Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I have not eaten anything since yesterday, I spent the whole afternoon at BAMC and I am CRANKY. Ron has gone to get us something to eat. I think he just wanted to get out of the house and away from the crankiness. :o)

I called last week to make an appointment at BAMC for a PET and CT scan. A lady called me back yesterday and said they could see me at 2 PM today, but not to eat anything after 8 AM (six hours before the scan). I woke up at 7:45 AM, so I didn't eat, thinking I'd be fine until after the 2 PM scan. It was after 5 PM when they finally started the scan. And they made me drink some awful slimy liquid stuff that is supposed to make the scan better. This is the third PET and CT scan I've had there, and I never had to drink that icky stuff before. They said there is a new doctor who thinks it makes the scans better.

Anyway, that's another procedure out of the way before the transplant. Yesterday I had a second bone marrow biopsy, which is something else they wanted done. Some lady called Friday to say that I still needed an EKG. I told her I had one the last time I was in the hospital, and she said I needed another one because the ones they do in the room aren't "thorough enough." :o\ She also said I needed to see the dentist, and I told her that had already been done. She seemed disappointed that she was unable to make me do that again. Hah!

Ron was waiting for me to pick him up after work, and had to wait until about 6 PM, but he said it worked out okay because he needed to make up for some time he missed last week. The AC is out again in our piece of junk car, and rush hour traffic was still at its peak, so we had a hot, sweaty drive home in stop and go traffic. When we got home I kicked off my flipflops, headed for the back door to let the puppies inside and stepped right in a pile of Maggie vomit on the carpet. Aaaargh! It has not been a good day.

Ahhh, KFC, mashed potatoes and gravy, cole slaw and a biscuit. And peach tea. I feel so much better. :o)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Not Much To Say

Lovely High Mass today. We sang Lift High The Cross--reminded me of my Lutheran days.

Asian buffet for lunch. General Tso's chicken. Yum.

Little rain showers this afternoon.

Criminal Minds marathon on TV.

A quiet, restful Sunday. Naps and foot rubs.

Not looking forward to the bone marrow biopsy tomorrow.

Have a great week, dear readers!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saturday Summary

Reece was here last night, and went with us today to see Great Gran. Ron went too, and we took lunch.

Gran was happy to see Reece, as always. Reece wanted to take his "instrument toys" to show her. Here he is showing her how to play one of the flutes. :o)

Reece likes to play in Great Gran's bedroom. I went in to tell him to come and eat lunch, and this is what I saw. :o)

He was pretending to sleep in Teddy's bed.

I was napping on the sofa this afternoon, and woke up just in time to make it confession. I tried to go there a few weeks ago, and waited in line for half an hour. I was almost to the front of the line when we were told that Father was out of time. :o( I'm very glad that the confession lines are so long at our old church, though.

This time the sacristan came over and asked me to tell anyone else who came that I was the last one, and they should go to the confessional on the other side of the church. There were two priests hearing confession! How wonderful. I was so glad that I didn't miss out again, and left the church after confession feeling wonderful! What a beautiful Sacrament.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Happy Friday!

(Painting is August Flowers by William Thomas Wood).

Yesterday I had the MUGA scan at BAMC. They drew some of my blood and mixed it with some kind of radioactive material, then put it back again. Then they took 3D pictures of my heart from 3 different angles. My docs at Wilford Hall should get the results today.

I was at Wilford Hall this morning for dressing changes on my PICC and central lines. They both look great. I saw my BMT doctor; he gave me a quick exam and had the nurse draw blood for labs.

He wants another bone marrow biopsy to make sure my bone marrow is cancer free, so we're doing that on Monday. Ugh. If they do find any bad cells, they will still continue with the treatment as planned, but please pray they don't find any! Thanks.

He also wants me to have another CT and PET scan, so I'm waiting to hear back from nuclear medicine at BAMC for a date and time for that. Hope they can do it next week!

Also some time next week they want to have a "family meeting," to let everyone know what to expect and how to care for me after the deep chemo and transplant. They have to tell you all the bad stuff that can happen, but we're not expecting any of that since I've done so well so far.

It seems I'll be in the hospital longer than just the time it takes to administer the deep chemo (6 days) and return the stem cells. They have to monitor me for awhile after that. The doctor said if I do well, I can go home "on a pass." But the length of the stay in the hospital will depend on how well and how quickly I recover.

