My buddy Opie & I our birthday party November 2009
formal night on cruise
TANSHAN1 is a SparkPeople Motivator!
********10-19-10 Health Update********
Update: Friday evening, the 8th, my abdomen start swelling up. I called the docs office next morn early and the on call doc called in some antibiotics. By this time my belly was swollen
pretty big in the area between my sternum and belly button. That makes it right over the scar from the whipple surgery that I had 23 months ago. The area is swollen, hot to the touch, painful to the touch, and has a hard place under the skin about the size of an orange. I start the antibiotics on Saturday morning. I have an appointment with Dr. Divers Mon. anyway but I get a hold of him on his cell Sunday. The place is not any better. We (mainly me) discuss the futility of going into the hospital on a Sunday. I go to see him on Mon as scheduled. He sends me for a CT and schedules me for Tues. morn back at his office...the place is not any better, the antibiotics do not seem to be helping.
Tues morn. Dr. Divers goes over the CT scan with us, it is an abdominal abscess that is seems to be infected. Seems to be but, me being my difficult self, I am not running a fever (my belly is), my white blood count is dead center normal (should be high if I have an infection) and there is no clue why this lovely abscess just popped up...Anywho, he consults a few different Dr.s while we are in the exam room. My surgeon, a radiologist, and some others. It is decided that I will go to the hospital and they
will do a CT guided drain of the abscess. The appointment is made with the hospital, the radiologist and away we go! Get to outpatient and get the process started with all the pre-op stuff and accessing my port and pre procedure meds and am just THIS far(picture thumb and index fingers millimeters from each other) from going into the radiology procedure room when the radiology people decide...NO, we want to wait until next week...WTF?!?!?
I had taken my meds Tues morn as normal and the radiology folks said that they wanted me off the Plavix (for my heart) and any other blood thinners for 5 days before they would do the procedure. Now why, 3 hours after the initial conversation between my Dr. and the radiologist, does the radiologist decide to do this? I have NO FREAKING CLUE!! AAARRRGH! I immediately call my doc and he does some intervention....okay, so now we are scheduled to do this CT guided drain thing on Friday.I told them the abscess would NOT last till then.
Wednesday I sleep a Whole bunch, tired from 2 days of hanging around hospitals and doctors in Hot Springs..the swollen area is NOT any better...seems larger and more compressed and maybe not as hot but definitely looks like it is gonna pop through. Again, it is at the scar line from the whipple..the skin is a bit thinner here and it looks like the icky stuff is gonna pop through like a bad pimple..and it hurts to touch.
Thursday morn..I feel better from resting all day Wed. and I am headed to Hot Town to do some running around and shopping. I feel something on my belly......yep.the abscess has popped...it was Nasty BUT oh man...the relief! It was very messy and I got cleaned up went to DR. Divers office, we look at it, he calls my surgeon and sends me that way (with a few choice words regarding the ineffectiveness of the radiologist).Within a couple of hours I am on the operating table with the surgeon
cleaning out the area and examining it and taking samples. All he finds that MIGHT have caused it is some little pieces of wire that were apparently from surgery that I had 29 years ago. Hmmmph! He leaves the site open where it will heal from the inside out. This means the wound has to be cleaned and packed twice daily.
So, I get outta the hospital Fri. morn and go on home. Home health nurse comes out and does an evaluation and trains my sister Melinda on how to take care of and pack the wound. The home health nurses have been out here a couple more times and will return once a week to assess the condition of the wound. Next visit is scheduled for Wed. morning. I also go see my surgeon Wednesday afternoon. I will make on oncology appointment after that visit. We are kinda on hold with the chemo until we figure out the belly situation.
So, due to having to have my belly packed twice a day, I have been staying pretty close to home. Plus the additional pain medication makes me kinda drowsy. The wound area looks great, all pretty and pink. Looks like all the infection was cleaned out and stayed out from the procedure that was done last Thursday. It seems to be healing nicely.
Okay, that's my update.
****10-05-10 Mini- update ****
I'm doing pretty well. I am still recovering from doing the wedding this last Saturday. It went Great! The doc has me wearing a chemo pump Mon thru Fri 24 hours a day...this does NOT bode well for good sleep...Wednesday I actually get it taken off for the day where I can go get a unit of blood...I've gotten pretty anemic and low red blood count as well as the fatigue (side effects of the chemo in the pump).
