Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Mile - Uphill the whole way!!

Yesterday I had a major accomplishment - I walked a whole mile!  Yes, yes, yes.  I know it seems silly to celebrate one simple mile, but I am.  I could barely make it half a mile 2 weeks ago.  And I did it in 20 minutes which was pretty exciting to me considering it was (relatively speaking) hilly.  The course I have been walking has been totally flat so this felt like big mountains to me.

My left leg is very swollen today as a result & my knee is hurting a bit but nothing I can't live with.  Couple more mile walks & I can sign back up for the YMCA.  Hooray.

We have received a lot of sweet notes and comments about Cedar's passing.  We appreciate each & every one.  Our neighbors gave us a book called Dog Heaven that we read last night together.  We are getting thru it as a family.  Meanwhile Jessie is in loving her "soft" new life - this is her last night.  We have managed, so far, to keep the notion of getting a new puppy off the table.  Althought I will admit to looking online for adoptable Weimeraners or Standard Poodles.  We aren't ready to add another animal to the mix just yet.  One step at a time!

Today is Emilia's last cross country meet of the season - she is very happy its over & swears she won't run next year.  But she said the same last fall!  Next up will be swimming which starts in October sometime. 

This weekend is the big party!  We are excited to see all our friends and celebrate all the help & support we've received during this journey!  Remember Sunday 2-5 - we hope to see you - the weather is forecasted to be gorgeous - partly sunny & mid 70s!!  If you have a lawn chair, bring it.
  • We will be barbequeing ribs & hot dogs
  • Ann & Bill will be making jambalaya
  • Julie & Christine are bringing delicious sweets
  • I hear the Titans Cheerleaders may even be there
  • We'll have plenty of beverages thanks to our friend Jeff L
  • We will have live music from Alyssa  Bonagura of Make My Own Sunshine fame (the song on the Lowe's commercial where they roll out the carpet of flowers) sponsored by the "boys" at work
  • I think there may be a plethora of Amber's special pink NO MO CHEMO balloons too...
  • A huge jumpy house will be there - for the grown ups & the kids
  • Emilia has developed a chemo game for people to play too


post signature

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

RIP Cedar

Yesterday we said goodbye to our beloved companion of 15 1/2 years - our dalmatian Cedar.  It was a sad day for all of us, but in true Musgrove fashion we bonded together & brought smiles to each others' faces with stories of Cedar.

I have to think right now she is up in Heaven with my Mom - who was always her buddy from the first time they met.  And she is reunited with her "brother" Willy.

Meanwhile we are showering Jessie with our love.

post signature

Monday, September 24, 2012


By all accounts, patience is not my strong suit!  But definitely required to recover from the hell that has been our last 9 months.  Yes, I'm already frustrated that I'm not back to 100%.  I know, thats absurd, but it is what it is. 

So I started thinking about patience & I found some quotes that might help any of you who, like me, are impatient to the core...

This one is particularly appropriate, but really if you follow it to the extreme will you ever get anything accomplished???
“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
So, since that one left me feeling kind of like, what the hell, don't worry about anything, I went naturally to the opposite extreme.  This one I really like because it does make me feel powerful - not lazy. Maybe thats why I'm impatient - waiting or being patient feels like laziness to me.
“Patience is power.
Patience is not an absence of action;
rather it is "timing"
it waits on the right time to act,
for the right principles
and in the right way.”
Fulton J. Sheen
So then I started thinking about laziness & why I can't stand it...  I think its in my DNA from my never-sit-down mother, but aside from that, its just how I roll.  This pretty much sums it up for me.
"Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination: never put off till tomorrow what you can do today."
Lord Chesterfield
So, that got me thinking about what traits are inherited, which are learned, etc.  Can't find any good quotes on that - they are all way too complex.

So whats the point of this post?  I'm not really sure, except to say that I'm trying really hard to balance patience with pushing myself.  Being that its a delicate balancing act & I am anything but delicate, its proving to be quite the challenge.

But then, I never met a challenge I didn't want to tackle (unless it involves running!). 

post signature

Friday, September 21, 2012

For Wanda!

