Tuesday, September 27, 2011

7 Days Later and...

I think we have a winner. I think we have FINALLY found the right combination of nausea meds for me as I have only threw up one time today and have only had mild nausea. This is HUGE!!! Here is how my week has gone down since the first chemo dose last Tuesday.
Tuesday: nausea, vomiting, bone pain
Wednesday - same except multiplied to the nth degree with the bone pain and puking
Thursday - still hurting but not AS bad - still vomiting - in for IV fluids and a shot of Phenergan
Friday - felt a little better but had the port-a-cath placed back in so that set me back
Saturday - hurting from the surgery, nausea,
Sunday - really really tired, nauseous off and on
Monday - HORRIBLE nausea and vomiting - back to Vanderbilt for more IV fluids, IV Phenergan and IV Ativan. Also talked plan with nurse. She said that if this next round does the same thing nausea-wise, then we can talk to my oncologist about cutting the chemo dose in half and doing it every 2 weeks instead of every 3 weeks. She said they have had to do that for other patients before too. She did say that the dose I got last week was a loading dose of 8mg/kg and from here on out it will be 6mg/kg.
And today, well it started out rough as I was STILL feeling the effects of the anti-nausea meds from last night, but I really think we have a handle on it now. I have a Scopolamine patch behind my ear for 3 days and I will just change it out every three days. I also am taking Compazine for continued nausea as needed and Phenergan if I do vomit.

This is so hard for me as this was not the norm for me with the super big chemo drugs 2 years ago. It's not even the puking that bothers me because it relieves the nausea for a little bit, but the incessant nausea, the desire to take care of my family, and the guilt I feel at having to rely on David for EVERYTHING is killing me. I find myself having a pity-party that has lasted all week because I want my life the way it was 10 days ago. I don't want to have to deal with all of this again. However, for today, I am taking the break in nausea as a blessing and am getting ready to dive into the Word for some sweet reminders from my Savior that His strength is made perfect in this weakness that I have.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Back to the Land of the Living...for a few hours

Well, NOTHING could have prepared me for what went down Tuesday when I went to my oncology appointment. It started off with me being so anxious that I got dizzy and threw up before I even met with my doctor (there's some real reliance on God, huh - insert eye roll here). I'm not really sure where that much anxiety came from because I knew exactly what was going to go down, but still yet, my mind got the best of me and there you have it.
Anyways, labs were first and after 4 IV pokes, the chemo nurses finally got an IV started and sent word to Dr Mayer that I needed a portacath/mediport  before I came back next time. After that fiasco I saw Dr Mayer and we talked specifics of what went wrong. Basically, the Tykerb trial was to see if it was as good or better than receiving Herceptin alone. They have found that it is not as good as Herceptin in preventing recurrences and disease-free survival so the people who were chosen to receive the Tykerb alone were given the option to receive Herceptin now. Dr Mayer thought it in my best interest to have the Herceptin because I was a stage 3 at initial diagnosis and I am at the peak time for recurrence right now. She did also say that it's not like the Tykerb did nothing during the year that I took it, it's just that it didn't do as much as they had hoped it would. So I signed the consent form to receive the Herceptin and to the infusion rooms I went.
Before getting the Herceptin, I was given Benadryl, Tylenol, and Phenergan (because I was already nauseated) and then the drug started going in and would continue for 90 minutes. It was MISERABLE! I kept clock-watching and trying to walk around a little because the Benadryl gives me restless leg syndrome. I was actually probably stumbling around because all of those meds made me crazy too and I don't really remember too much of that day.
Anyways the following day I vomited every single thing I put in my mouth. My bones hurt, my stomach churned all day, and I was 100% miserable. Thrown for a loop! I never felt this way with chemo except 1 times - not this bad at least. And I only ever threw up 1 time with chemo. I laid in bed that whole day thinking that I would rather lose my hair then feel like this  17 more times. It was horrific. And then the next day came and while I was able to get out of bed amd function somewhat, I was still dizzy, nauseous, and weak. At this point I knew I had better call my oncologist. She set me up to get IV fluids and told me to take Ativan for the nausea (given to chemo patients). Did all of that and the extra fluids helped...along with the shot of Phenergan they gave me for the continued nausea.
So today is port day. I went in this morning and got my new portacath placed. It is under the skin in my chest...like right up against the bottom of my collarbone. Right now I am in pain and can't move my neck and the nausea is starting back up. I am just praying that it goes away because I am quite sure that it would hurt to puke with this thing in my neck being so new. However, my kids are begging me to ride to Rite-Aid with them and David to get my pain medicine and are telling me that they will buy me a slushie if I go. Who can turn that down?!? So, I'm off.
I've had some revelations (thank you mom) this week about all of this that is happening and will share them when I am more coherent. As for now though, the facts are all I can muster up to talk about. Love you all and thank you from the depths of my heart for your prayers!!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Treatments Starting Again...

