Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fighting Like A Girl!

I met with the oncologist on Thursday and I had a few moments where I was trying to hold back the tears.  I realized I had a lot of anxiety building up in me while I laid in that hospital worrying about what my treatment would be like.  I hate the unknown- I could google anything I wanted, but I knew that there would be a plan specific to me.  After  many days of waiting, I finally know what to expect.

I didn't realize that chemotherapy could be administered in so many different ways.  Of course the way I'll be receiving mine is not the one I would have picked out for me, but I'm fighting like a girl and I'll do what it takes to get this over with!  On August 2nd I will go to IMC to have a port placed in my upper chest.  The port will be installed beneath the skin and a catheter connects the port to a vein.  Under the skin the port has a rubbery center where my treatments can be injected and blood can be drawn.  They gave me numbing ointment to put on the port area so I don't need to feel the needle pricks.  I realllllllllly hope I'm getting some serious drugs before this procedure.  I think I'll feel a bit Star Trek like- I'll post pictures of it when it's healed.

If you are not interested in all the technical information for my treatments then skip a few paragraphs.  I'd really hate to bore anyone, but I'd love to scare all of you into getting your colonoscopies :)

I'll be receiving a kick butt cocktail of chemo treatments called Folfox (poison).  Folfox is made up of three different chemo drugs- 5-FU, Leucovorin and Oxaliplatin.  I'll go to the oncologist to get hooked up and receive two hours of the Oxaliplatin and then I'll be sent home with a spiffy little fanny pack and remain hooked up to the rest of the Flofox 46 hours.  I'll do this every two weeks for a total of 12 treatments.  (I think that's all correct)

Side-effects that I MIGHT have:

•Heart attack in patients that have a history in heart problems.  Hmmm, I wonder if my dad dying from congestive heart failure and multiple heart attacks places me in the "at risk" area.  We'll just not think about that :)
•The Oxaliplatin can cause nerve damage.  Things like picking up a cold glass or being in the cold can bother me.  Looks like someone will have to hold my Sonic cup for me.  After about 3 months of this drug I can start to lose the feeling in my toes and fingers.  At this point they will stop that medication (poison) because apparently the feeling might not come back.
•The rest of the symptoms are: Nausea/vomiting, mouth sores, muscle cramps, loss of balance, difficulty picking up objects (shoot! can't clean up after myself), difficulty hearing (HUH?), cracked nails, loss of hair, appetite loss, etc.....

My surgeon and my oncologist both ensured me that I would not be losing my hair.  Brandon is a bit disappointed- he was looking forward to being the bald twins.

A lot of people act differently to chemo, some get sick and some feel great.  I have no idea what I'll experience, but I've been given a good list of things to watch for.  The oncologists are not stingy with their drugs either, GOOD!  Chemo patients are kind of the bomb and deserve every bit of help they can get.  I'm wondering if I should move to San Diego for the next six months so I can get me some of those medical marijuana brownies ;)

Thursday was a lot to take in, but I was able to stop by Camera Shy and I couldn't believe it- my staff is amazing!  They have really done such a great job.  I don't know how many bosses could just up and leave for 4 weeks and have their entire staff come together and make it their own.  I love them to pieces, they are like my best friends and it's hard being away from them.  Love you girls!

Right now I'm working on absorption.  I'm really trying to find a place for all of this in my head- sometimes I find myself getting upset and sad.  I just keep telling myself that      •THIS will not define me!       •THIS will not be my life!       •And THIS won't beat me!


PS- PLEASE share my blog with all of my friends, family and neighbors.  I'd really like everyone to read what's happening from me.  I'll keep everyone up to date on everything as I feel like sharing.  My poor kids are having a really hard time escaping the question "how is your mom"?  Mom is fine :) Please help me with the difficult challenge of keeping life "normal" for them.  I know everyone means well, but I want them to be able to escape this as much as possible.  Hugs and "how are you" are great.  Thanks a million!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A lesson from ME!

