Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Three Down, Five to Go--and Good News

Good news! The treatment yesterday wasn't so bad, it has been akin to the 2nd one so far :) This means that I am feeling relatively well, and have a fair amount of energy, for which I am so grateful. I may feel a bit crudy over the next few days, but that isn't bad considering what it could be.

A couple of other pieces of good news--I got my genetic test results back on the BRCA1 and 2 genes, and it is NEGATIVE--YEAH!!! That means that my half-sisters don't have any undo genetic risk for breast cancer, at least from our father's side, and it means that I am not at a huge risk for ovarian cancer :)

The other good news is that my dad's wife, Marguerite had a very successful surgery to clamp off the aneurism in her brain. In the last three days, in particular the majority of the pain she was in during recovery has subsided, most likely due to the swelling going down, and she is now planning when she will start with PT, OT and another therapy, I believe it is speech therapy.

All in all, I think this is a great way to ring in the new year! I am ever thrilled and grateful for all your kindnesses and interest and faith exerted on my behalf. I wish you all a prosperous and happy New Year! Love, gf

Friday, December 26, 2008

Yes, she was warned . . . BUT!

Merry Boxing Day to Gretchen's blog-followers!

'Tis been awhile since we blogged here -- just thought you might like a catch-up.

The kidlett is doing just fine . . . NOW.

On her way home from work early afternoon Tuesday, she was suddenly hit with the deep bone pain she was warned about. Just like THAT -- grabbed her outta the blue -- severe pain in the shoulders, spine, pelvis, hips, and down both legs. She made it from the garage into her house but that was IT for the remainder of the day. Couldn't even answer the doorbell when friends dropped by with Christmas goodies. She sat there crying out in pain and just bearing it. Didn't tell me about it 'til Wednesday. Poor kid. These are the times when a single person should NOT be living alone. However, I know there are millions of singles out there who are in both physical and emotional pain who are in just as, or greater, need of comfort and help.

Our patient was finally able to take enough ibuprofen and get to the bathroom for a nice hot soak in the tub to aleviate the pain enough to have a night's sleep.

Wednesday was better. Bone pain, but not as bad as long as that giant ibuprofen bottle was handy.

Overall, Gretchen has insomnia problems, gut pain, and odd eating abnormalities that keep us concerned, but they're all part of the literature and other warnings on the subject, so we're not surprised, just, well . . . you know.

Like everyone reading this, we hate to see a loved one in distress or discomfort. Or pain of ANY kind!

Gretchen's Christmas was happy and relative pain-free. We three had a lazy, movie-watching, relaxing, and Santa-generous day. We went to bed wearing the same jammies we woke up in!

We're expecting family visits today and maybe we'll make it OUT to see one/two of those promising-looking movies in the theaters. Our buddy, Aaron may join us. AND we have a family wedding to go to in Heber. Right now the patient is poaching eggs for Eggs Benedict -- whaddya think about THEM apples?!

Next chemo date: This coming Tuesday. Two families are coming as house guests on Wednesday for extended visits. Gretchen will stay at her house, but I'll go there too, if my help is needed. These crazy treatments. We just don't know WHAT to expect!

Stay tuned . . . AND thank you again for your continued prayers . . .

Lindy-Lou the Mom

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

...Gone Tomorrow

Last night the hair came off! It was good timing too, as just that morning I had a clump of hair come out as I was combing conditioner through. It was the first time that that had happened. Carri, Mollee and Dave, Cindy, Aaron and my mom and Alan all joined me for the big event. We started by Mollee and Carri putting a lot of little pony tails in my hair, and then we all took turns cutting them off with my mother collecting them strait so we could assemble them in a big pony tail to send off to Locks of Love. Then Carri cut the remaining hair shorter and Mollee then used the clippers to get it shorter still, and then Carrie finished it off with a razor and soap. Some parts are smoother than others, but in the end, we got it all off. I was surprised that I wasn't in tears, but with such loving friends and family around, it turned out to be alright. I forgot about a scar I have on the top of my head from a fall when I was six...I had to get five stitches, and it stands out clear as a bell on the smooth top. It was a lovely evening, a great end to a wonderful day...

It was my first day back to work, and I was overwhelmed by the amazing welcome I received from my dear friends there. I was greeted by men who had shaved their heads in solidarity, a lovely pink Christmas tree decorated with pink lights, ornaments and ribbons and a pink stocking with my name on it. Also, Seth had organized a lunch get together where I was able to meet with and chat with such dear friends. A huge surprise was an enormously generous check, a gift from fellow co-workers, which included folks from 3 continents, 4 Navitaire offices, and even some customers. All these amazing things had me in tears, of course, and leads me once again to search for words to express my gratitude. Thanks seems so paltry in the midst of such genuine goodness and love. Over and over again the phrase "your strength is my strength" is what I feel. Any grace I may achieve is because you are giving it to me. Much love to you all. gf

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hair Today...

