Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Day 7 - 3rd Chemo Cycle

After my emotional upset yesterday, it wasn't surprising that I didn't sleep well at all last night.  The residual effect continued with me today which kept me from being able to make up for the lost sleep.  So I'm obviously tired tonight due to a true lack of sleep as well as the emotional downturn of being off of the prednisone.  The second day after taking the last pills always seems to be worse.  I also think some of the depression is residual from yesterday's fiasco as well.  Oh well, that's in the past now and we hopefully look forward to a better day tomorrow.

I was still chilled today.  That could be because I'm overtired.  I am continually amazed by the cards that keep arriving in the mail.  I received two cards today and they helped to lift my spirits along with two encouraging emails.  One family from church delivered a nourishing meal which my family enjoyed.  My tastebuds are still slightly off but I'm managing to eat a small portion of the dinners so far.  The meals that have been delivered certainly smell good and they tempt me to eat.  Soon the food will taste normal again.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Day 6 - 3rd Chemo Cycle

I slept a little better last night and then slept in this morning.  I've been so tired and weak today.  I was also chilled throughout the day.  I know this is due to coming off of the prednisone yesterday but it doesn't make it any easier.  This is another day to put in God's hands in more ways than one.

I'm not only struggling to fight and survive this cancer but at the same time I'm struggling to be a mother to a hormonal teenage daughter.  Today was not a good day in both the cancer arena and the parenting arena.  I'm at the end of my rope tonight.  I struggle to deal with the real drama of lymphoma and then also the drama of teenage angst.  This all becomes a vortex of emotions and the tension in the house becomes unbearable.  It affects each member of the family.  Raw emotions from each member does not make for a peaceful, healing environment.

I try to ignore the more hurtful comments such as "you're so selfish".   It is hard especially when the comment is made after a request for help because I'm feeling too weak and ill to handle a task.  I'm very disappointed.  It is hard for me to focus just on myself and be selfish.  It is equally hard to ask for help when I've always tried to be self-sufficient.  To finally ask for some help and then be ignored or be disrespected is very difficult to accept.  As a result, I had a melt down and then felt guilt for losing control.  Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day in the parenting arena.

This truly was a day of "going through the wringer". This phrase always reminds me of watching my grandmother put her wash through the wringer in her wringer washer when I was quite young. One piece of laundry would be put between two rollers and slowly fed through. I used to watch the water get wrung out of the cloth as it was pressed and rolled between the two rollers. "Pressed and rolled out" is exactly how I feel tonight.

On a brighter note, the adrenaline gave me energy to do some knitting and warmed me up.  I also had a friend give me a beautiful bracelet which has been blessed with healing properties.  Another friend dropped off a care package of cookies and loaves.  Ladies from my church are helping us out this week by making us dinner during my most difficult days.  Dinner was delivered and I was able to have a hot supper ready for Scott when he came home tonight. 

So I guess even in my worst days physically and emotionally, God provides some well needed positives as well.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Day 5 - 3rd Chemo Cycle

I didn't sleep well last night at all.  The Senokot is causing my tummy to gurgle and be uncomfortable during the night.  But on the other hand I've been a little more regular this cycle.  I also think there may be a correlation to my going to the chiropractor for some adjustments.  Speaking of which, I dragged myself out to an appointment today.  My chiropractor looked in his files back to May/June 2011 and found out that my neck started to not adjust very well in June 2011.  I remember having a really bad cold/flu at the end of April or beginning of May.  I suspect that this is when the lymphoma first appeared although there was not any symptoms other than my neck not adjusting like it always did.  The lump didn't show up until November 2011.

Today my colour was very pale.  I've lost weight again.  I was very tired today.  Just having a shower and going up and down the stairs twice wiped me out for the rest of the day.  A friend of mine brought by a lasagna and some dessert.  My daughter made me a caesar salad to go with it.  The lasagna and salad managed to tempt my appetite but then I was too full for the dessert of strawberries.  Maybe I'll get some strawberries a little later.

Yesterday I noticed I was a little dehydrated.  I've been trying to drink water throughout the day but today I noticed that the taste of water is not appealing to me anymore.  So I'm switching back to my green ginger tea.  Hopefully that will help keep me hydrated.

Today I did a little bit of reading, some knitting and watching TV.  I'm hoping to watch some of the Daytona 500 tonight on TV.

Tomorrow is my first day after finishing the prednisone.  The last 2 chemo cycles show that tomorrow and Wednesday will be more difficult days again.  I need to remember "one breath at a time, one moment at a time, one step at a time" and trust that I will be taken care of.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Day 4 - 3rd Chemo Cycle

I didn't sleep well last night.  I was feeling slightly ill (upset tummy) but didn't actually get sick.  Just ill enough to keep me from sleeping.  I finished the anti-nausea medication this morning at 10:30.  I'm trying to see if I can manage without the supplemental anti-nausea medication because this contributes to the constipation issue later in the week.  Today I managed to avoid the use of it.  I felt like eating more today than yesterday.

I'm running into memory issues as another side effect of the chemo.  I couldn't remember if I took my Senokot (natural laxative) last night or not.  I'm still not sure.  Scott is going to have to monitor my medication intake or I'm going to have to make sure I make a note of when I take it.  I'm also finding that I'm rambling and a little disjointed in my though processing today.  Bear with me as you read the blog.

Today I was looking forward to watching the Daytona 500.  As a child, I would watch this every year with my Dad and my brother.  I still try to watch it every year even though no one else in my househould now likes to watch it.  I was disappointed that it was delayed due to rain.  It will run tomorrow instead.  So I watched the Scotties Tournament of Hearts (women's curling) and then around 2 p.m. I felt ill again and went and had a nap.  I'm finding that if I don't let myself get too tired, it helps with how I feel.

