Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hyper CVAD A Cycle 2

I'm getting my Cytoxin right now!  It's Tuesday and I came in on Sunday night- got started around 12:30 Monday morning with my first dose of chemo.  I've been feeling really great until about noon today when the queasiness kicked in a little, but I'm still doing quite well.  Doc Mato has decided to speed up my doses so I can get out of here early again!  Should be out of here tomorrow night, a little late, but still a day early!  So excited!  

My first roomie this time was hilarious- she was probably over 80 years old and refused to look at me every time I walked past her or looked at her.  She was understandably upset that she'd been told she was leaving and had packed up and everything only to be told she had to stay another day.  But she was CRANKY!  

I was hopeful to have a free night last night but ended up getting a second roomie last night at 11:30.  She has her husband and a nurse with her all the time, so comes with a lot of noise.  But her story is so awful right now- she has Lymphoma but it's in her brain so it has paralyzed her whole left side within just a month of symptoms showing up.  She's going through test after test and prepping for chemo but hasn't even started yet.  Both her and her husband are scared as can be and have been asking me all sorts of questions, advice, and for encouragement.  I'm trying to be supportive, even though our situations are so different!  I wish I could be of more help to them, especially the husband.  He is really frustrated with the doctors and the chaos- he threw his cell phone and busted it up!  I think the language barrier is also a problem- they are Korean and communication is a little rough.  They're a sweet couple together though, and he sleeps here in a cot next to her bed.  

I had another fun visit with Ashleigh Booth last night!  She really is so sweet to drive all the way out here just to visit me!  She brought me the cutest package full of glow in the dark toys for the kids, snacks, and pudding!  Because the last hospital pudding I got when she was here had a nasty film of oily yuck on top of it and she felt bad I had such gross food to eat!  Isn't she great??  

And of course she didn't want to be in the picture!  Sorry Ashleigh :)  We had so much fun laughing and talking that when we walked out the nurses were calling us the "Gigglers."  I hope we weren't too loud!  

When I got my awesome dinner of a burger and macaroni salad we just had to film it because it looked so awful!  However, I ended up eating the whole burger so it must not have been too bad right??  

So far I haven't been bored at all here.  I've been taking walks around the floor, looking all sorts of things up on the internet, watching Netflix, paying bills, shopping for scarves online,  learning about Pinterest, doing my nails, and talking on the phone with family.  Adam came to visit today and I was able to Skype with the kids before they went to bed.  It's actually been nice to do a little catch up on some of these things but I'd still MUCH rather be at home with my family!  

Saturday, May 26, 2012

For Better, For Worse (Updated)

In sickness and in health...

So glad my husband loves me, even when I look like this!!!  

Adam and I shared this video on Facebook and I received some mixed reviews... Personally, Adam and I thought this was so funny we just HAD to get it up on FB so everyone else could laugh with us!  But I think some people felt bad for us watching the lint rolling...  Just to clarify- it's my third time losing my hair completely and it does not bother me AT ALL!  I know I look better with a little hair, but it's really just hair, it will come back!  And I'm really looking forward to wearing my cute head scarves and shopping for more!!  :)  I'm even going to try false eyelashes which I've never done before!

Mykelle and Evan had fun with the lint rolling too:

I shaved afterward and it took me FOREVER!!  Because I still had so many long hairs attached to my head.  I really should have tried the duct tape on the back of my head... It would have made shaving go much more smoothly!!

I hate that my melon is so super white and shows up so easily under caps like this!
Nothing cools a hot head down like an Otter Pop...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

5/23 Doc Visit

I had my weekly doc visit today with Dr. Mato and NP Mary Curtin, and it was FUN!  I love those two!  They always bring up my blog and act like they don't read it...  Okay, they probably don't but they still get uncomfortable when they think they've done something bad that will make it to the blog- like say things to me that are maybe unprofessional for doctors to say to their patients.  It's fun though, we have a good time talking and joking around, and I know they really do care about me and my health.  

My blood counts are good and I signed the admit form for chemo next week.  The wbc went up to normal  range, 4.4, and my hemoglobin is back above 10- they think it was low over the weekend and I should have gone in for a blood infusion since I was so hazy.  Not too worrisome though, I wasn't fainting or anything :)  

I've been having some more side effects from the Hyper CVAD regimen, quite a bit of cramping and bloating of my abdomen, soreness in my lymph system through arms, neck and chest, headaches and peripheral neuropathy.  I've decided that much of what I'm feeling is "normal" for people going through chemotherapy, just that it's worse than last time so it's surprising to me.  And not that it's bad really, just the stuff I have to deal with to get this cancer out of my body!  In the end, it's worth it!  

