Sunday, September 30, 2012

Keepin' Busy

Well it has been a great weekend. 

Chemo hasn't got me down too bad this time. My worst day was actually Wednesday, the day of treatment. I didn't drink enough while getting my drugs and felt a little worse for wear by Wednesday evening.The rest of the week has gone great though. 

I also think that our good news on Wednesday has really helped me be OK with the rest of treatments too. I have such hope now that everything is going to be alright and this is just a minor hiccup in our lives. The hope and the joy we got from the cancer being completely gone has really carried me through this chemo treatment and I feel will carry me through the last 3 as well.

So it was a normal weekend around here. Dan was gone at a gig all day Saturday and today his band is recording some songs to put together a better impression of what the band sounds like for their website. If you ever need a rockin' band for a party or wedding keep The Shenanigans in mind!

The band does wear suits but they are also really good!

So since Dan was gone I did my usual errand running and decorated the house some for Halloween. I am way more excited about holidays this year than I normally am. Not that I usually don't like the holidays or decorating for them. This time around though, each holiday that comes my way is something I can look forward to and have fun with. So I am doing just that.

Spider webs are my favorite

I love my new little owl on the left hand side 

Spider rings and magnets on our yellow door and a wreath
made of plastic snakes and grapevines.

I have also been insisting to Dan that my hair has been growing. He doesn't really see it yet, but I have also been trying a all natural hair growth treatment. It has avocado, honey, coconut and olive oil. It is all I am willing to try right now until my chemo is done, but I am hoping to have enough hair by Christmas to go without a scarf or wig.

We'll see how it goes!

Next weekend we are going on a mini-vacation with some friends to Wisconsin. I am excited to spend some time with Dan and friends doing a bunch of nothing!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chemo #5 and Good News

We have finally started to breathe again.

We have been holding our breath since Monday after my mid-way PET scan. In all actuality we have really been holding our breath since July and my first chemo treatment.

All of the toxins, all of the stuff I have been going through, was it going to be worth it? Were we killing the cancer or was it still growing inside me? Would I need radiation or just chemo?

Just a reminder, here is where I had cancer showing up in the first PET scan:

Lots of cancer and awesome MS Paint skillz

So here we are at the big mid-way scan. I got my blood drawn this morning and then went to see Dr. Rowland. We barely let him get in the door before we started asking how the PET scan looked. He read the findings out loud to us. All of the cancerous cells have disappeared and the tumors in my chest aren't even there any more at all. Everything. Gone.

No more cancer.

I immediately began to cry and Dan wrapped me in a big bear hug right there in Dr. Rowland's little office.

The Dr. went on to explain we would finish out the chemo which is the bare minimum of chemo you can get and then we would be done. No radiation.

Dan and I couldn't contain our smiles and tears. We were just so happy that this was going to be done soon. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Dan has been saving this meme for awhile now

Now I only have 3 chemo treatments left. 3 sounds like such as do-able number. We have noticed however that its taking me longer to start feeling 100% again after treatments. Nausea is lasting a little longer. Exhaustion sets in a little more quickly than B.C. (before cancer). I also had some lost feeling in my right finger tips after the last chemo. That luckily faded after a few days, but that is also a side effect from chemo.

So only 3 left, but those 3 may be the hardest yet. We'll see. 

I feel pretty good after my treatment today and just ate some dinner (potato soup!). 

I think I might need a new t-shirt:
Maybe I could find one that says "butt" so I can wear it to school.
Though my kids are pretty sensitive to the word "butt" too.

We also asked Dr. Rowland about how long we would need to wait after treatment to get pregnant. I had in my mind that he had said 6 months or that our previous oncologist had said 6 months. He told us today though that we only would need to wait 4-6 weeks. This news almost made me as excited as the cancer being gone.

When times get really tough and I start to feel down about this whole cancer thing I imagine myself pregnant. With really short hair! That always makes me feel better.

Results are in from Pet Scan

Zero Cells lit up with the radioactive indicator.

All lymph nodes have resumed normal size.

Everything is working

Couldn't be more relieved.
-the editor

P. S. Will post more info later. But the cancer is all gone!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mid-way PET scan

PET scan #2 was today.

It was a crazy day actually.

We had an appraisal scheduled today for our house. We are trying to refinance our mortgage to save some money. So the appraiser was going to show up at 8am and my PET scan was at 10am. Not a big deal really until we got a note on our door Sunday night telling us that our sewer lines were going to be worked on Monday as well.

So no water. All day. Monday.


This made things very interesting. Luckily Dan's mom only lives a mile away from us and she is out of town right now so we were able to use her shower this morning.

I head over to Carle for the PET scan with already a ton of butterflies in my stomach. I have my iPod and took a xanax this morning but worry it wasn't enough to beat the "little tube" that is the scan.

I sit for an hour in a comfy recliner drinking the lovely day-glo contrast liquid again. I also am shot up with radioactive sugar again to help all the cancer cells glow. By the time I need to go in the scan room I am feeling more calm until I see the machine.

