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!

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12 Responses to “Polishing my chemo shoes”

  1. Martha Hernandez February 17, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

    Emily, your positive attitude is truly amazing! Stay strong and remember we are all thinking of you and sending positive energy your way!

  2. Karen Moger February 17, 2011 at 9:12 pm #

    Hi Em,
    Now your chemo treatments are starting to sound more like mine. I totally remember getting treatments On Fri. Sick on Sat. sicker on Sun. Puking in the sink with the water running. Physicing myself up on Mon. so I could work on Tues. Look at me today, I’m well and so will you. I do however STRONGLY recommend a port. There are no bad effects except for a slight scar. It saved me from futher paranoia of all the needles.

  3. Rita Hartert February 18, 2011 at 5:48 am #

    Think of you and and Nick and pray for
    you on a daily basis. Do appreciate these updates from you. Glad there are silver linings. Love you!

  4. Suzanne Svoboda February 18, 2011 at 7:36 am #

    Emily, keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. Below is something I keep on a little card inside my wallet, although I have read it hundreds of times always makes me stop and rethink my situation. Good Luck with your treatments and yes get the port installed you will thank yourself later.

    Don’t Quit…..

    When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
    When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
    When the funds are low and the debts are high,
    And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
    When care is pressing you down a bit,
    Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.

    Life is queer with its twists and turns,
    As every one of us sometimes learns,
    And many a failure turns about,
    When he might have won had he stuck it out;
    Don’t give up though the pace seems slow–
    You may succeed with another blow.

    Often the goal is nearer than,
    It seems to a faint and faltering man,
    Often the struggler has given up,
    When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
    And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
    How close he was to the golden crown.

    Success is failure turned inside out–
    The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
    And you never can tell how close you are,
    It may be near when it seems so far,
    So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–
    It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

    – Author unknown

  5. Fabs February 18, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    Em, despite the situation, you continue to amaze me with your positive attitude. I want to let you know that we are always thinking about you, my prayers and thoughts are always with you; however I am going to make them even stronger. Love and miss u.

  6. Melinda February 18, 2011 at 2:56 pm #

    Your bravery continues to astonish me. Frankly, I don’t think the cancer stands a chance against your will and determination. My thoughts are absolutely with you.

  7. Rachel February 20, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    Em-
    You and Nick are in our thoughts and prayers. If you have the time or energy, please let us know about your treatments- from a medical standpoint, I’m very interested in what your docs decide will be the best treatment for you. You are so strong and determined…every day I am amazed at your fortitude and positivity. Keep fighting!!!!!
    Rachel

  8. Stephanie Djerf February 21, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    Sorry to hear the unfortunate news. Maybe this is a good excuse to get a really cute new pair of shoes??? ;) My family and I continue to keep you in our thoughts, Emily.

  9. Kristen B February 21, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    Emily, that stinks, but I and my mom (who is currently on chemo for colon cancer) are rooting for you! ::rah rah::

  10. Toni Sandler February 22, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    Greetings “Little Boss.” I’m so sorry to hear of this, but I have great faith that it will work out…Not only faith, but experience. My feisty Mom had you beat by one. She beat bladder, uterine AND lung cancer. And, to her shame, she continued to smoke until the day, as a little old lady, she passed away from heart failure. Go figure! My prayers are with you.

  11. Kathleen February 22, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    Emily, My best thoughts and wishes are wrapping you in a healing blanket. I look forward to seeing you soon.

  12. RYAN February 23, 2011 at 8:37 pm #

    HEY M. IT’S RYAN & THE TAHOE DOGGIE ENTOURAGE. WE ARE ALL MISSING YOU AND CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU & NICK AGAIN! I’M SO IMPRESSED WITH YOUR TENACITY AND POSITIVE ATTITUDE IS AWE INSPIRING. ALSO, I’M REALLY GLAD TO HEAR YOU KICKED THE JUNK. I CAN’T BELIEVE THE ENERGY YOU HAVE AS I’M AM GETTING TIRED FOR YOU. IT’S LIKE YOU HAVE JUST ENDED THE 5 ROUND OF A UFC TITLE FIGHT, THE CROWD (YOUR FANS – FRIENDS & FAMILY) ARE ROARING AND DANA WHITE IS TO OPEN THE 6TH FOR A PROMISED KNOCKOUT ROUND. EACH TIME WE FACE ADVERSITY, WE GAIN STRENGTH, COURAGE & CONFIDENCE TO PERSEVERE IN THE DOING. I’M YOUR BIGGEST FAN & CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU PUT ON THE CHAMPIONSHIP BELT! AS YOU KNOW, WE ARE ALL ON OUR FEET CHEERING FOR YOU AS YOU ARE ABOUT TO K.O. THE BIG C. A MERICLE? POSSIBLY… I’DE LIKE TO THINK CANCER DOESN’T HAVE A CHANCE GOING AGAINST YOU. A MARATHON MORE LIKE IT AND YOU HAVE TACKLED THESE BEFORE. YOUR ON THE HOME STRETCH. BUT IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN, YOU WILL WIN! THERE ISN’T A BETTER SPEACH I COULD THINK OF THAT COULD MEET THESE INSPIRING MOMENTS. SO AS YOU HEAR THESE WORDS KNOW THESE ARE THE FINAL MOMENTS OF YOUR OPPONENT. STAY STRONG, WE ARE ALL COUNTING ON YOU!

    HOPE THIS PUTS A SMILE ON YOUR FACE.
    BY THE WAY LEN AND CAROL FROM UP HERE WANTED FOR ME TO LET YOU ARE IN THEIR THOUGHTS AS WELL!
    GIVE A BIG HUG AND KISS TO D & N FOR US ALL.

    R

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