Monday, May 24, 2010

Victoria Day, 2010

Saturday should have been a bad day for me, but I began to take my Ibuprofen last night, and seem to have stayed ahead of much of my typical post-chemo discomfort this time. I woke up relatively comfortable and had a very active day, trying to keep up with the work that my men-folk were putting into painting, sanding, varnishing. Fatigue hit me by mid afternoon, and I slowed right down for the evening. There seems to be a curious lack of the stabbing pains that I usually get - again, hopefully this is the pain killers working.

Sunday was another work day, and, as a day 5 was typically the worst one in the cycle. I was quite tired, and rested often while others worked around me. The painting in the kitchen is complete, and Rick and JP worked long hours installing the lovely wooden shelves - I'll try to post a photo in the next few days - while Eric painted on in the dining room. Miriam arrived from Montreal on the evening train, so once again the family is complete.

Monday, Victoria Day, and it is hot outside. I am feeling better today and not taking any pills, though fatigue is a constant companion. We (I spent a lot of time flat on my back) worked like bees all day with cleaning, painting, cooking, moving furniture, and finally rewarded ourselves with drinks in the garden. Tonight Eric and I watched the fireworks from our top floor - the others walked down to the beach for a front row spot. We;ll all relax in front of a good movie this evening. Tomorrow we should move our kitchen things down to the ground floor and celebrate the good weather with our first meal outside.

My films and reports have all arrived in Minneapolis, and I hope to hear back from our good friend in a few days to see whether or not he agrees with the treatment that I am receiving here. I don't imagine that there will be new information, but it will be nice to have a fresh set of eyes looking at my file, and to know that a friend has my back.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Chemo 4

I went in for blood work on Wednesday, and my neutrophils had gone up to a healthier 1.9 from 1 the previous Wednesday, so chemo went ahead as scheduled. I was tired by the end of the day, mostly because I had been lying down for 6 hours. I increased my sleeping pill to 1/2 to counteract the steroids, and slept well for about 7 hours.

I woke up today full of pep and had a very active day, driving to North York Hospital to pick up a CD of my first CT scan to send to Minneapolis, and buying a beautiful leather rocking chair and a side table from Craig's list. Rick, Eric and JP were busy installing a wooden backsplash over the kitchen counter, and we found the shelving in the garage that had been taken down when cupboards were installed a few years back. By tomorrow they should be on the wall, and we can begin moving our things downstairs. At some point we are going to have to find time to grocery shop - we are out of everything! I mowed the lawn this evening and will try to do some gardening tomorrow while I still feel good. Saturday to Tuesday will be my dreadful days, and then it will get better for the next week.

Monday, May 17, 2010


This week's postponement of chemotherapy has been like a gift of good days, especially since the weather has improved and there is still lots of painting to do on the ground floor before we move down. Yesterday I finished painting the kitchen and sunroom, and will look for some grey tiles for the counter backsplash today. We'll be putting up the shelves, and then will begin to fill them with our pots and pans - I am already using the fridge to keep extra food. I hope that by Wednesday we will have begun to move the kitchen and dining room things downstairs.

I am sleeping now with just a quarter of my sleeping pill, and imagine that a lot of this is anxiety that I might not be able to fall asleep. I'll see what happens during chemo - if I have to revert back to taking the whole pill again.

Our Minneapolis surgeon friend has requested to see my file, complete with slides and scans, for a second opinion. I don't imagine that he will find out anything different, but since making the request, I feel that I have my oncologist's full attention. It is a great feeling to have someone watching your back.

Steph is progressing with the exterior painting - the second coat is now on everything except the second floor - he will need to rent a longer ladder to reach there. It is all looking fabulous, and I can't wait for it to be completed so that I can concentrate my work on the flowerbeds below.

I am feeling very good, and have very high energy that I still must hold in check so as not to exhaust myself. I hope that my neutrophils are high enough on Wednesday for me to start round 4 of chemo. Life is fun, and it is almost barbeque weather!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

chemo postponed

My blood work today showed an improvement in neutrophils - from .7 to 1 - since Monday, so I have been booked in for chemo next Wednesday. I didn't need to have an injection to boost my immunity as my body seems to be recovering on its own. I am a bit anxious to postpone the chemo for a week, but this will give me another week of feeling really good, so I'm not really complaining!

