Scan results…not the greatest news, but not too bad either.

Sooo….I had full body scans yesterday and got the results today. The tumors in the lungs showed that they are stable and some are shrinking, except one, the biggest one that is about an inch in diameter is growing. No new spots on the bones and the one on the sternum is not showing “hot” anymore. The one on my spine at T-11 is still showing a “little hot” however it could be just from the damage to the bone and the bone healing itself. Although I still have intermittent pain in that area. There are no spots in my organs or other tissues. There is a 6mm spot in my liver which they are not sure if it is cancer or part of the hemangioma that I have, but since it is a new spot that has showed up, and it is showing “hot”, they are going to radiate it just in case. The spot is too small to biopsy. And of course we have the 4 little spots in my brain–Which I am waiting on Authorizations from the insurance company for a high definition MRI. The doctor wants to do that before starting radiation as it will pinpoint the spots more clearly. It will also show if there are more or less spots. Meaning that some of the spots could be a clump of blood vessels and not a tumor. Definitely hoping for less, but if there are more they will be zapped! So treatment wise we will continue with this chemo, which I got today, and I will get it two more times before getting whole body scans again, including my brain. If the scans are all good at that time then we will continue with the same treatment–chemo infusions and radiation as needed. If the scans are not so good then we are going to change the treatment. Which will be two different chemo pills, stop infusions, and still do radiation as needed. Once that treatment stops working, I will move on to something else. The doctor says there are like 5 treatments to do still, and there are new ones coming out as research continues, plus he said when we run out of options, we start all over again and try the treatments that we started with, because as the cancer cells change and migrate sometimes they become receptive to the old treatments again. So my prognosis is still good, I still have some years left. 🙂 Just as long as this ol’ body holds up and stays strong from all these chemicals and radiation that is going into it.

Faith. I thank you all for all of your prayers, they are working. I know to some of you it may seem like they are not working, but perhaps this is my destiny and part of the journey that GOD put me on to touch others and to learn from. After all, I’m still alive, 3 years later, and doing fine for the most part. I’m still working. I have had no complications from the chemo or radiation that has put me in the hospital. I’m still living my best life. And I totally believe that I have done so well due to all the prayers. So please keep praying, they are working. I may not end up getting healed from all of this as I know a lot of you are praying for, but just know that I believe and trust in GOD and what he will allow and not allow to happen to me. And for what he does allow to happen to me, I know there is a reason that I am suppose to go through that, no matter how bad, there is a reason. But so far so good. Yes it’s a tough journey to be on, but it is my journey and this battle has only made me stronger. So I say to the DEVIL who comes to steal, kill, and destroy…”Bring it on…’cause GOD is on my side!” “And I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” 🙂 HALLELUJAH!!!

Am I scared?? Hell yes I’m scared! Despite my faith, I’m human. And now that we are dealing with my brain, my computer that runs me, I’m terrified. The brain is the one place I was praying that this cancer would not go. And now it has. Why GOD has allowed this? I don’t know. But I know there is a reason. Thank GOD it was caught really early so that they can do pinpoint radiation and not have to radiate the whole brain. Supposedly I should not have any side effects other than fatigue. Doctor said I could drive home, but Eric is still going to drive me there and back just in case. It should not change my personality, or behavior, or affect my memory. There should be no vision or speech changes, or anything else. If they had to radiate the whole brain, then yes, I would have memory loss, loss of hair (that would grow back), and other side effects. So I feel blessed that GOD had them do a MRI that caught all the spots while they are still very small. The biggest one is 4 mm. See? Prayers are at work. Don’t lose your faith or think that GOD is not answering your prayers, because he is. He answers them how he see’s fit to answer them and by his plan. He stands by me, holds my hand, keeps me strong, gives me comfort, and leads me through these waters–good and bad. I still believe and have my faith, despite my human emotions which I ask GOD to help me with everyday.

