Post 4th Chemo Update

4th Chemo

So I had my 4th Chemo on July 26. As I’ve said, my CA125 directly before that was 11! Yay! So then I spent the next week recuperating. It is sort of like Harry Potter dementors sucking the life out of me, in a mild sense. Not too bad. I saw Dr. Fields, had a Myers cocktail, did acupuncture and lymph drainage, saw my personal counselor, and generally tried to feel better.

But the worst part, honestly, sorry if it’s too much information (TMI), is constipation. The drugs do that to a person, which sucks. It’s not typical of my system to have that issue, so figuring out how to deal with it and get past it is a thing. This time I resorted to grandma’s remedy of castor oil. It worked. Each time I feel like I get a little better at dealing.

Another issue is the queasy semi-nausea where nothing sounds good to eat, I don’t really want to eat, but I feel like I should. For the next time, I think I might just go with listening to my body which doesn’t want to eat, maybe just a liquid diet, getting past the drugs that cause the constipation, and then getting back to eating when the drugs are through my system. Maybe that will prevent constipation because there won’t be anything in there to constipate.

But enough on that topic.

Family Visit

We had the pleasure of hosting Grant’s cousin Lori and her husband Mickey this week. They came out from Illinois after my week of chemo recovery and were a help around the house and yard, especially with a whole line of privet bushes that needed trimming.

Hearing them talk about childhood memories was also entertaining. One story in particular, which I just can’t do justice to here, had us all in stitches. Laughter is good medicine, too!

We also did various touristy things with them, which was nice to get out and about and enjoy our area. Grant and I realized we have been being the proverbial sticks in the mud, and granted, our minds have definitely been elsewhere, but seeing and experiencing the natural beauty in Colorado and Wyoming, and just having some R&R time, some sunshine, some walking, some restauranting, etc., was nourishing.

Interesting side note: “Restaurant” is from the French “restauration” which is to say “restoration.” It is restoring to allow someone else to shop, prep, cook, serve, and clean up.

It was also restoring to be out in nature. We got our toes and more wet in the Poudre River near Lee Martinez Park in Fort Collins.

We attended sporadically the local Ault Fall Fest here in town. There were concerts, booths selling things, a car show, a firework show, and a parade. Missed the parade this year, but bought a lovely painting from our neighbor girl Pearl as a fundraiser for her class eco-trip to Panama next year.

We enjoyed the sights and relative silence of Curt Gowdy State Park in Wyoming. Lori, Mickey, Grant, and the dogs hiked back in to Hidden Falls. I hung out nearer the car and walked, took photos, read, worked on my Lissa Rankin Mind Over Medicine worksheets, ate, sat in my lounge chair getting some sunshine and vitamin D, and rested.

We also visited the summer tourist mecca of Estes Park, entrance town to Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). Estes is full of shops and restaurants.

And. So. Much. Sugar.

Candy, ice cream, chocolate, cotton candy, taffy — all these odors and fragrances wafting around, and none of us feeling like we could or should have ANY sugar. I’m off it due to cancer, and the others were off it as well for various other reasons. Tempting though. It would have been the summery touristy thing to do to walk around with an ice cream cone. Alas.

Instead we walked along the river’s edge, met a lot of other dogs and their people, had some organic iced coffee, and generally enjoyed without getting too sucked into the tourist trap that Estes can be. We had dinner at one of my favorite places: Sweet Basilico. YUM! They were flexible with me about avoiding the pasta, so I had a great dinner of veggies and meat, which was quite Paleo, and maybe even Keto. Afterwards, we visited the YMCA Camp of the Rockies which is a big conference center complex right at the feet of RMNP.

All in all, the week was refreshing.  They are headed back to IL today as I write.  Safe travels!

Fundraising

So it turns out there are some complexities with the Fundly fundraising site. We are in the midst of figuring it out. I am grateful to report that many people are donating directly to me in various forms so that is currently sidestepping the site’s issues.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! to you who have donated. I have received funds dedicated to COBRA payments, to food-as-medicine grocery shopping, to gym membership, to “keeping Andrea alive,” to general-purpose-wherever-it-is-needed. My heartfelt appreciation ❤️, and dedication to getting over this ASAP and getting back to work myself.

Speaking of that, I briefly considered applying for a part time job that was available, but realized it is probably too soon. I believe I might be cleared for work a month after the last chemo which would put it at mid-September. However, I will still be rebuilding, and regrowing hair, and I got to thinking that I really should give myself maybe a little more time to recuperate, especially before heading into full-time-job-land.

I am in the position of reevaluating what I really want to do, which is part time private practice counseling, and how to make it happen consistently and reliably. To that end, a marketer in the family has agreed to talk with me about the situation. More on that when there is something to report. I have skills and the ability to help people. I just need to make sure that people can find me, that I am visible and accessible.

What’s Next?

5th Chemo on August 16th? Maybe? Grant is really wanting to get further input from the various docs as the most recent CA125 was 7.4 as of yesterday. Here is a lovely graph of my CA125 history.  CA125 Graph as of 2018-08-08 at 11.57.42 AM

Isn’t that lovely? I love looking at it. But as you can see, most of the drop has happened before the surgery on June 25th. It is a tumor marker number, and after the surgery there is no more tumor. So from “before 4th Chemo” at 11, and “after 4th Chemo” at 7.4, that’s not a big drop, and that number is on the low end of “normal” anyway, so is a 5th Chemo really necessary? The reason we decided the 4th was necessary is because there were still microscopic cancer cells floating around in my abdomen after the surgery. Would just one chemo treatment take care of those? Do I need two? We’ll see Dr. Fields tomorrow and get her opinion, and maybe have her talk with Dr. Guntupalli. Basically, the question is, “What is the cost/benefit analysis?” Because chemo definitely has its costs. We’ll see. My other blood work is all looking very good. I’m sure the Integrative Medicine I’ve been doing has allowed my body to be very strong through all this.

I am still waiting to hear from the long term disability insurance people.  They in turn are still waiting on medical records from Dr. Guntupalli’s office / University Hospital.  I’m sure the hospital is inundated with requests, *and* at this point I’m thinking maybe they need to hire more help to get that job done. I know they’re using a third party on-site called MRO to do it, but there is apparently quite a backlog. MRO keeps telling me and/or the insurance company that they have requested a rush/expediting; however, it doesn’t seem to be doing any good. So, still no decision on that. Once I know, that will help with the financial planning a lot.

I have made an appointment with a local wig store to see options. I’m thinking about when I head back to working, I could continue to use scarves and kerchiefs, but I might also like to have a good wig that feels a little bit more like me than the free one the American Cancer Society provided me with. So I’m going to shop a little and see what I can find. It will also be a cost/benefit analysis as they can range from $56 to $350, so we’ll see.

I’ve also had a re-start meeting with the physical therapist / exercise physiologist’s office, to get back to that now that I’m six weeks past surgery. That is nice to say! Six weeks past surgery. Ahhh. The first thing they want me to focus on is rebuilding my Transversus Abdominis, which sounds like a Harry Potter spell to me. It is the core abdominal muscle under the “six pack” muscles. All those abdominal muscles were severed by the surgery; so the point is to heal and rebuild. She had me do some exercises which felt like no big deal when I was there yesterday, but I could feel it afterwards, and am actually a little sore today.

So, to recap, I have a follow up with Dr. Fields tomorrow, and physical therapy, brunch with friends, and a wig appointment on Friday.  That should keep me busy.

Continuing feeling gratitude for all the support I and we have received in this process.

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