all about it. That’s me. Memory like a steel trap! At least that used to be the case. *sigh*

Frankly, I’ve been a bit worried about my memory issues of late. I can’t seem to remember anything anymore. This isn’t the run of the mill Chemo Brain. On Wednesday Ben had an appointment with Dr. Flaton at 10:30. I saw it on the kitchen calendar that morning. I left Daddy-O a note reminding him to let the school know I’d be picking Ben up. I told Ben about the appointment. I even remembered to grab the medication evaluation paperwork from the bookcase. Next thing I know, my cell phone is ringing and it’s Dr. Flaton’s office calling to ask if we were keeping our appointment. It was 10:45! Gah!

The day before I discussed with Wonder Sitter keeping Danny home from preschool the next day. I agreed to call his therapists & let them know not to show up. I couldn’t even remember that long enough for the 3 block drive home. I did finally remember it 24 hours later as I was driving home from our office Christmas party. I am not going to go into the dozens of messages and reminders I have forgotten to give Daddy-O.

Seriously!  This is a major problem when I am the calendar keeper for the family.  I’m sure most of you mothers can vouch for that!  If I can’t remember who is supposed to be where and when… well, I don’t even want to contemplate the level of chaos that will ensue.

Of course, I worry about breast cancer metastasis to the brain. At least that’s what I worry about when I remember there is something to worry about. Directly after the thought of mets enters my head I hear a resounding “Pshaw!” bouncing around between my ears. I guess I don’t really believe I have a brain metastasis. It’s just that I have always had a near perfect memory – particularly for daily minutia. It’s frustrating to completely forget entire appointments and conversations. I imagine it’s much like being a man…

Just in case someone Googles brain mets looking for some useful information and got my drivel instead, I will include a list of the 7 Typical Signs or Symptoms of Brain or Spinal Metastisis.

In any patient previously diagnosed with cancer, the following should raise the suspicion for a brain tumor:

  1. A persistent headache with or without vomiting.
  2. Seizures (Change in type or frequency )
  3. Double vision, mental changes, speech difficulty.
  4. Stroke (brain hemorrhage). Certain brain metastases, such as melanoma, renal carcinoma, and choriocarcinoma bleed easily.
  5. Confusion
  6. Any numbness, arm or leg weakness, back pain, difficulty walking.
  7. Loss of control of bowel or bladder.

Numbers 6,7 are more common with spinal metastases.

Fortunately, I’m just forgetful (probably getting old) and a hypochondriac as the only symptom I can lay claim to is “mental changes”. If I can remember long enough I’ll say a little thank you for that during my prayers tonight.

In the meantime, click on the handy little button on the right and give a vote for MWC.

Cross posted from I can’t complain any more than usual


Did you say “chemo brain”??

December 16, 2008

Forgot to mention that the previous post was cross posted from Coffee and Chemo

Also forgot to put in a TITLE!!!

I have got to get some sleep!!!

Oh well, fixed it!


Chemo Day — Chemo Brain

December 16, 2008
(cross posted from Coffee and Chemo)
I would like to say that since I only received a half dose of the Fenurgen (super, duper, antihistamine that completely knocks you out!), I was more alert. But…..
 
That would not be accurate.
 
Once the drip started, I fought to stay awake and alert…..
 
I lost.
 
Again, I am grateful to the two friends (squarepeg613 and NT) who came and took care of me while I slept!
 
After chemo, I came home, intending to sleep more, but my kids needed me for all sorts of things, for which I did not have the patience!
 
I really wanted to go to sleep early.
 
After spending all evening on my kid’s stuff, I was just finishing up some last minute details when I ERASED HALF OF MY SON’S CLASS LIST!
 
I had meant to save the file under a different name but… I FORGOT!!
 
And you can bet your bottom dollar that I am blaming it on “chemo brain” because I would just feel TOO STUPID to admit that I might have done that even without the chemo!!
 
Especially because…..
 
Well…..
 
Uuhhhh….
 
Hmmmm…..
 
OK!
 
I admit it!
 
I have made this same STUPID MISTAKE before!!
 
Now, before you suggest something obvious, like getting the list from someone else, I should explain that I am the one who initiated this class list!
 
