Friday, December 6, 2013

BEST birthday surprise and other recent happenings...

I've been wanting to blog about all my recent happenings, but life just gets a little crazy sometimes. 

First of all I just have to say, one more week before my LAST round of chemo!  I can hardly wait to be done.  Although my anxiety level is starting to creep up.  Being in bed for over a week when I have SO MUCH to get done for Christmas is not ideal, and I hate being so sick.  I still have shopping to do and presents to wrap.  By the time I will start feeling up to anything, it will be just a couple of days before Christmas.  (It's really hard to do everything last minute when the kids are already on Christmas break.  Especially when you are trying to sneak around.  Nosy little buggers.)  Also, I really don't even feel like sitting at the computer after chemo because I am too sick and my hands hurt too bad, so online shopping won't work.  I worry about being out in large crowds.  When my blood levels are not great, I worry that I could catch something.  I guess I could always strap on a mask.  Yikes.  Should be interesting tackling the task.  It's all good.  I like to keep life interesting. 

My eyelashes and eyebrows are SPARSE to say the least.  My eyebrows are very thin and have "bald spots".  Nothing that I little makeup can't fix.  My eyelashes have several areas with nothing.  I hope they will grow in quickly.

The last 2 rounds of chemo I noticed that I was having killer shooting pains in my head.  Kind of like a MAJOR brain freeze.  I just thought that I would just kind of monitor it on my own for awhile.  It seemed like it was happening more and more frequently.  It was starting to really concern me, so I finally called the doctor.  When I talked to Denae (one of my favorite nurses) she seemed a little concerned.  (She didn't come out and say it, I could just hear it in her voice and questions.)  She told me she would talk to the doctor and call me back.  A short time later, she called and asked me if I could go to the hospital right then for a CT scan.  I was worried that the cancer had started to go other places.  Was it in my brain now?  I think when you worry about something your mind starts to play tricks on you, and you start to think the worst.  I had the scan done and they said they would call me later that evening.  After several hours of no news, I called the hospital.  The guy that did the scan told me that everything looked normal.  Phew!  What a relief!  I guess it is just another bonus of chemotherapy or maybe caused by all the steroids I have to take before chemo.

It looks like Christmas cards are not going out from our house this year.  I usually have pictures done and cards addressed before December and I have them sent out at the very beginning of December.  I guess when life gets crazy and you feel like road kill, you have to let a few things slide.  It really bugs, because I like to be on top of things, and I love Christmas cards!

My birthday was November 30th and I received the greatest surprise EVER!  Since we moved in to our new house, the front entryway living room has just been full of decorations that I haven't put up (all over the floor).  We also didn't have any furniture in there.  It just wasn't a priority.  For the last 6 months I either don't feel good, or don't have energy.  I figured that I would get to it one of these days.  All of my siblings talked and decided that instead of spending money exchanging Christmas presents for each other, that they would use that money to buy us furniture for that room.  My mom was also included in the gift.  She has been wanting to buy me a couch since I had to shave my head.  For a long time she would say to me, "I want to buy you a couch because you had to shave your head."  I would tell her no and just laugh.  She is a persistent little lady.  When Monica found out what my mom had been saying, she got the ball rolling on the gift idea.

I was gone when they all came over and did a room over-haul.  John was also not home (my brother Kevin came and got him because he was not aware of what was going on either).  All of my siblings and brother and sisters-in-law were at my house when I got home (except for Lisa and Curtis).  They all had their cell phones out recording John and I.  Of course I cried and added some ugly snorts.  I just couldn't believe that they had done this for us.

New couch, picture, tables, chairs, lamps, and decorations!  I love the room!  I have the best siblings, brothers-in law, sisters-in-law, and parents in the world!!  The support and help we receive from them is priceless.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Chemo Round 5 done...one more to go!

It's 4:00 in the morning and I am doing some sleep blogging.  I am so-so tired, but I just can't sleep.  My body feels tired, my eyes feel tired, but my mind is going 100 miles per hour. 

The reason being---every time I do a round of chemotherapy, I have to take a lot of steroids called Dexamethasone.  I take 5 pills the night before chemo and then set my alarm and take 5 more pills in the middle of the night.  When I get to the doctor's office, (before the chemo drip) they give me an I.V. drip of more steroids and Benadryl.  The dexamethasone is known for keeping people awake.  Last night I think I only got a couple of hours of sleep.  Tonight, I'm not sure that I will be getting any sleep.  I am also taking oxycodone and nausea pills---both of which usually knock me out and make me sleep for awhile.  That just goes to show the power the steroid drugs.  John just simply cannot understand not being able to fall asleep.  He can fall asleep immediately!  It's almost laughable how he can lay is head on the pillow and I can probably only count to 30 and he's out.  So unfair!


