Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Chemo round 6 12/29/08

Last chemo of the year. Did not want to go. But as my Dear Hubby said it's going to make me better. Was pretty nauseated last night. that was fun. ginger ale and nausea pills helped.

I have also discovered that my hair has not grown at all since before Thanksgiving. I dyed my hair the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and I still do not have any roots growing out. But on the other hand it's not falling out any more either. yet. The good news is I shaved my legs a week ago and they are as smooth as ever. There are some good sides to this :)

Had a wonderful Christmas in Tampa, FL. with my sister and family. Now we're talking about going to the great white north (Cleveland, OH) for new years. Brrrrr. Was 82 in Tampa. Don't even want to think about what it's going to be like in cleve.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and may your New Year be all that you want it to be.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dr. visit 12-8-08

Seems like my hair loss has slowed down considerably. For the moment at least. Probably just until my next treatment. That's ok :)

Went to see my oncologist yesterday. My CEA has dropped from 99 down to 35! woohoo! (Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is a protein found in many types of cells but associated with tumors) For a "normal person" should be less then 3. Mine is 35. But it's dropped considerably. That means the treatment is working.

Also, they still don't have the luecovorin for my next treatment on Monday, but they do have it in pill form. So before I go to chemo I have to take 8 pills. I'll get them tomorrow and find out then how big they are.

I also have a cold. yuck :( Dr. Dunder put me on antibiotics just as a precaution because if I get strep throat or a bacterial infection he said with the poisons I have running through my body I could get very sick very fast. I'll pass on that one. Sneezing 24 hours a day is bad enough.

Other than that I am feeling really good. looking forward to my open house this Saturday night! Woohoo! Our 4th annual Christmas Open House! Hope to see all of you there!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Can't believe how much hair I lost in the shower today. At this rate I won't have any hair left by this time next week. The surprising part is it hurts to touch my head. I can't believe how sensitive it is. But is sure beats not being able to drink anything cold, or touch anything cold, and the pain in my throat. I'll take the hair loss over neuropathy any day. It's still a weird feeling to know that my hair is all falling out....someone is going to have to show me how to tie a scarf over my head! I'll have to find a pretty Christmas scarf to wear to the Christmas party next week. At this point expect for his bosses, no one Mark works with knows I have cancer. I think they'll figure it out next Thursday when I don't have any hair.....

But maybe it won't all fall out. Maybe it'll stop. and Maybe I'll wake up tomorrow 50 lbs thinner...I think not :)

I'll keep you posted....

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Here's the new haircut. In the last couple of days it's been coming out and I decided it wouldn't be as traumatic if it was short.

Never a dull moment.

Walked into my kitchen this morning and my shirt looked wet and when I looked down it was covered in blood. Wasn't that fun. I pulled up my shirt and blood started dripping all over my kitchen floor. Somehow the connection between my chemo pump and my porta cath came undone. I paniced for about 2 seconds before it occurred to me that I need to put the clamp on so I would quit bleeding.

The white part is what came unscrewed. The yellow thing is the clamp to stop the blood from coming out.


My neice Lauren. My awesome hubby Mark in the background.

This is Lily.

It was a great Thanksgiving. I really enjoyed having my family here.

chemo round 4 day 2 12/3/08

Not feeling too bad this morning. Was really queasy last night. Took a mild nausea pill, that just made me queasier. So I took one of my heavy duty nausea pill and got really nauseaus. What's up with that? So I took a sleeping pill...that didn't help my stomach any either. But it did put me to sleep. Didn't sleep very well. Good thing I had ambien to help me sleep or I probably wouldn't have slept at all. Good news is I woke up feeling much better this morning.

The other wonderful news is my hair is starting to fall out. Not in clumps, just thinning. If I run my hands through my hair I get many many strands come out. So I'm going today and getting it cut short so at least I have little strands of hair everywhere, not big long ones. I'll try to remember to post a picture later after it's done.

And to all my friends that I love at Love, INC - I'm hoping to come in and work with you all one day next week if you need some help!

I love you all. Thank you for your continuted prayers. And please pray for my husband Mark. I'm sure that this is a lot harder on him than he lets on.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

chemo 4 - different again

found out that the chemo drug Leucovorin they give me that is supposed to make the 5fu (the main chemo drug) work better is on national back order.  So they were going to try to get another newer drug in place of it.  Come to find out that is on back order too.  My onc said he wanted me to have chemo anyway....better to have the 5fu, Camptosar and Avastin than nothing.  So I go at noon today for my 4th treatment. 

Sitting here last night and playing with my hair I suddenly realized that there were an awful lot of strands in my fingers.  sigh.  So it's starting.  Who knows how much of it will go.  So I've decided that either today or tomorrow I am going to go get it cut short.  sigh.  Wonder if it will grow as fast after this is all over as it does now?  Have to wait and see I guess.  Hair is such a minor thing compared to death. 

I'll keep you all posted on how I'm feeling this week.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Chemo round 2 week 2

It took a week for me to wake up :) Could be worse. Could have been sick the whole time. Sunday had it's moments. Was warned that the new meds would give me diarreah but in fact had exactly the opposite problem. Until about 4:00 Sunday afternoon just as we were pulling into the parking garage at Bobcat's Arena to watch the Charlotte Checkers hockey game. It was a LONG walk from the parking garage to a restroom! But I made it. Barely! Things have moved smoothly since then :)

Today was the first day that I haven't been tired. Feel "normal," whatever that means any more. Went with my mom and got last minute items for Thanksgiving dinner, and we spent the afternoon chopping everything up and making pies for Thanksgiving. My sister and her family will be here probably around noon tomorrow. The only thing we have to do in the morning is last minute sweeping and dusting.

