Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Second Cycle

Well, I'm figuring out a few things the second time around.  First of all, the Monday and Tuesday after a treatment should be days I lay low and don't try to do too much.  I'm glad I went into the shop on Monday, that I did the Christmas display shelves, and that I had class.  I'm especially glad that I saw Meg for a cranial-sacral treatment after all of that.  But I did sort of crash and burn yesterday.  Spent most of the afternoon and evening under the covers snuggling with Olive.  She's the best therapy cat ever!

Food does not taste good today and even green tea tastes awful.  The only thing that does taste good is watermelon, maybe because it's cold and juicy more than having flavor.  Today will be a day of small frequent meals to keep something in my stomach.

Not much I have to do today, just laundry that I will take in town later this afternoon.  And I'll pick up a few groceries and a prescription on my way back home.

First on the To Do list:  take a nap!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Treatment #2 Tomorrow, Friday the 24th

I can't believe it has been almost a week since I posted last.  This has been one very busy week.  Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday I went to the Lymphedema Center.  I'm doing so well with my therapy there and am doing a lot on my own at home so I do not have to return to them until my compression sleeve (see image at left in Plum) comes in.  I will need to wear a compression sleeve ( for any heavy exercise--raking leaves, shoveling snow, for example--or for long distance travel, particularly flying.  So for the next couple of weeks I will be working on exercises here at home.

Wednesday I met with Dr. Anne Jacobs in Newcastle.  She's a naturopathic physician, Chinese herbalist, and acupuncturist.  We spent almost 2 hours together talking about my cancer, diet, exercise, and supplements.  I came home with lots of bottles of medicines that I need to organize.  I think it's time to set up a medicine daily/weekly/monthly log.  Some of these I will be on just during chemo.  Some of them will change when I start radiation.  And some of them I will continue for the next five years.  All of them will help to support my immune system and the efficacy of the chemotherapy.  Many of them will also help to modulate the side effects from that chemotherapy.  I am now on an anti-inflammatory diet and drinking gallons of green tea (decaf).  I have a daily exercise goal in addition to the exercises I do from the Lymphedema Center.  And I start acupuncture next week.  Like I said once before, having cancer is a full-time job!

Tomorrow is another Spa Day at the Oncology Center in Portland.  I have started packing a bag--I think I'll take the book-making kit from Penny Bennington, a couple of new craft magazines, and a good book (I've got a new Claire Cook).  I've got orzo Greek salad, cantaloupe and raspberries, and broccoli and mushroom-stuffed chicken for my lunch as well as bottles of water and green tea.  Think I may stop at the health food store after treatment even though there is pumpkin squash soup here for dinner tomorrow evening.  I've got to be up early in the morning to do all of the exercises, take all the pills, and eat breakfast all before 8:30 when I'll hit the road.   Should be another good day!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Back to "Normal"

Today is Day Four of "Normal".  I really feel like myself and have felt fine since Tuesday morning.  My taste buds are working again and food actually tastes good, so I'm eating normal meals again.  I have lots of energy.  My blood work today shows that all of my blood levels--white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets--are back up within reasonable numbers and I have no restrictions for the next week until treatment next Friday.  So if this is a sample of what I'll feel like during the next session, I can expect about a week and a half of not-so-hot and a week and a half after that of pretty normal.  I still haven't lost my hair, but Cathy my nurse assures me it will all fall out soon.  I am looking forward to the weekend!!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Busy Week...

I'm driving to Portland a lot this week.

Three visits to the Lymphedema Center for lymphatic drainage massage therapy

One visit to the Oncology Center for blood work

Stopped today at two of my favorite secondhand consignment shops:  Forget-Me-Nots in Falmouth and Village Consignments in Yarmouth.

Tomorrow I'll hit the two in Freeport and three more in Brunswick on my way back from the Lymphedema Center before cranial sacral therapy with Meg in Brunswick.

Trying to figure out how to add in a naturopathic physician/acupuncturist to my schedule.  And I have yet to meet with the nutritionist.  Dealing with cancer is not for the faint of heart!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bald is...well, bald!


This morning Tammy at Shear Expressions will give me a shorter buzz cut than I've had.  I expect my hair to start falling out next week and I want to avoid some of the mess with that.

Then I'm headed to Portland to the Oncology Center for blood work.  That will take an hour or so--draw blood, analyze the counts, and then plan for the next week with Cathy, my nurse.  I'm looking forward to talking with her.  I have been making a list of questions and things I'm curious about that we can review.

