My scans are stable! My cancer is still confined to just my rib! Fantastic news!
Just got home from Plattsmouth...doin' my "hope thing"! Drove the whole way in the wind and snow!
If I ever get my arms around a palm tree I will NEVER let go!!!!!
Headed to Omaha to share my story with a couple hundred more people tomorrow evening! ...but, I do have to work in the meantime, so I better get to bed! I am wiped out! Thanks for all of your support and getting me through yet another set of scans!
What am I thankful for?! I am thankful that my cancer isn't spreading and I am THANKFUL that I get to kiss my kids goodnight!
Hope and Love! -T


Never having scans at the end of the week again!

So, lastnight consisted of finally melting down (we knew it would happen), I hate waiting for my scan results and I hate that my friend is on the other side. So, I got to spend a little time in the bathroom crying and throwing up after the kids went to bed. Having cancer and little kids is hard. You can't just get mad and scream and yell and cry and throw things when the mood strikes you (and believe me, I WANT to), because I assure you that would scare that crap out of my poor children. And most of the time, this is about them, not about me.
So, here we go with another day of me being short tempered with my husband, weepy in the shower, and happy and smiling and "fine" in public to the grocery clerks, etc....it is exhausting! (And when I say 'fine' in public, I am not referring to those who cut me off in traffic when I am alone in my car, because I am pretty sure you will hear about it and will recognize that I am, in fact, not fine!) And, heck, we all know I am not fine....we are familiar with me!
I just wish it was tomorrow already, so I can get this show on the road. But first, I suppose I better plan for my two speaking engagements this week~ tomorrow evening and Tuesday evening! Life doesn't stop because I have cancer, well at least not yet!
The last two weeks have been all cancer all the time for our family with two cancer related funerals, four cancer related speaking events, my scans, and treatment. Not to mention some of my fellow "Heroes of Hope" that are going through VERY tough and trying times right now! They definately have it rougher than I do, which makes me feel like I really should get over myself! Luckily, that is a tight knit community and the e-mails and prayers are flowing.
So, what on earth am I thankful for today?! I am thankful that my husband is so understanding when I snap at him for trying to help me put music on my MP3 player (I do recognize that he is just trying to help), I am thankful that Colbie Caillat makes such cute, happy little songs that keep me from throw a stapler through the window, and I am thankful that I am still here to worry about stuff like this, because it really beats the alternative! LOVE AND HOPE! -tracy Attitude is everything!....yep, I am working on it! Starting now!


Counter going up by leaps and bounds!

I see that there have been a lot of hits on my BLOG, so I thought I would let you all know that I will not have my final scan results until I meet with my doctor and have treatment on Monday! Which means I will not be blogging until late monday evening, because I am also telling my story at a Relay For Life kick off meeting in Plattsmouth, NE Monday evening.
What am I thankful for?!?! Today...my jammies and a lack of need to get out of them! I got out of my bed to type this and am headed right back! It is warm in there and there is a TV...what more do I need when it is 5 degrees outside?!


There is always a story!

