Friday, December 21, 2012

How about an update?

 These pics to the left are Cam getting ready for surgery to remove the irritating lump in his throat.  That was Oct 24. 

Then the pathology came back to our shock and surprise indicating lymphoma.  We have since learned that lymphoma isn't really 'solved' by surgery.  So if we had some way of knowing this was lymphoma prior, there wouldn't have been any surgery - just the chemo to get rid of it.

But since we DIDN'T know, the surgery is what actually provided the opportunity to find out the irritating lump was cancer.

Of course, the surgery was very much like a tonsellectomy with all the soreness of swallowing that comes with that so Cam lost about 15 pounds right after the surgery - which he is quite pleased about.  He is now hovering around a weight he had wanted to be for awhile.  But he's not allowed to lose any more weight.

So then chemo started on Nov 26, and the 2nd chemo was Dec 17 (my birthday) and I was happy to celebrate it by going to chemo.  Anything that will get rid of the cancer is a good birthday present.

So here we are in the chemo room, rigged out to kill 4 hours.  It is far less boring than you might think.  There is always something going on - machines beeping, meds being changed, nurses in & out asking you stuff.  New chemo patients arriving to your chemo pod & getting quizzed by the nurses - and there is no privacy for that so we hear everything.  Basically, nothing has changed in the chemo room.
I spoke with another patient getting chemo for breast cancer.  Only 34!!!  With 2 young kids!!  This world is going to hell in a handbasket.... 
Cam has said today that he will be happy when these few months are finished.  I don't blame him, either!!  But this IS chemo week when you feel your crappiest, so I imagine he is suffering through constant 'blah' feeling and maybe hangover.  I can't tell you for SURE b/c he doesn't complain much.  So I am asking him regularly how he's doing and usually the response is 'Meh - about as good as can be expected - I didn't expect to feel like a million bucks throught his process'.
I am very proud of Cam and the way he is handling all of this.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Well, here we go again....

You may have noticed a change to the title of this blog....  YUP, add Cam to the mix who has taken the concept of sharing with his wife a little to the extreme.

Cam was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma on Oct 31 and started chemo on Nov 26.  Today he went through Round 2 of 6 chemotherapies.

This has been a very scary journey for me.  WAY more scary for me than going through my own cancer.  I always comforted myself with the thought that my cancer was removed when my breast was removed and all the chemo & radiation after that was 'just for good measure'.

In Cam's case, Lymphoma doesn't get dealt with by surgery.  Since the Lymph system is throughout your body, there isn't much point in cutting one area out as the cancer could be anywhere in the lymph system.  Cam's lymphoma is in his throat and colon.  While having lymphoma above and below the diaphragm is not an ideal situation (of course, I think no one dealing with cancer is really in an ideal situation), we are told that lymphoma is extremely treatable and responds well to chemotherapy.  And we also know that Cam's bone marrow is clear thanks to a very scary test he had done where they drilled a large needle into his hip & removed marrow for testing.

We are also told that studies are showing that lymphoma is NOT as responsive to radiation so they are somewhat phasing that out.  We believe the chemo is working for Cam as he already felt better with less problems swallowing after the first round.

Cam has a somewhat similar regimen of chemo to mine.  He goes every three weeks and has a couple of the same drugs I took.  He is undergoing what they call 'CHOP-R'. 

His next treatment will be Jan 7.  After 3 or 4 treatments, they will do more scans to see how well the cancer has responded to the drugs.  Then they will determine further treatment based on those scans.

Cam has been breezing through all of this with seemingly little stress and has been extremely brave.  I can somewhat relate as I recall not being all that stressed out when I was going through things.  You tend to adopt a 'gitter done' attitude.  And he suffered 'hangover' symptoms like I did the week immediately following his first chemo but then increasingly felt better.  He even ran some flyball the weekend after, but it turned out that was too much as he was pretty much wiped out for Sunday.  So these are the things we learn as we go along.

I was extremely stressed the first month.  Since my own cancer, I have been making specific efforts to reduce stress in my life as I strongly believe stress is a big contributor.  So I recognized that our situation will NOT be helped if I worry myself sick again so I have been taking steps to mitigate the stress.  Massages, counselling, relaxation CDs and deep breathing.  It is working - I am far more under control now than the first few weeks.

Of course, the week we found out that Cam's cancer was also in his colon is the same week that our pet bird got sick.  He got so sick that we had to make the decision to have him euthanized.  THIS was not something we bargained for at the same time of coming to terms with the second circumstance of cancer in our household.  So that certainly added to the stress factor.

But it's slowly getting under control with the help of friends & family.  Thanks to all who have provided pre-cooked & frozen meals!  It really does help take some of life's daily stress away not to have to worry about preparing something.

I have discussed with Cam the benefits of doing a blog.  I found my blog very cathartic and asked if he would consider one.  He is on the fence.  Of course, he is a far different personality to me, but, I really hope he will share his gift with the world - he is an excellent writer and his sense of humour should be shared with the world. 