Heather and I at the appointment.
My sister Heather drove me to chemo this time.  It was so nice of her to leave her 3 kids at home and come spend several hours with me at the doctor's office.  I just don't want to go to chemo alone.  It gives me anxiety thinking about sitting there alone.  Not to mention that I am too loopy from all the Benadryl when I am done to be able to drive home.  It's nice to have someone to sit and visit with while I am getting the I.V.  It takes some of the scariness out of it, and makes the time go by much quicker.

I met with the doctor before starting the chemo.  He decided to put me back on the thrush medicine.  Good grief!  That stuff is the swish and swallow crap that gags me to the point that I'm going to pee my pants.  He thinks that I will get thrush again because my immune system gets knocked so low.  I guess I gotta do what I gotta do. 

We also talked about my feet.  I have been dealing with feet pain (on the bottom of my feet).  I had some pretty major neuropathy in my feet this last time.  They called me in some medicine for it.  I guess it takes quite a bit of time for the medicine to start working.  Oh and an added bonus, it causes weight gain.  I think everything I take causes weight gain.  It's so wonderful (dripping with sarcasm)!  I was talking to Candice (one of my nurses) about the weight gain today.  I told her that if I'm going to be bald, I may as well be fat.  She just laughed.  The nurses are so awesome there! 

So, when the doctor and I were discussing the neuropathy he said that I had two options.  #1--I could push chemo back a week to give it more time to heal, or #2 he could slightly lesson the dose of chemo and proceed with it that day.  I told him I wanted to do the chemo.  He said, "I knew you would pick that!"  The scary thing about the neuropathy is that sometimes it is permanent damage and that would be awful!  I really wanted to stay on schedule so I can be feeling semi-decent for Thanksgiving and be able to do my last round of chemo on December 12th, which would give me a lot of time to heel for Christmas.

Today when I was getting my chemo, I sat next to a lady that I know a little.  She has 9 kids, is 49 years old, and was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.  About a month ago she had two different surgeries, and was there for her very first round of chemo.  I could see on her face that she was so overwhelmed, scared, and unsure.  She broke down and cried a time or two.  I could hear the nurse giving her a lot of instructions and information.  It took me back to my first round of chemo and I just felt so bad for her.  I tried to reassure her and give her a little advice.  Cancer is just such a hard thing to have to go through.  But, I told her that you just HAVE to stay positive as much as you can.  You have a choice to be positive or negative, but either way, it will not change the fact that you have cancer.  Having said that, it is impossible to be positive 100% of the time.  I definitely have my moments when I am in the mood to gripe and complain.  I would not be human if I didn't.

My eyebrows have started to burn again, and I'm sure more of them are going to start falling out.  It has been nice that I still have most of my eyelashes and eyebrows.  I'm crossing my fingers that they don't all fall out.  My friend went through chemo and lost all of her eyebrows and lashes on the very last round of her chemo!  Oh gosh, that stinks!

Well, it's 5:00am, I guess I'm going to go back to bed.  I'm sure I will doze off just in time for my alarm to go off to get the kids up for school!  Yes!

Some recent pictures...
The top picture was taken after church.  I'm trying to relax with some lovin' from Riley.
 Face drawn on the back of my head...artwork by Riley.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Chemo Round 4

Chemo Round 4 was not a lot different than the other previous rounds, only I think I get a little sicker each time--and am a little more out of energy.  I think it's because each time I go in for chemo, my body is not yet fully recovered from the treatment before.  I can't even describe how out of energy I am.  The smallest tasks completely take my breath away.  It is so annoying to break a sweat and be panting because you have vacuumed your living room floor.  I crave to be well and healthy again.

I have been dealing with thrush since round 3 and have been taking medicine 4 times a day for it.  Nasty, nasty swish and swallow crap that I had to do 4 times a day.  The medicine left a bad taste in my mouth that altered the taste of food.  The stubborn thrush was just NOT going away.  It was all in my mouth and down my throat.  I go in weekly for lab work, and this last time I showed the doctor my mouth.  She decided to kick the thrush in the butt with an I.V. of medicine.  Thursday and Friday I had a 2 hour I.V. drip of medicine for the thrush and am also taking pills.  It looks like it is finally going away.  Take THAT thrush!

Also, while meeting with the doctor, I showed her my toenail.  Awhile back when I was running some marathon relays with friends I bruised my toenail.  No big deal right.  Well chemo is hard on nails.  The entire nail was peeling off.  It was unattached at the base and still attached at the top. (See picture at the right)  It was completely gross.  Riley was SOOO fascinated by it, but totally grossed out.  One night after scripture study, she took probably 20 picture of my toe.  She had all kinds of comments about it too.  When I showed my toe to the doctor, she said, "You could probably just pull that nail off", to which I replied, "Or YOU could".  The doc was able to peel that baby off, and yes it hurt.  But, I would be too big of a baby to rip my own nail off.  Especially since it was still quite attached. 

