Thursday, October 28, 2010

Iowa City visit

The trip to Iowa City went well today. The resident went over mom's charts and thought that starting chemo again (with Topetecan) was the best option considering how fast the CA125 counts shot up over the last couple of months. The woman (can't remember her name) also said that in her experience, it was common for the CA125 to spike a little after the start of chemo treatment, so we shouldn't be surprised or concerned if next week's counts go up a little.

Next Tuesday mom starts another round of chemo for the following three weeks. Dr. Porubcin wants to see her right before, so I'm sure he will have new CA125 results.

Mom said she has had more energy over the last couple of days... but the pressure in her ears was pretty bad yesterday (better today). Sleeping at with her head elevated seems to help... but we were both hoping that the week off of chemo would take care of the symptom. The Iowa City resident doc didn't seem to be too concerned over it so I guess it's something she'll have to put up with for a little while.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Week off of chemo

In lieu of a week off of chemo, mom has to make a trip to Iowa City on Thursday for a check-in/check-up. As routine as these visits are, I will be interested in their take about what is going on (starting treatments w/ Topetecan, fluid buildup in abdomen) and have a list of questions to REMEMBER to ask if they don't cover it otherwise. Mom had blood work done yesterday so I don't know if we will have those counts by Thursday but it would be nice if the counts were available at that time.

She felt ok over the weekend... a little tired, and out of breath at times. Scotty went out and helped her Saturday with some yardwork. Give him an axe and he'll cut anything down to size. And he enjoys spending time with his grandma. I think he is still digesting all of this "cancer stuff." 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chemo session #3

Mom's chemo session went fine this morning. Her port area looked a lot better than last week and the week before... there was quite a bit of bruising. The nurse Tracy has been very careful about not accessing the port with one of the veins in the way, and that seems to have fixed the problem. The bruise on her arm is gone so mom is clotting ok (but hopefully not too much!). 

The pressure in her ears was bothersome this morning but nothing unmanageable. I will be interested in seeing if that symptom goes away next week since she will have a week off of the chemo before she has to do another three-week round starting on November 2. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Topetecan side effects?

Mom had a pretty good weekend other than the bothersome ear sensation (feels like they are full or plugged up). I've been doing a little reading about the drug Topetecan and in one article on there is mention of side effects such as neurosensory effects or allergic reactions. There is also a big occurrence of "myalgia," (which is akin to fibromyalgia) a condition in the muscles that is reacting to some sort of drug. Mom was having terrible leg cramps in her calf and it started when this particular round of chemo started.

None of these side-effects are really severe... but just annoying. 

She has another chemo session tomorrow, and then next week she has the week off, so hopefully she will get some relief for a week before the next three-week round comes up. 

She is keeping busy though... got some sewing done and just trying to keep occupied. She finished her first wedding quilt for whichever boy of mine gets married first so she's got two more to go. I don't see any immediate nuptials in the future, but who knows? In my twenty years of motherhood I have not been able to anticipate their plans so I don't think anything is going to change at this point. The boys definitely have their own agendas!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Better week

Mom has been feeling pretty good the last couple of days - definitely better than last week. She still feels some pressure in her ears but it comes and goes and isn't that annoying. She has been sleeping in her recliner to keep her head elevated and that does seem to help. Surprisingly she has been able to sleep this way as well, so I guess that she will be doing this for the rest of the course of the chemo treatments. Next week is week three and then the week after she gets a break before starting up the three-week cycle again. She will get a blood count in a couple of weeks so hopefully she'll have some good results.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Better day

Mom had a better day today - she had a little bit of the pressure in her ears... but not as bad as last week. She slept in her recliner last night in order to keep her head elevated... the Trinity nurses thought that should help alleviate the symptoms. So far so good...

Last year at this time mom was recovering from major surgery. I remember thinking/feeling relieved that hopefully (always the word hope) that the cancer journey would be over. I did have that impression. I thought that there would be an end to it. I wish someone would have said from the beginning that the cancer is never going to go away. It is always going to be there and in order to survive you have to stay one step ahead.

The things that one would expect to be thankful for are always available - good friends and a caring family... but I find myself thankful for strange things like a good insurance plan, or a friendly pharmacist. When a person has to order thousands of dollars worth of medicine in order to curb the nausea after chemo, or to prevent clots from forming, you find yourself being thankful for every step in the process. I think it's outrageous that people have to get permission (or get approved) for medications... as if there's even an option to not take medications when it's a life or death situation.

We have to be thankful for the things that mean the most... our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, fathers, sons and daughters. Life, with our without cancer, is the priority. Unfortunately I don't feel that insurance companies feel the same way.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Second week of chemo

Mom went home from the hospital last Friday afternoon. She didn't have any symptoms that day, however Saturday morning she had a little episode where her head felt like the pressure was building up. I could see a couple of veins on her forehead bulging, but it didn't last long-nor was it as strong as the ones earlier in the week. She felt fine the rest of the day Saturday. Sunday she felt really good and went to church and ran a few errands.

