Monday, November 23, 2009

The Sickest I've Ever Been

Isn't my sister Paige the sweetest girl in the world????

Well, It’s about time I let everyone know what I have been going through the past couple weeks. Well, I had the fevers for months and I was trying the enzymes as a natural therapy to my cancer. After a couple tests it confirmed that I think I was too far along with the cancer for the enzymes to work. My liver tumor sizes doubled and the activity was much more aggressive.

So, I decided to go back on chemotherapy and take a break from the enzymes. The chemo I chose was Gemzar. Funny thing is it gives you a really high fever the night you get it. Now, I’m used to fevers, but these were unbearable. I was curled up, unable to move, shaking uncontrollably all night. You know how they show people in movies after getting chemo and they are all sick and out of control??? I always see that and say “that’s not realistic” Well, now I’ve changed my mind. That was me.

The other thing Gemzar does is cause fluid around your lungs. For a while I was unable to breathe. I would be out of breath from walking 10 steps. I couldn’t do anything. I went to get my next chemo infusion and my pulse oxygen was really low. So, instead of chemo on Tuesday I went to the emergency room. They admitted me and I stayed overnight. I got a couple chest X-rays and we discovered that 60% of my right lung was collapsed from fluid buildup all around my lung. They thought it could be from cancer or from the Gemzar. Then, I had to have an awful procedure called a Thoracentesis, which is where they inject a small tube in your back and drain the fluid from my lungs. It hurt really bad and while the drained the fluid my lung started opening which causes you to have an awful coughing attack. Once I started coughing so much they had to stop. They drained 2 whole liters of fluid from my lungs. 2 freaking liters. Like a 2 liter of Coke. Did you know that 2 liters of fluid weight 4.6 pounds?

I got to finally go home to recover. Then on Thursday I went to get Chemo since I missed it on Tuesday. This time I added a new drug called Cisplatin. Cisplatin sucks. It’s really hard on your body, on your bone marrow and it makes me really nauseous. We added it because the oncologists are pretty scared of my situation and they kind of scared me into getting really aggressive with chemo since the tumors made so much progress in such a short amount of time. Plus they were still considering the fact that all that fluid in my lungs could be caused from cancer.

Friday night I woke up with debilitating pain in my right chest. I called my oncologist and of course she told me to go back to the Beaumont emergency room. AND they admitted me AGAIN. I had more chest X-rays and they showed that the fluid was back. The same amount… less than 2 days. This worried everyone. They were still testing the first fluid they drained to see if there were cancer cells in it. They wouldn’t let me leave. They even started talking about doing a surgery on my lungs where I would end up with drains coming out of my chest to keep draining the fluid after the surgery. I was in so much pain the whole time. They put me on Dilaudid which made me either asleep or completely loopy. I had to stay Friday, Saturday and Sunday night getting a chest X-ray each day. They started me on Steroids because they were supposed to make the fluid go away if it wasn’t from cancer and was from the chemo Gemzar.

By Monday we got the test results from the fluid and luckily there were NO cancer cells in it, so the fluid must have been caused by the chemo. On Monday I was supposed to have another thorancentesis, but when they did the ultrasound to figure out the best place to “tap” me he said I didn’t really have enough fluid to drain. So I guess that means that the steroids worked to get rid of the fluid. The other thing that happened was I got completely anemic. Your red blood count is supposed to be between 12 and 14 and mine was 8. I had to get a blood transfusion. Between needing blood and having a 60% collapsed lung it completely makes sense how I barely had energy to walk and could barely breathe.

Since I got out of the hospital things have been much better. I’ve had a lot more energy. I switched chemo drugs. I now get Carboplatin only which is supposed to be easier to deal with than Cisplatin. I haven’t really had any bad side effects. I still have trouble breathing a little.

