Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Through the holidays

We had a nice Christmas last week, all of the boys were home and mom stayed at our house for a couple of days. I made some stick-the-meat-on-your-bones lasagna and mom brought a couple of desserts, so we were full and happy.

Mom had an appointment with Dr. Porubcin yesterday to follow up on her blood counts from the week before. She clocked in at 103 pounds! I'm very happy that the weight is staying on... it makes her look a lot healthier. She has been feeling good the last couple of weeks since the last chemo treatment, minus the arthritis aches and pains.

Dr. P. was very happy to see her doing so well. The CA 125 count was down to 3.75 (all time low) and her other levels were just fine. He discussed the pros and cons of staying on the Lovenox for at least a year. The anti-clotting effects may inhibit the "sticking" of any cancer cells to any specific area, which in turn would discourage any tumors from forming. If that is the case, then I would say just keep mom on the Lovenox forever. One of the drawbacks is that she has to give herself a shot everyday, and also watch what she eats as far as foods that have a high Vitamin K content, like dark leafy greens. Vitamin K provides the blood with the clot properties, so she wants to stay away from that so the Lovenox will function properly.

She is going to have a bone density test next week and then her port will get flushed the week after that. They are going to leave the port in for now... as a precaution. They just want to be prepared down the road in case they need to access it for one reason or another. The nurses take her blood draws from the port so mom doesn't have to get stuck with a needle.

Mom is already thinking about a trip to Arizona for early spring. Even though she will have to have regular blood tests, no reason to stop her traveling plans for 2010. We are both ready to be done with 2009 in a big way!

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Almost done

This morning has been pretty smooth for the most part. The Benedryl drip made her jittery (apparently it has a "restless legs syndrome" effect) but other than that, her treatment is going well. She should be done by 2:00 p.m. Tom is going to come in later and take her home and spend some quality time with his mother-in-law.

Mom bought all of the nurses an ornament from the Willow Tree collection. They are very cute. She also bought an Isabel Bloom for the chemo room so everyone can enjoy it. The room is full again today, different people again. Neurotic woman in the next chair told me that now that she has retired she wants to get back into the "Clown Troupe" that she was involved with a couple of years ago. That says a lot right there.

The experience at Trinity has been a good one. The nurses in the office and in the chemo room are wonderful and very empathetic to patients no matter what stage of cancer or series of treatments. They are there to help and comfort and make the treatments go as smooth as possible. One of the nurses, Marty, actually lives near my house in Rock Island. I see her with her dogs in Longview park and we stop and chat for a moment if our dogs let us :) She told me that they really miss the people after the treatments are over, and that the nurses will miss my mom after she is done. That really means a lot to know that your family is in good hands when you are going down a road that you don't see an end to. Quite frankly I don't know if we are at the end of the road or off the road or on a different road than before, but the people we have met on the way have taken very good care of mom and I can't ask for more.

Last Chemo Treatment!

Mom's appointment with Dr. Porubcin went well yesterday. Her CA125 level is back down at 7.6 (from 35 a couple of weeks ago) and her weight is a hefty 100lbs. She's been able to keep it above the 100 mark for the last few weeks and that is a good benchmark for her to maintain. The nurses had a hard time with her port AGAIN yesterday but it flushed out ok this morning. Always something.

Mom will go back in on Dec. 22nd for blood work and to check her levels. Even though this is her last treatment, I'm worried about that CA125 indicator and it staying down where it should. As long as it stays low, that means that the cancer isn't growing and won't return.

Dr. Porubcin always asks about her cough :) and I always roll my eyes and tell him that she's been coughing for about the last 40 years of my life. She didn't cough a lot the other day though and on Thanksgiving she didn't cough much, but the weather has been a little warmer than usual. Once the below freezing weather kicks in her cough will get worse. Guaranteed.

We had a great time Thanksgiving and over the weekend. Thanksgiving wore mom out a little and she was extremely tired at the end of the day. We went to the big craft fair on Sunday (always the weekend after Thanksgiving) and after about an hour of shopping she was ready to call it quits. The energy level just isn't there any more but I'm sure after she gets off of the chemo for a while her energy will be increasing over the months.

As luck would have it I am sitting next to a neurotic woman who is trying to talk UPS out of delivering a package that she was waiting for but she should eat something first so her blood sugar levels don't get too low (bag spills out on the floor, Holly picks up debris and stuffs back into bag) but before that please plug in her phone charger in before her battery runs out and by the way she brought a couple of movies "It's a Wonderful Life," and "Miracle on 34th Street" with her if we wanted to get in the holiday mood because she really needs some cheering up after her conversation with UPS...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Happy Thanksgiving

Work has kept me very busy for the last couple of weeks!

Mom has been feeling well for the most part, other than the aches and pains... and of course her COUGH that kicked in at the start of the colder weather. Her stomach muscles are very sore and she really strained one the other week.

It's hard to believe that next Wednesday is the last chemo treatment. The last 9 months have been so long and exhausting for mom... the fact that there is a light at the tunnel gives us a lot to be thankful for. Everyone (my friends, her friends, family) has been very supportive and there are never enough thanks in the world to give. I hope everyone has a good Thanksgiving Holiday!

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Next to last chemo

Mom's check up went fine yesterday. They didn't have a CA 125 count available and will maybe have that back in the next couple of days. She saw Dr. Specter, who is Dr. Porubcin's partner/associate/doctor in the same practice. The only thing she really complained about was the tingling in her feet and lower jaw (called neuropathy or something similar) and that is a side effect of the chemo. It comes and goes.

Mom pulled a muscle in her abdomen from coughing so much the other week, so she is a little sore in the torso.

Today is the next-to-last chemo treatment, and Mom is looking forward to the last one already. The nurses got to her port right away with no complications, so the morning is off to a good start. She is a little restless from the benedryl, but otherwise comfortable. They are slowing the drip a little today so we should be here for awhile.

Mom had a good weekend and was able to enjoy my niece Kayte's baby shower on Sunday. She won the Nursery Rhyme game which Anna painstakingly wrote out 24 questions about Mother Goose nursery rhymes that my brain couldn't cough up an answer to. Mom knew them all and then had a "rhyme down" with a couple of the other great-grandmothers in the room. The prize: a book of Mother Goose rhymes. I told her to save it for her first great-grandchild.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Through the weekend

Mom made it through the weekend. Last Friday she did not feel well at all. The timing made sense though - usually the second day after chemo is her worst day. This time, compounded with the surgery, made things more difficult. She was feeling better by Saturday - I took her lunch (baked Sweet Potatoes!) and then Scotty paid her a visit on Sunday before heading back to school in Aurora.

Now the concern is getting through these next two sessions in the midst of a flu outbreak. Her body won't be able to handle getting sick so I think she is going to plan to stay in for awhile. Before her next chemo treatment on Nov. 10, she wants to go to a baby shower and then maybe get out and do some Christmas shopping, so by then she should be back up to par.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Chemo once again

Thank goodness mom's port worked fine this morning when they hooked her up. The nurses had a devil of a time with it a couple of weeks ago when she was in for her bloodwork. It had gotten clogged for some reason - maybe a reaction from the surgery. The nurses said that the body does strange things when someone has invasive surgery.

Her lab count results from a couple of weeks ago (Oct. 8) weren't that great... her CA 125 was up to 37 and her potassium was low. Even though that isn't a big jump for the CA 125, it still went up, which means the cancer is reacting to the surgery and the trauma it causes the body. They are going to put her on a drip of nausea prevantative medicine and then give her another bag of different nausea preventative medicine and then do a bag of Benedryl before they do the Taxol bag (the long 6 hour drip). The will also slow the Carboplatin drip down to watch for any reactions today. Apparantly the more Carboplatin you get the more toxic it is for your body, however it kills the cancer... so you take the risk for the benefit.

The Cancer room is full today. There is a new woman here with Ovarian Cancer and this is her first time with chemo. You can see all of the questions and uneasiness in her face. She doesn't know what's going on or why her body is doing this or if the chemo will get rid of the cancer. There is so much unknown in the beginning. And mom and I have been told time and again that every chemo treatment is different and people react differently. The taxol and carboplatin may not do the job for her. Only time will tell.

The Neulasta drug rep sales guy paid the Cancer room a visit this morning with a full menu of cappacinos, hot chocolate and any kind of coffee mixture you can dream up. Mom even ordered a cinnamon-caramel-something. She'll drink a few sips and then I'll probably have to finish it off :)

Neulasta is the drug that mom will take tomorrow to get her bone marrow to produce more white blood cells (because the chemo drugs kill them off). It's such a vicious circle.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Busy week

Mom has been a busy little bee the last couple of days. She decided to drive to the grocery store on Tuesday to get a few things (which I told her to let the people help her out to the car and then get help when she got home) and did that fine on her own. Yesterday she went to Creative Club with her friends (its a class in the Quad Cities) and then they all went out for lunch after that - she was tuckered out by the end of the day and really wasn't feeling well. She felt better this morning after a good night's rest. Aunt Carol and Gayle came up for a visit today and brought her lunch and CAKE (thanks!) and then mom and I took off for the First United Methodist Church Annual Harvest Dinner.

Mom is very involved with this dinner each year but today she decided not to help out as in the past. I picked her up after work and we got there at about 5:15 which was good timing. We beat the rush and got a good pie selection before the slices were too picked over. You wouldn't believe how important that is :) when going to these church dinners.

