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!

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… The bathroom chronicles”

Chemo #5 has reared its ugly head and this bad boy has come on with a vengeance!  Patty did really well yesterday at Nicole’s house.  We got there around 2 p.m. and it was a houseful!  As much as Patty wanted to be up and mingling, I was being the party pooper and made her sit on the couch to visit.  (Hey, I know her… she’ll push her limits.  Someone has to keep an eye on her!)  We had a wonderful dinner with everyone around 5 p.m. and by 6, it was time to go home.  Patty was the one who actually realized she needed to go.  Patty plopped on the couch when we got home and she was asleep within minutes.  She got up and was in bed by 7. 

She slept good all night and woke up around 10 a.m.  A good 15 hours night sleep!  She tried to force herself to do some things this morning (when she thought I wasn’t looking)  but she just didn’t have it in her.  I was in the front of the house and realized I hadn’t heard her in a while.  I went to the bedroom and found her sound  asleep.   I heard her get up around 1 o’clock and go into the “notorious bathroom.”  I didn’t think much of it, but after a few minutes I realized she didn’t come out!  Guess what?  “Adventures in Chemo” were back.  Of course the door was closed.  I knocked on the door to which I got no response.  I tried to open the door but guess who was propped against it… deja vu!  Here we go again!  Long story short… I was able to get in and get her back to bed. 

As a result of “Adventures in Chemo… The bathroom chronicles” I’ve now removed the door!  If she won’t listen, then I’ll just take matters into my own hands.  The door will stay off until I’m comfortable that she’s getting stronger.  This will most likely only take a couple of days.  So, if you stop by, please go before you get here, or hopefully you’re not modest!

*** I’m writing the below about two hours after this post ***

Patty just discovered the bathroom door is missing!  She’s not happy about it, but you know what?  Sometimes we just gotta do what we gotta do!

Sunday, 11/28 – Just to let you know, the bathroom door went back on early yesterday.  Patty seems to have turned the corner, at least for now.  Today she seems great!  But, I realize feeling great can change at any time.

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!!!

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!

Feeling good!!!

Patty’s birthday is coming up this Sunday.   Things have been so crazy in our lives, it’s been difficult to find the energy or time to think about getting her present.  I do have some ideas (which I won’t post here because she reads my blog.) 

Patty woke up this morning feeling great!  She did the treadmill for 40 minutes and is really trying to do whatever she can to be in control of this situation!  Exercise is very important at this point so she’ll squeeze it in when ever she feels up to it.  She’s dealing really well with her new do!  She’s been  joking about giving Demi Moore a run for her money as the new G.I. Jane, or we should say “G.I. Patty!”  This morning she told me that she’ll be doing “one-handed push ups” in no time at all!  What a dork!  That girl keeps me on my toes!  I’m thinking  maybe I should get her some cammi’s and combat boots for her birthday.  It’s so good to see her feeling so well!  (Especially when she has that sense of humor!)  We figure she’ll feel crappy for one week, then she’ll have two weeks of feeling good before her next infusion.  So we’re definitely taking advantage of the good days! 

Sunday we’re celebrating Patty’s birthday in the afternoon by going to see Rockola, a local cover band who plays a lot of classic rock.  They’re playing outdoors at a local park in Scripps Ranch, which is close by.  We’ve been to a couple of concerts in that park this summer and it’s really fun! 

As I’ve mentioned before, Patty’s “tasters” are way out of whack!  She’s found that having breakfast for breakfast, breakfast for lunch and breakfast for dinner is kind of working.  Eggs seem to be ok for her, so I’m learning to fix eggs every way possible.  I’m turning into the Forest Gump of eggs… I can only say this with a slow southern drawl… fried eggs, eggs over easy, poached eggs, scrambled eggs, eggs with cheese, hard-boiled eggs, egg whites, egg yolks, eggs on toast, sautéed eggs, broiled eggs, grilled eggs……. you get the picture!  I have to laugh sometimes.  Poor Patty craves certain foods.  The food is always something we don’t have in the house.  Knowing that there’s not much that taste good to her, when she says she’s in the mood for whatever, I run to the store and pick it up.  Let’s see… in the past week she’s wanted tri-tip, Chinese food, barbecued chicken, sliders, ginger ale… I can go on and on.  I’ll get home with whatever it is… she’ll give it a taste and… “ARGH!  That’s horrible!”  So the people at work love me!  They get the uneaten food!

I thought I’d never say this but Patty has also lost a taste for wine and cocktails!  It’s been replace by water, fruit smoothies, milk shakes and cream soda!  It’s sad, but now I not only have my cocktail in the evening, I’m now forced to drink the ones that she would drink! 

11 days until Patty’s next infusion.  She’s feeling great right now!  We’re going to enjoy this time!