This post is for my friend Wanda & her team at the Doubletree Starbucks!  Thanks for always having a smile, a genuine concern for how i'm doing, and a nice big cold iced coffee for me.  You guys make me happy every day! 

Today is Emilia's twelfth birthday.  Seems impossible that 12 years ago we got our first little bundle of joy, but it has been an amazing 12 years.  I told her this morning that she is an awesome human being.  She is smart, beautiful, athletic, caring, loving - everything a parent could ask for and more.  She does LOVE to pick on her little sister but she wouldn't be human if she didn't.  I'm excited to give her SCUBA lessons for her birthday - something we will do together - just her & I.  She's having some friends sleep over tonight - they are going to the movies alone for the first time.  Will post pics this weekend of her little party.

I'm doing fine - I think I may have gotten my skin glue wet this morning & its flaking off a bit - oops.  I think my counts are very slowly recovering but still it pretty much wears me out to get thru the day.  Time is a great healer.  We should have a nice relaxing weekend so that will help too - its been a busy week.

Hope everybody enjoys a great weekend - enjoying the early fall weather we are starting to have here.  Especially Wanda & her team!!!

post signature

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Port is Gone!

One more step towards a return to a normal cancer-free life is behind me.  Yesterday I had my port removed - this was the device they put in my chest back in February that all my chemo & most of my blood transfusions went thru.  Basically a little button under the skin in my chest with wires into my heart & other big veins that delivered the drugs faster to my main circulatory system.  It was very painful to have it put in but once that wore off, the port was a useful tool for a chemo patient.  It always felt foreign, stuck up thru my skin & I could feel the wires in my veins which was a little weird.

I'm glad to have it gone.  The procedure to remove the port was done in the angiogram lab like the installation was.  Basically there is a small radiology procedure area at Vanderbilt.  You get a "cell" as I call it where they put you into a hospital gown, put you in a bed, start an IV, do the "Pre Op" stuff like asking a bazillion questions.  Then they come & get you for the procedure - when they do this, you have about 3 or 4 nurses & a doctor standing around the bedside discussing your procedure.  They asked me why I didn't need it anymore & I told them I was cancer free.  All of them started to clap - that was a really special moment & one I will remember for a long time. The women in the cell next to me and in the cell across from me were both having ports placed.  Listening to the nurses describe for them what they described for me just 6 short months ago made me so incredibly thankful to be where I am in this journey.  Also made me reflect again on all I have endured, and learned, this year.

Next they wheel you down the hallway to the room.  You "shimmy" from that bed onto the procedure table (just like I had to shimmy onto the operating table for both surgeries!).  The room is so darn cold, it feels like a freezer!  Once you're on the table, they take a fancy xray.  There are about 12 huge computer monitors in the room, plus a whole wall of different size cathethers.  Here is a picture of what the room looks like. 

The nurses are awesome as always.  They prep you for the procedure by cleaning the area & creating the sterile field, then they give you some Versed in the IV which makes you a little sleepy but not really "out of it".  I was awake for the whole procedure.  There was a fellow teaching a resident how to do a port removal so I heard the instructions step by step & knew what they were doing the whole time.  They numb the area with Lidocaine (they didn't use enough at first, ouch), then basically cut thru the same scar from when they put it in, thru all the scar tissue (fibrous tissue as they call it) that has grown around the device & out it comes.  They showed it to me when they took it out which was really cool!  They sew up the subcutaneous tissue then they glue the skin closed.  You shimmy back onto the wheely bed & off you go back to the cell in the procedure area.  This is the best part because they finally let you eat (nothing to eat or drink for 8 hours before the procedure & mine was at 1.30 pm!).  You lay there for about 35 minutes, then they let you get dressed, wheel you out to the waiting room & off you go.

Cori took me for the procedure & Kendall came as well.  It was nice to get wheeled out to two waiting people!!  It hurt some last night, hurts some today but nothing anywhere near as bad as when they put it in!!  We totally enjoyed Cori's all too short visit & I have pledged not to let 2 years go by before we see each other again!

Next week I have to go for the breast MRI to follow up from the 2 spots they were curious about in February.  I'm expecting an all clear from this exam, since my mammogram last week showed nothing at all.  Other than a few other little lingering things related to chemo side effects & a routine annual exam, that should be my last medical event until the end of November!  Cross your fingers.

