Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hexalen®, day 1, 3rd month

112 ChemoCaps

As I took my first two capsules for this third month

I heard a voice inside my head say,

"Time for a party!"

That is such a change from the first month when I

questioned and feared the many stated side effects


the Internet has plenty of information on this topic


side effects are often unique to the individual

So today, I opened myself up to 14 days of



parties, and

swallowing 112 capsules

It turned out that today my grandchildren,

their other grandmother,

and I spent the afternoon at the Getty Center.

We ate,


walked/ran & sat,

listened to the water,

looked at fossils in the rocks,

and had a wonderful time.

Yes, today was a celebration!

I will look for fun events in each day,

even if I create them!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

14 Days off: #14

Still life: The flowers of life

Friday, January 29, 2010

14 Days off: #13

We return to this location in Santa Monica

now with three empty containers,

once filled with chemotherapy drugs

In the containers were nearly 200 capsules

that my body used since

December 6th

In two days I will begin my third month

of swallowing eight Hexalen® capsules a day

for the expressed purpose of controlling the

cancer in my abdominal/pelvic area

If the medicine gets rid of all the cancer,

that's even better!

Sometime in the near future

I will have a CT scan to determine the effectiveness

of the medicine, aka,

My ChemoCaps

ChemoCaps: my unique term
for chemotherapy capsules

Previous entry at this location:
Dec 14, 2009
"Hexalen® day 9, #28"

Thursday, January 28, 2010

14 Days off: #12

For many travelers

Santa Monica is a destination


for so many of us

we photograph

After a few minutes

the men got back into the white van and

left this View of the Pacific Ocean

Update on my new order of chemotherapy capsules (aka, ChemoCaps):

I finally have them in hand, six days after my first call to refill the prescription.

As you will see in a few days, my ChemoCaps are in a different shaped container, instead of a generic pill container. I suspect, the new container came directly from the Hexalen® laboratory distributor.

The label is preprinted with the contents of 100, but since I'll be taking 112 ChemoCaps it appears that my local pharmacy added the additional 12 capsules. They come right to the very top!

You don't see that very often--remember the wad of cotton in some pill containers?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

14 Days off: #10

You have probably heard the term,
"Think outside the box"

Consider this one:
The fish is swimming in a school of empty medicine containers

p.s., Today is Tuesday. Last Friday I called the pharmacy to refill my prescription for the third month of Hexalen® chemotherapy capsules (my ChemoCaps). Well, just maybe, hopefully, the CVS pharmacy (at Santa Monica and 26th) will be able to fill my order.

Good thing I started this process early!
I'm scheduled to begin my 14 days of 8 ChemoCaps a day on Sunday.

I feeling pretty good! Thanks

Monday, January 25, 2010

14 Days off: #9

Twice a week a physical therapist works on my right leg. The sarcoma tumor that was removed from my thigh started a chain reaction: limping, hard and tightened hamstring muscles, pain in my patella, lymphedema in the thigh, MRI, physical therapy, and specific home exercises.

Currently, I also see a lymphedema specialist once every two weeks for specific treatment due to the daily swelling.

And it all started with the discovery of a lump below the skin.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

14 Days off: #8

Today we were at our local Apple Store for their ongoing, three hour Personal Project workshop. For several weeks the Apple team has provided excellent assistance as I have been creating individual family timelines, and easy to read, one page, personal profiles with graphics.

I have never used the Pages application on my iMac so the extended period of time is a great way to work on a project and get questions answered. There is one trainer for a maximum of six people. Actually, today there were only three other people at the table.

As a result of the hours and hours of research, a few old photographs, and the training from the Apple guys I have good looking timelines on my great uncle, great aunts, grandmother, and great grandfather. Once I email these out, my siblings and other family members will gain a deeper appreciation for my mother's family, the people we never met.

