Happy New Year!!!

Well, another year has passed and Patty and I are about as healthy as we can be! Patty got some amazing news just a week ago…

December 14, 2015 was Patty’s 5 year anniversary from her last Chemo. Five years! My how the time flies by. She just had an appointment with her Oncologist for her final check-up of the year. She has been seeing her every six months for the past couple of years. This was a big one for her since hitting the five-year mark post chemo gives her a greater chance of survival and being cancer free for many years to come. In addition, she was taking the medication Arimidex which lowers estrogen levels in post-menopausal women, which may slow the growth of certain types of breast tumors that need estrogen to grow in the body. Patty experienced a number of side effects to the medication such as tingling of the extremities, joint pain and, one of my personal favorites… hot flashes! Not just one or two a day, but we’re talking hot flashes anytime of the day, night or morning! I’ve been wanting to get her a super hero costume with a cape and call her The Hot Flash! Poor Patty… she is the only woman I’ve known that will turn the air conditioner on in the car when it’s 32 degrees outside! If things turned out well with her appointment there was a big hope that the doctor would take her off the Arimidex! So this was a big appointment for her… and us. I generally go to every appointment with her,but unfortunately she had to do this one on her own as I had “things” to deal with at work. As usual, about a week before her appointment Mr. Elephant in the room dropped by for his semi-annual visit as I could see patty starting to withdraw a little. If you look back in past posts I’ve described how she gets about a week before any appointment so I go into my routine of trying to keep her mind off of things… I go into “stupid mode!” I joke… laugh… just try to keep her entertained. It never works but why not try.

Her appointment with the Oncologist was December 23rd at 2:00 p.m. She gave blood samples the day before and had a bone density scan. So, December 23rd finally arrived and fortunately Patty was really busy with work so that kind of kept her mind off of things… Patty went to her appointment as scheduled, apprehensive as to what news the doctor would have for her…

December 23rd at about 2:30 my phone rang. I saw it was Patty when I answered it… Here’s how the conversation went:

Me: “Hi Honey… How’d it go???
Patty: “Yippee! Yahoo! Yippie! Wooo Hoo! Yea!!! Yippa Screma Dema!!!”
Me: “I’m taking it that it went well?”
Patty: “The doctor said I graduated!!! Yippee! Yahoo! Yippie! Wooo Hoo! Yea!!! Yippa Screma Dema!!!”
Me: “I’m so happy!!!”
Patty: “No more Arimidex! Yippee! Yahoo! Yippie! Wooo Hoo! Yea!!! Yippa Screma Dema!!!”
Me: “That’s great!
Patty: “Yippee! Yahoo! Yippie! Wooo Hoo! Yea!!! Yippa Screma Dema!!!”

That’s pretty much how it went! Not recommended, but she was driving and doing her happy dance at the same time in the car!

Yep… the doctor gave her a clean bill of health! She graduated! The doctor also took her off the Arimidex! No more hot flashes! No more air conditioner in the car when it’s freezing outside! No more needing to wear a wetsuit to bed! I know it all sounds selfish of me, but all I can say is: “Yippee! Yahoo! Yippie! Wooo Hoo! Yea!!! Yippa Screma Dema!!!”

We hope 2016 brings everything good to you!

The frustration of recovery!

 

Patty and friends at the American Cancer Society Relay for Life a couple weeks ago.

Patty’s recovery from the reconstruction surgery is going well.  She still has a long way to go, but overall she’s doing really well.  They started adding saline to her implant last week and she’s pretty excited to have a cleavage again!   

The initial recovery period from the surgery was pretty painful.  She hid it pretty well from me at first, but as I’ve said in many previous posts, her eyes tell the story.  She fooled me and was on the go pretty quickly.  Too quickly!  I should have known better.  Those of you who know Patty, know that she’s hard to keep down.  She wants to exercise and get back into her routine.  She can’t do it!  Not yet.  I could see she was tiring easy and “hitting the wall” by early afternoons.  So, I’ve had to put my foot down and limit her activities.  She’s begrudgingly cooperating… 

Up until surgery her “job” was watching our granddaughter, Avery.  The doctor told us that she wouldn’t be able to watch her full time again until at least 8 weeks after surgery.  She thinks it’ll take her 6 weeks, but I’m going to win this battle.  She needs to take as long as she needs.  Avery kept Patty pretty busy during the days, but now that Patty’s on her own, she gets pretty bored!  She’s been devouring a lot of books, which she loves, but she gets frustrated that she can’t do it all right now.  She’s doing so well, I just don’t want her to overdo it and, in turn, take longer for her recovery.

