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!

There is life after cancer!

The view from our deck in Carmel!

It’s been such a long time since I’ve blogged but today I woke up and thought it’s time to give an update as to where we are.

It’s been over two years now since Patty’s official diagnosis on June 21, 2010.  Two years ago we were both shocked when Patty got the news that she had breast cancer!  We had no idea what was in store for us and no clue what the future would bring.  But, as a team, we got through it.  Now we sit two years later… done with chemo but Patty, to this day, still suffers from some chemo related side effects which is a daily reminder of her journey… Patty’s hair has grown back curly as ever…  done with reconstruction… Life is pretty damned good!

The bad thing about cancer is that the subject will always linger around.  Linger around as in “will it come back some day?”  We pray that it doesn’t!  Patty get’s aches and pains like we all do.  The difference between our pains and her’s is that there is always a question mark behind her pains wondering if the pain is cancer related.  This is absolutely normal for anyone who has battled a life threatening disease.  Other reminders of cancer are the quarterly exams and tests Patty goes through.  She meets every 3 months with her oncologist and every six months with a pulmonary specialist just to make sure things are looking good.  And, Bless the Lord, everything is looking normal for Patty!

Room service dinner on our deck. It’s doesn’t get any better than this!

This past Monday was our 18th wedding anniversary!  18 years, can you believe it!  (And there were some people early on who predicted we’d never make it!)  I’ve been working a lot lately and we’ve both been busy/tied up with “things” that we realized we really  miss each other and needed some “Ed & Patty” time.  Time for nobody else but us!  So I took a few days off work and Patty and I took a driving trip.  We left this past Sunday morning and headed up to Carmel, Ca for a couple of days.  Thank God Patty and I travel well because the 6 1/2 hour drive to Carmel seemed like nothing.  We talked and laughed all the way there.  We stayed at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands Resort and got a room with a fireplace and deck overlooking the beach.  It couldn’t have been any more romantic!   We didn’t do much as far as sight-seeing.  All we needed was to be together.  I have to say this was one of the best anniversaries we’ve had.

Top the night off with champagne and chocolate covered strawberries!

We then drove up to Santa Rosa on Tuesday where we met some friends and did a little wine tasting.  (one of our favorite pastimes!)  We had a fun day visiting with friends.

We were supposed to stay in Santa Rosa two nights.  It’s funny how Patty and I are pretty much on the same page all the time… we got up Wednesday morning and laid there in bed… Patty looked at me and said “I’m ready to head home.”  I felt the same… so, we packed up the car and drove 6 hours down to Santa Barbara where we stayed at another Hyatt property which was ocean front!  This stop was a great way to break up our drive home.  We had a real nice dinner that night and overall, another great night!

We got up Thursday morning, rested and ready to head home.  The 4 hour drive was nothing, other than Los Angeles traffic!!!  I don’t get it!  Anyway, don’t get me started on that!  So we made it home in the early afternoon.  Patty and I love to travel, but it’s always so nice to get home!

So, here we are… two years out from Patty’s cancer diagnosis… Patty’s doing so well!  We’re doing so well!  After 18 years of marriage, I still call Patty my best friend!  And even though there’s always going to be cancer reminders and fear of reoccurrence, THERE IS LIFE AFTER CANCER!!!

Anxiety free… again!

Here’s how things went after Patty’s appointment with the oncologist: 

“Good morning Lord!  It’s me again!  Thank you for everything you do for me and Patty everyday!  Thank you for Patty being clean of cancer.  Everything came back clear and there are no indications of cancer in her body!  Thank you again for everything you do for us everyday!  In the Lords Name I pray!  Amen!” 

Patty and I fought horrible traffic on the way to the oncologists this morning and made it to her 9 a.m. appointment.  We arrived straight up at 9 a.m.  (the 20 minute drive took us an hour!)  Needless to say, Patty was really stressed by the upcoming appointment as well as traffic.  It was pretty evident when the nurse took Patty’s blood pressure and it was off the charts!   

