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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Choice



Choice. It's a funny thing, how I forgot about choices. When talking about my treatments with my family, I always say, "Well, it's gonna suck, but it's not like I have a choice....".  And I've been thinking about that, and I'm wrong. Saying I have no choice abrogates my own responsibilities. And it ignores my own abilities and intellect. Damnit, I DO have a choice. And this is the path I chose. I chose the chemo/radiation. Yes, it was recommended as the best treatment, but nobody forced me into the TomoTherapy machine every day for 32 days. I chose to be there. (And my butt is a nicely browned, well done toasted color...thank you very much.....)  Nobody held me down and force fed me 6 Xeloda tablets every day during that time. I chose to take them to increase the efficacy of the radiation.

 I'll start chemo in two weeks. Eight rounds of Folfox 6, and that too, is MY choice. I could refuse and take my chance with chemo/radiation only. I could chose the Xelox regimen instead of Folfox. But I've done my research and once again, I am in agreement with my doctor, that Folfox 6 is the best choice for me. But it is MY responsibility. No one else's. 

I'm not going to be forcibly strapped to a table tomorrow when I have surgery to insert the chest port. I chose to have this port. I've researched and come to the conclusion, that yes, my doctor is correct and a portacath will save my veins from the corrosive effects of chemo. I've studied the different types of ports, and I have decided that for me, the chest port will be preferable to the arm port. I've chose the Folfox 6, which requires a few hours of infusion, followed by 46 hours on a continuous pump. And a port in the arm would be awkward with a pump, so chest port it is.

When my oncologist said we would start chemo on Feb. 25th, I decided that was too soon for me. So I chose to postpone for a week, and will start on March 4th. Again, this is my choice.

So why have I been saying, "I have no choice"?  It seems I've been making choices since last October when I was diagnosed. I've always been a "do-it" myself kind of person. Leaking faucet? I can fix that. Dryer stops heating? Google it. Yep, I can fix that. Lay some tile, plumb a sink, tear out a kitchen, install a toilet? Sure, why not?  Give it a shot. But for some reason, this past week, I've been feeling diminished, somehow made smaller, weakened, by this whole process. Dare I say, gulp, passive? Good Lord, last week I somehow became the "woman who cried about freaking everything". I don't think a day passed without the waterworks. And don't get me started on the Valentine cards my hubby gave to me and our two daughters. Just thinking about them might get me going again. Maybe it was just the mind numbing drive to radiation every day. The 299.1 seconds I was being slowly sucked into the machine, whilst thinking..."Oh jeez, I gotta pee....."! (Yeah...deep thoughts while I'm being radiated....)  I just felt raw, mentally, physically and emotionally. Sort of like the universe had a giant sander with 80 grit paper that had just been grinding away at me.

But last night, I had an epiphany...I'm still here. And I'm still standing. And damnit, the past six weeks weren't something that was "done to me", but something I had done, to extend my chances at a long life. It was me, using the tools at my disposal to fix something. I'm still me. Today is my last day of radiation. I made it. I'm still here, still me, still standing and ready to keep bringing this fight. My choice. I chose to live. Cancer started this fight. I'm going to finish it.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Diabolical Genius of Cancer Treatments...

I've come to the conclusion that there is a diabolical genius in this particular cancer treatment. While I certainly didn't feel like I was ill with a deadly disease prior to beginning treatment, I can categorically state, that at the end of my third week, I now feel exactly like the stereotypical cancer patient portrayed in books and on film. Nausea...check. Fatigue....check. Bladder issues....check. Pain....check. Whereas before, cancer was sort of a surreal illusive thing, now, hey...wow....do I have cancer or what??

 It's hard to believe that three short months ago, I was someone who rarely took any medication...even aspirin. And I swear I'm a freakin' walking pharmacy now. I am grateful though, there as good drugs now as opposed to decades past. Nope, not hittin' the ganga for it, but Zofran and I are best buds. And it does a respectable job, still feel queasy, but it's kept as "background noise" as opposed to "headlining main event" as long as I dope up regularly. And since the old bladder is apparently a wee bit irritated with the whole radiation pouring through it on a daily basis, I now have the pleasure of getting up four times a night to pee. At least I wake up in time to take the Zofran. Look...silver linings!!

