Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Good milestone - chest port removed!

Mom had her chest port taken out today - the thing hasn't been in working order for the last two years so Dr. Porubin gave her the green light to have it removed. She had it done at Hammond Henry (her favorite hospital) and the nurses came by her room in droves to say hello and congratulations on this milestone. Having the port removed is a good indicator that her cancer is at bay and there is no reason to worry. Her counts are good and she doesn't have any symptoms...so it will be a nice holiday season with no worries.

Dr. Atwell (the surgeon) said that the port looked ok after he removed it - there wasn't anything too significant nor was there much fibrin build up. He thinks that maybe part of it was a little too close to the artery wall and that was the reason that they couldn't get much return out of it. No matter anymore. It's out.

Mom is a little sore around her collarbone but the area looks good. She's not bleeding too much either - she is off the Lovenox until tomorrow morning just to be safe. She is SUPPOSED to take it easy for the next couple of days and not exert herself... meaning no Jazzercise and heavy lifting. She can go out on her daily walks and that's about it for now.

Hammond Henry Hospital in Geneseo has had quite a makeover - new construction and a new wing...emergency area, admitting area, gift shop, cafeteria. It's a very nice hospital. It didn't happen without a lot of effort and fundraising. I found mom's name on "the wall" of recognition and thought that it was cool that she not only worked there for many years, but liked it enough to actually come back and be a part of the volunteer corps and also donate to the renovation project. We should all be so fortunate to have a great place to work and retire from and enjoy the place enough to want to volunteer and donate to. Many organizations can't boast that kind of support.

The donor wall at Hammond Henry

Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Nancy, Mom, Regina and Lisa chatting at
the table. 
We had a great Thanksgiving out at my in-laws cabin on the Mississippi. It was a brisk day. The hubs Tom and his twin brother Tim both cooked turkeys - equally delicious - and then there was a huge spread of sides - stuffing, potatoes, brussel sprouts, salads, roll ups and mom's famous Cranberry sauce. I live for that every year and always take home the leftovers and eat it for days. Fresh cranberrys are the best. I remember every year when mom would make it she would use a meat grinder to crush the cranberries enough to make them chunky.

Hopefully mom had enough to fill her belly and put on a pound or two. She went home with some leftovers.

Next week she is going to have her chest port removed. She is looking forward to it as it has always been kind of a bother having it implanted right beneath her collarbone. She can't wear v-neck shirts and has to be careful with blouses, so now she can wear anything she wants after next Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

AMAZING doctor check up

Dr. Porubcin had one word for mom today at her 3 month check-in: amazing! All of her counts were great and the CA 125 is down to 20.5.

She is not having any other symptoms (bloating, bowel irritations) and that is the best sign of all. Dr. Porubcin even wants her to have the port (in her chest) taken out as it hasn't been functioning properly for over a year. The nurses can get fluid in the port but not able to get a return. So it's not any good - and if she needed to use it she couldn't so it may as well come out.

Mom will still go in for blood work and check up in 4 months, and she will still be on the Lovenox twice a day. To me that is worth it and now she can look at maybe taking a short trip or two (there's one in April 2014... a bus trip to Branson MO and Arkansas). There's no reason why she can't plan a few things for next year.

She will have the port taken out in the first part of December. It's a simple procedure that she can have done at Hammond Henry in Geneseo.

So what to do? For so long she has had this cancer "thing" hanging over her head... it's kind of nice to not have to worry about it so much. It will be a nice holiday season (yes she has been asking us for the last month "HAVE WE DECIDED WHAT WE WANT FOR CHRISTMAS YET?") this year and next year and the year after that...et. al.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Class Reunion Weekend

Mom and I traveled to Ottawa over the weekend - her class reunion was held in combination with other classes that graduated from Seneca High School, so she and her sisters and brother were able to attend together. Mom was a part of the Class of 1956, which made this her 57-year reunion with her other classmates. There were only about 30 in the class total http://www.senecahs.org/vnews/display.v/ART/45b4ce2d59089

She had a great time and outlasted me that night - I was in bed before she snuck in after 10:00 p.m.