That damn machine.

This one is backwards, they actually put me in head first. I think that makes it worse too.

So 30 minutes in this thing. I have my iPod blaring and I just keep my eyes shut so I don't see how close the tube is to my face.

A few times I think I'm going to call it quits, but I go back to focusing on my "This American Life" episode. 

After what seems like forever, its over! It definitely wasn't easier, but at least I got through it.

Now we wait for the results. Easier said than done.

by Dan 

We will find out the results on Wednesday with Dr. Rowland. So really not that long to wait but entirely too long with everything riding on these results.

We are holding our breath.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Still Truckin'

Well the dreaded "red devil" has not got me down!

I have had a great and very productive weekend. Felt pretty much the same as every other chemo. A little crazy while taking my steroids, a little tired when I'm not. Some nausea, but staying on top of the Zofran takes care of that.

Dan was gone all weekend at gigs so my mama came over to hang out with me and make sure I drank my water and ate something.

She may have gone a little overboard with making me drink!

We ran errands on Saturday, made some dinner and Sunday we spent the day painting outdoor furniture.

Ever since I got this great new deck this summer I have been wanting to outfit it with some great furniture. Problem is outdoor furniture is EXPENSIVE! So 6 cans of spray paint later, I have "new" deck furniture!

Check it:






Ahhhhhh! The deck is feeling complete!

So a big thanks to my mama for helping me paint a TON of furniture. I am getting ready to have a late dinner with Dan and then some lesson planning for the week.

By the way, mid-way PET scan is scheduled for September 24 at 10am. Your positive thoughts, prayers and good vibes are welcome any time. I already feel like I am holding my breath.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Chemo #4 Halfway!

I brought my handy dandy laptop with me to the cancer center today to do a blog post during my halfway chemo. I wanted to post a "play by play" if you will about what happens during a typical chemo.
Dan made meme

I went in early this morning to get my port accessed. They stick me and put a tube in and then I go get breakfast with Dan. (editor's note:  breakfast is the most important meal of the day) I cover up everything with a scarf so people don't look at me like I have a tube coming out of my chest. Which I do....

We came back after breakfast and went and saw Dr. Rowland. He was thrilled with my blood tests again. Everything looked really good which means the white blood cell booster shot is working!

He wanted us to schedule a PET scan before we came in to see him next time since this is my halfway point. I am already nervous about this PET scan since it will say so much about what my next treatment options will be like (more chemo? radiation therapy?) and how much longer do I have to deal with having "cancer". 

He also decided to bring one of the chemo drugs, the "A" in ABVD back up to normal dosage levels. He dropped down on the dosage after my fiasco first chemo treatment but since I have been feeling so great he wanted to move it back up to hopefully kill off any cancer cells that might be lingering. He is keeping the "V" in ABVD at 50% however since that drug really affects(editor's note:  I have no clue if it should be affect or effect.  Chime in!) my liver which is something else that went haywire during the first chemo.

After seeing him and getting the go ahead we walk over to the chemo infusion suite.

I always ask for a private room instead of going out to the infusion room. Don't get me wrong, the infusion room is really nice. Huge windows, a fireplace, and big screen TV's everywhere. I just really like sleeping through the last half of my chemo. I don't feel comfortable sleeping around other people however so I always ask for a private room. Here is what it looks like.

Not huge, but completely our own space. I am sitting in a recliner.

Dan always brings his laptop to work on things since chemo can get pretty boring. 

Today we had my favorite nurse Mary. She was the first chemo nurse we met and always remembers us and little things about our lives. She is really nice and has a very dry sense of humor which Dan loves.

Mary gets me hooked up to the infusion pump. They start me off with a bag of saline to give me some fluids. Then Mary hooks up a bag with benadryl, my steroids and anti-nausea meds. I started at 9:20am.

The first drugs make me pretty loopy and tired, but I have to stay awake so that when they give me my first heavy drug, the "A" one, that I can eat ice chips to keep mouth sores away.

Mary comes in with the "A", "B" and "V" drugs. They are all "push" drugs which means Mary has to sit and insert each one manually into the IV line.

Mary giving me Adriamycin aka "A" aka "Red Devil"

 Dan talks to her since I am shoving ice chips down my throat the whole time. Luckily since my mouth is numb from ice I don't usually "taste" the drugs. It's weird that a drug that is being inserted straight into my body can still leave an awful taste in my mouth. The saline they use to flush out my port always tastes the worst. I brought candy the first two chemo treatments to combat the taste, however it now seems that all chewy type candies make me horribly nauseous. How fun. So now I just stick with ice chips.

After Mary finishes "pushing" all the drugs she hangs up the bag with the "D" to finish out the chemo. At this point I usually pass out. It takes about an hour and a half to two hours for the "D" to get in my system. When I wake up I am always completely washed out, almost yellow. It is always a shock the first time I see myself in the mirror. The Casper look lasts for about 24 hours and isn't just my face. My arms, legs, everything looks a little yellow.

