Monday, November 30, 2009

Yummy Polski Ogorki

Yesterday I craved pickles. I’ve been turned off those babies since I started chemo over a year ago but yesterday was the day. I pulled out a fresh jar and D and I struggled to get it open but once opened, I estimate I had at least five pickles and not the itsy bitsy ones either. They don’t have calories but they do have salt and maybe that’s why I like them so much. Anyways, they were yummy, crunchy and delectable. I think I am good for a day or two now.

This morning I woke up extra early for some reason so I got up had my toast and Xeloda pills. I felt extremely tired and went back to bed for a three hour nap. I feel pretty good now.

It was a quiet weekend so I think that is all for now.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Website...Cancer View Canada

I’ve had a couple people send me the link to Cancer View Canada and I thought I’d share it with everyone. The website’s goal is to connect people to services, resources and information regarding to cancer. It includes information on prevention, screening, treatment and support.

Over the months I’ve found the whole site to be a good read. One thing I really like is that I can have clinical trials info on breast cancer ... in my area ... emailed to me. And that’s just great.

There is a lot to look at so stop by and have a peak...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

My First Public Wheelchair Ride

Yesterday we decided to hit Costco ... D phoned ahead to confirm they had wheel chairs, there’s no way I’d be strong enough to walk all those aisles. I’ve been very apprehensive of being pushed around in a wheel chair, never mind being seen in one. But you know what ... it’s like most things in life ... fear of the unknown ... because the trip ended up being pretty good. I sat in the chair and D pushed me up and down every aisle, we stopped and looked at this and that. It wasn’t a big deal.

I must say D needs some pointers on wheelchair chauffeuring because he’d stop and look at an item and say something like, “have a look at this” and I’d be ahead of him so I’d have to twist my neck to see what he was looking at. I didn’t have the heart to tell him he needed to pull me back to see what he was talking about. I just figured I get some extra neck stretches in for the day.

Costco is an amazing place with a lot of good deals but after seeing the huge line-ups to pay, we ended up leaving without buying a thing. We’ll try again another day.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Stretch and Exercise

Since I started my foot exercises this week I decided to start doing stretches as well. I’ve been stretching my arms and legs and it’s paying off because today I was able to have a look at the bottoms of my feet. I haven’t done that for months and months. This has all become possible because I’m off that horrible Taxotere. My last cycle ended five and half weeks ago and my body is starting recover.

My posture has become atrocious. To correct that, I’ve started sitting in a proper dining room chair while watching TV instead of the cushy living room furniture. I’ve also been pulling my shoulders back when sitting and walking.

My body is starting to release some of the fluid it was hanging on to. My moon shaped face is slowly disappearing. Yesterday, I pulled my belt one notch tighter ... so my chemo belly is going down and I’m back in some of my regular shoes. I’ve really been focusing on having protein at every meal and I think it helps with reducing water retention.

I’m so much more self-motivated now than when I was on Taxotere.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

CDC ..Update For Cancer Patients

From the CDC website...

To help prepare you for the flu this season, CDC answers some of your most important questions about special considerations for cancer patients and survivors for seasonal flu and 2009 H1N1 flu.

Here is their link

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Exercises and School

Yesterday I put together and started my exercise program for my feet. After doing some of the stretching exercise, I realise that my calves are extremely tight ... likely from the lack of activity on my part for the last eight to ten months. The exercises include ... picking up a tea towel with my toes and rolling my foot over a frozen water bottle. These two seem to benefit me the most when I do them in the morning.

As well as stretching my calves and feet, I’ve also been doing stretching exercises for my arms. Can I tell you ... I am so out of shape. I walk like someone who is 105 years old ... but I’m going to stretch all those weary muscles out and get in better shape. I only hope that Xeloda works because so far it is a very manageable chemotherapy.

Last night in class, we were working in small groups. One of the girls coughed and another said,”Bless you.” Then she said, “Oh bless you is for a sneeze ... what do we say for a cough?” I said, “Hope you don’t give me swine flu.” We all had a good chuckle. Now... there are only three classes left before I graduate.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sore and Stiff Feet

The bottom of my left foot continues to be sore and stiff ... to the point where walking isn’t fun. I pulled out the yellow pages and looked up orthotics clinics and gave a few of them a call. One said I need a referral from a doctor. I also called a chiropractor. He also said I should check with my oncologist to make sure there isn’t any cancer in my foot that may be causing this issue. He would be willing to work with me after I talk with my Onc.