Every thing is prepped for dinner Thursday so that won't be any big deal. Just have to remember to make the rolls. I have a habit of forgetting them until we sit down to eat. Hope that doesn't happen this year. But then it wouldn't be a holiday if something didn't get forgotten.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Thank you all for your prayers. That is one of the biggest things I'm thankful for this year. That and God's continuted healing touch.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chemo - round 2 day 3

So far not too bad. I'm tired. Really tired. I'm trying to clean my house before my mom comes on Sunday and my sister Josie and her family come on Wednesday for Thanksgiving, but I'm not really getting very far. I can do something for about 10 minutes before I feel like I need to sit down before I fall down. But I'll get there.

I am so thankful that I'm not really sick. Kind of queasy but not too bad and I've got pills if it starts bothering me. No diarrhea. In fact just the opposite. It sure beats the neuropathy I had with the other drug. This is much easier to deal with.

Thank you all for your prayers and support. It means more to me than you know.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Chemo - round 2 day 1

Chemo went well today. I'm kind of tired, but so far, no nausea and no diareaah. I'm sure it'll come, but so far so good. I'm stocked up with drugs and I won't hesitate to use them! The other advantage to the new chemo drug is they have to give it to me through an IV in my arm instead of through my port. That cut an hour and a half off the time I had to sit there getting chemo because they can do 2 drugs at once, one in my arm and one through my port. Yeah! I'm all for less time sitting in that chair hooked up to an iv!

Time to go take the third nap of the day.  I'm tired, but feel good! 

New Drugs

Here we go again. Back to chemo. I sure enjoyed the time "off" to heal from the last one. As my dear husband said, i "want" to go so I can continue to heal. I have no problem with going....it's the after effects I'm not looking forward to. I'm expecting the worst, nausea, diareaah, hair loss, and praying for the best, none of the above. But I'll tell you, after what the last treatment did to my hands and throat....I'd happily shave my head tomorrow to never have to go through that again. I still have a little trouble with my hands, and in the last week have started having trouble with pain and tingling in my toes. Nothing I can't handle, just more of an irritation than anything. But there is no way I want any more of that drug in my body. Not unless they told me it was the last resort. And then I'd find ways to deal with it.

The joys of cancer. This really isn't fun, but it is a bump in the road that will eventually be gone, and I am so grateful it isn't a lot worse as it is for so many others. So far the love, joy and peace that I have been given far outweighs the bad. And God has strengthened my faith greatly since this journey has began. Thank you God. I know that He will use this to His good.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Results of 11-3 CT scan

One of the largest tumors in my liver is COMPLETELY gone! The rest are shrinking! I start chemo again on the 17th. Praise God. The healing not only has begun, but has gone a long way already. Thank you for your prayers because I know that is what is making all the difference.  Please continue to pray for me.  I can't begin to tell you what it means to me that so many people, both friends and family, and people I have never met pray for me on a daily basis.  These are the "hands" of God. 

Friday, October 31, 2008


The neuropathy is finally starting to wear off. I can take things out of the freezer and can drink cold drinks. But if I hold something cold too long or take too big a drink I can feel it. I ate some ice cream last night and the cold did weird things to my lips. I've also found that if I stand outside and get chilled my fingers and toes go numb. So I have to be careful with that. I thought all this stuff would wear off by now, but at least at this point it's just a VERY minor discomfort. Nothing at all like I put up with last week.

I have a CT scan Monday morning at 10 am. Woohoo! I know that the doc is going to be amazed at the results. God is so good. I don't know if it is completely gone or not, but I do know that it is no where near as bad as it was. God has touched me and the healing has begun. I will know the results when I see my oncologist on the 10th at noon.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Neuropathy part 2

The neuropathy this chemo round is soooo much worse than the first round. I touched a cold bottle Monday night and could barely use my hand for the next 30 minutes. I can't touch anything that's even a little bit cool. But the worst part is my throat. I have to drink something warm to get my throat warmed up before I can swallow. And my lips and tongue are numb. When I went in today to get my pump removed and my neulasta shot I told Cathy my oncology nurse and she made me go in and see the doctor.

It was decided between the doc I saw today and my oncology doctor (he wasn't in the office, the guy I saw called him), that I should not be taking this drug. The reaction was too severe and it is possible that it would become permanent. Wouldn't that be lovely. Not. Good news is that after this I don't have to go through a week at a time not being able to drink anything cold. YEAHHHHHH!!!!!!

On the down side, the drug they will use instead my give me diaherra, but I'll take that over losing the use of my hands, not being able to swallow or drink anything cold any day! And he said they can give me something to counteract that so it's usually not a problem. So no Lori, I will NOT need depends!

All in all I'm feeling pretty good. Had a great visit with my mom and Aunt Josie, but it's chemo week and now I'm tired. My incredibly awesome hubby is doing laundry and making me dinner right now. I'm spoiled :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Second Chemo Treatment

My second treatment was today. All went well. Dr. Dunder said that my blood counts were good so that unless there was a problem I didn't need to go in for blood work on the off week. That's awesome. This is a photo of me with my gorgeous oncologist. Mark says next year he'll be old enough to get his driver's license.....

Cathy isn't quite as good looking as Dr. Dunder, but I couldn't get a better oncology nurse. She is awesome. Smart. Sweet. Loving. She is a wonderful woman. I look forward to getting to know her better.

It was nice having Aunt Josie there with me today.
And very nice to have my mom here too!!!
My friend Kristine brought us lunch. She was unable to come to my birthday party last night so she brought my birthday present to the cancer care center and we had a party there. Hey, I have to be here every other Monday, but that doesn't mean we can't have fun while we're there!!!

