Sunday, August 29, 2010

A New Concern??

So Friday when I was at the dye study the lab tech changed my dressing on the catheter site. She used a non-latex adhesive called a  Tegaderm Film .  By the time we made it home from the football game, I could not stop scratching my chest area. I also had developed a sore, painful left arm that I could barely move. I know I am suppose to leave the catheter area covered at all times but the scratching and burning that came from that was so intense, I had to take it off. 

All day yesterday it was still itchy. Late yesterday afternoon Meeghan came over and we noticed that I had actualy blisters on my chest. The whole area was red and covered in welts.

I actually ended up going over to Jean Kantola's home and she nursed me. She cleaned the area with alcohol and then put a skin barrier over the area. Then she put on a bandage. Not knowing if it was the hospital Tegaderm Film or the latex tubing of the catheter that was causing the irritation, she taped the tubing up so most of it is off my skin.

Today is the first day since I had this catheter put in a week and one day ago that I am not scratching and itching.  I go back to the doctor tomorrow to have an official dressing change. I think we need to explore if I have developed some type of latex allergy.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Chemo Round 1: Day 5

I woke up this morning feeling normal again. Nausea was gone and once again I had energy. Food still did not taste good this morning, but by lunch time I ate a normal size meal and it tasted pretty darned good.  Many times today I have thought if this is how this is going to go, I can do this.  Monday I felt good, Tuesday half a day I did not feel good. I was down right out of it Wednesday and Thursday. But today, I almost felt like I was not ill at all. We even got out of the house and enjoyed a high school football game tonight.

The dye study was today. I actually got to see a "live" photo of the catheter tubing in my chest. There is a whole lot of tubing in there! The dye showed the catheter is working but they still can not get a draw on the one tube. At first the Radiologist thought it might be a defect in the tubing but when he looked at it closer, he does think maybe there is a sheath blocking it. As far as what they are going to do about it (since the sheath has not responded to medication to break it up twice now) they are deferring to my Oncologist. I expect if it is something important they will call me on Monday, otherwise I am not scheduled to see him until after Labor Day.

Today is my husband's birthday. I kinda feel like he has gotten the shaft with all this medical stuff going on. Not knowing how I would be feeling, we did not plan anything. Of course, he is the type of man who would never complain. So I just want to say here, Happy Birthday Wayne! I love you and I am the luckiest woman in the world to have you in my life!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chemo Round 1: Day 4

Just a few updates. We met with the Radiologist yesterday to develop a game plan. It looks like there is brand new research out on the treatment of Hodgkins patients and I might be benefiting from it. Instead of three weeks of radiology, I might only have to do two. Radiology will start one month after Chemo ends, so we are anticipating the end of the year.

After meeting with the Radiologist, we headed back to the Oncologist to disconnect the pump. My boss had told me that a nurse in the treatment room was one of the nicest people she has encountered and I got to meet her yesterday. She was very kind. I have to actually say, everyone at that office has been unbelievably kind and caring.

I have not felt well for the past two days. I have been taking the anti-nausea medication but do not know if this dose is good for me.  One thing I can say about that medicine for sure; I have become reacquainted with my bed today. I do not believe I have been awake for more than 2 hours today.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Chemo Round 1: Day 2

It is the close of Day 2. Not going to lie to you all, it has been a rough day. After being awake all night, I finally fell asleep around 6:00 a.m. and Wayne woke me up at 7:00 a.m. I did manage to go to work and facilitated a training this morning.  It all went downhill fast when I got to work. I am not sure what the trigger was, it could have just been breathing, but I got super nauseated. I also believe I was running a fever, my face was red and hot.  I only made it a half day. I came home, took my anti-nausea medication and finally slept for 3 hours.  When I woke up I felt much better.

I was expecting to get two good days following the starting of the chemo. I guess I only got one. Overall, I feel zapped, like I have no energry. I am worried. If I feel this poorly after only one day, how in the hell am I going to feel tomorrow.

