Wednesday, November 30, 2011

As I approach my last treatment...

Sorry for not posting anything in the last few treatments but they have been pretty uneventful. Everything is going as planned. I am so overwhelmed with so many emotions and my bi-polar days are more frequent. In the beginning I feared the unknown and now in the end I fear the unknown. All of my insecurities that I would not allow myself to feel are now coming out...and they are ugly!

In my heart and soul i truly feel like I have beat this awful cancer but every now and then a low whisper in the back of my mind reminds that I shouldn't count my eggs before they hatch. My thoughts go from woohoo I beat, shit I'll have to go through additional treatments because that one lymph node still lights up in my PET scan. I am still as positive as I was in the beginning and I know I gave it my all. But now I feel like it is judgement day and the thoughts of, "if there is still more in me the chemo will get and kick it's ass" are now turning to "i am done with my treatments and what if this or what if that"...too many what if thoughts

Another emotion that I am going through is (and this one is hard to put into words, so I hope you understand)...For 6 long months I have been a cancer patient, what will i be after this is done. It has controlled my life, dictated my daily activities, determined my calendar and even was my main topic of conversation with so many. I know I have always been Meredith but for the last 6 months I have been Meredith the Chemo patient. I'm not an attention whore but I have had such wonderful support and love these last few months that I wonder how it will be once it is all said and done. I love those text messages, phone calls and Facebook posts of encouragement. It was those kind words that gave me so much strength to fight the good fight. Will I be sad once they stop? Or, will I find a new strength within my self and my new found cancer free health?

Plus, I'm curious about this monkey I'll be carrying around on my back...I will call this monkey "relapse"...when, if ever will I feel free of relapse? they say after 8 years I will be considered "cured" but until that day comes will I get butterflies in my stomach or that nauseous feeling with every blood test and every PET scan? I'm sure the confidence will grow with each one but what if year 9 or 10 or 16 comes around and it isn't good news, then what?

Will I be instantly better and be back to my normal self? Will I miss my almost daily naps? Will I still need them? Will my hair grow back as fast as I lost it? Will I have reactions from the chemo down the road? Will I feel better when my port is removed? Will the scars fade? Will my children remember these last 6 months and think I was a warrior or not? Will I feel comfortable in my own skin again? SOOOOOOoooooo many questions, that only time will tell.

I will tell you something that never crossed my mind or doubted these last 6 much my friends and family helped me and love me. From Barbara and Aaron supporting me through this whole thing, checking on me and ted to see how we were dealing with this life changing disease, Dawn and Leigh Ann bringing my kids dinner on treatment nights, or Nicolle, Lorie and my Mom taking my kids for a sleepover so I could sleep, my mom for being here almost every treatment to watch the girls so ted could go to work on time and staying till all the kids were asleep, Lorie and Nicolle for bringing Josh and Mikey home from school on my bad days, Jeanne and Ed for my treatment morning text messages that always brought a smile to my face, my niece Bella coming over ans spending the night here to help with the kids, Ted for being so strong (even though i know this whole thing scared the crap out of him), Tara for letting me vent on the phone from the 1st tests to the last treatment, and all of the phone calls, emails, texts, facebook messages and comments that sent love, encouragement and strength from friends and family members from all over. Words can't describe and a "thank you" just doesn't cut it but know how much you all mean to me!!!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

My 8th news is good news!

There is no news to report...this was like every other treatment. Blood work, met with the Dr, he told me my numbers are great and off to the chemo room i went, took a little 3 hour nap and went home to sleep off the rest of the benedryl.

The next day i had a bright idea of having a garage sale...about 20 minutes into it i started to feel really off, so i went to go lay down leaving Ted, my Mom and Lorie to manage the garage sale. I slept the entire day and when i woke up in the evening i had almost a 103 degree fever. I called the Dr on call and he told me to try to get it down at home and if it didn't go down then i should head to the nearest urgent care...but low and behold, the fever broke and I went back to bed to sleep the rest of it off.

Sunday was like all the other, i woke up in pain but tried to suck it up and get on with my day. I succeeded...I went from my bed to the was the best move to make, hahahaha!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Results...

Let me start off by saying...YIPPEE!!!

Ok, now that I have that out of the way let me explain. Dr. Parikh came in and I asked him, "so am I going in Medical Journals for being the fastest cured Hodgkin Lymphoma patient?" he smiled and even laughed a little bit. He is starting to get me, my humor and's about time! He pulled up my chart on the computer and looked it over and told me that there is one more barely visible active lymph node on my left jugular chain. that's it, ONE!!! All four tumors are gone and all the active lymph nodes in my abdomen are done. This is very exciting...let me say it again, YIPPEE!!! Chemo is working, I AM beating this! I was informed that at the end of treatments I would have to wait 4 weeks before I could get another PET scan.

