Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Chemo Day

Just got back from chemo and everything went well. My sister was visiting from out of town so I had company for the four hours. It was a nice change and I really appreciated it.

My research nurse came for a visit because we couldn't get a reasonable blood pressure reading yesterday. I have it taken on my thigh because of my mastectomy and PICC line. Blood pressure readings are not recommended on the mastectomy side because it may bring on arm lymphedema. And on my left arm, I have the PICC line. The problem with taking blood pressure on the thigh is that it tends to read higher. We took a few readings and the third one was a charm.

While the research nurse was there, I asked her about my arterial blood gas test that revealed an elevated acidic blood PH. She felt the PH was high because I have fluid on my lungs and the body was compensating by making my blood more acidic. There is nothing that can be done to change that.

Regarding my onoycholysis a.k.a. chemo nails, I decided to try holding on to two water bottles to keep my fingers cooler and slow down circulation. When the chemo nurse came around I asked her about this. Her opinion was that it was too late in my case because the damage to my finger nails had already been done. But if I wanted to do it anyways, she recommended that I use ice packs only on the top of my nails.

That is all for now ...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Oncologist Visit/Blood Work

This morning, I had my blood work and oncologist visit.

With my regular oncologist away, this new oncologist wanted to run some extra tests on me to help explain some of the fatigue I am experiencing. We ran an arterial blood gas test and a urine test. For the arterial blood gas test they stuck a needle into my artery in my wrist. No biggy ... another need poke. They where looking at the PH of my blood. The test results showed my blood is a bit acidic but not bad. I have no results back on the urine test.

We also booked another test dealing with my kidneys that will be done just before my next CT scan. Sorry too much information and I missed what the test was called.

I received a prescription called BURO-Sol Power TCD for my onoycholysis a.k.a. chemo nails. Looks like I will be soaking my fingers a couple times a day.

Every thing else looks good for my 16th chemo treatment tomorrow.

I'm off to pick up my prescriptions ...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Amazing Grace

There are many people battling cancer ... some are doing better than others.

I wanted to post this video for those not doing so well.

Please click on the link below ...

Il Divo Amazing Grace

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Searching For Cancer Blogs

Last night and today, I've been searching the Internet for cancer blogs. If anyone would like to share their cancer blog or know of someone who has a cancer blog ... please do let me know. I'm always looking for others to follow.

My philosophy is that we get through this cancer journey by supporting each other. I have learnt so much since I've started following other cancer blogs. Going through this disease can be so lonely. I'd like to make it less lonely ... if possible.

Wishing everyone a nice weekend ...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Quiet Day

Today is just a quiet day with little to report.

This is the weekend before chemo so my hopes are to do as many fun things as possible. Clothes shopping is on the list. I have a wedding to go to in July and would like to get a nice new outfit. I want to look my best. I've lost a few pounds and I'm feeling better for it.

The weather is cooperating so I'd like to enjoy a nice coffee at an outdoor cafe.

We'll see what other mischief I can get into.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

School Is Out For Summer

I wrote my exam yesterday and it went well but can I tell you ... writing for two hours wore me out. Believe it or not my arm and back were tired from writing. I just couldn't do much more of it. My writing was sloppy too. Anyways, yippee the class is over.

Just came back from lunch with some former coworkers. It was nice to catch up on all the news. On the way back, I had the windows down, the radio up ... just cruisen'.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

PICC Line Problems Are Over

Yesterday I had my PICC redressed for the first time in 7 days and it was adhesive style of bandage. That is three weeks in a row with adhesive style bandages and my skin looked normal underneath each time. No allergic reaction to anything. We think that the major switch from chlorhexidine, a skin antiseptic to benadine is what did it.

Looks like my PICC line problems are over.

It will be a short post as I'm spending today cramming for my exam tonight.

Hope everyone is having a good day!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Elevator Out Of Order

O.K. so I went to class last night and I always go early to scoop the nearest parking spot to the entrance of the college and I did.

