Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Kid Sister

Happy birthday sweet Cathy.

Sometimes it is hard to look at pictures .... it shouldn't be so, but my heart aches at the loss.  In each picture, she is smiling.  So carefree.

We are going to visit her at the gravesite today and release balloons.  It has been something we have done since she has been gone (Dec 1, 2007).  Our group is getting smaller as we are spread in distance, but we each think of her in our own way .... I'm sure every day, not just today.

I love you and miss you and can't wait to see you again! We will laugh and play, dance and sing.  Forever.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Radiation Planning

I received a call from Kevin at the radiologist today.  I am set up to do some more planning on June 1 @ noon.  I will be using a new table and technique, so he wants to be sure that it is "do-able".  I will keep you posted!

Didn't get a lot done over the weekend.  Slept most of it away.

Sis did make me some pretty scarves from material I picked up from Joanne's. I'll be sure to so you the finished product.

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Clinical Trial - Results

I received a call from Dr R about the Clinical Trial.  He said he wanted to call me personally to tell me that we can't move forward with the trial.  One of the qualifiers is that radiation must be started NO LATER than 6 months after surgery.  This Sunday will be 6 months and the "overseers" would take another two weeks to review the treatment plan.  Then he said he "didn't feel comfortable waiting that long to start treatment".

I have mixed feelings about that statement.

So, I am awaiting the call from the scheduling office to set me up for 6-1/2 weeks of daily radiation.

Yippee ~
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My heart goes out to my brother-in-law, sister and family for the passing of Mamaw. They are traveling today to be with family and friends. 

Vada, may God comfort you and give you peace.

Oceans of love ~
Road Going Home

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Back on Coumadin

This morning, I met Nurse Michael to do a final review on the clinical trial for the radiation treatment. Once the MRI and blood work comes back, we will know if I qualify.  Should know this week!  The computer randomizes the "arm 1" and "arm 2" (6 weeks or 3 weeks).  The "boost" is not a big difference from the standard treatment (1.0 vs 1.5). 

I mentioned to Michael that my symptoms were back from when the port had created the blood clots. Its been about 2 weeks since getting off the Coumadin. So, Michael wanted me to wait on drawing blood and let Doc Esther check things over.  I was holding my breathe a bit because I didn't want an extra test like the ultrasound. I wasn't on the schedule to see her today either.  Mike and I had a great conversation waiting for her.  I like to ask folks why they got into the oncology profession.  He said it was because of his grandma. 

He gave high recommendations of the doctors I have on my team as well.  He said that if he or a family member ever got cancer, he would go to them.  That is real encouragement for me.

Doc Esther came in and sat down in relief.  She had been on the go all morning.  She pressed my underarm and I winced in pain. 

Outcome:  Back on Coumadin

As long as it takes the pain away and prevents a blood clot from killing me, fine by me!

Note to self: Get a medical alert bracelet

I asked her why she was in this field and she said that she loves to learn and loves people more than test tubes.  I just love her! She is real excited that I am taking part in the trial.  She said that is the best way for docs to know what works and what doesn't.  30 years ago, most of it was a guessing game and it was so frustrating.  She also said that the treatments I got were all clinical trials at some point.  I'm honored to be doing it.

Four vials of blood work .... and I expect a call this week for a yes or a no on the trial.

I was so incredibly tired today.

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Monday, May 21, 2012


This morning I had an echo.  Got all jelled up for the ultrasound on my heart before my work day began.  Results should be ready 24-48 hours.

I still amazes me at the many people I meet through this journey who have compassion and want to know my story.  They speak to me of theirs. It is very humbling and I'm thankful for those encounters.

And when they hug me and tell me they are praying for me ....
it speaks volumes!
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Getting out of the City

Sunday, Matt & I met friends for lunch and ended up spending the day with them in the country.  The weather was beautiful and the sky blue.  We headed in the direction of Pennsylvania and it was amazing how the landscape changed.


We stopped by their home and enjoyed the hens!


Then, we went to an old abandoned farmhouse built around 1940. The buildings were delapitated, but there was a newer home on the property. Farmland all around.  I found beauty in everything!  What a wonderful day!

Ice cream afterwards!!

We spent about 6 hours outside that when we got home around 6:30, I wanted to take a nap.  Slept through the night ...... all that fresh air!
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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Clinical Trial & Tattoos

Have I mentioned how tired I am? Do I sound like a broken record?

Yesterday was a long day.

7:40am - Arrived at the clinic for my Herceptin drip.  My appointment was for 8:00, but I thought arriving early to get my blood work done would speed up the process. Wrong ...

7:50am - Approach the receptionist window "do you want me to go ahead and get my blood tests done at the labs"..... "no, you are not scheduled for blood tests this time, besides they don't open until 8:00" 

Note to self - life is full of waiting, just accept it

8:10am - Nurse Tracy (whom I adore) calls me back and I choose a recliner to get started.  Formalities and verifications were completed and I sat back and watched the drip, drip, drip of the IV.  Tracy sat down for a bit and we had a very pleasant chat. 

