Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Eat Fresh

One of the steps in (one of the few steps thankfully) in treating thyroid cancer is radioactive iodine, which is basically a single dose of oral chemotherapy.  And while technically I won't be able to temporarily be around people, pass through an airport, or mail things without being considered a terrorist threat (because I will be emitting radiation), it has minimal side effects when compared to systemic chemotherapy.

To prepare for the radioactive iodine, I will have to go off my thyroid meds (insert whimpers here) and go on a special low-iodine diet for something crazy like 4 weeks.  I'll probably grace you all with more specifics of the low-iodine diet when it gets closer, but basically when on the diet you are restricted to eating fresh fruits/vegetables and non-salted peanut butter.  Turns out iodine is in practically everything.

So I was pretty excited when I saw this chart on pinterest the other day.


{Image found HERE}


It will be April and May when I am on the low-iodine diet.  And according to this chart, the only produce that will be in season are cauliflower, spinach, cabbage, lettuce and rhubarb.

Awesome.

I can pretty much guarantee I won't be eating seasonably during my low-iodine diet.  4 weeks of peanut butter on cabbage?  I don't think so.

Sorry Sustainable Table.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday's Thoughts

I had a pretty darn busy day at work.  By 3:30 in the afternoon, my brain was shutting down.  But I did manage to compile a list of my thoughts for the day today.  Enjoy!


{Part of my recent work.  Hydrographs and more coloring.}

-  On my way to work this morning, I drove past a Christmas tree shoved into someone's yard debris can (we have multiple types of garbage cans here in the Pacific NW.  Not recycling will likely get you flogged by an angry group of liberals wearing flannel and birkenstocks beating you with organic sustainably grown wood sticks also known as their "Occupy Portland" protest signs).  I am just glad our neighborhood is finally undecorating from Christmas.  Maybe everyone will take down their Christmas lights now.  *cough* 2 next door neighbors *cough*

-  Have you heard who will be on the new season of Dancing with the Stars?  Urkel, an NFL player, a tennis player, Sherry Shepard, a couple other "celebrities" I don't know, and Gavin DeGraw.  Gavin DeGraw?!?  I would think if you had a Top 20 single you would be a little above DWTS.  I'm sure his agent suggested this as publicity for his new album, but seriously... the guy better be able to dance or I'm guessing his record scales will drop considerably.

-  The Bachelor.  We all know Ben is going to pick Courtney.  He is a nerdy wine maker and she is a model.  Isn't this season just a reality show version of Revenge of the Nerds?

-  A new study came out suggesting that using ectasy while pregnant might negatively affect the fetus.  The fact that this needed to even be studied is baffling but what really gets me is that someone decided this was a good use of research funds.  Even worse is that they found 96 women to participate in the study!  Seems like one stupid idea after another.

- A Virginian woman was fined a whopping $100 for faking cancer and raising money for herself.  If my memory is correct, this is like the 3rd person in the last 6 months that has gotten caught faking cancer and raising money for their "treatment."  I always thought people who did this were ridiculous.  It seems like horrible karma to extort money out of people by pretending to be sick.  It's like you are asking for it or something.  I am even more offended now that I going through my own cancer treatment.  Good thing that woman get that HUGE fine!  I'm sure she learned her lesson.

-  After several horrible experiences with my endocrinologist's office, I decided to head to my lab appointment with an open mind.  The last time I had to get my bloodwork done, they not only didn't have my appointment in the computer, they didn't have my lab order either.  The lab tech very plainly told me I needed to get it all straightened out.  So when I checked in at the lab this morning and they actually had my appointment on the schedule, I figured it was a good sign.  After waiting 10 minutes or so, a different lab tech told me my lab orders weren't in the computer.  Of course they weren't.  At least this time she volunteered to go get everything fixed for me.  She then proceeded to poke all the way through my vein, which made her have to dig around to get the blood out.  For 6 vials.  Good times.  Needless to say, my expectations for next week's appointment aren't super high.


