Wednesday, July 31, 2013

First IP Chemo

Today I had my first treatment of intraperitoneal Chemo which means it goes directly into the port in my abdomen and into the abdominal cavity.  Before they do it though they run fluids in my IV through the port in my chest for 2 hours, then they give me fluids and Chemo at the same time for an hour and then more fluids for 2 hours after the Chemo.  The reason they have to do this is because the Chemo is toxic to the kidneys and they want me to be well hydrated so that I don't go into kidney failure.  The funny thing is I am thirsty and even more so after my evening walk.  During the chemo I have to roll from one side to the other every 15 minutes.  It went by rather quickly again today because I slept for half the time.  I feel rather bloated and swollen, but not really sick which is good.  Let's hope I feel good the next few days, but I know I'll be down for a few days because of the fatigue.  I also get fluids again tomorrow and maybe Friday.
THE GOOD NEWS:   I got a call from Dr. Dan's nurse (Dr. Dan is my chemo dr.)  who reported that my CA 125 the ovarian cancer tumor marker is NORMAL!!!!  Normal is below 30 and mine from my blood draw yesterday is 27!  When I was diagnosed mine was 239.  I still have to finish the chemo to make sure we get rid of all of the microscopic cells, but this is fabulous and very reassuring news!
THE BAD NEWS:  I found out yesterday that my insurance goes from July to July, which means I have to pay my max out of pocket total of $11,500 for my treatment in June and it started all over again in July.  This is very frustrating, but I'm hoping that I will get a little help from the hospital.  We shall see.  At least I am grateful that I have the funds to pay for it.  Probably what will happen is that I will pay the first one this year and then start paying the second one when I start working again in January.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

So Long My Hair...Until Next Year

On Sunday my cute niece Aidree came in the door and with a concerned look on her face said, "Auntie Terah where did you hair go?"  How do you explain that to an almost 4 year old?  Yea, made me cry.  It is sad because I have 9 nieces and nephews 6 and under, who have no comprehension of what I'm going through, because really I look like I feel fine.  Even though I got my hair cut last Friday, my hair kept coming out in handfuls.  In fact I didn't even have the chance to actually really play with the pixie look because it just kept coming out.  On Sunday a lady at my church who is a hair stylist offered to shave my head when it was time.  And since my Aunt Sherri I know didn't want to do this I didn't make her.  Unfortunately Monday morning when I washed my hair handfuls of hair fell out of my head.  I had to keep handing it to my mom so it wouldn't plug the drain.  The worst part was when I combed my hair; it was the largest hair ball I've ever seen!  Talk about a major part in my hair and a large forehead, like when Moses parted the Red Sea.  I looked like an old lady.
You thought I was joking right?
Even though this lady didn't work on Mondays, when we called her she said she would be happy to meet me at her salon.  Believe it or not, I didn't even shed a tear when she shaved my head.  I think I was just over it.  I had hair all over me and my pillow case all the time; bottom line I was just sick of it.  And come on, lets admit it a balding front is not attractive, especially on a woman.  
I need to stop raising my eyebrows, it makes me have wrinkles in my forehead.
I definitely look like a Cancer patient now.
The best part of the experience was that she brought some scarves for me to pick from and her daughter showed me how to tie them.  There are some super cute ways to wear scarves that actually stay on your head.
Today when Aidree saw my bald head she kind of freaked out, but after a little while she got use to it.  And yesterday my 6 year old nephew Kadyn was rather confused in his silly way asking where my hair was too, but we tried to explain to them why this has happened.  I hope they understand just a little.  So here's to a bald head for at least the next 7 months..
My cute nephews who visited yesterday.

