Thursday, July 18, 2013

Back in the saddle again

I write you from floor 3 of Swedish Cancer Institute, aka "the chemo floor". That's right, my very excellent blood tests have qualified me to return to this place to receive chemo once again. It's kind of like getting accepted into Harvard. Not to brag or anything, but my blood levels are majorly normal, kind of like YOURS, you non-chemo-receiving reader, you.

This past weekend, I travelled to Nashville and spent a wonderful time with the extended family. Congrats to cousin Tim and Katelyn. Nice job, Bec and Tim. Great to see you, everyone. Fun, fun.

This past week, I finished up sessions 8, 9, and 10 of radiation on my liver spots. Check that off the list. And now today, chemo. Ok, I suppose on paper that's not the awesomest week ever, but these things are relative to me, and I'm glad I am finally moving forward with treatment again.

So I'm now starting a NEW CHEMO. It's called DTIC, and it's usually used on lymphoma. A medical paper published in June showed that it's sometimes effective on colon cancer, too, so long as certain genetic markers are present, and I do have those markers. It's not a guarantee of remission again, but it's a shot. I'll have a scan in a few months to see if it's working. Feel free to send me a million prayers, good thoughts, energy, good vibes, or whatever you can muster. We kind of really need this one to work for ol' Shelldogg.

This past week has been unusually emotional for me. Historically, I tend to run rather even-keel in the emotions department, but for some reason, maybe it was being with family last weekend, I've been prone to tears this week. Both happy and scared tears. I've been easily knocked to my knees by my kids' conversation. I've gotten choked up thinking about the future, and people's lives without me. I've blinked back tears of sheer anger thinking about someone else marrying my husband 10 years from now. I've fought tears while lying on the radiation table, feeling a little overwhelmed by all the poking, prodding, burning, injecting, and pain.

This chemo is supposed to knock down my white blood cells, and also to make me nauseous. I got the nausea part nailed at this point. I can puke with the best of them at this point. We'll see how this chemo treats me, but if it's tolerable, we're headed off to the San Juans to go camping with some dear friends this weekend.

It's not a bad life I have. In fact, it's ALMOST a perfect life.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


I'm packing up tonight to head to Nashville at the crack of dawn, to see my cousin Tim marry his beloved Katelyn. All the Bakers will be there-- I can't wait. Except, it's going to be about 100 degrees. Alas.

I'm lucky to be able to go. For the past few weeks, it's been a wait-and-see thing. Waiting to see if I'd feel well enough to travel, to "party" in the heat, to be away from my bed. I've still got pain from the stent. It's not as horrible as it was last time, but it's there. I can't go a day without taking a Vicodin at some point. Great! Maybe I'll develop an addiction in addition to everything else. Who's counting? Also, if I eat too much, it really hurts. So I haven't been eating much, and I'm getting really thin, which is not my goal. It's a permanent stent. I wonder, will it be like this forever? Is this my new normal?

The goal of the stent is to open up my bile duct. Once it's open and my bilirubin levels fall, I can resume chemo. (Currently, we're set to resume chemo next Thursday). I've also been doing radiation the past 2 weeks to hit the problem from another angle.

Meanwhile, I'm aware that the rest of the cancer is growing while we deal with this liver problem. So that's something that simmers in my mind 24/7.

My state-of-mind lately is that I'm TIRED of all this. I have been through the ringer. I just want things to change for the better, even if that's only slightly better. Living pain-free would help. Or getting some sort of good news, any kind. My doctor has seemed more "serious" about all this than he used to seem. It's just a lot for a person to think about. I don't seem to have a coping strategy in place, so I'm flailing a bit. The radiation makes me very tired. My house is a mess, and today I took two long naps in the middle of the day!

Tonight, while folding laundry, I turned on the tv. "Sleepless in Seattle" was on. It was terrible timing. The little boy was having a nightmare and screaming out in the night for his mommy, who was now dead. The dad ran up to comfort him, and he asked the boy, "What songs did mommy used to sing to you when you were scared?" Then the boy asked the dad what happened to people after they were dead. I was frantically pushing buttons on the remote, trying to rid myself of this storyline. Sure, it's just a cheesy movie, but it was playing out one of the many scenes I've already imagined happening with my own kids. Cancer sucks. At least with a heart attack, you're gone in a few minutes. With cancer, you get years to ponder your mortality, years to imagine and consider all the horrendous ways your death will hurt the ones you love most. Actually, I suppose, you're lucky if you get years to do it. Actually, I don't know if that makes you lucky or unlucky.

So I'm writing you tonight in a bad mood. There you have it.

I know being with family will lift my spirits.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Goin' back on the table today

Today they are going to redo my stent procedure. The goal is to add a second stent and also to place the first one in a better position. It is HURTING me. In a big way. The nurse said it's possible they placed it right on an area they had surgically cut, so it's riding up against the wound. I hope this time they get it right, because right now I can't function without Vicodin.

Other than that, things are good. Mom is visiting. Kids are happy. Weather is sunny. Summer is summery.

Wish me luck.