Friday, May 30, 2008

So proud of my Baby Boy!

Just wanted to post a link... to Darren's blog. He just started it. Hopefully he will keep it up :o) with some prodding I'm sure...

Today was his last day of school. He's completed the sixth grade! Wow!This has been his Best School Year yet and I am really proud of him.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

One happy customer...

What a beautiful day it was today huh? My mom and I went downtown to hang out and visit the local beauty school - The Aveda Institute - for some summer pampering at the discount level. She was supposed to get her hair cut, and I was going to get a pedicure. A power outage at the salon changed that plan. See what I mean, just 'cause you add it to the calendar, doesn't mean it's gonna happen.

We ended up walking up and down the 16th Street Mall, getting a little sun, and checking out a few shops along the way. Somewhere between about 8pm last night and the time I found out our appointments were cancelled, I decided I wanted a haircut. Yes people - I realize I just got my haircut 13 days ago... but it had to be done. I don't think I mentioned this to you, maybe I have - but I've been losing hair. Not tons, but a lot more than normal. Dr Azar did tell me it would thin out, but this thinning out is driving me crazy. It seems mostly to happen when I wash it - which is everyday. I comb through conditioner and run my hand through - and there it is. A clump of hair. That didn't used to happen before. I'm not traumatized by it, it's just getting on my nerves.

Anyway, I found out that there was a second salon "school" just down the street and I made an appointment. Find out that this is kinda the "grad school" and my haircut will be in the hands of someone with experience. Yay! Good thing, 'cause of course the cut I want is pretty specific and a bit more technical than just a quick trim. Ryan was my stylist and seemed like a pretty cool guy. He asked what I wanted, I looked around and pointed to a poster on the wall. Bam! He did the doo and I walked out one happy customer. But not before taking a picture of course! Also, Ryan if you check this out - here is a photo of me with my face painted up for a Mammoth Game! And that's my brother that I told you about. I did his hair :o)

So, back to my day - I get home and Mario and Karen came over for dinner. My Godson was so happy to see me! (Okay, he didn't want to take a picture, but he was happy to see me).

PS - I forgot to mention, Aveda is going to give us our services that were cancelled today - FREE. I love FREE.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Time for some pix!

My bananaphone bag... Yes, it's a fanny pack - but look how cool I made it. Haha, yes - you heard me right. I said cool. hahaha. I'm soooo funny! Don't bother telling me how crooked my flower is, I'm gonna pretend it's just perfect ;o)

Me & my Godson Adrian at Hibachi Grill - celebrating his continuation, which I didn't get to go to 'cause I was supposed to be getting chemo (2nd try).
Alejandro and Jayda at his graduation party.

Me, Jayda and Nikkita at Alejandro's Graduation Party

Me, Mateo and Karen at a Potluck for Mateo's last day of pre-school! (Two days after chemo, looking good - not)

Darren and Mondo - out for Pho.

And Eric too....

Aubreyana and Mondo at the BBQ

Jayda Marie at the Memorial Day BBQ

John & Lisa at the BBQ too...

Monday, May 26, 2008

A good-day-before-the-icks-kick-in...

So today, I guess, was the official end of the three-day Memorial Day Weekend. I thought it went well. Anyway, here's my recap - I only have one previous chemotherapy treatment to gauge it by, and I guess I could have given myself some slack. One thing I did find out is - either I look better than I feel, or lots of people are lying to me.

After my first chemo (which was also on a Wednesday) I felt okay through Friday. I mean, I had a headache and was hot the first day. I was tired all three of those days. But I didn't feel horrible. And, I still had my appetite. By Saturday I was not only tired - like wiped out tired, I was feeling bad too. Flu-ish. My tummy hurt. I lost my appetite. Just ick. And that lasted for the rest of the "chemo week". It was about Tuesday when I finally got back to something normal.

