Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Back to the Grind...

Actually, it isn't a grind, it's a slow drip infusion. I've finished my first post-op round of chemo. Hopefully, it's one down and five to go. The scheduled treatments should end just after Thanksgiving and then I'll have a scan. Clear scan = 3 months of freedom! I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but the plan forward from there would be scans every 3 months for a year unless something new pops up.

My medical oncologist is still a little reserved. She says that given the number of positive lymph nodes I had from my original surgery, we have to assume we're dealing with systemic disease. Which is why we're going for the 6 rounds of chemo post-surgery. Hit it hard, knock it down, try not to knock me down in the process. Then wait and see. It's hard for me, I've always been such a planner, I want to know exactly what I'm going to be doing next January, next March, next June. But cancer just isn't something you can plan around. If nothing else, it teaches you to be thankful for each day because that's all any of us have for certain.

The biggest dilemma for me now is figuring out how to balance the chemo side effects with the positive effects. I've already had 11 rounds of FOLFOX 6. One of the drugs in FOLFOX is called oxaliplatin and it causes nerve damage. It builds gradually over time, but I'm having progressively more numbness in my hands and feet...a few balance issues (high heels are out!), trouble with buttons and pens.

I've already had more of the drug than many people are able to tolerate. With some people, the nerves repair themselves after the chemo is done. But not for everybody, and the nerve regeneration can take a year or more. We know from the pathology after my surgery that this chemo cocktail has been very effective for me, but it's anybody's guess which of the drugs is the winner or if it's the combination. So do you discontinue the potential miracle drug so that you can text better on your Blackberry or do you keep at it because you can't do much text messaging from the grave and maybe the nasty drug is saving your life? It isn't that simple obviously, but I'm going to keep after it a little longer at least. But if anybody wants to volunteer to be my personal valet and button my clothes, I'm accepting applications.

I'm not seeking advice on this whole thing, just pondering aloud. Oh well, you're reading this so you must want to know the details, right?

So happy Fall. How do I know it's Fall? Because I had this conversation with Hayden today:

Hayden: "Mom, what time is it?"
Me: "4:27 PM"
Hayden: "OK, it's Fall. Fall started at 4:18"

Of course I had to look this up on Wikipedia to verify, but Fall did indeed begin at 4:18 PM Central time today.

Here's a little one from Sean last night. He was sitting with Hayden at the table looking at the Astros 2009 schedule and out of nowhere comes:

Hayden: "Hey, remember on June 28th when they were playing the Detroit Tigers? I thought they were gonna win that game. But then Detroit got that 2-run homerun in the 9th. It was off Valverde...or was it LaTroy Hawkins?...No, Valverde, yeah Valverde...and they lost 4 to 3. I thought they were gonna win that game."
Sean: Laughing out loud
Hayden: "Why are you laughing?"
Sean: "No reason"

We're really going to work on how we can harness the power of his brain. Y'know, for something other than hospital phone numbers, solstice times, and stats from 3-month old baseball games.

Monday, September 14, 2009


The kids are back in school which must mean summer has come to an end. I feel like I missed it, being away so long. But at least we're in Houston and the temperature will stay in the 90s for a few more months. So maybe we still have a few more trips to the pool in our future. Maybe I should get a new bikini to show off my sexy scars? Except every time Trevor catches a glimpse of my belly he screams "Mommy, I don't want to see that!" As in, "Hey freakshow, you're scaring me!"

I always take pictures of the kids on their first day of school. If only I could be as efficient as my friend Mackenzie and find them all so I could show you a "look how we've grown" montage. I can't even seem to put Trevor and Hayden's pictures on the same hard-drive and they were only taken a week apart. But here's my handsome 4-year old on his first day. About 30 frames of goofy faces were sifted through to find one decent shot...
And here he is enjoying himself on the playground at his preschool. I'll miss this place next year.
One week later, here's the little man displaying the BITE mark on his chest. Apparently a little girl had moved from the swingset to another part of the playground, but when she saw Trevor climb onto "her" swing, she decided she wanted it back. Trevor, being the stubborn middle child, held his ground and got a lovely bite to the chest. It left a nice mark, even through his shirt. When we talked about ways to avoid these problems in the future, I was hoping for something like "run and tell a teacher" and he was thinking more along the lines of "kick her down before she can get her teeth on me."
Last, but not least, I can check one item off my 2009 to-do list. Matching Christmas pajamas? Mission accomplished. Every year I get matching Christmas pajamas for the kids, and every year it gets a little harder. Hayden's getting big, the other two are still toddler size, and we need something unisex. If you wait till November to look for something, you'll be sorely disappointed. Last year I spent Christmas and many days thereafter in the ER so we didn't get the traditional Christmas morning picture. Fortunately, Sean left the tree up till I got home in mid-January so we staged a shot. This year we got a practice shot in September just in case.
Hopefully I'll be through with treatments for a while come Christmas this year, so we may take a family vacation. Given Sean's aversion to cold weather, maybe we'll go to the Carribean or somewhere warm. How do you think these fleece pajamas will work out Christmas morning on the beach?