The neuropathy had me laughing out loud today when I dropped an ice cube 3 times!  By the 3rd time I was feeling pretty clumsy but it was funny too.  My hands and feet up through my arms and legs feel tingly (except for my pinkies and small toes... weird) like if you've been laying on your arm or leg too long and it's just partially fallen asleep, and it doesn't go away.  The docs decided to cut the Vincristine dose in half to hopefully limit the neuropathy.  I was worried this meant the effectiveness of the drugs would also be cut in half but they don't seem to think so.  I made some flippant comment about lying to them about the side effects so they wouldn't change the dose and they immediately jumped all over that telling me the neuropathy could be permanent so it wouldn't really be a good idea to do that... Yeah, don't really want the tingling forever so I think I'll stick to telling them about all the side effects!

Monday, May 21, 2012


I'm in a haze and have been since Saturday morning.  Saturday was beautiful, Adam and I were outside helping the kids ride their bikes with their new helmets and just having a nice time.  It came on me quick but I started feeling really tired and it hasn't gone away since.  I'm thinking it's due to low blood counts, maybe low hemoglobin because I'm seeing little phantom bugs flying around my vision and get a rushing in my head when I move too quickly.  I wish I could tell if I should go in to get my blood tested or just wait it out until my appointment on Wednesday!  

I'm all scheduled for chemo on Sunday again, another session of Hyper CVAD A all lined up.  I know I shouldn't be but I'm already getting my hopes up that I will be out Wednesday night again rather than Thursday morning.  Adam is already talking about having me gone again :(  I'm sure he'll handle it, but he is so busy at work, he doesn't need an absent wife too!  He probably felt like I was gone anyway all weekend since I just sort of sat around doing nothing...  Sorry Honey! 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hair We Go Again!!!

Ha ha!  I am laughing at how lame my post title is...  Sorry!

It's about time for my hair to go again, so Adam convinced me to try a mohawk before the big shave...

And I love it!!  I'm thinking of doing it regularly like this when it grows back in... What do you think??

Mykelle saw my hair and said, "Looks cool, kinda like a dinosaur Stegasaurus!"  Pretty cool in itself to have her mom look like a dinosaur huh? :)

I had a doc appointment today.  Adam came home from work so we could go together while my Bishop's wife watched the kids (she is AMAZING by the way, cleaned my house top to bottom yesterday with another great woman Ari, and in addition to watching the kids today she brought over one of my fave meals: turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, and green beans.  Thank you Debbie!!)   I had to get a little more chemo- an injection of Vincristine and a steroid, Dexamethasone (10 pills a day for 4 days).  It went well and was super fast.  

My white blood cells are way low, .3 (normal is 4.0-ish) but the other counts are good.  Doc said if I get any sort of fever of 100.5 or greater to go immediately to the ER.   I woke up today and wondered why I was so tired and lethargic, turns out the low blood count is the answer!  But I am taking the Neupogen shots every day that should boost my cells, though the side effect of bone pain has been really strong compared to Cancer #2 last year.  I wake up feeling pain in EVERY joint, the worst in my knees and fingers.  Makes me have a lot of compassion for those with arthritis!   A little pain medication goes a long way though, so I'm feeling especially grateful for it!

I go in for another appointment next Wednesday, this one just a simple blood count follow up to make sure my counts are going back up.  Then the next chemo session of Hyper CVAD A will be started on the 27th, a Sunday evening again.   

Friday, May 11, 2012

Hyper CVAD A 2 Days Home

Ugh... This feeling I remember!!  Is it considered complaining if I'm stating the facts of how I feel??  I thought I'd do a quick post so I can keep the blog updated, and hopefully stay in the habit of making regular posts, even when I don't feel like it!

I came home Wednesday night and slept until 11:30am.  Yes, 11:30!!  Fortunately the kids were at Joy School and then with Melissa until Adam picked them up after work.  I spent most of the day laying in bed watching "Lie to Me" on Netflix and alternating Zofran and Ativan for the nausea.  The day feels like a blur!  And the craziest part of this all is everything LOOKS like a blur!  My eyesight is actually fuzzy.  And maybe it's my head feeling a lot of pressure, but it's hard to focus my eyes.  Lovely chemo.  