Everyone was very happy to see her and came over to the table to say hello and also tell her how good she looked. Even after twenty some-odd years since I've been away there are still some of the same people there. Even the basement looks the same. As many renovations and additions that the church has been through, it is kind of neat that the basement hasn't changed.

Tomorrow and especially over the weekend she needs to take it easy because she has a chemo treatment on Tuesday, and I'm curious as to how tired she will be next weekend. After surgery, I don't expect her to bounce back after this treatment as fast as she has before.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Uneventful weekend

After this weekend mom should be fully stocked with food for the week: Aunt Rosemary brought some dinners and pie with her on Friday and then my sister in law Lisa made some hearty baked potato soup (with bacon!) so she should get by this week just fine.

The twins barged in on her Saturday to see if they could fix the bed that I crashed. They kept her busy while they were there (it's exhausting being around Tim and Tom at the same time when they both have had too much coffee). The bed isn't back together quite yet, as it needs some new slats and the lumberyard wasn't open. Mom also wanted to find some bed risers that would get it up higher- at the old house it was much higher off the ground. When we put it back together after she moved into the condo it sunk a good 12" for some reason we can't figure out.

Sunday we went to the 9:00 a.m. service at church. Everyone was very happy to see her and were glad she was out and about. She did a good job of sitting through the service but when it was over she was ready to go. This week is the Harvest Dinner and she wants to help with that... I told her ok as long as she wasn't scurrying around or lifting too much. She thought that maybe she could sit at the door and take money or something. Tom and I are going to go out for the dinner and then she can go home with us. She tires easily and she forgets that at times.

She starts her next round of chemo on October 20, and then will do one every three weeks. The final chemo should be done by the end of November, so she will be ready for the holidays and feeling good. This year has been exhausting and we both want to put 2009 in the rearview!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Trinity appointment today

Dr. Porubcin was happy with mom's surgery results and thought that her incision looked good. He was a little concerned about her weight loss (she's back down to 96 pounds) however, he knows that she was gaining weight before the surgery and feels that she'll be back over 100 pounds soon.

We ended up being there for a couple of hours because the nurses had a hard time accessing her port and were unable to draw blood from it, so they had to stick her arm. Always something.

Her next chemo treatment will be on Oct. 20, and then will have a treatment every three weeks. She should be done with the course of treatments before Christmas - it will be nice to have that out of the way and start 2010 on a good note.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Iowa City follow up

Mom's appointment with Dr. DeGeest went well today. He was very happy with how her incision healed and had a resident take out the staples and put some "steri-strip" tape on the area. He thought that maybe she could start driving a little next week (not far, to church and back mainly) but no heavy lifting and such for the next four weeks.

He went over the biopsy reports again and was confident that they removed most of the "carcinoma" (doctor-word for cancer) except for that small area where her uterus used to rest. That small amount of cancer can be eliminated with more chemo and he suggests at least three treatments but no more than that. All of the lymph nodes came back cancer free except for one lymph node in the omentum area, but they removed it so there should be no threat of the cancer traveling through the lymph nodes. One of the tumors on one of her ovaries was about 1/2 a centimeter wide. I don't know how they missed that with the naked eye but I'm not going to criticize because he was very thorough and meticulous.

Tomorrow she goes to see Dr. Porubcin for blood work and to talk about a chemo schedule. She probably won't be able to start until mid-November as Dr. DeGeest wants her to wait about 4 more weeks to recover from the surgery.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Mom got along fine this weekend without me around to nag her. I did go over yesterday afternoon for a little while and she said that she had had a good night sleep on Saturday and got up and about fine by herself.

Gayle came for a visit yesterday and brought some soup for the week, and I also brought out Cara's little meatloaves and some cheesy potatoes, so she should be set for a few days. She ate a full bowl of Gayle's soup yesterday - plus dessert!

This week we go back to Iowa City Wednesday afternoon to get her staples removed. They will also do a small exam and post-surgery follow up questions. Thursday she has an appointment with Dr. Porubcin, so I'm sure we will try and set another chemo schedule as soon as possible. There is an indication that there is still some cancer in her (former) uterine area... which the chemo will take finish off.

Hopefully by the holidays she will be cancer-free and ready to kick of 2010 with a travel schedule. She's already talking about going to Arizona, and then going on a bank club trip to Nova Scotia (sp?) so she wants to be healthy enough for travel by the beginning of the year. Then there's JAZZERCIZE of course! She's ready to start that up again as soon as the doctors give her a green light for more activity. The new year will be here before we know it.

I'm back at work today (UGH) and about ready to crawl in a hole. Thank goodness the schools are on Fall Intersession break for the next couple of weeks so I can catch up. There is not enough coffee in the world for me at the moment! All in all - I have a great boss and co-workers who have been full of prayers and understanding. I couldn't have been with mom these last couple of weeks without their support and picking up some of the work load. Friends and family have been awesome with emails and cards and phone calls - I know mom would not have made it through this. If I haven't said it enough - thank you and God Bless!

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Day five at home

We went out for a walk early again today since it is going to be rainy for most of the afternoon. Fall is definitely in the air!

Mom has been getting up by herself in the a.m. and she got her stockings on by herself as well. The circulation hose is pretty tough to get over her feet, the have a lot of elastic and I can barely stretch them out enough to get them on. So if she can get those on her feet she's good to go.

My karma wasn't very good yesterday - three light bulbs blew out and then I crashed the antique bed in the guest room. I had been sleeping on it the entire week, but when I sat down last night -BOOM. A piece of the frame on the inside split and the mattress landed on the floor. Rather than mess with it I just went down to the basement and slept down there. Tom can fix it on Sunday.

Mom is bummed that she won't make it to Samantha's wedding tomorrow, but she gets tired just taking a shower, so an event of any type won't be in her cards for at least another week. I'm thinking she will be ready for church next Sunday. We have a full schedule next week anyway: to go to Iowa City for her appointment on Wednesday to get her staples out, and then an appointment at Dr. Porubcin's office on Thursday for a check up and blood work. Hopefully we will get a chemo schedule so she can be done with it before Christmas. Since her last treatment, her hair has grown back a little. Unfortunately, it will fall out again with this next round.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Good news for a dreary day

Hello October! It is a rainy day here in Geneseo. Mom and I managed to get ourselves going early so we could go out for a walk before the rain started. I debated about going for a run, but right as we walked in the door, the drops started to fall.

Mom is getting along much better, yesterday we went out quite a few times to walk. The coughing and sneezing is difficult, but her body is handling it and it's not aggravating the incision.

Dr. Degeest's office called today with good news... they finished the tissue biopsy of the omentum, and other areas. They found cancer in the omentum and then another area right below her uterus, and found nothing from the tissue biopsies around her liver, pancreas and bowel. Since she had her omentum removed, that takes care of that, but as far as the area below where her uterus used to be, she will have to go through a couple more rounds of chemo to take care of it. That's it!

She was very relieved to know that no cancer was found around the liver, pancreas and bowel. She was worried about it since they told her that they still found cancer in her ovaries. But now we can really rest easy and recover. Hopefully she can get the chemo rounds in before Christmas and then start 2010 on a good note!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More visitors and more progress

We had a lot of visitors yesterday - Mrs. Craig brought her two granddaughters over with some flowers and very glittery home-made get well cards. Connie Paris brought some soup and cookies and stayed for a visit. Mom and I managed to get outside yesterday afternoon to walk up the street about halfway, and saw neighbor Gene working away in his yard.

Neighbor Mike was over bright and early already this morning with the mail, newspaper and to check on mom. He and his wife life in the other have of the condo (it's a duplex side-by-side set up) and they are going out today for a little while (just so we didn't worry about where he was later). He's 86 and sharp as a tack.

Another good night's sleep and mom got up by herself this morning and is able to sit in the recliner and even flip up the foot rest without any assistance. She's been coughing and sneezing a little this morning, which is painful. She really hasn't done any of that since she had surgery, so I've been waiting for it to happen. For those of you who know my mother, she has had a persistent cough ever since I can remember. When I was little that was the only way I could find her in a store - stop and listen for the cough.

Her incision looks good - the bruising is fading and there isn't much oozing. We forgot to clean it the other day when we got home but didn't seem to matter. It's healing good as far as my non-medical eye is concerned. It's a long cut - from the bottom of her rib cage, around her belly button and about to her hip line - 8 inches total. The staples are really secure so I'm sure no amount of sneezing or coughing will displace them. Yesterday she got by on some extra strength Tylenol during the day and saved the Percoset (sp?) for the night-time which makes her tired. If we can keep her awake enough during the day then I think that is better for her night-time rest.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Good to be home

Mom had a great night's sleep last night - she slept longer than she thought she would. She was just happy to be home.

Last night Tom came out to pay a visit to his favorite mother-in-law and we had potato soup. Mom had a really good appetite yesterday so we will see if she can keep it up today. Lord knows there is plenty of potato soup in the freezer. I'm going to bake up some potatoes later and then walk over to Fareway to see what they have to work with. Every since the Jewel closed the grocery fare has been slim pickins.

I went out for a run while neighbor Mike came over for a short visit and the neighbor-across-the-street Marion also came over to check in and see how mom is doing. There have been quite a few phone calls and there was also a big pile of cards waiting to be opened. As soon as the wind dies down a little we'll go outside for a shuffle and get some sun.

