Sunday, December 19, 2010

A weekend of surprises.

Hi Everyone,

Not the weekend I'd thought we'd have, not at all. Deb had her first chemo on Thursday, and was out of it Friday all day. Very tired and a bit of an upset stomach. She said even that soon her taste buds were affected, something that took longer last time. Her scalp seemed to feel different, a harbinger of complete hair loss that will start within the next two weeks.

Saturday was her sister's 50th birthday party and so based on her feeling better by 6 PM we went. The food was terrific and we had a great time. We were the first to leave at 9 PM. And then something happened that had never happened last time at all. Deb had a completely miserable night. She couldn't lay flat in bed and even more couldn't sleep.

I went to church without her and found her sleeping when I got home. She's sitting at the table trying to finish some Christmas cards. Everything is behind this year. And no Christmas letter. I must admit I could think of much to say that would be cheery. Anyway, tomorrow is another day. And God will lead it through it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The First Steps

Hi Campers

Deb had her power port put in on Tuesday. In addition to accepting chemo and providing a port for the weekly blood tests, apparently it can be used for contrast medium, such as what was inserted before the CT scan.

Kathlena Rule spent the day with Deb at the hospital as the port was installed and a bone scan and CT scan completed. Kathlena is part of our small group through the Chapel. Our group is wonderful. What a blessing.

When I got home Deb was really wiped out. She ended up sleeping on the couch with Strider for a while. Later she moved into our bed and slept all night. She had pain, but she said it was manageable.

Yesterday she spent the day dealing with pain from the abuse of surgery. When I got home we had some soup and relaxed as much as possible. Deb still found time to fold the clean laundry. I helped her shower. She said being under the water felt terrific.

Today she will have the first of six chemo treatments. She will go into work for a while first. Her sister will be her back up if she can’t drive home. We don’t know what to expect this time around because different chemicals are involved in the treatment.

Deb and I are glad the treatments are under way, so the healing can begin. We expect surgery in May and radiation treatments until July. But, when have we been able to see the future. It’s in God’s hands and He loves us. That’s all we need to know.

God Bless Everyone.

I got the bill for my surgery. Now I know what those doctors were wearing masks for. ~James H. Boren

Every evening I turn my worries over to God. He's going to be up all night anyway. ~Mary C. Crowley

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Long Journey Starts

Deb is scheduled to have a power port put in next Tuesday (12/14/10) and on the same day, a CT scan and a bone scan. Deb would really like to know if cancer is present in any other part of her body.

The chemical cocktail of Taxotere and Cytoxan will be injected on Thursday (12/16/10) and every three weeks until the total treatments number six. She will have blood tests every week to monitor white blood cells.

Tonight she has her hair cut short in anticipation of losing it all, probably after the second chemotherapy treatment 1/6. Following treatments will be on 1/27, 2/17, 3/10 and 4/7, followed by another round of tests.

TAXOTERE is a microtubule inhibitor indicated for:
• Breast Cancer (BC): single agent for locally advanced or metastatic BC after chemotherapy failure; and with doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide as adjuvant treatment of operable node-positive BC (1.1)

What side effects can this medication cause?
Docetaxel injection may cause side effects. Side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, changes in taste, extreme tiredness, muscle, joint or bone pain. Hair loss, nail changes, increased eye tearing. Sores in the mouth and throat and redness, dryness or swelling at the site where the medication was injected.

Cytoxan (Cytoxin) is an antineoplastic medicine. It works by stopping or slowing the growth of malignant cells. Cytoxan (Cytoxin) may be used alone but is often given with other anticancer medications.
Cytoxan (Cytoxin) is used to treat Breast cancer

Side-effects include chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV), bone marrow suppression, stomach ache, diarrhea, darkening of the skin/nails, alopecia (hair loss) or thinning of hair, changes in color and texture of the hair, and lethargy. Hemorrhagic cystitis is a frequent complication, but this is prevented by adequate fluid intake and Mesna (sodium 2-mercaptoethane sulfonate). Mesna is a sulfhydryl donor and binds acrolein.
Cyclophosphamide is itself carcinogenic, potentially causing transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder as a long-term complication. It can lower the body's ability to fight an infection. It can cause temporary or (rarely) permanent sterility.
Other (serious) side effects include:
• gross and microscopic hematuria,
• unusual decrease in the amount of urine,
• mouth sores,
• unusual tiredness or weakness,
• joint pain,
• easy bruising/bleeding,
• existing wounds that are slow healing.

Last time Deb had most of the usual side effects.

I suppose it’s not all that great to know in advance what to expect. Chemicals that cause side effects, followed by surgery and then radiation therapy, with no certainty that all the efforts of skilled and caring physicians will be successful or that even then, cancer won’t come back down the road as it did this time.

That’s why Deb (and I) put our trust in prayer. We know that we don’t know, can’t be sure and may lose faith in the medical community, but that God is with Deb and will be throughout this ordeal. When her hair is gone, her finger and toes numb or painful, food tastes tinny or just awful, and when it’s a mighty struggle to just get out of bed, He will be holding on to her and stroking her head. He will be the peace and calm in a storm of pain and suffering. Her pain will draw her closer to the cross.

So thank you for reading this and for your expressions of kindness and your prayers.

Please also remember Jack McKevett, my buddy, who is treating for advanced cancer right now. Pray for healing, and also peace and calm for him and Dee.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.
Saint Augustine

Love to all,

Dan and Deb