 I should have time for lunch at Panera.  Not sure if I'll do any other shopping today.  I might check out Home Goods by the Mall--I could really use a comfortable chair!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Medical Appointments Today

I'm off early this morning to see Sarah Robey, PA at Wiscasset Family Medicine.  She has been my regular provider for years and I always look forward to seeing her.  This will be my first visit with her since my diagnosis so we have some catching up to do.  I'm really feeling almost normal this morning.  Good night's sleep.  Good appetite.  At noon I see my therapist and am taking my art journal to show her.  Between the two appointments I plan to stop at Big Al's and browse the stores in downtown Bath and grab a quick lunch at Wild Oats in Brunswick.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

Works from my Art Journal

I started an art journal as soon as I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Here are some of the pages I've been working on.  The whole book is a work-in-progress...I often go back to pages and add more stuff or write.                                                                                

These are the two pages I worked on during my Spa Day on Friday.

On the righthand page is a notecard where I have recorded inside the titles and authors of the nine books I read in August.

I love the images and the swirly pearls on the other page.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Scenes from My Spa Day Yesterday

Booth #7 at the Oncology/Hematology Center, third floor, Medical Center Building at Mercy Hospital, Fore River Campus, Portland

The nurses station as seen from my chair.  I decided that a booth right across from them was a good idea for my first visit there just in case.

My nurse, Cathy Gallant

The writing on the wall behind her says:  The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Cathy is setting up all of my IVs.

Views from my window

The main hospital building

The parking lot, Fore River, the bridge over the river and the airport beyond

All in all, this was a very good day.  I had no allergic reactions to any of the drugs--two kinds of anti-nausea meds, saline, Herceptin, saline, Taxotere, saline, Carboplatin, saline, Heperin, and more saline.  No funny tastes in my mouth, nothing unpleasant about any of this except for the first poke into the medi-port.  The chair reclines so I can put my feet up or go all the way back into a bed position for napping.  Warmed blankets are available--I took one for use during the Carboplatin cycle as the room was feeling a little chilly by then, though the airconditioning was a plus. Hot soup--five choices today, I chose the chicken orzo with oyster crackers.  The volunteer brought me a cranberry gingerale spritzer mid-morning.  I met with Dr. Inhorn and the oncology social worker at various times during the day.  I was there from 9:30 until 4:00, so it was a long day.  I read two magazines and worked in my art journal and I called Connie on the phone and talked for awhile around 1:30.    On the way down I took the interstate from Richmond--ran into construction around Tukey's Bridge in Portland all the way to the Fore River Parkway exit.  Decided to try a diiferent route home.  Went out through Northgate to stop at Shaw's and took Route 100 to Gray and up through to Auburn where I hopped on the free leg of the turnpike from Auburn to Sabattus, then home 126 to 197, etc.  It was only 4 miles longer to go that way and there was very little traffic.  I figured the Friday of Labor Day weekend and with a hurricane on the way the major highways might be a bit more clogged up with traffic.  

I go back on Friday next week and the Friday after for blood work, to check white cell counts, red cell counts, and platelets.  I am keeping a daily calendar with a code I made up so I can plot how I'm feeling each day and track any symptoms that develop as side effects to the medications.  Then it's every third Friday for five more times at the center for the chemo treatments.  I'll have to see how I feel when the next one rolls around as to whether I'll want a driver/company at the next treatment.  I really am feeling fine today.  The anti-nausea meds are making it hard to sleep, though--I'm a little jittery which is normal and mostly cat nap my way through the night, up a half dozen times wandering around.  I don't have much planned for today, just a quick trip to the local store for bananas later and maybe washing Mom's hair.

Thanks for all your support!!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

First Chemo Treatment Friday!

This is how I'm choosing to think about my chemo treatment--just a day at the spa with the girls...comfy seating, warm towels (or cool ones as needed), a little massage, good conversation, and relaxation.  I've got my bags packed--medical notes journal, calendar and contact info, medications notes/questions, a magazine, pens, and my talismans (labyrinth bowl, Red Riding Hood cup, Ugli doll, tiny teddy bear, stones in a silk pouch, Gail's power jewelry also in a silk pouch) in the big purple bag.  The second bag holds craft supplies so I can work on my journal when I have a free minute.  The third bag will hold the lunch I'll pack in the morning and plenty of water in a variety of flavors, sparkling and not.  Oh, yeah, and Tootsie Roll Pops, orange.  I'll be in an air-conditioned environment, thankfully, and will have a view of the Fore River and the sky.  Should be a good day!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How to Prepare for Chemo

1.  Be really ambitious one day, setting up notebooks, reading everything from the doctor, etc.
2.  Watch an entire season of THE GOOD WIFE (22 episodes) the next day!  Honestly, it was so hot yesterday it was hard to think about doing anything else.
3. Back on task--laundry today:

4.  Meeting with Meg for physical therapy late this afternoon in Brunswick.  Think I might have to stop at JoAnn's for more stickers for my journal.