Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Quick Updates

Thursday 12-30-2010 I am going to go back on "cancer vacation" again till my next scan which is set for the beginning of February.  Happy New Year!  See ya in February!

Christmas Eve 2010 Again last night I had to take Advil to get to sleep because my legs ached. Slept great though. Woke up pretty excited that it's Christmas-Eve-Day.
Monday 12-20-2010 I have been having a blast with Patsy and Omer. I cannot believe it is almost Christmas. Luckily, I am ready for it. Last night I had to take Advil to get to sleep because my back and legs hurt.
Saturday 12-18-2010 Patsy and Omer arrive this afternoon for a week. We are going to have a lot of fun. I have been getting stomach aches lately. Last time this happened, Dr R suggested taking zantac every day and the stomach aches went away.

Wednesday 12-15-2010 Samantha and I have been walking every morning this week, even though it is really cold. We both think it is a good way to start the day.

Monday 12-13-2010 Even though it is really cold this morning, my plan is to walk Sam before I go to work.
Sunday 12-12-2010 Rainy day, perfect for hanging around the house in my pajamas. I logged on and put in 7 hours at work, too. Plus I started wrapping presents. What a great day.
Thursday 12-9-2010 Got the Christmas tree 70% decorated last night.

Wednesday 12-8-2010 (LATER) The news is good! One spot grew by 3mm, the rest stayed the same, and no new spots appeared.

Wednesday 12-8-2010 (EARLY) Ready to hear my results.

Tuesday 12-7-2010 I went to bed pretty early last night. Scan Day is exhausting. But I slept great and woke up happy. It is very cold here today, in the twenties right now.

Monday 12-6-20010 Scan Day today!

October 8, 2010 At lunchtime yesterday I got a migraine, and it started up again two hours later. A double migraine. Bummer. But I am still doing the happy dance over my good results, and I feel fine today.

October 7, 2010 Feeling good today, but decided to work from home because of the low white blood cell count. Don't want to run the chance of someone coughing on me in the elevator.

October 6, 2010 Nothing cheers a person up like excellent scan results!
October 6, 2010 -- Scan Results Day -- Quick! Cross your fingers and toes, or say a quick prayer, or send vibes out to the universe in my favor. Lou and I meet with the doctor at 9:00AM at Duke. I slept amazingly well last night! No lying awake worried.

October 5, 2010 My eyelashes are growing back! When we went to that wedding, there was nothing on which to put mascara -- but this morning there is!

October 4, 2010 Had a great weekend. Awesome massage on Saturday! Got a new ironing board cover in a cheery autumn pattern and then ironed for hours while Lou watched football.
October 1, 2010 Goodbye September, hello October!

September 30, 2010 I coughed a lot last night, which was strange. But I feel very good this morning.
September 29, 2010 Every day, I feel better. I have a bounce in my step again. My plan was to go for a walk this morning, but it is raining cats and dogs.
September 22, 2010 I woke up many times last night, which stinks. But I did wake up this morning early enough to make breakfast for Lou. I have not made him breakfast in like 2 weeks!
September 21, 2010 Woke up a million times last last, but slept till 8:00AM which was nice. Feeling okay. Not shaky.

September 19, 2010 My cold and cough are almost gone! That is great news.
September 18, 2010 Woke up at 5:15AM. Thank God today is my last dose of Decadron; tomorrow I will be able to sleep late!

September 17, 2010 Coughed a lot last night. I was wide awake from 3:30AM to 5:15AM, but then I went back to sleep for a couple more hours. I spent those wee hours looking at fascinating pictures in a coffee table book on ancient Egypt that Robert lent us. So now I feel sort of generally lousy. No serious complaints though.

September 16, 2010 Lou slept upstairs in the guest room so that my coughing wouldn't keep hiom awake all night again. I did cough a lot last night, so it was a good decision. I am feeling okay this morning. I have taken lots of anti-nausea drugs. No nausea yet.

September 15, 2010 Last dose of Doxorubicin today!

September 14, 2010 I coughed all night long. Yikes.

September 13, 2010 Yikes, I woke up feeling really bad.

September 12, 2010 Woke up feeling really bad.

September 8, 2010 I slept great! I woke up with a sore throat and slight headache, but the cough is gone.

September 7, 2010 Patsy just reminded me that I have a low white blood cell count, so it is really good that I am staying home nursing my cold. I am suposed to watch for a fever.

September 3, 2010 I have been power walking every morning this week, so I decided to take this morning off.

September 1, 2010 I slept really well last night (instead of waking up over and over) and so today I am feeling more energetic.

August 31, 2010 Got up early and jumped in the hot tub with Lou. A long column of thousands of small black birds flew over the house toward the northwest. It was wild, went on for minutes.
August 29, 2010 Bummer of a migraine today. I have been exhausted all weekend but not nauseated, so that is a good thing.

August 28, 2010 Chemo insomnia got me up at 3:30AM, but I am happy to report that I am NOT feeling nauseated or exhausted. I bet later today I will feel exhausted from lack of sleep, but that is OK with me!

August 27, 2010 Well, I am exhausted and nauseated. And my iron died! So I cannot even amuse myself by ironing.

August 26, 2010 Woke up just after five o'clock this morning. Must drink decaf for the next couple of days because the Decadron makes me hyper. Feeling okay.
August 24, 2010 Sorry for not checking in here sooner! I got up really early so I could go for a walk, but it is just dumping rain out there.
August 20, 2010 Jeepers, I woke up this morning from a dream where I was trying to get my dead body buried. Yuck! I think maybe I'm watching too much TV on Egypt and mummification!

August 19, 2010 Went for the longer walk this morning, 2.2 miles. Feeling good!

August 18, 2010 No hip or back pain this morning! Yahoo!
August 17, 2010 I woke up with my left hip and lower back on fire. Now that I am up and moving around, it is just sore.
August 16, 2010 I feel really good this morning
Yikes! It's Friday the Thirteenth! The good news is, my hip did not hurt at all when I woke up this morning.

August 12, 2010 Woke up with some hip pain. Went for a long walk early this morning with my neighbor, Sue. Got a big project to accomplish today at work!

August 11, 2010 Last night was one of those nights where I dreamt all night long that I was awake. Amazingly, I woke up refreshed anyway. This morning I went for a walk. I did not go to the gate -- I am getting bored with walking to the gate. My hip does not hurt today!

August 10, 2010 I was exhausted yesterday, but I went to work anyway. I put in a full day and got a lot done. Funny thing is, I "woke up" around 6PM and got all energetic for an hour or so! I slept really well and feel good this morning. I do not feel exhausted today.

August 7, 2010 Wide awake at 3:30AM, so now I am ironing. Yesterday I had a tiny bit of nausea, and took Zofran and Compazine to keep it from growing. Right now, no nausea at all. Feeling good. Watching a No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency DVD while I iron. Got the volume down low so I don't wake up Lou.

August 6, 2010 I am feeling okay but plan to work from home again in case nausea hits. After tomorrow, the threat of nausea is gone. So far, so good.
August 5, 2010 My back is bothering me a little right now, so I think that I won't be able to sit at this desk much longer. Good thing I have my awesome pink laptop and a LazyBoy... my plan is to log in to work for a half day.

August 4, 2010 No time to update the blog this morning! Woke up at 7:15AM and was out the door at 8:00AM, headed to Duke.
July 29, 2010 Got up early and walked to the pool, which is a 2-mile loop.

July 28, 2010 Feeling good today.

July 27, 2010 I stayed up late again, reading, and woke up later than usual this morning. Went for the 2 mile walk in the cool, fresh summer morning air.
July 26, 2010 I slept great last night and feel pretty good today. Just finished some antibiotics.
July 25, 2010 Today I am feeling mighty fine. I helped bring groceries into the house, even bounced back down the stairs to bring up a second load of stuff.
July 22, 2010 Finally got in the hot tub this morning, and it helped my achy bones.
July 21, 2010 Woke up in minor pain this morning. My shoulders ached, my lower back ached... it feels like the Neulasta shot getting my bone marrow all cranky

July 20, 2010 Today is supposed to be the start of a heat wave in NC. Yikes! So Lou, Sam, and I went for our early morning walk while it was still cool.
July 19, 2010 Wide Awake at 5:00AM! Feeling good today. Went for the 2-mile loop and picked up three golf balls! Woo Hoo!

July 18, 2010 I am tired today. The good news is that the nausea seems to be gone.

July 17, 2010 They say insomnia never killed anyone... but it definitely leads to too much online shopping.

July 16, 2010 I woke up just after 4:00AM ready to start my day. Grrr Decadron! No caffeine for me.

July 14, 2010 I am feeling good. Tomorrow I get to kill some cancer cells!

July 13, 2010 Did not set my alarm this morning, hoping that I could catch up on my sleep from yesterday. I think it worked. I feel great.

July 9, 2010 TGIF!!!

July 8, 2010 My left hip bothered me all night. It was not painful enough to warrant taking some Tylenol, however.
July 7, 2010 My eyesight has been a little blurry for the last couple of weeks. I think that it might be dry eye caused by the chemo, so I have been using eye drops. Did not sleep well, but woke up early and went for a walk with Lou and Sam before it got too hot.

