Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Olivia's second birthday.

Olivia turned two on August 2, 2013. We had a relaxing day. Kamii brought over a treat for her to eat after dinner. She loved it. 

I had been planning an ice cream social birthday party for her. We didnt have the money to do as big of a party as her first with all the food. We kept it simple with the ice cream sundae bar, cake and cupcakes, and drinks. I made the ice cream cupcakes with some help from Kamii and the beautiful cake was made by my good friend Tracy.We invited mostly family and close friends. It was a perfect day.

My friend Juliet came over really early to help set up the sundae bar. Sarah and N'tima came and hung ice cream garland and helped finished set up. It was really nice to have all the help. My Mom and mother in law were chasing around the girls getting them ready as well. I of course was planning and setting up until the last minute and needed to throw on some makeup. I always procrastinate and end up looking like a mess by the time people show up.

Ryan's cousin Tara loaned us the toddler jump house. Olivia LOVED it! She barely left the jumper. She was so cute and red faced from it. We had to trick her to come in at the end of the day so we could put it away.

The kids loved all the toppings and enjoyed playing outside. We had a bubble station and bean bag toss. My father in law made the bean bag toss and my mother in law made the bean bags. My friend Sarah made an awesome ice cream pinata. It was a big hit with the kids.

Olivia had a wonderful time and we thank everyone who came and celebrated with us. 

New plan.

The results came back from my PET scan and it showed that I had one spot lighting up still. Dr. Lam wanted to do a biopsy to make sure it wasnt a false positive. I met with the surgeon who would be doing my biopsy and she explained to me that when she goes in she might have to cut through my sternum. Lovely. At this point I figured there was no use in getting worked up over it because I couldnt control the outcome..

As I came to after my surgery the only discomfort I had was my throat. It felt very sore from the breathing tube. Ryan was able to come back shortly after. They didnt have to cut through my sternum so that was a relief. We went home that day.

The results of the biopsy came back as cancerous. I was really upset. Dr. Lam told me his new plan. I was going to start new chemo. Gemcitabine and Carboplatin mixed with a steroid dexamethasone. The chemo was supposed to have mild side effects. My hair shouldnt fall out and it shouldnt make me very sick. I was happy to hear that. I had a couple of inches of new growth. I decided to dye it red. Why not?

He also said that there was a high possibility of receiving a stem cell transplant and radiation. I was so scared. He assured me that the stem cell transplant would give me the long life I had been telling him I wanted. He said this is the route we should "hope" for. Basically we would do the cycles of the new chemo and once it worked we would go into the process of getting the stem cell transplant. 

I always told Dr. Lam that I needed to be here and that I want to see my children grow up and grow old with Ryan. He said this was the way to ensure that. I was terrified... mostly of having to be away from my family for so long in the hospital. I didnt want to miss Christmas.. From the looks of things, I would be missing the holidays..

PET scan #2/ Graduation Day.

My next PET scan was scheduled the morning of my little brother's high school graduation. Also my little cousin was graduating from 8th grade. It worked out that i would go get me PET scan and then drive to pick up my brother's girlfriend Mariette and take her to his graduation. I was so proud of my brother. On my way to Walnut Creek I hit horrible traffic. I was two hours late and I was so worried they were not going to take me in for my scan.

I checked in at the reception desk and she started saying I was going to have to reschedule. I burst into tears. I just drove from Vacaville and what should have taken an hour took three. I think the lady felt bad for me and called the doctor. I explained that I was in horrible traffic. He told me my tracers had expired and he needed to prep the machine. OMG what a relief. He was going to give me my scan.

I picked up Mariette and was on my way to Castro Valley. We first went to Danielle's 8th grade graduation, the ice creamery and then to Joseph's graduation. It was a long hot day but it was nice to be around family.That weekend Joseph had his graduation party and the whole family was there. Ryan and the girls came. It was a great day.

I love your Danielle and Joseph. I am SO proud of you two!!

Treatment 12.

I was very excited to get my LAST treatment of AVBD. I knew this had to be it. We wanted to bring the nurses at the infusion center a treat so we stopped and bought a cake. We figured this way it was made in a bakery and they could trust its preparation and serve it to the other patients. I kept going back and forth if I should make a "last chemo" sign. I didnt want to jinx myself. Last minute I decided to have Ryan draw one up.

I had my favorite nurse Sam. That was exciting. She didnt waste any time and got the ball rolling. I felt so relieved to be done. I had no doubts that my next PET/CT scan would be all clear.

Treatments 9-11.

My 9th treatment ended up putting me in the hospital. The evening of April 22 Ryan took me to the ER. It was a busy night. We sat in the waiting room for a couple hours and in the intake room for about 3 more hours. We wanted to walk out because it seemed like we would never get seen. The nurse came in to take my blood and it must have been alarming to them because the doctor came in pretty quickly. My neutrophils were low and I was going to be admitted.

We were moved into an isolated room in the ER and everyone had to wear a mask when they entered. They started giving me neupogen shots to stimulate my bone marrow to make more blood cells. Up until this point I never had to get neupogen injections. They stung but it was ok. Whatever it was going to take to get me back into shape so I could go home. Eva was just 5 weeks old. I had never been away from her. I did not spend a night away from Olivia until she was over a year old. I had this weird mom guilt.

