Updates on Kathy's battle with breast cancer.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Taxol 25% complete

Yesterday I had Taxol chemo dose 3 of the 12.  The only pain with the treatment is when they access and de-access the port.  I have a doorbell looking disk  about the diameter of a nickel that was surgically placed under my skin, just below my right collar bone.  It makes access to my veins easier.  Everyone in the room has to wear a mask during these processes, to keep things sanitary.  I use a topical ointment that is supposed to deaden it, but it still hurts as they place a rather large, deep needle into the surface of the port, using lots of pressure.  Besides that, nothing else hurts.  They take blood to the lab each time, and we have to wait an hour for those results before they can start treatment.  It's a good time to read and write.  After that, they give premeds, which soak in for 30 minutes, and then the chemo, which drips in for about 1 1/2 hours.  The part I like least is the premed Benadryl, which is new with this phase.  It's to prevent allergic reactions.  It takes affect almost immediately.  They say it makes you feel drunk.  I've never had alcohol, so never been drunk, but it's an awful feeling.  My limbs immediately feel heavy, my entire body is very tired and groggy.  It's hard to talk.  It feels like every little movement takes a great deal of effort, so I just lay there and half sleep and maybe total sleep too.  I wake up when they  come in the room and tell me what they are adding next, but that's about it.  Thankfully, I don't have to drive home or worry about anything else for the rest of the day.  I come home and sleep it off.  After about 5 hours at home, it wears off and I feel back to normal.  There's no nausea with this chemo, as long as I keep some food on my stomach.

Our church family is taking good care of us.  They started a "meal train" to spoil us with dinner every chemo Monday (mealtrain.com), which is a free online service where you can set up a meal calendar, email a group, and people sign up for a day to bring dinner.  Within 12 hours of the email, every chemo Monday was filled.  We are feeling the love and feel very thankful for their kindness.

My white blood cell counts have been too low for all of the treatments but 2, but close enough to give the treatment.  It's disappointing that the philosophy, at least with this medical network/group, seems to be pretty much limited to medication with no teaching/training about nutrition to aid my body in restoring its immune system--besides things to avoid because they might carry germs (mostly food handling precautions).  I've been reading and learning more about foods and practices that can aid in building white blood cells, so I'm hoping these might boost my immune system so I won't have to postpone treatment for any weeks or stay vulnerable to catching an illness.  (If your counts are too low for treatment, they send you home and give your body another week to build white blood cells, and if needed they can add medication to boost it.)

I missed the "before school photo" as I have for probably the past 8 first days for her, so this is what I took when she got off the bus.  Tenth grade, my baby!
These past two weeks have been much better than the Phase I chemo treatment.  They were also the strongest weeks I'll have for a while, since the weekly treatments compound over time, without much time for my body to rebuild.  On Tuesday, after my first Taxol treatment, I was scrubbing walls, baseboards, mopping (not moping), and all kinds of other neglected projects.  (There's a steroid in the chemo recipe that gives an energy boost that I can feel for Tuesday and Wednesday.  As the week progresses, I have to add in some off-my-feet times during the day.)  It was the day before school started for Courtney.  Courtney and Scott Jr. had doctor checkups that week, Heath had his wisdom teeth removed, we sanded and refinished some wood chairs, and prepared the bonus room for seminary, where an early-morning bible study class is held for high school youth every school morning at 6:00 a.m.  It is a blessing that Courtney can walk down the hall and we don't need to drive her.  We unlock the door front door, and the teachers do the rest!

The second Taxol week, I was able to take a road trip with Scott to Detroit from Tuesday morning until Thursday night, squeezing in a 29th wedding anniversary celebration along with work.  It was a nice get-away while Heath was still home to be our driver since Scott Jr. started his college classes.  While Scott was at work, I spent time with our close friends, the Holmes.  We met about 24 years ago in Dallas, when the boys were 2 and 3, and their daughter Allison was 2, with Ashley's birth soon after.  We quickly became close friends and it's been a life-long friendship.  Over the years, we have lived in the same city at the same time 5 different times, in 3 different states, and recently they've been only 4 hours away for the past 2 years, where Scott's been working a few days most weeks for the past 17 months.  So it's been fun keeping up the friendship.  

The Holmes Family, at Allison's wedding in Detroit.
The Holmes have been serving as mission presidents for our church in Detroit.  They watch over 100+ missionaries for three years.  Their 11 year-old and 14 year-old are with them.  The mission president can't leave the mission boundaries during his service, so they have had 2 daughters married in the Detroit Temple, sent a son off on a mission, and will soon meet their first grandchild that was born in July when Ashley brings him to Detroit.  They are an amazing family.  It was fun watching their lives of service.

Sweater party & Cody Cody Simpson, her latest music crush.
Friday, we celebrated Courtney's 15th birthday.  She is so much fun and such a delight. We laugh a lot.  She loves collecting vintage (some call them ugly) sweaters, and had her friends and family wear sweaters for her party (yes, in August--she cranked the AC up).  She hopes to get her learners driving permit soon.

This week, we are finishing up preparations before Heath leaves for BYU-Idaho on Friday.  He and Scott have a road trip planned to make memories along the way.  Their plans include Nauvoo, Illinois, where they will visit some church history sites, Bad Lands National Park, Mount Rushmore, and Yellow Stone National Park.  No camping, of course.  Heath moves into his apartment Thursday morning.  I'm so glad I was able to visit the campus with him in May, since chemo prevents me from joining in on this trip.  Heath will be greatly missed here at home.  I'm excited for his new adventure...there's Skype, and Christmas is just around the corner!

This year, the seminary class is studying the New Testament.  This week, they are learning about Christ's birth.  It's been fun experiencing a mini Christmas in August.  Two of my favorite people to read and think about in the events surrounding Christ's birth are Mary and Simeon.  

I love Luke 1:46-55 where Mary shares her faith and testimony.  Everywhere else, the scriptures talk about Mary watching, pondering, and keeping things in her heart.  But this is the one place where she shares her faith and knowledge of spiritual things, as a teenager.  Mary the Mother of Jesus bible story video is 4 minutes long.  It's powerful in learning more about this amazing woman.  

Simeon is another person I admire in the events surrounding Christ's birth.  He had been told by the spirit that before he died, he would see his Savior.  He was an old man, but full of faith in this promise.  He was prompted by the Holy Spirit to be at the temple on the same day that  Mary and Joseph presented Christ at the Temple.  I admire his life and preparation, that he followed the promptings of the spirit and was in the right place at the right time.  

Simeon gives us all an example of how to live so we are prepared to receive and then heed promptings so we can experience the spiritual events that God has in store of each of us in our lives.  I'm thankful for the earthly angels in my life that follow promptings of the spirit in my behalf, blessing my family through their love and kindness.   

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