July 6, 2010 I must be out of the woods regarding migraines! 9 days since last migraine
July 2, 2010 Headed out now for the two-mile walk with Lou before work. It is abou 60 degrees, nice. Feeling pretty good this morning. 5 days since last migraine

July 1, 2010 Went for a walk this morning with Lou and Sam. 4 days since last migraine

June 30, 2010 I enjoyed nine fabulous hours of sleep last night! It can't be helped that I was unable to take the antibiotic within a six hour window. 3 days since last migraine

June 29, 2010 Oooh not such a good day today! 2 days since last migraine

June 28, 2010 Breakfast was so quiet this morning without Patsy and Omer! I'll call them on my way into the office, to hear how the trip home is going. 1 day since last migraine

June 27, 2010 Update Another fricking migraine! Thank God for Maxalt. 0 days since last migraine

June 27, 2010 Woke up early to see Patsy and Omer off. They have been away from home for over a month, which I totally appreciate, because they made everything so much easier to deal with. 6 days since last migraine

June 25, 2010 Slept okay, but woke up at 5:00AM. 4 days since last migraine

June 24, 2010 Slept great last night, feel good this morning. 3 days since last migraine

June 22, 2010 Went with Lou and Sam for their morning walk around the block. What a beautiful day! Patsy and Omer arrive some time today. Chemo tomorrow. 2 days since last migraine

June 20, 2010 Feeling very good these days, but chemo again on Wednesday. 1 day since last migraine

June 19, 2010 Slept really well again. 0 days since last migraine

June 18, 2010 Slept really well last night. 1 day since last migraine

June 17, 2010 Feeling pretty good this morning. Got a long day ahead of me. 0 Days Since Last Migraine

June 15, 2010 I cannot believe that it is mid-June already. My back is stiff; I have to make an effort to stand up straight. No pain though. Just stiffness.

June 14, 2010 Slept "late" -- till 6:56AM! I woke up four minutes before my alarm went off. Feeling very good today.

June 12, 2010 Painful patches on my scalp lead me to believe that I will indeed be losing my hair as predicted. Darn darn darn. And drat.

June 11, 2010 I miss being able to sleep late. Got up at 6:ooAM and logged on to work for an hour to get something urgent taken care of.

June 10, 2010 Woke up every 2 hours last night! But feel good this morning.
June 9, 2010 My checkup went really well. My labs look good. I got an antibiotic for my uinpleasant side effect. I also got the prescription for the Decadron for the next dose of chemo, which happily won't be till June 23. I am in my office! I better get to work!

June 8, 2010 Went for two short walks yesterday, once after lunch and once after dinner. That is the best proof of all that I am feeling better.

June 7, 2010 Feel almost normal this morning! Looking at a lovely vase of flowers from Lou's coworkers at Endicia, really pretty, with pink roses and big dramatic yellow thingies

June 6, 2010 Feeling much better!

June 4, 2010 I am not well. I am in bed. No barfing yet, just intense nausea.

June 2, 2010 A cup of tea was required to wake me up, but once I got going, I felt great.

Memorial Day 2010 I love a long weekend!

Saturday, May 29, 2010 Slept great, despite the storms. Woke up this morning at 5:30AM and worked for a couple of hours. Now we are all going for a 2-mile walk.

Friday, May 28, 2010 Woke up at 6:40AM after a great night's sleep. Feeling great.

Thursday, May 27, 2010 Jet lag is wearing off. I was awake at 9:00PM last night, and asleep at 6:00AM this morning

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 Feeling good. Wondering if I should still be taking the 1/2 Glyburide pill. I think I will track my numbers a couple of days and report to my primary care physician...
Tuesday, May 25, 2010 Woke up in my own bed at 2:00AM, realized my body thought it was 9:00AM, but I managed to talk my body into going back to sleep till 5:30AM

Friday, May 21, 2010 I probably have not mentioned my blood sugar lately. My numbers are good (95 to 140) and I am taking 1/2 pill of Glyburide every morning. It is not easy to cut the pill with my butter knife... I end up with one neat half pill and a pile of powder and rubble.

Thursday 5-20-2010 Slept great and woke up with skinny ankles. I have been taking the diuretic in the late afternoon, and so for a short time in the morning my ankles look and feel great

Tuesday 5-18-2010 Yesterday I did not take the diuretic because we were on a tour with limited access to bathrooms ;^) My ankles did not swell much

Sunday 5-16-2010 There is just too much going on to find time to make a real post. But today we are at sea and I will make the effort. I want to post some pictures. I feel good, maybe I do not have the stamina I once had, but no one does, right?

Friday 5-14-2010 We are on the Celebrity Equinox! The cabin is fantastic, the ship is awe-inspiring. But I am zonked from the long travel day. We need to stay awake and get through the lifeboat drill. We are still waiting for our luggage, whcih is why I have no pictures to post yet.

Thursday 5-13-2010 Too excited to sleep! I had to get up at 5:00AM because I was just too excited about the trip. Lou and I ran out to get bagels, then I logged on to work for a little while

Wednesday 5-12-2010 My blood sugar numbers have been getting lower and lower. I am down to 1/2 tablet of Glyburide in the morning, and hope to be off that medication soon.

Tuesday 5-11-2010 Heart stress test this morning! Doxorubicin is hard on your heart, so your heart has to be okay before you start. This test is to make sure my heart is okay

Monday 5-10-2010 I wiggled into the new compression stockings today and am looking forward to only moderate swelling. (Last night the swelling was horrendous, but I wore no stiockings and stood up ironing for hours and hours

Saturday 5-8-2010 Woke up itchy a lot last night. Sat in the sun room, applying ice to my legs, and watching water fowl floating on the little pond out there.

Friday 5-7-2010 UPDATE Patsy and Omer are driving out from Arizona to be here for the first chemo treatment! Yahoo! It will probably take them 4 days to make the trip in their lovely new Honda Accord. And they are bringing me the good ironing board. Life is good.

Friday 5-7-2010 My left leg and feet are very numb. Otherwise I am feeling good.

Thursday 5-6-2010 I slept through the night! Didn't wake up even once. What a miracle

Wednesday 5-5-2010 My sore throat is a lot better, and I think that I feel better in general. At one point yesterday I was striding down the hall at work feeling wonderful and energetic.

Monday 5-3-2010 My throat hurts when I swallow, like my glands are swollen on the right side only. And I am exhausted! But today is Scan Day, and I am not miserabkle enough to skip it.

Saturday 5-1-2010 Slept until 8:40AM this morning, what a treat. It is great to be home. Lou is out right now walking Samantha, and I am supposed to be surfing the web for a way to keep the barn swallows from making their muddy nest on our front porch again this year...

Thursday 4-29-2010 Woke up at 4:08AM with a tummy ache, but felt fine when Lou woke me up at 8:00AM with a cup of coffee

Wednesday 4-28-2010 We walked for hours yesterday through the Biltmore house. It was awesome. I'm having a great time, and I feel great. There is no fridge in our hotel room, so the clinical trial drugs are in the cooler. Need to get more ice before we take off for the day

Tuesday 4-27-2010 Oh boy, we both slept great last night. This mattress is so comfortable. I wonder if they sell them in the gift shop

Monday 4-26-2010 I am on vacation! In 52 minutes we leave for Asheville. No time to chat. Feeling very good. I stopped doing the PT exercises, and the pain went away. I must have been doing something wrong.

Friday 4-23-2010 On Saturday, we see "Wicked" at the fabulous DPAC in Durham, NC. John and Pat are coming too, so I know we'll have a great time

Thursday 4-22-2010 I have slept great three nights in a row! But this morning I woke up itchy scratchy.

Wednesday 4-21-2010 I slept great AGAIN last night. But I just realized that I have a bunch of PT exercises to do before I leave for work...

Tuesday 4-20-2010 I slept great last night. I took some Advil before going to bed because my back was bothering me. Late this morning I have a PT appointment
Monday 4-19-2010 My back is bothering me, but I plan to arrange a physical therapy appointment today. Slept well last night although my alarm at 7:00AM came as quite a shock.
Friday 4-16-2010 I'm itchy again. I'm grateful that I got a week's vacation from the itchiness. Tonight we go to dinner with Chaz and Darleen. Looking forward to a lot of laughs
TAX DAY 2010 We sent our taxes in weeks ago, so today is not particularly painful. Plus, I slept great last night. I'm a little itchy this morning, but I know I can use an ice cube if I need to.
Wednesday 4-14-2010 I didn't sleep well at all. Got a big day today. Wish me luck

Tuesday 4-13-2010 Another great night's sleep! This morning I briefly saw my ankle bones, but swelling has commenced

Monday 4-12-2010 What a great weekend! Knock on wood, the itchiness has abated. I feel very good this morning, did not wake up once last night.

Thursday 4-08-2010 At 5:00AM I came out to the sitting room and rubbed ice on my itchy legs. It worked really well, except I lost one ice cube somewhere in the dark

4-07-2010: Again, I woke up only twice last night! My itchy legs woke me up, but I was too sleepy to get an ice cube to make the itchiness stop. This morning, I am sneezy and my ankles are already swollen, but other than that I feel good.

4-06-2010: Only woke up twice last night. That's an improvement

4-05-2010: My left leg is still numb right above my knee, and starting yesterday it is also tight and sore. I think that my message to Dr Morris must have gotten lost because they have not called me back yet. I am not sure if I should call UNC again or just talk to Dr Riedel at Duke.

