Friday, February 27, 2009

My First Radiation and Hyperthermia Treatments

I'm on the last leg of this long journey, and I'll be so glad when it's over. I'm NOT looking forward to these 6 weeks, believe me!

Thursday, I started with my first radiation treatment. A whole lot of time getting showered, dressed, and driving all the way there, then being "prepped" like a Thanksgiving Turkey, all for two 12-second shots of radiation!!!!! Now I have more X's on my chest! I'm beginning to look like a bull's eye for target practice. After the 12 seconds of lying in my personal mold, it was over and back home again.

Today, I went in early in order to get the Hyperthermia treatment. Chatty Cathy never stopped talking the whole hour and a half I was in there. From the beginning, she explained the treatment, asked me some questions, then got me up on the table -- again --- naked from the waist up. A box that measures about 9 x 9 inches is up above me, and this has a plastic bottom to it that is filled with water. She adjusts this to come down on my chest. First, she had me feel it with my hand and asks if I think it's too hot for me to stand or if it's ok. I thought it felt fine. So she puts it down where the stitch line is on my chest, and there I am for a whole hour heating up like a pot roast in a crock pot. Chatty Cathy is still talking. I heard all the gossip about everyone in the Cancer center, who left, who is going with who, etc., etc. She worships my oncologist, told me all the wonderful things about him, told me all about her marriage, kids, etc., etc., etc. One thing informative she did talk about, though, was when I asked her about my mastectomy. The radiologist had used the term "Toilet Mastectomy" when referring to my surgery. I couldn't find any information about that. She tried looking it up, but finally called someone and asked. Come to find out, it is when the total breast is removed, and they completely scrape away all the bad, dead tissue (necrotic tissue) off the chest wall. As the surgeon had said, "I scraped you clean."

When I told her I had this awful fear of radiation because of an uncle many years ago who was burned so badly, she said, "Oh, you won't have burns! Maybe a few layers of skin will come off -- kind of like a rug burn or something!" Well. . . . I'm thinking to myself, NOT looking forward to THAT under my arm!!!!

OK! Finally the hour is up, and the box is lifted off my chest. My trusty sister jumps up and takes a look and says, "Yep!!! VERY red!" I'm put into one of those little gowns and rushed across the hall to get my radiation treatment. Into the mold I go again. This time, the gal puts what feels like a sandbag over my HOT chest. She says, "This will help bring the radiation up to the skin!" Boy! They are just out to destroy my skin, it seems! So, I count to 12 and it's done. Nope! She takes the sandbag off, and and I get ANOTHER 12 seconds. TWO today.

And that's done. Oh, this gal took a look and said, Red already!!!!! I'm going to give you a bunch of tubes of cream and be sure to use it constantly. So I went out with a handful of greasy stuff to use. I felt like I was melting the butter to baste the chicken!!!!

So. . . . two down and 28 to go. It will be every day, 5 days a week, for 6 weeks. Two days a week, I get the heat treatment. They say that the radiation is 30% more effective with this. Bring it on!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Last week, my sister told me she was making a tuna noodle casserole. My mouth started watering, believe me!!!! Years ago, this was something that was always on my menu, but it seemed to have been forgotten for years. So you KNOW what I made this week. . . . Yep!. . . . Tuna noodle casserole. And believe me, I had forgotten how good this can be. So give it a try, even if you think you don't like tuna!

Tuna Noodle Casserole

6-8 cups of egg noodles
2 regular sized cans of tuna, drained (I used the white stuff)
2 regular sized cans of cream of mushroom soup(or cream of celery, or 1 of each)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
4 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1/2 red pepper, finally chopped
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup shredded chedder cheese
2 cups milk
1 can peas, drained

Cook noodles in salted water till just done (not soggy!)
Melt butter and over medium heat, cook onions, celery and peppers till just tender (not browned)
Mix in drained tuna, soup, cheese, milk and peas
Mix all this with drained noodles
Put in greased casserole dish
Top with crushed potato chips or french fried onions (I like the onions best)
Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes or until heated through.
I had to lower the heat as my onions were getting a little too brown.

This makes a great one dish meal, or serve with a nice salad.