 Okay...I'm gonna go have a little cheese with my whine....I'm doing okay actually.

After today, I'll be at the halfway mark in the first portion of my treatments, chemo/radiation. I have an irrational hatred of the drug Xeloda, and am so happy I don't have to take it on the weekends. And I'm thrilled I have a couple days off from the zapping too.

My sister is coming into town today, and we're going to see The Book of Mormon at the Pantages in Los Angeles tomorrow. I've seen it already...hilarious genius! And I can't wait to see it again.

Monday, December 16, 2013

PET scans can be weirdly relaxing......

There is something surreal about lying in a pet scanner. I've graduated from CT scan to PET scan, when my CT showed a couple weird little things that *ahem, "given your history....we should follow up on...." sigh. Really? And not to freak you out or anything, but "we got it authorized and scheduled in 10 minutes and it will be two days from now...." um....ooookay....If a person could forget about why they have to have a PET scan though, they're actually sort of relaxing. I had to sit in a nice comfy recliner in a dimly lit room for an hour whilst the radioactive isotope meandered through my body. I had my Kindle, so I was a happy camper. The scan itself takes a long time. I would move by 3 inch increments into the scanner and it would take about 4 minutes per slice. All total, I think I was in the machine for about 45 minutes. Now, once more, I wait. And at this point...good news...or bad news...I just can't stand much more waiting.
I think (if the PET scan results are okay) that I may be starting my treatments as early as next week. I know...I know...it's Christmas. And I know my kids and mom in law would all like it if I postponed, but I'm just chompin at the bit to kill these little bastard cells before they kill me. AND the sooner I start, the sooner I finish.
It's so strange. Shouldn't I look sick? Or feel sick? I mean...at the least I have stage IIIc cancer, and if the PET sucks...I'll get boosted to stage IV. (Yeah...THAT freaks me out.....) I keep thinking to myself...shouldn't I feel something, other than normal? I mean, I've still got a little post op discomfort...nothing the occasional Aleve can't handle. And I still don't quite have the same energy level as the day before surgery, but that's supposed to be normal for four weeks post major surgery. Someone last week said to me, "Life really changed when you got sick, didn't it?" And it actually took me a minute to figure out what the hell she was saying to me. I'm not sick. Really...I feel fine. Although it does sound counter intuitive to say, "I have cancer, but I'm not sick." Hmm....oh well, been reading up on chemo/radiation (first step for me---Xeloda and radiation 5 days a week for 6-7 weeks) and then traditional chemo...(8 rounds folfox 6) and it sounds like I'll be feeling crappy enough pretty soon. No way around that so what the hell....embrace the suck.
I'm sorta hoping chemo/radiation leaves me with a super power........

Friday, November 22, 2013

Okay, so this cancer thing isn't going to be as uncomplicated as I thought......

