Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Cool Cancer Shoes for Me!

Aren't these the cutest shoes ever?  These were made by Lexi, she is the daughter of a friend, Amanda. Mandy's husband Mike used to work with me at DT Engineering and they were also neighbors.  I was sad when they moved.  :(  

Lexi is so talented, I have watched her mom post all of her artwork on Facebook over the years.  Lexi has made shoes in all sorts of designs.  These were ones I received from them.  I love them!  I was so excited to get them and they were such a cool surprise.

I wore them Friday for my treatment in Tulsa and everyone talked about them.  The Bible verse is from Jeremiah 31:25 "I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint."  

Thank you Lexi for my shoes!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Chemo Treatment #4 - Two More Left!

Friday, I had Chemo Treatment #4, I have two more to go, 6 more weeks.  The last 3 weeks between treatment #3 and #4, were a little harder.  The second week, on Monday, I had a lot of heartburn.  I called in to Tulsa and they said I needed to go to the Emergency Room because it felt like chest pains.

I went to the ER and they did an EKG on my heart and a CAT scan of my lungs, everything looked good, so it was heartburn.  The Herceptin that I am on is really hard on my heart, so they like to keep an eye on it.

This time, all of my blood counts were good, except for my Red Blood Cell count and my Hemoglobin.  The chemo lowers those and there really isn't much we can do about it.  The counts were still good though, no cause for alarm.  That does make me really tired.  I have a hard time walking and get winded easy and then my legs really get sore, because I can't get enough oxygen to my cells.

I'm still working and doing pretty well there.  When I come home, I'm pretty wiped.  I usually go to bed early.  But I haven't gotten sick, so that's still good.

I talked to the chemo nurse about when my hair would grow back.  Since I have to take 12 additional sessions of Herceptin, I figured it won't grow back until after I get through those, but she said that most people's hair starts growing back when they stop the chemo meds (after sessions 5 and 6).  So that made me feel better, I might have hair by winter.

Here was my treat after chemo, Andy's Frozen Custard from Springfield.  My favorite is the Caramel Pretzel Crunch.  It's so good!   Mark usually gets Raspberry Heath Bar.

We went to Sam's Club in Joplin on the way home and when I was there a lady stopped me and asked me if I was going through cancer treatments.  Her husband had colon cancer 10 years ago and she wanted to pray for me.  She was so sweet and talked to me quite a while and then said a prayer with me.

My friend Barbara made me some more hats, this is the whole set that she has made for me, I wear them all the time.

Another friend made me this one, Felicity.  I wore it to a soccer game when it was really cold.

My cousin Jeannie sent me these books.  She sends me cards about every week.  I've gotten several cards from different people, it's been so nice to get them and I save them all.

I got this cookbook from my cousin Rita.

My friend Margie gave me a bunch of stuff in some really cute bags, I didn't get a picture of those. She made me a big container of lasagna too.  I will probably cook it up tomorrow.

I also got a big sack of Pulled Pork from my friend Stephanie.  We've been eating on it all weekend too.

It's amazing how sweet people are, I love all my friends to much.

Some other random things from this week:

We went to an awards assembly at school this week, Kasey got a perfect attendance award.  He's had perfect attendance for 4 years in a row but they didn't recognize him for that, just for the 4th grade. We're so lucky he is never sick.  I think it's cute the kids in the background.

For some reason, I have been collecting stress balls -- any time I go to a trade show or somewhere where they have SWAG, I try to grab these.   I have some pretty cool ones, I really like the IT guy and gal.

I wanted Mark to make me a shelf to put them on in my office.  He thought he would just buy one already made and found one kinda like this one on Craig's list, but it was about $450.00.  He talked the guy down to $350, but decided that was too much.  If you know my husband, he can make anything, especially when he sets his mind to it.

After he told me this I went out to the shop and one of the guys had some scrap lumber on his bench. I asked him what he was doing with them, he said he was just going to take them home to burn them but I could have them if I wanted to.  So I brought them home!  Mark took the boards and used them on the back and then bought some smaller pieces for the shelves themselves.  We painted them a color that we used on our trim at work called Peppercorn.  When he painted that on the shelf, it was just too dark so he wiped it off and it looked perfect.  I just love it!  I love it even more that he made it.

My first day after chemo, I feel pretty good.  I got Kasey and his friend, Brady to pick up trash on our road.  They picked up a full trash bag of stuff.  They had a good time picking it up and hopefully, will learn not to litter.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Chemo Treatment #3 and Hereditary Test Results

Today was Chemo Treatment #3 at the  Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa.  Mark and I arrived in Tulsa on Thursday evening, checked into the hotel right there in the hospital and then went down to the Clinic to give blood.  This makes it nice for Friday when I see the doctor, they have all my lab results ready for them.  CTCA also has a web portal that I can login to and view my lab results myself. I can even download the results so I can put them in an Excel document and graph them in a chart. That's the nerdy things I like to do.  

