It Shrinks

I’ve had “write blog post” on my to-do list for about 2 1/2 months now.

I’ve started it several times – but somehow I just couldn’t hit publish.

Now I can. Because for now at least, there’s a little good news to go with the bad. It doesn’t just grow. It shrinks.

For anyone not in the know, my mom is back in chemo. Since the last blog post, what feels like a really long time ago, but actually was just a year ago (April 8th to be exact) – a lot has happened.  The short version, she had her follow up CT Scan in October, totally expecting everything to be fine, but it wasn’t.  That F’ing C didn’t stay away for long and in fact decided to make a new home for itself in her liver. Shit.

It was small, so they radiated it.  Doctors were very positive.  Phrases like “we caught it early” and “it’s very small” and “this treatment is new and very effective” were used a lot.

It didn’t work.

She knew she was in trouble when her stool lost colour.

We knew she was in trouble when she turned yellow.

Another CT and more not very nice news, not only had the radiation not worked, it had really not worked – it had grown.  A lot. Almost four times the size in two short months. Quadruple shit.

A stent was put into her liver to get the bile moving in the right direction, and get her skin a little less big-bird-esque. And she started chemo again. Three more rounds.

The last week has been rough. The stent was blocked, the dressing around her abdomen was being changed multiple times a day, her skin was not happy. Another CT and a small surgery to fix the stent were both booked for Thursday.

But alas, a little ray of hope.  A little reward of sunshine for her determination and perseverance. It seems it has shrunk a little.

Full results are not in yet.  We don’t know by how much and we don’t know the full analysis, but the preliminary report “looks good” – and it makes this waiting period a whole lot nicer. The chemo will continue but at least it seems to be doing something.

It’s a win for today.  And that’s worth writing about.

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That beautiful photo is the work of Michelle Peek Photography – that’s another blog post on my list… and they’re too beautiful not to share so it’s coming – pinky swear.

Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired

March 4th. That’s 8 days left. EIGHT DAYS!!! And you know what? It’s been a long fucking haul.  No one in our family has had a cold or flu this winter (*Knock on wood*) and do you know why? Because we don’t have time for that shit! (pardon the language but we’re all getting a little punchy!)

But the body and mind can really only take so much and Mom is currently feeling sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.  The end is near, but like the last mile of a marathon – that short distance is starting to feel the longest (or so the runners in my life have told me).
So the Sista put on her thinking cap and together we have come up with a way to bring a little sunshine into Mom’s life in the next 8 days, and to do it we need everyone’s help from near and far to cheer her on to a photo finish.
Our brilliant idea combines three things we love, social media, mom and a good hashtag.
We’re calling all photographers for photos of things that inspire you, things you’re grateful for, things that make this crappy fight all worth while. Sista signed Mom up for Instagram, (because apparently she needs another platform to try and understand it’s awesome and mom loves all things awesome) so you can Instagram your pictures and tag her @60onth4th or me @gingerandgiant and use the hashtag #lovefor60onthe4th.
Our thought was looking at pictures of all the things that you’re grateful for is a low-energy pastime that should bring more than a few smiles to not just Mom, but everyone who is counting down with her.
Not on Instagram? (well you should be – because it’s awesome) You can still participate by emailing me your pictures to meaghanweldon @ gmail dot com I’ll post some pictures each day on this little blog and maybe we’ll kill two birds and I’ll get back into the habbit of daily blogging (HA! We can only hope)
I’ll kick it off to get this party started.
Showing our patriotism at 7 am really takes a lot of us.
The Boy, Gordon and I were happy to show our patriotism at 7 am on Sunday. But we were truly grateful for a 3 hour family nap in the afternoon!
So post your pictures – be they profound, cute, inspiring or silly, and together let’s cheer this awesome lady to the finish line!!!

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!!!

Brought to you by the Letter P and the Number 3

Time to learn some numbers and letters.  This post is brought to you by the number 3 – as in the third complication.  In true Mom styles she likes to keep things exciting and never does the same thing twice.