No, my hair isn't growing in yet.  And my blood counts, which they checked yesterday, are still pretty wimpy.  My white count is better so that is good news.  My red count hadn't changed from last week (thus the fact that I'm still tired & walking from point A to point B is exhausting - I haven't been able to do my walks around the block this week for one reason or another).  My platelets were just barely good enough to do the procedure yesterday.  Whew.  Its only 2 weeks tomorrow since I got the last chemo treatment so this really isn't surprising...

Next week is an exciting week for me - hoping to move up to walking around the bigger block (which is .75 miles) at least 3 or 4 times.  Also I should finish up all my medical stuff.  And I"m starting back on my nutrition program on Wednesday. 

post signature

Sunday, September 16, 2012


So, Kendall, EB & I went to Nordstrom yesterday & we bought an "I Beat Cancer's Ass Watch".  Its so incredible - I'm totally in love with it!!!  I'm a watch sucker anyway - a bad habit I picked up from my husband!  I wanted something with a leather band & we all totally fell in love with this silver snakeskin band.  Almost makes all those hours in the chemo room worth it.

Maryann also sent me this amazing tanzanite ring.  I just have to include a picture of it too.  The color is stunning - I cannot wait to wear it.  Right now I just keep opening the box & looking at it in amazement.

More good news, my dad has finally gotten to the bottom of all his health challenges & should be headed home from the hospital today or tomorrow.  I think he's been in there for 2 weeks & he has had several procedures in that timeframe.  If you are inclined to prayer, please pray for him to have a safe & uneventful homecoming, for him to heal fast & for him not to wear Maryann out!!

Hugs & kisses from all of us.

post signature

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The past couple cancer-free days

Thursday is a blur in my mind.  I know Kendall & I saw Dr Keedy & I know she told us the scans were clear, we could get the port out, my counts suck, its okay to do scuba diving, fine to start very slowly exercising & to see her again in 3 months.  Beyond that I'm not sure what happened that day.  I will be honest, I cried for a couple hours after I left the doctor's office.  I don't know why - I haven't cried much on this journey - a couple times when I got really frustrated at not being able to do what I want.  I guess it kind of all hit me on Thursday - now that its sort of over - at least the urgency & immediacy is over.  There is still the chance the cancer can come back of course, but I am not thinking about that right now.

So, Thursday was an emotional blur.  I didn't make it back to work after the doctor as I had intended but Kendall & I did make it to a dinner with many of my colleagues that evening.  It was so nice to have good news to share with people!

I can tell my counts are still really really low - last night I was pretty much a dishrag.  I am going to have them checked again on Wednesday before the port removal procedure - mostly to make sure the platelets have come up enough for the surgery to be safe.  I'm not worried about the platelets, I'm quite sure they will be up.  The red count maybe not.  It truly takes longer after each round of chemo for it to come back to normal.  Dr Keedy said I could get a transfusion but I don't want to go sit in that recliner again ever so I said no thanks, I'll wait.

Here's more good news.  I walked around the block which is half a mile on Monday night and Tuesday night.  Talk about a feeling of accomplishment.  Oh my goodness, I felt like I'd climbed Mount Everest (not that I know what that feels like).  Thursday I walked about half a mile at EB's cross country meet.  Yesterday I walked probably half a mile with Lorraine.  So that makes 4 out of 5 days this week!!  I will probably endeavor to walk around the larger block which is .75 miles starting today.  So, gradually working my way back to fitness.  Dr Keedy said once I can walk a mile 4 or 5 days a week its okay to go back to the gym but not to try it before then.  I thought that was good advice.

I have decided to return to Medi Weight Loss, where I got the help, advice & support I needed to lose 75 pounds last year.  I am going back on the 26th.  I was going to wait until January to tackle weight loss but I decided that I need to do it now.  I will recover faster if I lose the chemo weight and I will also feel better about myself if I lose it sooner than later.  So off I go - excited about that.

What else?  I'm super excited to have the port removed.  My good friend Cori is visiting next week & she has kindly agreed to take me to the surgery & drive me home.  I think Kendall is happy about that.  Yet another good friend going out of their way to help me.  Gosh I'm so lucky.

