Stable Mabel 7/11/17

It’s update time…

I will set aside my book I’m currently writing, “Everybody Has Back Fat”, and publish the latest update regarding Oh Cancer, My Cancer, ooh la la.

Good news! I had a scan Monday. According to the results things are stable. There is nothing new growing, which is really awesome. They still make mention of a small spot, but things have pretty much remained unchanged for almost a year now. That’s really good for a stage 4 lady of my stature. I was under the impression that it doesn’t mean I am cancer free or in remission, but stability is a very good thing, given the alternatives.

I had asked about skipping a week of treatment while I’m on vacation at the end of the month and was presented the option of taking some time off until my next scan in October (3 months). It’s a tough decision to take time off of treatment, when things are working right now, but I’m going to jump at the opportunity. I’ll have some blood work drawn a couple of times a month, to monitor things that way. It will be nice to have a little break. I didn’t think this would be an option any time soon, so I might as well take advantage of it.

I’m finishing out this week and then I’ll be on vacation(s)… 😉

I can’t help but feel a little guilty with this good news, when I know others are still fighting and some are struggling. I hear of friends on hospice or learn of others loved ones recently passing away. I’ve been on the other end; hearing of remissions and chemo breaks and I know that though envious, it fills you with a sense of happiness for others and hope for yourself. This community instills respect for one another and a general understanding of what we all endure, it can be motivating. I’m extremely happy at this time, as the heat is on in St. Louis… so a break will be nice. As always, thank you for your kind words and thoughts and prayers, it gets a girl through each day…

I am thankful for this good news. I’ll ride it out as long as I can. There are no guarantees in any of this. Many of us live scan to scan or month to month. I’ve met so many incredible people throughout this journey. Unfortunately, some have been overcome by the disease, but many thrive on. It’s not in our nature to give up. We get tired at times and grow weary of having constant struggles, but like everything else there are tiny victories hidden in our trails. We have to look for those, no matter how small. Cheers!!

To small victories!!

 

 

Slow and steady wins the race… 4/18/17

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Cancer is a persistent little twit, but then again, so am I.

Survivor-Season-24I recently had a scan. The results are in. There is still a little spot on my liver (tiny guy), but nothing new growing. That’s all good news. The maintenance chemo regimen I’m on right now is keeping things stable and under control currently. This is great. I guess I just keep on with it. Chemo forever, as I call it, JK. If I was not on chemo things could potentially start to grow again, as they were before. Better than the alternative, right?

nD

I continue to go to Siteman every other week for my Avastin infusions, and I take the Xeloda (5FU) pills twice a day, for one week on and then one week off. It’s doing what it needs to. I may not be NED (No evidence of disease), but I’m stable and that is far better than having progression at this time. I’ll just ride this out and hope for the best. Hopefully this trend continues for a long time. It could work for years… or for months… so far it’s almost been a year, so that’s great.

At this point in life, I am living with cancer, rather than dying from it.  Hopefully we can continue treating/managing this more as a chronic disease, and not as a terminal illness. It is possible… Fingers crossed… and my lucky rabbits foot from Easter…

Hand Holding a Rabbit's Foot Key Chain --- Image by © Lawrence Manning/Corbis

Cheers!!

 

Happy Anniversary!!!

Well, it’s official (almost)… cancer and I have been together for two years now. Two glorious years… I was diagnosed January 28th 2015. It seems like forever ago. We’ve been through so much, cancer and I. We’ve had our ups and downs and ins and outs, but through it all, we are still bound quite tightly. When the chips are down, cancer is there… Feeling lonely, cancer is by your side… I can’t quit you cancer.

I’m getting scans now about every 3 months; a tiny stretch from every 2 months, I call that progress. Baby steps for sure… My most recent scan on Monday, January 24th was another good one. There is nothing new showing up anywhere at this time. There are still a couple of very small, faint spots on my liver they continue to watch. These could be old treated areas from prior resection surgeries/ablations or could just be small unchanged spots of my not so clear and present cancer. The good news is, they have remained unchanged since September. No growth is good to me. Next scan is currently scheduled for mid April.

