Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Feeling Tired and Agitated

Yesterday I was a tired puppy. I thought I slept well thru the night but got up feeling tired and agitated. I had breakfast and then laid down for what turned out to be a two hour snooze. Still feeling out of sorts, I decided to get out of the house and shop to burn off some steam.

Well that didn’t really help either as I just got more tired and grumpy as the day wore on. After supper, I ended up taking half an Ativan and hit the pillow just before 8.

This morning I’m up and feeling pretty good. I’m not agitated and that’s great because I have afternoon coffee lined up with the Sears group gals and supper with some friends I used to work with.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

PICC Line Covers R - us

I just got back from having coffee with RJ, one of my knitting group buddies. She is an amazing knitter and whipped up this PICC line cover for me. Not only does it look great but if fits real good too.

RJ is going to send me the pattern that she created just in her head. And I’m going to go out and get one more set of circular knitting needles to see if I can whip up something similar.

I’ve been trying different sizes of knitting needles and different types of yarn and still haven’t come up with something that works for me. I guess I just don’t have that creative gene. Somehow making these PICC line covers has become more of a challenge for me now. More than anything, I’m going to make one that looks and feels good too … and that’s final.

Monday, June 28, 2010

An Inspiring Cancer Video

My friend Hans from theBluesman sent me this very inspiring 16 minute video.

As taken off the TED website …

Renowned classical Indian dancer Ananda Shankar Jayant was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. She tells her personal story of not only facing the disease but dancing through it, and gives a performance revealing the metaphor of strength that helped her do it.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

PICC Line Stuff

Friday I was at the clinic getting my PICC line redressed … it’s a weekly event. It‘s been a while since I had seen this particular nurse. She asked how I was doing. I went over my particular situation, reminding her I was stage 4. Oh she says, I probably knew that at one time but forgot.

She cleaned up the skin around my PICC. For a while now, I have had a scab forming around the line itself. Every nurse I’ve talked to says the same thing; we won’t pick on the scab. If it happens to fall off while we’re cleaning it then that is ok. Otherwise we’ll wait for it to come off on its own.

Tho I’ve knitted a few well-fitting PICC line covers, I prefer to cover my PICC line with something called Coban wrap. It can be bought at medical supply stores or at veterinary supply stores. If price is a concern, the vet stores offer it for a much better price than the medical supply stores.

I prefer the skin tone color as it helps camouflages it well … but if you prefer a bit of color … Coban comes in many bright and exciting colors. The best part is that this stuff does not move at all. It grippes the PICC gently and stays put for a week at a time …and I like that a lot.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

American Cancer Society - Choose You

The American Cancer Society is launching a new nationwide movement that shines the spotlight on a sobering statistic: one in three women will get cancer in her lifetime. Choose You is a unique new initiative designed to inspire women to take control of their lives and put their health first to stay well and help prevent cancer. For more information about the Choose You movement, log on to

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fatigue Setting In

After 20 treatments of Taxotere, I thought Xeloda was a holiday. My energy level was coming back. I was feeling stronger both mentally and physically and that made for a pretty good quality of life. It kinda felt like I was accelerating.

Now that I’m finishing my second cycle of Vinorelbine I’m being reminded of some of the fatigue I experienced with Taxotere. I am starting to feel tired all the time. I am losing some of my enthusiasm to do stuff. Everything requires a bit more effort these days. I just want to constantly go for a nap.

Mentally, the fatigue is a challenge; I can’t stay on top of anything. I’m feeling a bit melancholy. And this is only cycle two of Vinorelbine. I’ve got mixed emotions, if it works and the shrinks my tumors I’ll be extremely happy … but on the other hand, I won’t be happy with just the fatigue.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cancer in 2030

Reuters reports ...

U.N. report: 13 million around world will die each year, twice those in 2008

LONDON - Cancer will kill more than 13.2 million people a year by 2030, almost double the number who died from the disease in 2008, the United Nations' cancer research agency said on Tuesday.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) also said that almost 21.4 million new cases of the disease will be diagnosed annually in 2030.

Launching a new database on global incidence of cancer in 2008, the latest year for which figures are available, the IARC said the burden of cancer was shifting from wealthier to poorer nations.

For the complete story ... follow this link ...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

This and That

Yesterday was a busy day. I visited C from the Second Cup Coffee group. She hasn’t been well enough to join us so lately and I thought I’d stop by her place and visit. She has a lovely back yard on a ravine. There we had tea and cookies and enjoyed all the birds using the bird bath. Hope you can soon join us at Second Cup C.

Then I spent the remainder of the day with family. My sister is visiting from the States and my niece and nephew and their newest little one are in from BC. Wow the family sure is getting big.