I didn't have the mental energy to read or knit today.  The television has been on, but I'm not even very focused on it today either.  I did write an article this morning while I felt my best (at least so far today).  My voice  is quite hoarse today.  I'm afraid that it may not return to where it once was.  I used to sing so well.  I know that my voice may be the price I pay for living.  I'm still struggling with this possibility.

Scott made some Shepherd's Pie which smelled really good as it was cooking.  This is always a good sign when the smell of food is appetizing.  He also made a caesar salad and some sauteed mushrooms as sides.  I managed to eat a little bit of everything.  It tasted good.  Let's hope it sits well this evening.  The good news is my appetite seems to be returning.  I would rate this day as not a good day but not as bad as yesterday.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Day 3 - 3rd Chemo Cycle

I was too optimistic yesterday.  Today I feel terrible.  I'm very pale and I look ill today.  I'm not hungry at all.  I literally choked down some toast this morning to take my prednisone.  The Senokot is working but again has left me very weak.  I forced down some crackers at lunch time.  I'm trying to drink water so I don't get dehydrated.  I'm dizzy and weak.  I'm glad that my kids have activities away from the house for the full day so they don't see me this way and get scared.  My cat is attached to me today.  When I'm in bed because I'm too weak to be up, he's laying on the bed at my feet.  When I sit in the living room to drink water or eat crackers, he's on my lap or on the couch beside me.  He knows something is not right today.

I'm in God's hands today.  I'm feeling too weak to do much else.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Day 2 - 3rd Chemo Cycle

With the help of the Ondansetron (anti-nausea medication), I'm not feeling very ill today.  I am tired and did have a nap this afternoon.  I find that if I get enough sleep then I don't feel as ill.  I've only needed to supplement the Ondansetron once since I've been home.  This is good.  My appetite has already decreased and I'm having to force myself to eat regularly.  I've been drinking lots of water today as it helps to flush my body of the R-CHOP that was injected into me yesterday.  If you wonder what R-CHOP is refer to my posts from the first chemotherapy treatment where the acronym is explained.

I didn't sleep very well last night.  My body was tired, but my mind was zipping from one thought to another in a rather manic way.  This is a side effect of the prednisone which I'm on until Monday.  The chemo is already starting to bind me up even though I've been on stool softeners and Senokot (a natural laxative) since the night before my chemo treatment.  I'm praying I can get through this until Monday when I'll see my chiropractor in an effort to keep my body balanced and regular.

I am so thankful to God and my friends because the prayers and positive thoughts are being answered so far this time around.  I definitely have handled today better than I did in the second cycle of chemo three weeks ago.

I'll have some turkey soup with chickpeas (to give me fibre) for supper and I'll continue to take it easy tonight.  Overall, today was a good day compared to how it could have been.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Day 1 - Third Chemo Cycle "Half way mark"

I had my third chemo treatment today.  Again everyone I met said how well I'm looking.  I felt really well physically today going into the treatment.  I was a little anxious and afraid of the side effects.  My treatment started at 9:45 a.m. and I was finished by 2 p.m.

While I was there, I ran into a friend whose mother was also having a chemo treatment.  I helped pass the time with a visit.  I was ordered to go for a walk in order to raise my heart rate which is always on the low side so I walked over to my friend with my intravenous pole and stood and visited for a little bit.  When I got back to my chair, my rate had raised about 5 beats per minute so my nurse felt better again.  My nurse and her replacement (during the lunch break) commented about how I'm so positive.  To be honest, the nurses at the chemo centre are easy to be positive around.  They are so friendly, happy and upbeat.  It really takes a special kind of person to work in the cancer clinic and I'm so glad that they make it much easier for us to be our happy selves.

I've been back home for a few hours and I feel tired.  I'm going to eat some turkey soup for supper and then lay down for the evening.  So I'm not too afraid (I'm such a wimp) of the next week, I'm going to keep reminding myself that I'm half way through the whole chemo process.  Just 3 more to go.  HALFWAY!!!!  I'm praying that ALL the side effects will be controlled better throughout this cycle. 

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Day 21 - 2nd Chemo Cycle

I went to see my oncologist today for a check up.  I have gained 2 lbs. and my blood counts were normal.  My doctor is very pleased with the progress.  He couldn't feel the lump in my neck today which means it has really shrunk and the chemo is working.  Woo Hoo!!!!  Tomorrow I will have my 3rd chemo injection at 10:00 a.m.

Today was a great day.  After my appointment, I was able to hear my daughter perform at the Kiwanis Music Festival where she earned an A on her performance of "Sunshower" by Martha Hill Duncan.  After her appearance at the Music Festival, we went to watch her participate in her high school curling practice in preparation for her bonspiel on Friday.  We then had supper from Pasta Shelf.  We had rigatoni parmigiana with Italian meatballs.  It was really good.

Tonight, I still had enough energy to go and hear my friends practice their trio (piano, cello and oboe) for their Kiwanis performance on Tuesday.  I had wanted to go and hear them perform at Kiwanis, but this lands right during the week when I typically don't feel well at all.  It was so nice to see my friends and hear them play again.  How I miss playing my flute with them.

After listening to the chamber music, I left and delivered containers to friends who have dropped by care packages for me.  It was nice to meet up with one of my students in the process and enjoy visiting with my friends.

By the time I got home, I was quite tired.  It was a very full day.  My spirits were up today and I think it was from being out and about.  Everyone I met, including my doctor, all said I look good and my colour is good.  I don't look sick.  Let's pray that I can keep my spirits up for the next week as I go through all the side effects again.  I also pray that we have a strategy in place to keep the side effects a little more controlled.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Day 20 - 2nd Chemo Cycle

There's not much different today.  I'm still quite tired even though I slept in again today.  I'm wondering if my red blood cells haven't quite rejuvenated themselves after the last chemo treatment.  This might explain my fatigue.  Or I may have done too much over the weekend and am tired because of it.  Today was a quiet day.  Tomorrow I see my oncologist, Dr. Ralph Meyer, for a check up and to have my blood levels tested.  If all is deemed to be satisfactory, then I will have my third chemo treatment on Thursday.  This will mark the halfway point of my chemo treatments.

