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!

Surgery Day!

Well… here we go again!  Surgery Day!  This is getting all too common lately.  I guess it could be worse as this is only Patty’s fourth cancer related surgery.  We should feel fortunate as there’s women out there who have had many more surgeries throughout their journey with breast cancer.

Patty’s surgery is scheduled for 1:30 this afternoon.  There’s always going to be some anxiety associated with surgery and this surgery is no different.  It’s pushing 11:00 a.m. right now and Patty’s trying to keep as busy as possible to pass the time.  Waiting is always the hardest part pre-surgery.  Her surgery last month was scheduled for 7:00 a.m. which was good.  The wait was still draining, but at least it was early in the morning.  This time you can literally hear the clock ticking away, second by second… tick, tick, tick!  I’m finding those “ticks” get louder as the waiting continues.

This surgery is scheduled to last between an hour and an hour and a half.  I’ve already prayed that things go as well or better than anticipated and that Patty’s recovery is quick with little or no pain!  Hey… it doesn’t hurt to ask!

I’ll keep you posted on how things turn out.

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!