Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday, May 31, 2009: The Final Countdown

Tomorrow is it. The last dose of Taxol. I didn't think this day would ever come. Although I'm disappointed that I have to continue going to my doctor and to the chemo clinic every three weeks for the next year, I am very glad to get this last dose of "poison" behind me.

I haven't heard anything on my ct scan or chest x-ray and with my doctor - no news is good news (or at least that is the theory I'm going with).

The comment that was recently left on our last entry has reminded me again how fortunate we are. Although it has been a couple of very difficult years, we have been so blessed with the family and friends (and even strangers!) that have been there for us. Brian has a job with co-workers that have supported him and as well as insurance to help cover the unreal financial burden that comes with this. Most importantly we have our faith and we have our God who is faithful. I can't imagine what this journey would have been like with out Him.

A couple people have asked me over the past few years "how can you believe in a God when you have such a horrible disease". How can I not? Without Him we have no hope and without hope we have nothing. I'll end this post with one of Brian's favorite verses.

. . . we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:3-5

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009: Chemo Rescheduled

Sorry! I was originally scheduled to have my last dose of Taxol today but we rescheduled it for next week Monday and I forgot to update the blog with that information. I've had a few people look at me funny today and say "don't you have chemo today?" It's scary how well you people know my schedule! Emily had kindergarten visitation this morning and there was no way we were going to miss that!

Tomorrow afternoon I am going in for a ct scan and chest x-ray. This is just a routine check and my doctor doesn't think they will find anything. I figured it should still be covered in prayer though and actually remembered to post it. Okay, so I put this update on the blog and realized afterwards that I forgot it and added it :)

In a couple weeks (June 12) Ashley and I will be walking in the Relay for Life. Actually, the whole family will be going to walk with me during the survivors lap (woohoo!) but Ashley and I will be staying for the 24 hours. There is a link on the right hand side of the blog called "Kristi's Relay for Life page". If you would like to donate to this great cause and sponsor Ashley and myself just click on the link. Donations can be made online or if you prefer to give your donation to a "real person" feel free to give me a call. Thanks!

Tha-tha-tha-that's all folks! (Yes, the humidity is getting to me!)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

Yesterday is done. There is nothing I can do to change it.

Tomorrow will be here soon. I don't know what tomorrow will bring.

Today. Now. This is the time that I can do something about.

So why is it that I dwell on past conversations? Things I could have done better? Things on the "to-do" list that didn't get done.

Why do I stress about the future when God has got it all under control?

I try to stay in the here and now but my mind wanders back . . . another day gone and I still didn't finish my to-do list. It looks into the future . . . what will I do if the cancer comes back? What a waste of mental energy and time. All that time dwelling on something I can't change or predict.

The other day I found a lump on my neck (before you worry - it is gone now). At the time I found it my mind immediately went into action. What if the cancer spread? Will I need more surgery? Or a biopsy? Should I call the doctor? I can't go through this again!!!

When my mind slowed down I mentally yelled at myself for freaking out about something God has under control. (Yes, I think too much). Seconds after that I was freaking out again. I managed to stop obsessing and yelled at myself to stop again. This verse came to my mind . . . we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

I wish I could say that I took my thoughts captive and I stopped worrying but I didn't. I continued to alternate panicking and trusting. But, I didn't give up or I should say God didn't give up on me. Eventually the time I spent trusting was longer than the time I was panicking. And after a while I stopped thinking about the lump.

The next morning I remembered the lump and tried to find it and couldn't. It was probably a swollen lymph node which I often have. Or maybe I never really felt it to begin with. I don't know. But, it was a lesson learned and one I hope I don't soon forget.

Focus on the here and now. God has forgiven us of our past and He has the future under control. I want to be more focused on now. I want to spend more time blowing bubbles with my 5 year old, not on the web searching for "lumps in the neck". I want to be focused on listening to my son tell me about his day, not thinking about a conversation I had a couple days ago. I want to grab every second I can with my social butterfly before she is off playing with her friends again. I want to sit on the couch and veg out with my husband without my mind thinking of everything else I should be accomplishing.

I want to take captive every negative, pessimistic, self-defeating fearful thought and replace it with what God would want from me and with His help I can.

"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. Matthew 6:34 from The Message.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Oops and a Request

Oopsie, Kristi's chemo nurse called tonight for something and she corrected week's dose is also Taxol. more dose of Taxol then she's done.

The problem with Taxol is that it has a cumulative effect. She tolerated the first few doses pretty well but now with every dose she does worse and worse. She has been pretty nauseous today and has spent most of the afternoon between her bed and, well... I hate seeing her like this. One more dose...