I love meals that have only a few dishes to wash afterwards. Although, I must say, I filled a bag full of cans, had several pans to wash, etc., etc., but at least it was all cleaned up BEFORE dinner.
1 cup crushed potato chips, or french fried onions

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Great Giveaway!

Barb over at Barb's Treasures is giving away the sweetest bird's nest! The best part is, she actually builds these herself!!! Isn't that amazing? And all you have to do is leave a comment and mention two things you are thankful for. Can't be any easier than that! So hop on over and drop your name in the hat! Thanks, Barb!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Busy Week!

Brrrr!!!!! Woke up this morning with a cold nose, put on my housecoat, a nice fleece hat, and went outside with Buster! Wow!!!! 28 degrees worth of chilly bumps, believe me! But it warmed up nice and is about 70 degrees now. Sunny, blue skies, and a slight breeze --- that's what Florida is all about!!!!

Wednesday was my appointment for the PET scan. They give you an injection of radioactive glucose and you have to wait about 40 minutes for that to circulate throughout your body. I asked why the glucose??? The tech said that cancer cells thrive on sugar. I didn't know that, or had forgotten about that. They have you fast with no carbs or sugar for 24 hours before the testing. That way, your cancer cells (if you have any) grab onto that glucose stuff. When they run you through the narrow tunnel and do the scan, even the smallest cell of cancer will show up on the results. He said it's better than a CT scan as with this, the cancer has to be a certain size before it shows up. I was worried at first, because I didn't think I could hold my arms over my head for 25 minutes. But then I was told that arms are down at your sides, so that was a relief. It all went fine --- very uneventful. Didn't even have to undress.

Thursday was my consultation with the radiologist Dr. He was just the nicest guy I've ever met. My sister had already told me how much she had liked this Dr., so I was at ease with him from the get-go. He went over my chart with me, asked lots of questions, examined me, then told me all about the radiation treatments, etc. He then asked if I would consent to a fairly new treatment called "hyperthermia" along with the radiation treatments. I had never heard of it. He said that they heat the area they are treating and make it hot and then do the radiation. This is supposed to make the radiation results much better. I agreed, very cautiously, thinking that if this hurt or caused major burns, I'd just quit that part. You KNOW that I ran home and googled this, as I had never heard of it before. And YES, I found more than I ever needed to know about it. Evidently, they put a plastic baggie of water on your chest, then a microwave comes down over it and slowly heats it up to 104 to 113 degrees. Somewhere it said it's like being in a hot tub. I can handle that, I think.

Friday, I went yet AGAIN, this time for what is called the "simulation radiation setup." Again, I had no idea what to expect. Strip to the waist and put a little gown on. Don't know why the gown as soon as I got in there, they took it OFF!!!!! I was back in the CT scan room --- remember that post about lying on the plank with my arms over my head --- yep! That's the one! So there I am, bare naked to the waste with "pajama man" and his trusty helper. I told them I was sure I could NOT get my arm over my head, but he jokingly said he would use a winch or a "comealong" to pull it up there! I cringed!!!!! So. . . . I lay back on the plank and they put a wedgey under my knees and a huge plastic pillow filled with styrofoam beads under my head.
Then they told me to get my arm up over my head. Slowly, I did it, groaning and moaning all the way. I was able to do it when I could grab my hand with my other hand and gently pull it back. NOT a happy camper now, mind you! Then, they began to position me, turning my head, pulling, pushing, turning, etc. I'll tell you, when you get cancer like this, you lose all your sense of being private, reserved, etc. All this time, I'm naked, wondered what the gown was for in the first place?????

When they got me positioned, they started vacuuming the air out of the plastic pillow, until it formed a perfect mold of my position. This will be the form I lay in each time I get the radiation treatments. OK!!!! Test run (simulation) time!
They slowly get the plank I'm laying on to the right height, and they slide me into the tunnel. After about 5 minutes, they bring me back out, and tell me we have to do the mold all over again because it didn't look good. So we start over in a new position and go through it all again. This time, it's good.