The doctor asked me if I wanted to keep the nail as a souvenir.  OF COURSE I DID!  I had just the person to give it to!  I put that baby in an envelope and wrote Riley's name on it.  It was a little toenail mail!  When she got home from school, I told her that something came in the mail for her.  I tried to film her opening it and she caught on that something nasty was in the envelope, but she didn't know what.  She flung it out on the floor, and her face was priceless when she realized what it was.  Oh Riley girl, I love you and your sense of humor!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Countdown to Chemo

I always start to feel a twinge of panic as it grows closer to the next round of chemo.  I feel like I need to get all the laundry done, the house cleaned, and grocery shopping done.  The only problem is, I am completely out of energy.  Sometimes I feel like my arms are painted on.  I want to move them, but I am just too tired.  My arms are just decorations hanging from my shoulders.

I almost feel like I have a "nesting" instinct (like you feel when you are about to have a baby).  I know that I will be spending the next 10 days or more in my pajamas, pumped full of medicine.  Speaking of medicine, after having 3 rounds of chemo, I am starting to know what days I will need more medicine and what days I am starting to feel a little better.  I have been taking Oxycodone to help with the achy pain.  Sometimes I take half of the pill and other times the whole pill.  The last round of chemo I was taking the whole pill for about 2 days.  I remember laying in bed feeling extremely "happy".  I remember saying to myself, "I am so happy!"  I just felt like I was on cloud 9 and I didn't have a care in the world.  It was ALL medicine.  I was high as a kite.  Don't get me wrong it was nice to feel happy during such a down time, but that is a little scary.  My mom is worried that I am going to get hooked on my medicine.  I tell her not to worry because I can't stand the way it makes me feel (except for the one day that I was feeling very happy--tee hee).

Thursday is my 4th round of chemo.  I will officially be on the downward slope to finishing.  Sometimes I get nervous even saying that---don't want to jinx myself.  A friend of mine thought she was done with chemo (she has had cancer reoccur several times), and her recent scan showed more signs of cancer.  She is right back at it.  I'm not even sure how many rounds of chemo she has done.  What a brave fighter!  After my 6th round, I will jump right into radiation.  6 long weeks of driving across town in the snow and on slick roads.  I'm already hating it and it hasn't even started.  After radiation I take a pill for 10 years.

My left armpit has been completely numb for the last 3 1/2 months since the surgery (when they removed 18 lymph nodes).  It just now feels like it is starting to "wake up" a little bit.  It is very tender to the touch.  I also haven't been able to completely straighten my left arm out all the way without feeling pain.  I don't know if it is scar tissue, or a tendon pulling.  Either way, I need to start working on it.  I had a friend (who is an occupational therapist) show me things to do to work on it.

We recently had a Halloween party at my mom's house.  I wasn't feeling very great, but went anyway.  All the adults and kids dressed up for the party.  I didn't have a lot of energy to put into a costume.  I decided to go dressed as my dad.  My dad was a handsome man, and I just didn't quite pull it off.  I found his mission badge and slapped on some church clothes.  It's painful to look at the pictures from the party, but I am determined to keep some kind of a sense of humor through this piece of crap cancer.

I was recently reading through a letter my dad sent his kids before he died.  In it he said,
 "As I have pondered the atonement, I have learned that the Savior suffered emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  I had never thought much about the emotional side till I went through the procedure and found that not only was my hair lost, my weight drastically changed, but my identity was not the same.  I had people pass me in stores that didn't recognize me.  This caused me to go through periods of emotional struggles and I pondered the Savior's life and those closest to Him rejecting Him and turning from Him." 
He then went on to talk more in depth about the atonement.  I am learning about and appreciating the atonement in a totally different way then I ever have before.

I too have not been recognized by many people.  People pass me by in the store all the time and don't even recognize me.  I recently saw a lady that I lived by for 20 years.  I went up to her and said hello and gave her a hug.  She didn't have a clue who I was...her face gave it all away.  I have kind of quit saying hello to people when I see them, unless they say hello first, and know who I am.  It's a little discouraging. 
Just SOME of the darling grandkids---(there are 62 total with 2 on the way!)
All my sisters except Lisa.  They are the greatest!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Keep Buggering On

Keep Buggering On   --Winston Churchill
 
I'm sorry.  I'm blogging about breast cancer again.  It's my new life.  I'm sorry if you are tired of reading about it, (that is, if anyone out there even reads this blog).  I don't blog about it to be a "Debbie Downer".  It is a great journaling outlet for me, and some day my kids may care about what I record in my journal.  It also helps me keep everything straight.  My new chemo brain doesn't always remember things.  I hope my brain will be back to normal after chemo.  Because I do did have a great memory.  Also, a lot of times I can't quite say what I am trying to say.  It's like I know what I want to say, I just can't get it to come out.  Dummer....er, I mean Bummer.
 