The reason I included a chiropractor is because I had great success in the past. I don’t go for the ‘bone cracking’ per say but I go because some do the active release technique which is like a deep massage stretching action. Years ago, they resolved tendinitis in my right arm after my mastectomy and planter fasciitis which I developed from walking marathons.

I just searched YouTube and found a video on foot stretching exercises that are similar to what we did when we trained for walking marathons. With any luck, I’ll have stretched out some of this stiffness/soreness before I see my Onc in a couple of weeks.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Xeloda Cycle Two - Day Seven

The side effects I seem to be experiencing from the Xeloda so far are cramps and diarrhea, neuropathy and hand/foot syndrome symptoms.

The stomach issues seem to have settled down a bit. I’m learning that I have to be ever so careful of what I eat and drink otherwise my stomach tends to rebel. The oncologist prescribed Metoclopramide but even that doesn’t always do the trick. After I laid down in bed last Saturday night, I was struggling with stomach cramps. I had already taken Metoclopramide but it didn’t quite do the trick. I then took an Ativan and that seemed to settle me and my stomach down. I guess the trick is to relax the mind and the body will follow.

For the past year, I’ve been calling my feet and hands issues ‘hand and foot syndrome’ when I should have been including the word ‘neuropathy’. I’m just now beginning to realize there is a difference between neuropathy and hand/foot syndrome.

Neuropathy is nerve damage and causes tingling, numbness, and a pins-and-needles type of feeling where as hand-foot syndrome is where the palms of the hands and soles of the feet become red, swollen, cracked and painful (tenderness, tingling, burning) and the skin may peel, blister, or develop sores. These two side effects appear to be very similar.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Molly Mall Walker

Yesterday D and I spent some time walking around the mall. It was nice to get out see it all decorated up with Christmas lights.

Tho I felt good most of the day, later in the day I struggled with diarrhea. I’m not sure if was caused by my gulping down too much water or the fact that I had too much yummy potato salad.
My stomach continues to be upset.

My other grumble for the day is that after walking so much yesterday, the ball of my left foot which has been slightly sore is now very sore.

The lesson learned is.... everything in moderation.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Second Cup Group

Yesterday I had coffee with the ‘Living with Cancer’ group which I’ll start calling the Second Cup group.

Three of us met and we talked for three hours ... wow and that went by quick. One of the ladies has a central line (CVC) like I used to have. I asked her if she experienced any irritation around the site. She said yes. She used chlorhexidine wipes to clean the area plus she used a saline spray afterwards to rinse it off a bit. She said if she missed the saline spray then when she pulled the bandages off, her skin would come off too. That sounded familiar. I then told her about my experience ... that I had developed an allergic reaction to the chlorhexidine. Her eyes got big ... I think it all made sense to her.

I wanted to thank C for giving two hats to me. She no longer has a need for them. I was excited because you know how it is ... a bald chick can’t have too many hats.

We made plans to meet again next week.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Breast Cancer Support Group Coffee

Yesterday I met the breast cancer ladies for coffee. As I drove to the mall, I felt so joyful be feeling so good on such a beautiful sunny day. We have been having some unseasonaly warm weather here lately.

In the mall parkade, I found a parking spot against a wall that was slightly wider than the rest.  I like that because I find my vision is a bit poorer and I lack some confidence when driving in poorly lit areas. My walk to the mall was a bit faster than normal and easier ... and that made me smile.

We had a nice visit and before we knew it was time to go. I stopped at a shoe store to look at slippers for the house. I wasn’t convinced they were what I was looking for so I decided I’d do some more research. I may stop at an orthopaedic shoe store and get some professional advice.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Remembering To Drink Water

As per the oncologist, I have to drink more water during the day to help flush the Xeloda out of my system. How am I going to remember to drink eight glasses of water when I can't remember what I did five minutes ago?

Well I read about this little trick. It said to put a tiny container and eight pennies by the kitchen sink ... as I drink a glass of water I toss a penny into the container. With any luck, by the end of the day, there should be eight pennies in the container. The next day just empty the container and start all over. I've actually used this little trick before and it has worked for me.

Well I'm off to drink another glass of water ... hopefully; I won't get distracted on the way there.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Living With Cancer Support Group

I just got back from our last ‘Living with Cancer Support Group’ for this year. For our last meeting, we had a nutritionist from the clinic come and answer any questions we may have had regarding diet and cancer. I found her information very helpful. Even though I’ve read or heard a lot of this before ... it’s a great reminder to get back on track with a proper diet.