The Dr. comes in. I'm still naked, mind you, arms over my head, and he starts drawing all over my chest with a magic marker. This is the radiation field. He tells the girl something and she asks, "What?" He repeats himself and she says yes. When the doc leaves, she asks pajama man, "Do you know what he was talking about?" And he laughs and says, "Not a clue!" Oh well!!!

Now the fun part. I get tatoos!!!!! STILL with my arms over my head. I feel defenseless as I can't punch anyone if it hurts, nor can I jump up and run!!!!! Three little tatoos -- one on each side and one in the middle of my belly. These are the markers they will line up the machine with each time I go for radiation. It didn't hurt --- it was like getting a shot. Another useless worry! I'm such a whuss when it comes to worrying about pain!

And that ended that long day! Took about 2 hours from start to finish!

Oh!!!! The best part! I asked if the results of the PET scan had come back and pajama man said, "Yes, it's right here! Do you want to read it?" I grabbed that piece of paper out of his hand, as I had really worried that I might light up like a Christmas tree and find the cancer spread all over my body. NOTHING! Totally unremarkable, it said! Another useless worry! That was definitely a load lifter, believe me!

So. . . . I will know next week about when I start the actual radiation treatments. 30 treatments, every day, 5 days a week . . . so that's 6 weeks!!!! And then it is ALL OVER!!! We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Daybook Entry for February 16, 2009


FOR TODAY (February 16, 2009)...

Outside My WindowThe sun is shining, the sky is blue, and it's one of those perfect Florida days! The birds are at the feeder, and old dead leaves are falling off the trees -- I guess these are ones that froze last week an are now falling. My Cherry Laurel Tree has all new little leaves starting to grow!!!! Is spring really around the corner?

I am thinking. . . About how much better I feel! You know, when you go through chemo treatments and surgery, you forget what "feeling good" really is! Good days were only in comparison to the "road kill" days, and they weren't really that great at all. I'll be glad when the radiation is behind me!

I am thankful for My list is so long! But I'm so thankful for feeling great, for being able to do so much more, my arm is gaining strength, etc.

From the kitchen... Chicken Quesadias (sp???) tonight. Chicken salad with manderin oranges and pineapple for lunch. Already had a piece of apple cake for breakfast!

I am wearing... Same old junky loose pants and old tee shirt. I'm in a rut!

I am creating... A file for all the great recipes I find on all the blogs out there. They are just fantastic and have inspired me to try new things.

I am going... Probably nowhere. Post Office is closed today, so that is out. I'll walk over to my Sister's house, go out a few times with Buster, but that's it!

I am hoping... Or should we say "dreading" the radiation treatments! I'm encouraged to hear so many have NO serious side effects, but my oncologist got me all nervous about how I will react. I went out and bought an arsenol of creams and sprays just in case.

I am hearing... A crow in the distance that will not shut up!!!! But he can't seem to drown out the beautiful song of the male cardinal sitting out there as he croons away for the little female next to him. What a picture! Wish I had my camera handy!.

Around the house...My pile of quilt and fabric scraps was about 8 feet tall! Truly a mountain that needed attention, as it started to fall over on me today. It filled three huge black trash bags! That's one job out of the way. I think I'll be spending some time in that room straightening up and seeing what's on the bottom of my piles of quilts and fabric that I've forgotten about.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week. . .
Wednesday I go for a CT scan. Remember way back at the beginning of my cancer journey and how I had this done?????? NOT a pleasant experience as that was the first time they tried to use my port, broke the needle, tried three times to punch that thing in, etc., etc. Hope it goes better this time. Some people just love having that port so the nurses don't have to dig for veins all the time. Mine has been nothing but trouble!!! Thursday I go to the radiologist. Not sure when the treatments will begin.

A Scripture Thought. . . Psalm 56:3 -- "What time I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee." Isn't it wonderful how the little verses we learned as children in Sunday School constantly come back to us throughout our lives!!!!! I only wish I could say that I've always trusted when I was fearful! NOT!!!!! And now as an old lady, I can truly say that most of my time spent being afraid was a total waste as most of it never even happened anyways!

Here is picture thought I am sharing. . .