Friday, July 26, 2013

July 2013 Last Fabulous Friday

1.  I have felt physically great this week!  The hole in my abdomen is no longer being packed!  We did that for 8 weeks every other day.  I'm so glad we are finished with that.  It was kind of a nuisance.  I still have a few areas from the surgery that are sore, but I hope soon they will be healed.  I am down to 3 pain pills a day which is a great thing!
2.  Sunday we went to Grandpa Young's where most of my aunts and uncles and some cousins were to see Great Aunt Carol and her daughter and grand kids who were in town.  It has been years since I have seen them.  It was good to be around family.
3.  Monday I went to lunch with Grandma Betty, mom and our friends Paula and Nancy.  We had a lovely time and it was so nice to be with friends.
4.  Tenielle came home on Tuesday again for an entire week.  It always seems like the time goes too quickly when she is here.
5.  Wednesday I went with my sisters, mom, and cousins Alisha and Callie to lunch at Olive Garden and then scalp prosthesis shopping.  We were all a little emotional at times but I got some great chemo beanies and a super cute scalp prosthesis (wig...I hate that word).
My cousin Callie talked me into getting one with highlights.  This one is what I got and is the closest to my style.
I think I look like a gypsy in these with the bang prosthesis, but why not be a little adventurous for a few months.
6.  Thursday Tenielle and I spent the morning together going to Costco and to the Cancer Support Therapy Session.  It was good for me to be around others who have or are going through what I am going through.
7.  Yesterday the kids came over to swim.  I finally got in a bathing suit for the first time since surgery.  I loved every moment of it, kids splashing, hot sun beating on my skin and the pure relaxation of it all.
I love this picture of Tiger Lily AKA Aidree!
8.  It has been amazing to me how quickly my hair has fallen out.  From Monday to Friday I probably lost half of my hair, especially in the front.  People keep saying it's just hair, but they aren't the one's who are losing theirs.  I would say this is one of the hardest things about chemo, losing my hair.  I wasn't born with height or the perfect body, but by golly I was born with a great head of hair; color, texture and the ability to grow it and style it as I want.  I've never even colored my hair.  This morning I went to Aunt Sherri's for some help.  I thought she was going to have to shave my head, but she was able to cut it into a cute pixie cut.  It is so curly!  But I hate to admit it, I'm not a pixie kind of girl.  If I even touch my hair it falls out.  I'm sure next week it will be gone.  I think I am finally accepting it, like it or not.
9.  Today I had a photo shoot with St. Lukes Integrative Medicine.  They were so important in my healing process while in the hospital.  I had a neuromuscular massage therapist that worked on my abdomen several times over my 15 day stay.  2 days after being in the hospital my stomach wasn't emptying into my duodenum and I had to have an NG tube twice in the 15 days.  It was awful.  A few days before I went home they thought they were going to have to put a feeding tube in my abdomen because it just wasn't working.  Gratefully Susan the massage therapist worked wonders on my stomach and because of the prayers of my faithful mother, I was able to go home 2 days later.  I am glad to be part of marketing for this program that helped me so much.
10.  A good friend of our family passed away in a tragic accident this week.  It was so sad, but we have faith that Families Are Forever and he will be with his family again.  He died helping someone else.  It was good to chat with his wife tonight and to remember what a service oriented person he was.  Tenielle and I spent hours at their home with their 3 daughters when we were growing up.
11.  I love mail, especially since I've been sick.  This week I got a package from my friend Beth that I worked with in Phoenix.  She remembered that I love lemon!  I also got a package from my cousin Paige who lives in Mesa and is a chemotherapy nurse.  She sent the sweetest angel pin, which I just love and reminds me of all of the angels around me that are helping me through this trial.  I also got 3 homemade beautiful pillow cases with the letter T embroidered on it from Momma Middlebrook.  Oh how I love and miss her.  Nearly every day I get cards in the mail as well.  These acts of love never get old and just give me more and more strength to bear this burden.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Trials and Faith