He's Feeling Better

Go Fish.  Popsicles.  Headbandz.  And some dinner.  Thanks to Children's Tylenol and Advil, David is feeling much better.  He says his throat still hurts and by 7:00 last night, he was a little pale and very sleepy, but he RAN up to answer the door and was very goofy so I think that is a good sign.

He was a very brave boy.  And his older brother, Jacob, was a very good helper and big brother (for the most part).  :)



{Phil with his Fair Godmothers card.  Such a good uncle.}


Oh shoot!  No one took a picture of me with my headband on.  Dang.  :)  Maybe next time.


Monday, February 27, 2012

David has surgery

David (my youngest nephew) says a lot of funny things.  He is almost 4 years old.  Pretty soon, he will be an older little kid.  Still cute, but in a different not as innocent kind of way.  Just last week, I asked him why a little girl at his daycare had given him a hug and he said, "It's none of your business."  Funny kid.


{David at the State Fair in 2010 | David looking at a caterpiller Phil found in Oct. 2010 | David at the State Fair in 2011}


This morning David had to have surgery to remove his tonsils, adenoids, and have an endoscopy done at the same time.

Last week when he had to have his blood work done pre-surgery, he asked his mom if it would hurt.  She told him it would feel like a pinch, but it wouldn't hurt for very long.  After it was done, he said to her, "Momma you lied!  It felt like a shot!"

His surgery was this morning and my brother said it went well.  Then he sent me this picture:



Doesn't that break your heart?

Since I just had surgery, I tried my best to make sure he knew that he would be ok and that it wasn't too scary.  I promised him lots of popsicles and games of Go Fish and Headbandz the evening of his surgery.  So when his doctor told him he would HAVE to eat lots of popsicles after the surgery, David replied, "That's ok.  My Aunt Natalie is going to bring me popsicles and play Go Fish with me."  Melt my heart.

I bought him like 40 popsicles.  Hope it's enough.


Sleepy Weekend

I have been kind of a bad blogger.  I neglect my blog a little.  In defense of my blog-neglect, I have been neglecting many areas of life as well.  It can't totally be helped.  I was feeling REALLY good until about the middle of last week.  Then all of a sudden, the tiredness settled in.  Once again, waking up is impossible.


{image from HERE}

I spent most of the weekend sleeping.  Slept in Saturday morning, then I went to work.  After about 3 hours of work, I went home and took a nap.  Our friend, Ryan is moving to the Netherlands for 2 years this week, so we spent Saturday night at his parents' house for his going away party. 

I need to swallow my jealousy that Ryan will be living in Europe for two years and remember the year I spent living abroad.  Now that I am back living in the US, I like to romanticize the experience.  Must remember no central air, no car, bad food (English food is NOT good), expensive washer/dryer.

Ok... I am a little better now.

We get home and were in bed before midnight Saturday night, but I still needed to sleep until 10 Sunday morning.  And then laid around all day, too tired to do anything.

The other strange side effect, post 2nd surgery:  no appetite.

My bloodwork gets done tomorrow and my next appointment with the endo will be next Tuesday.  I am hoping my bloodwork reflects the way I am feeling.  I am afraid the way I am feeling may be my "new normal."

In preparation for that appointment, I am doing my best to figure out what questions I have for the doctor regarding the next steps.  After all, it isn't every day a girl becomes radioactive.  At least we hope not.

Let's get this stuff done.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Random Memories

{from HERE}

Here's one of my memories:

It was the end of my first term of grad school.  I had gone over to a friend's apartment Friday night to hang out with my grad school friends before we all went our separate ways for the holidays.  I remember sitting on the couch on one side of the room and Phil was sitting on the floor on the opposite side of the room.  We had just barely learned each other's names and had really NEVER spoken directly to each other.

I remember somehow it came up in conversation that Phil played the guitar.  And I said to him, "You play the guitar?"  Phil sheepishly answered, "Yeah."  "Are you good?" I asked.  Very humbly he replied, "I don't know."  Me response, "Geez.  I bet that gets you favor with the ladies."  And he laughed, turned red, and proceeded to not look at me.


