30 May, 2012

Sorry I've been a little MIA lately.  I honestly haven't had anything too exciting to share.  My days are mostly spent napping and reading under the shade of an umbrella in the backyard.  Some days I feel well and other days I feel sick.

Anyways, let me tell you about the last two weeks.  I went in for chemo two weeks ago and everything went well.  The following Thursday, I went in to get my blood checked, just as I do every Thursday.  Do you ever stand up too fast and feel a bit dizzy and need to sit back down again for a minute?  Well I've felt like that pretty often during my treatment.  On that Thursday, as I sat in the waiting room, I began to feel extremely dizzy.  I had to lie down because I felt like I was going to pass out even when sitting in a chair.  The nurse brought me back to get my blood drawn and to check my vital signs.  My blood pressure was 77/30!  Normally, my blood pressure is about 105/65, so needless to say, this was extremely low!  My nurse gave me a fluids through the IV for an hour to help boost my blood pressure back up to normal.

The next week, I met with my doctor.  She asked me about the blood pressure issue and then asked me about nausea.  I explained that I feel nauseated pretty often and have tried all three of the nausea medications that they had prescribed me, but none of them seemed to work.  She told me that nausea stimulates my vagus nerve, which in turn affects my blood pressure.  So if I am nauseated on a regular basis, my vagus nerve is essentially hyper-stimulated which is why my blood pressure has been so low and I feel dizzy often.  So my doctor prescribed me a new nausea medication in hopes of solving both my nausea problem and my low blood pressure problem.

I had chemotherapy yesterday and everything went well.  I slept through my treatment and then came home and slept for about five more hours.  I haven't felt very well today, but my new nausea medication has helped a little.  But this has been my usual pattern: chemo followed by a few days of feeling sick, then I slowly start feeling better at the same time that I become neutropenic.  I usually am feeling normal just in time for another dose of chemo.

This past week, I was feeling well enough to hang out a few days.  My friend Destry, who did Mission Year in Atlanta with me, was here for the weekend and I was able to spend a few hours with her.  Over the weekend, my parents and I went to the Titanic exhibition at the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park.  Then on Memorial Day, I accompanied my parents and my cousin Caitie to Lake Poway.  They went on a little hike while I enjoyed reading my book in the shade of some beautiful trees.

And here is some good news: If everything goes as planned, I only have one more dose of chemotherapy!  About six weeks after my last treatment, I'll have another PET scan and CT scan to make sure everything has been going well.  So please, please keep me in your prayers!!


enjoying some reading on Memorial Day
"Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise Your name.  So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on Your name.  For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.  My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me."
- Psalm 63:3-4, 7-8

15 May, 2012

I had my sixth chemo today, which means I only have two more left!  Although the side effects have seemed less and less after each treatment, I seem to be dreading chemo more and more each time.  I think it's because I know it's just going to make me feel sick, and honestly, I'm really sick of feeling sick!  But I've learned that I have to just take things one day at a time.  Regardless of my feelings on the subject, everything went well today.  Like always, I slept through most of my treatment and then came home and slept some more.
Getting chemo today
Although it was extremely difficult to leave my wonderful friends, coworkers, and church community in Atlanta, one blessing of being back in San Diego is the opportunity to spend more time with my family.  Two weekends ago, I took my first big outing.  My cousin Callie graduated from college in LA.  My Aunt Paula, Uncle Jeff, and cousin Kristie all flew out from the East Coast, and my Aunt Barbara, cousin Caitie, my parents, and I all drove up from San Diego to celebrate with her.  It was great to have so many members of our family together, since it doesn't happen too often.  On Monday night, my mom and I went out to dinner with my Aunt Paula.  Then on Tuesday night, we all went out to dinner for my Aunt Barbara's birthday.  I spent all day Saturday celebrating my Mom for mother's day.  And on Sunday, we had dinner with the majority of my Dad's side of the family to celebrate my Grandma on mother's day.
Celebrating my Mom for mother's day!
Out for dinner with Caitie
I still have a tiny bit of hair left, but because we went out to a few nice restaurants, I decided to wear my wig.  It feels pretty itchy and strange to be wearing fake hair, but when I look at photos of me wearing at it, I look like my usual self again!

It's been great to spend so much time with my family and, even though my brother wasn't able to come down this week, I have seen him much more often than I have the past few years.  Also, my cousin Caitie only lives a few minutes away so we have been able to hang out several times a week.  She even takes me to get my blood drawn every once in a while.  This year hasn't been the most enjoyable, but I am always aware that there are blessings hidden in every situation.  I encourage you to always look for the silver linings in your life.


"I have rejoiced greatly in the Lord that you have renewed your concern for me.  Indeed, you had been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.  I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Yet it is kind of you to share in my troubles."
- Philippians 4:10-14

04 May, 2012

Sorry I haven't written in awhile; this week has had its ups and downs.  My cousin Kristie flew out from New Jersey and is staying with her sister Caitie for a few days.  The three of us went out for dinner on Monday, which was a lot of fun!  It's always nice when I'm feeling well enough to pretend I'm not sick and can go out and do something normal.

Even though I was feeling well, I almost wasn't allowed to have chemo!  This is what happened...

As most of you know, I've been having some problems with my white blood cell count.  They measure this through my absolute neutrophil count (ANC), which has a pattern of dropping really low, then bouncing back up after I have a few shots of neupogen.  In order to receive chemotherapy, a patient's ANC needs to be above 1500.  However, because a low ANC has been a pattern for me, and because I always bounce back up, my doctor has told me a few times that she would allow me to have chemo when my ANC is low, as long as it is above 500. Well, I had my blood drawn on Monday and my ANC was at 1100.  So no problem, right? ...wrong.  Fortunately for her, but unfortunately for me, my doctor was on vacation in Italy and she hadn't written down anywhere that I could have chemo even if my ANC was low.  We explained the situation to the charge nurse, who then called the on-call hematologist and explained the situation to him.  They called me back and told me to have a shot of neupogen and to try again on Wednesday, but that my chemo would probably be delayed an entire week.  After awhile of arguing with them, they allowed me to go in on Tuesday to have my blood re-checked.  And thankfully, my ANC was back up!  So I was able to have my chemo on Tuesday after all.  I am trying to plan a trip to Oregon for a friend's wedding.  The trip would be right after the end of my treatment, so pushing back my chemo for even a few days would mean I wouldn't make it to the wedding.  So I was extremely relieved to get my treatment on time!

I haven't been feeling too well the rest of the week, but each day gets a little better.  I've been have trouble eating and drinking, but am trying my best!  Please pray that my appetite returns and that I continue to feel better.  Thank you all for your love and support during this time!  This week, I've received emails, phone calls, letters, post cards, and packages!  I've been feeling extremely loved and blessed, so thank you!!

"You are the fountain of life, the light by which we see.  Pour out Your unfailing love on those who love you; give justice to those with honest hearts."
- Psalm 36:9-10