Interferon Day 3 and the weekend

Finishing up my first week of Interferon was pretty easy. I got a private room for my treatment on Friday which mean I got a real bed and a TV! At the end of my treatment, the access to my port was removed along with the gauze covering my two incisions. I’m pretty bruised, but the incisions aren’t bad. I have numbing cream to prepare the area to be accessed again on Monday. I’m a little nervous about that process! Friday afternoon was much like Thursday. I slept until Danny got home and then felt good for the evening.

Saturday I woke up feeling good and normal! It was a nice surprise. We took it easy for most of the day and went out to dinner with my parents and then took the kids to Frost. It was warm enough to be out without jackets and walking around the shopping center with the kids was a blast! It was a totally unexpected gift to feel so good!

It was a surprise on Sunday to wake up feeling blah. I had a headache and shakes when I woke up (a little like low blood sugar shakes, but less severe.) I fought fatigue and dizziness most of the day. Kinda lame, but I’m going to have to learn to take advantage of the good days and rest on the bad. Tomorrow begins my first full week of treatment, I appreciate your prayers!

Interferon day 2

Yesterday I woke up feeling great! My port was sore (I have two incisions that need to heal.) So I took some pain meds and got ready for the day. I even felt good enough to help the kids get dressed for school. My sweet friend Tina picked me up and drove me to The Cancer Center with her 11 month old adorable son Timothy. Danny stayed home to finish getting the kids ready for school and drop them off. I got my port plugged in and set up with my pre-interferon pepcid and benedryl. Filled the nurse in on my side effects from Wednesday. She hooked me up with numbing cream to prepare my port for the new needle on Monday (they’ll take out the access today.) And Agnes and Carrie (NP and nurse who work with my oncologist) came to visit me and wrote a prescription for anti-nausea meds for me. The benedryl knocked me out quickly after that and I slept through the rest. Danny picked me up and dropped me off at home. I made him pick up the anti-nausea meds for me, which of course I didn’t need then. I slept until Danny came home and felt good last night! The kids spent the night at my folks which makes the morning easy for us!

Today I’m looking forward to being finished for the week! Getting the port access out so I can shower (my hair is GREASY!) Removal of the bandages on my port wounds (the tape is itchy!) Playing with the kids this weekend and celebrating that so far I feel MUCH better than I expected to! I have been warned that the effects of the Interferon can be cumulative, so I may end up crashing more than I want to. Time to get socks and shoes on and head out for day 3!

Thanks for the prayers!!! (this hasn’t been proof read, forgive me!)

Port and Interferon Day 1

A very quick update before I get ready to head to The Cancer Center again this morning. Yesterday went about as well or better than I hoped. Having the port placed was slightly more traumatic than I anticipated. Mostly because the schedule was messed up and I was in the OR all prepped on the cold, cold table for a LONG time before the Dr showed up and they gave me the “I don’t care what you do” drugs. I actually have a double port which is allowing my chemo to go faster! The other patients in the room with me yesterday were jealous and my nurse was delighted.

The facitity and nurse were awesome yesterday. The other patients were very warm and sweet too. One of my pre drugs is benedryl, so I slept for most of my infusion. I’d guess that will be common. I got the shakes as we left, but they went away quickly. I was still pretty tired, so I went straight to bed when we got home. At home, my stomach got upset and I got sick a couple times. We got home at around 5 and it was bad until about 8:30 when Danny brought me my next dose of pain killers and benedryl. After that I felt better, snacked a little, and fell asleep and was out most of the night. I’m feeling good this morning, other than my port being sore.
Thanks to everyone for the prayers. Today my treatment is at 9. Danny will bring me home afterward and I’ll be on my own for the afternoon. (Hopefully I’ll just sleep.) The first day is supposed to be the worst and it’s behind me! Hurray!

A Mommy timeout from the policeman

I got pulled over today for the first time in 10 years. 2nd time ever. Our tags expired in May ’09 (my mouth dropped when he told me.) No registration in the glove compartment, proof of insurance expired 2 days ago… thankfully legally we’re caught up, but my paperwork was sorely lacking. We misplaced the new tags back in May and just never thought about it. Thankfully the officer was super gracious and wrote me a warning. Scolded me for not ordering a new license with my current address (although it was changed in the system.) I cried, which drove ME crazy, but I was thankful for a warning and the chance to correct things before I got a ticket. I was trying to figure out how I was going to fit going to traffic school in with chemo (which prompted the tears.) I’m such a pleaser and have a more than healthy fear of authority, it’s a BIG deal to be pulled over. I think I can laugh about the comedy of errors now…. I think!

In other good news, my lung function test went fine. I was a little below average, but I didn’t tell the 50 year old man who was doing my test that my spanx I’m using to prevent my lymphedema swelling may have limited my breathing some. Teehee!


The coming week and my inner preacher escapes a bit

I AM beginning my year of interferon treatment this Wednesday! I am ready to begin actively fighting! I’m also frightened about embarking on this journey in which I don’t know what to expect. My next blog post is going to be a list of side effects of interferon since they are different than with traditional chemotherapy. I’m hoping that my prayer warriors will be able to pray specifically against the side affects.