Taking a bath with the catheter in is a nightmare in itself, but bathing while connected to the pump is even worse. Who would have thought bathing had to become such a family event. I feel battered and bruised and I am still covered in adhesives from all the tape and stickers from the recent surgeries.

More appointments were made today. They just keep mounting and it also overwhelming. They want me to see the radiologist as soon as possible, so I have to see him tomorrow afternoon. I am back at the oncologist tomorrow to get the pump removed. Friday I have to be back at the hospital to see why the port is not working.

I owe so many thanks right now.  But I am going to name a few here.
My Mom and Momma Liz sat with me all day Monday in treatment.
My CoWorkers for driving me home today.
Jen Gronniger for fixing and delivering the family dinner last night.
My father-in-law for helping me get my medications.
My mother-in-law for always helping take care of our short chic.
Regina for forward thinking and getting me scarves and head wraps.
And so many friends for calling, emailing, and sending me words of encouragements.
Mostly I have to thank my husband. While he might deter to others at times to assist, it is him who holds my hand at night and wipes my tears. It is he who pretends he would rather do nothing else in the world but hold my catheter tubing so I can take a bath.

I am entering the darkness. And like so many others, I will come out on the other side. But right now, it is dark.

Chemotherapy Round 1: Day 1

It is 3:30 a.m. and I am obviously awake. Besides the fact that is hard to sleep with this pump attached to my chest, I believe my being awake is a side effect of the steriods they gave me earlier today.

I guess as far as side effects I could be having this one is not painful or ugly. Some would even appreciate the alone time. I have almost finished another book. I have spent some time catching up on my DVR. But as I am awake, all I can think about is I have to work tomorrow. I have a training that I need to be at by 8:15 and I am awake and have only slept for 3 hours.

Can this be done? Can someone have cancer, do chemo, and work? I really thought so. I really hope so. But as I sit here at 4 in the morning, things do not seem so possible. I am sure this sleepless night is nothing compared to the side effects that are coming my way. I am so not use to not doing everything I want. It is not easy for me to admit to limitations.

Don't worry yet my friends. I am sure this post is just result of being awake all night and stressing myself out of the fact that I have to be functionable tomorrow.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Red Hair and A HUGE Pump

Well it is not slammin red but it is RED. Check out my new chemo bag. The doc said it would be slightly larger than an IPOD. He was wrong.

Staging Results and Treatment Plan

So I am sitting in a private room inside the oncologist office surrounded by my Mom and my Momma Liz. We are in the process of having the chemo drugs administered. So far I am tolerating them well.

The first thing we did this morning was meet with the Doctor. The good news is that I am only a stage 1A. The best diagnosis to have is Stage 1A. With the good news I may only have to do 3 rounds of chemo and not 4. Other good news,  I will not need a MUGA in between each round of Chemo.

If there has been a complication so far, it has been the fancy catheter they put in my chest on Friday. The nurses should be able to administer medication and take blood from both lines of the catheter. However, only 1 side is working. The nurse believes I may have a sheath developed. They have given me some medication to break that up but so far it has not. If they can't get it to work, then they will declare it broken.

The administration of the medications is not exactly what I thought it would be. I thought I was coming in, getting a pump, and being sent home for the next 48 hours to pump the medications into my system. While that is somewhat true, it is not totally true. I am being given four drugs. Three of those are given in the treatment room at the doctors office. One of them will be given on a pump and will take 48 hours to put into my system.

My four chemo drugs are: Adriamycin which prevents cancer cells from growing by attacking and interfering with DNA. This is the drug that can cause heart damage and my doctor was trained that it causes the least amount of damage when administered slowly. So, this is the one they will pump in over a 48 hour period of time.

Bleomycin is the second drug and it generates oxygen free radicals that cause DNA strands to break and the cell to die.

The third drug is Vinblastine or Velban. This drug prevents cancer cells from growing by interfering with the cells ability to divide. This is the only medication they have given me that had to be "pushed" into my IV and not dripped.

The last drug, DTIC also interfers with DNA and prevents cancer cells from growing. It takes the longest, 2 hours to drip into my system.