I went back to the chemo room and sat in the chair and the tears just started flowing. The nurse came over and hugged me with a very concerned look on her face and I told her, no these were tears of joy, all my tumors are gone and I only have one active lymph node left and she hugged me a little tighter. when she released me she had tears in her eyes. She started my IV and calmed down and took my wonderful 3 hour nap.

7 down, 5 to go...

Half way there!!!

My 6th round of chemo was like all the others, get there-check in-have my blood drawn-see the dr-go to the chemo room and get ready for my 3 hr nap :) but...what i was really anxcious for was my PET Scan. This was going to tell me that I AM beating stupid Hodgepodge's butt (that's what my friend, Barbara calls it). The Dr said I woul have to wait till the end of next week to have it done and then I would have the results by my next appt.

I went to Desert Radiology, got my valium, sat in the comfy chair and went in for my scan. I tried to get the tech to tell me but no luck, he wouldn't talk. Afterward Ted and I met Lorie for breakfast. Now I wait...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

5th Chemo Treatment

Well, this one started just like all the others...blood work, then meeting with my Dr. then off to the chemo room...but ended a little different. My blood work was amazingly good so no worries there but i pointed out to Dr. Parikh that I had these little red freckles on the inside of my arms, stomach and thighs and he said he never seen that before (they don't hurt, itch or bugme in anyway they are just there). He examined them and was still at a lost. he said that the only thing that could be causing them was the white blood cell boost injections. so he was going to skip the injection this time (i must admit i was a little leery but did a happy dance, cause if you've been reading this blog you know how much i despise that damn shot). I went to chemo, took my nap and went home to sleep the rest of it off. Then the nausea set in and it lasted a little longer then usual. but i think the pain of the injection usually out ways the nausea, so i never pay attention to how much i actually am queasy. i went the following week for a blood test to see how my body was doing without the injection and it was doing pretty good. my platelets were up a lot higher then usual but my white blood count was a little lower then normal. Not scary low but low. They said that is normal because i didn't have the injection and my body would try to replace them through out the week and hopefully they would high enough for the next round of chemo.
Well tomorrow morning i will have my next round, my 6th round, the half way point...half way point, woohoo!!! I will get a pet scan in the next week to see how everything is going and that the treatments are working. i'm hoping for them to do the scan and tell me this nightmare is over! ahhh, to dream :) It has flown by pretty fast and before i know it, it will be over and I WILL BE CANCER FREE!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

4th Chemotherapy Treatment

I am a 1/3 of the way through!!! WOOHOO!!! My treatments are usually in the morning around 9ish so i was super bummed that I had to wait til 12:15. But my blood counts were great so i was cleared for treatment. i went in the "chemo room" and choose my "comfy" chair for the afternoon. Everything was going well and the benedryl was kicking in so i was off to nappy nap land. I was woken up an hour or so later by one of my dad's best friends, jimmy. what a wonderful surprise to have a visitor during treatment. he was in town unfortunetly visiting his son in the hospital. so i felt very special to have him visit me. we caught up and visited for a little while then he left and i was finishing up my last few minutes of treatment. i left and went straight home, rested for alittle while then got the kids ready for dinner. It was my mom's birthday and we were going to dinner at 6:30. It was go go go that when i finally crawled into bed i was exhausted. That night the nausea set in...and it was awful! for the next 3 days i felt like it was never going to end. between the achyness of the shot and quesiness i was in for one tough fight. This time was the hardest to bounce back from (but i guess i say that every time). It seems like this will be a snowball effect but i am prepared mentally for the next time. With my friends and family by my side i will get through this next round and be back to myself in no time ;)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tears of Fear, Tears of Love, Tears of Joy and most importantly Tears of Relief!

So this week was my 3rd chemotherapy session, but most importantly my bone marrow biopsy (bmb) results. through out this whole thing I have not been overly scared until Dr. Parikh said he wanted to do a bmb to see if it had spread and he might have to move it up to stage 4. WHAT??? stage 4, surely this could not me happening to me, i don't even feel sick half the time and that is where this silent killer has brought tears of fear. Stage 1, 2 & 3 are all treated pretty much the same way but 4 would mean a bone marrow transplant (if I understood him correctly, so much information is thrown at me at once, I hope I am getting it all straight). I have been through so many procedures some were no biggie while others were downright painful. I did not not want to go through anymore pain. I have a lot of fight in me and I would put up another if I had to but that was not a path I wanted to go down.