Sunday we went to church in Ransom, which is always fun to see people there who haven't changed really - they are the same... maybe a little older, but the same. It's always nice to go back there.

Mom has her next appointment with Dr. Porubcin at the end of the month. He is spreading out the appointments as her CA125 levels aren't spiking and she doesn't have any other symptoms. It's nice to have some downtime... if there is such a thing with cancer.

The reunion crew - mom, Aunt Rosemary, Aunt Carol and Uncle Steve. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

75 Years Strong!

We celebrated mom's 75th birthday on Saturday, Sept. 14 in a packed room at Sweet Peas Grille in Geneseo. Even though we were squeezed in for the most part - it was fun to have everyone together. Everyone that has meant so much to mom in these last couple of tough years. She said several times she is blessed and I feel that way too. Everyone (no men though) had their teal toes on too!

My project of the day was to take a picture of everyone with a Happy Birthday banner. I'm going to make a poster (or maybe magnets for her fridge) so that she can have a good memory of that day. There was once upon a time when she felt that she wasn't going to make it to 75 - and now she has proved the universe wrong on so many levels. Go mom!
Two grandsons and a girlfriend! 

Two ovarian cancer survivors! 

Good thing there aren't 75 candles on the cake!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Day 6: Stories

I've read oodles of women's stories about their journey with ovarian cancer. I think those have made it all the more real for my mom and myself, and have also brought about a sense of unity... that women don't have to go through it alone.

There are resources and awareness - and keeping the message alive and going is what it takes to make sure that all women know the subtle symptoms of ovarian cancer.

This story about a woman named Stephanie Peterson is hard to read because she was so young, yet the story is a common one - you think the symptoms are symptoms of something else... until it is almost too late.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Day 5: Awareness for more than a day

Ovarian Cancer Awareness has made strides even since mom's diagnosis in 2009 - which was only 4 short years ago. Ovarian Cancer was just getting attention - and there wasn't much visibility of the disease known to me at the time.

Fast forward to May 8th, 2013, the first World Ovarian Cancer Day.

On this day, ovarian cancer organizations from around the world united to educate their communities about ovarian cancer and its symptoms. This is even a larger initiative that the September Awareness month, and it took them four years to organize themselves enough. Large initiatives do take time.

Ovarian cancer has the lowest survival rate of all gynecologic cancers, and is characterized around the world by a lack of awareness of symptoms and late stage diagnosis.

The key to awareness is not to narrow it down to one day or one month - but to keep the cycle going long after September has passed. Say something every day (even to yourself) that you need to be aware of the symptoms. If your girlfriend is complaining of something seemingly minor, like a belly ache, take the time to talk about the subtle symptoms of Ovarian Cancer. It's a good habit to practice and will create more awareness.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Day 4: BEAT this into your brain

This is going to be a short one today (I'm finding out that blogging once a day + full time job + other misc. activities = time budget deficit). One way to make it easier to remember the Ovarian Cancer symptoms is by simply making it EASIER. Therefore, our friends at the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance came up with the B.E.A.T. acronym to help women remember the basic symptoms:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Day 3 of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month: How deadly is the Big O?

If Ovarian Cancer is caught at an early stage, it is very treatable. Key words: caught early. My mom was lucky enough to catch her cancer at a treatable level...even though it was Stage 3 and had already spread - there was no tumor metastasized yet.

On the OCNA web site there are oodles of figures about how deadly Ovarian Cancer is, and here are the most interesting tidbits:

  • It is the deadliest of all gynecologic cancers and the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths among American women. 
  • A woman’s lifetime risk of developing invasive ovarian cancer is 1 in 72. 
  • More than 22,000 American women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013. 
  • About 14,000 women will die from ovarian cancer in the United States in 2013.
There is no detection system for Ovarian Cancer, just your own awareness of your bodily functions. Pay attention every day, and keep a journal if you have to. It helps to keep track and then look back and see if something is off. It is better off in the long run if you catch it early. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Day 2 of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month: The Big O basics

As women, sometimes we just put up with our body because our body doesn't act normal all the time. You know what type of foods give you gas, you know that at certain times of the month you bloat, etc., etc. After awhile you just take those little variances as "just the way your body works" and ignore the functions.

