Health Update June 29, 2012

Yesterday was the big day… I found out the results from my second MRI since starting treatment.  I think this will be almost the same blog post as the one I wrote in April.  Once again there was no change in the size of the tumor.  I was disappointed and very relieved to hear that at the same time.  With the challenges I had with the last round of chemo and my trip to Emergency last week I was really expecting bad news.

I met with my neurologist first and told him about the seizures I had during my last round of chemo.  He was not overly concerned about them, especially considering that it was on chemo.  He said that it happens sometimes, especially with younger patients.  He thought that my head pains that sent me to emerg could have been nerve spasms or pinched nerves caused my tightness in my neck and shoulders.  I think he may be correct, because I was barely able to move my head last weekend and after a massage some of the pressure was relieved.  He mentioned some injections that he could put in my neck muscles if this problem continues.  I really do not want to go on MORE medications, so for now will go for regular massages.

My oncologist had very similar things to say about the stabbing head pains.  He said they did not sound like a headache that was cancer related, because it went away relatively quickly.  He said it could have been a migraine, however nerves spasms or pinched nerves seemed more realistic.  He was not disappointed in the least bit that the tumor has not shrunk, and reiterated what he said 3 months ago – it is a slow growing tumor so it will be slow to shrink as well.  I need to keep reminding myself that! He was concerned about the confusion, dizziness and instability during my last round of chemo and did not know what would have caused that.  He said the chemo that I am on is not known to have those side effects.  He recommended trying another round of it and see if I have any of those symptoms this time around.  It could have just been a random thing.  If it happens again we will examine further.  So, the plan for now is to continue for another 6 rounds of chemo at the same dosage.  Let’s hope they get better than the last one I had!

Thank you all for caring and supporting me so much.  I hope you have a wonderful and safe Canada Day long weekend.  I know I am looking forward to lots of fun and sun before round #7 begins!

xox

 

 

 

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Grab a coffee… this is a long one!

A lot has happened since I last posted.  I don’t even know where to begin really…  I think I will start from my last post and work up to this past weekend.

As we read, my friend Jen and cousin Becky came with me to my last appointment with my oncologist. It was great to have them there and be able to share this experience with them.  Thank you Jen for writing such a great post and sharing your thoughts and feelings with everyone!  I really appreciate your courage and honestly in doing this.

I started my 6th round of chemo on June 4.  The first few days were pretty much the same as previous rounds and I just felt very tired and nauseous.  On day #4 things changed though.  I became extremely dizzy, confused, lost my balance and I could not really lift my head off the pillow without feelings like I was going to pass out.  I was walking into walls when I was able to move and just felt very disconnected from my body.  I had about 10 or 15 seizures that week, as well.  These symptoms lasted a few days and I called the cancer center, but they did not seem overly concerned.

By the next week I was feeling pretty much back to normal and had a great couple weeks.  As most of you know I am eating as organically as possible and trying to take a natural approach my health care.  In order to continue doing this I decided to meet with a Naturopathic Doctor.  I spent an entire afternoon talking with Dr. McGill at Healing Foundations in Guelph.  She was EXTREMELY thorough and asked many questions I had never been asked before (like is the pressure in my head coming from the outside in or inside out).  Not only did we discuss my physical symptoms but we spent a lot of time discussing my emotional and mental health as well.  I was amazed at how much time we focused on this area and it was great to be able to share these feelings honestly with a professional.  I felt that she really understand the ENTIRE picture.  My oncologist is an amazing doctor, however, the visits are so brief and we only discuss the symptoms I’ve had during chemo and he does the standard testing.  I was really feeling lost in the conventional medical system, and I felt that Dr. McGill truly wanted to learn about and help me.  She made many recommendations including natural supplements for anxiety and sleeping.  I have been taking a live probiotic twice a day, which helps remove toxins from my body and aid in digestion.  I am also going to try an acupuncture treatment next week when I am back on chemo.

The rest of the month continued pretty normally and I enjoyed a trip to African Lion Safari with Nathan, Noah and Ben, doing some wedding planning for my friends Laura and Nick, and our annual Girls Night Out this past Friday.  On Saturday I woke up with extremely sharp stabbing pains on the back right side of my head.  My skull felt very tender, as if it had been bruised or burned.  I have never had any pains like that before so was kind of concerned what it was.  I took an Advil, but it didn’t help at all.  Even though I wasn’t feeling the greatest Steve and I still decided to go ahead with our plans to meet our friends Michelle and Justin at the Elora Quarry.  We had an amazing afternoon relaxing and floating in the water.  The pains seemed to subside over the afternoon, however later that evening they came back much worse than before.  They were immobilizing and extremely sharp, as if someone was sticking a knife or needle into my brain.  I called Teleheath who recommended that I go to Emergency.  So, Steve and I drove almost 2 hours to Hamilton.  My parents met us there and after waiting awhile to even get into the emerg department my mom and I moved to their waiting room.  The emerg nurse was very helpful and she told us that there wasn’t much they could do for me.  The doctor could give me pain and sleeping medication (which I didn’t want)  and that was about it.  The couldn’t do an emergency MRI for me that night, because the wait list for Emergency MRIs is two weeks (CRAZY!!!!).  I thankfully had my regular 3 month one booked for the following day, this Sunday, and she recommended going to this and then calling my oncologist on Monday to have a rush put on reading the MRI.  So, this is what we did.  We got home at about 2am Saturday and Steve and I went back down to Hamilton Sunday morning for the MRI.  Yesterday I called the cancer center and they did put a rush on having the MRI read.  I am back there in Thursday to get the results of the MRI, and meet with my neurologist and oncologist.  I am obviously hoping and praying that they are able to tell me what happened last round of chemo and this past weekend.  The last MRI showed no change in the size of the tumor, and I was counting on this one showing an improvement…but now with these new symptoms I am not so confident.  I promise to post as soon as I can after the appointments on Thursday.  Thank you all for your love and support.

