Tag Archive for cancer

Been a While…a LONG delayed *update*

OK, so I admit it’s been FAR too long for an update, though I do have VERY good reasons!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my mother was also dealing with cancer.  Her breast cancer “came back” after 19 years, stage 4, in Novemeber of last year.  She fought it hard for 6 months, but eventually, her heart gave out (during her original cancer treatment 19 years ago, the chemo & radiation treatments caused permanent heart damage.  They put in a pace maker about 10 years ago to help, but it only brought her “capacity” or pumping ability to just under 50%).

Anyhow, long story short, on Wednesday, May 9, 2012 Mom died of congestive heart failure.  The chemo treatments were too much for her heart.   She was only 63.  She was adamant about not being left on life support, so they first removed her pacemakers’ defribulator & they told us she would live another week at most, though she’d be in pain.  The doctor also told us that she had chemicals going into her IV to help “pump” her heart or the muscles, whatever.  Given she would be in pain for that last week & her desire NOT to be left on life support, we decided to honor her request & have them stop the drugs going into her IV.

At that point, I held her left hand & talked to her while my brother Jason held her right hand & she passed in literally 20 minutes.  It was difficult to say the least, as I was very close to my mother.  And she was young at 63.  And she had successfully “beaten” it the first time & we thought she would beat it this time.  But she’s in a better place, so we KNOW she’s better off.  Though I miss her IMMENSELY and think about her daily.

Surgery Day…

My surgery was scheduled at Baylor Medical Center in Plano on May 22, 2012.  We arrived at 10 am & they got us into the prep room by 10:30, which I thought was a bit early given the surgery wasn’t scheduled for noon.  While they got me prepped quickly, surgery never happened at noon…they gave me my anesthesia around 11:30 a.m. & that’s the last thing I remember till they woke me up around 5 pm or so…I was in and out from there until they moved me to my room around 8 pm.

Dawnette stayed with me the first night, which was nice as I was in and out all that night in pain…I kept pushing that morphine button every 5 minutes or so…at least when I was awake!  ;o)

Believe it or not, they had me get out of bed the next morning & walk over to the chair where I stayed the entire day until it was time to go to bed.  The surgery supposedly went well, the doctor said he got everything…the cancer was about the size of a squash ball, or just a bit smaller than a tennis ball.  I guess it was one of the largest rectal cancers he’d had to remove.

That first day, Wednesday, was tough…I had a catheter where I NEVER want one again…it was incredibly uncomfortable.  They had me drinking water & chunking on ice all night Tuesday night & I guess my body adapted pretty well because around 11 am or so I heard this gurgling sound & liquid came out of the stoma.

Oh yes, I’m pretty sure I’d mentioned it already, but in most cases of rectal, colon, etc. cancer, the patient has to have a stoma (basically redirecting their bowel movements through a hole in their stomach) until the cancer area that was removed has healed completely (usually 4-6 months) and then they reverse the stoma & re-route things “back to normal”.

My situation, unfortunately, is permanent.  In the first place, was the size of the cancer…as mentioned, it was the size of a squash ball, which is quite large.  Secondly, the location of my cancer was only an inch and a half inside my rectum, so it was *extremely* low.  Lastly, the “shape” of my cancer was such that it was semi-circular.  If you think of your rectum in the shape of a cylinder, the cancer was not on the “side” of the cylinder, but it was semi-circular around the cylinder.  All of that means that my stoma/colostomy is permanent…which I’m not all that happy with to be honest…I had hoped it was only temporary.

Treatment Day 23…

OK, so last night was pretty rough…

After I last posted, I made dinner & we ate upstairs while watching the ‘Cuse game…I fell asleep by halftime when we were up.  Woke up JUST as the game concluded with Syracuse barely eeking out a win (I recorded it, so I’ll watch the rest later).  Anyhow, went to the bathroom & as usual, bowl movements are the BANE of my existence!  Again, I guess it’s because the BM presses along the cancer on its way out causing me ridiculous pain…but it takes hours for it to subside…and the days/nights I have multiple are just downright miserable.

So last night was one of those nights, multiple BM’s all night long….couldn’t sleep at all until about 3am or so.  Even then, it was very uncomfortable, restless.

Woke up reluctantly this morning for my morning radiation appointment & got there a bit early, so I was in & out & on my way home before 8 am!  Stopped & dropped the caddy off to the dealership to take care of a couple of minor maintenance items & got taken home by the dealership.