It must have been a bit too exciting of day for me because my sleep last night wasn’t great. I woke up numerous times. I had some breakfast and watched a bit of TV and still felt ‘grumpy’.

So I decided to take a couple of Tylenol and hopped back in bed. Two hours later, I woke up feeling so much better; I can’t even tell ya. Then D was staring at the ceiling and said, “That’s good you had a great sleep because you were snoring so loud, I thought I’d find cracks in the ceiling.” Too Funny!

Anyways, I’m feeling good and ready to face the day.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lymphedema Update

Yesterday I had an appointment with the physiotherapist at the clinic. As we walked over to the examination cubicle, she asked me how I was doing. I told her I was feeling ok but my back and shoulders were really achy. I told her that sometimes I’d wake up in the night all sore and uncomfortable. As I was talking to her, I felt a little embarrassed because I know that if I was vigilant on doing my stretches and my exercises, I probably wouldn’t be having these problems.

Anyways, she was very kind to me. She said the best thing you could do is stop sitting around and start moving … something as simple as walking could do it. She said while I’m walking, I should swing my arms too. 

She said … unfortunately, most of us have a poor sitting posture, allowing our shoulders to fall forward. This stretches out the shoulder muscles at the back and weakens the front shoulder muscles. This causes the aches. Well, I’ve decided to get moving and walk more.

Once we finished up with that, we got on to the business of measuring up my arm to see if the lymphedema is worse or better than my last visit in January. Well my measurements were up a bit but no biggie. I’m on chemo and we decided that the fluid is going to fluctuate because of that. 

My existing sleeve and glove are all stretched out, time for a new set … my my, does the time go by fast or what?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Official - feet are no longer icebergs

Last night in bed, D and I were talking about how my feet are no longer icebergs like they were most of 2009. That Taxotere did a real number on me … me and my feet were always cold. At night I used to snuggle up to D and I’m sure he’d get a cold chill up his spine every time I snuck up with my feet. Often I’d go to bed with a heating pad at my feet and it would still take hours to warm those babies up.

Now I’m finding my feet are hot and I’m looking to cool them down … especially now that summer is here. At night, I’m always kicking the covers off to cool down. So here I go … different chemo different side effects.

One of the other things with Taxotere is that it was really hard on my immune system and somewhere along the way, I picked up a planters wart. I was disappointed to say the least. Anyways, because I was on active treatment, we couldn’t treat it. To my surprise, after my switch to Xeloda, the wart disappeared. Don’t know exactly when but along the way, the Xeloda burnt that baby right out of its den… horray!….a win for me.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Day One After Chemo

Yesterday afternoon I threw a blanket under a shade tree and laid down. Then I just closed my eyes and just enjoyed what nature had to offer … a nice breeze, baby and momma birds chirping, leaves rustling, some dogs barking in the distance, wow this is what I needed. It was so nice our dog Daisy joined me and stood guard.

After about an hour or so, I made my way back inside … had some supper, some tv and off to bed at around 8:30. As D was tucking me in, I asked him to open the window just a crack so I could get some of that fresh air going past my face. Before you knew it, I was sleeping like a baby.

I woke up this morning with a headache; par for the course. So I grabbed the Tylenol and decided to quit being a martyr.

I’m a bit down on energy but feeling pretty good overall.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Chemo Day

I just got back from my Vinorelbine chemo. Normally my appointment takes just over an hour but today it was two hours. The nurses were busy with someone who was having an allergic reaction to their chemo, so everything got backed up a bit. They kept apologizing for the wait … I said no troubles … I would want the same attention if it were me. Besides, it gave me a chance to make small talk with the neighbors.

Once the nurse started my infusion, it didn’t take long for me to feel nauseous, way more than last week. As it was all going into me, I could really taste and feel the chemo and the saline flush. Yik! And on top of that, my nose was really sensitive to all the medical smells. Don’t know what was going on with me today but boy o boy was I glad to get outta there.

It’s sunny and warm here and my next move is to throw a blanket under a shade tree in the back yard and lay down. I need some of nature’s good healing

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Blood Test for Chemo

This morning I was at the clinic getting my blood drawn and tested in anticipation of chemo tomorrow. I didn’t see the Onc … just the nurse who went over my blood work with me. My white cell count has recovered to 2.5 and that’s really good so chemo is a go tomorrow.

The nurse and I discussed my schedule. No chemo next week because it’s week three of my cycle and a no visit the following week because of Canada Day falling on my chemo day.

So I get a two-week break. I’m not crazy about skipping the chemo on the second week because I’ve skipped so many lately because of my PICC line infection. 

Otherwise I’m feeling really good on Round One and that’s great.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Drop Everything and Fight Cancers Below the Belt

As taken off their website ...

