Archive | February, 2011

A foolishly good time

24 Feb

First off, welcome to the new blog!  I decided we were in need of a makeover as we prepare to welcome our 20,000th visitor, and in celebration of National Colorectal Cancer month in March. Now on to the fun stuff…

Remember the amazing support network I keep talking about?  Well they are at it again!  On Sunday, April 3, 2011 a growing number of family and friends will be gathering in Lewiston, Minnesota to participate in the 33rd Annual Fool’s Five Road Race in my honor!  The race proceeds benefit the Mayo Clinic, Gundersen Lutheran Foundation and the Lewiston Area Cancer Support Group.  This is not the first time, however, that family members have participated in this race.  Last year, my cousin Erica and her family participated in honor of Mike Trigg, husband of my cousin Jessi.  Mike had recently been diagnosed with Non-Hodgekin’s Lymphoma and the family support system was ready to act.  Mike has since won his battle with cancer (yay!) and this year, he and Jessi announced they were making the trip from Chicago to Lewiston for the race in order to pay it forward in my honor!  How cool is that?!?  Since then, I’ve learned of a number of other family and friends that will be joining. When I first caught wind of the race, I was uncertain if I’d be able to make it, not knowing what my docket of doctor’s appointments would look like.  I recently learned however that I’ll be able to participate, as it falls nicely between my chemo appointments!

Not only am I looking forward to participating with family and friends in this amazing cause, but it also is a great goal to work towards.  I have to keep reminding myself though that registering for the race is one thing, but actually finishing the race is a whole other story!  In my past (pre-cancer life), a 5 mile run was fairly regular accomplishment; in December, 2005 I ran the Las Vegas Marathon.  However shortly after my cancer treatments began last summer, my exercise regimen quickly became non-existent once chemo fatigue set in and surgery followed.  It’s time to reverse that, and the Fool’s Five race is the perfect catalyst to jump start a cautious training routine!  Stay tuned for race updates, and if you are interested in joining us register today at http://www.foolsfive.org/. See you on Main Street!

2005 Las Vegas Marathon - Mile #23

Polishing my chemo shoes

17 Feb

Those of you who have been following my blog since this past summer will remember that wearing cute shoes to my chemotherapy sessions was an absolute must.  Well, the results of recent CT scans have forced me to polish up my chemo shoes and landed me back in a string of chemotherapy sessions – sadly, this is not the progress I was hoping to report. The abdominal scan I had at the end of January to check the current status of my liver lesions revealed a significant increase in the number of spots.  After learning of this growth rate (going from 1 to 9), we decided to conduct a CT scan of my lungs, as this would be the next most likely destination for the cancer to progress.  Sure enough, the cancer was there and had already set up camp in 13 small nodules across both of my lungs.  Ugh.  We previously had been exploring liver-specific treatments to combat the lesions there, but now it was evident that a rigid course of chemotherapy was needed, and it needed to hit more than just my liver.  After learning all of this, my diligent and amazing husband managed to get me pre-authorization for insurance and an appointment for chemo treatment in under 18 hours, which is unheard of, at least with my insurance company. I’m still not sure how he did it, but I can only imagine ominous calls to the insurance company in true John Q fashion (compelling Denzel Washington movie, if you haven’t seen it).

So how did this happen? And isn’t this frightening? According to doctors, this seemingly aggressive growth rate of my cancer isn’t really all that rapid, considering I’ve been off chemo for a long time.  (Apparently they consider five months a long time; to me, it seems like it was just yesterday.)  As for the fear factor, yes, this recent news is daunting, however my medical team remains optimistic.  They look at cancer treatment and therapies as different ‘lines of defense’.  I kinda like this analogy because it epitomizes the mentality I have, I am at war and have a battle plan.  Because my initial cycle of chemotherapy last summer was done in conjunction with radiation treatment, they couldn’t administer a complete dosage….and despite this, I still showed a promising response to the treatment.  Now that I am no longer receiving radiation, the first line of defense will be in full effect.  And whatever isn’t killed by this first line of defense will be subject to the second line of defense, and so on.  So yes, it seems a bit scary, however it is nothing outside of the ‘norm’ for cancer progression.

Next steps are to undergo another cycle of four chemo treatments, one every three weeks.  Each round will be three times as strong as the dosage I received this past summer.  I experienced the first of these rounds last Friday and am still recovering.  The actual session wasn’t that bad, however several hours later flu-like symptoms begin to set in.  I didn’t step foot outside the house from Friday evening until Tuesday morning; I managed to work from home on Monday but even that was difficult.  In addition, because I don’t have a port (a temporary IV that is surgically implanted in your chest to allow easy access to main veins), I receive the chemo IV directly in my arm.  I always opt for my non-dominant arm because in past chemo sessions the treatment would always leave me with a tingling sensation.  Well that sensation was so much more intense this time around that I am just now beginning to regain use and movement of my arm – 7 days later.  I’m trying to look on the bright side and remind myself that I only have three more of these treatments to go, but each time I even think about another round it makes me want to hurl.

As this new update has spread down the grapevine, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for the continued and overwhelming support.  From cards to flowers to donations to frequent flier miles to being added to prayer chains, it has been amazing.  Thank you.  Keep the prayers flowing and I promise to keep the updates coming!