So, I'm having a little meltdown tonight. I met my Oncology doctor today and today is the day that I found out what stage my colon cancer is. And it wasn't as good as I thought it would be. Stage IIIc. Wow. That's a tough one to write. The house is asleep now, and suddenly my stupid brain decides that after holding everything together quite nicely, thank you, now is the time for a meltdown. I guess I meltdown better in private anyway. If you've come here from my Facebook page, and you're one of my old friends, thank you for indulging me. . Maybe I should 'splain this blog.
Some years ago, I discovered that publishers would actually GIVE me books that weren't yet published if I wrote a review of the book. Yeah...I'm still a massive bookworm nerd...that never changed. I was in book heaven. After a few years, though, the books started to pile up, there was no way to keep up with the stacks of books I was being sent, and really, it was starting to feel like a job or an obligation. I sort of just stopped. Oh I read as much if not more, but I stopped reviewing. I always intended to come back though, so I kept the blog alive. *shrug...well, I suppose I'll really have a lot of time to review now, with not much energy to anything else.
So, you may have read my previous rambling epistle. The one I wrote prior to surgery. The one where I was gonna make Colon cancer my bitch. Okay....it might be a little harder to do that than I thought it would. But whilst melting down and trying not to wake up my husband with my oh so ladylike sniffles....(think geese honking as they fly south for the winter), I realized that what I really needed to do, was get some of my thoughts written down. I'll post about my 'adventure"...."experience"....hell, I don't' even know what to call these self indulgent posts. But I think they'll help me, and I know it's hokey...but if one person finds them helpful in their own ....whatever this crap is called...I'd feel pretty good about it.
Stage 3C. That just keeps echoing in my brain. 3 frickin' C!!! For cryin' out loud!!! How the hell does a person go for a routine colonoscopy with NO symptoms and end up a 3C malignancy??? And believe me...I've wracked my brain trying to pick out some symptom I ignored. And I've got nuthin'. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Not to be crude....but you could set a clock by my pooper. I'm the most regular person I know. And I have a cast iron gut. The only thing that consistently will make me sick is Carls Jr. food. (Sorry Carl...but facts is facts...) So that's what keeps bouncing around the old brain pan. How the hell did I get here??
Well, I believe I have sufficiently vented to my blog to get some sleep. Got the schnozz blown and cleaned out...eyes wiped. Thanks for indulging me...onward, people....always onward!!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Making Colon Cancer my Bitch....

Life, as it frequently will, has gotten in the way of reviewing books. And, I'll admit, the reviewing of ARC's for publishers had started to feel like a job as opposed to something fun. So, I took a *ahem....short break. Which extended to a long break. And now I'm maybe back. But not in anyway that is bookish for now. In fact...if you're reading this...well....first...wow...I'm still on your feed? That's shocks the hell outta me. And second...my life has taken some big left turns lately, and I think I'm going to write about them here. Not so much for anyone to read, but sort of as self induced therapy.
All you moms know what I mean, there are just some things that you can't really talk to your kids about, they have enough to deal with, and my husband...marvelous loving man that he is, I can't seem to dump all this angst on him yet. So, I figure, here, with a mythical, imaginary reader, I can vent to my hearts content. Because I know I feel better when I vent.
Yeah, so....I have colon cancer. Wow. Took me three days after the diagnosis to be able to actually say the word. On Oct. 15, I went in for a routine colonoscopy, my second, no symptoms...no nuthin'. I remember waking up a wee bit during the procedure and hearing the doc say, "there's a mass in the sigmoid colon"...and I thought to myself, "well crap, I'm pretty sure he's talking about me since I'm the only patient in here." Then I went back to sleep. I guess I'm glad I had that little bit of insight, because when they insisted my driver, my adult daughter...(4 months pregnant with my first grandbaby! YAY!!) come into the room so the doc could talk to us after I woke up. I pretty much knew what he was going to say. In retrospect..I should have taken those few minutes before he came in and prepared my girl. Dumb.
Also dumb, was the fact that I was a year late for the test. I had benign polyps in the first test, and was supposed to return in 3 years. The prep the first time was just awful, and I kept avoiding it. My hubby nagged, I avoided. Then something weird happened. I know nobody would believe this...I swear it makes me seem mental, but a couple of weeks before I made the appointment, I would get the weirdest feeling. Almost like a wee little voice inside. And at the most random times. I'd be driving out to Camarillo to see my mom in law, listening to a zombie novel or something equally deep on the stereo, and for a split second, I'd think, "You're going to have cancer." Or "you've got some challenges ahead". Or a song would come on....Tim McGraw's "Live Like you were Dying"...and even though I've always thought it was a lovely song, that was it, and during the song, the damn little voice would say, "pay attention to this one". I thought, "Wow...your vivid imagination has run amok!" But finally, after a couple of weeks, I called and made the consultation appointment. Now, the first time I had this done, it took three weeks for the initial consult and about a month more for the actual procedure. So, I'm thinking, "yeah...I'll get the appointment, feel virtuous, and still have lots of time for all the stuff I'm always doing!"
Hmm...damn...whaddya mean you have an opening this coming Tuesday? It's Friday already....crap. Can't think of a good excuse. Okay...I'll take it. Little voice finally shuts the hell up.
Initial consult is as usual, sort of pointless. Mostly just get a prescription for the nasty crap that cleans you out and then they schedule the procedure. Okay...I'll have lots of time before that....whaddya mean...you have and opening on THURSDAY!!??? In two days? Nope...can't do it. Wouldn't be able to find a driver on that short notice. Oh...you have an opening in one week too? And then nothing until November 25th? Well, crap. I don't want to do this the same week as Thanksgiving. Nothing says "yay, Thanksgiving dinner, like the residual week long nausea I had after my last colonoscopy. Ok. I'll take next Tuesday.
The week goes by, little voice is still gone. I prepared for the prep more this time, instead of following the docs advice to do one day of bland, white food and one day of liquid diet, I did two of each. It's funny, but after you've done the bowel prep, the next time, you find yourself looking at food with the eye to..."hmmm...well THIS has to be gone in X days...is it worth it??" Usually, the answer was, "um..no." Drank tons of water that night, didn't want to get dehydrated what with the fire hose my tookus had become earlier that day...woke up at 11:45 to pee. And as I walked into the bathroom, the little voice reappeared. With such force and insistence that I found myself speaking the words out loud. "Right now..today...is before...tomorrow will be after. And everything will change."
I'm not a religious person. I'll admit I've always sort of envied people who can believe with all their hearts. So I'm not going to put a name to my little voice. Guardian angel? My brains understanding on a some sub-atomic level that something was wrong in my body? I don't know. But it was right. Everything has changed.
Bear with me, kind reader, if you haven't already given up on my long and rambling epistle. I don't know if anyone will ever read any of this. But I feel better just getting it out.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Directive 51 and Daybreak Zero--thought provoking novels!


