Friday, December 21, 2012

Get me out of the house!

Looking good ladies!
"Get me out of the house."  Two weeks post treatment Jan is more than ready to get out of the house.  The tired feeling is overwhelming, although she is able to eat fine thank goodness, but the tiredness takes its toll.  With each treatment the weak tired feeling has lasted longer so she is glad there is only one more of this type treatment to go.  Jan planned a night out for her and Mallory (one of her granddaughters) who was traveling through on her way to South Carolina.  After picking her up at the Richmond train station they headed over to SinĂ© for dinner then over to the Carpenter Theatre for the annual production of "The Nutcracker".  Mallory being a veteran of many Nutcracker performances was the perfect date.  So ladies night out was a perfect celebration for Jan's first day out again.  One more treatment -- a rest period -- and she can move on to the next set of treatments, this is one time in life when yes you do want time to move a little faster.  Thanks to all who make calls, send emails, visit it all helps!
Carpenter Theatre, Richmond

"Ballet Pink" roses

Monday, December 10, 2012

Treatment #3 ---Done.

Treatment #3 is in the books.  
Chocolate dipped strawberries with pink ribbons.
Jan with some of her work friends.
Downtown lights.

After surgery there is often some fluid build up and drainage down into the surgery site.  Jan's fluid build up didn't occur till 6 weeks post surgery but the site filled up quite a bit.  The surgeon tapped the site and was able to remove all the fluid leaving her feeling better.  Often this will just dissipate but sometimes they have to remove it especially with a larger amount as they did with hers.  Other than that all went well and she has one more done.  The first 2-3 days she feels pretty good so we took advantage of that with some shopping, eating out, and a visit to the Jefferson Hotel in downtown Richmond.  Knowing it would be decorated for the holidays we thought it would be a nice spot for lunch after her treatment.  Jan, Toni, and Lyn had a relaxing lunch overlooking the beautiful lobby area and enjoyed the decorations.  It ended up being a late lunch so were able to catch the downtown lights on our way out of the city.

Jan & Toni 
Completely made of gingerbread and candies,
it made the whole area smell amazing.

Lyn & Jan

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Happy Birthday!!

Sharon, Carol, Bessie (mom), Janet
sitting: Janice with Carolyn
Happy Birthday!! 

 Today is Jan's (& Janet's by the way) Birthday!  Throughout their lives they have occasionally been able to get together for their big day, even a few surprise get togethers.  This year Jan will be having dinner with both her kids that hasn't happened since at least 1977, so that alone is a reason to celebrate.  The four of us sitting at the table together a little older and "wiser", wouldn't you love to hear that conversation?

It is also the night before treatment #3, she has her house decorated, her Christmas cards mailed & house cleaned.  The first 10 days post treatment are a bit rough but she still has gotten plenty done the next 10 days.  Hopefully this treatment will go as well and she'll be down to one more of these "big" ones and can move on to weekly treatments.  These leave her very tired with the weekly the lower dose should have less side effects.  Monday she'll meet with the surgeon to set up surgery in the spring, then radiation to follow that.  As always keep those emails, notes, prayers, and well wishes going her way.  

Wintergreen Birthday Weekend 2008

Carol, Sharon, Janice, Janet early mid 80's

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A visit with Santa!

While the sisters were together they made their trip to visit Santa!

Naughty or Nice?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Treatment #2

Surprise!  Carol, Sharon, Janice, Janet
Well all things considered Jan handled the first treatment and the weeks that followed amazingly well.  Main side affect other than the mouth ulcers---- at day 16 she lost her hair, but Jan didn't let that keep her from going to church.  Rog helped her trim the edges she pulled on her wig and headed out the door.  It is this drive & attitude that is going to help her get through this in high style.  Her sister Sharon arrived from Kentucky a couple days early so they could enjoy some time together while she was feeling her best.  Treatment day arrived with a wonderful surprise --her other 2 sisters (Janet from Pennsylvania and Carol from New Jersey) showed up at the hospital and so the 4 of them were able to have lots of girl time together.  We refer to these 4 (and especially when they are all together) as the crazy aunts, but boy every friend who has heard of them would love to have one of their visits.  They are like tornadoes through your house and when they leave your laundry is done, folded, put away, dishes done, closets organized, if you have painting to be done yep check that off too, babysitting, yard work, you name it they get it done.