For now, he thinks that I'll go into the hospital in about 2 weeks, so around September 2nd or 3rd. They want my blood counts to come back to as normal as possible before then. I'm feeling pretty good already, so I'm looking forward to feeling normal again for the next couple of weeks. Whoo Hoo!

My BMT doc has always been a little more cautious and less optimistic than my cancer doc about a cure for my cancer. But today he seemed more hopeful about it. He always has to make sure I don't get my hopes up too high, but today he said that attitude and faith are 90% of the reason people get well, and that a cure could happen. Then he said that even if it should come back, there are other treatments we could try, and that new things come along all the time. :o) He's a sweetie.

I stopped at Mom's on the way home and made her some lunch. Ron has the day off, and had the backyard mowed when I got home. Now he's gone to run some errands, and I have housework to do while I'm feeling energetic. :o) Happy Friday, ya'll!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Foaming at the mouth!

Last night I was on my way to the kitchen when I glanced toward the patio door and saw Katy standing there looking in. It was dark, but she had her face right up to the glass and a panicked look on her face. There was white foam all over her mouth and muzzle! I said, "Ron, look at Katy!"

Right away I knew that she had had an encounter with a toad. I hurried to the computer and looked up what to do. It said to wash her mouth out with a water hose for 10 to 15 minutes, so that is what I did.

At first she tried to turn her head away, but when she realized that the water was helping, she just sat between my legs and let me clean her mouth and gums.

Some of the info on the internet was quite scary, saying that toxins from toads can kill a dog, that they could have vomiting, diarrhea, hallucinations, heart arrhythmia and all sorts of other symptoms. I watched her like a hawk, and she didn't exhibit any other symptoms. I think she came to let me know as soon as she knew that something was wrong. She's a real mama's girl (thank goodness). Her quick action (and mine) kept the toxins from going into her system.

I got up during the night to check on her, and she was fine, and she is okay today. Ron found one dead toad in the yard, and we know there is another around somewhere, so we have to find it and relocate it to the nearby creek. Meanwhile, the puppies are either in the house or in their dog yard where they can't get into trouble!

I took the picture above last August, when we also had a lot of toads coming in the yard. I'm sure it is the same kind of toad that Katy tasted, Bufo Woodhousii Woodhousi, or Woodhouse's toad. It's not one of the most poisonous kinds in South Texas, such as the Colorado River toad or those awful Cane toads, but it can make an animal sick and possibly die, especially if the animal is small.

A few days ago, Sister was running around with half a dried up toad in her mouth, but she never had any symptoms--I suppose the toad was dead when she found it, so couldn't exude toxins.

I tell you, it is always something. :o)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

President Bush Welcomes The Troops

My friend Kathy sent me an email with a link to this article and video. This happened a few days ago, on August 11, 2010. I loved seeing the video. Thanks, Kathy! (You can turn off my playlist music by clicking on the two little vertical lines on the player).

A Good Day!

This photo is from earlier in the summer. I love it.

I had such a lovely Monday evening and Tuesday morning. Of course you know why--Reece was here! :o) And I am feeling good, too.

Ron left around 7 PM to go to his sleep study yesterday, and about half an hour later Josh called, on his way home from Seguin where he had been working. We talked for awhile, and then I asked him if Reece could come and spend the night with me.

Josh brought him over around 8:30 PM, and we were very happy to see each other. We stayed up late so that we could play, then we slept in this morning.

I told him that I have been listening to my special music when I go to sleep, and asked if he would like to hear it, too. When I turned it on, he got such a gorgeous smile on his face, then he put his head down on the pillow and grinned. He really, really loved the chant! This morning when we woke up, he said, "The music stopped." I asked if he wanted to hear it again, and he did.

Ron went straight to work from the sleep study this morning, then came and picked us up at lunch time. We took fast food to Great Gran's. She told me yesterday that she was missing Reece, so she was delighted when he walked in. They sat together at her counter while they ate lunch and Reece had her drawing all kinds of pictures for him. They make me smile.

Ron will not have the results of the sleep study for a week to ten days. He said it was like staying in a nice hotel room, and that he went to sleep around 10 PM, but didn't sleep very well. He had all kinds of sensors and wires attached to his body. They came in sometime during the night to ask him to put on one of those C-Pap things.