Prayers and Annointing with Oil

Yesterday in church - Light of Christ United Methodist Church - Pastor Kyle annointed me with oil and had the congregation come up and they all layed hands on me and prayed for healing. Every person in the congregation was standing around me praying. Those that couldn't reach me had their hands on the people in front of them making a chain. The love in that room is so incredible I can't even begin to describe it. God showed me yesterday that this is how His love works. His arms were around all of us praying for my healing, but it was the love from each individual person that made it so strong and powerful. It showed me just how much people love me. And if people love me this much, how much more does Jesus love me.

Then last night was one of the best birthday parties I have ever had. Check it out...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesday - day whatever

Still relishing this nice cold glass of water I'm drinking like a normal person.  Just don't want this week to go by too fast, because I know that by noon on Monday I'm back to the warm stuff for a week :(  But at least now I'm sure it's only a week.

Monday morning I get my second chemo treatment.  Although I've been at that place so many times already...I'm really lucky to have them for my care.  They are an excellent, warm caring group of people.  Cathy my onc nurse is awesome.  And she is so smart.  My Oncologist talks to me every time I go in.  He was in the hall the other day and stopped and talked with me. Listened to everything I had to say, and never made me feel like I was interrupting him or anything.  At that moment he let me know that I was the only thing important.  That's an awesome feeling to get from your doctor.  So far I would highly recommend this practice to anyone with cancer.  They are great.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Just thought I'd let you all know I had a CBC (complete blood count) today and my numbers are excellent!  Means everything going the way it should be.  Thank you God!

Sunday - Happy Birthday to me :(

Woke up feeling like I had the flu. After I started moving around a bit I felt a little better. Went to mass, came home and took a nap. Woke up an hour later feeling ok. Then I started to get cold. I had jeans, wool slippers, t-shirt and a sweater on and was still cold. wrapped up in a blanket and just sat there shivering. About an hour later I was running a fever of 101.5 Took some tylenol and layed on the couch. Fever went down about an hour later. Then I was hot. Very hot. At least the tylenol took some of the aches away. Took another little nap. Finally started feeling normal again.

I was told when they gave me my neulasta shot on Wednesday that it was going to make my bones ache and I was going to feel like I had the flu. Although they said 12 - 24 hours, not 4 days later. That was really a sucky way to spend my 49th birthday. Glad we went to the fair and had such a good time on Saturday.

Saturday - Day 6

Felt almost like me today!  With a bit of care I can now drink cold drinks again!  Woohoo!  I challenge you to go just ONE day without being able to drink anything below room temp.  That gets old real fast.  But it's over now.  At least until next Monday and they give me drugs again.

Went to the South Carolina State Fair today in Columbia.  It was a lot of fun.  They just don't do fairs in the south like they do the north.  This fair was about the size of the Lorain County fair with a few more rides and 150 more corn dog stands!  County fairs around here are just sad.  They are no where near as good as Ohio county fairs.  But we had a lot of fun with this one.  Markie had to play with his food.....
He makes me laugh.  One of the things I love most about him. 
They were having a cow show while we were there.  This little boy was smaller than the cow he was leading.  His brother had to help him.
My favorite part of the fair is all the hand crafts.  I love seeing what people make and the ideas they come up with.  Part of the fun is when I see something and think I can do that!   or, I made one of those!  Then there's the intricate detailed things that I know I would NEVER have the patience to make.  The talent is amazing.  This was our favorite painting we saw at the fair:
All the cops at krispy kreme - including the police helicopter!  Isn't it great?????
After the fair we drove through USC and found a chili cookoff they were having.  Yummy!  We tried about 7 different kinds of chili.  By the time we were done I thought my lips were going to fall off from the heat of a couple of them!  It sure was good :) 
Then stopped at Joann Fabric as they don't have such a thing in Charlotte.  But it seems like every time I go it just makes me appreciate Hancock Fabric in Matthews even more.  They have such a better selection, and usually better prices too.  Although I did find felt in Christmas colors ON SALE, that I haven't been able to find at Hancock.  Now I just have to figure out what I want to make with it!  :)
Stopped on the way home to get a steak to make for dinner.  Bought fress brussel sprouts and acorn squash to go with it.  Was one of the best dinners we had in a long time.  Yumm!!! 
All in all was one of the nicest days in a long time.  I felt like a "normal" person again.  Expect for the point at the chili cookoff when Mark bought a metal bottle of Coors and handed it to me.  It took about 30 seconds and all of a sudden massive shocks were going through my fingertips from the cold.  STill have to be careful about that.  But as long as I can drink the cold I can deal with having to be careful when I touch it!

Friday, October 10, 2008

day 5 evening

I was able to sip ice water tonight without pain!!!  WOOHOO!!!!!  Life resembles normal!  I even drank some chilled white wine!  How nice.  Amazing how much little thing boost your spirits :) 

Chemo Day 5

Ok, I really have to quit feeling sorry for myself. So I can't drink anything cold. HAve a feeling there are a whole lot of people out there that can't and don't think it's a big deal. It could be so much worse. I have no nausea from the chemo, the shot to build up my white blood cells didn't make my bones ache, I have the greatest support system in the world, and here I sit whining because I can't drink a glass of iced tea. But for those of you that can, try to go a day without something cold to drink. Do you know how nasty warm diet pepsi is???? And I'm sorry, but I can only drink so many cups of tea. I can deal with not being able to touch things in the freezer. That's easy. Put on a pair of gloves and deal with it. Can't do that for the back of my throat. The good news is people that have been through this says it will go away by the 6th or 7th day so I will have a week of cold drinks before I'm back to warm for the next week.

I also read that Alpha-lipoic Acid should help so I found some at Earth Fare today and will see if that helps at all. I figure I'll take it for a week before my next chemo, so just maybe it won't be so bad with the next round. Can't hurt to try. Right now there is a big study being done to see if this helps with the chemo neuropathy. So I'll just do my own study.

