Thursday, December 15, 2016

Dr. check-in and the holidays!

Mom and Great (great great) niece Emma.
Mom had her three month visit with Dr. Porubcin on Tuesday and her blood counts were stellar! Her CA125 dropped down to 5 - I can't remember when it has been that low before. Mom is feeling good and not having any other symptoms. Her arthritis is bothering her (as it does in the cold weather) and she is going to get her hip checked out as she has not had a scan in that area for awhile. Nothing of a large concern. We had a great Thanksgiving holiday - it was our turn to host this year - and there were plenty of little ones to go around so mom had her fill of snuggles.

We are counting our blessings - as good as a year as it has been for mom, it has not been a good year for others. One of my best friends, Diane's, daughter (Lindsay) was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of breast cancer (inflammatory breast cancer) in March of this year. It has been heartbreaking to watch all of the measures that Lindsay has been going through in these few short months: chemo, surgery, radiation, etc. Her outlook is dismal, but Lindsay's attitude doesn't fade.   You can read about Lindsay's journey on her GoFundMe site.

These are the times when we are thankful for the simple things.... like just getting up in the morning and staying healthy. For me, it is being able to run a few miles without any real effort. We are blessed!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Class reunion - 60 years!

Loretta and mom
Mom and I went to her class reunion on Saturday - the Seneca High School Class of 1956 celebrated 60 years this year! Mom's class was not that large and there were many other classes in attendance (from the 40's through the 70's). Aunt Rosemary and Aunt Carol's class reunions were there too ... so everyone that came by the table knew the "McCann" girls!

It was nice to put names with faces as mom talks about her classmates from time to time. Good ole Jerry Barla was there! He told mom a couple of months ago that she had "better be at the reunion" since she was feeling good this summer and been off of chemo for awhile, so of course mom keeps her promises.

Loretta, Jerry and mom
It was nice to have everyone ask her how she has been feeling - they all know she has been battling cancer for the last few years and it is nice that everyone is still close and keep tabs on each other. That is what being from a small farm town is all about - lifelong friendships!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Wrapping Up Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

The QC Half Marathon was last weekend and I ended up finishing the race at about 2:18. Not my best, but it was an extremely warm and humid morning. After draining my water bottle around mile 6 I decided that I needed to take it easy.

More importantly, thanks to everyone's help I was able to raise $350 for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Illinois Chapter and Team Teal.

The entire team raised over $17,000 which I think is pretty incredible. I'm already looking forward to next year and will run the Chicago Half with the rest of Team Teal.

Side note: On September 15, we celebrated mom's 78th birthday by going out for dinner and dessert. She is feeling well and has been in great spirits this summer.

In a couple of weeks, October 8, she has a high school class reunion that she is looking forward to attending in Ottawa. I'm going to tag along as well! I know everyone will be happy to see her and her sisters will be there as well (their class reunions are on the same day, apparently when you get up into your 60 year reunions the classes start to do it together) and of course we will go to church in Ransom on Sunday. It's the simple things that make it fun and I'm looking forward to the weekend as well.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Teal toes ON for Ovarian Cancer Awareness month

The month of September is special to me for two reasons: My mom's birthday is this month and it is also Ovarian Cancer Awareness month

My mom, Barbara, has been battling Ovarian Cancer for 7 years and it has been a battle... but she is a strong girl and she is a constant source of hope and inspiration to me. 

Every year I paint my toes teal on honor of mom and Ovarian Cancer Awareness month- so if you are so inclined - get your teal toes on for September!  

One more reason this month is special - I have joined the Illinois Team Teal and am running the Quad Cities Half Marathon on September 25 to raise money for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) 

The rest of my Illinois Team Teal teammates are running the Chicago Half Marathon that same day - but as I already committed to the QCM they said it was ok to do the same thing here in the Quad Cities and build awareness in my immediate community. 