If there is one thing I have learned over the past 7 weeks it is that every person has trials, challenges and   experiences that are hard and more than once in a lifetime.  Some of these trials are visable to the outside world and some are so personal that only a few people are aware of the trial.  We all have them.  There is no getting around it.  There are people in our own little corner of the world who are suffering with health problems worse than mine; some with young families, others struggle financially or with addictions, children with learning disabilities and children with health issues and some have recently lossed loved ones in tragic accidents.  There have been times in my life when things are going pretty great and I think to myself, "Wow, my life is flowing rather well." And then just like that, boom a trial comes along that knocks me off my feet.  Typically I can usually get up, brush myself off and push through it.  This trial however isn't as easy.  I definitely feel like I've been knocked off my feet.  I think I have gotten up, but I'm still brushing off and getting ready to push through this.  My mom keeps telling me there is no way around this only through it and through it we will go.
I am going to get through this trial because of the gigantic support system that I have.  I am sure there are at least 1,000 people who are praying for me, my many, many friends, family members and different church congregations.  I am so blessed because of this support system.  I know there are some who aren't as blessed as I am to have such amazing people in their lives.  I really am loved and I have learned to love even more over the past 7 weeks.
There is a talk in our LDS Ensign July 2013 edition called, A Time for Faith, Not Fear that gave me a different perspective on faith and trials that I am enduring.  I love this quote, "Life is a test. Trials may come even if we are seeking to put the Lord first in our lives. One of the reasons we are here on earth is to strengthen our faith. Difficult, dark days are a necessary part of life and give us an opportunity to build our faith and learn to rely on a power far greater than our own. As President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has said: “Faith, to be faith, must center around something that is not known. Faith, to be faith, must go beyond that for which there is confirming evidence. Faith, to be faith, must go into the unknown. Faith, to be faith, must walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness.”1
It is hard to build faith in the noonday sun. When the night is dark and the clouds are thick, we have an opportunity to put our hand in the Lord’s hand and rely on Him to help us through. Doing so strengthens our faith."  I love this quote too "When your difficulties seem overwhelming, look up, not down. When sadness and despair start to get a foothold, remember this: the Atonement of Jesus Christ did more than overcome physical and spiritual death. Yes, we will all be resurrected, and all of us have the opportunity to be forgiven of our sins as we repent and exercise faith in Jesus Christ. But as wonderful as the gifts of resurrection and repentance are, the Atonement is much more. Through the Atonement we can receive strength to meet the most difficult trials of life.
When we look up to the Savior, we can be strengthened beyond our own abilities and beyond what we can envision with our mortal understanding."  But this is my favorite, "I have found that usually when we face our most difficult tests, the Lord is there ahead of us to prepare the way through them.  'For I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up' (D&C 84:88).'" (This is one of my most favorite scriptures).
Speaking of angels, I treasure the words of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “I testify of angels, both the heavenly and the mortal kind. In doing so I am testifying that God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face. ‘[N]or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man [or woman or child] upon the face thereof to be saved.’ [Moroni 7:36.]” You can view the entire article at
My Aunt Carol made me a pillow when I was in the hospital that said, "Grant us faith to look beyond the problems of the moment to the miracles of the future" President Hinckley.  So when you think life is hard and you don't think you can get through a trial, look around you; everyone is facing a trial.  And remember to have faith in a loving Heavenly Father.  I know He is there.  I have felt His loving arms surround me as I have endured over the past 7 weeks.  I could not get through this challenge without Him.  I have faith that I will get through this trial.  Yes, this is certainly a trial of my faith, but it doesn't in the least bit shake my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I know our Heavenly Father watches over us.  I know He hears all of the prayers in my behalf, as well as my own.  I don't know how He does this, but I know He does.  I know that we have a Savior Jesus Christ who atoned for my sins and for my pain, heartaches and my sufferings.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Pity Party

Last week I got an email from my friend Katie.  This is what she wrote:
"Ok, can I just say again that I LOVE reading your blog :)  You are the most goregeous chemo patient I have ever seen!!!!!!!!   And I marvel at how positive you are and how grateful you are for every thoughtful thing anyone does for you or your family.  I guess I shouldn't marvel because you're just that way, but geeze louise there's not an ounce of pity party in you :0  You really are incredible."
I must admit I have plenty of pity party's, just not on my blog.  This usually happens at 10pm when I am having pain and we are having family prayer.  I don't know why this happens, but I think it is because I get tired and in pain and I have time to ponder about what I'm going through.  I feel sorry for myself that I'm not able to work, don't have energy to shop all day and can't exercise the way I use to.  I can't even eat what I use to eat for fear that it won't go through me and I'll have a bowel obstruction.
My biggest pity party is regarding my hair.  Yesterday when I woke up from a nap my scalp was super tender and continues to be today.  I suspect it is because my hair is getting ready to fall out, in fact all I have to do today is put my hand in my hair and a few strands fall out each time.  I'm afraid to put a comb in my hair, but I'm going to have to in a few minutes so that I can be ready to go to lunch with friends.  So yes, don't let me fool you, I have pity party's.  I just try to keep them at a minimum and do it in the privacy of my home.  I do try to remain positive and hope that I endure this trial well and that the months go by quickly.  ***I did my hair and handfuls fell out, but I'm not crying yet...