{One of my favorite pictures of Phil, taken before we met.  And if case you were wondering, he is REALLY GOOD.  Don't let his humility fool you.}

A little later his dog, Taylor, came up in conversation.  He had a picture on his phone of her with some reindeer antlers on her head and we were passing the phone around.  "You play the guitar and you have a dog?  Are you trying to make women swoon?" I asked him.  He didn't answer and probably didn't look at me the rest of the night.  At least not that I noticed. ;)

In reality, he was the perfect recipe to make me swoon.

You all can stop vomiting.

But seriously... a guy that plays the guitar and has the cutest dog in existence?  If he would sing while he plays I would have never stood a chance.

Happy (belated) Birthday to me!


{My peeps circa 1989 who I actually got to see on my birthday.  We look a little different now.  I no longer sit on my mother's lap.  This picture is also missing a couple of spouses and some at the time non-existant nephews.}

Sunday was my birthday. It was just 5 days after my surgery. 4 days into the wonderful cold I have. My expectations for the day were pretty low. But I have to say, it completely exceeded my expectations.

There are several bittersweet things about cancer and having surgery. One of those things is that you find out who really cares about you. That can be a really sad and depressing thing, which I have experienced a little of. People you thought would be right there with you fall short. I know everyone has their own lives. People get busy. And a lot of times (I think this is the case right now), people don't know how to react.

The flip side of that is that you find out who really has your back. For me, this has been REALLY apparent over the last week.

And that has been totally awesome.

I looked back over my calendar for my 26th year of life and it was really hard. A lot of tough things happened. Some of those I have shared here. Some I have not. One of the things that made it hard was that I wasn't reaching out for people. But what I have really lately is that people have reached out back at me.

So I am starting my 27th year knowing that I have a bunch of people in my corner that care about me a whole lot. Maybe I should have known that all along. Either way, the reminder was a very nice birthday present.

I am hoping that 27 is a much better year than 26. I think it is the year of Natalie. :)


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lent

I'm not Catholic, but I am a Lutheran which is kind of like Catholic-light (the beliefs without the rituals and rules.  My pastors would roll their eyes and I am pretty sure Martin Luther just rolled over in his grave).  In the Lutheran church because we follow a church calendar, we do observe the season of Lent.

A little church calendar education for those who are curious...
Lent is a 40 (ish) day period preceding Easter.  It is meant to reflect the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert without food, resisting the temptations of Satan.  Some people decide to take certain things out of their lives during the season of Lent as a way to emulate Jesus' ability to resist the Devil those 40 days.  In addition (and this is my understanding) the act of removing a temptation for our lives give us the opportunity to reflect of Jesus' sacrifice of his life on the cross for us.  For example, if you give up coffee, every time you crave or want coffee you would think about Jesus and his ultimate sacrifice.

Most of the time, people give up foods like fast food, coffee, alcohol, chocolate, etc.  And I have done those things in the past.  This year, my low-iodine diet will start about a week after Easter so I have decided I don't want to give up any food items for Lent.  I may be a little glutenous, if I am going to be honest.

After several discussions with Phil, I have decided that this year for Lent, I have given up the Snooze button. 

As I have mentioned in the past, getting up has been a struggle for me for a while.  I wake up at 6 in the morning, take my thyroid medicine and then fall back asleep.  The alarm goes off every 15 minutes for the next hour and then I finally get out of bed around 7, freaking out because I slept WAY too late and usually end up a little late to work.

I'm over it.  I'm sick of it.  And what better motivation than Jesus.  :)

I figure in the morning when I want really badly to hit the snooze and fall back asleep, I can think to myself, "Jesus resisted the Devil.  I can resist 15 minutes of sleep."

Don't you think?

Day 1 went well.  Granted it took me 30 minutes to actually WAKE UP and get out of bed, but I didn't go back to sleep.  And I was able to get ready at a leisurely pace, make the bed, get my stuff together, and get to work early (shock of all shocks).

We'll see how this goes when the endocrinologist starts messing with my thyroid dosage.