That's what you get for planning...
So that's kind of what I planned for right? I mean, we had thought about taking a short weekend trip to New Mexico, just to get away. When my treatment got postponed (twice), we nixed those plans. I didn't want to be on a mini-vacation in the middle of the icks.

What really happened...
Not much more on Wednesday than what I already posted. Hot. Tired. Headache. So I rested. I felt my first symptoms of neuropathy. This is like a tingling in my fingers. Kind of like a numbness. Come Thursday I wasn't feeling too bad either. So after sleeping most of the day, I got up, got ready and went and met a friend for a bite to eat. Not bad.

Friday, fearing it was my last "good day" before the icks, I planned on going to my Godson's last day of school potluck. He is four years old and called to invite me "Nina, if you'we feeling okaaaay, will you please come to my last day of schoowl? - If you'we feeling okay?" Heart melt. "Yes buddy. I will be there." By this time my appetite was being picky enough where I munched only on some fruits and edamame. We stayed an hour and I was ready for a nap.

That evening I thought I had plans with a friend to come over and veg out with some take-home and a chick flick. I must have got my dates crossed though and honestly, wasn't really sweating it. But Mondo called and asked if I wanted to go grab a bite. He knew that one of the things I had felt like eating was Pho - Vietnamese rice noodle soup just in case you didn't know- so he asked if I still wanted to go, and he and Eric came by to pick us up (Darren loves Pho too). That was cool. After dinner, Mondo asked how I was feeling. "Pretty good I think. Dinner was good". So he says, "well how about dessert?". At this point, I'm up for it and I'm getting a strong feeling that Mondo and Eric must have planned to spend this time, my '"good-day-before-the-icks-kicked-in", with me. It improved my mood tremendously. I felt very Cinderella'ish - hard to explain.

After dessert, again Mondo asked how I was feeling.
Me: I'm still good.
Mondo: Do you want to do anything?
Me: Like what?
Mondo: Go for a walk around the mall? The park? Downtown? Whatever?
See, I had told Mondo that I like to walk and at the very least would like to get out and do that. He's indulged me at his most exhausted hours to walk with me around Colorado Mills though and it's one of the many things I love him for - keeping me company. Darren was about done with us, so we dropped him off and took some time to review Westword to see if there were any art exhibits on. Too late for that, but we decided to check out the movie "21" at the Elvis Theatre. What a crazy night. It may not seem like that to you, but to me - it was crazy and I was tired and it was fun and I was glad to have the guys take a Friday night off so that I could have a good'un before the icks. It made me feel really special.

Anyway, as it turns out, Saturday wasn't so bad either. Tired, I slept most of the day and since my parents went out that evening, I got my butt up and went upstairs to hang out with Darren. He let me pick the movie - even though I fell asleep 15 minutes into it. When I woke up and noticed he had snuck into the computer room, he came back in to keep me company. He set up a target and we played with a dart gun for a bit until I said, time for bed. It was so simple, but so nice.

Sunday, determined - I got up and got ready and went to church. I needed to catch up on my hugs. Pastor Mark talked about Thanksgiving and how it's more than just one day a year and it's more than when you're getting all of your wishes and wants. He talked about Thanking God when maybe you just feel like crying, or maybe you feel like you don't have much to be thankful about. All I wanted to say was "Amen"... but really, I don't feel like crying, and I know that have tons to be thankful for - I guess my Amen is for just that...

Sunday afternoon, we had tried to put together a barbeque. It was a last minute thing when the trip fell through, so it didn't look like many people would make it. I wasn't sure even if Mondo would. Honestly, it got me a little down and I felt like cancelling it, but mom said 'no'. I'm happy about that 'cause it turned out to be a good one. Easy, relaxing and good company.

So, to all those that said that I looked good this weekend and looked or sounded shocked when you said it (haha :o) - I thought it was funny each time. I hope to continue to surprise you, just as this weekend surprised me. While I haven't felt great since my treatment, I still had a great weekend - and that must be what you saw when you looked at me. I can do this, I know - and having you all around me makes it easier.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Chemotherapy - Session II (finally)

Hi friends!

