Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy Christmas

The whirlwind of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day came and went. Mom came over to our house for presents and Christmas Eve dinner and then stayed overnight. Yesterday, Christmas Day, we pretty much took it easy and ate leftovers and watched movies. Mom and I went on a short walk at Longview Park with the dogs. It was very cold and the sidewalks weren't very clear so we did the best we could. At least we were outdoors for some fresh air. Mom also had a chance to try out the new coat she received for Christmas - her two requirements are that the coat cover her bum and have a sturdy hood. She said she stayed warm for all of the 20 minutes we were outside, so I guess I did ok in the gifting department. 

The good news for the week is that the doctor's office called last week to give mom and update on her blood counts - and her CA125 dropped a couple of points to 34! That means that she will just have to check in again at the end of January to do another port flush and get a new series of blood work done. Hopefully that number will just stay the same, and as long as she doesn't have any other symptoms, she could be good for the winter and not have to look at starting chemo again.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Trinity visit

Mom had a scheduled port flush yesterday morning, and as usual the nurses weren't able to get a return after pushing some fluid through. They are able to get the fluid in but just can't get anything to come back out. This is not a huge concern at the moment, but if mom has to start chemo again in the next couple of months, they will need to get the port in working order.

The nurses also took blood to measure the counts. They may call her with some results this week, or may wait until her next visit with Dr. Porubcin which isn't for another couple weeks. I will have to double check on the date of the dr appt. because I sync'ed my phone wrong the other day and lost a lot of information. Typical technology.

Mom is coming over on Christmas Eve so that we can have our usual Christmas Eve dinner with the boys (an now their girlfriends too) and then open gifts. Christmas Day is a pajama and movie day pretty much, which is nice. Looks like we will also have some snow!!!

One movie that mom and I like to watch on Christmas is "White Christmas" with Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney. It brings back good memories of watching the movie with Grandma McCann and the fact White Christmas was one of her last tunes she was able to belt out at the Hillcrest Nursing Home. Looking back, it's really funny to me because Grandma McCann and I would watch that movie in the summertime back when I would visit the farm. Mostly because we both enjoyed the movie, but also because they had a VCR and we felt that it justified watching it just cause we could.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Doctor checkup

Mom met with Dr. Porubcin this morning. Overall he said her counts were good, although the CA125 has crept up to 36. Mom's bone density test also wasn't very favorable, so Dr. P. set her up with a shot of Prolia (drug for osteoporosis) that she will have to get every six months. She should have better results with that than the Fossamax she was taking. The side effects from the Fossamax were a little too harsh on her stomach.

Dr. Porubcin wants her to do another blood test in five weeks to see where the CA125 falls. He mentioned that she had a spike in her CA125 last year before it went down again (and pretty much stayed down for the last year). From there he will determine if she is to do more chemo next year. He liked the results from Doxil, so he may choose to go that route.

Not good news but not necessarily bad news. This is the reality of living with cancer, you have to keep tabs on it. Mom has been really blessed with all of the good results she has had over the last year, so as long as everything is kept in check there shouldn't be too much to worry about in the future.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Checkup time

Mom has a port flush scheduled at Trinity on Monday. The nurses will take some blood to do the counts and see where the CA125 is at. The following Monday (Nov. 12) Dr. Porubcin will review her numbers (which will be good hopefully) and then maybe she can get through the holidays without any issues.

She is still doing the Lovenox doses twice a day, and she would like to get back down to one shot a day but seems like when she does that, then the blood clots start appearing.

The last time she met with Dr. Porubcin he mentioned that they had a supply of Doxil in again, so if she needs to do more chemo in the future, that will be available. If that is good news, I don't know. I don't want her numbers to go up to where she would need more chemo. She doesn't have any other symptoms (bloating, bowel issues) so that's a good sign.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A quiet autumn!

Mom had a lot to celebrate last month - her 74th birthday and a chemo free summer. Tom and I took mom out for dinner at O'Melias in Rock Island on her birthday and then she and I went to Good's the following weekend to have lunch with the sisters.

Overall she has been feeling good. She had a bone density test on Tuesday, which came out low. She hasn't been taking anything for her osteoporosis, so maybe Dr. Porubcin will have something for her. The Fossamax is too hard on her stomach, hopefully she can have something easier on her body (in shot form). 