While we were at Gran's, Reece asked me if we could get candy from Walgreens. He put his hands on my cheeks and got close to my face and said, "Gramma, can we get candy from Wal-greens?" I love how he says it. He stresses the "greens" part, as if to make sure I understand he wants to go to Wal-greens, not Wal-mart. :o) We got candy there one time when I stopped for something else, and now he thinks Walgreen's is the place for candy. Yes, of course we stopped for candy on the way home.

Aubrey and Camryn were happy to see us. Camryn is just on the verge of walking. She doesn't quite realize that she can do it yet, but she stands right up in the middle of the floor, and her balance is perfect. She is always smiling and crinkles her little nose. Aubrey is still a wild child, curious and into everything. They looked so cute today in matching pink onesies. Camryn is fast catching up in size with her "big" sister. :o)

Oh wow, I just heard thunder and looked outside and it was pouring rain. I had to hurry to let the puppies in and roll up the windows on my car. I was not expecting that, but we needed it, so I'm happy for the rain. Looks like it has already stopped, though.

Thank you all so much for your prayers, offerings and sacrifices for me. I am certain that I'm feeling so well and happy today because of them. May God bless you all!

Monday, August 23, 2010

another boring cancer post

(Saint Therese, ora pro nobis).

They harvested more stem cells this morning. The nurse called this afternoon to say that they now have enough, so I won't have to go in again for that tomorrow. I know that the ideal number they wanted was between 4 and 6 million, and they got over 3 million over the past 2 days. My doctor said that they would go ahead with anything over 2 million. The kind of cancer I have won't respond to the same treatment if I should get it again, so I guess they aren't worried about getting enough to store for future use.

I have a MUGA scan scheduled for Thursday (heart scan), and the doctor mentioned some other procedures I'll need before I go back into the hospital for the deep chemo and return of my stem cells, but didn't tell me specifically what those are.

I'm still not sure of the date I'll go into the hospital again, but I suspect it will be the week of August 30th unless the tests show something to keep that from happening.

With all this going on, I haven't seen much of my grandchildren lately, and I miss all of them. My Houston-area grands are back in school this week. This has been the first summer since Caelen was 3 or 4 years old that none of them stayed with us during the summer. I'm so thankful for the week we spent in Rockport with all of them in April!

Ron is going for a sleep study tonight. He snores badly, and sometimes has sleep apnea, which scares me because he stops breathing for a few seconds, then gasps for breath. He also jerks his legs a lot when he's asleep. It keeps him from getting sound sleep (me, too), so I hope they will be able to do something to help him.

Meanwhile, life goes on. The pool needs to be cleaned, the animals fed and loved, the laundry done, the dishes washed, etc. etc. etc.

"Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love."
Saint Therese of Lisieux.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


They harvested some stem cells today! My count needed to be above 10 before they would attempt it, and mine was 12. So they went ahead with it, but I'm going to have to go back tomorrow and probably Tuesday to do it again.

My body isn't making white blood cells as quickly as it was in past weeks. It's probably because of the Rituxan that I had last week. The purpose of the Rituxan was to kill any cancerous cells that might have been floating around in my body before they did the harvest. I continue with the Neupogen shots each morning, and I'm feeling some aching in my back today, which is a good sign that I'm making white cells.

The harvesting process wasn't too bad. I was pretty apprehensive this morning, but once the procedure began I was able to relax. Now that I know what to expect, I won't be as anxious tomorrow.

They used the central line to take blood from my body. The blood went through the machine, which separated it into layers. They programmed the machine to take out the stem cell layer, which it did. It can't take out just the stem cells, but also takes some red and white cells and platelets along with the cells, but not too many. Blood was returned to my body through the other "nozzle" on my central line. It wasn't painful at all. I was told to let them know if I felt any tingling sensation in my fingers or around my lips, which would indicate a low calcium level. I didn't have that, but if I had they would have given me more calcium.

The only unpleasant thing that happened was that I felt something like heartburn or reflux, but raising my bed to a more upright position and having something to drink helped that. Ron and I watched two movies during the procedure, which really helped to take my mind off things.

I had to go upstairs to the bone marrow transplant clinic after the stem cell harvest for another platelet transfusion. My platelets were pretty low before the harvest, and quite low after it. Fortunately, platelet infusion goes much faster than red blood, so we were only upstairs for a little over an hour.

I'm feeling tired. I thought it might just be from the Benedryl they gave me before the transfusion, but even after a little nap I'm still tired.