I get into the college and my class is on the third floor. I get to the elevators and press the button with no response. When I press it again, I notice a sign saying ... elevator out of order, please use stairs ...

You want me to do what?

Oh my, how was I going to get up those stairs?

Well I had no choice so up I go one floor and sit at a nearby chair to catch my breath. Another student comes by to talk about our group project. I said to her ... you go ahead I have yet to get a coffee. I’m turning into a bit of a fibber. Anyways, I look around and no other students are coming so I do the next flight of stairs. I get up to the third floor and there is a bench there. I sat down once again to catch my breath and off to class I went.

We had a review for the exam on Wednesday and were let out early.

I went down three flights of stairs in one shot. Was it the young school girl in me, was it the energy I had or was I just so glad to get out of there ... yippee!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Quality Of Life

From August of 2008 to about March of 2009 I was getting a full dosage of Taxotere (Docetaxel) as treatment for my cancer. Well, after so many months of Taxotere, mentally and physically, I was falling apart. My quality of life was pretty sad ... just sat on the couch or laid in bed most of the day. Towards the end, I really had no energy to do much of anything and to be honest, mentally I was so wiped. I could care less about anything because I felt so drugged up from the chemo and meds. My mind felt sedated even though I wasn’t taking any sedatives ... and my body ... well it was so abused. I had put on a lot of weight and was retaining so much water that I had to cut the sides of my socks to allow for my swollen ankles. My hand and foot syndrome was most obvious in my feet with numbing, tingling and burning sensations. The nose bleeds, sinus problems and watery eyes were all getting to pretty bad ... to the point my left ear drum was getting damaged from blowing my nose too much.

Each visit with the oncologist would come with numerous questions about how I’m feeling, how much I can do, what side effects I was experiencing ... and so on. Trying to be the tough girl I minimized the side effects hoping to get as much chemo in me as possible. Well it kind of worked against me because the quality of life was not there and yes I did have thoughts of quitting this whole thing. On the worst days of the cycle, I would ask myself, “How much longer could I take this cancer treatment? “

Well in April of 2009, we dropped the dosage to about 75%. I had a few setbacks including an infection/hospital stay and trouble with my PICC line but I can honestly say I am feeling more alive with each cycle. I’m trying to get some of my physical strength back as I've been litterly sitting for a good 9 months.

Mentally I’m a bit of a different person than I was prior to treatment. I’m more agitated, more easily frustrated and just all around a more moody person. I’m thinking it’s because I’ve been on chemo and steroids for almost a year and the drugs are affecting who I am ... or ... I am really pissed with cancer and the world. I’m hoping it’s the first.

So long story short, the dosage decrease was necessary ... as angry as I was when it happened. I now am losing some weight, showering more often and picking and choosing clothes to wear. On my good days, I’m starting to wear makeup again and looking forward to doing some other stuff.

My quality of life has improved.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Living In The Moment

This past week has brought some nice weather. I’d have to say, nice weather for me is different than for the average person. I like it a tiny bit cooler ... maybe a bit cloudy and maybe a bit breezy ... so a temperature hovering around 23 ºC ( 73 ºF). That way I don’t get too hot.

We ended up stopping twice this week for an outdoor coffee. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the people and the traffic and just feeling the breeze as it brushed past me. I also felt the warmth of the sunshine coming in and out of the clouds. Having my husband and my dog with me just completed it. So many times in my past life, I’d rush in and get a coffee to rush off to do something else. With these perfect conditions I really felt I was living in the moment and just enjoying what the world had to offer.

On a humorous note, on our way out yesterday, I mistakenly walked out the back door of our home ‘wig less’. Anyways, I just about plowed my husband over as he was trying to close the door. I asked him to look and see if the neighbors had their noses up against the window. He said no noses on the glass.

He later said I need a wig alarm ... something that will remind me to put that thing on when I go outside.

