Cameron and Kacey

Cameron and Kacey
My Beautiful Angels

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Round 2

Well, today began Round 2 of my chemo treatment. Met with the doctor this morning and after a physical exam, she feels that there seems to be no change in size of the tumor in my neck. She said she does feel some "softening" of the lump which is a positive sign. Needless to say I was upset that this treatment is not working. But that is not necessarily the case. This was ONLY based on her doing a physical exam and no scans have been done yet.

So she has eliminated the third drug (the 5FU) from my plan. This is the drug that made me so sick the first round and the drug that gave me all the mouth sores. The doctor does not want to take any chances this round and there is no proof that this drug adds a tremendous amount to the treatment, so she thought it was best to eliminate it.

They are staying on top of all of my symptoms this time and doing many things this cycle to keep my white cell count up and hope the sores do not return. I also have a scan scheduled for June 7th and to meet with my treatment team of doctors on June 8th or 9th to see what the next step will be. If there is a change in the size of the tumor, they will probably go on with the third round of chemo and hope for more. If there is no change, then we will probably be looking at radiation and chemo together to shrink the tumor. I won't know until I have that scan. Please pray for a change!! I need to catch a break at some point!

So Mom and I are having Chinese food for the second night in a row. An expensive craving, but tastes good right now! She stayed with me last night and took me for treatment today. Jen's coming over to help with the kids tonight and take me for hydration tomorrow. Then Dad will come up to help tomorrow night. So thankful for such a wonderful family that constantly change their plans to help me, Cameron and Kacey. Chris and his parents had the kids the past two nights and also took kids to TBall tonight. Thank goodness for their help as well. Couldn't do this without everyone's help.

Hoping to have a good couple of weeks and an easier time than last cycle.
Keep your fingers crossed!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Relay For Life and TEAM TIGGER!

This weekend was the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life here in town. This is the sixth out of seven years that we have participated in this event, taking a year off after I had Kacey and had just had surgery on my tongue and neck for my second bout of cancer.

This is always an emotional event for me and my family and friends. It was even more emotional this year as I participated while ending my third week of chemotherapy treatments. It was also quite a shock as family and friends came from all over the country to support and walk with me. My brother-in-law Tim, my sister-in-law Erin, and my brother-in-law Jeff came from California for the weekend to walk with me. Uncle Jim (Chris' Mom's twin brother, who is also undergoing treatment for bladder cancer) came from New Hampshire with his son Jim to walk the Survivor Lap with me and hang out for the afternoon. My Aunt Sue and Uncle Fred came from Connecticut for the day. My Mom's cousin Carolyn and my cousins Courtney, Andrea, and Andrea's son Carver surprised us from Vermont. My Aunt Carol and Uncle Bud came from western Mass. to join us. My cousin Meredith was there with her beautiful smile as well as my best childhood friends Kathy and Michelle and their kids as well. My dear college friend Jay (aka Sheesh) arrived bright and early to help set up and stayed straight through until the end. My close friend Maura and her three kids arrived before the survivor lap to keep the party going. My sister's friend Holly (and my dear friend as well) and her husband Steve and their daughter Skyler came to walk for the afternoon. My in-laws were there for the entire day and night providing me with more love and support. And how I could I forget my Mom, Dad, sister Jen, brother-in-law Dan, and my wonderful nieces and nephew, Peyton, Emery and Cole who were all there from early morning until the wee hours of the next morning, holding me up and providing more love and support to keep me going.

My last "shout out" goes to my two beautiful, loving, caring, most amazing kids in the entire world, my sweet Cameron and Kacey. They held my hand (or my leg!) through it all, from start to finish, sometimes literally holding me up. They may be only 6 and 4 years old, and may not completely understand what the heck is going on in all of this, but they always know the right time for a hug or a kiss for Mommy....and that makes all this fighting worth it. I love you Cameron and Kacey! You are Mommy's inspirations and my angels and will get me through this no matter what because of you both!!

This is such an amazing event that I take great pride in participating in every year. This was a more difficult year, as I was just about able to make the Survivor Lap and Team Lap before I needed to sit down. Still not back to my full energy level yet after being knocked down last week. I was also honored to be asked to hold a torch to lead the Luminaria Lap at dusk to remember those that we have lost to this horrible disease and honor those that are still fighting.

