Wednesday, April 16, 2014

All is good

All is good!  We are managing life pretty well despite some challenges.  Tumor markers appear stable, no pain from cancer, however I have this annoying and unpredictable pain in my feet from neuropathy, that would be nerve damage from prior chemotherapies.  I am trying various narcotics, lyrica, over-the-counter treatments, and so far I haven't found the cure.  The lyrica is supposed to specifically treat nerve pain and neuropathy, so I'm slowly increasing the dose and giving it time to work. 

We had a great trip to Orlando, we took advantage of a company called "Memories of Love" and we got tickets for Patrick, Parker and myself to both Universal Studios and Seaworld for free.  We even got the golden ticket at Universal Studios and Islands of adventure and got to go to the head of the line for ever single ride.  We decided to get our own sleeping accommodations as we brought Patrick's parents along, so we shared a lovely 2 bedroom condo off the Disney grounds.  We also went to Disney World and Epcot, it was a vacation of a lifetime.  Just prior to leaving I was diagnosed with strep throat and bronchitis, and went on a nebulizer and antibiotics for 10 days, I thought I was well and good, but upon returning, unpacking and cleaning up the house I started noticing the same symptoms again.  Yep, with a 103 degree fever it was back to urgent care with strep throat again.  Finally after a few days, my fever broke and the body aches became manageable again.

I did get my two antibodies yesterday, Herceptin and Perjeta, no problems and even the "poor man's tumor marker", my LDH, fell 200 points, so hopefully we'll hear some good news in a few days about the tumor marker itself.  I'm considering acupuncture as a back-up if the Lyrica doesn't start working soon.  While on vacation I survived by using a scooter and taking slow release morphine and rapid release percocet, which both made me very sleepy.  It was fine for vacation, but its not something I want to become dependent upon.  Thanks for all your support!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Challenges and yet peace

So as I write this update, my future sort of hangs in the balance, its clear to me that my current therapy is no longer working (new aches and pains, and increasing tumor markers), and painful neuropathy in my hands and feet/ankles.  But I have no idea what my oncologist will decide to try next.  I thought halaven was a gift from God, and for awhile it really was, but then the painful burning sensations, loss of feeling and pins and needles feeling started to rear its ugly head and has left me needing to rest and get off my feet more and more.  I really like my new job, but am learning that I need to pace myself and find out ways to do my job without exhausting my feet throughout the 8 hour day.  I had my blood taken today for a work-up and we will learn on Tuesday what the next course of chemo will be, thankfully I still have options, as God is still keeping an eye on me and my loved ones.  It has been a pleasure to have hair, all 2 cm of it, but I love it short and couldn't ask for an easier hair-do.  If I loose it yet a third time, I will understand.

Poor Parker came down with influenza A, and so I got the pleasure of staying home with him to watch cartoons, play with playdough, do some cleaning and as always push myself overboard on activities.  Now I have to rest with my feet up, dose up on pain killers and wait as my feet feel like they are burning right now. 

My guess is that the doctor will put me on an mTOR inhibitor like affinitor with an anti-hormone therapy backup along with the two antibodies I currently take.  So I'm scared, I've heard and read alot about affinitor causing terrible mouth sores, rashes, itchiness and general chemo issues.  And then I know from experience that the anti-hormone therapies cause joint aches, which means I'll need to be a schedule of ibuprofen 800mg twice a day to just function and then dilaudid or morphine on days I have break through pain.  Maybe he'll pull a fast one on me and find a different combo that won't have as many nasty side effects, pray he does, as I'm not looking forward to sacrificing any ounce of my quality of life.

Here is a picture of my stylish new hair cut.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

New numbers new position and a new me

Just kidding, I'm the same old me, just feeling a whole lot better.  Sorry I've been MIA, got busy with work and just didn't take the time to update you all.  Bottom line is I have stable disease.  Tumor markers are not in a sharp downward spiral, as much as I wish they were, but they're slowly decreasing (at least over the last 2 months) now that I'm on Havalen, Perjeta (Pertuzumab) and Herceptin (Trastuzumab).  Pain comes and goes, but I'm not exercising in this bitter cold weather, so I sort of expect alittle stiffness.  As long as the pain doesn't worsen, its usually normal wear and tear and not from cancer activity.  And even if it was, I would just take some motrin and forget it. 

Getting off taxotere was a bit of hell, I lost 20 lbs, my appetite was non-existant and was near to vomitting day and night.  But now that its been out of my system for 2 months I have come to a stable weight and regained most of my appetite.  I am even re-growing hair!  Its very dark and soft, but its about 1/2 cm long and thick!  I'm excited to sport my bald head as soon as the weather improves.  For now, I've given up on the wig as it is simply to much hassle and I wear scarves or hats OR nothing.