She has her port flush and blood counts next week, and then a Dr. Porubcin visit the week after that. Her counts have been good all summer so hopefully they will stay stable and she won't have to worry about any more chemo in the future.  

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

No surgery

Long story short, the x ray technicians could not find the spot/lump this morning and therefore mom didn't have the surgery.

Dr. Atwell will be in shortly and we'll have more information, but for now - no "lump removal" will happen today - good news!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Lunch with Miles and Camden

Friday mom and I drove to Ottawa to meet Greg and Demara at Aunt Carol's house. We all brought something for lunch so we didn't have to go out. It worked out well as Greg and Demara were driving through to go see Greg's family, and the stop would give the twins a break (as apparently they don't nap in the car) during the drive. G&D probably needed to get out of the van as well :)

The aunts were happy to get their twin time and the boys were great the entire time although it was hard to sit still for pictures. I think I took a couple of good photos.

Mom goes in for the procedure to remove the breast lump on Tuesday. She has to be at the hospital at 6:30 a.m. for whatever preparations they need to do, check her in and get settled, etc. I'll try and post something after all said and done - providing the hospital internet connection cooperates!
Aunt Carol, Miles, Aunt Rosemary, Camden, Aunt Barbara

Miles shows off his finger frogs

Camden was a bit shy about his frog fingers

Aunt Rosemary says goodbye to Camden and Miles is still smiling

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Doctor Visit

Mom had a visit with Dr. Porubcin yesterday and he was a very happy doctor after reviewing mom's blood counts. Her CA125 has gone down to 11 (was 16 the last time) and she hasn't been having many symptoms that would lead him to believe that the ovarian cancer is active. He still harasses her about "the cough" - and I have given up telling him that it's a "McCann thing" and just leave it be. He should be thankful that he has only one McCann to treat. I was tempted to invite him to the McCann reunion on July 28 so he could meet Aunt Carol and listen to her cough.

Mom is going to have a lump removed in her breast in a couple of weeks. At her last mammogram, the radiologist had some concerns about what he saw... and they did do a biopsy but didn't get enough tissue for a sample... so just to be on the safe side the lump is going to be removed. Dr. Atwell, the surgeon (at Hammond Henry in Geneseo) is going to do the procedure - a "needle op" and remove the tissue. This procedure will be an outpatient and they won't have to put mom all the way under/anesthetize. She is worried about her last blood clot / PE episode from February. The procedure is on July 24.

Both Atwell and Porubcin feel that the clots aren't a concern anymore, but as fast as they happen, it is something to worry about and always in the back of mom's mind.

Friday July 20 mom and I are going to Ottawa to see Greg and Demara and the twins. They are passing through and wanted to stop for a visit, so it's a great chance for mom to see the twins. We have talked about driving to Kentucky but think it's just a little out of reach, so driving two hours is a great option!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Visit to Trinity

Mom had her port flushed at Trinity today - but the same thing is happening that has been happening for the last few months: fluid goes in but they can't get a return back out. It's a one-way port for now. They aren't too concerned about it at the moment, but if they have to get it working in the future the nurses will have to figure something out.

Mom finally got over her cold/sinus infection after the second round of antibiotics. It kept her down for quite awhile, but she's back up to par now.

A couple of weekends ago Tom, Scotty, mom and I took a trip to Peoria for Uncle Steve and Aunt Rosemary's 50th Wedding Anniversary. The event was at a hall near their church in downtown Peoria. It was a very nice afternoon and it was good to see so many well-wishers (family and friends) celebrate the occasion. All of us cousins had a good chuckle over the photo albums - hairstyles and fashion changes over the years (can the 80's look any worse as time goes on?) but overall we really haven't changed that much. Just older.
Aunt Rosemary and Uncle Steve
Their original wedding cake topper..?...
Old photo of Aunt Carol, Aunt Ruth, Aunt Rosemary and mom
Grandma and Grandson!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Mom came over to the house today for a Mother's Day lunch. Tom cooked salmon and chicken on the grill and we had a couple of sides, along with dessert: Whitey's Ice Cream Mississippi Mud Pie! It was a beautiful day: sunny and 70 degrees. Not a lot of wind, just a great afternoon to sit out and enjoy the nice weather. We bought each other a planter of flowers. Mine is a mix of little cream/yellow colored petunias and purple lobelia (always purple something!) and I got her a planter of a mix of a bunch of plants I didn't know what was all in there but it was pretty and looked easy to take care of. She has a green thumb more than me and it will look good on her front step.