Things improved this week:
  • My protein counts were up, so I did good with the protein drinks.  Not sure I ate any better, although I did have a lot of peanut butter sandwiches in the morning with my Vitamin D pills.  
  • My other counts were still good, a few were down, but not anything alarming to the doctor.
  • The results of my hereditary test came back this week.  I don't have the printed copy yet, but talked to the genetic doctor and the 26 points that they test all came back with no heredity factors, so that was really great news!
I had gained a couple of pounds, but that is to be expected because of the steroids that they give me in my IV.   I need to try to walk more.  That's been really hard for me.  At work, I get up and walk up the stairs to the shop.  When I do, my legs get really tired and I'm short of breath.  I still do it though but just rest.  When I get home from work, I'm drained and just don't do much at night but rest.  I think that's good for me, so I'm not too worried about that.  But what I am going to start doing is when I get up in the morning, when I'm feeling good and not so tired, I'll walk on my street for at least 15 minutes.  Mark's going to be my coach and keep me focused.  It might put me a little late for work, but I can always make it up at lunch time.  I am not very happy about gaining weight, but it makes me feel better to know that the medicine is doing that to me and I certainly want to keep eating.  

This is the chemo room, it's a private area.  They have a lot of these rooms in the infusion center, I think close to 50 of them.   

Do you like my hat?  My friend Barbara made me 5 different hats and I love them all.  She has more material to make me some more and I bought some fabric at Joann's this week too.  I really didn't like the wig I had and just decided to wear these.  I am going to get a different wig in maybe next week and I'll try it to see what I think.  

Here's the view out the window.  Not all the infusion rooms have the window view, it's really nice.  It was pouring rain in Tulsa Thursday night and Friday.  

The rooms all have TV's in them with movies and TV channels.  We watched a movie called Lost and Found.  I would score it about 6/10, but was entertaining.

Here's Mark in the picture, taking my picture.

It takes about 4 1/2 to 5 hours to get all my chemo meds.  They give me an anti-nausea medicine, Benadryl, Pepsid and the 3 chemo meds.  The Benadryl makes me sleepy.  The last thing they do is put the Neulasta on board device on my stomach that will give me that medicine on Saturday evening.

It was pouring when we left the hospital, Mark got the car and picked me up under the awning.

It rained all the way home on us too.  It sure is nice to be home.

All in all it was a good trip and I'm feeling pretty good.  The last 3 weeks after Chemo #2, were easier than the first 3 weeks after Chemo #1.  I wasn't nearly as tired and learned how to manage my sleep and tiredness better. No sickness with either week, which is great.

Thank you for all the prayers and well wishes, I keep hearing them and they mean so much to me.  I have received a lot of cards and emails from people I haven't heard from in a long time, it's really great to get them, they brighten my day.

We had a guest speaker at a meeting at work this week from the Lebanon Community Cares Program. DT Engineering is starting a payroll deduction program for employees to give to this program.  All the money stays locally to not-for-profit agencies.  I signed up to give and I know many of our employees signed up.  They only ask for $1 from each employee per pay period.  We are so blessed. I feel so humbled by all the help I have received, once I get through this, I'm going to find more ways to give back.  This is a life changing experience for me and I know those that have been through this, understand it in ways only cancer survivors understand.


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Kasey's First Tinker Crate - Science, Engineering and Awesome!

I signed Kasey up for a TinkerCrate, it's a monthly subscription for kids interested in Science and Engineering.  Since Kasey's dad is an engineer and I love computers, I thought it would be a great thing for him to start doing.  It's $20 a month to have a box delivered to him with a different project every month.

This month's box was a Spin Art kit, complete with everything to build the kit.  Plus a little electronic breadboard with resisters.  I had as much fun with it as Kasey did.

He had no idea I had ordered it for him!  Here's what it looked like when he opened up the box. Everything was in really nice neat organized bags.

This is the blueprint -- how to put it all together.

Here's some creations we made today.  I'm definitely glad I subscribed to this and looking forward to more boxes!  I know Kasey and I will have a blast with them.

I could also see where we could use these for science experiment projects at school.

I did a Periscope Video on Twitter of one of our creations if you want to check it out.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Don't Let Your Husband Cut Your Hair!!

I started this blog last night and had it titled: The Dreaded Day has Arrived, Head Shaving Day! But then I decided to change the title after my husband shaved my head.  This is a long post, but hope you enjoy it.

A friend sent me a post about losing my hair during chemo and how to keep laughing.  This is the link from a cancer survivor named Denise.  This is exactly how I feel.

My hair has been coming out for the last 2 weeks, I know I was just being hopeful that it might just thin and I'd have some left.  It's just too much hair to lose.  I would wear a cap to bed at night and it was just covered in hair in the morning.  I'd take a shower and try not to rub my hair, but there would still be hair all over my hands, hair in the drain, it was just awful.  Then there would be hair all over me during the day.

