Tuesday, November 25, 2014

draft apparently written

Second Chemo today. Wonderful local playwright Karla Jennings volunteered as driver. Gave her a chance to avoid more diverting activities (like writing plays) and instead focus on grading papers. Gave us a chance to catch up.  i loved hearing about her new play with 

Cycle 1 Week 2

Yesterday my brother and sister in law John and Debbie visited here and took me for my second round of chemo - week 2 of cycle 1. Since it was week 2 i got only one drug - Taxol. The premeds include benedryl which gives me a bad case of restless leg syndrome and Decadron which makes me a little manic (useful for getting things done) and keeps me from sleeping well at night (not so useful). Overall things went well and i was grateful for the visit and the support. Today they drove off to the extended family Thanksgiving in VA (to which I fly tomorrow). But if anyone reading this blog has recommendations on how to mimize restless legs syndrome - I could surely use the help. Miserable. I took Balsam to board. He seems to really like the vet where he boards. He is always happy to be there and has learned to hope up on the weights and stand still. Maybe I am boarding him too often! One bonus - he will get a bath before I pick him back up on Monday - thereby perhaps smelling a lot less hound doggie when he returns. it feels lonely at home without him. I also got a haircut - deciding in a couple of weeks it will start falling out and it will be easier to go bald from a very short instead of a very mid length hair cut. What I did not anticipate was how cold it would feel with so little hair left to warm my head and neck... Halfway through the haircut I looked in the mirror and recognized the hair of both my brothers when they were in grade school and My nephew Judson. Oh those characteristic Chapman whorls and cowlicks and funny little ways that hair grows all over our heads. And I purchased a pair of pants that will enable me to comfortably walk around with loose pants without having to wear PJs. One month past surgery and it seems like time to being to appear in public in something other than PJs. I also mailed my last Christmas present (to Scotland) and got notifications that all but one of the previously posted gifts had been delivered. One more thing off the check list. Dec 2 I return to work 3 days weekly. That will be another challenge. All packed up, finished a load of wash and just waiting for the heavy duty cycle of the dishwasher to finish running before I can pack it up and go to bed. I am really looking forward to flying up to VA for the family reunion that Thanksgiving has become tomorrow. I hope all of you have warm Thanksgiving plans with people you love and plenty of things over the past year to feel thankful for. Louisa

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Week 1 of Cycle 2 of new course of chemotherapy finished today

Karla Jennings, writer, Mom of 2 14 year old twins, and friend and all around very generous person immediately offered to drive me today when I contacted her looking for volunteers. Based on my apparently faulty memory of last time around...I assured her we would be home by 2 pm even stopping for lunch en route. I was wrong. The first week of each cycle i get 2 drugs instead of one (for details see similar posts from 2009. They go into great detail about the drugs and so on). Since this was the first day of chemo period every thing went slower than usual and we had to take care of additional paperwork and housekeeping items. Also, i realized about 7 Am that this was the day the ladies come to clean. They are not fond of large hounds. So when Karla arrived instead of heading directly to Gainesville she had to drive us to Petsmart where Balsam goes for daycare when someone is working in the house whose efforts will not be aided by the presence of a large friendly and curious hound. On another day putting him into the fenced back yard would have been an option, but as we left it was in the 20s (rare in Atlanta in November) and the high for the day was predicted to be in the 30s, possibly not rising above freezing. So that was not an option today. Balsam was very fond of Karla. Maybe it was the beagle/terrior aroma wafting off her shoes invisible to human noses. Karla was a very good sport. Gaining Balsam's affections is not always a good thing. Fortunately she had not started driving yet when he decided to insert his face between her head and the window and deliver several large slurpy signs of affection with his wet sloppy tongue. Fortunately when it was clear we were running critically late Karla was able to get hold of her husband who managed to make arrangements to meet the first twin arriving by bus at 4 pm. We got home at 4:15 just in time for Karla to drop me and catch the second twin, arriving at 5 pm. After a quick dinner (we missed lunch) i had my next adventure ... driving again for the first time since surgery. I had to pick up perscriptions called into my local drug store (to prevent nausea which should not manifest before tomorrow AM but I will feel better taking the first pill at bedtime tonight. Easier to prevent vomiting than to interrupt it.) And to pick Balsam up from boarding. The place was loaded with dogs today - and among them more than the usual number of hungting breeds rather than the tiny little urban breeds. I suspect it was a noisy day at the Dogging Daycare division. Balsam came home happy, excited and tired. sleeping on his bed under the piano as I type. Tomorrow another day of bill paying and other paperwork organizing in preparation for the upcoming 6 months of declining function. Thursday I have to drive myself back to Gainesville for lab draws - glad I had opportunity to practice today before that longer drive. All went well so far. I am grateful for all the support both given and offered. And I am looking forward to a visit from Mary Lou Solbring - passing through Atlanta en route to visit friends - on Saturday night and the arrival of my brother and sister in law John and Debbie on Monday. Louisa

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Follow up from the follow up visit Nov 12

The surgeon and I agreed that I was not ready to go back to work and should defer my return until Dec 1. More importantly, he informed me he wants to start chemotherapy next Tuesday Nov 18. That is several weeks sooner than I anticipated and I will have to scramble to find some folks who can drive me back and forth to Gainesville for chem on Tuesdays and again on Fridays for labs since i can't drive myself yet. the chemo will consist of 2 IV drugs that are the same or very similar to the 2 that formed the back bone of my treatment before, Carboplatin and Taxol. The total course will consist of 6 cycles each 3 weeks in duration. But the new thing is that because this was one isolated recurrence with all the other biopsies completely clean, he wants to consider throwing in a 5 week course of radiation therapy after the 3rd cycle of chemo. This is not standard but is occasionally done. the risk is that radiation of the gut which is hard to avoid if you irradiate the abdomen can lead to long term complications resulting in diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and malnutrition after 10 or more years (or did in the early days). But RT has improved over the decades and can now target better and minimize side effects. The potential pay off is the possibility that you may totally ablate the tumor cells, leading essentially to cure. I am leerly of RT but leaning toward thinking the possibility of outcome may justify the risk. My doc presented this proposal to his local tumor board today and apparently they favored it. He wants to also consult colleagues at MD Anderson and Cleveland clinic. I apprecaite his caution and am intersted to hear what those consultants advise. Stay tuned. Anyone planning to come this way who wants to drive me to a chemo in Gainesville on a Tuesday or a lab draw on Friday just call me with the date and I will put you on the calendar! Louisa

Friday, November 7, 2014

No surprises

Surgery Oct 28 found recurrent ovarian cancer, but isloated apparently to one single spot. This is good news. I will have to go through chemo again but the prognosis for chemo leading to another long term remission is excellent! I am very pleased. My wonderful cousins Jane and Bruce Greyson came down from VA to bring me home, set me up here and take care of me, Balsam and the household for the first week, then headed back to VA today leaving a very well stocked fridge and freezer. This was much easier the second time around. I will know more after the follow up visit on Nov 12 but for now Balsam and I are content and well cared for at home.