Mom has had a terrible cold for the last three weeks. Actually it was more than a cold, and her doctor was worried that it would settle into her lungs. She is on her second round of antibiotics and hopefully this will knock it out! The sickness hit her really hard, and I think that her immune system still isn't up to par, even though she hasn't had a chemo treatment for a while. She does sound better today than she has all week, her voice isn't as raspy and nasal-ey. Mom pretty much stuck to the indoors and didn't go out much the last two weeks, and I was too afraid to go out and see her and bring more germs as Scotty and Tom both had bad colds the last couple of weeks as well. Fortunately she has great neighbors and friends to look in on her - especially neighbor Mike (right next door) who is a surprisingly good cook and baker.

She did make it to her appointment last Tuesday at Trinity to have her port flushed. Or rather TRY to have her port flushed - it's still not going through very well. The nurses haven't been able to get a return on her port since I don't know when (probably since her last Doxil treatment). But Dr. Porubcin seems to think it is not a concern yet. It will be a concern if she needs more treatments.

I had a nice surprise this week - Mom came over to my Rotary meeting on Tuesday as I was to receive the club's A.T. Peara award. It was a big secret and Tom was in on it, and had called mom to have her come over to watch the club present the award. It was great to have her there and share in the fun. She also got to meet of the Rotarians and meet some of the people that I talk about all of the time.
Tom, me and mom at Rotary.
Next week we are going to Uncle Steve and Aunt Rosemary's Anniversary Party/Reception in Peoria. I'm sure Mom will be up to speed next week and she is definitely looking forward to hanging out with everyone. I wish I could put her in a hazmat suit so that she can avoid any unnecessary germs but I'm sure she'll be careful and not get too close to anyone who doesn't look well. There's always something to worry about!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Doctor appointment

Mom received good news on Monday at her appointment with Dr. Porubcin. Her CA125 count went down a couple more points to 16, an all time low since I can't remember when. All of her counts are good and she isn't having any other symptoms (bloating, etc) as well. Dr. Porubcin felt that things are going good so he is going to see her again in July. She will have to have her port flushed every four weeks (or rather try to flush the port - it hasn't been working properly the last two times) and also continue to do her Lovenox twice a day.

Dr. Porubcin also received some paperwork on ordering more Doxil (finally). Since it is back in production I guess the company is getting ready to distribute again. He is going to send it in and be prepared in case she should need it in the future.

Looks like it is going to be a nice summer!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Doctor appointment

Mom was released from the hospital on Monday as Dr. Mullin felt that the increased dose of Doxil got her out of immediate danger. On Tuesday she had her appointment with Dr. Porubcin (who was extremely perplexed about her clotting issues - nothing new). The good news is that her CA125 count was in the 20's and the rest of her bloodwork information was also favorable. Dr. P was very happy about that, and as a result isn't going to recommend a chemo treatment just yet. Since there is no Doxil at the moment he would have to have put her on a different drug.

On the news that night there was a story that the FDA announced the availability of a new drug that should curb the Doxil shortage. The replacement drug is called Lipodox. I haven't had time to read up on it, but from what some other articles are saying, it's a good replacement for Doxil.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hammond-Henry "Hilton"

Mom drove herself to the Hammond-Henry emergency room Friday night - she had been having erratic heartbeat (periodically) throughout the day on Friday and some times her heart felt like it was pounding in her chest... not in a heart-attack way but it concerned her as there was nothing that she could think of that would be causing the symptoms. Long story short, she has developed more blood clots and they are in her right lung.

Dr. Mullin decided to keep her in the hospital until he could talk with her oncologist (Dr. Porubcin). So nurse George said "welcome back to the Hammond-Henry Hilton" as mom has been a frequent visitor in the last couple of years.