Please continue to pray that I tolerate these drugs well and that their side effects are minimal. Despite low blood work, they will be giving me these drugs every 15 days for the next 45 days at least.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Blogging Tips

If you are as new to blogs as I am, let me help you figure this one out. The cool thing about a blog is it allows you and I to comment about post made. In order to do that you have to sign in. There is a button in the top right corner that says SIGN IN. If you have a twitter, gmail, or yahoo email address this is the easiest thing in the world (come on, my momma did it)! You just log in with those user name and passwords. Once you have logged in, you can follow the blog. Even if you sign up to follow the blog, you can not leave a comment unless you are signed in.
I just want to say thanks for following my blog. I know a lot of you are reading it and providing me with lots of encouragement. I really need it and appreciate it!

The Day Before

Tomorrow I start Chemotherapy. As many of you know, Chemotherapy is a group of medications that are like poison. They will kill my unhealthy cells. BUT, as Chemo does not know the difference between unhealthy and healthy cells, it will kill all fast growing cells.  The Doctor told me to think of the body and all the things that grow quickly on it. (Hair, my imune system, mucas membranes, and the inside of my mouth will all be impacted). And it will make me sick. Isn't it sad that in order to get better, I must get sick.

Today I am anxious.  I am tearful. I am full of dread. I am even scared. This is one time in my life I would like to flip to the last chapter of this book and read it.

I am spending the day with my family. The boy comes home later tonight. I plan to have a quiet day because tomorrowI start Chemotherapy.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Would you?

Given the fact that very soon I may not have hair on my head, I am considering dying my hair a shade of red. I have always wondered what I would look like with red hair. So, here is my question to you, If you were going to lose your hair to chemotherapy in the very near future, What would you do?

Prep Work: The last step

Days until Chemo Starts: 2

Wayne and I had to report to North Kansas City Hospital at 6:00 a.m. for my last preparation step: getting the catheter.  Besides thinking we were to report to the Pavilion when really we were suppose to be in the Hospital, everything went really well.

When Jackie was here she gave me a few tips on how to deal with the Nurses who put in my IV. I have really bad veins; getting an IV in is sometimes very difficult. I always tell the Nurses but I am sure they hear this from many patients and they just really never listen. So, the good news, using Jackie's tips today's IV went in on the very first attempt and involved no pain!!

Today's surgery went well. I have a tiny incision on my chest just below my collar bone. Small enough to only need 2 stitches. My chest hurts. I have been icing it all day. After surgery they took a chest x-ray to see if everything was in its proper place. There was a small concern because the catheter is not as deep as they normally put it but the surgeon said he could not get it to go any deeper but it is in the correct place.

I have literally slept all day. The hospital gave me morphine and sent me home with Vicodin. The discomfort is minimal. Ice has helped.

Mom took the Short Chic home with her for the weekend. I am not sure what I will do without my little nurse. As soon as I got home today, she climbed into bed with me and just took care of Mommy with lots of hugs and kisses. And chatter. Lots of chatter! The boy leaves later today to spend the weekend with his Dad. Wayne and I get a weekend together and I get to recover from surgery!

Funny story to share from today: The hospital does not allow Wayne to go back into the pre-surgery area with me initially. They make him wait in the lobby until my blood work is done, IV is in, and I am wearing that god awful hospital gown.  Finally, Wayne is called back. He arrives just as this really loud beeping starts in the pre-surgery area. Wayne says as he approaches my room, "Am I the only one who can hear that?" I tell him "No, I can hear it too."  He is looking around at all the employees like, hello! make that noise stop. So I ask him, "Did you bring that noise in?"  Wayne's response was NO! But he did pull his phone off of his hip and looked and sure enough, that horrible noise was Wayne's alarm clock and he had brought that noise in with him!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

PET Scan Photos

Me, waiting in the lab room. I had to get an IV and then I was injected with radioactive material.

Nick, the tech, is standing in the office room. The door leads to the CT/PET scanner.