Join Alberta Cancer Foundation’s Underwear Affair® presented by Mark’s Work Wearhouse and help uncover the cure for underfunded below-the-waist cancers like prostate, ovarian, and colorectal. On June 19, 2010, run the competitive 10K or walk the fun 5K and show Edmonton that there’s absolutely no shame in bringing a little awareness to down there-ness.

The fun continues even after you cross the Finish Line with the EXPOsed After Party! Grab a well deserved drink, strut your stuff in the legendary costume contest, and dance the night away with your fellow participants!

It’s time to hit below-the waist cancers where it hurts. Register today!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Staying Busy

My chemo side effects so far have been minimal. Every morning I wake up and wonder when the headaches will kick in because with my first infusion of Vinorelbine … I had headaches for about four days straight … but not this time. Yippy!

I find that the chemo does make me a bit agitated so I try to fill my day with stuff to do because when I’m just sitting around, my mind wonders to the unpleasant thoughts of my future with cancer. 

Anyways, last Saturday I went for breakfast with my mom and sister. After that I spent some really nice time with my friend T from the knitting group … and for the afternoon, D and I found a nice outdoor coffee shop where we spent our time just sitting enjoying the sights and sounds of the downtown. For the evening we took a nice long walk in the nearby park. Later when my head hit the pillow it was lites out, I slept like a baby.

Yesterday, we drove south an hour and a half and spent the day with my brother and his wife. What a great time just sitting around and talking. It was another full day and another great night’s sleep.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Reminder: Make Note of Your Breasts

Ladies…. here is a short advert on some not so subtle ways of keeping your breasts more in mind … ha ha.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Chemo Went Well

I had chemo yesterday. My appointment time was 3:00 pm which is quit late in the day so I decided to fill the morning and early afternoon with lots of fun stuff. Lunch with my good friend Audrey and short visit with my good friend C from the Second Cup coffee group.

By the time I got to the clinic I was feeling really good … ready to get the infusion going. Everything progressed perfectly so I was outta there in about an hour.

I came home, had supper. I felt some very mild nausea and a bit warm and agitated so I went down to the basement where I did some knitting and cooled off. Came upstairs and watched just a bit of TV and off to bed I went. This morning I woke up feeling pretty good. I’m very excited about that.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Shout Out To The Ride to Conquer Cancer

As per their website ...

When: June 26-27, 2010
Where: Calgary
Distance / Time: Two days of biking, one night of camping
Event / Contact Info: 888-624-BIKE(2453);

What is The Ride to Conquer Cancer?

During one epic weekend, June 26-27, 2010, thousands of men and women will rally in Calgary to cycle along the Majestic Rockies before returning to Calgary in two days to be a part of history in the making.

The money raised will support breakthrough research and discovery of new cancer therapies which will benefit treatment at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre and the Cross Cancer Institute. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Blood Draw and Onc Visit

I just got back from the clinic and had my blood drawn. The nurse poked me twice before she got blood and off I went.

I stopped for coffee to burn up some time before my Onc appointment. Then the nurse came in and had a look at my arm and PICC line. Still a bit red from the infection but looks good otherwise. She said my blood work was good for chemo tomorrow. My neutrophils count - white blood cells - is at 2.1. That’s really good news. I asked what the minimum could be and the nurse said 1.5 for a Vinorelbine infusion. Apparently that number varies with the type of chemo. Who knew that?

I then saw my Onc. He also said we’ll go with chemo tomorrow and Friday next week as well and then one week off and then repeat that cycle. After eight weeks I’ll have another CT scan to see how my liver tumors are coming along.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Yet Another PICC Line Cover

This is my second time having a PICC line and both times bloggers have sent me a link to the site Finding Jenn Project Blog which offers info on how to knit an arm-ling PICC line cover. 

On the weekend I decided to head over to the local craft store where I picked up a 5mm circular knitting needle and a skein of worst yarn to match. Not knowing which size would be best for me; I cast on 52 stitches and knitted the whole thing up only to find it was way too large for my arm. The 9 inch length was ok but the diameter was too large. 

On my second attempt, I decided to cast on 44 stitches. This arm-ling is a much better fit but I’m actually knitting one more … this time 40 stitches and see if that is a better fit. Just for reference, my arm circumference including the bulge of the PICC line is 11.5 inches.

Now I’m just waiting for the weather to improve so I can wear short sleeves and take the arm-ling out for a test drive.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Chemo for H and my Camera

H from the Second Cup group was having chemo today and I stopped by the clinic to pick up a get better card from her for another gal C from the coffee group. I decided to bring my camera and offered to take a picture of H as she was getting her infusion. She thought that was a great idea. She thought she’d like to send the picture to her adult children and maybe put them more at ease with her getting chemo. 