I had a CT scan last Thursday and the results are promising. My liver tumors shrunk a little bit and I guess the cells look like they are dying. Guess the visualization is working. Please keep it up. We do. They did say that there is a significant amount of fluid around my lungs again, but they say less than I had on Monday in the hospital. The fluid can come back, so I am going to keep a close watch on myself and hopefully take care of things with steroids or another procedure before it sends me to the emergency room. That’s kind of where I’m at now.

It was a horrible time, but things have been so much better. I really appreciate every day I don’t feel horrible. I’ve lost a lot of weight and can’t seem to put it back on. I’m eating a lot too. I’m keeping an eye on that as well. I still have a lot of sweaty nights and that drives me crazy. I still have to wash the sheets all the time and I soak through about 3 t-shirts a night on the bad nights. I haven’t been taking my temperature at night, which I am going to start doing. I don’t feel like I have a fever, but for some reason I still sweat it up at night. I’ll give you all an update soon. It took me a while to write this because I had to remember everything that happened and it’s all kind of a blur to me.

Please keep up the meditation and visualization for me. I am so thankful for it and I think it is working.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

I am thankful for every day I get to spend away from the Beaumont Hospital and I am SOOOOO thankful for all the support I have gotten from all my friends and family. This would be so much more difficult without all of you

Lots of love


Monday, November 2, 2009

Help with Visualization

Here are a couple pictures of a liver to help with the visualization.
This picture makes me think that the chemo dissolves the cancer cells on the liver and then sends them down the Hepatic Duct and into the intestines where the cancer cells are then excreted. There are many different and detailed ways cancer cells are removed, but I think for the sake of visualization, we should keep it as simple as possible. That works for me.

I want to provide some help for everyone with the visualization/meditation we are doing every night at 9. Kevin and I usually talk about how it went afterwards and he said he needed to know what a liver looks like, what tumor cells look like and to also understand how that cancer cells actually leave the body. Some people need lots of details to actually get a picture in their head. I know I do and so does Kevin. Luckily, I really paid attention at the Body World Exhibit when it was in Houston and I actually saw a healthy liver next to a liver with cancer all over it. So, I kind of know what it looks like. Plus I always loved anatomy in school and crazy enough, took a special interest in the liver back in the 6th grade. I thought it was an amazing hard working organ.

The liver is the largest organ inside the body. In an adult it is about the size of a football and weighs close to three pounds. It is located behind the ribs in the upper right-hand portion of the abdomen. Shaped like a triangle, the liver is dark reddish-brown and consists of two main lobes. There are 300 billion cells in the liver that are connected by a well-organised system of bile ducts and blood vessels called the biliary system.

The liver is such an important organ that we can only survive one or two days if it shuts down—if the liver fails, your body will fail too. Fortunately, the liver can function even when 75% of it is diseased or removed. This is because it has the amazing ability to create new liver tissue (i.e. it can regenerate itself) from healthy liver cells that still exist. Wonderful news for me.

When we start the visualization, we kind of welcome everyone from all over the country who are joining us. I thank them for doing it with us and express my deepest gratitude. I acknowledge that the power of all our thoughts, prayers, good vibes and good thoughts all focusing on the same end result has exponential power since we are all doing this together. Then I go into focusing on my breath and then start the visualization. We have been really good about doing this every night and I hope everyone else keeps it up. I need the help and the hope. Thank you so much for doing this with us.

I've had a lot of medical stuff going on this past week. Either Kevin or I will write a blog really soon and let you all know what is going on. I'm doing a lot better right now, so please don't worry too much.

And what would my blog be without cute kid pictures. Here are the kids in our family for Halloween.

Our nephew Miles as a puppy for Halloween. How cute?
Our nephew Drew was Tigger.
My sister, Paige was Super Woman.
Our niece Riley was a cute little white kitten.
And our niece Lauren was a pink butterfly. I love seeing them all dressed up.
Once again, thank you so much for helping Kevin and I get through this tough time by joining us at 9pm for visualization and support. It means so much to me. I really can't explain in words. I love you all for what you do for me and I have eternal gratitude for how willing you all are to help.

Love to all of you

darker pink dots