I'm sure she will make a lot of progress this week!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Back home

We arrived home about 3:00 p.m. and the car ride seemed to go well and mom wasn't too uncomfortable. Got her prescriptions picked up and she's good to go for a few days. Tom moved her recliner upstairs to the living room so she can have a comfortable spot.

Dr. Degeest came in before mom finished her discharge orders. We didn't expect to see him today, as he is a busy surgeon and she has an appointment next week with him to get the incision staples out. He said that he had a chance to look at some of the biopsy tissue under the microscope and that there were still cancer cells present in the ovaries even though he couldn't see it with the naked eye. And, even though the ovaries didn't have a significant mass, that is where the cancer started. So mom pursued the correct course of treatment after all... chemotherapy and then surgery... and if she doesn't continue to keep up the treatment, it will come back. Next week he will have more biopsy reports but those were his initial findings at this point.

She is better off now that she was 6 months ago, but it's not over yet. We knew that the surgery wouldn't be the end of the matter, however I hope the other biopsy reports don't contain cancer cells as well. He did remove her ovaries, uterus, lymph, omentum but he also took tissue samples from areas that he didn't remove: peritoneum wall, bowel and liver (I think).

This week I told her just to rest and recover. She made it through the surgery and she needs to concentrate on that right now. We'll worry about other things later!

Homeward bound!

The nurse took out her IV late yesterday afternoon. Earlier they had given her another bag of magnesium and also had her take some potassium pills because her levels were low again. She wasn't very comfortable when I left. We had only walked two times yesterday, and I was worried about her not getting a good night's sleep.

The good news is that she was nice and perky this a.m. when I arrived, had already been on her first walk of the day and even ordered herself a bowl of Cream of Wheat. The night went well - although she woke up a couple of times, she still had some restful moments. About 20 minutes ago the doctor gave her discharge orders, so when she's ready, we can go home at anytime. Unfortunately she also drank a small cup of prune juice with her breakfast so we may have to wait a little while before she's road-ready. That's fine - there's no agenda for today.

The nurse will be in shortly to talk about instructions, etc., and when she will have to get her staples out. I'm hoping we don't have to drive back to Iowa City to remove her staples and can have them done in Geneseo.

More later...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

More progress

Even though she really didn't get a good night's rest last night, mom is better off today than yesterday. Her abdomen isn't as distended and her "inner pipes" are functioning better, so those are all good signs.. and the residents who were around this morning said that she could possibly go home tomorrow if all goes well today. She is still on the IV, but taking the pain meds orally.

She needs to walk around more and can start eating solid food once again, so that is what we are going to work on today. She is tired of being here and wants to go home. The food here at the hospital leaves much to be desired, so I'm going to stock up on some good Jello puddings and make some real Jello from a box, and make sure that we have some quality ice cream on hand. It's the little things. I'm hoping to track down a dietitian today or tomorrow to help with a list of good things to eat for next week until her system is back into full swing. Toast seems to be OK, and she had a grilled cheese and that worked out well. Mom told me the other morning that a baked sweet potato sounded good, so I'm going to get a few of those. We both love our potatoes as good Irish women do so I'm sure I will be making a lot of potato variations in the next week.

Hoping for the best today - thanks for all of the phone calls, emails and prayers! It has done a lot of good for mom's healing process.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Another rough night

Yesterday afternoon things went downhill... the air buildup in mom's abdomen wasn't making its way out and she was very uncomfortable. We were able to get her up and walk about 5 times during the day but her bowels weren't cooperating very well. By the time I left at 8:00 p.m. she was more comfortable, but she did not get a good night's sleep and had a rough morning because of the pain. I got to the hospital late this a.m. and she hadn't even been up to walk so we took a walk at about Noon. They also have her back on the I.V. for fluids and wanted her to stick to clear liquids today. Yesterday she attempted some applesauce and toast and that went down ok.

We'll have to see what the doctors say about her progress when they come around later. Yesterday they were glad that she was walking around and starting to pass gas but not enough progress to go home today. I don't think she will be ready to travel for a couple of days at least, I think the car ride will take a toll. I don't expect them to release her tomorrow, given her bad night and morning. She is resting now.

Chad came home this weekend so he rode along to Iowa City today to visit his grandma for a little while. He was also going to meet up with a friend for lunch and hang out in Iowa City for the afternoon. Mom was happy to see him and that took her mind off of things. She also received a beautiful huge bouquet of flowers from Charley and Cara that brightened up the room. The other lilies are hanging in there and are still fragrant. The new roommate is very nice and QUIET compared to the other woman. I know I made fun of the other woman (HMR) earlier in the week for talking about passing gas all the time, but that's what the nurses want to know. It is such a big deal to them that they write little happy faces on the whiteboard :) for every little bodily function.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Last night was much better. Mom woke up a couple of times, once to use the restroom. She ate a good breakfast and was able to wash up on her own. We went for a short walk while waiting for breakfast and made it almost down the length of the hallway.

Her friends Mrs. C. and Joellen Sharer came up yesterday. They stayed for about an hour and mom enjoyed the visit very much. We were kind of sidetracked a little bit b/c after I came back from lunch (the three of us went up to the dining room on the 5th floor) mom was getting really uncomfortable and was feeling a lot of pain and it was getting worse. At about 2:00 p.m. I called the nurse and told her that mom was in a lot of pain and what she could do about it - and then the nurse said "do you want a pain pill? We took you off the morphine drip." Mom and I both thought she was getting pain meds and she wasn't. So long story short she got a pill of something and everything was fine in a half and hour. With all of the IV cords and such it's hard to tell what is what.

All of the IV equipment is off now and they will probably take out the needle sometime soon. She really wants to go home tomorrow, so if today goes good, that may be a possibility. They aren't making any promises here and just want to take it one day at a time. If she needs to stay one more day then that is what they will recommend.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Rough night

Mom didn't get much sleep last night. Her back is achy (arthritis) plus her abdomen is still tender, so she just never got comfortable enough to get a good sleep going. H.M.R. keeps her tv loud plus the other miscellaneous noises I'm sure kept mom up last night... I wished I would have bunked in the room again just to keep the noise level down to a minimum. I heard the doctor say that the roommate should go home today so that's a good thing :)

Yesterday she got up and walked around and sat on the edge of the bed for a short while. It was painful but she knew she had to get it done. After she got back to bed and laid down she felt much better. Today she needs to get up and walk around four times, so as soon as she gets done with her breakfast we're going to go and walk.

She was able to eat broth and a cup of hot tea plus some life savers yesterday. Amazingly the nurse got her on a scale when she was up and it said 105 pounds...!...I about fell over. I thought that since she had some organs removed that her weight would go down slightly but at least yesterday she was still over the 100 mark.

Dr. Degeest came by late yesterday to check on her and see how she was feeling. He said that he was looking forward to the biopsy results next week. During the surgery he detected some areas on her liver, inner abdomen wall and stomach that had scarring - which is an indicator that cancer had been there at one point. He keeps saying how amazed he is at her chemo results and that it could have been much worse if her cancer wasn't detected as early as it was.

A couple of good friends Connie and Lyn came by yesterday and Pastor Ritter came back for a visit. That did her spirits a world of good. The Methodist women made her a quilt and then a knitted wrap that is really neat and fits perfect around her shoulders. I brought up some flowers and balloons yesterday to make the room more cheery. Mrs. C. said she is coming up today (forever family friend from the Hazelwood days) so I know she will enjoy the visit.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Day after surgery

Mom got through the night OK, woke up a few times b/c of miscellaneous noises and such (HMR!!!). The Dr. and Resident were in bright and early to see how she fared through the night. He said that she could expect biopsy results in about 7 days and will let her know the outcome of the tissue samples that were taken yesterday during surgery.

The nurse said her vitals were good and heard very little sounds from her abdomen. Mom is going to have a busy day today, getting up and walking around, doing breath exercises with a contraption which prevents pneumonia from setting in, eating (clear stuff only) and then at some point taking a shower. Her mid-section hurts more than she expected. I think she will be keeping her morphine drip for most of today and then once she is up walking around then she can get off of the drip and have pain medication orally.

I could tell she was ready to get on with her day - she wanted her funky flower hat and glasses. Her hair is starting to grow back - it's fuzzy but I can tell it's growing in.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Quiet afternoon

The afternoon went by without incident. Mom was very nauseated when they brought her into the room so the nurse gave her a drug called Fenergan (which she also takes for nausea after chemo) so that knocked her out for quite a few hours. We could have shot off a cannon next to her and she probably wouldn't have batted an eyelash.

She has a morphine drip and a little button that she can press if she needs extra medication. She says she is uncomfortable but not unbearably uncomfortable, and really wishes she could have some ice. They aren't going to give her anything for food until tomorrow (not even ice) so I just told her to keep pressing her pain button and then she can just sleep. We watched a "Dancing With The Stars" for about an hour and that was about as long as she could keep her eyes open. I think sleep is the best thing for her right now anyway.

Tomorrow they will get her up and moving around. Dr. Degeest stressed the importance of making sure that no clots have the chance to form, given her past history the last couple of months with clots. The Resident Dr. was also in to check on her and will be back periodically throughout the night. She will get her Lovenox shot tomorrow and will be back on schedule for that, so that should lessen the chance for clots to form.

Unfortunately mom has a H.M.R. (high maintenance roommate) on the other side of the curtain. If she's not raising/lowering the bed every ten minutes, she's on the speaker phone to the nurse station to talk about her bodily function (or not functioning) issues. Right now she wants to arrange for someone to come and wake her up at 3:00 a.m. to go for a walk in the hallway. If I hear her say "I passed some gas" one more time...