She has a doctor’s appointment next Monday to add more saline… a little at a time.  Right now it’s all about adding the saline which in turn stretches the skin until it’s the same size etc as the other breast. 

Patty’s been walking as often as possible… a couple miles at a time.  She’s impatiently wanting to push the walking farther to start training for the Komen walk in November!   

She needs to heal first… she has plenty of time!

We want to help you… email us.

The Lodi Zinfest – 2009

Patty and I talked last night about this blog. I was telling her that I hoped I was making a difference for people by telling the story of her, and our, battle with breast cancer from the beginning to present time. She immediately said she believed I was. I hope I am.

 I told Patty there are really only three reasons you’d read this blog: 1) You’re a friend or family member wanting to know how Patty is doing; 2) You’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer and you’re searching for information; or 3) You’re the husband, boyfriend, caregiver of someone diagnosed with breast cancer and you’re searching for information.

Patty and I have really wanted to give back and help people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer as well as give back to their husbands, boyfriends and/or caregivers. Thinking about the reasons why someone would read or follow this blog made us think… this blog is a great avenue to help others.

So, I’m just going to throw this out to anyone reading this blog:   If you’re going through the battle with breast cancer and want to talk… email us. It’s as simple as that. I know it’s difficult to contact us through the “comment” field at the end of a post since those “comments” are public.  Email is private. Email us about anything!  Concerns, fears, triumphs… whatever.  We’ll respond to your email as best we can from what we’ve experienced.  Every cancer is different. Every treatment is different. But sometimes, it just helps talking to someone about it.  We know… we’ve been there.

We want to help!  Email us… Ed-Patty@att.net.

Follow-up doctor appointments

 

Here’s Patty and her sisters, Kathy and Dottie, this past weekend in Coronado. 

(ok, not really, it was taken last May in Maui)

We got a couple of doctor appointments out of  the way today.  This morning we met with Patty’s reconstruction surgeon.  Overall, everything is looking “ok” but not quite up to par where he had hoped she’d be.  Things just take a long time to heal when you’re going through chemo.  One would think that having surgery back in late July, things would be perfect by now.  But the TAC that Patty had is one of the strongest chemo’s they’ve got, so things take a little longer to heal.  But, he was hopeful that everything would be good in about a month now that she has no more infusions.  It’s all about waiting for the poison to get completely out of her system.  It’s been four weeks since her last infusion so they figure it takes a good two months before it’s gone.

This afternoon we met with Patty’s oncologist.  According to her, everything is on track.  She had a blood test yesterday which revealed her white cell count to be on the low side but the oncologist didn’t seem concerned about that.  The doctor put Patty on Tamoxifen which is a hormone therapy that blocks cancer cell growth.  It’s all about beating any kind of reoccurrence!  So, she’ll take the Tamoxifen daily for two years then most likely change to a different and newer hormone therapy for a couple more years after that.  It’s all good!  Patty will go back and see her in a month to see where’s she’s at.

The big test comes up next Tuesday… the dreaded CAT Scan.  Patty’s oncologist said she wasn’t concerned about it, but then again, she’s not the one going through it!  As I said in an earlier post, Patty’s experiencing some anxiety over it and I don’t blame her in the least.  It’ll be good to just get it done and find out that things are great!  She’ll have the scan on Tuesday (the 18th) and get the results on Thursday (the 20th).  Please pray that the results of the scan snow no signs of cancer anywhere in her body. 

Overall, Patty has been doing pretty good.  The low white cell count now explains why she has had two colds in the past month, the most recent come on this past weekend.  But, she’s on the mend.  Her hair is slowly sprouting up at the rate of  a trillionth of an inch every-other-day! 

Patty’s sister Kathy and her husband, John, came to town this past Sunday.  They stayed at Lowes in Coronado and invited us to stay Sunday night, so we did.  Even though Patty was battling her cold, we had a really good time and it’s always great to see Kathy and John.  The timing was good as Patty’s brother, Jim,was also in town.  This was the first time in six years that all the Marron siblings have been together!  Family is always good for Patty!

Our little condo is officially listed for sale as of today.  We had about 15 realtors view our condo this morning while we were at the doctors.  I think I had mentioned earlier that we had put off selling the condo until we knew exactly what was going on with Patty.  But now that things are definitely looking up, it’s time to sell and get into something with some room!  Wish us luck!

So, bottom line, things are looking pretty good but, then again, things are still pending!  That’s the frustrating part!

Oh, by the way, a little bird told me that there were some complaints that I haven’t been adding pictures to my last few posts… I won’t name any names about who complained other than they start with “N” and “P” and are from Prescott, Az.  Leave it to the “zonies!”  I promise you’ll be seeing more pictures in the future.  🙂

We need to take it one day at a time!

