Chemo – Cycle 1

My first day of chemo was June 11, 2018. Since the powers that be were a little disorganized in getting me ready for chemo, my first treatment was delivered through IV in my lower right arm. The infusion went well and I had no reaction to it. Waking up on Tuesday I felt strong, so I went to work. It was going to be an easy day anyway because it was 8th grade promotion. I just needed to check my first period in and then march them down to the gym for promotion practice. Once in the gym the organizers of the event could take over and I could monitor student behavior. All went well until the actual event that night. During promotion I started feeling pressure in my lower left side of my head and light headedness. My principal ended up driving me home in my car and with the dean of students following behind us to take her back to school. My husband, Jeremy, was home by the time I got there. We grabbed a bite to eat and then went to the ER to get me checked out. A busy ER caused us to wait two hours for a private room for me. Since I am a cancer patient on chemo, I get private rooms when I go to the ER. Once I was in the room they got me hooked up to fluids through an IV, did a chest x-ray and a CT scan of my head. The CT scan was to rule out the spread of the caner to my head. All test came back clear. I was also diagnosed with a urine track infection so they shot me with antibiotics through my IV and sent me home with a prescription for antibiotics. We didn’t leave the ER until 2:00AM so Jeremy stayed home with me Wednesday. By 1:30 PM on Wednesday I started feeling hot. I took my temperature, 100.8. We had to go back to the ER due to the high temperature. They gave me liquids through IV and sent me home. I was beginning to realize just how important it is to be hydrated. As the week progressed, I learned that I was allergic to the antibiotic they had me on. My port was implanted on Friday and that took some getting use to. Day 8 treatment went well. On day 7, 8, and 9 of my cycle I take a medication that is a steroid drug to battle bone and joint pain. By day 10 I was experiencing heartburn and irregular heart rhythms. My resting heart rate by Friday was in the 120’s. Back to the ER we went. After a chest x-ray, CT scan and fluids through IV I was sent home. Continuing into the weekend I caught a cold. By Monday, I told my husband I was going to quarintine myself and stay home and rest. Well, here is what that day of rest ended up looking like. I made Jeremy and I our morning smoothies, packed his lunch, sent him out the door, did the dishes from breakfast, took everything off of the counters in the kitchen, wiped down the counters and range, cleaned the sink, made our bed, folded laundry and put it away, made a task wall, called our rental office to put in some work orders, made a dentist appointment, followed up with my doctors office about my Friday night ER visit, washed the bathroom mats in both bathrooms with towels, swept the floor in both bathrooms, vacuumed our bedroom the girl’s bedroom and the hallway, let the maintenance guy in to fix three items, reconnected with three friends on the phone and watched three episodes of a show. How is that for a day of rest?! My energy level and motivation continued the rest of the week. Reflection on cycle one – if the energy level and motivation I had during this first cycle continues, then bring on the chemo.

Song Playlist

Here I Am – This song speaks to my attitude about the journey I am on. When I heard the news that my cancer was back, I just thought “Okay, God, How are you going to work in me through this?” I didn’t get angry with God or ask why is this happening to me. I hunkered down and said, “Let’s do this!” I believe God has a plan for everything and can use any situation for His glory.

Bring the Rain – This song represents my life verse, James 1:2-3. God has brought me through a lot of difficult circumstances. Despite the circumstances that we go through, God’s character never changes. In the same regard, my favorite line from this song is “Can circumstances possibly change who I forever am in you.” Just because we go through hard times that should not change my attitude towards God. His love for us never fails, neither should mine for Him.

All Caught Up: A Brief History

It all began in June of 2017 with an irregular period (I’ll spare you the details). An ultrasound at the end of June revealed that I had Fibroids on my uterus and polyps in my uterus. My period in July caused me to loose a fair amount of blood that I questioned the reasonableness to loose that amount of blood and have no other physical repercussions. Well, after seven days of bleeding, I started to feel dizzy and light-headed. So, Jeremy and I made a trip to the ER. This resulted in my being official diagnosed as anemic. I was put on birth control pills to control the bleeding and iron for anemia.

A month to the day later, I was seven days into another period. Jeremy and I were cooking dinner when all of a sudden I had excruciating abdominal pain and felt faint. Jeremy says I went as white as ghost. He rushed me to the ER, again. This time I was hospitalized and given four blood transfusions over two nights. My hemoglobin level was around a 5 and my hematocrit was around 20%. Normal ranges for females is 12.0-15.5 for hemoglobin and 34.9-44.5% for hematocrit. Needless to say, I was in the danger zone. After this visit my medications were adjusted in such a way that I didn’t experience any more normal periods. Instead, I had constant spotting and light bleeding with occasional clotting. I felt like the woman in the bible that was subject to bleeding for twelve years.