Surgery over!

Dr. Degeest came down to the surgical waiting area at about 11:05 a.m. He said that overall everything went very well and that mom is in the recovery area and will be there for about two hours. We aren't allowed in that part of the hospital so we won't be able to see her until they move her to a room.

Dr. D. said that there wasn't any cancer mass to speak of... he took out a lot of tissues for biopsy. He removed the ovaries, tubes, uterus, omentum (part of the peritoneum) and pelvic area lymph nodes. He couldn't see any cancer with the naked eye, so he couldn't even say that the cancer was still ovarian that started it all. He is amazed at the tumorless-ness of it all. The biopsy tissue will hopefully tell more after it is examined. He didn't need to remove any of the bowel either.

Doctor expects her to stay in the hospital until the weekend at least, and then her total recovery period should be about 8 weeks all said and done.

Waiting room

We made it to Iowa City by 6:10 a.m. It was dark driving the ENTIRE way. I think the horizon started to crack some light as we were walking into the hospital. She checked in and then the staff immediately got her into one of those lovely gowns and a paper thin robe (we packed her good one for later) and then put some support socks on her feet that stretched all the way up her calves. She was already complaining about her feet getting cold.

After the usual questions, blood draw and going over forms, the anesthesia-boy came in (he didn't look a day over 20) and two sticks later he had her set up with an IV. Then a lot of people with surgical hats started buzzing around so I left her at 8:00 a.m. with a kiss and hug. She didn't seem any more anxious than usual, and she was comfortable around the nurses. The staff were very talkative and they immediately noticed on her sheet that she was a retired nurse, so there was plenty to talk about.

After a coffee run, Tom and I found a spot in the surgical waiting area. Earlier the nurse said that the surgery was scheduled for 4 1/2 hours tops, so hopefully by noon Dr. Degeest will be down to talk about how the surgery went.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Surgery moved up

The hospital called mom a short while ago and said they had to bump her up in the schedule - so now she is having surgery at 8:00 a.m. We need to check in at 6:30 a.m. which means we have to leave Geneseo by 5:00 a.m. UGH! Let's hope McDonalds has coffee brewing...

Surgery scheduled

The surgeon's office called mom this afternoon and they have her in the schedule for 1:00 p.m. tomorrow. They want us there earlier to check in and so forth, but that's the plan for now.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Waiting for surgery

Mom celebrated her 71st birthday on Tuesday by going out with her Jazzercize friends for lunch and then going out to dinner with me and Tom to Sweet Pea's, a new restaurant in Geneseo. I don't think I mentioned that she was up to 102 pounds, so all this eating is doing her good.

She's trying to get as much done as she can this week... errands, etc. The other night she was stressing out about cleaning and vacuuming and I looked around the condo and thought to myself "It's already clean." The woman doesn't make a mess, so what is there to clean?

Our good friends Bill and Karen were out on a walk this evening with their granddaughter Ella and stopped by to say hi. Bill is the guy who had his 50th birthday last month and wanted to collect some contributions and make a donation in mom's name to an ovarian cancer fund for research/education. He had quite a party - and I've never seen someone so happy to read birthday cards. The donations came out to about $350 and he and Karen are going to donate it to Trinity Hospital where they can use the money for wig vouchers to give women who are starting chemotherapy. The vouchers can be used at a boutique where they custom fit and order wigs for women. Mom got hers there and they did a great job (as seen in photos) and were wonderful to work with.

At this time next week mom will be out of surgery and on the road to healing. I'm sure she will recuperate fairly quickly, she was talking with the nurses at U of I about making sure that they get her up out of bed as soon as possible. She is worried about forming blood clots and wants to make sure that there is no chance of that happening. Her main goal is to try and make it to my niece Samantha's wedding on Oct. 3. I think that is pushing it a little, but when she's determined to do something, she does it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pre-op and prep work: DONE

One word to describe the University of Iowa Hospitals: thorough. I think mom expected to be in and out of there today in about an hour, but it didn't work out that way. We arrived at the Cancer Center for her appointment at 9:30 a.m. and went through all of the steps that we did back in April: visit with the resident, the physician assistant, get a chest x-ray, an EKG, give more blood, talk to anesthesiologist... just when you think you are done there is always one more thing to do. So we got out of there today a little before 4:00 p.m., but she has ALL of the instructions needed and has talked to the resident and signed the surgery consent form (again). In theory she could have surgery tomorrow if needed.

There were a lot of little instructions, like what to eat and when to stop eating before surgery. No vitamins, aspirin or ibuprofen the week before (Tylenol ok). And she can take her Lovenox shot the day before but not the day of surgery.

I'm not going to talk about the "bowel prep" part... that's about as scary as the surgery.

She has an appointment next week at Trinity 7th Street Moline to flush her port cath out again just to make sure that they can access it during surgery. When it goes without use it will get clogged up with misc. tissue and fibers that the body produces when something foreign is in the body. The last thing she needs is problems with the port the day of surgery.

The surgeon's office will call her on Monday, the day before surgery, to tell her what time to report to the hospital on Tuesday. We accidentally walked into the surgery floor when we were wandering around the hospital trying to find the cafeteria, so at least we know where to go that morning. The U of I Hospital is gi-nor-mous and you could spend a week in there and never step a foot outside. One woman we were with in Elevator H said that she hadn't been outside in two days.

She hasn't said what she wants to do for her birthday yet (Tuesday the 15th!!! Get your cards in the mail!!!), but I'm thinking that we will go out to dinner on Tuesday night to a new place out in Geneseo that just opened up recently. She was tired today - and just plain achy.... and ready for this surgery to be over with. She's already talking about trips that she wants to take next year and has signed up for one with her "Classic Club" and is also thinking about a trip to AZ in the spring. It will be nice to see her having fun once again after this is all over.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Surgery date: Sept. 22

Dr. DeGeest had pretty much the same opinion that he had 5 months ago - that the best approach to getting all of the cancer is to have surgery. Even with all of the CT scans and tests, they really don't know what is going on inside her abdomen until they can actually look and see. He will remove her uterus and ovaries and then remove any cancer attached on her abdomen (debulking). He is hoping that there won't be any on her bowel or colon.

He was impressed with the results of the chemo treatments, and told mom to possibly expect more chemo treatments after surgery. She will know more about that after she follows up with Dr. Porubcin 3 weeks after the surgery.

She saw another doctor with Internal Medicine this a.m. to go over a few details about bloodwork and when to hold off on the Lovenox before surgery. There's another pre-operative procedure that she needs to go through, so next Thursday is another trip to Iowa City before the surgery on the 22nd.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Month of Teal

It's officially Ovarian Cancer Awareness month! I still have few "Teal the Cows Come Home" polish to give to my friends. My toes have been teal for the last couple of weeks, so I'll make it through the month fine. I can go two weeks without a touch up. The weather isn't cooperating though – it has been so cold in the mornings for the last two days that I've got shoes and socks on my feet so you can't see my teal. I tried to wear the polish on my hands over the weekend, however it was too distracting. Everywhere I looked I saw my teal nails out of the corner of my eye. If I was stranded on a desert island I'm sure I could have flagged down a jet.

Tomorrow is mom's Iowa City appointment with Dr. DeGeest the surgeon. She has to be there at 9:40 a.m. so I'm thinking we'll leave around 8:15 to give enough time. I'm assuming we'll be there all day and that she'll have to go through another round of tests like before. She has her most recent scans on CD and will bring those along.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Alaina's toes

So Alaina (my cousin) sends me a picture of her toes... :)

Aunt Ruth travels on

Mom took Aunt Ruth to the airport today (I met them there) and they had a nice lunch before we put her on the plane. Luckily they didn't weigh her luggage before tagging it - in AZ she clocked in at 47.1 pounds - so we weren't sure if she would exceed her limit this time around or not. She mailed a bunch of stuff back to AZ that wouldn't fit in her luggage so I hope she doesn't collect much more on her trip to West Virginia.

Mom really enjoyed having A. Ruth visit these last few days. Talking on the phone is one thing, but having her visit in person did her a world of good.

The doctor's office in Iowa City called yesterday and they scheduled mom for an appointment next Wednesday, September 2 at 9:40 a.m. She had all of her scans done that she needed, plus the blood work information to take with her. I'm sure they will want to do all of the exams and tests over again, and then talk about surgery.

She found out there was a place near the University of Iowa Hospital that helps families of cancer patients by giving them a place to stay while the patient is going through surgery.
It looks like they need a referral form from the doctor, but that seems to be the only requirement. If we have time I think we may drive by there on Wednesday after she's done with her appointment and see what the place is like.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Iowa City bound

We had a lot of good news today at mom's appointment with Dr. Porubcin. First of all, she's up to 102 lbs! It must have been all of the fried chicken last weekend - plus I think her and Aunt Ruth and Aunt Carol have been eating out quite a bit this week as well :)

When Dr. Porubcin walked in I already knew he had good news - he gets so giddy it's hard for him to contain his enthusiasm. Her CA125 level was down to a whopping 4 (considering the fact that it was up over 3000 in April) and he had good results from the CT scan. There were no visible blood clots on her lungs - they all dissolved - and it looked like there weren't as many "implants" as the previous scans indicated. He said there was still some detectable cancer areas but it was significantly reduced. Dr. Porubcin has never seen these kind of results from a chemo treatment before and was very happy that mom took well to the treatments.