Here is a good, clear article about apheresis if you'd like more information.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Nope, not yet.

It's HOT! Blue Bell is my favorite way to cool off. ;o)

My doctor had me go to the apheresis clinic at 7 this morning, so I left the house when it was still dark. The lady at the clinic was so sweet. She took 4 vials of blood and gave me my neupogen shots, then gave me a big hug and sent me upstairs to the bone marrow transplant clinic.

They took my vitals and had me wait for the lab results. I saw my doctor for a few minutes, and spent a lot of time talking with a sweet little old Louisiana man. You get to know a lot of the other patients, because we see each other in the hospital or the clinics over and over.

The nurse finally got my lab results; they were too low again for the stem cell harvest. The doctor wants me back early Sunday morning. He increased my neupogen dosage, so hopefully that will get things going.

Ron called this morning to say that he got an earlier flight, so I'll be picking him up at the airport soon. He said the exercise went well, and he is eager to get home.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thursday Thoughts

I am tired of getting up at 6 AM and going to the hospital every morning.

Still have very low WBC, so no stem cell harvest today. I don't think it will be tomorrow, either, but they are having me go in early just in case. If my counts are perfect over the weekend, they will have to call someone in to the apheresis clinic, and I hate to be the one to spoil someone's weekend. My body seems to be recovering more slowly this time; or maybe it just seems slow because I am so ready to get on with this.

It's been really hot, and we need rain! I have the sprinkler going in the back tonight. Need to go move it.

Sister had half a dried up toad in her mouth this evening. Gag. I don't even want to know what happened to the other half. She kept trying to get Katy to chase her, but Kate wasn't interested. I don't blame her!

Josh brought me beef curry and rice that Cyrise had made for supper. It was so good. Thanks, kids! I sent cinnamon muffins home with him. I told him he could take some to work with him for breakfast. He is still liking his new job. :o)

I'm going to finish watching this movie, turn off the water outside and go to bed. I've listened to my chant CD every night and always fall asleep before it ends. It helps me pray, and it totally relaxes me. Thank you, Julia. :o)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

And Waiting...

(More platelets). :o)

My white cell count is still too low for the stem cell harvest. Instead I had to have a platelet transfusion this morning.

They always give benedryl and tylenol as pre-meds before the transfusion, and then they won't let you go home without a driver because the benedryl makes you sleepy. So I called Kelly and she came and took responsibility for me. :o) By the time she got there I was alert and fine, so we just went to lunch, then I drove myself to Mom's without endangering the lives of any of my fellow drivers. (Thanks for lunch, Kel).

Maggie Cat attacked me last night. This is the third time she has scratched and bit my legs when she was startled. I'm beginning to think she knows when my immune system is compromised. Fortunately, each time I've been on antibiotics for something, so there's never been an infection. My doctor looked at my battle scarred leg and just shook his head. He will keep an eye on the scratches and told me to use a topical antibiotic on them.

I have to go back again tomorrow for more labs. I think the Neupogen may have started working this afternoon, as I feel a little achey and not quite right. The nurses said it's a good thing when my bones are aching, because that means the Neupogen is working and I'm making white cells like crazy. My doctor is guessing from my past history that Friday will be the big day. (For the stem cell harvest).

I had to leave earlier and go to Mom's because she couldn't find her keys. We searched high and low, in every nook and cranny, and I finally found them. Sometimes she hides things from herself. I fixed a frozen pepperoni pizza for her dinner and came on home, stopping on the way for puffy tacos for me. Yum!

When I got home, there was a police car with lights flashing in front of my house. My heart skipped a beat, but he was only giving a traffic ticket to some people in a truck.

We Remember

A mosque at Ground Zero? No.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Phooey. Most likely there will be no stem cell harvest tomorrow. The doctor came in while I was getting chemo (Rituxan) this morning and said my white cell count is at its nadir (lowest point) right now. He thinks it will be a couple of days before it rebounds. I've been doing the Neupogen shots since last week, but nothing keeps you from "bottoming out" after chemo. I'll have to go back to the hospital early every morning to check my white cell count, and when it reaches the proper level, they will keep me for the stem cell harvest.

The doctor said it's not unusual that we can't start on the date we wanted; it all depends on how a person's body reacts. In fact, I met another lady in the waiting room who was supposed to start her harvest today, and she has to wait too, for the same reason.