I had my 3rd round of chemo on October 10th.  It was like a nice round house kick to the face.  It put me out of commission for a good 10 days this time.  I spent the majority of those 10-bed-sore-days in bed.  Good grief!  There are usually lots of tears shed during those days.  This time it was no different. 
 
My mom took me to chemo this round.  It's nice to have her there when John can't be there.  John was out of town for a few days, starting the day before chemo.  Luckily, he was only gone a few days and my mom took good care of me.  The day of chemo, my mom took me to lunch.  We went to Sizzler (one of her favorite places).  We got up to the counter and the young kid took my mom's order.  He then looked at me and said, "What can I get for you SIR?"  Hello punch in the face.  My mom looked at him and said, "She is a ma'am not a sir."  I then whipped off my hat and said, "I don't have any hair."  Not sure why I did that.  I think it was my polite way of flipping him the bird.  I knew it would happen one of these days, just wasn't quite ready for it.  It has added to my "I feel so ugly lately" phase.  It is hard to feel pretty and feminine when you are bald, chubby, and being pumped full of crap.  I feel like my looks have changed a lot and it is not a fun feeling.  I don't like feeling self conscious.  I just have to say to myself, "Well, it is what it is, so get over it Nancy."  (Nancy is what Frank Barone would call Raymond on "Everybody Loves Raymond" when he was acting like a baby.) 

I was recently asked by a sweet friend---What has been the worst thing I have had to go through or deal with, with the cancer?  There is absolutely NO WAY to pick one.  It all just plain sucks.  I told her that I could start at the top of my head and go to the tips of my toes with something wrong.  Let me give a few examples-- No hair (just lovely), my mind doesn't always think clearly, sometimes my vision is blurry, ear infections, loss of nose hairs, currently losing eyebrows and eyelashes, mouth sores, thrush, sore throat, my boobs still look a little mangled with scars, loss of appetite, nausea, left armpit still completely numb, leg soreness like you would not believe, achy body, and neuropathy in fingers and feet.  To top it all off, I have regular sleepless nights, and absolutely NO energy. I go from chair to chair after doing small tasks.  Somebody call the waaaambulance!  But seriously, I could go on and on.  I DO have on my XL-big-girl-panties and I have them pulled up, and am dealing with all of this.  I just wish I had a guarantee that this would all be a memory one day.  I hope that there will not be any of these symptoms that decide to set up residency in it's double wide trailer.  I simply refuse to let that happen.
 
Last Friday, I received a text from friend offering me 2 tickets to a concert for that night.  I was excited to go, as I had not been out of the house for over a week and had been rather weepy that day.  Cabin fever and not feeling well were over taking me.  I called my sister Pauline and we went to the concert meeting some awesome friends, Sara and Jill, there.  Thank you for saving me Sara!  It was just what the doctor ordered!  We listened to Scott Shepard and Mindy Gledhill and they were accompanied with an orchestra.  It was so good and so fun.  It just so happened to be a breast cancer awareness night.  My friend Amy, who also has breast cancer, spoke briefly about breast cancer and importance of screenings.  During the concert, they called Amy and I up on the stage and gave us each a bouquet of roses.  Amy told me just before the concert that they were going to have us come up.  It was a sweet surprise and a fun night!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Live Bravely

It seems like it has been one thing after the next since my second round of chemotherapy.  I went into the doctor the week after chemo feeling very lousy.  I was all stuffed up and run down.  My mom drove me there, because I was feeling so crappy.  I had to laugh out loud at myself as I was walking in to the building.  I was a fashion disaster!  A little description of my ensemble... Brown hat, black jacket, blue sweats, and brown boots.  Oh MY!  I was too sick to care.  I was not dressed to impress!  I had a good laugh with the nurse, making fun of myself.

I was put on an antibiotic, and the day I finished the last pill I developed an ear infection and thrush.  I went back in and was put back on the antibiotic.  The thrush medicine is just terrible.  It takes me about 10 minutes to convince myself to take it, and when I do I gag so hard I almost pee my pants.  Pure entertainment......for others. 

I've also been having an allergic reaction for the last 4 mornings.  I cannot figure out what in the heck is causing it!  It's a killer!
Tomorrow is Round 3 of chemo!  It makes me nervous to start the next round of chemo because I'm not feeling that great.  I also know what I am in for!  OHHHH, chemotherapy is not for wimps!  It is a little torcher treatment.  Tomorrow I will be HALF WAY DONE with chemo! 

My brother sent me a picture on Sunday.  He is showing his support.  Before...
and After...  We are twins!  