Do you observe Lent?  What are you giving up?


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Good-bye Thyroid

I got a noticed from my online patient chart.  The pathology report was posted there for the left lobe of my thyroid.  It came back negative for malignancy.

HOORAY!!

I was pretty sure it wouldn't have any cancer in it.

The report also noted how huge it was and that it has some strange coloring or spots or something.  In terms of size, an entire normal thyroid is usually a little smaller than my left lobe was.  Jealous?  Size envy?  Don't be.  Just like women, smaller is better.  You could say I had an obese thyroid.

The weird coloring/spots makes me SO GLAD I had the thing taken out.

The fact that I will NEVER have to worry about if the cancer will come back in the left lobe is amazing.  I could not be happier with my decision to have the second surgery.  I know there will be some tough stuff ahead still.  The low-iodine diet looks to be 30-ish days of eating less than a vegan.  The anxiety that comes with the full-body scan isn't going to be pretty.  But at the very least, I won't have to go have ultrasounds done every 6 months and worry that it has come back on the other side.  This way, they can do a simple blood test to see if it has popped up somewhere in my body.  And this way, I will have full-body scans done annually (I think) to make sure it isn't anywhere else.

Besides... I think my thyroid was holding me back.  The gigantic gland was pushing me down, blocking my potential.  I feel liberated.

In other neck news, the skin glue has come off and now I am wearing some lovely clear plastic bandages given to me by my dermatologist.  I put it on last night and it wrinkled up over night.  Now it looks like this:



It is quite a wonderful look, if I do say so myself.  I am supposed to wear these for three weeks and then switch to "flesh" colored tape.  Not sure whose flesh it is supposed to resemble, but I am pretty sure my pasty-whiteness would more closely match white tape.  I think it actually draws more attention to my neck than the scar does, but it is supposed to help the skin lie flat so I will give it a shot.

For all of you with actual functioning, non-cancerous, normal-sized thyroids... I doubt your thyroid is holding back your life.  Lucky ducks.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Valentine's Day

I'm back!

I am really sorry for not blogging for the past week.  After my first surgery, I was able to think and write during my recovery time at home.  This time, I was not able to do that.  I got a cold the day after my surgery, which made the recovery process a little different.  Thankfully, I wasn't in as much neck pain this time.  The surgeon went through the same incision as last time and just made it a little bigger.

I thought I would share a little of my Valentine's Day with the internets.  :)  While some of you probably spent your heart day with roses and candlelit dinners, mine was a little different.  Still completely filled with love, but definitely not what you normally think of.

{Stephanie sent me this video of my youngest nephews wearing their "Thyroid Cancer Sucks" bracelets the morning of my surgery with a message that said, "Thinking of your today!"  So cute!}


{The night before my surgery, Phil and I went to church to pray with one of our pastors and he presented me with a small quilt.  Some women in our church make them and people who are admitted to the hospital get one for their stay.  It was a cheerful way to keep warm.}


{Not really what you think of when you book a room for Valentine's Day:  hospital and your dad.  Also not normal, having your paper gown ripped off of your by a bunch of women.}


video
{Rikkie came to visit me for a while in the evening when I was in my hospital room, which was SO NICE!  Then when she went home, she sent me this video of her son Logan.  She told me when she got home he asked her first if I was ok, then asked why I had to have surgery, and then asked what surgery was.  I love little kids.  They are SO CUTE!}

I felt very loved this Valentine's Day.  And I hope I NEVER have another Valentine's Day like it in the future.  :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

In Sickness and In Health


"I take you to be my wife/husband, and these things I promise you: I will be faithful to you and honest with you; I will respect, trust, help, and care for you; I will share my life with you; I will forgive you as we have been forgiven; and I will try with you better to understand ourselves, the world, and God; through the best and worst of what is to come, and as long as we live."
These are the vows we used at our wedding. 



