Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cancer Bitch - Ambushed

I spent the entire month of September either in the hospital or in bed. 

Not quite my plan, but it turns out the bleeding ulcer put up a good fight. And then, for no apparent reason, I started having trouble walking. 4 endoscopies and 3 blood transfusions later, I was released from the hospital during the Annual Cape May Ladies weekend.  Steve sped me down to the ferry and dumped me aboard. 

"One of us is crazy," he said. 

"Yeah, well, you're driving!" The sane member of this marriage drove back to Virginia and left me on a pitching ferry boat.  I could barely walk, so I spent the weekend being dragged around like a sack of potatoes.  But for one glorious night I got a beach front room and had a fabulous meal at "The Blue Pig" (the scallops were awesome)

We also discovered the "Naked Farmer,' one of the produce stands on the way home has lots of wonderful green things being sold by a guy with ripped abs, shorts, a straw hat - and nothing else!

Mom and Sis flew in to the rescue and provided lots of support, casseroles, and one crazy slumber party. ( don't even ask me who that foot belongs to)

My doctors are trying to get me out of bed and out into the world again. Unfortunately that means another blood transfusion and a return to chemo in two weeks. Once again, I'm looking for volunteer drivers who can be plied with Italian food and cupcakes. Hope to get back to work by Early November. Thanks, everyone for the calls, cards, food and care - even though, for the most part, I was too drugged or irritable to be gracious about it!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cancer Bitch kicks Summer to the Curb

I'm calling this the "summer of suck."

Because you can NEVER have too many hospital bracelets

 Last week, I felt like crap. Lethargic, cranky, It was a struggle to get up and go to work every day. By Thursday I knew I had serious issues, so I took Friday off and started making phone calls. My oncologist told me to get to the nearest ER immediately, which I did. My Hemoglobin was at "4" and its supposed to be at "12."

 I ended up getting another blood transfusion, an upper endoscopy and a colonoscopy, but this time they figured out I was losing blood from bleeding ulcers in my stomach. I'm on all kinds of new medication. And was finally released in time to see the first night of the Democratic National Convention. Whoot!

 Steve is finally out of the neck brace and is back in graduate school. We had great plans for a Labor Day barbeque/anniversary celebration until I ended up in the hospital.

19 years married - September 5. We'll have rice pudding by candlelight and count our blessings.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Cancer Bitch- Swimming Against the Tide

Yes, I have Olympics Fever.  But for the past 2 weeks I've also had an upset stomach and severe lethargy.  I finally went to Johns Hopkins last week where they ran a series of tests and were as baffled as I was.

They finally called a few days ago and said my hemoglobin was low and that I need a blood transfusion.  If that is successful, then and only then, can they start me on a new immunotherapy program. 

I was relieved to know that my puny condition was NOT the result of all my drinking and carousing in New Orleans at the end of June.  I felt kind of guilty partying my ass off while my husband stayed home in a neck brace. (but not guilty enough to cancel the trip!) 

So, wish me luck, knock wood and do what you got to do.  I promise to clean up my act.  (for now)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cancer Bitch Rings the Bell

I did it! Finished my last session of radiation on Monday. The ritual at Hopkins is that once you finish, you are entitled to ring the iron bell, so I smacked the bejeesus out of it!

Will check in with my doctor in about 3 weeks and see if any progress has been made. The next step might be surgery. (fingers are crossed) I also finished the PurpleStride DC 5k Walkathon and raised almost $1500! Thanks to Kathy, Gail and others who turned out for team "Boxtops"

It was not without a price. Steve and I were both limping when it was over. We went to breakfast at Eastern Market, then headed to the car - where he took a header over a cobblestone and hit his head on a street lamp. It was frightening because there was a LOT of blood. But the patrons of a nearby restaurant sprung into action - bringing towels, ice, calling 911. It was heartening. Also, once we got Steve to George Washington University Hospital, they sewed him up (18 stitches) and gave him 2 CT scans.
The EMT's who brought him there Saturday afternoon, stopped by his room Saturday night to see how he was doing.  Gail (human pit bull) went with me to GW and refused to leave.  She finally left that night, and came back Sunday afternoon to help me check him out.  I supposed now we have to buy her living room furniture - doesn't seem dinner will do it.

