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Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Chemo begins

Well, I've caught up doing this blog thingy.  So glad about that.  It's hard to remember the details of the day let alone the details of days and weeks gone by.

I was a bit nervous for my first treatment at the Cancer Centre at the QCH.  Barb picked me up at home, took me in, we met Moe Moe there who took a couple busses to be there for moral support and then I did my thing.

They are so sweet there.  I was offered a bed or lounge chair.  I chose the chair.  The nurse spent the first half hour going over everything.......from meds and side effects and what to do in the event of (fill in the blanks), what I should eat, what I shouldn't eat, take this med for this and that for another thing and it all went in one ear and out the other.  I wonder what she was thinking as she spoke to me seeing the blank open-mouthed look on my face, a face that read "uh?!#, what ARE you saying to me?"

Regardless, it all went well. I was told of the possible effects of the chemo medications as she administered them intravenously.....this one gives you an itchy nose and this one gives you stinging sensation at the injection sight.  I was fortunate and all went off without a hitch.  Moe Moe stayed with me and Barb left to help Michelle and Andy with their move to their new place in Barrhaven.  Timing was bad as I would have liked to have been able to help them.

Barb picked us up afterwards and took Moe to the bus stop.  Barb then took me to Shoppers to fill 6 prescriptions. Oh brother. Cancer is so complicated.  Finally, we were home and the pups were so excited to see me.  Little do they know that they can't give me kisses while on chemo as it could make them very sick.......poor babies. I'll have to resist the urge to squish and kiss them. Will be tough.

TMI, but my first pee after radiation, like 5 minutes after, was bright red.  They said this would happen but I didn't know it would be that fast.  Oh, I also picked up a couple sweet little scarves made by kind volunteers.  I want to be ready for when I lose my hair.

The worst and scariest side effects usually appear 7 to 10 days after treatment......a fever, if in fact, I get one at all.  A slight fever, a potential sign of infection and I have to get to a hospital right away......do not pass GO, do not collect $200. Because white blood cells, which fight off infection, are compromised during chemo, it is very possible I get an infection.  Infections and I don't get along well (knee infection scare of 2012). I have a "fever card", which I present to any hospital emergency and I get to go to the "front of the line".  Sweet!! So I have to be constantly taking my temperature and drink lots of water, and many other things I won't bother to write down as I am tired and won't be up too late tonight.

A nurse comes by tomorrow to see me at some point. I will be going to work, so hope we can make this appt. for the evening sometime.

All in all, not too shabby a day!  Thank you God, family and friends for all you have done, for all you continue to do.

Dr. Dent - oncologist - chemotherapy, etc..

I met with Dr. Dent on Sept. 24.  Patty and Moe Moe came with me.  I don't know what I'd do without my sisters and my daughter, Michelle.

She went over chemo treatment.  I would have chemo every 2 weeks for 16 weeks.  She went over all the possible side effects.  Dear Lord, give me strength.  From nausea, losing my hair, fatigue, loss of taste, diarrhea, fever, infection, very low white blood cells.....a lot of this was a blur and a week later, I am still confused.

I had an echocardiogram on Sept. 28 at the General in the morning (to make sure my heart is strong enough for chemo) followed by a chemo information session at the Irving Greenberg cancer centre across town at the Queensway in the afternoon. Between appts. I went to work for a few hours.  Barb came to the information session with me which included a visit to the chemo floor.  Very nice and open and bright and kind people everywhere........as it should be when one has cancer.  I had to pay twice for parking, once at each hospital.

Which brings me to, well, parking.  Paying $14. for parking each time I visit is one thing, but to pay twice in one day.  It's not my fault I have appts. at two different hospitals.  Can't they let you use a day pass between hospitals?  Apparently not.  Man, one can go broke, which I am already, but still.......


Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The surgery had gone very well and I was pleased.

On Saturday, Sept. 5, a nurse came to my home to check on me.  I was doing great.  She and I chatted about anything and everything for about an hour. She was really nice. I could have kicked myself afterwards as I never offered her anything to drink....coffee, water, etc.  What the??