Last night I leaned over and gave Patty a kiss on top of her shiny head and it hit me… “She’s really dealing with cancer!”  Please don’t get me wrong, we’ve been living this for the past six months, but last night was different.  It really hit me… hard!  The reality of all this came over me like a ton of bricks!  I felt bad for her and very frustrated for both of us.  I really want to fix this and make this go away for her, but I can’t.  I think I may have been running on auto-pilot for the past six months.  Having many years behind me in law enforcement, maybe my past training had taken over… whatever the problem is, handle it!  Don’t let the emotional part get in the way!  Just handle it!  

We were delivered some very frustrating news yesterday.  Without getting into specifics, Patty’s having some complications from the surgery.  (Don’t worry, there’s no more cancer)  The doctor feels they need to go back in to correct this problem.  So, surgery is scheduled for this coming Monday, Oct. 18th.  Surgery is at 1:00 p.m. and should take about an hour.  They say she’ll come home that same day.  

I’m really concerned about this procedure.  Patty just had chemo this past Tuesday.  If you remember my last post, I talked about how we’ve pretty much figured out how she’ll be feeling on a day-to-day basis over the next couple of weeks.  Well, my guess is she’ll probably be really fatigued come Monday!  Plus, they say that between day 7 through 14 following chemo, her white cells will be at their lowest and this is a time when she’s the most susceptible to infection.  My question is… How will all that affect her recovery from the surgery?  Another question I have is…  Will this procedure delay her next chemo treatment?  That’s the last thing we want!  We’re on a schedule and really don’t want any delays!  Patty put a call in to her Oncologist late yesterday to ask those specific questions.  She hasn’t gotten back to us yet.  

My hope is all this will be behind us come June 22, 2011 (Patty’s 1 year cancerversary).  Our life will be somewhat back to normal and we’ll look back at all this and say “Man, that was really messed up!”  (I do have another phrase for “messed up” but it’s probably not appropriate to put it in this post!)

“Three… two… one!”

If you haven’t figured it out yet, my wife is an amazing woman!  Yesterday was her third chemo infusion.  Yes, number three!  A milestone in her treatment!  The half way mark!  Patty was actually excited yesterday to have her next treatment!  I mean really excited!  I asked her “why?” to which she replied: “Because I’m one more treatment closer to being cancer free!”  She truly means that!  What a great positive attitude!!! 

Patty has done really well over the past week.  We’ve noticed a pattern through these treatments.  She deals with days “1 through 3” pretty well following her infusion, other than losing her taste buds.  Fatigue and body aches don’t really hit her until day “4” and lasts pretty strong through day “11”.  It seems like she starts to turn the corner about that time and begins to get stronger as each day comes.  Her taste buds start coming back about day “16” so this is when I start really cooking for Patty!  By day “18” or so, she’s doing pretty well, not back to normal, but much better than the previous week.  Then day “21” comes around and we get to do the whole cycle all over again!  

I hear people saying that this is just a “bump in the road” for us.  We’ve actually used that phrase a few times, but yesterday I had a chance to reflect on the past six months.  Sorry, but it’s hardly been a “bump.”  I don’t know the right word to describe this experience, in fact, I don’t need to find the correct word.  What I can say is that these past six months have not been easy!  But, it’s been a trial that has brought the two of us closer to each other like never before and it’s brought the two of us much closer to God. It’s been an experience that has literally turned our lives up-side-down as well as put our lives on hold.  But, you know what?  We’ve both accepted our lives for what they are right now and I’m confident we’ll get through this and carry on!  We’re both excited to see what the future has in store for us!  We talked yesterday and Patty told me that she’ll never take life for granted again.  That she wants to take in all she can daily.  We now have a new granddaughter and another grandchild on the way.  There’s a lot to look forward to! 

Since we’re trying to be as positive as we can through this ride, we’re now saying we’re on the “Countdown through Chemo”… “three… two… one!”  December 14th can’t come soon enough!

I’ve got an idea…

This is me and our granddaughter, Mia, at the pool.

When I started this blog, part of my intent was to document this journey so friends and family could keep up with what’s going on with Patty and me.  The other part was to document this journey in hopes that it could help others who may be in the same situation.  This particular post is intended for other husbands who may have just learned that their wife or girlfriend was diagnosed with breast cancer.

16 years ago I vowed to Patty that I would love, honor and cherish her in “sickness and in health.”  I meant that when I said it and I still mean it.  There has not been one moment I have ever doubted that. 

