Saturday, December 20, 2008

OK, now that I have played around with this website, figured out how it works, now, I will share the details of my distractions of late.

I have been noticing some changes in my body. I can't put my finger on when it started, or how long it has been going on. I guess I was in denial. There was a sore that just wouldn't heal. I couldn't feel any lumps. But, there was this sore that wouldn't go away. I tried Neosporin, after all, that fixes everything, right? I then tried Goldenseal. That is an herb, that is very powerful and has wonderful healing qualities. Still, no luck. I began to research breast cancer, just in case. Couldn't hurt to have some information, right? I located a program on line that offered free cancer screenings to women, Show Me Healthy Women. I called the number, in Jefferson City. They asked appropriate questions, then gave me numbers to call locally. I called and made an appointment. The date they had an opening, was the same day I was putting mom on the plane to Beck's, November 19th. It was for 3:30. I thought, hey, that will work. Mom's plane was scheduled to leave at noon. I could put mom on the plane in St. Louis, then drive straight to the clinic for the appt. I drove up to mom's the night before to help her pack and help her with any last minute details. She was going to be gone for 2 weeks!! The next morning, we packed the last minute things, then drove to pay her water bill before she left town. We then drove to the AT&T store, to get her phone turned back on. We had let it lapse, oops. That took about 15 minutes, but we were then, free to roam about the country. We drove up there, checked momma's bag, got my security pass, and made it through security without any problems. Once she was on the plane, I headed for the parking garage. Stopped in at the Alzheimer's Support Group meeting in Festus, then headed down to the clinic. As I was pulling onto the parking lot of the clinic, my phone rang. It read, Ann Adams. Thinking, she's there, safe and sound, and Beck suggested/helped mom phone me to let me know, I answered it with "Your there?" Mom responded with "I am, but Beck's not! They switched gates, and I don't know how to let Beck know!" It took me a minute to process that, because, the realization that my mom had just used her cell phone, by herself, was BIG!!! Way bigger than the fact that Beck was not at the gate to meet her!! I told mom I would call Beck, for mom to stay put, right there by baggage claim and not move. I then called Beck, gave her mom's cell phone, and within minutes they were hooked up. I then went on into the clinic appt. During the appt, the dr. did a physical exam and was "concerned" at what she was feeling. She told me she was going to send me to Barnes for a "diagnostic mammogram". I informed her I did not have medical insurance, and therefore, couldn't afford to do anything about it if they found something. She said, not to worry, no matter what they found, it would all be covered under this program. I left there to await a call from Barnes. The next morning, Barnes called and scheduled an appt for December 9th. I then kicked into Thanksgiving mode, and prepared my house for my sister's family to arrive on Sunday. Lois then joined us on Wednesday night, and Thursday, we all enjoyed a good old fashioned turkey and dressing dinner. Then, Lois and her family packed up and moved to Bryan's family farm. I boarded a plane for Colorado at 6:30am, the next morning! I spent a wonderful week with my other sister, Becky's family, and my mom. While there, Beck and I truly bonded again. I then shared with her, the path I was sure to be walking in the future. Together, we both tried to talk mom into staying there with her family, at least until after the holidays. Mom, again, couldn't be convinced to stay. So, in the middle of a slight blizzard, Becky drove us to the airport. We boarded a plane, and landed in St. Louis. Keith picked us up, and after stopping for dinner at Cracker Barrel, we took mom into her home, sat a few minutes to make sure everything was in good shape, and then we left for home. Lots and lots of hugs and kisses from my kiddos!!! Church on Sunday, life picked up again. I did share with my pastor's wife, that I was going to Barnes on Tuesday for a diagnostic mammogram, because in the physical examination, the doc had felt a lump. Tuesday morning, off to Barnes we went. Sign in, fill out papers, be escorted back to a dressing room, given a pink gown, and escorted to a different waiting room full of ladies in pink gowns. Then, my name was called. I went into the room with what looked like a young girl to do the dreaded mammogram. No comments by her. Then told to wait in the inner waiting room for results. Soon they came to get me, escorted me to a different room, informed me they needed confirmation, and were going to do an ultrasound. From there, they took me into a room with a dr., went and brought Keith in for the consultation and results of the day. They did tell us they couldn't be 100% positive without a biopsy, but were fairly certain it was cancer. Lots of info, lots of discussion, then scheduled me for a biopsy the next day. We drove home in silence. Way too much to take in, way too much to process. I feel the need to say, that at this point, it was not what they had just told us, as much as the fact that it was all way too familiar, way too fresh. The memories that I had spent a year trying to deal with, came flooding back way too fast and furious. The next morning, we got up and headed back up to Barnes for the biopsy. Again, dressing room, pink gown, small room with drs., ultrasound guided core needle biopsy. Two samples taken. Painful? Slightly. But nothing worth screaming about. Then, given an ice pack, instructions