I've been trying different Apple Cake recipes, and this is a great one! But I still think Lea's over at Farmhouse Blessings is the best. This runs a close second:

Apple Cake
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 cups chopped peeled tart apples
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well (batter will be stiff). Stir in apples until well combined.
Spread into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until top is lightly browned and springs back when lightly touched. Cool for 30 minutes before serving.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine brown sugar and butter. Cook over medium heat until butter is melted. Gradually add cream. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Serve with cake. Yield: 12-14 servings.

I couldn't help but include this today. It is just the sweetest thing I've ever seen!!!!

I'm so glad to be able to participate with the others in this Notebook entry. You can visit The Simple Woman's blog


Monday, February 9, 2009

Daybook Entry for February 9, 2009


FOR TODAY (February 9, 2009)...

Outside My WindowIt is just beginning to get dark, and only the cardinals are chirping at the feeder. They are always the first to come in the morning and the last to get a "late night snack" before dark! Things look so . . . dead out there! We had some hard freezes in the past few weeks and what was green is now very wintery brown. You folks up north wouldn't understand, but this is Florida!!!!! I'm used to a green lawn all year round!

I am thinking. . . About today's visit with my cancer doctor. He was in a ripe mood today with silly jokes, etc.! He checked out my surgery spot and asked ME (of all things!) why this one spot was so red!!!???? As if I would know the answer to that! He did tell me, though that I would have a hard time with the radiation as I have "a lot of skin there" to go through. Just what I needed to hear! The appointment is set to start on Feb 19. Funny thing! The girl at the appointment desk was going to have me start this Friday, but just wouldn't let me do it because it was Friday the 13th and insisted that would be a terrible day to start. Couldn't convince her that it was ok with me! So the 19th it is!

I am thankful forA beautiful, warm, spring-like day today with lots of sunshine! I'm thankful Patsy is doing ok as she is in the hospital with some kind of intestinal obstruction. She's been in there since Saturday morning, but if everything is ok, will be home tomorrow. I'm thankful for my Sis an our fun "girl's lunch out" today at Perkins. And I'm so thankful that I'm on the last leg of this pink journey through breast cancer.

From the kitchen... Just finised some french toast with Buster! I'm not used to cooking for one, and had all this bread and lots of eggs on hand. My favorite meal!!!!! Tomorrow I'm baking Lea's apple cake!

I am wearing... Black slacks, a nice blouse and my chemo hat. Still dressed from going to the Dr.

I am creating... New meal plans as things have to change with Patsy's diet. Very small meals, 6 times a day, no gassy foods, etc.,etc. It will be a hard thing, for sure, but we'll figure it all out.

I am going... The farthest I'll be going tonight is outside to throw Buster's new ball. I got an extra large football for him, so he has to struggle a little to keep it in his mouth. He loves it!!!!

I am hoping... I continue to get more and more use of my arm. I'm so glad it's doing so much better. Just can't lift it too far yet. Better than last week, though!

I am hearing... The hum of my computer and Buster chomping down his dinner. PeeWee is walking around the house meowing, looking for Patsy.

Around the house... I walked through the house with Patsy's walker today. She would never use it when she got it 2 years ago, saying she couldn't get through the house with it. I did have to move the table in order to get through to the kitchen, and then moved some other things to make a smooth sail through to the bedroom, etc. I think she is way past using 2 canes anymore and the walker will be much easier on her and give her more stability!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week. . .
Tomorrow I'll probably be picking up Patsy from the hospital and getting her settled back home again. Then, I'll need to catch up on getting things listed on ebay, etc.

A Scripture Thought. . . The verse in Job 23:10 that says, But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." Isn't it strange that when we want what is God's best, the way always seems to lead through the purifying fires!!!! So many of my dear friends are truly being tried with hard times, illnesses, financial troubles, etc. Yet, I each one has been such a testimony of God's grace as I have seen "gold" being formed in their lives!!!

Here is picture thought I am sharing. . .

Please pray for Jase!!!! This is Lea's (from Farmhouse Blessings) son, who is facing some problems with a possible heart condition. Pray for the Doctor that he sees on the 25th, that they will have wisdom from God as to how to treat Jase. Also pray for Lea and her family that the Lord's peace will surround them as they wait through the next few weeks!Please go and visit and leave an encouraging word for them! --
Lea's Farmhouse Blessing Blog!