Worked the morning & had my review from work…got a REALLY good review…nothing “negative”…at the top of the Senior Admins…made my day…nice to “see” the reward of my time & effort…wasn’t really a surprise, but an occasional stroke of the ego is nice…my bosses boss commented that they hadn’t expected me to do much work at all once I was diagnosed, so they were really surprised to see me working 40+ hours per week still.  It’s not easy, and it goes in spurts, but I do what I can.  I enjoy what I do and the ability to work from home.  Not to mention my boss, David, while we don’t necessarily see eye to eye on everything, is probably one of the best managers I’ve worked for.  He’s pretty hands off with me & let’s me do what I want (re: gives me flexibility) which I really appreciate.  Makes me very loyal to him.  I’ve worked with some that micro-manage & I just don’t work well under those types of people.  Anyhow, a good review.

The afternoon was up & down…didn’t do as much work as I continued to be in pain, so I tried to rest, watch some movies & relax.  While Dawnette took Jaz to the veterinarian for his 6 month check-up, I made some more steak strips, did dishes & wiped down the counters.  That wiped me out…so I’m upstairs watching the Road Warrior & resting before (hopefully) an early bed time.

Pain: 8

Treatment Day 22…

Today started out pretty good…though I didn’t get much sleep (couldn’t get to sleep till about 3 am), but I got up & made it out of the house by 8am for the 8:40 radiation appointment.

No issues there, but when I went to my weekly chemo appointment, it all went to hell quickly.  When taking off bandage covering my pick-line, it got tweaked / partially pulled out because of the tape covering got stuck to it.  The nurse got it back in, but the tape residue also cause a severe irritation on the lower part of the bandage, causing my arm to bleed.  She alcohol swiped it as before & then ended up putting a smaller bandage covering the pick-line as usual.  Other than that, it was business as usual with the replacement chemo unit, etc.  Because of the pain, I get to take an extra dose of pain meds, which will make me even more tired for the rest of the day…

I headed home & worked the remainder of the morning & then took the afternoon off to rest.  My arm was really painful around the pick-line.  I just relaxed & watched a couple of movies.  I’m eagerly waiting the ‘Cuse game tonight…hoping we can win in the Sweet 16 & get to the Elite-8!

Thinking of my daughter, Hannah…miss her & love her…hope she’s doing well…I pray for her daily…

I won’t post anymore till tomorrow…gonna rest… watch the ‘Cuse game & eat dinner &  then off to bed (hopefully earlier than last night!)…

Pain: 8

Treatment Day 21…3 Week Mark!

Today was an interesting one.  Went to my radiation appointment & had my treatment, but as I arrived at the clinic, my chemo pack started beeping.  I had to complete my radiation treatment through the annoying beeping (20 minutes or so) & then head over to the Chemo lab to have them take a look.

They had no idea other than a Code 7, so they replaced the whole unit.  Given I had 20 cc’s (?) of fluid left, they told me they’d just replace the main part of the pack & I had to still come in for my weekly refresh as usual tomorrow.  That took all of an extra hour or so.

I got home & started work right away.  Got quite a bit done I believe.  Had a small bowl of goulash for lunch & started to watch a movie while continuing to work…next thing I know it was after 4pm & I never went to see my mother or heard 4 calls (I had the phone on vibrate for when I was at the doctors).

So much for going to see Mom…kinda disappointed.  I enjoyed spending the afternoons with her, but I think my body just shut down.  Heck, I didn’t even want to get up for my radiation appointment today…I was exhausted this morning!  I really need to pay closer attention to my body, etc.  There’s just SO much to do.

Anyhow, when Dawnette got home, she made some chicken top add to last nights’ reheated dinner from Amy & we ate dinner while watching Underworld (real vampires, not the fake sparkly crap!  ;o) ).

After this gets over, the plan is to vacuum 2 rooms downstairs & then head off to bed.  Overall a good day, though I’m pretty exhausted.

Pain level: 8

Treatment Day 20…

Today started out a fairly decent day…went through my radiation appointment, met with Dr. Greenberg who thought my progress was good overall & expected the pain to continue to subside as the radiation continues the final 2+ weeks.  I then went to my appointment with Dr. Stone (Chemo doctor) & he also thought my progress was fine.

I was a bit concerned when I asked what the remainder of this process is going to be, he told me that they’ll operate regardless after waiting 4-6 weeks after my current treatments ended in 2 weeks.  Then I will have to continue chemo at a reduced dose for 4 months afterwards!  I understand why, but I firmly think that this chemo is what’s causing me to be lethargic, etc.

After my chemo I worked for a couple of hours & then headed to visit with Mom at the hospital in Lewisville.  She’s doing a bit better & they moved her from her PCU room to a “regular” room (re: ridiculously small!).  She still slept most of the afternoon as I worked.  I was just there to spend time with her & be with her as she needed.