Monday I have an appointment at UMC for a pulmonary function test. The kids are going to hang out at work with Danny while I have that done. It’s supposed to be quick! Wednesday morning I have to be at UMC at 8am (EARLY for us!) to have my portacath installed*. That procedure will take up most of the morning. At noon, I am to report to The Cancer Center. At 1pm, I am scheduled for another baseline x-ray. Then at 2:30, I have my first Intron Alfa-2b Treatment. The treatment will take 2-3 hours, so we’ll head home around 5pm to see what fabulous side effects I’ll enjoy! (The first dose apparently is the worst and it usually gets better from there.)  Thursday I have to be at The Cancer Center at 9am for my second treatment. My sweet friend Tina has agreed to drive me there so Danny can get our kids off to preschool. Friday is another interferon treatment, but I don’t know the time yet. The positive thing about having to be at The Cancer Center for 3 hours a day/ 5 days a week is I anticipate the time will go quickly!

Thanks to everyone who is praying for me and has taken the time to read all the details of my week. I know that typing this out helps me process everything. I read an incredible perspective of suffering and healing on Beth Moore’s LPM blog today. I am hoping to share this attitude of expectancy for the change God has to do in my heart and spirit. Not bad change, but His transforming work.  As Beth said, I will NOT end this journey the same as I began it. “If I am[the same], I will have missed something huge. Something vital. Something life-changing between Jesus and me. And I do not plan to miss it for this world. It’s why He has me here. ” I’ve prayed that God would transform me to love like Him at ANY cost. I don’t plan to waste this experience.

Amen and amen!

*I will be considering myself part Borg from then until it’s removed. Resistance to my dorkiness is futile!

Treatment Plan

Today was a big day of appointments! This morning I had my first appointment with the dermatologist at the Cancer Center. She was very nice and went over all my background infomation with me and then did a full body check for suspicious moles. She was very personable and the check was easier than I anticipated! She said I’m a pretty simple case and there are only two moles she wants me to watch. She instructed me to do monthly skin checks myself and only needs to see me every six months! After seeing Dr. Curiel, I was talked to by a health educator about sunscreen and wearing long sleeves(cue eye roll on my part) and given some sunscreen samples. I heart samples!

Danny and I took a break from the cancer center for lunch. After lunch, we met with Dr. Cranmer, my oncologist. He was FULL of information and made sure we understood his role as well as interferon and the controversy surrounding the treatment. Essentially, it’s not a super effective medication, but it does improve odds for some people and is the only treatment available. The current plan is for me to start Interferon next Wednesday, the 16th. I need to have a pulmonary function test, chest x-ray, and IV port put in before I can start. So, I have a busy few days in front of me! I will be having 20 days (4 weeks, 5 days per week) of high dose interferon followed by 11 months of 3x per week self administered (by injection) low dose interferon. Interferon is a protein the body makes naturally to fight infection. So, although I am hopefully already cancer free, Interferon will increase my immune system and help it defeat any remaining melanoma cells in my body. I am also starting an antidepressant tomorrow since 40% of patients on interferon struggle with depression and an antidepressant is considered part of the course of treatment.

In the last part of the afternoon, I took part in some “word games” as part of a study and had bloodwork drawn. At 4:30 we finally left to pick up the kids from my parents after a LONG afternoon! I’m glad to be home and have the appointments behind me. I dread beginning the treatment, but I am glad to begin putting it behind me!

Great day and Jesse Tree Celebration!

It’s December already! It was a great day. We are back to a normal schedule this week. I took the kids to school this morning (although Danny was sweet enough to help me get the kids ready.) It was a super productive morning. I got some VERY overdue books returned to the library, hit the grocery store twice, made a new jesse ornament (more on that later), had the car washed, made homemade butternut squash soup and took care of kids! It was a MAJOR victory for this girl who has been on the couch recovering from surgery for the past two months!

Tonight we started our advent celebration with the kids. It’s a variation of a Jesse Tree which is a Christmas tradition explained best here. He’s an excerpt from their website. Jesse Trees are all over the internet now, but this website is where I found the first and best information when I started researching this tradition a few years ago.

What is a Jesse Tree? It is a tree branch decorated with symbols representing the stories of people in Jesus’ family tree. In Isaiah 11:1 we read, “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” Jesse was the father of David, Israel’s greatest king. And it was from David’s lineage that Jesus came. That’s where the idea of using a Jesse Tree to celebrate Advent came from. Before a symbol is hung on the branch, a Bible passage or a story from a story Bible is read.

I’ve augmented our tradition a bit. I picked stories and ornaments to fit with our favorite children’s Bible. The Children’s Storybook Bible fits with the Jesse Tree tradition perfectly. Every story is written in a way that points to the promise of Jesus. It is absolutely beautiful. I’m making felt ornaments for us.