Sunday, March 22, 2009

Round Three

I think I know why they call them "rounds" of chemO.  It's pretty similar to boxing.  You go in for the 1st Round and get pummeled; you get hit and knocked down.  You stand up and creep into the corner to smell some salt and get stuff put up your nose to help you feel better.  You catch your breath.  Then just as you are feeling ok; just as you clear your head enough to stand up without wanting to sit back down, you go in for Round 2.

Round 3 stinks.  I was down for the count for a couple of days but here I am back up.  Today is Luka's party; she and Scott are downstairs making frosting for ladybug cupcakes.  

I keep going.  Take my millions of vitamins, my turmeric, my maitake mushrooms, my citrus pectin.  I stretch and walk.  Round 3 almost brought me to tears, but here's the thing.  I feel better.   What do you do when you feel sick and crappy and like saying screw it - I don' t feel like drinking another damn cup of green liquid vegetables?  You first decide to go to Costa Rica.  And stay at the most awesome place there (  And what do you do when your doctor puts you on new medicine and you figure out it will be too dangerous to be in a different county in case you need to go to a doctor and you don't know the language?  You quickly decide to go to Hawaii instead.

I am leaving for Hawaii on Thursday.  Sun, yoga, watsu massage, saunas, ocean water.

The other night I couldn't sleep so I tried some visualization and was getting pretty into it.  I was picturing myself swimming through a crystal blue ocean.  I could breath under water.  I felt invincible, calm, and peaceful.  But my window was cracked open and a car must have stopped at the light on our street corner.  Its bass was booming and the beat sounded like the music from Jaws.  Swear to Lordy I ain't lyin.  Can't I even visualize without Jaws lurking around? Sheesh.  I'm going to Hawaii.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hi My Name is Cancer

This weekend, while at some friends' house for dinner, I forgot I had cancer.  We ate our dinner and chatted and listened to the kids play and told stories about certain things that are kind of hilarious.  After dinner, my dear friend handed me a pen and we started making a list for what we would need to plan for Luka's 6th birthday party, which is coming up in about a week and a half.  This same friend reminds me when it is time to sign up for swimming lessons and summer camps.  Without her, Luka might possibly be a bored child who doesn't know how to put her face in the water and blow bubbles.
Anyway, we were writing things down and getting into the details.  We talked about making smoothies, having live music for musical chairs, etc.  When we started talking about playing pin-the-handmade-popsicle-stick-flowers-on-the-flower-pot instead of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey and how each kid could put up their own popsicle stick flower and how it would be so cool because then they could all be contributing to the big flower pot instead of ridiculing each other for putting the damn tail near the eye or something; I forgot I had cancer.  In that instant, it was no where in my mind.  When I got up from the table, it was as though I just remembered. Oh yeah, there's cancer in my body.  Shit.
Meeting new people these days is kind of difficult.  When someone wants to shake hands and say where are you from? and what do you do?  I want to say, Hi, my name is Cancer.  My middle name is Blog.  My last name is Green-Vegetables, with a hyphen.  Cancer is all consuming.  I try hard to let it not be.
I've been practicing my Mindful Meditation.  Put your feet on the ground, feel your feet on the ground, put my finger on the keyboard, feel the keyboard.  I chew about 65 times before I swallow my food (macrobiotics says chew 200 times - that takes a long time - I tried it.  plus, there is no food left to chew after about 75).  I thank the food for its nourishment while I eat.  These things bring me into the moment and calm the brain down.  They make it easier to put the cancer somewhere else.  And in instances like when I was thinking so hard about the popsicle stick flowers, I wonder if the cancer really does begin to go away because it is so far removed from the mind.  I think it does. 
On Monday, I start a new treatment.  It will involve a chemO agent in combination with Bevacizumab (try to say it.  my oncologist says it super fast.  like a lot of times).  Bevacizumab is designed to stop angiogenesis, which is new blood vessels developing and carrying nutrients to the tumor:  it basically cuts off the blood supply to the tumors.  There is some controversy involving insurance and Money because the drug is very eXpensive.  So some insurance providers do not want to cover it.  Dr. B says he will show my insurance provider the new promising research articles about Bevacizumab and if they don't wish to pay for it, he will ask them where their office is and go over there.
I remain completely determined to destroy this cancer.  While I can put it away for periods of time, it is usually there lurking in the background.  It's nice to let go of it sometimes, but because it is there, like some kind of creepy soft elevator music, it keeps me in check and reminds me to focus on my project.  My big Science Project called Beating the Shit Out of Cancer.  With a concentration in Teaching My Kid Everything She Needs to Know in Life Right Now.
Send good vibes on Monday and say Bevacizumab 3 times fast.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