I've committed to raising $500 for the NOCC this month and I hope that I can get it there. Every bit helps. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Summer time

We have been having a great summer - although I have been busy at work and it seems like mom has been busy at church with funeral luncheons - and I can't believe it is almost the end of August. Hopefully fall is around the corner. It has been a hot and humid summer in the midwest.

Mom is feeling good and in good health. Her weight (or lack of weight) is an issue but she definitely has an appetite so maybe she will just stay where she is and not lose any more weight. Her hair isn't growing back very fast - it has been going a lot slower this time around. It may not grow in all the way unfortunately.

My cousin Dennis and his family came to Geneseo for a visit a few weeks ago and it was good to see him and his wife Peggy and their son Zach. Mom really enjoyed the afternoon and getting caught up on life and Zach's activities. The last time I saw Zach I was able to pick him up! Now he can pick me up!

Mom is planning on a class reunion in October (Seneca High School) and I'm going to go as well. We haven't talked about any other traveling yet but I would like to do another visit to Tucson for one of Uncle Bernie's pork chops on the grill with a side of jalapeƱo peppers.

Dennis and me.

Dennis, Peggy and Zachary.

Dennis and mom.

An Aunt sandwich! Mom, Dennis and Aunt Rosemary!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Doctor check-in and cataract surgery!

Throwback photo circa 1975-ish
As you can see by the title of this post, life is pretty exciting after chemo!

Mom had cataract surgery on her right eye yesterday. The bad cataract was removed and an implant was put in its place. So that makes two (she had the left eye done last year) close-to-new eyeballs to read with. This morning she said her crossword puzzle was easier to read and that was less than 24 hours since the surgery! At her follow-up this morning Dr. Wagle said all looked good.

After the eye appointment we went to her 3 month follow up with Dr. Porubcin. All of her numbers are good AND her CA125 is down to 4 points. Hallelujah! That low number made Dr. P. very happy and he was giggly - although he was concerned that he hadn't heard mom cough during the visit. I put Dr. P's mind at ease and told him that mom was coughing at Dr. Wagle's office because they had the thermostat set to about 50 degrees (it was freezing in there) so all is good.

Mom is now taking some time to get her household to-do list taken care of. The crew started on her new roof yesterday and that will take about three days. She is also going to purchase new windows for the south side of the condo.

Just for fun - a throwback photo from about 1974 or 1975. By the look on my face, I am not sure what my problem was at that particular moment... but I'm sure it was inconsequential. Looks like I also refused to put on a nice shirt and opted for a sweatshirt instead. Sometimes I just want to travel back in time and slap myself! Despite my attitude mom is still smiling in the photo - which is a great example of her demeanor - always smiling no matter what the circumstances. That attitude is why she made it through 5 rounds of chemo and survived her cancer - straight up positivity!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Slay Squad at Komen QC Race for the Cure

Slay Squad at Race for the Cure QC

The Komen Race for the Cure was in the Quad Cities this week, and I joined the #slaysquad team in honor of my bestie Diane's daughter Lindsay. Lindsay is only 26 years old and was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in April - Stage 3 Invasive Carcinoma.

Her family has no history of breast cancer.

Lindsay began a hearty chemo schedule in May and has finished her 4th round as of last week. She is looking at surgery in October after she gets more rounds of chemo under her belt. She has truly been a tough girl and it breaks my heart that this is really only the beginning for her. Lindsay is my son's age. That is too young. 

We walked in support of Lindsay on Saturday at the Race for the Cure and it was great to be in a place where breast cancer survivors came together to support each other. There was one woman there who was a 45+ year breast cancer survivor. That gives me a lot of hope for Lindsay.