As I write this, my husband is watching "How It's Made" and they are making a funeral hearse.  This has tickled my funny bone as the introduction was that people/caskets like to ride in luxury as a sign of dignity and respect.  My warped sense of humour says "please show me that dignity and respect while I'm alive to enjoy it".  Funny what captures our attention or what we become attuned to when fighting cancer.  I'm much more aware of cancer advertisements, or programs that mention death, cancer, etc.  Since November when I became aware of cancer in my life, there seems to be quite a few ads that mention cancer, death etc.

A very good friend called me today and it lifted my spirits to visit with her over the phone.  Briefly, I wondered if I was feeling fatigued because maybe I'm a little depressed.  After thinking about it, I don't believe I am.  I am tired.  I am bored although I still fill my time with knitting, reading, doing sudoku puzzles and watching TV.  I guess maybe bored isn't the word to use.  Maybe I'm feeling like I'm stuck in a rut.  I really don't know what I'm feeling and that is what is frustrating.  I want to go for walks, but they tire me out too much.  I want to plant some seeds indoors, but I now have to wait until the third week of this next cycle so that I don't run the risk of an infection by working with the dirt.  I could use garden gloves, but I find they make me feel clumsy and affect my fine motor abilities.  Perhaps what I'm really feeling is impatience with myself as I have been forced to stop or slow down.  I do know that I feel restless.  As my good friend mentioned today, my slowing down or stopping is perhaps still more activity than I should be doing.  Hmmm...another facet to think about as I continue to adjust to living with cancer.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Day 19 - 2nd Chemo Cycle

Today was a bit of struggle.  I didn't sleep well last night.  I had "weird" dreams of gardening during the winter.  Anyway, I started the day off already dragging and tired.  I was the family taxi driver today.  My daughter seems to be fighting some kind of stomach bug as she's been tired and complaining of a sore stomach.  I hope I don't catch it.  Anyway, between driving family around and looking after my daughter it didn't leave much time to rest today.  So I filled the small down times with making turkey broth and turkey soup for supper tonight.  I froze the broth for when I'm not feeling well and maybe broth is all I want.  I was afraid to stop "doing" because I thought I might doze off and fall asleep.  I didn't want to forget to pick anyone up or drop anyone off.

I did spend time reading a book that a friend wrote called "Jack's Farm".  It was a very good read and is special to me as the references she made to her book store in Cornwall brought back memories of shopping there.  It was also very poignant and touching as she documents her wonderful marriage, then the death of her husband and her journey through the grieving process.  It was difficult to put the book down as it grabbed my imagination.  Thank you, Joan, for your thoughtfulness in giving me your book.

I'm really tired tonight and fighting a headache because of the tiredness.  So I'll be retiring early tonight.  I need to be well rested for Thursday.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Day 18 - 2nd Chemo Cycle

So I've strung together quite a few good days.  The difference I notice between this cycle and the first cycle of chemotherapy is that I'm more tired on my good days than I was in the first cycle.

My intention last night was to go to bed early so that I would awake with energy so that I could go to church this morning.  I did wake up early (7 a.m.) and I got up so I could have breakfast and get ready for church.  Unfortunately, I started getting tired already at 8 a.m.  I went back to bed with the intention of getting up at 9:15 so I could still go to church.  I went back to sleep and didn't wake up until 10:45 a.m.  This is abnormal for me as I am normally (before cancer) a morning person and once I'm up then I'm good to go for the day.  I'm still adjusting to being tired more easily.

So I didn't "do" anything today so that I could have the energy to go out for dinner tonight in celebration of our son's 18th birthday.  He chose to go to the Lone Star and we had a great time.  I wore a baseball cap because a touque would have been too warm inside.  Even with just the baseball cap, I was getting too warm.  My daughter suggested taking the cap off.  I couldn't do that.  Just as we were finishing our dinner, I saw some of my students and their families.  It was really nice to see them and I was glad I was feeling good.  I'm always afraid to "scare" my students if they see me when I'm not very well.

I find that the last couple of days I've had an underlying anxiety about the upcoming chemo treatment.  I really don't like the first week afterwards.  I'm dealing with the anxiety by reminding myself that I will continue the laxatives right from the first day of the cycle.   I'm also reminding myself that this cycle I'll getting chiropractic adjustments to help keep things "flowing".  Hopefully, the cycle will go better this time.  After this treatment, I'll be halfway through the process.  Everyone says how strong I've been.  It's easy to be strong when you don't know what's coming.  It is much more difficult to be strong when you know what's going to happen and how you're going to feel.  I don't feel as mentally strong this time around.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Day 17 - 2nd Chemo Cycle

I had a good day but was quite tired.  I always seem to be a little more tired the day after I've been out or done something.  So as a result of being out at a hockey game last night,  I didn't do much today.  I did do a load of laundry and went for a brief visit to the mall with my husband this afternoon.  That was enough to totally wipe me out.  Today is my son's birthday and I was going to make him a cake.  Because I'm feeling so dragged out today, Scott has stepped up and is making the cake.

I found when I went to the mall earlier in the week that I was too warm while wearing a touque in the mall.  So today I decided to wear a baseball cap.  Because it doesn't cover my whole head like a touque, I felt somewhat exposed.  I was worried that people would be able to see the bald patches that I have.  I still have some hair but it's quite thin and patchy.  Anyway, I kept checking myself out in the mirror before we left and finally decided it was OK.  That was until we were walking into the mall and then I felt the need to grab Scott's hand for support.  In that moment, I felt very insecure and lacked confidence.  I shared what I felt with Scott at the time and then as he held my hand and we continued through the mall, my confidence returned.  I was in Zellers and was about to look at hats when I saw a man walk by with his finger up his nose and mining then wiping it on the hats.  It turned my stomach and I couldn't even bother to look at the hats.  At that point, I didn't want to touch anything in the store, or in the mall.  EWWWWWWW is the only thing that comes close to being able to express what I felt.