Guess what? The Neupogen worked! My counts were good to go and I was finally able to receive my 2nd chemotherapy treatment! Yay! I am now through with two!

Here's where I'm at -


Actual Low High
Bloodpressure 103/71
(Less than 120/80)
WBC 17.3
3.5 11.0
HGB 12.6
12.0 16.0
HCT 36.5
34.0 47.0
Platelets 290
150.0 450.0
Neutrophils 13.0
1.5 7.5

My Neutrophils like thirteen-ippled

Wow! Where do I start? I'll start with some of the Neupogen side effects - which were not so good. I was told that I might get flu like symptoms including pain in my bones. On Monday afternoon, I started to feel a pain in my jaw. By the evening it was so bad and it hurt so much I felt like I needed to squeeze my face to put pressure to stop it. Then I started to get a headache. A horrible headache. But I couldn't even get up to take Tylenol. I just tried to fall asleep, and eventually I did. In the morning, I took some Tylenol and my headache went away. Then the backache started. Near my hips and lower back. Ugh, I was wondering if it was from walking around - but I didn't really walk that much. So, that was the bad of it. The good of it is - like I said before, it worked. I'm way excited about that.

Today was really good though...

Dr Azar thought, since my reaction to this dose of Neupogen was so good, that we should do a trial... to try not taking the Neupogen as often as it is normally prescribed, and instead - take a dose (just one dose) two days before my next chemo! If this works, then instead of taking Neupogen almost everyday, then I will only take it once every two weeks! Also, if this works then I pretty much have the meds covered with the Neupogen that Dr Azar gave me. That would be a BIG relief! So, if you can - please pray that this will work. It would be really awesome if it did.

About my treatment...
Well, I met two more really great people. First, my nurse Laney (or maybe Lanie). She was really nice (they all are) and even talked to me about her three sons. One of them plays a big bass guitar. You know, the kind that are about as big as a small house? He is studying jazz. I think that is so cool. Makes me want to jazz out right now. The second person I met was this man who sat in a chair next to me. His name is Angelo and he is actually on the same regimen I'm on - but he got into the test group and is also taking the Cetuximab (C225) study drug. He's on his 7th treatment. Anyway, he is really nice and friendly and talked to me and my mom for a long while. He told me about his experiences so far and also about himself. He even said he would send me a recipe for mussels. mmmm.... If my WBC's behave themselves and stay on schedule, then I should see him at my next treatment. Dennis (my social worker) also stopped by to say 'hi' and meet my mom. Yep, he's still nice too :o) And Charla (nurse) showed me how to give myself shots.

And now...
I am at home, getting ready to lay down for a bit. I have a headache and am hot. Same as last time. Karen A, (my pastor's wife) stopped by and delivered some homemade soup and brownies - isn't that awesome. Good deal cause mom was with me all day at the Franklin Clinic and even took me to a book store on the way home.

One last thing...

Oh yeah, before I go, I found out a bit more information on the "Relay For Life". It will be on July 18 &19 at the Founders Green from 6pm-8am (it's an overnighter, but have heard they are lots of fun). The registration cost for a team is $100 - which I don't think is too bad. I am pretty sure I have a commitment from Mario, Karen and Mondo - so we already have a team of four. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, LET ME KNOW IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN JOINING US. As soon as I get the registration fee, I will sign us up!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Neupogen, snoopogen - Neutrophils, can't we be friends?

Allrighty. Here I am again. And what's that you're saying? "Gee, that was fast Tommy. I thought it took several hours to have your blood drawn, see the doc, receive chemo and then get home and settled to blog. You, are amazing."

Well, you're right - **wink-wink**. It should have taken a lot longer...

Actually, my WBC's must be on strike or something. I mean, I think they're talking it over with management and may be giving in a little 'cause my neutrophils have went up a bit - just not enough.