Not your traditional wedding vows, but still we weren't super creative and write our own.  And even though they don't says specifically, "in sickness and in health," I am pretty sure it is wrapped up in "through the best and worst of what is to come."  Because sickness definitely falls into the "worst" category.  And most of the time, health is taken for granted even though it falls into the "best" category.


It is easy to love someone when things are happening the way you planned. The true test is how you love someone when life throws your plans out the window.


Since our wedding day, we have more than had to live our vows.  In addition to normal adjustments that have to happen when you start sharing your life with someone, we were hit with a serious family illness (Phil's dad's liver cancer), owning a business during a horrible economy, grad school, infertility, and then thyroid cancer. 


These challenges have brought out the worst in me at times.  I am not the bright, funny, and confident woman my husband met and fell in love with.  I am struck, more often than not, with feelings of inadequacy, sadness, and fear that my husband will wake up and realize he could do better.


But he hasn't.  And I don't think he will.  I know those are feelings that I have, and they are not the feelings he has.  Because he is living his vows too.  He is helping me through things.  He is taking care of me like he promised he would.  And he is doing a great job.


On Valentine's Day this year, I will have my second surgery.  And Phil and I will continue to live out our vows.  Not just in cards and flowers, but in actions.  He will sit with me as I waffle between crying in fear and waiting for the surgery to be over (again).  He will wake up every 4 hours to make sure I get my pain medication.  He will kiss me and comfort me and take care of me.  Just like he promised.


Knowing he will take care of me during the "worst" times is the best Valentine's gift I could ask for.  Because that means I know he will be there and celebrate with me when the "best" comes our way.



Sunday, February 12, 2012

Tuesdays


{Image from HERE}

I have a whole theory about Tuesdays...

I kind of hate them.

They tend to be horrible days.  Bad things happen on Tuesdays.  Here are some big examples:

-  Stock market crash aka Black Tuesday
-  9/11 was on a Tuesday

Some less than notable history has also been made on Tuesdays.  I usually got dumped on Tuesdays (in the past but NO MORE).  I found out I had cancer on a Tuesday.

Plus it is just a hard day of the week.  Mondays are the beginning of the week, so everyone expects them to suck a little.  Wednesdays are the middle of the week, so you are halfway to the weekend.  Thursdays are almost Friday.  And Fridays are the start of the weekend.  Tuesdays aren't really the beginning of the week, but you aren't halfway there.

I just don't like Tuesdays.

So I get a little nervous when things are scheduled on Tuesdays.  Since both of my surgeries have been scheduled on Tuesdays, it kind of unrealistically has just added to my anxiety.  But my first surgery went well (minus find out officially that I had cancer), so I have to have faith that even though it is on a Tuesday, my second surgery will go well too.

Hopefully this Tuesday will be good to me.

I have other theories too, by the way.  Like one about Sunday afternoons/blue sky.  And I used to have one about boyfriends and Julia Roberts but I don't believe in that one anymore.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Work


This has been my view at work.  My current project is designing a radon mitigation system for apartment buildings.  I've done this before for previously built buildings, but it is a little (a lot) more complicated for new construction.

Radon, in case you were wondering, is a naturally occuring element found in the soil.  It is also found in granite (which makes sense since granite comes from the ground).  Radon gas is released from the soil and can come into your house through cracks in the foundation, walls, and windows.  Once it is there, it is basically trapped.

Radon gas causes lung cancer. In case you weren't aware... I hate cancer.

Oregon doesn't have as much concern for radon gas (except in the eastern portion of the state).  Some states have a higher concentration of radon gas than other.
 
 
{image from radongas.com}

Engineering pretty much always involves designing things that directly affect people's lives.  Lateral design for homes.  Retaining walls to hold up the side of the road.  Drainage systems to keep neighborhoods from flooding.  Since I don't want a faulty design to give people lung cancer, I have been taking my time to make sure everything is correct.

Today I mentioned that I was almost done (which I am) but that the standard I was using was complicated and confusing.  My brother replied, "I think you are making it more complicated than it needs to be."

My brother is not an engineer.

The standard for this is 40 pages.

I wanted to slap him and then give all of it to him to do himself.