The first – you will recall, was getting the bleeding under control which they did and you can refresh yourself here.

The second – was some slight complications with her check in on Thursday, apparently when she’s out and about town she’s not drinking enough water.  You can’t blame her really, it’s hard to remember to explicitly drink water when you are drinking everything else – or at least you’re supposed to be… that’s another post.  This was only a slight complication since they fixed her right up by giving her a bag of saline to hydrate her before doing their regular check-ups, including changing Paula and flushing her PICC line.  No biggie. Although her Oncologist did say, “Out and about? You need to be at home – resting.”  Perhaps.

But number three, well it deserves it’s own post. It’s number three, and bad things come in threes – and since this is number three, I’m blogging to remind the universe, we’re done.  Okay? Three down.  No more to go.  Got it?  Good.

Moving on.  The post is brought to you by both the number three for the reasons above and the Letter P

P is for Pulmonary Emboli

Okay, so it doesn’t sound good. But don’t worry – we’re under control. Why? Because as you will recall we’re not having it any other way.

The deets:

Mom did not sleep well Saturday night.  She had “vague” pain in her chest, right around her sternum, no matter which way she was lying, and when she was on her back the pain was in the middle of her chest and she could feel it straight through to her back.  Obviously this is not good.  But she’s a quick learner that Mother of mine and this time instead of arguing with people that she was fine, she let Dad take her to the Emergency Room at Southlake… at the reasonable hour of 9:30.  Let’s not get ridiculous and inconvenience anyone too much.

They hooked her up to an ECG to check her heart and ran some blood work, then repeated the blood work 4 hours later to see that it was the same.  There was some blips on the ECG, but it turns out the hook up was slightly off so once they sorted that out it was fine.  And her hemoglobin is at 108 – steadily improving. They debated sending her home.

Her temperature did a little spike, and they decided against the home plan, and instead sent her for another CT scan.  They waited and she sent Dad home to start preparing a birthday dinner for Sista and the Physicist. Always a mother first.

They did the CT Scan and confirmed what she was already thinking by that point, Bilateral Pulmonary Emboli.  For the non-medical among us, that’s tiny blood clots in both of her lungs.  As the Doctor explained, these are quite common when you have cancer they can show up well before the Cancer is found, or during treatment.  Mom said “I know, I’ve been through this with my daughter” I’m telling you – we are really good at Cancer.

The good news is, they found them. And they will treat it.  And they sent her home.  She is now on Lovenox, which is an injection she has to take daily in her stomach.  Lovenox holds the clots together and stops them from traveling to bad places and thins the blood so that it doesn’t clot.  Don’t let the name deceive you – there’s really nothing lovely about it – other than the job it does. For those keeping score, this drug is doing the opposite of what they were giving her last week, which was to stop her from bleeding. Cancer is all about the contradictions.

So that’s where we are.  Injections in her stomach, but no hair loss yet. Yin and Yang. The Lovenox will continue for the duration of the chemo.  And that’s the last of it – because we’re not having it.

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How you can help – Everyone has done so much already.  Thank you really doesn’t quite do it justice.  This week, the neighbours got together and sent a gorgeous flower arrangement – seriously so beautiful.  Thank you.

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Message from Mom – Once she had a diagnosis, one of the nurses said “Well that’s it for bikini season this year.” Mom – What’s a bikini?

 

The Big C – again

As most of if not all my in real life peeps know – my mom has cancer… again.

This is not my family’s first time with this – and here are my two cents – COME ON! Unfortunately no amount of hating the diagnosis is going to make her better – yes it sucks, but we’ve just got to pick up, stick together and get her through it, because personally, I’m not having it any other way.

For those that don’t know, this is my little family’s 4th visit from the big C.  We have had a lot of success, we know the system, we know the questions to ask but in this case knowledge doesn’t necessarily make things easier. However, we do know that it’s the little things that count.  Positive energy, prayers you don’t know are happening, chocolate, visits and hugs – all little things that go a long way.