Jan's lab tests were all good,  so this keeps the treatments on schedule making the next one December 6, here is hoping she continues this well throughout.  She is hoping to feel well enough to get to work a few days this month and Lyn (Carolyn) will be down to celebrate her birthday and get treatment number 3 over with.
A big thank you to her co-workers for the visit on treatment day.

Keep those emails, calls, cards coming she loves to hear from all of you!

Rog & Jan in the waiting room, Rog is going for the
record of books read on a Kindle.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

You can't keep Jan down

Well 2 weeks post first treatment and Jan shows up to work.  As crazy as this sounds to most people, going to work made her feel great.  The first week after treatment went pretty well, it was the second week when things started to catch up to her.  She developed mouth ulcers a common side effect, which of course also bothers eating drinking etc.  She began a Tetracycline rinse and after 4 days of that she is doing much better and was happy to report to work for a few hours.  So far her main complaint is just not being able to do things, working or not she is normally always moving.   As she approaches the next treatment on November 15 she looks forward to seeing her sister Sharon.   Continue emails, cards, messages ---all are appreciated.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

One down....15 to go.

One of the things we had planned to do if mom felt up to it was visit the Virginia Museum of Fine Art which just had the opening of the Chihuly Exhibit.  We were planning to do this Monday thinking by then mom would be up to it and we could avoid the weekend crowds......but hurricane Sandy cut my visit short.  Mom was doing well so we went on Saturday although by the end of the visit she was pretty tired.   Mom had seen a display at Corning glass in New York over the summer while on vacation, I had marked my calendar for this exhibit having seen his work at many different places over the years.  Joined by her friend Toni we also caught the end of the Garden Club's floral displays each inspired by one of the pieces of art in the museum.  If you get the chance check it out you will not be  disappointed!  We would love to think each treatment would go this well but we are realistic and know it will take its toll, but one at a time.  She is following all the instructions staying hydrated, eating well, no caffeine (this is a hard one), and has a super positive attitude which is a huge part of it.  Next treatment November 15 and her sister Sharon will be in from Kentucky to spend some time with her.

A hallway glass ceiling looks like you are
in a coral reef.

The black surface reflects the glass in amazing ways.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Treatment---- one down

First treatment went well, it took about 2 1/2 hours but being the first time a lot of that was explaining everything as they went along.  Future treatments will probably be done in under 2 hours.  The first few drips are anti-nausea meds the actual chemo gets pushed in then another 30 min drip of steroids to help with the nausea also.  DOXOrubicin hydrochloride is the actual chemo drug name for those interested, it has been around a long time.  They have recliner chairs lining the room with floor to ceiling windows,  today looking out at a beautiful fall day with 80 degree temps.  This picture was taken in the waiting room before she went back her co workers put together a giant LLBean tote filled with all sorts of goodies and Shelly  had brought it down to her before her treatment started.  She is overwhelmed with all the support, emails, notes, attention....Thank you all.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Her & Janet's banner at a walkathon in Richmond,
Bart we'll find you a pink shirt!

As much as we would all like to help at times like this we all feel there just isn't enough we can actually do.  No matter what we do we want to do more.  People keep asking me "what can I do", "can I help you", "can I help your mom" and I know in similar situations I have done the same.  I'm sure at different stages there will be different needs, right now the support and love Jan is feeling from everyone is very comforting.  Cards, emails, funny stories, laughs it is all helpful.  Right now she is very hopeful that by 4 days after each treatment she will be starting to feel like herself and able to go get her own "carmel latte with skim milk" (I have been with her and as soon as they see her car at the drive in window they are already making it).  When she gets to the window they are chatting as if they know her well from these 2-3 minutes of conversation each morning, (although she can say more than most in 2-3 minutes).  As much as she loves the attention she also loves doing everything herself........uh oh this sounds familiar.  Something I was thinking we could all do is on treatment days find something pink to wear and send an email or note.  Share old stories, funny stories, whatever comes to mind.  While she is going through those rough first days after the treatment she'll be getting the notes and emails which will help pass the time.  Also if you know Jan she would love if there were some pictures in those notes & emails!  You could also post them here whatever is easier.