I finished reading Daybreak Zero last week and, like the previous book, Directive 51, I thought it was an interesting book, nothing spectacular, just an okay diversion. Initially, I wasn’t going to review the books, because they were just a wee bit above average. I went to my Library Thing page and I gave them a 3.5 bookworm rating.

This morning, as I was packing lunches, I realized that, halfway through Mira Grant’s Blackout and a week later, I’m still thinking about Daybreak Zero and Directive 51. Hmm, there appears to be more here than meets the eye. Books don’t usually keep popping into my brain days after finishing them. I’m fickle, and I move on easily. And I’m quite enjoying my current read. So, what is it about these books that my mind keeps working on?

Think of the memes that flood the internet, and how some of them really catch on and go viral. In Directive 51, the author has conceived of a meme that appeals to a large swath of the population, all of whom feel that mankind is the biggest blight on the planet and to save the planet, we must de-populate it as quickly as possible, destroy modern technology and return to an agrarian 18th century lifestyle. Through the use modern technology, (and yes, the irony is duly noted) the “Daybreakers” all over the globe develop nanobots and bacteria that work together to destroy all plastics and manmade materials. They coordinate the release of these materials all over the globe.

Stop for a moment and consider how much of our world is made up of manmade materials, and what would happen to each of us if this suddenly turned into a stinky pile of brown goo. What would happen to people with pacemakers and other implanted medical devices, and our food supplies, our clothing? Nothing would be immune; communication, entertainment, transportation, everything would be affected.

".......Jim Browder rubbed his porcine jowls, shoving so much flesh up toward his ears it looked as if he were about to peel his face off like a bag. “Non-replicating nanotech works just fine in industry, everywhere, these days, and has since the late twenty-teens. Replicating nanotech is a stunt that hobbyists do. It’s not hard to make nanos that make copies of themselves, and it’s not hard to make nanos that do something useful, but so far it’s hard to get them to do both because for any useful, creative purpose, they’d have to communicate and work with each other, and that’s very hard. But if all you want a nanobot to do is make nitric acid whenever it senses that it’s near an electric circuit—that’s what our weapons guys were looking at. They thought it was too unreliable, it would attack our own gear, and you’d never get rid of it once you released it. But if all electric machines are the enemy, forever, I guess that’s an advantage.”