But I couldn't do that.  I'm a professional.  So I did it.  Needless to say, his comment wasn't exactly motivating.

And now you all know about radon gas.  You can purchase a radon test for your home from Home Depot or Lowe's.  They are very simple and important.



Friday, February 10, 2012

Cancer Sucks

Sorry I haven't posted anything in the last couple of days.  Things have been H.A.R.D.


{Cancer Sucks bracelet in Thyroid Cancer colors.  Because cancer REALLY DOES suck.}


This week has been really hard.  Lots of anxiety about my surgery, fears about cancer in general, dealing with people, having hard conversations.  I got to a pretty low point on Thursday.  It is by far the lowest point I have been at in a very long time.

Meanwhile in Virginia, Phil's dad found out yesterday that he was having surgery TODAY.  So yesterday when I was having a super hard day and was breaking down (a time when I really could have used my husband), Phil was trying to process the fact that his dad was having a crazy weird surgery (they went through his throat to put kind of like a stint in a bile duct). 

We didn't cover this stuff in our pre-marriage counseling.

To make things even better, Ed's surgery didn't go well.  They accidentally perforated the bile duct.  So a simple outpatient surgery turned into at least a 48 hour hospital stay.  They need to make sure bile and blood aren't leaking into his abdomen.  Plus since pancreatitis is a fairly common occurrence with this procedure, they want to make sure he doesn't get that either.

Excellent news.

Did I mention my surgery is in 4 days?

By the end of the day today, Phil and I were absolutely exhausted.  So many HUGE stressful things happening at the same time.  Both situations would have been stressful enough on their own, but together it is a big challenge.

How do you lean on each other when you are being pulled in so many different directions?

If I am being honest, I am really not happy Ed had surgery right before my surgery.  In addition to the normal fears you have when a loved one goes through surgery, I am facing my own fears about my surgery, and to top it off Ed's surgery didn't go well.


{Caregiver bracelet, Thyroid Cancer Sucks bracelet, and Liver Cancer Sucks bracelet}

Phil and I spent our Friday night going out to dinner, shopping at Target, and watching Once Upon a Time and Big Love, just trying to destress and calm down. 

Cancer sucks.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Early Morning Minor Miracle

Something miraculous happened this morning:  I got up at 6.

Because my last surgery wasn't that long ago, I only had one lab test I needed to do before my surgery (a urine pregnancy test).  I put it off as long as I really could, but since my surgery is less than a week away, it needed to get done.  In an effort to not have to leave work to get that test done, I decided to go before work when the lab opened.

I have been having a REALLY hard time with mornings for a while.  I am not sure what the cause is exactly.  It could be my thyroid.  It probably is because I am a little depressed.

I wake up in the morning and CAN NOT open my eyes.  I get out of bed and my head feels like it weighs 50 pounds.  I've been late to work a bunch because of it.

So when I told Phil that I wanted to get up and do my lab work before work, I think he had an internal chuckle and thought, "yeah right."

But I think this morning, I figured out how to get myself to wake up in the morning:

- Sit-up and take thyroid pill
- Open eyes and drink as much water as I can.
- Read facebook, e-mail, or twitter to just get my brain functioning

After about 10 or 15 minutes of that, I was awake and able to get up.

Sounds ridiculous, right?  Well... it is reality.  My mom made a comment about what a rude awakening I was in for when I had kids.  I know this is what everyone thinks when someone my age talks about being tired.  Since I can't get pregnant for over a year, it really isn't an issue.  Not to mention it is completely different when you have kids.  Nobody needs me to get up.  Heck... the dog doesn't even need me to get up.

I got to work 30 minutes early and completely shocked my dad.  Hopefully I can repeat this the rest of the week.  And Monday.  And then I will have no thyroid and there could be a whole new bag of issues.  Who knows.  :)  One step at a time sometimes.


P.S. - Test came back negative.  Duh.  I could have told them that and saved $25.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Livers are important (prayers requested AGAIN)

As if things couldn't get more stressful, we had a VERY stressful few days here in the Janney household. I know I have mentioned it in the past (and HERE, HERE, and HERE), but Phil's dad has heptacellular carcinoma more commonly known as Liver Cancer.