I saw Dr. Watters for a follow-up appt. on Sept. 16 to get the pathology results.  Michelle came with me. He explained that all had gone well with surgery and that the margins around the tumour were clean, meaning they got all the cancer form the lumpectomy. However, the 2 lymph nodes they removed were cancerous.  I told him that that is not what he was supposed to tell me (joking with him). I told him that I expected the nodes to be clean and I would then have the radiation he had told me about and that would be the end of that.  So I was a little down about that.  Up until this point I had been doing pretty good.  I was still ok about all this, but still.  He said I would have an appt. to discuss radiation and another to discuss chemo.  Yes, chemo.  It was more apparent now that chemo was more than just a possibility.

So many appts., so many hospitals, doctors, nurses, clinics......it's a lot keep track of, but anyhow.....

On Sept. 22, Barb came with me to an appt. at the Irving Greenberg Family Cancer Centre (part of the QCH) to meet with Dr. Lochrin, a radiologist.

****SIDEBAR****  Am I dead and don't know it?  I have 2 flies bugging me and I can't seem to swat them dead.  Are these the same 2 that were harassing me last night? Do you know how irritating flies are??  OMG!  They are making me crazy!!  Oh, on with my story......

Dr. Lochrin was very nice and had a slight accent. I asked if it was Scottish and she said, no, it was Irish.  Even better!!  She went over the details of radiation, but I needed to have my appt. with Dr. Dent who would discuss whether or not I was having chemo.  I think it was pretty clear I would be having chemo, and Dr. Lochrin couldn't go into all the details about radiation until I knew if I was having chemo. Hmmm, I asked why it was that I didn't have the chemo appt. first.  She said it was simply a matter of timing and who could see me first etc.

True fact:  When Barb and I arrived for my appt, we went into the main lobby of the Irving Greenberg Cancer Centre and headed to the elevators.  The appt was on the second floor.  When we were done, we got in the elevator and pressed "1". When we got out, we were lost.  Where the heck were we?  This wasn't where we came in!?  We couldn't understand, so asked someone who seemed to notice the stunned blank looks on are pathetic faces.  She told us we needed to go back to the 2nd floor.  We said we just came from the 2nd floor and when we arrived we went to the 2nd floor.  She couldn't help us, only telling us that the main lobby was on the second floor.  Uh???  Long story short........when we came in, we got in the elevator, pressed 2 and when the doors opened, we got out and headed to the left, the direction we needed to go.  Little did we know that the lobby/main entrance ARE on the 2nd floor, so when we got on the elevator, the doors closed and we hit "2", we didn't go anywhere.  The doors opened and we got off on the same floor.  Between all the gabbing we were doing and assuming we were on the first floor in the first place..........well, you get it.  Barb blamed me for our senior moment.  After all, I had been leading the way.  I can't believe we didn't know we had come down the hall, gone into the elevator, didn't go anywhere, got off and continued on our way, totally oblivious.  I can only imagine watching the camera footage and laughing at those idiots!

Hmmmmmm, that reminds me of the times when we were growing up, Barb and I being the youngest of 6 children, only 13 months apart and how I got blamed for the "bad" things that we did.....the silly things like flushing a bar of soap down the toilet and plugging it.  Is a 4 year old any wiser than a 3 year old??




Sunday, 27 September 2015

.....continued from yesterday.....

On August 17, I saw the surgeon who would be operating on me, Dr. Watters, a very sweet quiet man.  Barb came with me, and together the two of us overwhelmed him.  I think the nurse thought us crazy as well. We are Maloneys after all, and ya.......

He explained what was going to happen.  I would have a lumpectomy and a sentinal node biopsy.  They would then do their pathology thing that they do and let me know what the next step would be.

On August 20 I had a pre-op appt.  The nurse explained everything that would happen, I had blood work done, my vitals were taken, an EKG was done and I met with an anesthesiologist to discuss my options (local, general, conscious sedation, epidural).  I had other things done but can't remember what they were.