Doctor Divers put me on a long lasting (72 hour) narcotic pain patch...I am REALLY liking it. I feel much better and less grumpy when I am not having to deal with the "break-through" pain in between pill doses. Amazing how that helps the spirits stay up.
Now that the wedding is over...I gotta find something to keep me occupied while still letting me get the rest that I need. I may take up cooking with Paula Dean...NOPE!.(the narcotics aren't getting to me That much!)
That is pretty much it for now. Think I'll figure out a way to enjoy this Beautiful fall day!
*****09-16-10 Health Update*****
I got the results back today from my CT Scan. They were pretty much what I expected. The tumors in the liver are larger as well as the lymph nodes in my abdomen. This explains the increase in the pain that I have been experiencing in my back. As the tumors grow they press a lil bit more on the nerves, thus causing the pain. The good news is that everything is still where it was 8 weeks ago. The cancer hasn't mestasized anywhere else. I feel fine still.
I start a new chemo protocol on the 27th of this month. I will be taking a 3 medicine chemo cocktail at the treatment center in Hot Springs and then they will hook up a pump, with a differant chemo, that I will wear 24 hours a day Monday through Friday. I'm trying to figure out how to work that into a Halloween costume.....
Until next time...keep the prayers coming and Remember: It IS all about the ATTITUDE! Oh yeah, send in your costume ideas.
****09-10-10-****** HEALTH UPDATE*****
Sorry this is a bit late in coming...I have been super busy between MY “Stuff”, Family “stuff”, getting things ready for my best friends wedding & having my boss in the hospital...
Okay, enough with the excuses...I got back my CA19-9 results 09-08-10...As I expected...they were back up from 5,100 last month. The cancer marker number that is supposed to be a high of 35 was 16,600 this month. I already had a CT scan scheduled for the 14th so we will see what it looks like and Dr. Divers is doing some discussions with other oncologists and doctors to see what kinda avenues to pursue now...another mixture cocktail of chemo, something that worked before and quit working, or maybe some totally different chemo.
This is just the natural progression of this disease...but in my case it is a much slower progression to date than most experience. I am Very blessed. I still have minimal pain in my back from the tumors in my liver pressing on my nerves and I STILL feel fine. I have been running my hiney off this week with all the “Stuff” I put upon myself but that is my own fault. I figure if I feel well enough to do it I might as well while I can. I am taking care of myself despite being busy and I DO make time for those 'Oh so wonderful' naps. I am being very good about taking my meds on time (big deal for me) and I understand that pain management is like any other management issue: You have to anticipate and plan ahead of the known delays (or pain) that is going to be there.
I am keeping myself so busy that I only have minimal “sabbatical” issues. The first couple of weeks was REALLY hard trying to get to a “normal” sleep pattern. My body wanted to be awake when I was supposed to be on shift and sleep when I would normally be sleeping were I not out on medical leave. Finally, I hope, getting over that.
I will try to get a post out the end of next week after my doctor appointment Thursday to go over the CT scan and what ever options Dr. Divers has come up with. Until then, don't worry too much about me because most folks still can't even keep up with me. When I get feeling poorly enough to keep my 4-runner parked for more than 36 hours...that's when you know I'm running down a bit.
Angels upon you and remember: It IS all about the attitude!
I got some really good news from my home Oncologist yesterday.
My tumor marker numbers have actually went DOWN in the last 3 weeks!!! Yippee! They were 7283 on the July 26th and were right at 5000 on August 9th. They are still way above the 35 max that they are supposed to be but at least we have them running the right direction for a change. Come Monday, August 16th, I will have another Taxatere treatment, which is what they put me on in Illinois and seems to be doing some good. It is only a small improvement but it is indeed an IMPROVEMENT!!! This is, as always, in God's hands and on HIS times schedule. All I can and have to do right now is be thankful.
Been up in Illinois at the Cancer Treatment Center. The chemo wasn't having the desired positive effect so they switched me to another chemo. The tumors in the liver are larger and the lymph nodes around the arteries from the bile duct & to the intestines are now affected. My cancer marker number that is supposed to be a high of 35 is 7283, that is up from 3778 six weeks ago when they started that type chemo. I have a very slight bit of pain in my back that is probably cause by pressure from my liver pressing on a nerve but it is manageable with medication.
