Reflections and Update

I can’t believe June is almost over. With that said, I am excited it is because that means I have completed my four required rounds of the red devil and Cytoxan chemo regimen. They will not be missed in the least. I am currently working through day 5 of this round and will be more energetic by Sunday. This round has been pretty easy as the others. I did think I was going to have death by heartburn on Wednesday, but I made it. Just low energy levels for the next couple days. I am going to get fluids at the hospital today, so that should help. A girl can only drink so much water.

Next steps will be to start the second regimen of chemo on a drug called Taxol. I will get this weekly starting July 9. This is supposed to be a walk in the park compared to the last drugs. Bring it on. The main side effects will be some fatigue and potential for neuropathy, numbness in hands and feet. I hear I could lose some nails too. To combat this, I will be doing ice baths on my hands and feet during chemo. The numbness could be permanent, so we will monitor closely. I did meet my new dr at Duke last week. She was great and I am happy that the clinic is very similar to what I am used to. Interestingly, she was of the opinion that I was treated pretty aggressively for my cancer. She said she would have done chemo just not the red devil. I was a little mixed on hearing this. At the end of the day, I am thankful I was treated aggressively. I have too much left to do on this earth. I want to live a long life with my kids and husband. So, the stress, pain and fear was not in vain. She assured me that I have had enough chemo to kill an elephant for my 1cm tumor, and that I should be on track for another 50 years. With that news, she said she did not recommend the 12 Taxol treatments originally on my plate. She wants to stop at 8 if I can get through those with no issues. So, this means I will end chemo treatments at the end of August. Yay!!  The end is near. Radiation will be next, but I will get done well in advance of the holidays and hopefully feeling like my old self.

When I look back to mid March, it is hard to fathom what all I have been through. Those were some pretty dark and scary days. The testing and waiting, the diagnosis, the surgeries, the unknowns. Today, I really see the end and that is so motivating. You can’t help but be changed by something like this. This has opened my eyes to a lot of things. My eyes weren’t always fixated on the right things. The small stuff no longer matters and that is very freeing.

So, to end on a lighter note…Patsy is in retirement and I found my new do. Real hair is the way to go. So one pic of the new wig and one pic of me and my precious grandson, Matt, playing our favorite game of who has more hair when the wig comes off. He wins every damn time. LOL.  He had lunch with me after chemo this week so when we got home, I had to take some pics. The wig comes off after the door closes at the house  lol!!

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Just keeping it real, folks! I love how all my gray/white hair decided to stay put. Stubborn. Haha! Going with the flow.

All my love…live each day big for you never know what tomorrow will bring.

Rachel

Quick Update

Chemo treatment #3 is in the books, and one more red devil to go. I will then start a weekly round of a drug called Taxol for 12 weeks. This is supposed to be easier than the current cocktail. I am still only having to battle fatigue with the treatments so feel very blessed that is all I have to report. I am going tomorrow for some fluids. The dr thinks that will help give me some energy. She says the body just has a hard time keeping up with the demand. So, hopefully that will give me a boost for the weekend.

I have an appointment scheduled next Thursday at Duke to meet my new dr when we move to Raleigh in a few weeks. They wanted to get everything set up to ensure no delays with my treatment, which is great. I have been really happy with my dr and team of nurses here in Wilmington. They are on top of it.

I hope everyone is enjoying the summer. The sun is not my friend right now and the heat gets to me much quicker on these  treatments. The goal today is to get these kids out of the house and to the pool later this evening around 5. That is more my speed. I hate I am not 100% to enjoy the summer fully with them. They are being good sports I must say. I will keep you posted as the summer progresses. Haha!

All my love…live each day big for you never know what tomorrow will bring.

Rachel

Circus

This cancer journey is one big mind game after another. During my treatment weeks, I am anxious, a touch fiesty(steroids, not at all anything to do with me…I know what you are thinking), and just blah feeling and acting. I get pretty quiet here at home and just try to convince myself I don’t feel bad. I don’t feel like Rachel. About day 7 and 8, the fog starts to lift and I get my spunk back. This treatment was no different.

This Tuesday was my Day 8,  and I was back ready to emerge from my nest. Over the weekend as I laid on the couch, I became more comfortable with my bald head, and kind of picked up the mindset to screw it and just be free. Y’all, wigs are so hot, itchy and uncomfortable especially on a sensitive scalp. I called up Emily and let her know I wanted to see the baby and I needed her help to do something today. Y’all know she was thinking she had to come clean or do something boring. LOL! Not a chance, an idea was planted by a friend a few weeks ago to do a photo op to reveal my new look. Well, challenge accepted. Disclaimer:  I was not having a meltdown and no one or vehicle was harmed in the making.

To my soul sister Britney:  I get you. Life is a circus. It can drive you mad. Each one of us are under our own microscope, and there are days you just want to scream at the top of your lungs, beat something with an umbrella, or shave your head. There are also days were you just want to laugh, be yourself, and live in the moment. Britney, I don’t know what made you shave your head or why you went after the car with the umbrella, but I am glad you did.  For a few minutes, I forgot I had cancer, I forgot all my fears, I forgot I was tired…I was ME again…funny, sarcastic and living life. We define our own circus…mine has a lot of ringleaders right now, but this day I was leading the pack on my terms. Thanks, Brit!  You know I will always love ya!