On Sept. 2, the day before surgery, I had trackers inserted.  These are dyes which travel through the lymphatic system so that the nodes are easily identified during surgery, so the surgeon knows what to take out.

I am bored to death writing all this and can only imagine what the reader, you, must be thinking.  Sorry.  But I need a record of my journey and this is a good option.

Day of surgery, Sept. 3.  *I will make this short.  I checked in, got changed into my gown, waited and waited and waited, was wheeled to the operating wing (very cold area), met with the cute 12 year old (maybe 18? 25?, maybe 28?) anesthesiologist from South Africa (not the doctor I saw on pre-op day).  He explained my options and settled on an epidural (5 needles in the spine) and a local freezing.  The operating room was big and bright and cold.  I counted 1, 2, 3.....8 people around me including Dr. Watters.  He said hi and though I couldn't tell that it was him because of his mask, I assumed it was and said hi Dr. Watters.  I was prepped and poked and sedated and looked at the clock.....8:30 am......I was semi-awake the whole time and screeched out when I felt them cutting into my boobie.  I was given more sedation......8:30, 8:50, 9:05.....10:30 and it was over.

I was wheeled to recovery and immediately asked if I could go pee and ready to jump out of bed.  No, no, no, that wasn't an option. I was given a bed pan.  I felt fine and not in any pain.  I don't mean I was stoned.  I mean I had no pain and was totally lucid.  I got bored quickly and wanted to go home.  My sisters weren't allowed to visit me in recovery.  Anyhow, after an hour or so I was taken to the second recovery room and as I was rolled along the hall we passed the waiting room where Barb and Moe Moe were waiting, literally about to leave.  I said hi to them and all at once the 3 Maloney sisters were talking fast and loud and laughing.  I apologized to the orderly.  He was totally fine about it and pulled the gurney over to the side so I could chat with them.  After a few minutes, I was wheeled to the day care area to continue recovery.

I was to sleep over the night of surgery, but was feeling well enough to go home, so with Dr. Watter's permission, I was released.

*I really didn't make this short, did I?




Saturday, 26 September 2015

The joys of breast cancer......continued

I would have liked to continue with the last post, but am not sure how to do this blogging, so had to start a new post.

Anyhow, on July 13 I had a mammogram and an ultrasound. The technician took forever and kept circling her mouse over my boob and I thought at that moment "hmmm, doesn't appear to be a promising sign".  So, after about 10 minutes of circling, she said she had to go check something and left the room.   "Great", I thought.  She was gone at least 5 minutes and came back, told me to get dressed and wait in the waiting room.  Another technician wanted to see me. When the other technician came to get me and I followed her back to her office, I knew I had breast cancer.  She told me they found a mass and that I'd need a biopsy done.

On July 30, I had a biopsy done at the women's health centre clinic at the Civic hospital.  There were 2 technicians doing the biopsy, one being a doctor.  She took 5 samples times 2 needles a sample for a total of 10 needles to my right boob at "11 o'clock" (location on my boob, not the actual time).  Ouch!
I asked her if it was cancer, thinking she wouldn't give her thoughts on this until the results came back.  She said she was sure it was cancer.  I was surprisingly ok with this.  I only cried when I told her I couldn't die because I needed to be around for my daughter Michelle.  She said it was treatable.  She was very nice.

On August 11, my family doctor called to confirm that, indeed, I had breast cancer.  I already knew it, so was pretty cool with the findings.  I wasn't happy about it, but again, surprisingly calm.

I'm going to take a wee break and be back later...............

Now it's breast cancer......the sale never ends!

I felt this small round mass on my right boobie sometime in May.  It made me curious, but I figured it couldn't be anything serious.  It was like a rounded area, like a small boob on my boob, not a lump per se.  Anyhow, after a couple weeks, maybe a month........on June 18, I thought I'd see my family doctor about it.
She didn't really notice anything when I was lying down, so I sat up and said "it's right here" and pointed to it.  She still wasn't too sure about what I was talking about but said she'd send me for a mammogram and an ultrasound.  I left her office feeling kind of ridiculous.  Maybe I was being paranoid......