Dr. Mullin increased her Lovenox dose to dissolve the clots and would like for her to go back to doing the shot twice a day. Dr. Porubcin decreased her dose in early January back to one shot a day as he thought she could get by with that since she isn't doing a treatment at the moment. Mom does have an appointment with Dr. Porubcin already scheduled for Tuesday (1:00 p.m.) so we'll find out what the numbers are on her latest blood count.

She is doing much better today and is more at ease. Dr. Mullin also prescribed a drug, Atenolol, to slow down her heart a bit. He believes that the blood clots were putting pressure on one of the cavities in the heart and "making it really irritable" for the heart to do its job. The nurses hooked mom up to an EKG on Friday when she arrived into the emergency room, and that came out normal. They didn't see anything that would indicated heart tissue damage.

They are planning on sending mom home tomorrow after Dr. Mullin and Dr. Porubcin connect.

The other part of the conundrum is getting mom back on Lovenox twice a day. She will have to fill out a couple of forms (new insurance company now) and talk to them. To me that seems like the wrong way about it - you shouldn't have to talk to your insurance company first to get the ok to order more prescriptions. There is something really really backwards about having your insurance company dictate what prescriptions you get based on whether or not it will make them money (or cost them more money).

A patient's health needs to be the priority, and that is definitely not how the system works.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Home safe

Mom and I made it home safely on Thursday after a bumpy flight and tentative landing in Moline. The pilot announced midway through the flight that we may detour and land in DesMoines because of the visibility (dense fog in Moline) but he decided that Moline was a go so we landed at about 7:30 p.m.

Holly, Barb & Cheryl
We had a great time in Arizona. Mom and I met up with my dad’s sister, Cheryl, on Saturday at the Cracker Barrel in Casa Grande. We had about a two hour lunch to catch up on everything. It was great to see her and I could tell she was glad to see mom and be able to talk to her in person. Back in the day when Aunt Cheryl and Uncle Paul lived in Peoria, we used to get together with them a couple times a year. Uncle Paul worked for the Pabst brewery and dad wholeheartedly supported that endeavor. As tricky as my father’s side of the family is to sort out (when I was little I was confused about him having two mothers) the days in Peoria were good times and good memories with all of my cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents. Mom is still close with Cheryl and wants to meet up with dad’s other sisters (Debbie, Bev, Eva Marie and Patty). We haven’t seen them since Scotty was born. Mom worries about them and so I think we will be taking a few more short trips in the future.

The Arizona weather has been great. Quail Run/Creek/Ridge (now I can’t for the life of me remember what comes after Quail) where Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bernie is a gated community and everyone has a golf cart and a dog. It is a great place to walk and Aunt Ruth and mom walked in the mornings and I was able to get a couple of runs in. There is a three mile loop around the community and it makes for a nice 3 mile workout. Apparently the cattle run stray in this area – there are some warning signs out for cattle crossings – but I didn’t see any cows wandering around. Uncle Bernie told me to watch out for coyotes, snakes and these things that look like pigs called javalinas. I had to watch out for the golf carts more than anything.

Sunday was Uncle Bernie’ birthday. We went to Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bernie’s church in Sauharita, and then headed to Tubac to do some shopping. The have some great little shops there and I cleaned out one of the pottery places. For Uncle Bernie’s birthday dinner we went to Florentino’s (Mexican and Italian) and had margaritas. What really made his day were the phone calls from Miles, Camden and Zachary.

Aunt Ruth & Mom on the way to Tombstone
Monday we took the scenic route to Tombstone (over an hour away). The mountains and valleys - entire landscape – is really breathtaking. U Bernie is a great driver and pulled over a couple of times for us to get photos. In Tombstone we had lunch and then wore ourselves out shopping (again). Mom bought a couple of things and found a John Wayne photo for her friend Robert (son of Lois, her good friend who passed away a few months ago). Robert has been in the hospital and Mom has kept in touch and checked on his progress each day.

Tuesday we went to the Tucson International Gem Show and had an eyeful of beads, gems, jewelry, fossils, rough cut stones and glass artwork. We stopped at the expo center first and Aunt Ruth got us in as official “buyers” with her jewelry connections (I felt very important). By the afternoon we were forgetting it was Tuesday and decided that we had enough of the showgrounds. Uncle Bernie found a collapsible cooler and a painting that he really liked, and mom, A. Ruth and I found some good jewelry deals.