Another first on this road of many firsts...wig shopping with Santa Alan, Mom and Heidi Ho. Here are some fun pics of the event. We chose two different fun!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Better Week

I just wanted to put out a quick update on this week's progress...I understand now why they give you a week between treatments, as it is a wonderful opportunity to feel better for a little while. No doubt about it, last week was not one of my favorites, but I am encouraged by the increased level of energy and appetite that I have felt so far this week. I don't know if the chemo or the drugs I took to combat the chemo effects were any case, none if it tops the fun list. It has been a time of exploration and trying to understand what the new "normal" is all about. I am trying to find the healthy line between resting and activity, and where it is that makes the most sense and gives me direction and purpose without wearing me out. I have a sneaky suspicion that this line will continue to move as I progress with further treatment.

However, I have decided to return to work on the 15th, and take PTO days for the remaining treatment times. I have been very blessed to work with wonderful and understanding people who are willing to let me explore at my own pace and do what I can. I belive though, that being back in the "land of the working living" will add to my sense of purpose and be a positive change.

I am looking forward to a "get-out-of-sickville" trip to NYC this weekend with dear friend Aaron, where we will see Wicked, and take in the fun Christmas sights and sounds of the big city. I am gearing up physically and trying to build stamina for the trip.

In addition, on Monday night, the 15th, I will be hosting a little shave-my-head party. They say that hair starts to fall out in earnest after the second treatment, so I thought I would cut off the ponytail and send it to Locks of Love and let friends have fun shaving the remainder. Anyone who wishes is more than welcome to come on over...I guess we would get started around 6:30ish. If anyone wishes to participate in the "Brave Shave to Save" effort that my cousin, Miriam has already initiated, this could serve as an extension. You can see a fun video of the Dec 6th event. She has organized these hair shaving/cutting events to raise money for cancer research, and I can send anyone more details if they are interested.

As always, I continue to feel your love and support and prayers and well wishes. I can't imagine facing this all without are an amazing strength to me always, through the good and the bad. Much love to you all, gf

Friday, December 5, 2008

"Cancer Sucks!"

That was the verbage on the button of the clerk's smock at Walgreen's last evening when Gretchie-Girl dragged herself into the store to pick up yet more drugs. She looked at the busy clerk and said, uncharacteristically, "Yeah, you're right -- cancer sucks!"

This was following a entire day of sadness, depression, lethargy, no-appetite, some pain, some nausea, yes, but mostly just, "Bleh, I'm just sick of this whole thing -- lemmee outta here!" She was disgusted with herself because she sat, uncaring, before the TV all day with nothing more in her tummy than a small bowl of Cheerios and half a can of soup. The veggie snacks we'd cleaned and bagged the day before lay untouched in her fridge.

You all know this gal as sunny, upbeat, cheerful, and happy. I can take that a step further and can say, honestly, that I've seen her in tears fewer times than I can count on both hands. In her LIFEtime! Neither scraped knees on the playground, a fractured scapula from a nasty bicycle wreck nor a broken heart a time or two produced weeping. Depression? I don't think she even knows how to spell the word. But last night when she called me? Tears . . . tears . . .

It's the drugs, of course. Big BIG guns this time. The chemo? The anti-nausea stuff? Who knows?

Alan told me topack an overnight bag and practically pushed me out the door. I came here to find an untrimmed tree, a messy house, and . . . a crumpled daughter. She didn't answer her phone all day because she didn't want to whine and complain to anyone, she told me. I couldn't get her to eat anything, not even a tangerine! -- so we watched a movie until I fell asleep. I'm assuming she made it to bed just fine because I woke up and checked on her and she had an audio book playing early this ayem. We sat down in the kitchen and she consumed a giant bowl of Cheerios and said she felt a bit better. I took her temperature and she's running a low-grade fever (not unexpected) and complained of feeling hot. I cracked open a window and turned down the furnace and she went back to sleep.

She came down to her office just now in improved spirits. She's headed for a shower and may just face the day a new person!

She's VERY saddened by a message she just listened to from her buddy, Dayle in Dallas. Two close friends of theirs, who worked for the same bank for years, were laid off yesterday. This, coupled with serious layoffs (including Gretchen's boss!)at her own company, Navitaire, is enough to send ALL of us back to bed with depression! None of are immune . . . none.

So let's get that tree trimmed (maybe asking too much) and those yukky dishes washed, shall we? I'm here to help!

What was that I said in my last blog about being flexible? Let's hear it for the foibles of cancer! So here's my sincere cheer:


Friday huggies to you all,
Lindy-Lou the Mom

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Part II post chemo


Ol' Gretchie-Poo was up and cheerful early this ayem. She reported a mild headache, mild nausea, ate some cereal, took more drugs and back to bed she went. Hooray!

We'll be headed back to Huntsman later this ayem for an injection (just a sub-Q, really) to boost her white blood cells. THEN I'll head home and continue the march toward Christmas and its many projects that call out to me.