The only concern was mom's left arm where a blood clot had formed after her first chemo treatement. Her arm has been quite achy for the last week and she hasn't gotten much relief since the last chemo treatment. So, Dr. Porubcin ordered another doppler scan of that area just to make sure. She went to Hammond Henry this afternoon and had the scan done - and long story short there's NO blood clot there either.

So next week she goes to Iowa City to visit Dr. DeGeest again for a surgery consult. I'm sure she will have to go through the same tests she went through before, and if all indicators are good they will schedule her for surgery.

She will have to stop taking the Lovenox for a couple of days before surgery to reduce the risk of bleeding, but will be able to get right back on it after surgery. Dr. Porubcin would like her to stay on it for awhile, until next April, to reduce the chance of blood clots. She will go see him again about 3 or 4 weeks after surgery.

With this big Dr. visit out of the way, she has a better picture of what will happen in the next month. She's looking forward to having it over with, and I don't blame her. Tomorrow the aunts are taking a Mississippi river cruise on the Celebration Belle, and then Saturday we are going to Kewanee for dinner and a little shopping.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Friends and family are the remedy

No doubt I have the greatest friends and family in the world! Last night we were at some very good dear friends house celebrating a 50th b-day (BILL!)... however he did not want any gifts whatsoever, but wanted to give an option instead and asked that people contribute to a fund that supports Ovarian Cancer Research in honor of my mom. The little basket on the counter was full of donations!

Throughout this time in the last few months we have been very blessed to have friends and family around and it's true that you can't have enough of that love and support. Whether it's been making meals for my mom or checking in on her after a chemo day or just even sending a card to say "I'm thinking of you," the support has really been overwhelming and even though I'm an only child, I've never felt alone with all of the friends and family - cousins, in-laws, co-workers, and just about the entire town of Geneseo. There is all kinds of medicine in the world, but in the end people heal people.

All of the girls last night (including a little dog named Guinness and a 18 month old named Ella) painted their toenails Teal for Ovarian Cancer awareness. If we keep going we just may have a lot of Teal Toes around by month's end. I need to get on the ball and finish my cards to go with my 30-odd bottles of Teal nail polish to pass around. Teal the cows come home :)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Teal toes by the tens!

We've kicked off our family venture into the teal nailpolish industry by doing all of our toes in the teal color. A couple of months ago if I would have seen teal nail polish on someones toes I probably would have thought "ewww that's a raunchy color," but now, it seems just as natural as pink and don't even give it a second thought.

It does spark a lot of conversations, even at work as I try to present the good school image, my teal toes get some remarks. But after the story, people often want a bottle of polish. I have a list of names I need to get polish to this week so we can get the word out before the month of September hits.

Having Aunt Ruth in town is a nice break from the norm - my mom and her sisters, whether near or far, are a close bunch and she couldn't have made it through these last few months without them. Mom has a break from chemo for the time being so Ruth's timing couldn't have been more perfect. Aunt Carol has an itinerary all planned out for the week (meanwhile mom has to squeeze in a CT scan tomorrow and then a Dr. appt later in the week) so the Aunts will be busy.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Labs today

Mom is going to get her labs done today at Dr. Porubcin's office. They won't talk about the results after though, so all she needs to do today is go get her tests and then leave. The nurses will also flush her port out so it doesn't get clogged up - apparently that happens without regular use. On Monday she has a CT scan at Hammond Henry to see where everything is at (cancer, blood clots), then next Thursday she meets with Dr. Porubcin to see what to do next and possibly talk about surgery after he looks at all of the results.

I've got a lot of teal nail polish collected and as soon as I get some little info cards done it's going out to the masses (at least here in Rock Island and some other local parts)...after the last 6 months and mom's ordeal, there can never be enough said about making people aware about Ovarian Cancer. It's sneaky, and with virtually no symptoms, women really have to pay attention to what their bodies are telling them. Too often women don't find out they have Ovarian Cancer until after it has spread.

There's a lot of good information at, and with September coming up (National Ovarian Cancer awareness month) now is a good time to keep up the conversations.

Today I pick up Aunt Ruth at the airport for her visit - it was supposed to be a surprise but that fell apart thanks to SOMEONE who shall remain nameless. Nevertheless mom is looking forward to having her in town... we haven't seen her since last year. Family and friends have been the saving grace to mom through her treatments, and she is happy to be able to have everyone in one spot for a little while.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

This week

This week should be a good one for some down time. Mom has an appointment with Dr. Porubcin on Friday to go over her labs that she will get done earlier that morning. I don't know if he will talk about surgery or not. I'm thinking not... because he won't know anything other than what the blood work tells him. She has a CT scan scheduled for next Monday at Hammond Henry, and that should tell us where the cancer is still attached to and whether or not the blood clots are dissolving like I hope they are doing.

The more exciting part of the week will be when Aunt Ruth comes to town on Friday.

I found another web site that has good awareness information about ovarian cancer symptoms. One point that is made on that site is about becoming aware of the influence our politicians have upon major health care decisions and to pay attention to anything that has to do with cancer research and education that may or may not get passed in congress. How does this affect us directly? I don't know. I have heathcare, but not cancer. How would my healthcare change if that were the case? Mom's healthcare coverage has done it's job, however without it, I can't even imagine how the expenses would add up. One of her nausea medications is $100 a pill.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Post chemo week

The weekend went by fairly well. Mom had a couple of down days but overall nothing severe. The aches and pains more than anything else. Last time her hip was bothering her, this time it's her arm. I guess the blood clot there makes it ache at times. She is still doing the daily Lovonex shot for her blood clots so I'm hoping that they are still slowly dissolving. She has a CT scan next week.

Yesterday was a nice day so we went out to Culver's for lunch and I stuffed my face with a Butter Burger basket and she had a plain chicken sandwich and ate the whole thing. If Geneseo did anything right it was definitely building a Culvers.

This morning she was a little groggy but as the day wore on she felt better.

I took the video with my new little "flip" camera that my IT department is letting me try out for a little while. Mom came out of the bathroom with that fuzzy pink thing on top of her head and I about fell over. There were a whole bunch of those hats in the back that someone had made for the patients, and some of them were pretty neat. I would wear one as a hat.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Final Chemo treament

Mom's Dr. appointment went very well yesterday - she now weighs in at a hefty 101 pounds! It's been the hardest thing in the world to not only stop her from losing weight not to mention gain weight. Another good sign is that she had to give me back a pair of pants the other day that wouldn't snap around her belly :)

Her CA 125 level also dropped some more and is now at 14. This is the lowest it has ever been, and that is a sign that the chemo is working and stopping the cancer from growing.

She will go in for a scan in a couple of weeks to determine how much of the cancer has diminished and will talk about the next steps for possible surgery.

Right now she is on her bag of Benedryl and will be ready for her first bag of chemo drug shortly. It's a good feeling that she has made it through these last 6 treatments with relatively good benchmarks in place - other than the side effects - the chemo has worked and I'm sure by the end of the year she will be cancer free!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ready for another chemo week

Mom went to a funeral yesterday. The guy who died owned the farm across the road from grandma and grandpas. He was a couple of years younger than mom, apparently an only child. I don’t know if he ever got back to Ransom much. He died from brain cancer. The kicker is that he was diagnosed with cancer right around the time that mom was diagnosed with her cancer. However, his cancer wasn’t responding to chemo treatments or radiation. If he elected to have surgery, they couldn’t remove the entire tumor, just a portion. Different situations entirely, but it brings the disease a little bit closer… almost too close for comfort.

The trip went as well as could be expected, however mom’s hip was achy so she spent most of today just resting. Since she has chemo on Wednesday, she needs to give it a rest otherwise she’s not going to want to sit through her treatment. We hope for more good news on her doctors visit this Tuesday, as this is the last treatment they have her scheduled for at this point. The next step is to make sure the blood clots are under control before surgery. She can’t have surgery in August if those blood clots are still there, however the last CT scan did show that they were dissolving, so the Lovonex is doing it’s work.

Now that she’s made it through the treatments I hope that surgery comes soon. I don’t think I will feel better about her prognosis until her ovaries are out of her body and the surgeon is able to scrape the cancer off of her peritoneal wall. To me, that gives her a better chance of it never coming back again.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Teal toes!

Mom has had a good week. She really started feeling better Sunday afternoon. Still some aches and pains, but nothing out of the ordinary for this point in time. Chemo next week - it's the last one - so she feels good knowing that she's made it this far.

I ran across a good web site- -and apparently September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. I don't see why we can't paint our toes teal right now though - so I'm going to go out and get some teal this afternoon. If we spread the word now - everyone can have Teal Toes by September :)

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Days in between

The last couple of days have been good and mom is over the big "hump" of side effects. She still aches but that's something that won't go away; partly because of the bone marrow boost (that effect lasts a week or more) and then the absence of her arthritis medication. She's backed down a bit on the Tylenol too but will still take it before bed. Next week should hopefully be an uneventful one and maybe we can go find something fun to do before she has her last round of chemo.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Side effects set in

Yesterday was a tough day. Mom woke up not feeling well and just planned to stay down for most of the day. She kept down some crackers in the morning and then had some of Aunt Rosemary's potato soup later and it went down good as well. It was just an off day. She is feeling better this morning and had some toast for breakfast.