I got an absolutely beautiful ring in the mail from Maryann, aka Mom, yesterday.  Its so gorgeous, I cannot wait to wear it.  She also wrote me a beautiful poem which of course made me cry all over again. 

Emilia turns 12 on Friday.  It doesn't quite seem real that 12 years ago I was about to have her.  Her birthday gift is our scuba certification, lessons & equipment.  I think she is going to have a couple friends sleep over on Friday which will be fun.  The miniature terrorist, aka Eriana, told me this morning that at school they went around the circle & said who they would like the group to pray for.  She said she wanted them to pray that her mom would be okay and not have to go to chemo anymore.  She asked for that on Thursday, probably about the same time we were finding out that yes, MOM IS OKAY! 

Speaking of okay, there is still significant swelling and what they call 'stranding' in the surgery site in my left groin.  Evidently just because the scar is healed doesn't mean all the stuff inside is back to normal.  Dr Keedy said this is probably a big contributor to my left leg swelling.  It could take another 6 months to heal, or it could always be that way they aren't really sure.  There is clearly NO visible cancer there anymore, that has been taken care of by the surgery, radiation and chemo.  But the musculature isn't repaired yet.  I'm going to ask Dr Holt to show me this on the scans & explain to me more when I see her in December because I'm curious about it.

Well I think thats the update from Nashville.  I'm traveling for work Monday & Tuesday.  Yay!!!  Hope everybody has a wonderful, peaceful & relaxing weekend!!  Don't forget to let us know if you can make it on 9/30.

post signature

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I am cancer free!

Scans are clear! The surgery site is still healing & that will take a while. My counts are pretty low but they will come up over time. The port is coming out on Wednesday! More soon.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pictures from the last day of chemo

Wanted to share the pictures from last Friday!!

Kendall & I in the "Chemo Room".  Have you any idea how much I hope I never ever sit in one of those recliners again?

The EMPTY!!! last bag of chemo

Cookies, party invitations & goodie bags for the Infusion Center staff

Some of the spread that the girls put together for the nurses.  There was also Julie's Evil Addictive Popcorn but it cannot be photographed!

My & my peeps - Lorraine & Amber - would not have made it thru this without these 2.

And without Julie B.  One of the most amazing friends and moms I know.

Lorraine, me & Jennifer (who spent Friday with me on the last day! - another great friend) being silly with the cookies.

The people who made it happen.  Kelly (a patient care tech), Chrissy (the nurse who found out she was pregnant just when I started chemo & who is naming her baby girl Amelia!), Lindsey (one of the funnest nurses), Mark (who was the first to tell me I have a nice shaped head!!), Alicia (a nurse I have had a lot who lost her mom early in life - a very special person), & right now chemo brain is not allowing me to remember the last girl but she is a nurse who I also had a lot & who is very funny & sarcastic

One of life's true heroines, Dr Vicki Keedy.  Seems silly to say I owe her my life, but truly I do.  She is an amazing physician and an amazing person for whom I have immense respect; she has guided us thru this hell with compassion, professionalism, and intelligence.  I am looking forward to a friendship with her now that I'm not a chemo patient anymore.  She will be my doctor for the rest of my life, as long as she doesn't go anywhere!!

Now for my collection of floral beauties!!
The gorgeous roses in Redneck Wine Glass Vases that the girls put together for Friday's party.

My favorite flower is the hydrangea - Leigh Marie brought me these last week & I thought they look so stereotypically Southern on our porch.

My amazing neighbors gave me this beautiful bouquet of bright pink roses & a mani/pedi gift card & a sweet card on Saturday morning.

Kendall's work sent these yesterday. The card is very meaningful & they have been just as supportive and wonderful as LP.

My mom's favorite flower was the bird of paradise so my brother & his family sent this stunning bouquet on Saturday.

post signature

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The worst things about chemo

Guess I'm feeling a little grouchy  & a touch sarcastic today. I'm entitled right?  It's hard to know you're done but still feel like a bag of chemotherapy!  So I thought maybe I'd tell you some of the worst things about chemo, lest anyone ever tell you "it's not that bad"...  Hah.

