Chemo School

(The following was originally posted on my Carepages blog for family and friends during my treatment.)

Today I went to chemo school. I'm glad I went. It wasn't at all what I expected. Well, to start, we had been told, just go to the information desk when you walk into the hospital and they will tell you where to go. But the young security guard at the desk didn't know where it was. He got on the phone and started calling around asking people where I should go. Then a second young security guard showed up. The two conferred and since guy number two didn't know either, he got on a second phone and started calling around. Then a third security guard showed up (I can't make this stuff up). He also got on a third phone. All three were on the phone talking to different people trying to find out where this chemo education was supposed to be. Finally, guy number two told us to get on the elevator and go to the sixth floor. Turns out that was still not the right place, but we finally got where we were supposed to be. Seems there are secret sixth-floor elevators we needed to take. (At least we know now.)

Just as we were walking away from the security guards, all kinds of lights started flashing (remember what I said before about that?) and the security guards were called to a code red. We never did find out what that was all about, but the lights were flashing up on the sixth floor too.

cards notebookOnce there, I honestly expected to be in a room with a bunch of people all asking questions and I wasn't really looking forward to that. But instead, we were taken to a private chemo room where we had a one-on-one with a super smiley happy nurse. Turns out they had all been doing chemo over at the cancer center, but (I think she said around Labor Day last year) they had started doing all the chemo at two of the area hospitals instead. (I'm doing mine at UPMC/Hamot.) So she explained all about what to expect, hour-by-hour, and day by day for the coming week. She made it sound almost easy.

She gave me a great notebook that was put together very thoughtfully with all kinds of great info and stuff you might need as a chemo patient. Even a calendar. (I can't wait to put big Xs on the days of chemo that are D. O. N. E. Of course, I had already made a notebook, so I brought that one home and added it to mine. Mine has all kinds of sayings on it like "Remember this moment," and "Life is a garden, so dig it." And a bunch more. On the binding it says, "Life's a Journey, Here We Go!"

Then we stopped over to see my MD who hadn't seen me since the 13th and a lot has happened since then. We were so pleased to learn that the girls in the office had dug through the archives and found my paperwork from 1985, something the cancer center had hoped to find. We hope they found all they need but were so-so grateful for the girls doing that for us.

So tomorrow is the B.I.G. day. . .

The Gift of Hair

(The following was originally posted on my Carepages blog for family and friends during my treatment.)

Jamie's hair cutIn all likelihood, within 3 or 4 weeks, I will lose some or all of my hair. Having not cared much about how it looked this past couple of weeks, I decided to manage the whole situation by cutting it really short. I decided to first see if I had enough for Locks of Love (I did), so the gal cut those first. (I'm told that Pantene provides the wigs for free, so will send it there.) I feel like, well, I may lose my hair, but someone else will gain some. Jamie's hair cut 2

Mark agreed to accompany me and to take photos. He took photos and kept my spirits up. Then I walked right over to the make-up girl (I was in Ulta) and said, my eyes need help. So she fixed me up and I bought all new eye makeup too. (I figure if I make my eyes up good enough, no one will notice my hair. Ha ha ha) I got something that looks like a giant chocolate bar and all the eye colors are named after chocolates. Then she recommended some mascara. I told her I never wore it because it was always so clumpy, my eyes wouldn't open. She said, "Try this!" Oh. My. God. I think it's called "better than sex" and it's awesome. (Hey, it's a girl thing.) So I got that too. I may lose my hair, feel like crap, but my eyes will look better than sex. LoL

The past two days Tim and I did a lot of nothing. We have both been so exhausted. He ran and got me Chinese food last night because that sounded good and then also came in with a bag of 12-grain, Tim Horton bagels (my favorite). Today we finally had my birthday dinner with the boys (I couldn't eat on my actual day). We picked up Italian from one of our favorite restaurants.

Tomorrow I see my MD for the first time since my diagnosis. He's a family friend, so that may be a little emotional. Then have to go to chemo school, apparently. Tuesday is my first chemo. . .

I so appreciate all of your messages. They mean a lot to me. I read and cherish each response. It helps to cheer me up - something I'll need a lot of in coming weeks. So thanks! and Hugs!


The PET Scan Results Are In!

(The following was originally posted on my Carepages blog for family and friends during my treatment.)

It's been a very busy couple of weeks, between surgeries, scans, echos, mammograms. . . and Tim has driven me to and sat with me through each one. Yesterday I had the PET scan and a nice nurse explained all about the port they had put in.

