Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Tulsa Aquarium Visit

One of the things that I like about the Cancer Treatment Centers of America is they have all sorts of activities scheduled during the month.  Since I have to be here all week for 5 weeks, I am taking advantage of some of these activities.

Today, we took a bus to the Tulsa Aquarium.  The Shark Tunnel was neat.

This was the underside of a shark that swam over the tunnel.  The picture isn't the best.  

 They had a lot of sharks in the tank.  

Sting rays, no, I didn't pet any of them.  

This picture is just pretty with all the colors.  

Hello, frog!  They were big!

White turtle.

Look at all these catfish!

I wasn't even sure this turtle was real.  They said that he lays like that for over 3 hours without moving before needing a breath.  Apparently turtles grow 1 lb for every year of life, this turtle weighs 122 lbs, so was born in the 1880's sometime.

Other little turtles, reminds me of the turtles at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, MO.

This was from a big aquarium, the whole area was really colorful and geared towards kids.  Kids could go in the bubble and watch the fish swim around.  Kasey would love that!

This fish wanted to visit me.

Another big turtle, he was really active, swimming around.  I have a video below of him, plus some other things in the aquarium. 

Little clown fish, they were so cute!

Jelly fish

This was the electric eel at feeding time.  The feeder would run the stick across the back of the eel, he would back up and make an electric sound and then eat the shrimp.  I have a video of this below.  

Take a look at this video, it's not very long.  It features the shark tank, the large turtle swimming around, plus other pretty fish, feeding an electric eel, you can hear the electric when she feeds it and feeding some spitting fish.  She sticks food on the glass and the fish spit up at the glass and the food falls down into the water.  Apparently these fish can spit up to 10 feet in the wild in order to catch bugs off leaves and branches.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Radiation Treatments

I can't believe it's been so long since I have written in my blog!  I have been posting a few things on Facebook, but I need to catch up.

I had surgery the end of July and the doctor's removed 4 lymph nodes and the tissue around the cancer tumors (which had shrunk down to almost nothing).  All areas had no cancer!  I did pretty well after surgery, just had some soreness, swelling, etc.

I still am doing a drug called Herceptin in my port every 3 weeks.  I have to continue this for a total of 18 sessions, so I think I have 10 more to go.  It doesn't have the same side effects as my other chemo drugs, so my hair grows back and I'm feeling really good.

Today was my first day of radiation.  I will be doing 25 sessions of radiation, for a total of 5 weeks. One each day Monday through Friday, then go home for the weekend and rest, then back on Monday again.  I've decided to just do this on my own as much as I can.  Mark can stay home with Kasey so he can continue to go to school and have most things normal for him.  My mom is going to come with me one week and I'm thinking that will be toward the end.  They say that I will be really tired and it will hit me later after a couple of weeks of radiation.

I had so much stuff I needed to take with me to spend the week in Tulsa.  I had a work laptop, large monitor, printer, lots of paperwork and about 4 pair of pants I need to hem for Kasey.  Mark did some work on my car the week before I left, oil changes, checking brakes (my brakes look perfect after 4 years, tell my dad, he'll be shocked!) rotating tires and getting recalls on my car.  Since he was doing all that, I took his car to work.  I loaded all my stuff in his car, but forgot to load my laptop from his car to mine.  I made it about 3 hours from home when I remembered!  Ughhh!  I called Mark and he brought the laptop to me, meeting me about half way.  I rescheduled my appointment in Tulsa for my first radiation from 1:30 to 3:00 and I made it to Tulsa around 2:00.  I was really disappointed with myself.

One of the things that I really like about Tulsa is all the different activities that they have.  Tonight, they brought therapy dogs in.  This big St. Bernard was so sweet.

Did you know that dog cards are a thing?  When Kasey was down here with us, he got to check out the therapy dogs and the group then brought dog cards with them.  Most of the members of this group didn't have any cards, but one lady did have this card, isn't it just the cutest thing?

 This is the lunch menu at CTCA for this week.

This is the dinner menu.  I had Chicken Saltimbocca and it was $5.95.  It was chicken with cheese and some ham I think.  It was delish!

This was my chicken dish.  

This was my call from Kasey when he got home from school tonight!  He loves to Facetime, so he showed me all his homework papers.  He had a math test that he got 100% on and an English paper he got 100% on.  He was really proud!  And so was I.  It's so nice to be able to talk to him like this when I'm away.

Radiation is at 8:45 tomorrow morning and then I have an appointment with the Naturopathy Doctor.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Chemo Treatment #6 - Last one

Last week, I went to Tulsa for Chemo Treatment #6.  My last one!  I will still go in every 3 weeks for another 12 sessions for a different drug called Herceptin, but it is supposed to be easier than the other chemo drugs they have given me the last 6 sessions. I can't believe that it's been 18 weeks!  My hair should start grown back soon.  The Herceptin drug will not block my hair from growing.  I didn't lose my eyelashes or eyebrows, although they did get thinner.

I did get some really good news this visit too.  We had an MRI done and the cancer tumors are actually gone.  The chemo shrunk them like they were supposed to.  After talking with my doctor, the course of action now is a lumpectomy.  This will remove the tissue around the location where the tumors were at.  Then I will have radiation to kill any remaining cancer cells.

My surgery is scheduled for the end of July.  I will be glad to get this over with.

I feel good about this option and my doctor's recommendation for surgery.  I did really well through all the chemo, never had any sickness, but just really tired.  Usually the first week after chemo was the worst.