The nutritionist brought a variety of samples of meal replacements for us to try. I grabbed a sample of Boost fruit flavored beverage and Boost pudding plus a new product also put out by Nestle called Resource 2.0 which is a high calorie drink. I’m going to try them another day as I have class tonight and don’t want to risk an upset stomach.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Blood Work And Oncologist Visit

I just got back from the clinic. My time there was a bit long because the lab was running behind. We didn’t have all the results of all my blood work back but we had enough for the oncologist to send me to the pharmacist for my Xeloda pills.

In my visit with the oncologist, I brought forward a couple issues. The first issue being that I have a crackling kind of sound coming out of my lungs. It occurs in the evening when I’m laying down to go to bed. It’s not a new side effect but it is definitely more noticeable. I also mentioned I was coughing more and had some signs of shortness of breath. The other side effect I mentioned was the swelling of my feet. She didn’t seem too concerned and said we’d keep an eye on both issues.

I also asked her about taking the Xeloda pills. The prescription says I should take the pills twice a day ... so my question was ... should I set an alarm for 6:00 am? She said no ... just take them when I wake up in the morning and then in the evening with my supper. The one thing I was reminded to do that I wasn’t doing was to drink lots of water. She said we need to flush the Xeloda out of my system ... especially my kidneys.

That is about all I remember for now.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Lunch And A Flu Shot For Dessert

Yesterday I had a nice lunch with a couple of old girl friends. I received flowers and a bear from one and my other friend paid for lunch. It was nice to meet with these gals. We had worked together in a previous job so there was no lack of conversation ... lots of news to get caught up on.

Then ... I went for my H1N1 shot. I walk in and am six deep for two nurses. Oh I thought ... I should be outa here in half an hour.... not! One woman had a young boy who didn’t want his shot and after 15 minutes the nurse said something to the effect of.... “Are we giving the shot or not?” The nurse instructed the mother how to hold the boy’s arms and legs and the deed was done.

Then there was the lady who was in wheel chair and on oxygen. She got her H1N1 shot and panicked. She started hyperventilating and screaming that she had intense pain in her back. She said call an ambulance. The two nurses called for a supervisor and all three calmed her down. She eventually left with no side effects.

Can I tell you ... I was ready to make a dash for it as this was turning into a gong show. Finally my number was called. Yahoo. I told the nurse that I thought they all were amazing. It took about 45 minutes to get through three people and then 15 to get through three more.

Anyways, because I had my regular flu shot in my left arm and I have lymphedema in my right arm, I had to get this shot in my thigh. I didn’t even feel it, but I can I tell you ... today I am limping. Ouch it is sore.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Coffee, School And The H1N1 Shot

Yesterday I met with C from the Living with Cancer support group. We’ve been meeting at Second Cup because the coffee shop has a few of these nice soft leather chairs to sit in. The tricky part is making sure no one else is sitting there. So far we’ve only had to wait a few minutes before the chairs become available. C and I had a really nice chat and before we knew it ... two hours had passed and it was time to leave.

Later in the afternoon, I spent time working on my school group project. It is due on December 1 with only a couple more classes after that to bring this course to an end. It really is going quick.

Today I’m off to lunch with a friend and then the H1N1 shot. My oncologist said I should get my shot the Friday before I see her... and today is that day. What are the odds ... Alberta Health Services opened up the shot to my category and age group the only day I can get my injection for this cycle? Love it when a plan comes together.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Swollen Feet

Today I thought I’d talk about my swollen feet. My swelling problem has gone up and done since I started chemo in August of 2008. At one point when I was on full dosage of Taxotere, my ankles were swollen to the point that I had to cut the sides of my socks because the elastic at the ankle was too tight. Then as we decreased the Taxotere dosage, the swelling went down to the point that I thought was almost normal. I started wearing some of my nicer tighter fitting shoes.

About a month ago I notice that my left foot started swelling ... back I go to my looser shoes. Shortly after that I started Xeloda and noticed my right foot started to swell  Feeling a bit frustrated ... last night I jumped on the internet and searched other people’s experiences. Looks like Xeloda can cause swelling of the feet ... darn it ... to the point that I may have to buy bigger shoes. It was also recommended I purchase insoles to help protect the bottoms of my feet. So my short-term plan is to go back to my runners until the swelling gets too much and then I’m going to shop for new shoes.