The Mobile PET Scanner. It really is a semitruck. There are stairs on the side and those take you right into the "office" room. The steps were very very steep!

Prep Work: Day 2

Days till Chemo starts: 5
Number of Needle Sticks in the past 2 days: 6
Number of Failed IV's: 2
Doses of radioactive material injected into my body: 2
Yesterday I got a phone call saying that the scheduling guru's made a mistake by scheduling me for a 6:15 a.m. PET scan because they did not even open till 7:00. Thankful for the extra sleep, I said GREAT!

Jackie and I were up, showered and out of the house by 6:30 (well I might be fudging that time just a bit!). We got to our checkin place at 7:04 and then we were directed out to the parking lot. I guess a PET scan is so expensive no hospital in the area can afford their own. So they all pitched in and purchased a moveable scan that is housed in the back of a semi truck. (I promise photos later!) This semi truck has 3 rooms in its cargo area; an office, the scan room, and a lab room.

As soon as we get in the lab room, Nick, the Tech, says I was 45 minutes late. I told him about the phone call the day before. He told me they squeezed me in to accomodate my need for a quick PET scan. The folks who called and told me not to come in did not understand what was going on. The end result, I backed up the entire day.  Clearly the right and left hands were not talking to each other.

After getting an IV, I was injected with a sugary radioactive material that needed 45 minutes to work it's way through my body. The cancer cells are rapidly dividing and require more sugary substances. They use the radioactive material to see where in my body those cancer cells are located.  We want the results of this test to say that the cancer cells are only in my left and right sides of my neck.  The results were suppose to be at my doctors office by the end of today.  The PET Scan itself only took about 20 minutes. All in all, I believe Jackie and I were on our way by 9:00.

(Note: Jackie decided to not observe and hang out in the tiny cargo area of that semi truck with all of that radioactive material. She cited something about maybe wanting healthy children someday.

In between appointments, Jackie and I got to do some fun stuff on her last day in Kansas City. We stopped for breakfast, visited my work, and then caught up with a bunch of friends for lunch at Oklahoma Joe's BBQ.  I am so thankful Jackie suggested Oklahoma Joe's, the food was amazing, the place is a hoot (it is inside a gas station), and it was great seeing some good friends. 

At 2:00 pm we meet with the surgeon who will be inserting a Double Lumen Groshong Catheter in my chest later this week. I will receive all of my chemo injections through this catheter and hopefully they can also remove blood from this site and save me from the needle sticks. Jackie looked this device up on the internet and showed me photos. It reminds me of a Y adaptor you use on electronics. The base of the Y will be in my chest (just below my left clavicle), anchored down with stitches. the branches of the Y will be dangling from my chest.  Doesn't that just sound lovely.

My surgery will be Friday morning.

After we finished there, Jackie and I attempted to rush over the hosptial because I had picked up a brochure about Look Good....Feel Better organization. They were at North Kansas City Hospital yesterday showing cancer patients how to deal with hair loss. I have to tell you, for a person who is trying to keep up a normal work life while going through treatment, the loss of one's hair is a huge issue. Oh hell, let's be real, what woman wants to lose their hair. Even if I was home during this whole process, I would be freakin' out!

I thought about it all day long and finally decided that with Jackie by my side I had the strength to walk through that door and deal with one of my biggest fears. We got there about 2:35 and the room was completely vacant. I guess no one showed up for this service and they closed up shop early. As hard as it was to walk through that door, that is the amount of disappointment I felt when we found the empty room.

Thanks to Jackie and my sister-in-law, they picked up their cell phones and called around to find when and where this organization will be at over the next few weeks.

The best news of the day; despite the additional injection of radioactive material into my system, I am no longer dangerous to my baby girl. After all the necessary running, Jackie and I got to go to the Nana's house and pick the Short Chic up. Believe me, I have a lot of hugs and kisses to make up for!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Prep Work: Day 1

What a day this has turned out to be! Jacob started the 8th grade this morning.  So even though I was NPO (nothing by mouth) after midnight, I got up at 6:15 a.m. and made breakfast for him. Torture to the self is good smelling coffee, wonderful coffee creamer, awesome breakfast burritos, and yummy fruit smoothies and not being able to eat any of it!