Sunday was General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  The night before General Conference I was feeling beaten down and overwhelmed.  Sometimes this breast cancer tries to get the best of me.  That night, I prayed that something would be said during conference to boost me and help me get back my positive attitude.  President Monson's talk was JUST FOR ME.  I really needed to hear his positive message.  I couldn't stop the tears as I listened to him and it was as if he was speaking right to me.  What a blessing!  If you missed it, you need to hear it or read it.  Go HERE!  He read a poem in his talk that I just loved!
Yesterday morning my sister Monica came over and helped me clean my house and make dinner.  She also called all my sisters and had them pick a day to bring dinner over.  What a saint!  I don't know what I would do without my wonderful sisters!  They are such a blessing in my life!
Yesterday afternoon my cousin sent me this picture...
The Timpanogos girls soccer team played another game and dedicated the game to me and another person named Owen that is battling cancer.  The won the game 6-0.  It was so nice of them!!  More about the team HERE!

Last night I had John "Bic" my head.  It feels so much better.  Last night, I was able to put my head on my pillow with no little sharp prickly hairs.  That was getting so uncomfortable.  I am now officially Kojak.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Sometimes it's hard to be optimistic

For some reason I feel a little depressed or frustrated today.  I think it's probably a combination of lots of different things.  For starters, the weather is dark and dreary.  It's just chilly, chilly, chilly and grey outside.  So much for fall!  I think we are going to jump from summer to winter.  Bugger.

I went this morning to do labs.  My blood work looks a little better then it did last week, which is a good thing.  But, I am COMPLETELY out of energy, and still very achy.  I just feel like I want to sit.  I think the only thing I have accomplished at home today is load the dishwasher, wash my sheets, and make my bed.  It isn't much, but that is about all the energy I can muster today.  I recently told John that I don't know if I could manage to run for any reason right now.  I might be able to run, if my house was on fire.  I watch people jogging outside and I am just in awe.  I can't wait until I have that kind of energy again.

I went to the mall after labs because I had a return to make, and my doctor's office is right by the mall.  I recently ordered some jeans and shoes.  I've been too sick/tired to shop, so I ordered a couple of items online.  Of course neither one fit.  So, I had to haul my tired rear into Macy's to return them.  I looked around for a bit, and tried a couple of items on my tired old body.  It's hard to shop when you look in the mirror and see a tired person wearing a hat.  Take off the hat and you are shopping for a tired old man.  Oh sheesh, maybe I will have to wait a little while longer to get some jeans.  I really don't have much hair left on my head.  Just some stubble and lots of bald patches.

My sisters and mom are going to the temple tonight to do some sealings.  I think I better crawl out of my tired old clothes and get myself there.  I'm sure it will change my entire outlook on this day.  I always have a good feeling when I go to the temple.  Another thing to be excited about---General Conference is this weekend!  Can I just say how much I love Conference!  Look at me changing my bad attitude.  I think I'll go out for a jog.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

All the pretty little ponies

I am feeling so much better this week.  I love good days when I feel good enough to get out of the house.  I am also loving this fall weather!  My favorite time of year!

I keep thinking about something that happened last week, to my sister, and I just have to laugh.

My younger sister, Pauline, has 11 children.  YES 11!  She is a saint I tell ya!  I don't know how she does it!  NINE of them are girls.  That is a lot of hormones under one roof.  It is a good thing that they are all so well behaved!

Pauline called me last week to check on me.  It was on a day that I felt like crap.  I was in bed when she called.  We had only been chatting for a few minutes when she told me that a couple of her horses got out, and she needed to call me back.  About an hour later, she called me back and shared with me this story.

When she discovered the 2 horses were out, she threw on some clothes and running shoes, knowing that flip flops and a bathrobe were not going to cut it.  They are, after all, living on something like 15 acres.

The horses were still in the yard, and were being stopped from heading out of the main driveway area by some helpful neighbors.  Pauline ran outside and grabbed a large bucket of oats and began to chase after the horses.  The horses were running full speed around the yard.  Due to the recent moisture, the grass was being torn up by their hooves.  Pauline soon realized that the 2 horses were now being joined by 3 more horses.  All five were out, and now she was trying to catch 5 horses.

She knew that there was no way she was going to be able to stop these 5 crazy horses and convince them to join her back in the fenced area.  She called her husband Dan at work and enlisted his help.  A few minutes later, Dan was home.  He took the bucket of oats, and in no time had slowed the horses down.  Pauline said that Dan had said something to one of the horses, and shortly after they all followed him back to the fenced area.  Pauline just stood there shaking her head, and she joked with the neighbors about how Dan was a horse whisperer.  My guess is that he whispered, "You will be tonight's dinner if you do not get back in the pasture."