The final exam for my course is on Wednesday of this coming week. I have not been doing well with studying ... I’d rather be doing just about anything else.

I guess that is all for now and I’m off to have some breakfast and studying after that ... I hope.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Latest Energy Saving Device

Here is me ... sitting at my latest energy saving device.

Some of you might recognize it as a stand up ironing board but it’s not ... it’s a sit down ironing board ... amazing don’t you think?

One of the key benefits is that you don’t have to bend down as far to pick up the next piece of laundry.

I’m not going to measure how much less my carbon footprint is because I’m doing this by the seat of my pants ...

Well the ironing has been piling up and I wondered how the heck I was going to get through it all. It came to me in the middle of the night ... sit down and iron. Perfect!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cancer Fundraisers This Weekend

This weekend we have a couple of cancer fundraisers going on in Edmonton. One is The Underwear Affair and the other is the Father's Day Walk/Run for Prostate Cancer. Here is some info regarding the two.

The Underwear Affair is a fun 10K run or 5K walk that benefits often underfunded, taboo cancers like prostate, colorectal, testicular and cervical. It’s time to do something bold and help support the Alberta Cancer Foundation’s effort to find cures and better treatments for these cancers.

The Underwear Affair is one of those rare events that combine a really great cause and a really good time. It’s for people of all ages, all athletic abilities, and all fashion statements. Of course, participating in your underwear is encouraged, but not required. From crazy costumes to great company, on June 20, 2009, join the masses as they journey through the streets of Edmonton in support of treating cancers below the waist.
The Father's Day Walk/Run to beat Prostate Cancer on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 21, 2009

Funds raised support cutting edge research, awareness and support in the battle against Prostate Cancer.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

On The Up Swing

It was warm and muggy here yesterday ... so I went down to the basement and relaxed. Today I feel like a new woman likely because of the quiet time I spent downstairs and also because it is day nine of chemo. I'm definitely on the up swing.

I've even gone into the closet to try on some new clothes and yes they fit. I'm just not as swollen as I used to be ... my chemo belly is getting just a tiny bit smaller.

With regards to chemo nails, I want to thank everyone who left comments yesterday. Some people went and did some research and came back with information. I say, we get through this cancer stuff by helping each other. Thanks everyone ... I'll keep you posted on what works and what doesn't.

Today is a tad bit cooler and when on chemo ... cooler is better ... I'm finding that out pretty quick.

Hope everyone is doing O.K.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chemo Nails

Taxotere has done a number on my nails. The nails have become darkened, yellow, brittle and ridges have formed. Some nails appear to be lifting off their bed.

I have three nails in total that are of concern to me. I'm afraid I'm going to catch an edge and ripe one of them off.

I'm also concerned about infection that may lead to lymphedema.

Does anyone know what is the proper care of chemo nails with long-term Taxotere treatment?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I'm Feelin' Pretty Good

Last night's class when well. Because I was doing a bit more coughing the last few days I decided to pull out my inhaler and give myself a zap. I've only used that thing a few times once before. Well that zap made me feel pretty good. It must have some steroids in it to give you a boost.

I had to stand in front of the class and give a 5 to 10 minute presentation. I just leaned on the lectern and all was fine. When I got home my coughing started again ... I think the coughing has a bit to do with environmental allergies ... we have so many trees around our home whereas downtown as none.

This morning, I was off to the Cancer Institute for dressing change on my PICC line. This is week two of the cycle and if I'm going to have trouble with it ... this is the week. I parked underground and made my trek to the daycare. It can be quite the distance so I take lots of rest stops. At one rest spot, a volunteer comes up to me and says ... did you need a wheel chair? I quickly replied, "Nope" ... as if what are you thinking ... "I'm fine, I'm just resting." "Oh, O.K. ... I won't make you succumb to a wheel chair if you don't want to."

She saw right through me. Secretly, just about every time I walk into the Cancer Institute and see those wheel chairs ... I want to jump right in ... well maybe not jump.