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I’m still having chemo every other week. It’s short and sweet… or neither at times. I get a 30 minute infusion every other Tuesday (see you next Tuesday), but the process varies in length depending on how busy it is or how cooperative I am. I also still take a pill twice daily, a week on and a week off. I’m not the best a remembering to take them, but I have my assistants to help me:

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And now, the anatomy lesson. Look away if you’re not a fan of intestines and liver… diagrams…

I found some interesting photos of colon and liver resections if you’re into that sort of thing:

ColonResectioning-SMALLcolonliverhepI had the Sigmoid colectomy (F) and the extended right hepatectomy… good to know right?? It’s pretty amazing what you can put your body through and survive… Next time, a video of the full hysterectomy. Just kidding…

Lesson over. Schools out.

Cheers.

 

 

 

Thankful Thanksgiving

Update 11/24/16:

I had a scan last week. The results are in. There is still nothing new showing up, which is great. The current maintenance regimen is working. There’s always the fear of a mutation developing or the cancer becoming resistant, rendering the chemo ineffective. That’s not the case right now. Things appear to be under control. This is great news.

I’m finally at a point in my life, since this whirlwind began, where I feel like I can truly be thankful for things again. It’s the strangest thing.

Two years ago I started to really realize that something was wrong. It would be an agonizing nearly two full months until I would finally learn my diagnosis. What a crappy trip that was. The unknowns were excruciating. When I was told I had cancer I was relieved to hear the words. To finally have an answer to the haunting question. I had racked my brain and swept the internet. The internet is a terrible place to turn, FYI. Everything basically says you’re going to die or that it is cancer…

stubbed your toe: cancer…

graying hair: you’re going to die… probably from cancer…

Much to my surprise, I am not dead (thanks a lot Google). Enough time has passed to process things, to realize this is not a dream. So yes, I can finally be thankful. I accept that there is no cure. I understand what my future most likely holds, but I’m thankful. I am totally thankful.

I have been extremely fortunate to have the best family, gf, friends and doctors anyone could ask for. I would not be here without each and every one of you. Thank you all.

Now please let my fantasy football team win…

 

Cancer, you complete me…

I’m continuing with maintenance chemo. It’s quite delicious, a few pills every day and a 30 minute infusion, that takes about 4 hours. Time flies. No major complaints, aside from not being able to drink alcohol at will and some hand and foot issues. I get sweet sores on my feet. Supposedly the medicine can come to the surface of the palms and soles of feet, induced by heat or pressure… since you walk and stand on your feet all day… well, there’s no avoiding that. I have learned that the sores on the heel are much better than the ones on your toes or the ball of your foot. So I am thankful for this one and it’s location. Oh, the little things in life. A real treasure. It only really bothers me at night, when I’m pretending to sleep.

I did read an old article that people with skin conditions during chemo sometimes faired better in overall survival. I’m sure if I look hard enough (or not hard at all) I could find an article that explains there is no such evidence. I’ll just think what I want.

foot

It makes for impressive blisters or sores at times on the feet. I mean who wouldn’t want to walk around with something like this on their foot. It’s a toss up, between this… or having a nail driven directly into my heel. Pedal the Cause shall be interesting. Riding a bike for 20 miles (when I haven’t moved from the couch for months) with pressure induced sores seems wizardly. Sharp as a marble, my dad always told us (when we did something stupid). Blister the Cause.

Speaking of my dad… those Canadians are flying south for a week in September. That should be nice. Finally, a visit where I’m not on deaths door or having some life altering surgery that I may not survive. Knock, knock, knocking on heavens door…

Cancer… what a twat. Seriously, you never know until you have it… and having a kind that can’t be cured, blows. It changes you… a lot. My life is  a complete 180 now… or upside down? hmm… things have calmed down at least. I guess after a year and a half you start to understand things… and sort of accept them, settle in. Not much you can do otherwise. Your life is different, and everyone else’s lives are still the same. It’s the strangest thing. I find myself envious of others lives at times. The normal day to day, and evening/weekend play. It’s what it is. I guess I’m still adjusting. Cancer, you complete me…

I am thankful it’s been a year and a half… it’s bitter sweet. I’m glad I’m out of those surgeries and through my first rounds of chemo. I’m also aware of the grim outlook of a very avoidable disease, had I caught it sooner. It’s weird living scan to scan or treatment to treatment. You are almost just waiting for something to pop up or come back, as it’s almost inevitable. Worrying and wondering what in the hell is looming in the future. But then again, I could be one of the lucky ones. Someone that lives past 2.5 years… then 5 years… and hopefully, amazingly 10. It gets exhausting. I won’t lie… worrying… about something I have absolutely no control over… the unknown. Stupid cancer.