So now this breast cancer has migrated to all the places that breast cancer migrates to…the breast, lungs, bones, liver and brain. It sounds bad, I know, but honestly…I still feel fine. These tumors are caught before I get bad symptoms, I may have mild symptoms, but as soon as I feel ANYTHING different in my body, the doctors send me for scans, and if cancer is there, it is caught very early so it is treatable. GOD is good. 🙂 Amen.

Here we goooo….again.

More radiation is coming. This time to my brain. Found out today that I have four new spots of cancer in my brain. Next week I find out if I have it in my liver too. Nothing will surprise me at this point. If it’s also in my liver, I will be getting radiation there too. The doctor said I shouldn’t have many side effects with either one other than fatigue. The spots on my brain he said he could take care of with one dose of really high radiation. Not sure about the liver yet. Next week I also find out if this chemo has been working on the tumors in my bones and lungs. Apparently the chemo does not cross the blood brain barrier so no chemo is going to my brain. (thus the new tumors).

Was I shocked to hear the news today? Hell to the yes I was! I thought the doc was going to come in and say… “scans all clear!” But nope! I had gone just for a follow up with him on Monday to follow up on the radiation that was done on my back. Then he started asking me if I was having any new symptoms…I said yes. — Blurry vision, tremors, pain in the left side of my head, increased nausea—He then ordered a brain MRI STAT! that scared me! By the next evening I was in the MRI machine. Then today at 2 o’clock, I got the news. GEEEZZEEE….is this EVER going to end??? I’m waiting for the day that my routine scans keep coming back clear after clear and then I don’t have to get scans but once a year just to check. But that hasn’t even gotten close yet. I keep getting progression after progression. SUCKS!

Of course, once again, the hardest part is telling my family. My first thought is always…Why??? And my second thought is…How am I going to tell my family? Telling your loved ones is always the hardest thing about this journey. You hate to hurt anyone. And they never know how to act or what to say, or how to feel. There is so many mixed emotions on both our parts that we just have to be honest with ourselves and just let it out. Some of us are better than others at doing that. Over these last three years I have learned how to let it out…I scream, I cry, I listen to music and sing, then I write. And I like to be held when I don’t feel good or am sad or hurt. So into my husbands arms I go…so comforting. If I didn’t have my husband, then I would grab a pillow and curl up into a ball.

I know those closest to me are having the hardest time with this. And to them I say…It’s ok. I’m still here, and I’m still me. I try to call them so that they can hear my voice and see that I sound normal. I don’t sound like I’m dying. Cause I’m not. Death is knocking….BUT he hasn’t come through my door yet. And I am keeping that door locked for as long as I can!

After my husband and I got the news we went to Zilker Park and just walked around. I wanted to ride the train but it wasn’t working. So we watched people swim and sat and talked, and people watched. It was nice. I grew up in that park. I just wanted to be somewhere outside that I was familiar with and held a lot of good memories. We then went to Chuys, one of our favorite restaurants and I had a large swirl margarita. That made me feel better! lol

Then I came home and took a nice long hot bubble bath as I listened to the 70’s on Spotify. I’ve been reading and responding to texts, and the comments on instagram all night. People are sweet and I really do appreciate all the love and prayers.

Well for now is the next step and that is to get ready for the radiation to my brain, get the next scans on Monday, results and chemo on Tuesday, and back to the radiation doctor on Wednesday. Cancer sure does keep you busy!

But hey, I just want to say…please don’t feel sorry for me, or pity me. I am fine. And I write this to educate others on what it’s like to have cancer and go through the journey, cause it really is it’s own little world. I also write this for those who are affected by cancer to know they are not alone. Not alone in the symptoms that you experience or the emotions and feelings that you go through. If anyone needs to just talk to me, please don’t hesitate to call me. I am always open for a phone call.

I love you all…and I will continue to fight no matter what! ~Laura

Clarification on why I’m writing this blog.