Weekend is almost here. Mark is taking me to the South Carolina State Fair tomorrow. Sunday is my birthday. I think we're going to go out to eat at Firebird's for my birthday Monday night because it's half price wine day. And by then I should be able to drink a bottle of cold white wine! Woohoo!!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Chemo Day 3

Here we are on day three.  Yesterday was like any other day.  Cleaned house, did the laundry, no big deal.  So far only one little side effect to the chemo.  I can't drink anything cold because when I do it feels like whatever I'm drinking is filled with tiny little shards of glass and they all hit me in the back of my throat.  That is only supposed to last about 5 days though.  I hope so because I would love an ice cold glass of tea right now!  I was also told that if I touched a cold car, or mailbox, or got something out of the freezer I would have to wear gloves.  I found out why last night.  We had bacon to make blts that was partially frozen.  I picked it up and felt like I had touched a live wire.  Little tiny shocks all through my fingertips where I was touching the bacon!  I dropped it really fast!  That was REALLY strange!!!!  But if those are the only side effects I have to live with temporarily I am very blessed indeed!

Sleep much better last night.  And I didn't wake up with my bandage all bloody from pulling on the tubing either.  Will be glad to get rid of this thing today.  I have any appointment at 2:30 for them to take it off and then give me a shot of whatever it is that is going to help raise my blood count.  That shot may give me bone pain, we'll see how it goes. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Day 2 update

Went to the doctor this morning. The nurse said it looked like I pulled on the tube during the 5 minutes I actually slept last night. They replaced it and all is well now. Feel like myself this morning. No nausea or pain. Just a bit tired but that could be because I only slept for 5 minutes.

Chemo Day 2

Felt fine last night. Didn't feel much different at all until about 8:30. Then my feet and legs just felt really sensitive. Around 9 I started feeling a bit nauseated so I took one of my $48 anti-nausea pills. Didn't really seem to do too much. Took my ambien and went to bed around 9:15. by 10:30 I still wasn't asleep. What's up with that? THought this stuff was supposed to make you tired!!! By 11:30 I was feeling even more nauseated and I had Mark go downstairs and get me a second nausea pill - the cheap 33 cent kind and took one of those. 15 minutes later I was asleep. Didn't last long. Really didn't get too much sleep last night at all.

I was afraid the fanny pack was going to make me crazy, but suprisingly it didn't. I chose to wear it around my waist on my back. Figured if I set it on the nightstand I'd get up in the middle of the night to go potty and would forget to pick it up! It was loose so when I turned over it just slid back down to rest on the bed. The bad news was when I got up this morning my shirt was all bloody and there was blood all around inside my bandage. Mark took the bandage off and cleaned up the blood. It looks like it was coming out of the scar above the port. I'll call my surgeon when the office opens this morning and see if that's normal. It doesn't appear to be bleeding any more.

Feeling ok so far this morning. Started the laundry. We'll see how much of it I actually get done.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Chemo Day 1 - 10/6/08

Here I am about 10 this morning tied up to my chemo chair. Boy did I get tired of sitting there all day! So far so good. No filling sick or anything.
These are the slippers my wonderful Aunt Josie sent me. The green pair is a nice fall weight, and the light blues was are very warm for when I'm really feeling cold. They both feel really good on my feet.
The beautiful flowers are from Mark's bosses. They smell sooooo good.
This is the fun pouch I get to wear until Wednesday afternoon.
Don't know how I'll sleep but hey, it's only 2 days.


Well, this day is finally here. I have my bag packed and have to be at the oncologist's office at 9:45. Went to the outlet mall and found a pretty pillow and lightweight fleece blanket to take with me. Paid all of $5 for the pillow and $4 for the blanket! I did splurge and bought a bed table for $11 so that I have something to do my cross stitch on while I'm tied to a chair for 5 hours. If at all possible I will update you all later today and let you know how I'm feeling.
This is my new pillow and blanket for chemo.This is my doggie Sassy - otherwise known as psycho dog guarding them!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Chemo date

Just found out I will be starting chemo Monday morning at 9:45.  She said it would take about 5 hours.  Told me to bring my pillow and blanket and something for lunch as I would be there most of the day.  Doesn't that sound like fun.  Not. 

I'll let you all know how it goes....


Went to see Dr. Dobson yesterday to have my porta cath checked. Everything looks good. It has healed nicely and he says it's ready to use. He told me they should use lidocane or something like it to numb the skin before they access the port. Someone had told me to ask about a cold spray to numb it but he didn't think that was a good idea. He brought some in and sprayed my hand and that had to sting worse than any needle prick would have! I'm glad he sprayed it on my hand and not my chest. That would not have been fun!

Monday, September 29, 2008


Finally saw the oncologist today.  Will start chemo early next week.  I'll get treatment of 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) has been the first-choice chemotherapy drug for colorectal cancer for many years. It is used in combination with leucovorin (a vitamin), which makes 5-FU more effective. 5-FU is given intravenously, and Avastin.  I'll have treatment once every 2 weeks.  There were be some side effects, but they shouldn't be too bad.  we'll see how it goes.

Friday, September 26, 2008


I have an appointment on Monday the 29th for my inital consultation with the oncologist. That is when we will definately set up my treatments. It's about time. I am so ready to start fighting this disease.

The hospital I'm dealing with has assigned me a cancer care advocate. Her name is Pam. She called me this morning. Seems like she is going to be a really helpful addition to my care team. When I told her I still hadn't heard from the oncologist she called me back with an appointment within 20 minutes. That's the kind of person I want on my side!

She also said they have all kinds of support - support groups, nutrition classes, etc that she can get me involved in should I wish to. Of course I wish to! I'm willing to do anything that is going to help me fight this disease!

