Saturday, March 19, 2011

Happiness is Contagious.... pass it on

SO, as I said in my last post; When I lest my last treatment, Dr. V gave me orders to schedule for labs and Rituxin in one month.  So I scheduled them, and then left thinking I was done until the following month.
  I had follow up appointments in Utah, which worked out great since it was my kids SPRING BREAK.
I decided to take my kids to Utah for a little mini vaca since they would be off for the week.  We were able to go to Disney on ice at the Energy Solutions Center.  My mom works for Coca-Cola, so we are able to go every year and sit in the Coke suite.  Last year when we went, Hope watched the show off and on, but mostly she walked around the suite and played.  This year, she sat in a chair, and did not move the entire time.  She absolutely loved it.  I had to bring her treats to her.
  We also went to a tubing resort in Heber City called Soldier Hollow.  It was so much fun.  You sat on a big tube and a pull line pulled you up the mountain, and then you could slide down in big groups.  The big kids all ran off on their own and had such a fun time.  Hope jumped on her own little tube.  I was a little worried about her on the pull line all by herself.  I was up in front of her and all I could hear is her yelling "woo-hoo" the whole way up.  She loved it!  We also went ice-skating at the Olympic speed skating oval in Kearns.  Lauren and her cousin Jake just took off...they said they were naturals.  Josh and his cousins Jared and Hailee were using walkers that help you stay up on the ice...and they also took right off.  I held on to Hope and skated a little with her.  She was disappointed she could not skate as good as Minnie Mouse could.  She only lasted about 10 minutes, and then wanted her skates off.  She did sneak back on the ice with her tennis shoes and found she could do a lot more spins that way!
    Anyway....some medical stuff....  On my drive down to Utah I got a phone call from the scheduler at Dr. V's office.  She told me I was scheduled to come in for a Rituxin infusion on Monday, and then a follow up appointment with Dr. V on the 24th.  I explained to her that I was on my way to Utah and would not be there on Monday, so we scheduled the appt for that Friday.  I was surprised since the last I heard I would not have anything with Dr. V until the following month.
   And then Dr. Glenn (my Utah oncologist) told me my white counts could be having a hard time coming back up because of the bone marrow harvesting, but they should be coming back up on their own.  She said if they don't come back up, she would have another bone marrow biopsy done to make sure they're not missing something.  She also said something that made me very happy!!!
She said:


She said that last treatment would not necessarily "hurt" me, but it wouldn't necessarily "help" me either.  Especially since it had been about 7 weeks since my last treatment.  I really figured I was done, But it was just so good to hear and have that confirmed!!  Hooray!

So yesterday I went in for my Rituxin infusion.  My ONC nurse asked if I would like a CBC done and I said "of course".  I opted to not have the Neupogen shots to boost my white count, so I was curious to see if my body was doing it's job and rebuilding on it's own.....and it was!
   My white count is up to 3.7 (it showed the normal range starting at 4.0, so that's pretty darn close to low-normal) and my ANC is up to 2100  (that's 1000 higher than last week).  So my numbers are coming up!  GOOD JOB JEN'S BONE MARROW!!!  I'm so proud when my organs do what they're supposed to do! :)

I feel really good.  I'm starting to really feel like myself.  I'm able to do most of the things I did before treatment.  Like I said before, my hair is slowly but surely growing back.   There was some talk of the chemo possibly putting me into early menopause, but that did not happen (which is a good thing).  I'm feeling a lot of the side effects of chemo totally wearing off.  Although I still have a couple of minor effects, and the Rituxin has some mild side effects.  But seriously, I feel so blessed.
  Over the last 5 or so months, something inside of me has changed.  I look at things differently, in a good way.  I think I always had a positive outlook, but now I make a conscience effort to have more appreciation for even the little things.  Starting with life itself.   Every day when I wake up I think how thankful I am for life. I now know how fragile life is.  I also am trying to look for the positive in all situations.  Because, trust me, if you can find positives in cancer, chemo, spinal taps, surgeries etc..then you can find positive in ANY situation.    And it's so much better to focus on the positive.  Happiness is contagious!  pass it on  

(That last part may or may not have sounded a lot like a Skittles commercial)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I think I've done enough