That is a deadly frame of mind, because that is how Ovarian Cancer sneaks up on females: the subtle body functions that we take for granted. Whether it is every day or once a month, you shouldn't ignore your body.

Remember ovarian cancer’s subtle symptoms.

  • Bloating; pelvic and abdominal pain; difficulty eating or feeling full quickly; and urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency). Many people do not know that ovarian cancer causes these symptoms in the majority of women who develop the disease.
  • Additional symptoms may include fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation and menstrual irregularities. 
  • Factors that increase risk include: increasing age; personal or family history of ovarian, breast or colorectal cancer; and never having been pregnant or given birth to a child. 
  • About 10 to 15 percent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer have a hereditary tendency to develop the disease.
  • And there are many women out there WHO DO NOT HAVE A HISTORY OF OVARIAN CANCER in their family, yet develop Ovarian Cancer. So again, know the symptoms. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Teal Toes on!

The month of September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month - and each year for the past five years I have been painting my toes teal for the month. It's a small gesture but it gets me to talk about the terrible disease that my mom has been dealing with since 2009.

It is also a simple task for women everywhere to be aware of the sneaky symptoms and take charge of your health and ask questions when you feel something isn't right.

The OCNA has 30 days of tips to help people spread the word about Ovarian Cancer and I'm hoping to blog each day about their advice >> 

President Obama declared the month of September for Ovarian Cancer awareness >> 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Gearing up for September...

The month of September is great for two reasons: a) my mom's birthday (Sept. 15) and b) Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance has designated September as The Month of Teal where people share information about Ovarian Cancer and wear the color teal for 30 days and in my case I paint my toes teal for the month.

This year the OCNA has a "30 Days of Teal" Campaign where you share something each day of September. We'll see how far it goes because that is a lot of blogging every day.

Also, befitting for the month, our local Ovarian Cancer Foundation the Norma Leah Foundation is going to have women wear teal tennies in the Rock Island Labor Day Parade on Monday, Sept. 2. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Doctor visit

Me and Scott at the BIX 7
Mom had a port flush, blood count and doctor visit last week. Her CA 125 is down to 35 - which is great and is as expected. Dr. Porubcin said a while back that it would fluctuate so as long as it is fluctuating down... that is the way we want it to go. She will see him again in three months to check counts and will do the port maintenance every 4-5 weeks or so.

We didn't see much of each other this weekend because it was BIX 7 weekend for me (yes I cut my hair and bleached it blonde) and Scotty and we ran a very cold race Saturday morning. It was cloudy and barely reached 60 degrees. Scotty did great (51 minutes) while I shuffled along and came in at 1 hour and 20 minutes. I had to stop and walk at mile 6 too. I would much rather run in hot weather for sure. Luckily Tom was at the end of the race ready to warm me up. He has put up his running shoes in favor of waiting for me to finish and enjoying a cigar in the process. My brother and sister-in-law were also at the finish line as well and I have to say that it is nice having people cheering for you at the end.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Talcum powder link to cancer

So I run across articles about Ovarian Cancer just in case there is a new study or research going, but I didn't expect to hear about talcum powder increasing the risk of Ovarian Cancer. The problem is not that the talcum causes cancer directly but that the particles can travel into a woman’s body and cause inflammation, which allows cancer cells to flourish.

My first thought when I read things like this is whether or not it is credible, but it showed up in the UK Daily Mail (sometimes they are a bit "tabloid-y but they also do interesting articles) and the results were published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, showed regularly applying the powder particles after bathing or showering raised the risk of an ovarian tumour by 24 per cent.

The American Cancer Society has the best summary IMO.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Aunt Ruth, Aunt Carol, Mom Barbara & Aunt Rosemary

Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bernie were visiting in Kentucky (to see new baby Aurora) for most of June so they came through Ottawa Illinois last weekend on their way back to Arizona. They also have not met new baby Rayland (Travis and Sam's little boy) so we all got a baby-fix as well. Aunt Ruth also shared pictures of baby Aurora, Camden and Miles (Greg and Demara's) that she took on her digital camera.

