And the beat goes on . . .

Everyone assumes cancer treatment is just chemo and/or radiation. It is so much more. There are weeks when I have doctor visits just about every day. I’m not sure this is bad or good as you are so busy you don’t have time to worry about what is going on. You just put one foot before the next and keep moving. 

Recently my numbers have dropped so two weeks after treatment I’m back at the clinic for blood work to check my numbers. If they drop too low, my treatment is adjusted to accommodate the change. I hate changes in my treatment so i worry over this. Here’s my schedule for the past several weeks. 

Appointment on Tuesday to check numbers. Report comes back they haven’t changed so I’m thankful for that. I’m taking Vernezio. Its a new drug released in April 2017. My first scan showed active cancer cells up and down my spine. My oncologist referred to it as “your spine lit up like a Christmas tree”.  The thing I like about Dr. Chua, she is straight forward and doesn’t sugar coat anything. I’m not sure if she is like this with her other patients but with me, she is. It’s how I like it. So my numbers are not the best but they are not the worse so treatment continues as planned. 

On Friday I have a PET scan. Its been six months since my last scan. This scan tells us if the cancer is back and active. After the first scan which showed my spine, “lit up like a Christmas tree”.  I had another three months later and nothing was visible. The drug was working. My scan was clean. What a relief. So its now six months later and its time for a follow up. I see the oncologist on Tuesday and will get my results from the scan then.

I’ve started seeing a chiropractor. Since the second surgery on October 1st, the plan has been to proceed slow and steady.  I was on the walker for a month before moving to the cane. I have three canes stationed around my house and one in my car. I could probably walk without one but i don’t want any stress on my leg at this time. I see the chiropractor twice weekly right now. His treatment has helped with stiffness in my neck and overall body. The most exercise I am getting right now is walking up and down the driveway while Bella, my miniature Schnauzer, takes care of business. We live out in the country and have a very long driveway. I try to make it three or four laps around each time we venture outside.  Its funny how you think you are invisible, but recently one if my neighbors noted she saw me walking up and down the driveway with my cane. So since the plan is slow and easy, I’m seeing the chiropractor twice weekly. This week my appointment is on Monday and Thursday. 

Tuesday I have my treatment at the clinic. Since I’m taking Verzenio twice daily, I go into the clinic for two additional drugs which combined with the Verzenio and keeping me cancer free. These two drugs are administered monthly one by an infusion and the other requires two shots, one in each hip. Have I told you that cancer treatment requires you to keep a sense of humor. Otherwise, you could get depressed and that leads to more problems. 

Wednesday is my free day. It seems I don’t have many free days but when I do I really cherish them. 

Thursday I meet with my orthopedic cancer doctor to check on the healing of my femur. Since the bone stopped healing last July, these appointments bring a bit of stress. I’m constantly trying to be aware of my body and what’s going on. Any aches and pains are thoroughly reviewed and noted on a calendar. But I’m feeling good and have not experienced any problems since last month. When I enter the patient room my X-rays are up on the computer monitor so I sit in the doctors chair and am examining the X-rays when the doctor walks in. He laughs and asked my opinion. I tell him the left side of my femur looks solid white which indicates new bone growth. The right side still looks rough. He expands on the image and shows me that healing is taking place just slower than the other side. Its looks like cotton candy. But its healing so I’m excited. 

Thursday afternoon I meet with my chiropractor for our second visit this week. I’m feeling so much better since seeking his treatment. More fluid and less sciatic pain. 

Today is Friday, no appointments but a few errandis to run. Treatment is so much more than chemo and radiation. I’m setting my bike back up on the trainer which will let me get some different exercise in as well as I purchased a TRX Home system which I’m so looking forward to using. Like anything else, the healing process involves so much more than just doctor visits.

Thanks for reading and I’ll Talk to you next month. 

And the story goes on.

I haven’t posted in awhile as much has been going on. In July we had a huge family reunion at our house. It was great fun with up to 20 friends and family staying at our home. My in-laws and relatives stayed at the table playing cards over a period of five days. There was lots of food, fun and fellowship. I just didn’t realize they could play cards as much as they did. During this time frame, I was having some pain in my leg and actually had just finished physical therapy.

The pain in my leg seemed to continue to grow and I just assumed I had done too much getting ready for the family reunion. After about three weeks of rest and relaxation, I decided to go see the doctor and have him check out my leg. I was scheduled for an appointment in September so a month early wasn’t too bad. The doctor took an X-ray of the leg and told me the bone wasn’t healing. It seemed it had healed to a point and just stopped. I was surprised as I had never heard of such a thing. I mean you break your leg and just assume the bone heals itself. He said that he would look at it again in March 2019. As I left his office I thought, ”this is bullshit”. I’m not waiting until March 2019 to find out what is going on.

I searched through my list of doctors I had seen in the pass. I came across an orthopedic doctor I had seen a few years ago when I had a bone bruise on my knee. I made an appointment and when I arrived and he heard my story advised he could not help me and referred me on to an orthopedic cancer doctor. I did not know such a doctor existed. I guess I should have checked out available doctors.