  • My favorite - gaining weight. Seriously?  Sometimes a week without eating & still possible to gain weight?  Seems like a cruel joke that only people who are already struggling to maintain a scrawny 125 lbs actually LOSE weight on chemotherapy drugs.  Those of us who fight like hell to maintain our weight can easily gain 40 pounds in 9 months.  Shoot, I gained less when I was pregnant!
  • The crazy rabid 4 eyed 8 legged monster that lives in my abdomen. Boy do the drugs make him mad so that he claws & contorts to try to escape from my body leaving breathtaking stomach cramps & profuse sweating as his calling cards. Im not sure he really wants to escape because he sure seems to enjoy torturing me after every chemo round!  I hope they can put him out of his misery now that I'm done getting drugs. 
  • My ziplock Baggie of medicines. Like a toddlers security blanket i never venture anywhere without them. I will admit I've always had a hybrid cvs-Mary poppins purse with plenty of tonics & elixirs but the ziplock Baggie takes it to a new level. I have pain meds, nausea meds, steroids, stomach meds, numbing cream for my port.  Watch out I have pills and I know how to use them!
  • Oh the port, a love hate affair. Such cool technology for sure mostly because it makes drugs, fluids& blood go faster. But getting it accessed is like being punched in the chest. It's literally, for my west point peeps, blood wings every time. Sit you back against the lab chair, get all sterile so as to distract you, then whammy! a 3/4" needle slams into your chest.   Oh and the wires that crawl under your skin from the port feel like alien tentacles. Yep I do know what those are in case you're wondering...  And I can't even write about saline flushes without nearly vomiting. 
  • Shortness of breath. This is a great one!  I totally get why pro athletes dope their blood - if you get 1/5th the reverse effect of what I feel, I may go ahead & find a doc to dope mine so i can get back in shape. Seriously some days I have to sit down when I walk from my bedroom to my kitchen. My house is long & skinny but come on. Really?  I used to do 90 minute spin classes & burn 700 calories in an hour with a trainer & skip out of the gym. Jacked up red blood counts are no joke - I will never scoff at anemia again. 
  • My foot is asleep- oh no it's not. It's numb!  So while most of me wishes it were numb so as not to feel nausea, headaches, stomacaches, port being accessed, etc, doesn't work that way. Only the extremities get numb. In my case luckily really only my left foot. I know - now its fat & numb. Don't make fun of me!
  • I figured out why fatigue comes with chemotherapy too. Because I can never freakin sleep!  I can be bone tired, have worked all day & can't wait to go to bed and then - hello! Wide awake. Its maddening because I know there is a perfect inverse relationship between my bitchiness & whininess on any given day and the # of hours of good sleep I had the night before. I feel like I should wear a warning label some days. 
  • And finally, hair. So it's 2012, we have people on space stations, rovers on Mars & the like but we cannot figure out how to prevent chemotherapy patients from being hairless humans.  I would love to swipe a mascara wand across my eyelashes but I can't find the damn things (eyelashes- I know where my mascara is). I am a crappy artist - have you seen me try to draw eyebrows?  Looks like - well nevermind. I gave up on the wigs a while ago when it got so darn hot. I will probably wear the purple one when I start to feel better. I have a closet full of beautiful scarves that I will never ever touch or wear again as soon as I have enough hair not to scare small animals, I mean kids. So if you want one (or more) I'm putting names on them now. I feel bad not wanting to keep these because most were gifts from friends and family, but I will just have to ask you to understand. 

So there you have it, my tongue in cheek rundown of the worst of chemo. Really it's survive able (obviously) just not pleasant. And while I hope I never have to share my experiences with someone embarking on a new kick-cancers-ass journey, I will in a heartbeat. 

I'm doing okay. Still feeling last weeks drugs in some nasty ways, my back is aching from the neulasta shot, & I can tell my blood counts are dropping. But this should be the last yucky week really. I did the MRI today - was the longest test I'd had yet - over 90 minutes in the magnet not moving. CT & mammogram tomorrow.

My house looks like a florist with the gorgeous flowers I've gotten.  This week I will post pics of them along with some from Friday.