Hello guys and gals,

I would just like to clarify why I am writing this blog. I started writing this for my family and friends who wanted to know exactly what I was going through and how I felt about it all. I also hoped to help those that are affected by cancer as other cancer blogs helped me know that I was not alone in having all these symptoms and feelings. I understand that this blog can be difficult to read sometimes but people wanted me to be ‘brutally honest’, so I have been. Cancer is not funny, fun, or pretty. Whether you have it or are dealing with a loved one who has it. I know because I have been on both sides of the coin. I totally understand if you cannot read what I write, I would not be offended at all if you stop reading it. But just know that in this blog you are going to go along with me in this cancer journey. I write from the depths of my soul. I let you in to my deepest thoughts. And I keep you updated on my condition as I live it.

This blog is not for everyone, so if your having a hard time reading what I write, then don’t read it. I’ll keep on writing because there are a lot of you out there that do like reading it no matter how raw it may be. I let you into my personal life and thoughts. Plus this has been really therapeutic for me. So if I end up writing for no one but myself then so be it. lol

Love you all no matter what! Goodnight.

PS…I get full body scans in less than 2 weeks to see if this chemo is working, so I will be giving you and update on that soon. 🙂

Taking things for granted and my letter to Chemo

I haven’t been on here for awhile so it’s time for an update. I am finding that these chemo cycles are unpredictable and no two are alike. I just had my 6th infusion last week of this infinite chemo and it is all still going as well as can be expected. My biggest symptoms have been fatigue, nausea, constipation, body (bone and muscle) aches, very dry mouth, a constant taste of metal in my mouth, no appetite, memory loss, severe stomach aches, pain in my sternum and back where the tumors have damaged the bone, and worsening of neuropathy in my fingers, feet and lower legs. Most days I feel like I have the flu with a few good days in between. I’m pretty weak most of the time now and get short of breath, or winded very easily, thanks to all the tumors in my lungs. But I’m grateful that I can still breath, walk, talk, and feel. I’m still here…fighting.

It’s funny the little things that we take for granted like Saliva. When you have a severe dry mouth with no saliva it makes eating very difficult. I cannot eat bread, crackers or anything dry anymore. It sticks in my mouth and is hard to chew up and swallow. You don’t ever think how important saliva in your mouth is until you don’t have it anymore. My eyes are constantly blurry because they water constantly (making it hard to drive, especially at night) and my nose constantly has a clear drip. My finger tips are numb and it is hard to put on earrings or button my clothes. It is difficult to type cause I can barely feel the keys on the keyboard. I have to look at the letters when I type now to make sure I’m hitting the correct keys. My toes, feet, and lower legs are numb BUT hypersensitive to the touch and hurt if even the sheets in bed touch them, much less when I wear shoes. It feels like jelly fish are constantly stinging me and fire is being held to my skin. OUCH! Makes me jump!

I constantly tell my family the same things over and over again only because I can’t remember that I’ve already told them like 5 times already. They have learned over the last 3 years to be tolerant of my memory loss and don’t get as irritated as they did at first. They just calmly say “you’ve already told me this (like 500 times)” lol I forget words and how to spell them (and I used to win spelling bee’s in school when I was little!) Oh how fun this journey has been! The newest symptom is the “shakes”. My hands shake like I have Parkinson’s Disease. 😦 This symptom is caused from the new anti-depressant that I am on. Yes, I succumbed to admitting that I may be a little depressed and got on an anti-depressant. I’m glad that I did cause I feel a whole lot better and am laughing and enjoying life again despite everything that is happening to my body. And yes, I still see my therapist, every Friday at 3 o’clock. (I have recurring set appointments, unless I have an emergency.)