As the husband of a breast cancer victim you become the first line of defense for your wife.  You need to respond to her every worry, concern, and fear about a disease that would become almost as much yours as it is hers.

I may not have had the suspicious lump in my breast.  I didn’t physically have the surgery and all that would follow.  I’m not the one going through the chemotherapy infusions, the nausea or fatigue.  From the moment Patty told me “I have breast cancer”, I found my (our) life unravel in ways I could have never imagined nor predicted.  In a sense, the husband’s job is a tough one, maybe not as tough as hers, but it definitely has its challenges.  You not only have to make sense of cancer, the good and bad, but at the same time you have to learn how to filter information to keep your wife from falling apart. That is no small job.  I’m not a psychiatrist or psychologist.   I’m not a counselor.  I’ve had no training in the world of breast cancer.  I’ve had no medical training and I’m not a doctor or a nurse.  Bottom line, I’m just a husband who loves his wife very much who is flying by the seat of his pants, and at times, struggling to do what I feel is best for my wife!

When I learned Patty had breast cancer, I wanted to learn as much about the disease as I could.  I thank God for the internet.  I was overwhelmed with information and I took it all in like a sponge.  I will admit, there is a lot of information regarding breast cancer that is not good news, but it’s a reality.  I had to sort through that information and cling onto the hopeful info while also being realistic.  On the other hand, Patty also wanted to know as much as she could about the disease.  As with any other woman in her shoes, her frame of mind was different from mine.  She focused on the negative information which, in turn would frighten her.  Actually “Frighten” isn’t the correct term.  Using the word “terrorize” is more appropriate.  I had to have some strict talks with Patty about researching on the internet and even threatened to put “parental controls” on the computer.  (even though I’m sure she still peeks at the internet!)

This disease is something that totally consumes your life 24 hours a day!  Being a man, I have that “male” mentality…  “I can deal with this… Don’t worry about me, I’m a guy!”  “Guys are strong… Guys eat stress for breakfast!”  I think I’ve done pretty good over the past five months.  I’ve been strong for Patty and tried to be as understanding and emphatic as I can.  I’ve had maybe two days over this time where it was very difficult for me.  Funny, but I can’t put my finger on any specific event that caused me to just want to throw my hands up, but I know I did feel that way.  I feel guilty about that!  As a result, the one good thing is that my relationship with God has become much stronger as he and I have had many discussions where I’ve prayed to him to help me stay strong!  I know he’s in my corner!  I’ve recognized that I need to take care of myself.  Bottom line, I need to take care of myself to be able to properly take care of Patty!  Recognizing this, I decided to join a Breast Cancer Support Group for husbands.  Check this out… there are NO support groups specifically designed to help the husbands of breast cancer patients!  I find that appalling. 

So, guess what.  I started doing some research and leg-work to see what I need to do to start one!  I’m really excited about this.  I may be able to do this or I may not.  But if I’m able to pull this off, it’ll be something that will be really good for me and will help other husbands in my shoes!  Wish me luck.  I’ll keep you posted on how this goes!

T.G.I.F.!!!

Patty and Nicole… Notice the “baby bump!”  She’s due any day now… the tummy is much bigger!

 

 

 

Thank God it’s Friday!  It’s been quite a week.   If someone would have told me six months ago that our life would be so upside-down right now, I’d tell them they were crazy!  Everything was going so well.  Patty retired.   We moved back to San Diego.  I found a great job.  The girls were both pregnant!  Wow… everything was falling into place.  Just when we were settling in and getting comfortable… God noticed and decided to wake us up and give us a challenge!  Challenges are good… keeps you on your toes!  Right? 

Monday was my last post.  In that post I was boasting how well Patty was doing from the last chemo infusion.  Last Saturday she was down for the count with fatigue.  Sunday, she was up and doing great.  But… Monday came here and the fatigue decided Patty wasn’t tired enough so he had his way with her.  She was down again for all of Monday and most of Tuesday.  She started getting her strength back on Wednesday and by the end of Thursday she was tired, but almost back to normal.  She’s been having little bouts with nausea but anti-nausea med’s seem to help quickly.  Today she seems to be doing great. 

Patty had an appointment with the Reconstruction Surgeon this past Tuesday.  He said everything was looking great other than the fact that the incision hasn’t healed 100%.  (it seems to be taking forever!)  The good thing is that he cleared her to start Jazzercise again, but low impact.  She’s ok with that.  But, since the incision isn’t 100% healed, he won’t let her use the pool!  Too bad since this week the weather has been in the mid to high 90’s with high humidity. 