The house painting is progressing - outside and in, and as we finish one room, I will try to furnish it. It is amazing how empty the place is right now - it feels like a ballroom, but that won't last once we are living downstairs. The weather is still beastly here, and I am trying to keep all the little plants alive inside till I can transplant them outside. The wisteria is still beautiful, but the leaves are growing in quickly, so the best time for photos has already passed - the flowering crab apple is already losing its flowers, but lilac is in full bloom.

We had sad news from France today, that our beloved cousine Francoise has fallen into a gentle coma, from which she is not expected to awaken. Another cancer casualty, and our family feels broken.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Where have all the flowers gone?

This week I have been super energetic, and busy with friends and beginning the move into our downstairs quarters. We've begun by removing wall units in the kitchen, prepping the walls for painting and choosing colors. You know that you have great friends when they offer to come over and clean ovens and bathrooms for you! We are waiting for the weather to clear for our painter to finish the exterior of the house - for now he is painting ceilings inside.

Yesterday I went in for routine blood testing, but my white cells are too low for chemo on Wednesday, so tomorrow I will go in for more testing, and if they are still not back to where they should be I will be given an injection to boost the production - all this may push my chemo back by two weeks - a real disappointment, but then it will give me two extra weeks of feeling good (unless the injection has side effects that I am unaware of). I had an excellent meeting with my oncologist, who was very focused on me and took lots of time to hear my concerns and answer them in depth. She is prescribing another three rounds of the same chemotherapy, followed by another CT scan and assessment.

I have become a Craigs List addict - have bought a beautiful bed, picnic table and chair, and am selling my kitchen cabinets, and along the way meeting some really nice people. Cold and rainy here for the past week - I want Spring back!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The good, the bad and the ugly

Today was my meeting with the surgeon to go over my CT scan results. Miriam, Eric and I drove down to PMH for my 9:00 appointment. After waiting for three hours (the doctor's schedule had been shuffled because of a meeting, and my scan results were late getting to her office)we finally met with her to the disappointing news that surgery was not my best option. I suppose we were hoping that there would be a nasty tumor that could just be removed.

My cancer now has a name - primary peritoneal cancer. A diffuse tumor in the abdominal cavity involves blood supply to the bowel - surgery would remove a big part of the bowel, there is too much risk of complications, and they would not be able to remove it all. Because we know that it is also in the thoracic cavity, the likelihood of a cure is low, but not zero.

On the brighter side, I am responding well to my chemo, so will continue for an additional three rounds, and will then be monitored every three months. If the cancer returns before six months have passed, then my prognosis will not be good (an indication that the cancer is resistant to the drugs). If it does not return for a couple of years, that will be a good thing. I look forward to lots of feel-good days during the summer, and am relieved not to have invasive surgery and painful recovery in my future. For now, I am living each day as it comes, smelling the roses, and determined to make the most of what I have.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

CT scan and feeling great

Day 11 feels excellent! Miriam came back to Toronto Thursday evening, and she and Eric took me to my CT scan yesterday morning. I was in and out in less than ten minutes - laid out on a movable tray, full of barium for the digestive system and dye in the circulatory, and then sent through a big donut with lasers and x-rays several times. Right in front of your eyes is a glowing space that says "do not look directly at the laser." Is this a bad design, or what? As with many tests, the preparation was more disagreeable than the actual event. A barium shake is not bad tasting, but it is the quantity that gets to you - half at bedtime the day before, and the other half an hour before the scan. It has put me off my breakfast smoothie - just a decaf coffee and granola for me this morning!

After the scan, Miriam and I spent an hour or so painting the garage doors - I was being very good, keeping off ladders and going slowly. This morning we will try to finish, but rain clouds are coming in, so we may have to wait till after the weekend for more outdoor activities. If we stay indoors we may be forced to clean house - nooooooooooo... I am feeling energetic and discomfort free, and looking forward to ten more days of the same!

My New Boubou

My New Boubou
Boubou with handy pocket

Getting better

Getting better
Wilson and Me

Due to Popular Demand

Due to Popular Demand
I'm a Redhead

I still love my chemotherapy

I still love my chemotherapy
Who needs hair anyway?

I love my chemotherapy

I love my chemotherapy
walking to Princess Margaret