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Cancer Journal


Friday, May 8, 2015

Update about this page

Although I like giving everyone the convenience or having all of the cancer journal posts on one page, I haven't figure out (as of yet) how to make the link jump to the appropriate post on said page. The posts listed above link directly to each entry on its own page.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cancer Journal #6: Reclaiming my health. For me, my kids… for life.

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The second biggest concern of this journey has been leaving my children. I’ll be away from them, in a different state, for about a month and a half. The longest I’ve ever been away from them. Even when I return home – sometime at the end of December – my children won’t be returning to me right away and it’ll be about a month before I can even visit with them.

My life has been about my children since 1991 when my first baby was born. I know you can image how difficult it is to leave three of my children regardless of the reason, but what I try to focus on, and what everyone tells me to focus on, is getting better. I can’t be “there” for my children if I’m unwell.

Without my health I’m unable to keep up with the life of a single mom of four, grandmother to one, writer, blogger and aspiring author. My life. Those three beautiful children who still live at home won’t be as well taken care of… we’d all be miserable and hanging over my head would be impeding death and doom.

Of course, the end of life will happen one day, but on this day I’m fighting a life-threatening disease and I’m fighting to win. I’m going to reclaim my health because I have many reasons to do just that.

I miss my children terribly (especially since the day before I left their was discord between their father and myself)… but we’ll Skype (I hope!), chat, text and write… I’ll see them as soon as I can next year and in the end we’ll be together with (hopefully!) a brand new me.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cancer Journal #5: Day-to-day living with Multiple #Myeloma

First things first, I have to get this off of my chest: I am so extremely  uncomfortable right now and I can’t seem to find that spot between reclining and sitting. It’s very annoying. One minute I’m straining my back, the next my stomach and now my neck. What’s the deal here? After a drink and a Godiva treat (that always makes a sister feel better!), I repositioned my area and sat down to a much more comfortable position. Now we can begin.
2014-08-27 10.45.29You just don’t know how much of a task it can be to get comfortable with ailments trying to play havoc within your body. One that presented itself late last week was a fibromyalgiaattack. I’ve written about this invisible illness before so if you’ve missed it, please click the link to check it out. You’ll get a better understanding of fibromyalgia and other background on my multiple myeloma history. Back to the attack: I had to do a bit more than I normally do like driving, getting in and out of the car as well as running errands and doing some chores by myself. My sweet daughter Amber normally does these things, but when she walked in the door on Wednesday I immediately knew she needed to go to the emergency room.

And I wasn’t taking no for an answer.

I went into Mom Mode and didn’t think twice about it. You see, Amber was experiencing symptoms of cholestasis. She had it during her pregnancy really bad, which caused her to have to be induced and, unfortunately, she got it from me: I had it during two of my pregnancies. Cholestasis is rare (like most things are with me), and it’s when bile salts from your liver rise to under your skin causing one to scratch an unreachable itch. In pregnancy it can be fatal to baby and possibly mom.

So Amber walks in like a million ants are crawling over her body and stinging her – you know, that slow movement that people do when they think if they barely move they won’t feel whatever it is? Yea, that. She was walking on tip toes and the look on her face sealed the deal for me. The previous day she’d looked up cholestasis, and I later read more about it, and found that outside of pregnancy it’s a symptom of an underlying cause. Her underlying cause?

Gall stones.

Amber has to have her gallbladder removed. So we’re dealing with that. That same day I had to get an emissions test, which I forget about every.single.year. The van DID NOT pass emissions. I’m currently waiting on a part to come in to the mechanic and it better be the solution because $800 later there better not be something else you tell me needs to be done. I’m sure you can imagine that money issue added to my level of stress.

A few errands later and a firing of an old mechanic shop because my mechanic doesn’t work there any longer. Calling and waiting on another mechanic all ended up with me being at the rip-off mechanic. There was something with the kids, but the fibro fog has seriously prevented me from remembering it.

Yup, a hectic week. When one suffers from fibro doctors recommend having days that are consistent in activity. Nothing too or more rigorous than your normal day. When it can’t be prevented your body attacks itself and the nerves sing in protest. Joints begin throbbing, bones begin aching and an overwhelming urge to sleep won’t let up. This could go on for a mere day to three or for weeks and months at a time. The longest I’ve dealt with it was a month.

News about the multiple myeloma and my treatment.

2014-08-15 17.19.07-5I’m in the middle of my third cycle of the stronger chemo regimen and my bone marrow biopsy is schedule for October 3rd. Within a week after that I will receive confirmation of going back to Tennessee for the bone marrow transplant. I’m excited. Of course, I would have preferred to have had this done during the summer for various reason, but October must be better for a reason, right? At least I’ll be done by the end of the year. This incoming New Year I’ll be celebrating my transplant and my new road to recovery. Next year, bringing in 2016, I’ll be celebrating the end of my recovery and the beginning of the rest of my life.
One I hope I do great justice to. After this fight and this journey, the small stuff – money, writing, parenting – shouldn’t be so stressful. One would hope not.