Please pray that these side effects will be short lived. Thank you!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009: Good-bye Taxol

Today we went in for Kristi's last dose of Taxol. The Taxol is the toxic chemo that is making her hair fall out. This is round 6 so we're done with the Taxol!! We have next week's dose of Avastin to go and that will complete the 6 rounds. Praise God for giving Kristi the strength to go the full 6 rounds. She had thoughts of quitting after 5. So now we go on to the 15 doses of Avastin. Many people have asked us what the Avastin is so I Googled it:

"Avastin is not a chemotherapy or a hormone but a class of agents known either as immunotherapy or biological therapies."

So that's Avastin. Hopefully Kristi will be able to tolerate the 15 rounds of that.

We also had Kristi's CA125 level maintained at 20!! That is great news. This means that Kristi really is normal!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009: Rounding Third Base . . .

We are finally in the last stretch and heading to the home plate! I had a doctors appointment with my oncologist this morning and we talked about the end of my treatment plan. The good news . . . I am now considered to be in "clinical remission"! That means that there is no evidence of cancer in me (clear ct scans, mammogram and normal CA-125).

The not-so-good news . . . my doctor has recommended an additional 15 rounds of Avastin. Although I was initially bummed about this, I am now feeling pretty good about it. I have chemo on 5/19 and 5/26 which will be round 6 - my final round of chemo. The Avastin is the biologic medicine that I have been receiving every three weeks for the past 5 months. I was also receiving Taxol every 2 out of 3 weeks. This is the chemo and what has been causing most of my side effects. My last dose of this will be on the 26th - yea!

Also, after seeing me today my nurse said she didn't think I would lose all my hair - more yea!! I will probably thin out some more but she didn't think it would all go. Most of my eye lashes and eye brows are gone now but they should be growing back soon.

Starting around 6/10 I will begin my first of 15 rounds of Avastin. One round is one visit and I will go every three weeks which will be about a year. Avastin shouldn't cause any immediate side effects and I should be able to tolerate it without Benadryl. There are some bad potential long term side effects however, such as bowel perforation. That doesn't sound good. My doctor feels that taking this precaution is worth the potential risks. They have not had any of these bad side effects in their office (that doesn't comfort me a whole lot because I never seem to follow the "norm").

Basically what the Avastin does is starve the cancer. Ovarian cancer needs blood cells to multiply and the Avastin blocks the blood cells which will starve the cancer and it will die off. Avastin is fairly new and they are seeing really good results with it. Chemo kills the good along with the bad where Avastin doesn't kill anything, just prevents the cancer from growing in the blood cells.

I will be having a ct scan and chest x-ray in the next couple of weeks but my doctor said he wasn't expecting to find anything. This is just protocol when chemo treatment is done. They will continue checking my CA125 every three weeks for a while and eventually cut back to every six weeks.

My doctor said on his way out of the room today that he is very happy with my results and treatment plan. He has always been a realist with us and says it like it is which we appreciate. Hearing such positive comments from him was great!

Well, typed another book. Sorry if this was confusing. Prayers that we would appreciate for the future are for my CA-125 to stay normal, test results to come back clear, no side effects from the Avastin (short and long-term) and that this treatment plan will just become a normal part of our routine rather than a dreaded visit.

Thank you!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009: It Is Well With My Soul

As I was thinking about what to title this entry, the thought came to my mind "it is well with my soul". I am not sure why other than my soul is well right now and I am very peaceful. It has been a wonderful weekend and even a great Monday!

Unfortunately, Friday was bad, really bad. My depression hasn't been bad lately and out of the blue it hit me on Friday. It was a good day (with the exception of the whole hair issue) but I was on the verge of tears all day for no reason. I remember driving in the van thinking I know I'm going down and there is nothing I can do about it when I had the thought - turn on the radio. Right when it came on the lyrics were - "can you reach me here and pull me out, can you pull me out. I wanna scream but there’s no sound. I wanna fly to you somehow. Can you reach me here and pull me out, can you pull me out". Bebo Normans song "Pull Me Out" was playing and I had not heard the song before.

I'm sure it was no coincidence that the words "can you reach down here and pull me out" were the first songs that played. Even knowing that asking God to pull me out would have been a step in the right direction, I still couldn't do it then. I remember smiling and thinking wow, God loves me so much He put that song on for me and a second later the smile was gone and I was back down. Depression is overwhelmingly powerful. The reason I share all this is because if there is someone out there reading our blog that suffers from depression - know that you are not alone. Thankfully that episode only lasted for a day.