The nurses are always super busy, so I really appreciated
this one on one time.  It gave me comfort talking woman to woman.

9:15am - Headed to Radiology Oncologist a few buildings down.  Parking was CRAZY.  Signed in and headed for the coffee machine. By the time I was stirring, the nurse called me in.

Here is where I lost track of time. 

The original doctor I consulted with months ago retired.  So, I met Dr. R and we discussed my status so far and treatment plans.  The subject of the clinical trial came up and we discussed it in great lengths.  As long as I'm eligible and my tests come back okay, I'll do it.

After the breast exam, he mentioned that they have a new machine where the patient lays on her stomach instead of her back. He said "since your breasts are so generous, there would be less potential of damage to the lungs."

I just about peed myself

Next thing I know, the Radiologist technician came in to escort me to the dressing room and then to the MRI room.  The plan was to make a mold of my back so I would stay in the same position during the radiation blasts. 

Four men in the room to accomplish this task

By this time in the journey, I have no issues with shyness.  I don't like it, but hell if I care by now.  Dr R used sticky guides to outline the area on my right breast. 

Then, I had to lay on my stomach. Forehead and chin resting on guards, arms extended over my head.  The longer I laid there, the more my right arm became shaky.  My left breast was squished (ouch!) and my right one hung down to be photographed.  The technician said that the mesh is soaked in hot water and they have only a few seconds to place it on my back and shape it.  He warned me a few times that it would be hot .... and it was. 

I asked if my scarf was going to get wet and he said yes.  So, I took it off.

Mrs. Lex Luther

The MRI machine began to move

During this time, my eyes were closed. I tried to steady my breathing so I wouldn't move or hyperventilate.  I'm claustrophobic. I tried not to think about my arm giving out. Just hanging on to what strength I had left to hold myself up.

I wanted to sing a worship song in my head, but couldn't find the words.
Only one word came to mind and I said it over and over and over.
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.

He calmed me instantly and then the machine stopped.

After they removed the mold, 3 separate needle pricks marked my "tattoos" on my back. The first one stung, but then my mind tuned it out and the other 2 were not as bad.

Now, imagine trying to "lady-like" get up from a stomach position topless. It must have been a sight!  I made my adjustments, put my scarf back on and was escorted back to the dressing room.

I will receive a phone call by the end of next week for the next steps.

Noon - I made it to work. 

2:00pm - I could barely keep my eyes open so I made arrangements to make up my hours today (4 hours).

I drove home and fell asleep.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Quick Update

I'm in my 2nd full week of work and TIRED.  Last night I went to bed at 8:30. I'm working longer hours to make up time for doctor appointments, chemo and tests. 

Tomorrow is my Herceptin drip (30 min, every 3 weeks). After that, I head over to the Radiologist to find out when my treatments will start.  I've talked to those involved in the clinical trial and it turns out that I may not qualify because of pre-existing conditions on the list.  I will know for sure tomorrow.

My prayers are with Jane right now.  The tumor removed was the size of a small watermelon attached to ovaries and other organs.  May the Lord hold you tightly ~

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mango Could Be World's Healthiest Fruit

Mango Could Be World's Healthiest Fruit
April 24, 2012

Already one of the world's most popular fruits, scientists are discovering that mangos may also be one of the healthiest. Image: Zantastik, Wikimedia
Already one of the world's most popular fruits, scientists are discovering that mangos may also be one of the healthiest. New research, presented this week at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) meeting in San Diego, not only suggests people who eat mangos have a better diet, but the fruit also contains a substance that may have an effect on breast cancer cell proliferation.

Mango consumers may have better diets

The first study presented at the meeting suggests that individuals who consume mangos tend to have a better diet than consumers who do not. The researchers compared the diets of over 13,000 individuals participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between 2001 and 2008 to the Healthy Eating Index (HEI), a quantitative measure of diet quality relative to federal dietary guidance. They found that those that regularly ate mangos scored higher on the HEI than those that did not.
Mango consumption was also compared to overall nutrient intake and physical health. Compared to non-mango consumers, mango consumers had, on average, significantly increased intake of vitamin C, magnesium, potassium and dietary fiber, while having lower intake of sodium and total fat. In addition, they had a lower average body weight.

Additionally, lower C-reactive protein levels were found in adults who added mango to their diet. C-reactive protein measures inflammation and it has been suggested that high levels of it in the blood are linked to increased risk for heart disease, however the evidence is inconclusive. Additional research is needed to determine whether the lower levels of C-reactive protein are attributable to mango consumption or other factors.
"We found that adults who ate mangos tended to have a lower body weight, higher intake of fiber and lower intake of fat, all of which are associated with better cardiovascular health," stated Victor Fulgoni, of Nutrition Impact, LLC and lead researcher on this study. The National Mango Board funded this research with the goal of better understanding how mangos can promote healthy diets.