Love to you & have a wonderful week. Yay Serena- what an inspirational US Open final!!!

post signature

Friday, September 7, 2012

Yes it has ended

Chemo is over!  I'm no longer a cancer patient!  It ended in glorious style with a great party for the nurses organized by Amber & Julie & supported by several others. And the nurses gave me a shirt that says "infused with hope" that they all signed. Pictures next week I promise. For now we are going to relax & take a few deep breaths.

Remember where it started?  The PET scanner!

I received some very sage advice today that my mind thinks its all done but my body will need a couple weeks to recover just like any chemo round. It doesn't know it's done!  So I will try to keep that in mind & not expect to be back to normal on Monday!  Or back to spin class on Tuesday!  You guys did a good job remaining me to take it easy recently.  may need a few more of those reminders over the next several weeks.   Part of me is expecting the recovery to be the most difficult phase of the process because I am so impatient.

Tomorrow I have to go get my final neulasta shot, Sunday I get my MRI, Monday I have a mammogram & chest CT.  Then nothing until I see Dr Keedy on Thursday.  That will be a lab check, talk about the scan results, discuss port removal & answer our questions about returning to a normal routine. Depending on the labs, I suspect one last transfusion may be ordered. We will see.

As soon as I don't feel pickled I'm going back on my vitamins, hoping they will make my hair gow faster!  And next week I promise to mail out the "official" invites for 9.30's NoMoChemo party. You're all invited even if i never get the invites mailed!  let me know if You're planning to come. We rented a huge 4 in 1 jumpy house for the parents & Kendall is getting kegs for the kids. We will have barbeque catered too - ribs, dogs & burgers.

Thanks for asking about my dad. Seems the infection is getting under control, which is excellent news!  And they are still working in the metallic taste.  Kendall spoke with him today & my brother has done a great Job relaying Information. I'm looking forward to talking to him this weekend.

post signature
Ps yes I know the kegs are for the parents(-:

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Could it be?

The last night ever to sleep with my port accessed?  Certainly that appears to be the case!

With the help of some amazing family & friends, I find myself on the eve of my final treatment.

I can honestly say this is not a place I ever expected to find myself. First I never in a million years thought I'd get a cancer that required 42 chemo treatments (a number even the nurses & now my oncologist admit is flabbergasting). Then when our world was rocked with a sarcoma diagnosis in January, chemo was iffy at best - it sounded like we wouldn't have to do it. Then came the surgery & the pathology with a much more dire outcome than we had thought.  The change in diagnosis to Ewings Sarcoma pretty much turned our world upside down as we realized chemo was an absolute must & that it wasn't just any chemo. It was the chemo from hell marathon. At that point I never thought I'd find myself on the eve of the final day because it seemed like it would never end!

By the numbers it's pretty amazing...

>$400,000 in medical expenses
Dec 28 was the first biopsy so 253 days we have been dealing with this
As of today 41 chemotherapy infusions completed
I think 18 liters of blood transfused & 1 liter of platelets
2 surgeries, 7 nights in the hospital & 1 trip to the ER
2 dopplers & 2 drain insertion procedures
1 port installation & 1 drain removal
About 80 hours of disability when I've been unable to work
30 radiation treatments
At least 40 doctors visits
At least 45 lab draws
1 PET scan , 3 CT scans & an x ray
Pretty close to 100 liters of fluids I've gotten
Too many shots & pills to count
Over 70 trips to Vanderbilt
Literally miles & miles of IV tubing

What a journey it has been so far. I have learned so much about myself, my strengths & weaknesses, about the faith, love & support of my family, and have been awed by the kindness, generosity & help of so many amazing friends. I have never felt so loved!

I am amazed at the resilience & strength my children have demonstrated. I hate with all my being that my innocent five & eleven year old daughters know about cancer, chemo, ports, wigs & the like, but i  am so proud of the way they have taken everything in stride. This disease can be so destructive, but we haven't allowed it to detroy us!  If anything we are a stronger family for it!

Much much love to all of you. I may continue to write here if anybody wants to keep reading!

post signature

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Only 2 more times!

Wow, only 2 more times to get hooked up to those poisons.  Unbelievable.  The question of the week seems to be what happens next.  I've given this some thought on the personal level (will get to that in a minute) but on the medical level its pretty straightforward.

