14 August 2010

healing purple winning hamzter

Another week has gone by in my latest journey through the world of cancer.  Just one week, but so much to write about.

I'm still recovering from surgery I had four weeks ago.  There are times I find that I have a pain so sharp that it is difficult to take a deep breath.  The first time I experienced this, I was sure I'd somehow broken a rib.  But then I came to my senses and realized that it is just pain from the muscles that are still healing.  They warned me about this, that it would take longer to heal this time due to my past radiation, that it would be at least six weeks before I could resume - shall we say "strenuous" - activity.  I also discovered that the pain is worse if I attempt to sleep on my left side during the night or if I pick up/carry anything too heavy.  Now that I know, I seem to be managing fine.  

My port has healed nicely.  I still have to keep it bandaged, but it is remarkable how nicely the incisions have closed up.  The big one where the port was actually inserted has an obvious cut.  But the other one, the one up toward my neck where they attached the catheter to my jugular, you can't really see that I was cut there.  It has completely healed.  And I've learned some interesting things about my port.  Last time, I had a plain ordinary port.  This time, I have a Power Injectable Port.  And what does that mean? That means that if I ever have to have a CT scan with contrast, they can inject the contrast dye right through my port.  Which will make my follow-ups go that much smoother.  And did I mention it's purple?

And speaking of purple, my tattoo is healing nicely.  A few people have asked, so here's the story of how that came to be:
I've known all along that I will beat this cancer.  In those words: "I will beat this."  But on Tuesday Aug 3rd just after lunch, my BFF made a very angry post on the Facebook that stated I hate you cancer ... you will NOT win this time you MOFO and at that moment, my mantra changed from "I will beat this" to "I will win."  And on that same Tuesday Aug 3rd at approximately 5:00 pm, I walked into Tropical Tattoo and said "I want 'I will win' on the inside of my right wrist in girlie swirly letters."  The tattoo artist, covered in tough manly biker tattoos, was confused by my "girlie swirly" description until I directed him to the font Gigi (if you didn't know, I am a total font geek) and the rest is history.  I chose that location so that I will be able to see it easily any time I lose focus.  Because let me assure you - I WILL WIN!

And finally, I have an appointment at Dana-Farber on Sept 3rd.  The clinical trial I hope to be part of is one that tests the effect of the addition of a biological agent with the standard chemo given for recurrent cervical cancer.  I didn't ask my doctor too many questions about this biological agent; frankly, I was just happy to have found a study related to my brand of cancer at the cancer center I preferred to go to.  If they were testing the effect of eating a Popsicle while standing on your head, I probably would have gone for it.  But getting back to the biological agent...  In reading over the paperwork again, I came across this statement in a long list labeled "Patient Characteristics":
No known hypersensitivity to Chinese hamster ovary cell products
This of course led me to Google, which led me to Wikipedia, which explained that biological agents are grown in Chinese hamster ovary cells, sort of.  So, if I am chosen to be part of the clinical trial, and if I am put into the group that receives the biological agent, then I will be infused with hamster.  Sweet!  I knew there was a reason I ♥ Agnes so much (despite her past resistance to said ♥)!

And there you have it.  In short, muscles healing, purple port, I will win, and I may be part hamster.

I'll keep you posted...

06 August 2010

coituz you, canzer

So today was the big day - the Human-Cyborg Transformation. Last time, I was a nervous quivering wreck. This time, I was... Fearless. Defiant. Angry. Determined.

MT Jeanne, angel that she is, arrived right on schedule at 6:30 am to get me to the church hospital on time. We arrived 15 minutes early and to my delight, I was whisked right in. Didn’t even see the inside of the waiting room. I willingly put my things in locker #9 - superstitions be damned! (I did, however, breathe a sigh of relief that at least it wasn’t - gasp - locker #8. That might have sent me down a different mental path altogether. But that is a topic for another time.)

I got IV’d without incident and MT Jeanne and I chatted until about 8:45 when she left to do something other than sit in a hospital waiting room. After a short doze, Nurse M came to take me down to the ominously named INVASIVE RADIOLOGY room. I met the rest of my team - Nurse J, Nurse D, and Dr G. And they met my hives. Apparently, I have yet another antibiotic to add to my growing list of allergies, this time Ancef. Benadryl helped the itching go away, and also made me just a little bit loopy.

Let me stop for a moment and just interject that my Cyborg Transformation Team ROCKED!!! Total 180 degree change from last time. Dr G was friendly and kind and didn’t try to have it his-way-or-the-highway. The nurses were very accommodating to explain everything non-invasive they were doing to me so I didn’t freak out when they started strapping me in and taping me down. It was, dare I say, almost pleasant.

Back to the loopy... I had mentioned that I always get a double dose of my dear sedative friend Versed: the first dose makes me talk talk talk, but the second actually does what it is supposed to do. I don’t know if they got to the second dose or not, since I was already half gone with the Benadryl. I had prepared them for the onslaught of verbage, and instead laid there quietly and rested while they did their thing.

I remember being wrapped in plastic (what they referred to as my tent). I remember the cold alcohol wipes. I remember a tiny needle stick. And then I remember a snippet of a conversation, recreated here to the very best of my ability:

Nurse D: I would never say that to my fiance
Me: At least not during coitus
Dr G: (laughs) So you’re awake?
Nurse D: What did she say???
Dr G: She said “at least not during coitus!”
[I have a follow up exam on Aug 16 - I’ll be sure to ask for clarification.]

After that, I thought they were still prepping me when Dr G poked his head under my tent to say I was all done. I could not believe it! No trauma! No anxiety! No angst!

I went to recovery, got dressed, had a snack, chatted with Nurse J for about an hour; and then it was time to go home.

And now, I have the inevitable Human-->Cyborg Transformation Pain. It will go away as soon as the human in me accepts and embraces the mechanical in me. Until then, I’ll be popping Tylenols and taking it easy. My weekend company (4 out of 5 Danforths) are on their way. I’m looking forward to seeing them all, even though I don’t know where to put them in my teeny-tiny apartment!

Next on deck - an Aug 12 appointment with Dr F, and waiting to hear from Dana-Farber regarding the clinical trial I’m hoping to be part of.

I’ll keep you posted....

I am Cyborg. And I will win.

03 August 2010

itz my hair an you cant haz it

So, chemo, you want to take my hair? Well suck eggs - I took my own hair!

The long and the short of it is this: my cancer is back. Old cancer, new location.



Because of my past radiation treatments, surgery is out. This is the one bright spot. Radiation this time is likely also out, although I’m waiting to get the official word on that. The only definite course of action will be chemo and lots of it. This time won’t be like last time. This time, I won’t be able to pretend that everything’s alright. This time, I will be sick. This time, I will lose my hair.

(Ha! Beat you to that one...)

I’m hoping to be accepted into a clinical trial being held at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. My Auntie lives not far from there, and my Mom is staying with her for a while, so I’d be able to be with both of them and Miss Katie Bear. Yes, it would be a big pain in the tuchus to leave my job and pack up my apartment and move away. But given the circumstances, it makes the most sense.

This Friday, I have the lovely - LOVELY - task of getting another port. In case you’ve forgotten what a delight that was, click here to take a walk down that particular memory lane.

Next week, I hope to meet with Dr F who will tell me definitively if I’m getting a boost of radiation or not.

And after that, I might be holed up in my little 1-bedroom all alone for six miserable months. Then again, I might be pahking my cah in a different garahge. Who knows?

Stay tuned...