Mom and baby Rayland
We will probably be getting together a lot next year as Ruth and Bernie's oldest grandchild Jeremy is getting married and either David and Katie or Travis and Sam are getting married next April 26... maybe both. I wrote down "David and Travis" on the date so I can't remember who said they were getting married on the date. I'm sure someone will let me know.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Up and down, up and down

Mom's CA125 count went down slightly again by a couple of points. I think that is going to be the norm... up a little one month, down a little the next, then up a little again. I guess as long as there are no large fluctuations all Dr. Porubcin will want to do is monitor her blood counts.

Mom may have to go in and do an iron infusion again at some point. She has been having some issues in the last couple of weeks with bruising and such. They can't pinpoint anything and aren't going to reduce her Lovenox dosage (because if they reduce that she will surely get a clot somewhere).

On another note I receive a lot of information from the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, and on their web site is a summary of studies presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual conference. http://www.ovariancancer.org/report-from-asco-2013-new-research-on-ovarian-cancer/

Of note is the section on sub-types of Ovarian Cancer. Even though two people in our family have Ovarian Cancer, both are different in terms of how they grew and the treatments prescribed. Mom's cancer was very undetectable and never got to the mass stage... the surgeon in Iowa City described it as "fine filaments" which were set up like a web in mom's abdomen. Cousin Heather had a mass about the size of an orange on her ovary which is what triggered symptoms eventually. The only similarity was that both women were at Stage 3. Some of the studies allude to specific genomes and specific cancers, but since mom's genetic test came back with the variant on BRCA2, there isn't anything conclusive in regards to variants. I'm hoping that with the recent court ruling that eliminated the BRCA gene patents maybe some more studies can come out on the variants.

So overall it looks like the summer is going to be a cancer-hassle-free season for mom! Maybe a short trip is on the agenda - there is a new baby in the family again (congrats Demara and Greg!) so mom may feel like hitting the road.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Variant of Uncertain Significance

Mom received her genetic test results on Monday. Overall the news was good in that she didn't have the mutations on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 that are known to be responsible for a significant hereditary risk in breast and ovarian cancer. There was a mark on the BRCA 2 gene that they wouldn't classify as a mutation... they called it a "variant of uncertain significance" meaning that they wouldn't go as far to say it was a mutated part of the gene that was associated with a high risk of cancer. The counselor said that the variant increased the cancer risk by probably 10%... as opposed to 80% if there was an actual mutant gene classification.

The genetic counselor did have some demographic information about the variant. Most of the women who share this "variant of uncertain significance" on that portion of the BRCA 2 gene are from western european nations (we are of german/irish heritage) and there was a large chunk of Ashkenazi Jewish women who were in that data. The only reason why I bring up the Ashkenazi point is because women of Ashkenazi Jewish decent have a higher rate of ovarian cancer. So if that BRCA 2 variant is also shared by that sector of women then I have to think the risk is higher.

The counselor was very cautious about saying anything about high risk... as there is no data to support it. She said that if there is a rise in the number of people who have this BRCA 2 variant then they could reclassify it as a mutation and therefore put it in a higher category for cancer risk.

Of larger significance is the recent ruling by the Supreme Court that genes cannot be patented. At the heart of the issue was Myriad Genetic Testing (the same company that tested mom's genetic material) of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. To my understanding Myriad had a patent on BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, thus a monopoly on testing. No one really knew or was allowed to research the gene complexities and variants and therefore no one really knows the implications of the disease that lurks in their DNA. Maybe with the ruling more companies can do research on the BRCA gene and find out if certain variants are known to be at a higher risk.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Nine Girls Ask

I love it when I run across ovarian cancer survivor stories (thanks to the OCNA for sharing those stories) and the great efforts they take to not only conquer the cancer but also create awareness about the disease, the symptoms and most importantly taking charge of your own health and empowering yourself to keep asking questions.

The survivors name is Joan Wyllie and the story behind her organization, Nine Girls Ask, is one that we have all heard in one way shape form, etc. After becoming very ill (with symptoms now widely known), Joan, over a period of SIX months, sought the advice of NINE physicians ranging in specialties from gynecology, urology, gastrointestinal and even a psychologist.