We met with another Radiologist Oncologist yesterday.  He was very very thorough with us.  He used the paper that covers the exam table in the room as his drawing pad and gave us a Cancer 101 crash course!  He explained in layman’s terms everything one needed to know about breast cancer.  From how they find it, ultra-sound it, diagnose it, grade it, stage it, chemo it, radiate it… etc.  The bottom line in this appointment came at the end when he said: “In my opinion, you don’t need radiation therapy!”  That was great news and we’re happy Patty doesn’t need to extend her treatment any more than necessary.  If everything goes according to plan, December 14th will come around with her last chemo infusion then it’s back to healing and taking our lives off hold!  We pray that it stays that way! 

So, since Patty’s feeling pretty good today, and you know Patty, she jumped at the chance to go back to her love, Jazzercise!  She took a low impact class and absolutely loved it.  Everyone was really happy to see her back!  She then flew home, showered and met Nicole at the movies (some chick flick!)  She ran over to Kohl’s after the movie and bought a new pair of jeans (since she’s swimming in all her old jeans because she’s lost so much weight) and came home.

Speaking of weight… Patty’s probably lost about 20+ pounds over this whole ordeal.  She lost weight going through the initial diagnosis phase due to stress and anxiety.  Now she’s losing weight because her “taster” is all out of whack and food doesn’t taste good to her.  You’d think she’d stop losing weight with all the root beer floats and smoothies she’s consuming!  But, nope! 

Overall, the chemo is taking its toll on her, but once we’re at about 10 to 12 days into it following the infusion, she does great.  Her taster should start coming back by Sunday or Monday, then I’m going to do some serious cooking for her!

We knew it was too good to be true!

As you know, Patty had her first chemo this past Tuesday.  She did remarkably well through the process.  She has been feeling great this entire week… then yesterday hit.  Wham!  Like a freight train!  She woke up feeling a little tired and as the day progressed that feeling turned into big time fatigue with, as the doctors and nurses predicted, “flu-like symptoms.”  (By the way, the phrase “flu-like symptoms” doesn’t give it any credit.)  I got home a little early yesterday, around 2:00 p.m.  Patty was sitting on the sofa and you could see in her eyes that she wasn’t feeling well at all.  I brought her pillows and she crashed for a good 1 1/2 to 2 hour nap.  She woke up feeling better, but not 100%.   I could see her doing better as the evening progressed, hoping that she had turned the corner.  This morning she woke up feeling really well!  She said she wants to get on the treadmill this morning before we start our day!  That’s  a good sign!

So, we know what to expect in future treatments.  They say that the chemo will build up over each treatment and the symptoms get stronger.  So be it.  She still has a very positive attitude and she knows she’s getting better!

Monday, Sept 6th.  Ok… so I had to add to this post.  We were hoping she had turned the corner, but we were wrong.  She woke up Saturday morning feeling pretty good.  She actually went on the treadmill and walked two miles!  I was impressed.  She returned from the gym saying she felt pretty good, but a little nauseous.  She took a nausea pill and everything seemed to go away.  But, I could see her sinking as the day went on.  Her eyes don’t lie!  Early afternoon, she told me that she didn’t want to be cooped up in the condo.  (that condo can feel pretty confining!)  We decided to take a drive over to Coronado, be by the beach, and have a late lunch over at the Hotel Del.  We almost made it, then Patty told me she didn’t feel well so we turned around and headed for home.  We did stop in Rancho Bernardo and had lunch at Islands.  Food really helped her.  She ate a good lunch and seemed to be on the mend again.  We went home and as the evening approached, she wasn’t feeling well again.  We had a very quiet night.

She woke up Sunday feeling pretty good.  We got up  and had  a light breakfast.  I’d ask how she was feeling and if you know Patty she’ll always say “I’m fine.   I’m sure Patty was wondering what was up with me as I kept staring at her trying to size up how she was really feeling.  As I said, her eyes tell it all.  We showered and dressed and headed off to church.  (Church is always a good thing for us as it takes our mind off of any troubles we have!)  On the way Patty said: “I don’t understand it.”   She continued: “When you’re diagnosed with cancer, you physically feel fine.  You feel normal.  You can do anything.  But when they treat you for cancer, you feel horrible, physically and mentally!”  It’s so true!  We returned home from church and I asked if she wanted to go out somewhere for the afternoon.  She looked at me with those big blue eyes of hers and apologized, saying she just didn’t have it in her to go anywhere or do anything.  That was ok.  Patty  then went into the bedroom and took a good two-hour, if not longer, nap.  I cleaned the deck, watered the plants and watched the Padres lose their 10th game in a row!  (That’s another blog!)

