Saturday, February 12, 2011
A wise friend once told me the best way to avoid stress was to stay busy because then your mind doesn't have time to dwell on your problems. I guess she was right as it seems to be working for me and for Tommy.
It's been a while since I've added a blog. Since the last one, Tommy has had a biopsy (kind of) and a PET scan. When trying to do the biopsy, his lung began to collapse and the doctor had to stop, unsure of whether he even had enough tissue to test. As it turns out, they are still uncertain as to what the spots are in his lungs. They did not find any cancer in the biopsy (great news), but don't know that they had the tissue they really needed. He will have another scan next month to see if there are any changes in these nodules. If there are, he told his oncologist they can put him back on chemo if necessary, but he said he would never allow them to do another biopsy. He had to be awake through the 45 minute process because he had to hold his breath every time they moved the needle and said it was the most painful thing he's ever been through. So, now we just wait until the next scan. That has been our life for the last year; living from scan to scan. Worrying about the next results. Afraid to make too many plans for the future. The stress can be almost unbearable at times.
Three weeks ago one of my sons moved into his own place. Yippee!!! Not that I don't love him dearly, but I've really been wanting that bedroom for a place to put my computer desk and exercise equipment. Finally, here was my chance to clean the carpet, paint the walls and get it fixed up the way I wanted it. So, I blew the dust off my carpet cleaning machine, filled it with water and cleaning solution and went to work. A few hours later I stood back and looked at my clean, old, worn out carpet. Oh no, I expected it to look so much better. It was clean, but still showing its age. Maybe I should consider new carpet now? As I stood fussing in the bedroom doorway, Tommy came to see what was the matter. I happened to mention that the old hardwood floors under the carpet might even look better. Tommy's reaction was only, "Are you kidding me? Are there really hardwood floors under this carpet?" You see, he had no way of knowing this as I already had this house when we got married, so he'd never seen what was lying underneath the carpet. He ran into the room and started pulling the carpet up in the corner. Yep, underneath that carpet was old oak hardwood floors and, except for the heavy coat of varnish that had turned a lovely shade of orange, they were in pretty good shape. To make a long story short, my house is now a mess. The carpet has been ripped up from my living room and two bedrooms and the furniture from those rooms now line our back hall, and we won't even mention the impossible task of trying to make your way through my kitchen and dining room. The painting has begun in all the rooms, Tommy is busy pulling up carpet tack strips and filling small holes along the baseboards previously drilled for TV cables. He has already found someone who has given us a great price to come and sand all the floors and refinish them when we're ready.
Yep, everything is a huge mess, but I think this is the happiest I've seen Tommy since his cancer diagnosis in 2009. I guess that's because he's busy doing something he is excited about instead of sitting and worrying about that next scan. I guess I need to keep him busy with projects from now on (smaller ones of course).
Oh yes, there's only one problem. Thor (our doberman) apparently doesn't share our enthusiasm for hardwood floors. He actually stood there crying on the hard floor when Tommy first pulled the carpet up in living room. He's beginning to adjust, but only with the aid of his oversized cushion to lay on.
One more added bonus - I'm staying busy so it's much easier to not nibble on foods I don't need and I'm moving almost constantly, so this is actually helping me with my weight loss.
Now I'm up to get back to work.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
September 10, 2009 was the day a doctor walked into a consultation room and informed me and Tommyís sister that he had pancreatic cancer. He told us he probably had about six to twelve months left. The news was shocking and devastating. I couldnít imagine life without my husband.
I had been laid off from my job of fifteen years in May and then learned in July that Tommy was going to be laid off in October. We had thought things were about as bad as they could get, until the news of his pancreatic cancer. Hope was running out. Now, more than five months later, things are looking better for us.
Tommy will have his last radiation appointment today. After that he has a few more chemo treatments scheduled and then heíll be finished with his treatments. Heíll have another PET scan in a few months and weíre hopeful that it will be as positive as the last two heís had. Far from what I initially expected would be the situation by now, we went mountain hiking together Sunday at Pilot Mountain. The weather was beautiful and it was good to be back out. While we didnít hike all the way to the top, I was impressed with the distance we went before he decided to turn around. His determination is amazing and his positive outlook is contagious. We feel like we actually have hope now and are making plans for the future.
I also started a new job last Monday and am very excited about it. I am now a new magistrate for the county I live in and the job is so interesting. There is much to learn, but I feel so fortunate to have been selected for this position. Iím now working days, but move to second shift beginning next week and will eventually move to the third shift when my training is complete. Iím so excited about this because I love having my days free and can be available if Tommy needs me to go with him to appointments. This will also mean I can do early morning hikes avoiding the summer heat, so Iím really looking forward to spring to summer.
We are hopeful that 2010 will be a much better year for us than 2009.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Whew! Since my last entry almost two months ago, so much has happened. I feel like I've been away from SP for even longer than the two months it has been. We've been so busy that my healthy eating lifestyle and exercise schedule has mostly vanished from my life. Now I've gained some weight back and I feel horrible, so I'm making time for myself from this day forward to get back on track and get in some hiking and other exercise.
Tommy and I continue to take one day at a time and work toward his recovery while spending quality time together also. The results of his PET scan was very good. Dr. Shearer (his oncologist) said that the only area that appeared brighter on the scan was the original surgical area. While she could not promise us that there was no cancer there, she feels that what it may have been showing was inflammation remaining from the whipple procedure. The best news was that there was no indication of the cancer having spread to any other areas of his body. With 2/3's of his lymph nodes removed having cancer cells in them, we were afraid the cancer had already spread, but this doesn't appear to be the case. I was very excited when I heard this, while Tommy was cautiously optimistic. He said he'd be more excited after the next PET scan if it still shows no spread. I think he's still thinking about the doctors' words of caution that pancreatic cancer tends to recur.
Tommy began his chemo treatments 5 weeks ago. He has his chemo once a week (Mondays) for three weeks and then has a week off to allow his body to recover and let his blood count build back up. Incredibly, he has had absolutely no side effects. Prior to them beginning, they gave us prescriptions to fill for nausea, which we did. As of today, he hasn't taken the first pill because he hasn't been sick. When he went back last Monday, he had even gained some weight (all that Thanksgiving food). He hasn't even lost any hair, at least not from the chemo :)
Everyone who sees him is amazed because he looks so healthy and says he feels better than he's felt in a long time.
He'll have another treatment tomorrow and then next Monday, then he'll have the week of Christmas off again. He'll then have another PET scan before resuming his chemo. He'll then also begin his radiation treatments. He'll go every day, Monday through Friday, for 5 1/2 weeks (28 treatments). We're hoping and praying that the results of his next PET scan are as positive as the last one.
With Tommy feeling so good, we've had plenty of time to enjoy ourselves. In the last month we've taken a trip to the mountains and a trip to Myrtle Beach and went to the race in Martinsville, VA (the picture is Tommy at the race). My sister and her husband (they live in Florida) also came up to stay with us over Thanksgiving. It was so nice to just have fun and get our minds off of his illness. He is much more upbeat now than he was a couple of months ago and now believes he has a chance to be cured. I just try to continue to support him and keep him feeling positive.
Now we're looking forward to Christmas and spending time with family and friends. We also continue to make our plans for the future because I intend to have him around for a very long time.
Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!
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