So... Yesterday was your average run of the mill day of nothing to eat and drink after midnight, no big deal, well, only a small deal when your scans are at 7am. So, ya miss a cup of coffee or two, or a diet soda, in my case.
Well, bigger deal when your scans are at 1pm! By that point I was starving...I eat when I am nervous, I think I have mentioned that before, and the caffeine headache had set in! They said I could take my medications as I normally do, so I went so far as to digging out the Midol for the caffeine content! I know, I truly am a caffeine junkie! People at work literally GIVE me money, "no need to borrow, please just take it" if I for get my soda money....sad isn't it.
Okay, so it's not like I don't have reserves, I have a few extra pounds packed on, it is not like I am going to starve to death!
I walked into the office where I was going to have my scans done and my tech was about to inhale tacos and a soda...I was joking around about how tacos were my fav, and he politely tucked them away, and offered to save one for me for after my scans. No, I did not take a taco from a starving tech. I assured him I could wait, and that I had twizzlers waiting for me in the car for when I was done! I got checked in and sat done. In the waiting room they were watching the Food Network! Apparently I was not the only one obsessing over food at the moment. I probably wasn't even that hungry, my stomach was just angry that I took my meds on an empty stomach and then threw in so midol on top of that! Yummy! But, the headache did go away which was nice.
So, when they were ready for me, I went to a room...more of a closet, with a recliner, a sink, and an IV pole, with a bright yellow sign that says "Warning: Radioactive Material". After about 5 minutes in the chair with an IV started and something from a syringe circulating, I realized that that Radioactive Material was ME! I know, right?! I was hoping I got to wear a t-shirt out of there with that warning on it! As if I don't have enough t-shirts. So, before a PET scan they give you the radioactive glucose, I believe that is what it is, but also a huge bag of fluids and some lasix (the stuff that makes you pee a lot). So, conveniently the bathroom is located right next door to me and my recliner in the radioactive closet! So for the next hour, or a little more I received IV fluids and then flushed them out, then more fluids and more flushing. Not really the funnest game, but it kept me occupied. I talked to the techs who lingered at the door every once in a while, and time went by. The tech that does most of my scans, we will call him Bobbie, but his name is Matt, is 25 years old and embarrasses easily...oh this is so fun for me, I love it when people embarrass easily!
I went back to the scanning room, got placed in the machine, and waited. Over the top of my feet, I could see the techs all gathering on the other side of the glass wall. They informed me that they were getting ready to start. The sooner the better, those rooms feel like meat lockers! They slowly moved my body into the machine, and then they all got these concerned and then perplexed looks on their faces! ---OH GREAT! ---After a couple of minutes Bobbie came back into the room and asked if I have had surgery on my right side, and if they had implanted something, and with his hands he is making a motion like it could be the size of a plum?! No, no surgery. I have cancer in the rib on that side...had I suddenly grown a massive tumor there?!? He then asked if when I was in the staging room, maybe I had my MP3 player laying on my chest and maybe that was showing up as heat or something?!?? No.... Then I realized that maybe it could be my breast prosthesis (which IS bigger than a plum, I know you were thinking that), so I told him I was wearing one, and went to take it out, and he had bolted out of the room muttering what sounded like "the girls will no more..."! One of the girls came in, I gave it to her, we started again, and that was that. The gel inset used to weigh down the foam prosthesis was showing up on the scan. Whew! That was a scare. The rest of the scan was quiet. I know they all know what it showed, but no one can tell me. I have to wait for the radiologists.
So, after the PET scan I went back to my closet to drink a little banana flavored CT contrast. Sadly, the same contract that has made me feel gaggy in the past, was now very exciting! Because...you guessed it.... it was now 3:30 or 4 o'clock, and I still had not yet had anything to eat or drink! They should have brought it in a champagne glass for as excited as I was! It was yummy....really! Matt, I mean Bobbie, walked by and I flagged him down and told him that I was hurt, because I thought we had something special, and when I tried to hand him my boob, he had bolted! HAHA! I know, creepy! But I crack me up! And, he does embarrass easy! All shades of red! Poor kid, had no idea what to say. He did mention that that was the first time that has ever happened to him, and then I told him not to worry, I am scheduled to be back every three months for the rest of my life! It could happen again!
So, I think that if anyone is looking for a good nuclear medicine tech, Bobbie might be looking for a new location to work at!!!
After my CT contrast had time to wind its way through my system, I was off to the CT scanner. That was quick and painless! I was done by 4:45pm when they took me back to the locker containing my purse, jacket and boob.
Another day at the cancer center was over!
So for those of you who are waiting to hear the results, I will find out Friday afternoon, or Monday morning! I will likely send out some text messages if you are in my cell phone and I will also blog the results to the rest of you. As always, your support is overwhelming and generous!
What am I thankful for?! All the very nice and fun techs that work in the office I go to! I am thankful for their ability to play along with all my joking, because that is how I get through days such as this. Humor heals! I am also thankful for the twizzlers that I had waiting for me in the Jeep when I left, and for the soda as big as my head that I drank on the way home. And as always, I am thankful for my hubby's support and for my sweet children (one old enough to be nervous too, and one young enough to keep us busy enough to occasionally forget to be nervous)! And again, I thank all of you who sent me text and e-mail prayers, vibes, and luck! Big 'ol hug and smooch to you all!