Not much has changed in the past. He gets some tumors, the doctors treat the tumors, and the tumors go away (thank goodness!). His spleen is a little swollen. The cirrhosis is getting a little worse. But overall, his health is good. His liver function has been nice and stable. For having liver cancer, he was doing well.

Lately Ed has been looking a little yellow. Phil's mom had noticed and a couple of people in their church had noticed. So last Monday at a regular doctor's appointment, they checked his liver function. The doctor's office called last Tuesday and his levels were elevated.

Not good.

Liver function blood tests look at a bunch of different things (bilirubin, a bunch of liver enzymes, etc.). So when the nurse that called Ed said his tests were abnormal, Ed asked which ones (he has one enzyme that is usually a little elevated but isn't a big deal). Her answer, "The LFT" aka the Liver Function Test. Ok... You are not helpful.

The tests were to be sent to his liver specialist who would then call him if anything was strange. No call came. Long story short, the tests didn't get sent and has to be sent again. Ed was instructed on Wednesday to get a paper copy to bring to his scan Monday morning. Rather than go find out his test results that day (Wednesday), he waited until Friday.

Thanks Ed.

So Friday finally rolls around and we find out his results... Not good. Almost everything was high. Enzymes that should be around 50 are in the 300s. Bilirubin should be under 1.2, it was over 10. Something wasn't right.

And my understanding is that once the liver function starts to go, they can't do the treatments for the tumors anymore.

Being totally freaked out, we turned to Dr. Google for some answers. What we found out was that either his cancer had progressed a lot or he had a blocked bile duct. That gave us some hope and we prayed like crazy that it was just the bile duct.

It is weird to hope for surgery.

We had to go all of last week and the weekend worried about what Monday's scan and the liver function tests would mean. Would it mean starting a really terrible experience of watching a family member suffer through the end stages of liver cancer? Or would it just be another procedure to deal with. On top of our own feelings about all of this, Ed has been dealing with this very differently than the rest of us. Everyone deals with things differently, I know. But it provides an extra special challenge when the person with access to all the information is happily ensconced in denial.

Anyway, Ed had his scan. They think he has scar tissue in or near his bile duct and that is causing the problems. None of his treated tumors have come back. The tiny tumors he has haven't grown very much. And he had one new tumor that is very small. The doctors also think Ed's tumors growth has changed and that he might slow down when it comes to tumor growth.

All in all, some pretty great news. We are so relieved. It is hard enough to deal with knowing a family member is going to be fighting an uphill battle with cancer. Throw grad school and dealing with my own cancer and upcoming surgery... It has been a challenging week.

Here is the latest prayer request:
- Prayers of thanks for good news about the liver function tests and the tumor growths.
- Prayers that the doctors are right and he gets fewer and fewer tumors.
- Prayers for guidance for the tumor board as they decide how to treat the existing tumors.
- Prayers for a successful procedure on the bile ducts and the tumors.

Sorry for the novella here.


Love, Mrs. Janney

Monday, February 6, 2012

Things NOT to say...

I am starting to get pretty darn anxious about surgery again. I didn't think that I would since my first surgery went really well. But as it gets closer, my feelings build.

And I have found that people say the absolute worst things to you when you are going through something like this. I know they mean well, but sometimes you just want to respond to them with "why on earth would you say that to me?"

It is starting to get comical at this point.

For example...

A guy at church came up to me after the service and said, "When I had the two surgeries on my foot, the first surgery went great. I did fine with the anesthesia. With the second surgery, I just had the hardest time with the anesthesia. I could not wake up. It was bad. "

???

Later, when I told my sister in law that I was getting nervous and anxious for the surgery she replied with, "You should be."

K. Thanks.

Sunday we had family birthdays. Almost none of my relatives, who I haven't seen since before my first surgery, said anything to me about my surgery, my cancer, my nice new neck scar. That is, until they went to leave. The I got, "How are you? Are you ok?"