Mom left home around 5:30 and arrived before 7:00. Mom, Jackie and I got to North Kansas City Hospital at 8:30 a.m. I had three procedures today.

Procedure 1: Lab Work. Pain Level: 0, Days tunil Chemo: 6
  It is always nice to start off on a good foot. Most of the blood test were your standard test: CBC, WBC (white blood  cell count), HCT (red blood cell count), PTT (Prothrombin Time). The fourth test was a Beta Globuline (which I belive is testing for Iron in the blood).

Procedure 2: Bilateral Bone Marrow Biopsy.  Pain Level: 4. Emotional Stablity: Total Wreck!!

This was the big scary test of the day. I was given an IV, wheeled into a very cold room with lots of activity. It is a CT guided procedure, so it took place inside a CT room. I laid on the CT table with my back up, they taped a grid sticker to my lower back/buttocks area and took a CT of it. They used the grids to determine where exactly the doctor should insert the needle.

 The Doctor gave me 2 injections of Lidocaine. The first one on the skin, then he went further down and gave me another injection. The first one felt like a bee sting. The second one hurt for about six seconds, then the pain went away. At the same time the Doc is giving me the Lidocaine, the nurse is giving me happy drugs through my IV. To be honest, after the second shot of Lidocaine, I barely remember the procedure because the happy drugs kicked in.

I was so freaked about this procedure, I kid you not, I was a crying mess! I could not talk, I could only shake my head. So thankful it went much better than my brain thought it was going to go.

It takes 2 days to get the results of the bone marrow biopsy back. 

Procedure 3:  MUGA (Multiple Gated Acquisition Scan)  Pain Level: 0

The Doc took 3 cc of my blood. He then added some radioactive material to it. He added a chemical to my blood which changes the number of electrons that circle each red blood cell in order to allow the radio active material attach to the blood. Then he injects my blood (now 4 cc's ) back into my body. It goes straight to the heart and allows the gamma camera to detect the radio active red blood cells. WHY?? They want to measure the left ventricle's ejection fraction (how much blood from the left ventricle is pumped with each squeeze to the rest of the body.) 

This procedure will serve as my baseline throughout my chemo treatment. One of the chemo drugs is known to cause heart damage. I will have to have this one repeated several times throughout Chemo to see how the heart is doing. The Doc said they often see Chemo patients after every round of Chemo (remember I am doing 3-4 rounds of chemo).

After that, we were discharged and got to come home.  Unfortunately because of the MUGA test, I am dangerous to Miss Olivia. So she is spending the night with her Nana and Papa because for the next 24 hours I can not hold her, kiss her, or sleep next to her. I am home, in bed, resting and sleeping. I will say my current pain level is probably ranking around a 5/6. Thank goodness I have left over drugs from the biopsy surgery.  You know that feeling you get when you are sick and your bones ache. That is what I feel like, or at least what I felt like 2 hours ago. Now, it down right hurts.

We are doing well. Jackie is here with us till Wednesday morning and doing a great job of explaining the medical stuff to me. Shoot, I might even learn more than I thought possible! Tomorrow, she and I will head to the PET scan and meet with the surgeon who will insert the catheter later on this week.

Disclaimer: Do not expect my knowledge of medical procedures to continue to be this good. Jackie has been sitting next to me spelling words and providing explainations.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Meet My Lymphoma III

Front View. You can see the bulge on the right side. If you look at the Right profile photo you can then see the bulge in the back.

Meet my Lymphoma II

This is my left side. The lymphoma here is on the jawline and smaller than the right side.

Meet my Lymphoma

You would think with your neck growing, you would recognize a problem quickly. But in all honestly, I just thought I was getting fat. {I have gained weight over the years.} Because of my weight gain, I just don't like photos of myself. Now I have to wonder, how much of this was weight gain or my neck was growing with cancer?

These are photos of me one month prior to diagnosis. I hated them because I looked super fat in them.

