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!!??)
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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!!!

Spot 2/9/16

I spy with my little eye, something that is suspicious…

Apparently there is a small spot on my left liver that has popped up (according to my scan). My liver specialist reassured me that it is no big deal. It is located in a treatable location. They will perform a cryo-ablation (freeze it away with a tiny needle) this Thursday. This is not an invasive procedure so that’s great. They knock you out and use a needle from the outside, no incision. Spend the night. Go home the next day. Not painful. Easy one.

Ill have the spot removed and then I can start chemo after 10 days. As of now chemo is scheduled to start on Tuesday February 23rd.

These spots can come up from time to time. This is not optimal, but not unexpected, as I haven’t had chemo since early October. Dr Hawkins said they may come up from time to time. This one just happens to be super easy to cherry pick.

On another note, I just got back from vacation so I’ve had plenty of time to relax… For real. 🙂 So this should be no big deal for my rested body. Also, I think I gained 10lbs on the cruise… I’m back to my normal weight… Yay…

Until next time, cheers!

J

 

 

Generic Update 1-20-16

Howdy!

Well I was scheduled for chemo yesterday, but apparently since my surgical incision had a slight imperfection (bit of delicious ooze-seriously, it’s a barely) and my oncologist wanted a scan as a baseline before starting back up, there was no chemo. They did collect a copay and I did not pass GO. Tricky. The good news, I was quickly scheduled to have a CT this morning. All went well, I clearly survived it. Sorry to any of my local enemies reading this.

I should hear something back soon enough; I believe my oncologist will discuss results with my liver specialist this week and a new plan of action rolled out next week. The original plan of chemo this week was obviously boycotted, there’s a slim chance I may start next week. I’m supposed to be on vacation the first week of February, so it may not start back up until after that.

The future plan will likely be another 6 months of chemo (12 more treatments). It is undecided as to what combination of drugs it will consist of. I was informed that it will not include Oxaliplatin, as I’ve had my max on that for now.

As for those of you (you will remain unnamed at this time)  jealous of my glorious locks, not to worry, there’s still a chance I receive a drug that will bald me… Until then, I twirl my hairs… All three of them… And run my fingers through it in your honor…

 

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I went back to work this week part time, that has been nice. Being off for the entire month of December and half of January was nice too,but it’s good to get back to it. I now know what it feels like to be a teacher (all of that time off). A teacher with cancer that is, post surgery. It wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, for those of you who were jealous. I know you’re out there. Don’t believe the hype.

I am feeling much better since around the beginning of the year. December was pretty rough and very mentally frustrating, with being tired all of the time, or rather just lacking energy for small things you take for granted: like sitting, standing, breathing.

For those of you wondering about Lucy the bulldog, she weighed in at almost 30lbs two weeks ago. She’s almost 5 months old now. She is officially “phat”. I would like to publicly apologize to Amy Lovett for calling Capone fat all these years, karma…. I’m so ashamed.

That’s all for now. Thank you for your support, it means a lot. Cheers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a white Christmas… As in, I’m pale…

I guess white is better than YELLOW. Nobody wants jaundice. It would make my teeth look better though. Hmmm…

Anywho, I had my staples removed last Thursday. Things look pretty good, considering. image

 

And there’s nothing wrong with scars:

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Dr. Hawkins removed the staples and said I’ll have another 2-3 rounds of chemo. I’ll find out more about it next month when I Meet with my oncologist. Apparently, I’ll have a scan prior to any chemo to check healing progress. I’m guessing this scan will take place at the end of January or beginning of February.

My job at this time is to basically do nothing and heal. I don’t have much energy and if I do, I don’t have it for very long. Very typical with having part of the liver removed. They said it will be like a roller coaster. Some days I’ll have more energy than others. Mostly, I’ll be tired after short periods of having any energy. This healing takes 2-3 months. I guess it builds up over time.

As of now, I  take walks around the block. Some trips are easier than others. I take Lucy with me sometimes. This proves exhausting for her too after we return home. Little short legs. Poor dog.

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Happy holidays to everyone. I’ll update when I’ve talked to my oncologist I guess.

 

 

Hello, from the other side….

I heard a Hello… I thought it was God…

Nope… Adele.

they are really playing that song a lot. Geez.

Anywho, its Sunday. It’s been a week since I was discharged from the hospital. Almost two weeks since surgery. Things are healing nicely. I’ve had very few set backs. I had close to 20lbs of excess fluid post surgery. Toting that around last week was a little uncomfortable. Water pills have been slowly removing the excess. I think I lost 10 lbs in two days, seriously.

