Hard to believe, but I am again hooked up to the chemo ball for round 4! The time between treatments goes by pretty quickly.
We were able to get away for the long weekend for a much needed escape; my aunt and uncle were not heading up to their cabin and offered to let us use it. It was great to have a change of scenery for me, and be able to sit outside and enjoy the cool mountain weather…fun for Justin to do one of his favorite hobbies, quading with friends! Normally I’d be along for the ride, but I had to be honest with myself, I'm a weakling right now, so I opted out except for a few leisurely trips when there were kiddos in tow, and I could be a passenger. We had a great time, thank you Kent and Gail!!
Justin, Kevin and Jackie got a little muddy after a rainstorm!
Sam and Rachel...that's my helmet she is wearing, does this mean I have the same sized noggin as a 5 year old? At least it got used :)
I had a few exciting events over the last two weeks that I could have blogged about, but I admittedly wasn’t feeling too well. Two weekends ago on Saturday morning I woke up unusually late and strolled out to the family room and sat down on the couch. I was gearing up to eat breakfast when I started to feel a bit nauseous, and stood up to make my way to the bathroom. The last thing I remember is feeling a little ‘weird’ as I walked in and sliding down with my back to the vanity…then I remember Justin over me talking on the phone telling someone in a slightly panicked tone that I just finished a chemo treatment on Thursday, and wondering who the heck he was talking to. Then I realized I was lying on the bathroom floor, and being the germ-a-phobe I am knew I was not their by choice! Justin helped me sit up, and by this time I deduced that I had passed out. Justin had been in the family room with me when I got up to go to the bathroom, and heard a commotion, something being knocked over. He went in to check on me, and I was unconscious, white eyes, and stiff. He tried to wake me up with no success, and that’s when he called 911. After what he said was about a minute is when I came to. The fire department was at our door within a minute of when Justin hung up the phone, I was very impressed. He helped me out of the bathroom and back into the living room where there was a buzz of activity with about 7 fire fighters and 2 EMTs. They checked my blood pressure, sugar, heart rate and everything seemed within the normal range, however they were worried that I had had a seizure based on what Justin described to them, and they wanted to take me to the ER. We live only about 2 miles from the hospital, and being the cheapskate I am I decided that since them taking me wouldn't get me in any faster if I absolutely had to go that I’d rather drive myself, rather, Justin drive (I do still have some common sense!) One of the nice fire fighters told me that he was worried that the cancer had spread to my brain, I just smiled and thought, or... maybe I just stood up to fast : ) No reason to jump to awful conclusions right away!
We signed the paper work that said we declined to be transferred to the hospital by them and gave the on call Oncologist from my office a call to see if we needed to actually go to the ER or not. We waited about 30 minutes to hear back and we weren’t too surprised to hear him say "yes", so we packed a few things up and headed over. I must say that one positive of being on Chemo is that you get the royal treatment at the ER! They don’t want you sitting around people who could get you sick, so they took me right back to a private room. It’s funny the looks you get from people when you’re wearing a mask in public…I used to think I needed to avoid people with masks, but now I know people with masks were more than likely trying to avoid me and my germs : ) Even though I didn’t have to sit in the waiting room long, we spent the rest of the day at the ER, of course you have to go through their protocol of tests, but we really just were looking to have a CT Scan of my brain and abdomen to rule out blood clots, or internal bleeding.
At 9:00 or so that night we got the okay to be discharged, and this is what they concluded (directly from my discharge paperwork):
“Today it has been decided that you had Syncope (Fainting Spell).”
Well I figured that much….but I guess its better to be safe than sorry! We were glad that it wasn't something more serious.
I took it easy for the next few days, and then had another what I will call ‘episode’, this time I had a significant amount of blood in my stool again. So again I called my Oncologist as I’d been instructed to do. As part of the chemo cocktail, I am on a drug called Avastin, which is designed to slow blood vessel growth. The hope is that this will not only target the tumor in my colon, but the main focus as I understand it is for the liver tumors since the tumor in my colon can ‘easily’ be removed with surgery at this point. The drug by nature is making me more susceptible to bleeding, particularly from the colon tumor so I’m supposed to be on high alert for any blood that may be passed. My doctor wanted me to come in ASAP that day, so in we went. The first thing he said when he walked in to the exam room was, “You’re scaring me.” I had to laugh, it had been an eventful past few days between the ER visit and now this. I told him that seeing him every other week just wasn’t enough! We talked about the bloody stool, and how many more doses of Avastin he was planning to administer. He was only planning to give me one more dose (round 4) before giving my body a break, and ceasing far enough in advance to get it out of my system in preparation for the colon resection surgery. He decided that I should have my blood drawn every day for the rest of the week to be sure that I wasn’t bleeding internally and to monitor my other numbers.
The rest of last week was pretty unremarkable, I am conquering my fear of needles after 5 consecutive blood draws. Back when I posted about the port-a-cath, I had no idea how great it would be. As long as it keeps working properly I’m able to get blood drawn from it as well as the chemo administered through it. IT IS GREAT! Just one poke every time, guaranteed!
We had some good news yesterday at my pre-chemo appointment with the Oncologist, but before I go into detail about that, I'll mention that we decided not to do Avastin this round. We elected to do this to prepare for surgery, which will be no sooner than 6 weeks from the last Avastin treatment two weeks ago. I'll continue on the other Chemo drugs in the meantime, and at some point in the future, after surgery on the colon tumor I may or may not be put back on the Avastin. Now, onto this good news!
There is a tumor marker that they monitor through my blood work called Carcinoembryonic antigen, or CEA. A normal person has a number somewhere around 2.5, and someone with cancer like me has a number off the charts. Back in the middle of July, my number was 66. Two weeks ago it was at 35, and as of last Friday, 8.8! This number will probably still fluctuate from week to week, so it could go back up…and the Dr. warned that it can be an unpredictable indicator of how chemo is working….but with such a significant drop, we’ll take it for now! : ) I should also be getting an update on the liver tumors this week after the Dr. has a chance to compare my initial CT scan from back in July to the one taken in the ER. So stay tuned and keep your fingers crossed that there will be some more good news from that : )
A few weeks ago we had some requests for pictures (this one is for you Jody!). I've avoided posting pictures of myself because I'm not lookin my best these days....but I agree that a blog without pictures is a little ho-hum, and Justin has taken on the role of cancer historian…here are some of the latest (and ones I'm willing to publish!)….even a video he took so you can see all the exciting action live from round 3.
My new best friend, Port-a-Cath
I'll be sure to post any news we get this week about the CT Scan comparison. Hope you all had a great Labor Day weekend. Thank you for your prayers and support!