My butt was starting to hurt from hours of being on the ER gurney. I asked my nurse when I would be moved into a real bed and she couldn't answer me. She said it was a very busy night. The neupogen started to kick in and my tail bone was pulsing with pain. It felt like every time my heart would beat my tail bone and spine would be squeezed. I was very uncomfortable. A new nurse came in and asked if i would want to be transferred to Vallejo because they were very low on rooms. I said no way..

I didnt really think I would be there much longer and there was no way I wanted to be transported 45 minutes away to Vallejo. She finally brought me a hospital bed. It was late morning by this time. We had been in the ER since 9pm. I asked if they would be giving me breakfast. She said she would find something for me.. Wow.. ok.

I understand that the ER usually has people coming in and out fairly quickly but when there are no rooms available you need to accommodate your patients.. She brought me a slice of warmed wheat bread and some dry plain cheerios. She said it was too late to call for my neutropenic diet. Ok whatever.. I was soon moved up to the second floor. I was relieved to be away from the ER.

Dr.Lam came to visit and he said I would be home in a day or so. He recommended I use the neupogen shots after my next treatments to keep me out of the hospital.

Treatments 10 and 11 were all fairly uneventful. On the third day after treatment I had to give myself neupogen injections for five days. The first injection was really difficult. It took me awhile to get the strength to actually pierce my skin. Once I pushed it in, it was fine..

PET Scan #1.

My first PET/CT scan was on April 4th. I was getting nervous because I had never had one. I talked to a few friends who had been through them and it put me at ease for the procedure. I was just nervous as hell for the results. "Scanxiety." I had to fast for the scan, so that morning was a little rough. I can go without food but not having coffee..

We drove to Walnut Creek and hit traffic. We finally parked and had to try to find the right area to check in. We made it to check in and they sent us back to another waiting area. When they called my name I was terrified but in a way excited. What if it was all clear? A good friend of mine had just had her 8th treatment scan a week before and she was cancer free. I felt like I would be all clear. The nurse took my blood, tested my blood sugar and hooked me up to the radioactive tracer dispenser. It was all painless.

He walked me into this dim room with a recliner. I was told to relax and drink this barium drink. It was berry.. It tasted like drinking separated, fake berry flavored glue. I had to gag it down.. Bleh. I dozed off and woke up to a knock on the door. About 45 minutes had passed and they were ready to do my scan. They took me into the room with the scan machine. It was making a whooshing noise. They had me lay down and positioned me perfectly. When I looked up I saw beautiful stained glass. Blue clouds and cherry blossom trees.

The table brought me back into the tube and I remember praying to God. Please let me be cancer free. Please let me be here for my girls. Let me LIVE! Over and over. The scan was done in about 25 minutes. I walked out and met Ryan. Our next stop was breakfast!! We found a cute cafe in downtown Walnut Creek called Katy's Creek. I had pancakes and Ryan had Irish hash. We both drank our weight in coffee. After breakfast we made our way to Bass Pro Shop. We had 6 hours to burn. The doctor recommended I let the radioactive tracers wear off and not be around the girls, just to be safe.

I had told Dr. Lam that I wanted a call as soon as possible on the results. He called me the next day. He said GOOD NEWS your cancer is all gone except in two spots in your chest. I had such positive hopes that I felt like I was being crushed. No... No... I'm supposed to be cancer free. He continued talking and I didnt really hear him. He remained very positive. I just kept thinking to myself that the last four treatments HAD to take care of what was left.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Going home.

We were unsure if we would be leaving the hospital as a family. As much as I was terrified to leave with our little preemie daughter, I was more terrified to leave without her. The staff told me that I could stay in my room as more of a temporary hotel for a few days. I would not get patient care or food but I could stay there to be close to Eva. I seriously thought about it but thank God they sent her home.

After a small set back on feeding, they started feeding her again and she was keeping it down. I made sure every three hours I was there for the feedings. She was moved to the other side of the NICU on day two and was given "room air" through her nasal cannula. They weaned her off of that by that evening. I was very pleased. She was a little trooper like her mom. When they peeled the adhesive off her cheeks that was keeping the nasal cannula in her nose it left red marks. I of course was not too happy with that.

We had many visitors every day and I welcomed them. I loved having people come in and see my little miracle. I also loved that I had someone to talk to. Our friend Sarah took some amazing pictures of her while she was in the NICU.

On the third day we were talking to the nurses about our options of going home. I was doing really well and I knew that they would release me. We were unsure of their plan with Eva. Our nurse said she would put in a good word with the doctor when he made his rounds. The doctor came while we were still visiting and he checked her over and talked with the nurse. He was letting her come home with us! Amazing. So the nurse told us to go get our car seat because they had to do a test to see if she could handle the ride home. We set her up in the car seat and had to wait an hour and a half. We went to the cafeteria to grab some lunch. When we got back we were ready to go.

The nurses took some pictures of us "going home." My mother in law made a really cute blossom blanket so we put Eva in that for our picture. The nurses went crazy over that blanket.

When we found our way to the car we did a little rearranging so I could sit in the back with Eva. She was so small that the extra padding didn't really help her. The whole car ride home I was nervous because she was so small. I told myself I would limit my driving with her until she put some weight on. The thought of getting into an accident with her terrified me. I just wanted her to be safe and at home. We would finally have our family of four together.