2/3 of the way through!

This post won’t be extremely chronological because I have some news that’s too exciting not to mention first! On Tuesday, I left work early to do some lab work and get an x-ray done of my chest (the location of my tumor). When I met with the oncologist yesterday morning she said that the tumor is virtually gone!!!! Praise the Lord! The power of prayer and modern medicine. I also took a pulmonary function test (read: breathing test) and I immediately noticed that it was easier for me than it was when I took the same test in April. The respiratory therapist told me my results had improved as well! My tumor hadn’t constricted my breathing much at all before, but it was encouraging to see the improvement none the less… especially considering the main reason I took the breathing test was to make sure that the bliomycin (one of my chemo drugs) hadn’t damaged my breathing. After I spoke with the oncologist I had my fourth chemo session which means I’m 2/3 of the way through my chemo!

My sister took this photo of me while I was doing the breathing test. I felt like I was in a Star Wars movie! Note: The lime green turban!

In other news, Team Laura really outdid themselves over the weekend. I suspected something was up because sometime in June Rene had asked me what I was doing on July 14. The conversation went something like this:

Me: “ummmm…. I don’t know, why?”

Rene: “Oh, no reason.”

So July 14 was already kind of on my radar but I had more of less forgotten about the exchange. A few weeks later I kept overhearing Rene discussing t-shirt sizes with my family and they would convenient fell silent when I entered the room. Hmmm…  so fast forward to last week:

Rene: “So, what are you up to on Saturday?”

Me: “I don’t know, why?”

Rene: “I think we should go to the Salt Lick.”

Me: “Sounds good.”

So that pretty much reaffirmed that something was going to happen on Saturday. So when Saturday rolled around, Rene and I had a pretty non-eventful day working around the house, watching movies, being lazy, etc. We didn’t eat lunch until about 1:30 in the afternoon, so I asked Rene when he wanted to go to the Salt Lick. He said 5 p.m., to which I said that seems awfully early since we just ate, why not 6? He immediately started laughing (which was a dead give away) and insisted on 5 p.m.  To top it off Rene made me get ready extremely early and we ended up arriving at the Salt Lick about 10 minutes early. Our exchange went as follows:

Me: You know its better to arrive late to a surprise party than early.

Rene: Whatever, there’s no surprise party … but yeah, lets wait in the car for a few minutes. (Seriously, the man has a security clearance.)

When we walked up to the Salt Lick we immediately saw our good friends the Guidry’s from Rene’s unit wearing lime green “Geaux Team Laura” t-shirts! Although I knew something was up, I had no idea what and I was totally ecstatic that our friends would think to do something like that for me. Soon after many of our other Army friends arrived all wearing the lime green tee’s.

We snapped this shot of the group while we were at the Salt Lick.

The night wasn’t over and after the Salt Lick we headed over to the Dell Diamond for a Round Rock Express vs. Memphis Red Birds game.

The group at the Round Rock Express game.

The wives (and a daughter) of 1-7 Cav! We also ran into the unit’s chaplain and his wife (pictured far left) while we were there which made the evening even more special.

In related news, my friend Danielle organized an official “Team Laura” and we’ll be sporting our Team Laura t-shirts at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night fundraising and awareness walk in Austin on November 3, 2012. If you’d like to join us or donate to the cause, please visit our Web page at http://pages.lightthenight.org/sctx/AustinL12/TeamLaura. There’s also Light the Night walks across the country, so there’s plenty of ways to be involved.

We’re also putting a second order in for Team Laura t-shirts. The price is $9/shirt or $12/shirt if you need me to ship it to you. Please comment with your t-shirt size if you’re interested and I’ll email you details on how to pay.