Aunt Ruth & Uncle Bernie's house
By Wednesday we were all exhausted and just stayed close to “the ranch.” Mom, Aunt Ruth and I went through all of the model homes at Quail Run/Creek/Ridge. We all decided to let ourselves dream a bit – there’s no harm in that. Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bernie’s model of home was no longer offered, but there was one that was similar. Their style is what I would prefer with a grand room area that connects to the kitchen with an eat-in area off of the kitchen. Uncle Bernie caught up with us at lunch time and we ate at the Grill restaurant that is right off of the Quail putting green and driving range of the golf course and then had a look at the swimming pool and lap pool area. Quail is a great place and great community. Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bernie have a lot of good friends there. After lunch we visited the Hearts and Hands quilt shop and of course mom and I walked out of the shop with some new projects to finish. We were all beat and just sat around that afternoon. Uncle Bernie the grill master cooked up some salmon filets and had a nice dinner at home.

Heart-shaped cactus in the yard!
Thursday arrived fast and by the time we had to get in the car to go to the airport, mom and I didn’t really want to leave. We could have easily spent another week there – but duty calls at home and mom has a doctor’s appointment coming up in a couple of weeks. But we will definitely visit Arizona again to hang out with A. Ruth and U. Bernie. There are still some things that we missed and there is definitely plenty to do.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Arrived in Arizona

St. Xavier Mission
Mom and I arrived in Phoenix/Mesa last night and then drove to Green Valley for about two hours and made it to Aunt Ruth’s and Uncle Bernie’s at about 1:00 a.m. (AZ time). It was a good flight and a very dark drive (there are no lights along the highways in AZ), and we were tired but Ruth and Bernie were up waiting for us!

This morning mom and Aunt Ruth already had their walk in by the time I got up out of bed. After breakfast we got in the car and headed out to do some sightseeing. First on the list was the St. Xavier Mission, outside of Green Valley. It was a beautiful, old church that was overseen by the Franciscan order and is the oldest European structure in Arizona. The sanctuary is gorgeous - very Baroque - and gilded with gold. Gabby Giffords mother, who is a local artist, reconstructed a set of lions by the pulpit.

Cactus every where!
Next we visited a copper mine, didn’t take the tour but walked around and stopped at the gift shop. Then we stopped at the Green Valley Pecan Shop (there are hundreds of pecan trees along the side of the highway) and bought some pecan hot sauce, pecan toffee, caramel & pecan popcorn… I’m hoping that I don’t eat it all in the next week ☺

Tomorrow we are heading up to Casa Grande to have lunch with my Aunt Cheryl (Dad’s sister) and hopefully see my cousins DeeDee and Darcy. We haven’t seen them much since they moved to AZ and it will be nice to reconnect. Uncle Bernie has a car show – I would like to get to that too but we’ll see how the day goes.

Friday, January 20, 2012

January lunch at Good's

Monday mom and I headed to Good's in Kewanee for lunch with Carol, Peggy, Rosemary, Steve, Laurie and Virgil. It was a good day to travel and the waitstaff there at the Good's restaurant is getting pretty used to seeing the group each month.

Mom had (or tried) a port flush Tuesday morning. The nurses didn't have much success in getting it to work as there is some fiberous material still clogging the area. So they put some chemicals in there to break it up or keep it from getting worse. Not a big concern right now as she isn't in any chemo treatment but eventually they will have to clear it out somehow.

We are leaving for AZ next Thursday, LATE, flying out on Allegiant from the Moline airport. The snow forecast looks ok so hopefully the weather will be nice and clear. Looking forward to some warmer weather!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Arizona bound

Mom and I are shedding our winter gear and going to take a trip to Arizona to stay with Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bernie for a week at the end of the month. Mom has been wanting to go and visit them for a long time - so, since she is taking a break from chemo, now is the time!

My dad's sister, Cheryl, and her husband Paul live outside of Phoenix, and my cousins DeAnna and Darcy live around that area as well, so we are going to try and make a date and time to meet up with them. It will be nice to see them again.

We are flying out on January 26 and returning on February 2 on Allegiant, which has a direct flight from Moline to the Phoenix/Mesa airport.