not to lift anything heavier than 5 lbs with that arm, no showers for 24 hours, and only Tylenol for pain. Back home, and we have a sit down with all the kids. We carefully explained to them what was going on, what was coming up, and how very very different this was than what Grandpa had. My doctor shared a story I could share with my kids to help them understand, and I did that. Comparing leukemia cancer with breast cancer is like comparing an elephant with a mouse. Yes, they are both mammals, yes, they both have 4 legs, but after that the similarities slim. That is the way it is with leukemia and breast cancer....2 very different animals. They are saying that I have a very good prognosis. I am healthy otherwise. And, it appears to not be in my lymph nodes, and that is way positive. It appears to only be in my right breast, so that, again, is good news. We were back up there again Wednesday, for what we thought was going to be a consultation with the surgeon. The appt was for 8:15, so we didn't eat breakfast, thinking, we will go get breakfast out somewhere when this is done. HA! What were we thinking???? The surgeon said that he would like us to meet with the oncologist as soon as possible. And, because we drove so far to get there, he would make some calls and see if that could be arranged for today. His nurse came back in, and said that he was successful, and we had an appointment for 2pm today with a Dr. Ellis. She said, "and that works out perfectly, because we want you to go to 3rd floor and get a Bone Scan done, and that takes about an hour, and then to the 2nd floor and get a CT Scan and that takes about an hour, and back up to 3rd floor to finish up the Bone Scan. Then you will have just enough time to grab some lunch, before you meet with Dr. Ellis. Wow.... By the time we got to 1pm, which is when they released us from Bone Scan, we were starving!! We found the cafeteria, stood in line, got some food, gulped it down, then quickly found our way back to the elevators to head to 7th (?) floor for the meeting with Dr. Ellis. That entailed lots more paperwork, meeting with Clinical Nurse Karen, then Research nurse, Jennifer, finally, Dr. Ellis. He took his time explaining his different approach, how he customized the treatment plan to each individual patient. Then offered me the chance to sign on to clinical research trials. After much discussion, I signed up. No, I didn't need time to think about it. By the time we left the hospital that day, it was 5;30pm. When I turned my phone back on, it lit up like a Christmas tree, for a zillion times!! Everybody, my girls, all wanting to know what in the world had happened to me. Lots of explaining to several people. On the way home, we stopped at the bottom of mom's hill, went through the drive through at Wendy's, got some salads, and called mom and stopped in for dinner with her. We walked in, and her blue "lift" chair was all the way up!! Not only that, it was in the spot that daddy's chair usually is in, and daddy's chair was in the spot her chair is usually. Now, I am here to tell you, I have moved that chair myself. Daddy's chair is a Niagra chair, with heat and massage. It weighs ever bit of 600 lbs!!! We agreed to sit down and eat the food first, then Keith would take a look at it. So, we fixed drinks, and thanked God for the food and his blessings, and ate dinner with mom. Then Keith took the controller apart, and found the switch broken. He took it out, asked mom for some super-glue. She found a brand new tube!! He then glued it carefully together. After a few minutes for it to set, he put the switch back together, and it worked!!! Momma's chair set back down in the appropriate position to actually use as a chair. Meanwhile, she didn't have daddy's chair plugged in, because the cord wouldn't reach, so we got that situation fixed, and mom was good to go. When we left her, she had the heat in daddy's chair going, as well as a slight vibration going. She asked us why we were up running around at this time of night. I told her that I had a mammogram done, and that we had been to the hospital to have some more tests run. She responded, "yea, hospitals love to run tests." Then went on to talk of other things, so I let it go at that. She didn't push, I didn't give her too much to dwell on. I will spoon feed her with just enough information for her to process, a little at a time. Please continue to pray with us for mom. I am sure this news will be harder on her, with all her memories still so fresh. The docs have called, and it looks like we will be back up to the hospital on Monday, next week, December 22nd, for another all day long trip. They have me scheduled for a MUGA Scan at 8:30 am, and an appointment to install a PORT at 10 am. The MUGA scan is to check my heart, to make sure it is healthy enough to withstand the chemo. The PORT is give them an access point for the chemo. They are going to do another breast biopsy on the 30th, my daughter's 21st birthday. On that day they will take 4 core samples, ouch. Then on the next day, new year's eve, i will receive my first chemo treatment. The perfect ending to this year, don't you think? People keep calling to say, what can I do? What you can do is take care of my mom. Call her. Visit her. Take her goodies?? Take her food? Take her out to eat? She is extremely lonely, and once she finds out about this, will be more lonely and more depressed. If we can't talk her into going to visit my sister in Colorado again, and I am still trying on a daily basis, any help you could give me in that area, would be helpful. She doesn't drive at night, so most Christmas parties are out, unless someone picks her up and drops her off. I thank you in advance for your prayer support!!

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