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Oops, I did it again…

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My hope is you roll on the floor laughing at these pics, and not see a girl fighting cancer, instead see a girl living life to the fullest on her good days.

All my love…live each day big for you never know what tomorrow will bring.

Rachel

Ups and Downs

Chemo # 2 is in the books!  It was pretty uneventful as far as side effects. I have been more tired this treatment with yesterday being the worst.  I imagine running a marathon and your legs just feeling so weak and heavy is similar to this exhausted feeling that I am experiencing. To all who have achieved a marathon, I salute you because I am exhausted. Haha!  It is hard just to lay around and I feel pretty useless. With all that said, I am grateful for another uneventful treatment. I will ask for prayers for an upcoming blood count on Tuesday.  My liver counts were high last Tuesday and the Dr. wanted to postpone the treatment to give my liver time to adjust, but I wasn’t too down with that. If they are high again, I may have to postpone treatment #3.

It finally happened…the great hair shed of Lumpgate 2018. I made a conscious decision to shave it because let’s face it, I have a lot of hair and the thought of it all over the place was overwhelming. As I sit here and type, I am laughing because the fuzz is even worse and is everywhere. I have to cover my head or small slivers of hair are on everything and it is sticky. What a complete pain in the ass!  This has definitely been a downer for me. It is really hard seeing yourself without hair. It is hard watching your family take glances of you as they try to come to grips with the new you. One more shitty reminder you are a cancer patient. I feel like everyone is staring, and I know they aren’t. It’s just me navigating my new normal. I have never been one to lack self-confidence, but I do find the struggle is real. Patsy and I are fighting and I hate her. She is hot, and hurts my head. So, I am trying hats and scarves. Thanks to the friends who have had to endure countless selfies and provided a positive critique to my new look. While I am not ready to share my new GI Jane look, I will share A few pics so you may recognize me on the streets. I still get spooked by my reflection at home. LOL! (Thank goodness for filters)

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Looking forward to a week of recovery and feeling good again. We have a lot going on here as we just put an offer on a house in Raleigh. If all goes well with both closings, we will be moving to Raleigh on 13Jul. Really ready to be back together as a family in one city. Thank you for all the love and encouragement from your calls, texts, snaps, cards, etc. it really lifts my spirits. I know I am surrounded by so much love, but some days this journey can be pretty lonely. Positive energy and laughs is really good for the soul and spirit.

All my love…live each day big for you never know what tomorrow will bring.

Rachel

Small Blessings

I had written a whole post on Sunday, but never published it as I was having trouble downloading pictures. I thought I will give it overnight and go back to it tomorrow. It’s funny how little things keep happening to show me how God is working in my life. The post was so negative, filled with fear and uncertainty and was a total reflection of my thoughts at the time.  God pumped the brakes on my pity party. (Thank you for small blessings)

I woke up Monday feeling great and went on a two mile walk while giving glory to God for my blessings. I have been made to be still the last several months, and I am so much more aware of the small signs and timing that God is weaving into my life.

Let me give an update on my first chemo treatment. I was so damn nervous and scared on the way there. It was a surreal drive to the hospital, and I replayed all the details of the last couple of months not believing what we were about to do. Being my emotional self lately, I just cried the whole way there. Mike just let me and told me to get it out of my system before we went in. Usually, he talks me off the ledge, but I was really glad he didn’t shoot rainbows, unicorns, and glitter up my ass in that moment. We walk in and they called me back to the treatment room and I was like ‘Whoa, I am not ready because my port still is bandaged and I didn’t yet put the Lidocaine cream on it.’  This sweet 20 something year old girl was like okay we can wait an hour or I can just access it.     I kept looking at Mike waiting for him to step in and save me…he didn’t. Haha. So, as I watched all these 70 and 80 year old women get their IVs put in their veins and not flinch, I told her just do it but don’t talk to me. When she cleaned it she told me I couldn’t breathe on it in order to not put my germs on it. I was like, honey, my face is going to be over in the ER because I am not even looking that direction. I will say it wasn’t bad. It was more pressure when she punctured it, and she even drew a couple tubes of blood and I didn’t even know it. First scary part complete. She made me lay there for a while to ensure I didn’t pass out and then they sent me back to the waiting room to see the Dr. prior to the infusions. It was the first time I felt like a cancer patient. I had all these access points hanging from my chest and i was about to really do this. I met with the Dr. and she told my blood counts were excellent and there was no reason we can’t start the chemo. She did notice how anxious I was and told me she would give me a little something to take the edge off. (Thank you). So, off I went to my chemo pod. I had to wait a while as the nurse was working on two other patients. She promised me it would be more uneventful than I was expecting. Haha!  Does she know me?  I will say it was pretty uneventful (post meds). They started by first giving me a steroid and two anti-nausea meds. That took about 30 minutes. Then they brought out the Red Devil. You want to know fear look the Red Devil in the eye. The nurse had to suit up in a full gown and wear glasses to manually push this juice in my veins. She administered it over a period of thirty minutes. I was praying I wouldn’t have any crazy reaction and surprisingly I didn’t. I took my IV pole for a potty break after that while she worked on another patient and got the next drug ready. The next drug went in over a period of two hours. If they do it to fast it can cause you a severe headache. Volunteers kept coming by asking if I wanted snacks or wanted a drink or a warm blanket. It was pretty uneventful, but I was exhausted afterwards and came home and curled up in the couch. A few pics of the day.

