Saturday, November 28, 2009

Overdue Update

I apologize for not updating the blog for awhile. Many of you have called or texted for updates, so I realized I am long overdue. Here's what has happened since my final chemo session.

Dave and I met with Dr. Coffman on Nov 6th for a follow up to my last chemo session. My CBC (complete blood count) showed that my red blood counts had gone up a whole point from 9.6 to 10.6. Thanks for your prayers, (Thank you God), I did not need another Aranesp (iron) shot! I had already began to start feeling stronger and have continued to do so since then. Dr.Coffman released me to go back to work and told me he wanted to give me another month to regain my strength and energy before starting radiation. The front office staff set an appointment with Dr. "C", my radiology oncologist, before we left that day.

I started back to work the following Monday, November 9th. I knew it would take awhile to acclimate to a work schedule, but I didn't realize how exhausted I would be. Even now I am still coming home tired and typically falling asleep on the couch by 8:30 at night. Thankfully my boss has allowed me to work from home when I feel I need to, so I have taken advantage of that option a few days a week. Mentally it has been a real boost for me to go back to work. I am no longer a patient 24x7, or thinking about cancer or treatments or the next doctor's appointment all the time. My teammates have been great helping me catch up on what took place during my absence and have helped me remember policies that I have forgotten so that I can assist my stores.

Wednesday before Thanksgiving I had my first port flush. I had forgotten to put my Lydocaine on before leaving the house, and I drove myself, along with my SIL Donna, so I couldn't put it on in the car. I did put it on once I pulled up outside the cancer center 5 minutes early and waited to go in until the last possible moment. Once inside the nurse told me that we would do a CBC to check to see if I needed another Aranesp shot. I told her I was under the impression that I was there just for a port flush. She looked in my file and said she didn't even have that down. (OK, scary). Then I told her that I shouldn't need another Aranesp shot as my counts were up to 10.6 the last time I was here. She again looked at my file and said she showed my counts at 9.7 the last time I was in on Oct 13th. (Getting nervous now). I informed her that Oct 13th was my last chemo session and that I had been in since then and my counts were up when I was in last. She finally figured out that when I visited Dr. Coffman those nurses put everything in the computer and didn't print things out to put in my file.

By the time we got all the reports figured out 20 minutes had passed by and I was hoping the Lydocaine would be working. The nurse punched the needle into my port and I realized quickly that 20 minutes is not enough time to numb sufficiently. Ouch! Then to make matters worse nurse Barb couldn't get my blood to flow. After lying me back, having me turn my head, pushing on my port and trying for way too long to get blood for the CBC, she was finally successful. My red blood counts came back at 10.8. I was disappointed that I had only gone up 0.2 points but it did explain why I still feel so tired at the end of a day. 45 minutes after we arrived we finally left. I had told Donna that we would only be there 10-15 minutes. Sorry Donna.

Chemo continues to wreak havoc on my body. I have rings on my fingernails and like rings on a tree tell how old it is, the rings on my fingernails tell how many treatments I've had. My fingernails have also begun to lift which make the tips of my fingers tender. I just recently lost the last of my eyebrows and expect to loose what's left of my eyelashes soon. Now that I've gone back to work, I've had to start actively managing my lymphodema (swelling of the lymph nodes). Sitting around, along with gravity, makes my right arm swell. I've had to get a compression sleeve to wear while I'm at work to keep the swelling at bay. On the upside, my energy is improving, my taste buds seem to be fully repaired resulting in putting 5 lbs back on, and I'm getting peach fuzz on my head, so hair is forthcoming!!

My next doctor appointment is set for this coming Wednesday, Dec. 2nd with my surgeon Dr. Levy. This will be my 6 months follow up. It's hard to believe it's been 6 months since my surgery. Next Monday, Dec. 7th is when I meet with Dr. "C" to begin the radiation preliminaries. A mold will have to be made, tattoo's for precision line up have to be gotten and other preliminaries will be administered before I actually start radiation. Once I know when the treatments begin I will let everyone know.

Thank you all for the support you've shown throughout all of this. It's almost done and then I can begin counting my anniversaries of being a survivor.


  1. It is so good to hear you are doing well so far!! Way to go on going back to work! I am sure that is a change, but a good one! I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving? My family went out to Baltimore and spent the holiday with my sister and her husband. It was a good trip overall. Did Mike and Kelly get to visit you? Continue to take care of yourself! What a thing to be thankful for over this holiday of Thanksgiving! God is good!

    God Bless!!


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  3. Mindy Howell!!!!!!

    I loved reading this this morning and it inspired me to wear nylons and a skirt to church this morning--in your honor!! I knew you would've loved seeing that!!!

    And then....wouldn't you know....we sang "Wonderful, Merciful Savior" and if I wasn't missing you and Dave enough already--that really put me over the edge. It gets me every time!

    Love you guys!


  4. Dear Christian sister
    I know for sure God is working big time for you and Jodi thru all the prayers. It keeps me humbled. I know you family is the greatest too. well, I pray that you will start feeling better soon. God Bless

  5. Hey I can't wait to celebrate all the anniversaries of all clear check-ups. You have a lot of love holding you up through the next phase the party time for all done. Love ya Pink warrior. Laurie