The chemo took about 3 hours, and I left the hospital around 1 PM. After stopping to pick up lunch, I went to Mom's for an hour, then came home. The puppies were glad to see me, and glad to get inside, out of the heat.

Now I'm settling in for a quiet evening and night. I'll be glad when Ron gets home on Friday.

Photo credit, Bellator Dei.

Monday, August 16, 2010


I've enjoyed my three days away from the hospital and doctors.

The High Mass yesterday was beautiful. Father Schorp sang the Mass, and the schola was there.

We have two young men from our Latin community going to seminary this fall, thanks to Father Kloster.

Mom and I ate at the Asian buffet after Mass. She was feeling a bit dizzy during Mass. I think she needed to eat. She loves the Asian buffet.

I fell asleep last night listening to a chant CD sent to me by a friend. Beautiful! I slept well and woke up early this morning. The only place I had to go was to Mom's, so I had a very peaceful, quiet day.

I did a little laundry, cleaned up my kitchen, got all the trash in the cart on the curb this morning, and took some little cat naps throughout the day. And I got lots of puppy kisses. :o)

Josh came over this evening and brought me some dinner. Cyrise made one of the recipes from the cookbook I gave our girls for Christmas a couple of years ago--pork chops supreme. It was so good. Thank you, Cyrise and Josh! I had a hot fudge sundae for dessert.

The sunset was gorgeous tonight. I almost missed it!

Tomorrow I'll be back at Wilford Hall for more chemo--Rituxan--before my stem cell harvest on Wednesday. Not looking forward to any of that, but so it goes.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fat Lotta Good...

...that did.

Last night I put some shock in the pool. I didn't want the puppies in the pool while the chemicals were still strong, so I tried to block their path by putting the chairs from the patio across the steps where they usually go in.

This morning when I let them outside they went exploring around the yard, and then decided to take their morning dip. The chairs didn't deter them one bit.

Katy is looking at me all innocent, as if to say, "I didn't do anything. It was Sister!"

But she is just as guilty as her sib; her wet coat tells the story.

Sister: "Rats! Caught in the act by Mom!"

The pictures are hazy because I was shooting through the (dirty) patio doors. If I had gone outside, they would have been all over me, and I didn't feel like getting wet.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Saturday With Reece

Reece stayed with me last night. He is one reason that Friday nights are my favorites. :o)

We had fun. He's still obsessed with Peter and the Wolf, wanting me to draw the characters and cut them out so he can act out the story with them. We spent a lot of time doing that, and when we went upstairs he didn't want to stop playing. I asked him if he wanted to take a bath, and he did, so he played in the tub for about half an hour.

When he got out he wanted to continue playing, but I was tired, so we made a deal. He could watch Peter and the Wolf one more time, then we would read two books, then we would turn off the lights and I would tell him a story. He agreed, and was really good about sticking to the agreement. I wound up telling him two stories after lights out because he was being so sweet. He wanted to hear the Three Billy Goats Gruff and Jack and the Beanstalk.

He enjoyed visiting his Great-Gran this morning, but had a meltdown when we left because he wanted to come home with me instead of going to his house. We got up at 7:30 AM, and I think he was just really tired and needed a nap. He calmed down on the way home, and said he wanted to go swimming. I told him maybe his mama would let him swim in their little pool, and when we got to his house he asked her if he could, and she said yes. That cheered him up right away. :o)

I was tired when I got home and needed a nap, too. I was napping on the couch when I thought I heard the doorbell ring. I couldn't figure out if it was on TV or was my doorbell. I got up and peeked around the corner and saw the figure of a lady on the porch through the glass entry door. I thought she had a bucket beside her on the porch. I put on my hat and went to answer the door. It was my friend K, who gave me the puppies, with her darling little baby boy in his car seat (what I thought was a bucket)! I was so delighted to see them. K had been shopping nearby and decided to run by for a little while. I've been longing to see and hold baby M. He was smiley and cuddly and sweet. What a nice surprise!

Josh came by this evening after work, and I went to the mall with him and to get gas in the truck. He is working on his own now that his training period is over, seems to like his job and is doing well. I don't get to see him quite as often now that he is working, and I miss him!

I went outside with Sister and Katy, cleaned leaves out of the pool and put in some chemicals, and watered the grass tonight. Then I went to the store. I just needed a couple of things, but since I felt okay I went ahead and did some grocery shopping for Mom.

