48 hours

Although I haven't been feeling great, my week took a turn for the better when Dana popped in for a quick visit. It was so nice to have someone to drive me, get me out to yoga and lunch [and to nap with]. Having your own in house acupuncturist doesn't suck either! This afternoon Dave was home and we just floated around in the pool before Jake came over and we all went for dinner. My only complaint, and that is what this blog is about after all, is that it went by way too fast. So glad she was able to pop in though.

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 there are no words . . . best sandwich ever!!!   [dana didn't shave her head, thank goodness, but has joined me with no makeup and wet hair in solidarity]

there are no words . . . best sandwich ever!!!   [dana didn't shave her head, thank goodness, but has joined me with no makeup and wet hair in solidarity]

[and to those thinking hey wait, I could have, would have or did offer to bring you, take you or otherwise do something really kind for you . . . thank you, really, I wasn't feeling up to doing anything this week, but it was the only time Dana could visit and I rallied so that I wouldn't seem so frail -and I think I pulled it off ;-)]

weekend in rearview

This past weekend had highlights and lowlights, just like my hair used to. Having your anniversary and both birthdays all within 9 days is a lot in a normal year, this year throwing chemo in the mix has made it even harder. Having wonderful friends want to celebrate gave me something to look forward to. Wondering if I was going to be able to show up was another story. This has all been challenging, mostly physically, sometimes emotionally. What am I supposed to be able to do? How much? How little? I really have no idea. My body is really quite achy so it isn't easy to walk around. My throat is sore, so talking is a challenge. I am really tired all the time and frankly not much fun to be around. I think acceptance has been the hardest. Knowing that is is temporary helps me get through the day [but it saddens me for the people for whom its not so temporary]

I have a found a little help in . . . napping! I have stopped fighting naps. Who knew, something so simple as just closing my eyes [or resting them as my dad is always fond of saying] really does the trick, especially when you aren't sleeping well at night. So I was able to eat my way through the weekend and was resting in between meals. I was able to have a little semblance of normalancy in this oh not so normal journey. So thank you to everyone who came in and made food, brought food in, took us out [or tried to], it's your love that is making all this that much easier.  [that and napping!]

loss of appetite? nope, hasn't happened yet

I am wondering if it is possible that I will be the first cancer patient on chemo to gain weight? Yesterday I had the pleasure of not one but two darling duo sisters who stopped in for a quick visit and dropped off goodies to me. Yummy Ice cream at lunch time from a new place at the corner called the screamery [they picked bee's knees for me which is lavender swirled with local honey] and then a late afternoon visit from another couple of cuties that made me ginger cookies. While I am not complaining, at all, I mean who would, I probably need to snap back to my healthy eating, fight off cancer cells mode. It was a lovely birthday break which, who am I kidding, I will ride out through the weekend. The girls were cool with my bald head too, I offered to cover up to their moms since they have all seen me fairly recently with hair but both moms said no we already talked about it. You just gotta love kids!

birthday hangover of a different kind

Yesterday I turned 56, which seems surreal because I don't feel like I am that old, [although today I kinda do] I actually had a really nice day considering that I had my chemo treatment the day before. Today I feel light headed, foggy and I am a bit dizzy but nothing too debilitating. For my birthday yesterday I had a friend visit me in the morning, another bring and stay for lunch and then Dave and Jake came by in the early afternoon. In between visitors, I was on FaceTime with friends and family in foreign lands, talking on the phone and texting with friends and family near and far. Everyone [my mom] said don't worry, next year your bday will be better and I was thinking, so far this one has been pretty nice. I heard from so many people [thank you!!!] and I felt so loved, it really wasn't bad at all. I even mustered up the strength to go out for sushi last night knowing that I may not have the energy to get out of the house for awhile. While it would not have been a top choice as to how to spend my birthday, it really was nice to hear from so many people that I love. So even if though I am starting this year in a fog I am looking forward to clear skies ahead and I thank you all for coming along on this journey and cheering me on. 

chemo [round 2]

I am home from my chemo shesh. I went a bit longer than the last time because we had to wait for my labs to come back to start the infusion. [They had to draw blood a second time to get more blood] I will have you know that my labs were great. "I got all A's" [results were in normal range] and that's a good thing because the women next to me got sent home because her white blood cell count was off and that is a drag.

There is not much to say about today because all I did was sit in a chair with a needle in my arm and lots of bags of drugs [and not the good kind] hanging from a pole dripping into me. I will say that having friends and family that step up in times like this is so nice. My appointment was at 8am and I got a ride, {I had soooo many offers and I thank you all!}  sit with you when you are having uncomfortable things done to you [and are happy to leave when you ask them to nicely] bring you lunch when you are hungry [I could get used to this] Dave came after work and sat with me in the afternoon and then drove me home. I put in a 7 and half hour day today, not too shabby.