So depending on what he decides to do about a blog of his own, I will later decide if I will continue blogging about him here.  I think I probably will, since I already mentioned my stress levels and also how helpful my blog was before.  So now that I'm feeling more stress, I think the blog would just be one more way to have an outlet....  Can't hurt, anyway, right?

So, Cam is napping right now as they drug him up with Benadryl on chemo day and I am heating the oven for a turnip carrot casserole....  mmmmm. 

That's the update!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

2012 Run for the Cure

It's coming up on that time of year again.  To be honest, I have been very lax in this cause for someone who has been so personally affected by breast cancer.  I had my own Run for the Cure team in 2009 and flogged you all for donations back then - but since then have not done another run.

Now my friend Lily, a fellow breast cancer survivor, has formed a team (The Pink Ladies & the T-Birds) and coerced me and Cam to join it. 

Of course, any of you who might actually be reading this blog knows WAY too much of my cancer history for me to have to repeat the story....  and so I will spare you all the details.

Suffice it to say, I know have a lot more blog readers out there than followers show, and so if any of you would be so kind as to donate to my run, I would be ever-so-grateful.

Here is the link to donate directly to my page:

As far as my physical health goes - so far so good. 

Cam and I have been having a great summer, and I went to my 25-year high school reunion in July and had a blast. 

That's all, and thanks for your consideration!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

June-uary Blahs

Feels like old times - awake in the middle of the night and posting on my blog.  Hoping that spring might show up before June 21 but not holding my breath...

I'm not really sure what to talk about...  I know that I kept promising that Cam would make an entry to explain his side of the cancer experience, but I asked him several times and he always said he would but he just didn't get to it.  And now it seems kind of pointless.  And my sphere of influence is considerably diminished on it since I can't really even play my cancer card anymore....  hell - I couldn't get him to do it when I was in the throes of treatment - it seemsly highly unlikely now...  OH well...

I guess technically it's Father's Day today - since it's 3am.....  Good wishes to all dads out there. 

As far as my specific health & wellbeing, I am doing generally well.  Had a bout of vertigo and then a bad cold that many of you probably read about on Facebook when I was whining about it.

My back is not nearly as sore as it generally tends to get.  Although I have had some issues with the scars around my implant...  I think the tissues bind up and massage will help loosen them but it's painful.  Plus it's awkward to ask your massage therapist to rub your fake boob.....  (but I do it.. HA HA).  Technically, I can reach it myself - but I don't have a lot of self-discipline in many things and inflicting pain on myself isn't high on my priority list.  Of course, paying someone else to do it doesn't seem right either, however, once I've committed to spending the $$, my cheap side will come out and I'll want to get my money's worth...  HURT ME HURT ME  HAHAHAHAHA

Yes, I mentioned Facebook.  I have become a full convert.  I was a FB hater and said many many many times that FB is EVIL and I would NEVER go on FB.  Then, Cam made himself an account (not a dog one - a real one)...which got me thinking more about it.  Then some friends at a party explained how FB has privacy & security settings that let you pretty much control what people see.  So once I bought into that, I signed myself up and am now a daily FB user.  The irony here is that Cam never goes on FB.  If you ever see activity from him, it's probably me.

The upside of FB is that it's easy to keep in touch with people that you just wouldn't have time to see or talk to generally.  The downside is that you could potentially reduce your 'real person' contact based on the fact that you DO know already what's going on in someone's life.  And of course, the REAL downside is the damned games.

Before FB, I never played computer games.  The only game I ever played was Rock Band on the PS3 and Minesweeper on the computer.  Now I am addicted to Bejewelled and Solitaire Blitz and Farkle and Zuma Blitz.  I tried a few other games - casino and bingo type but was glad to see that I still hate bingo....  And the casino stuff just made no sense to me - if you're not playing for real money, what's the point?

The time I waste playing FB games is outrageous.  However, it is helpful in keeping my mind from whirling around on topics that it shouldn't be.  I think about a LOT of things - as I'm sure everyone does.  Work, leisure activities, long-term goals, my next vacation (naturally).  Typically if I go to bed when tired, I can sleep without issue - but if I am awakened in the night for some reason (like Molly whining at the door), I cannot go back to sleep.

Tonight as an example, I don't know why I woke up at midnight after sleeping for a couple of hours, but here I am still awake at 3:21am.  Of course, 10 minutes ago, I realized that I hadn't taken my nightly Tamoxifen at bed time and I wonder if my subconscious woke me up for that reason.  Tonight is the first time in almost 2 years that I have even come CLOSE to forgetting to take this pill.  I guess when you're brain registers something as life or death, it keeps it pretty high on the list of priorities.  So it's a few hours late and in this case, better late than never still applies.

I can't believe it's been 3 years since I found the lump.  Hey - I just realized, it was almost right around this time...  I think it was June 12 in 2009.  The good news is, that date doesn't really stick out for me.  I only just remembered it now and not on June 12 - that must be good, I think.

Ugh, I actually just yawned - I guess I'll try that sleep thing again and see what happens.

