Ladies and Gentlemen – Start Your Countdowns

That’s right – we’re in the final count. T-20 days and the Weldon’s will officially be in remission, our favourite place to be. ūüôā

Mom’s final chemo went well, it was a long day because she had the lab work first – but it was the final one, so it was a day well spent.

Next steps? 3 more weeks with Paula the pump until we can banish her forever. ¬†And a CT Scan at the end of March – they don’t anticipate seeing ANYTHING on it, but they like to get a clear baseline following chemo for future reference.

And that’s it! For now, we’re counting down the days and planning a shopping trip for someone’s post-Cancer body. Because hey, if this is the silver lining, we’re going to make sure it looks fabulous!!

TWENTY DAYS!!

 

Advertisements

Missed one and another delay

Whoops! I missed one. A chemo round that is. ¬†Mom is now 2 down and 1 to go. ¬†The final treatment was supposed to start today, but she’s been delayed another week because of low white blood cell counts… again.

The bad news? Another delay means another week. ¬†So we’re no longer counting down to February 25 but to March 4.

The good news? Another week off with no Paula the Pump. ¬†This should leave Mom feeling pretty good by the time she goes in for the final assault, and maybe keep her from losing more weight (it’s become a small concern). Maybe she’ll get really crazy and gain a pound or two!

Either way, things could be a lot worse. And while she may be sick and tired of feeling sick and tired – there’s still light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s getting closer.

Thanks everyone for your continued love and support – sorry about missing a round, I’m back on track and staying on top of things. ūüôā

 

Brrrr

I think the Boy misses my blog posting on a regular basis about non-Cancer issues, because this morning he generously gave me excellent blog fodder. ¬†He’s nice like that.

As you may be aware if you live anywhere in Canada or anywhere north of he equator I can only assume, it’s frigging freezing outside. ¬†The high today, -19C‚Ķ feels like -31C. ¬†That’s -23F for any Americans out there. ¬†And that was the high.

BRRRR

This morning, when it was -39 our 2003 Camry with 309 000 km, decided it was too cold. ¬†It thought better of going to work and general productivity, and made an attempt to barricade us in the house where we belonged. ¬†That is to say, it wouldn’t start. The Boy upon realizing this, tells me we need to pull the Camry out of the single driveway so he can get to the truck that is in the garage. ¬†I say, why don’t we ask the neighbours for a boost? ¬†Actual Boy quote – “I’m not waking up the neighbours to boost us” ¬†It’s 7:45am. ¬†Not 5:30. ¬†Our neighbours do not work shift work, and they have 9 year old, I’m pretty sure they’re up.

I go outside to find the Boy backing the car in neutral down the driveway – to go where, I’m not sure. ¬†I go to the neighbours, ring their bell and low and behold, I am right – they’re awake. ¬†They graciously give us their key and wish us luck. Point Meaghan.

The Boy says, “I don’t think it’s the battery, I think the engine block is frozen. ¬†I don’t think this will work”

Well, the only thing I know about cars is when the car makes the clicky sound and won’t turn over, you try to boost it. ¬†If that doesn’t work, call CAA.

We boost it.  It works.  Second point Meaghan.

The Boy says he doesn’t want to take the car to work for fear that it won’t start in the afternoon. ¬†I said, I don’t want to take it to work since I work so close, the car won’t run long enough and it for sure won’t start in the afternoon. ¬†(That’s the other thing I know about stalled cars, you need to let them run for a bit after you boost them). ¬†I ask for a ride to work. ¬†The Boy says, yes – he’s just going to switch the cars around.

We hit the road, we turned onto the main road, and the Boy says to me “Can I drop you at the corner? I have to go.”

Are you serious?

Yes.

It’s -39 billion outside.

“You have a hat and mittens, you’ll be fine.”

And he kicked me out.  And so I trekked in, on the unploughed sidewalk, uphill, in the freezing freezing cold.

My outrage was two-fold. ¬†First, taking me all the way to work would have been an extra 2 minutes. ¬†Literally. The Boy still got to work 20 minutes before school started. ¬†He had the 2 minutes. ¬†Second, who says “yes I’ll drive you to work and then kicks you out halfway there? Third, completely recognizing the distance is NOT far, it was the cold. ¬†And the sidewalk was unploughed,¬†which does not make for a quick walk¬†and it did I mention it was seriously freezing? ¬†By the time I got to work, I was frozen. My eyes hurt, my lungs hurt. My knit mittens were not definitely not enough to keep my hands warm.¬†

The Boy received the following text message…

 

Classic BoyDo I need a ride home? Clearly.