I also decided that it was time to shave my head, as all of my hair is falling out and clogging the shower drain, not to mention getting all over everything. There was a salon at the Relay the was doing cuts for Survivors and Lauren shaved my head for me. As emotional as it was, it is much better and now there are only tiny pieces to fall out until I am smooth as a baby's bottom. I had such support in doing this that my son Cameron and my brother-in-law Tim also decided to shave their heads so I wouldn't be the only one. Such love! You know what they say, "Bald is beautiful!" We'll see if "they" are right. :)

I just want to thank ALL of my amazing family and friends who gave up their plans for the weekend to come and stand by my side in this remarkable event. Team Tigger raised so much money for cancer research and for the American Cancer Society. Thank you to those that donated to Team Tigger but could not be there with us this weekend. We greatly appreciate your donations that go to such a wonderful cause. I am so proud of my team and hope that very soon a cure for this horrible disease will be found so that no one, including myself or anyone else, will ever have to go through this hell again. As I have said before, I am stronger than this damn cancer and I will fight head on until I beat it's just nice to have love and support along side to help!

I love you all, Team Tigger!! Thanks for making me proud!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Feeling Pretty Good!

So it's Thursday and I am FINALLY feeling much better. I can eat just about anything now, as long as it isn't spicy or salty. My energy level is finally rising and I am able to do more than walk to the bathroom before I need to sit down.

Kids are glad to be home and sleeping in their own beds. I thank Chris and his parents tremendously for taking care of them for the past week while I was feeling so low. My Mom and Dad and Jen finally all got to sleep in their own beds last night as the kids and I were alone for the first time in weeks. Felt good, but it is so nice to have someone here to help if I need it. I thnak them with all of my heart for being here every night for the kids and me. Thank goodness both kids slept well, as did I, and we had a great night.

Maura took kids to swimming today and then Grandma and Granpda took them to TBall. Cam was excited as he is playing the Red Sox tonight and was CONVINCED they were going beat them. Little does he know every TBall game ends in a tie, but go get 'em, Buddy!!

Getting ready for the Relay For Life this weekend. We will be walking from noon on Saturday until 8am on Sunday morning at Natick High School if anyone wants to swing by for a visit. We are Team Tigger, bright orange shirts, can't miss us!! Should be a beautiful weekend, come on by!

My hair is really beginning to thin. Everytime I run my fingers through it or wash it, it falls out in handfuls. Only a matter of time before this head is bald and beautiful! Guess there isn't much I can do! It's just hair and it'll grow back. Wonder what color it'll be or if it'll be straight or curly?? As long as it's not gray!! But there are ways around that, too, I guess!

Thank you again for all of your prayers and well wishes!!
They are working, I just know it!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Home Sweet Home!

So as many of you know, this has NOT been the best week for me. But with a little "extra" modern medicine, I am now BACK on my road to recovery, after a slight detour. I finally came home from the hospital today after spending four nights and five days at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

As most of you read from my Mom and Jen's posts, my white blood cell count plummeted by Wednesday and that just increased the sores and the mucositis in my mouth. Nothing was able to heal as my count was so low. And I was also running a fever of 101. Then my RBC count began to drop. There was talk of a possible blood transfusion, but luckily those counts came up on their own.

By Friday, all blood counts began to rise and I finally began to feel better. I had been hydrated and medicated and was finally able to open my mouth and actually talk! I know, must have been a nice quiet few days, huh, Mom!?!?

Saturday morning, my stomach chimed in stating that it was quite sick of being empty and was in need of some food. So I ordered chicken broth and cream of wheat for breakfast. First of all, what was I thinking ordering cream of wheat?? I don't like that when I HAVE an appetite, never mind feeling queasy! So I ate the chicken broth and it felt pretty good. By lunchtime, I needed more "real" food. So I ordered a grilled cheese, some apple juice and a butterscotch pudding. Jen walked in while I was eating my grilled cheese and almost fell on the floor! She was so glad that I was finally eating!! Then, five minutes later, one of the doctors who admitted me walked in and had the same reaction. "You really want to go home, huh?" he asked. I had also ordered mashed potatoes, but they didn't have much flavor, so I skipped those.

Mom and Dad were with me when I ordered dinner Saturday night. The beauty of this hospital is that you can order WHATEVER you want off the menu WHENEVER you want it. So I ordered broccoli cheese soup, a baked potato, and chicken pot pie for dinner. The pot pie was not very good, so I moved on to the broccoli soup. That was very good.....very thick, but very good. And then I ate the tiny baked potato with some butter and that went down well, too.
So well in fact, a little later, before the kitchen was to close, I ordered another baked potato. But unfortunately, when it arrived, I cut it open and the entire center was black and rotten! Oh well, guess I really didn't need that second potato!!

Sunday morning arrived and now I was thinking about breakfast. All of a sudden, food was my main focus. The pancakes looked good, along with a banana and a glass of apple juice. So I started head first into the pancakes, only to remember that hospital food always sounds and looks better than it actually is. They were quite dry. I ate some, finished my yummy banana, and drank my juice and waited.

One of the interns came in and said that if I was able to tolerate food well today and also my meds by mouth and not IV, I could go home if I was ready. He told me to take my meds, order something for lunch and we'll see how it goes. So I ordered another grilled cheese, some fries today, and another bowl of that yummy broccoli cheese soup. Yup, I can send me home!!