It is highly visible.  I wonder if it had been in a different part of my body if I would have noticed it or how big it would have gotten.

This photo was taken in April at my birthday. Four months before diagnosis. I don't know, is it there? I think it might be. Much smaller. But I think I see it. Or am I making it up? Second guesses is all I have now.

The oncologist tells me that as soon as I start chemo this lump will quickly go down.

So with the help of my kid brother, meet my Lymphoma!

My cancer is on the right side of my neck. You can clearly see the biopsy site. It is still healing.

From the back it all looks lumpy.

From the back. You can see one side is bigger than the other.

There you have it. My lymphoma. My cancer. My beast.

The Wait is OVER!!

Wayne and I met with the Oncologist today. Interestingly enough, the building that houses the Oncologist is very nondescript. I have probably driven past it a few hundred times and never even realized it was there. It was also nothing fancy. It more reminded me of going into a public health office than a cancer treatment center.

Upon walking in, the very first thing I see is the treatment room. Inside this room were women, heads wrapped in scarves, sitting in leather recylners hooked to IV machines. I immediately have to gulp back the tears that have sprang to the surface.

There was no wait. I had not even as much completed the first sheet of paper and the nurse was taking us back to the doctors office. The doctor was in the room faster than I could even have thought possible. 

The Doctor, once this man started talking, he won both my husband and myself over! He took so much time to explain what I have, what I need to do, how we are going to do it, and complications I can expect. He took his time and he was so thorough.

The Good News: Hodgkins has a very high success rate, I believe he said stage 1 is 93% to 98% successful. Stage 2 Hodgkins only has a 5% less success rate (88% to 93%). He as well as I believe I will be staged at a 2, which means I have cancer in 2 areas of my body on the same side of the diaphram. 

Other Good News: Of all the patience that have had Hodgkins one subgroup responds the best to treatment. That subgroup is WOMEN who present with a RIGHT SIDE mass. (exactly what I have!!)

Bad News: I have to do 3-4 rounds of Chemotherapy. I have to get fully staged. Diagnostic testing that needs to be completed includes a BILATERAL BONE MARROW TEST. That means not only are they going to stick one gigantic needle in my hip, they are going to do it twice on both sides of my hip! I also have to have a PET CT SCAN. This is a test that looks for Metobolic Energy in the body. I also have to have BLOOD WORK. Chemo can apparently be very bad for the heart. So in addition to all the other testing, I have to have a MUGA, heart scan.

All of my chemo treatments will be administered through a Catheter, which has to be surgically implanted in my chest.  So I also have to have a SURIGICAL CONSULT. It sounds like I will walk around for 48 hours having chemo pumped into my body through this Catheter.

After my 3-4 rounds of Chemo (which is 6-8 individual injections of Chemo), I will also have to undergo Radiation treatments to "clean it all up" as the Doctor said. He also said I will lose my hair.

Other Good News. After as much waiting as I have done (a week here, a week there) I went in thinking it would take weeks to get all the diagnostic testing done. I have even told some of you that I did not expect to be doing treatments until the end of September/the first of October.  But, the scheduling nurse at the office told me they were going to "rock and roll me through". And OMG did she ever!!

On Monday (THIS COMING Monday, 8/16) I have to report to the hospital at 8:30 for my Blood Work, MUGA, and the Bone Marrow test. On Tuesday I have to report to the hospital at 6:15 for the CT-PET (which by the way, is in the back of a semi truck) and at 2:00 to meet with the surgeon. And although it is not scheduled yet, I will also have to have another surgery next week to insert the Catheter. I am scheduled to start Chemotherapy on August 23.

As I was standing at the scheduling window (that is right, STANDING for nearly 45 mintues. I told you this looks more like a public health department than a fancy doctors office) all I could think of was "SHIT!" this is really happening.  And despite how slow the first stage of this journey was, the second phase is happening at turbo speed.  Ready or not, I am about to become a Chemo Patient.