It was nice to get some fresh air today, but I'm tired.  I want to go to church in the morning, but I also want to make sure I have energy for going out for dinner with the family tomorrow night.  I'm discovering that I have energy for one activity and then it takes a full day to recover from that.  Scott is concerned about what I do and is wanting me to make sure that I'm not overly tired coming into this next chemo treatment on Thursday.  I, too, am trying to make sure that I'm not overdoing it.  When I'm tired, then the side effects feel even worse.  So I'll go out for dinner tomorrow night.  Monday I won't do anything.  Tuesday I have an appointment to go to.  Wednesday I have my doctor's appointment and then my daughter is performing in Kiwanis. Wednesday night  I'm hoping to be able to make a brief visit to hear my chamber music friends practise because I won't be able to hear them at Kiwanis.  Their performance is during my week of not feeling well.  They will understand if I'm too tired to hear them play on Wednesday night, but I'm hoping I will have enough energy to hear them. Then on Thursday I have my 3rd chemo treatment.  That will be the halfway mark of my full treatment.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Day 16 - 2nd Chemo Cycle

I had another great day.  I had lots of energy but I conserved it so that I could go out tonight to a Kingston Frontenac hockey game (OHL).  Even having conserved my energy, I started tiring out around 9 p.m.  The game ended at 9:45 or so.  Anyway, Kingston was playing the Erie Otters and I was really pleased to be able to see a family friend, Kris Grant, play for the Otters tonight.  It was fun to get out and see people who I haven't seen a while.

I'm hoping that I will have another great day tomorrow and on Sunday.  It is my son's birthday tomorrow so I'm hoping I can make him a cake tomorrow.  I'm a little wary of making plans more than a day ahead because I never know if I'm going to feel tired or not.  I just hope that this weekend will be one of feeling well so that I can celebrate my son's birthday in style.

I did receive a note saying that the socks that I've donated so far have been very well received.  The comments received stated the socks are very warm and comfortable.  I'm currently working on a pair that is a size large and they take longer to knit.  It warms my heart to know that the socks are appreciated.

I'm off to sleep now so that I can do what I'm wanting this weekend.  Being fully rested seems to help my energy levels.  Night, night.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Day 15 - 2nd Chemo Cycle

I had hoped to go for a walk today but I woke up this morning feeling very tired and exhausted.  I slept through the whole night last night so it was surprising that I had no energy today.  It was disappointing especially when a friend called and was willing to be my walking partner this morning.  I'm amazed at how far I've come in accepting and listening to my body day to day.  No more making plans but just waiting to see how I feel.  I'm not sure why I was so tired today unless it was because I went out to Chapters last night.  Or perhaps my red blood cell counts are down and that would explain why I haven't much energy.  Oh well, tomorrow night I'm hoping to go to an OHL game and see a family friend play on the visiting team.  I'll behave myself tomorrow and not do much so I can conserve my energy for tomorrow night.

I received a package in the mail today from a friend whom I haven't seen in years.  After many years, she made contact with Scott regarding something else and learned about my lymphoma.  It was so nice to receive a couple of books that she's written as well as a brief note of encouragement.  This is just another Godcidence and reconnection which may not have taken place without my having cancer.  I think that we can always find something positive even when we are facing some difficult challenges.  Perhaps my point of view would be different if I was terminally ill, but as another friend pointed out today, I've always looked at the world as the glass being half full rather than half empty.

So it will be an early night tonight as I listen to my body telling me it is tired.  Any advice I have to people would be....listen to your body and get in tune with it physically, emotionally and spiritually.  As a friend reminded me today, I'm learning to just "be".

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Day 14 - 2nd Chemo Cycle

It is so nice to feel good and able to be "normal" for a while.  Who knew that one day I would be happy to be the family chauffeur again.  It felt really good to be able to drive the van, take my husband to work, pick up my daughter from curling and pick my husband up from work.  I watched a movie this afternoon ("Brokeback Mountain") while I knitted.  I did rest for a bit this afernoon as well because I was tired from yesterday.  This is probably because my red blood cells are low.  I was going to make dinner, but then Scott offered and I was happy to just sit.  Then after dinner, Scott and I went to Chapters and I bought some books using some gift cards that students and friends have given me.  While there, I noticed that I have a bloodshot eye.  I'll have to keep an eye (pardon the pun) on it as it could be a sign of my platelets being low.  We were going to go to Starbucks afterwards but the outing tired us out so we went home.  We'll hit Starbucks another time.

I guess I upset Scott last night.  We were helping our daughter choose her course load for next year.  The paper required a parent's signature and I suggested to Scott that he should sign the form.  He wondered why I didn't want to sign the form.  I tried to explain my reasoning, but he didn't understand it and then it concerned him and upset him.  My reason for not wanting to sign the form was that it was for next year.  My thoughts were there is the possibility (or "what if") that something might go terribly wrong in my treatments and I might not be here next year.  I didn't want the form to be null and void because of my signature being on it and I wouldn't be here.  My reasoning was that it might make things difficult/convoluted next year for Scott if it is my signature but I'm no longer around.  Scott took this to mean that I was not being positive and that I'm perhaps giving up or being negative.  That wasn't what I was thinking at all.  I was just being realistic and facing a "what if" that is subconsiously always there.  We discussed this again this morning and I think we worked it all out.  You could look at it as "what if" I was hit by a car, or Scott was hit by a car, etc.  Perhaps we're all a little more sensitive right now about our mortality.  I'm not giving up.  I have too much to live for.  This whole misunderstanding reminds me that I need to not look at the "what ifs".  I need to remember "one breath at a time, one moment at a time, one step at a time".  In other words, don't look too far ahead.