I didn't mention that she gained another pound when she weighed in the other day - so now she's up to 99! I've been trying to get more meat and potatoes to her so that's seems to be working. On the mornings we go to chemo we stop at Hardee's before hand and eat a hearty breakfast (nothing on that menu is under 300 calories a serving) so maybe that has something to do with it I imagine.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The good news continues

Dr. Porubcin had nothing but good things to say yesterday at mom’s pre-chemo checkup. All her levels are good and she is right on track for surgery possibly in late August. He wants her to do two more chemo treatments (one today and then one on July 29) and then the first part of August they will send her for a CT scan and make an appointment with Dr. DeGeest in Iowa City. Dr. Porubcin will send an update of mom’s progress to Dr. DeGeest in the meantime.

The Lovonex seems to be targeting the blood clots and hopefully the next CT scan will show that they are dissolved enough to have the surgery.

We started the chemo treatment today right at 8:45 a.m. There doesn’t seem to be as many people in the chemo room as last time. There are the regulars. One woman who has been through chemo before, at another place in town, is doing another series of treatments here at Trinity now and getting better results. It really does make a difference to check out as many oncologists as you can before going ahead with treatment. And then on the other end of the spectrum, it helps to talk to cancer patients who have experience with the doctors. Nurses have the best insight. They work with the physicians on a regular basis and also talk to other nurses. There can never be too many nurses!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Chemo Week

Since we had such good news the last time around, I'm expecting that we will have good news again tomorrow when mom goes to see Dr. Porubcin. Her appointment is at 9:00 for the lab work and then we'll meet with him at 10:00. We'll find out what he's thinking as far as the last chemo treatment in July and then about surgery. The blood clots, although they have been dissolving, are still an issue. Dr. DeGeest, the Iowa City surgeon, has wanted to know about mom's progress as well, so I think we are getting close to surgery.

Last week mom had problems with her hip arthritis flaring up in addition to the general tiredness. Since she is not taking the DayPro for her arthritis on a daily basis, she really notices a difference without the medication. She gets by with taking Tylenol, but it still aches.

She came over yesterday for a cookout so Tom could test out his new fish grilling baskets for the salmon I got at HyVee. It was a nice day to sit outside and we even went for a stroll with Patrick in the park.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

One week later

The last couple of days have been better... things started out kind of rough since the chemo treatment last Wednesday.

The ache and nausea came on kind of strong last Friday, which was the bad day, but then she was feeling better by Saturday. I didn’t get a chance to go out on Sunday, but Aunt Carol, Gayle and Dave went to visit and take her lunch. I went out last night to take her dinner (Sister in law Lisa made a grilled chicken and roasted potato package) and she was feeling better about eating and such. Since she gained a pound at her last weigh-in we want to keep it going and not lose poundage after chemo.

The tiredness is also taking a toll, she just doesn’t have as much energy as she used to and gets fatigued easily. She was out watering flowers at 7:00 a.m. this morning and that about zapped her (heat wasn’t any help either) so she’s going to stay in for the rest of the day. Yesterday she got some sewing done and also went out for a brief walk at about 8:30 p.m. when the sun was going down and it wasn’t as hot. The walking and exercise helps the aches, but if she does too much, it doesn’t do her any good. There’s a fine line there somewhere.

Even as crappy as she feels, I think the fact that the chemotherapy is working really takes the edge off of her aches and fatigue. Her attitude is also a big part of the equation, which is why I have been reminding her to not dwell on the stressful things because it’s just not worth it. We already learned early on that stress will cause a setback, so the game plan is to stay away from the stress and focus on treatment.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chemo Day #4

Very good yesterday from the lab results: CA125 count is 135 down from 1300! The CA125 is the cancer indicator in her blood, and when the count keeps going down, it’s a good thing! For a while it was up to 3000.

Apparently there are different indicators for different types of cancers… for ovarian cancer they watch the CA125, for prostate cancer it’s the PSA, and for breast cancer it’s something else.

We also got the results from the CT scan she had last week - also showed that the cancer has minimized considerably. After only three chemo treatments, this is very good news and Dr. Porubcin was very happy with these results. Mom is going to continue with three more chemo treatments and then she’ll get to the surgery discussion.

They weren’t able to check on the blood clots with the CT scan, however he’s pretty sure that they are dissolving. Dr. Porubcin wants her to keep on taking the Lovenox for about the next 10 months to keep the clotting to a minimum. The abdominal fluid buildup she had a couple of months ago, added on with the chemotherapy, aggravates the clotting. He doesn’t see a need for her to go back on the Coumodin.

There are a couple of "newbies" in the chemo room today. You can tell when they walk in that this is the first session. And they had trouble with their ports just like mom did at her first chemo session. The nurses swear by the barometric pressure in the atmosphere. When it's high, they have a hard time with port access. And apparently high barometric pressure causes pregnant women's water to break as well. Who knew?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The week after

The weekend was a little bit of a roller coaster in terms of nausea and aches. Friday was mom’s worst day, and the nausea was pretty bad, but Saturday she felt better and then Sunday she felt fine. I took her some dinner on Sunday and it was a nice day outside. We went for a short walk up the street and back. She’s thinking that maybe that will help the aches.

Yesterday she had quite a bit of the bone pain set in, and finally ended up taking a Tylenol before she went to bed. From some of the chemo web sites and boards I have been reading, the bone pain can last the entire time between treatments. Some pain is so severe that doctors are prescribing either Vicodin (a prescription drug) and another anti-inflammatory drug. They don’t say too much about Tylenol because it’s not an anti-inflammatory, so maybe an anti-inflammatory is the way to go.

The Neulasta shot that is responsible for producing the bone pain is because of the white cell growth factor, which means it works by revving up the bone marrow to produce more white blood cells. Since this is the cause of the pain, according to most experts, the intensity of the pain doesn't change based on how many days after chemotherapy it’s given. So mom could have the same range of pain for days.

The Neulasta shot mom takes is kind of a time –release version is the equivalent of ten successive days of injections… so the intensity may also have something to do with the pain. I suppose they may have some sort of injection that could be done once a day for the ten days, but I don’t think that mom would want to add another shot into her daily regimen since she is already doing the Lovonex once a day.

The bone pain seems to be the most bothersome of the chemo side effects. Mom’s been keeping track of her symptoms and says that each time around things are just a little bit different.

Next week mom has a CT scan scheduled for Thursday. Hopefully that will tell also if the cancer is subsiding and under control enough. I’m also hoping that they will be able to tell something about the blood clots as well.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chemo Day #3

It’s a gloomy day. We got into Chemo at about 9:00 a.m. (picture of room at right) and now she’s on her last bag of the Carboplatin so we should be out by 2:00 p.m. Someone forgot to tell me it was pink day here at Trinity because all of the nurses are wearing pink and then mom had her pink flowered hat and pink hoodie on when I picked her up.

Yesterday when she came in for a checkup with Dr. Porubcin there was a bit of good news: her blood work showed that the levels of CEA went down from 2500 to 1300 – which means the chemotherapy is doing its job and stopping the cancer growth.

The only lasting side effect that has been a problem is the soreness and general achy feeling. Since she’s not taking her arthritis prescription anymore that probably has something to do with it. She can take Tylenol, but to get her to take one is like trying to give a cat a pill. She’s rather do without it.

The week after next she will go in for another CT scan to check her abdomen and pelvis for the blood clots and also see if the cancer has reduced in size. On the last CT scan they were able to pick out where some of it was attached to her peritoneum wall but there wasn’t any mass to speak of. I’m hoping the blood clots are dissolved enough to determine a surgery date this summer. The sooner her uterus and ovaries can be taken out the better I will feel that her cancer will be eliminated.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Graduation time

Mom came over on Sunday and we went to my nephew Ben’s (Tom’s brother Tim’s son) graduation party for the afternoon. It was a joint party with one of his best friends that he had grown up with, and there were tons of people there. My in-laws were really happy to see her and swarmed around her the entire time. We were both tired by the time we left – stayed a couple of hours - and then she came back to the house for awhile. Scotty had a friend over and we chit-chatted before they left. His friend is going into the Marines two weeks after graduation, so they are hanging out a lot. Between friends and the girlfriend, I hardly see him.

Mom said she had been feeling pretty good the whole weekend, and had been getting things done that she wanted before the chemo week started. Tomorrow she goes to see Dr. Porubcin for preliminary work before chemo on Wednesday.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Good week!

Mom had some blood work done on Monday to check her levels, and so far hasn’t heard anything back saying that things were good or bad. She feels good this week and most of the soreness is gone. Her arm (where one of the blood clots is located) isn’t bothering her that much either so that’s a good sign. Other than being tired more than usual, this week has been a good week.

Mom came over for dinner last night and we ate outside on the patio. Thank goodness the weather is finally shaping up! Today she was going to go to her sewing class with Lois and Connie over in Davenport. They had signed up for it quite awhile ago and she was looking forward to going.

Next week is another chemo week (Wednesday). We meet with Dr. Porubcin on Tuesday to go over her treatment and talk about anything that she has concerns about. I think that after this round they are going to do another scan of her torso to see if the cancer has reduced in size/scope.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Tom, Scotty and I went out to Mom’s today for brunch. I made a chicken ring with crescent rolls, some cinnamon rolls and then brought some fruit. Mom had a good appetite. She woke up not feeling a little ill, but by the time we go there, she was feeling OK. We brought Patrick out with us too, and as always, he was his happy self to see Grandma.