Ive still been making trips around the block, getting in some necessary walking to help w healing. I’ll see Dr Hawkins this coming Thursday to get staples out and have a follow up. I won’t post pics of the staples, as it’s not as nice looking this time. There are about 30 again, in the shape of an L. Not very attractive. 😉

I’ll find out when I’ll start follow up scans, etc. and I’ll  ask if I will have chemo at all in future. I guess the scans will tell.  When I talked to him last week he seemed pretty happy with how surgery went.  Stay tuned. Thanks for all of your thoughts. Much appreciated.

Tumor Free Tuesday!!

Jill’s surgery went exactly as Dr. Hawkins hoped it would today!  They removed the right side of her liver and now she is officially “tumor free!”

imageHer pain level was A LOT better after this surgery than the “trifecta surgery” she had to undergo in May.

She will be in the hospital for 5-7 days then recovery at home for 6-8 weeks.

Panther Dan and the St. Louis Jill Mac Mafia Team thank all of you for love and support!

 

50 ways to lose your liver…

Throw  the booze back, Jack

Drink like a man, Stan

It’s not a toy, Roy

Just get yourself free

Get hit by a bus, Gus

You don’t need to discuss much

Just watch for Hep C, Lee

And get yourself free

 

Surgery will take place Tuesday December 1st, around 1pm.

December is known as the month of many things… Hanukkah, Christmas, Anniversary of Pearl Harbor, New Years Eve, Winter Solstice, and now… The Liver Surgery (removal of the right lobe).

My parents will be coming in town for this exciting event. My dad arrives this coming Sunday and will be here for the first week, while I’m in the hospital and my mom will arrive next Sunday, for the next week at home after the hospital. Between them, Kim and the gaybors, I should be well taken care of. Hopefully there will be some hospital entertainment.

The surgery consists of removing the entire right lobe of my liver and a little of the left. At this time, my left liver has been growing and learning the functions of the entire liver. It has not really been tested, but maybe in future… That green thing, is a gallbladder, that will be gone too. One less thing to worry about. Blaming everything on the gallbladder seems to be all the rage these days.

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Apparently I’ll be off work for 6 weeks again and will be faced with severe fatigue for 2-3 months. If being tired was a sport, I’d be the world champion.  I’ve learned that your liver stores your energy for the day. Well, when you have only half of a liver (or less), you have less energy. I can count on 30 minute bursts. I just hope to be able to stay awake for day time soaps while on this 6 week vacation. I’ll catch up on Netflix…. Reminds me of the time I finished surfing the entire internet…

What a great time for such a surgery. I’ve been fattening myself up for this one. In years past I had to watch what I ate around the holidays. This year, not so much. I’m beginning to resemble my little dog.

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She too, eats everything in sight.

Stay tuned for updates post surgery…. And no, I’m not scared. I plan on blazing through this one too. Ha. C’est la vie.

Dear Cancer, see you next Tuesday…

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CT scan is tomorrow (Thursday Nov. 5th, 2015)

I have my CT scan tomorrow to determine if surgery is still an option, late in the morning. I’ll see the doctor in the afternoon to go over the scan results and hopefully have an estimate for a date for surgery, if I’m still a candidate.

Time will tell…

Stay tuned. I’ll update when I can.

Cheers… (I’ll also maybe ask him if I can drink ever again… maybe not…)

 

White blood cells go up…. and they stay there, and they say yeah, and they stay there….

Up down, up down, up down

Cause all I do is win, win, win

Round 12 is in the books folks… a slight delay… you could say I didn’t exactly “make weight” Friday. I think my doctor just wanted to say “See you next Tuesday”.

I’m trying to look more like Gina Carano:

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And less like Karen Carpenter:

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Apparently my white blood cells were up enough to have chemo yesterday (thank you for the “prayers for my immune system”-Megan, Marni, Jenn, and M&D).

It was a long day yesterday, I think they had to count the cells one by one before they could hook me up, but it’s done. Now I recover (avoid anyone that is remotely ill) and in 4 weeks I will have a CT scan to see how things look. If I’m a candidate for surgery then it will be scheduled. There is no date set as of yet. Let’s just estimate for November.

I’m back at work today, anticipating the big Wild Card game tonight… I sure love pirates, sorry cubs fans.

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Anywho, GO CARDS!!! Thanks for all of your encouragement. Stay GOLD PonyBoy. I’m not sure there will be many updates between now and scan time, so hopefully Angela will post some past videos and I will try to make some new port videos. For real this time…

Cheers!!