So, Friday I was on my way to to Cancer Center to have my labs drawn and see Dr. V.  Half way there my Engine light came on and it said my Engine was overheating.  So I pulled over and called Lar.  He had my car towed to the dealer and we found out the water pump had gone out.  I just thought to myself  in a sarcastic voice.. "Yay! One more thing to deal with!"
   Well, I thought if I didn't get my labs done, then I would not be able to have the chemo on Monday.  So I called the nurse and she said I could have the labs done on Monday morning, and then Dr. V would just come out and see my in infusion.
  So Monday I got to the infusion clinic mentally prepared to have my last chemo treatment.  The nurse came over and drew my labs.  20 minutes later they came back showing my white counts had dropped back down.
My white count was down to 2.5 and my ANC was down to 1100.  So Dr. V came out and said she was going to call Dr. Glenn at Huntsman to get her opinion, but she felt like we would not be able to finish that last round of chemo.  It has been 7 weeks since my last chemo, and after so long it would almost be like starting over.
  For some reason, I feel really good about this.  I feel like I've done enough treatments, and knowing that I will continue to do the Rituxin maintenance makes me feel reassured as well.
  Dr. V mentioned having me come in for more Neupogen shots this week, but I told her I would like to wait and let my body recover on it's own.  The Neupogen shots are boosting my numbers up (like they were last week), but then they drop back down.  They're not as low as they originally were, so that's a good sign.  I just want to let my body work on it's own and let it rebuild those counts slowly.
  She did have me do a bunch of new labs testing for a bunch of different viruses to see if that is what's causing my counts to stay low.  She also mentioned possible doing another bone marrow biopsy to rule out any cancer possibly being in my bone marrow  (which would be very unlikely since I just had a bone marrow biopsy in December and it was cancer free).
  So yesterday I just had another round of Rituxin.  And today I feel so good.  I'm going to start exercising again.  I've been waiting until I was done with treatment because I just felt so weak.  But today, I'm dusting off the treadmill and going to start getting ready for a 5k in May.
     When I left Dr. V's office yesterday she had me schedule my next Rituxin treatment and labs in one month.  So the next thing I have coming up is a small surgery the end of March to have my port removed.  YAY!


I'm going to miss this little friend trying on my wig every chance she gets.   But hopefully I'll be putting that wig away soon because......

I have hair.  Not a lot of hair yet.  But I think by late Spring, I could be sporting a short hair style and be wig free.
(Don't you love the little friend I have in my lap??  Somehow, she's always by my side..or close by!) 
Dear Cancer Center waiting room,
I won't be seeing quite as much.  I'm not really sad about that! 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Icing on the Cake

SO, I went in on Monday to have some labs done and see if my white count had come back up. Here's the difference a week makes (a week on Neupogen that is)...

Last week my white blood cell count was at: 1.7 (normal range is 4.3-10.8)
Last week my ANC was 215  (normal range is 1500-8000)

This week my white blood cell count was at 10.5  and my ANC was at 7500
So I'm totally back in the normal range.  Which is good....except for the phone call I got Monday afternoon from Dr. V herself.  She said:

"Now that your counts are back up we could go ahead and do the last Chop treatment.  There's no guarantee it will do anything at this point..but, we would hate to look back in 3 years and think we wish we would've completed that last treatment."

But she also said it was my choice.  And I went back and forth because really, I want to be done.  I think I've said that once or twice before.  :)

And then Monday night I got another phone call from Dr. Fan herself and she said:

"I think you do need to do your last treatment.  You already have the cake (my clear CAT scan), now this last treatment will be the icing on the cake."

Isn't it awesome these doctors call me??  I am so fortunate to have such wonderful people on my "cancer team".

So, after some thought and prayer...I decided I will have my last chemo treatment.  I will go in this next Monday for it.  I will plan to be sick for a week, and then I'll be moving on with my life.  It's a great life, and I'm so thankful for it!

Remember John from Idaho??  He was able to collect enough stem cells to have a transplant.  He is recovering, and after a rough process, he is doing well.  It's amazing how far they have come with cancer treatments, and as hard as they can be to endure physically, when you see a life's so worth it in the end.  Yay John!