How do I feel? inquiring minds want to know. Well, I am tired, I feel a bit dizzy/lightheaded, I have the beginnings of a headache. I feel like my body is in slow mo mode. Now I know there are people out there that purposely put weights on their wrists and feet to build muscles. [I am not one of them] Chemo has a way of virtually putting weights on your hands and feet making them harder to lift, it is a crazy feeling. I am pretty sure it doesn't make you stronger either, quite the opposite! So now I am going into the known/unknown side effects. I will battle some of the bad ones preemptively with meds so maybe it won't be as bad as everyone who has been through this before says its going to be. I will try and keep you posted when I can. Love to you all!

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to exercise or not to exercise

After abdominal surgery you are told to not exercise hard for 8 weeks [not a problem as I have never exercised hard in my life] but they do want you to walk. Having surgery in the summer in Arizona is limiting in terms of when and where you would want to walk. In the beginning walking from the couch to the bathroom seemed good to me.

My in house doctor didn't feel that was enough and has been on me to step it up [get it?] I really have had a lot of good excuses not to and so I just haven't, but this weekend I started to actually feel pretty good. My mouth sores have calmed and the rash has died down so Friday we walked around the art museum [great air conditioning] Saturday I jumped in the pool and kicked around a bit and on Sunday I walked on the treadmill for a little. Today is Monday. On Monday's I usually go to yoga. I haven't gone for 2 months now. Knowing that I start all over again with chemo on Tuesday part of me says why bother. The smarter part of me says why not. My favorite teacher is back in town and I have missed yoga so very much. The smarter part of me really is smarter because even if I can't get back to practice for awhile I am so very glad I went. It was hard for me, I didn't do great but I am glad I went. I like to think it will make tomorrow easier.

not a story

Apparently writing about getting ovarian cancer in a blog form has given the impression that I was going to continue to write about my experience here, I guess I should have just called this a story!

If you are interested, I will do my best to keep you updated on my summer of chemo. Although to me from here on in it will just seem like complaining. But if you are into that kind of thing then I went ahead and added a way to subscribe to the page so if I do add something you can be alerted if you so choose. So just subscribe, and you may or may not get an alert [since I may or may not know what I am doing.]

in sickness and in health, I love this guy!

I know not everyone is married to a doctor; I also know that not every doctor is as smart as my husband is. David happens to like diagnostics, he likes solving problems and figuring out unusual issues. Many people have benefited from his extracurricular doctor-detective solving skills, he has even saved lives.

When mentioning being bloated to this guy his solution was to go buy new pants. Yet when I asked him if my appendix was in my lower left quadrant he wanted to know why [it isn't] I told him I was having some pain after I ate.  His mind was off to the races, I was told to lie down on the hard floor [really, I can't lie on the sofa? nope] He completed a palpation of the area and then he was back to his office. He comes back with a visual, which were the photographs of my colonoscopy. Of course the only area not photographed is the area that is causing me pain, but he thinks my symptoms sound like diverticulitis.

Call for an appointment NOW. [he was very adamant] Do not wait. You need a CAT scan . . .find out what is going on.

I know these last 7 weeks haven't been easy on you, giving me painful shots everyday for a month, watching me deal with new chemo side effects as they pop up and just generally having to jump into roles at home that you are not used to. All without complaint [the real miracle here, LOL]

So thank you Doc Dave! I know when you are married for 32 years [TODAY!] you can never say I love you and thank you enough, but I hope you know that I do love you [very much] and do I thank you, YOU most likely saved my life with your speedy response and networking to get me taken care of so quickly.  

Happy Anniversary to you, I couldn't be happier today to have met and married you all those years ago! 💋

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[fun fact: we are celebrating 32 years of marriage this weekend and have been very lucky in sickness, in that we have had very little of that in our time. David has stepped up and been great these last 6 weeks, just as you all imagined he would be . . . Again see how lucky I am!]

no hair no care!

Everyone seemed to think losing my hair was going to be the hardest; they were concerned for me. Wigs, scarves, hats, what's it going to be? . . . I guess it was hard at first but I gotta say being the glass half full kind of gal that I am, it's been my favorite part. [Actually, connecting with friends has been my favorite, but no hair in the Arizona summer is a def second!]

the positive side to having no hair:

hair doesn't get caught in glasses when i put them on my head

saving time and money on the coloring and cutting of your hair is great

the cool breeze you feel when the fan rotates over your head

save water! no hair results in shorter showers

need less shampoo and conditioner

nothing to hold back when you need to throw up

you can cool down really fast through your head

no worries about chlorine damaging your hair!