After we finished eating I got out the hair clippers and we clipped the rest of mom’s hair off. There was not much there anyway, even in the span of three days, I was shocked to see how much had fallen out. Even as I used the comb to smooth it out, it came out in clumps. I didn’t get close to the scalp because I was afraid of nicking her head, but whatever is left will be out by tomorrow I’m sure.

Scotty wanted his hair cut too, so I cut it off yesterday. I guess he had enough of his unruly mane while he was away at college. I have no idea why his hair is so thick... and it is much thicker than when he was in grade school. I couldn't even get a comb through it, and I had to stop twice to clean out the clippers.

Mom's wig fits very nice and you can’t even tell it’s a wig. The color is perfect – light enough but no gray. It will be interesting to see how much gray will grow back when this is all done.

For Mother's Day I got her a small purple Viola in a teacup planter and then an Isabel Bloom butterfly that was mounted in a frame with the words "Change is beautiful" in the frame along the mat. When I saw it I thought of her, as right now things aren't so beautiful and cancer is down right ugly, but after all is said and done, she will be ready to fly and flit around again just as she is used to doing.

Friday, May 8, 2009


Mom woke up today not feeling well, a little nausea, but has been feeling better as day progressed. There was a little bit of achy-ness but not enough to take some Tylenol I guess. She takes the Fenergen (for nausea) whenever she feel it coming on, and then she took her last Emend today (for nausea) ((the $100 pill)) so hopefully she has it nipped in the bud. Tomorrow will tell.

Picked up Scotty today! He’s back for the summer. Ethan has another week of classes and then will be done. Chad finished his last official college project last week and is now a Loyola Graduate! I like the sound of that. He will be coming home hopefully sometime soon and then we can take him out for a celebratory dinner.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Round two

Today’s chemo session went very well. We were in at 8:30 a.m. and out by 1:30 p.m. They gave her the same routine as they did at the first one: Nausea medicine bag, Benedryl bag, Paxitel bag, and then the final bag of the Carbo drug. The longest one is the Paxitel and that took a couple of hours. She was tired when we got back home and just wanted to take a nap. Tomorrow she goes back in for her Neulasta shot and then she’s done with Round 2.

The meeting with Dr. Porubcin yesterday went well also. He checked her blood work and then asked her about any harsh symptoms from the last chemo session. Other than the expected nausea, nothing new there. He said that the second round of chemo should be the same as the first and her symptoms may be a little more harsh, but not much. He is going to keep her off the Coumodin for a while and just have her take the Lovonex shot to control her clots and get them dissolved. So she will have to get a shot every day for the next few months ☹

The doctor is thinking that after Round 3 of chemo, he will have another scan done to see how the cancer nodes are doing (hopefully shrinking). Then mom will do three more rounds of chemo (for a total of 6 sessions), and then surgery to remove her uterus, ovaries and scrape out the cancer. Not sure about any chemo after that.

They had to draw another blood sample today to check her protein levels. Yesterday her protein level was high from the sample that they took, and they want to send it out to the lab to look into it further. The nurse didn’t say anything about how big of a concern her protein levels are, but we will know more after they finish testing it.

I’m going to bring my hair clippers with me tomorrow. Her hair is shedding so bad… she sneezes and hair flies out 360 degrees everywhere. It would be better to have it off. The wig looks really nice, and the color is perfect. It looks exactly like her hair color, except no gray ☺

Monday, May 4, 2009

Busy week ahead

Mom had a good weekend, especially since the weather was nice. She picked up her wig and had it shaped up a little. She’s been losing quite a bit of hair in the last week so she’s thinking maybe this week is a good time to start wearing it.

Tomorrow she is going to get her lab work done at 9:15 and then meet with Dr. Porubcin after that. There shouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary but I guess it’s standard procedure the day before chemotherapy. Wednesday is chemo day, and then Thursday is the Neulasta shot day to kick her white blood cells back in gear. We’re hoping by the weekend the nausea will be on the downward swing so we can plan on having a brunch/lunch on Sunday. Scotty will be home! I’m picking him up sometime on Friday – he’s officially done with his first year of college. Chad is a big Loyola graduate and is going to take a year off and work before graduate school. The LSATs are in the fall, and he is planning on taking the test.

My friend Cara made a couple of small meals for mom this week: good old meat and potatoes. She makes a mean mini-meatloaf and they are perfect for reheating. She is all too familiar with cancer as her mom had breast cancer, not sure how long ago, but went through about the same procedure with the chemo and such. Her mom ended up having a mastectomy, but is now cancer free.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Taking a break

Things are on a even keel at the moment; mom isn’t taking the Coumoudin any more so she’s down to the Lovonex shots. They don’t have to measure the INR level any more either, so hopefully the Lovonex will be enough to dissolve the blood clots. At some point she will have another CT scan to see if the clots are still there. She’s giving herself the Lovonex shots every morning so she doesn’t have to make the hospital visit every day.

Last week Lois and Connie took her to the boutique to check out the wigs. The boutique was able to order her the color and style that she wanted, and it should be in sometime this week… I think they were going to go back over and pick it up. I haven’t seen it but from what mom said it’s pretty tame. So, there won’t be a flaming redhead walking around Geneseo that’s for sure. I thought she should do something different, but then again if it was me, I wouldn’t.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More clots

Yesterday mom still had some nausea, as well as aching bones, but she seemed to be feeling a little better.

Today she found out she has another blood clot under her arm in a spot that had been bothering her and had been sore. The hospital in Geneseo was able to find it without a scan, I can’t remember what she called the contraption they used… something with a lot of tubes. So now, she is off the Coumoudin and just going to go with the Lovonex shots on a daily basis to dissolve the clots. It has been very hard to regulate her INR level this last week, so backing off of that and using the Lovonex should bring the clots under control and prevent others from forming.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Rainy day

Well I didn't make it out to mom's, the rainy day turned me into a Spring Cleaning machine. I got the upstairs done at least... maybe next weekend I'll get the other half done. Or not!

Today the nausea was worse. Mom got a good night’s sleep for the most part, however woke up not feeling so good. She took one of the prescription nausea pills to take the edge off. Her bones were aching again (from the Neulasta shot). She was feeling about the same the whole day, but managed to eat some small meals and snacks and drank one of her Boost shakes. For as little as the bottle is, there's about 390 calories and 15 or so grams of protein, so that does her body some good.

There was nothing to do today anyway, she got yard work done on Friday when it was sunny. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

One more shot

Mom got her Neulasta shot yesterday – each time she has chemo, then the next day she has to go and the Neulasta shot which is a drug that will prompt her bone marrow to produce more white blood cells. It didn’t take that long and we were back home in time for Jeopardy ☺

I talked to her this morning and she was a little nauseated but not too bad. She took her last of the $300 nausea pills (they were $100 each) ((she has a good co-pay w/insurance )) so she's hoping the nausea won't hit her too hard this weekend. She said that cancer treatment has really come a long way over the last 20 years... her good friend Jan, who passed away when I was a freshman in college, had a terrible time with the side effects of chemo therapy. Mom remembers how hard the nausea was for Jan at the time, and I think she has that in the back of her mind. BUT between all the pills, the bag of medicine during treatment and the steroids, I'm sure the edge has been taken off.

Her hip ached a little, and the nurse said yesterday that the Neulasta would make her bones ache for a day or so, but mom said it wasn’t that bad. Aunt Carol is coming for lunch today and bringing something that I’m sure is compatible with their persnickety digestive systems, so I’ll probably go out and see her tomorrow since it’s supposed to rain pretty much all day. Maybe she’ll feel like getting out or not, we’ll see.

Friday, April 17, 2009

One down...

Slow start to the day. Mom’s port wasn’t cooperating and it took two hours for them to clear it out, so we didn’t get started until about 10:30 a.m. First they gave her a drip of some nausea preventative medicine and some saline. The she got a bag of Benedryl to curb any allergic reaction to the Paxitel. The about 11:15 she got the Paxitel drip. That was the largest one and they let it drip slowly to watch for reactions.

The Benedryl hit her hard. I gave her a neck pillow and a blanket and she was out.

The room hubbub quieted down, earlier there were two chemo “veterans” in who were just chatting it up about whatnot. They both had been through chemo treatments, surgeries and other medical processes. The worst part about the morning was a woman with a nasty (worse than mom’s) cough and SHE WOULDN’T TAKE ANY WATER. Her husband, who is receiving a chemo treatment, is a cute little farmer with a John Deere hat. He’s retired, but he still likes to tinker around outside as much as he can.

The Paxitel finished at about 3:15, and then it was time for the Carbopatin. That only took about ½ an hour to go through the bag. After that was done they kept her on a saline drip for a few minutes. They had that bag going the whole time with the other stuff anyway, but they gave her some extra at the end for hydration purposes.

Then to finish off everything, more nausea pills. We got home at about 4:30 I think. Her treatments are more spread out that we thought they were going to be: One week on; then three weeks off. Her next one is May 6.

All-n-all, the first chemo treatment went fine, very smooth with no reactions or side effects (apparent), but we'll see this weekend what kind of side effects she will have. From what the nurses say, seems like nausea is to be expected.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Big day tomorrow

Today at Dr. Porubcin’s office his nurse Sherry (sp?) went over the chemotherapy drugs, additional prescriptions and side effects mom could expect over the course of treatment. Sherry is a cute little lady with a sunny personality so I’d say she’s perfect for the line of work she’s in.

