Patty is officially a “Cancer Survivor!”

 

Patty had another doctors appointment yesterday.  This appointment was for her Oncologist to review the results of the CT Scan from last month… review the results of her mammogram from last week and go over her blood work from yesterday.  The results of these three tests were HUGE in the big picture of Patty’s recovery. 

Patty was a little on edge in anticipation of the test results.  All we’ve been praying for is good news.  We (or at least I) were somewhat confident that the appointment would be on a positive note, but one never knows as there have been some setbacks over the months. 

I went in to work this morning with plans of taking off at noon to take her to the 2:35 p.m. appointment.  I left work shortly before noon, pulling onto our street around 12:40.  As I drove down the street I saw Patty walking our dog Molly.  I looked at her and thought: “Man, she really looks good!  You’d never know what she’s been through the past 10 months!”  She had a spring in her step and that big smile on her face!

We left for the doctor’s office a little before two o’clock.  I could feel that darned elephant in the room had joined us for the drive.  By the time we found a place to park and walk up to the office, we were right on time.  They called us in right away.  As usual, the nurse weighed Patty before taking us to the examining room and I think we were both shocked that she hadn’t gained a pound!  I don’t understand how she could not have gained a pound with all the food she’s been packing away.  Go figure!

Our oncologist came in shortly thereafter.  Poor thing had some kind of virus so she didn’t get too close to Patty.  But… she couldn’t have been happier with Patty’s progress!  She said the mammogram of her right breast looked great!  As we already knew, the results of the CT Scan were perfect!  Most important for this appointment… the tumor  markers were normal!!!  Tumor markers are a screening that’s done either through blood  or through a urine sample.  Tumor markers are substances produced by tumor cells or by other cells of the body in response to cancer.  Normal markers mean no cancer cells!!!  Bottom line… Patty is now officially cancer free!!!

This is such huge news for Patty!!!  The oncologist said she doesn’t need to see Patty for another three months.  At that time, she won’t have to do any blood work or anything prior to the appointment.  The doctor just wants to see her and she where she’s at.  Awesome!  The next test Patty has is not until June when the pulmonary specialist wants to do a chest x-ray.  This means Patty can just focus on her recovery for the next four months and not work about anything else!  

On our drive home yesterday, Patty said: “I feel different!  I officially feel like a cancer survivor!!”  

 Guess what… that darned elephant moved out and rented a place down the street.  We know he’ll pop in for unexpected visits in the future, but for now it’s a great feeling to see him take residency somewhere else!!!

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21 days since Patty’s last chemo!

Today marks a very special day for Patty.  If you recall, Patty was having her chemo every 21 days on Tuesdays.  She had her last chemo on December 14th, 21 days ago. And you know what?  She doesn’t have to go today!  We talked about it last night and I can’t tell you how happy she is to have the chemo completed!  Chemo really did a number on her, physically as well as mentally.  But, she’s done.  We had our little “No-Mo-Chemo” celebration three weeks ago.  It meant a lot to her, but today really brings it home!  It makes it real.  She’s done!

Patty is physically doing really well!  While going through chemo, she’d get to this point where she’s getting stronger, then “wham!”  Back to chemo and loose whatever strength she had.  But now, she’s just going to get stronger and stronger each day.  She’s been feeling so good that she actually went to a Jazzercise class last week.  She’s hoping to go to a couple this week.  The other thing is that she’s getting her three-week fuzz on her head.  This “three-week” fuzz will actually start turning into hair over the next few weeks.  It’s kind of funny because Patty is getting a little impatient with the lingering chemo side effects.  She wants to feel 100% right now!  She’s wants her hair to grow back right now!  I try telling her that it’s going to take some time, but do you think she’ll listen to me!  Not a chance! 

Patty has some doctors appointments coming up.  Next week she meets with the reconstruction doctor who will give us a game plan for the upcoming months.  She also has an appointment with our chemo Oncologist next week.  She’ll also give us a game plan for the upcoming months.  Then she has a very important appointment the following week… she has her first follow-up CT Scan.  This is to see if there is any cancer lingering that may have traveled to other parts of her body.  She is very worried and anxious about this test.   She has shared her anxiety with me.  Right now there’s a lot of “what if’s?”  She explained that over the past six months, every treatment, test, consultation was done with a purpose.  She knew what was going on every step of the way.  Now that she’s completed her chemo, she’s back in limbo, not knowing what’s in store for her today, tomorrow, next week or in the distant future.  I told her that early on in her treatment, metastasis was a big concern of mine.  Since she had her last CT Scan in July which showed the cancer to be localized in her left breast, and after having the mastectomy, this is no longer a concern in the forefront of my mine.  Maybe I’m wearing rose-colored glasses, but I have faith that the doctors have given her the best treatment possible and I’ve prayed that this scan is clear.  Even hearing my thoughts, she’s still very anxious about this tests.  I do understand!  Having this anxiety, she decided to go to her cancer support group meeting yesterday over at Sharp Hospital. The support group meets every Monday.  Patty goes when she feels she needs some support from others whom have experienced what she’s going through.  She said that this group can sometimes be pretty depressing.  But, she went.  She said that going helped.  I guess what will really help is getting through this scan with great results!  Say your prayers for her!  

So, as before, we’re just taking life one day at a time.  It’s easier said than done, but we’re going to try not to worry about yesterday,  try not to worry about tomorrow and let’s make the most of today.  And today is all about no longer having chemo!

Adventures in Chemo!