It was 10 PM by the time I got all that done, then I talked to Ron on the phone for awhile. I think I'll sleep well tonight.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Home For The Day

Home after a long day. I had an appointment for labs, a dressing change on my central line, and a visit with the transplant docs this morning, so I was at the hospital all morning. I'm giving myself the Neupogen shots again, and my white count is high, which is good. I'll continue them throughout the stem cell harvest procedure, so we'll get lots of stem cells overflowing into my bloodstream.

I was a little worried about the central line because there was some redness around it, but I'm on antibiotics for that, and it looks better. They changed the dressing and put a little disc right where the line goes into my skin that has a slow release topical antibiotic.

I saw three of the doctors today, mostly by chance (just had an appointment with one of them). They are taking great care of me, and checking to make sure everything is as it should be for the stem cell harvest next Wednesday. They assure me that all is well and they think I'll do as well with the transplant as I've done with the chemo.

When I finished at the hospital, I met Kelly and we had lunch and talked and talked. It was nice to be with her for a little while. She lifts me up.

I got to Mom's after 2 PM, and got home around 4 PM. I had taken some frozen hamburger and Jiffy cornbread mix with me in the morning to take to Mom's. I put a pot of beans in her crock pot yesterday, so I made the cornbread and added browned hamburger and seasonings to the cooked beans. She was going to have beans for dinner. She wanted me to stay and eat with her, but I was still too full from lunch and needed to get home to check on my puppies.

Now they are snoozing in their crate, enjoying the air conditioning, and I'm ready to crash on the couch for a bit. I'm tired. I don't have to go back to the hospital until Tuesday, August 17, when they will give me another round of Rituxan before doing the stem cell harvest on Wednesday. Three days of freedom!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sweet Grandchildren

I stayed with Reece, Aubrey and Camryn this afternoon while their mom was out for awhile. There is never a dull moment. :o) Reece wanted me to draw some pictures, and I left the pen where Aubrey could reach it when I went to the bathroom. By the time I got back, she had drawn black lines all over both her legs. I took her into the bathroom and sat her on the counter with her feet in the sink. I was washing her legs off and I said, "Aubrey, don't write on yourself with a pen, okay?" And she said, "O-tay, Gam-maw!" She's soooo cute! Her hair was in a ponytail today.

Reece saw a little box of Legos in the kitchen cabinet (where his parents keep them put away from the little girls) and wanted to play with them. So we built a "house," and he wanted to put an air conditioner, a TV, a stove, and a couch in the house. We found a way to make all that, then he put little cylindrical Legos on the "counter" and said they were Cokes and Root Beer. He made his little Lego men sit on the couch and watch TV, ride a horse, and run from a Lego alligator. He has a great imagination.

Camryn was her usual smiley self. Every time I looked at her or talked to her, she would smile so big and kick her feet. If you tell her "no" about anything, she puts her head down and puts her hands over her ears. :o) I guess she doesn't like to hear "no no." Aubrey was pretending to cook, and she would feed Camryn with a little toy spoon from a tiny skillet. They make me smile.

I forgot to take pictures. :o(

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sixth Cycle Is Finished.

(My favorite Hawaiian flower, plumeria. They smell like Heaven).

I'm home. I'm so glad to be here! They are wonderful to me at the hospital, but it's true that there is no place like home. I was there 3 days, but it feels like I've been gone for a week.

Josh and his family were just pulling into the driveway when I got home, so I got to see all of them. I talked to Kelly, who took care of my dogs, the cat, her Gran and my house while I was gone. Ron and both of my sisters called me this evening, and Josh just came back and brought me some barbecued chicken he grilled. They are all so sweet, and life is good. :o)

I've been moved from the cancer side of things to the bone marrow transplant unit at Wilford Hall, with a new set of doctors, a different clinic, and some different nurses and techs. The regular chemotherapy regimen is finished, but there will be more chemo with the stem cell transplant. Please keep praying for me. I'm more stressed about the transplant stuff than I was about the first six rounds of chemo. Thanks!

They did a lot while I was in the hospital this time. I got the central line implanted in my chest on Monday. It's BIG! They did what they called "tunneling," which means it's kind of backed up to my neck under the skin. Looks weird. Then there are two "nozzles" coming out on the left side of my upper chest. It's on the same side as my PICC line. I have 4 lines they can use for various things. I feel like a Cyborg. They will use the central line to harvest my stem cells. They said the reason it has to be so large is so that none of the cells will be damaged going through the line. There is some redness today around the central line, so they have me on antibiotics in case of infection. It's a bit itchy, too.