First treatment Thursday Oct 25 --- Get your pink on!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Treatment Schedule

Johnston-Willis Campus  part of the HCA Virginia Health System is the hospital mom uses and also where she works part time.  Thomas Johns Cancer Hospital to be specific is where she'll be.

So with surgeries, MRI, CAT scans, bone scans, x-rays, lab tests, genetic testing, lots of appointments done the treatment begins October 25.  A port has been placed in her shoulder so no more sticking her with needles, it has taken a dozen sticks to get into a vein each time so this will be a great help.  She will begin with a chemo drip that will take a little over 3 hours then return the next day for an injection.  There will be 4 of these type treatments Nov 15, then Dec 6 and  the last one happening on Dec 27.  The expected side effects will be loss of hair at 2 weeks and flu like symptoms for 4-5 days post each treatment gradually easing up as days go by.  Then on January 17 it will change to a chemo treatment every Thursday for 12 weeks finishing up early May barring any delays.

Having been given a ton of reading material she is  opting to just see how her treatments progress since everyone reacts differently.   Gatorade is stocked, it is important to keep hydrated and really hydrate the day before the treatment.  She is shopping for wigs and hats so she is ready when the time comes.

For any of you with advice, tips, suggestions, questions, humor or well wishes click on "comment" below to leave a message.  We'll try to update this with pictures and progress as often as we can.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

"Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans"

Love the song but John Lennon's quote comes up far to often around here, but like everyone in this world we have to roll with what is sent our way.  I am going to update this past year and then this blog will take on a new roll for a few months.
Our nest hasn't been so empty lately and life has a sense of keeping you busy. Although many days when I haven't sat down all day I can't figure out where the day went.  It has been a roller coaster of a year, with all the ups and downs.  As parents we swelled with pride when Alyson graduated from Boston College with her MBA and she now works in the Boston area with EMC.

Then late spring we lost my father in law to a rough battle with Alzheimer's a horrible disease that took a wonderful man.  We miss him all the time and cherish every memory.  No one is without his many favorite sayings in their heads and repeating them brings smiles to all who knew him.

     Summer brought on the wedding prep, funny how it seems you have so much time and then how quickly that time goes.  Somehow it all gets done, and a weekend of family, fun, & celebration is realized.  We could not have asked for a better weekend in any way.  We choose to celebrate every chance we get no matter how big or small--- life is for celebrating.  Striving to find good in every day, to find moments of quiet, calm, time to reflect it helps to reset your mood and keeps you focused on whats important in life. Three weeks before our big family wedding my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.  It stops you in your tracks like hitting a concrete wall.  Within moments your schedule has stopped, appointments juggled, realigning what really needs to be done and what doesn't.  Through those first few weeks her focus was on enjoying the vacation she was on when she got the call and the upcoming wedding.  "do what you need to do but I am going to this wedding" was her response to every doctor at each appt. that needed to be scheduled.   As it turned out she made the wedding, stayed to the very end and looked beautiful the whole time.

She had put a lot of time into this event she sewed the table runners, made her own skirt, had made table runners for the shower, along with her sister knitted dishcloths for the shower favors.  Nothing was gonna keep her from this wedding and being with her family.  So now the focus is totally her health and getting through this treatment schedule.  She is blessed with a huge caring community of family & friends, blessed is probably not exactly the right word as she has earned this group of people.  If anyone, anytime needs anything she is there.  Actually you don't even need to be in the group she is all in for anyone, perfect strangers if she sees their need she is all in for them too.  Now is her time for support and like her we are all ---all in.

With this large support group we know it is important to keep everyone in the loop.  She and I will update this blog to keep everyone up to date on what is going on medically.  That way when you call she won't have to repeat every lab result, x-ray report, status of treatments you can read that here and then chat with her about more upbeat thoughts.