The last doctor handed her a prescription for a drug that would “tell my head to tell my stomach to stop hurting." After that she made the decision to become her own advocate and insisted on laparoscopic surgery. On February 29, 2008, she was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer Stage 4.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ovarian Cancer National Alliance advocates for cancer patients

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance is a very active organization who provides a collective voice about not only advocating for Ovarian Cancer research, but testing guidelines, out-of-pocket expenses, drug shortages, Medicare coverage and providing more educational and awareness programs.

They have recently worked very hard to make sure that Ovarian Cancer research stays in the fiscal budget, and through the web site have provided a link where people can look up to see if their congress-person supported funding or not. http://capwiz.com/ovarian/issues/alert/?alertid=62634791

If your senate or congress person supported the measure their name will show up along with a short thank-you note that you can send (already written!) to them via email. I think it is appropriate to also thank the OCNA for their ongoing crusade to support and advocate for people who have cancer. Having cancer is not only a rude awakening, but the other things that go along with it (insurance, drug costs, treatments) are mind-boggling and many times I have turned to someone there for help and/or clarification.

In my area, Representative Cheri Bustos supported Ovarian Cancer research for FY2014. She has a healthcare background and I'm sure is well versed on funding measures. I also know that she has a difficult job in voting to fund many things, and appreciate her vote of confidence for Ovarian Cancer research.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Two cancer survivors in the family

Mom and I traveled to Ottawa over the weekend for a baby shower... my cousin Alaina is now a grandmother (and hence we will all follow someday) to a little baby boy, Rayland. In some ways it doesn't seem like our children should be old enough to have their own children. I have a hard time picturing Travis (the father) much older than the age of 10. The same could be said for my own son - I will perpetually have him in my mind at the age of 4 - the fun time when he was too young for school and full of imagination.

ovarian cancer chemotherapy
Mom and Heather
It was a nice day for a family gathering and we were able to catch up with people that we haven't seen in awhile. Mom and I were able to talk to cousin Heather (daughter of her brother Larry), who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer back in February. Her symptoms were the same as mom's - bloating in the abdomen. After going through a scan the doctors discovered a tumor on her ovary about the size of a softball. Heather had a tumor removed along with her ovaries, uterus and omentum. Right now she is going through aggressive chemotherapy.

For all that she has been through in the span of three months she looks great and her spirits are good. Mom made Heather a teal quilt - and she was very appreciative as she says that she is cold all the time and really feels it when she is doing her chemo treatment. Everyone is keeping Heather in prayers for a full recovery.

Mom's BRCA genetic test results will be ready in another week. Dr. Porubcin (mom's oncologist) felt that the test was a good thing since now we have a family member on the maternal side who developed cancer.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Angelina Jolie, BRCA mutation and reality...

In a NY Times Op Ed, Angelina Jolie announced that she underwent a double mastectomy to reduce her risk of cancer. Her mother had ovarian cancer and it was discovered that she carried the faulty BRCA1 gene mutation, which increased Angelina's chances of having breast and ovarian cancer.

I may be in the same boat once mom finds out if she has the gene mutation. She was told that there is an increased chance that she may be a BRCA carrier now that another family member was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Mom had the consultation last week and had the test done on Monday. It will take a few weeks to hear about the results.

I have decided not to worry about the results until the results are known. But the reality is, now after reading Ms. Jolie's editorial, that I may have to look at preventative measures, because I do know that I do not want to go through chemotherapy and have to live my life with cancer in my body. My mom has done a great job at living with cancer, and I feel that she will live for many more years and be able to enjoy great-grandchildren someday. But cancer has also taken its toll and has at times made my mom feel powerless against the disease. At least in some way, once the test results are known, I can put some power back in our hands to prevent my chances of developing cancer down the road.

I know now that the ovarian cancer discussion will move to the forefront because of Angelina sharing her experience... and maybe more people will be motivated to find an early detection test or better yet a sure-fire cure. Experiences are worth sharing - and I have learned from other bloggers and ovarian cancer survivors that the more we talk, the better the chance for others.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Day May 8

Just as good as the month of September (Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month) is now May 8th, World Ovarian Cancer Day. Many organizations blasted out information about Ovarian Cancer today and the disease, symptoms and survivors who have conquered it all. The stories were amazing and my mom belongs right there with all of them.