For those of you that were concerned-

I made it to and home from Kim's Celebration of Life without any major problems with the weather. The wind was pretty bad on my little Jeep and it snowed the last 100 miles, but visibility was never really any issue. There were a few slick spots that the wind complicated a little, but all in all, was a fine drive.
Kim's Celebration was Perfect! I think it was just how she would have wanted it! It truely was a celebration!
It was a little cathartic for me, I cried through the whole thing, for so many, many reasons. She is such a beautiful person, but now she is a beautiful person on the other side.
Now on to scans...a little cranky. If you know me, I am a comfort food person, and veggies and meat don't really qualify in my book as comfort food. Well, not when you take all the good stuff off! My other coping skill is running, and I can't exercise either. Not for at least 48 hours prior to the PET scan. My only other coping skills I have left, are blogging and sleeping. So, I am going to throw this out there and hit the sack!
What am I thankful for?!? I am thankful that Kim and her family have a strong faith for which to cling to through their trials, tribulations, and the joyous times as well. I am thankful for their love and strength, and I am thankful for the big wonderful hugs that I got from her husband and her parents today. I was hoping that some of Kim was there with me in those moments. You can just feel the warmth in their family! All my love!
I am also thankful for all the 'good luck on your scans' text messages that I have been receiving ! I might not respond right away or even at all, but each and everyone is heart felt! I love all of you too!


"Kim is Dancing with Jesus"

Kim is my friend---a beautiful, strong, AMAZING woman with an enduring faith! And now, she has ended her almost 6 year battle with breast cancer at the age of 33 years. As her husband so beautifully put it, "Kim is Dancing with Jesus"!
I am happy for Kim, because she is now free of the pain and suffering that was tying her down, and free of the mental fatigue of a declining body.
I pray for her family, her friends, her husband, and her three gorgeous children who will miss her terribly! She will live in their hearts and mine forever and ever, as she watches over them from above!

Kim, Someday I will see you again. Just like you said in your note to me..."I will meet you at the pearly gates, sooner or later! Heaven is our eternal pain-free life!" You got it!
Dance on my Sister!!!! (...maybe put in a good word for me with the big man!) Love, Tracy

Since Kim's "Celebration of Life" will be on Wednesday morning, I have rescheduled my scans for Thursday! Thanks to everyone who has been keeping me in their prayers, and throw one in for Kim's family if you could!
What am I thankful for?! The huge outpouring of support that Kim and her family have in Orange City! It is a beautiful little town!


For the love of scans...

Well, I think the melt down has begun, because everyone keeps asking me what is wrong with me...I guess I get a little short at times and a little weepy, and by weepy, I mean I cry if my pen runs out of ink. The other day, I cried so much I was insisting that I have my tearducts plugged and my ovaries removed!!! And I didn't even consciously know why I was feeling or acting that way until one of my friends asked, "So, when are your scans?". I guess sometimes you have friends that know you better than you know yourself!
Thankfully Relay season is now in swing and I have other things and people to concentrate on than just me, my scans, and whether or not I have cancer hiding in my big toe! Really, I lost a boob, how bad could a big toe be to lose...oh damn, flip flops...okay, so there can't be cancer in my big toe!
My scans...they are on Wednesday morning...7am in Omaha...being the morning person I am I plan to sleep right through them! I am having CT scans of my chest, abdomen, and pelvis, and a PET scan. The whole process will take about 4 hours. The CT scans have few rules...no food or drink after midnight. The PET scan is a little more picky. No exercise for two days prior, and the day before, nothing but veggies and protein! Sounds a lot like that No carb diet I tried three times. The first time I made it one day. The second time I made it two days. The third time I made it one day, and vowed never to try that stupid diet again! Okay, so...one more day won't kill me!
As for Relay getting started, I have gotten the chance to do "my hope thing" twice this last week. I got to speak at the Haymarket Park Relay Kick Off in Lincoln and the Otoe County Relay Kickoff in Nebraska City! Both were great opportunities to share my story, sing the praises of the American Cancer Society, and share the IMPORTANCE OF EARLY DETECTION! Doing something always seems to help my spirits! It is nice to feel like this is all happening for a reason...but I still HATE it when someone tells me that!
I get to go to Sesame Street Live with the kiddos, so I need to get going!
What am I thankful for?! My "hope thing" and great big furry Grovers and Elmos!!!


