Monday, May 25, 2015

Change of plans….

As I have shared in earlier posts, cancer has a mind of its own and right now I am just along for the ride.  My colon resection was initially set for June 2nd but we received a call on Friday afternoon asking if I could do it Tuesday (tomorrow!) because someone scheduled for surgery failed their cardiac test which leaves an opening for me!  While I feel horrible for that person I am so grateful that it has been moved up.  Ever since I have had the stent in I have not felt well and look forward having this tumor out of me!   

Dr. McCahill will be taking nearly a foot of my colon and reconnecting me tomorrow morning at about 10:00.  The hope is that surgery will last about 3 hours and I will be in the hospital for 3-5 days.  My goal is to be home on Friday.   

Please keep our family in your prayers this week.  

God is good!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Dear Cancer,

Dear Cancer, 

I share both a deep hate for you and yet a respect for your immense power over every aspect of my life.  This past week I went from a battle with you to an all out war!  You robbed my body of pain relief for nearly 6 straight days. While I cannot forgive you for that, I do now know that you have a mind of your own and I must do everything in my power to be faithful to Him during this process.  This is what gets me through! 

Last Wednesday and Thursday I was struggling with severe abdominal pain and both days went to the ER to have an enema only to come home with minor relief.  On Friday I thought I could just tough it out because I figured this was just a side effect of the chemo and I would get through.  Around 1:00 my friend Marcia came by to drop off a meal and found me in pretty bad shape.  I can only describe my pain as similar to labor contractions at their worst.  They had no consistency; some would last 30 seconds while others would last 10 minutes.  Saturday morning I was too weak to eat or drink so I was taken to the ER where I was admitted to the hospital quite quickly.   

A scope revealed that while my tumor in my colon has been shrinking (somewhat) my colon tightened with it causing nearly a complete blockage.  A CT scan revealed I had stool backed up all the way to my small intestine.  The pain I was feeling was all because there was nowhere for my body to extract stool and air.   

Fortunately I have an AMAZING team of doctors who are all on the same page.  I was so impressed that everyone from the nurse, the surgeon the oncologist and the hospitalist all knew exactly what was happening with my case and had been communicating on a very regular basis.  Because one of my targeted therapy chemo drugs is a blood thinner they could not do an emergency colon resection for fear I would bleed out.  So they were able to put in temporary stent in my rectum, do you remember what Chinese handcuffs were when we were kids?  That is what was inserted but it is made of chicken wire….really?  That’s the best we could come up with?  I guess I don’t care because I now have a clear runway for things to move again.  This is a very temporary fix until the chemo drug has filtered through my body and I can be cleared for surgery.   

The surgeon’s office called yesterday to confirm that my colon resection is scheduled for June 2nd.  Barring anymore hiccups I am looking forward to finally having this portion of my cancer removed.   

On the bright side I was surrounded by so much love while in the hospital.  My mom nearly never left my side.  Kyle and the girls were there as much as possible while still trying to manage their hectic schedules.  (Please pray for Kyle, he is starting to get tired but doing his best to not let me see it)  The best mother’s day gift to date was my two girls rubbing my feet with lotion they had snuck into the hospital.  What a blessing they are! 

So Cancer, I am still very mad and sad that you have taken over my life but I am going to win this war.  You picked the wrong girl to mess with!  You see, I have a support system like no other that continues to ‘show up’ in my greatest time of need.  We will not be defeated! 

God is Good!  

 Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you, “declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

 Mothers Day 2015!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Ups and Downs

Not being in control of your body is so incredibly frustrating.  The family calendar is now printed in pencil and depending on how my day is could quickly be modified or even erased.  Can I coach little league tonight?  Can I go to travel softball this weekend?  This is not always easy for Reese and Logan to digest but they are quickly adjusting.  Day to day and hour by hour is now my new normal.   

The first 2 rounds of chemo, while incredibly tough on my body, went off as scheduled and I quickly learned the patterns of its side effects.  Tired on days 1 and 2 and then nausea on days 3, 4 and 5, and then rebounding to get ready for the next round.  I was scheduled for my 3rd round of chemo on April 22nd with a quick visit with my oncologist first to discuss my side effects.  I have been in the emergency room twice with severe constipation which is actually not normal for my type of chemo.  I am on a chemo drug called Irenotecan (my vocabulary is expanding quite rapidly) and the nurses joke and call it ‘I run to the can’ because diarrhea can be so severe with this drug.   Not me!  My body has decided to have the opposite effect.  I am somewhat getting more control over the constipation issue but things are not ‘moving’ as they should.   

The next issue is my white blood cell count.  Because colon cancer can be considered a man’s disease, most of the clinical trials done are based on the male body with an average body weight of 200+lbs.  What this means for me is that the standard chemo dose is also given based on the clinical trials data.  While meeting with Dr. Dublis, my oncologist, she clearly thinks the first 2 doses of chemo were much too harsh so they have decided to back off a bit….thank you!  You can only have chemo if your counts are over 1.0 and when I went to have my 3rd round on the 22nd, it was .5 so no chemo that day and we would wait a week for my body to hopefully rebound. Naps, naps and more naps! 

I would show up once again for chemo the 29th, friends in tow, and the initial blood work showed my count a 1.1.  Because this is apparently a preliminary number we had to wait for the lab to hand count my white blood cells and fortunately we were at 1.2!  I could never have imagined praying I would hope for a chemo dose!  This cancer journey sure has a way of messing with what I used to know as normal.  Everything seems to be opposite.  I hope for weight gain when I get on the scale….that has never happened in my life! 

Because of my constipation the initial thought was my tumor in my colon could be growing and causing a blockage.  Another visit to the surgeon’s office and another Rigid Sigmoidoscopy (ugh!) would reveal that my tumor is actually shrinking.  Praise the Lord! As tough as these rounds of chemo have been and the toll it has taken on me and my family, I am finally able to realize this is all worth it.  My fight continues!
Because of the chemo delay I was very worried I would not be able to travel this past weekend with Reese’s travel softball team to Indiana but thanks to ‘backing off the dose’ we packed up and headed out Friday night and I was able to enjoy a beautiful sunny weekend watching such a good group of girls doing what they love.  I am paying for it a bit today but it was all worth it! 

While my body continues to frustrate me I am becoming more and more aware that I am not in control.  I am doing my best to keep my positive attitude and am relying heavily on God to help me through.  God just has a way of figuring out the little details and for that I am grateful! 

God is Good!