The two chemo drugs they are going to give mom are Praxitel and Carbopatin. Both are used for the treatment of ovarian cancer and in mom’s case also primary peritoneal cancer (high probability that that is where it is as well). I looked up the drugs when I got back to my office, there’s a good web site that does a good job of describing the drugs. Be careful – there are more chemo drugs out there than you think.

It’s going to take about three hours to infuse the drugs. They will be watching her closely to see her reaction with the Praxitel – if there is an allergic reaction they will have to find another type to go with. Dr. Porubcin will be there to see if there are any reactions. Doesn’t seem to be the same concern with the Carbo drug, however there are other side effects such as nausea and a general achy feeling. The side effects don’t normally show up the day of treatment, more likely 3-5 days later. And the first two times will be the easiest – she can expect around the 6 or 7th treatment to start feeling it more.

The other medicines that she is going to take to prevent the side effects are a dose of steroids before the treatment, then a pill for the nausea right before the treatment, and then she’ll have a second prescription for nausea if it gets too bad. She is free to take Tylenol as needed for any aches and pains. Other general instructions: drink a lot of water, small frequent meals throughout day are best, sleep when tired, get around and move (mom won’t ever have a problem being a couch potato that’s for sure)

Hair loss will start happening after the first couple of treatments. Mom has some wig resources in Moline and there is a specialty boutique called “Always A Woman” that is very good with “cranial prosthesis” (aka WIG) and the nurse actually had some coupons that mom can use there.

We took a tour of the room where the treatments will be. It was a very busy place. There were at least 10 chairs with IV hook ups and an assorted range of people receiving their treatments. There is a big picture window facing a small lake at one side. As packed as the room was, it was a good atmosphere. There are at least four nurses in that room at all times.

Mom felt good about the fact that she’s getting started on the chemotherapy. I told her by Christmastime this would be all behind her and she can look forward to starting 2010 in a healthy way!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Chemo this week!

We had a nice time on Sunday and went into church for the 9:00 a.m. service. Everyone was very happy to see her. Pastor Bill was there (the one who came to the hospital) and he gave a good Easter talk with a lot of humor in between. Scotty even got up which was a feat because I know he only got a couple hours of sleep. He wanted to see his Grandma.

Mom went in for an appointment today with Dr. Mullin to see how her anti-coagulating is going and to talk about the next steps. She had an INR of 1.6, so not quite where he wants her to be (between 2-3). There will be lots of blood monitoring when she starts chemotherapy.

Speaking of chemotherapy, she has an appointment on Wednesday at Dr. Porubcin’s office to discuss the treatment and what drugs they will be using, so that on Thursday she will be able to start chemotherapy FINALLY. Sounds like they will be prescribing a couple of things to curb the side effects as well.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Good scope

The gastroscopy went fine today, and all and all it took about 10 minutes for the surgeon to take a look. They didn’t find anything other than a hiatal (sp?) hernia (not serious) and a small patch of gastritis (irritation in the lining of the stomach; not serious). They also took a small tissue sample and sent it off to the lab for inspection. She should hear something on Monday if they find anything suspect. The surgeon didn’t think there was any concern.

So now that the scope is over, we’re back to ovarian cancer, possibly peritoneal cancer. The surgeon was going to call Dr. Porubcin’s (oncologist) office today to discuss the gastroscopy. From there hopefully mom will get in next week for her first chemotherapy session.

Her INR was up over 3.0 so they want her to back off of the Coumadin again today. They’ll test her INR tomorrow morning, and if it’s down then she can start back on the Coumadin.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Gastroscopy date

Well mom reached an INR of 2.6! I told her to think really hard about a high INR when the nurse was drawing her blood so it must of worked. She’s back down to 5 mg of Coumodin a day and no more Lovonex shots for the time being. Whatever tush she has left was getting pretty sore from the shots, so she's happy to be off the Lovonex.

We didn't go for a consult today as originally planned. Mom was able to arrange to have the Gastroscopy done in Geneseo on Thursday. This a much better option and she is more comfortable having it done at Hammond Henry (and I'm quite comfortable there as well it's a nice hospital). It's a simple procedure, and not a lot of prep work involved... most of the time is just getting her ready for the scope and then bringing her out of anesthesia. Should go just fine.

Monday, April 6, 2009

One step back

Today was a hard day. Just when mom thinks she is moving in the right direction, things change. Dr. DeGeest (Iowa City Doctor) wants to do a Gastroscopy - examination of the gullet and stomach. The procedure is painless and is usually done under a light sedative as a day-case. There is no risk to her blood clots with this type of sedative, and they will be able to give her something temporarily to counteract the Coumodin.

She goes in for a consultation tomorrow afternoon for the gastroscopy. The office is in Moline near Trinity. Mom wants to see if they can do the procedure in Geneseo.

Dr. Porubcin’s office won’t do the chemotherapy until the gastroscopy procedure is done, so that’s a minor setback. We were hoping to start chemo this week definitely, but now it looks like it won’t happen until next week.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Surgery postponed

The surgery has been postponed. Mom needs to be on the anti-coagulating meds that are being used to dissolve the blood clots for at least three months. For the next four days she will be taking Lovonox by injection and then build up on Coumadin so that her INR level is between 2-3. The INR means International Normalized Ratio and measures something about coagulation. As long as her ratio reaches 2-3 that is the point they want her at before she can start chemotherapy.

Coumadin partially blocks the re-use of vitamin K in your liver. Vitamin K is needed to make clotting factors that help the blood to clot and prevent bleeding. It can help stop harmful clots from forming and keeps clots from getting larger. The Lovonox is taking care of dissolving the clots, and the Coumadin is preventing any more clotting. She needs to watch eating her leafy greens, because eating too much Vitamin K will throw things off, but other wise if she keeps eating like she always has things will be fine. She needs to gain weight and the doc said it was ok for her to drink a protien supplement once a day.

Dr. DeGeest told me on the phone yesterday that he would not be operating with blood clots in the picture now. Thank goodness they looked at the scans again.

Looks as if now she will have to go back to Plan A: Chemotherapy first, surgery second. Dr. Porubcin's office has been keeping in touch with her and will call her on Monday to talk about starting chemo.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Another issue: blood clots

Yesterday mom and I got back to Rock Island about 3:30 ish from Iowa City, and then headed back to Geneseo to get some things done, stop at the store, etc.

About 1/2 hour later the University of Iowa calls me and says that I need to take mom to the emergency room right away because on the last CT scan that was done of her whole chest area (on April 1), there were two blood clots on the right lower lobe and she needed to get some treatment right away. Dr. DeGeest was concerned about the clot breaking loose and would go to her heart or cause a stroke. If he would have gone ahead with the surgery it would have been a bad thing.

So I jump in Jeep and drive to Geneseo to find her because of course she's not home..."I've got some things to do" were her words to me before she left my house.

I found her, neighbor Marion had taken her to the emergency room in Geneseo. The doctors gave her a big shot of a clot-dissolving Lovonox and did another CT scan. The scan confirmed that there were two clots on her right lobe.

She was admitted to the hospital (in Geneseo) and will stay the night, maybe tomorrow as well. We have to consult with U of I again tomorrow to see what to do know since she can't have surgery with the clots.

The next step: University of Iowa

The Cancer Center at the University of Iowa is a very busy place!

We spent the day there, talking to the gynocologist/oncologist/surgeon, Dr. DeGeest. He said that it would be best to do surgery soon, he really can't say what the cancer is, possibly ovarian, however he's concerned that it may have attached on to small bowel, peritoneum, omentum or pancreas based on her fluid buildup and some other symptoms. To determine the type of cancer they need to open her up and look. They really can't get enough information from the CT scans or the Physical exam.

Some points of the cancer may not be removable. After her recovery, then chemotherapy. They were talking about doing surgery next Monday (April 6) or Tuesday (April 7), which was the earliest she could get in. The surgery will take 3-6 hours, and then about 5-6 days recovery.

After the visit with the gyn surgeon, she took care of the preoperative processes so she’ll be ready to go next week: did an EKG, visited with the anesthesia doctor, more paperwork, etc.

We also need to possibly look into skilled care after they discharge her from the hospital. Especially if they have to do a bowel resection in addition to taking out the uterus/ovaries and debulking (removing cancer).

Dr. DeGeest's office will call to confirm a day and time for next week.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Second option: surgery then chemo

The second Oncologist visit went very well. Dr. Porubcin, at Trinity in Moline, was very thorough with his reading of the full range of test results. His first theory is that the cancer is ovarian, however there are other areas that the cancer could be attached: stomach, peritoneum and even the small bowel. It’s very puzzling that there is no bulk or mass to deal with. The cancer could be very thin and attached in many places. Some cancers do grow that way.

He recommended surgery first and foremost. First, to determine what type of cancer is in the abdomen; Second to get all/as much of the cancer out as possible. Then, after a recovery period, chemotherapy to specifically treat the cancer.

Mom is in great health and is a good candidate for the surgery. Now would be a good time to use this window of opportunity since the fluid has been drained and chemo has not started. He recommended taking a trip to the University of Iowa to talk to a very well trained surgeon there who specializes in gynecology oncology and treats cancer specifically in a woman’s reproductive system. This cancer will definitely need good surgical hands.

Dr. Porubcin wants another scan of the upper chest area to rule out anything in the lung area.

Mom commented that another gynecologist she had talked to a few days ago said doing surgery first should be the priority. Now that she has heard it twice, that sounds like it could be the answer to treating the cancer.

The office set up an appointment for Iowa City tomorrow 10:00 a.m.