I am truly blessed because even though the cancer is progressing, I still feel good and I am SOOO fortunate NOT to have the horrible side effects that a lot of people experience from chemo.
I have made the decision to take medical leave starting August the 9th from work. I still feel good and want to have time spend with the people that I love and do the things I want to do. Even if it a wild hair up the butt to take off to Vegas for the weekend. LOL!!
Not that I don't really enjoy my work..Been super blessed there to. I work with a Great bunch of guys for the most part and am so fortunate to have a good job with wonderful insurance and benefits. Plus, I really have enjoyed all the things I have learned over the last 6 years at Almatis.
My boss told me a couple of weeks ago that I deserved some good luck...Well, I really believe that I have had good luck. Through all of these misadventures with my health for the last 3 years (heart attack included) I have been blessed with so many "small things" that have made all the difference in the world. One of the biggest things I have been given is the knowledge that some stuff is important and some stuff just ain't. You gotta figure out which things are important enough to spend your time nurturing and fretting over and which things to let go.
I have by no means layed down to die but am just taking the next logical step in this journey. You never hear of folks saying " I wish I had spent a few more weeks at work" it is always.."I wish I had spent more time with the ones that I love and doing the things I wanted to do"
Okay, I have rambled enough. Angels upon each and every one of you.
****I TRULY believe it IS all about the attitude!****
***HEALTH UPDATE ****
I flew up to the Cancer Treatment Center of America in Illinois the evening of Tues. the 8th. My bestest friend Tina went with me. (I knew I couldn't get out of the state of Arkansas without having someone with me since I was going so many states away.) Wed. the evaluation started. It included meetings with nurses and technicians and doctors of several different fields. I met with the Mind & Body department (they are the Emotional support section). I also met with a Naturopathic doctor, a Nutritionist, a couple of Oncologists, and basically just a great group of very caring people.
Friday was the "Celebrate Life" party at the center (CTCA). The party was to honor the five year plus survivors of various forms of "unbeatable" cancer. It was so great listening to the speeches by the founder of the hospital
and the CEO and such. But the REALLY wonderful, inspiring and goose bump inducing thing was speaking face to face, person to person with these people who have been graced by God with survival of cancer. I hears from some of them the believe that the people that work at CTCA were placed there by God. I heard some of the employees say that they didn't have a job...they had a passion. I heard from every single Five Year Plus survivor that I talked to that CTCA was the place to be.
Today I got results and the game plan. This is not going to be a quick fix. They make no guarantees but they do promise to do everything they can and to never give up. I am so VERY blessed to have a wonderful Oncologist at home. He was and is a health hero in my eyes. I heard may patients say that their at home Oncologist and Drs. were very negative about them going to CTCA and some even were nasty enough to drop the CTCA patients. That is appalling to me. Through the grace of God, my health care team at home are the ones that have kept me alive this long. Pancreatic cancer is usually a 6 month death sentence. It has been right at 20 months since I was diagnosed. That in its self is awesome but as important as that is...I am living, not just existing. I feel great and if I had my hair you would never even think I had ever had a chemo treatment. The kudos for that go to God of course but also to the great folks at Genisis Cancer Center led by Dr. Stephen Divers. The surgeon who did my Whipple Procedure did a great job..on both me and eight years earlier on my mother's surgery as an intern or resident or whatever the equivalent is. That was truly a right person, right place and right time thing when I found out that my mom's whipple was one of the first ones he had assisted on. I ave all the faith & trust in the world for Dr. John Webb.
Okay now back to the present, I had a chemo infusion today. The oncologist in charge of my case is very knowledgeable on metastasized Pancreatic cancer. She started me on a Cisplatin and Gemzar protocol along with fluids and some premeds and other goodies. The really great thing is she said I could have my in between treatments at Genesis in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I will call later today to get an appointment with Dr. Divers to discuss all this and check on setting up the treatments with him at home. They are once every three week treatments to be followed up the 6th week with a trip back up here to Illinois for another treatment , scans and re- assessment. If the chemo has gotten the cancer stabilzed then we will discuss a couple of non chemo options like Thero Sphere technology and Radio Frequency Ablation.