Here's where I'm at -


Actual Low High
Bloodpressure 107/68
(Less than 120/80)
WBC 3.7
3.5 11.0
HGB 12.4
12.0 16.0
HCT 36.1
34.0 47.0
Platelets 301
150.0 450.0
Neutrophils 1.0
1.5 7.5
Oh Yeah, this party is really getting started now.

So what's the deal now?
Well over the weekend (which was awesome by the way) I was thinking...
Why would they reduce my dosage as a first protocol? Wouldn't in make more sense to give me the Neupogen and just give a boost to my WBC's right away? I mean, then we'd be pretty sure they would go up right?

Today, I found out Dr Azar (who was on vacation last week) wants to do the Neupogin shots anyway (even before my lab results came back with the low-count news). The thing is, Neupogen isn't in the form of a pill. It's a shot. And it isn't a one time shot. It's not even two time shots. It's a five-days-a-week for the term of my treatment injection! And ooh ooh - the side effects may be flu like and hurt in my bones! Cancer, you are so ruining this relationship for me. I'm really starting not to like you. And then, as is the case with so many health issues - it ain't cheap. Dr Azar told me what to expect and I looked at her with a bit of nervousness "Can they bill me?". She says "oh yeah". A smile and sigh of relief from me "Allright then. Let's just add that to my tab." Dear God, I am trying to practice some grace and you keep making it easier on me. Everyday You bring some sort of light into my day that I know just might not have been there any other time. Today, Dr Azar GAVE me my first 10 doses of Neupogen! Thank you Lord AND thank you Dr Azar. You rock!

So, now I have an appointment for Wednesday to go in and do another bloodlab. I'm confident that this Neupogin will work it's magic and of course, all your thoughts and prayers will surely help too. If my counts are good, then I will receive my chemo then. Third times a charm right?

Okay, there ya go. I have learned way early in my journey that things don't just happen 'cause you add them to your calendar. And I am okay with that. I am just gonna take it one day at a time and try not to sweat the small stuff - or the big stuff that I have no control over for that matter.

Wish me luck...

Okay, I'm off to try again... 2nd Round of Chemo. Hopefully my bloodcounts will cooperate. Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

No chemo for you!

So, today's been fun... kinda.

I made a bright and early appointment for a haircut this morning so that I could make it in time to my chemo. (Hey Sue, what do you think of my hair all pinned up? - Sexy huh? hahaha!)

The schedule should have went something like this -
9:30am to 11:00am: Haircut
11:30am: Blood Draw in Oncology
12'ish: Lunch
12:30pm: Doctor's Appt w/Charlene Trouillot (NP)
1:00pm to 5:00pm: Chemotherapy
Things went well until I got to my Doctor's appointment where I found out my bloodcounts were too low for me to get my chemo treatment. I really didn't even know what that meant, but I do know that I didn't expect to encounter this problem so soon. Bloodcounts were on my list of questions to ask today. I can't say that I am crystal clear, but for those of you that want to know - here's where I'm at -


Actual Low High
Bloodpressure 119/73 (Less than 120/80)
WBC 3.4 3.5 11.0
HGB 13.0 12.0 16.0
HCT 38.1 34.0 47.0
Platelets 306 150.0 450.0
Neutrophils 0.7 1.5 7.5
Oh Yeah, sounds like a party to me.

So what's the deal now?
I'm told it's probably not the 'norm' for someone who has only had one chemo treatment to have low counts. Here I am, beating the odds again huh? Charlene said I might just have a higher sensitivity to the drugs than the average person. I will be going back in on Monday to see if my counts are up and hopefully they are. If so, I will go ahead with treatment, likely with a lower dosage of Oxaliplatin. If this doesn't work, there is a second protocol that would involve a new medication in shot form called neupogen. We'll see what happens.

