Monthly Archives: September 2011

Halfway done with this half of chemo! =)

Halfway done with this half of chemo! =)

Written Sep 23, 2011 10:37pm

Today I had a long day at the hospital.  We started up with my follow-up mugascan.  This is the heart scan that I was kind of concerned about.  Last time the stroke volume was 49%, and they said that if it went any lower I would need to stop taking the Herceptin.  I have been trying to exercise as much as possible over the last 3 weeks to strengthen my heart in hopes that I can continue taking Herceptin, because it is such an amazing drug.  This week I was a little more tired and didn’t exercise as much, but the previous 2 weeks I did a really good job.

The mugascan showed that my heart has at least stayed about the same, if not improved.  I was up to 50%.  Branden and I were so grateful that I get to continue on the Herceptin.  The doctor thinks that my decrease from 64% (before I began chemo) down the the 49% a few weeks ago was caused from the Adriamycin that I got so sick from at the first of the summer.  My heart and body still seem to be recovering from my first chemo regimine!!
My wbc count has also continued to be good enough for chemo.  Today was my 6th dose of Taxol (my current chemo drug), and I now only have 6 left!  Then I will be DONE with chemo!!!  I am really getting excited to be done.  We will wait about 3 weeks after chemo to repeat a PET scan so that we can get clear results (without the Neupogen in my system).  I am really looking forward to getting a clear and hopefully clean PET scan and getting into a remission for a long time!!!
Thank you all so much for your nice and encouraging messages and emails.  I am amazed and grateful every day at how many good people are all around me.  It really has lifted me more than you may know.  Thank you, thank you!!!

To you who have lifted me- by Denise Neish

To you who have lifted me- by Denise Neish

Written Sep 18, 2011 11:08pm

I stepped out into the world one day to go for a run.  I was eager to try out my brand new running shoes.  The sky was brilliant as the sun rose over the mountains.  I breathed in the fresh crisp air as I laced on my shoes.  I was ready for this run!
It was hard to contain my energy and strength as I bounded out onto the pavement.  I smiled at the little flowers I saw blooming on the side of the hill.  It was almost effortless to glide forward at a nimble pace.
Sometimes I accelerated without even noticing.  Other times I stopped and dawdled at the side of the road.  Frequently there were others around me.  We ran together for a while and compared running shoes. We gleefully splashed through puddles, and trudged up some steep hills together.  We held our arms up in the air as we recklessly sprinted down the hills and into the valleys.
Soon one was running beside me.  He made my heart pound deeper. My steps grew in rhythm with his.  We turned onto a new path together. It felt familiar.  It was our own.
Our new path was narrower.  It was a lovely winding path with playful white flowers freckled along the side.  We splashed in the cool mountain stream that bordered our path.  We climbed a tree to get a better view and chartered our course.  Our shoes were slightly worn now, but we had taken good care of them, and knew that we could run many more miles on them.  We loved our new path.  We vowed to run on it together forever.
We decided to share our path with four new runners.  We were so excited to show them everything.  We laughed as they marveled at their new shoes.  We taught them to lace up their shoes, stretch, and run, run, RUN!!!!!  If they fell, we picked them up and brushed the dirt from their knees.  “Your wound will heal” we said, “It is not so bad.  Now get back up and run!“
It was hard to keep up with them sometimes!  But other times they lay peacefully in our arms as we reverently watched them sleep.  They were amazing.
We held hands and ran slower so that we could all stay together.  A steady pace forward and side by side was our goal.  The radiant sun was still high in the sky.
Suddenly a thorn shot through my shoe and tore deeply into my foot!  I was stunned at first and stumbled.  I could not get the bleeding to stop.  I fell and cried.  The wound was too deep to heal, I was told. I could see the wound, but I couldn’t feel the pain.
Someone cries beside me.  He takes my hand again.  We are wounded together.  We are lost from our course.  How could we lose our beautiful path?  This was not what we planned.
We tell our little runners that it will be okay.  It will heal.  Then we continue to run on our new path as the sun begins to hide behind the mountain.  We quicken our pace to beat the setting sun.  We hold each other’s hands.  Our little runners can feel our grips tighten.
When I am too weak to run, he carries me for a while.  I try to smile and I run when I can.  Our path gets steeper and darker.  I try to move forward on my own, and our hands lose contact briefly.  I can feel the pain now.  Our little runners cling to us and stumble when we do.  We reach out to find one another again and turn the corner.  The path is unfamiliar ahead.
If we cannot get back onto our beautiful path, can we make this one ours?  We decide to recharter our course.  First we must stop and remove the thorn, we decide.  It will hurt, but it must come out if there is any chance for it to heal.  We let ourselves believe that it can heal.  We cannot remove my shoe completely or I will have to go home right away.  We know that we will both end our run at home, but we want to enjoy the path together as long as we can.  We try to remove all of the thorn.  We don’t want to leave any part behind.
I sob with pain as it being removed.  Sometimes I stop and take a deep breath.  “We have to continue“, I say.  My will to be rid of the thorn is increasing.  I want to believe that my shoe can be as good as new.  Our little ones play alongside the path, unaware of the thorn.  I want to watch them grow into strong runners.  There is so much for me to teach them before we go on separate paths.  They come over to us when they see the clouds darkening, and we tickle them and tell them to go play by the stream for a while.  This will just take a moment longer.
We struggle to get rid of the thorn.  Feeling weak, we cry out to God.  “Please heal this wound!!”  Others encircle us and lift me to my feet.  “If you do your best to repair your shoe, I will take care of your foot”  comes the answer.
We summon all our strength and pull as hard as we can on the thorn.  It comes out but leaves a  wound in my foot and a hole in the shoe.  We ask others for help to repair the shoe.  We want to do the very best job we can so that the shoe will last a long time.  We have to use what is around us to repair it.  The repair job seems solid, but the shoe will never be completely the same.
I look at all who have gathered around me on our path.  They are telling me that it will be okay.  They encourage me to keep running.  I don’t like this path as much as the one I started on, but I am not alone like I was at the beginning of my run.  I decide that my foot needs to be stronger if my shoe is weakened.  I did not start this run only to go home early.  I will run better than I have ever run before!
I take his hand again with renewed energy.  I can feel my foot healing already.  We take our four little runners and begin again.  The path takes us around another corner, and the sun is still shining.  We only thought the sun was setting because of our place on the path.  My shoe is working well, but we know that all of our shoes will wear out eventually.  Then we will go to our beautiful home and rejoice at the new shoes that await us there that will never wear out.
But in the meantime, we look around and notice that the path is much more interesting than we thought.  The shadows only make the sunlit parts look brighter.  There is still a long way to go on the path before we reach our home.  We will never be the same as we were before the thorn.  In many ways we are stronger.  We are more aware that our run cannot last forever, but we are not afraid.  We vow to run our best, to splash in the stream, to raise our hands in the air and run recklessly down the hills, to lift those we see who have fallen on the path, to tickle our little runners, to teach them all we know, and to hold hands all the way home.