He had to stay overnight and his Fathers Day wasn't quite what he had in mind. The kids have promised to throw him a "Daddy Do-over Day" in July. So, now he's at home, looking purple, but he's fine. And he starts Graduate School classes next Monday. In a neck brace.
And I, loving wife that I am, will board a plane to Pensacola Tuesday. Then its on to New Orleans for the National Association of Black Journalists Convention. There WILL be martinis.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cancer Bitch Takes 5

The Human Guinea Pig, checking in. I know many of you haven't heard much from me lately, but I'm tired with a capitol "T." With my usual arrogance, I thought, "Hell, I can drive to Baltimore every day, 5 days week, for radiation and then go to work. No biggie!"

Um, I was wrong.

Radiation isn't nearly as invasive as chemotherapy. But it sneaks up on you. And getting up at 6am everyday for the round trip drive to Baltimore has plain worn me out. Add to that the chemo pills prescribed by my radiologist and I'm running up the white flag.  I'm only working 3 days a week now, and I find myself going to bed at 9pm.

Having admitted to my shortcomings, I'm still doing "Purplestride DC" on June 16. I've raised over $1300 so far, for pancreatic cancer research. Gotta do it! Then I'm taking a well-deserved vacation in New Orleans. So, forgive the radio silence - I'll be back to talk your ear off before you know it!

Today's musical selection, "I'm Tired," from "Blazing Saddles"

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cancer Bitch- Radioactive!

Well, its a new day.  I'm starting radiation therapy and its going to last for at least 5 weeks, 5 days a week.  But the doctor assures me that I'll be in and out in a flash.  We'll see.  Steve asked him if the radiation would interfere with my trip to New Orleans in June and was assured it wouldn't.  That's why I married that guy!

The funny part is, this is the very first doctor I saw when I was diagnosed in December 2009.  After my biopsy, we went to his office and he told me that he was very sorry, but he couldn't do any more for me.  I wasn't eligible for radiation therapy or surgery, but he could refer me to the clinical trials for chemotherapy.

Today, he says I'm one of maybe 5 people he's seen to survive this long without surgery.  So, I'm a freak of nature.  Is anyone surprised?

Radiation or not, I'm still doing "Purple Stride" in June.  If you can make a donation, I'd appreciate it.  Even better, if you'd like to join team "Boxtops" let me know!  Its a 5k walk from Freedom Plaza in downtown DC on June 16th to raise money for Pancreatic Cancer research.  The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network has awarded more than 3.4 million dollars in research grants this year in the effort to double the Pancreatic Cancer survivor rate.

So far, I've raised $800 and, apparently, will be the recipient of a beach towel.  Work with me, people!  Over $1,000 and I get a duffel bag!

  •  This year’s event will be the third annual PurpleStride Washington, D.C.—one of over 50 similar events held across the country.
  •  PurpleStride Washington, D.C. will add a timed run this year, in addition to its traditional family-friendly walk. The route will take participants past the National Mall and U.S. Capitol. The event will also include children’s activities, entertainment, refreshments and more.
  • PurpleStride Washington, D.C. 2011 was highly successful having raised $289,000 and involved more than 1,400 participants.
  • PurpleStride Washington D.C.’s 2012 goals are to raise over $350,000 and recruit 2,200 participants.
  • PurpleStride Washington, D.C. is planned and run exclusively by volunteers, allowing more of your dollars to go directly to the cause.
I'll be radiating happiness June 16th!  (too much?)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Cancer Bitch - Luck

OK, so I didn't win Mega Millions, but so far I appear to be winning the Cancer lottery. I went in for my monthly CT-scan and meeting with my doctor, who told me, "you're an oddity."

Say What?

Seems I'm beating the odds for pancreatic cancer. I'm not cured - but the tumor isn't growing. And I'm not the only one. He says he has a few other patients who are like me. That seems to indicate this particular type of chemo is effective - for some people. I'll take those odds!

I'm feeling good, eating like a pack of hungry wolves (OK that's a problem) and totally enjoying my chemo holiday. I'm planning to participate in "Purplestride DC," a 5K walk on June 16th to raise money for pancreatic cancer research. I guess that means I'd better start training...

"National Call-in Advocacy Day" is June 26th. If you can, call your Congressman and demand for funding for research. I know journalists can't do it, but regular people with rights can!

I'm going back to Johns Hopkins in a couple of weeks for a PET-scan. My doctor wants to see what's going on with the tumor and if I'm eligible for surgery. If not, he wants me to consider immunization therapy. It's different from chemo, and comes with its own set of side effects. Fingers are crossed....