Anyways, I made it to daycare, had the PICC line redressed. Only a couple of slight red areas caused by irritation of the tube and stuff. I'll be watching it like a hawk for signs of redness, itchiness and/or burning.

It is an absolutely gorgeous day out there today. I wanted to stop at a park and just sit in my car but I was too tired. I ended up coming home, dropping my purse on the floor and dropping myself into bed.

After a two hour nap ... I'm feelin' pretty good.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday Monday

Well, I took an Ativan last night and sleep pretty good. I woke up still feeling a bit groggy from the medication ... and still do ... yawning lots.

Just had a shower and will put some clean clothes on. I'm canceling my support meeting at the Cancer Institute for today as I have class tonight. I don't have energy enough for both. Getting through class will be a challenge in itself ... but the good news is ... four classes left ... only two weeks.

On the bad weeks, I wonder why I torcher myself with these studies but on the good weeks ... I feel happy I'm doing something productive.

So how are my side effects ... well, my lips are swollen, nose is a bit stuffy, had one nose bleed, eyes are watering and I've been coughing more than usual. I think the coughing has to do with the warmer weather we have been getting. I'm also weak and a bit foggy upstairs.

On the bright side, the worst is over and each day will be that much better. I've got some outings later this week with friends that I'm really looking forward to.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


One time I was given Tylenol 3 w/codeine for pain after surgery. I had the worst nightmares and I swore I would never again touch Tylenol 3 w/codeine ... and I haven't since.

Taxotere and the steroids mixed together create the same sort of effect for me. They cause extreme nervousness, frustration, agitation, resentment, anger and terrible sleeps which include nightmares. I wake up feeling like I've been hit by a truck. I wake up so angry I could scream.

It's sort of a snow ball effect ... if I stay calm, the effects are lesser and no nightmares but if something happens or I start thinking negatively, the anger only gets worse and so do the terrible sleeps. Sometimes it is down right horrid and last night's sleep was just that. One nightmare after another.

I keep reminding myself, it's the drugs and I just need to get through these few rotten days and try and stay as calm as I can.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

In And Out Of Bed

Since my last post, I've spent most of my time in and out of bed ... just resting. I get up to eat and this feeling of needing to lay down comes upon me ... then blam, I'm sleeping. All and all that is a good thing.

My appetite is up a bit ... likely due to the steroids.

I think it's been three cycles with the lowered chemo dosage and milder side effects. To be honest, I wish I could say it was much better but it's not.

Again due to the fatigue and chemo, my thoughts are quite negative so I think we'll just end here.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sleep Is Good

Last night I laid down right after supper and slept for almost three hours which left the night sleep a bit choppier but still worth it. This morning I laid down at about 10:00 am and slept for a couple more hours. I'm telling you that feels good.

The side effects of chemo and steroids are leaving me feeling yukky to say the least so posting will be brief. My focus will be on more sleep as required and keeping warm. I'm started to get the chills I normally get around this time of the cycle. Layers of fleece help with that.

The side effects of chemo and steroids are leaving me feeling yukky to say the least so posting will be brief.

One more thing I wanted to say ... I read a lot of cancer blogs and I know that others are going through similar and/or worse treatments than I am ... just wanted to say ... I'm thinking of you and wishing you all the best.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Fatigue Is Setting In

Last night's sleep was atrocious ... up till about 1:30 am and then slept till about 5:15 this morning. Yik! Those steroids really screw things up.

Today I'm going to head out and get a few chores done before the worst of the chemo side effects hit me this weekend.

Looks like some nice weather out there ... hopefully everyone is enjoying the same.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tuesday's Oncologist Visit

Since I started chemo in August, I have had weight gain every time I have my 3 week visit with the oncologist. The weight gain is caused by the steroids I take and the weight gain has been anywhere from 1-3 lbs. per visit. So I've put on about 25 lbs. I hate it because my clothes don't fit and it only adds to the feeling of being tired and lethargic.