I thank God for the people he has sent into my life to help me deal with this. It is awesome.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I am still waiting to hear from the oncologist to see when I'll start chemo. If I don't hear before noon today I'm going to find a different onc to see me. I'll call Dr. Dobson again and see if he ever got around to sending the referal to Dr. Dunder and if not, why not. That should have been done weeks ago so that once the put the porta cath in I was ready to go. This stuff is GROWING inside me. We need to start treatment NOW! Dobson told me when he said it was ok to go to Europe that he would have everything set up and we would get going as soon as I returned. Well, he set up the part that put money in HIS pocket.

If I don't have an appointment by noon I'm going to pull out the list of oncologists recommended by my insurance company and start calling until I find one willing to start treatment right away. I'm not going to just sit here and wait for someone to finally get around to doing what should have been done already. I won't get well that way.

Thursday, September 25

Feeling pretty good. Stitches are on the inside and on the outside he superglued me together :) It doesn't feel too bad if I don't try to use my left arm. At this point i'm really grateful that he put it on the left side and not the right. My left arm hurts and I can't lift anything or lift it up toohigh. Didn't sleep too much last night. I was able to sleep during the time I was cuddled up to Mark's back and was able to put my left arm on top of him so that it took the stress off it. I wasn't allowed to take a sleeping pill, but I can tonight so I'll sleep better. I was also pretty sick late yesterday. I felt better after i threw up. It would have been nice had they told me to expect that. I had three different people call today and see how i was doing and they all told me that was normal. 2 from the hospital and one from doctors office. The nurses at cmc mercy were really nice and the one from the doctor's office has always been good to me.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Surgery is over

Things went very well today. I can't say enough good things about the wonderful staff at CMC Mercy. The nurses and everyone was so kind and sweet. My left chest is sore and it's a bit painful to move my left arm, but all in all no problem.
I'm also exhausted so that's about all for tonight. Thank you all for your prayers and your support.
Before & After

Porta cath surgery

is today at 10:30.  Please keep us in your prayers.  Pray for peace for Mark as he's waiting.  Pray for the surgeon's steady hand.  Pray for my quick recovery.  And I thank God for all the wonderful people out there praying for us and that love us.  I will send an update this evening when I'm feeling up to it!


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

day before surgery

I have a feeling this is going to be like the longest day from hell. I am really wired about tomorrow. Don't know why. I've done my research and it really isn't a big deal. I know this isn't a big deal to my surgeon because he has done this numerous times. I have faith in him and trust him. But still, I am stressed. It's only 7:30 and I have one load of laundry done and the upstairs all clean and shiny already. Now I'll do the downstairs. Not that there's much to clean. Cleaned it all the day we left for Europe and then cleaned it again when i got back. Pretty much just need to vacuum the living room and do the laundry.

What I really should be doing is my devotions for today and remember that this is in God's hands. I guess this is what happens when I forget to pray for God's peace and to be still and know that he is God. Going upstairs to follow my own advice.

Monday, September 22, 2008

London & Paris

We are back from across the pond. What a great trip we had! It was awesome! In the next few days I will post some photos and tell you some of the highlights. I can't believe we were able to actually take Eurostar through the chunnel to Paris. The fire really messed things up and they still are operating on a limited schedule.

My friend Sandee watched my dog (and Lori too!) while we were on vacation. When I came back there was a trivit on my counter that said "Friends are the family we choose for ourselves." I can't begin to tell you how good that made me feel. I have the best family here in Charlotte.

48 hours

Only 48 hours until they put my porta cath in. I have a call into the doctor to see when they are going to start the chemo as he didn't know before I left for Europe. It's starting to sink in a bit that I actually have cancer and that I'm going to have surgery on Wednesday. Let the healing begin. I'm ready to start this fight because the sooner I start the sooner it's going to be done. I will beat this, I have no doubt. With the faith, love and support I have I can't lose.

I'll post again as soon as I hear from the surgeon's office.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


in london! having a great time. even made it to paris!

love you all. be home soon.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

porta cath

Well my surgery for my porta cath on Wednesday, September 24th at 8:30 am.  Then the fun will begin.  As for now I'm getting ready to get on a plane for London and Paris!

Will update you all when I return.

Monday, September 8, 2008

my socks

aren't these fun? Thank you so much Kristine! You're an angel :)


Kristine sent me the greatest sockgram! It's a pair of bright yellow socks with a smiley face on them! How fun is that! And you all know how much I like fun socks! I've heard that my feet will be cold once I start treatement so what a great gift that was! I'm going to have to remember to post a picture of them they are so great. Maybe since I won't be needing a hat party I'll have a sock party! Notice operative word here being party. Any excuse for a party.

Time to go run some errands before I have to go get a PET scan done. I'm learning more medical info than I ever wanted. Feel free to ask questions! I'm happy to share my experience with anyone that is curious about what they are doing. It doesn't bother me at all. In fact, it makes me feel better to talk about it.

Love you guys!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

PET scan

Tomorrow I have my PET scan. Have no clue what to expect. Have to eat a high protein breakfast and then not eat after 10 am. Scan is at 2:30. Also get a baseline CBC (complete blood count) beforehand. Awesome Sandy is taking me. I love you sweetie! The scan will show if there is cancer anywhere besides what they already know is in my rectum and liver. Don't want to know before I come back from Paris and London! I'll worry about my health then. Nothing that will be done before than anyway.

Can't believe we leave in just a few days for Europe! We are so excited!

I'll post more tomorrow after my scan. BTW....New bed doll done and posted on mmtarase.blogspot.com. Isn't she pretty? Hope you like it Antoinette!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It was only yesterday....