I believe I started getting depressed and having anxiety after I was told that the cancer had metastasized. I didn’t realize it until my doctor put me on a med for anxiety (that also treated depression) but it made me feel really bad and made my sodium levels go below normal, so they took me off and I requested an anti-depressant which has worked wonders for depression and anxiety. If any of you out there feel down or depressed or have anxiety, please don’t be ashamed to admit it and get help. I don’t care anymore who knows it or what people may think, I feel better and I feel good about it. Mental health is very important whether you have cancer or not.

I’m still holding onto my job (barely) but it keeps me going and gives me purpose. Being a nurse was a dream of mine since I was a little kid and became a reality for me. So it is really important for me to keep my job as long as I can. Once I retire I will most likely volunteer at the cancer center where I get my infusions. I know chemo is hard on the body but I am also thankful for it, because without it I would most likely not be here anymore. Cancer is a monster and it eats you up pretty fast from the inside out. Chemo has to be strong to kill that monster, unfortunately it kills good parts of you too. If I had a choice to do it all over again, I would do the same treatment.

My letter to Chemo: Dear Chemo, even though you have ravaged my body and make me literally sick, I love you and thank you for extending my life, killing this cancer, and teaching me to be humble. Because of you (and GOD of course) I have lived to see grandchildren being born, meet the one’s that live so far away, you’ve given me extra time with my loved ones and my wonderful husband, you have made me appreciate the little things in life that normally we don’t even see. Like how beautifully blue the skies are, how puffy the clouds, the beautiful thunder storms and lightning that lights up the purple skies. The way the moon lights up a dark night. The heat of the sun on my skin. The smell of rain, the feeling of wind across my face, the natural perfume of flowers and all the wonderful colors. The smell of fresh cut grass and the smell and sound of the water sprinklers in the summertime. Swimming in ice cold water. Lightning bugs lighting up the woods at dusk. All the different seasons. The smell of newborns and their sweet little cries. Laughter, tears, joy and sadness. The smell of the salty ocean and the sound of the waves at night. The beautiful white capped ocean waves and the feeling of just how powerful the ocean is. Sand between my toes. Finding beautiful shells and sand dollars on the beach. Our furry little friends. Food, when I used to be able to eat and enjoy it. Margarita’s and wine, when I used to be able to enjoy it and drink it. Medications that help with all the cancer and chemo symptoms. I’m grateful that you didn’t take my hair this third time around cause I didn’t like being bald. Thank you for the weight loss, cause I needed to lose a little weight, lol. I’m grateful that cancer didn’t get me until all my kids were grown and on their own. I’m grateful for the bonds of love with family and friends and how strong they have become. Thank you for all the new friends that I have made throughout this cancer journey. Shopping, lol. (Amazon, and all the little stores here in my hometown) Soooo many things that I once took for granted and wish I still had or could still do. But most of all, You have taught me how to love deeper than I have ever loved before, unconditionally. I guess chemo has extended my life to appreciate these things but getting cancer was what really humbled me and taught me to appreciate the little things in life that we take for granted. So thank you Cancer and chemo…..Goodnight. 🙂

Going through these chemo cycles.

Hello everyone. Thought I would jump on here and give you an update on how this cancer journey has been going. The fight continues. On Monday, Sept 8th I had my 3 year anniversary since being diagnosed with cancer. I am a 3 year survivor so far. The cancer has slowly spread in the last couple of years but I continue to fight and live my life as best and close to normal as I can. And yes, I’m still working. Thank goodness for all the treatments that I’ve gotten that have slowed the cancer down and allowed me to live a little longer. I am on my 5th cycle of chemo and on Oct 1st will be the 6th treatment, then I will have scans again to see how the chemo has been working.