Stephanie, my friend at work and our HR manager, would come in my office with a roll of tape and press it over me to get the hair off my back and chair.  I know that's just too gross right?  What a trooper!

I took this picture Thursday morning, I decided to wear a hat to work instead of trying to let it keep shedding.  The hat bothered me, it was just annoying. :)  Aren't the flowers in the background pretty? I'll tell you more about those in a future post, because I want to talk about working for family owned companies and the flowers have a lot to do with that.

So I have decided it's time to shave it off.  It's a big step, one that I'm not very happy about.  Anyone that tells you that this is ok, hasn't been there and doesn't understand.  I know there are plenty of other things to worry about, such as the fact that I have CANCER, but it's still hard to lose your hair.  I know I will embrace my bald side at some point, but right now I just want to cry.

Since it's time to shave my head, it's time to get a wig, don't want to scare everyone too much.  The American Cancer Society gives cancer patients a wig for free (I have donated to them in the past, but I will definitely donate to them in the future!)

Mark and I picked Kasey up from school and headed to Springfield.  I found a wig, it wasn't the exact color I wanted, but will do.   Plus I got a several hats and scarves that I can wear.

I've ordered this wig online, but it won't be here for a couple of weeks. It's a little bit longer than the one above.

Here's where the title of my blog post comes in:


So I was going to have my neighbor, Kelly, shave my head for me, but we just weren't able to get it to work last night.  This morning, I thought I'll just get Mark to do it.  Well, let me tell you, that was a mistake!!!  He shaved my head, but it's all different lengths and I have a tuft of hair right on the top of my head that sticks up!  He did a horrible job!  :)  Just kidding, there's nothing that would make it better, but I think I could probably get it shaved a little better.

I'm not really ready to show pictures, but I did take some pictures and they are pretty funny.  I'll be ready to post them a little later I think.  Plus I want to take a bunch of bald pictures with my dad, Mark, and any of my balding friends at work.  Just have to work up the courage to do that.  For now, I'll sport around the wig.

I'm saving my hair, so I can remember what it felt like and looked like.  I don't know if that is weird or not, but I think it might be interesting to feel how it is when it comes back in, compared to how it was.

The last line in Denise's blog posting is "The hair will come back.  It's a renewable resource!"  So, goodbye hair and I'll be waiting in anticipation for your return, but please hold the gray though!  I can live without that in the future.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Lush Cosmetics

Have you tried these?

Nicky has been bringing me some products from Lush Cosmetics every once in a while.  Usually a bath bomb or something else fun for the tub.  I really like these products.  She gets them in Kansas City, we don't have any stores around here.  This is the lava lamp.  It's fun to try something different!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Chemo Treatment #2

I went back to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa Thursday for Chemo Treatment #2. Mark and Nicky went with me.  It was nice for Nicky to see what it was all about.

I had my blood drawn Thursday night, then visited the doctor's on Friday morning.  My blood test revealed a couple of things:
  1. I wasn't eating enough protein, so need to work on that.
  2. My hemoglobin counts were down. They will keep an eye on that.
  3. White blood cell counts were good.  
After the doctor's visit, we headed up to Infusion.  This was the first time I had my port accessed and I was a really nervous about it.  The nurse pushed on it a lot to find the right spot, it was still a little swollen from the surgery to put it in.  I didn't even feel the needle go in, I put some numbing cream on it, which probably helped a little.

They give me pre-meds before the chemo meds.  I am not sure what all I get, one is Benadryl, and then a Steroid and some nausea medicine.  When they gave me the nausea medicine,  I had a reaction to it.  I started getting really warm, then it was hard for me to breathe.  I felt like my lungs were filling up with something.  Mark and Nicky said my face was getting really red.  Mark went and got the nurse and she stopped the medicine.  The symptoms immediately went away.  

The rest of the chemo went fine.  They have a TV setup in the room and I watched "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2".  We headed home right after chemo.  It was good to sleep in my own bed.

Today (Saturday) I am just a little tired, not too bad.  I have my Neulasta on board device on, it will give me the medicine tonight.  That is the one that made my back hurt and stomach hurt last time. They told me to take some Claritin and Advil to alleviate that pain.  

A couple of pictures of our trip:

This is a field of yellow flowers, maybe mustard, that we saw in Oklahoma. 

I picked up this gold and black cap in the Infusion Room.  A local church makes them for the cancer patients.  I liked this because it was our Lebanon Yellowjacket School colors.

We bought a Pike Pass for our car, so we can just drive right through the turnpike.  It's really nice.  

This week will probably be pretty hard, they are saying that the fatigue will hit me pretty hard.  I'll just take it one day at a time.  

They also told me that my hair may just get really thin and not fall all the way out.  I think they were just trying to make me feel good for a little while.  I can pull out handfuls of it, but my hair is normally really thick.  I guess it's another one of the things I will just deal with.