Phytochemicals found in mangos may target breast cancer cells
Another exploratory study presented at FASEB this week and conducted by researchers at Texas A&M Univ. discovered that a polyphenolic compound found in Keitt mangos may be toxic to breast cancer cells. The study, done in vitro (in cells) and in mice, found decreased proliferation of breast cancer cells treated with the polyphenolic extract, and reduced tumor size and weight in mice. Though more research is needed, including human clinical trials, researchers hypothesize that the effects of the polyphenolic extract might extend to the consumption of fresh mango.

"In summary, the anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory activity of mango polyphenolics in breast cancer cells were at least in part due to targeting proteins that play an important role in the survival of breast cancer cells," noted one of the study's lead researchers, Susanne Talcott. "The ability for bioactive components in mangos to reduce cancer promoting cells may be the next big thing in the battle against breast cancer, but more research is needed at this time."

Source: National Mango Board
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Monday, May 7, 2012

Clinical Trial ~ Yes or No

Today was my follow-up with Doc Esther after my 6th & last chemo session.  She liked my numbers! Took me off of coumadin!!! And said that the welts I have from the chemo will begin to fade in about two weeks.  Also, she said my hair will begin to grow.  I've just about lost both eyebrows and I'm doing a lousy job drawing them in.  Not like my post Express Yourself

She also wanted to talk to me about a clinical trial to consider.  At first, I was all about helping other women by participating in research.  My grandpa did and my dad did..... but, I'm confused at all the language.  I have a few days to research, ask questions and then give them an answer.  Plus, I will need to be sure that I do qualify with some more testing.  Then I read about clinical trials and insurance.  Will this be covered?  That will be a BIG factor.

Any feedback would be appreciated

Next on the treatment schedule: daily radiation

Next visit to my chemo oncologist: August!

Side note: I asked Doc if I had aggressive cancer.  She said that because I tested positive on the 3 protein tests, that they had to "throw the book at me".  Hmmmm .... What are my chances of getting it again?  She said "we are going to make sure it doesn't come back again". 

I know there are no guarantees in life

But I do have faith.  I do have a positive outlook.  And I know this Doc knows her stuff.  So, even if that day should ever come, I pray I handle it with grace.

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Our Last Meal

The time spent with Casey is coming to an end.  We take her to the airport tomorrow.

Tonight, we took both girls to dinner at Quaker Steak & Lube.  That is the first time that I've been and Matt has been wanting to go for years.  We finally did it.  I kept my meal light with soup & salad.  It was great just hanging with the girls.  I sure do miss that.

As I heal from the last chemo and prepare for the next plan of attack ~ radiation ~ I've been giving myself pep talks.  It is amazing that I made it through the chemo sessions.  I don't have a lot of fears (when it comes to myself) but just one, if it comes back, will it come back with a vengeance? How will I handle that?

Well, I named this blog "Living in the Moment". So I tell myself, stay in THIS moment. Smile in THIS moment. Share in THIS moment. Give in THIS moment.  And most of all, TRUST God in EVERY moment.

Sometimes, I don't feel worthy

When I read other women's blogs, or turn on the news, there are so many who need healing, who need miracles .... we all need to remember this mighty verse:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek His will in all that you do,
and He will show you which path to take.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Greenville, SC

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Celebrating Education

My daughter is celebrating graduation for her Masters.  She has been a student for 22-1/2 years of her life.  That is a long time!

I just wish I was in better health to celebrate fully. 

Friday was a ceremony called "Hooding".  Matt had to be my camera man, as I was too weak and sick to make it. 

Each student was honored with a short autobiography and their sashes.

The commencement was Saturday morning.  With the help of a borrowed wheelchair, I was able to make it.  It was very beautiful and I loved the speakers.  Once we got home, I went back to bed.

We met at a local restaurant Sunday afternoon (again with the wheelchair), and family & friends got to congratulate her and give hugs.  Again, as soon as we got home, I went to bed.  I've been there ever since ~

It just turned midnight May 2 .... 

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I'm far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!....

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous--how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! 
Psalm 139:1-6, 13 - 17

I've done a lot of stupid things in my life.  Ha! But had 2 moments of brilliance! The birth of 2 daughters ~ Yep, I'm a lucky girl ~

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The 6th & Last Cocktail

It's been 6 days since writing .... been asleep for most of it.

April 26 was my 6th chemo session .... at least with the cocktail.  I will continue Herceptin thru the remainder of the year, every 3rd Thursday.

Filling out my side effect survey
My oldest daughter arrived with me and stayed the whole day.  They have changed the lab work which gave results a lot quicker.  Nurse Regina cared for me this time. Because of the port in one arm and surgery on the other, blood pressure has to be taken on my leg/ankle.

Blood Pressure taken on my ankle

Since my numbers were good, I didn't need a blood transfusion this time.  With all that said, I finished around 2:00pm. 

No more pole dancing for me!

Matt brought lunch and Jasmine. 

No matter how hard I tried, my girls wouldn't cooperate with a "nice" picture.  So .... this is what we get

My prize for making it through chemo ???? A cupcake ~

After coming home, I went to bed and stayed there.

Thinking of you Alie
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