It was really nice to visit with my neighbours tonight when I came home from Chapters.  It was again a sense of normality during an abnormal time.  I'm looking forward to when we can get together at the end of all the treatments.  It was really refreshing to get some fresh outdoor air while visiting with my neighbours.

I'm tired now so I'll retire for the night.  Maybe tomorrow I'll go for a walk and get some more fresh air.  It's just so nice to get out and about.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Day 13 - 2nd Chemo Cycle "Valentine's Day"

It was so nice to have my best day so far this cycle land on Valentine's Day.  My digestive system turned around and was "normal" today.  I notice this is just one day after having my chiropractic adjustment.  Perhaps the chiropractor may be another aid to help me with side effects during the rest of my chemo treatments.  I'm going to try that and we'll see what happens.  As I've said before this is all a work in progress and I'm still learning how to handle all of it.  I'm needing to wear my touque most of the time now to keep my head warm.  In an effort to make it look nice, I made a contrasting band around the outside edge of the hat with a scarf that just happens to match the blue colour tones.  It helped me feel a little more attractive and not so "frumpy".

Anyway, I was able to enjoy a very nice dinner at home with my family.  I even had a glass of wine with my dinner and then ended with a cup of coffee and some dessert .... well maybe 2 desserts.  I ended with a red velvet cupcake topped with cream cheese icing which a friend had dropped off for us and later I had a small piece of baklava which Scott made on Sunday.  It was really really good!!!  I'm so happy I was able to eat and still feel great!

So all in all this has been a great day!  Happy Valentine's Day to all my friends and family!!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Day 12 - 2nd Chemo Cycle

Today was another great day.  I felt well and I had energy.  I went for a chiropractic adjustment which felt wonderful.  I haven't had one since the beginning of November.

Then tonight I went for a walk to the mall with my husband.  It was so nice to get out of the house.  I did notice that I need to wear my touque to hide my balding head as I'm self-conscious about it.  The touque makes me too warm though when I'm indoors.  While I was out and about today, I did notice that people who I met and also know about the cancer smiled and said hello and then made a quick peek upwards to my head and back to my eyes again.  I'm not sure if this is because they are uncomfortable or just curious.  I haven't been out with people too much yet and so I'm not sure how to handle when people are uncomfortable with me because I have "cancer".  I hope it doesn't become the elephant in the room.

The walk outside tonight was cold but I noticed the clear bright stars.  I actually wanted to poke along at a slow pace just to stargaze.  I've always liked the outdoors and nature.  I loved our time when we lived in the country.  It's funny how when your life is threatened, you appreciate the simple things around you much more.

A good friend dropped by tonight and dropped off a card and some goodies.  This really warmed my heart because she is in the midst of a family crisis of her own.  And this morning I received a couple of really nice emails of support and encouragement.  There seeems to be a common thread among the emails, comments, notes, etc.

 Everyone seems to appreciate my blog as it helps them to witness the day to day struggle of enduring chemotherapy and the side effects.  When I started my blog, my intention was for it to be an outlet and opportunity for me to acknowledge my fears, emotions and struggles.  It was also to help family and friends to walk the journey of cancer with me for support.  I never dreamed that it would help people understand the process and inspire them.  I do not consider myself a very inspiring person.  I see myself as a warm and caring person who just handles life as it happens, both the good and the bad.  I do tend to meet problems head on and try to solve them.  Anyway, if this blog is helping to inspire other people and help them to understand what it is like for people to go through chemotherapy, then this is a good thing.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Day 11 - 2nd Chemo Cycle

Today was a great day!!  I'm wanting to eat again and my taste buds are on their way back to being normal.  I didn't sleep that well last night because I was cold.  I feel the cold because there isn't enough hair on my head to keep me warm.  I have to remember to wear my touque to bed at night.  Despite that today was a great day.  I've had more energy and am wanting to be out and about.  I had a friend drop by with a cake for Valentine's Day.  I had a short visit with her and her daughter but even my husband noticed that I was much more perky after the visit.  I had a nice visit with my brother over the phone but then my voice started to tire again.  When it tires, I start to go hoarse.  I haven't tried singing anymore because I don't want to damage my larynx while the voice is still weak.  I do miss my music.  It is difficult to play "songs" on the piano because my inclination is to sing as well.  So I do play piano music but it's not quite the same.  Having said that, it's better than nothing.

Another friend dropped off a card with a poem that brought a smile to my face.  Humour really is a gift and makes the toughest times in our lives more bearable.  I'm hoping to go out for a short walk yet tonight.  I'm looking forward to this week when I'm feeling stronger, better and motivated to do things.

One thing I have noticed since finding out I have cancer is that I want to make every moment of every day count.  I don't like sitting and wasting my day which is why I do my knitting.  It makes me feel like I'm doing something worthwhile.  I also notice that I have strong thoughts in regards to other people "whining" about trivial matters.  I know that this is a cliche but it is so true that "life is too short".

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Day 10 - 2nd Chemo Cycle

This was another day of feeling slightly better, thank goodness.  I had more energy again and was able to do 2 loads of laundry while my husband took my daughter to her piano recital performance.  I so wanted to go and hear her play "Fur Elise" by Beethoven.  I was considering it but the recital was being held at the public library in a small crowded room with recycled air.  I'm so afraid of catching a bug.  I was very disappointed that I had to miss out.  She's getting ready to perform at the Kiwanis Music Festival and I'm hoping that I'll be able to catch one of her performances.

My appetite is definitely back but my digestive system is still out of whack.  Let's hope it resolves itself in the next few days.  The temperature outside has dropped significantly today which is too bad.  I was hoping to go for a walk today but it was too cold.  I couldn't even stay warm inside today.  I was wearing a turtle neck sweater as well as a cardigan and then added my touque.  I think I was losing my body heat through my head which has very little hair.  Maybe I'll be able to handle a walk tomorrow.

