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.

michellepeekphotography1
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.
Advertisements

Silver Linings

This is it. The final day of a long, long journey. Paula the pump finished her job overnight, and today Mom goes for one last weekly visit to Southlake to have the pump taken off, and the PICC line removed.  
 
She’s done. 
 
Everyone together now… exhale. 
 
We’ve made light of it along the way, celebrated family with cupcakes and told cancer where to go – all at the same time. I think every person in my family has used the line – “we’re really good at cancer” at least once.  We’ve picked a disease to stick with, but we come out swinging every time and today we can celebrate that we’ve kicked it once again. If you can’t laugh, you’ll cry, so we’ve chosen to laugh as much as possible.
 

The O and M on top were for the littles... we try and maintain some sense of appropriateness

The O and M on top were for the littles… we try and maintain some sense of appropriateness

We haven’t done it alone.  The outpouring of love and support on this blog, to our emails or on coffee dates has been overwhelming.  Whether it’s dropping by to check in, calling every single day when you’re supposed to be on vacation, or flat out insisting that yes you will be driving to the next appointment, no it is not a bother, and yes you will gladly wait for hours and hours while the chemo slowly pumps through – it has all been appreciated not just by Mom, but by everyone in our family. 
Bringing smiles with a touch of flare

Bringing smiles with a touch of flare


Through it all, I have often thought (and I know she has too) how people can possible fight this fight alone. It’s beyond me. 
 

Everybody on 3 - 1, 2, 3 - Fuck Cancer!

Everybody on 3 – 1, 2, 3 – Fuck Cancer!

There have been hundreds of comments about Mom’s strength, perseverance and determination.  And I’ll agree, the Olympians we celebrated last month have nothing on her. She’s been asked over and over, “how do you do it?”  Her answer, always with a smile and soft chuckle – “I don’t really see any other option.”  But I’m here to tell you as we start the long process of putting this horrible experience behind us what her secret has been. 
 

Happy Mom.

Happy Mom.

It’s you. 
 
She has drawn on your strength, on your support and on your friendship. You have made sure she knows that she is loved and she is needed and she is not alone. And by extension you’ve made our whole family feel that love too.
And so from the bottom of my heart, thank you.  Thank you for being there, for cheering her on, for checking in, for keeping track and for counting down right along with us. 
 
Thank you for being our silver lining. 
Silver lining

Silver lining

 
A friend of Mom’s sent this to me last week to be included in our #lovefor60onthe4th countdown.  I thought it was an excellent way to wrap this whole thing up.
 

The Best Things in Life Aren’t Things

Love is powerful. It can change everything in an instant…and for a lifetime. But, it’s something that’s not to be taken for granted. In fact, it’s often the little things, the compliment, the extra hug, the special effort to make your loved one smile that makes love grow. It’s not the most expensive gift, but the gift of heart that makes the difference.

Special thanks to Molls for her excellent guard dog skills. No leaf or snowflake has gone unnoticed in the last few months.

Onward and Upward – right Molls?!

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. 🙂

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!!

 

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. 🙂

 

New Year, New Beginnings… 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’s going to be a quieter Christmas than normal in our house that’s for sure, but I feel confident speaking for all the Weldon’s when I say – we don’t mind one bit.

Message from Mom – 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!!!