The cycle is the 3 weeks in between chemo treatments. The first 4 cycles I was really sick almost the whole time in between treatments. I didn’t think I could take much more and was going to ask my Oncologist for a break after the 6th cycle. But I have done good during this 5th cycle and have been able to work everyday. I guess I still had a lot of radiation in my body that affected the chemo and made the symptoms worse and I guess it must be out of my body now cause I’m feeling better. Radiation is tough. I was doing good this cycle until Tuesday night. I started getting sick and it has slowly gotten worse to where I was unable to work today. I’ve been on pain meds all day. For some reason in the middle of the cycle my back starts to hurt really bad where all the tumors are. And I mean it hurts BAD! The pain is about at a constant 8 and it hurts so bad that I get chills and shiver, and get real nauseas. Sometimes it makes me cry cause the pain is relentless. The pain med only brings it down to about a 6. Makes it a little more tolerable, but it still hurts real bad. It sucks having cancer. I’m going to ask the Oncologist why this is happening in the middle of every cycle. I just don’t understand why unless it’s the chemo working on the tumors and aggravating them. I hope it’s a sign that the chemo is working!

I’m still waiting for the ‘chemo flu’ to hit me. I’ve been feeling like it is slowly coming on. This cycle has been really crazy and different than the last 4 cycles. I’ve done better for the majority of the cycle. If this is how it’s going to be then I can go on and handle the treatments without a break.

Other than all that I am still glad to be here, and if I am having and feeling pain that is because I’m still alive…so I’ll deal with it.

The neuropathy in my hands and feet has slowly been getting worse. That is a side effect of the chemo and there is nothing I can do about it unless I choose to stop the chemo, which then means the cancer will spread faster. So not much choice there. It’s either dying quicker or staying alive longer with numb fingers and toes. I guess I’ll take the latter.

I’m just glad I didn’t lose my hair again with this chemo. It is still growing, really slow though. It came back so dark people think that I dye my hair lol.

I continue to steadily lose weight. I first started this journey at about 175 lbs, and I am down to 147. I’m glad I’m losing weight because I needed to, but it’s a hell of a way to lose weight. I just don’t eat much anymore. The nausea is a constant. I don’t think I will ever gain weight again, just keep losing. I need to go through my clothes and get rid of all the bigger ones that I no longer wear and will never wear again.

The fatigue hasn’t been that bad this cycle. I’m waiting for the ‘chemo flu’ to hit where my body just shuts down and I sleep for 2-3 days. Those are the days where I’m really sick and can’t get out of bed. I hardly eat and can’t shower. I just lay in bed, get up to pee, try to eat jello, or applesauce, and just sleep. No matter how hard I try on those days I just cannot stay awake. My body literally shuts down. The Doctor said that was because the chemo has been working and my body is at it’s lowest point and needs to recover. So I just sleep.

So those are about all the symptoms that I am having with these cycles. Fatigue, nausea, neuropathy, weight loss, and pain.

So there you have it. The journey continues.

Memories

Souvenirs of the mind from the past. So beautiful. We all carry them till we die. It is what has helped shaped our lives. Bad and good. I have so many good memories of my life, 54 years of them. From doing karate as a kid, when I really wanted to do dance, then growing up, having my own kids, all girls, and putting them in dance and cheer. lol

I had a big family on both my mom and dad’s sides and I had a lot of cousins. A lot of my best memories growing up were spending time with them. Easter egg hunts, tamales at Christmas, and summers swimming till dark.

Since I have gotten sick with cancer I have reunited with cousins on both sides which has been like winning the lottery. We have reconnected and spent time together, which has really been nice. We hadn’t seen each other in over 30 years.

Family is so important, sometimes we take each other for granted thinking we will always be there…but when things like cancer hit the family everyone becomes suddenly so individually precious.

I have 9 grandchildren and the 10th one is currently in the process of being born as I write. She will be here tonight or tomorrow. She lives in Utah so no telling when I will get to meet her but at least we have social media so that I can see her. Out of the 10, one is biologically mine and she looks just like me. I see her almost everyday. She is the only grandchild that lives close to us. The other 9 all live in other states so we rarely get to see them. Eliana will be 6 weeks old tomorrow and she is the light of my life. She makes me so happy. I can stare at her precious little face for hours. I have never known love like the love for a grandchild, an extension of me. My blood runs through her veins. I hope and pray that I live long enough to make memories with her so that she remembers me. If not, I will be her guardian angel always. I wish the rest of our grandchildren lived close by so that we could spend time with them and make memories with them. They hardly know us. But each one is so precious.