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Dr's P&C

I like pictures!  Especially of those people who have affected my life so much.  I've talked a lot about my gyn oncology surgeons recently.  Here are some pictures of my surgeons Dr. P and DR. C.  I am so grateful for their expertise and knowledge to be the ones who spent hours "fishing for tumors" in my abdomen per Dr. C.  I will forever be in debt to them.
Dr. P
My co-workers from IHS in Phoenix sent me the most beautiful bouquet of flowers and a card.  They are a great bunch of people.  I hope that when this is all said and done that I will return to work with them in the Winter.  

Friday, July 19, 2013

An SLC Fabulous Friday

1.  We needed a break from home so Wednesday we along with Tristen and her kids drove to SLC late in the afternoon.  We didn't have any big plans here, just needed to get away.  Yesterday we went to my favorite restaurant Red Buite for lunch where I got my favorite pasta salad.  I had to pick the corn and black beans out because I can't have them, but it was still delicious.  I love that the pasta is homemade.  We did a little shopping at Downeast where I bought two dresses, a skirt and a tank top for $56.  I love a good deal!  We then went to see Tenielle at the Capital where we met several of her co-workers and her friend Pamela Atkinson, who is a very prominent women in this community.  She is very good friends with President Monson.  She isn't a member of our faith but is a very faithful women.  She is the one who had the connection to Huntsman Cancer Institute.  We had sushi for dinner last night at Rice. It was amazing and we had a great time!  Of course there is no place that has better sushi than Wasabi Cafe in Concord.  Tony's friend Jordan came with us.  I have never met him, but he said he feels like he knows me.  He is hilarious and made up a song about me and him.  I wish I would have been able to record it; it was spur of the moment and awesome.
2.  Last Saturday Tristen, Aidree and I went to the Horse Parade that they have in Nampa every year before the Rodeo starts.  We were sad they didn't throw any candy, because I'm happy to report my sweet tooth has returned after not wanting anything sweet for 6 weeks.  After the parade we had lunch at our favorite sandwich shop Mancinos and then we went to the Lavender Festival. All in all we were only got for about 2 1/2 hours, but by then I was needing to be home.  Sister Jones and Sister Pool who were my teachers in Young Womens and who have become such good friends came over when we got home.  Sister Jones is serving a mission with her husband in Spokane, but they came home for the weekend because their grandson is going on a mission.  It was so good to see them and visit.  My parents went to Eastern Idaho for my moms class reunion.  It was the first time in 6 weeks that I was home by myself for several hours.  Of course my siblings and parents checked up on me often. Sometimes it's just nice to have some time to yourself.  I mostly just read my book, but it was nice alone time.  My friends the Metcalf's brought their kids over to swim in the evening so we had a nice chat.   All in all it was a very enjoyable Saturday.
3.  Tuesday I went to my follow up with Dr. Z my chemo Dr.  He was thrilled that I didn't have any nausea or vomiting with the first round of chemo.  He was going to just have me do the IV chemo next time, but since I did so well with the first round we are going to proceed with the IV and IP.  He has informed me the IP is going to make me sick, but I still hope and pray it doesn't make me as sick as he thinks it will.  I am feeling pretty well.  I do have muscle and joint pain from time to time, especially at night and in the mornings, but considering I had a major surgery and chemo in the past 6 weeks, I think I'm doing rather well.  
This was my first chemo treatment last week.
4.  Mom and I walk nearly every day.  I have to get my exercise in.  My brain tells me I can run 4 miles, but my body tells me I can only walk 1/4 mile, which is better than nothing.  This week we did the hill.  I was bound and determined to walk the small hill up from our house and we did it and then some.  I feel I can do more and more each day.  It is still my goal to get up to where I can do a 5k in September for the Ovarian Cancer walk in Dallas.  We shall see.  Before all this that would have been a piece of cake.  It's amazing how all that changed 6 weeks ago.
5.  My friends Kimmi and Kristi that I grew up with were in town this week and came for a long afternoon visit.  Oh, how wonderful it was to catch up with them.  Kristi lives in Southern California and Kimmi in Phoenix.  I only see them once a year.  We couldn't believe I didn't see Kimmi when I was living in Phoenix.  
6.  CompHealth the company I work for headquarters are in SLC.  Today I had a nice visit with my recruiter and a few others.  They have been so amazing through this process.  They are a wonderful company and I am so grateful to be part of them.  I can't wait to get back to work, but for now they told me to just get better.  
7.  We got pedicures today!  Funny thing is my feet and legs were so sensitive; must be the chemo.  I don't go without having painted toenails, even as a chemo patient.  I like a french pedicure!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Music; Therapy To The Soul