Today Adam and I decided to give the kids a break and just let them watch TV and hang out all day while I laid around the house with them.  They've been missing me and had a hard time being at different people's houses everyday.  And now they're going stir crazy!  Adam set them up with breakfast and a movie before he went off to work and I was able to sleep in until 10:30 before Evan came in and jumped on me!  We've spent the rest of the day putting on makeup (yes, all three of us), opening a package from my mom (and eating the chocolate chip cookies in it),  and watching silly cartoons.  It's been an incredibly lazy day but I feel exhausted!

I've been feeling extremely fatigued- as in, walk up the stairs and have to sit down to rest at the top.  Nausea, it's manageable but it's there.  Fuzzy head and headache.  And there's a film covering my mouth and lips, yeah, it grosses me out too!  But you can't see it, I can just feel it.   Supposedly that's from the chemo killing off the fast growing cells and can cause mouth sores so I'm trying not to brush too hard or eat stuff that will hurt my mouth, like pineapple.  And food is gross.  I think I've said this before, WATER is gross.  Is that weird or what??  It tastes so bad, but I know I need to drink it to flush out all the chemo, but every time I drink it I feel a little sick.  Awesome.  

I start Neupogen shots today to start building my neutrophils so I don't get infections and I am taking 3 different pills to keep away viruses, fungi, and something else I can't remember right now... I've also got three different kinds of anti-nausea pills, sleeping pills, and a light pain killer for when the Neupogen shots start causing bone pain.  Is it a wonder I feel a little fuzzy??

I hope I'm not too depressing!!  I want to list my side effects of the chemo both for my own reference and anyone else going through this regimen but hate feeling like I'm depressing anyone who is reading this.  Sorry if you're depressed!!  :)  

I've loved all the emails, calls, texts, visits, and the package getting out of chemo!  It's great to know people are caring for me and my family!   

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hyper CVAD A Chemo Course Number 1

Almost done with cycle 1 of Hyper CVAD A!  I came in on Sunday night and will be leaving tonight.  I hope.  I think?  I wasn't supposed to be heading out until tomorrow morning but they're upping the speed of the chemo to get me out by 6pm.  Oh wait, make that 8pm.  Oh wait, probably more like 10, but hopefully not tomorrow.  Kind of funny, but it seems like this is how it always goes!

Room with a view!  I have supposedly the best room on floor 5, with the window view.  The only thing that would make it better would be if it were private, but I'm on my second roomie already.  
Coolest thing about this visit so far??  Ashleigh Booth from high school came to visit!  She lives only an hour away as a nanny!  Isn't that crazy?  Two Providence girls ending up living so close together out here on the East Coast and we didn't even know it until quite recently when her dad was talking to Jake at work.  Ashleigh is awesome, she came and kept me company for a bit and even brought presents for the kids!  She was going to come back out tonight but since I'll (hopefully) be discharged we had to cancel that idea.
The nurses were asking how we knew each other and thought we were best friends with how well we were getting along.  There's something to be said about growing up in the same community I guess!
My first roomie Maryannne and her husband.  She is a Lymphoma fighter as well and was such a sweet,
thoughtful roommate.  She's wearing the lime green as the Lymphoma color!
I had to give her a "Life is Precious" bracelet to match :)
Adam came to visit both Monday and Tuesday when he also brought the kids.  The sad part about the kids coming is they can't come back into my room but I can head out to the visitor's lounge to see them.  They were really cute- brought me cards, a poster, some Wendy's, and two balloons.  I thought it was so sweet that Evan picked out a white wedding bells balloon for me and Mykelle picked out the Spiderman balloon because I like super heros :)  They didn't stay long because they were getting cranky and needed to get to bed but it was nice to seem them.  

Mykelle has had a hard time with me being away this week, though we talk on Skype and I've tried to reassure her I'll be home soon.  She loves using the blanket Andrea Turley Over made for me last year and was upset when she saw me taking it with me to the hospital.  I had her hug it and kiss it and put her love into it so I'd have her close to me during the week.  Then she was willing to part with it :)  She also drew me a picture to tape up with her and me picking flowers outside the house and sitting by flowers inside the house.  She has a sweet heart.  She did say something quite hurtful to Adam though when she left last night... She said she wished Adam was the one staying in the hospital and I was the one going home!!  So innocent!  

The Hyper CVAD chemo hasn't been too terrible, though I've only received two of the three main drugs involved.  Cytoxin is given 6 times, 12 hours apart and I'm on my last dose of that right now.  Zofran really helps keep the nausea at bay, but causes huge headaches.  I will be getting two pushes at 6pm (meaning injections into the IV rather than a pump) of Adriamycin and Vincristine.  The "D" in the "CVAD" is Dexamethasone.  I've also been getting Mesna in the IV to protect my bladder.  I'll be sent home with 5 or 6 prescriptions, including Neupogen shots again that I get to give myself!  It's funny how scared I was to give myself the shots the first time, and now I have no reservations.  