They started chemo Monday afternoon. It was 4 cycles of Ara-C, 1 of Rituxan and some kind of steroid that I've forgotten the name of. They finished the 4th cycle of Ara-C this morning from about midnight to 4 AM. I slept through the last cycle. :o)

The dentist came to visit me to take a look at my broken molar. He decided that it could wait until after my entire treatment is finished. I'm glad to hear that.

I had a breathing test at the pulmonary clinic. I have huge lung capacity for an old lady--the guy who did the test was very impressed. :o) I credit that to never having smoked. I have good, healthy lungs.

I had an EKG, a chest X-Ray, and a mammogram. They were not able to get me in for the MUGA scan and told me to call Nuclear Medicine at BAMC. I did, but they can't do it until August 19, and that's a day after I'm supposed to start the stem cell harvest. That won't do, so I'll have to get my doctor to call them and get me in sooner. Bother.

I have to go back on Friday for labs, a dressing change and so that they can look at my central line to be sure there is no infection. I'll see one of the transplant docs then, too.

I'll start the Neupogen shots (2X a day) tomorrow and will continue them through the stem cell harvest period. There are other meds I take from days 5 through the 15th to keep me from getting side effects from the chemo (I get those after every chemo treatment). Plus the antibiotic for the central line, nausea meds as needed, and eye drops to protect my eyes. It's a lot to remember, along with my usual diabetes and thyroid meds!

I didn't see the social worker or clinical coordinator, but I don't think they are important (don't tell them I said that). I talked to one of them today for a few minutes, and she said we could get together any time during the stem cell transplant procedure.

I'll go in on August 17 for Rituxan therapy (another chemo). Then the next day I'll start the stem cell harvest procedure. It takes 4 hours, and can take from one to three days, depending on how many stem cells they can recover. I'm not looking forward to this procedure. They said my family can be with me for it. Ron will still be out of town, but Kelly and Josh are going to be with me. They said we can watch movies, have snacks, etc. They try to make it sound like fun, but I've read what can happen and it's kind of scary. I don't ever believe them any more when they tell me something is quick and easy. It never is.

I still don't have a date for the deep chemo that will be done in the hospital for 6 days. The doctor will tell me, probably next week.

It seems like things are happening really quickly now. I'm excited that my treatment will soon be over, anxious about the procedures, and hopeful that all of this will have excellent results.

If this treatment cures me of mantle cell lymphoma, I will consider it a miracle. The transplant doctors said that mantle cell almost always comes back because some of the cells are slow growing and cannot be targeted by the chemo. Mantle cell is one of the rare forms of lymphoma. Only about 6% of lymphoma patients have it, and only about 2% of those are women; men usually get it. So I am a rare lymphoma patient with little chance of a complete cure. Most mantle cell patients have a recurrence of the disease within 5 years or so.

But my doctors tell me that I have had an excellent response, that I'm doing really well, and they are hopeful. I am even more hopeful, because I know the power of faith and prayer. I have had so many wonderful people praying for me, I have used my Lourdes water, I've said Novenas to many saints, and Jesus is right here with me, holding me close no matter what happens.

Thank you again for your thoughts, love and prayers. I can't begin to express what it means to me.

Sorry, I know some of this is repetition. I guess I'm trying to get it all straight in my head. ;o)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Stem Cell Transplant Procedure

(Rose of Sharon)

(Just a note to make sure that y'all know that this stem cell transplant uses my own stem cells. I am totally against the use of embryonic stem cells taken from aborted babies, and would never agree to the use of such stem cells, even if they could save my life. However, it is not necessary at all to use embryonic stem cells, as adult stem cells are more effective).

(This post written Sunday night and prescheduled to post Monday morning).

My medical team already started (last week) doing some of the procedures needed for the stem cell transplant. They have taken lots of blood in order to do many different kinds of tests, making sure I'm strong and healthy enough for the transplant.

They've taken me to the clinic where the stem cell harvest will be done, where they took more blood and had me fill out a lot of paperwork. They showed me the machine that will separate my blood cells into layers and send the stem cells to be stored.

I have to have another EKG, chest xray, a MUGA scan, and visits to the oral surgeon/dentist, a social worker, and the clinical referral coordinator. I'm not sure what the purpose of those last two can be; guess I'll find out when I see them. I suspect the social worker is to find out if I'm psychologically ready for the transplant?

