On Beyond Cancer

My life with metastatic breast cancer

Starting 3rd cycle – quick update October 25, 2012

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Hi everyone.  Just a quick update for you.   I’m starting the third cycle of Xeloda today.  Since it looks like it’s really working, I’m going to keep taking it for as long as it keeps working and the side effects don’t give me too much trouble.  The one week on/one week off treatment schedule was much easier.  I did start having some trouble with fatigue last weekend and I just crashed Monday and slept most of the day.  I called the doctor to have her review my bloodwork and she said that I’m slightly anemic, but it’s likely the fatigue is just a side effect of the drug.  I’m taking B-12 now and trying to get more protein and iron into my diet.  She also told me to get more rest and slow down.  Ha!  I’m going to try to aim to get to bed earlier a few nights a week, but we will see how that goes.

 

Earlier this week I got some lovely flowers from my college friends Missy and Alana to celebrate the good news on the tumor markers.  Thanks ladies!  I’ll post a picture soon.

 

Also, Tuesday we got our travel itinerary for our trip to Orlando.   Yippee!!  We have tickets for Walt Disney World, Sea World, and Universal/Islands of Adventure.  Our flight schedule is a little crazy because it’s a tough week for traveling from Newark to Orlando – all of the kids are off from school for the teacher’s convention.  We have a connection in Chicago on the flight there and one in St. Louis on the way home.  I’ll definitely be putting together lots of things to keep the kids busy.  The house that we’ll be staying in seems really nice.  Plus we’ll get to spend lots of time with my sister.  Should be a wonderful trip.

 

GREAT NEWS October 19, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 8:42 am
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Good morning everyone!  My blood test results are in and my tumor markers DROPPED 70 points, from 350 to 280.  This is great news and means that the Xeloda is working.  This is the first significant change since my diagnosis in April.

My hemoglobin, hematocrit, and platelets were all a bit low.  Hopefully they’ll improve a bit this week during my treatment break.  I’m going to take iron supplements and add some more iron-rich foods to my diet to help with my energy level.  If you have any good high iron vegetarian recipes send them my way.

Going to celebrate the good news.  Have a great day!

 

Last dose of 2nd cycle plus more bloodwork October 17, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 9:49 am
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Tonight I take my last dose of Xeloda for this cycle, then have a week break.  The side effects started on day 5, on Monday.  I expect they will continue for a few more days.  I’m trying to get an idea of the pattern for the side effects so that I can plan around them.  For example, the days when my feet are giving me trouble I shouldn’t plan on grocery shopping or taking long walks.  It’s actually been easier being at work when I’m having hand and foot trouble because I’m sitting most of the day.  I put an ice pack on the floor under my desk and type with my cotton gloves on.  Last night I used my kids’ boo boo buddies ( gel cold packs shaped like cartoon characters) on my hands, Sponge Bob in one hand and Elmo in the other. 🙂  Not exactly what they were intended for.

This morning I’ll have blood work done, including blood counts, liver function, and tumor markers.  I should have the results sometime Friday.  Feels like spinning the big money wheel at the fair, come on low tumor markers…

 

Funny Friday October 12, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 9:22 am
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At the breast cancer dinner earlier this week, the keynote speaker talked about how comedy helps people heal.  Plus it’s just good to have a laugh.  So here are a few silly jokes for you:

Why did the man wear two pairs of pants to play golf?
Just in case he got a hole in one.

Knock knock.
Who’s there.
Pencil.
Pencil who?
Never mind, it’s pointless.

And here is a joke that Ethan made up this morning:
Why did the man wear 22 bow ties?
Because he was going bow-ling.

Hahaha.  🙂  If you have a good, clean joke, put it in a comment.  Have a great day everyone.

 

October doctor’s appointment October 10, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 10:41 pm
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This morning I had my monthly checkup at the oncologist.   We reviewed the side effects I’ve been having from Xeloda – stomach problems, swelling and burning in my feet, darkening of my skin, etc.  My doctor recommended that I switch from a two weeks on/one week off schedule to a one week on/one week off schedule.  She thinks this will help reduce the severity of the side effects, yet still allow me to stay at the dose I’m currently taking (2000 mg, twice a day).  I also got prescriptions for Zofran for nausea and Lomotil for diarrhea, which should work better than the Compazine and Immodium I’ve been taking.  They did a finger stick to check my blood counts after my first cycle of Xeloda; my hemoglobin and white blood cell counts are normal, so I’ll start the next cycle of Xeloda tomorrow.  My darling husband was kind enough to pick up all my prescriptions for me while I was out at a breast cancer dinner event.  Isn’t he sweet?

 
As I was thinking through the various issues I’ve had with the chemo, I realized that I have NOT had any bone or liver pain.  I’ve been so distracted with the chemo issues that I just didn’t realize this until today.  Next week I go for more blood work (and my Xgeva shot).  It’s possible that we’ll see some change in the tumor marker.  I’ve got a good feeling about it, so keep you’re fingers crossed.

 

In other news, I received this lovely loaf of bread in the mail today from my friends Becca and Martha.  I didn’t realize you could actual mail order bread.  Mike and I had some along with our soup today for lunch – yum.  I also did a good job getting some freebies for the boys today.  I got two pink footballs, two rubber bracelets, a stress ball, and a tattoo.  They were already asleep by the time I get home, but tomorrow morning they will each have a bag of goodies waiting for them. 😉

 

 

My Cancerversary October 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 12:16 pm
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Three years ago today I was diagnosed with cancer.  It makes me a little sad to think about what we have all been through during that time.   Every one of you has been so supportive…  Moving on now before I start to cry.

