Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Next Specialist

Here I am, thinking 'the next specialist' is going to come up with The Answers:

After over a month of specialized treatment for the swelling in my right thigh, AND most recently, severe pain, AND loss of flexibility, I'm being sent to a new specialist, a sarcoma oncologist. But you may say, "What's this about Michelle's LEG?! I thought the cancer was in her tummy?!"

Okay, the lump in my thigh was surgically removed in May and June of last year. The lump was a Sarcoma soft tissue tumor. Radiation to two-thirds of my thigh was ordered to make sure the surrounding area was cancer-free.

BUT, before the 30-radiation treatments could begin, I complained about abdominal discomforts. (Remembering that my mother died from ovarian cancer, I got my abdominal/pelvic area checked. Right! This resulted in the discovery of a new cancer: Primary Peritoneal Carcinoma (PPC) and the beginning of chemotherapy. Between July and December, 2008, I received chemotherapy (aka, "Chemo #1) RESULT: Cancer Free!

Radiation on my leg then took place in January and February, 2009. Healing of the normal, radiation burned skin, seemed normal.

In late May, 2009, after suspecting that my abdominal/pelvic area was not normal, blood work and CT scan revealed the PPC abdominal cancer returned. I received Chemo #2 (6 infusions between June and July, 2009) and later, Chemo #3, (beginning July 18th, the last day during my recent '4-day visit' to the hospital)

Okay, Okay! What about this pain in the leg??
When the radiologist said the slight swelling in my thigh was lymphedema, in late June, I again went running for a specialist to deal with the chronic condition in which the "lymph vessels are unable to transport lymph fluid back into the accumulates, resulting in swelling and thickening of the skin. This build-up of protein-rich lymph fluid is known as lymphedema. most often develops in one arm or leg...but may also occur in the hands or feet, and even in the chest, back, neck, face, abdomen, and genitals." (Juzo pamphlet, 2004:

So after 10 office treatments and multiple, home self-treatments for the lymphedema in my leg, the symptoms are worst. In addition to the swelling, I have been suffering most recently, with severe pain, AND loss of flexibility in my right leg. WHEEEEE!!

Two days ago the lymphedema specialist called a sarcoma oncologist specialist. I will meet my newest specialist on Tuesday and his task is to figure out what's causing the latest symptoms in my leg and to monitor me for sarcoma related issues.

What could possibly be next, you may think?

Well..., I'll have my third infusion of Chemo #3 for the PPC this Wednesday afternoon with Bruce and Marlene, as my ChemoBuddies for the day.

Now, I'm off to go do some exercises in a pool--highly recommended for The Leg and The Endorphins!

p.s. I have come to realize, that the specialists AND I are 'detectives' searching for The Answers. We have to do this together--I, too, am a Specialist!

Note: See Blog, "The Highs and Lows of Leg Pain," September 19, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Good and ...

Yesterday at the oncologist's office = Good Report

1) blood counts are within a normal range so I'll get my third Doxil chemotherapy next Wednesday,
2) my abdominal area and GI system are more like-normal, and
3) I can slowly begin to return to a healthy, high-fiber style of eating!

Finally, I started to write about the difficult time I have had this week, but I was getting so bogged down with the symptoms 'n solutions that I just decided to let my thoughts and writing 'mellow out' for a while.

P.S. I have had fun eating ice-cold milk shakes and mac 'n cheese during the past couple of weeks to try to gain some weight.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The new Chemo 'Joy Juice' is WORKING!

As you may know, I received the new chemo, Doxil®, on July 18th for the cancer in my abdominal area. Eighteen days later (August 5th) blood was drawn to see if the CA-125 tumor marker could pick up the effectiveness of the chemotherapy.

YES! YES! Doxil® is working.

Also on August 5th, I received the second infusion (IV) of Doxil® and will get the third infusion on August 28th. Bruce and Marlene will be my ChemoBuddies on August 28th. Can't tell you what the plan is after that, other than I will take what I need in order to get the CA-125 down, way down!

For those of us who are watching the numbers:
(I will skip the earlier numbers)
CA-125 was 4.6 on February 2, 2009,
CA-125 was 16.4 on April 3, 2009,
CA-125 was about 5500 on May 22, 2009. I was put back on chemo after this high number appeared and a CT scan on May 27th showed the cancer returned. "Gemzar®" was the drug I took for the next 6 weeks. It appears that Gemzar® didn't work because the ---
CA-125 was 6705 on July 16, 2009, (determined during my hospital stay).
CA-125 was 3885 on August 5, 2009. (Three weeks of Doxil® and my numbers are down by about half!)

Celebrate! Celebrate! Celebrate!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Great Day!

Chemo therapy yesterday went very well yesterday BECAUSE,
1) Dr. Michael Van Scoy-Mosher and his staff are simply wonderful,
2) I had my ChemoBuddies, and
3) Dova, Georges and I went to the Coffee Bean for drinks and yummy snacks after treatment.

Since the three of us spent so much of our lives in the classroom as teachers, we are truly deserving and appreciative of our status--retired educators!

Remember, if you can read this, Thank a teacher!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

'Joy Juice' Today

This afternoon I'll be going to my oncologist's office for my second Doxil infusion. My ex-colleague, Georges and his wife Dova, will pick me up around noon. They will sit with me during the process to help the time pass quickly, which I think will be around an hour.

Another reason for having a ChemoBuddy is because if I'm given Benedril in conjunction with the Doxil, I'm not allowed to drive. While I don't know how many Doxil infusions I will be given, I will be getting them every three to four weeks.

I'm feeling much stronger this week than during the past few weeks, and my GI system is functioning better--not perfect, but better. My low-fiber food options are growing these days and that's because I'm NOT cramping up.

Finally, while it is almost 10 am, it is about time to take my first nap of the day! Yes, that's right! Then I'll be awake no later than 11 to shower, dress, eat, and get ready for my 'Joy Juice' at my chemo party with my ChemoBuddies!

p.s., I do need to put a 'happy twist' on today's event so I can enjoy more smiles than frowns.