Friday, June 28, 2013

PET scan

I had my PET scan after finishing my scheduled chemo treatments to see if the lymphoma is gone. I was far less nervous this time than with my first PET scan. I listened to one of the Passion albums while waiting for the radioactive stuff to go through my body. I had a comfy recliner and a warm blanket in a dark and quiet room for about 45 minutes. During the actual PET scan I just closed my eyes and starting praising God for all the wonderful things He's done during this journey - my own spiritual growth, support from family and friends, great doctors and nurses, minimal side effects, safety in all of our travel back and forth to Tulsa, insurance coverage, etc, etc, etc. It was a great time to be totally focused on God. I may have dozed a little bit, too!

I've been thinking about the results of the PET scan while we wait for my doctor's appointment. Obviously, we're praying it's totally CLEAR. But what if it's not??? Thankfully, God is God, God is good, and God is faithful no matter what we find out from the scan results. I love that there are so many songs that remind us of God's goodness and faithfulness, and I'm thankful for Christian radio stations like KLOVE. There are so many great artists writing and singing great songs that can make me lift up my hands in praise, shed a tear, or sometimes both at the same time! I've noticed that through my lymphoma journey, many songs have taken on a whole new meaning. I don't know if I'm really hearing the words for the first time or if they are just more fitting now - probably both!

One song that has touched me is "Even If" by Kutless. The words are hard to sing when praying for healing, because what if the healing doesn't come? My prayer is to be able to sing the words to this song with all sincerity regardless of the results of my PET scan!

Sometimes all we have to hold on to
Is what we know is true of who You are
So when the heartache hits like a hurricane
That could never change who You are
And we trust in who You are

Even if the healing doesn't come

And life falls apart
And dreams are still undone
You are God You are good
Forever faithful One
Even if the healing
Even if the healing doesn't come

Lord we know your ways are not our ways

So we set our faith in who You are
Even though You reign high above us
You tenderly love us
We know Your heart
And we rest in who You are

You're still the Great and Mighty One

We trust You always
You're working all things for our good
We'll sing your praise

You are God and we will bless You

As the Good and Faithful One
You are God and we will bless You
Even if the healing doesn't come
Even if the healing doesn't come

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Celebrating the "Lasts"

Just six months ago we were nervous about all the "firsts" we were experiencing - diagnosis of lymphoma, appointments, scans, chemo, side-effects. This week I'm thinking about the "lasts" of some of those experiences.

The last R-CHOP chemo treatment - Aloxi, Decadron, Benadryl (knocks me out), Adriamycin (makes me pee red), Vincristine (neuralgia), Cytoxan, and Rituxan (made from mouse components).

The last time trying to maneuver the IV with me to the bathroom while being doped up on Benadryl. I saw a neat video of a chemo patient riding the IV across the room, but I would've ended up on the floor if I had tried that!

The last of tummy issues - tummy ache, bloating, gas, burping (like you wouldn't believe), constipation.

The last dose of Prednisone and the nasty, nasty taste it leaves in my mouth. Did I mention the nasty taste???

The last of feeling drained - looking forward to more energy and motivation.

The last of losing eyelashes - mascara only does so much.

The last of not shaving - oh wait, I don't want that to change!

The last of being bald. Even though I probably dreaded this the most, it has turned out to be kind of fun. I like my sassy wig that is soooo easy to maintain. I'm also a pro at tying a cute bandana on my head. And I can take a shower in 59 seconds! (Yes, the kids timed me one night.)

I don't think my hair would've completely fallen out since I always shaved some stubble, but it definitely showed signs of thinning. I'm glad we shaved it all off and had some fun. It cracks me up that my blog post about shaving my head is the most visited post (here)!

One side-effect I want to keep is the chemo-induced menopause I seem to be experiencing. I sure don't want to go through these hot flashes again down the road. Usually I look at my age as on the young side, but I hope I'm old enough that this will be permanent!

Although I won't miss these "lasts" - in all reality, they haven't been that bad. One of my constant phrases through all of this has been, it's all good because I'M NOT PUKING! I've been able to work every day that I haven't had appointments. I've been able to do the necessities for my family (thanks to Daryl being the chef). I've pretty much been able to live life as usual. I am the first to admit I am truly blessed - even if some the blessings have been in disguise!!!

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if the thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise 

 ~ Laura Story, "Blessings"

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Chemo #6...finally!

Yesterday was my 6th and final scheduled chemotherapy treatment. WOO HOO!!! It went as well as always! Tulsa Cancer Institute has several campuses in the Tulsa area and are finishing a new state of the art building to combine all the facilities into one. The campus I usually go to is the first to be in the new building this week. The treatment area is so nice with actual sections for each patient instead of a circle of recliners with no defined space.

After my last round of chemo, I needed a Neulasta shot to boost my neutrophils (part of white blood cells) that had dropped to 1.1. Yesterday my count was 4!!! That's higher than after my first chemo of 2.4! So as I was checking out, the scheduler said she'd see me back the next day for an injection. I told her nothing was said about a Neulasta shot, my counts were up, and this was my last chemo. She tried to call my Nurse Practioner who I had seen but was only able to reach my oncologist's main nurse. I ended up on the phone with her (new building is big with multiple floors), and she was very adamant that I come in for the shot. After some discussion, she finally went to ask the NP, came back and said we could skip it. Of course she went on to lecture me that I better call back if I start running a fever, even if it's in the middle of the night. Okie dokie! I know she was just doing her job, but all patients do not fit into a procedural mold. Gotta stick up for my rights!

After the Neulasta shot three weeks ago, I had a couple of days of hip pain, felt crummy, and slept a lot. That's fine if I really NEED the shot, but if I don't, why go through it? It would also be another day off work and drive to Tulsa - not to mention the cost of the shot (thankfully to insurance and not to me). Now I'll be praying I won't run a fever and have to call the nurse - HA!

I thought I was going to have to call the nurse last week. Allergies or a cold hit me with a sore throat, head full of snot, stuffy AND runny nose, sinus pressure, and cough. One day I felt awful and ran a temp from 99.9 - 100.4 all day. The magic number to call the nurse is 100.5, so I never called. I took Tylenol PM that night and woke up fever free! Now if I could get rid of all the snot!

So I'm waiting for my PET scan to be scheduled, and then I'll see my oncologist after that to go over the results and talk about how they'll monitor me. It's been almost six months since my mom noticed the swollen lymph node at my collarbone. This journey will continue, but I'm grateful it will be a different kind of journey after my next appointment. And I am so thankful that I won't be on any part of this journey alone - family, friends, and most importantly GOD are traveling with me!!!

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
~ Joshua 1:9