In a follow-up appointment with my OB-GYN, we discussed my options for managing my fibroids. All options but one had a high probability of not working. This option was to have a hysterectomy. So, we moved forward with the hysterectomy. In preparation for it, my OB-GYN wanted to do a DNC and biopsy the polyps in my uterus for precancerous/cancerous indicators. If precancerous/cancerous cells were found, special precautions would have been made during the hysterectomy. None were found so a normal procedure was scheduled. In the months and days leading up to my hysterectomy, I continued to experience lower abdominal pains, light bleeding and clotting.

Now that you have a picture of what I was going through here is a timeline of the events that followed.

October 10, 2017 – I had my hysterectomy.

October 22, 2017 – OB-GYN makes a house call to tell me that they found a sarcoma tumor in the fibroid attached to the outside of my uterus. I consider it a work of God that my only options was a hysterectomy. Otherwise the tumor would not have been found because the DNC in August was only of the inside of my uterus. Remember, no precancerous/cancerous indicators were found.

October 23, 2017 – Meet with Oncologist in Tacoma to learn about the Sarcoma tumor and what our next steps would be. Brief lesson on Sarcoma cancers – they are very rare. Each one is different by where it originates and its genetic make up. It can travel through the blood stream. They present differently in each person and have different treatment options. To analogize it in educational terms, I have the autism of cancers. (I couldn’t help it. I am a former Special education teacher.)

October 31, 2017 – Met with the Sarcoma clinic at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. They had a VERY aggressive approach with no bed side manner that left a bad taste in my mouth. They wanted to talk treatment options before even confirming what type of Sarcoma cancer I had and if it had spread. At this appointment I learned that sarcoma cancer have a 50% chance of returning in the first five years. Thus, their reason for pushing for chemotherapy. I did have a CT scan done there which came back negative. The cancer had not spread. Praise God!

November 6, 2017 – Met with Oncologist in Tacoma, again. Liked her way better than the Sarcoma clinic. She was very educational in her explanation of my cancer and had great bed side manner. Since Sarcoma cancers travel through the blood stream and have the potential to go to the head, my Tacoma Oncologist want a PET scan done. The CT scan was only of my chest, abdomen and pelvic. A PET scan takes imaging of your whole body, head to toe.

November 27, 2017 – PET scan completed.

November 29, 2017 – Met with NEW oncologist for results of PET scan. It came back negative. Meaning, no signs that the cancer had spread to ANY part of my body. The oncologist gave me two options in moving forward, start chemo or be on observation. My thought, why would I want to be on chemotherapy if there are no signs of cancer. I understand the return rate of sarcoma cancers, but still! So, I choose to be on observation. This meant that I would have three month check-ins with imaging (CT Scans or PET scan) every six months.  (New oncologist – In the middle of all this my work changed their medical insurance companies causing me to have to change my in-network providers. What a headache!)

February 28, 2018 – Three month check-up. All looked good and I wasn’t having any other health concerns.

May 29, 2018 – Time for my first six month imaging, a CT scan was done.

May 30, 2018 – Six month check-up appointment. I had started coughing two weeks prior to the appointment. I didn’t have any other symptoms like nose congestion or runny nose. So, I didn’t think anything of it and was waiting until my sixth month check-up to discuss it with my oncologist. When he entered the room for my check-up I was having a coughing attack. He went straight to the news. “The CT scan showed numerous nodules on your lungs. The cancer has metastasized to your lungs. We need to start chemo.” Not what I was prepared to hear sitting there by myself. The appointment ended with me talking to the Care Coordinator about setting up my Chemotherapy.

There you go. Now you are all caught up.

 

 

 

THE FIVE FOLD GRACE OF GOD

I found this post that hit the nail on the head in explaining the grace of God. I hope it gives you encouragement as it did me.

 

KNOWING GOD

I would like to be very brief. This is the summary of what I heard on the night of 26th January 2014 in my church, at the gospel meeting taken by the man of God.

The first grace is Saving Grace. We are saved by grace through faith. It is the gift of God. Read Eph 2.8. What is grace? It means ‘not of yourself’ – ‘not by your own wisdom or strength, not by any effort of yours, not by any supposed merit of qualification’. Grace means that we are undeserving; we don’t deserve it. Grace is the sheer bounty of God, His great goodness towards us. God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense – G.R.A.C.E. – as someone put it.

We are saved by the finished work of the Cross. Read Isaiah 53.5. He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace…

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