Happy Easter 2010: Still not sleeping well, awoke with leg cramps and limped into the bathroom to stand on the cold tile, which works miracles. Having a lovely day with Lou. Watched a movie and went for a late lunch to 35 Chinese Restaurant in Cary where we ate lamb.

4-3-2010: Got up around 6:30AM after another restless night. I foresee a nap in my future...

4-3-2010: Got up around 6:30AM after another restless night. I foresee a nap in my future

April Fool's Day 2010: I haven't been sleeping well; I wake up a few times every night. This morning I was tired and grumpy and everything ached. So Lou and I jumped into the hot tub. After that, I felt pretty good.

Wednesday 3-31-10: Got up early this morning so we could watch last night's episode of LOST. Last night I dreampt that I was at my hairdresser's trying to get an appointment for a haircut. (I think it is too soon for that.)

Tuesday 3-30-10: I was so completely exhausted yesterday evening! But I feel great right now.

Monday 3-29-10: Slept until almost 8:00AM! That's a good thing, because today will be a long day. My ankles are swelling already, so I guess I'll have to wear compression stockings today.

Friday 3-26-10: Woke up completely stuffed up! And dry. I drank a big glas of water and came back to life. Today my team at work is going out to lunch to celebrate all the birthdays and milestones we missed in the last 6 months because we were so slammed with work.

Thursday 3-25-10: Woke up early today to drive Lou to an appnt before work. My blood sugar was 146 this morning -- the numbers are finally improving

Wednesday 3-24-10: I feel good today. Lou and I went to diabetes class all day yesterday. It was very educational and

Monday 3-22-10: Wow, I have not posted since Thursday! I didn't think I had that much fun this weekend. No more nausea! But my ankles are swollen, my face and scalp are broken out, my left leg is still bothering me, and I am all stuffed up. Slept for nine hours last night.

Thursday 3-18-10: I was exhausted this morning when my alarm went off at 7:00AM because even though I went to bed early, I was awake for what seemed like a million years.
Wednesday 3-17-10: Yesterday I forgot to take the Metformin with dinner.Didn't remember till I was in bed. Checked my blood sugar (200) and then took the pill. Was a little nervous to take the pill on an empty stomach but it was fine

Tuesday 3-16-10: Yesterday I was only a little nauseated! But I was completely exhausted. Today I feel pretty good -- hope it stays that way. Blood sugar was 151 when I woke up this morning

Sunday 3-14-10: I spent most of the day waiting to throw up. Ugh, Metformin does not agree with me

Saturday 3-13-10: Had to take a nap this afternoon. I think that this uncontrolled blood sugar is kicking my butt.

Friday 3-12-10: Slept great, did not wake up once in the night. Probably from relief at the good news yesterday.

Thursday 3-11-10: Slept great! Going to do my PT exercises now and leave soon for the day at Duke...

Wednesday 3-10-10: Dreamt about spiders last night, but woke up feeling pretty good anyway

Tuesday 3-9-10: Itchy, Stuffy, and Numb! Three new dwarves for Snow White to cook for? Nope, just how I feel today

Monday 3-8-10: So far, feeling pretty good today. My left leg seems more numb than last week, but the pain is gone. I guess that means physical therapy is working again

Saturday 3-6-10: Today we see Spring Awakening at the DPAC and then go to a steakhouse with a bunch of neighbors.

Friday 3-5-10: Last night I was nauseated. But today I woke up feeling pretty good.

Tuesday 3-2-2010: Last night I slept pretty good, and this morning I feel pretty good.

Sunday Night 2-28-2010: Today I have not felt that great. I have had a headache and just haven't felt good.

Friday 2-26-2010: Thank God It's Friday!

Thursday 2-25-2010: I was exhausted last night! But I slept good and woke up feeling refreshed. Work is a little crazy right now because deadlines are looming. That RUSH RUSH RUSH mode can be really fun (for a short time). Right now, it is snowing so prettily, but it is not sticking to the roads.

Wednesday 2-24-2010: I was exhausted yesterday. Maybe starting to take Metformin to lower my blood sugar is wiping me out, I don't know. This morning I woke up just before 7:00AM but was so tired still I crawled back into bed for another hour and a quarter. Feel pretty good right now, ready to face the day.

Tuesday 2-23-2010: Hmmm, blood sugar was 196 this morning. My goal is 80 to 120. I slept eight hours, but I am still tired. Otherwise I am feeling pretty good.

Monday 2-22-2010: Slept more than 9 hours last night! Ahhh, that is wonderful. Right now I have that headache again, but I hope it will go away soon because at lunch today I started taking a prescription to help control my blood sugar levels.

Sunday 2-21-2010: Last night my blood sugar was a whopping 345, so at 11:30PM I hopped on the exercise bike and did 5 miles in 40 minutes. When I retested, I was down to 218. Tomorrow morning I see my primary care physician and hopefully start getting this mess under control.

Saturday 2-20-2010: This morning I rinsed my sinuses and feel much better.

Friday 2-19-2010: My platelets are low, so my nose is full of blood, which does not smell great.
Thursday 2-18-2010: Woke up with a headache. Blood sugar 176. Finally get to send it my results to the nurse today.
Wednesday 2-17-2010: Girl Scout Cookies have arrived! And me with high blood sugar. Boo hoo! This morning Lou said that high blood sugar might be the best thing that ever happened to me (to help in my never ending weight struggle). So I joked, "You're saying it's a gift from God?" because I heard that from a lady once about the cancer. (I wanted to spit on her.)

Monday 2-15-2010: I am obsessed about checking my blood sugar level. If it didn't hurt to jab my finger, I'd be doing it more than three times per day. This morning it was 182

Sunday 2-14-2010: Happy Valentine's Day! Lou is making breakfast right now, grits and eggs.

Saturday 2-13-2010: I woke up to lovely snow blanketing the neighborhood. I am not exhausted any more. My energy level is back where it ought to be. I guess I caught up on my sleep.

Thursday 2-11-2010: I am still dragging! Headache, congestion, exhaustion... I give up, I am going back to bed. This afternoon, I go to Duke for routine labwork

Wednesday 2-10-2010: I am dragging! I feel as though I have a cold. When I blow my nose, there is a creepy amount of blood in the tissue (which is a known side effect of the clinical trial drug and probably too gross for me to mention here, sorry).

Tuesday 2-9-2010: Lou woke me up at 7:00AM. I was dreaming that my old oncologist was there giving me an exam, very weird. My cough might be back. My ankles are looking mighty fine though. I have an appointment this Thursday to see my oncologist.

Tuesday 2-2-2010: Nineteen years ago today, I went on a blind date with this guy named Lou, and it was the best decision I ever made. At some point, I'll have to tell you the story of how he threw away my phone number after that first date...

Monday 02-01-10: Going to be a tough day today.

Sunday 01-31-10: Lovely snow day yesterday, trapped in the house, in my PJs, watching movies, doing laundry... and knowing the whole time that four inches of snow in Massachusetts wouldn't trap you in your house but it is lovely that here in North Carolina it does

Saturday 01-30-10: SNOW! It's lovely. I was WIDE AWAKE last night and logged on to work till about 2:30AM. There is nothing I like better than sending out email in the middle of the night.
Friday 01-29-10: I slept great (with the help of an Ambien pill) and woke up raring to go. I heard a lot of great stuff yesterday in the training and having some work to do
Thursday 1:30AM 01-28-10: I AM SO WIDE AWAKE. It must be the prednisone. I need to be alert at work tomorrow -- no TODAY. I am supposed to listen to an important training session. Oh but my cough is better!
Tuesday 1-26-10 evening update: Cough, cough cough cough!

Tuesday 01-26-10: We got up early this morning to watch 24. I slept well, my ankles look good, but the port is still tender.

Monday 01-25-10: I woke up in the middle of the night convinced that some mechanism attached to my arm had fallen over on top of Lou. He didn't appreciate being woken up to see if he was okay ;^)

Sunday 01-24-10: I am sitting in my LazyBoy with my feet elevated and my laptop in my lap. Heaven! Lou is upstairs working. I am going to the grocery store, and then a friend is coming over to sew something and work on her resume. I can't get to the Y today, but I will go for a walk.

Saturday 01-23-10: Lou is upstairs working, and I am sitting here thinking up something to blog about. We had a great day. I took all the Christmas decorations off the Christmas tree and boxed them up nicely

Friday 1-22-10: I just took my last antibiotic. I hope my cough goes away soon. I slept great last night!

Thursday 01-21-10: My alarm went off at 5:30AM so I can get to the vanpool, so I am dragging. But I feel pretty good. Right now, my ankles look great: no swelling at all.

Wednesday 01-20-10: I slept great last night and feel pretty good this morning. It is supposed to be 63 degrees today, but tomorrow it will drop to 44. It is so much more convenient to take my clinical trial pills at night! Plus, it means no snacking is possible after dinner

Tuesday 01-19-10: Yesterday I wore very cute shoes, but they allowed my feet to swell. Today I'll wear my sneakers instead.

Monday 01-18-10: Lou and I got up at 6:00AM so we could watch the two hour premiere of "24" this morning :^) so I cannot complain that I did not get enough sleep last night.

Sunday 01-17-10: I am dragging today! This cold and asthma is wearing me out. I am going grocery shopping and then I am going to get back into my PJs and just do nothing today.