Today the Reginal Cancer Center (RCC) gal called me. She let me know that the biopsy of my left lymph node was positive. (This was not a surprise. Both Tim and I had seen it's irregularity on screen during the scans.) But then she said the PET scan was CLEAR. We were so very, very happy to hear that. It was really some of the first bit of encouraging news we've had in several weeks. I immediately sent a text to my sons. Mark said he ran up and down the hall at work high-fiving everyone.

For the next couple of days, we are going to rest. (Though I am considering a hair cut.) Even our cats are confused by our odd comings and goings. Needless to say, Tim and I are both utterly exhausted from all of this. Somehow I have managed to also do some client work through all this. I'm not sure how. The one night I sat up late, did an hour's worth of edits, hit the wrong button and lost it all and had to do it all again! But somehow, the work is getting done. It keeps my mind busy, which is a good thing.

I hadn't been eating good, but we found a cure for that. They told me not to eat any carbs before the PET scan. For some reason, being told I couldn't eat what I wanted made me want to eat everything in sight! So I have eaten good the last couple of days.

Monday I have a class to learn about my chemo and Tuesday I get the first dose. They tell me it will take a couple of days before the full effect hits me. I have been given drugs for the day after and will also get a robo shot. Although I am nervous about it, I am also ready to just get past the unknowing of it all. I'm seeing it as going into the cave with Darth Vader. (Facing my fears, if you will.)

I have been to three different medical facilities plus several other doctoring places and, today, in one hospital, I was treated by the staff of another, so you might as well say I've been to every hospital in the area! I sure do get around! I have been dragging an extra tote with me everywhere to hold my notebook of test results, past histories, and so much more. I was given another tote - a donated goodie bag for chemo patients. (So many nice things inside.) But, even more stuff to carry around! So I got a brilliant idea. I had this Laura Ashley, child-sized, wheelie suitcase that I had used years ago for the cottage. I put everything in there and will add my water, mini purse, and crocheting for chemo day. Now I have just one thing to carry and I can pull it! My notebook fits in a front pocket for easy access. I am guessing that I am going to start a trend amid all the chemo ladies! (PS did I mention it's purple with pink flowers and butterflies!) I think I should stick my glitter wand in there, just for fun.

Oh, and I thought it was so thoughtful that someone had donated all those goodie bags to patients that I took in a handful of my little books and told my caseworker there to give them to anyone she saw fit. I hope some people are helped by them. I may take more in later.

Thanks for all your thoughts, stories, and prayers. Keep it up, they are helping! 

A Flash of Light

Jamie DressingRoom(The following was originally posted on my Carepages blog for family and friends during my treatment.)

Today (February 28 -- which the days have gone so fast I can't even keep up) had a re-check with the surgeon. Got to collect a few lab reports (which I like to look those over, even though half of it is in "Greek"). Appears the focus is on the left breast and, probably, a left lymph node. Yesterday they did a needle biopsy of that (in my armpit) so those results will be coming in soon. Tomorrow I have a PET scan and Thursday I have a heart echo. My first chemo will be next Tuesday at 8:15 a.m., (and every 2 weeks after) so prayers are definitely appreciated for that day, and apparently in the days directly following.

I've asked all friends and family not to share anything about what any tests or chemo might be like. I prefer not to latch on to anything that may or may not happen. Thanks for honoring that. I have a very impressionable mind, so I'm playing the ghostbuster card and not thinking of anything. (Except, of course, Ray(?) thought of the loveable Staypuft Marshmallow man. LoL)

So about the flash of light(s). I'd been reading the Anthony William book (Medical Medium & Healing Foods). Somewhere he mentioned how, in person, he had a gift where he flashed healing light on everyone in the crowd. I took on the belief that if this was a heavenly gift, I didn't need to be in Anthony's presence to receive it, so just told God, whenever I am present in a flash of light, I'll know you are sending healing. I also decided that whenever in the presence of light, I would be receiving healing from all those who were praying.

A few nights ago, I awoke to a huge flash of light that lit up the whole room. At first, I didn't know what it was, but a bit later, I heard thunder. It's not uncommon to have "thunder showers" with snow here in NW PA, but lightning in February is pretty rare. It flashed a second time before the storm passed. There have been several other odd "flashes" since then. For example, last night the power blinked for no apparent reason.

As another interesting side note, my dad, who passed in 1975, has rarely come through in readings and I rarely sense his presence. While sitting in the car waiting for Tim the other day, Sarah Vaughn came on in a real high jazz number. I've never been fond of jazz, but dad loved it and collected it. At one time he had a very notable collection. (Many were 78s, so many years ago.) So I'm thinking, uhg, why this channel, and I get a sense of dad saying, what? You don't like Sarah? That is THE Sarah Vaughn. So now I keep hearing jazz everywhere I go and I just laugh. Dad is looking in.

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