As if the stress of having cancer isn't enough, her family is having a fundraiser to help her with medical costs. Insurance is not enough, especially for someone so young... and don't get me started about insurance! There is a fundraiser for Lindsay on June 26 - aptly named "Slay Day" and she also has a gofundme page
Me, our selfie-crazy friend Mike, Diane and Linday the cancer fighter!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Back to "normal"

Life after chemo - it is slowly getting back to normal for mom. Her hair hasn't been growing back as fast this time...but it is growing back. She still wears her hats and her wig... although now that it is warmer she is finding that t
Mom and sister Rosemary and sister Carol at
Peoria Race for the Cure.
he fleece hat is a little TOO warm (if there could be such a thing) so she is going to make herself some hats made out of knit material for the summer.

Mom has been feeling well enough and has the clear from Dr. Porubcin to look into having her other cataract taken care of. She went in last week to have it looked at and the surgeon decided that her eye was in "bad" enough condition to move forward. It has been a year since she had the cataract in her other eye done.

Another perk - she will finally be saying goodbye to Lovenox and the twice-a-day shot in the abdomen! Dr. Porubcin gave the OK to switch to a once-a-day pill Xarelto to manage her blood clotting issue. That may seem like a small thing, but it is a huge change in her daily routine and overall comfort. For the last seven years she has been giving herself a shot of Lovenox (anti-clot medication) in her abdomen. And the days when her belly was so sore and calloused, she gave herself a shot in the leg. Never mind she is a retired nurse, that is a lot of shots. I tried to give her the shot once, and about passed out, and I can't imagine having to give myself a shot twice a day. The one horrible side effect all of this chemo has had on mom is her continual development of blood clots. It has taken a lot to get them under control, and the Lovenox has kept that side effect under control. She has not had a problem with her blood clotting nor problem with clots in her lungs for quite a few years now and that is attributed to the regular Lovenox dosage. Now that she can just take a pill once a day, that is a huge step. That more than anything makes me happy that we can put some of the discomfort of chemo and side effects behind.

We will be taking some short road trips this spring - the McCann/Brewick reunion is coming up in June and then we need to get back to Peoria to see my dad's sister and some other family members. It's been too long. It's nice to be going on some happy trips instead of always traveling to chemo or the doctor!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Team McCann STRONG

Team McCann Strong!
The Komen Race for the Cure in Peoria on Saturday was great! Team McCann Strong ranged from 3 years old to 77 years old (mom is the oldest person!) and I was happy for cousin Laurie (breast cancer survivor) I could tell that she felt good and was proud to be wearing a pink survivor shirt.

Mom walked the entire 3.1 mile route and I caught a snapshot of her and cousin Alaina crossing the finish line! Cousin Jane gets all the props for bringing our McCann Strong team together and I haven't heard our FINAL fundraising number but I think we reached almost $2,000!

The thing that is most important is having family and friends to support cancer patients - from diagnosis to treatment to recovery. While waiting to start the 5K run I had some conversations with breast cancer survivors and realize how far we have come with diagnosis and preventative measures... and yet it still is not enough. One woman I talked to who (breast cancer survivor) said that ever since her diagnosis she has not stopped talking about cancer and the importance of being your own health advocate and finding support from an organization like Komen. She actually pushed me throughout the entire race and we both finished at 27:45ish and she was the first survivor to cross the 5K run finish line from what I heard the other race officials say. I thought that was pretty cool.

There's a lot to be said for hearing someone's story and journey with cancer. It makes me a more humble person and makes me not take my health and abilities for granted. There's a lot to be said for being a part of a supportive community. This is not the same thing -  but in my weekly workout group I have found support from people that has made me a stronger person, therefore in the same thread, Mom has found a lot of support with family and friends and her church and that has meant all the world in her life as an ovarian cancer survivor.

I expect mom to have a very long life, and expect that we will be doing more races together in the future!

Running for Laurie, good friend Lindsay Thul and high school friend Claudine.

Me and mom pre-race.

Mom and Alaina cross the finish line!