Instant Gratification

So this week I am waiting.  Waiting for my first appointment with the oncologist. As I am waiting, I keep thinking about how angry I am that I am waiting.

It amazes me how we crave or even demand instant gratification. Look at us as a society. We are overweight. We are in debt.  Aren't these things about instant gratification?

I have thought about Grandparents.  They did not have credit cards. They had savings accounts. They never would have thought of buying something they could not afford. They saved and paid for things outright. Remember back when new home owners had to save money to buy a home? Now, we give home loans to people with poor credit history and who have no money to put down. Why?  Instant gratification.

I have thought about my Great Grandparents. They were simple people. Worked hard. But no matter how hard they worked, they came home and fixed themselves dinner. They did not rely upon convience or fast foods.  But own son would rather I pick him something up from a drive-thru lane instead of fixing himself to eat before we leave the house. Why? He, as many of us are, is so concerned with getting to where he wants to go, he can't take the few extra minutes to slow down and wait.

Have we become this busy? I believe I am busy; but no busier than the generations before me.  I think I have just become accustom to doing things a certain way. The boy and I got into a disagreement last night. He wanted to squeeze in a trip to Sports Authority. I suggested waiting to the weekend and he immediately became angry with me. I might as well have asked him to move to the moon!

So the point to my post. My D-day was last Friday. As my doctor was referring me onto an oncologist I was thinking, let's go straight there. I actually thought I could call the doct and get an immediate appointment.  Instead I had to wait 3 1/2 business days (5 1/2 real days) and I am angry for waiting. I know ever day is important when you have cancer. But when I break this down, it does not seem like a long wait at all. It seems more like I have come to expect instant gratification and the real lesson we have missed is learning how to wait.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


My name is Pamela.
I am 41 years old.
I have been married to a wonderful man for 3 years.
I am a mom. I have a 13 year old boy and a 2 year old girl.
I have a dog, a cat, and a gold fish.
I am a social worker, so you know I have spent my life taking care of others.
I am a sister; I have 2 brothers.
I am an aunt.
I am a scrapbooker.
My favorite color is pink.
I love Bon Jovi!
And I have cancer.

Every June we go on vacation with my husbands family. On day 3 of our vacation, I woke up with a sore throat and a fever blister on a day we were hiking 6.2 miles. My sore throat went away (so did the fever blister) but my throat stayed swollen. Not causing me any pain, it was easy to ignore.

I went to a chiropractor three weeks later and he noticed my swollen throat. A girlfriend was the first to tell me how deformed I was and that I needed to go to the doctor. The last week of June I saw my primary doctor. I had an x-ray, CT and blood work. She put me on 2000mg of antibiotics a day for 10 days.

I fully expected the antiobiotics to work. I was convinced that if I had cancer I would be losing weight, feeling sick, not sleeping and I had none of those symptoms. In fact, I had no pain at all. Even my blood test came back showing no elevations at all. My CT showed a significantly swollen lymph node on the right side of my neck.

Well, the antibotics did not work.  My doctor sent me to an ENT who immediately scheduled me for a surgical biopsy.  As I went into the biopsy, I was positive the ENT would find an abscess in my neck and be able to drain it. But what he found was something he described as suspcious.

Three days later my husband and I sat in his office having my stitches removed and were told that I have Classic Hodgkins Lymphoma. Cancer.

Being told you have cancer is like finding out your spouse is cheating on you. Everyone imagines what it might be like, and what you will do.  But only those who have been through it really know.  I thought I would be hysterical (you know, nonstop crying, can't get out of bed, ect). Not to say I have not cried, I have done my share and will continue to cry some, but for the most part I have work to do and it has to be done.

Now, I know I am suppose to take some type of solice in the fact that as far as Cancers go, this one is a "good one" to get. It is treatable, maybe some would even say curable. But on my D-day, all I can think about is: I am 41 years old, I have 2 kids, a wonderful husband, and an unfinished life. So in the few days since my D-day, I have hugged my kids a little harder, cried a little easier, and said a few more prayers. Please Lord, I am gonna need your help to beat this one.