Waiting is always the worst.  We sat in the examining room for a good half hour before the oncologist came in.  She’s a wonderful woman that we respect very much!  Wonderful or not, it’s pretty clear that Patty doesn’t like to see her!  She sat on her stool, read through some papers, looked at Patty and said:  “Everything is great!  Your blood-work looks just fine!  Your chest x-ray from two months ago is clear!  I’m very optimistic that you’re going to be fine!  I couldn’t be happier for you!”  That’s all she needed to say!  Patty was so relieved.  (Of course I was also)  The oncologist examined Patty and we chatted about things other than cancer and she left. 

I haven’t seen Patty do the “Happy Dance” in a long time, but when the oncologist left the room, Patty sprung off the exam table and broke out in her “happy dance!”  It was too cute! 

Patty doesn’t need to see her oncologist for another three months so we should be anxiety free for a while!   

Life is good!

Cancer testing never ends!

This is how my morning started:

“Good morning Lord.  It’s me, Ed.  Lord, as you know, Patty has an appointment with her oncologist this morning.  She’s feeling pretty anxious.  She’s nervous that her blood-work will come back showing the cancer has returned.  Lord, I pray to you that your Holy Spirit is within Patty’s heart and you give her comfort and a big hug so she knows that you’re with her.  I pray to you that her test come back clear of any cancer.  Thank you for everything you do for us everyday!  In the Lords Name I pray!  Amen.”

That pretty much says what’s going on this morning.  Patty has an appointment with her oncologist.  The last one was back in June.  That appointment was pretty low-key.  The oncologist just wanted to see Patty and do a quick check and see how she was doing.  Today’s appointment is much more in-depth.  Patty had to give a blood sample yesterday which will be scanned. analyzed and whatever else they do to determine if Patty is cancer free.  I know they will check for “tumor markers” which are substances found in the body (blood or urine) when cancer is present. I’m not sure what the other tests will be done.

Patty’s been doing so well.  Her chest x-ray back in July was clear and so far all the doctors who have seen her are very happy with her progress.  I’m sure things will turn out fine but I won’t take any chances… that why my morning started out with a prayer.

I’ll keep you posted on the news.

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!

No-Mo-chemo!

She made it!!!  Yes, she made it!!!  December 14th… the day we’ve been looking forward to for what seemed like an eternity, finally came!  Patty’s 6th and final chemo infusion!  What a big day for Patty!

Patty told me she was a little nervous this time around.  Nervous about how the side effects were going to be.  We had both been fighting colds the past week… hey, the family that has colds together… (can’t think of an appropriate ending for that phrase right now.)  We were both a little concerned that her cold could interfere with this last infusion.  We met with our Oncologist at 9:30 a.m. and everything from her blood work looked great!  She had the green light for this last treatment.  Everyone in the Oncologist’s office were so excited that this was Patty’s last treatment!

The infusion was scheduled for 10:00 a.m. and everything went smooth as possible.  You could tell that Margarita, our oncology nurse, was happy for Patty but also sad in the same sense that this was the end of our dealing with her.  We’re hoping to stay connected with her in the future! 

I couldn’t let this day go by without some recognition.  Her last chemo was just too big to let slip through the cracks!  So, over the past week or so, I’ve been sending emails and calling friends and family to come over and help celebrate this big day.  Nicole helped me arrange a surprise party for Patty.  nothing too big, but just close friends and family.  Like I said, Patty’s infusion started on time.  I waited about 15 minutes then made up some lame excuse to leave for a short while.  (I said I had to return a cable box to the company before we got charged for it.)  So I flew home.  I stopped by Party Plus and picked up some pink balloons and pink streamers etc.  Once home I zoomed around decorating the condo.  I should have taken a picture of it, it turned out pretty good!  I then zoomed back to the hospital within a short time.  (Wow… a lot of zooming going on!)  Patty’s treatment ended around 1:30.  I had told everyone to be at our house by 1:45.  It was great!  We got home around 2:00.  Patty had no clue that our friends and family were inside.  I opened the door… I had a “Congratulations” sign just inside with balloons around it.  Patty saw the sign and said “Oh how sweet!”  then everyone jumped from their hiding place yelling “Surprise!!!”  It was awesome.  Patty was very touched that everyone came to congratulate her!  She loved it.  We had 14 people crammed into our little place… it was perfect!

