Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Post Chemo update

Hi friends and readers...sorry it has taken me a while to write an update after my final chemotherapy and stint in hospital.  After Easter, I had another blood test and appointment with my oncologist.  At this appointment I had hoped to hear the news that the chemotherapy had done its job and my CA125 levels had been reduced to their normal low numbers....disappointingly, this was not the case and they had actually gone up to well above their levels when I was first diagnosed...I was shocked to say the least!!!!  What next I thought?  The doctor said that sometimes this test is not always the most accurate, so I was sent off for CT and PET scans....and at the end of April I returned for the results.  These too were not what I had hoped and prayed for....they showed I had more tumours growing, and not just one, but quite a few.  I had already gone through in my head that I didn't really want radiotherapy or more surgery, however had also made a decision in my head that I would of course do whatever was suggested by the doctors!  Well, I needn't have been too concerned about either of these options as because I had more than one tumour, the radiation could do more damage to surrounding organs, and I likely have too much scar tissue/adhesions from my surgery last year, so surgery was also not an option.  Yikes!  What next then?  Go home to die I'm automatically thinking.  No, the doctor suggested referral to be considered for clinical trials....they were to make a referral to the Alfred for potential trials there.  Well, a few days later, I received a call from the Alfred inviting me to come in for a chat about the possibilities.  The short story is that there may be a potential option, however my tumours aren't "bad enough", and also the type of Ovarian Cancer I have is a lot rarer, and also, I have come to discover, much more aggressive and often resistant to chemotherapy...the upshot of all of this is that I am needing to rely more and more on God and not so much on my own strength, the skills of the surgeons and the effectiveness of chemotherapy.  My mind goes from thinking the worst case scenario to being positive.  So I have contacted the doctors at the Alfred today to ask to be considered for their trials...hopefully I will have a screening appointment next week and then be able to start shortly after.  I have to say though, that through all of this, I continue to feel God's amazing peace, which really is the peace which passes all understanding!  I don't know what the future holds, but I do know that whatever the outcome, I can only win!  If you have managed to read this far, I thank you for listening to my ramblings and ask that you might be praying for me and my continued journey.  Will continue to keep you posted.  Lisa xx

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Last One!!

I completed my final chemotherapy Wednesday A week and half ago.  I had planned to write an update earlier, however things don't always go to plan.  I had a busy weekend after my final chemo, with our church camp happening at Phillip Island.  I was able to get to this thankfully.  It was quite a tiring weekend, in so far as I drove to and from, but I was able to rest up quite a bit and ha d a lovely time learning, connecting and socialising.  This past week has been a bit more of a challenge.  Towards the end of the week, I had high temperatures and having had chemo, this usually means one needs to seek medical attention,  given that I had a temperature of 38C two days running, and was chastised by a nurse I phoned who basically told me that if I didn't wish to end up in intensive care, that I should get to hospital pronto.  So, unusual for me, I did as I was told!!!  I headed off to the local emergency department and was basically admitted and had a plethora of tests including blood which the result was that my Neutrophils, or white blood cells, the ones which fight off infection, were down to zero!  I know!!!  So up to the wards I headed....and onto strong IV antibiotics.  The biggest issue for me having to be in hospital is leaving my kitties and not being able to visit my Dad where he is now.  Plus the added thing of actually feeling reasonably well, and not being able to hang at home doing stuff!  Oh well.  The great thing is that the staff have been lovely, I've got some magazines and a small amount of craft to complete.  In some ways it is probably good to have then forced rest as I quite likely may have overdone things this weekend.  Anyway...hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.   Chat soon.
This photo was taken from my hospital window yesterday afternoon