Again, they made no guarantees but did Promise to all they could and that is all I can ask.
I want to thank everyone for the thoughts, prayers and emails.
"If you can't dazzle 'em with brilliance...
Baffle them with bullsh*t!!"
EXCITING NEWS ALERT: I am pretty stoked right now. I just got the insurance approval to go to the Cancer Centers of America. I was going to Tulsa because it is closer. My insurance covers Chicago not Tulsa. I am going next Tues night. They may not be done with the evaluation by Fri. I may have to spend next weekend hanging out in Chicago.
Now there is the prospect of beating this cancer(or at least giving it a run for the money) & a weekend in a city I've never been. That's the gravy part of it!
I am really hyped to know that the Cancer Treatment Centers of America have 7 & 8 year Pancreatic Cancer survivors!!
That is miraculous!! This is kinda like a new lease on life!
I have been accepting but now I am HOPEFUL!!!
My cancer markers are at 1186...35 is supposed to be the max....I had a PET scan this last week...There are three tumors in my liver...the biggest one is 1&1/2 inch diameter. I have started on the Last viable chemo for pancreatic cancer. If is brings the numbers down I may be able to have some kind of procedure to burn the tumors and make them smaller. This won't cure anything but it will slow down the cancer. I find out in a month if the new chemo is working on me. If it is not...well, no procedure for one thing and I will go ahead and leave work on medical leave.
The REALLY weird thing to me is that I don't look sick..I DON"T feel sick...This is a blessing, I know that. I asked the oncologist how long until I started to feel like I am dying and he told me that if the new chemo doesn't work, I should make it through summer with no problems but by fall I will be feeling and looking like I have cancer. The progression will be rapid from there.
I have by no means given up!! I just ain't Done yet!!! But you have no idea how hard it is to wrap your head around the fact that the doc is telling you that by Christmas you may be dead. The reason I am having such trouble with the time line is because I feel FINE!! I don't feel like I have a thing in the world wrong with me.
Again, this is a major blessing.
On the true but humorous side: I am really glad the tumors are in my liver and not my stomach or spine. I am a Whimp!! You hear folks complaining of their belly hurting or their back hurtin' but never "My liver hurts"..Like I said...I'm a whimp.
Humor is my sword and my shield! I am dealing with this the only way I know how and that means infusing the whole situation with humor and wit...It may not seem appropriate to everyone but then again...I'm the one going through this.
Please continue to pray for me and my family.
Well, my cancer markers are still rising...in the 450's now..PET scan in March still showed nothing. Now it is on to another different type of chemo. This one will make my hair fall out so I decided to do it on my terms. Yep, had it all cut off! Now I'm gonna tan my scalp and get some Henna art done there. A whole new canvas to play with!
I still feel very good. The side effects from this chemo are a bit different than the other ones but it is okay. My attitude hasn't changed much...I'm still living like I am living...NOT like I am dying. I'm just not DONE yet...at least not with living! I'm sure there is a reason why God still has me around..I don't even have to know why..just as long as I am doing what he has set out for me. 17 months with stage 4 Pancreatic cancer (even with having the whipple) is VERY good. So...I'm still around and figure I will make the most of it. Life is for LIVING!!
My cancer marker numbers have been going up the last couple of months and are in the 200's from my latest test. 35 is the high "good" number. The PET scan in December showed no signs of cancer anywhere but the numbers continue to climb. The doc has changed my chemo meds and is researching some other meds. Another PET scan will be done in a couple of weeks to see if there is evidence of cancer and where it is..it is always possible that it will be somewhere that is operable.
I really must be in denial because I don't feel as if anything is wrong. As typical, I am more concerned with the reactions of my loved ones than my own concern. I am dealing with it well. I have known from the jump that Pancreatic Cancer is pretty much a quick death sentence. I have been so blessed by making it this long and still feeling and looking great. Of course, I realize that makes it all the harder on the people around me that love me.
Certain folks talk about my wonderful positive attitude...I don't think anything of it because this is just me as I am and have always been. The whining, "woe is me" stuff is just not in my makeup. Humor has always been my shield and my sword and I don't see that changing.
Anyway, that is the update for now. I'll report back when I have more info.
