Monthly Archives: September 2012

Update

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I met with the radiologist last Thursday. Paige and Todd were at my side as the doctor spoke with me and answered all of my questions before I could ask them. Due to the aggressive type of cancer, the size of the tumor and the number of lymph nodes that were impacted I made the decision to have the radiation therapy. I am scheduled for 30 treatments. I will undergo radiation once a day, five days a week. I am told that I would experience fatigue and possibly some blistering of the skin. My chest area was marked with tiny pinpoint tattoos. I am trying to modify my schedule to accommodate the treatments. Once again proper nutrition and rest will play a big role in my recovery. I am at peace with my decision.

I started my second round of chemotherapy last Friday. I will undergo the Herceptin chemotherapy and radiation concurrently. My oncologist informed me that I that had the most adverse affects from the cocktail of  “hard chemo” that he had ever treated. He smiled, hugged me and said, “You made it through the hard stuff, Nicki. This next treatment will feel like water to you.” I returned the smile saying, “Good because I wasn’t so sure I would make it after the fifth and sixth treatment!” I kept telling myself that I was stronger than the cancer but each treatment physically took me lower and lower. I was beginning to doubt my ability to fight and win. I want to beat this illness. I want to watch my four grandsons graduate and I will.

I missed my children at last Friday’s chemo. Both Todd and Paige have been awesome to be at my side for all of the “hard” treatments. However, with the Herceptin I will drive myself; have my treatment and return to work the same day. I should finish this chemo sometime in May of 2013.  Woohoo! My family will celebrate when that day comes.

My losses

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My friends, Drew and Debra gave me a cancer devotional book. I read from it each day. Today’s tip: Visualize your body being renewed by God as cancer strips away some of your physical attributes.

I looked at my body thinking of my own losses. Starting at my feet; I have neuropathy and blood is beginning to pool under the nails of my feet indicating I will lose my toenails. My eyes traveled upwards. I have lymphedema. Therefore I experience swelling in those areas and mild pain. I moved to my chest.  The breast area is filled with horrendous scars and a deep cavity. I looked at my face. My cheeks are quite round from medication and my skin has discolored; brown patches splotch my face and head. Of course the loss of my hair is prominent. Although the hair is gone from the rest of my body I smile thinking, “I did get to keep my eyebrows and some of my eyelashes.” I look down at my hands and see the pools of blood under my fingernails. Again it indicates they will fall off. I visualized the cancer leaving my body through all of the physical losses I was experiencing.  I thought about God renewing in me all that cancer was stripping away. Cancer may take some things from me but it cannot take away my faith or love. Cancer is not bigger than God. I whisper a prayer of thanks.

Coming Home

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Because my mind has been so fuzzy, I asked my kids to be with me when the doctor made his rounds yesterday. More tests results would have been in and we had questions. Their minds are functioning at full speed while mine is in a lower gear. We had spoken with the nurses the day before on the approximate timing of the doctor rounds and we were assured that we would be seen sometime between 7-8 a.m. Paige’s new position at work did not allow her to be there but Todd took time off arriving at my bedside at 6:30 a.m. with a breakfast sandwich in hand for me. Sweet! Around 8 my wonderful nurse, Christina poked her head inside my room. Smiling she said, “It won’t be long now. The doctors are making rounds”. We thanked her and waited and waited and waited. At 10 a.m. she came back into my room and said I had been forgotten on the rounds. My normal oncologist was at a retreat during the weekend and I had been treated by another doctor who floats across the country filling in. A different doctor was making rounds for Dr. Dan on Monday. I looked at Todd who had been with me all morning missing 2 meetings at Micron. I said “I guess I am the red headed stepchild”. The doctor finally came during the lunch hour. His visit was short but he gave the news I could go home. YES! My nurse had been wonderful and faxed my prescriptions down to the pharmacy early so we could swing by on our way out, pick them up and head home. I was beyond excited. However, when we arrived at the pharmacy they had not even started filling it and we waited over 30 minutes. I am sitting in the wheelchair, Todd is standing beside me in the hall with a line full of very sick people, coughing, etc. I had to wear a heavy mask if I went beyond my hospital room. I had left my mask in my room thinking I would no longer need it.  So much for protecting myself from others. At long last my wonderful son finally was able to bring me home. My eyes teared up as we turned north onto Plummer knowing I would soon be in my safe haven. When we opened the door entering the house I could smell a “not so nice” smell. I soon discovered I had left my yogurt bowl in the sink and the garbage had not been emptied since Friday. Gross! I quickly went about opening windows to air the house and took care of the culprits that were causing the odor. It felt so good to be home.

Although home, I am still declining visitors. My body is compromised right now and the best treatment for me is rest. I have enjoyed reading your emails and blog comments. Each one has lifted my spirits. If attitude is half the battle then a strong support group is certainly the other half. Thank you, dear friends. You have been the encouragement I have needed.

My first ambulance ride.

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My feet were doing a “happy dance” while I underwent #6 round of chemo. Sad to say, I had to remove my dancing shoes this week. I did not get better with each passing day. With the work week approaching I called the emergency number and was instructed to go to the ER. My sweet neighbor, Holly drove me. What I thought would be a few hours turned into six as she waited with me. Finally, a decision was made to admit me to the downtown St. Luke’s. I was taken by ambulance from the Meridian St. Luke’s to downtown St. Luke’s. Next time (hopefully there won’t be a next time) I will go to the downtown ER and save myself an ambulance ride. Ethan was excited because now his grandma was just like he and Lance. Both of my oldest grandchildren have experienced rides in ambulances. My ambulance attendant was a young woman who had graduated from Parma High in ’94. We had a nice visit on the way. By the time I got to the hospital my kids were all enroute to be with me. I had let them know I was in the ER but I really thought I would be sent home and not be admitted.

I have several issues going on and I have not been told when I will be released. Needless to say I am grateful to be here. However, I am not well enough to receive visitors.

My goal was to feel good enough to celebrate Todd’s birthday on the 14th of September. My kids are always kind and we will move to plan B for a birthday celebration. I also have another birthday celebration on the 22, my great nephew, Jayden’s first birthday. We have not been together since Easter. October brings Ethan, Michael, Paige and Kristy’s birthdays. Families and birthdays; that is what I love. 

In my first blog I spoke about feeling close to God like a mountain top experience or feeling like God is very far away; looking up from the floor of a very dark valley. This illness has tested my faith. I don’t understand how others can go through something like this and not reach out to God. This much I do know; where I am, God is also. Please continue to lift my family in prayer.

An Unexpected Bump in the Road

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I’m not as eloquent at blogging as my mother, but she wanted me to let you know that last night she was admitted into the hospital.  Her body has tolerated much since her diagnosis in March, but the last treatment has shown us all that even our “Wonder Mom” has physical limits.

So, I’m pulling the “daughter card” right now.  I’ve told her that she needs all of her energy to take care of herself.  Please continue to send your words of encouragement and inspiration through e-mail and posting to her blog.  And most of all, please keep praying.  Because she needs as much rest as she can get, we are requesting that she does not have any visitors to the hospital.

I will keep you posted on her progress.