“I read your last post, but what does it mean?”

Dave has blood work done the day before he is due to go in for chemo.  This allows the doctor to check his blood counts to make sure that his body is ready to handle the next round.  In addition to the standard blood tests, they will check his CEA level periodically.  Your CEA level can rise if there is tumor growth or metastasis.  It can also rise if you have an infection.  As tumors die, they can cause the CEA level to rise.  So, is a rising CEA level something to worry about?  We don’t really know.  The last time Dave’s started to “trend upward” was after he had his colon and liver surgeries and had completed his 12 rounds of Folfox.  At that point, as far as we knew, Dave was tumor free.  But when his blood work came back showing his CEA level had risen, he went in for a scan and we found out that he had multiple new tumors and some of them were in his lungs which was a new location.  The slow rise in his CEA over the last few months from 8 to 12 to 22 to 39 may be an indicator that his current chemo regimen is not as effective as we need it to be.  So, the best we can do is see what the scan results show on Tuesday.  It might be time to explore different chemo options.  In the meantime, I am going to think optimistically and keep Dave doing the same.  All prayers, good vibes and positive thoughts appreciated.

xoxo

Robyn

Mass-AAAAH-ge

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Last November, Dave’s sister wanted to do something for him for his birthday.  I suggested he might like to have a massage.  Kris gave him a gift certificate to a place she has used massage envy.  It took him a while to use it, but he absolutely LOVES it.  The last two times Dave has had chemo, he has scheduled a massage for the following Saturday.  He comes back so relaxed and refreshed.  It is exactly what he needs when he is feeling yucky.  It was the perfect gift!

xoxo

Robyn

**Part of the reason he delayed in using the gift certificate was due to the fact that when he showed up for his first appointment, they turned him away. He needed a note from his oncologist saying it was okay.

If You Need Me, I’ll Be at the Grocery Store

ImageGrocery shopping has become an unexpected challenge lately.  Dave has chemo this week so I try to make sure we have some basics that he can stomach like sprite and cottage cheese.  For the last couple of treatments, he has all but lost his appetite which lasts about four days.  He gets fluids at the treatment center on day 3 and nibbles on enough to get by.  It is hardly ideal but he is managing it okay.  He craves proteins but doesn’t want any sauces and can’t tolerate the smell of anything cooking.  You begin to see the challenge.  Also, I still have to feed the kids.  So, I end up going to the grocery store daily and wandering the aisles looking for uncooked, sauceless protein that has no smell and appeals to kids.  We’ve been eating a lot of sandwiches…..

xoxo

Robyn

PS During a lighthearted moment, I did remind Dave that during one of my pregnancies, when I was knee deep in morning sickness, that he heated up and ate an anchovy pizza in my presence!  

Whew.

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Several things to be thankful for today.  Some more important than others.  Dave’s procedure went really well.  The abscess had not gone very far into the muscle which is a good thing.  The doctor did mention that healing might take a little longer since the tissue under the abscess had disintegrated.  She didn’t really have an explanation for this and seemed a little perplexed.  The abscess is not cancer related or probably even chemo related.  It is apparently just “one of those things”.  It could happen to any of us.  There is a chance it could happen again, but we are going to assume it won’t!  One thing is for sure, Dave is going to be SO much more comfortable once he has healed from all of this.  He is currently feeling no pain since the anesthesia is still in his system.  Hopefully the pain meds will keep everything under control later.

I am also thankful for Dr. Spira and his team.  They called today and have Dave set up to come in next week for labs and an appointment.  The plan is to get him back on the chemo schedule the week of January 7th.  I am glad they are so proactive and taking an aggressive approach to his treatment.  We think he will be able to go back on the trial as well as the regular chemo regimen but will know for sure next week.

Finally, I am thankful that our great team of cleaning ladies was able to get rid of every last pine needle that had invaded every nook and cranny in our living room.  It was our tallest tree and probably our nicest shaped tree ever but it was also the tree that died the quickest.  This, in part,was helped along by the puppy who loved to chew the lower branches and drink the water out of the tree stand.

Happy weekend everybody!

xoxo

Robyn

Bearing Witness

ImageDave typically does chemo on Wednesdays.  He spends most of his day in the infusion lab and then leaves with his pack which he wears for 48 hours.  When he gets home from the lab, he generally eats something and heads to bed.  Thursdays he sleeps in a bit and then heads off to work in the late morning or early afternoon.  At least this is what I assumed since I work on Thursdays and am not home.  This week, because of Thanksgiving, he had his infusion on Monday and gets disconnected today.  I don’t work on Tuesdays so I was home on his middle day.  He was down for the count.  He slept in, got up and ate something, read the paper and then went back to bed.  He slept the entire day.  When he did finally rally for a birthday dinner celebration with his family, he was still exhausted and feeling very ill.  I had no idea.  None.  Seeing his family did give him a burst of energy, and I think that for that few hours, he felt a little better.  When we got home, he went straight back to bed.  Yesterday was a very eye opening day.

xoxo

Robyn

Toxic

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On Friday, I went with my friend, May https://embracingtherollercoaster.wordpress.com/2012/09/30/cancer-for-dummies-3 to Village Green Apothecary http://www.myvillagegreen.com.  It is a shop in Bethesda that has lots and lots of vitamins, organic products and holistic remedies.  May is a wealth of knowledge herself, and she showed me the go-to guy in the shop to ask for help.  I picked up a sampling of things for Dave to try as well as a few things for the kids and me.  

I can’t help but think that it might be a good idea to try some natural products when dealing with side effects like fatigue, nausea, neuropathy, rashes etc.  Dave gets so many toxins pumped into his system every other week during chemo.  He takes 3-4 medicines daily for his diabetes.  Then he has 7-8 prescriptions to take before, during or after chemo to prevent or help with side effects.  And of course there are the recommended over the counter remedies.  Dave’s body is a toxic battleground.  I have no problem with the wisdom of modern medicine, but we are both open to other methods and schools of thought too.

xoxo

Robyn

 

A Never Ending Cycle

I know I have said it before but it bears repeating – side effects suck.   Today I touched base with two women who are currently undergoing chemo.  Both are suffering from the debilitating side effects.  I can’t even begin to imagine how tough it is.

Dave also had chemo this week.  Round #23.  He is exhausted and his stomach is in knots.   He has random bruises and rashes.   The most troubling side effect for him recently is “chemo brain”.  He is forgetting things.  Names of people.  Where he left something.  He misplaced his brand new jacket from LL Bean.   He bought it for himself recently, pleased with how perfectly it fit.  It’s not at home.  It’s not in his car or at work.  So, he probably left it in a restaurant or at a game.  He beat himself up over its loss.  And then in his distress he even turned on me.  His frustration with his memory issues was so great that in his irrational state he thought I might be hiding his things from him on purpose.  It is a vicious circle in which to live.  The chemo keeps the tumors under control.  The chemo causes barely bearable side effects.  Thank goodness for off weeks.

I think I have convinced him to take it easy this weekend.  That it is not a sign of weakness to lay low or veg out in front of the TV.  That being fatigued does not help with memory.  So, here’s to a weekend of hanging around the house, watching movies, playing games and napping.  (Fingers crossed.)

xoxo

Robyn

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