Later, when Dan had returned to work, Pauline texted him and said, "The horses mind me about as well as the kids do."

Somehow, lying in bed didn't sound so bad anymore. 

Life.  Never a dull moment.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

CHEMO Round 2...check


Oh man, chemo round 2 wasn't easy!  I feel battled and bruised, but I still won.  This time I opted to try just the chemotherapy without going in the next day for the Neulasta shot.  The Neulasta shot is something they do the day after to help boost your white blood count.  My white count levels were at 11 and I just wanted to see if I could do it without the @#$ shot.  That shot is the devil...but it works.  I have never been in more pain in my entire life then Round 1 with the Neulasta.

Neulasta® works as a white cell booster. Neulasta® works similarly to a protein that is made in the body. It acts on the cells in our bone marrow to increase the number of new white blood cells that are formed.

  • An improvement in your white blood cell counts will show that Neulasta® is working

  • Neulasta® helps protect your natural defenses with just 1 injection per cycle of chemo. It is given approximately 24 hours after you receive chemo...And then you want to lay in the road and wait for the next car to hit you, because it would feel better.  Okay I added that last part.

With the Neulasta, your bones ACHE and ACHE!  I thought ALL my pain from CHEMO Round 1 were because of the affects of the Neulasta.  I figured, my levels are where they need to be, I'm young sort of young, let's just try this without the shot this time.  Chemo=joint and muscle pain... Neulasta=bone pain.

What I learned this round...
  • The pain from the chemotherapy DEFINITELY contributed to Round 1 pain.  Joint and muscle pain galore!  I could no longer blame the Neulasta shot entirely.  (Although that shot is still the devil.  The bone pain associated with it is indescribable.  Some people have been known to use Morphine to help with the pain.)
  • My white count dropped from 11 to 4, and now I have a cold.  They had to put me on an antibiotic to ensure no infection.
  • Lucky me...I will probably have to do the shot Round 3.
A week and two days later, I am still achy, tired, and moving slowly.  Only I think I am a little more tired as I wasn't completely back from Round 1.  I think each round will build and build without ever fully recovering.  Sounds a little scary.

What I ALSO learned this round...
  • There are so many good people out there!
  1. Phone calls/texts/emails of encouragement
  2. Cards
  3. Gifts
  4. DINNERS brought in by ANGELS!  I can't imagine cooking dinner right after chemo. UGH!
  5. Helpers around every corner!  One morning I was in bed and I could hear someone banging on my door.  I could tell that the person was persistent and was not going to go away.  As I neared my front door I could see my sister Monica's face pressed up near the glass.  I opened the door and she flew by me, into the kitchen.  She opened the dishwasher and said, "Clean or dirty?"  She unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, swept and mopped the floor, vacuumed the upstairs, cleaned a bathroom, and cleaned 2 bedrooms.  She would have stayed longer, but had a child to pick up.
Makes me cry just thinking about all the support I have been receiving.  What a blessing!!  I couldn't do it without it! 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Courage


Thursday, September 12th, I had an appointment with a hairdresser to get help with my wig.  When she had me sit in the chair and put the wig on, I just started to cry.  I had times I could keep it together in the chair, and then I would start tearing up again.  Every time she would run her brush through my real hair, large amounts of hair would come out.  I told her I needed to shave it, and she agreed.  But, my kids wanted to be the ones to shave it.

She trimmed the wig and thinned it out, making it look less like a wig, and more like real hair (if a wig can look like real hair).  My real hair kept getting in the way and making the wig slide around.  Vicki ended up cutting parts of my real hair to get it out of the way.  Vicki and her daughter Hallie were so good to console me, and they tried to help me feel better.

I left the shop with the wig on and wore it home, crying the whole way.  I felt like every car that pulled up next to me, could see that I was wearing a wig. 

When I got home, I decided it was time RIGHT THEN to shave my head.  Each one of my kids and John took a couple of swipes with the clippers through my hair.  We started with a large attachment and finished with a small one.  When they were all done, I had a very short butch hair cut.  I had envisioned the time of shaving my head.  I thought that we would try shaving some crazy styles and getting a laugh out of it.  But, it was very much the opposite.  The room was quiet except for my silent sobs.  It was so much harder than I thought it would be.

It look me a LONG time to be able to look in the mirror at myself.  It was pretty painful to look in the mirror the first time.  The first thing I thought of when I saw my reflection was Curly off of the 3 Stooges.  Good HECK! 

Friday, I almost felt like I was in mourning.  I spent a lot of time lying on the couch with tears in my eyes.  It is hard to come to grips with all your hair being shaved off.  I also had a major headache and didn't feel all that great.

My head has still been feeling sore and tender (from the chemo not the haircut).  I haven't even worn the wig yet.  Yesterday I wore a hat to church.  I think once my hair all falls out and my head feels a little less tender, I can wear the wig.