In the next few days I’m going to go look for some indoor shoes. At one of my oncologist visits the doctor recommended I wear good shoes indoors and outdoors. What she meant by that was that my toes need to be well covered and protected. Why? Because the hand/foot syndrome has given me poor feeling in my feet and there is a tendency for me to whack them into corners of furniture, walls and such. If I’m not careful I could really do some damage to my feet.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Living with Cancer Support Group

This morning I was at the Living with Cancer support group meeting. This particular group is quite small but has a good representation of a varying cancers and stages of cancer. Personally I find these groups very therapeutic. I feel reenergized and more positive after I attend one of these meetings. We have one more session left and that will be it till next year.

A couple of weeks ago I collected contact information from the group members so that we could make plans to get together outside the formal setting. So last Thursday we met for coffee at a Second Cup. We plan to do the same this week. It’s nice to get together and be able to talk ‘cancer’.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Drew Carey And The Million Dollar Challenge

Drew Carey will give 1 million dollars to LIVESTRONG if he gets 1 million followers on Twitter by December 31st, 2009. And if he doesn’t get a million he will prorate it to however many followers he has by the end of the year.

Cool eh!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Xeloda Side Effects - Cycle One

I sure want to thank everyone who has left comments and sent emails on their experience with Xeloda. I have a bit more confidence taking it now that I have an idea what to watch for when it comes to too much Xeloda.

One of the side effects the oncologist told me to watch for was red swollen hands and feet. She said if my palms become red and swollen to the point I can’t see the creases, I need to call the triage nurse immediately. I’ve already experienced the redness on my hands and feet. I see it first thing in the morning. It’s like I got sunburn on the palms of my hands and bottoms of my feet.

I’ve only got this evening and tomorrows Xeloda to take and then I’ll be done with 14 days of pills. After that I have one week with no pills which will end my first three week cycle.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

How Am I Feeling?

Well I’ve been feeling mildly nauseated and a little headachy. My head feels full and sound seems to be amplified. It’s like I’m hypersensitive to stimulus. Unfortunately this makes me easily agitated.

Last week I said my coughing had improved ... well that was short lived because I’ve been coughing a bit more. I think the fluid around my lungs must be getting worse because I’m also experiencing some shortness of breath.

As far as fatigue goes ... it’s not too bad but I have been sleeping like 10 hours a night.

All in all, I feel ‘grumpy’ in the mornings and better in the afternoons.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Keeping Busy

Yesterday afternoon we had our Breast Cancer support group coffee. As always, it’s nice to get together with the ladies. Everyone seems to be doing well.

I came home and feverishly worked on my school project. It is a group project ... so there are three of us working together. My task was to create a survey for a group of employees. We are analysing training for a company’s department. Last night I emailed the first draft to my partners ... hopefully, with a little fine tuning, it will be what we need. I’ve still got a cover letter and letter of agreement to put together. Normally, this isn’t something I’d like to be doing but it keeps my mind occupied so I’m OK with it.

With regards to the new chemo, Xeloda, I’m still feeling pretty good. I’ve had a couple of bouts of diarrhea. I’m hoping it’s because I added some dairy products back into my diet. I’m eliminating those immediately. My other challenge is eating first thing in the morning and then later in the evening. Xeloda has to be taken with food twice a day.

Maybe I could ask the Xeloda blogger followers how you handled taking the pills. Did you take those 12 hours apart ... if not, how many hours apart? What time do you take the pills? What type of food do you eat when you take your pills? I don’t digest well late in the evening and therefore am looking for something simple to eat when I take my pills ... any suggestions?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Virtual Flowers

Michelle, a fellow breast cancer survivor sent me some flowers via email. Please stop by her site, Michelle's Next Phase and send her some 'positive vibrations'.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Xeloda Week 2

Well the good news is that I still don’t have any real side effects of the Xeloda. I’ve been feeling pretty good.

I just got back from the ‘Living with Cancer’ support group and later today I have my class.

My mind is a bit blank so I think that is all for now.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Race To End Women's Cancer Marathon In Washington, D.C.

I’ve been asked to help promote the Race to End Women's Cancer Marathon that will take in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, November 8, 2009, at 7:00 am.

Here is the 31 second PSA.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Family Time

Yesterday we were over at my sister A and her husband's place for lunch. Her daughter was in from out of town and we wanted to make sure and get a visit in. We ended up having a nice lunch and spending most of the afternoon together.

This morning, it was off to breakfast with my other sister D and my mom. I brought my chemo pills along so I could take them at the restaurant ... still not quite used to the idea of taking chemo by pill. As far as side effects go, I’m doing real well ... in fact I have none to speak of. Of course I know that could change any day but I'm happily appreciating each day I have no ill effects.

Just woke up from a nap so I think that’s all for now ...