The hair had stopped falling out but I noticed today that it is starting to fall out again.  I suspect that by Feb. 20-23 I won't have any hair on my head at all.  Anyway, for today all is well for the most part.  I must say that I am feeling some tedium so it is time to get out.  If I can't go walking tomorrow, perhaps I'll pick up some things for Valentine's Day.  Life is good.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Day 9 - 2nd Chemo Cycle "One Moment at a Time"

Today was certainly better than even yesterday.  Today my appetite started to return.  Unfortunately, my digestive system isn't in sync with my appetite.  So it was a day of enjoying when I ate, but paying for it afterwards.  However, this is still better and I can tell I'm on the upswing.

I am still tired today.  I'm not normally at television watcher so I'm getting bored of what's on the tv.  I'm reading more which is good as it shows that my mind is getting sharper and can handle the concentration required for reading.  I've been knitting more today too.

I've noticed the last few days that my voice is more hoarse again, much like it was in November when I first found the lump in my neck.  I'm hoping this is because the tumor is shrinking back to the size it was then and as a result is pressing on some of the nerves leading to the larynx.  As a result of the hoarseness, my voice is more weak again and I can't talk for too long.  Thank goodness for emails as I can still have contact with family and friends without straining/tiring out my voice.

Years ago I used to plant seeds indoors around the end of February or beginning of March so I would have vegetable plants and flowers for my garden.  I'm thinking that maybe I'll be able to start some seeds indoors this year and watch them grow.  Maybe watching them grow will be another reminder of what is good when I'm feeling bad.  I'm hoping that by May I'll be able to work outside in the garden and enjoy being outdoors.  Seeing seedlings grow and develop may help motivate me and give me hope.  I'll just have to make sure I'm handling the soil and seeds when my immune system is in its stronger time.  So let's hope that in a few weeks you'll see some entries regarding gardening.

I want to thank all my friends and family who have sent me their prayers and encouragement through emails and comments the last couple of days.  This was a bit of a rough patch and you all helped carry me through and lift my spirits.   Thank you.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Day 8 - 2nd Chemo Cycle

I find myself on the upswing today both physcially and mentally.  I believe my "blues" of the last 2 days has been a side effect of finishing my dosage of prednisone which is part of my "chemo cocktail".  My stomach/digestive system is still a little unsettled.  I was very tired today as my body is recuperating from the extremes of side effects and then the other extreme brought on by the medication to alleviate the original side effect.  I need to discuss with my doctor a way to keep my body more balanced as we try to navigate the week after my chemo injection.  I'm still not very hungry.

At least today I was able to be up and about.  You will notice on my blog that I have added some information on my sidebar.  I decided that I will keep a list of the books that I've read and the movies that I've watched while undergoing this journey.  Feel free to check out these lists.

My daughter decided to make supper tonight.  She wanted to make broccoli soup using the recipe from the Milk calendar.  She learned how to dice, chop and mince vegetables.  She learned how to use a food processor.  She did an excellent job and the meal was very, very good.  This is coming from a person who hasn't wanted to eat much lately.  I guess a positive of this whole experience is that my daughter may learn to cook and become more independent.  She's well on her way as she also made supper last night by making breaded chicken thighs.

So I expect tonight will be a quiet night as I don't have a lot of energy but hopefully tomorrow will be better.  I'm looking forward to when I can get out for a short walk and get some fresh air.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Day 7 - 2nd Chemo Cycle

Today was another day of feeling nausea and constipation.  Unfortunately, it wasn't a good day.  As a result, I didn't even have the energy to read or knit or watch tv.  I slept this morning for most of the morning.  When I didn't sleep, I was thinking and connecting with myself in a profound way.

I'm going to try to write what I was thinking in a competent way, but it may be rather disjointed.  I'm feeling like I'm not able to do my "job" as a mother.  I see my daughter struggling to adjust to her second semester of Grade 9.  I want to be there to support her, but this cancer and the side effects are interfering with my ability to be alert enough to talk with her, to support her.  I don't have enough energy to think before I speak and then I'm not helping her as there are misunderstandings.  I'm angry because cancer has stolen my opportunities to help, to grow close with my daughter.  I feel like I'm washing my hands of her care and I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS.  THE CANCER IS KEEPING ME FROM BEING A MOTHER!!!!!  This is so unfair to all of us.  I'm not there to guide, supervise, help my children.  I'm not there to help my husband as he valiantly tries to step forward and be a mother and father all at the same time.  This means not just emotionally but also in coordinating all the activities, responsibilities and chores.  Today, my thoughts turned to "perhaps this is a training time for when I'm no longer here".  Then the thought was "I'M NOT GIVING UP!"  But the "what ifs" are lurking at the corner of my thoughts all the time.  When I'm physically weak like I have been the last 2 days, it is very difficult to keep the self-discipline of my thoughts.  While I'm feeling this ill from the side effects, it takes all my energy to just exist physically and there's not much left for the emotional strength.  Normally this is when I lean on my faith and also distractions like reading, knitting or watching tv.  Yesterday and today, I had to turn my fears, my weaknesses, my anger and my anxieties over to God because there just isn't any energy for the distractions.  It's just too much for me to do on my own. My mantra yesterday and today was "one breath at a time".

I forced myself to eat some toast this morning.  Then I had a piece of bread and a tiny bowl of soup around 1 p.m. because the thought of eating just turned my stomach.  I know that these physical and psychological symptoms are due to side effects.  When I can think of the symptoms and know they come from the chemo, then it helps but just a tiny bit.  The "down" psychological and physical turn is due to the prednisone.  When I come off of my dosage, the doctor did tell me that the following 2 days will be "down" days.  This cycle, it is worse than the first cycle.  Anyway, I did have a couple cups of green ginger tea which has seemed to help with the digestion.