Mom and sister Rosemary and sister Carol.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Running AGAINST Cancer

This Saturday I'm going to be at the Race for the Cure in Peoria again in honor of my cousin Laurie who is a one-year breast cancer survivor. Her story is one that makes a great campaign for early detection. She found it and got it taken care of right away. Our family formed team McCann Strong to raise money for the cause >>

I will also be running in the Race for the Cure in the Quad Cities coming up on June 11 for one of my best friends daughter, Lindsay, who was just diagnosed a couple of weeks ago with a rare form of aggressive breast cancer. She is only 26 and it is heartbreaking. Read about Lindsay's Journey >>

On June 18 I will be running in the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Illinois Chapter Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer 5K with my cousin Heather, an ovarian cancer survivor who is still in the midst of battling her disease. She is fighting hard and that is inspirational to me.

It's ironic that on Mother's Day this year is World Ovarian Cancer day and my mom is a 5 year ovarian cancer survivor. I am running for her as well.

I know I can't take away the pains of cancer, but I can raise money and run to raise money so why not? My two cousins, mom and friends daughter are fighting a battle that I hope I never have to fight myself, and if it takes more money to fund causes, research and medical expenses, then that's why I run. If they are strong enough to fight cancer then I am strong enough to run for them.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Ovarian Cancer Day of Silence April 7

I love the fact that there is increasing awareness of Ovarian Cancer. Tomorrow, April 7 is the Ovarian Cancer Day of Silence.

To really make a statement you are supposed to wear a piece of teal Duct Tape over your mouth for the entire day. Since I talk a lot in my day job - this is not feasible. HOWEVER I will be wearing a piece of teal KT tape on my arm for the duration.

Awareness is the only way we are able to cut Ovarian Cancer off at the pass. If my mom caught her cancer sooner she would not have had to go through as much chemo as she has over the last 7 years.

My mom is fighting a good fight. She is beating her odds. Her oncologist is calling her a bit of a miracle.

But it doesn't stop there - everyone needs to be educated about the subtle symptoms of Ovarian Cancer. Teal is picking up steam and I hope someday that it will be as ubiquitous as pink is to Breast Cancer.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Happy Easter!

Anne (mother-in-law) and mom
A Happy Easter to everyone!

Mom went to brunch with us this morning and had TWO buffet helpings and picked out a big piece of tirimisu from the dessert table! Now that her chemo treatments are over we can work on putting some weight on her tiny frame.



Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Chemo Round #5 - DONE!

Mom and her snazzy outfit.
Well today is a good day - mom got the free and clear from Dr. Porubcin so no more chemo treatments for awhile! All of her blood work came back with flying colors and her CA 125 is down to 4.8! That alone is something to celebrate!

Mpm had a torso scan last week and those results were good as well. The lymph nodes at the top of her abdomen had reduced in size quite a bit from when she started the chemo last September. Also, there was no evidence that her cancer has spread to other areas which is MORE GREAT NEWS!

Another good thing is that Dr. Porubcin is going to switch from Lovenox to Xarelto to keep her blood clotting factor in check. The nice part is that Xarelto is a pill, not a mom's belly is going to be so thankful that there will be no more needle sticks in the abdomen! She has been giving herself a shot of Lovenox twice a day for a long time and her belly is very calloused and sore as anyone can imagine. Unfortunately, Xarelto may not be as friendly on her pocketbook as Lovenox as Xarelto is in a different Tier of drugs and it will cost her more out of pocket. So says the insurance company.

So for now - goodbye Taxitere! Mom has the rest of the year to just live a normal life... and she and I can get in the car and go visit people and not have to be worried about catching a flu bug or a cold.

Thank you to everyone for keeping mom in your thoughts and prayers - that is the best drug of all and I have no doubt that makes all the difference in the world for a cancer patient. As mom and I were leaving the doctor office, mom thanked Dr. Porubcin for his care and treatment and he eloquently said that he always tries to do everything he can, but it is not up to him, it is up to the person "upstairs" (as he points to the ceiling). Very true. I am thankful that whatever is "upstairs" has been watching down on mom and getting her through this as well.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Chemo postponed

Unfortunately mom's white cell blood count was not where it needed to be yesterday, so the doctor postponed her chemo treatment until next Tuesday.