Just a note to let everyone know about my wonderful health update. Some of you may already know this but Thursday the 29th of October was one year diagnosed. That is a HUGE milestone with Pancreatic cancer. I had a CT Scan done Tues the 3rd of November and got my results back Thur. the 5th. The scan showed ALL CLEAR!!! Yeah!! What a blessing!
I am staying on the chemo treatments once a week like I have been doing. The knowledge that this particular type of cancer has the nasty habit of coming back again and again has prompted me NOT to rock the treatment boat that I am on. It is working and I will keep on keeping on. I am feeling great and thank God I have no harsh side effects from the chemo.
Thank you all for your continued prayers and love & support.
I am SOOOO Blessed! My cancer markers are below 35 for the 4th month in a row!!! YES!!!! They are at 15 this month which is up a few from July but still EXCELLENT!!!
HAPPY DANCE!!!HAPPY DANCE!!! My cancer markers are down to 12! Yes 12! Less than half of last month & anything below 35 is GREAT!!! Yippee!! God is GOOD! Life is Great and I am doing the Happy Dance!!
More super duper wonderful news!!! My cancer markers in my blood are now down to 27!!! This is mucho mag! "Good" is 35 and below...mine was 141 two months ago. The chemo is doing it's job! God is good!
I got GREAT news today!! My cancer markers in my blood have went down Dramatically in the last month since I started the new chemo. "Good" is 35 and below...mine was 141 last month. I got the results from the test they ran last week....I am down to 50! That is marvelous news...it is still higher than desired but the huge drop means that the new chemo is working!!!
I am soooo thankful that God spoke in my ear & told me at the end of March that I needed to get scanned & tested. The standard procedure is 6 months out having a CT Scan..I insisted that one was done near the end of March. There were two enlarged lymph nodes found. Had I waited until the end of June to be scanned there is a good possibility that enlarged lymph nodes would have already been full blown cancer with tumors. The new meds might not have been able to do such a good job nipping this crap in the bud. Again God is good!
Now...on to life! It is to be lived & loved! One of the "good" things about being diagnosed with cancer is that you start to realize what & who is important in life.
Dragonflies are my symbol...my totem if you will. I even have a dragonfly tattoo in my ear! I saw this quote about them the other day & thought it so fitting:
"Lastly it should be noted that the Dragonfly lives a short life, and it knows it must live to the fullest with what it has."
I was caregiver for my Momma when she died of pancreatic cancer. I guess maybe that gives me a little better knowledge with dealing with it in myself. I have known that it would be a matter of When NOT If the cancer returned....I really didn't think it would be this fast. Such is...
I go this Friday for another Chemo treatment and to talk to the doc about specifics. When we were talking theoretical before he got the test results back, he was saying I had months to years to live. I don't think the time line is that long.
I find myself in a very very weird place that I can't talk to anyone who has been here because they are now gone. I have been cleaning out my storage buildings and closets and getting rid of stuff. I guess I am trying Not to be a burden on my family that I leave behind. I wonder how the ones that came before me that knew they were dying and had the strength to do things handled themselves.
It is very odd to go through your possessions and decide that no family or friends would want something you considered a treat...oh well...the local Salvation Army is going to be receiving a lot of stuff in the coming weeks.
I think I am to practical for my own good sometime..I'm worried about getting "STUFF" cleared out & making it easier on my Daddy and sis and niece and best friend...
I DO have some money set back to take a trip and get at Least one stamp on my passport...this is not something I want to do by myself. The man I want to go with me may not be able to get the time off. What do I do then....this isn't a trip I want to take with friends..I want to take it with my lover.
I have been lax about my medical updates. I apologize. It is really a case of no news is good news.
I have had 8 chemo treatments..they are about every 10 days...I have had NO adverse effects to them at all.
The type chemo that I am taking (Gemzar) has very limited side effects...mostly fatigue. No hair loss, no nauesa, none of the other horrid things that come with most "cures". I am blessed in so many ways.
My oncologist is super pleased... he put me on B-12 shots a couple weeks ago and says now (last Friday) that my blood levels are the best since I have been under his care..my hemoglobin is up to 12.1...whatever that means..Doc's happy about it..sooo..
