Monday, October 9, 2017

Conquering Cancer With Dad - The Last Round!!

The attached picture is one of my favorites. I can remember the day my Dad told me he could no longer carry me to my bedtime because I had finally grown too big.... it was yesterday!! Haha!
I think I was probably around 5 or 6, I remember how hard it was for me to accept. I was heartsick. I chose this picture because as my Dad carried me when I was little, I have had the opportunity to return the favor, in a sense. Amazing how so many things in this life will come full circle.

I am trying to put into words how proud I am of my Dad. I am over the moon with pride and gratitude!  He has been incredibly brave and so very strong throughout his treatments. As a Daddy’s Girl, he has always been my hero, my pillar of strength. And at 81 years old his hero status continues to grow.

Our next leg of the journey will be 3 weeks of Pinpoint Radiation for most of November. Our fingers are crossed and prayers are sent that it will be even easier than the chemo. And if that’s the case, he’s really gonna ace it! We have heard some mixed experiences as much depends on the location of the radiation and severity of the regimen. Everybody responds differently.

As soon as Dad starts feeling good again, we will begin our Arizona Adventure:) It will be great to be home.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Conquering Cancer With Dad - Rocking Round 2!

My Dad got an A+ at the Dr's today! His vitals were great, his white blood cells normal and no weight loss! And he's really been feeling good this past week. 😃 The only big change was the hair loss that started happening early last week. Clumps were falling out when he combed his hair, and he would wake to find hair on his pillow and in his mouth... so not nice.  So I told him to just go have it shaved asap, and lo and behold he did! That same day! He actually had fun getting his head shaved and has embraced his new baldness, not afraid to show anyone and everyone.  I think I struggled with it more than he did, I'm still a little unnerved seeing "Bald Dad"! With or without hair, he'll always be my handsome Dad.  His noggin has a nice shape though, so he has that going for him! Haha!  I looked high and low but couldn't find him the perfect Union Jack cap, so I ordered him the furry golf visor and it's been a hit! Attitude is everything!

So now we have Round 2 over with and Dr says to expect much of the same side effects, which were minimal. One more Round in 3 weeks time and he's done with chemo! We will then make the drive to Phoenix together for his 3 weeks of pinpoint Radiation in November. Weather should be perfect by then:) 
Thank you so much to everyone for all of your prayers, support and good vibes sent our way. We are blessed beyond my comprehension with loving friends and family, thank you ALL! Whatever you're doing, it's working and we couldn't be more grateful for the help. Thank you for being there for us.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Conquering Cancer with Dad - Doing Well!

So far, so good! You'd never know that my Dad had chemo 6 days ago! There really haven't been any side effects at all for this first round, and we couldn't be more grateful!  The nurses instructed him to drink tons of water, which he has been, and I know that is key to flushing the evils out of his body. Today is the first day without Prednisone, we'll see if he experiences any ill effects from stopping it. The nurses said he might get a little more fatigue, but that should be it. We are counting our blessings that it has been easy so far.  Just 2 more rounds to go.
I haven't seen my husband Jeff in 11 days, by the time he arrives it will be 2 weeks. As he is the Yin to my Yang, it's been difficult without him. I've missed him terribly during this stressful time.  Jeff will fly the Moonster in on Tuesday and then he, Bonnie and I will return to PHX on Wednesday. We will have one day at home to play with the kitties and then we commute to OAK for 3 days of work. I will find my way back here to Dad the following weekend to prepare for his 2nd round of chemo. I figure I had better squeeze some work in while he's doing so well. Bonnie will stay in PHX as having her around is a little too much change in my Dad's routine, Benji is too lovestruck and doesn't listen like he should. I will miss having her here, but it will be better for all as there can't be any puppy kisses while the chemo drugs build and are excreted through Dad's pores. Telling one puppy no is easier than two.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Conquering Cancer With Dad - Round 1 - Ding!

Today Dad wore the new Hawaiian print Elks shirt to his first treatment appointment, it looked great and everyone loved it! Why not huh?
We arrived at the Chemo Unit (the ATU) at LAMC at 8:00 am. They put Dad in a reclining chair in a corner which was nice and cozy. They took blood immediately and his results looked good. His RN was Valencia and she dove right in telling us about the chemo cocktail. It's the most common combination called the R-CHOP and it's been proven to be well tolerated with the least amount of major side effects. That's great news, because the list of side effects that she was required to go over with us really made it sound horrific.
So far Dad feels like Superman due to the crazy high dose of Prednisone he's taking and will continue to take for 4 more days. God I hate Prednisone, the stuff makes me climb the walls and I can't sleep. We can expect the same to happen to Dad.
His next round is scheduled for the 18th, by then we can expect hair loss and a weakened immune system. I told him he'll need to emulate Howard Hughes until all of this is over. I now have a little more perspective of the people on the plane that I see wearing face masks from time to time, you never know what they might be going through.
Round 1 in the bag and so far so good.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Conquering Cancer with Dad - Off To Battle

On our way to church today, Dad and I were talking about how his first Chemo session tomorrow feels a little like going to battle. One has to be courageous and determined to win. If we get knocked down, then we get right back up again and come at the enemy from another direction. Attitude is everything! And I say a sense of humor is important too! Maybe if he starts losing his hair, we can find one of those silly visors with the fur on top. Anything to keep things lighthearted. 