Oh, I have one more week before I begin swallowing my next round of ChemoCaps. It sure is nice to have a life revolve around my passions and not around the medicine taking schedule. In a week I will begin the process of swallowing 112 capsules in 14 days, 8 a day.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

14 Days off: #7

Between watching my grandson and the other

6, 7, & 8 year old guys play basketball


Designing and creating family timelines


have had a wonderful day

Forgive me for not including my

three empty ChemoCap containers

in the photograph

They will return

Friday, January 22, 2010

14 Days off: #6

About two years ago, while researching my family history, I uncovered information about the small English colony in Wakefield, Kansas where my great aunt Alice Maude Young was born in 1885. I learned that my great grandfather was rector between 1881-1884 in tiny St. John's on the Prairie, the first Episcopal Church of Clay County. And then it was overwhelming to read a 1893 newspaper announcement, with the headline, "Rev J. H. Young is Dead."*

As a result of this quest for my roots, quaint Wakefield, Kansas was put on my list of places to visit: tour the historical museum, cemetery, and plots of land where family members lived and died.

However, my genealogy research slowed down and came to a halt when biopsies, multiple cancer surgeries, 30 radiation treatments, numerous chemotherapy infusions, physical therapy treatments 2-3 times a week, fatigue, and all the other side effects took over my life.

Current oral chemo therapy and my physical and mental state of mind have brought me to the point where I can now sort through these materials and share them with newly discovered distant cousins and immediate family members. We all have information that is exciting to share.

Today, I was making copies of the 1880 U.S. Census, the church records of the baptism of my great aunt and my cousins' great uncle, D'Arcy Teasdale Buckell, and other information about 'The Little Church on the Prairie.'*

This photograph shows the materials that were being copied. By the end of the day, 15 pages were sent to my four new cousins in Washington state. I'm so thrilled, because until recently, I didn't think I had any cousins!

* Sincere thanks to K. Geist at the
tiny Wakefield Historical Museum
for her help.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

14 Days off: #5

Our return to the Santa Monica Pier,

now with three empty

oral chemotherapy containers,

seemed like a good location

to sit for this photo


Forrest Gump: That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I'd run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I'd just run across Greenbow County. And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I'd just run across the great state of Alabama. And that's what I did. I ran clear across Alabama. For no particular reason I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I'd gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured, since I'd gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going.


See earlier blogs on -
Forrest Gump: 11/26/09, and
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.: 11/26/09

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

14 Days off: #4

For a brief moment

there was no rain today,

day four of six

We love the rain,

and I'm sure

the plants love the rain

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

14 Days off: #3

"Family Patchwork"
with empty ChemoCaps containers

During the past few weeks I have returned to my genealogy research, picking up where I left off over a year ago. (Cancer treatment seemed to take all my energy then.)

While researching family history is absorbing it is fun to be a detective. As a result, I have met new cousins and they have helped me learn more about my family.

So far, the biggest surprise was to learn that my grandmother lived 50 years longer than we were told. Why? I think it was because she was declared mentally insane in the 1920's and confined to facilities for 50 years. So instead of my grandmother dying when my mother was a child, my grandmother died at the age of 88!

Today's photograph of "Family Patchwork" is an art piece I created to use in my genealogy multimedia presentations. Since I have a large immediate family, nieces, nephews, and new cousins, a have a built-in audience for my new discoveries.

Michelle Leddel
Mixed media
approx 12 x 12 inches
January 2010

Created while in 'Cancer and Creativity Art Therapy Workshop'
Presented by Premiere Oncology Foundation and Beckstrand Cancer Foundation
Instructor: Esther Dreifuss-Kattan, PhD, ATR

Monday, January 18, 2010

14 Days off: #2

Day two

of predicted five days of rain

I'm into collecting rain water

in the empty ChemoCaps


While I was setting up the photo shoot

a soft breeze knocked one over

so I need to work out

other water collecting jobs

for these three


the buckets and pots are elsewhere

collecting the much-needed rain

P.S., Does radiation treatment
damage muscles, as in shortening

Sunday, January 17, 2010

14 Days off: #1

As I celebrate two months of taking

my ChemoCaps

I find all sorts of places to

put my

empty containers

As I look out my window

these flowers show their blooming power

Just as the chemo therapy drugs

exert their power

Finally, as you read today's blog

may we share in the

common bond for a loving,

compassionate, and



P.S., Thank you Robin for putting
the plant outside my front window

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hexalen®, day 14, 2nd month


We went for a walk

and found

another Pacific Ocean Sunset


seemed like a fantastic photo-op for

all three,

now empty

medicine containers.