The most frustrating thing for me is the fact that I’m 35 years young and I have stage 3 colon cancer.  Never would I have ever thought I should be screened before the age of 50 like you see being advertised on television and on billboards.  I knew the rule- GET A COLONOSCOPY AT AGE 50!  Where is the awareness for people like me?  People who still have young children at home who need their parents raising them. 
I guess instead of being mad about it I can take this anger and channel it into something positive.  I’m going to teach you the signs of colon cancer :)
When I found out that the problem I had was inside my colon I was a bit embarrassed about it.  Who wants to talk about their bum issues to doctors over and over again?  Not me!  I especially felt silly telling family and friends- something must be very wrong with me to have colon cancer at age 35.  This is how I felt last month.  Now I feel a bit more knowledgeable about it, enough to understand that this isn’t something that I did wrong.   

Here is a list of the most common warning signs of Colon Cancer:
  • Pain in the lower abdominal area
  • Abdominal mass or hardness in the abdomen
  • Change in the consistency of stool for more than a couple of weeks
  • Diarrhea lasting more than several days
  • Significant change in bowel habits including diarrhea or constipation   
  • Chronic colon problems with bowel movements which would include abdominal pain during bowel movement
  • Obstruction of bowel movements
  • Narrow stools
  • Persistent abdominal pain or discomfort, such as cramps, gas pain
  • A feeling that the bowel doesn't empty completely
  • Iron deficiency anemia (may indicate bleeding in the colon)
  • Depression from anemia
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool   
  • Significant and or unexplained weight loss
Out of all of these signs I have to admit that I had at least 8 of them.  One of the signs was actually dismissed by a doctor I had 5 years ago.  Here’s a great interview that they did with my surgeon, Dr. Tae Kim, in February
Colon cancer is some pretty serious stuff that should never be taken lightly.  Most people don’t even recognize the signs until it is too late and the signs are severe enough to seek medical help.  I hear this a lot, but I’m here to tell you that I DID have early signs and I DID notice them, but I didn’t notice them and think that I needed a colonoscopy.  Why?  Because I’m not 50!  

I feel that the awareness for colon cancer is a bit  misleading, but I can’t sit and place blame somewhere else.  Only I know my body and I know from now on I’ll be paying a lot more attention to my health and any unusual signs.  I hope that anyone reading this will as well. 
All of this stuff that I get to go through actually has some happiness in it.  I can tell you that today I feel better then I have felt in almost a year.  I was very anemic and being so anemic was a normal way of life for me.  I really felt horrible a lot of the time and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the most pleasant person to be around.  Today I feel great!  And...... I’ll be leaving the hospital this morning.  I have my first appointment with my cancer specialist this afternoon and I’m super excited, anxious, and nervous to finally get to hear how this whole chemo thing is going to work for me.
PLEASE get a colonoscopy if you are 50 or older!  PLEASE meet with your doctor if you are not and you have ANY of the signs listed above!  Don’t avoid having this conversation with your doctor, you could be saving your life.  
Thanks for listening to me while I was on my soapbox, I’ll get off now :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

First off I want to thank everyone for all their prayers, well wishes, texts, FB messages, visits, etc.  I read everything that is sent to me and listen to every voicemail.  It feels really good to know that so many people love and care about me and my family.  Thank you!

Last week was pretty eventful.  I was released from the hospital with a picc line for IV nutrition and home health coming in.  I was on clear liquids only, but was being given 2000 calories from a bag into my picc line that had to run for 18 hours a day.  Receiving the picc line was a horrible experience, but it meant I was going home so I was brave... kinda.