I got tired of receiving class lists consisting solely of kids’ names and phone numbers. I mean, how many times can you ask a parent her/his name, before being utterly humiliated by not remembering??
 
So, I put together a comprehensive, computerized list, consisting of:
Child’s First
Child’s Family Name
Child’s Mother’s Name
Child’s Father’s Name
Child’s Home Phone Number
Child’s Mother’s Mobile Phone Number
Child’s Father’s Mobile Phone Number
Child’s Mother’s email
Child’s Father’s email
Child’s birthday
 
Not to mention the various and sundry additional information, like who is willing to accompany the class on class trips, who is on the class parent’s council (va’ad horim), etc.
 
Because we live in Israel, all this information is BOTH in English and Hebrew!!!
 
(If I was really good, I would also have it in French. But when I was in high school, my dad convinced me to learn Spanish instead of French because it is more practical. Not in Israel!)
 
Each year, at the beginning of the school year, I spend significant time and energy updating everyone’s information. You might think this would not be so difficult, after all, how many people move each year? But you cannot imagine how many parents keep changing their phone numbers, and mobile phone numbers, and emails, and second emails, and…
 
You get the picture??
 
It is so much work, that for several years now, the school distributes MY LIST to the teachers.
 
Because no one else is crazy enough to put in all that effort!!!
 
NOW do you understand how stupid I feel??
 
I had the one and only master copy, with all of this year’s corrections and additions!
 
Only after I had erased the file, did I discover that I had never sent it out to all the parents!
 
Apparently, I sent out my daughter’s class list, but not my son’s!
 
So I spent HOURS, when I should have been fast asleep in my bed, searching through old files and old emails, and doing my best to put together the updated list…. AGAIN!!
 
And then, when I was finally all done, I emailed the new list, along with a letter requesting that the parents please review their information again and send me, AGAIN, any updates and/or corrections that I might have missed.
 
So now ALL the parents of the ENTIRE CLASS know just how SCATTERBRAINED I really am!!!
 
I added two new columns:
Child’s Mobile Phone
Child’s Email
 
You think the new requests will fool them into thinking that I am just being REALLY THOROUGH?!?!?!
 

A Glimpse of Normalcy

November 25, 2008

So.  Where have I been?  Every year I play the piano for my friends’ musical.  They teach high school (crazy people).  This was my third show with them so I’ve really gotten see these kids grow as actors and performers.  Very cool. 

Crazy high school teachers.

Crazy high school teachers.

Of course, just like any show, things can go wrong.  Friday, for example.  Well my Friday just started out bad and kept on going.  Got the boy up extra early to go with me to get the tires aligned on the car.  No easy task.  You’ve seen him sleep.  It’s like waking the dead.  The crabby dead.  Found out that the alignment machine was broken when I got there.  They did fix the turn signal though.  While we were in the waiting room, an older couple walked in and asked me if J was my grandson.  Grandson.  I’m 34.  Seriously. 

Things calmed down for a while and just when I think I have my ducks in a row…  Big J called me around 4-ish saying he was heading home.  Which was great!  Plenty of time to get to the show.  Until I got the call that he was stuck in traffic.  And I’d just cancelled the babysitting.  We got that snafu straightened out and I received a worried phone call from my friend.  Did I know that the show started at 6 pm?  Ugh.  She had told me and I forgot to write it down. (Darn chemo brain.)  A speedy trip down the high way and I make it just in time for curtain.  But it doesn’t stop there.  Apparently the kids (being high school kids) had had some social problems early that day, which was worked out, but stressful none the less.  AND the icing on the cake was the piano lamp was broken.  We taped it together and the show went on.  At one point the top came loose and started spinning.  During the show.  Looked like a rave.  Heh.  My friend and I had the giggle fits pretty much all the way through that number.

So what do all of these stories have to do with being a Mother with Cancer, you ask?  As perverse as it sounds, for the first time since January, I was completely stressed out by something other than cancer.  And in a weird way, it was good.  Heh.

Oh and the musical?  It was awesome.  Those kids crack me up.

Beethoven Day!

Beethoven Day!