First I will have 3 scans on Monday - a routine mammogram (its been 6 months since the debacle with trying to biopsy 2 spots found on breast MRI that weren't there), a CT scan of the chest and an MRI of the pelvis.  The chest CT is to look for new masses that could appear in my chest.  The pelvis MRI will cover the left groin area where the original tumor was.  These are the 2 most likely places for recurrence/metastases so they will be checked every 3 months for 2 years.  The breast mammogram will be annually with the breast MRI in between.  About once a year they will do a PET scan to make sure there are no new bone masses since Ewing's is typically a bone cancer.  And once a year they will do labs just to check all my levels but mine is not a cancer with a blood marker so it won't tell us anything about cancer.

Although most cancer research looks at 5 year survival rates, both my oncologist & my surgeon have said that the first 2 years are really the most critical.  Once we get past 2 years that recurrence risk goes way down so the scans will be further apart after that.

Next week I will see Dr Keedy on Thursday.  We will go over the scans from Monday & talk about what happens next.  I will need to get the port removed - my vote is for sooner rather than later.  Especially before we start scuba.  We will look at my labs, which I'm sure will be crappy from this week's treatment (& will likely necessitate a transfusion).  But that will pretty much be my "release" visit to go back to "normal" life.

So that brings me to the personal.  What to do now?  No matter how much I don't want or like to think of it this way, pretty much all aspects of my life & my family's life has been centered around cancer to one extent or another for the last 9 months.  It just has - there is no real way to avoid that when you've been thru what we've been thru.  No matter how much I have tried to keep the family's life normal, we have all taken a beating from this.  So, what do I do now?

First, I think I have to give myself some time to re-acclimate.  I will probably need to keep using some disability because it will take a couple weeks to recover just from this treatment.  I will miss my nurses and my interactions at Vanderbilt but I am planning to embrace my job - to start traveling again, to jump back into things I've not been able to do. 

So, what am I most looking forward to about finishing this journey?
  • not feeling sick, hazy or tired all the time
  • not having frequent but unpredictable stomach aches & cramps
  • fat foot/leg going away (is that too much to hope for?)
  • growing back my hair
  • starting to exercise again (i'm aiming for an october 1st start on this one)
  • not taking anymore steroids & the associated bloating
  • the feeling of triumph that it was freakin' hideous but i did it
  • hanging onto the lessons i've learned & relying on other people

What will I miss about this?
  • the nurses
  • slowing down & taking my time

And so it goes, the mental gymnastics of the next phase have begun!!!

post signature

3 more treatments!

Yep 2 down, 3 to go this week. It's a grind for sure but the end is near. It's helped a ton to have friends with me this week. Yesterday Bob (my work husband) came & so did my friend Angie which was wonderful. We chatted and laughed and time went pretty fast.

Last night I felt a little better than
Monday night. I Ate a little dinner & stayed up til almost 8!! Hoping for a repeat of that today. I can tell my blood counts are starting to drop already though. I wouldn't be surprised if Dr Keedy makes me get one last transfusion next week. They also think I have yet another asymptomatic UTi so I will probably get more antibiotics. Feels like I've been on them non stop!

I'm getting chauffeured to chemo today by Roger. What a treat! Hope it goes fast again.

I will keep you updated! Hump day baby!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

4 more left

Yesterday went quickly & it was great to have Christine there to keep me company. I felt pretty crappy last night, me & my Ativan were in bed by 6.30! I did sleep well though so this morning I'm better - even made breakfast for the family & ate a bagel!

My heart is heavy this morning. My dad is in the hospital down in Naples. He hasn't been feeling well for some time & has an infection in his toe that is evidently spreading. As a diabetic it's hard For him to heal in his extremities. So he & Maryann will meet with the doctors today I think & decide what needs to be done. I'd ask that you keep him in your thoughts and prayers please. It's very hard for me, frankly, right now to reach out & be involved in his care & decisions. I feel like I have all I can handle (maybe even a tad more) on my hands here. Even though treatments are ending I still need to survive 4 more brutal etopocide & ifosfamide treatments, get thru scans next week, recover from this treatment & then get back on a track to fitness. So as selfish as this may be, I have my hands full. Fortunately my brother & Maryann are wonderful at keeping me up to speed & I know my Dad knows how much I love him!