I must say that I think I'm starting to climb out of the crater of the last 2 days.  It is currently 4:30 in the afternoon as I write this and I can feel my mind becoming a little more focused and sharp.  The stomach on the other hand is still gurgling.  Let's hope it gets better as the evening progresses and that tomorrow will be a better day.  Having said all that, I'm still tired and dragged out.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Day 6 - 2nd Chemo Cycle

This will be a short post tonight.  It's not been a good day.  I woke up at 3 a.m. and was not able to go back to sleep.  The constipation is back and the meds don't seem to be working.  This is my own fault as I stopped taking it one night because it was swinging the other way too much.  I feel terrible today.  I guess I'm still learning how to handle all this.  I did sleep for a bit this afternoon, but am not hungry at all today.  I'm forcing myself to eat and drink small amounts.  This is a "one breath at a time" day.  The good thing is there is no fever.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Day 5 - 2nd Chemo Cycle

The prednisone side effects are playing with my body/mind again.  I'm still a little timid about the constipation issue so I'm still taking meds to counteract that side effect.  I was up for 3 hours last night with just not being able to sleep.  So I read a really good book.  Then I went back to bed and was late getting up this morning and had no energy this morning.  This from a morning person who normally would be up at 6:30-7:00 a.m. for the day.  The prednisone kicked in by 11 a.m. and I experimented with making some cauliflower cheddar soup for my lunch.  It turned out well.  My husband and I quite enjoyed it for supper.  I'm glad I don't have to take the prednisone anymore this cycle. It means that I should be able to sleep tonight quite well. If the pattern is the same as the last cycle, I will probably have a couple of down days tomorrow and Wednesday.

After making the soup for lunch, I was tired again.  So I sat and read my book that I started on Friday.  A good friend, who I haven't seen in a few years, called me this afternoon.  I so enjoyed my visit with her.  It was like having her over for tea and a nice long chat to catch up.  How I miss when she used to live up the street.  After that, I put on my nature music and read my book.  I had another friend coming over for tea later this afternoon to visit and pick up the socks for the shelter.  She arrived and we had such a nice time over tea.  The visits helped me sit still, but I'm afraid I talked quickly and jumped from topic to topic.  The prednisone tends to do that to me.  So to my two friends that I talked in length with today, I apologize for being a bit like a raving lunatic with the speed of my speech.

I feel good that I'm able to help out by donating my socks that I'm knitting.  I sent 8 pairs of socks (3 small, 3 medium and 2 large).  I'm currently working on another pair of large socks.  I also finished my book that I started on Friday, February 3.  It was called "The Search" by Nora Roberts.  I quite enjoyed it and it kept my mind occupied as I tried to figure out what was going to happen in the plot.  Quite a good read and I would recommend it.

Another friend dropped off a couple of books for me to read.  So the next one I'm starting is called "Together" by Tom Sullivan.  This one is a library book so that's why I chose to read it first.  I also have a completely full cloth shopping bag full of books from my neighbour.

Again, I'm receiving so much support from friends and family in the form of phone calls, letters, books, baked goods that have been dropped off.  What a difference it makes as I go through the "dark times" right after a treatment occurs.  I am so blessed and life is full.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Day 4 - Second Chemo Cycle

Today I felt very fatigued.  My hair fell out more again today. Now I'm starting to be able to make out the shape of my skull through the whispy hair that is still there. I've never seen my skull before and I think it looks like my uncle's head. 

I had no energy and no appetite.  It is difficult to eat food when I take prednisone in the morning and I'm not hungry and very tired.  However, I have to keep the nutrient intake going.  I struggled to eat a bit at lunch time too.  Then I had some green ginger tea around mid-afternoon and started to perk up.  I'm not sure if it is because I'm starting to feel better or if it is a side effect of the prednisone (increased energy and appetite).

We were invited out to our friends' place to watch the Super Bowl and eat a leisurely, relaxed supper.  I so wanted to be able to go.  As it ended up, by 5 p.m. I was feeling better and hungry.  We went with the plan that if I got tired, our son would drive me home and then go back for the rest of the game.  I am so happy!!  I was able to handle the whole night out and nibbled on chicken wings, a very small amount of chili, some baked spuds, a few crunchies (my favourite junk food) and a small slice of cake.  I sipped my green ginger tea all night long to help with digestion.  What a great night I had.  Thank you to our friends who gave me a night of forgetting about cancer and cancer related stuff.  It was so nice to feel "normal" for a little bit.  And on top of it, the Giants won!!!! 

I'm tired now tonight so I'll be heading to bed soon after I take my meds.  The day started out not so good but finished really well.  Hopefully tomorrow will be another good day.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Day 3 - Second Chemo Cycle

I slept well last night up until 2:00 a.m.  My stomach was gurgling and rolling.  I laid there until 3 and then gave in and took the supplemental anti-nausea medication.  I wasn't due to take my regular dose until 6 a.m.  Then I slept through until 8 and immediately had to take my regular dose as my stomach was what woke me up.  Thank goodness it is only nausea that I'm feeling and not actually being sick.

I didn't start to perk up at all until about 2:00 this afternoon.  I've had  a quiet day where I've had to force myself to eat and drink.  Nothing has appealed.  Scott made supper tonight and once I started eating my appetite was slightly there.  He's making me rice pudding tonight to try to tempt my taste buds.  We'll see.

My hair continues to fall out.  There is still just a little bit left.  I caught a look at myself in the mirror and felt the tears start to prick my eyes.  I look so old and ill.  I know my hair will grow back and I thought I was prepared for the changes but it is difficult to see so much hair on my pillowcase.  The rest of it will most likely come off in the shower tomorrow morning.