A friend of a friend of my sister Tenielle's made me a cd of him playing the piano which she brought home with her last week.  He addressed it "to someone I don't know who is fighting cancer.  Life is precious.  Pain is temporary.  Love is forever.  God is forever. Family's are forever.  Music is Eternal".  What a sweet thing from a total stranger.  It is absolutely the most beautiful cd and has given me so much comfort and peace, especially at night as I listen to it when I go to bed.  I am so grateful for the talents of others that have affected my life through this ordeal.  When I was in the hospital my mom brought her Ipod and would play instrumental music to calm me and help me sleep.  I am grateful my mom instilled the importance of good music in my life.  For years she carted us to fiddle and piano lessons and spent years listening to us practice, took us to our performances and lessons.  Last week mom told me I needed to play the piano.  I have started to listen to her when she tells me to do something, because I know she is right.  If she didn't tell me to do things, I'd probably sit and sulk.  I played for a while, but had a hard time playing anything fancy because it hurts to move too much.  I also played a little when Nick was here.  I need to play more; I know music is therapeutic to the soul.  Today in church we sang How Firm A Foundation.  I love to sing and play that song.  An old boyfriend (really the old boyfriends have come around through this ordeal) sent me an email a few weeks ago with the words from the last verse.  "Fear not I am with thee oh be not dismayed, for I am thy God and will still give thee aid;  I'll strengthen thee help thee and cause thee to stand, upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand."  I feel the comfort and peace that comes from those words and know that in this trial God is with me and will give me the strength for me to get through this trial.  I'm grateful for music, for the love I have for it and the peace that the Lord gives me through the hymns of the church.

Friday, July 12, 2013

First After Chemo FF

1.  In the middle of the night when I can't sleep, before I dose off for an afternoon nap, or when I wake up from a nap I often lay in my room thinking of all the fabulous things that are happening around me and to me, even though many times it is hard for me to understand why this has all happened.  In the midst of those times, I can always find something positive, which is why I have to keep up my Fabulous Fridays.  I started Fabulous Friday soon after I moved from CLT because I was having a hard time finding the positive of moving from my fabulous life in CLT.  So, I will keep this up, even though I may miss a Friday here or there.
2.  Because I missed last week, I have to say the 4th of July was a great day that I was able to spend with my family.  I can't tell you the last 4th of July that I didn't work and was able to spend it with family.  Our neighborhood has a parade, which was started by a neighbor who is from Russia.  Apparently each year it gets bigger and more people join it.  This year I sat out with Stella in the front yard with our pandora patriotic tunes blaring and enjoyed watching the kids ride with grandpa and Tenielle on the 4-wheelers.
3.  I can finally lay on my stomach, only for a few minutes, but at least I can.  I'm a stomach sleeper so this back sleeping has really made me have some sleepless and uncomfortable nights.  
4.  I have gotten back into reading.  My friend sent me a book which takes place in NC at the beach and is about 3 best friends.  I am loving it.  As I read it I think of the sights and smells that I love so much at the beach.
5.  Chemo has made me tired, but no nausea like they promised; at least for now.  I really didn't feel the effects until the third day which was just that I was so tired and I slept a lot for 2 days.  I also feel very achy and sometimes I feel a little stomach upset, but still no nausea or vomiting!  This is huge.  I just hope this continues!
6.  Monday I got 3 large postal boxes in the mail!  They were from my co-workers in CLT at the University Hospital.  I felt overjoyed, so appreciative and loved by those amazing people.  It was like they had a party for me.  It was exactly what I needed.  I got 3 pair of PJ's, which I really needed, books, movies, lotion, scarves, earrings, a light house, gift certificates and other fun things to get me through this difficult and sometimes boring time.  I can't express the gratitude I feel for those wonderful people and their gifts of love.  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Nick Finally Visits Nampa