It's a bummer that this is going to throw my chemo off schedule - but I can look on the brighter side. I should be feeling okay this weekend and that means I might be able to better enjoy the stuff my family has going on - a babyshower, graduation and housewarming party. That sounds good to me. Plus, I might actually feel like combing my new d00! I got bangs - yeah.

Also, I visited NP Theresa again. She had a book for me Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips and while I sat and talked to her a bit, she just made me really appreciate her being one of the people I've met through this. She asked me if I wanted to join a team for a walk that the American Cancer Society is sponsoring. It's called the "Relay For Life" and I am thinking that would be fun. I will post more on this later, but if you are interested - please let me know. That would be cool if I could talk a few people into going!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Are you happy that I do?

Heya Peeps! It's been a minute since I've written hasn't it?

Well, just to let you all know I am doing well. I know I missed church this last Sunday, but it was only 'cause I was getting ready for our Mother's Day celebration. Thanks to all of you who called and emailed to check on me. I love you for it. This past week has actually found me feeling pretty good. Spending time with the family and being really grateful for the "ups" on my rollercoaster ride. I'm getting ready for my 2nd treatment, which is on this coming Thursday.

Today I had a visit with my Social Worker, Dennis. He will be keeping track of all my meetings, appointments, special events, dinner dates, etc. Yes, I am just kidding! I guess he's not that kind of "social" worker. Haha! I am still cracking myself up!

Anyway, one thing I found out when I went in for my Chemo class is that I have a whole Oncology Team, and part of this team is a social worker. Dennis is very aware that a major stress factor for someone newly diagnosed with cancer (other than being diagnosed with cancer) is the financial burden this business causes. He gave me a couple of ideas of where I might get some assistance and basically let me know that I am not out of my mind with the confusion I am dealing with in regard to my leave from work.

As we were finishing up he let me know he is there - even if I just need to talk - or if Darren needs to talk, and he asked me how I was doing. I told him that I thought I was doing well. Still haven't had a breakdown and am wondering if that's coming at some point. But also noted, as I have stated many times before - as terrible as this is, I have felt blessing upon blessing these past couple of months. I told him about the support I get from my family, from my friends, and about my church family at Faith Mountain. Dennis started shuffling through some papers and said, "I'm gonna read off a couple of answers to a survey of cancer patients and you let me know what you think they said was the thing that helped them the most to get through it." Before he even read the list, Prayer is what came to my mind. And Prayer was the number one response. We talked about how a doctor might not be able to grasp the part that "faith" has in a patient's recovery because it's not something that they can do a clinical trial on, they can't prove it. (And I'm not gonna argue that here. I don't need to.) He said, they (the MD) might say "why wasn't it the chemo that got them through it?" And I responded, "cause anyone who has ever gone through chemo will tell you that the chemo knocks you on your ass. It's the prayer that lifts you back up."

If I were to say it again, I guess I would say it's faith that lifts me back up. It's believing that I will get better, believing that God is beside me through this and He has a plan. Every day I'm lifted by my loved ones and it really doesn't matter if a doctor believes it, or if a stranger does, or even if you do - all that matters is that I believe it. And I would hope, that the people who care about me, would be happy that I do.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Man, it feels good to feel good

Yesterday I finally felt better! I got up... and, I got my appetite back. Yay!

I went to lunch with some friends (Happy Birthday Sue!) and then I stopped at my doctor's office. I even went and visited the nurse I mentioned back in Are you a Tigger or an Eeyore? She is so nice. And then I went to Darren's school to talk about my photography. It felt good to get out of the house, and I felt accomplished just getting a few errands done.

I had been being such a baby, laying in bed feeling like poo - and thinking to myself is this what I'm gonna feel like for six months. I don't think I can take this. wah wah wah. And then I went and read a couple of blogs... One was my little cousin Taylor's ( She is only 12 years old and has been battling cancer since June. Her cancer is both rare and aggressive and she has been receiving chemo and radiation treatments since then. In and out of the hospital and back and forth from Pueblo to Denver for 9 months. Her story is heartbreaking, yet she remains full of an amazing courage. It put me back in my place real quick. Things are not that bad for me. They could be much much worse. By the way, if you reading this are praying friends - would you add Taylor to your list?