Chemo with kids

This past Monday, New Year's Eve, I had treatment. It was the first time that the kids had gone to treatment with me.
Back when I was getting my therapy at the hospitals cancer center there were a lot of very ill people in the treatment room, and I never felt comfortable exposing my kids to that. When I started going to a cancer center more removed from the hospital and my oldest son continued to ask to go, I decided that we would try it. I know that a lot of times we make up things in our heads that are a lot more scary than what is really happening, but we don't know that because we have never been exposed to it. So, I thought this was a good way for my son to see what chemotherapy was all about and hopefully, if he had created scary visions of what it might be like, these visions would now be dispelled.
My new cancer center has fewer patients, and the patients seem to be more independent, overall. So, with chemo falling on a non school day, I agreed to bring him along. This is when my youngest son decided that he wanted to go too! We packed up the game boys, Nintendo DS's, all the games, and two MP3 players and the boys and I headed off to chemo!
They watched as I was taken to a little staging area, was weighed, and my blood pressure and temperature were taken.
Then, they followed as we were lead back to the big, sun-filled room full of recliners and IV poles where I would be getting my treatment. I picked out a recliner and they each tried to pull up the spinney stools that the doctors sit on. I always have, and still maintain, that you have to go to a lot of school to get the privilege of sitting on one of those spinney stools, so they needed to get up, pick a recliner, and consider med school if they thought those stools looked fun! They piled into the recliner next to me. My youngest watched intently as they placed the needle in my port, drew blood, filled the tubes, and then flushed my port with saline. They then taped the connecting tubes to my sweatshirt while they waited for my blood counts and the results of my kidney and liver functions tests, to see if it was safe to give me my chemotherapy. My youngest son then decided to play his game boy, which my oldest son had yet to look up from. He said in the car on the way, "I don't want to see them put a needle in you." And, he didn't.
The physician's assistant surfaced a few minutes later to go over my blood work, discuss any new symptoms, and check out the newest in personal gaming devices. I turned out that my blood counts were a little off, but nothing too frightening so chemo was a-go as expected.
My chemo nurse came back with a bag of saline and two bags of chemotherapy which she promptly hung on my IV pole with a bunch of tubing.
This is where the boys started to glance up from their games, but only momentarily, to check on me. Since nothing too earth shattering appeared to be happening they continued to play their games while snuggled up together in a recliner next to an empty IV pole. Thank God their IV pole was empty, I thought to myself. Thank God this was happening to me and not to them.
The nurse turned on my pump, and walked away.
My youngest was the first to venture over. He was looking at the tubing as it is disappeared under my sweatshirt, so I asked him, "Do you want to see how I get my medicine?" He just nodded, so I showed him how the chemo drips from the bag, into the pump, through a few feet of tubing and into my port. He touched it once, and was content. I gave him a kiss and a squeeze and he was back to gaming with his brother. A few minutes later his brother took off his MP3 player and was just silently watching me. I could see him out of the corner of my eye, so I turned, and asked, as I had with his brother, "Do you wanna see?" "Sure", he responded. So we went through the same breakdown, and all he said was, "Ouch." I assure him that I was in no pain, and he was happy with this. He snuggled on my lap for a couple of minutes and then was off to torment his brother!
After about the first 45 minutes the boys were now feeling quite at home there in the chemotherapy room, and had become quite keen on the fact that I appeared to be attached to my recliner. They were able to navigate just out of reach of the few feet of tubing that I had when they wanted to pick at each other without getting grabbed and hushed by me. The boys are quite sharp! It wasn't until they decided to lay down on the floor and wrestle that they found out that the IV pump could be unplugged and the pole that I was attached to could then move to anywhere I pleased! As soon as I started towards them, they were on my lap apologizing. I guess they new that I was not going to be happy if I had to chase them down with my drugs trailing behind! They were correct in their assumption! I told them, "The more I have to unplug this the longer we are going to be here!" This was not true, it keeps pumping even when you are unplugged, but it was an effective 'fib', as they seemed to be as ready to get out of there as I was. It is hard for me to sit still and be quite for three hours, just imagine how hard it is for 5 and 8 year old brothers!
Finally, the pump started beeping, a familiar sound, which seems to sing out, "Let's get outta here!" The nurse came over right on cue, pulled out my needle slapped on a bandaid and sent us on out way!
Amen. All three of us...relatively unscathed.
What am I thankful for?! I am so very thankful that my children are healthy! I hope that everyone has a Happy and Healthy NEW YEAR! Happy 2008!