I now begin my 14 days of no medicine...


I hope you enjoyed the adventures of

my 196 ChemoCaps

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hexalen®, day 13, 2nd month

Just a few more this month...

Before my life was turned up side down

with cancers #2 and #3

I was researching my family's history


found new living relatives,

burial locations,

unmarked graves,




This week I have picked up the project again

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hexalen®, day 12, 2nd month

“Don’t Suffer in Silence”

Around two in the morning I realized I was thinking about the pain in my right hamstring muscles, and having a chat with my radiologist. I wanted him to see the damaged muscles and really find out if the 30 radiation treatments of a year ago, that burned 5/6 of my upper thigh, were really necessary.

Then I heard another voice say, “But remember, years ago limbs were amputated as a result of Sarcoma tumors.”


Then I asked myself, how could I creatively explore the scope of this early morning wake-up call:

1. I can make another collage with photographs of legs and acrylic paint accents, as I did with “Leg Pain,” now hanging at Premiere Oncology +.

2. I can make a felt-based piece of art, similar to “The Highs and Lows of Leg Pain,” * also hanging in a Santa Monica art exhibition #.

3. WOW! I could make “Trilogy of Leg Pain,” similar to “Hair Chronicles on Canvas” ^.

4. I could also write a conversation between my legs, like I did with my two different chemotherapy drugs at the Ferris wheel in Santa Monica++. I could put it on my blog.

“Oh my, the pain in my leg is gone,” I heard myself say around 2:30 am.

In reality, this early morning writing was like going to group therapy where I allow my voice to be expressed and acknowledged.

A reminder - do not suffer in silence.

+ see Nov. 30, 2009 blog post

* see Sept. 19, 2009 blog post

# see Nov 30, 2009 on blog post

^ see Sept. 11, 2009 blog post

++ see Nov 24, 2009 blog post

This blog entry was developed and read during "Writers Workshop" at The Wellness Community, Santa Monica, CA.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hexalen®, day 11, 2nd month

Another empty container


ChemoCaps, aka

Hexalen® chemotherapy capsules

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Hexalen®, day 10, 2nd month

Sunset at the Pacific Ocean

Santa Monica, California


Monday, January 11, 2010

Hexalen®, day 9, 2nd month

"Hope and Healing"
in part
with daily dose of Hexalen®

Fatigue and skin problems
continues to let me know there is
cancer-killing medicine in the

"Hope and Healing"
acrylics on canvas
16 x 20

Created while in 'Cancer and Creativity Art Therapy Workshop'
Presented by Premiere Oncology Foundation and Beckstrand Cancer Foundation
Instructor: Esther Dreifuss-Kattan, PhD, ATR

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hexalen®, day 8, 2nd month

A Little Sweetness Goes a Long Way

My six year old grandson made sweets at a
recent play date with his buddies

Since he is a vanilla kid, and not chocolate kid like me

Let's enjoy them!

Can't forget to take my medicine

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Hexalen®, day 7.5, 2nd month

This is a continuation of my earlier post of January 9th.

It is now 10 am on Saturday morning, where as my earlier post was created around eight hours ago. I'm not usually awake at two in the early morning and therefore, I'm never writing my blog at that time. But after tossing and turning in bed I went to my computer and found a response from Brad on yesterday's blog.

Now, on to this photograph. You will notice the medicine container is half empty, but the doesn't mean that is the balance of the monthly dosage. In four days, the pharmacy, per insurance company rules, will allow me to get the 28 additional capsules ordered by my oncologist.