Kasey and I have started walking at night.  Mark takes us down the road and drops us off and then we walk back.  So I have no option to not get back home.  Sometimes when I go out to walk, if I go to the stop sign, I'm like, "It would be easier to just turn around and go home".  This way, I might as well keep walking, especially if I want to get home.  We walked a mile and it took 26 minutes.  I didn't push it too hard.  :)

Thanks to everyone for their prayers and thoughts.  I'm really just living one day at a time right now and it's working pretty well for me.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Silver Dollar City

Mark and Kasey spent the last week at Silver Dollar City Campground in Branson, MO.  Every year at the end of the school year, they try to go on a trip together.  They stayed down there Monday through Friday.  There is a shuttle bus from the campground over to Silver Dollar City, so they would spend several hours over there every day.  Just enough to have fun but not to wear them out.

Here's a few of the pictures they sent me from the week.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Chemo Treatment #5 -- One More Left!

Last week was my Chemo Treatment #5, we took Kasey with us to Tulsa and spent a little time in Tulsa afterwards.  We can back home late Saturday night and I was pretty much wiped out on Sunday and just slept and relaxed most of the day.  This last week was pretty easy for me, the boys spent the week camping at Silver Dollar City Campground and going to the Silver Dollar City Park.  I just went to work and came home and went to bed early all week.

This week's treatment was interesting.  I had been contemplating what I was going to do when I have surgery.  I have decided I'm going to do a double mastectomy but do I really want to do reconstruction?  Most of the people I have talked to have done reconstruction and seem to be happy with it.  The whole medical scare with pre-existing conditions really made me think about whether I want to do reconstruction or not.  It's a painful process, they put expanders under your skin and inject them with something to make the skin stretch.  This continues for a while until you get to be the size you want to be and then they go in and remove the expanders and insert the saline implants.  Again, another surgery to have this done.

I have never been comfortable with the thought of having something foreign like that in my body. What if I have problems with them?  What if they leak in ten years?  It's just a really hard decision.

The alternative is just to go flat.  Boring.  But no additional surgery.  I looked at a lot of pictures on the Internet.  I called a friend that had done this and she was very happy with her life without breasts.
The interesting thing was that Mark would never really tell me what he thought I should do.  He just told me that he would support whatever decision I made.  I had finally thought about it a long time and told him that I was thinking of not doing reconstruction.  He said, "that's really what I would rather you do, I don't want to see you go through all the reconstruction, it's just not worth it".  I was really surprised he felt that way, but that made me just love him even more.  :)

When we went to Tulsa, I talked with my care provider and asked her what she thought.  She said that they don't really like to comment on that, they want the patient to make their own decision.  I told her I was thinking about not doing reconstruction.  She said that was what she always thought she would do also if she went through this.  She said that she just doesn't like the additional surgeries.

I also got an ultrasound this time to check my heart.  One of the chemo drugs is hard on my heart, so they like to keep an eye on it.  I'll find out the results of that next time, but I really think it will be fine.

I met with my surgeon and talked to him about the options I had.  He really has thrown a wrench in my plans, but a very good one!  He told me that he would like me to get an MRI next time I go to Tulsa.  I can't feel the two primary spots that I had when I first started this treatment.  The chemo has shrunk them down to the point that they are not detectable.  He said the MRI will tell him a lot about what the next steps will be.  It's possible that the spots are so small now, that I could have just a lumpectomy and not the full mastectomy!  Wow!  That is some amazing news.  I am not going to get my hopes up too high about this and will just wait until my next visit.

Please pray that the results are good for the lumpectomy. That would be such a blessing.  With a lumpectomy, they will have to do radiation though.  My chances of having the cancer come back after the lumpectomy and radiation are about 10%.  Having a double mastectomy and no radiation will make my changes of the cancer coming back at about 10% also.  I know there are no guarantees with anything, but this would be really encouraging.

On the way down to Tulsa, we stopped at the McDonald's restaurant above the tollway.  Kasey thought it was neat.

After we checked into our hotel, we went downtown Tulsa and took a picture of this tower.  It's supposed to be the Center of the Universe.

We were waiting for one of my appointments and Mark and Kasey were playing Solitare.

Kasey being a silly boy.  This is one of the dressings they use to put over my port when I'm getting chemo, the nurse didn't use it and gave it to Kasey to play with.  

Mark and Kasey went to get me lunch while I was getting chemo, it takes about 5 hours or so.  It's amazing how fast it passes.  These two love birds were outside the window and stayed there for probably 10 minutes.  It was a pretty amazing moment.

On Friday after we were done with chemo, we went to a Putt-Putt Golf place.  Tulsa Cancer Treatment Centers of America has lot of free stuff for cancer patients.  We got free golf here.  It was a lot of fun and a really nice cool day.  

Then we headed to the movies.  We watched Captain Underpants.  We were really impressed that this movie theater had tables in front of the chairs.  Sorry about the bad picture here!

Saturday, we headed to the Tulsa Zoo.  It was a really nice zoo, with lots of animals.  I was really careful not to get too tired.  They had benches all over, so we would just stop and wait a while, then start back again.

They had about 6 Eagles at the Zoo.  They had all been injured in the wild and were not able to defend themselves if they were released back in the wild, so the Zoo takes care of them now.  I think they have a pretty good life.

Kasey picked up this instrument from the gift shop.  It makes a nice sound, nothing that would drive us crazy.

It was a great trip and I'm glad Kasey got to see what I go through when I go to Tulsa. He was impressed with it all.  He enjoyed staying at the hotel and eating at the cafeteria.  He's just such a happy kid, he is so much fun to have around!