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girl gang

I have always been lucky to have great friends and family. Many are close, others far away. I have friends that I've known since grade school up to present day friends. Whether through HS, college, the kids, yoga, book club or artist friends, I am hearing from a lot of you.  A few friends knew I had the dr's appointments for the bloating and stomach pain, so when I got this awful ovarian cancer diagnosis [still can't believe it!] there was no hiding under a rock [and that turned out to be a good thing.]  Instinctually, I probably would have kept this to myself and processed it in my own time and eventually shared the news. Turns out that would have been the totally wrong thing to do. This gaggle of girls that I call friends [and family-they are interchangeable] have rallied around me and made me feel so very loved that it has brought me many tears; these are tears of joy to hear from all of you, to know that I have a special place in your heart and for you to take time out of your busy days to send me a card, text, call, take me to lunch or dinner, make me dinner, bring me dinner, send me a plant, a hat, a paint by numbers or a dress! I could go on and on at all the nice things these friends are continually doing for me.

Yes, I am very lucky and if it took getting cancer to open myself up to feeling it, well that is a damn shame on me, but really friends, this part does feel really good and I thank you for your love. I am about to go into my second round of chemo on July 10th and I have been warned it is going to be harder and the side effects are cumulative. So if you text me next week and I don't get back to you right away, do not worry, I am good. I am going to just thank you right now for thinking of me! There is no need to send me stuff, I do appreciate it but sending love is enough for me ❤️

[side note to my guy friends, the ones who have been texting me and giving me bear hugs when they see me, I def count you in my gang, it just didn't sound as good in the title, but you know I love you too!]

 

 

crying jag

Well for those of you reading this who know me, you know that I am not a big crier. I cry yes, mostly movies, seeing guys cry and very sad things but not your everyday run-of-the-mill hardships. When the doctor told me I had cancer she was looking in my eyes with this concerned look and my thought was wow, I did not see that coming. Point being, I hadn't really cried when I got the diagnosis. I shed a few tears laying in bed a few nights but I wouldn't call it crying. WELL, about 4 days ago, out of the blue everything was making me cry; people on the phone, people being nice to me, people looking away from me when they realized I had no hair, you know the usual. I was taken off guard. I had no idea there was such a thing as CHEMO crying.  So I was talking to my daughter the other day and I said wow, I had a really emotional day and her response was Yeah, aren't they the greatest  [I love that girl, I have no idea where she came from, but I love her so!]

chemo cruelties [round 1]

 Chemo kicked my butt – I had thought I was going to kick it's butt. I was wrong! Some days my goal was just to walk down the hallway or to the bathroom. I had no idea what I was in for, and maybe that was a good thing.   Here are a few of my unfavorite things . .    tired [felt like I had weights on hands and feet]  hair loss [started off physically painful and I was a bit emotional, but ended up to be surprisingly refreshing]  headaches [damn you hormones!!! [smf-shaking my fist]  sores in mouth/throat [OMFG!] [maybe 5 days in or so]  rash [seriously, this is over my whole body and itchy too which didn't hit until 10 days in]  nausea [medicines have helped, so far it has been minimal, fingers crossed]  dizziness [now w/o hair, who knows, I could be blond]  chemo brain [I love this one, I now have a valid excuse to be at a loss for a word or my train of thought]  neuropathy [numbness or tingling in the fingers,toes and head]  crying [didn't even know this was a side effect-started about 8 days in]

Chemo kicked my butt – I had thought I was going to kick it's butt. I was wrong! Some days my goal was just to walk down the hallway or to the bathroom. I had no idea what I was in for, and maybe that was a good thing.

Here are a few of my unfavorite things . . 

tired [felt like I had weights on hands and feet]

hair loss [started off physically painful and I was a bit emotional, but ended up to be surprisingly refreshing]

headaches [damn you hormones!!! [smf-shaking my fist]

sores in mouth/throat [OMFG!] [maybe 5 days in or so]

rash [seriously, this is over my whole body and itchy too which didn't hit until 10 days in]

nausea [medicines have helped, so far it has been minimal, fingers crossed]

dizziness [now w/o hair, who knows, I could be blond]

chemo brain [I love this one, I now have a valid excuse to be at a loss for a word or my train of thought]

neuropathy [numbness or tingling in the fingers,toes and head]

crying [didn't even know this was a side effect-started about 8 days in]

surgery and mom's

Surgery went well, Dr Willmott cleared everything out of there. Unfortunately, the cancer was the invasive kind and it was on the outside of the ovary and some neoplasm was in the pelvic wash. Thankfully, none had spread anywhere else, so that makes me a very lucky girl.

[fun fact: I am now am included in the only 15% of ovarian cancer patients who catch it early statistic!]