Over the past four chemo infusions, I thought I was getting pretty good about knowing what to expect from the side effects, when they’re going to hit, how to help Patty etc… but I have to admit, I had no idea chemo #4 was going to come on like “gang busters!”  First of all, the side effects, nausea and fatigue,  came two days earlier than usual.  She had her infusion on Tuesday and we normally have until Friday night or Saturday before anything happens.  This time both fatigue and nausea hit on Thursday evening!  Nothing we haven’t dealt with before.  But Friday, the side effects, mainly fatigue, was much more intense than usual.  A close friend of ours mother had recently passed away and the services were Friday afternoon.  As weak as Patty was, she insisted on going to support to our friend.  (Sometimes she just won’t listen to me say “NO!”)   By the time the hour an a half service was over, you could see on Patty’s face that it was time to go!  But, she went and felt good about it.

I got Patty home around 3:30 p.m. and she got into some comfy clothes and immediately flopped on the couch for a good three-hour nap!  Obviously she needed it.  The night went pretty well… she got the card that I mentioned in the previous blog and things seemed to be ok… that was until around 8:30 p.m.  The fatigue just whacked her.  She looked so weak and frail.  I knew she just needed to go to bed and get a good nights rest… and that’s how the night started.  We both went to bed around 9:00 p.m. and she immediately fell asleep while I watched a little TV and dropped around 10:00 p.m.  I was in a sound sleep when I was awakened by a “thump” and moaning!  I immediately popped out of bed to find Patty laying on the floor, on her side of the bed.  Without going into detail… what had happened, she got out of bed to go to the bathroom.  She returned to the bedroom and was so weak and dizzy, she tripped and fell, hitting her head on the nightstand!  Not good.  The next thing you know, we’re at the emergency room a little before 1:00 a.m.  We walked into the empty reception area (notice I said “empty!”)  checked in and waited to be seen…. and waited… and waited.. and waited!!!  Patty and I were finally taken back into the ER around 2:30 a.m.  The ER doctor did a quick exam and said he wanted to do a CAT Scan to make sure there was no internal bleeding from the blunt force of hitting her head… he’d also stitch up the cut and we’d be on our way.  So… again, we waited and waited and waited.  Finally around 5:00 a.m. they wheeled Patty off to do the CT scan which took a matter of minutes.  Shortly thereafter, the doctor came in and stitched up her head… 10 stitches total and we were finally home by 6:30 a.m.!!!  Hmmm… 5 hours at the ER.  What a night!  Needless to say, we were both exhausted.

God is amazing!  Patty attends a bible study group on Wednesday mornings.  She really looks forward to this day of the week for both the Subject matter as well as the women who attend.  The other day all the women in this group decided they wanted to make dinner for us and bring it over on Saturday (yesterday)  Patty’s been hesitant about anyone cooking for us since it’s just the two of us and her taster is out of whack.  But, she agreed.  There’s no doubt this was part of Gods plan, knowing we’d be exhausted and could use a little help.  So, He sent two of his Angles to our house yesterday… Donna and Bev.  The nicest women you’d ever meet!  They came by around 2:00 p.m. with bags of food that included fresh-baked pumpkin bread, salad, pasta, marinara sauce, french bread, chicken enchiladas and some apple treats!  The timing of this present couldn’t have been any better!  We were both still so exhausted from the previous night’s activities.  We gobbled down the chicken enchiladas and salad last night.  Patty ate every bit on her plate!   Her taster may be out of whack, but the food tasted sooooo good she was not about to let the taster get in the way of a meal from God. 

Patty’s doing much better today.  Sure she has 10 stitches on top of a little “goose-egg!”  She has her color back which is always a good sign!  I’m going to keep her quiet today.  I’ve told her it’s “against the law” for her to go against my orders!  If she does, there’s a price to pay!  (you know her… we’ll see if she listens!)

Hopefully the Adventures of Chemo are over for this round.  If not, we’re ready to take them on!

4 more to go!

  

  

 

Here’s Patty, still keeping that smile on her face as she gets infusion #2!  Patty’s sister, Kathy, made the scarf!  (Patty’s favorite, by the way!)

 

 

 

 

 

Number 2 infusion is now behind us!  Well, at least the treatment end of it.  We’ve still got some side effects to deal with, but come on… only 4 more to go!

We met with the Oncologist at 11:45 yesterday morning.  Patty’s white cell count was within the normal range which was great news!  The doctor said she had read the report from the Radiation Oncologist.  She wasn’t very happy with the recommendation, or lack thereof, and said she wanted to refer Patty to another Radiation Oncologist for a 2nd opinion.  So that appointment will be coming up in the future.  She also said that the Pulmonary Specialist that Patty met with during the diagnostic phase wanted to have another CT Scan performed in November.  So we’ll have that in the future also.  Even though Patty is so mentally and physically done with tests, and the thought of having more tests is the last thing she wants, she knows that they’re doing these tests with her best interests in mind!  “You gotta do what you gotta do!”

The chemo infusion went very smooth.  The infusion room was really busy yesterday.  Sad, but it was a full house when we got there.  It’s just amazing to see the various people fighting cancer… people in their 20’s all the way to the elderly!  Cancer is not a picky disease.  Margarita, our nurse, was with us again.  She just got back from a voluntary mission to Lourdes.  While there, she thought of Patty and brough back a small vial of spring water from the grotto at Lourdes which is believed by some to possess healing properties!  What a sweet gesture!

I ran off to work this morning and Patty seemed to be feeling pretty good.  She said she had a little nausea in the middle of the night but had taken her anti-nausea medication and was feeling good.  hopefully she’ll have a couple good days before the fatigue sets in.  As of now, she’s doing great!