The statistics are out there, and women are being diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer more than ever. Why? I'm still perplexed at how cancer develops, even in the healthiest of individuals. Either something is wrong in the environment or we are doing something bad to our bodies that we don't know about. Of most importance is having an early detection test available. You may know of your risk factors, but having an early detection test can only help prevent it from getting out of control.

The web site OvarianCancerDay.org has a great outline of key facts beyond being aware of your body and the symptoms. The most important point being: All women are at risk of ovarian cancer. Doesn't matter if your family has a history of cancer or not.

Monday, May 6, 2013

5-Year pin!

Connie, Lyn, Mom, Phyllis & Ed
Mom received her five-year volunteer pin at the Hammond-Henry Hospital Banquet on Friday night. The event was at Lavender Crest Winery outside of Colona - a very nice place and the committee did a great job of organizing the festivities. It was a Vegas-themed night and mom had a good run at the roulette wheel before she lost it all on a roll. Her friends Connie and Phyllis also received their 5-year pins as well.

This week mom is going to meet with the consultant to talk about genetic testing to see if she is carrying the BRCA gene. I don't know how fast the turnaround is but that is what this session is about - getting more information.

Monday, April 29, 2013

On an even keel...

Mom had a visit with Dr. Porubcin today - her monthly appointment to get her counts and go over her bloodwork. He had nothing but good things to say (her CA125 is at 40 - slightly up from last month but not a concern) about her health and how good she looked. Mom will continue to get her port flushed every six weeks and they will do another blood count check in 6 weeks, but he doesn't want to see her until July for a follow up.

...he still manages to get in a word or two about her cough!

I guess she is on an even keel for now and not getting worse. The cancer is there, but it isn't spreading or causing any symptoms. Mom has an appointment scheduled to have a consultation about getting the genetic testing done to see if she has the BRAC gene. She will know more in a couple of weeks.

Last Saturday Mom came over to help out at the 5K race that my friend Jayna and I coordinate - the Steve's Old Time Tap Spring Chaser. It was a beautiful day - not too cold and not too hot and not too windy. She stayed in the Packet Pick Up area for quite awhile and then came outside to enjoy the race - and get harassed by my hubs and his twin brother. They razz her all the time (about the cough!) and like to tease her into a trap of saying who she likes the best...Tom or Tim. Of course they both had cigars going as their race duties were at a standstill until the runners were off the course. Mom takes it all in stride and has a lot of fun with them. She was a nurse for three decades so she knows how to handle ornery people.
Tom, Mom and Tim at the Spring Chaser

Monday, April 22, 2013

Return to Ransom

Alaina and her big cake!
Mom and I took a trip to Ransom this weekend. Cousin Alaina's 50th Birthday was yesterday, so we went to church and then out to lunch to celebrate. Alaina is also a newly-minted grandmother to Rayland James who arrived earlier than expected. So technically she was a grandmother at 49! Mom made Alaina an apron, placemats and hot pad out of dog print material (for Ginger the dog).

Ransom (mom's hometown) is relatively the same. Population 400. The downtown pretty much consists of a couple of bars, the post office, war veteran memorial with a grain elevator at the end. My grandpa Glenn McCann built that grain elevator with an ungodly amount of concrete. Mom said she remembered when he was working on the job and mentioned how much grandma would worry about him working 24/7 to pour the concrete and get it done. And there it still stands.
The grain elevator.

We went out to the cemetery before church to check on grandma and grandpa's grave. We didn't stay very long because it was just too windy. As long as I can remember there have not been many still days in Ransom (and grandma and grandpa's farm outside of town) because it has always been windy. And now, energy companies have tapped into all of that flat farmland because wind turbines are surrounding the town - everywhere the eye can see. It's really bizarre.

Mom is getting her labs done this a.m. and then she has her monthly appointment with Dr. Porubcin next Monday. Hopefully the news will continue to be good news. We have had a run of bad news in the family lately - cousin Heather was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer a few months ago. She went through surgery and is now going through chemo. Heather is younger than I am - and her diagnosis has mom rethinking the genetic testing. Our family (mom's side) really hasn't had a lot of cancer (breast, gynecologic) so if there's something there now I guess we'll find out.