I told Ethan about the cancerversary thing and he wanted to know if “they” would give me anything.  I’m not sure who the “they” was.  Maybe the doctor’s office?  Tomorrow I’m going to a breast cancer dinner event with co-workers and friends, so I’ll have to be sure to get him some little freebies.  He loves that kind of stuff.  Always a challenge to find something that is suitable for boys at a breast cancer event. 🙂

Tomorrow morning I have a doctor’s appointment too.  Mike is coming with me and I’m planning to talk to the doctor about lowering my dose of Xeloda.  I’ve talked with a few other people on the drug and they all said they had to lower the doseage, some of them to half what I’m taking now.  I start the next cycle on Thursday morning.

 

How you can help October 7, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 8:43 pm
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About a year ago, I wrote an article for the local paper  on how you can help a friend with breast cancer ( Courier News article 10-2-11).  Those are some good general ideas, but here are some specifics that would be helpful for our family right now:

Support

  • Leave a comment on the blog to let me know you’re reading.
  • Send an email or a text message to check-in or just say hi.  Phone calls are hard because the kids can be loud. 🙂
  • Send us kid friendly jokes.  We could use a laugh.
  • Take the boys on an outing (zoo, museum, bowling, park, etc) or come over to play a game with them.
  • Don’t forget about Mike, our parents, and siblings.  They need support too.

Household Stuff

  • Offer to wash, dry, fold, and put away the kids clothes.
  • Sort through the kids closets and pull out things that are too small or out of season.
  • Unpack and wash winter clothes.
  • Help me come up with a list of items I need to buy or borrow  for them.
  • Help with raking leaves.  We have tons of great trees, but that means lots of leaves to clean up.

Meals and Shopping

  • If you are cooking a vegetarian meal or side dish (without mushrooms or squash), make extra for us
  • Pickup items for us at Costco or BJs.  Email me or  Sara for a list.  We can almost always use the following: tissues, toilet paper, low-sugar cereal (like Cheerios or Corn Flakes), cheese sticks, individual size snacks for the kids, 2% milk, and Morningstar Farms Sausage Patties or Chicken Nuggets (not real meat).  Save your receipt so we can pay you back.

 
Thanks everyone!

 

Pinktober October 4, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 5:10 pm
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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Is there anyone left out there who is unaware of breast cancer?  Haha.  Lots of companies will be offering “pink” versions of their products this month.  Before you buy them, check to see how much they are really donating, who they are donating to, and maybe even what that organization does with the money.  Some groups fund research, others fund mammos for low income women, etc.  Unless, of course, pink is your favorite color.  Then go for it.

 

Check these out:

 

Warriors in Pink: Ford Cares – Clothing and accessories for men, women and kids.  100% of the proceeds go to several different breast cancer charities.

 

White House/Black Market’s Give Hope Collection – Bracelets and a t-shirt.  Approximately 50% of the purchase price is donated to Living Beyond Breast Cancer, an organization that provides online resources and support for breast cancer survivors.  Also, purchases made today in stores or online will benefit Living Beyond Breast Cancer. Get 15% off today (online code: 13233, excludes the charity collection).

 

American Cancer Society’s Hope Shop – Clothing and accessories for men, women and kids.  Proceeds go to the American Cancer Society.  Get 10% off the Breast Cancer Collection during October with the code OCT2012.  Also, check out their greetings website where you can make custom cards for various occasions.  Might do Christmas cards through here this year.

 

32 West Salon Pink Hair Extensions and Bracelets – Christine Bennett, the owner of this salon, is a Keyport High School graduate.  Located at 32 West Front Street in Keyport, they are doing pink hair extensions and selling bracelets during October to benefit a local charity called Breast Intentions.  No appointments are necessary.  Check out their other services while you are there, prices look reasonable.

 

First cycle of Xeloda finished October 3, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 8:32 pm
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Today I finished the first cycle of Xeloda.  Overall, it wasn’t bad.  I did have some stomach issues and burning and swelling in my hands and feet.  Sort of feels like walking barefoot on hot sand.  I was able to go to work on my regular 3 day a week schedule and do the walk on Sunday. Tuesday morning I had a tough time – I got nauseous and almost fainted in the morning before work.  Poor Mike had a surprise wake-up call.  And Ethan got upset that I didn’t finish getting his breakfast for him.  I did eventually get to work and I must have looked bad because my boss commented that I wasn’t my usual self.

 

The chemo I had in 2009 was completely different.  It took me a full 5 days to recover after each infusion and I was completely exhausted, even though I wasn’t working.

 

Next Wednesday I see the doctor and get a blood test to check my tumor markers, white blood cells, and make sure I’m not anemic.

 

Pictures from the Steeplechase 5K October 1, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 12:30 pm
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Yesterday morning was the Steeplechase 5K.  We had great weather and a nice area to walk through.  My mom, Aunt Cindy, Uncle Joe, and my friend Cheryl joined me for the walk.  Our team raised over $1200 for the cancer center.  Despite my red, swollen feet from Xeloda, I made it 2 of the 3 miles.  My mom and Uncle Joe did the full 5K.  As we crossed the finish line, my friend Sonya, who was working for the company organizing the event,  had the announcer call out our team name. 🙂

My mom, me, and my Aunt Cindy after the walk.

The kids had a great time running the sprints and playing with balloons they gave out.  Ethan said the run was too short.  Next year he wants to do the walk with me.

Ethan and Ryan with their medals after the kids sprint.

Three cheers for the dads, Mike and Craig, who had the hardest job –  kid duty.  Without them we would not have been able to participate.  They did a great job.  When we got back, all five kids were accounted for, happy and dirty.