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

5 down, one to go

Yes readers, I had my fifth Chemotherapy treatment last Wednesday and hopefully only have one to go.  I haven't asked the doctors what the next steps are beyond my final chemo session.  Partly because they probably won't know until I have tests to see what the cancer is doing, but also because I can only process so much information at any one time.  Anyway, my last treatment went reasonably well....I still had high blood pressure, but I think that was due to the fact that I had driven to the hospital and had a difficult time finding a parking spot....but thankfully the pressure went down when the nurse took it with the manual reader and the treatment proceeded without incident.  I have noticed a pattern afterwards in that the first couple of days I feel reasonably well and then after three to four days, I feel the effects of being fatigued, tired and with reduced sensation in my feet and hands.  So it is now Tuesday and I am meant to be back at work today, however I have such a sore throats and dry mouth and sensitive fingers that I probably need to take today off.  Thankfully my work has been very understanding.  I am also beyond thankful that I have generally been able to work full time throughout my treatment.  I have already made the decision for my next treatment that I will arrange to have a few more days off afterwards in order not to disrupt my work too much.  Th other biggish thing happening this coming week is that my parents home is being sold.  Dad moved into residential Aged Care back in January following Mum's death last year and he has settled in well, however we do need to sell their home.  I am a little sad as it is the end of an era, but know that it has to happen.  Well, that is about all I have to report on today....once again, thanks for reading my blog and have a great week.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

A chemo update

So, I've not done an update on my last Chemotherapy as I was meant to have it over a week ago...yes, I said Meant!.  I arrived all ready for the day, however with the checking of my blood pressure and other vitals, my blood,pressure was apparently very high, as was my heart rate.  This meant a host of other tests including an ECG, CTBscan, urine tests and more blood tests!  All the while the doctors and nurses kept asking me if I was in pain and so,on....I felt,fine....I was just feeling quite stressed because I was due to try a new chemo drug and was obviously very anxious about it!  Thanksfully I had a dear friend come and spend most of the day with me....it was an extremely long day....I arrived at the hospital around 8.30am and didn't leave until after 5.30pm....all without Chemo!  I was extremely disappointed....I'm on a schedule don't you know!   I was all ready for number four to be done and dusted!  Well, the upshot of the day was that there was nothing wrong with me...apart from the blood pressure, so I have been put on tablets (which my GP had already done, however these are different), and I just need to minotor myself. So they had booked me in the following week, the Wednesday just passed for my number 4 chemo...again my BP was high.....however they went ahead with the treatment anyway....thankfully!  Again I had two dear friends spent some of the time with me...which was such a blessing and a distraction.  The day went smoothly, with the new drug going ahead without incident!  I felt pretty exhausted that night, but was fine the next day, however the past few days have seen me tired again....so I have just been trying to take things easy....I must say, i,am EVER so thankful for how I am being sustained and strengthened....people are totally amazed that I am able to work throughout this whole thing (apart from the treatment day's and doctors appointments, I have really had to take very little sick leave....).  May this continue.....I thank God daily for this provision!  So I now have only two chemo treatments (God willing), and then we'll see what happens next.  This coming week I am attending a workshop called "Look Good, Feel Better" run by volunteers to help people going through Cancer treatment apply make up and hair things to help them feel more "normal".... I did actually debate whether or not to go as I rarely wear make up and have been managing reasonably well with my hair loss and wearing a wig....the main challenge is how itchy it sometimes is!  Anyway, it might be nice to connect with others on a similar journey.  Will keep you posted.  Thanks again for reading my ramblings!  Hope you're having a great weekend.  Lisa

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Half Way...let's hope so...Chemo Number 3

I had my third chemo treatment this last week....and I'm halfway through my treatment....hopefully...as I won't know until all 6 treatments are completed.  Because of the side effects of my 2nd treatment, I was only given two of the three drugs...which I was quite relieved about as the side effects from the Taxol drug were severe....and I am still feeling their effects surprisingly enough.    The strange thing is, is that even from this weeks treatment, I am now experiencing more side effects....including an incredible tiredness...and over the past week my hair has been falling out....it started off ever so slightly, with me noticing a lot more hair in my hairbrush than usual...then whenever I tugged on my hair it would come out in several hairs and then towards the end of the week my hair was coming out without me even needing to touch it....so it was time.....I had actually booked a visit to my hairdresser earlier in the week so Friday I took myself off and she basically gave my hair a very short cut, and then got out her clippers and shaved my hair very short.  I must admit, I have been struggling with what to put on my head.  I had bought a wig recently as well as a turban head covering, but everything feels weird.  I have been reluctant to leave the house too, feeling very self conscious.  But tomorrow I have to go to work so will have to suck it up!  One thing I found difficult was when I saw a family member and was brave enough to show my head and all they wanted to do was take a photo!  Really!  I know I seem to coping with all of this reasonably well, but I did find this quite insensitive...oh well....all of this is teaching me a great deal about myself and others!  Well, that is my latest...I do pray that the tiredness I'm feeling will subside very soon and I can continue to go to work taking minimal leave.  Thanks for reading my ramblings.  I hope my frankness and honesty is a blessing.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2nd Chemo done and dusted