I think one of the most difficult things that Dad wrestles with right now is that his health is not in his control. He has no control over the diagnosis, the Doctor's decisions or how he will feel after the treatment. Also, the periods of waiting for results or in between treatments are very frustrating. My Dad and I are similar in this personality trait, we have never had much patience. We want results and we want them now!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Conquering Cancer With Dad

On July 24th, 2017 (5 days before his 81st Birthday), my Dad had a mass removed from his chest. Picture something the size and shape of half of a golf ball, rounded side into his chest. It wasn't causing him much discomfort, but it itched from time to time and it wasn't very pretty.
His Dr wanted it removed and tested. The test came back positive for B Cell Large Diffused Lymphoma, Non Hodgkins Lymphoma from what I researched. He underwent a few more tests throughout the week and his blood test results came back looking good. The PET Scan results showed the Lymphoma in 2 places, which now makes it Stage 2 Limited Lymphoma. There was still a little bit on his chest that was missed (Damnit!) and some in another lymph node in his arm pit.

Before my Dad's test results he felt fine. He had good energy, a great appetite and no trouble sleeping. Since then, the impact and stress of the diagnosis has played games with his mind. He's anticipating signs and symptoms of Lymphoma: night sweats, chills, dizziness, loss of appetite and weight loss.  How cruel this thing is! I'm admittedly a Daddy's Girl, my Dad has always been my Champion. And now I am his Cheerleader and his voice of reason. I say, "We got this! If we can't succeed the first time, we regroup and figure out another way." "You aren't alone, we're in this together." "Stay Strong Dad!" and "Talk to God."

His treatment will be 3 rounds of aggressive chemotherapy every 2.5 to 3 weeks followed by 3 weeks of radiation. His first chemo appointment is on Monday the 28th in Los Alamos. I have packed the car and will drive out there tomorrow morning, Bonnie in tow. I don't know how long I will be there, but I will stay as long as he needs me. With giving trips away and FMLA, I hope to get all of the time off from work that I need. Jeff will work as much as he can and my wonderful in-laws will help take care of the cats and the house. Hopefully Jeff will be able to fly out for a few days visit every so often. I'm already missing him, it's going to be even more challenging without the comfort of his embrace every time I feel scared. I don't think anyone can prepare to see a loved one get sick and suffer. My heart hurts with the thought of it. It's so horrible that the treatment makes us sicker than the Cancer does. I want to be strong enough for us both, I will need to carry us through this and stay positive.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Losing Mom - April 1, 2014

I can still feel her skin on my fingertips. I can feel the texture of her hair as I swept it across her forehead. I can smell her, her natural scent not too different from my own. I used my coconut Chapstick on her lips as they were chapped from the tape they used to attach the tubes. I remember her eyes being so swollen and gelatinous, just barely opened. Could she see me? Could she hear me? I held her hand, warmed it in my own, I massaged her puffy fingers, trying to make the swelling subside. Her nails were just painted last week, gold crackle on top of black. She always wanted her nails to look nice. Her skin had few wrinkles, it was smoother than it had ever been. She had bought and tried so many beauty products, desperate to turn back time. Seems like a tragedy now, so much time and money spent on trivial creams. I watched her, never taking my eyes off of her as she struggled for air. Precious air, oh how we take that for granted. I studied her, memorizing her, tattooing her into my mind. I whispered I love you, I love you! I love you so much. And I softly sang to her... slowly... 'Don't worry about a thing, cuz every little thing is gonna be alright.' I begged her to relax and let go, I promised her I would be fine, Dad will be fine, it's ok Momma, don't be afraid. She would groan and strain, struggling. I hated it, please don't fight, please don't suffer. Why can't they help her? How can they just let her go like this? More morphine! More Ativan! I'm here Mom, I'm not going anywhere. Singing to her 'You are my Sunshine' while wrapped in the arms of the man I love. Look Mom, see how he loves me! You can go now, be at peace. Shed one more tear and rest easy. (I am not ok. Not by a long shot. I am angry. I am sad. I am relieved. I feel guilt. I have remorse. I am terrified. I want to keep my Mother.)