One thing we do know is that prayers do work wonders... it was nice to see mom's name in the Ransom church bulletin for prayers (as well as Heather's name) and that is the one constant that doesn't have anything to do with insurance, drugs or doctors visits but has had the most impact IMO.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Port maintenance

Mom made her standard 6 week trip to Trinity on Monday to have them check her port and attempt to flush it out. No real difference from the last time - the port is still letting fluid through but there isn't much of a return, so the nurses will just keep an eye on it for the next time. Mom has her labs scheduled for April 22 and then we will visit with Dr. Porubcin on the 29th for an update.

Mom and I are going to make a trip back to Ransom next Sunday. Cousin Alaina is "celebrating" her 50th birthday - and the word celebrating is a loose definition as I don't think she wanted a big to-do... but you know how those AUNTS are. Mom and the rest of her sisters want to celebrate us children getting older, so celebrate Alaina's birthday we will do.

So the plan is to go to the Ransom church first thing for the Sunday service (9:30 a.m.), and then head to Applebee's in Ottawa for lunch. If that doesn't scream "Happy 50th Birthday" I don't know what does. Pictures to follow.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mom's strip club...

One of the things that has been keeping mom busy is her sewing group at the Quilts and Blooms in Geneseo. Well imagine my surprise when she turns up in one of Fran Riley's features (a local TV reporter for KWQC) about the Jelly Roll Strip Club...!

For all of the non-quilters out there, a jelly roll is a big fat pack of strips of material for quilting. What is nice about a jelly roll is that the fabrics are cut and good to go - plus the colors are usually in a nice theme which takes out a lot of the guesswork for those of us who have a hard time picking out colors.

If the video player doesn't pop up below - click here to go to KWQC web site >>

KWQC-TV6 News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Monday, March 4, 2013

Doctor update

Mom had a visit with Dr. Porubcin last Thursday and he was very happy with her overall blood counts and CA125... it went down slightly to 31. That is very good news since the last time she met with him it had went up slightly. 

She does not have any other symptoms so that is another good sign that the cancer is under control. The possibility of doing any more chemo treatments has been pushed back indefinitely so mom can enjoy the spring (when it gets here) and not have to worry about treatments on the horizon. 

Dr. Porubcin still likes to joke about her cough though! The man has a sense of humor. 

Mom is thinking about getting the genetic testing done sometime later this spring. Her insurance will cover it (the cost is about $3,000 I think I heard). Overall she doesn't fall into the category... according to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, about 10-15% of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer have a hereditary tendency to develop the disease... and Eastern European women and women of a certain Jewish descent are at the high risk of carrying the gene mutations. I don't believe we have any Jewish decendents in the family and our ancestors are to my knowledge all Western European (Irish and German). BUT, as we have known all along... Dr. Mullin and Dr. Porubcin have said that my mom is NOT NORMAL and everything thus far has been out of the norm. So we shall see what surfaces, and then go from there. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Monthly counts

Mom had her monthly blood counts and it looks like the CA125 went up a smidge to 37. The alarms aren't going off just yet - as the number has been hovering around there and even dropped a couple of months ago so Dr. Porubcin's office is going to see where her counts are at in February at the end of the month.

Mom isn't having any symptoms - such as bloating (and some of those other bodily dis-functions that I don't like to describe on the blog) so that is a good sign. If anything, she has learned over the course of this experience is to always pay attention and listen to your body.

And you will hear her say that to everyone - pay attention to the little things that aren't in the realm of "normal" for your body. Sure every once in a while things get out of whack - but if something persists then go get it checked out. Even if it is subtle - go get it checked out.

I have had friends who have had terrible experiences - where their physicians treated them like a crazy hypochondriac, only to find out that they had something seriously wrong after getting a second opinion. My mom was lucky enough to have doctors who listened to her concerns, and I am always thankful for that. It could have been much worse - and here she is five years later, back at morning Jazzercize and feeling good.

We know that there may be some chemo in the future to keep things in check, but that is the way it goes. Once you have cancer, you live with cancer.