I'm starting a new position in research, now as a research assistant and I'm looking forward to learning new techniques and working up to full time.

Parker is a busy little boy and keeps me on my toes, he loves to recant things he learns at "school" aka daycare and tell us who is and who is not invited to his birthday party.  Seams to change daily.  Thanks for all your continued support. God bless

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Back to work and chemo

This month brings new surprises and a new chemo combination, halaven was added to my dual antibody therapy of herceptin and perjeta.  And so far, this mitotic inhibitor from the marine sea sponge has been a pleasure to work with.  First surprise was that it is given in a very concentrated form like 10ml over 5 minutes, so hurray less time in the infusion suite.  And secondly it has been like nothing at all, granted I'm getting over taxtotere, I've had more energy and less fatigue than I had with other chemotherapies.  I'm really hoping this one sticks and does the trick, as it is so easy to take.

As far as work goes, I'm busy getting reacquainted with flow cytometry, cell culture and science in general.  It was bumpy at first but things are looking up, and I'm settled in nicely.  Parker is loving going to daycare and we are always excited to hear the stories he spins about his day, who he played with, what they ate and what they did.  He's even learning to read, by sounding out words, we are so proud.  Thanks for all your continued prayers, I know God hears them and is working his wonders.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Time for a break

Due to what we think is nausea and vomiting from taxtotere, I got 3 weeks off of taxotere to let the dust settle.  I'm very excited to have some time off of the big guns, although I still got the two antibody therapies on Tuesday.  My tumor marker went up a little (20 points), so not the greatest news- suggests that we'll be shopping for a new big gun soon.  Havalen will be a possibility. 
Other than that, I am back to work!  Its going well, although things are coming back to me very slowly.  I have managed to do a few experiments and they have turned out well.  Its been 2 years since I've worked so it is an adjustment.  Especially since when I left, I never thought I'd come back or be alive to come back.  So I didn't keep the best notes towards the end of my PhD.  My official title is post-doctoral fellow, very fancy title.  I am working hourly so that I can take time off when I need to for treatment or when I'm sick.  Thanks for checking in.  God bless.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

All is quiet

Cool double rainbow after a good rain.
Pretty good news from the oncologist's office, my numbers are still low, however they did do a little jig and increase 15% this last month.  But overall, they are still down a bunch, so we are not worried.  The next drug we'd look into would be Havalen (aka Eribulin), which is (researchers, pay attention) a mitotic inhibitor from the sea sponge.  Go marine biology!  How cool would it be to be one of the researchers to discover they're pet sponge could treat cancer.  Well, that's pretty cool.  Anyway, no reason to worry, this little jig isn't a huge deal, only if it continues to go up, but I think its going down in the long run.  Based on how I feel things couldn't be better.  I still can jog without bone pain, but have chosen not to because it takes such a effort to go out in the cold and isn't as much fun now that I am so de-conditioned. But come spring, or a burst of energy, I can go out an run a good mile.  In the mean time I'll save my energy for running around after Parker anyway.
Getting ready for a home run!

Almost had it, way to go Parker and uncle Eric.

Parker in the vest I knitted him

My wig, I love it.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Unforseen surprises

Through this whole cancer ordeal, I never thought I would return to work, or get bored and want something more for myself.  I was in survival mode, savor the time mode, stop and smell the roses mode.  But now that I have turned a corner, I have time and the mental capacity to think what can I do with my life. It is a strange feeling and it took alot of soul searching to figure out why I was unhappy with the present.  But now that I have identified this feeling its much easier to try and tackle the problem.  It all started when I found out that I wasn't going to die anytime soon (6 months or less), and had to start thinking about my future.  I was so caught up in the present that the future had no place in my thoughts.  If I dreamed about the future, I'd go spiraling down a depression that I knew was unhealthy because chances are that I wouldn't be around to full fill any of those dreams.  On top of that I lost two friends to cancer and I assumed I'd meet the same end sooner than later.

So as of right now, I'm in the process of figuring out what I can do with my education background that doesn't involve standing on my feet, working long hours and is minimally stressful.  So its a bit of a puzzle, but I'm up for the challenge.  I've already applied to edit manuscripts from home but I have yet to hear back from them on the job.  I can't wait to use my science background.  Parker is doing great at a babysitters 4 days a week for a few hours while I get time to myself and get some work around the house done.  This is sort of a pre-preschool for him and he's doing great.  We've found the perfect preschool for him (Heritage Christian in NL) and so I am excited for him to start learning in a social setting. 

My tumor markers are down 55% in 3 months, so that means I have 1/2 the volume of cancer I had back then, amazing news and on top of this great news, we are selling the condo and have a serious offer on it, hooray!  Being a landlord was not exactly the most stress free job I've had for the past 5 years, so I will be happy to be done with it.  Thanks for all your prayers, I know they help and have made a huge difference in my life.