I think when most people hear the words chemotherapy and radiation … they have a different image in their head than what it really is. So when I took the first picture, H said … hey, you didn’t give me a chance to smile … now there’s a great attitude.

C has been in and out of the hospital over the past few weeks. I’m going to stop by her house and lift her spirits a bit with the card. C we miss you at coffee and look forward to seeing you there soon.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Me’n Daisy on a Walk

I haven’t posted a picture of myself for a while because the good pictures are few and far between. The fact is that I’ve never been very photogenic and … nearly two years of cancer treatment has taken its toll on my cover girl looks. 

Anyways, last night D and I and Daisy went for a walk, and snapped this picture just before we crossed the street.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Shoutout to CancerConnection

As taken off the CancerConnection web page ...
  • support from someone who really understands
  • without leaving home
  • free and confidential
Wouldn’t it help to talk with someone who really understands what you’re going through? The Canadian Cancer Society’s CancerConnection program matches you with a trained volunteer who has had a similar cancer experience.

The program is available to any adult with cancer. Just click on the below link  for more details. 

CancerConnection will match you up according to what is most important to you. It may be that you are looking for someone who had a treatment you are considering, or someone who had the side effects you are experiencing, or maybe you are looking for less cancer-specific criteria like someone who had young children at the time of their diagnosis.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Knitting Group

This morning we had our regular knitting group get-together. We start by having everyone check in with some details about how the past week went. I gave everyone an update on my PICC line infection. There was a few gals going for tests or scans of one type or another so we talked a little about how each of us handle the anxiety of going for a test.

Some ladies said they listened to music to relax, others used visual meditation to calm themselves and others did things like crossword puzzles or Sudoku to distract their minds. Everyone seemed to have their own little trick.

We then settled in to some serious knitting… needles justa smokin’. Along with our individual projects, the group is working on knitting a bunch of 4 inch squares. We plan to sew them together to make blankets. Right now we have just over 100 squares which should be enough to get started on the first few.

We’ve been meeting for a few months now and all the ladies are getting to know each other really well. I find the jokes fly a little easier and we always end up having a few really good belly laughs.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Blood Work Only No Onc Visit

I just came back from my appointment for blood work at the clinic. The nurse asked to look at my PICC infection site on my upper left arm. She said it looked quite good but said we still need to see major redness improvements over the next couple of days.

The infection site hasn’t changed much in size but the redness is down dramatically and there is no soreness. The nurse reminded me at least a couple of times to watch the area carefully for any signs of swelling, soreness, increased redness, oozing and watch my temperature. If I experience any increase of these, I’m to call the clinic immediately,

Today’s tests showed my neutrophils (white blood cells) are down this week. Waaat? I was a bit shocked because my blood work has always been good since I started getting chemo back in 2008. No one is guessing why it’s down either. I asked her to check what the count was last week … she said 2.2 and today it is 1.2 … long story short … no chemo treatment tomorrow. Shoot!

Then I headed over to Daycare to have my PICC line redressed. The nurse there said the skin around the site looked good but noted there was still a bit of redness. She then stressed the importance of watching for any signs of worsening. Check your temperature every day, she said. 

Well I’m disappointed to say the least. I’ve only had one chemo infusion in the last month and that worries me.

Here is a real short video of neutrophils in action ...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Sears Coffee Group

I just got back from having coffee with the usual bunch at Sears. The only one missing from the group was A. We all got our refreshments and snacks and settled into our chairs. It didn’t take long before we were chatting away about this and that. All of a sudden S said … alright, let’s go around and have an update on everyone’s health. So we all shared our stories of aches and pains and medications we were on. 

I shared my tribulations with my PICC line. I also threw in some words like … I sure hope this chemo works because this is my last shot, probably my last proven treatment. I hate sharing negative news with my breast cancer buddies, so I try and do it gently. No one could say much to that and we moved on.

Of course Ari our mascot was there sitting in his own chair. I like to watch people’s reaction to seeing a stuffed baboon sitting amongst a bunch of ladies. I find older people seem to find humor in it and younger people walk away thinking we’re just a bunch of batty ladies. Either way, we have a lot of fun with him.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My New Quaff

Yesterday I stopped in at the Cross Cancer Institute to get a haircut. Yes the clinic… they have a Wig Salon. There they have certified volunteer stylists who provide wig fittings, head shaves, and haircuts to cancer patients. The lady that cut my hair was so kind and considerate. Even tho my hair cut took all of 5 minutes, this gal made it feel so easy for me… no muss no fuss. D says my hair looks darker too.

As I was leaving, I stopped to look at the wigs they had on display. Wow … some really nice wigs I said to the gal. Yes we have a great selection with new ones coming in all the time. These new wigs sure have improved looks since I started wearing them in 2000. 

I would highly recommend them to all the chemo gals around here. Here is the link…