Before we leave I think we'll throw some lights on Gretchen's very-nice-smelling fresh Christmas tree in the corner of her living room and start the decorating.

This evening she and buddy Aaron will come to our house to catch up on the last three episodes of Amazing Race. Something we've had to put on hold because of Aaron's VERY lingering nasty cold.

If there are setbacks today, then of course we'll change gears. Flexibility is ALWAYS our middle name these days.

BTW, Gretchen is very concerned about her dad, David, in Grand Rapids, Michigan -- whom several of you know. His wife, Marguerite, of about a year, was diagnosed recently with a brain aneurysm. Aneurysms are always diagnosed AFTER they rupture and kill . . . during autopsy. This abnormality was discovered as a "red herring" (a surprise finding during tests for other things)-- she was having a brain scan for other, unrelated symptoms. Her surgery is scheduled for a few days before Christmas. Dave, after all, is a man. Aren't men supposed to FIX things?? Not sit hopelessly and helplessly by watching his wife having brain surgery and his eldest daughter with breast cancer. Gretchen is very concerned about him . . . we three wish them well and pray for both his and Marguerite's families.

Hey! Gretchie-Poo just popped up outta bed, came tripping down the stairs and is anxious to attack the day! Hooray!

Let's hear it for great drugs, many prayers, her peppy spirit and good vibes coming her way!

Love and Wednesday huggies to you all,
Lindy-Lou the Mom

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

One Sick Puppy

NOW I think I have it!

Okay, folks -- this has been a -- well, hm-m-m-m, ah -- INTERESTING day!

I'm in my kid's downstairs office and she's upstairs in bed feeling, well, I'll quote her various comments over the last few hours:

(gasped between shallow breathing:)

"This is all new territory"

"Please bring me my big yellow vomit bowl" (Her faithful companion for seven years since her various serious health issues began.)

"I'm feeling all cold inside -- not chills,exactly -- from the inside out -- never felt this kind of cold before"

"Please turn off the TV -- the food commercials make me want to throw up"

"My head hurts -- not exactly like a headache -- different"

"This is all new territory" (again)

"Yes, I'm feeling the prayers and warm fuzzy thoughts of my wonderful family and friends"

"I signed on for THIS?!?!"

"This is all new territory" (again)

"I'm feeling sorta dizzy -- can you help me up the stairs?"

"Please tell everyone I love them and thank them for being there for me -- in thoughts and prayers"

"This is all new territory" (again)

The infusion itself took less than three hours. Such wonderful nurses! Honestly, in all my 22+ years in the health field (and as a patient for my own minor needs) I've never met a better bunch of health professionals -- from the physicians down to the clerks and the people who take out the trash. Dr. Buys, the oncologist, makes us feel like Gretchen is the only patient she's ever treated -- she's SO concerned and personable. Amazing bedside.

We have no idea how long our patient will feel so crummy or if it's the anti-nausea meds (four!) that are making her feel so bad -- like Gretchen says, this IS all new territory.

Alan keeps wondering why she won't come to our house and be sick. She explains it to us very simply: "Mom, Alan, I've been so ABnormal for over two months. Here in my own home, I feel like I'm sorta normal again. I just want so bad to feel NORMAL again." So, of course, I'll stay as long as I'm needed. We understand and sympathize completely.

Last eve she had some wonderful, crazy friends in to help celebrate the lighting of Candle #1 on her hanging advent wreath. She was feeling SO "normal" for a change . . . it brightened her outlook and made this trying day easier to bear, she tells me.

So, folks, there's the first chapter of Phase II. I'm feeling a little teary right now because I keep thinking of the couple we sat next to in the infusion lab this morning. Scott and Megan. Two little kids at home -- Megan is younger than Gretchen. She had the exact same cancer as Gretchen three years ago, bilateral mastectomy as well. She's back starting chemo again because she has mestastasis to her lymph nodes, liver and bone. I'm just sick thinking about it. So I'll try not to . . .

I'll blog again tomorrow,
Can't thank you enough for your care and concern
Lindy-Lou the Mom

PS -- She said to thank all of you who wanted to visit her in the past few weeks but are experiencing the cold-ish and flu-ish bugs this season of the year always brings -- and stayed away. If she had a cold or flu on top of these miserable post-chemo symptoms, she'd be in bad shape. So this includes a HUGE "thank you!" from me, as well.

PPS -- to end on a chuckle: I recall vividly the day her amazing realtor, Steve, brought her here to see this new house last spring. One of her first comments was: "Wow I just love how this kitchen and bedroom are next to each other. This way, when I have surgeries, I can make my own food and be right next to my bedroom when I have to run to the bathroom to throw up!"

Steve laughed out loud.

Then he looked at all three of us and saw that we weren't laughing.

He said that was the very first time he'd ever heard THAT reason for a client to like a particular house he'd shown them.

Little did we know what lay ahead . . .

(Matt -- you may want to forward this PPS part to Steve)