I don't think it will be long before all my hair is gone.  I keep finding lots of little hairs in my hats, and every time I touch my head.  My friend's mom has cancer and she was happy when her hair started falling out, because she knew the chemo was working.  I think that is a good way to look at it.  I am happy that the chemo is working and hopefully doing it's job.  I'm glad that there is such a thing as chemotherapy.  It's not fun, but necessary.  I can do this.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wiggy

So, I ordered a wig and came in the mail the day before yesterday.  I feel like I look atrocious in it.  It looks like an animal just crawled up on my head and died.  For some reason, I can't seem to get it to fit right.  Maybe it's too small...who knows.  My KIDS all look cute in it, but that doesn't help me. 

I have an appointment today to have a hairdresser look at it.  She said she can cut it, thin it out a little, and help me fit it on my fat head.  I just don't think I'm much of a "wig person".  I have a lot of great hats, thanks to some wonderful friends and sisters.  The picture on the right shows my wig (only mine is blonde).  It is called the "Shannon" wig.  I think I will rename it.  I shall call it, "You gotta be freaking kidding me". 

When Brynn and I were online shopping for a wig, we had to laugh out loud at a lot of them.  They looked SO "wiggy".  I just kept thinking about mama on the show "Mama's Family".  Oh gracious! 

I think I need to order a wig for each month of the year.  My January wig can be white like the snow.  February can be red for Valentine's day.  March, luck of the Irish green.  You get the picture.


How come Riley
can pull the wig-look off?
Not fair!?
I am in a group on Facebook for people with cancer.  I have asked the group questions about hair loss.  Oh my!  I could be losing much more than the hair on my head!  Good freakin' heck!  One lady said she lost all of her nose hairs!  I'm okay with the loss of armpit and leg hair...and that is it.  No eyebrows and eyelashes?  I'm not sure I can pull off that look!  And to be honest, it makes me want to bawl.  Everyone is different in the hair-loss department.  It's just all up in the air right now for me.  Yikes!

Yesterday and today, after my shower, I combed MAJOR amounts of hairs out of my head.  Yes, I cried.  My head is sore and I'm just getting really tired of it.  My next step is to shave my head, and it will be soon.  It's too devastating to comb that much hair out, every morning.  My kids can hardly wait to shave my head.  I guess we will have a little head shaving party.  Although, it doesn't sound like much of a party to me.  I'm grateful that the weather is changing and getting a little cooler.  With cooler weather comes more hats.  Maybe I won't stick out so much.

I had an appointment this morning for lab work.  Everything looked good and I will be going in next Thursday for chemo, Round 2.  They also told me about a class (I can't remember the name of it), "Feel good, look good" or something along those lines.   In the class they teach you how to put on make up and about wigs and such.  I am grateful that they offer a class!  When I think about painting eyebrows on my face I think of Mr. Rogers make believe, Lady Elaine.  Now that is one pretty lady!  I'm sure I will be just gorgeous (said in the most sarcastic way possible).

Exactly 3 years ago today, I lost my dad to cancer.  Stupid cancer.  I miss him a lot, and know that he is probably helping me every step of the way through this little battle.  I think back to when he would tell us about chemo and all the side effects.  Now, I'm right in the thick of it.   Sure love and miss my dad!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Friday Flashback...What did she say?!


We always get a good laugh when we talk about a cookout at my mom's house a couple of years ago.  It makes me laugh to hear my girls quote Grandma (my mom) when we talk about it. 

We were roasting hot dogs in the backyard...or according to my mom having a "wiener roast" or "weenie roast".  My kids just think these terms are a little scandalous and hilarious--especially coming from Grandma's sweet mouth.

During our roast, a stray neighborhood dog joined the family party and was trying to partake of some of the kids hot dogs/wieners.  My mom kept shouting, "Hey, that dog is trying to get those kids wieners!"

She didn't notice all the laughter coming from all the teenage grandkids.  They were thoroughly entertained by grandma.

We now like to tease grandma about having a "Weenie Roast" in our "Thongs" (aka flip flops).

Oh Grandma, how we love you!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

2nd day of School

This morning I hit the ground running.  Haley woke me up at 7:30 to help her and she needs to be to school by 8:00.  Hello panic button!  How are you this morning!?  I was able to get the lunches made and kids out the door on time.  Miracle. 

Before Riley left for school, I had to take her picture.  After all, it is her first day of school.  She didn't have to go yesterday.  Only the Freshmen went on the first day to the high school.  She made sure to rub it in to all my kids.  Older siblings are the best!
On a side note...feeling much better today than yesterday.  Yeah me!  I may actually get something done today!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Boobs and Bills

Boobs and Bills have been the only thing on my brain lately--along with a few other words that start with "B", such as bawling, baldness, barfing, blues, and bed-ridden.  There are some days that this breast cancer is kickin' my butt.  It can be all consuming (probably because most of the time I feel like a piece of crap).