One more down!

One more down!

Written Sep 10, 2011 10:05pm

I was able to do chemo again on Friday. . . . barely!!  My white blood cell count went down again, and it was pretty close, but they let me receive treatment.  I just had one neupogene shot last week, and I had two the week before, so we decided that I need to have two again this week.  I think if I get two shots I should be able to get my wbc count up again for next week.  I’m just glad I did not have to skip a week this time.  I am finally really getting going on this chemo.  I have had 3 weeks in a row of treatment.  If I can keep going without problems, I will be done with chemo in 8 weeks.  I can’t even think of how excited I will be to be done!!!  =)

I am still feeling well, although a little more fatigued, but not bad at all compared to how I felt on the other chemo.  And I don’t get nauseous at all from this chemo, so that is nice!
My final mugascan results showed 49%.  It is not that great, and shows that my heart has undergone some trauma from the chemo so far.  I will get another mugascan in 2 weeks so that we can determine if it is the current chemo, or the previous chemo that did the damage.  I think that it must have been the previous chemo because this one is not nearly as harsh.  If it gets any worse I will have to stop chemo.
I feel like I need to exercise as much as I can to make sure that my heart stays strong, (or gets stronger).  I don’t like the idea of my heart weakening.  Pretty much, from here on out I need to have crazy good healthy habits.  I am trying to eat right, and exercise as much as I can.  I really feel better when I go on a walk or run each day.
I am really hoping that after I am done with all my treatments that I am able to actually be a good runner again.  I know I have bigger things to worry about than that, but I really do love running, and part of what I love about it is doing well in races, and feeling good when I run.  I want to be able to enjoy that again.
On a funny note, I was in the elevator at the hospital (with a scarf on my head) and an old man looked me up and down and said, “You look pretty good for being bald!”  I didn’t know whether to be offended or flattered!  I just said, “Thanks!”
I haven’t been “checked out” for a while now, so I guess I’ll take what I can get!!  =)

Lovin’ the Taxol

Lovin’ the Taxol

Written Sep 4, 2011 10:06pm

I was able to do chemo again on Friday.  My wbc count had increased from the previous week, probably due to a couple of shots I had during the week to help stimulate my wbc count.  I was glad we did that so that I could continue chemo.  I will get one shot of Neupogen this week, and see how that goes.  If my wbc count continues to be good, I will not get a shot the following week.  This is the first time I have done two weeks in a row of chemo since I started on the Taxol/Herceptin regimen.  I also had Zomata, which is a bone strengthening drug that I take during chemo once every month.  This helps for cancer that has spread to the bone.

I am still feeling good overall.  I am a little more tired, but not much.  I also had a mugascan this week.  This tests my heart strength since chemo is very hard on the heart.  The results are given in a percentage.  50% or above is normal.  Mine was 64% at the very beginning of chemo.  Now it is at 50.5%.  It is still within normal range, but has obviously decreased a lot.
The doctor feels like this was probably from this summer when I got so sick from the Adriamycin (the “Red Devil”), rather than from the Taxol that I am currently on.  But we will do another scan in 3 weeks to see if there is any change.  If it gets below 50% I may not be able to continue chemo.  At least my heart strength can increase through exercise after I’m done with chemo, so it should hopefully not be permanently weakened.
I am happy that I am continuing chemo now.  I know that it will work well, like it has in the past.  I have enjoyed feeling peppy for a while now, and it has done wonders to lift my spirits.  I know that if I continue with chemo, this tired feeling that is setting in will probably increase a bit.  But I will know that I am getting closer to being done with chemo, and that is a good feeling.
I have been very active this week, and have even exercised a time or two.  I want to do that more now that my little ones are going to start preschool this week.  I think that running/walking helps me to have more energy and feel better overall.
Lately I feel like I have been so excited for all the fun things that I can do when I am feeling well.  I have been making the most of each day and really enjoying it.  There are so many fun things to do that I want to have energy for them all!!  I love playing with my kids, exercising, practicing the piano, reading, writing, talking with friends, and I have even started making some Christmas gifts this past week.  I just want to do stuff while I am feeling well!  I think that even after I am better and done with treatment I will appreciate my life and all that I can do with it more than I ever have before.
I have also been feeling very grateful for a wonderful husband, good friends and family who continue to give me a lot of support and love through all of this, wonderful children, a nice house and neighborhood to live in, and the comfort of knowing that my Heavenly Father loves me and is looking out for me and my family.  I know that He lives and I have seen His hand in my life many times.  I know that He loves each one of His children.