         Chemo face before                                                                     Chemo face after. Casper!

After that, Dan and I are all done. We were out of the hospital today by 2:00p. We headed to the grocery to get some crackers to help me drink more in the next couple of days. Then we came home to do some laundry and dishes, well Dan did dishes and laundry, and I passed out for a little while. 

I'll try and go to bed early tonight so that I can be ready for my school's Open House tomorrow. Hopefully I don't look too pale for the parents or talk too fast due to the steroids. It will be a long day but then Friday is a half day at school and I just have teacher meetings in the afternoon. Score! On Saturday, Dan is leaving for the weekend for a couple of gigs and my mom is going to come over to hang out with me and make sure I keep drinking. I totally don't mind that at all since I know she will clean out my flower beds for me and bring me food. If I am feeling up to it we can paint some new patio furniture I got for free from a friend! Woot!

So yes I am nervous about the higher dose of one of the most toxic drugs I take, but I am hoping with all the proactive stuff we are doing this time around that I will have no issues.

Dan made meme

Saturday, September 8, 2012


As I get ready to tackle chemo #4 (halfway!) I am more and more aware of any possibility that my chemo could be delayed.

Of course after my first chemo went so horribly we had to delay my second for a week. It actually worked out though since my last chemo was supposed to be on Halloween. I always have a big concert that day at the nursing home in Gifford. Now I won't miss Halloween and my students get to sing at the nursing home in their costumes!

But November 7th is very clearly etched in my mind already as the final chemo date. I will do ANYTHING to keep from changing that date!

The big part I have to keep on top of is staying healthy. My immune system isn't at it's best right now. The chemo wipes out my white blood cells. I am taking my white blood cell booster shot after each chemo. It keeps my white blood cells from bottoming out. Dan is convinced it is what has made me feel better during the past chemos. I am convinced it is the amount of liquids I have been drinking after each chemo. I don't want to experiment to see who is right so let's call us both right!

Unfortunately schools are germ-y. 

My students are doing a great job remembering to sanitize their hands before entering my classroom and covering their mouths when they cough. I have even noticed some students avoiding getting close to me if they don't feel well. 

We started band this week and as I was teaching some students how to make a noise on a flute I realized they were spitting all over me. Sigh.

So I improvised:
No germs on me!

My fifth graders called me a purple ninja. And then the boys proceeded to get in an argument about their being no girl ninjas. I set them straight.

So as of right now I would say we are beating the germ battle. I'll keep taking my vitamins and white blood cell booster shots (did I mention if I didn't have insurance it's a $5,000 shot?! WHAT?!) and wear my lovely ninja outfit as beginning band students start a new year.

Check out my new bulletin board by the way! It's my new favorite!

Each note has a student name on it. The kids did the notes! ;)

The puppy question still stands by the way....I'll try not to take a trip to the humane society this weekend while Dan is away. I will be keeping busy with some hanging out with girlfriends, my new hobby of stitchery, and my new yoga DVD.

Wish me luck!

P.S. I got a new coffee maker! I am the only coffee drinker in the house and Dan was tired of cleaning out a coffee pot each morning.

I'm in love...

P.P.S. I can't tell if it is new growth or just a few strands that haven't said goodbye yet, but I technically still have hair! And eyebrows! Woo Hoo!

Yay Yull Brynner!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

I am slowly going crazy....

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 switch!

Anybody else Sharon, Lois and Bram fans out there?

I loved them as a kid and even bought their CDs when I was student teaching and kept losing my voice. I would play the CD for my students and they loved all the goofy songs.

But seriously. I am going a bit crazy. The third chemo has been about as uneventful as the second. Which is sooo awesome! But now that I feel pretty normal physically I am realizing how BORED I am!

I am so used to being busy, busy, busy. I love to stay busy. But this year I am not teaching guitar lessons, working a weekend job, or even going to grad school. With Dan having gigs every weekend this month I don't even have him around to entertain me! :(

So I am trying to find some hobbies. I went to the craft store today and bought a bunch of supplies. I may even start on some homemade Christmas presents! 

My haul today. Can you tell what I am trying to make a new hobby?

My parents are hanging with me this weekend too, so at least I'll have someone to run errands with and keep my craft buying in control.

They will unfortunately have to deal with my steroid powered self which likes to wake up at 3:30 in the morning and clean bathrooms. Also steroids make my emotions go haywire and my ADD almost out of control. So I'll start baking banana bread and then forget that I was supposed to make dinner as well and try to throw that in the oven too. So then our house smells like garlic chicken bananas with a faint hint of cleaning chemicals. Dan is soooo lucky. ;)

I am also thinking (yes, just me, not Dan) that I should become a foster mom for a puppy for the humane society. It could be a lot of fun! Midas wouldn't have to worry about someone taking his place as our top dog. Yet Dan is against the idea. If you agree that this is a great idea you should totally leave a comment! :)

Sorry for all the emoticons and the exclamation points!!!! STEROIDS!!! :D