I was in the hospital until Wednesday; I couldn't wait to go home so no one would wake me in the middle of the night to give me shots and ask me how I was feeling.

My mom came in on Tuesday to help out. The first week was tough but the surgery recovery got better each day.  My mom really wanted to come out to help me, I was resisting because I am not a fan of having people around when I don't feel well, even my mom. I know, I know, At my age, I am very lucky to have such a young and healthy mom who is willing and able to jump on a plane to come lie around with me. When I thought of all of my friends who would have done anything to have that opportunity I relented, and I am glad I did. Although I didn't really need any help [except with my socks that day] it was really nice to hang out and watch TV and catch up---so thanks mom, I LOVE YOU! [since you may be the only one that reads this ;-)]

hellooo, did you forget me?

Like I said before, we waited a long time at the doctor's office and when we were finally with Dr. Willmott she was spent a lot of time with us.  She explained to me what ovarian cancer was and what she was going to be doing in the surgery etc., All the while my darling daughter Dana had flown in early to spend some time with us before going to Sedona with her girlfriends for a bachelorette party. [planned trip] It was all such a blur that we forgot to pick her up at the airport. We hadn’t told her I was going to the doctor because we didn’t really know what was going on yet and did not want to worry her needlessly if it wasn’t anything. So Dave ran and picked her up while I finished up with the doctor. After blood work, they picked me up and then we met Jake for lunch. If you are imagining a morbid or sad lunch, then you don't know my little family, it was a lunch like any other, with lots of laughing and catching up. As we were leaving though, I asked whether either had any questions or wanted to talk about what's going on with me. They were like, nope, we're good, dad told us .  .  .  As you can imagine, it was so nice to have both kids in town and to have Dana extend her stay until the next Wednesday so she could be with Dave and Jake for the surgery and me for a day or two after. Jake was right there with her. He took the day off work and spent the day at the hospital during the surgery on Monday and then came to visit me afterwards. It was nice having the family together even though I would’ve preferred much different circumstances!

[I have to admit a cried a bit when they left the hospital talking and were laughing and I didn't get to go with them]

dr, dr give me the news

I went to the internist on Monday, May 14th and tell her my symptoms and she thinks that I have diverticulitis as well and sends me for a CAT scan. All I can think is oh no but I love popcorn! (so there is a silver lining here) The lab has a cancellation that afternoon so I get right in Monday afternoon.

My internist calls the next day with the results and I can tell from her voice on the phone that it’s not going to be good. The good news is I don’t have diverticulitis (yay popcorn), the bad news is that there is a large mass. Next I call my gynecologist. I had just been in to see her on April 10. Dave has steam coming out of his ears. How could I have that large of a mass and she couldn’t feel it 5 weeks before. She didn’t return the call within five seconds and so Dave called a gynecological oncologist that he knows who wasn’t able to fit me in immediately but had a colleague who could.

So now it’s Wednesday and I’m going to see Lyndsay Willmott Md, who is a gynecological oncologist. After a long wait, which we mortals are used to but Doc Dave is not, we finally get in to see the doctor, she reviews my CAT scan and says that it is possible that the the mass is a fibroid cyst but she feels that it is my ovary and that it is cancerous. We will need to have an MRI to to gather more information.  (ovaries are normally the size of an almond, who knew ) Either way it needs to be removed ASAP. She spent a lot of time explaining everything to me. Most of that is a blur but I remember her being very nice and asking me if I had any questions. I didn't have any because it never occurred to me that I had cancer!

So now it is Thursday, and I get lucky again with cancellations. I am able to get set up for an MRI. (I needed another CAT scan of my lungs for another issue- but that came back fine. If you have lived in Arizona for any length of time you probably have some nodules on your lungs too because of valley fever ) Surgery is set for Monday morning May 21st, 2018!  

(ladies if you’re ever having a suspicious cyst or mass removed please go to a gynecological oncologist and not your regular gyn who can also do the same surgery because oncologists really know what to look for and you really don’t want to take any chances, just in case it is cancer)

be aware, very aware!

Awareness of symptoms is most important for early detection of OVC. This makes treatment more successful. If you experience any of these symptoms persistently, please discuss them with your doctor, or me!

abdominal bloating or swelling that persists

pain in the abdomen or pelvis  [my pain was only at the end]

lack of appetite [this has never happened in my life!]

difficulty in eating/feeling full quickly  [this was not an issue with me] 

feeling an urgent need to urinate [never urgent, often always]

change in your normal bowel habits  (wasn't really an issue . . . constipation or diarrhea)

change in menstrual periods [had a hysterectomy in 2011]

vaginal bleeding between periods

back pain [I had none]

weight gain or loss [I gained 5lbs which shouldn't have made my pants so tight]