Patty was able to go for a short outing with me to the grocery store and that was about it.  We had another quiet night at home.

I’m hoping today (Monday) will be a better day for Patty.  We’re both learning just how powerful chemo really is.  I just want her to feel better.  I know each day will get better for her, but the question is… when???

One down… five to go!

One down… Five to go!

Yesterday was Patty’s first of six chemo treatments.  She’s amazing!  She has such a positive attitude to take this on!  I’m confident the fact that there are no more tests in the immediate future is allowing her to concentrate on chemo.  Just being around Patty right now makes you feel good!

Her appointment was at 1:00 p.m. I worked in the morning and came home around 11:30.  We scarfed down a quick lunch since part of Patty’s instructions was “never have chemo on an empty stomach!”  Before leaving Patty and I held hands and prayed to God that he continue with us throughout this new journey, remove any cancer that may still be inside Patty and asked that Patty have minimal side effects.  We arrived at Scripps shortly before 1:00 and they brought us back right on time.  I think I described the chemo room in previous post, but I’ll do it again.  It’s a new room that’ s been open for close to two months now.  It’s located in the northwest corner of the clinic.  It’s set up similar to a ward with each chemo station divided from the other by a curtain.  There are windows all along the walls which makes it bright and upbeat.  Each station has a TV, bookcase, recliner (or bed if you prefer).  The areas are really comfortable.  Our chemo nurse was Margarita.  A woman close to our age.  I think we’ll have her throughout the regimen.  She was just awesome!  Very pleasant woman who has been in this business for many years.  She took a few minutes to explain the procedure and alleviate any anxiety Patty may have had, which wasn’t much.  She asked Patty if she was ready to which Patty said “yes!”  Patty sat in a comfy recliner and I sat in a pretty comfortable chair next to her.  She inserted the IV in her right arm and, as the say: “let the games begin!”  This was a three step process since there are three different chemicals/medications/poisons used.  The entire process took about 3 1/2 hours.  Patty and I talked, joked with the nurses and, quite honestly, had a pretty good time!  (you know us, we try to make the best out of any situation… even chemo!)  At one point Patty said she was starting to get a little headache so Margarita gave her some Tylenol which seemed to take care of the problem right away. 

Here’s Patty kick’in it in the chemo room!  See that smile… she actually had that smile throughout the procedure!

Speaking of attitude, as I mentioned earlier, Patty has an amazingly positive attitude right now.  Last night she told me: “right now the chemo is on a mission inside me, seeking out any cancer cells and killing them on the spot!” 

We left her chemo session around 4:45 p.m. and fought rush hour traffic on the way home.  Margarita told Patty to eat something lite for dinner.  We stopped at the store on the way home and Patty said she was in the mood for grilled cheese sandwiches and soup.  So… that’s just what the chef of the house prepared!  I haven’t had grilled cheese sandwiches and soup since I was a child and will admit, it was really good.  Patty ate well last night, which was a good sign.

Around 6:30 last night, Patty said she was starting to feel a little queasy.  She took an anti-nausea pill and the queasiness went away. 

Patty slept like a baby last night.  This was probably the best night of sleep she’s had in months!  She got up around 6:30 this morning feeling great!  No nausea, no nothing!  She took her daily medication with breakfast and as of right now, she’s really doing great!  Very upbeat!

This afternoon we go back to the doctor.  Patty gets a shot that will build up her immune system.  Margarita told us that she may have some flu-like symptoms as a result, achy bones etc, but it won’t last more than 24 hours. 

The interesting thing is how she’ll do the next few days.  Since there are some steroids in the chemo that gives Patty some energy.  After 48 hours, you “come down” off the steroids.  So fatigue may set in the next couple of days.  But hey , like Patty said, the chemo is on a mission to seek and kill any cancer cells inside her.  We can deal with some fatigue.

It’s hard to tell from this photo, but the shirt Patty wore yesterday says: “I may have breast cancer, but I refuse to let the cancer have me!”

And yes… in case you were wondering… there is a new “mirror message!”

“I’m ready to kick this cancer’s ass!”

My wife the rocker!

It was a tough weekend for Patty.  I think the anticipation of starting chemo, waiting for the results of the bone scan and just being frustrated with the whole situation got to her.  I don’t blame her.  She’s been so strong up to this point, I think a day of just feeling sorry for yourself is definitely warranted! 