When I got home, I was incredibly exhausted.  It’s the 2nd day that I had spent with Mom that I really hadn’t gotten much rest. I think it’s catching up to me.  Hopefully tomorrow will be her last day in the hospital & then I can get back to my usual routine with more rest.

A friend from church made dinner for us & dropped it off around 6:30 p.m.  Dawnette was helping me rest by rubbing my feet.  Sure enough, I dozed off for about an hour & a half.  While I appreciate my lovely wife, I awoke to pink painted toe-nails…SOOOO nice of her!

I had the dinner that Amy made for us (VERY good) & then we watched a few more episodes of The Incredible Hulk & then went up to bed.

It’s been a LONG day…but one of the better ones…

Treatment Day 19…

Mondays are always difficult.  Today wasn’t so bad.  While I got to bed late last night (couldn’t sleep), as the alarm went off I hit the snooze button on my cell phone several times (this is a common morning ritual).

I did the usual morning routine … got ready, fed the animals & made some coffee.  I went for my 14th radiation treatment & then had a visit with my chemotherapy doctor, Dr. Stone for a 2-week checkup.  He indicated that things appeared to be on schedule (though we’ve never clearly outlined what that schedule is) & I don’t have to meet with him for another 2 weeks.  He also indicated that we’d be removing the pick-line on April 5th.

After heading home, I got onto my usual Monday morning work conference calls.  I then dozed for about an hour & quickly left the house to get a hair cut & then head to Medical Center of Lewisville to see my mother who is still in the hospital now for nearly a week (Mom is currently under treatment for breast cancer).  She was admitted to the hospital nearly a week ago for low blood pressure, but is still there as they’re apparently having issues.

Anyhow, I just went up to be with her for the afternoon…she was in & out the whole time, but I just wanted to be there for her in case she needed anything or just to talk.  Given I had to sit the entire time, I didn’t do too bad…especially considering I didn’t take any extra pain pills with me, nor did I bring any ice packs.

I stayed about 4-5 hours & then headed home to be with Dawnette for the evening.  We did our usual chores & made a quick dinner (left-overs) & then watched a couple of episodes from The Incredible Hulk TV series from the early 80’s.

Over-all, a better day.  Not too overbearing from a pain perspective, I keep praying the pain will continue to diminish as the chemo & radiation continues.

Treatment Day 14…2 Week Mark!

OK, 2 weeks down, 3 1/2 to go.

The chemo/radiation combo continues to knock me for a loop…I’m exhausted, all day, every day.

Gonna keep it short today…I’m exhausted.  Gonna go get some rest.

Pain: 9

Treatment Day 7…1 Week Mark!

One week into this now…

No reduction in pain as of yet, though I was told that wouldn’t come until about half-way in.  The chemo/radiation combo continues to make me incredibly tired…exhausted all the time.  I’ve got to be careful not to push myself too hard, or it makes it even worse.  If I’ve learned one thing thus far, it’s that…

Had my radiation this morning & also had my fist update with Dr. Stone (chemo).  I also had my chemo pack changed out / replaced & pick line cleaned & the valve replaced.  That was interesting…the nurses alcohol wiped the area & it was a bit painful.  This is going to happen weekly she told me.

The rest of the day was a mix of work & sleep.

Pain: 9


Treatment Day 2…

Had my 2nd radiation treatment this morning…I was about 15 minutes late as I overslept. The nurse ( ) gave me the Nth degree about my appointment time & how they come in early to accommodate us, etc.  I did only what I could do & apologize profusely…but wow!  Really?

Afterwards, I had my first chemo appointment.  I guess I’ll be doing this weekly & it will consist of checking in, getting blood work done (drawing blood) & then waiting to be called for my appointment with Dr. Stone & then taking care of my chemo pack.

Since this was my first appointment, I briefly met with Dr. Stone after getting placed on the scale (down to 262 pounds!) & being placed into a waiting room.  As I said, it was brief…more just “how are you”, here’s what to expect, etc.

Then back to the waiting room for the chemo room.  Once I got called in, she double-checked my pick-line area of my left arm & saline injected me to make sure the pick-line was working properly (cold!!!!).  She added some sort of connector & then attached a small hose that was connected to a beige device which has my chemo (Florouracil in a saline solution).  She had me wait till it kicked off for the first time & then told me I could leave.  I was there for maybe an hour…that’s it.  5 1/2 more week to go!

The rest of the day was work as usual.  I keep being told that the chemo & radiation would make me tired, but nothing so far!