I'm so glad to be able to participate with the others in this Notebook entry. You can visit The Simple Woman's blog

Monday, February 2, 2009

Daybook Entry for February 2, 2009


FOR TODAY (February 2, 2009)...

Outside My WindowIt's a very gloomy, rainy, chilly day! Not that I'm complaining, mind you! It seems that we don't get much rain like we used to, so this is really a good thing! And I just love the sound of rain. For me, it is the most relaxing, soothing sound there is. LOTS of happy Robins, too! They were taking baths and loooooong drinks in the first puddle that formed in my driveway this morning. I love the sound of their happy chirping. It won't be long and they will start their long journey back north again!

I am thinking. . . What a long journey this has been with this breast cancer thing! Seems like ages since my last chemo back in December. Now, it's been almost a month since surgery. It's all healing up nicely, and I'm finding I can use my arm a little more each day. I'm so glad for that. It was a little unsettling to think that I might not have the use of that arm!

I am thankful forMy crazy sister! Ever since she moved down here about 10 years ago, we have been shopping buddies! Nothing makes us happier than to go grocery shopping together, whether we need anything or not --- and nothing disappoints us more than to see a big sale on meat and know we don't have room in the freezer for it! This happened this weekend. But we did come home with a HUGE slab of pork ribs each, and did we ever pig out! Recipe will be coming soon!

From the kitchen... Don't know yet! We devoured the ribs last night, so it might be chicken tonight. I have to use up what's in my freezer, and there seems to be a LOT of chicken in there. I have left over rice from last night.
I also want to make a zucchini bread as I have all the ingredients here!

I am wearing... cozy knit baggy pants, tee shirt, hat to keep my head warm.

I am creating... Nothing new at the moment. I do need to create a recipe notebook as I've been collecting such delicious recipes from every one's blogs! They are all keepers so far!

I am going...Nowhere that I can think of! To wet and soggy out there. Might venture over to my sister's house for coffee later! Can't miss that!

I am reading... Nothing much. I need to start reading again. What happened to me, anyways???? I used to always have a book in my hands, loved reading anything and everything. I lost my concentration skills somewhere along the line. Now it's one liners and pictures!

I am hoping...I continue to heal before my appointment with the oncologist next Monday. He will be setting up radiation sessions at that time. I should not have been reading about radiation burns, etc. Made me scared of that now!

I am hearing... Buster sighing as he stretches in his sleep. Always, always under my feet wherever I am. What a guy! As bad as he can be and as hyper and overactive, he's the greatest sleeping buddy you could ever want. I couldn't sleep last night, so he got his head and ears petted for hours! All he did was sigh, snort, and take it all in! Gotta love him!

Around the house... I'm on a roll! Cleaned the kitchen floor, gathered up laundry and already have two loads done. Where does it all come from????? We are only two people here and I have basket loads! Again, my trusty grabber came in handy for pulling the full baskets! I can't pick it up, so. . . . I just pulled it along behind me! Where there is a will (or lack of clean clothing) there is a way!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week. . .
It's supposed to be cold for a few days, so I'll probably just stay home and keep warm. Don't know why, but I'm always cold ---- chilled to the bones! Doesn't matter how warm the house is, I'm still cold. That's a switch as I usually want the temp like a meat locker here.

A Scripture Thought. . . Jer. 29:11 --"For I know the plans I have for you, saith the Lord, a plan for good and not for evil, a plan with a future and a hope!" Isn't it wonderful to know that God not only KNOWS the future, but that He has planned it all out for us with only the best for us! And yet, we continue to worry! I wonder why. . .????

Here is picture thought I am sharing. . .

I will always remember my bike! Though I do know now that I must have had a legion of guardian angels watching over me as I rode further and further away from home on that thing! What an independent, adventurous soul I was as a kid! And that's my little sister on her bike right behind me!

I'm so glad to be able to participate with the others in this Notebook entry. You can visit The Simple Woman's blog