Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Cancer Returns

. . . Shattered Dreams

I was looking forward to getting my scheduled, routine CT scan out of the way so I could continue to go on and enjoy good health and glorious life. It was scheduled for January 13th. Since I felt pretty darn good, I had no reason to believe that it would be anything but great news.

About mid-November, my left hip began to hurt. This was nothing unusual as each winter season, a wee bit of arthritis in my joints (whether shoulder or hip) would temporarily ache. Normally, I could increase my movement (exercise, stretching, walking) and the pain and mobility would improve . . . but not this time. Maybe I was just getting older and it wasn't going to go away this time (so, I thought).

After having my CT scan on January 13th, I went in for my scheduled visit with my Oncologist on the 14th to get the results. He shared with me that, in reading the results of the CT scan, he was pretty positive the cancer had returned/metastasized and scheduled me for more tests. I returned on January 18th for a bone scan and a CT scan of the chest. . . and returned the next day to get the results.
Confirmed: I had tiny tumors throughout my lungs and a 2cm tumor in my hip bone. Hubby and I were devestated. Hope for being in the 20% group of pancreatic cancer survivors was gone. The barbaric whipple surgery and grueling follow up chemo and radiation treatments I had previously undergone were not my cure. I would now battle this disease until it took my life . . .

Radiation Thereapy:
The radiation therapy started on January 25th, just about the time I could no longer bare the hip pain. I couldn't sit longer than 10 minutes without the pain bringing tears to my eyes...and walking was very painful. I underwent 2 weeks (10 days) of radiation therapy to my left hip. By the 2nd treatment, the pain was better. The hardest part of this treatment was going up to the hospital each day as I was once again feeling like City of Hope has become my 2nd home again. The treatment ended February 5th and, though I still have some pain and walking is still a problem, the Radioly Oncologist told me that it will continue to improve.

My first infusion of Oxaliplatin was on February 2nd. I'm given a 30 minute infusion of Zofran prior to this chemo to help with nausia. The infusion of the Oxaliplatin was painful. It lasts for two hours and about half way through, my arm felt like tiny cactus thorns were piercing the skin all the way up to the bend in my elbow. The pain from that is better but hasn't completely gone away. Because the most significant side effect of this chemo is sensitivity to cold, the nurses gave me heavy gloves to wear and a blanket when I left that night. I was to wrap the blanket around myself, brining it up to cover my mouth so I wouldn't breath cold air. Anyway, I looked like Darth Vader. For the following 5 days, it was a learning experience for hubby and I as to what things are cold and would cause pain to the touch. Touching the toothpate tube, walking on cold floors, touching tap water, pouring shampoo into the palm of the hand, grabbing the tub of butter out of the refrigerator (oh so much more!) . . . it's all like an electrical shock. One takes a lot for granted!! I had to heat my water to just above room temperature in order to drink it without pain. Warm water tastes gross! Another side effect I experienced was shock to my jaw every time I would eat or drink anything with flavor. OUCH!!!! After a week now, these side effects are beginning to diminish (thank goodness!). But, of course, I get the usual gut pain and diarrhea. I will go to City of Hope every three weeks for an infusion of Oxaliplatin and have to do this 4 times. My Oncologist said he would slow down the infusion (making it a 3 hour infusion rather than a two hour) so that it would be less painful and the side effects not so severe.

Along with the Oxaliplatin infusion, I have to take 3 tablets of Xeloda chemo pills each morning and 2 at night. This I do for two weeks and I get the third week off. Prior to taking these pills, I have to take Zofran to ease the nauseousness.

Day By Day . . .
As the side effects wear off, this is doable. I can still perform normal, daily activites (though my hip still gives me problems). I'm certainly NOT at all pleased about having to take so many pills and that my body is, once again, being invaded with a poisonous chemical. Best case scenerio is that, when finished with this treatment, years will go by before the cancer returns. I take each day as it comes . . . and my hubby and children give me the ability to have the strength and courage I need to move forward with hope!

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WhiteStone said...

God bless you as you go through this treatment. My cancer is different, but I, too, am going to go through another round of chemo. Hopefully, with milder side-effects than last time. And hopefully, with better results in regards to remission. God bless you. Stay strong.

Cindy Shea said...

Marilyn, it is brave women like you that often go unoticed in this fast paced world. When we think of heroes we tend to think of famous celebrities or charitable organizations but if we stop to really think about it it is the everyday WOMAN who musters the courage to not only fight difficulty but who does it while continuing to love and care for others. They say that men are made of steel but it is the the strong woman that keeps the wheels of daily life turning despite life's heartaches and difficulties. You have inspired me more than you can ever know and as you soldier on please know that you have truly impacted my life forever.

Cindy Shea :)

~ Sandy said...

Marilyn, if I could write as good as Cindy, I would have said everything she said.

I was brought to tears when I read this this morning, but then I reminded myself, it's only more hard work before this goes into remission. I'm sure of it!

Know that I think of you everyday and all my prayers are with you. You're a strong woman Marilyn!


Moonangelnay said...

goodness marilyn. i am amazed by your courage through all of this. my other halfs father had cancer return in his lungs also this year. it's not the easiest of things to hear i expect, yet you are a fighter and that is something so hopeful. my thoughts are with you x

Melinda said...

I have your blog listed on favorites list. I just today thought I would stop by and say hello...I did not expect to read that the cancer had returned.
You have fought so hard and I know that you will continue to do so. None of this can be easy..
I cant imagine really...
I will check back reguarly to see how you are doing. Im confident I will see progress after progress..
Hang in there...


Kirsten said...

Stay strong Dear Marilyn..... My thoughts are with you.... and I'm sending you healing and positive vibes your way..... If anyone can bring this under control....you can do it..... you are an amazing, inspiring person ....

Julia said...

Marilyn - due to family issues I haven't been back here in far too long - and I hated seeing what you are going through now.

I know that you are surrounded by people who love you and will lend you strength. I will echo what others have said about your own strength but will also tell you that it's okay to be weak sometimes too...it's okay to let other people help, it's okay to let people see just how lousy you might be feeling on a bad day.

If I could take this from you I would - as would we all. You are very much in my thoughts.


Melanie said...

Marilyn, I am so very sorry to hear this latest set back.
My heart hurts for your struggle.

I know you though. You will keep your chin up and continue to fight.
Your courage and good cheer amaze me.
I love the way you cherish each day.

Stay strong, my friend. I know you will.
Know that I'm thinking of you and cheering you and pulling for you.

much love and caring

Melinda said...

Thinking of you.

Allan said...

Feel bad with your situation. But you are such a tough one.. imagine. fighting with cancer is truly a tough thing for me.

May god bless you.


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