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.