I knew i would be strong enough for that battle because so many friends and family have come forward and said without hesitation that they would be tested. They would give me there bone marrow if I needed it. They would save my life!! That overwhelming amount of love I have in my life is amazing. I knew that if need be, someone would be my match and i would be OK. That unselfishness i felt from so many, brought tears of love to my eyes.

So when the Dr came in and shook my hand i said with a big smile, "so you have good news for me, right? I'm ready to do the happy dance!" he replied, "yes it came back negative" i stuck my hands in the air and did a happy dance in my seat! we laughed! and and the tears that came to my eyes were tears of joy! I held back the sobs this time, i swear I'm allergic to that eyes always seem to water there ;)

After my appt with my Dr i walked back into the chemo room and the nurses all greeted me and asked how my appt went and if i wanted to talk about it, i was so excited i hugged the nurse and said, "it came back negative, it didn't spread, I've got this!" she hugged me back and said, "she never doubted it". I started my chemo and sent out the good news via text and facebook and then settled in for my nice long nap. My brother, Ed came by with lunch for me at the end of treatment. He watched her flush out my lines and remove the IV. I followed him to his and Sarah's new house and got the tour then I left to drive home and pulled over on the side of the road and cried tears of relief! But not for myself, but for all the selfless, wholehearted friends and family in my life. I would never want them to go through that pain of having to be tested or be the match that would save my life, to be MY donor. Fingers crossed that it stays this way and that come the end of November I will have beaten this awful disease and I will look back at this 6 months with a new lease on life and more love in my heart by all who stood by me. I love you all very very very much!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How many people truly know that they are difficult to the bone?...this lady right here!

i had an amazing weekend with friends, lots of laughs and talking and more laughs! coming home to reality, to know the next day was going to be another test of strength was hard. i pulled up to the hospital and got out of my car and went in with smiles and a good attitude but inside i dragging my feet across the parking lot and clinging to the door frames not to walk in. today was the day of my bone marrow biopsy (bmb) and 2nd round of chemo. i had done very little research on a bmb but from what i did see and hear from others is that is would be one of the painful procedures through out this whole ordeal.
i was called back for lab work to make sure that i was healthy enough for this next run of chemo and after that i was prepped for my bmb. as i was explained how the procedure would go down i got all choked up and teary eyed but talked myself down from letting just one of those tears touch my cheek (if i cried again, in front of my dr and nurses they would probably want to check me in to psych ward and give me a pretty white jacket that gave me hugs all day). i laid on my side and waited and waited with my back to the door the dr came in and moved the blanket that layed over my hip and told me he was going to start. i warned him that i was a sissy when it cam to pain and assured me i would be fine. he started by giving me a shot of numbing medicine (like novocaine) for the skin. then he went back in and poked my bone to numb that. i flinched in pain and said ouch! he laughed and said that i was a sissy! it lightened the mood alittle but still the worst was yet to come. he made a very small incision and inserted a fat needle with a hand like crank on it and proceeded to drill into my bone then he insert a thinner needle inside of that and said that i had to count to ten and during those 10 seconds i could NOT move. so with slow breaths the nurse counted for me and with one hand i braced the wall and the other gripping to my other shoulder i waited my ten seconds and he remove the thinner needle to see that he didn't get a sample. so he cranked again further into my bone (he did ask how i was doing and my reply without hesitation was, "how do you think i am doing you drilling into my ass bone" he started laughing and said no more jokes or this would take longer) so he inserted another needle and i waited my 10 painful seconds and he removed the needle and said quote unquote "wow, you are difficult to the bone" (hence the title of today's blog) and went in a third time and cranked away at the drill, then inserted yet another needle and finally got his sample that he needed to run the tests. i won't get the test results for a few weeks but i pray that he got the sample that he needed and i never have to do that again. after he was done he said i did great and a nurse had to apply pressure to the incision location for 15 minutes then put on a compression bandage.
after that was all said and done i went back down the hallway to the chemo room found my "comfy" chair and my nap began. thinking that i was instore for another 5-6 hour chemo session i had made plans with lorie to come over and have lunch with me. but to my surprise i was done in a little over 3 hours. i texted lorie and she said she was waiting for the food and i told her i would meet her at her mom's. excited to get out of there, i grabbed my appt card and headed to the door saying my goodbye's to my nurses for the day. on my way out i see a coat rack filled with hand knitted beanies with a sign saying free to patients and it is a reminder of what may come...a bald head! the dr. says i will lose my hair between the 10th and 21st day and so far i am on day 16 and not one clump has come out....fingers crossed it stays that way ;)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Who knew???