If you are new to my blog, last month I was taking six capsules a day for 14 days. I tolerated the medicine well, so this month the dosage is eight ChemoCaps* a day. But, since the doctor called in the order for the additional 28 capsules after I picked up the current prescription of 84 ChemoCaps, I'll get the balance when released by the insurance company.

Well, with each capsule costing about $10, the insurance company is in the driver's seat!

* ChemoCaps: My endearing term for
Hexalen® chemotherapy capsules

Hexalen®, day 7, 2nd month

Hi Brad, nice to meet you.

More later...

Friday, January 8, 2010

Hexalen®, day 6, 2nd month

The process of taking my ChemoCaps*
is going well

There are no accompanying pains from taking the medicine,
just count and swallow with liquid
along with a nice meal

The development of side effects is the mystery...
How much of the body will be red, swollen, and later peel?
How much more of my hair will drop out when it is not supposed to?
Will it be difficult to swallow, again?
Will my memory go into a freeze?
How fatigued will I become?

The effectiveness of the medicine is also a mystery until
I have a CT scan in a couple of months

In the mean time,
two capsules four times a day
14 days on
14 days off

Cheers! it's time to take a nap

*ChemoCaps: my term for the
chemotherapy capsules

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Hexalen®, day 5, 2nd month

"Going Places"
with ChemoCaps

In art therapy workshop over a year ago I
created this abstract representation of
the transition
from one year to another

Today I add my daily dose
of oral

Then as now
Gold is one of my healing colors

"Going Places"
December 2008
acrylic on canvas
16 x 20 inches

Created while in 'Cancer and Creativity Art Therapy Workshop'
Presented by Premiere Oncology Foundation and Beckstrand Cancer Foundation
Instructor: Esther Dreifuss-Kattan, PhD, ATR

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Hexalen®, day 4, 2nd month

How I'm doing...

The medication is working
inside of me
as determined by the blood work results-

Low RBC, Low HGB, Low HCT, High MCV

Three weeks ago only the RBC was Low and the MCV was high

Since you and I are not hematologists
You will just have to have faith
that my doctor knows what he is supposed to be watching

I have total confidence in him

I also feel the eight ChemoCaps are working because of the fatigue--
It is 5:30 pm and I have already had two naps
the palms of my hands are red

Next blood test is in 4 weeks

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hexalen®, day 3, 2nd month

84 + 28 = 112 ChemoCaps

I saw the oncologist yesterday
and he increased my Hexalen® chemotherapy capsules

That means two capsules four times a day
for 14 days

And as several readers pointed out,
That's a lot of water!

Other readers asked,
How long will I be taking this medicine?

Maybe nine months, he answered...

As a point of reference,
there are 100 colored pencils
Pretty aren't they?

Thanks go to S., E., N., & E.
for the pencils.
Thanks to my medical plan
for the medicine.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Hexalen®, day 2, 2nd month

Sunday, January 3, 2010, in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, people were celebrating the New Year, the year of the Tiger.

There was dancing, muchi sweets, sake, and the 12th Annual Shikishi Exhibition in the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center. There were also activities and performances in other areas of Little Tokyo.

With the help of Corinne L. in the weekly Premiere Oncology Art Therapy workshops, I completed my Shikishi paperboard (about 12 by 12 inches) and was delighted to see it hanging in the exhibit along with the work from other classmates and community folk.

The exhibit is open through February 28, 2010. Thanks also go to Galvin Kelley at JACCC who helped make this exhibit possible.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Hexalen®, day 1, 2nd month

What a difference a month makes-

I'm calm because
I have the experience of taking this medication

Only one minor side effect last month--fatigue

I've learned how to take the capsules

or 7am-1pm-7pm

"Take after meals"

...but, I'm not hungry some of the time

I'll have to work that out a little better
because I think the weight gain last month was
a result of eating dinner at 9pm

What would Forrest Gump's mama say?

Two earlier Forrest Gump
references are on
November 26, 2009