So I was finally discharged! I am home with "light" pain meds until the rest of my mouth heals, but feeling MUCH better. My oncologist is meeting with the "team" to discuss my next round of meds so that this does not happen again. Yes, another slight detour in my plan of attack, but I am back now!! And I still have hair!!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Nice to see some improvement!

Chip and I are visiting with Kris now...and so nice to see her eating and drinking a bit!! More than she's had in 6 or 7 days! Jen was in earlier and amazed to see her eating part of a grilled cheese sandwich!

She's still on IVs and getting meds via her port...but talk of trying oral meds tomorrow and "possibly" going home. I think if not tomorrow...then Monday for sure.

This was a pretty big bump in the road...but she's on the "right road" now! Not about to run a marathon...or too many laps in the Relay for Life next week...but she's getting there!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Another very hard day for Kris....

Kris was hoping for a better day today, but unfortunately things just got worse :( Long story short, I ended up having to take her to Dana Farber again today and then she was admitted to Brigham and Woman's. She is not able to eat or drink ANYTHING, as the sores in her mouth are extremely painful. It's a vicious cycle....mouth is killing her so she needs to take pain meds....but pain meds make her extremely nauseous and she ends up getting sick from them. Her doctor thought it was best to admit her so they can try to get pain under control so she is able to eat and get the sores to heal.

Her white blood count was already very low, and she also started with a fever today while at the hospital, so they are worried of a possible infection. Luckily she was already at the hospital though, so they were able to do blood cultures and start her on IV antibiotics right away.

Her doctor is so very sweet and was right there with Kris today. She said that she needs to review her case and make some substantial changes to her treatment plan now. She says that she always tells patients about these possible reactions/side-effects, but they typically don't happen. Well, lucky Kris got them all, and really badly :( She said that it's not their intent to have her in this much pain though, so although they have to be aggressive because of the cancer, they will get things under control so she feels better and is able to keep fighting without so much pain and discomfort.

So although she is not too happy to have to be in the hospital, she knows that it's the best place for her right now to try to get things under control and her feeling better. I had to leave late afternoon today, but Mom and Dad were able to stay with her for awhile tonight. Hopefully she will only be in there for a few days, but we'll have to see how things go.

Sorry that I didn't add any humor in my post, like Kris and Mom try to do, but I am not finding this very humorous right now :( So hard to watch her go through this, but we know that she is stronger than this damn cancer...and she WILL start feeling better very soon and continue her fight!

Please continue to keep Kris in your thoughts and prayers!

(Kris' sister)

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Painful Day for Kris :-(

Today was a very difficult day. An extremely painful day for Kris because of the horrible mouth sores that just continue to worsen...and difficult day for her family to see her so extremely miserable. She was literally unable to take in more than a few sips of liquid and a few bites of food. By this evening, talking was even painful. (hmm...maybe that was the only "plus" of the day! Had to add a touch of humor for Kris' sake!)

Her doctor at Dana Farber is wonderful and called her to discuss the problem. She does not feel she should be in this much pain at all. Feels that it has to do with her mouth being radiated twice before...and now the chemo.

Chip is with her tonight and taking her to DF tomorrow to be hydrated and will see her nurse and doctor. Also will be able to speak to a nutritionist. So hopefully they will be able to help make her more comfortable. Her doctor has already said that the dose of one chemo med...5FU...will have to be lowered for the next cycle.

Jen is arranging to be with her tomorrow night and Wednesday. She does need someone with her as her energy level reaches its lowest this week as her blood count decreases. week is said to be her "good" we are all looking forward to that and seeing her much happier!

Keep those prayers and good wishes coming...we appreciate them so very much!


Saturday, May 8, 2010

The "NEW Do" and the First Week's Disconnect

Well, Day Four wasn't my best. Got up feeling rather yucky and even getting some food in my stomach, I was still quite queasy all day. Knock on wood, I haven't gotten sick yet. The anti-nausea meds have been working!! Tried acupuncture on Friday afternoon. Was recommended for nausea side effects and such from chemo. Felt pretty good there, but was weak and pokey when I left. Guess I'll try it again and see how it goes!

Went to see my friend Jayme to cut my hair on Friday night. Want to cut it short so it hopefully isn't so dramatic (or traumatic) for the kids and I when it does fall out. Never thought my hair would be this short, never mind bald!!

Saturday morning was not the best either. Got some applesauce down before Dad and I headed off to Dana Farber for some hydration and to be disconnected from the chemo pump with the third medicine that has been going since Tuesday. Felt good to get rid of that and not have to worry about putting it down and walking away without it. Wrapped myself around the kitchen chair the other night!

