It’s Been A While

Hello, it’s been a while.  Almost a month since the last time I wrote a post.  The reason is a good thing. We’ve just been over here living life.  Mom was getting chemo once every 3 weeks and other than that we’ve just been enjoying summer.  Mom has been making up for last summer.  Watering her flowers without intense amounts of pain and going on vacation.  We don’t talk about cancer or death like we were.  But things are starting again or ending, I suppose.  All depends what the scan says.

Today mom will have her final chemo for this course.  This could potentially be her last chemo for a very long time but that all depends on the scan.  Today she met with her oncologist and here is the game plan.  Chemo today, scan next week and an appointment to go over the scan on July 3rd.  Something about seeing the words scan next week makes my stomach turn.  I guess it’s because I know how we all get after a CT scan and during the waiting period.  Hoping for good results and overanalyzing how we will react if it’s bad news.  It’s been a rollercoaster and this is just how we are programmed at this point.

So if the scan is clear mom will start a drug called a PARP inhibitor.  It is a pill she will take until the end of time.  The PARP inhibitor is a drug that treats cancer.  Specifically patients with BRCA mutations like mom.  It makes the cancer unstable so it can’t grow.  It doesn’t extend a person’s life but extends progression free survival.  Progression free survival is the amount of time a person is living without their cancer growing and spreading.  The downside to these drugs is that over time the cancer gets smart and figures out a way around the drug (a secondary mutation) and then you need to find a new drug because the current one becomes ineffective.  I’m not saying this to be a downer.  Just scientifically this is how these drugs work.

So two weeks of limbo and then some answers and a plan going forward.  As always thank you all for your love and prayers and support throughout this insane year!

Always Changing

If I’ve learned anything this year it’s that things are constantly changing whether it be good or bad. I have to admit I’ve always been quite the pessimist. I had this notion that if things were going too well for me something bad was inevitably lurking in the shadows. My therapist had identified this as automatic negative thoughts or ANTS. 

We have gone through so many changes this year. A rollercoaster of emotions and experiences ranging from good to bad and everything in between. And this has allowed me to view things in a different way. The bad can be just as temporary as the good.  A happy day or experience could be lurking in the shadows and I take great comfort in that. 

If I look back on this blog and the experiences I’ve written about there were times we were in a dark place and there are posts after that where we are enjoying a wonderful moment. 

Today mom was supposed to start cycle 2 for this course but her platelets were too low. Two months ago this may have caused me to panic. We went through an entire month without her getting chemo and she survived. Her chemo kept working after that and her CA125 is now down to 23. 

So today they decided to adjust her protocol once again so she is able to have quality. One week of a double of chemo and then two weeks off. So that’s the plan. At some point when her counts recover she will have two more chemos and then her scan. As for this week we continue to live our lives and enjoy the sunshine. 

Thank You Mom

Let’s just start with thank you for choosing to spend your spring break at Daytona Beach and meeting dad because had you not made that choice I would not exist. So thank you!

Thank you for giving me two siblings to share the good times and bad, to annoy, to get annoyed with and to love. You gave us a bond that can’t be broken. 

Thank you for making sure we always knew the importance of family. 

Thank you for always telling me I’m beautiful. 

Thank you for encouraging me to go away to college. Had I not I wouldn’t have grown as a person, met my husband or have my Juju buggy. 

Thank you for watching Julian for a little over two years and towards the end of the second year when your abdomin was filled with cancer and we didn’t know it.

Thank you for always telling me I’m a good mom especially when Julian is acting crazy and I feel like I’m failing. 

Thank you for standing up out of your hospital bed like a champ the day after your surgery. I wish you would’ve seen the nurse’s face. Watching you get up and walk made me more proud than words can say. You are incredible. 

Thank you for always reminding us even through the hard times that there is someone out there who has it worse and try to make sure we have grateful hearts even though it’s hard sometimes. 

Thank you for choosing to seek a second opinion and opting to do chemo and putting your mind and body through everything you have over the past 11 months. Today could’ve been a very different day. 

I am beyond thankful that I get to tell you Happy Mother’s Day! I love you and thank you for everything you have done and everything you continue to do!

Moving Right Along

Today mom had chemo and for the first time ever I forgot.  I have anxiously awaited chemo update text messages every Monday or Tuesday since July 19. And today I forgot she even had chemo.  Last week just felt so normal after receiving positive news about her scan.  We ate dinner outside one night and watched the NFL draft and had our Friday night dinner.  We spoke of cancer but not as much as we’ve been and we barely mentioned death (we’re a morbid bunch). So I forgot.