i kept hearing about the side effects from chemo. fatigue, nausea, vomit ting, different taste buds, losing my hair but i never knew a white blood cell boost injection was going to rock my world!!! at the end of my 1st chemo appt the nurse gave me a schedule card with all my next appts. the very next day i would have to return and get a white blood cell boost injection. ok, i thought no big deal, after the mental and physical hardship of my 1st round of chemo this should be no big deal. i'm not scared of needles. i showed up in good spirits, smiling and saying hello to all the nurses i had scene the day before. i got the forms to read about the shot and it's side effects. it asked about my allergies to various things (i have none) and i was warned that i would feel achy and sore that same day and the next. i got my shot and was on my way home. i felt great and went out with heather and jeremy that night and i got home about 11pm and thought, "hmmm, i guess i'm not going to have this achy side effect cause it hadn't started yet"

...then i went to bed...

i was woken up the next morning by a moan of pain and that moan of pain came from me just rolling over in bed!!! it felt like my head to my abdomen was bruised and was throbbing in pain. i had an upset stomach for the 1st 2 days but that was nothing compared to this pain i felt. i am one of those people, when they have a bruise they keep touching it to see if it still hurts (i know, i'm a dork) and i kept doing that all day thursday and friday. in all my life i have never felt a more uncomfortable and painful feeling running through my body. it felt like it would never end and i was very discouraged in thinking that for the next 6months i would feel sick, i would feel like i have cancer. but i woke up saturday morning and i felt "normal" again. i wasn't very queasy (but i am not willing to risk the chance of feeling nausea, so i am still taking my anti-nausea meds) and i felt like i had before the chemo had started awake and pain free!
so just when i thought "damn it,this just started and i am feeling weak and defeated and keeping my glass half full/think positive/kick this cancers butt attitude was going to be a challenge...i squashed it!!! i now know what to expect and i will be better prepared (lots of advil, ice packs and naps) for not my next round of chemo, but my next round of white blood cell boost injections.
a few days of "being hit by a semi...then a bus ran me over...then the train came by and mowed me down" is so worth the REST of my LONG LIFE!!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

1st Chemotherapy Treatment

I woke up Tuesday the 28th after sleeping in my bed for the 1st night since the port was placed, granted i had to use 2 pillows but it was awesome to be back in my own bed and when i woke up it felt like any other day...then i realized i start chemo today-bleh!!! i got up and started getting ready went down stairs gave hugs and kisses to my kidlets and ted like i have done before every other appointment. i kept trying to tell myself, "this is just like all the other appts" until i saw Ted's face and the tears in his eyes were building up which in turn got me teary eyed (if i see another person cry...there is a pretty good chance that i will too, not sure if it's sympathy, empathy or just simply because I'm a sissy lala) but i rushed out the door and got in my car and drove to my Dr's and i almost passed the patient parking (apparently i must be in some kind of denial, hahahaha) i went in paid my co-pay, met with the financial counselor to try to figure out a payment plan and to see what kind of grants i can qualify for to help us out (FYI-cancer is expensive) after i left her office i went with the nurse weighed in and went in for vitals. the Dr came in and was reviewing my PET scan with me and was telling me that he is bumping me up to stage 3b. apparently i have "many" active lymph nodes in my abdomen. stage 2b and 3b are treated exactly the same, all it means is that it has spread below my diaphragm. but now i will have to have a bone marrow biopsy to see if it has spread to stage 4 (in my bone marrow) ***FYI-that is not my game plan-I'm not going to even touch that one with a ten foot pole unless need be*** the Dr's and nurses aren't uncompassionate but very matter or fact and for someone like me who gets overwhelmed when too much is coming at me too fast i cry (once again...sissy lala) the Dr asked if i was OK and i told him yes that i was just allergic to his office, every time i'm in there my eyes water ;) he got a good laugh from that and told me that i could do whatever i wanted in the office as long as i didn't get violent (thanks for the warning, hahahaha!). i went back to the chemo room and it's a huge room with what looks like lazy boy chairs lining the walls and every chair has an IV stand next to it. my nurse was going over everything with me but once she said she was giving me a 3 ring binder with all the information in it i simply checked out mentally. i did the occasional nod and said OK or uh huh but in my mind i was nervous, scared, and thinking out a gazillion different scenarios...but one thing came true to me in those minutes of "orientation"...this is REAL, this is really happening to me! the last 3 months of what ifs now seemed like a lifetime ago and the what ifs turned into the "what nexts". it startled me that all of sudden i felt weak and powerless but not defeated because i had a room full of nurses and doctor's who could be strong for me for the next 6 hours while i sat in this chair and various different poison's were being pumped into my body. the time flew by and i slept through most of it and as i was walking out the door of the center i regained my strength. almost as if when they gave me my appt card for my next visits they also gave me my strength back for my 4 beautiful children at home. i drove home walked in the door as everything was just the way i left it, the kids playing, ted yelling and bruiser wagging his tail, excited to see me.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