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Half-Way There Update

I haven’t posted in awhile because honestly I’m at a part of my treatment where not a whole lot of “new” things are developing and I felt kind of “blah.” I had my third chemo treatment last week which means I’m at the half-way point through chemo! I’m really glad because I’m ready for it to be over with! I’ve noticed an increase in fatigue, aches and pains, as well as hot flashes this treatment. While I haven’t had as many nausea issues, I’ve noticed a pretty constant tummy ache and mouth tenderness. I think this is all pretty standard stuff for this stage of treatment, but I’m ready to just feel good again. Unfortunately, I was only able to make it to work two days last week and two days this week. I’ve been having an inner debate about going on disability or telecommuting. It’s a tough decision for me to make because it is nice going into work and using my brain and seeing people. But the 60-minute commute really knocks me out. And its also frustrating when I do feel sick that I’m so far away from my doctors and family.

On Tuesday, I have an x-ray where I’m hoping we’ll find out how much the tumor has shrunk! I’m hoping I might have less treatments, but that is probably wishful thinking! I will definitely appreciate prayers to that effect though! Earlier this week, I unfortunately found out that there is a 30-day waiting period between chemotherapy ending in mid-August and starting radiation. Instead of being done with treatment in mid-September like I thought, it will be more like mid-October. Disappointing, to say the least. But I am hopeful that I will still be able to attend the LSU vs. Texas A&M game on October 20 in College Station, which also happens to be my husband’s 25th birthday! I think an in-state LSU football fix is just what I need! I’ve been lucky that there’s been a steady stream of Texas games since I’ve moved here. I was able to attend both the Cotton Bowl vs. Texas A&M in January 2011 and the season opener against Oregon in Dallas last year. Next year I am hoping I can return to Death Valley in Baton Rouge. I haven’t been to a football game at LSU since 2008, so I’m long overdue.

Focusing on exciting events post-chemo is pretty much what I do for entertainment when I’m not feeling well. Mainly researching possible future vacations and looking at bridesmaids dresses (I’m in four weddings within 9 months of each other).  I’m trying not to be too jealous when I see people posting their exciting vacation and special event photos. I’m looking at this as being forced to save money so I can do it big in 2013 & 2014! I’m really very blessed because the situation I’m in is temporary. I watched a documentary on Mother Theresa yesterday and it reminded me how blessed I am that I live in a developed country, I have access to affordable healthcare and treatment, and have an amazing support system. Even in America, there are many people that have long-term conditions and cancers with worse prognoses, and people who don’t have health insurance or access to treatment the way I do. So I am happy and blessed that I can plan for the future!

When I’m not doing making those post-chemo plans, I’m watching various TV shows and movies. I’m very lucky and have many people to thank, so I’ll usually write a few thank you notes to people on days when I’m not at work. And then there’s always laundry, dishes, cooking and the occasional chore to take care of when I’m feeling up to it.

It might not sound like a lot or particularly entertaining, but I’m really not bored. I’m usually someone who has to be constantly going going going, but I’m generally okay with how things are. That’s not to say I don’t have those days where I’m an emotional wreck and don’t feel like myself, because there are. There was a particularly rough day on Tuesday, where I made quite the scene at the CVS pharmacy with my patchy bald-headed self and basically refused to wait in line for the umpteenth time that day and made them come to me in the waiting area to discuss my prescriptions. And that’s not to say that there aren’t days where I’m feeling fine and will even do fun stuff. Rene’s military ball was two days before my last chemo, so not only was I able to go but I also was up to dancing and really enjoying myself. I also went to a Hail & Farewell dinner for Rene’s unit and just didn’t stay the whole time. It probably sounds cliche, but it really is about doing what you can when you can.

Rene & I at this homecoming ball.

My friend Victoria said it really well a few weeks back, “Instead of walking around Target, I rolled around in a cart or I grabbed pizza to go instead of sitting in the pizzeria … you can find little adjustments that you can make for yourself without totally limiting your life. I actually think it makes you a happier patient when you tackle treatment that way …cause it’s not all 24/7 treatment — It’s Laura’s life sprinkled in here and there.”