Another doctor’s appointment this afternoon.  This has been a week straight of appointments!  It’s getting old and we’re both feeling the strain of it.  Let’s see… starting last Monday it was the bone scan… Tuesday was with the reconstruction surgeon… Wednesday was a heart scan… Thursday was a pap… Friday was blood work and another appointment with the reconstruction surgeon… Saturday we had an unexpected trip to Urgent Care… Sunday we met with the reconstruction surgeon again… Today is with the Oncologist.  Hopefully the results of the bone scan are what we hope for.  We’ve both been having our daily, hourly and by the minute conversations with God praying for good news.  Oh, looking at the clock, it’s time to run… I’ll finish this when we get back.

Ok.. we’re back!  We met with the Oncologist.  She was running about an hour late today!  Not good.  Patty was a little on edge knowing she’d find out the results of the bone scan.  Our appointment was at 3:15 p.m. and we were called in to the room sometime close to 4:30 p.m.  Our Oncologist came in, looked at Patty and said:  “Ok Patty, are you ready to do this tomorrow?”  Patty replied:  “I am, but how were the results of my test?”  The Oncologist replied: “Oh, I didn’t tell you?  They’re fine!  Everything was normal.”  Patty did a modified “happy dance!”  She never got up off the examining table, but still was able to do the dance!  You could see the weight had immediately lifted off her shoulders!  Patty’s mood immediately did a 180 degree turn!  My wife was back!

The really good news is that Patty has no more testing to do in the immediate future!  (Other than a blood test every three weeks to check her blood cells, which is no big deal.)  No more waiting for test results!  No more waking up in the middle of the night worrying about where the cancer has spread!  Her body has literally been scanned from head to toe!  There is not one secret about Patty’s body that the doctors are not aware of!  Even though the chemo will be a completely new trial for us, we’re hoping we can now get into some type of routine for the next few months until this is finished. 

Patty was in such a good mood when we left the doctor’s office.  She’s never been more ready to fight this fight!  As we walked across the parking lot to our car, she looked at me and said in a very determined manner: “Ok.  I’m ready to kick this cancer’s ass!”  That’s what I want to hear!!!

Mirror messages

 

Since the day Patty and I were married, we’ve always found a way to send “reminders” to each other when something important is going on in our lives.  We call them “Mirror Messages.”  All you need is some lipstick and a bathroom mirror!  Some people choose to send flowers. Our exchange of choice is the mirror message.  We do the mirror messages when something is hanging over our heads; one of us is out of town for a few days or even sometimes a simple “I love you” mirror message is just a reminder to the other that “Hey!  I love you!”

I thought I’d share these pictures as our most recent mirror message.  These mirror messages started a couple of months ago when Patty initially had the prognosis that the cancer had metastasized and it was “incurable.”  It started with the reminder to Patty that “You and I are a team!”  (this was a reminder that she was not alone in this battle!)  Then the messages morphed on the mirror as we waited for all the  test results.   “Keep it in the boob!”  (That was in hopes that the cancer hadn’t spread.)  Then you see “Lord, we love you and trust in you…”  Then we got the good news that the cancer hadn’t spread and they were treating for cure.  I wrote: “God loves us… and answered our prayers!”  Patty added the “Amen!!”

These mirror messages stayed up at least a month.  They do get in the way at times!  It gets kind of tough to “prep” in the morning before work.

Obviously this is one of my favorites!

There you have it!  Mirror Messages!

Fear

Webster’s Dictionary describes “Fear” as ” an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or the possibility of impending danger.”  This completely describes the emotion we’ve lived for the past several months!  Since the beginning of this mess, Patty has undergone every test imaginable!  Countless blood tests, ultra-sound, biopsy, chest x-rays, PET Scan, CT Scan, Marker scans, Bone scan, Heart scan… I’m sure I’m leaving some out but you get the gist.  The common denominator of all these tests is the waiting time to get the results.  Unfortunately the person administering the test is not a doctor, therefore they cannot tell you the results of the test.  You have to wait to meet with the doctor to hear the good  or unpleasant news.  Of course, the mind is a terrible thing during these “waiting” times!  The mind can be your worst enemy!  Both Patty and I know that, but it’s just a fact! 

Patty had a bone scan this afternoon.  Our Oncologist wasn’t very concerned about the test but said it was more of a formality to take off the “checklist.”  Now, I heard her say that plain as day, but Patty was obviously very concerned that she had to go through another test!  So, she did it and now we’re back in the waiting game!  Our Oncologist is on vacation this week and Patty doesn’t have an appointment with her until next Monday, August 30th.  My guess is we won’t hear a word about it until then!  Having gone through this “waiting” period more than once over the past few months and trying to carry on a normal life during this time is very difficult!  I’m sure when we meet with the oncologist next week, she’ll nonchalantly say: “Oh, by the way, your bone scan came back normal!”  But, that doesn’t help us out over the next 7 days! 