Monday Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bernie arrived in Ottawa. Mom was really happy to see them both and everyone had a great time visiting. Aunt Carol had shirts made with the official McCann crest on the front (will post picture later). They looked very nice. Aunt Ruth brought a ton of her jewelry so we all picked through that for awhile and I added some more pendants to my collection! Gayle made a really good gluten free cake and I couldn't even tell the difference between that and a recipe using flour. Then the sisters started talking about farm business and Uncle Bernie had to crack open a beer.

This morning mom said her ears were bothering her a little but she felt ok. The nurses at Trinity were trying to trouble shoot her symptoms and suggested that she sleep with the top of her body elevated (at least her head) so that there is less of a chance for the pressure in her head to build up. Over the next week or so the clots should dissipate and the Lovenox will prevent any more clots from forming so in theory mom shouldn't have as severe symptoms as last week. She had a little bit of a headache this evening, more like a sinus headache, so that is probably an effect of the chemo today. We'll see what happens tomorrow - if she sleeps partially upright tonight then hopefully she won't have any episodes.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Party floor

Mom had a ton of visitors yesterday - everyone was going back and forth between her room and Nancy's room down the hall. She was feeling better by the time I left (around 7:00 p.m.) and then Scotty stayed with her for another hour or so. She didn't have any sort of problems or other symptoms yesterday, so she will be good to go home today. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

One more day

Dr. Mullin came in at about noon to talk about his conversation with Dr. Porubcin. They both felt that the best course of action is to increase the daily dose of Lovenox to 70 ml as mom continues with the chemo treatments. Dr. Porubcin didn't think that mom's port in her chest had anything to do with the blood clotting.

Dr. Mullin couldn't say what caused the episode/reaction of what was making all of her blood vessels in her head dilate, other than maybe a clot did get loose and cause some problems - but the good thing is that it resolved itself. Just as clots clot; sometimes clots dissipate themselves too.

Believe it or not, one of mom's best friends, Nancy Craig, had her knee replaced yesterday and is staying in a room right down the hall. Mom has been down there a couple of times to check on her and say hello.

So mom will be able to go home tomorrow. I think it's best she stay another night as well. Just because she doesn't feel as bad as yesterday doesn't mean that nothing else will happen. There's still the issue of the small fluid buildup in her abdomen, the doctors aren't sure what is causing it (other than the cancer). Hopefully with the new round of chemo, the cancer cells will be killed off, and the fluid will subside. I guess we will know that in a couple of weeks after some more treatments are out of the way.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Overnight in hospital

Mom has developed blood clots again in her lungs, so she's going to spend the night tonight at Hammond Henry. Earlier today she was feeling short of breath and then she had an episode where she felt like the blood was rushing to her head, so she called Dr. Mullin's office and went in to get some blood work done and get a scan - and the clots showed up on the scan.

The nurse gave her an extra shot of Lovenox (the clot preventative) so that will help prevent more clots and then hopefully start to break up what is there.

There was some discussion about whether or not her port is causing some of these clots since this is the second time around.

The scan also showed some fluid buildup around spleen and pelvis area - but no tumor anywhere. The fluid buildup isn't a good sign but at least there's no mass anywhere.

Tomorrow Dr. Mullin and Dr. Porubcin will talk and figure out the best approach. She will probably go home tomorrow afternoon but they wanted to keep an eye on her tonight.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Post chemo

Mom said she is feeling OK today - other than she woke up with a headache overnight. Nurse Marty said that this was a common side effect with this particular treatment - headaches - so that is nothing out of the ordinary. One of the other side effects that Nurse Marty said was common was constipation... and I'm not going to ask mom if she is constipated so we'll just leave it at that.

Marty is one of my favorites - I see her from time to time in Longview Park across from my house. She walks her dogs over there and we always have discussions about rescuing animals and such. Her niece is a huge animal advocate and frequently fosters dogs and is also a big pit bull fan too. That's always a plus in my book. 

Tomorrow we'll see how mom feels - she reminded me that the second day after chemo is tougher than the first day after chemo, so we'll see what happens. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Back in the chemo room

The round of chemo went very well today - mom was done in about 45 minutes and we were out of there in less than an hour. The nurses didn't have any trouble with her port and they were able to access it right away. They gave her the Topotecan and another bit of some other drug to curb the nausea. She can take some of her other nausea medication if she wants to later - all and all she felt fine although a little tired after we got back home. She doesn't have to go in tomorrow for the neulasta shot so this process is easier on her system that the last time. She won't have that much hair loss either.

I looked up in my notes from last year because I remembered that the first oncologist, Dr. Konda, talked about using Topetecan as well. I had written down that his strategy was also to go three weeks on and one week off with the treatments. At the time, her CA125 count was at 2500 (on 3/26/09) so in some respects she is kind of right back where she started, which is disheartening, but today the nurses felt that she should respond well to the drug and hopefully we'll see that in the lab work in the next couple of weeks.

We didn't hear anything about the scan she had done last Friday, hopefully we'll hear about that in the next day or two to rule out any growth areas. If there are no growth areas that is a good thing. Her treatment next week is on Tuesday.