Tomorrow they will put a new line in my chest to use for the stem cell harvest. They said the PICC line in my arm is too small for that procedure. The stem cell harvest could take anywhere from one to three days (four hours each day). They will give me neupogen two times a day beforehand to help develop lots of white cells in my bone marrow. Yes, neupogen--the stuff that made me hurt so much. Yikes. But the more white cells, the more stem cells. When my white cells reach a certain level, that's when they will harvest the stem cells.

The harvested stem cells will be frozen until I've had a round of "super chemo," which will take about a week in the hospital. That chemo treatment will take place about 21 days after the one I'll have this week, so around August 30th, I think. Because it is such strong chemo, they will be keeping a very close eye on me. That's why I have to stay in the hospital so long.

After the "super chemo" is finished, they will return my own harvested stem cells through the line in my chest (I think). The transplant doctor said that recovery will take awhile and I won't feel "well" for quite some time. He expects by the end of the year I'll begin to feel okay again. I'm hoping that I'll be as fortunate with that recovery as I've been with the chemo treatments I've had.

I know that it is thanks to all of you who have prayed for me for all these months that I have done so well. As I come to the final phase of treatment, I continue to ask for your prayers. Thank you all for helping me in this battle for my life.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Getting Ready for Chemo

(Facade of Mission San Jose, one of the old churches along San Antonio's Mission Trail).

Mass was lovely today. Fr. Mesa, the parochial vicar, was the priest. His homily was very nice, about faith, hope and love and the two "schools" where we learn about those virtues, prayer and penance. And his Latin was pretty good, too. :o)

Mom's chicken turned out very yummy--moist and full of flavor. We made some mashed potatoes and corn, and she made gravy which was delicious! We had brownies for dessert. Kelly came for dinner, too. Mom was happy to be the hostess today. It was nice.

Kelly came to my house after we left Gran's, and wrote out a schedule for taking care of the dogs and Maggie. They were extremely happy to see her. Kelly will also be in charge of Gran's medications while I'm in the hospital. So a big load of worry has been lifted from my shoulders. Thank you, Kel!

Josh just came by, so I got to see him for awhile before I go into the hospital for a few days. His new job is going well, and he seems to like it. He works long hours, and six days a week, but he hasn't complained. He just bought himself a TomTom since he drives all over town for his jobs. His training period is just about over.

I'll probably not post on my blog until I get home. I can post from my iphone, but it's much easier from my computer. I can't get on the internet with my computer in the hospital, though. But I can read and answer email from my iphone.

So, see you Wednesday!

Beautiful Sunday Morning

Reece spent the night last night. We made chocolate fudge oatmeal cookies. He likes to eat the raw oatmeal, straight from the box. He said, "I yike these oatmeal seeds!" :o) Ever since he was a little bitty boy he has thought the Quaker Oat guy on the box is a picture of his Papa.

His papa took him to the store and bought him a Transformer car and motorcycle. I can never get those things back to the original after they've "transformed."

Reece played outside quite a bit, while Papa was vacuuming the pool.

He likes to go through the old toys in a box in one of the spare bedrooms. One day he asked what was in the box, and I said, "Oh, just a bunch of junk." So when he wants to play in there, he says, "Can I play with the junk?" We put batteries in the sleeping Ernie toy that was Caelen's when he was little, and it still works. Reece got so tickled when Ernie would talk and snore. :o)

Funny story about that Ernie. I was sleeping in the spare room one night, and just as I was falling asleep I heard someone say, "I feel great!" I thought Ernie must have shifted in the toy box and it made him talk, so I rolled over and was falling asleep again when I heard, "I feel great!" I finally had to get up and take the batteries out of the crazy thing. I guess they were going bad, and Ernie wouldn't shut up! Creepy.

Reece went with me early this morning to take Papa to the airport. I dropped him off at home on the way back. He and his mama were trying to decide what to have for breakfast when I left their house. The little girls were still asleep.

I'll pick Mom up for Mass in a bit. She was going to put a chicken in her crock pot last night for our Sunday dinner today. Kelly is joining us for dinner after Mass, then she will come over to my house for awhile. She is going to take care of Sister and Katy for me while I'm in the hospital, since Ron is out of town. She is my angel.

Hope you are having a beautiful weekend!