Last time I blogged, I said I was in a motivation stage & using my treadmill daily.  HA - that was shortlived.  I think I gained 4 pounds on my trip to Palm Springs....  I was on my way by myself in Feb, but Cam and I went there for Easter too.  We love Caliente Hot Springs Resort....  Anyway, still working on those same 10 pounds.  My last weigh-in had me within 8.5 pounds of goal, however, we went out for Mexican on Fri night and I had a full meal of leftovers for it too....  so I'm sure it's back to the 10 pounds.  CRAP!!!  maybe some decent weather would help with some motivation.....

Anyway, I'm off.  Until next time, whenever that will be - since clearly I've run out of anything even mildly interesting to say.... haha

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Blogging for Boredom

So, it's been awhile since I posted anything meaningful. HMMMM - have I ever posted anything meaningful?? I guess that's subjective.

As an update, I am doing great physically, mentally and emotionally - most days.... PMS still takes its toll, but that area has improved greatly after my surgery last year so things are going well.

I recently had bloodwork done so I could get a 'baseline' for myself - I wanted to check my cholesterol etc. Everything seemed to be within normal range - although some things on the high side of the normal and some things on the low side. Generally pretty good though. My iron is still only 28 - but that's a marked improvement from the number of 4 that I initially had when I figured out I was iron-deficient.

I am currently taking steps to improve the iron even more (actually, I am meaning to do this but haven't yet) - ie, iron supplements.... I have them, I just have to start taking them. I am happy to report that I am now taking my multi-vitamin daily instead of bi-monthly. So hopefully I'll get there with the iron too.

Once I learned from the doc that it's ok to take the vitamin with my nightly Tamoxifen, I never forget it. But I wouldn't be able to take the iron then -I have to squeeze that in during the day sometime.

Of late, I have made a concentrated effort to get back in shape as far as fitness goes and have been diligently using my treadmill. Pretty much daily for the last two weeks. Am hoping the results will start to show on the scale soon - it's slow progress these last 10 pounds. Any tips or advice would be appreciated. I've gone thru all the 'usual' since I go to TOPS and hear the logical things - but now I need something unique or radical or world-shaking so I'll actually notice it and do it. No Pressure, everyone... HA

I am counting the sleeps until my next trip to Caliente (9 as of today). Cam stays home so any creeps reading this blog & thinking they can ransack my house will be sadly disappointed. Just a week, but it is well needed as I am getting somewhat restless.

I have been curling weekly with a ladies team. We do not have a great success record but we still mostly have a good time.

I've been seeing the chiropractor and massage therapist a LOT in last 1.5 months as I finally decided it was time to solve an issue in my right thigh - being a numb tingly feeling that the docs have been telling me is 'meralgia parasthetica'. So they are trying to free the nerve from being pinched causing the loss of sensation. I am also getting an MRI for this on February 10. (sorry mom, 8pm - right in the middle of any potential birthday dinner plans!!). I really hope the MRI can identify the specific problem area so my therapists can target it instead of 'hunting & pecking'. Which gets a little dicey when you're talking about your upper thigh.... who am I kidding - anyone who has had this kind of treatment knows it's basically torture regardless of where they are digging.....

I got to meet up with some old high school chums a few weeks ago and it was great to see them again and get reacquainted. The circumstances could have been a little better - it was a funeral - but I think out of a sad situation came some laughter and good times.

Well, it's sad but I don't really have that much to say these days - except to report that I'm feeling good and enjoying life!


Monday, January 16, 2012

Gain a New Lease on Life with Exercise

The following is an interesting article by David Haas:

"Cancer impacts a patient physically and emotionally and that emotional distress can take a toll on them. This debilitating disease eats away at a person's spirit and it can be hard to handle. However, there is a way to lift your spirits, as you are going through this difficult time. Being a cancer survivor is a major accomplishment and getting through the cancer treatments is a feat in of itself. When cancer survivors get through these hurdles, there is another aspect of life to accomplish: making sure that cancer does not return. One of the ways to stay healthy and hopefully keep cancer away is through exercise.

The Physical Benefits of Fitness:

Exercising and staying fit can improve the overall quality of life of a cancer survivor or an individual who is undergoing cancer treatments. It is said that high levels of physical activity has the potential to reduce the risk of cancer from returning. Movement can increase the energy levels in an individual and has the ability to release tension in the body. Exercise will also help individuals build muscle mass, stamina, flexibility and endurance. Cancer survivors and those undergoing treatment can exercise based on their comfort level. For example, people can start with a basic exercise regimen of weight training and cardio. It may be best for individuals to start slowly and build up to a more rigorous exercise plan as they increase their strength. It is believed that people who exercise after undergoing and completing treatment live longer. Whether an individual is suffering from breast cancer or undergoing mesothelioma treatment, there is a high possibility that exercise can prevent recurrence.

The Mental Benefits of Fitness:

Exercise has the potential to boost the mood of an individual and increase self-confidence. These factors are extremely beneficial for people undergoing cancer treatments. A regular exercise routine can help promote a healthy mind. As cancer patients are going through this extremely difficult time, exercise can make them happy and make them think about positive things in their lives.

Positivity can be fostered through movement. Individuals who have survived cancer or going through cancer treatments need positivity to go through their daily lives. It is amazing to know that a simple practice of exercising the body can change and rejuvenate a person and give them a new lease on life."