Friday, August 28, 2009

Moving right along then………

Hello dear reader.  So, what was the last thing I wrote about?  Hmm, let me go to the site and check it out.  Ah yes, I was calmly mentioning the finish of chemo.  So, 3 weeks later, and normally I would be telling you all about Thursday’s consultation and possibly some chemo details.  But I can’t do that today.  Oh, I can still tell you about Thursday’s consultation, so why don’t we start there.

Our day started at 7:00 when we left the house on our way to the CCI.  The purpose of this consultation was to find out the results of the heart test Dianne had last week, and to determine if the last chemo had any effect on the tumours.  And blood work.  For some reason, Dianne had to have blood work done again.  Ironically, her blood levels did not come back, so even if there was chemo, it would probably be delayed.

So, Dianne got her blood work done, then we sat around for a bit, reading….waiting for Area B to open, and the Dr. to call us in.  Dear reader, I have to interject the day here, and explain a situation.

In the middle of August, we found out that Dianne’s surgery was scheduled for September 14.  We were a little bit disappointed that there was such a huge gap between the last chemo and surgery.  So, we decided to do something about it.  We phoned the surgeons secretary. (as I write this, dear reader, I am reflecting on a sermon we heard from Rev. Aasman on the 9th commandment.)  To make a long story short, (and to intentionally stay away from breaking the 9th), we informed the secretary that the 14th (date, not commandment) was unacceptable (imagine a commandment being unacceptable), and that we’d like it moved.  We informed her that the 14th is close to 6 weeks after chemo, and surgery was supposed to be around 4 weeks after.

We were a bit concerned because our thought was that if we gave the cancer a chance to grow, it would.  No chemo = cancer party time = all bad.  Now, back to Thursday…………

So, after we’re done sitting there, the nurse calls us in and we have a chat.  We talk about how Dianne is feeling and all that important stuff.  We also expressed our concerns about the surgery date.  Then, the Doctor’s intern came and did an examination.  And, skipping past all that fun stuff…we finally talked to the Dr. himself.  His determination was that although the tumor’s did not disappear as hoped, they still shrunk significantly from the beginning to now.  But not much change since the last chemo.  We then talked to him about our concerns about the surgery date.  He reassured us that, even though the date was not ideal, the cancer was still being controlled by the Herceptin (which is still being injected every 3 weeks).

Dear reader, when we heard that we felt better.  I mean, if the Dr. doesn’t seem too concerned, then we shouldn’t either, right?  So, with that, we make our way home, with a quick stop for an extra large double double (that’s a coffee, for all my American and European readers), and a quick stop to pick up a birthday present for David’s friend Adria.

Finally, at 11:00, we get home.  Andy must have been wondering what was taking us so long (he was looking after the kids).  And when we get home, there is a message for Dianne to phone the pre-admission clinic at the Sturgeon Hospital.  We are kind of surprised, to say the least.  So, Dianne calls them and finds out that she has an appointment with them coming up….as soon as we can get there!!!!  Wowsers!!!!  This appointment isn’t supposed to happen until 6 days before surgery.  Could it be?

Before we leave for the Sturgeon, I arrange to take the rest of the day off (potentially).  And off we go.  So, we get there…we find the right desk, and we sit.  Dianne goes over some paper work, only to find out that the surgeons office (remember the 9th commandment, Rod) had sent the hospital the wrong consent form.  Dianne has signed a consent form for both a single mastectomy and a double mastectomy.   The one hospital had was for the single, but Dianne had told the surgeon’s secretary that she had decided on a double.  *sigh*

Finally that is all sorted, and we are informed that Dianne’s surgery has been moved to September 2nd!!  6 days away!!  Woohoo, this is really exciting!!!  We don’t know who pushed what buttons to get this changed, but we have suspicions.  But, regardless of who it was, we are very thankful for the change!!

And that, dear reader, is it.  As the title suggests, we are moving right along.  Thanks Andy for staying with the kids all day, and thanks Heather for driving Dianne to her appointment today!!

And very abruptly (and at the call of nature), I bid you farewell.  I will update on Wednesday….post surgery.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Crazy 8

Good day, dear reader.  You’ll have to excuse me if I gush, but gush I might.  CHEMO IS DONE, CHEMO IS DONE, CHEMO IS DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!  End of gushing.  For now.

That’s right, dear reader, Dianne is officially finished with Chemotherapy.  25 weeks ago, she started the long journey down chemo road, and with a few twists in the road, she made it to the end of this stage of the race.  Most of say that the 25 weeks went very quickly, and I believe that everyone it did.  Everyone except Dianne, that is.  For her, it was a long, arduous process.   I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again “Dianne, I love you and you are amazing!!”