Grandchildren are the best. You can love and spoil them and then give them back to their parents to take care of them. I love watching them all grow up and watching their little personalities develop. They are such little people and so smart. Our grandchildren range from ages 7 to 0. And again….all so precious. I am so happy that we have at least one that lives close by that we can be a part of her life and she will know us.

When I’m not feeling good or having a bad day I just have to think about Eliana, look at her picture, and my day immediately brightens up. I can’t explain the feeling that I get inside when I see or hold her. It’s a feeling of so much love I didn’t know was possible. I feel so blessed and am so thankful that God has given me the time to be here and experience such love.

As long as I am alive I am still making memories for myself and those that I love.

Coming out of the fog

I’m finally feeling better today and coming out of the fog. The ‘chemo flu’ (that’s what me and my husband call it cause it feels like the flu) hit me on Sunday night and knocked me off my butt on Monday and Tuesday. I was lethargic and could do nothing but sleep. My family tries to get me to eat, which I do very little of on those days cause I am in so much pain that my body shakes and all I want to do is take pain meds and sleep. Those are days that I wish I had a caretaker to feed me and help me cause it takes everything I have to just get out of bed to go to bathroom, brush my teeth or get some water, much less feed myself. My family has offered to come help me, but I say no cause not only do I not want to be a bother, but then I feel like I can’t sleep, and that is all that I want to do. My dear cousin Michelle was here from Virginia over the weekend. I felt bad for her cause I wanted to do a lot of things with her but I had no energy to do so. She came on Saturday and we had a good day–we went to see my new granddughter, got mani\pedis, then went to dinner and had wine and listened to a live band and just chit chatted, on Sunday we went to a park called Zilker Park where we used to go when we were little and went swimming in Barton Springs and just reminisced. It was fun. On the way home from dinner that night I could feel the ‘chemo flu’ coming on… and sure enough on Monday I couldn’t get out of bed and it was her last day here. She spent the day cleaning and reorganizing my pantry and fridge while I slept then made a lasagna for dinner. I got up and went and laid in her bed and she laid with me and watched me sleep. I love her for that. Had I not been sick I would have had a get together at my house with the whole family to come and see her and I would have cooked for her. But not this time. And she didn’t expect anything. She came to see all the family in May while I was in Vegas that is why she said she came this time just to see me and spend time with me. She knows I’m terminal and wanted to spend time with me while she still could. I appreciate that. All in all we still managed to have a good time just being together.

Between the meds and therapy I’m starting to feel better as far as the anxiety that I was having. But one thing I have noticed that I miss and don’t know how to get back is laughing. I don’t laugh anymore, not like I used to. And I miss it. I watch funny stuff on TV, my husband tries to get me to laugh but it just isn’t there. I might chuckle, but that’s about it. I need to laugh. I could fake it, but that wouldn’t be the same. lol I guess I’ll bring that up more in therapy.

This chemo has been harder than I thought it was going to be and it is making me sicker for longer than I thought it was going to. I didn’t think it would debilitate me as much as it has. It kind of makes me feel sad in a way that my quality of life is waning, but I feel like I have no right to complain because it is keeping me alive and still here. It’s a hard life to be living. Not that I’m giving up, it’s just hard. I have a new pain in my stomach that I believe is from the chemo. I think the chemo is tearing up my gut. I’ve been putting peppermint oil on it which helps temporarily, but then the pain comes back. I’ll tell my Oncologist when I go in next week. It will be chemo round #6 on Tuesday. Every three weeks comes so fast.

Correction to my last post…my daughter brought to my attention that I left the H off of Hakuna Matata. So Hakuna Matata to all ~no worries. 🙂