Patty is a very strong woman!  She’s also normal!  I’ve tried putting myself in her shoes, but even then, I know I can’t get close to feeling the fear that she experiences!  We have God in our lives and we’ve got an amazing support system, but fear is an emotion that’s often hard to battle!  Like I’ve said (and you’ve read me say) a million times, dealing with cancer is an emotional vs. intellectual battle… the emotional side generally wins!

Wig shopping!

 

 

(I know this picture has nothing to do with wig shopping… I just like this picture of Patty and our granddaughter, Mia)

Well, since it’s now official that Patty will lose her hair during the chemo process, we decided to be ahead of the game and go wig shopping.  We weren’t sure what to expect since this whole thing is so foreign to us.

We found a place located in Mission Valley called A Greater Hope that was recommended by Scripps .  Patty had an appointment at 11:30.  We both arrived at the same time (we’re such a team!)  Inside we were met a woman, Orfelia, who brought us in a private room.  Patty was a little apprehensive at first, but within a few minutes she was totally into the whole “wig” experience!  It was actually fun!  She tried on a number of wigs for style, then for color.  In no time at all she found the cut that is very similar to her current cut then found the right color.  Wham Bam!  That was too easy!  The wigs are pretty amazing.  They’re so lifelike!  And, they feel so real! 

Orfelia was great.  She deals on a daily basis with cancer patients going through chemo.  She was very understanding, patient and really worked with Patty to feel comfortable with her decision.

Orfelia then brought out accessories!  (I knew this was way to easy!)  The accessories consisted of scarves, wraps, sleeping caps and hats  in every color and print imaginable!  Now Patty was in her element… shopping!  I do have to admit, Patty really isn’t one for wearing hats and scarves, but let me tell you… she looked GREAT!!!  She has such a pretty face that the lack of  hair makes no difference.  In fact there was one look with  a scarf and hat that looked pretty classy and sexy!!!  (Hmmm… maybe this chemo thing may not be so bad after all!)  She ended up picking up a few accessories and that ended our day. 

So, Patty’s going to try to be ahead of this hair loss game.  She’ll make an appointment with Orfelia about ten days after her chemo to have her head shaved and go into her new look!

Chemo Orientation = information overload!

Scripps Torry Pines Cancer Center offers a “Chemo Orientation” to all new chemo patients.  Our oncologist recommended we attend.  So we attended the weekly orientation yesterday afternoon.  The hour class provided us with the reality of what was in store for us with Patty’s next battle. 

There was me and Patty and another woman and her family attending the class.  It sounded like the woman had the same diagnosis as Patty and her chemo was starting the week after Patty’s.  The nurse facilitating the class was very matter of fact when discussing this issue.  She started the class by saying:  “The reason you’re going to go through chemo is because we’re going to cure you from cancer!”  This was a statement both Patty and I hung on to throughout the next hour and will be hanging onto throughout the next few months to come.  The word “cure” will keep us going!  Patty and I went into “information overload” for the remainder of the presentation.  Her next statement was: “Yes, you will lose your hair.  You may lose  your eyebrows and eyelashes, but everything will begin growing back about three weeks after your final treatment.”  This statement was followed other side effects such as fatigue, nausea, low blood count etc etc etc.  Don’t expose yourself to too much sun.  Make sure you wear sunscreen.  Wear sunglasses if you lose your eyelashes.  Don’t expose yourself to anything that can make you sick… the cat box, fruit that doesn’t have a hard skin, acidic drinks such as lemonade or tomato juice.  Make sure you do this and definitely make sure you don’t do that.  It was really a ton of information that she provided.  Thank God we’ve got handouts that we can review.  The nurse then took us for a tour of the room/ward where they administer the chemo.  It’s a newly remodeled room and was very comfortable.  It still seemed like a hospital even though they have comfy chairs, a TV with a DVD player in your specific area and a view of Torrey Pines with a golf course in the forefront and a million dollar view of the ocean.  Patty’s treatments will take anywhere between three and four hours so it’s awesome that they provide whatever they can to make her comfortable during this time.  I’m guessing there were five or six people in the area receiving their treatment when we were there.  The youngest was a woman in her 20’s and the oldest was around 80.  Everyone smiled as we walked past them and all, but one, had friends and family with them. 

The class concluded  and Patty and I left feeling a little overwhelmed.  This whole journey, the diagnosis, the mastectomy and now chemo, are now a reality!   As we entered the parking lot I asked Patty how she felt.  She, half-joking, said:  “I feel like I want to throw up!”

We can do this!  August 31st is right around the corner!