The phone rang on Friday as I was piled in a car with 6 other gals. We were on our way to our annual Ladies of Legacy retreat in Gatlinburg. It was supposed to be a glorious 4 days away with a total of 29 women in a massive cabin. We hadn't seen each other since last September, but back to the phone call...I answered with a very happy "hello" as we gals were having a great time chatting it up. And then everything in the background sort of went "away" and all I heard was "Dr. Mayer needs to see you Tuesday about the Tykerb that you took." If you don't remember, Tykerb was the trial drug I was on for the aggressive part of my breast cancer. It is FDA approved in stage 4 breast cancer and they were testing it to see if it was as effective in stage 3,2, and 1 breast cancers also. David and I were told that all of the research to date pointed to Tykerb actually being shown as effective if not better than the standard drug (Herceptin) that oncologists were currently using. I agreed to the trial knowing that it would benefit someone in the future...possibly even my own daughter. There were 4 different "arms" of the trial I could be chosen for and I happened to be chosen to recieve the Tykerb only arm. Unfortunately, research has now shown that Tykerb is NOT working as they originally had hoped it would and that more people who took that drug are getting recurrences and are dying of breast cancer than those who got the Herceptin.
So, what does this mean for me? It means that I will start a form of chemo on Tuesday...the Herceptin...the standard drug for aggressive cancer. I will more than likely have a small surgery in the next few weeks to get another porta-cath put in (permanent IV) to get my treatments through. This first treatment on Tuesday they will just try to find a good vein and give it through a regular IV. This treatment will be given every 3 weeks for 1 full year. As far as side effects go, they are the same as with any chemo except this one will not cause hair loss. Nausea, vomiting, fever, low blood counts, achiness, fatigue, etc...are to be expected and are normal.

How do I feel about all of this news? Shocked is the first word that comes to mind. And then as the shock has had time to settle, gratitude, excitement, nervousness, and sadness have seeped in at different times.
Gratitude that there is another medicine that I can take for this!!!! I am so thankful that it's not too late to do anything. Tykerb was supposed to cut my chances of recurrence by 50% or more and Herceptin will cut it by 50%. I am so incredibly grateful for this opportunity to take a different drug!
Excitement that God has chosen me again to be His vessel. I really don't think this is about the cancer, but about WHO I will come into contact with during this upcoming year and how I can bring a ray of hope into their life. 
Nervousness because of the side effects, and infusion reactions that I may experience. Nervous of going through treatment again but not having Kate there. Anxious because every single time I go I still just get high anxiety if I am there too long...I know that's just a mental thing, but it's still very real to me. And...I will be there approximately 4-5 hours each time.
Sadness because I don't want to have those yucky chemo side effects again. I don't want my sweet babies to see mommy sick and start asking questions. I don't want any added stress to David. I'm most sad though because we have had the most amazing 9 months of health, happiness, and joy and now this is happening. I feel like a scratched up CD...the song is playing beautifully and then it gets stuck and just keeps spinning around while not going on to the next lyric. It's unexpected, it's disappointing, but there is hope. You can either clean the CD and try again, or put in a whole new CD and sing a new song. Either way can result in joy. I think it's all about perspective...

I hope to get more detail from my oncologist on Tuesday and I will update as we go along this new journey. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ordinary Hero Blog: Last Day in Ethiopia for Team 3

Wow! I am so determined to get to Ethiopia now that I cannot stand it! Oh to be able to meet, bless, and pray with these people. Bring it on June 2012! Ethiopia Bound...me for sure, David possibly. We are praying about it already...

Ordinary Hero Blog: Last Day in Ethiopia for Team 3: Blog written by Adriane, Team 3 The last day in Ethiopia, our team saw desperation and beauty collide in a nearly unimaginable way. ...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ordinary Hero Blog: OH Team 3 Shares About Baby Levi

Pictures and... a Heartbreaking...truly heartbreaking story.

Ordinary Hero Blog: OH Team 3 Shares About Baby Levi: Team 3's last day in Ethiopia fell on the day that they received the sad news of little Baby Levi whom I blogged about yesterday. We all go ...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Ordinary Hero Blog: Power Team 3~ Day 5 in Ethiopia

I also just posted "Day 4 in Ethiopia" below this post so make sure you read it as well.
This one however makes me so eternally grateful for God's protection! I have been praying that God would place a hedge of protection around David and the team while they were there so that they would not even hurt their foot on a stone (Psalm 91). Boy did they need it based on the events that occured. Thankfully, I am reading about it now and had no idea about it happening when it did. I would have been a mess, but I would have for sure at that specific time been a mess on my knees going to my Father on behalf of Team 3....
UPDATE*** apparently part of the blog post was taken out for whatever reason. This was the part of when the team was visiting the widow in the Muslim community and right outside of her door began a riot. People in her community thought that the team was there to preach to the lady and they were not going to have it. Luckily, the translater was able to "talk them down" and made them see that the Team was just there to find out what needs she and her family had. And the scary scary part for me...there was only 1 way in and 1 way out of this lady's housing complex...
Read on to get just a glimpse of how wonderful and amazing our God really is!

Ordinary Hero Blog: Power Team 3~ Day 5 in Ethiopia: Today we set out to serve the women who carry the large bundles of wood, eucalyptus sticks and whatever else would beenfit them to take to...

Ordinary Hero Blog: Team 3 in Ethiopia~ Day 4

Another update on the work being done in Ethiopia. Amazing stories...and some tugging of my heart strings. And...maybe a few tears shed as well.

Ordinary Hero Blog: Team 3 in Ethiopia~ Day 4: Here is the latest update from the team in Ethiopia. I am a day behind so I will have Day 5 coming right behind this one :) This team is do...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ordinary Hero Blog: Our Power Team in Ethiopia~ Day 2&3

Ordinary Hero Blog: Our Power Team in Ethiopia~ Day 2&3: I am so blessed to see the amazing things being accomplished in Ethiopia right now by this power team of 10! Watch the video below to hear f...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ordinary Hero Blog: Team 3 ~ Day 1 in Ethiopia

Another update!!! I have been anxiously anticipating this so without further ado...click the link below and read on. Oh, and I got an email from David today. He is having a wonderful time, is safe, and is working hard. I'm hoping we can chat on messenger later today. If we do, I will update again. Please pray we can because I miss my husband more than words can say.

Ordinary Hero Blog: Team 3 ~ Day 1 in Ethiopia: Here is an update from our Team 3 this year who just spent their first day in Ethiopia. Delilah from the trip is our blogger updater. This i...