Saturday 01-16-10: I am feeling better, still coughing and congested but a bit improved.

Friday 01-15-10: I got up at 5:30AM and rode in the vanpool to work. My legs are aching today. The doctor told me yesterday that all this swelling is caused by the Tax chemo, which I stopped taking in October, and that this side effect might last as long as a year after you stop taking the chemo! Yikes.

Wednesday 01-13-10: Yesterday got antibiotics and asthma medicine. Actually got an albuterol treatment before I left the doctor's office and felt much better. Tomorrow is my scan!

Tuesday 01-12-10: Slept better last night. Today I feel as though I am fighting a cold. Stuffy head, cough, tiredness. I have been coughing for more than 3 weeks. I see my primary care physician this afternoon; maybe he can help

Monday 01-11-10: Didn't sleep at all last night! Maybe because I drank tea after 4:00PM yesterday. Turned off my alarm clock because I knew I could not get up at 5:30AM. When I finally got up at 7:00AM, I felt pretty good. Really looking forward to getting back to work. I still have a cough and swollen feet, but these are minor problems

Sunday 01-10-10: Today I walked Sam around the block, did laundry, and read. Quiet and restful. I am still coughing and plan to call my primary care physician tomorrow

Saturday 01-09-10: We are home safe and sound! I am tired. Traveling is exhausting, even when it is pretty easy like today.

Friday 01-08-10 EVENING UPDATE We are all packed, suitcases are in the hallway, and ready to go home. I am about to pack away my laptop. We're having a later dinner at 9:00PM. I feel great.

Friday 01-08-10: YIKES! Both feet are so swollen this morning I cannot put my pink flip flops on. I am going to elevate my legs all day long. Otherwise, I feel good and am looking forward to going home.

Thursday 01-07-10: Got a pot of coffee delivered to our cabin this morning; what a great way to wake up! Feeling pretty good. The white painful spot on my gums seems smaller and less painful

Wednesday 01-06-10: Lou let me sleep till 8:30! We stayed up late last night watching a movie under the stars on a huge screen near one fo the pools. State of Play, with Russell Crowe. My ankles are still problematic, but I feel pretty good.

Tuesday 01-05-10: I ran down to the coffee bar this morning to get croissants and lattes -- and brought them back to the cabin for us to enjoy in bed. (I never can deliver Lou coffee in bed at home because he is always up before me.) I have a small sore in my mouth; I think that it might be from the clinical trial drug. I am visualizing red and white blood cells ruching over to make it go away.

Monday 01-04-10: Coffee delivery at 7:00AM woke me up. We sat on the balcony and drank a pot of coffee before breakfast. What a great way to wake up! I am visualizing my hair growing... but I am not seeing much results ;^)

Sunday 01-03-10: Gosh I sleep great on a cruise ship! I still have a little cough and my ankles are still troublesome. Today we go to a volcanic black sand beach! I am so excited.

Friday 01-01-10: My cough is almost gone, but my ankles are really swollen. Hey, my peach fuzz and eyebrows are really coming in good!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Janitorial Help Wanted

My bottle of AHCC arrived in the mail yesterday. That's the mushroom extract stuff that is supposed to increase natural killer cells activity and therefore boost your immune system.  I am hoping to get more natural killer cells roaming around inside me, looking for cancer cells to beat up.

I felt sort of led to AHCC.

I first heard about natural killer cells a long time agao, and I remember thinking that they were really cool, like violent janitors working inside my body.  I spent a bunch of time visualizing them zooming around inside me, taking care of business, whacking cancer cells with their brooms.  I especially visualized this every time I saw a scan and had a good idea where various tumors were located. 

A few weeks ago, I started thinking about natural killer cells again, out of the blue.

Then I was in a waiting room and decided to borrow a magazine (okay, I stole a magazine) because it contained an article about meditation that I thought was really practical. Flipping through the magazine later, I noticed another article on fighting allergy symptoms by taking something called AHCC to  increase the number of natural killer cells working for you.

Wow, I thought, you can increase the number of natural killer cells working for you?  That would be excellent.

So I surfed the web a little.  I saw some interesting claims but little proof. I also figured out where to buy the stuff.  But I decided that I would have to check with Dr R before I started taking a new supplement, especially since the web warned that it decreases the effectiveness of Doxorubicin.  I am totally all done taking Doxorubicin, but I figured I ought to check anyway.

Dr R said that there was no proof that it would work, but that if I wanted to try it, then I should.  He actually suggested that I run my own informal clinical trial, which I thought was a cool idea. 

So, I started taking the AHCC this morning.  Let's say I have put an ad in the paper, looking to hire on a big crew of violent janitors for a special cleanup project.  No experience necessary.  Cool uniforms and big heavy brooms will be issued to all new hires.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Meltdown Last Thursday

On Thursday night, I had a meltdown.

You can imagine what I was feeling. I am human, after all.

I really do not want to have cancer, especially such a nasty kind. I'm bummed that we have not been able to get rid of it, despite all the chemo I've had. 

It bothers me that I would hardly even know I have cancer except for all the trouble that the chemo and radiation have caused, like part of my left leg is numb, I don't know that I have to pee till I really really have to pee right now, both feet are sort of numb, my toenails are freaky looking, I am still close to bald, and so on.

Every time I feel an ache or a twinge, my first thought is that it is the cancer. Every time we plan a vacation, I wonder if I'll be able to go. Every time I hear someone say that God does not give you more than you can handle, I get ticked off.

And my "good news" from last week -- that only one tumor grew -- didn't seem all that good on Thursday night. Who cares if only one tumor grew?  None of them shrank.  None of them disappeared forever.

So on Thursday night, I sat on the couch with Lou and cried all over him.  (He really is the best husband in the world.) 

Afterward I felt a lot better.

Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. Accepting that I have cancer doesn't mean that I like it.  It just means that I realize how fruitless and unpleasant my life would be if I spent all my time railing against this fact of my life.  So, except for the occasional meltdown, I maintain a pretty good attitude. I focus on the positive, and try to have a good time.

This whole weekend, I have been feeling great.  My good news from last week is good news again. I'm looking forward to another awesome two months without chemo. I'm reading When God Doesn't Make Sense by Dr. James Dobson, and I just finished re-reading The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis.

Ooooh, and I am looking forward to talking AHCC and revving up my natural killer cells.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Natural Killer Cells

I was reading an article about meditation in Natural Health magazine, and I saw another article about fighting allergies with natural killer cells. Those are the cells that roam around your body looking for intruders -- and killing them. I've heard of natural killer cells and I used to visualize them attacking my tumors.

Anyway, this article mentioned a supplement that can increase the number of natural killer cells you have in your body.  It's called AHCC (Active Hexose Correlated Compound).  It is an extract from mushrooms.  It is supposed to be good for your immune system in general. I also found some info on the web about the idea that you might be able to use AHCC to fight cancer cells.

So, on Wednesday, I asked Dr R if it would be okay for me to try taking AHCC. I felt a little silly, like I was asking if I should take shark cartilege or make chicken sacrifices. But he was supportive, as always. He said that there was no definitive evidence either way regarding whether it would be effective in the fight against the sarcoma -- but that if I wanted to try it, it would be a perfectly good idea to do so, especially since I am not getting any chemo for at least the next two months.  He suggested that I run my own informal clinical trial.

I could NOT have taken it this summer, because AHCC reduces the effectiveness of doxorubicin.

So I ordered a bottle.  Now I am waiting for it to come in.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Like Waiting for Santa

Waiting for the doctor to come in and give me my results is like waiting for Santa.  Will this be something I want, like a shiny new pen with my name on it?  Or will it be something I don't want, like a lump of coal?

This morning, I woke up at 6:00AM, immediately wide awake and thinking about how I would be getting my results soon. I wasn't scared or nervous. I was just looking forward to knowing.

Our plan this morning is to get coffee at Electric Beanz. (Mine is an extravagant half eggnog latte, and Lou's is an Italian roast drip.) Then we eat bagels for breakfast at Breugger's.  After that, we zoom up to Duke to see what Santa left in my stocking.


The news is good.  One spot grew (by 3 mm) and the rest basically stayed the same.  And there were no new spots!  That is the best part.

So, we are going to continue leaving me alone.  No more chemo for another two months.  Ooooh, I get to keep feeling good.  Happy dance!  Going to have a Merry Christmas for sure.

My next scan will be on February 7.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dad

Today is my Dad's birthday.  He's a wonderful father, the best ever.  I took this picture with my cell phone when we were out there visiting my parents last month, and now when I get a call from my Dad's cell phone, this picture pops up.

Scan Day yesterday went well.

I had a hard candy in my mouth when the nurse accessed my port, because I got nauseated the last few times from the smell and taste of the saline flush. But I didn't plan well and had no candy for when they de-accessed my port.  I was flooded with the smell and taste, and although it was unpleasant, I did not become nauseated. That is awesome. I guess I was just easily nauseated during chemo.

The clinic was backed up, and so I spent most of the afternoon waiting around to be called. But I had a book to read, so I was happy.  It was a medical thriller, an old one called Miracle Cure by Michael Palmer. 

