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

Remember the Time We Went to That Retreat?

I came across this blog entry.  It was written by a woman who was in charge of filming during the retreat.  The video she is making will be used in the future with patients, caregivers and staff at Johns Hopkins.  Laurie’s husband, died of colon cancer so it is more personal for her, I believe, than just a job making an educational video.

http://our-cancer.blogs.hopkinsmedicine.org/2012/10/10/6-care-givers-in-a-room

You can read my perspective of the retreat here.

https://embracingtherollercoaster.wordpress.com/category/couples-retreat

xoxo

Robyn

Insult to Injury

ImageTurns out that colon cancer is quite literally a pain in the ass.  Which means there are quite a few unmentionable side effects.  Trust me on this one, you don’t really want to know.  Yesterday Dave told me it was all “very humbling”.  It just doesn’t seem right.  Not only does the person with cancer have to deal with the actual cancer and chemo but also the embarrassment of asking your doctor about issues with your nether regions.  Not to mention the fun of buying certain drug store products.  Ugh.  It is awful, plain and simple.

Round #28 today.

xoxo

Robyn

A New Friend

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Yesterday I met up with a friend of a friend for a late afternoon coffee/snack date.  My friend, Lori, connected me with her friend, J, when J was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year.  We have exchanged messages here and there, but it was so nice to finally meet her in person.  I am awed by J’s strength and resilience.  Hers is not an easy path, but she seems to be handling it with so much fortitude and grace.

We talked about her cancer.  We talked about Dave’s cancer.  We talked about how very hard it is to ask others for help.  We talked about parents and their roles in the journey.  Eventually we talked about the big decision Dave is faced with this week – whether to continue chemo, take a break or go on a lesser chemo regimen.  It was so good to hear her perspective as someone going through the trials of chemo.  It is easy for me to get caught up in what I think is best, but it was so vital for me to hear from her how much a cancer patient longs for normalcy.  How great it would be to taste things normally or not feel neuropathy or not have the bad days that follow each infusion.

Dave has his scan tomorrow and then will likely talk to Dr. S at some point later in the day.  I know that he will make the best decision for himself and for our family.  After all, at every twist and turn on this journey, he has done exactly that.

xoxo

Robyn

PS J also delivered a t-shirt from Lori for Dave.  He will be modeling it this weekend at a gathering.  Pictures to follow.  :

Anatomy of a Doctor’s Appointment

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We drive separately since Dave has to go to work afterwards.  (why is it always so hard to find parking in this garage?)  He heads to the lab for blood work, and I make myself comfortable in the waiting room.  (hmm…Life With Cancer pamphlet….could be interesting.  FINAL CHECK LIST.  eessh.  i definitely don’t need to read that.)  Dave gets called back – weight check, blood pressure check (that was quick. did she really take it?), pulse, temperature, standard list of questions about appetite and symptoms.  (click, click, click on the computer.  she isn’t even looking at us.  has to get through her checklist of things to do.  SO routine for her.)  We wait.  I remind myself to breathe while at the same time ignoring subtle stress-induced digs from Dave.

Dr. S comes in.  He is a whirlwind of energy.  He is noticeably surprised to see me and comments that I usually am “only here for the big appointments”.  (so want to defend myself.  dave doesn’t want me to come to all of his appointments.  i have to work.  do other spouses come to every appointment?  am i not keeping up?  do you know how supportive i am?!)  Dr. S tells Dave that his blood work looks good.  His numbers are good.  CEA is 3.4.  Dr. S pokes and prods a bit and asks about side effects.  Dave tells him his concerns about “chemo brain”.  That he is getting increasingly forgetful and aggressive.  Conversation moves on to discussion about what we are going to do after the 12th cycle of this chemo.  After some questioning, Dr. S tells us Dave can choose to take a break altogether (alarm bells.  this is a terrible idea.)  or he can do a lesser chemo but we will talk about it after the next scan.  Dave reminds Dr. S that he is going to be out of the office after the next scan.  Chit chat about where he is going to be.  I ask a few questions about going off the trial if Dave takes a break.  Dr. S mentions that we don’t have to decide today.  I ask about taking a break from chemo, and Dr. S says that obviously we know Dave’s tumor is aggressive but that it is up to him if he feels he needs the mental and physical break.  (no, no, no, no, no.  easy for me to say.)  Then it is handshakes all around, a few jokes about the kids, and we are out the door.  As I am driving to meet some friends for lunch, I wonder what we really learned today.

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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Highs and Lows

At the dinner table, we have a tradition in which each person tells about their highs and lows for the day.  These are mine for today.

High – That’s easy.  Dave’s scan news was good.  His tumors remain unchanged in size and number.  In other words, stable disease.  There is a possibility that some of the tumors could be scarring which would indicate they are dying.  I am so hopeful that this is what is happening.  He has two more rounds of chemo to go, and then we will discuss what the next plan of attack is.

Low – Electronic communication from school.  I got two emails from Samantha’s school saying that she was marked absent from a class.  She swears she was there, and I believe her.  The schools also send interims via email every two weeks.  So, every two weeks I get to see how many assignments Grant has failed to turn in.  I think life was less stressful when you didn’t really know what your kids were up to at school in the day-to-day!

Bonus High – It’s Wednesday.  “Mom/Grammy makes dinner” night.  Now Mom is out of town, but those of you who know her won’t be surprised to hear that she made it ahead of time so I could just heat it up tonight.  Tonight’s menu is roast beef, baby red potatoes, cucumber salad, green beans, and homemade applesauce.  She also provided pudding and/or fresh fruit for dessert.  The fresh fruit didn’t make it until tonight though.  It has already been gobbled up.  The whole family is excited about Wednesday night dinners.  We are very fortunate folks.

xoxo

Robyn