Well this past visit I had a weight loss of almost 4 lbs. I was tickled pink because I feel better for it. Why did I lose weight? Last cycle, I had a new symptom that I hadn't had yet ... I was mildly nauseated which caused me to eat less. I would open the fridge and the smell would turn me off.

My oncologist on the other hand was not impressed and said she did not want to see weight loss become a habit. And you know, I forgot to ask her why she is so concerned ... likely because I had the news about my CT scan and was preoccupied by that.

I on the other hand think I would do better with a bit less weight on me. I have a feeling my doctor knows what she is talking about and I should take her seriously but for now I would love to drop some of these extra pounds. I know it would be easier to move around and psychological I would see myself looking better which would give me a better quality of life. I'd be dressing better because my selection of clothing would increase.

O.K. did I convince you it's a good idea to loose a few more pounds? My oncologist has me feeling quiet guilty right now.

Any feedback out there?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Chemo Today

Just got back from chemo. It took a bit longer than usual because pharmacy was late getting my prescription to daycare. No troubles ... I had a bunch of DVDs to watch.

As usual it was very busy ... all the beds were full. To my right was a senior lady. She had a couple of supporters sitting with her. To my left was a lady getting her second treatment. We chatted briefly. What I loved about her and her husband is that they were both bald. I believe he was purposely bald in support of her. In the two beds across from me were a couple of young people ... twenty something. Both the girl and guy had their mother's with them. It was so nice to see everyone had a loved one there for them.

I'm feeling pretty good ... so I'm going to take advantage of that and do a few things.

Hope everyone's doing O.K.!

Monday, June 8, 2009

CT Scan - Mixed Results

Just came back from the Cancer Institute from my oncologist appointment. Blood work looks good for chemo tomorrow.

We have mixed results on the CT scan.

When looking for changes on the CT scan, generally we focus on two of the largest tumors and compare them from scan to scan. On this CT scan, we noticed the largest tumor did shrink a bit but we also noticed that the smaller one grew a bit. The first thing the oncologist said is that there is no need to panic. We aren't sure why it grew. I asked if it was because we cut back on the chemo dosage and she felt that 'no' that wasn't it. One reason for growth may be that the tumor is getting smart to the chemotherapy. She said we are not going to change anything and are going to continue with the same treatment because other tumors are still shrinking. She said we'll be watching it closely on the next CT scan.

The doctor said not to panic ... I'm not panicking.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Alberta Health Services

Changes are happening ...

Alberta Cancer Board is now a part of Alberta Health Services (AHS).

So it looks like we have the ... former Cross Cancer Institute website, we have the former Alberta Cancer Board website, we have a new Alberta Health Services and a new Alberta Cancer Foundation website.

I'm confused.

I guess we'll have to watch and see how this all shakes out in the end.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Living With Cancer Ranked 13th

Living with Cancer has been ranked 13th of the Top 50 Cancer Sites & Resources by the Asbestos News Cancer Blog. That is kind of exciting.

When I started this blog back in August of 2008 I lacked the confidence to share it with anyone. Finally in about October I sent the link to my good friend Arlene and said to her ... would you have a peek and see what you think. She thought it was a pretty good idea and encouraged me to continue writing and sharing. It still took till December before I was confident enough to give the link out to most everyone I knew.

Today I am blown away by the support I get. I don't know where I'd be in this cancer journey without this blog and my online friends.

Thank you friends ...

Friday, June 5, 2009

On My Soap Box

Last night a friend of mine called and said she was sick with the flu/cold and would not be able to make it to our lunch date for today. She didn't want to risk me catching it. I was so glad she called to cancel.

Colds and flu are actually quite dangerous for people undergoing chemotherapy.

When someone is getting chemo generally the white blood cell count is down. Because the white blood cells are the body's weapon against infection and they are now lowered, the immune system is weakened. So the body is not able to fight off a cold or flu as a normal person might.