Nick and I have been friends for nearly 4 years and he has never visited Nampa, that is until I got cancer...Him and his grandma who I dearly love came for a short visit last Friday.  My first real excursion out since my surgery!  They flew in at noon, we picked them up from the airport and took them first to my favorite place in Boise, The Train Depot.  It is so beautiful and peaceful.  I use to go there often when I was in college.
I of course had to also take them on a drive through the Boise State campus and to show Nick the blue turf, even though I don't think he could see it very well through the gaits and chains.  We passed by St. Lukes where I have my chemo treatment and then met up with Alisha and Tristen for lunch.  My fear of going out was that my ileostomy would leak.  I haven't really had much of a problem with it, but we had to change it 3 times earlier that day.  Well, when I got out of the car to have lunch, my breakfast began to leak out of me.  It wasn't funny.  Nick didn't seem bothered by it, but I sure was.  Mom, Tenielle and Tristen with her baby wipes helped me change it and thankfully this time it stuck for 4 days.  At least I had a slip on and it didn't leak through to my skirt.  At that point I wasn't very hungry, but we did enjoy lunch as much as we could.  Next stop was to the medical supply store to get some ileostomy supplies, talk about romantic.  I admit I got a little tearful at this point.  I was tired and frustrated, but still happy to have Nick and grandma here.  And Nick is a trooper by taking charge and doing what needs done even at the medical supply store.  Of course by then I was ready for a nap and so was everyone else.  Tristen brought the girls over and stayed the night because Mitch had gone to Utah.  I don't know if I mentioned earlier, but Tristen is moving to SLC the end of August, but they sent their stuff down there this past weekend.  That night we watched half of a movie, before we were all ready for an early bedtime.  
Saturday morning we went to the Farmers Market and had lunch at Arctic Circle, which is one of my favorite hamburger joints, even though I can't eat hamburger, I can have ice cream!
That afternoon my friends came to meet Nick, paint my toenails and swim.  
In the evening all the kids came over.  I also had my first piece of pizza since surgery.  It was so yummy.  It is always pretty loud when we are all together, but we sure do have a great time.  
I went to church for the first time on Sunday in 4 weeks.  I have never missed that many Sundays in a row.  It was so nice to be back to church among so many wonderful people.  It was fast and testimony meeting and I had the opportunity to share my testimony.  It was just what I needed and gave me the opportunity to thank my Heavenly Father publicly for the many tender mercies I have had over the past month and to share my testimony of the gospel with Nick, grandma, my family and church members.  It is through my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ that I am getting through each day and knowing my answers to prayers and faith come from a loving Heavenly Father.  We only stayed for 2 of the 3 meetings, because I needed to come home for a nap.  We had a delicious dinner before the kids came over to celebrate all the July kids birthdays, Bridget turns 2, the Twins and Karston turn 3. Alisha also came for a visit and brought her adorable little Calvin who has the cutest laugh. 
Monday we had breakfast and spent the morning lounging around.  Nick couldn't leave here without having some Cafe Rio!  They drove back to SLC with Tenielle so that they could visit Temple Square for a few days before going back to the East Coast.  
We didn't have much alone time, a few walks and chats when I would wake up from my naps, but it was so good to have him here.  He was so attentive to my needs, made sure I had my pills, let me cry and be frustrated that I have cancer, let me rest when I needed to and not let me over do myself.  I think we are already planning another trip for him out here during the middle of my chemo treatments.  I need things and people to look forward to, to get me through this difficult time.