This appointment was an interesting process. He ordered a scan and said that if the bone had indeed stopped healing, an another surgery would be required. The scan did indicate that the bone had stopped healing so on October 1, I had surgery. He replaced the hardware and drilled a larger opening for the hardware and that’s where I am now. It’s been six weeks since I had surgery and I’m meeting with my doctor within a few days. He will take a X-rays and order a scan and we will find out the status of the healing of the bone. It seems that a bone not healing isn’t such an odd thing. In fact, the doctor has been quick to tell me this might not work and the bone might now heal. I haven’t asked what will happen then as I’m afraid to know.

This has been a long process as it is now nine months since I originally broke my femur and quite frankly I’m exhausted. I know my husband is ready for me to be back on my feet as I am. He has been a rock through this process and we have had our laughs. I will always be thankful for all that he has done for me as well as keeping me laughing as that has been the best thing he could do for me.

Thanks for following and I’ll keep everyone updated on the rest of the story.

Friends

Once word got out about my situation, I have a few offers immediately for assistance. My sister-in-law, Lisa came and stayed with me for a week. Until her arrival, my friend, Susan came and spend time with me. That must have been painful for her, watching me sleep and move from one spot to another.

Lisa was such a big help. I was so excited to see her and so grateful that when she walked into my room, I just cried. Knowing you are going to need help and that she is here was so good for my heart. She was so kind and gentle and keeping me company was a true blessing.

Susan and I met through Bella. When I moved to the Cincinnati area I found Susan as she owned “The Dog House”. She was a groomer and had seen me through Mister, Buster and now Bella. We laugh as of all three of my dogs, Bella has been the most challenging. So over the years we became acquaintances and then friends. Susan was so busy with her business that is wasn’t until she sold her business that we actually became friends. She is a lover of Golden Retrievers and I’m a lover of miniature schnauzers. She’s a very serious person but has a love for Disney that I have yet to figure out. She’s like a big kid when it comes to Disney.

Susan lives over an hours drive from me but each day she came and then would drive me into town for radiation and other doctor appointments. She truly was a blessing. She did this almost daily for several weeks. I am still in awe of her friendship and the level of compassion she showed to me.

For my fRiends who came to visit and brought food, I’m so appreciative. One Friends hired a housekeeper to help around the house and that has been so wonderful. She called and made the offer and I accepted knowing I was going to need this help. The friends who sent packages of stuff to keep me busy and the friends who dropped off food, you are forever in my heart.

I will be forever grateful for their kindness. Not just shown to me, but shown to Rob. He was in a state of shock. You could see it on his face. He just didn’t know what to do, and at this time we weren’t sure of the prognosis but we knew it was coming.

When you have cancer, your friends become an important source of existence. I would have been in terrible shape without them. Rob needed to be at work and I needed someone with me. Just getting up out of bed was difficult and not something I could do on my own. It’s so humbling to need help getting in and out of bed, going to the bathroom and taking a shower. All of these activities required help. I laugh now at trying to go to the bathroom without bending your leg. Try sitting down on the toilet when you can’t bend your leg. It’s almost comical and you really do need to have a sense of humor to survive something like this.

So to my friends who were with me, I will forever be indebted to you for extending such kindness and compassion to me. I could not have made it this far without your assistance. Being a caregiver is hard work. It’s tiring work and I’m so appreciative and grateful for your friendship.

It’s been three months now since I broke my leg and although I’m moving forward it is entirely too slow for my taste. I’m still stiff and sore. I get up every morning feeling optimistic and energized only to poop out a few hours later. I know that it will be better each day I move forward but it is still baby steps as my granddaughter tells me.

After the break!!

When you break a major bone in your body you expect some issues in healing and your mobility. What you don’t expect is a leg that is totally useless.

When I woke up after surgery I was unable to move my right leg. I could wiggle my toes and move my ankle but that was all. I couldn’t lift my leg or move it all all. It was like a huge log attached to my body.

At one point it slid off the bed and I couldn’t stop it. I was yelling for Rob to help and although he immediately jumped up to assist me, I was horrified I could do nothing to stop my leg from falling off the bed. The fact that I couldn’t stop or control my leg was frightening.

I just couldn’t get over my inability to move my leg. After a few days they were able to get me up using a walker. This was so humbling. I was able to move from the bed to the chair and back to the bed. Even with using the walker I still couldn’t lift my leg to get back into the bed but I could walk from point A to point B.

So since I could move from point A to point B, they decided it was time to go home and I was so ready to go home. As I walked into our home and looked down the hallway to our master bedroom, I almost burst into tears. It was about 40 feet away but felt like a mile. I looked at Rob and said, we didn’t think this through. I’m never going to make it to the master bedroom. It took awhile but I did finally make it to our bedroom. I climbed into bed and thought this is going to be a nightmare. Just doing everyday functions was exhausting. Everything was in slow motion.