Kids went with Mom and Jen and Peyton to Kidz World, an indoor play place, while we were gone. Trying to keep them occupied so they don't get too bored with Mommy being down. They had fun and liked spending "extra" time with Grammy, Ah-Ooh and Peyton. Thanks for taking them for the day!

Unfortunately, the mouth sores and VERY sore insides of my cheeks set in Saturday afternoon. And has continued to be quite painful today. Doesn't help me eat or drink the 2 liters of fluids I am supposed to be taking in. I do have a "numbing" mouthwash that I can use every 6 hours, but it feels like I just went to the dentist and had Novocaine...I think I may be drooling!! But it helps, so I may need to use that more.

So overall, I guess it could have been a worse weekend. At least the nausea has subsided, if only my mouth would cooperate so I could eat and drink!

Happy Mother's Day to all those Mom's out there, especially my own, who is laying on my couch ready to take care of me and the kids for yet another night. And thanks to my Dad for all of his help this weekend with me and my kids. And to Jen for taking time to spend with my kids yesterday and for bringing me flowers today, even if she did set my house alarm off!!
I love you guys and am SO thankful for all of you. I could not and would not be able to do it without any of you!!!

Let's hope tomorrow is a better day!!
G'night!! Go Sox!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Day Three

Well, today is Day Three and it wasn't too bad a day. Got up feeling a little blah and pokey, but once I get some food into me, I feel some better. Had some time to take all my meds this morning as we didn't have to be up and out of the house. Morning is a tough time to take so many pills when you aren't feeling well!

I hear that people are emailing and calling wondering where my blog updates are everyday. If I do this everyday, people will be sick of my poor humor after nine weeks!! So I will update every few days unless there is something fascinating to report. Mom or Jen may add some notes if I am not up to blogging as well.

Tomorrow, Friday, I am meeting with an acupuncturist to see if that will help some of my chemo side effects. I am also going to get my new "short" haircut to prepare for the total hair loss. I will post pictures for you curious fans!!

Other than that, a pretty uneventful day. Mom and I hung out, I took a bath, and a couple of naps. Had a pretty good day all around. And who says you can't eat mashed potatoes for breakfast if they taste good!?!?

Night all!! Sleep well!!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Well, yesterday went very well with the porta-cath insertion. Was at pre-op for 6am but didn't go into OR until almost 7:45am. Made Dad a little nervous, not to mention me. They did the procedure under local anesthesia with IV sedation. I did fall asleep for the first half of the surgery, but then conveniently woke up when they were having trouble threading the catheter into one of my veins that was apparently too narrow. So I listened and talked to the surgeon throughout the rest of the surgery! He found another vein that was much more accommodating and finished the procedure. Was a little nerve-wracking being awake, but kinda cool at the same time! And I was released from post-op and recovery quicker because I didn't have to "wake up" from the anesthesia!

Was a bit sore last night, but did pretty well and opted NOT to take the pain meds. I know, call me crazy, but I don't like the way they make me feel. So Dad spent most of the day with me and Mom came up once we were home. Jen made some yummy chicken, broccoli and ziti for us and Dan dropped it off on his way to work. It was delicious and even the kids ate it!! Dad went home to get some sleep and Mom spent the night. Kids did pretty well when they came home from school. Cam was really inquisitive and wanted to see the port and know what it was. Kacey, on the other hand, was glad Mommy was home and just wanted a hug! She had a rough night sleeping, and so we all did! But hopefully tonight will be be better.

So now, Mom and I sit at Dana Farber while my meds go thru the port. I met with the doctor this morning before I began my treatment and found out the PET scan that I had last week was clear except for the tumor in my neck. So that was good news that it had not spread to any other part of my body. My bloodwork was great as well. So the doc explained all the possible side effects again and had me sign the consent forms. And now I sit. They started hydration at about 9am, then gave me my anti-nausea medications next and then started the chemo drugs, one at a time. The third drug, 5FU (I LOVE that name!), will start through a pump here at Dana Farber and go home with me until Saturday. Tomorrow, Jen will bring me in at 8am for a couple of hours of hydration and will be back on Saturday for more hydration and to be disconnected from the pump and be "chemo-free" for two weeks.

This week will be the tough week for possible nausea effects and such. Next week, my blood counts will drop and fatigue will set in, but they keep telling me the third week is my "good" week and will hopefully feel much better. So I am nervous but anxious. Glad to be started and headed for a cure!!

Mom keeps teasing me that we have to get along and be patient with each other. She says this because we are soooo much alike and can fight like cats and dogs. But the truth is, I would not be here or feeling as good as I do, if it weren't for her. Yes, EVERYONE helps me and is there for me and LOVES me, but my Mom is my ROCK and will make sure I get through this, no matter what!
I love you, Mom!! And I hope you know that!!

Until another to all my family and friends!!!