Lucy, my darling, beefy, bulldog turned one yesterday. That was exciting… (see, I need to branch out). We took her to Ted Drewes. She is now weighing in at a whopping 50lbs. That’s a whole lot of lovin’. She may be 51lbs after eating hers and Franks custard, they are in love.

A B CShe’s a beautiful lady…

Cheers.

J

 

All clear…

Well I had an MRI today (7/25/16) to check the progress of my cancer… Oops, I mean chemo. 😉

I guess the little spot that may or may not have been something that had showed up in May on my scan was not showing up today. It could have been nothing or the chemo has done it’s job, it was very small to begin with (5mm-welcome to the medical metric system American people-JK). Either way, it’s good news. Things appear to be all good right now. All clear…

I’ll meet with my oncologist in the middle of August to see if we just keep going with this current chemo regimen or if I can go off of it or even just cut back perhaps.

I’m hoping this cancer “stuff” is finally under control. It would be nice to not have to waste so much time with it. Ha. It’s something I will apparently have to deal with off and on for the rest of my life, but hopefully I’ll get some extended breaks here and there.

I’m very thankful for all of your support and of course for all this good news. Thanks so much!!

Cheers…

The latest and greatest… 6/9/16

Greetings…. and cancerous salutations….

I had a CT scan 5/26/16. It was just a follow up to the cryo ablation procedure I had on April (26th), to make sure that they treated the entire area they were wanting to. That treated area is now all cleared up and healing. There is however, a new little spot growing elsewhere in the liver now. I mean, I am pretty amazing at growing these tiny things… that takes talent.  It sounds like it too is treatable, another ablation likely in future, no rush. I saw my oncologist last week Tuesday, we agreed on going forward with a light chemo regimen. It’s basically like maintenance chemo. I started it last Tuesday. It will consist of a 30 minute infusion of Avastin every other week (into the old port hole) and an oral 5FU pill 7 days on, 7 days off (3 a day or something). I had the 5FU through infusion last week for insurance purposes, waiting on approval. Pill form starts next Tuesday.

So the plan is to go forward with this chemo for two months and then at the end of July I’ll get a CT scan to see if that little spot has grown, stayed the same, shrunk, or if it has any new friends. Depending how things look at that time I will either stick with this chemo, start a new stronger chemo, talk about some other options of treatment, or have another cryo ablation… or maybe a couple of those things (cryo+). Time will tell. We’re just trying to figure out the best way to keep things from popping up in the liver in future and to keep them from growing anywhere else…

Things seem to be staying in my liver, so that’s good. They aren’t growing in other locations, always a positive.

In the past couple of months, I’ve had a couple of tests run on tissue they had removed during surgery in December and another test from a simple blood draw (Guardant360). These tests look for cancer mutations present in old tumor material collected in December or for cancer cells floating around in my blood currently. These tests are designed to look for certain mutations in order to know what chemo drugs may or may not be useful in future or if there may be clinical trials I would qualify for (also in future), if necessary. The more info the better.

Other than that, I’m feeling fine. I’m keeping busy at work and ready to likely avoid the sun for yet another summer (thanks to chemo). I love being pale… it’s quite wonderful… pale skin and darkening under the eyes makes you appear thinner than you are, so that’s charming. I also think I have to abstain from drinking again, I need to find out. Chemo + Alcohol is a little hard on the liver… I did enjoy my “moderate” drinking era, the last few months… that was real nice like…

I guess stay tuned. If anything changes, you’ll be the last to know…. no offense… sometimes I’m just lazy.

Cheers.

 

 

Scan results 4/25/16

Finally, some good news with no “but”.

My latest scans showed nothing new growing since the last scans. Great news. I’m having, or may have had, my one suspicious spot treated 4/26/16.  My liver surgeon finally got a chance to look at the previous and now the most recent scans, he wasn’t convinced it was even regrowth, as it’s more likely a scar. But, better safe than sorry.

And the Blues won!!!!

YAY!!  LGBT!!!!