After much berating on the drive home the Boy was able to recognize that he was deservedly in the dog house. He went out again and got me a present.

 

IMG_1478

Tim Horton’s Hot Chocolate –¬†“to warm you up.”

Well played buddy. Well played.

New Year, New Beginnings‚Ķ almost.

Happy New Year everyone! 2013 brought us a lot of ups and downs to say the least, and this little family was happy to bring in a new year and toast to a healthy 2014.

Of course this time of year encourages reflecting on the year that’s passed, and plan for the new. ¬†I was in a yoga class just before Christmas and during the final Shavasana we were encouraged to remember the last year, and let the images wash over us. ¬†I can’t lie, 2013 will not go down in my books as a favourite, but there were some good memories in there too. ¬†The Boy and I finally went on our honeymoon. Our puppy was liberated from spending the night alone in her crate in the kitchen and now sleeps comfortably on my pillow, or her new trick, under the covers, like a proper spoiled only child. I got a promotion, it may be temporary and sure, I’m currently being sucked back into my old job, but they’re still paying me more so I’ll take it! But most of all, I have spent a lot of time in one of my favourite places with my favourite people. ¬†There’s been quite a bit of quality family time this year, and while the circumstances could have been better, they could have been a lot worse too.

But most of all, a lot of love was sent my way this year, and shared with my family. So thank you. It’s not enough, but it’s all I’ve got.

For those of you diligently keeping track – Mom should be having Chemo treatment 2 of 3 (or 5 of 6 depending on how you’re counting), tomorrow. ¬†Unfortunately, her neutrophils are down. ¬†For the non-medical among us, that’s basically white blood cells. Since chemo kills your immune system, they won’t do it if you’re already compromised. ¬†Which is smart. But it does mean a 1 week delay, which stinks. ¬†Not that a week of feeling pretty good is necessarily a bad thing, it’s just that we were down to 6 weeks, and now it looks like we’re back up to 7. ¬† Paula the pump will get ditched for a week and they’ll try again next week.

January does bring promise of new beginnings. Of course I’m hopeful that this year brings lots of positive things to share, and I promise I’m thinking about how to maintain this little blog after it’s current theme passes. All I can say for now is stay tuned.

One Down Two to Go

I think they call this the home stretch.  Or maybe this is the last leg, and 6 weeks from now will be the home stretch.  Either way, we are one chemo round closer to the finish line and I for one will take it.

Mom had her PICC line fixed on Tuesday, they were hopeful they could get it all done in one day, but unfortunately there weren’t enough chairs. So Wednesday she went in again and Paula is back in our lives.

And how did it go? WONDERFUL.  Mom came home for a long winter’s nap, but has had no nausea at all. This is what her doctor thought would happen, that she was so sick with the first rounds because she was nearly obstructed.  But now that we’ve got that pesky stomach out of the way… good to go.

She has been told that the devil in this cocktail will be exhaustion.  Flat out, dead tired, ZERO energy exhaustion.  But now that we’re in the last leg of this tour, we are all definitely rallying around the countdown.  8 weeks, 6 days.

It‚Äôs going to be a quieter Christmas than normal in our house that‚Äôs for sure, but I feel confident speaking for all the Weldon‚Äôs when I say ‚Äď we don‚Äôt mind one bit.

Message from Mom ‚Äď Do you think I willed the delay by saying I wished for a few more days before they killed me again? Shoot! What a waste of a wish!

The ONE time!

Just got an quick phone call from mom an turns out the ONE time she doesn’t call and follow up and harass people about test results… She should have.

Her PICC line has moved too much and needs to be adjusted. She did a chest X-ray last week to check it but it was missed in the pile and they didn’t realize until today that it’s not going to work as is.

So what does this mean? No chemo today. They’ll fix her PICC line Monday and she’ll get her first chemo sometime next week.

Silver lining? Now mom can enjoy Christmas tree hunting and decorating this weekend. We can strap the tree to her back and have her carry it out of the woods – no excuses! HA!

Mom says – Thank you for all the good luck wishes I’ll save them for next week!