I came home on a Sunday and had appointments already scheduled that coming week. I was scheduled to meet with my oncologist and she has appointments scheduled for me. The first big test was a CAT scan to see if the cancer had spread beyond my femur.

A physical therapist had been scheduled to come to the house and she came out immediately to discuss the plan. She came twice a week and each time she came she gave me new exercises. I was sure I would not be able to do them but that just wasn’t the case.

Moving forward, I worked hard moving around the house and going back and forth to the doctors. I started radiation and chemo and began adjusting to my new routine. What a journey. It’s hard to stay focused on moving forward when you just feel so lousy.

Radiation was going to be eleven treatments and chemo was an oral tablet taken twice daily.

Link

Hey you,

Why anyone wants to put their story down in print is such an interesting process, but I have decided to do so. I have some interesting stories I will be sharing with you.

My recent story starts on March 14, 2018. It was so cold outside as it had snowed the previous night. I had accepted an assignment to teach that day at a local intermediate school and was about ready to leave but had to take Bella for her morning walk. We had exited out the mud room all bundled up for warmth. I had on my trusty MUCK boots which are the best thing since well I’m not sure but they keep my feet warm and dry. We had walked down the side road about half a mile or so and Bella had taken care of business. We were headed back into the house when I stepped on an icy surface. You know how you automatically adjust your posture to keep from falling well as I did that my femur snapped.

I was horrified as I not only felt it snapped but I saw my thigh swell up right in front of my eyes. I thought my pants were going to burst open just as Bruce Banner does when he transforms into the hulk.

I immediately fell to the ground and was so glad to have on my big white winter coat. I had purchased this coat when we moved to the country just for walking Bella. It is warm, water and snow repellent and did I say so very warm. As I lay there listening to the Wall Street Journal on my phone, I began to panic that I didn’t have my phone with me. Then chuckled when I realized I was actually listening to my phone.

My first phone call was to 911. That was an interesting phone call as the woman could not understand me. Now I admit I still have my southern accent but geez after the second time of giving her my address, I asked what the problem was. She then asked me how old I was. After automatically telling her my age I then developed an attitude asking what and why that was important. It’s hard to explain to someone that you know your leg is broken as most just don’t believe you. Well, I saw it break and saw it swell right if front of me, sure it’s not your hip. That’s when you want to reach through the phone and as my mother would say, and snatch them bald.

My next question to the 911 operator was when will they arrive. Her response caught me off guard. Well I’m not sure and it’s hard for me to say. My response was, you do realize I’m laying outside on the ground in the snow. She seemed uninterested so I told her I was going to contact my husband. We disconnected and I attempted to contact Rob. He never carries his phone with him so I left him a message. By now, it’s close to 8:00 so I sent a text to the secretary at the school that I had fallen and broken my leg and they would need to get a Substitute for their Substitute.

I then contacted my neighbors, Kim Doughman and Wade Lewis. Wade is an State Highway Patrol Officer and I felt sure if the ambulance didn’t show up soon he would be able to help with that situation. He was great at keeping me calm as my inner voice was yelling all kinds of crap at me. Kim helped with Bella and secured her in the house. I really did not want to go to the hospital in my MUCK boots. Really. They are made for tramping through the woods and that is exactly what I do when I wear them. They are big, bulky and dirty. Just the way I like them. No one would remove them so on to the hospital in the boots I went.

Since I couldn’t reach Rob, Kim contacted her husband, Seth and he began the task of reaching Rob. My husband hates his cell phone and keeps it in his tool box which does us all a lot of good in times of emergencies. So when Rob just happened to walk by his tool box and heard the beeps he finally checked his phone to see 6 missed calls from Seth which alerted him that something was wrong.

I consider myself a very stoic person and one that handles pain moderately well. This pain was off the chart. If fact when someone would walk into the ER room and ask what leg was involved, I would indicate my right leg and advise, if you touch it I will kill you. When they took me for X-rays moving me to the X-ray tables caused me to scream like a crazy woman. The tech advised that I needed to breathe through the pain and I remember looking at her in complete horror. After the X-ray they called three more techs in to move me back onto the bed. It works much easier with six techs moving you versus three.

They felt sure it was broken before the X-ray but they learned that a spot at the break indicated a tumor. Not what you want to hear when you have a history of breast cancer. My bone doctor indicated the bone was egg shell thin and all indications were this was a cancerous tumor.

When I explained that my leg broke before I fell it was dismissed as me just not remembering what actually happened. It was only when I talked to my bone doctor that he agreed with my remembrance of the incident. He said my bone was so paper thin that bumping it against a table would have caused a break. He advised that he was going to operate and place a rod down my femur using a screw to attach to my hip and a screw right above the knee. My concern was the bone crumbling and causing additional problems. He felt sure this would not happen so I trusted his judgement. He had scheduled surgery for later in the day which was a relief for me.

There are so many things that go through your mind when you realize your cancer has come back and is in your bone. My thoughts went to Rob who has made me laugh so much over the past 20 years and my sweet grandkids. I feel such a responsibility in being there for them. In being there for Rob and now that possibility is in question.