I also met a nice lady who was hanging out in the CT Scan waiting room. She was waiting to be admitted to the hospital. She hadn't expected to be admitted; she had her first appointment with a new doctor for breathlessness, and the doctor said that she could not go home in that condition. We talked about how stressful it is while they are trying to figure out what is wrong with you. I did not mention to her that a lot of characters in Miracle Cure had breathlessness and ended up dead because they were in a clinical trial run by an evil pharmaceutical company and greedy doctors...
I get my results tomorrow, and I will post them as soon as I can.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Vacation's Over

I'm back!  Vacation is over.

This was an excellent idea. And it worked. For the most part, I did not talk about or think about cancer. There were people who don't read the blog and who asked me how I was doing. I would say I was really good and try to avoid going into detail.

Of course, I couldn't completely forget about cancer.  My denial just is not that strong.  For one thing, my lack of hair was a constant reminder. I was still wearing a hat to work until about a week ago. Once I got complete coverage (no shiny bald patches) I gave up the hats.

I will admit that I have found myself worrying about this scan as the date approached.  Last time around, I made myself consider the worst possibilities in detail so I would be ready for bad news. I decided not to do that again, if I could help it.  Better to be surprised by bad news than to waste a week or two miserably waiting for bad news that might not come.

The scan is this afternoon, and I get the results on Wednesday.  Wish me luck.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cancer Vacation

Things are good! Chemo ended almost one month ago. I feel good. My hair is starting to grow back. And most importantly, last week, I got good news from my CT scan.

So I don't have to even think about cancer till my next scan, which will be on December 6, 2010.

Last week, when Dr R ran through all my options for the future, he said that my treatment will probably continue to follow this pattern:  the cancer will grow, we'll use chemo to beat it back, and then we'll take some time off... but eventually the cancer will grow again and the whole cycle will start over.  At least, that is the plan till someone comes up with a way to kill it forever.

So this weekend, I started thinking about how I could have years and years and years of chemo & cancer ahead of me. I guess till now I have mainly thought about TODAY and what's on the immediate horizon.

I realized that the idea of years and years and years of thinking about cancer every day sounds completely awful to me. I decided that I want a break from thinking about cancer.  I want to go on a Cancer Vacation.

I am not talking about another cruise.  I am talking about just living my regular life, without thinking about and talking about and blogging about cancer.

Yeah, I said no blogging about cancer.  You go on a cancer vacation, you do not bring your cancer blog with you. You leave the cancer blog at home.

I know there are some of you who check in every day to see how I am doing, and I love you for it. You have no idea how your support and friendship and love have made everything so much easier to handle.  I think this blog is one of the best things I have ever done. But I need a break.  Maybe you need a break, too.

So, this vacation starts right now. My bags are packed!  I am logging off, and I won't be back here till my vacation is over, which will probably be right before my next scan.

Let's meet back here on December 5, okay?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Nothing Grew! Nothing New!

Excellent news! 

No new tumors appeared! 

None of the existing tumors grew! 

A few tumors shrank!

Here are some specifics.  The tumor in the pancreas shrank. The tumor in the psoas shrank.  One of the tumors in the left lung shrank. The amount of shrinkage was not huge, but any shrinkage is good shrinkage.

What a relief.  I was braced for bad news, and we got excellent news instead.  Thanks to everybody who kept reminding me that miracles happen.

Now I get two months off, and I expect to feel better every day.  I go back on December 6 for my next CT Scan.

My white blood cell count (neutrafils) is very low, so if you see me, do not sneeze on me. It will bounce back up pretty quickly now that chemo is over.

The other good thing that happened is that Dr R ran through some of my options for the future.  There are two more chemo drugs for sarcoma. More exciting is some chemo drug for sarcoma that is in wide use in Europe and Asia (did not catch the name) and that is now available in Charolotte, SC, as a clinical trial.  I would have to pay $250 per dose out of pocket. Plus I would have to travel to Charlotte every three weeks. (Not exactly a hardship because Charlotte is super nice.)  I could stay on that drug for as long as it works.  After that, there is at least one other chemo drug not specifically approved for sarcoma but currently being tried out on sarcoma.  And then finally there are some clinical trials. 

So, lots of options for the future, but nothing needs to be done today.

Nothing needs to be done today!  Yahoo!

Lou and I did the Happy Dance in the parking garage at Duke.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Discord in the Ross Household

Twice a year, there is discord in the Ross Household. Those are nights when the New England Patriots play the Miami Dolphins.

Childhood sports team affiliations cannot be denied.  I grew up in Massachusetts, and Lou grew up in Miami.  My high school band (I was a flag in the color guard) once performed at halftime in Foxboro for the Pats.

Last night, the Patriots were in Miami. Here is an excerpt from the report filed by Gus Morse online:

"What started out as a dominating first half from the Miami Dolphins’ defense against the New England Patriots crumbled into a 41-14 Monday Night Football loss, described as embarrassing by several Dolphins."


Arguing over the game has been a fun distraction from waiting for our appointment with Dr R tomorrow to get the results of yesterday's CT scan.  That scan was as pleasant as can be, I am happy to report.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Scan Day Today

Magical medical technology!  They can peer inside my body without surgery!  This afternoon I go to Duke for my scan, to see how the Doxorubicin worked.

I am reminded that not so long ago, doctors couldn't really tell what was happening inside you unless they did surgery and took a peek. That was the case in 1996 when Lou's Mom has cancer. They had no idea how bad it was till they did surgery.

So every time I get a scan, I am glad that they can scan me.  I am hoping for more Star Trek technology, like if they could just beam the tumors out of me.

Last night we watched the 60 Minutes story on Bill and Melinda Gates and their efforts to fight AIDs, malaria, and mother/baby deaths.  I got all choked up, and then I realized it wasn't about their philanthropy at all. It was that I was nervous about today.  It was good to get it out of my system, and I felt better afterward. 

I won't get the results till Wednesday morning.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Lee Child Insomnia

Lee Child's books are so gripping, page turning, and compelling, I cannot put one down once I start reading!  Last night I finished Bad Luck and Trouble.  "You do not mess with the special investigators." Excellent.  Gosh, I am half hoping he writes something with Neagley as his main character. I am bummed that there are just two existing Jack Reacher novels to go.

Anyway, after I finished reading last night, I was all revved up and could not go to sleep.  I ended up logged on to work for two hours!  Cleaned up a pile of little issues that had been nagging at me.  Nothing like the wee hours to help you focus.

So this morning, I am sort of dragging.  Luckily, it is Friday... and tomorrow morning I get a massage.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lucky Raindrops

Eighteen years ago, it rained at my wedding. People said that would bring us good luck, and it did.  We have had a wonderful marriage, and every day I am reminded how lucky I am to have Lou.

This weekend, Lou and I went to the wedding of Amelia and Steve.  (Amelia is my friend from work, and the person who does the energy work, Healing Touch, which has been helping me deal with my chemo side effects.)

This was an amazing wedding.

We were directed to park in a field. Then we climbed aboard a golf cart for a fast, bumpy trip up the hill to Amelia's folks' place.  We were hanging on for dear life (we were on the back bench and could have been thrown right off by any of the bumps), and Lou looked at me and said, "I am really glad we came to this wedding!"  It was better than any excursion we ever paid for on a cruise.

Anyway, we made it to the house alive and got pretty good seats on the upper level of the flagstone patio. The view was gorgeous, of woods and a pond and a meadow.  (When the bride and groom joined the minister, we could see Amelia's face, but not Steve's.)

It started to sprinkle rain drops on us, which we figured would bring Amelia and Steve nothing but good luck. Another friend from work, Anya, quickly found an umbrella for her daughter, Drake, and her cello.  Drake's performance was so beautiful.

Then the rain stopped, but it started up again later while some lady was reading an Irish blessing and got to the part about God's blessings being like little raindrops.  A collective, awed "Oooo," swept through the assembled guests!

Then, while Steve was reciting his vows, the sun broke through the clouds and shone down on them, like God was saying, "You are bathed in my light, and your future together is very bright."

I got all choked up.

The reception was excellent, and dinner was excellent. We got to chat with the minister and his wife Nancy, who informed us that the same minister married Amelia's parents too.

But, by now I was completely exhausted and we had to slip away.  We stayed overnight in a hotel and then drove home really early to find poor old Samantha sort of mad at us for leaving her.  John next door had dropped by a couple of times to check on her, but she was still annoyed with us, until we took her for a walk and plied her with cookies and got back in her good graces.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chemo is Over!

"Chemo has been over for awhile, Karen," you might be thinking.  "Wasn't the last chemo on September 15?"

You'd be right, if that was what you were thinking.

But somehow, until late last night, it hadn't really sunk in that chemo is over.  Late last night is when I realized that I can finally schedule another massage appointment with Martha at Avante Physical Therapy in Cary, NC, because chemo is over!  (No massages allowed during chemo because of all the drugs swirling around in your system.)

I have this knot on my left shoulder that is killing me...  and I know Martha can make it go away.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Personality NOT Linked to Cancer Risk or Prognosis

Here are a couple of quotes from a Reuters Health article that I found:

"People who are friendly and outgoing and those prone to be nervous and moody have at least one thing in common: their personalities do not seem to be connected to their risk of developing or dying from cancer, a new study finds."

"The findings, from two long-running studies of Finnish and Swedish twins, add to evidence refuting the theory that there are certain cancer-prone personalities, and that personality is an important factor in the odds of surviving cancer."