Guest Appearance Blog #2 – Jen Braithwaite

“If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane”   ~ Jimmy Buffett

 

This past week, Lynsey invited me to go to one of her medical appointments at the Juravinski Cancer Hospital in Hamilton. Lynsey’s cousin Becky, also a close friend, was already going down with her, and I was both honoured and glad to know that Lynsey felt comfortable enough including me in such a personal and sensitive experience.

One of the things that has impressed me the most about Lynsey, is how open and honest she has been, regarding the struggles she has been facing, since being diagnosed with cancer. Whether it has been the personal feelings and frustrations she has expressed in her blogs, or standing up in front of all the people in attendance at the  Spring Sprint Run, or even just during a casual conversation when she articulates her day-to-day worries, she proves time and again how strong she really is.

At the hospital, Lynsey automatically fell into routine, taking a number in the blood clinic waiting area.  While we waited for her number to be called, we were talking about the usual everyday, silly-stuff that is of no consequence (for example, what had being happening on the Bachelorette, etc.). We laughed a little and chatted, similarly to how we would if we were at one of our weekly breakfasts or at someone’s house. I started to wonder, (as did Becky), are we being disruptive somehow or not acting as you are suppose to act while in a cancer hospital waiting room? Most of the other patients, all of whom were noticeably older than Lynsey, were quiet and reserved. When we asked if she would have rather we not talk about such unimportant things, she replied, “Nope!” Talking about those things and acting how we  ‘normally’ would was what she wanted and needed at the time.

As I am only one of the many people in Lynsey’s life, who have had a glimpse into what she had been going through, it seemed that the routine of driving down to the hospital, having her blood drawn, talking with her cancer doctor about her symptoms and next steps, and finally going to the pharmacy to pick up her chemotherapy medication, had become like second nature to her.  All the while, I couldn’t help but think, how ridiculously unfair, that these are the types of activities that now fill up many of her days??

Even though, I am no stranger to hospitals myself, I found that this was such an eye-opening experience and one that I’m glad she chose to share. Lynsey has said that writing her blog and sharing her story has been very therapeutic and has helped her at times to cope. In doing so, I also think she is helping others. Helping people feel less alone and a little more brave, teaching people to be more understanding and compassionate towards others, and to just appreciate life!!

I know this, because I am one of those people!

Jen

The Halfway Point

Today is officially the halfway point in my treatment.

I have completed 5 1/2 rounds of chemo with 5 1/2 more to go.  YIPPEEE!  While this is great news, this has been the hardest round yet.  Last round I thought I had found the “magical cure” to the side effects – drinking lemon water before getting out of bed in the morning.  This round, it doesn’t seem to be so “magical”.  I still drink it every morning (as it is great for de-toxic purposes and to kick start your metabolism), however, I have been feeling very crappy.  I have been extremely nauseous this time, and it seems to last all day.  In previous rounds it usually disappeared by lunch time.  I even had to take some of my extra-extra-extra strength Gravol yesterday.  I have also had a killer headache this time.  It is a pressure headache, and don’t know if it is just stress induced or a new side effect.  It was very painful yesterday and I couldn’t really leave my bed all day because of it and extreme tiredness.  I guess I shouldn’t be complaining though… I have been very lucky so far with the lack of/fairly minimal side effects I have experienced.  One good thing that came from spending the whole day in bed was the amount of web surfing I could do.  I discovered SOOO many great online resources & support services for Young Adults with Cancer.  I was feeling very discouraged by the lack of support for people in my age group, but I guess I had never found the right websites.  One of the things I have really been struggling with over the past month or so is a feeling of isolation,  I was so happy to be able to read about people who have the EXACT same feelings that I have, and know that it isn’t just me being dramatic.  The video that I have attached HERE is 100% accurate and I feel (or felt at some point) everything that they discuss.  Please watch it : )

Thank you for helping me get to this halfway point.  I love all the e-mails and texts from people.  When I am feeling “isolated” it reminds me that I still do have great friends, family and supporters.  Thank you all so much and lets hope & pray that this week is just an off one and the remaining ones fly by easily.

xoxo