Mom was very disappointed as she was really looking forward to that LAST one. It has been such a long haul for her (since September!) and she just wanted to be done with it. We both wanted to be done with it.

BUT - it would be very bad to have her do a treatment with her white count so low. That can trigger so many things - illness, maybe infection or some other sickness that could compound into something bad.

So next week it is.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Next to LAST chemo day

Mom had her next-to-last chemo treatment this morning. It went well and no issues. They are just giving her the Taxetere now; no more carboplatin since she had an adverse reaction a couple of weeks ago. It didn't give her any long term effects and she bounced back quickly.

She had a visit with Dr. Porubcin before the treatment and all of her counts were good. So now there is just one more treatment to go (next Tuesday the 23rd) and that will be it for a while!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Scan results & chemo

Mom had a scan done two weeks ago Friday, and overall the results were very good. The radiologist told Dr. Porubcin that her lymph nodes reduced in size by a couple of millimeters (which is significant!) and that means that the chemo treatments are doing their job. Even though the scan results were good, Dr. Porubcin still wanted to finish out his plan for her chemo treatment so she will be done at the end of February.

So last week she had a treatment (Taxetere only) and then this week she had a treatment on Tuesday with the Taxetere and Carboplatin. Mom had a slight reaction (flushed, nausea) when the nurses started the Carbo, so they stopped the treatment immediately. Dr. Porubcin decided that she had had enough Carboplatin for this series of treatments, so she will finish out the month with the Taxetere only.

She doesn't have a treatment next week, so she will get a bit of a gap until her next treatment on Feb. 16. That is a good thing as she has not felt the best yesterday or today. But mom is near the end of this round of chemo and hopefully that will be it for awhile!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Chemo day

Mom had her chemo treatment yesterday - it was the long one with the Taxitere and Carboplatin both in the same session. She did well and didn't have any adverse/uncomfortable issues as sometimes she has with the Benedryl bag.

Most uncomfortable was the weather! Sub-zero wind chills and high winds made it for a very cold day. My car had a hard time staying fully heated especially when we were heading into the wind! Thank goodness for seat heaters!

Today it is supposed to get UP to 24 degrees - which is still COLD but much better than yesterday. Mom has her Neulasta shot at noon today and that should be it for this week.

Next week mom is scheduled for a scan. Dr. Porubcin wanted to get an update on her progress with this round and see if some of the lymph nodes decreased in size. Her CA125 is staying low so that is a good sign.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Chemo day

Everyone loves mom's fleece hats! 
Mom's visit with Dr. Porubcin went well. Her counts were good and he scheduled her for Taxetere today and then the double dose next Tuesday. After the session is done next week he wants to do a torso scan to see where her cancer is at and if it has lessened in some areas. Overall, good news that she may not have many more chemo sessions.

Everyone in the chemo room got a kick out of mom's fleece hat. She made it herself (she has several) and I wouldn't be surprised if mom cranks out a couple of hats to put back in the free hat/wig area. Even Tom liked her hat that she wore on Christmas! I daresay mom receives more complements on her hats that she does her wig.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year

Mom and Scotty
We had a great holiday and mom spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with us. As usual we ate too much food - Tom cooked a turkey so we had to have potatoes and stuffing along with it. Mom brought some home-grown squash and cookies from a cookie-walk at church. It was a nice holiday and mom felt pretty good since she didn't have chemo the week before.

Chemo is scheduled for next Tuesday (Jan 5) - as long as her counts hang in there. It should not be an issue as she had a Neulasta shot after her last chemo session and also since she has had a break for the last couple of weeks.

We are looking forward to a healthy 2016 once mom gets through this round of chemo. Cheers!