So hard to believe it was only yesterday I was told I had a 50% chance of living 5 years. I have colon cancer that has spread to my liver. Reality is, those are only words. Dr. Dobson was right when he told me statistics don't mean a thing. I'm not worried about this disease. So I have cancer. That doesn't change who I am. Has made me appreciate a little bit more just how much God has blessed me with these friends I have here in Charlotte. (and Asheville!!!) I don't know why you all love me so much, but I'm so grateful you do!

I would love for you all to send me your suggestions for happy songs. Mark is going to fill my MP3 player with happy songs for me to listen to while I'm going through chemo & surgery. The first song is going to be "I wanna be sedated" by the Ramones compliments of Mark. He just makes me laugh all the time. So send me your songs and I will think of you when I hear them. What better medicine can there be than that???

I really don't know how to put into words the way I feel right now. I have no fear, no stress, no depression, no sadness, I don't feel like my life was suddenly altered. I'm still me. The same person I was a month ago. Warts and all. Ok, so I have cancer. I go through treatment and get on with life. Life is way too short to worry about something that may never happen. My plane my crash on the way home from Europe. Won't that make the cancer irrelevant?

I have my faith. Jesus is my saviour. He is watching over me.

Mark loves me. Warts and all. I wish everyone could find someone to love them as unconditionally as Mark loves me. Boy does that make me humble when I think about it.

The number of friends I have in Charlotte; most of whom I met at Light of Christ. All y'all are the most awesome people I could ever hope to meet. You are my family. And y'all have been there for me from the day I met you no matter what. I love you all so much.

The awesome people at Love, INC. You have the biggest hearts of anyone I have ever met. I know there is a special place in heaven for all of you. I miss you as much as you miss me!

How can one person be so blessed? I don't deserve it. It is a gift from God. I have done nothing to earn it. I love you all so much. Please know how much I love all of you.

If two are better than one...

This was my reading this morning from Ecclesiastes 4

9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:
10 If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

I read this and of course thought of all you wonderful awesome friends out there supporting Mark & I.  How can I lose?  I am so blessed to have each and every one of you.  Thank you for being a part of my life.  You have all enriched me beyond what you could possibly know.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


The bad news is stage IV rectal cancer.  Spread throughout my liver.  50% survival rate for 5 years.  Not quite what I expected to hear today.  But there it is.  We start with a PET scan just to be sure it isn't anywhere besides the rectum and liver and then after my trip I get to do chemo and radiation.

Good news is the chemo drugs for rectal cancer do not make your hair fall our.  Guess that means I won't be dying it red and cutting it short.  And my girlfriend doesn't have to shave her head!  I was so looking forward to all the fun hats I was going to get :( 

Other positive note is that the chemo drugs for rectal cancer tend not to make you really sick.  None of the nausea and vomiting you think of when you think of chemo. 

So it really isn't good news.  But it still could be a lot worse.  I am leaving on the 11th for London and Paris, will be back on the 19th of September and the fight will start the week of the 22nd.  I will have a PET scan done before I leave and as soon as I get back the surgeon will put in the chemo catheter and I will meet with my new cancer team that week.  Dr. Dobson my surgeon will be putting together the cancer team.  He has assured me that if for any reason I don't like any of them to let him know and he will replace them with someone I do like, and that includes him.  So far I like Dr. Dobson and believe he will be as aggressive as possible.  And that's what I want.  Aggressive.  We're going to go after this with everything we possibly can.

So please, keep Mark and me in your prayers.  I am in awe at the great support system I have - from my LOC church family to the Love, INC family to all my friends and family.  I couldn't make it through this journey without you.  Thank you for being there for me.  You are truly wonderful.


Tuesday, September 2 - AM

Only a few more hours and then just maybe some definate decisions will be made. Praying that we well set up the treatment and I will know for sure when they will start and what will be done. Actually the big question of the day is "is it liver cancer or are the two spots just cysts?" And that will determine how we are going to treat my disease. The not knowing is definately the hardest part.

Have decided if they are going to do chemo and radiation and they tell me I'm going to lose my hair that I am going to have fun with it first. Mark and I are going to go and buy some funky red hair dye and I am going to dye it red. Then my girlfriend Sandy and I are going to go get really fun short, short haircuts. Something that I can just wash and not have to bother with while I'm in London and Paris. That way after I start treatment and it starts falling out I'm not going to care as much. And there will be less for Mark to shave when the time comes.....

There will be a couple of fun aspects to this process.

Come back later for all the latest!


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Wonderful Day

Saturday, August 30. Can't believe this is the end of August already. This summer has flown by. I called the surgeon's office yesterday and was told that it takes 5 - 7 days to get a pathology report and she didn't know why the doctor that did the liver biopsy told me they would have the report the next day. Oh well. I have an appointment with the surgeon on Tuesday, September 2 at 1:30 and we will decide on treatment from there. Knowing a time and date to make decisions has taken the anxiety away. I may not know the answer, but at least now I know when I'll know something. That helps a lot.

Have I mentioned I'm married to the most awesome man on the planet? He's not perfect, but he's as close to perfect as a male can be and not drive you crazy! I lvoe that man more than anything. He just somehow knows exactly how to support me in a way that brings out the very best in me. He's awesome. Thank you God for bringing him into my life.

I wonder just how many people have me on their prayer lists? I know it's quite a few. But the funny part is, that when I start getting anxious, if I remember to pray for myself it ALWAYS works. This is my prayer taken from the Scott Krippayne song "Sometimes He Calms The Storm," I pray that He will calm His child (me) and within hours He always does.

What a great day it has been. I'm learning to just enjoy being. Went to the fabric store. Simplicity patterns for $1.99! Woohoo! Bought 3! One for gift bags, one for shopping bags and one for snowman Christmas ornaments! How fun.