 

March and Madness 3/22/16

Thinking today… March being Colon Cancer Awareness month… I remember learning about this a year ago. I also remember hoping I lived to see another March. I was only in my second month of chemo and scared shitless, I had read all types of articles regarding advanced stage colorectal cancer survival and found the survival rates and statistics were often somewhat negative.  The odds were not, forever in my favor…

Almost a year ago I was told I had a 5-10% chance of survival, I believe this is in regards to long term survival. In December of 2015, I was told that 40% of patients don’t even make it to the point that I had, to have the second staged liver surgery. I wouldn’t say that the journey has been easy, but it’s been bearable. Even though sometimes survival rates are low or statistics are not in your favor, you have to believe that you will be one of those people out of 100 that can survive past 2.5 years or 5 years or 10 years or whatever the amount of time is. I’m not always a positive person, but I’m still hopeful, even when an outlook is not. The last year has been crazy and at times it seems like time is standing still and then flying by. I consider myself very lucky to have such a great group of people supporting me and rooting me on. Thank you, it makes a huge difference. You have all somewhat carried me to this point and will hopefully continue to carry me for a very long time. No pressure. Ha!!! 😉

Now for the most recent update:

Since my surgery in December (when they were hopeful of me being cancer free), my January scan showed that there was a new spot in my liver. This was likely some residual microscopic disease already there, untreated by chemo. There was also an area that was showing up in an area that was treated last year with ablation in May, it could also just be scarring.

They have since done the cryoablation on the new spot, it is dead and gone according to the most recent scan in March. However, the other old treatment spot again looks a little different, still could be scarring. They have decided to just go ahead and do another cryoablation at the end of April. If it’s anything it’s slow growing and in a place that has already been treated, so it’s no big deal. It’s just not something that can be left alone, as it’s not in a great location (near a vein). So I’ll have that spot frozen… I also have a scan at the end of April, this is just to see if that old spot has changed any more. It really doesn’t matter, as it sounds like it’s being treated and removed anyway. Hopefully there will be nothing else new at that time. My most recent scan this month (March 11th), showed nothing new growing so that’s great news. Please, have a drink in my honor… or five.

Other than that, nothing else new and exciting. I’m still off of chemo, but I’m learning that Chemo Brain is real. Remembering things and finding the words in conversation are no longer my forte. I’ll have to find a different area in which to shine… now I’m really good at things like: 1) Just sitting there, 2) Looking off into space, 3) Smiling (DISCLAIMER: sometimes-not always), 4) Not thinking clearly, 5) Not paying attention.

It will probably be at least a month or more until the next update, since I won’t have anything done until the end of April. Chew on that…

Cheerio!

I’m BLUE… Da ba Dee Da ba Daa….

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As some of you know March is colon cancer awareness month. Go blue!!! Blue is the designated color for colon cancer… thank God (I like blue).
They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. To put it simply… rumor has it… YOU’VE MISSED ME!!! Sorry for the lack of updates, it’s kind of due to a lack of any new information on my part. I didn’t mean to leave you hanging… or whining. JK.
I don’t have much to report (I feel like I say that a lot). In review:
I had a spot (on my liver) pop up in January. They basically froze it out in February. I’ll have a CT scan tomorrow (March 11th) to see how things are looking. We’re hoping to see no more new spots.
These new spots aren’t necessarily “new” growths. They could be old tiny microscopic ones that have just now started to grow.
There’s apparently not a ton of research supporting the administration of more chemo at this time (according to “ONE” of my sources). I’m in the process of exploring this more with different doctors. There are chemo therapies and immuno therapies that can be used to control things in future. It’s pretty tough to say for sure that everything is ever gone for sure, but I can hope each scan is either clear of spots or if spots are still showing up, then it’s best if they are in locations they can easily be removed (with surgery or ablation: the burning or freezing of these tumors).
There is some evidence that shows diet, exercise and the use of aspirin daily can benefit individuals like myself. Or it can at least prolong reoccurrence. This is of no surprise, the healthier one can be, the better prepared physically they are for combatting illness or surgery in future. I’m in the process of bettering my diet (less ice cream) and moving towards being able to exercise more… watch out!!
Overall, I feel pretty darn  good. I’m back at work full time.  Fingers crossed on my next scan results. I love MiraLAX… (right Missy!!??)
MIR
Working is fun..
 WORK
Also, a few of us are walking in the Undy Run/Walk at Forest Park-lower Muny parking lot (next Saturday March 19th). No pressure, but if you’re interested, we’ll be out there. I have attached the link below, but don’t judge me if I doesn’t work. I’m not a computer genious… genius… whatever.  Feel free to join team Powered by Hope… or create your own team (for example: MiraLAX can happen, I mean Miracles).
http://support.ccalliance.org/site/TR/5K/UndyNEW?fr_id=2331&pg=entry
Cheerio!!!