My nurses have been pretty good, aside from having difficulties getting my IVs in.  I've been able to eat relatively well and haven't blown up like a balloon from the hydration, though my feet and face are looking slightly puffy.  I don't want to get my hopes up since I still have two more drugs to go, but I've been feeling pretty decent considering the potency of these drugs!  

The biggest problem I've had... trying to sleep with distractions of my latest roomie.  She is super nice, but having a lot of problems that smell... and make loud noises... and she has to have a nurse with her at all times so there's a lot of talking and complaining.  Plus, she's confused and it has caused a couple of problems.  She got mad at her nurse for sneezing!  Saying she heard a knock, but the nurse said no, it was just a sneeze.  Then my roomie yelled at her saying she knows what a sneeze sounds like and would have said "God bless you" had she heard a sneeze!  Hmmm... Glad I'm not taking what she's taking! 

I'll update again in a few days to let you know how the recovery from this chemo goes!  I will be coming back in for Hyper CVAD A cycle 2 in 17 days before restaging.  If it's going well (and it's expected to) I'll continue with Hyper CVAD B cycle 1.  

Keep the prayers coming our way!  Lots of love!

Color For Tessa- Thank You Cache Valley!!

Saturday the 28th of April was absolutely one of the best days of my life!  My USU Ambassador friends threw a fundraising party for me and my family in Cache Valley and it was AMAZING!  My friends contacted me to let me know they wanted to do the event on my family's behalf and just needed my permission.  It was incredible how everything came together with only a month of preparation!  

The event was called "Color For Tessa" and was so creative and had such a great feeling about it.  It started with a "Splash of Color 5K" and 1 mile kid's run where people were splashed with powdered color during and after the race.  SO FUN!!  Afterward, race participants and anybody who wanted to were invited to a "COLOR Festival" that included music, food, a silent auction, raffle prizes, games for the kids, and pony and train rides, as well as the baby animals at the American West Heritage Center.  In the evening there was a "COLORS Concert" put on by the band COLORS!!  I couldn't believe all of the fun things planned and put together on such short notice!

Can you believe all of these runners?!  The turnout was amazing!
Aunt Taro took most of these great pics and really helped out with the kids throughout the day.

Starting the race with the air horn
Evan ran a good 100 yards of the mile before Taryl had to carry him :)
Mid-race Color Station

Finish Line!!  1 mile in just under 20 minutes!!  Good job Evan!!

I arrived at the AWHC at 8am and didn't sit down until I was in the car leaving the party at 3pm!  I had one of the best times of my life!!  It was like a combination family, high school, and college reunion!  I saw so many old friends and family I hadn't seen in years.  Plus I met a lot of new friends too!

Hess Family

The first and third place runners of the kid's race!  Sophie on the left was first, and she was absolutely the most tender-hearted little 4th grader I've ever met!  When it was time to leave the festival she started sobbing saying she "just felt so bad" and wanted to come see me at my parents house!  It was so touching.  She said she got first place to help me get better and then went and ran next to the adult runners finishing the 5K to push them a little harder.  SO sweet!  I'll never forget this sweet little girl!
Adam's cousins and friends with Mykelle and Evan
Can you just hear Mykelle's evil laugh??
Not in the face!!

The kids seemed so surprised they were allowed to throw powder on other people and even MOMMY
without getting into trouble!

What a beauty huh?

High school friends!
Taryl gave me a colorful tacky BFF gift the night before the big day :)
I don't know how to thank everyone appropriately, but I and my family are incredibly grateful to everyone that helped make the day a success.  The feeling of love and peace I felt all day was overwhelming and something I will never forget.  It will help me get through the tough days coming up when I recall this special day.

Colors did an improv rap where they took words to include from the audience.  They had to rap the words toothpaste, ninja, epic, true aggie, and Tessa. They did great! Thanks guys!

I am so very grateful to the people who organized this even and all of the individuals who donated auction and raffle gifts, time, money and talents.  There were many businesses that donated gifts and services that were wonderful!!  And the Colors band coming together for a concert for ME!!  So cool!  Cache Valley is a community I'm proud to claim and call my own.  Thank you so much for all that was done and continues to be done on my behalf.  I am and will be forever grateful to all who made Color for Tessa so wonderful and hope to to pay forward the love and goodness shown to me.  Thank you!