Unexpectedly, this little blog might just be one of those little things that make it a little easier this time around – that’s right for the first time we’ve got social media on our side and since every little bit helps, I’m going to use it. 

If you’re new to this blog because my mom just sent it out to you – welcome.  Feel free to look around and get comfortable.  You can either make a point to check back in regularly or you can subscribe in the box on the right side and all posts will come directly to your inbox.  (If you subscribe you will get an email to confirm your subscription, check your junk mail if it doesn’t come to your inbox – you must do this step to complete the subscription). If you choose to subscribe, you might find yourself with the odd knitting project, or something ridiculous the Boy said, but you’ll also get the latest in updates about my mom.

But Meaghan, won’t this make your blog sad? Why blog about not nice things? Well, this blog is supposed to be an online journal of my life – and quite frankly – life is clearly not always rainbows and sunshine.  So it’s logical the blog would follow. More than that though, my hope is we get 2 perks from blogging: 1. Consistent information told straight from the source.  2. Easing the number of phone calls that both mom and our wonderful key family members and friends get asking for new details – not to say that phone calls are not welcome, just this way we don’t have to have the same conversation 55 times.

So strap in – for those readers that have commented I’ve been slacking off for the last little while year or so – I’m back.  And when I’m stressy I do 2 things, I knit and I write.  The five sweaters that I’ve sewn together in the last two weeks can attest to the first part, and this little blog will inevitably get more attention too.

To start – the details. Next post – the updates.

The short version – My mom fainted about 6 weeks ago in a grocery store.  She thought it was because she hadn’t had much to eat that day and it was 30 degrees outside.  EMS came but she refused to go to the emergency room, instead she called me and I brought her home for a chocolate milk and a lie down. She fainted again that night and when my dad said “can we go to the hospital now?” her response was “well, probably – but first get the blood pressure cuff.”  When her blood pressure was in the tank she allowed a 911 call, and by the time they got there she was vomiting blood. 

FYI – that’s not good. 

To the hospital they went, where they treated her for an ulcer.  Everything looked good.  Until it wasn’t.  Yada Yada Yada, she bled out, yada yada, it was a very good thing she was already in the hospital, yada, they sent her home 5 days later and her biopsy to the lab.

We waited.

And waited.

And kind of forgot.

Until they didn’t have results. Then mom booked an appointment with our family doctor.

Then we got first results. Stomach cancer.

Then we said some not nice words.

For anyone that hasn’t done this before, let me tell you – so far in all our times with this – this is the WORST part.  Knowing, but not knowing how bad, or where, or what, or how fast, or where else. When all you’re left with is a whole bunch of questions and your mind is left to wander into the terrible world of ‘what if’ – it’s awful.

Last weekend she had her CT Scan, and on Monday she saw the surgeon at Sunnybrook.  Stomach cancer, and that’s it. It doesn’t appear to be anywhere else, there aren’t any glowing node areas (although lymph-nodes can’t be truly known until dissection after surgery).  The plan, 3 rounds of chemo, surgery (leaving her with 40-60% of her stomach), followed by 3 more rounds of chemo. Followed by all better.  Forever.

The not so good news, the cancer is at the base of the stomach and the exit point is very narrow.  She is at high risk for obstruction and is on a liquid diet starting immediately. Since the chemo will first expand the cells before destroying them – it’s possible that she will not be able to get through the full 3 rounds before running into trouble. If she is obstructed, they will stop the chemo and do emergency surgery followed by more chemo. Followed by all better.  Forever.

So that’s where we are – for one post anyway.  I’ll do my best to keep it as up to date as possible. And I’ll also really try to inject this little blog with some happy along the way.

How you can help today – Positive healing thoughts are always welcome. 

Message from Mom – Thank you everyone for all of your  love and support – we really appreciate it.