I completed my second Chemotherapy this Wednesday just past....what a day!  After my first, I was feeling quite apprehensive and nervous about how my body would react to the drug which I'd had a reaction to on the first go....the infusion went ok for the first 5-10 minutes and I was feeling positive, however, then my body decided that it still didn't like the drug....so once again, they stopped it, pumped me full of drugs and and then came back and said they were going to try it again... needless to say, I was concerned and apparently my pulse rate was showing my concern as well...anyway, thankfully because I was so full of drugs, the second time went without incident.  I then had the second drug and then a third drug...which was a complete surprise and news to me.  It sent me off on another little worry trail...why were they adding drugs, it the other stuff not working and so on.  I realized that I just needed to trust the doctors that they know what they are doing...and to remember to ask the oncologist for more explanation when I see her next.  It was an extremely long day with the additional,drug and I was quite exhausted in the evening.  The day after I felt relatively well, though did feel slightly nauseous afterward, but nothing too concerning.  The second and third day's after the chemo have been something else completely and totally unexpected.  I have been feeling so many muscle aches and joint pains, along with tingling in my fingers and toes and these are just relentless...I don't seem to be able get much relief from them even with taking panadol!  I certainly hope these effects don't last for days on end as they are certainly draining me.  Thankfully I have friends praying for me and I know that the Lord is in complete control over my body....as a friend recently said to me, cancer is not in control of your body, the Lord Is....oh how I am having on to this promise at present.  I'm not sure if anyone is even reading this blog, but if you are and you are the praying type, I would certainly appreciate your prayers and uplifting.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

My First Chemotherapy

So this Tuesday just past, I fronted up for my first Chemotherapy treatment.  I was feeling apprehensive about how it would go, but also very positive that I would respond well and hopefully not feel too tired or unwell afterwards.  Because I was unable to be seen before Christmas at Box Hill hospital, I was able to attend a Centre near to my home which was actually great for me!  So up I rocked up at 9.30am.  Initially there were several other patients waiting to have their treatments set up, so one of the nurses came and chatted to me about side effects and what preparation I had completed the day before, to which I responded none...she was somewhat shocked at apparently there were drugs I was meant to take orally in prep for the big day.  So she then had to administer some other things before I could get underway.  This all proceeded without a hitch.  The. She was ready to start me in the first main drug, something called Taxol...she advised me that she would be starting the dose low, and then after seeing my response after 15 minutes, would increase the infusion to its full strength.  All the time she was saying to let her know if I felt strange or odd throughout the process.  Well!  Basically as soon as those drugs hit my system, I felt the strangest EVER!  Intitially I was seeing stars and sparkly things above my head, I felt a tightening in my throat and chest, increasing temperature and then the most excruciating pain in my lower lumbar region of my spine.  I said straight away I was feeling unwell and immediately the treatment was ceased and I was then pumped with Phenergan to reverse the whole thing.  So that was the end of that drug for the day.  After I had recovered from this...and believe me, thankfully it didn't take too long for all of those symptoms OT dissipate, the nurse suggested that because I would be quite drowsy for sometime after the antihistamine, would I be willing to try the next drug, as she reassured me that I was unlikely to experience such a reaction.  I felt confident in her reassurance and agreed.  Thankfully this infusion went without incident and once it had been through my system and then flushed, I was ready to go home.  Thankfully I had a friend who was able to come and drive me home in my own car.  I was mentally prepared to feel unwell potentially overnight, however I actually felt really well and when I woke ont he Wednesday morning, I felt even better.  In fact, I felt better than I had for the previous 6 weeks since my surgery!  Thanks be to God for that.  So, my next chemo with be a challenge as I submit to the Lord my fears and apprehensions fro my first experience.  I do know however, that I will be able to pray specifically for the next treatment and hopefully be better prepared practically as well.  The other good thing is that the next treatment is after Christmas.
So that is my lengthy update.  Thanks for reading and coming on this journey with me.