So after two rounds of chemO and a 10 day stint of RadiAtion, I've gone and gotten scanned.  The  results are basically what we expected.  The scan is a bit hard to read because of all of the inflammation from the radiAtion, but it looks as though there are some areas of regression.  This is Super, but also another little "nodule" decided to place itself in my lower left lung and this is not so Super.  It is about the size of the tip of my thumb.

This might sound like discouraging news, but in fact I feel a bit more encouraged.  I knew going into this that the tried and true chemO regimens were iffy for my type of cancer and it's stage.  Now that we have tried the Tried and True, we can move on to either a newer chemO drug or a newer type of treatment - like immunotherapy.  Or a combination of the two.  Because the chemO we tried isn't working exactly the way we want it too, we can now search for the treatment that will.  Basically - to qualify for the new stuff, you have to try the old stuff first.

There  is a small part of me that is screaming and yelling and saying can't someone just rip this stuff out of me and chuck it in the garbage?  Can't I just throw up and have it come out?  But I have to keep going.  I have to drink my vegetables and eat my vitamins.  I have to watch Scott and Thandi finish the sauna.  I have to help Luka learn to jump rope.

So here I go.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Bye Bye RadiAtion

Yesterday was my last day of RadiAtion treatment.  I shuffled everyday for ten days at 9:45 am into the Cancer Center; changed into a gown, locked my stuff up with a key in a rectangular cubby, flipped through an Oprah magazine and then got zapped.  The staff on the Garden Level of the Cancer Center - the people who check you in, the people who line you up on the radiAtion table - are awesome. I will actually miss them and will probably stop down to say hello to them. Compared to my experience at the nameless Hospital, The Cancer Center has been a five star hotel.  (Not that I've ever even stayed at a five star hotel, but. . .)
The Providence Cancer Center has nice lighting.  There are no buzzing fluorescent lights, only soft lighting and table lamps in the waiting rooms.  
There is a library where you can check out books or cds (from music to guided meditation to kids' books to cookbooks to books specific to your cancer), get free information, use the Internet, and look through donated hats.  
Support Services offers free counseling and support groups.  Integrative Medicine offers Naturopathic doctors, acupuncture and massage.  
But most importantly, the people who work here are nice.  And seemingly trained well.  If they are short staffed, (and they are sometimes, probably most of the time- who isn't?) they do not take it out on you.
That is my plug for Providence Cancer Center in Portland.  Also, I said I would be more uplifting in this entry so there you go.
Back to ending RadiAtion.  Yey!  You might think that zap zap and zap - it's all gone, but that's not how it works.  More like zap and the tumor blows up and the cells inflame as they die, so the pain worsens at first and the actual benefits of the radiAtion can take a couple months to see and feel.  So my back hurts a little worse than before.  But one thing I have noticed lately is that my chest doesn't feel like it is going to crack open when I sneeze anymore.  It doesn't even hurt when I sneeze now.  And I've been afraid to sneeze for about two months, so it's nice to not get panicky and try-really-hard-not-to-sneeze-when-I-have-to anymore.
Tomorrow at noon I have a CT scan to evaluate how well the chemOtherapy is working.  Although I do hope it is working and that the scan confirms this, I will not be discouraged if there is a different outcome. My dad has helped me by researching a Plan B (involving immunotherapy) that we will use if Plan A does not work.  Today I talked with Dr. B about plan B and after photocopying an article my dad had researched - specific to metastasized cervical cancer and immunotherapy - he let me know that Providence Cancer Center does a lot of work with immunotherapy and that he would help me find a clinical trial should the need arise. 
And peeps, I also have a Plan C - which may involve the Kushi Institute for Macrobiotics or the Hippocrates Institute or some other alternative healing crazy miracle working I can't believe that worked kind of place.
But for now, let's hope the chemO is doing it's job.  And let's say thanks to the radiAtion for doing such good work blasting away my "large mass."  Bye bye radiAtion.  It's been super swell.