And then I looked down at my phone today and I had texts from my dad and mom.  At this point I feel like I’m bragging because the good news keeps rolling in.  Mom was able to have chemo today.  She wasn’t able to last week because her WBC count was too low, so they gave her some shots and it boosted right up.  Her platelets were also good which is a nice way to start a cycle because the platelets really take a hit with one of her drugs.  And the best news of all…CA125 of 35.  Yes folks, I said 35.  And if you remember from my million other previous blogs 35 and under is considered normal.  We have waited 10 months to see that number.

I am not naive and I know she has ovarian cancer and that there will be more bumps in the road.  But today I am soaking it in.  Today I am enjoying that fact that for a bit we may get a break from being scared. We are blessed, we are grateful and we are moving along in the right direction.

** 35 was her CA125 from 4/20/17, they did another draw today and we just found out she’s down to 29**

Now I really feel like I’m bragging…

We Can Breathe

Mom and I sat at Bob Evans today barely speaking. She kept asking if she heard the doctor right. She asked if he truly said the larger mass next to her colon was in fact so small that they could barely measure it. He did. We were in shock. A happy shock but still in shock and trying to process the gift of good news we were given today

This morning at 7:45 I met my parents at her appointment with her oncologist. I gave my siblings updates letting them know we were sitting in the waiting room and again when they took us back. I didn’t want them to have to wonder if we were talking to the doctor yet. 

The nurse called mom’s name and took us back. She took mom’s weight and blood pressure. She looked like she knew bad news (later we discovered it was just a case of the Mondays). When you are waiting on news you try to read people. 

We sat in the room anxiously awaiting her doctor’s arrival. When he came in he asked about their vacation. How long they went? If they had any future vacation plans? And we were just sitting there thinking…ok just say it already. And then he said it “your scan looked good”. He then elaborated as we picked our jaws off the floor. He said the larger mass that is adjacent to her colon is so small they can barely measure it. He didn’t even mention the smaller mass that was next to her spleen. So I’m assuming it’s gone. He said her CA125 was in the 30s. 35 and under is normal range. So she’s either normal or close to it. 

The game plan is 3 more cycles (9 weeks) of chemo and then he will put her on a PARP-inhibitor drug that she will take for life. He said this drug has prevented cancer progression in some patients for up to one and a half years. 

10 months ago today mom was diagnosed and our lives changed forever. The fact that her CA125 at diagnosis was over 9,000 and today it is in the 30s is an amazing blessing. The fact that chemo is still working is a blessing. Let’s face it all of this is an incredible blessing and we do not take that for granted. We are incredibly grateful for all of this. And incredibly grateful for all the people that have been there for us, prayed for us, asked others to pray for us and let us know we are not alone. This isn’t over but today is a gift and I will take it, appreciate it and ride it out as long as possible. 

And So It Begins

Today the cancer spring break ends and the next chapter begins. The tone of the chapter has yet to be determined but it’s all starting again. Mom gets her blood drawn today, CT scan tomorrow and meets with the oncologist on Monday morning.

It’s a very strange feeling to know we are approaching another life changing day and time has become an interesting concept. I feel like we get into these hurry up and wait moods. The desire for time to hurry up so we can check another holiday off the list and wanting to freeze time so that day lasts forever.

Part of me wants Monday over with so badly and part of me wants to stay in a moment where we don’t know what’s going on. She hasn’t had a CA125 since right before she began cycle 2 of this course. We have no indication whatsoever if chemo was still working. We are going into this scan blind.  So what am I going to do this week (as my therapist always asks)…well I’m going go to yoga, spend time with my family and try to live in the moment.

Counting Down

When I was little my parents would sometimes drop me off at my Grandma Carole and Papa Joe’s house for the weekend.  I remember on the day they would come pick me up I would count down because I looked forward to seeing them.  We lived about an hour and a half away and I knew what time they were supposed to show up so I would count TV shows.  I would watch Nickelodeon and tell myself  3 more episodes of whatever show was on and then my parents would get there.

Today I felt like that waiting for them to get home from Disney.  And this has barely anything to do with mom’s cancer.  It has to do with the fact that I spend four nights a week at my parent’s house with Julian.  I see my sister almost every Friday over there and I really enjoy my family’s company.  Sure the reason in the beginning we were going over there was because I wanted to spend as much time with my mom as possible and I didn’t like being at home thinking about everything that was going on.  But now 10 months later it’s our routine and I like that routine. It’s not always rainbows and sunshine.  We get on each others nerves and know what buttons to push but when push comes to shove we show up for one another, we have fun together and we truly love each other.  If I had a choice I would choose these 4 crazies every time.