On another note - did you know the first week of May is "Teacher Appreciation Week"? Know what I've done for Darren's teachers? Nothin' - yet. Hopefully I will get some cookies baked or something though for tomorrow. But what's funny is, here it is "Teacher Appreciation Week", and the staff at West Denver Prep did something for me! They sent me the best card and care package ever. A whole week's worth of frozen dinners from a Supper Solutions type place! Make me cry why don't ya. You guys are the best - and my mom appreciates it sooooo much!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Who's afraid of chicken pot pie?

I have never been so afraid to eat in my life.  I guess since nothing sounds good to me, I'm afraid if I try to eat it might make me sick. 

Last night I had a dream about school.  Not really about school, but about the cinnamon rolls they used to sell at school.  They were rolled really thin and super gooey and so good.  I had a dream about going to school to get some cinnamon rolls and nachos.  Could it be that my appetite is coming back?

I don't know, but I'm about to make a trip to the grocery store for some tortilla chips...  And I'm not even scared!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

My whole weekend didn't suck...

I feel like poo.

That's why I haven't been blogging like crazy, like I had been. It wasn't to give you all a break if that's what you were thinking :o)

Anyway, my whole weekend didn't suck...
Friday, I woke up at 4:30pm, just in time to get ready to go meet some friends for dinner. Remember way back at the beginning of this roller coaster ride - when I checked myself into the ER? Well, that night I was supposed to have dinner with some friends at the Hibachi Grill to celebrate my birthday. Getting admitted to the hospital put a kink in those plans. Anyway, nothing like making up for lost time. They took me out to a belated birthday dinner at the Hibachi Grill on Friday night and it was pretty fun.

Saturday, my mom and I attended a "Full Tea" at the Molly Brown House. Some very sweet ladies from our church (I still don't know who - but thank you very much), bought us tickets for this event to celebrate women in our lives. It was a new experience to many of us, but a cool way to spend a beautiful afternoon. That evening, we went to a Mammoth (vs Calgary) playoff game. Unfortunately, the Mammoth lost and the season is now over :o( But I have to say, I didn't know if I would make it through the game. I almost went out to the van to lie down. I was wiped out.

Today is Sunday. I've been in bed most of the day. Didn't sleep well at all - had bad tummy aches. Mom seems worried that I'm not hungry, but I did manage to eat a bowl of fried rice. I'm not sure why, but the only thing that sounds good to me is watermelon (which I also had a plate of). Tomorrow I think I will take a field trip to Whole Foods to find some crisp, juicy, sweet but a little tart apples. Hahaha! I can be one picky sick chick huh? Awe well, at least they let you sample at Whole Foods. Maybe a grapefruit too, if they look sweet...

I'm mad at myself for being such a whiner. Although, I'm not really whining, just staying in bed so it feels like I'm whining through my actions.

Tomorrow, I will get up.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A few pics... from the zoo

Just a few pics from the zoo trip, aka "Tommy BC's New Year's Eve Celebration" mentioned on post titled Why are my eyes leaking.

A few pics... from Chemo Session#1 and Family Dinner

Also, a few pics from chemo session #1 (probably duplicated below) but with additional photos of the family visiting for dinner afterwards.

Also, wanted to apologize on slacking off on noticing the goodstuff in blog form. Here's way to few to make up a bit...
Noticing the "good stuff" -
[x] Ice Cream & Iced Drinks
[x] Done with One!
[x] Blog comments - thank you Lori & Christina!!!
[x] Small groups at FM
[x] MY Band of Sisters
[x] Sheila - you rock!
[x] Mom, for everything
[x] anti-nausea medication
[x] The Zoo!
[x] Family dinners