Then went to a festival. They had a quilt show there and it was wonderful looking at what other people had created. I want to learn to make a quilt. One of these days. I have 2 quilting books I pulled out and will start reading. I love walking around fairs and festivals looking at what other people have created. One gentleman had made mats for picture frames shaped into words like grandchildren, beach, mountains, etc. I have tons of pictures so I'm going to make my own for photo collages. That will be fun.

I just made a new purse for fall. Check it out. mmtarase.blogspot.com.

Thanks for reading :)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Waiting again...

That has to be the hardest part.  I hate the waiting to hear what is going on.  I had the liver biopsy on Tuesday, and it's now Friday and I still haven't heard the results.  They told me when they did the biopsy the surgeon should have the results by Wednesday.  That was two days ago.  Although I'm glad he didn't call me yesterday.  So far news on Thursday is bad.  Don't want to hear anything on Thursday.  I was so stressed out this morning that for the first time in a week my ulcer was killing me.  It hurt to the point I actually threw up.  That was fun.  Not. 

Although for the first time this morning in a while I actually drank regular English Breakfast tea.  Maybe it was the caffeine in it that made my stomach hurt? Probably added to it at least.  Guess I'll have to stick to decaf and herbal tea from now on.  I read that if you pour boiling water over regular tea bags and swish it around for 20 seconds it will take 80% of the caffeine out of it.  That should do the trick. 

Oh well, back to my sewing room and waiting for the phone to ring.....

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Rectal ultrasound

Wednesday, August 27th. Just got back from my ultrasound. Drugs are good :) Didn't feel a thing.

The tumor does go into the walls of the rectum. It is a T3. But, he found no evidence of it being in my lymph nodes. That is a VERY good thing. Now just have to wait and see what the results of the liver biopsy are. After that we will sit down with my surgeon and decide on the course of treatment.

There will be surgery, chemo and radiation. Just when and in what order will be the question. Praying will be able to put it all off until the 22nd of September after we get back from Paris and London.

Will let you all know...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Liver biopsy

Tuesday, August 26.  Well my liver biopsy was today.  Not at all what I expected.  Drugs are good!  my awesome husband took the day off work and took me.  I had to be there by 7:30 this morning.  They took me straight back had me put one of those fun little hospital gowns on (maybe I'll make my own and start taking it with me....).  Then someone came in and took blood to make sure my blood coagulated (sp?) right.  Another nurse came in and took my history down to how long it took my mother to give birth to me - at least it seemed that way- and I let her know I was having an anxiety attack and would she please give me some happy pills.  So she very nicely gave me two adivan.  That worked nice to ease my anxiety.

It only took the lab about 20 minutes to let them know my blood was fine.  So nice nurse came in and gave me some morphine.  Happy drugs.  Within 5 minutes I didn't care what they were going to do. 

The biopsy was a breeze.  I couldn't even feel the needle poking me when he numbed me up.  I was able to see the ultrasound and the assistant showed me the spot they wanted to biopsy.  If that's a small spot I'd hate to see a big one, but I think it was blown up larger for the doctor to see.  Morphine was awesome becuase I thought it fascinating watching the needle go into my liver and into the spot on the ultrasound.

The sucky part of a liver biopsy...after it's over you have to lay there pretty much still for FOUR HOURS!  At least they gave me something to drink immediatly after, and then two hours after brought me food because you can't eat before you do this. 

This was all done at Carolinas Medical Center Main and the people there were all wonderful.  We were treated very well.  Which is nice since I'll be back there tomorrow morning for my rectal ultrasound.  And the fun continues......

One other thing, I sleep most of the 4 hours I waited and have slept on and off all afternoon since I've been home.  I am exhausted.  Probably mentally and physically.  When they told me when the biopsy was it pretty much made my diagosis of cancer reality. 

So it's back to the couch for yet another nap while my fantasticly awesome hubby makes me dinner.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Friday, August 22. Dr. Davis my primary care physician called this morning to see how I was doing. He had just received the reports from the surgeon and wanted to know how I was doing and if there was anything he could do to help me, or if there were any questions I wanted to discuss with him. I told him about the chest pains I had been having for two weeks and he told me to come in and see him.

The other thing that I found out from the CT scan was that I had gallstones. I thought maybe that was causing the pain, but it wasn't. I have an ulcer. Me, who has like no stress in my life has an ulcer. Go figure. At least now I know what was causing my chest pains. My heart is fine! Dr. Davis put me on nexium and the pain was almost completely gone in 24 hours.

I feel like I'm just falling apart. This just isn't quite fair. I quit smoking 8 months ago, started eating well and have been exercising almost every day for month. I've felt better than I have in years and now all of a sudden it's one thing after another. I have a feeling it's going to be a long few months until this year is over.

Next appointment Wednesday...let the fun continue.

Surgeon pre-op exam

Thursday, August 21. Went to Dr. Dobson so he could do the rectal exam. He used a scope to look and see exactly how high up and where the polyp was positioned. Glad he thought it wouldn't hurt....

Was going to have my amazing husband come with me, but it was a simple exam and he was taking the next day off to take me for surgery so I didn't bother. BIG mistake. Had I only known.

The polyp wasn't on a little stalk like he thought. It is fixed to the wall of my rectum. He can't just easily remove only the polyp. Not sure what he needs to do. I have to go have an ultrasound done that will show how deep into the recal wall the polyp goes and it will also show if the lymph nodes around the rectum are affected.

That was the beginning of the bad news. He also told me that I have two small spots on my liver. He said it could be just a cyst or could be cancer. He said he was going to go to look at them personally that afternoon and that I would have to have a liver biopsy to decide what he needed to do about them. Joy.