Home and anniversary 
The first few days of being home was nice.  Brandon and I had our 17th wedding anniversary on the 12th, he bought me a new iPhone and I think we had ice cream :)  I seriously can't believe we have been married for 17 years, I feel like the luckiest girl to have such a great husband.  I know that Brandon has a lot on his mind right now as he's trying to understand all my conditions and treatments and still be a father to 5 children AND make sure Camera Shy is keeping things up to my standards.  He does all of this and still finds days that he can spend the entire day with me at the hospital.  Love you Bran- I'm sorry this is happening, but thank you for everything.  

On Wednesday I started having a pain in my stomach that wasn't something I had ever felt before.  The pain was then followed with a fever and chills.  I called the doctor and he figured the pain was from the surgery and he worried the fever and chills was from a blood clot by my picc line.  I went in and and had an ultrasound done on my arm and sure enough I had a blood clot in my upper arm (smart doctor).  He sent me home and began treating me with blood thinners.  I had a bunch of blood drawn and the next day found out that my blood was showing that I might have an infection.  The end of the week Brandon and I spent the majority of our time going back and forth from the hospital, meeting with the doctor, and having blood drawn.  

Sunday came around and I was feeling pretty sick and I was maxed out on my Tylenol.  Suzy and Kelly came to my house and drove me to LDS ER and I was prepped for a CT scan.  Luckily my doctor was on call that night and was able to give orders to the ER doctor.  My scan came back showing that I had a blood clot near my surgery site.  I was then admitted back into the hospital and now I sit here trying to get rid of these blood clots.  My dreadful picc line was removed from my arm last week because my doctor thought maybe I had an infection from it- I was soooo excited when the nurse showed up at my house to take it out.  I swore up and down that I would never get another picc line ever again....  I got my second picc line the day I was re-admitted.  ERGH!  This line was a lot easier to have put in, I'm thinking the request for Valium was a good idea.  I just gave my doctor the death stare- I'm sure I'm super scary :)

So now I'm just waiting here at the hospital trying to get my blood levels stable.  I may have to get another blood transfusion,  but we'll see.  The doctor doesn't want to send me home on IV nutrition this time so I need to eat before I can leave.  I'm not much of a food person lately ( I wonder why ) but I'm willing to do anything to get the heck out of here.  On the plus side- the doctors and nurses have all been wonderful.  Everyone here remembers my name and apparently I'm an easy patient to care for :)  I'm sure I'm going to make a lot of new friends on this journey to wellness.  

Thank you everyone!  I love you all!  I hope you enjoy my pictures :)
My view 
We're cute :)
This is a picc line- not scary at all.  Ha!
You know you're jealous of my
breakfast, lunch, and dinner
I'm out of my mind bored!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Finally!  The news we have been waiting for!  We got our pathology report back!  They diagnosed me with stage 3 colon cancer, but my surgeon informed me that they were able to get all the cancer out of me.  I will have to start a pretty aggressive chemo treatment as soon as I'm healed up from the surgery.  Bring it!!!

While the doctor was in surgery he ended up having to remove 2/3 of my colon and then he removed a bunch of lymph nodes.  He actually found a lymph node that didn't look good at all and while removing it he had to actually shave it from my pancreas.  This lymph node was later categorized as pure cancer.  The cancer had taken over the entire thing and it was no longer considered a lymph node.

I feel so lucky to have such great medical care on my side and I feel very confident in all that they are doing for me.

The pancreas problem ended up extending my stay until about the 5th :(  BORING!  I have not been feeling the best until today.  I'm finally eating food!  I wasn't sure how much longer I could stand to have sips of water and ice chips.

Tomorrow they will move me to solid foods and if I handle it ok they will let me go home on Thursday.

I'm super tired right now so that is all I'm going to add for tonight.  If things sound weird just remember that I was on drugs when I typed this up ;)


Monday, July 2, 2012

Becky Here

Hi everybody.  I'm feeling a little better.  It was great seeing the kids.

I'm still a little up and down with pain and being sick, so visits are tough.

Going to be here a little longer than expected.  We'll hear back from pathology late this week.

Thanks for all the love and support and prayers.