So, she made it!  No more chemo!  What a milestone and this woman of mine did such a great job going through it.  I’m so proud of her!   We’re going to have a challenge from the side effects for the next two weeks or so.  Then after that… she’ll get stronger and stronger.  Her hair, eyelashes and eyebrows will begin to grow back.  Yesterday represented a day that marked the beginning of our new life!  We’re both excited to bring in 2011 because it’s going to be such a great new year for us! 

This morning when I left for work, Patty was still in bed.  I leaned over to give her a kiss and she was crying.  I asked if those were good tears or bad tears.  She said they were good tears!  Good tears because she’s done with her treatments and has so much to look forward to in the future!!!

  Another “Mirror Message.”  It’s a little hard to read but it says:

                “You did it!”

           “No-Mo-Chemo!”

Number 5 is officially done!!!

Patty will probably kill me for posting this picture!  She had her 5th infusion about three hours ago.  She’s already pretty tired… but she’s all snuggled in her Charger blanket! 

OK.  Number 5 is officially under our belt!!!  This is a huge milestone since now we really start the countdown!  ONE MORE TO GO!!!  Just 21 days… Come on December 14th!

Patty didn’t get much sleep last night at all.  She takes those darned steroids in the morning and again at dinner the day before the infusion.  The steroids just “pump her up” with energy.  So needless to say, when it’s time for bed, she’s ready to work out!  It was well after 2 a.m. before she dropped. 

I woke up this morning early as usual… somewhere around 6 a.m.  Patty was dead to the world.  Knowing our appointment with the Oncologist was at 9:30 a.m. I figured it’d be safe to let her sleep in until 8.  So that’s what I did.  We both got up and got ready for the day, excited that this was the next-to-the-last infusion!  We left just before 9 and once finding a place to park etc, it was close to 9:30 a.m.  I was pretty proud of how I timed things.  Patty had a message on her phone which she checked as we were walking through the parking lot.  She looked at me and said it was the Oncologist’s office that called at 9:10 a.m. wondering where she was!  I asked why they would call 20 minutes early and she said her appointment was scheduled for 9:00 a.m!!!  Damn… I was off a half hour.  I thought “No big” I’m sure they have people running late all the time.  Well, it was a “big.”  After everyone pulling strings for Patty to see the Oncologist (which, by the way, made us late for her 9:30 a.m. infusion!) we were able to see the Oncologist.  You could tell she was a little perturbed that we were late.  Her nurse later told us that the Oncologist doesn’t like patients to think they can call their own hours!  Hmm.  Long story short, everything worked out ok.  She saw the Oncologist then started her infusion an hour late!  I was a big boy and took the blame.  I figured I may as well fess up since I knew Patty would throw me under the bus if she was asked.

So… number 5 is officially done.  Now we’ll see how the next few days go.  We’re hoping for no more “Adventures in chemo!”  I have established rules for Patty… #1:  You must to listen to me… it’s for your own good!  #2:  If you need to get up in the middle of the night, wake me up before you attempt to get up!  #3:  Turn on the bedroom light if you want to get up!  #4:  If at anytime you go into the bathroom on your own, leave the door open!  #5:  Don’t forget you love me!  Failure to adhere to any of these rules are against the law and there will be punishment somewhere down the road!  (I sound pretty tough, don’t I!)

everyone, please pray that the next few days go well for Patty!  We can use the extra help!

I’ll keep you posted on how things go!

If I don’t post anything in the next couple of days, have a great Thanksgiving!!!