“Why nitric acid?”

“Just an example,” Browder said. “Because you could theoretically synthesize it from air and wouldn’t have to have any other material available. But depending on what they intend to attack, and what they can expect to find near it, there’s at least a hundred other possibilities: fluorine gas, or hydroxide or peroxide ions, or a bimetallic strip that works like a battery. For sabotage, you only need nanoreplicators to reproduce in clusters around something valuable, and excrete a substance that attacks it. Achieving that is down at the college sophomore lab level these days.”

Hannah Bledsoe, from DHS, tall, handsome, dignified, with a deep red dress and pearls that seemed as much a part of her as her soft curly gray hair, looked up from her laptop. “And what are the biotes? Disease organisms?”

Browder grunted. “Sort of, but not against people as much as against artificial materials. The Daybreakers’ genetic-modification stuff that we’ve decrypted so far is all devoted to modifying ordinary decay bacteria, molds, funguses, any bug that eats dead stuff, to make engineered enzymes to break down long chains of carbon.”

Edwards said, “Pretend that some of us skipped chemistry class.”

“A lot of artificial materials—most plastics, for example—and the common fuels like gasoline and kerosene—have molecules that are built around a long, branching string of carbon atoms, with various other atoms attached on the side. The reason they usually don’t decay is because the carbon-carbon bond is fairly strong, and where there’s a long string of them, there’s not much—at least not much that a living thing naturally makes—that will attack the chain and break it into pieces small enough to digest. Basically the biotes are molds or yeasts, bacteria or maybe viruses, that turn synthetic materials and liquid fuels into sugars, fats, proteins—food that rots and spoils.”......"

These are ambitious books, not only does the author give us a dystopian future filled with heroic and human characters, he also tackles big issues. The sanctity of our Constitution versus the malleability of the document. Liberals and conservatives. Environmentalists and capitalists. Survivalists, preppers, hippies, tree huggers, the religious—no one is spared. These are not easy reads; both books took me a while to get through. They weren’t books that I was so absorbed in that I couldn’t stop reading, I only picked them up just before bed and read for a while, and yet, they’ve really stuck with me. I certainly never expected to pick up a dystopian science fiction novel, and suddenly be considering my feelings about the Constitution, politics, the environment and religion. And I certainly didn’t think I’d still be thinking about these books a week later.

I was disappointed when I finished Daybreak Zero that the story is continuing; but not because I felt let down by the story. The second book was heading in an interesting direction, the internet ‘meme’ that started it all, had become an almost sentient being, begging the question, “Is an individual responsible for all the chaos? Are things in the novel as they appear? Or are there nefarious forces at play?” Sigh….I guess I just have to wait and see, but I sure do wish I hadn’t discovered these books until 2013, when Wikipedia says the next book is coming out.

Personal note to the author:
Mr. Barnes, sir, with all due respect…crank it up,….I really need to know how this is all going to end. 2013??!!! Seriously??!! I mean, I like your style, and I’m glad I stumbled across your books, and I’m sure that I’ll now be checking out the rest of your bibliography, but it’s a looooong time to wait.



My rating:
(and I've gone back to my page on LibraryThing to change it!)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Another best day!!



I know...I should have stopped with the wedding picture a couple days ago, but what can I say? Memorial Day was a damn busy weekend, we had my birthday, wedding rehearsal, wedding, BBQ for the youngest high school graduation, the graduation.....whew! I was tired when those five days were over! This is a tiny little portion of the graduating class of the local high school. She's the one near the center with the red sash on.

When my youngest son graduated in 2007 from the same high school, my daughter asked me why a small number of the graduates were wearing white, while everyone else was in the school color. I told her it was because those students had maintained straight A's all through high school, and she responded, "I'm going to wear white when I graduate." And she did. We're very proud of her, 15th out of a class of almost 600, with a GPA of 4.37. She's going to be an elementary school teacher, and I know she'll be great!

Okay, I'm done for now. Maybe my next post will be a little more...bookish.