This could easily turn into something worse like a high fever or pneumonia ... and/or delay treatment.

So long story short ... please be aware of that if you are not feeling well or have family members that are not feeling well do let the person undergoing cancer treatment know so that they could make the final decision.

There I can get off my soap box.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Quiet Day Here

For the past couple of nights, my husband has taken me for a walk down the ally to a certain telephone pole. Today we measured the distance to that pole and back to our house. We used Google Map Pedometer. So I can walk 560'.

In my other life ... I walked a marathon ... 43 kilometers/26 miles.

I am a bit motivated by a fellow metastatic breast cancer survivor who is undergoing very similar treatment as myself. I believe she started Taxotere pretty well when I did in August of 2008. She has hired a personal trainer to get herself in better shape ... which should get her more strength and energy. She says she does what she can. I'm amazed at her enthusiasm.

I know exercising or even just walking is the right thing to do ... but if you have ever experienced chemo for any length of time ... for me anyways, it's the last thing I want to be doing.

Today is a quiet day but the highlight of it is that coffee tastes pretty good. I think I've already had three cups. Up till now the taste buds have been preventing me from enjoying it.

Hope everyone is doing O.K.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Bit About My Course

The course I take at college is called Principles of Management. It's part of a Human Resource Diploma I am very close to completing.

Well as with any college course there is group work. We have a group project that is due in a couple of weeks and the topic is 'Green Housing'. We are given a 'green house' building business scenario and we are to analyze it.

The portion I needed to have ready for tonight's group meeting was research on how generation X, generation Y and the baby boomers view environmentally friendly housing. So baby boomers are born from 1946 to 1961, generation X are people born from 1962 to 1979 and generation Y are born from 1980 to 1999. These dates do vary depending on which article you read.

I spend about 2.5 hours last night searching the Internet looking for information. It wasn't easy finding something but I did find something I could use. The information is not that exciting so I won't bore you with it but I just wanted to share a bit about what I study in school.

I must admit juggling school around chemo is a challenge but so far I've been lucky with exams falling on good weeks .... not bad. I haven't told one person at school that I'm under treatment for cancer and I want to keep it that way.

This afternoon is coffee with our breast cancer support group and tonight school.

Looks like another gorgeous day out there ....

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Gorgeous Day Out There

Just got back from having coffee at an outdoor cafe. It was sunny and breezy and wonderful. Nice to get some vitamin D. It really felt like a mini-vacation. Our weather here has not been the greatest so any good weather we get is muchly appreciated.

I remembered and went to class last night. Woohoo for me! I carried my laptop to class which really felt like I was caring a 30 pack. I walked back to the car with another girl and really had to push it ... I didn't want her to see me struggling.

For the remainder of the day, I'm going to work on school assignments. I need to get ahead on some of that stuff this week ... because next week is chemo and then it kinda goes down hill from there.

Not much more to report ...

Hope everyone is having a good day!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Forgetful Daria ...

I tell ya ... I have no memory left ... chemo has taken over my memory. I just keep forgetting things. I think it bothers me so much because in my other life, I was pretty organized ... O.K. annoyingly organized.

So yesterday, I started writing everything down and I mean everything. There are going to be reminder notes for everything. I've got reminders to go to my patient support group this afternoon, to go to school in the evening plus bring my laptop to class (because I don't normally) and take my medication in the evening.

I even have a reminder to make reminders for the next day. I've decided this will ease some of the stress in my life. Somewhere along the way things have gotten out of control. I think I was letting cancer get the upper hand here and slowly letting go ... well I`m fighting back ... I need some of that control back.

Today I had my PICC line redressed with adhesive bandages ... no more dry dressing. Things are looking good. As nice as the nurses are ... they said they didn`t want to see me till next week. I don`t feel offended ... I`d rather not see them till next week either :) .

In the mean time, this is my good week so I am planning to get out and about as much as possible.

Hope everyone is having a good day!