They do the blood test for cancer markers every 3-5 weeks...so far my levels are staying between 8 and 15...that is AWESOME...it means no cancer still.. anything above 35 is cause for concern..
New research data has come out about Gemzar. The five year survival rate with this medication is about 34 percent. My cancer was caught in the very early stages with only minimal spread to the lymph nodes so this is a LOT better than the less than 7 percent 5 year survival rate I was originally given.
But, come on people...when have I ever settled for normal of even half *ss? I am so NOT "statistically typical"...anyway..
Work is good...I am learning that I can say "No, I need to rest rather than go work another 12 hours"..
Ohh, and if ya'll thought I was impatient and stubborn before...heaven help us all..I go through spurts of stompon' my foot brattyness more now than I ever have...ah well, again not into doing things by half measures.
Umm, I guess that is about it. I'm doing great, feeling good, and am Ready for summer & sunshine!!!
Remember: It is all in God's hands..has been all along.
All my tests keep coming back cancer free..Praise God!! I am SOOO fortunate..I have had NO adverse reactions to the chemo treatments thus far. Absolutely NONE!!! This is a blessing.
I returned to work Jan 3rd. I was ready to. The long days (14 hours) are going to be a bit difficult to get used to again. I just have to rest extra much when I am home until my body makes the adjustment.
I am super pleased with getting a lot of things DONE for the future. I am an optimist but a realist too.
Statistically, I have LESS than a 1%..yes ONE PERCENT!, chance of being alive in 2013.
There are things of the practical nature that I am trying to get taken care of right now. As I get these practical things DONE, I will start with the "Bucket List" things also.
I'm truly feeling good right now and intend to use this time to make my future easier & brighter. Thank all of y'all for your continued prayers & well wishes.
The wonderful news is that the doctors have told me that I am 100% cancer free!! Yeah! All the docs are talking about my remarkable recovery and how well I am doing.
I, on the other hand, being the overachiever that I am�.I don�t like being exhausted and sore and weak. The docs assure me I am making fine progress�I guess I am just impatient (I know no one can picture that eh?)
At the suggestion and urging of my surgeon, whom I trust explicitly, am going to have some chemo. I met with the Oncologist Fri. and will have my first treatment on Dec. 12th. The treatments will be once a week for 4 to 6 months with a week off here & there.
After the first of the year, my docs and I will sit down and evaluate when I can go back to work. The oncologist tells, me that this is mild chemo & will not interfere with my working. Time will tell�I am not rushing it�my body has been through a Major surgery and trauma and needs to rest & recuperate before I jump back into regular life with both feet.
The next three weeks will be used to build my stamina & strength and get rested & ready for chemo. All prayers and positive thoughts are still welcomed.
I�ll update as this adventure progresses.
Peace my lettuce leaves,
Well, busted off that plateau..in a bad way! I dropped 14 pounds during Oct. because I was sick. More weight loss on the way because having a very serious surgery for ampullary cancer. Long recovery ahead of me but I will make it back to well. All positive thoughts and prayers are highly appreciated.
My DONE Girls keep on sending me the love! I need it and it give me a warm fuzzy feeling.
I have learned that it is okay to be scared and sometimes crying is the best thing you can do for yourself. It takes a strong soul to cry sometimes and admit that you DON"T hold all the cards.
Time for me to get healthier...for me!! I'm a 41 year old female from near Hot Springs Arkansas and have made my mind up to get healthier and have more respect for myself by treating my body and psyche like I want them around for the next 20 or 30 years.
I am still juggling 4 pounds. I don't see making the goal of running 5 miles a day by 11/24 either...oh well, I will get there. When I started this I couldn't Walk 5 miles. I have made great strides in my health & THAT is the important thing. I CAN do this.
I have hit a dead standstill as far as weight loss goes. I'm eating right.I'm exercising ..walking (not as much as I should maybe) I'm okay though. I feel GOOD and am happy...so I'll keep on keeping on...
I just saw this quote from KoolaidMom56:
A diet is the penalty we pay for exceeding the feed limit.
01-01-08.Just starting here but it IS a first step.
04-18-08 The DONE Girls keep me going!
Bismarck, Arkansas is where I have lived my whole life. Love it!! Country and small.
There is something about being a true DONE GIRL. Makes you determined and proud.