Sunday Brian and I were "interviewed" by the high school class at our church. We joined their class that morning and shared what the past couple years have been like for us. They had a lot of really good questions and it was a great experience. (The only down side was when I realized I was old enough to be their mother!). The kids each shared with us at the end what part of our story impacted them the most. That was really cool. I know what Brian and I talked about but how it would be interpreted by a teenager is another story. They gave us a lot of insight.

I had told the kids that I was painfully shy all through high school and college and I still have social anxiety. All these strikes against me and yet God has chosen me to talk to both big and small groups of people. He specifically chose someone that does not have the gift of public speaking to show that is not me, but Him working through me. I also have a very low threshold for pain and have extreme anxiety when needles are around. There is no other explanation for the peace I had before every surgery other than God.

On another note, Brian is doing better! I have slowly seem him have a little bit more energy every day for the past few days! Yea! He is completely off his Zoloft now and he is watching his sugar intake closely. He is also making sure he is in bed by 10:00 so he gets a good nights sleep. There has definitely been improvement with these changes! One prayer request with this is for patience. Because he is off his Zoloft his fuse is a bit shorter and he can get irritated quickly. I know this feeling all too well - if I miss a day of my Effexor I think I can actually feel my blood start to boil. He is doing a really good job working through this though. I love seeing the "old Brian" come back. Speaking of old . . . he hit the big "40" last week! I will be turning 40 this December so earlier this year we made a deal - I don't surprise him with a party and he won't get me either :) We had a nice night at home with the kids celebrating.

Now that I have written a book I will sum things up in a nutshell . . . We are doing good. Life is good. God is good!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009: Going Hairless Again

Kristi was on the phone today with her oncology nurse and she told Kristi that she would likely lose all of her hair again after this next round of chemo. She has noticed quite a bit of thinning and her eye lashes and eye brows are falling out so she asked her nurse about this. Yup, likely to continue along with the rest of her hair. This means that she will likely be bald for the summer. Obviously she took this quite hard and has been down ever since. Please pray for Kristi as she deals with this new news. Thank you!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009: And The Chemo Brain Continues

This chemo brain thing is really becoming a pain. I am forgetting things all the time. I have a planner that I look at every morning and even a couple times a day. It has a week at a glance with a to-do list right next to it. I can look at this one minute and completely forget what I read the next.

I left a comment on facebook tonight replying to someone that can relate to chemo brain saying that I think I need to buy a post-it note pad to keep on my forehead so I will stop forgetting things. Her comment back was that she needed to pick up sticky notes from the store but by the time she got there she would forget why she went. I can completely relate to that!

I am forgetting important things that I need to do and letting people down which is the most frustrating part. I think I may start taking my planner everywhere with me. Hopefully when chemo is done my brain will reboot and start over.

Another bummer - my hair is starting to fall out :( I noticed it a little bit during my last round of chemo and it is happening again this round. The nurse said this is common once the Taxol starts building up in my system. My hair is also turning really soft and fuzzy. I guess I shouldn't complain about that - at least my hair hasn't completely fallen out. I've lost about half of my eyebrows and maybe a third of my eyelashes. I will be so frustrated if my hair falls out with my last round of chemo. I have actually been trying to grow it out the past few months and it grows painfully slow.

I had a mammogram today because it has been two years since my last one. I don't have results yet but the technician didn't see anything suspicious. I should have posted this earlier for prayers but as is typical of me, I forgot.

Brian is feeling a tiny bit better. He is changing some medications and there seems to be a little bit of progress with this. His fatigue is really starting to worry me. For those of you that know Brian, you know that he is typically very active. If there is a project around the house to be done, he does it and if he starts a project, he finishes it. He runs and works out. He loves being outside and being active. I haven't seen this Brian in a long time and I miss him. Right now he has to take a nap almost every day when he gets home from work. He isn't motivated to do any type of projects and when he does it takes a lot out of him. My best guess is that the past two years are finally catching up to him. He was running on adrenalin almost the entire year of 2007 and beginning of 2008. He was mom and dad during that time and also took care of me. After I stopped chemo in March last year we still had the emotional stress of my CA125 level rising every month. I'm praying that once this last round of chemo is behind us we can finally move past this journey and his energy will start to return.

On a positive note - I got my laptop back tonight! It was at Best Buy being repaired (one of the keys kept sticking). They had to order parts so it took two weeks. I am so happy to have it back! Also, tomorrow we will finally be getting our phone connected. Unfortunately we weren't able to keep our old number. If you would like our new phone number you can send me an email and I will send the number to you.

The kids are doing great and we are all healthy (I'm pretty sure I will regret saying that since typically when I do, someone gets sick). My next doctors appointment is on 5/13 and my next chemo treatment isn't until 5/19. For now I'm taking off my "cancer patient" hat and putting on my "mom/wife" hat.