"The notion that having a 'fighting spirit' will affect your cancer prognosis is an appealing one, said Coyne, who directs the behavioral oncology program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia."
For the full article, use this link:

Why did I like this article so much?  Because when I hear someone telling me that I am going to be fine because I am so cheerful, sometimes it strikes me the wrong way.  I "hear" that I had better stay cheerful, or else I won't be fine. And I "hear" that if I end up not fine, it will be my fault because I was not cheerful enough. Grrrrr.  (I know that is not what the person is really saying.)

But I am very glad to be a cheerful person. It certainly helps make every day more enjoyable.  Maybe personality type is more of a quality of life issue. 

What if some Grumpy Joe and I have the same tumors, get the same treatment, have our tumors shrink (or not) at the same rate, and have the same number of days left on the planet?  Which one of us is having more fun?  The moody one complaining about everything, or the cheerful one focuing on the bright side and planning crazy vacations? 

The article says a cheerful personality won't buy me more days -- but I think it buys me more fun every day.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Time for Walkies

I haven't been sleeping well at all.  It takes a long time to fall asleep, and then I wake up many times in the night. I can blame Decadron for a few nights of insomnia, but not for this.  It has to be because I have not been walking at all.  I always sleep better when I am exercising.

I haven't felt like walking at all for like two weeks.  I had that bad cold and then the last dose of chemo... but now that's all over.  I need to start walking again, if only so I can get a good night's sleep.

It's already a little late this morning to go for a walk, and it will get up to 96 degrees this afternoon.  Darn.  Maybe I can do laps inside the air conditioned building at lunchtime.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Last Day of Summer 2010

Yesterday was another shaky day, but I did not go down for a ridiculous nap.  That is progress.  I feel as though I am emerging from the other side of chemo strangeness.

I feel better this morning.  Not shaky, and stronger.  So, my plan is to actually go in to the office.

Tonight, summer ends.  I must admit that I am looking forward to cooler temperatures and long-sleeved shirts.  I'm so tired of all my summery clothes.  The funny thing is, tomorrow we are expecting 96 degree heat.  Welcome, Autumn!

I find myself thinking about what it will be like when all my chemo options are exhausted, and the cancer is growing. That will be a difficult time.  I feel really good about my choices, my oncologist, and the sarcoma specialty center at Duke, so I assume that I won't be filled with regret.  The only thing I could have done differently was to fall for some of the crazy claims, like eating pureed asparagus every day, or cottage cheese mixed with flax seed oil, or some wacky supplement that someone was trying to sell me.  Those crazy claims offend me.  What kind of loser do you have to be to take advantage of a panicking cancer patient by selling them crap that won't work?  I can only hope that there is a special circle in hell for those people.  (It's probably right next to the people who steal from the elderly.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Shaky Monday

I struggled with that shaky chemo feeling yesterday.  Like, if I held out my hands, they would shake.  Plus, I was tired and sort of groggy.

I logged on remotely to work for the morning, but then I had to go to sleep after lunch.  This time, I slept for hours and hours.  I was much better when I finally woke up around 5:00PM.  I actually worked till 9:30PM!  Got a lot done, too.  That was nice.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Maybe Tomorrow I'll Sleep Late

Jeepers, I was wide awake at 3:00AM today. I tried to fall back to sleep for a half hour, but it was no good.  So I got up and had a lovely small cup of my regular tea, Tetley British Blend (round teabag).  Yum.  Usually I drink from a huge mug with two teabags, but I figured I had better start small after not having any caffeine for four days.

Maybe tomorrow I will be able to sleep late.  Not the most fabulous plan for a Monday morning, a working day, but it's what I've got.  By tomorrow, the Decadron will have worn off. The thing is, I didn't want to take any Ambien to sleep this weekend. So I have been waking up early like this.  Waking up early won't kill ya.

Waking up early, puttering around the kitchen, making little clattering noises, and rousing your husband might get ya in trouble though  ;^)  which is why I am tucked away in my office.

Yesterday I dragged myself around the short loop with Lou and Sam, and then I went to sleep for almost two hours. Ridiculous!  Then we went out to lunch at Sushi Thai in Cary. Total perfect yummification. Then we went to Macy's and I returned my brand-new, expensive, dripping Rowenta iron and replaced it with a brand-new, less-expensive, non-dripping Rowenta iron. I started ironing practically the minute I got home, so I am sure it does not drip water at all. I ironed six shirts and then had to stop because I was tired.  Basically, I spent the rest of the day watching NetFlix Miss Marple movies and waiting for my zombie exhaustion to make me fall asleep again (but it never happened).

I took only one anti-nausea pill yesterday. So basically I was just easily tired.  That is not bad at all!  My cold and cough are almost gone, too, which is good because I have two days of antibiotics left.

I finally finished the three Stieg Larrson novels. They were excellent, but they took concentration (although maybe that is the chemo talking).  Thanks to the lady who warned me that I needed to have the third book in hand before I even started reading the second book.  She was right.  I had to go from the end of book 2 right into book 3 without a break.

This morning I started the next Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child, One Shot.  I am getting bummed about how quickly I am working my way through these novels.  When my Mom first got me hooked by sending me the first in the series, Killing Floor, I was so psyched that there were like 14 to go. It seemed like that number of novels ought to keep me entertained for awhile. But I have been flying through them.  Lee Child is excellent at keeping the reader hooked.  I haven't stayed up late into the night reading like this in years. I usually put my book down early enough to get a good night's sleep.  "Got to go to work tomorrow," I think.  But not when I am reading Jack Reacher. I have stayed up way to long because I couldn't wait to see what happened next. I just checked the list, and because I read a couple out of order [gasp] I only have three to go.  Argh.  I just hope Lee Child is busy writing number 15...

Do you think it's funny that I love these Jack Reacher novels as much as I love the Precious Ramotswe novels?  Opposite ends of the spectrum in crime novels, for sure.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Long Nap on Friday

Except for a quick  run out to the pharmacy to pick up a refill of Campazine (anti-nausea pill) yesterday, plus a walk through the grocery store for milk and a cooked chicken, I did nothing at all.  I slept all afternoon, I read a little, and I watched some TV.

In the past, I have waited till I was definitely nauseated before taking anything. I decided that was waiting too long. Once you get nauseated, it is so hard to get rid of.  So this time, at the earliest hint of nausea, I take a pill. It's working out a lot better because the nausea hasn't gotten its grip on me. It's sort of funny, though, to have settled on this most workable approach on my last dose of Doxorubicin!

 (I am hoping that this is a strategy I won't have to employ in the future, but realistically I guess I have learned something that I will be able to use again.)

My mouth has been really dry. This is a new side effect for me on Doxorubicin, but a typical one for this chemo. I have been lucky to have avoided it till now.  Some people get awful mouth sores; dodged that bullet.

Lou is still sleeping, and I am trying to be as quiet as a mouse so as not to wake him up. Today our plan is to return my fancy new steam iron to Macy's.  It drips water.  Bummer.

At breakfast, I will take my last dose of Decadron! That means one more decaf morning to suffer through, and one more day feeling sort of speedy yet exhausted.  I am hoping that tonight I will get a good night's sleep and not wake up in the wee hours of the morning.

Both the Patriots and the Dolphins play on Sunday -- but not each other, thank God.

I guess that sort of wraps up the entire weekend!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

When Life Hands You Lemons

When life hands you lemons, the gang where Lou works sends you a big, beautiful, lemony yellow bouquet to cheer you up!

Can you see the lemons?  There is one in the bottom of the vase, underwater.  And there is one dangling from the flowers, on the right.

What an awesome bouquet!  I love it!  Thanks, everyone Lou works with!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Not Too Sick for Chemo

Hey, I got my last dose of Doxorubicin today!

The day started with some trouble. I waited a half hour for a nurse to access my port and draw blood for the labwork (too many patients, not enough nurses) and then the poor woman could not get blood return from my port.  Saline went in just fine, but no blood would come out.  She fooled with it a bit, then quit.  There were too many people in the waiting room for her to keep fooling with my port.  So she walked me through a maze of corridors to a different department, where another nurse used a needle to get blood out of my arm the old fashioned way.

I had a nice chat with Dr R, but my bloodwork was not back, so he could not say whether I would be getting chemo.  He sent me off to the cafeteria for a coffee with the promise that he would phone my cell if I was not getting chemo.  I never got a call, and then I got paged to go to the treatment room to get chemo.

When we got to the treatment room, I warned the nurse there that my port was acting temperamental.  But you know what?  It worked just fine for her!  She got great blood flow immediately.  What a relief.  So I got my last dose of Doxorubicin with no trouble at all.

Lou is listening to a book on tape about the richest 400 people in the world, and he kept shutting it off and telling me some interesting tidbit, like how four of the top five richest people never graduated from college.

Anyway, we zoomed home and ate leftovers for  lunch. Then Lou went to work and I flopped onto my bed and slept for two hours.

I'm awake now and heading out to the pharmacy for some drugs.

Am I Too Sick for Chemo?

Today is supposed to be my last dose of Doxorubicin!  But the question is, am I too sick to get it?  All depends on what the labwork says.

I started the antibiotic yesterday.  I coughed a lot last night, waking us both up a few times.  You'd think maybe we'd be cranky this morning, but we are both cheerful.  I'm excited at the prospect of finishing up the Doxorubicin.  Let's killl a few more cancer cells today, and then go get a scan in three weeks.

But with this cold and my low neutrafil count, I might not get chemo today.