So here I was thinking, ok, i have cancer. It's a little bitty spot, he'll take it out and I will have had cancer for all of a week. I can deal with that. All of a sudden it really isn't that easy. Now I get to sit and wait again. I am scheduled for an ultrasound on Wednesday, August 27th. This time I'm in no hurry for it to get here.

First visit to surgeon

Tuesday, August 19. Met Dr. Dobson the surgeon for the first time today. I really liked him. Young. Looks like he's about 12 years old. I told him that and asked him if he's ever done this surgery before. He said "no, but I've read about it." Got to love a doctor with a sense of humor. He said by the report from Dr. Cyzner should be just a really easy surgery with no side effects at all. He scheduled it for Friday. I have to go see him in his office on Thursday so he can take a look at the polyp and see exactly where it is and what he's dealing with. He also sent me for a CT scan and a lung x-ray just to make sure we weren't dealing with anything else. I went straight to the hospital from there and had them done so that's over with.

The CT scan was interesting. They injected me with dye and I could feel it working it's way through my body. When it got to my vagina I felt like I was peeing! It was the oddest feeling. The tech had warned me that was going to happen. What he didn't warn me about was that when it hit my stomach it was going to make me very nauseous. Wow. For a minute I thought I was going to lose it. But it passed quickly enough.

Now just wait till Thursday and see what happens from there.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Friday, August 8 the awesome nurse from Dr. Cyzner's office calls to tell me they have set an appointment for me to see a surgeon on Tuesday, August 19th. Dr. Dobson. Must not be too worried as that is 11 days away.

Only we are supposed to go to Cleveland the week of the 18th. Guess that's not going to happen. Which is sad because we have a new granddaughter born July 17th that we haven't seen yet. Such is life.

Then on Thursday Dr. Cyzner calls me.  I know it isn't good when the good doctor calls himself instead of having his staff call.  He says there is cancer present in the polyp.  But, he says the edges he looked at were clean and the cancer was only in the middle.  He was pretty sure that all they had to do was remove the polyp and I would be "cured."  His exact words. 

He called at 11:00 am exactly.  Which means that my wonderful husband is down in the health center at work walking on the treadmill and I can't call and tell him.  I'm in shock.  I didn't expect to hear this word.  Although after smoking for over 30 year I should have expected it.  By the time my awesome husband calls me back I have decided that it really wouldn't be nice to tell him over the phone and make up an excuse as to why I wanted him to call me.  We email each other 20 times a day so a phone call is out of the ordinary.  Of course he is pretty sure why I called even though I didn't say.  He tells me that evening that he isn't worried about it.  He promised me 50 years and he isn't going to let anything happen to me before 50 years is up.  And we still have 38 years to go for that.....

Can't say was the best weekend we ever had.  We love our weekends.  Love our time spent together.  That weekend we went to a movied on Saturday - Indiana Jones and the glass walker...I mean glass whatever it was - actually very well done.  I loved the details from the other movies in it.  And they didn't try to make him out to be 21 anymore.  Took our minds off the surgeon for a while.

Then on Sunday my magnificant husband dragged me to see "Ironman."  Yeah, this is something I really want to see.  NOT.  Gag.  The only redeeming feature for me was I do like Robert Downing, Jr.  Still was NOT going to like this movie.  But Mark is incredible.  So if he wants to see it I'll go and not say a word.  This movie was GREAT!  I loved it!  When is the sequel coming out!  Of course that means it did it's job and gave us something besides CANCER to think about. 

So the waiting for the surgeon is almost done......


Thursday, August 7th my husband took me for my colonoscopy bright and eary. My appointment was for 7:20 am. As I wanted FOOD this was good. I was glad I didn't have to wait half the day! At this point I wasn't a bit worried.  I was pretty sure it was something small they would take care of and that would be the end of it. 

So they took me into the procedure room, his music was blasting - that was a good thing in my mind - I just wish I could remember what was playing.  Mark (my awesome hubby) heard the music but couldn't tell what it was from his position.  My question for Dr. Cyzner - "Are you excited to be at work today and looking forward to doing this?"  He looked surprised at my question and said he was.  I see some white something go through my iv tube and the next thing I know is I don't have a clue where I am and it's all over. 

My husband tells me that I had a whole long conversation with the Doctor and the nurse - mostly about being in pain - that I have absolutely no memory of.  I suddenly realize where I am and what is going on.  Don't hurt at all. 

Then the pictures.  He showed me this nice healthy looking colon, then a little, bitty polyp that he was easily able to remove.  Then he shows me this huge, ugly looking mass that he said was just too big for him to be able to take out.  He said he biopsied it.  I needed to go see a surgeon and have it surgically removed.  They would call me with an appointment to see a surgeon.  Ok. He didn't really make it sound like a big deal.  Whatever.  We go to surgeon, he takes it out, end of story.  I wish......

The beginning

somewhere at the beginning of June I first noticed blood in my stool. It was only a few days before my daughter and 3 beautiful grandkids came for a month long visit from Cleveland and so I didn't pay much attention. Of course it got a bit worse during that month, but I wasn't going to worry about running to the doctors office for what was probably hemorrhoids so I wasn't too worried about it.

On July 22 I went to my primary care physician Dr. Davis. He verified there was blood and sent me to see Dr. Cyzner to have a colonoscopy done.

Monday, August 4 - I went to meet Dr. Cyzner. He set up a colonoscopy for Thursday. He seemed very much no nonsense and straight to the point.

Wednesday, August 6th. What fun. Dave Barry did a hysterical piece on what a colonoscopy is like. How anyone can find something funny about what the night before is like deserves a pulitzer! Fun it is not. I don't know what was more shocking, the amount, or the fact that I didn't lose 20 pounds by the time I was done!