Drum Roll Please

We got the call.

Mom asked the Boy to put our phone on speaker.  Our phone decided to die instead.

We called back to get the news.  Dr. Law had just called. He had good news. Pathology news.

Drum roll…..

They took 56 lymph nodes, that’s basically all of them from the immediate area. ¬†Of those 56, just 3 showed positive with Cancer. ¬†Of course we wanted 0 – but 3 of 56, that’s a pretty nice ratio. Plus – they’re gone. And since that ratio is so low, combined with the fact they took pretty much everything anywhere close – that means (in my mind anyway) they got them all.

The tumour was contained to the stomach (you know other than those few lymph nodes) it had not spread to the abdominal cavity. That’s great news.

It’s a Stage 3 cancer – that’s because it spread to the lymph nodes. The staging was no surprise, while typically we’re a Stage 1 kind of family – based on what we knew going in, this was basically what we were hoping for.

But overall, the Boy was right.

They got it. She’s Cancer Free. And its all healing and prevention from here out.

The recovery is going slower than she’d like. ¬†We are really appreciative of your continued notes, calls and positive thoughts. If you’re visiting, please keep in mind that Mom is very much recovering and needs a lot of rest. Doctor’s orders. Right now, it’s best to call first to make sure it’s a good day and a good time.

Mom is tired and getting used to eating without a stomach is definitely taking some getting used to. Each day seems to be a little bit better than the one before. And something tells me that this news is going to offer that extra bit of encouragement.

More chemo is on its way – they will definitely want to address those pesky 3 lymph nodes. Those 3 are gone, but they’ll want to make sure there isn’t any stragglers that missed the memo – the party’s over, get out. We’re not sure when that will start, but it should be sometime in December.

For now, a giant exhale and teeny tiny meals are both on the menu.

Message from Mom: “Thanks for all the prayers, positive thoughts, love and friendship – they obviously work!”

Home

An email from Mom this afternoon.

Hi everyone
I am finally home.

The body is an amazing vehicle. We can cut it open, remove parts of it, moves other things around and it doesn’t cry, whimper and get angry. It just gets on with the business of making us whole again.

Now, time for Percs and a nap! Love Carol/Mom

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Welcome home Mom!!!

The Devil’s in the Details

First things first – have I thanked you today? Even if I had – it wouldn’t be enough. Honestly I can’t stop saying it – THANK YOU. This has definitely been a team effort and my GOD what a team we have behind us.

THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. 

Second things second – there’s been a few mystery text messages with lovely and thoughtful and wonderful messages – from mystery people. ¬†Awkward. ¬†If you’re sending any of us a message in the next few days at least – can you kindly tell us who you are. ¬†ūüôā

And last but certainly not least, I think I may have inadvertently led you astray. ¬†Things did not go perfectly yesterday. ¬†Yes, we got clear margins, and as that was Goal #1 of the surgery – we’re happy, but we’re not quite in ¬†smooth sailing¬†state of mind yet – so if I made it seem that way, sorry, but what follows will hopefully clear things up a bit.

Yesterday I started with the end – all clear, complete and good. ¬†Today I’ll start at the beginning.

Mom’s surgery was booked for 1:05. ¬†She was to arrive 2 hours before for prep. At about 8:30 she got a call from the office to say there was a cancellation, so really any time she could get there – they would get started. She obviously left immediately. ¬†Getting from Alliston to Sunnybrook took some time, and after some waiting, they took her away to get started at about 12:15. ¬†So not that much earlier, but nevertheless – the sooner the better.

There is an OR family waiting room at Sunnybrook where the doctors come to find you afterward and where you can get updates during the surgery from a friendly volunteer. ¬†Obviously, the people there are feeling a little stressed so its quiet, hot and packed. We were advised that if we waited in the “cool and comfortable” (read: cold and uncomfortable hard chairs) cafeteria they would come find us – and we could check back in when we expected her to be finished. ¬†So we did. ¬†At 3:30 Dad went in to check back, and the lovely volunteer said she knew just where we were sitting and she’d come to find us when needed – should be about an hour.

At 4:00 we decided to give the comfortable chairs a try and at 4:30 we got the update, still in surgery, should be about an hour.

Same at 5:30.

Same at 6:30.