I was thinking about telling Lou to stay home today. If he is not with me, and if it turns out I am too sick for chemo, then I could go straight to work from Duke... but how crazy is that?  If I am too sick for chemo, then I am too sick for work!

Cross your fingers!  I want this chemo!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Germ Warfare

Tomorrow when I go to the Duke Clinic, I am supposed to wear a paper mask to protect other patients from my germs!  Nice.

As it stands, I am still getting chemo tomorrow. Having a bad cold does not necessarily keep you from getting chemo.  It all comes down to what the lab says about your bloodwork.

I coughed all night long. This morning, I started coughing up nasty yellow goop, which means I have a respiratory infection.   I've got an appointment with my fabulous primary care physician later this morning, and I expect to come home with a bag full of antibiotics.

On the phone and in email, a couple of my dearest friends have very kindly suggested that if I had just called in sick last week when they told me to, then maybe I wouldn't be so sick this week.  Well, I'm not 100% sure that saying I told you so is technically within the spirit of the Cheer Me On blog.   ;^)   It's not called the Bum Me Out blog.  Or the Tell Me Off blog. 

I know I should have taken it easy last week.  But that is so hard to do.  With the flowerbed, it was unbelievably satisfying to get those flowers planted. A couple of times yesterday, I snuck outside in my PJs to admire my flowerbeds.  And with work, it is super hard to call in sick because I love what I do and I have deadlines.   Oooh, if it turns out I am too sick for chemo, then I bet I can work from home for the rest of the week!  Excellent!  (I never learn.)

Monday, September 13, 2010

And on Sunday, He Rested

I spent all day Sunday resting.

Well, I ran out to the grocery store in the morning.  Lou came with me, though, and did all the heavy lifting.

I took Vitamin C, rested, watched movies, and read.  My cold symptoms were pretty serious yesterday (and today).  Headache, sore throat, nasty productive cough... I am starting to get a little worried about chemo on Wednesday.  I called the chemo nurse to give them a heads up that I have a bad cold.

Ooooh, I wonder if they won't want me coming in to the clinic at all because I might spread my germs to other patients whose immune systems are compromised.

Lou just talked me into staying home today.  I am bummed because I am looking forward to a meeting at 11:00.  Maybe I can try to do it over the phone.  I guess it depends on how bad my voice is.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

No Rest for the Wicked

I feel awful today.  I have a headache, a very sore throat, and a nasty productive cough. Strangely, my sinuses are clear.  I have decided that this cold would probably have gotten this bad even if I had spent Friday and Saturday resting. 

Of course, I didn't spent Friday and Saturday resting. 

On Friday, I worked 10 hours in the office.  On Saturday, I ran a million errands and planted a lot of flowers.  I'm happy with what I accomplished on both days.

Home Depot has chsysanthemums at an awesome price right now, and I picked up nine plants last weekend.  It took me a week to get them planted because every hole I dug uncovered something strange, like pockets of gravel, or short lengths of rope, or empty burlap sacks, or chunks of concrete.  All the yellow chrysanthemums went into the big flower bed in the front yard. That big flower bed now looks perfectly ordinary and acceptable. I no longer cringe when I look at it.

Yesterday I had to go back to Home Depot for more Miracle Grow dirt, and I picked up one Balloon Flower plant to fill a gap in the small flower bed near the house.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Eye of the Storm

Yesterday must have been the eye of the storm, the calm pause in the middle of the chaos.

I felt really wonderful yesterday. I didn't even blog because I was in such a rush to get to the office.  I had a great day, too.  I ran around, talking to people all day, gathering lots of good info to stuff into my book.  I even volunteered to update a particular chapter that on a topic that I loath and fear.  Not once did I cough.  No germs did I spread.

But last night, the cough was back. I even woke up in the night coughing.  Lou woke up, too.  And this morning, I've got the cough, the sore throat, the whole shebang.

So the debate in the Ross household this morning is, do I work from home today?  Lou wants me to stay home.  I want to go in because I need to talk to some people to clear up some questions I have. Lou counters that I could use the phone to ask my questions.  I argue that these questions are too complex to talk about on the phone.  Stalemate.

I am going to take another 12 hour Sudafed, rinse my sinuses, jump in the shower, and see how I feel after that...

Next Wednesday is my last dose of Doxrubicin. I want to feel well by next Wednesday. I wouldn't want to do anything that causes this cold to linger any longer than it has to. I don't want to have the sniffles when the nausea hits.

Ooooh and the plan for this weekend involves the Museum of History and an exhibit on George Washington!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

No More Coughing

My cough is gone!

I still have sinus congestion, a sore throat, and a headache though. Yesterday Lou gave me a 12 hour Sudafed, which worked great. It was the old formula for which you must go to the pharamacy, show ID, and get written up in a logbook. (The old formula is what people used to make methamphetamine, right? So pharmacists had to make it harder to buy.  Darned drug dealers making everyone's life more complicated!)

I actually got in a full day of work yesterday.  Someone had asked me to add something to my book like two weeks ago -- and yesterday I finally did it.  That's a good feeling!  Now I just have to get this new text approved by an engineer...

I am sort of torn about whether to work from home again today.  I am not coughing anymore, but I am not that well either.  But today is my group meeting, which I hate to miss.  I guess I will go take a shower now and see how I feel afterward.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Supposed to Feel Great

Darn it, I am supposed to feel great from now till next Wednesday when I get my last dose of Doxorubicin,  but I feel awful today. My lungs are tight, my sinuses are stuffed up, my back aches, I have a small dry cough, and I am tired... basically I have a cold.

I have been sidelined by the common cold.  Jeepers.  I guess I've grown accustomed to more dramatic illnesses like, "chemotherapy-induced nausea" or "fatigue associated with a low blood cell count."  Not the sniffles!

I slept as late as I could this morning, took some Sudafed and some Vitamin C, and now I am going to log on to work.  I'm not going into the office because I figure I do not want to spread this germ and I probably will need to take a nap later.

Anyway, I had a fabulous long weekend:

  • On Saturday, Lou and I went to the planetarium in Chapel Hill and saw a show on black holes. It was awesome. I took away two things:  that gravity is like acceleration and that there are a disconcertingly large number of black holes in our universe that are constantly sucking in all surrounding matter at an alarming rate.  My worries for the safety of the universe were abated by a delicious lunch at the Weathervane restaurant at that store called A Southern Season.

  • On Sunday, we went for a really long walk in the neighborhood. I bought some yellow mums on sale at Home Depot for the flower bed by the stop sign.  My wonderful neighbor Nick poured holy water from Lourdes over my head!  And then we wrapped up Sunday night at Chas and Darlene's house for dinner and a roaring fire in the firepit.

  • On Monday, Lou sprayed Round-Up on the crabgrass in the front lawn while I planted some of my plants.  After a couple of hours, it was too hot to continue working in the yard, so we quit.  We went out to lunch AGAIN and then did a little shopping for the house.  We finished the day by killing our second disc of The Unit (Season 1) which we are hooked on. By the afternoon, I had started feeling this cold creep up on me, with the exhaustion and the little cough, so I ended my weekend on the couch under a blanket.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Jeepers, I was dragging for about a week, and it took its toll on my mood.  It is hard to be tired for a long time.  Nothing seems fun when you are so tired.

So last night, I found myself reading psalms in The Bible. Not just any psalms either.  Just the lamentations!  They are the ones that are like, Oh Lord, rescue me from the mire!

The lamentations really cheered me up.  Today I feel a lot better, both physically and emotionally.  I think the appeal of the lamentations is two-fold.  First, I got the message that there's lots suffering in the world, so much so that it made it into The Bible. I am clearly not the only person with problems.  Second, my situation doesn't seem so bad in comparison.  I am not in a pit with my enemies rejoicing over me.

I am feeling so much better that I am actually headed into the office.  (I have been working from home so far this week.)

My friend Truett sent me this picture awhile ago.  It is a snapshot that someone in his congregation took of his church.

Late Afternoon Update

I went to the office and got some good work done.  At about 2:00PM, I started to see blank spots on my computer screen.  Migraine!  I had to head home.  Total bummer.  The Maxalt helped, but I had a bad headache for the next couple of hours.  It's 5:00PM now and the headache is now mild. 

Also, my new Rowenta iron arrived via UPS this afternoon, but a big chunk of the plastic housing was BROKEN off and rattling around in the box. This iron is really lovely looking, though.  Macy's has the best customer service on the planet, and they are expediting me another iron.  All I have to do now is drop off the broken iron at my local Macy's.  A couple more days of wrinkly clothes...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Just Let Me Sleep

This last dose of chemo has sucked all the energy out of me.  I am still taking two naps per day.

Yesterday, I logged on to work from home.  I worked for 2.5 hours, took a long break for a nap and lunch, and then worked another 2.5 hours in the afternoon.  By then, I was toast.

I could take a nap right now.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Avoid Your Favorite Foods

Helpful tip sheets about surviving chemo warn you to avoid your favorite foods when you are nauseated, because you might associate that feeling with that food -- and completely ruin your favorite foods forever.