I will post another update soon. Thanks for caring so much. We wouldn't have made it this far without the village around us! Don't forget to mark September 30 on your calendars to celebrate with us!!!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Photo Therapy -- going back 41 years!!

been a long time since i've posted any photo therapy.  as i sit here balancing the checking account, i'm trying not to think about tomorrow.  while in some sick ways i'm looking forward to it - because it is the last time and because we have come so far, i still get that nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach thinking about chemo.  one of my nurses told me she saw an ex-patient in the mall a year or two after their treatment & the patient ran to the trash can & vomited just at the sight of the nurse. yes, it is that powerful the associations we have with things, places and people!

so with some happy thoughts i figured i would include some photo therapy today...  i have been in a reminiscing mood this afternoon so i went back thru some old pictures.  i thought you might enjoy seeing a walk down memory lane.  i got sick of trying to get blogger to keep them in order, so they aren't!  sorry about that!

Kendall & I at his West Point Ring Weekend Formal in 1993.

Same weekend in 1993 - we are in LUV!

Soo Lee Davis (she's now a LTC Battalion Commander in the army!), me & a doctor named Mary with whom I've lost touch at our officer basic training in San Antonio in 1993.  Fun times.

Kendall's ranger school graduation in 1995.  I was so proud!

This is Kendall putting an engagement ring on my finger in 1995.

Our official engagement photo, 1995.  This picture was on my mom's kitchen windowsill until she died - it was one of her favorites.

My dad, me & my brother in 1995.

Kendall & I in Hawaii at Pearl Harbor on vacation in 1995/6.

Hilarious.  My promotion to First Lieutenant when I was at Walter Reed AMC in 1995.  My dad, my mom, me & my very first boss, COL Wong.

Me & my momma at my brother's commissioning ceremony at West Point in 1996.

Mom & my brother at his graduation, West Point 1996.

Kendall & I at a Christmas party at Fort Hood, 1996.

Bad add 1LT DeBock at Fort Hood in 1996.

I love this picture from the night before our wedding rehearsal dinner.  Its taken in front of the fireplace in my parents' house.  My dad, Kendall's dad Frank, Kendall's mom Janice, me, my mom & Kendall - happy days!!  Feb 1997.

Yikes - Mom & I looking at a freakin' huge alligator in their pond around 1998.

The 3 most important men in my life - Kendall, my brother & my dad at Mike's wedding in July 1999.

Aw, baby Judy - 3 months old with my Dad.

Most of my infant pictures have Kris, our beloved weimeraner in them.  He must have been at my side the entire time I was a kid!!!  I was about 6 months old here.

Probably around 1973 when I was about 2 - yes Kris is still by my side.

About 3 years old.  Finally I had some hair.

Helping my mom cook at age 3.  I loved to bake even back then!

School pic from around 1984 - about 13 years old.

Mom & I at the LA Farmer's Market in 1984 when we went to the Olympics.

LOVE this picture - me riding my thoroughbred, Sultan Chocolate Chip, in about 1985.

This was my first horse, Cat Dancer, and I winning a blue ribbon for jumping in about 1982 - I was probably 11 years old.

My brother & I at my folks' house, circa 1986.

My brief foray into beauty pageants. Didn't last long.  This was in 1986 - 15 years old.

My 16th birthday, March 1987 with my Mom & my Dad.

Our school trip to Washington DC - me & 2 classmates with then Senator Bob Graham.

High school graduation, 1988.

"Beast barracks" (the first summer at West Point).  1988.

Summer of 1991 in Alabama with a couple of my classmates.

Plebe (freshman) year at West Point.  1989.

With my Mom at Ring Weekend, in the fall of 1992.

Me & my brother, 1992.

Me & my best buddy Corina McFadden at West Point our senior year, 1993.

My dad, me & my Mom at the Superintendent's Reception at West Point Graduation weekend May 1993.
My brother, me & Kendall at West Point that same graduation weekend, May 1993.

 good night, i've got to get a good night's rest so that i can start my very LAST chemo week tomorrow!!!

post signature