I had a peppermint in my mouth here  the taste you get is pretty awful as the drugs go in.

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Meet the Red Devil…

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The week did go by really slowly, but again the fear of the unknown is the worst. I am happy to report no nausea with this round. I did have extreme fatigue on Day 3 and 4 like nothing I have ever experienced. It was hard for me to just sit and do nothing but on those days that is all I could do. I did have a strange red rash pop up on my arm Tuesday morning and my Dr sent me for an ultrasound to rule out a blood clot. Fortunately, that was ruled out and chalked up to a weird reaction to the chemo. Main issues have been being tired, feeling light-headed and shaky, indigestion(sorry family, I love you for putting up with me), and my lips are starting to crack. That’s it. I am focusing on nutrition to build my blood counts back up this week and walking to stay strong and of course resting. (The hardest part for me)

I am grateful that other post did not get published because it was a real downer. I am so blessed this is all I have to report. I know this and I am drilling this into my head. I placed my anxiety and fear in God’s hands and he is working in me to remove them hour by hour. It’s a long journey, but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I also found this Sunday during my pity party and I looked up and thanked him for the reminder.
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Next treatment is 29May. Thank you for the calls and texts, it really keeps my spirits up.

All my love…live each day big for you never know what tomorrow will bring.

Rachel

Getting Wiggy With It

This past Thursday I set out to find my new identity once I lose my hair. I have some funny friends who suggested I get multiple wigs. For instance, a stripper wig especially for Mike. I don’t know about y’all but when you have cancer the absolute last thing on your mind is putting on your stripper wig for a dance party for your man. Lol!  Some suggested a business wig and a party wig. Maybe I have lost some spunk, but I am not feeling either. So, I set out to find one that was close to my current hair…boring. Hahaha.

Now over at Shiela’s Wigs, you will find yourself some funny ladies, but they were so kind and compassionate through it all because it is a little overwhelming. I walked in and they were like I know the perfect ones for you to try on. Well, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Photo cred goes to my friend, Suzanne.  Thanks for going with me  it made the task less daunting.

On this one below, I easily could have done both…I thought I could be on a special for Jeff Foxworthy…you might be a redneck if…seriously, all I needed was the bubba teeth. 031832F3-197B-46E9-8438-2DECD5268674

This next one was a doozy too, not quite sure what was going on here, but it was vetoed quickly.

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I was trying to keep my spirits up after those two gems. Then we saw Patsy. A little longer and more my speed, and I said why not. So, I tried her on and although she feels a little rough to the touch, I will say she made me feel a little more like me. So when you meet Patsy for the first time, be nice and know that she is doing the best she can on any given day.

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Disclaimer…I really wanted to try on the jet black one with blue highlights, but they were ready for me to go as they had other appointments. I secretly wanted the stripper wig. LOL!

I had my port put in yesterday and the anesthesia has kicked my ass this go round. I am happy to report I had to already test out the chemo nausea meds and they work. Since I am sharing pics and have no shame how I look in any of them, below is how I felt about my port last night, and not much has changed today.
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Prayer request for minimal side effects from my first chemo treatment on Monday, a positive attitude, and no fainting. I don’t think this medical stuff will ever get easy for me just drug me, please.

All my love…live each day big for you never know what tomorrow will bring.

Rachel

Dear Cancer,

Dear Cancer,

I hate everything about you!  I hate that you have come into my body and turned my life upside down. I hate that you made my mother cry. I hate that you have placed worry, doubt and fear into my children’s eyes and heart. I hate that you have made my husband think of life with out me. I hate that you have made me cry countless nights, lose sleep, and stress over what you have caused. No one asked you to come here, no one ever would. You are complicated, stubborn and hateful. A modern day home wrecker.

I hate everything about you!

And while you try to destroy me and my family, I will not let you. I will destroy you first! I love how close you have brought me to trust in God. I love how you have strengthened my friendships far and near. I love how close you have brought me and my husband. I love how you have made me see how fragile life can be, and I will never take a minute for granted again. I love how you have made me look deep inside my soul to bring out the best in me.  You can take my energy and my hair, but you will never take my spirit, heart or fight. I love how you have made my mind stronger than it was before. For in my mind, I have already started kicking your ass. Don’t worry, you have one more week to live inside me, and then the real fight begins. You will not destroy me first, I promise you that.

Even with the good things you have brought, I still hate everything about you!

See you in the chemo pod,

Rachel