Now, why the title Crazy 8?  Isn’t that a card game?  Well, dear reader, the reason I chose this as my title is because chemo #8 was a crazy ride.  The administration of the chemo went according to plan, but the time we spend at the CCI was crazy.  Let me explain.

Normally, when we get to the CCI, we go in, they tell us where to sit, and then the nurse comes along and hooks everything up, and all is well.   Dianne usually reads or dozes off, and I will either read or play on the laptop.  So, we were all prepared for much of the same when we went in.  We were soon to learn that it was not to be.  We were not the first ones in the room that morning.  Chris and his brother Jim were first.  Chris has lung cancer, and his treatment started a bit earlier than Dianne’s.  As we headed towards her assigned seat, Chris bellowed out a hearty welcome.  It was the kind of greeting that made you think of loud mouth schnooks and goombas.  Needless to say, we were a bit concerned.

As we got to talking with Chris and Jim, we realized that they were just trying to make the best of a bad situation.  Having fun, trying to lighten the mood kind of stuff.  Very quickly, we started to have fun.  As more people entered our area and took a seat, they were greeted heartily and made to feel welcome (or not, depending on how they like us).  Soon, the room was full, the room was loud, we were all laughing (well, most of us were laughing).  Dianne and I did not get a chance to read or play on the laptop.

Some very interesting and bizarre conversations happened that day.  The one about the twitching kids (honestly dear reader, you don’t want to know….but if I ever see a kid twitch I am going to laugh my a$$ off and think of Chris and Jim), the one about salads.  One of the patients actually had to read part of her book out loud to us…it was something about what kids don’t learn in school.  We asked her not to read to us anymore LOL.

Everyone in the room knew it was Dianne’s last treatment (mainly because Chris bellowed it out to everyone who walked in).  So towards the end, it became a really big deal.  The process was this:  when the chemo drip was 20 minutes away from being done, Dianne had to put a hot pack over the PICC line (which was about to be removed) so that it would slide out nice and easy.  Once the PICC line was out, she had to wait around for 20 minutes with a compression bandage on it to make sure she didn’t bleed all over the place.
So, here we are….20 minutes left in the drip.  The process has started.  The heat pack is in place, and Chris is bellowing that Dianne is almost done.  The drip is now done (that’s officially it for chemo, but still a bit of work to do).  I turn the other way because I know that the nurse is about to pull the PICC line out.  Dear reader, I don’t know about you, but I don’t need to see a tube being pulled out of a vein in someone’s arm.  Watching the operation channel on TV (is that even on anymore?) is one thing, but seeing this stuff live makes my mini-wheats come back to haunt me.  The PICC line came out really smooth.  Dianne said it didn’t hurt, but just felt really weird.  20 minutes left.

The countdown was on, and became a verbal countdown at around 10 minutes.  I would bellow out the amount of time left in small intervals, at which point conversation would briefly stop.  At one minute left, everyone in the room was watching and listening to me do my count.  At 10 seconds I counted every second…..10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…..DONE!!!!  Dear reader, it was a heady experience when I said 0…the whole room burst out into cheers and clapping!!  The nurse broke into a rousing rendition of ‘Happy last chemo day’ to the tune of Happy Birthday (or a reasonable facsimile thereof).  And with that, we picked up our stuff, said goodbye to everyone…..and left.

So much more went on this day during the treatment, but I honestly can’t remember it all.  I can tell you that the first 7 treatment days were quiet….and the 8th one was crazy in a fun sort of way.  We left the CCI with smiles on our faces, and a warm fuzzy feeling in our hearts.

Now what, you ask?  Well, now we wait.  Dianne has 3 or 4 weeks to recover from this chemo, and then it’s surgery.  We should find out this week what the exact day surgery will be.  And yes, dear reader, Dianne has decided to have a double mastectomy.  We talked a lot about the options, we got different opinions from different people, we consulted with the Dr. at the CCI….and decided on the double.  I won’t go into all the details of why we decided this, but rest assured that Dianne is very comfortable with this decision.

And that dear reader, was crazy 8th chemo day.  I probably did a lousy job of conveying how much fun we actually had, but that’s all I got.  I’d like to give a shout out to Chris….if you ever read this, Chris, I hope and pray that all goes well with you!!  A very special thank you goes out to the chemo nurses at the CCI….you ladies are brilliant, and we appreciate everything you’ve all done for us.  You’ll still see us, though…every 3 weeks for the next year for the Herceptin treatment.  (Dear reader, the Herceptin is the drug to counter Dianne’s HER2+ disease, which is what is making her cancer so aggressive….).  Thanks again to Laura for giving Dianne her last Neulasta injection.  Thanks to Andy and Darren for watching the kids.  And thanks to everyone for the thoughts and prayers…we appreciate it more than words can say.

On a final note, dear reader:  CHEMO IS DONE.  D-U-N….DONE!!!!