Shortly before 7:30 (I think) the Surgeon (Dr. Calvin Law) came in with his team and gave us the goods. ¬†He started with the end, she’s out. It’s done and she’s breathing on her own. Goal #1 was get clear margins, they were able to do that. ¬†All in all, the surgery was a success.

Everyone exhale.

From the beginning though, things did not go exactly perfectly as planned. When they put her under, the anesthesiologist had some concerns.  Her blood pressure went down.  This can happen for 2 reasons, 1. reaction to the anesthesia (Dr. Law does not feel this is what happened); 2. Reflux of contents in the stomach moving up into the lungs. (More likely)

They had two options, 1. wake her up and stop everything. 2. Wait and see.

They chose #2 because as a team they felt it was not in their best interest to cancel the surgery because “Carol would have killed us”¬†HA! Good decision Dr. Law!!

She did come around and sorted herself out and they continued but it delayed things a bit.

Once they opened, they were able to see that exactly what they were dealing with, and while the CT Scan had indicated the tumour was at the bottom of the stomach, it had actually moved higher.

In order to get clear margins, they had to take her entire stomach.

Goal #2 was to leave her with 40-60% of her stomach, so needless to say – this is not what we wanted.

Mom knew this was a possibility going in. It’s not what she wanted, but everyone was in agreement as to the priority of the goals.

They also took all lymph nodes anywhere close to the stomach, and ¬†her entire spleen. ¬†This was unexpected (in that no one really remembers them talking about this as a possibility before), but because the spleen acts like one giant lymph node and it’s proximity to the stomach – they decide this was the best option. And it seems logical to us.

We were able to see her in recovery last night, she looked really good – her make up was unsmudged by the surgery!

Next steps:

Given the complications with the anesthesia and the length of the surgery, ICU was asked to do an assessment in the recovery room.  They have since done that and she is in ICU.  This means only immediate family can visit her right now.  It also means only immediate family will be given any information or updates over the phone.

Despite not having a stomach, Mom is “fully connected.” ¬†She will be able to eat, but will need to work with the dieticians to learn how to eat and will be doing so very slowly and in very small portions.

Mom will have “dramatic and permanent” weight loss. ¬†So that beautiful new North Face coat she just bought? Likely going to be under the tree for me this Christmas, as are all her new Joe Fresh pants!

Because of the complications with the anesthesia, and her lack of a spleen, she is at higher risk for infection (this is the new Priority #1 for recovery) she will need a series of vaccinations, which she’ll get in the hospital, and a series of boosters which will be managed by our family doctor.

Because she no longer has a stomach, she will need some vitamin supplements by injection – B12 for example – this will also be managed by our family doctor going forward.

Her pathology is not expected to be back for at least 2 weeks, this will help determine what goes in the cocktail for the next round of chemo.

To end on a positive, Dr. Law said Mom is one of the strongest and most positive people he has met. ¬†Tough doesn’t even begin to describe it. ¬†All of the support she has around her is amazing and she will adapt and move forward without a doubt.

So that’s it. ¬†I’ll try to keep everyone as up to date as possible. ¬†We have lots of questions going forward and it’s not the last we’ve seen of Dr. Law and his team – he’s still working for us and was clear to please ask all the questions we need to. ¬†For right now, we’re happy it’s over and happy she’s safely on the other side.

Message from Mom: When Dad told her last night that they had to take all of her stomach; “Fuck”

 

And… We’re done.

Alright everyone we’re done. Surgery is done. Mom is out. All is well.

Collective letting go breath.

So I know I said this would be one step shy of live tweeting the surgery updates, but I can tell you had I live tweeted – this is what it would have consisted of, “Status update from the OR – still in surgery, call back in an hour” and repeat, and repeat, and repeat. For many many hours. To say it was a long day would be an understatement.

Sorry to everyone that may have been freaking out, but I didn’t think “we still know nothing” would be terribly helpful.

We’ve spoken to Dr. Law, who btw has lovely bedside manner. He started with the ending – it’s over and it went well. They have clear margins. And to me that means the Boy was right – as of this moment Mom is cancer free. It got the picture that it was not welcome at our party, and it has fucked off.

So that’s the good news. And for now I’ll leave it at that. More details to come but first – I’m so hungry I need to eat.

Thank you to everyone again for all of your positive thoughts prayers and finger crossing messages all day long.

Love you all.