Thursday I was FINALLY able to get through my first round of chemotherapy without having an allergic reaction.  My mom drove me to the doctor's office for chemo and John met us over there later.  When my mom and I got out of the car at the doctor's office, I asked her if we could slip back in the car and offer a prayer before going in for chemo.  I was HOPING and PRAYING that this chemo drug would work.  I asked my mom if she would offer the prayer.  She said the most sweet and sincere prayer asking Heavenly Father to please let this be the treatment that would go through without any problems.  I just know that my mom is HIGHLY favored of the Lord.  She's got to be. You cannot find a more selfless and serving person.  She is the epitome of charity and Christlike service.  And for some reason I thought that maybe He would listen a little more closely to one of His most cherished children.  Plus I was so nervous I literally felt like I was going to throw up.

When we got in the office, the nurses were ready for me.  They were trying to be very optimistic that TODAY was going to be the day that the chemo would work!  They knew that I didn't want to sit in the same chair that I had sat in the last 2 times when I had my reactions.  I was grateful that "that chair" was already taken and they had no plans to sit me there anyway.  This time they were prepared with oxygen and anything I would possibly need in the event of a reaction.  When they took my vitals they were shocked at how high my blood pressure was.  I was beyond nervous and hoping that today would work.

I was over-joyed when they told me I was 10 minutes into the chemotherapy, with NO reaction.  When the I.V. bag was finally empty, I shot my arm up in the air in VICTORY!  I don't think anyone has left the office THAT HAPPY after chemo before!  AND...I was able to walk out on my own two feet (no wheel chair this time)!

Friday I had to go back to the doctor's office for a Neulasta shot.  The shot helps in boost my white blood count.  I have come to learn that it is the devil.  I have NEVER been in so much pain in my life.  EVERY SINGLE BONE IN MY BODY is killing me.  The only way I can describe it is shin splints X 100 all-over-every-bone-in-my-body.  My legs hurt, back, fingers, hips, pelvic bone...Even my teeth hurt.
A friend posted this picture on Facebook to show how cancer feels.
Days later and I am still very, very achy and can hardly type this blog post.  I don't want to get behind on my journaling, so I am forcing myself to do this, and then I am going back to bed.  Now I just feel like I have a bad case of the stomach flu.  My head has been throbbing, and I can't imagine that I will have hair much longer.

School started today for Brynn, Jace, and Haley, so I feel like my focus needs to shift from the "B's".  Haley was a little late for her first day at a new school.  She started to cry when I was walking her in because she was feeling nervous (first day at her new school), and wanted to go back to her old school.  I started crying too because I didn't feel good.  Riley starts tomorrow and we will be back in full swing.  Crazy way to start the year, and I pray it gets easier.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Kickin' cancer--soccer style

About two weeks ago, I got a phone call from my cousin Natalyn.  She is the girls head soccer coach for Timpanogos High School.  She explained to me that she was coming to town with the girls soccer team for a tournament.  Every year Natalyn puts together some type of fireside for the girls, and they do service for someone, in conjunction with their tournament.

Natalyn was calling to ask me to speak to the girls at a fireside about trials, and how to get through them with a positive attitude.  She also told me that the team would like to help me with anything I needed done around the house--cleaning, with the kids, grocery shopping...whatever I needed done.  At this point in time, it had only been about a month since my breast cancer surgery.  I was still moving slow and not feeling 100%.

I agreed to speak, and I spoke to the girls about how everyone in life has or will go through trials.  It is not a matter of if, but when.  I told them how important it is to rely on Heavenly Father when facing a trial.  I told them that you have to have a good attitude.  Having a bad attitude and pulling a blanket over my head won't change the fact that I have cancer.  It was fun speaking to the girls.  They we all so cute and fun to be around.

It was decided that the next day, the would put together SEVERAL freezer meals (for days that I was going through chemo and too sick to cook).  They also made me a darling fleece blanket.  The day after the fireside, they delivered the meals, blanket, and sweet card.  What a blessing to our family!  Natalyn and the girls are SO awesome (along with help from Natalyn's sisters and my sweet cousins--Cindy and Karri)!
The picture above shows two different blankets that have been made for me.  The blanket with the large flowers was made by the girls soccer team and the pink and white blanket was made by my sister Lisa and her girls.  They are both darling and have already been put to good use.  I have slept on the couch many nights when I am having a hard time staying asleep.  That was so sweet of all of them!! 

This past Thursday, I received a text from my cousin.  She said that the girls had just played a game in my honor, and won 5-1.  These are the pictures that she sent with the text...
It made my (rough) day...and made me cry.  So sweet!