2014-08-17 11.44.35-1

Friday, July 4, 2014

I have no idea where to begin.

I’m just tired. No, not tired of fighting. I’m physically tired… unendingly so. I would have thought I’d be used to feeling tired or wore out, but with new meds mixing around inside of me I’ve reached an entirely new level of tired.

That’s neither here nor there, I suppose. But it is the first thing that came to mind. I think I have no idea where to begin because I am tired.

When I last updated you I believe I was telling you about my trip to Nashville where I’d begin the transplant process. I arrived in Tennessee, did all of my testing and was sent back home because my myeloma levels are too high. The doctor there wants the count to be less than 10% and I’m at 21% right now. 

Although everyone is different I was highly frustrated by that decision because another woman (same age, race, diagnosis) was at 20% and they kept her to proceed with the process. I understand everyone’s medical case is different; that’s just an observation.

So here I am. This week I started a different, stronger chemotherapy. It’s only been a few days and the nausea has already increased and things I normally love have been added to my new yuck list. Imagine what it would be like if I weren’t on anti-nausea meds. One of the side effects is a low-grade fever that is often accompanied by chills. Funny, in a non-humorous way.

Each cycle of meds is 28 days long. I’ll spend 21 days on the meds and get a week off before starting the second cycle. (I’ve had about seven cycles on the other drugs.) What I’m hoping for is my numbers will be good by the end of the 21-day cycle and I’ll get ready to go right back to Tennessee for the transplant. If not, I’ll continue on for another cycle and repeat tests to check again.
The biggest thing that occurred this week is my nurse said enough is enough, and it’s time for me to get a port. I knew it was coming, but I was hoping to hold out until it was time for transplant. Unfortunately my three veins that are the only ones available for drawing blood, etc., have had it. They are scarred, unhappy and not healing between sticks. On Tuesday, she (my nurse) spent a good 10 to 15 minutes investigating my arms and hands to see if there was somewhere else to put a needle for the IV. She left the line in for the next day (I have treatment twice a week now), but it wouldn’t give a blood return so I had to get stuck again in the other arm. Par for the course of a cancer fighter.

I think I’d like to have a turkey burger for dinner, but I’m not sure the energy is there to prepare it. If not, I’ll have some oatmeal and something else breakfast-cy and call it an eve. As long as I remember to eat. I have not been feeling too hungry and was amazed when earlier today my stomach growled so loudly. I’d never heard that before. In order to help keep the headaches at bay I have to pay attention to eating.
I hope I have written this clearly because I am having a bit of fibro fog, which make my focus sorta Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Thanks for reading. Writing about my cancer journey really helps me and hopefully it’ll help others as well.

If you feel led, please donate to my cancer journey. Every donation helps tremendously during this fight.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Cancer Journal #3: Pitter patter sounds

I'm sitting here... in a tiny waiting area, waiting for today's appointment to get started. What's going to happen? What will they say?

I've been in Tennessee since Sunday for my evaluation to see if mind and body are ready to proceed with my stem cell transplant. Last week, I revealed, my ratio was 6:1 and since I don't feel any worse I am speculating my cells have picked up the pace again and are ready to keep the good fight going.

I'm a little nervous though. My heart is beating fairly quickly and my breathing is elevated. The mild stress of those internal actions has caused a beat of exhaustion and an impatience for waiting. I'm sitting with what I hope is a pleasant expression on my face while listening to the busyness around me and the pitter patter, pitter patter...
Ms. Wright?

In for vitals I go while wishing I'd finished the paperwork to change my name back. Personally I use Lloyd, but for all the serious stuff I have to use Wright. That's small compared to that sound...

Pitter patter 
Pitter patter

Done with vitals and didn't have to get any blood drawn. That's a yippee moment.
Now here we wait for the doctor. One I don't think I've met. Oh, I wonder what he (she?) will say. I'll let you know as soon as I can.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cancer Journal: ‘To the moon Alice, right to the moon.’

When my father was alive one of his favorite television shows was The Honeymooners. So every time I say, “To the moon Alice!” I am not only reminded of my father and that funny sitcom, but it tends to make me laugh even in serious or stressful situations.

Entry #2
That famous line runs through my head every time I have to get blood drawn, an IV inserted or another pill added to my daily regimen. If it’s not running through my head then I’m saying to Amber, my oldest daughter, “If they stick me one more time… to the moon Alice, right to the moon!” Ralph never hit Alice and I haven’t attacked a nurse or technician yet, but boy, I tell ya, I’m sure it would make me feel better.

For the past six months, I have went to the Veteran’s Hospital every.single.week for my out-patient cancer treatment. Every week I have to go to the lab and get my blood drawn so you can imagine how unhappy my arms and veins have become. And there are the few times, about a handful, that my arms have been bruised. I remember once when my arm was so bruised it looked like someone had hit my arm with a baseball bat.

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