My Port

well this week was full of excitement! i got my port put in. the doctors, nurses and tech's at desert radiology were amazing! they made me laugh and feel completely comfortable during the entire procedure. i was explained in detail (and in words that i could understand) what was going to happen from beginning to end, it was great! they thanked me for being "young and nice"...they then explained that they deal with A LOT of (as they put it) "old mean patients". i wish there was something i could do to thank them. we left there and i felt great...apparently still drugged up.
ted and lorie came with me. since lorie has come home for the summer she has been right by my side helping me, going with me to appointments and just being there when i freak out on my bi-polar days. but today i think she came along to help ted and support him.
when we left i said i was hungry so we went to egg works for breakfast. came home and i took a nap and when i woke up the meds that i was on had worn off and the "48 hours of pain" began. i wasn't given a prescription but just told to take advil...that is a bunch of bologna!!! this sucker hurt, it felt like someone beat the crap out of my chest, the tug and constant pull from the port and the tube that is now connected to my jugular vein wore me out...those "48 hours of pain" involved lots of grunts and winces of pain and tears. this is really funny...but i have had to wear a bra to bed because the gravitational pull hurt to much! hahaha, damn big boobs!
today however the bandage came off and i feel 80% better and am looking forward to feeling 100% better in a day or so.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Did you know that there are side effects/symptoms the medical world never warns you about?

so after reading and talking with various doctors through this process and road to remission i have come across a symptom that they did not warn me about... bi-polar disorder! this is not mocking or making light of another serious condition but more on the lines of complete empathy for those who suffer day in and day out with this disease. in the last 10 days i to have been dealing with as well. i have gone from being completely "normal" to extremely angry then to happy and laughing then tears of sadness and let me tell you this has happened within minutes.
to all my facebook friends i would like you to know that the other day touched and warmed my heart (and caused a few tears) and i would like to thank those of you that posted/liked/tagged/mentioned me in the status
"We all wish to have a new lose weight. A person who has cancer only wants one beat their cancer. I know that 97% of you guys won't put this on your wall...but 3% of my friends will. Put on your wall in honor of someone who died from cancer or… someone who's fighting against it now... ♥ you!" meant so much to me and showed that no matter what i have the best support group!!!
i am normally a glass half full, love of life, genuinely happy person and being diagnosed has tested my "motto" for living life but at the end of the day i think of what i have waiting for me at the end of this curvy road and i smile and am thankful that i have these 4 beautiful, funny, smart, witty, [insert any and all compliment], plus extremely supportive family and friends to help me reach my goal of full remission. HUGS!!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

when and how this all started...

so many people have asked, "when did this start?" well i'll tell ya ... Feb 17, 2011 i went to my primary physician for a follow up for a UTI and i told him, "what the heck...i had a double ear infection, then UTI and now my glands are swollen?" and he said, "thank god you're not a dr because your glands are back here, that is a lymphnode." he thought it was an infection that needed a little boost breaking down and gave me another antibiotic. 10 days later i was in there again for that follow up, knowing that the lump in my neck had not gone down i was very curious. he had me do some blood work and had an ultrasound done that day. March 10th i went in for my results and they said there were 3 lumps in my neck. i was told that they would get a referral for a ct scan. it took a month to get the referral that i ended up not needing and fitting into their schedule. thursday april 14th had a ct scan and that evening i was at mikey's dance class and my dr called telling me a 4th lump was found(it scared the crap out of me to have the dr call himself and after hours). that following monday (april 18th) i was in for a chest scan and i got the results a few days later and on april 28th i had the 1st biopsy those results came back inconclusive so i was referred to an ear nose and throat specialist, i saw him on may 2oth and referred me to a pathologist for another needle guided biopsy so the following wed (the 25th) i had that done. the results came back (may 31st) that i tested negative for all types of cancers but unfortuntely needle guided biopsy rarely detect lymphoma so surgery was scheduled to remove the entire lymphnode and do a biopsy on it and that would give me the answers i have been waiting for...
so on june 2nd i went in for surgery. it was an outpatient very easy surgery but holy crap was it painful!!! i never knew we used our neck muscles sooo much! so once again i waited and on june 8th 2011 i went in to dr. weingarten's office with my brother and sister by myself and received the news, i was diagnosed with hodgkins disease.