I am catching up on movies that I've been too busy to watch over the years.  This afternoon I watched "Steel Magnolias" from 1989.  It was one of the many movies I've wanted to watch in the theatres over the years.  Perhaps I'll make my bucket list of movies that I've missed and to try to see them over the next few months.

I also knitted while I watched the movie on television.  Tonight I'm hoping to finish my 9th pair of socks for the "In From The Cold" homeless shelter.  This morning I finished my second book "The Scottish Prisoner" by Diana Gabaldan.  It was very good as her books always are.  Now I can't wait for her next book to be published in "The Outlander" series.  My next book that I'll be starting tonight is "The Search" by Nora Roberts.

I'm always amazed at the Godcidences that happen.  Today when I was feeling quite low, ill and despondent, I received a phone call from a very good friend.  Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling well enough to answer the phone, but just to hear from my daughter that my friend had called helped me feel like I was being carried while I was too weak to care for myself.  At one point this morning all I could think of was a quote I heard from Gloria Vanderbilt "One breath at a time, one moment at a time, one step at a time".  That is how I felt this morning..."one breath at a time".

Anyway, another Godcidence was a handwritten letter from a very good friend who has been such a support for me right from the beginning of this journey.  Her note had been dropped off in our mailbox and her note helped carry me this afternoon while I struggled with tears.  And not long after that, another card was dropped off in my mailbox from a student and his family.  Again I was lifted up.  After this third Godcidence, I now had some strength breathed back into me.  I was perking up.  Then I was blessed with a fourth Godcidence in one day!!!  I received an email message from a flute student who I taught 20 years ago!  Her message was so empathetic, encouraging and uplifting!

God really does help us when we're down.  Thank you to all of you.  Everyone says they just feel the need to send me a message.  Thank you for listening to the gentle urging of God to contact me.  These all seem to arrive when I most need the support.  I'll end by saying that faith, love and hope are what helps us meet insurmountable challenges.  That and the support and love of family.  God uses us all in what seems like small ways but add up to very large ways.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Day 2 - Second Chemo Cycle

I've been feeling fine except for being quite tired today.  I haven't done much but watch TV and knit.  I have managed to eat some small meals today and everything has felt long as I keep taking the anti-nausea meds.  The good news with those is that I haven't needed to supplement with the additional anti-nausea meds at all today.  That's a change from the first cycle.

My hair is continuing to fall out.  I still have some on my head but it is about the amount that you see on shrunken heads on television.  Thank goodness my head hasn't shrunk though :).  I expect that one more wash of my hair and the rest will fall out and down the drain.... or rather plug the drain.  I understand why some ladies choose to shave their heads.  It is annoying to find hair all over the pillows, the couch, the bathroom and any other place that I've walked in the house.

I felt good enough tonight to run to loads of laundry.  That will be enough for today though as I don't want to tire myself out too much because it leads to a "bad" day the next day.

It really makes me feel good to see Scott leave and do things with the kids.  Today he went grocery shopping with Lindsay and took her out for lunch.  Tonight he went to Napanee with Robbie who is trying out to be an alternate for the Ontario Junior Curling Championships in Napanee this week.   Apparently he caught at least one coach's eye, as he was approached to give his name and particulars.  After getting home, Scott then took the kids downtown Kingston to get some beaver tails from the hut that's been brought in for FebFest.

You know my tummy just isn't quite right when I decline the offer of a beaver tail being brought home for me.  Even my cat is recognizing things are quite right with me at the moment.  He's been hanging around on my lap for most of the day except when he's hungry then he goes and whines to someone else.  Normally he would just turn around on my lap and meow at me with big eyes.

Today as I really didn't "do" anything, I was thinking that it is nice not to have to be "running" and busy all the time.  Maybe I'm actually learning to change through adversity!  I never thought it possible.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Day 1 - 2nd Chemo Cycle

I had my second chemo treatment today.  It started at 10 a.m. and I was done by 2:15 p.m.  The good news is there was no allergic reaction.  The nurses were wonderful as always.  I even managed to laugh today during the treatment.  I mentioned to the nurse that I felt we were all like human vehicles that plugged in to be gassed up like at a gas station.  She laughted and added "Yup, you're here for your buff and shine".  That tickled my funny bone.

I had a friend from church drop off some baking this afternoon along with a wonderful card.  That made my daughter's day and she and Scott have been enjoying some cookies.

Tonight, I've had some soup and crackers for supper.  I'm not that hungry.  My stomach is achy and I'm quite tired.  I'm back on the anti-nausea medication and will be taking my prednisone for the next 5 days.

I'm off to bed now as I'm tired and I'm hoping some sleep will help settle the stomach.  I can't thank my friends and family enough for their support as I'm continuing on this journey.  The support through emails and cards has been greatly appreciated as it reminds me I'm not walking alone.  God IS with me and is sending family and friends to help lift my spirits when needed.  Timely emails always seem to arrive just when I'm feeling down.  Thank you to everyone.

G'night all.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Day 20 - First Chemo Cycle

I had a much better day today.  My hair is very, very thin now with some balding spots.  It was a beautiful day today so Scott and I parked about a 15 minute walk from the Cancer Clinic. As we walked, I joked that the wind might just blow the rest of my hair off my head and we'd see a tumbleweed of hair blowing down the street.  We had a good chuckle.  I've always had really thick hair and I couldn't believe how quickly my hair dried today after washing it.

Like I said, I had a doctor's appointment today.  The lymph node in my neck has shrunk again so this was really good news.  My blood counts are also good.  I'll be having my second round of chemo tomorrow morning.  I'm glad that my friends have been praying for me as it has helped to pull me out of the doldrums that I experienced the last couple of days.  I think that losing my hair was affecting more than I expected.  It was also bothering me that I couldn't knit as quickly and that my fingers were a little clumsy due to some numbness in the finger tips.  Anyway, I seem to be accepting things a little better today.

So on we go with the start of the second chemo cycle tomorrow.