I haven't ruined any food, but I think I might have ruined The Andy Griffith Show in a similar manner.  For the last couple of days, I have been nauseated and too exhausted to sleep or read or converse intelligently. All I could manage was watching TV. So I have been working my way through season 1 of  The Andy Griffith Show thanks to NetFlix. I really enjoyed the epsiodes, especially Don Knotts. I had forgotten how hysterical he was!  But I was sitting there, nauseated and tired and occasionally drifting off to sleep.  So I found myself clearing out season 2 from my NetFlix queue. I just can't face it right now.

I've got some Miss Marple coming instead.  Plus I have a lot of good stuff piled up in my Tivo queue.

It's about 4:30AM on Saturday. I am thrilled to report that I am finally not nauseated.  I am trying to be very quiet so I don't wake up Lou or Samantha.  I cannot iron, because my iron died yesterday. It got really hot, burned my ironing board cover, and then refused to heat up after that. Total bummer. (Apparently, no matter how awful I feel, I can still amuse myself by ironing.)

I am not sure what the heck wrinkly outfit I am going to wear to work on Monday!  But I have surfed the web (oh the joy of chemo insomnia!) and order a new Rowenta from Macy's.
Rowenta DW9080 Iron "Steamium"

I am pretty psyched!  Free shipping, so I have to wait an entire week. Maybe one of my neighbors will take pity on me and lend me their iron for some Sunday afternoon entertainment.

Update at 8:30AM:  I walked Sam in the dark at 6:00AM, a slow stroll around the block, sniffing everything. We even woke up a little birdie sleeping on the front porch when we left the house!  Then I went along for a longer walk, for a total of 2.6 miles this morning. There was this amazing sweet smell on the breeze.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Successful Dose 5

Yesterday during Doxorubicin dose 5, I hope we slaughtered a bunch of cancer cells!

The whole day went really well. Lou and I left the house just before 7, and we got to the checkin counter at Duke just before 8, when my appointment was. I didn't go in for bloodwork till after 8:30 but that just gave me time to read my Jack Reacher novel.

Dr R reported that my neutriphils count is 1400. They do not like to give you chemo if it is not 1500, but he said we would go ahead anything. I said that I really hoped I was not going to have to get another Neulasta shot, and he said no.  Thank God!  That was a week and a half of misery I am glad to avoid.

Neutrils are white blood cells that are for cuts and infections.  They are what makes pus yellowy white.  Ick. Is there anything I can do to bring that count up? I need to be careful about being around germs.  I also need to get enough sleep.

Luckily, I had my favorite nurse in the treatment room.  (Well, they are all awesome.)  This time, my port gave us no trouble at all.  (Last time, it was clogged and it took like an hour and a half to clear it.)  We mostly talked about local restaurants that we ought to try.

On the way home, Lou and I always stop for lunch. This time, we went to The Olive Garden because I was really craving eggplant parmesan. It was very good, and we were seated immediately. Whenever we try to go there for dinner, there seems to be a long wait because it is popular and packed to the rafters.

But I have to admit that I was tired and generally not well for the rest of the day.  I tried to sleep early in the afternoon, but I couldn't. It was like I was too tired to fall asleep.  So I gave up and read Jack Reacher. Later, I started watching espidosdes of The Andy Griffith Show and fell alseep for at least an hour in the very late afternoon.

This morning, I woke up at 5:00AM totally wide awake, so I got up and checked email and played with Sam.  Today I have physical energy (must be the Decadron) but I am mentally tired.  Lou walked Sam alone, then he walked me too!  It is very cool right now, nice walking weather.

Oh, and today I started eating Nutrisystem food again.  My weight has gone up a bit since coming off the clinical trial drug that miraculously made me totally disinterested in food.  Because I threw out my clothes as soon as they got too big, I need to stop gaining weight before all my clothes don't fit!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fruity Candy Plans

Tomorrow morning, I get Doxorubicin dose 5, and then there is only one more dose to go!

I have been feeling really great, physically, for at least the last week.  I made the most of it. Awhile ago, I asked my neighbor Pat for some help with this flowerbed at the edge of the road that just looks awful. So this weekend, we came up with a plan, went shopping at three local nurseries, and brought home ten plants.  Ten plants might not sound much, but it was more than enough work planting them! The flowerbed looks better but still needs some work. I feel as though I have some momentum and can handle the rest of the beautification project.

But I caught myself over the weekend thinking, "Oh, rats, chemo Wednesday, that is going to stink."

I shook that off and reminded myself that it's more like, "Yahoo, chemo Wednesday, let's kill some cancer cells!"

I had been really struggling with nausea, but for dose 4 we changed some things and it helped tremendously. Just having fruity candy in my mouth when they accessed my port made it so that I didn't start the day completely nauseated. And then the new medication, Emend, helped through the weekend.  So I am looking forward to feeling not too terrible Thursday through Sunday.  Whatever happens, by Sunday afternoon, I'll be feeling fine.

So my only remaining problem?  My appointment is for 8:00AM tomrrow!  Lou and I are going to have to get up wicked early to get to Durham by 8:00AM.

I better not read in bed tonight. I am reading Lee Child's 5th book in the Jack Reacher series, and just like the others, it is so gripping that it makes me stay up late into the night, reading long after I ought to have gone to sleep. These books are so awesome.  In case you are looking for something good to read, the first one in the series was Killing Floor by Lee Child.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Studying Ancient Egypt

Lou and I continue watching the Teaching Company DVDs on Ancient Egypt in preparation for the big trip in April. We just watched two lectures on King Tut. The first lecture explained how Howard Carter found the tomb in the Valley of the Kings. The second lecture was all about King Tut's life and what happened to his poor wife after he died.  The second lecture was especially interesting because the professor posited his own personal and controversial theory that King Tut was murdered.

If you have any interest in learning about King Tut, here is an interesting link:


I am feeling great this week!  Yesterday I worked for ten hours, and I walked to Build T for BBQ chicken lunch. I just feel very good. I expect to continue feeling this good till chemo next week.
Today I woke up early and went for a longer walk. I will have to measure this new route in the car to see how long it is.
My only complaint is that I have a knot in my left shoulder, and my massage therapist told me I cannot get a massage during chemo. Total bummer.  I'll see if Lou is up for jumping in the hot tub this morning.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Eighteen Years

Lou and I have been married for eighteen wonderful years.

We went to Kanki at the Crabtree Valley Mall for sushi lunch on Saturday to celebrate. We sat in the dimly lit, crowded restaurant, holding hands across the granite topped table, and decided to have another wonderful eighteen years together.  Then we ate some awesome raw fish.

I really am married to the best guy in the whole world.

Oooh, after lunch, we wandered over to the Williams and Sonoma and bought a Cuisinart convection bread machine so Lou can start making bread at home again. Yum.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Strong Fingernails

Little things can really have a huge impact on your quality of life.

For months, my fingernails were a huge problem for me.  It was the clinical trial drug.  My nails were very thin and flexible -- and they chipped or tore virutally time I touched something.  I had to keep them trimmed really short, because when they tore, it was often up over the quick, which is so gross.

I could not put on a necklace because pushing back the tiny knob on the clasp was enough to crumple my fingernail.

Anything that required using my fingertips was hard to accomplish, because my fingertips were sore.

Well, the good news is, that is over!  My fingernails are now back to normal, nice and strong.  And my fingertips no longer hurt.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


One evening, we saw a family of deer making their way through the neighborhood.  Mom was leading her three little fawns across our neighbor's lawn, and Dad was bringing up the rear.

Dad glared at us as we sat there taking pictures from the car.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Weekend of the Long Naps

Both yesterday and today, I was struck down by complete exhaustion and forced to surrender to a long nap. What a waste of weekend minutes!  But I admit, I was nonfunctional before each nap, and much better afterward.

Two hours almost to the minute is what one of these naps takes.

Both days, though, I started off early with a 2-mile walk. In the morning, I see and hear a lot of birds.  I am hoping that these walks will keep me strong. My plan is to stay strong till a cure becomes available.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Mayberry USA

Last weekend, Rich, Lisa, Lou and I went to Mount Airy, NC, for the first time. That's the hometown of Andy Griffith. It's also "Mayberry USA," the setting for The Andy Griffith Show.

It rained on us, which we blamed on our Seattle friends, but we still had a blast.

I have not laughed this much in a while!

So here I am outside Floyd's Barber Shop. Looks like Floyd took a little too much off this time, by golly! What can you expect for an $8 haircut, I guess.

Here's Lisa and me with the statue of Andy and Opie going fishing.

I put The Andy Griffith Show in my NetFlix queue.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Eavesdropping in the Treatment Room

On Wednesday, I sat next to a guy in his sixties, and his wife.  The guy was getting chemo. They smiled and said hello but did not seem to want to talk.

At some point, his nurse came over and started patient education. This was the first time the guy was getting chemo.  It is always interesting to listen in on patient education. One thing is that I am surprised at how much I know, and another thing is that I might pick up something new.  Every chemo is different and has different things to watch out for.

Whatever this guy is getting, he has to come back the next day for a Neulasta shot. So right at the end, the nurse is standing there with her palm pressed to her forehead, saying, "I just heard about something that can help with Neulasta bone paine, it's over the counter and you take it for something else, but for the life of me..."

So I piped up, "Claritin and Aleve?"  On Monday morning, my favorite port-accessing nurse had told me about how her doctor recently presented a paper on how people who took Aleve and Claritin experienced significantly less bone pain after the Neulasta shot.

"Yes! Claritin! Thanks!"

So, this was one time when butting in was a good thing!