Um... You are about to leave. Not really the best time to start THAT conversation.

I know everyone means well, but sometimes it is just weird. Just a piece of advice: don't say these things to someone who is freaking out about having surgery.

Love, Mrs. Janney

Friday, February 3, 2012

Week Wrap-Up

This week had its fair share of funny/interesting moments.  Here's a recap:

1.  Wednesday morning, I came downstairs and noticed my pants were unzipped.  I thought, "Whoa.  So glad I noticed that now.  That could have been embarrassing."  Then later in the day, at about 3 in the afternoon, I went to the bathroom and noticed my pants were unzipped again.  And I have no idea how long they were like that.

2.  It's not everyday you hear one middle-aged man say to another middle-aged man, "No!  Don't touch me!  I'll cuss!!!" in the lunchroom.  No this isn't a sexual harrassment situation.  The touchy-feely guy's whole family has some kind of stomach virus and the other guy doesn't want to get sick.  Still... it was quite the strange  thing to hear.

Since my surgery is in 11 days, I informed touchy-feely man that if he gets me sick, I will cut him.  (I didn't really say that.)

3.  I was texting Joanna Thursday about her next crocheting project and auto-correct made me look like a yarn racist.


I don't think there is such a thing as asain yarn.  And even if there was, I have nothing against it.  Just so we are clear.

4.  In an effort to keep myself motivated and on-task for work, I made myself a schedule the other day:



I almost kept to it.  I was actually ahead of schedule most of the day.  But I didn't finish my report narrative.  DANG IT! 


5.  Normally, women get their hair chopped off when they go through a particularly nasty break-up.  Since I have no plans of getting dumped in the future AT ALL (thanks Phil!), I need different reasons for the big chop. 

After the dumping phase of life is over, comes the "mom haircut."  You know this one... Woman has a baby and then cuts all her hair off.  No baby for me.

So if you aren't getting dumped and aren't having a baby, why would you cut off 6 or 8 inches of hair?

The answer:  Cancer  (that rhymed)

{Before} 

{After}

Both pictures were taken in bathrooms, incase you were wondering.  The first, the bathroom at work.  The second, our main bathroom at home.  Since I am still slummin with the iPhone 3GS, I am reduced to taking pictures in the mirror.

I wanted my hair cut to "neck scar" level.  It is pretty close.

This is also the www debut of my neck scar.  Or my current neck scar, I should say.  Instagram made it harder to see than it really is.


So that as been my work week.  Hopefully our weekend will be filled with fun and relaxation (I am looking into progressive muscle relaxation techniques to help with my pre-surgery anxiety).  I hope yours is too!



Thursday, February 2, 2012

The bitch is KNOCKED UP!

We heard from one of the breeders we applied with and the dog, Lucy, is pregnant!!  We were so excited when we heard from her.  We started thinking about it and realized that she said some people have been waiting for a couple of years for one of her puppies. 

So we asked how far down the list we were for the puppy.

She said we were pretty far down the list.

(Sad face)

I've decided that I don't care what color of puppy we get, as long as it is a girl.  So we just have to hope the dog has LOTS of girls.


Don't forget to vote for a puppy name over in the sidebar.  ---------------------------------->



{Pictures from the breeder's site}


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

HELLO February and Happy Birthday Jo!

January is probably one of my least favorite months.  Ok it is probably my absolute LEAST favorite month.  I didn't set any New Year's Resolutions this year except to "Kick Cancer's Ass."  I think spending the month healing, decided to do another surgery and radioactive iodine, and scheduling the 2nd surgery all fit into that resolution.

I think we can count January as a success in terms of my resolution.

Go me!

I am so glad that February is here.  With the start of February comes Joanna's birthday!!  Here is a quite outdated picture of my friend:


{At her Baby Shower}

She got rid of the belly approximately 17 months ago (with the birth of her baby boy).  Still just as pretty.  :)

Let me tell you how fantastic Joanna is (and this is a recent list because the full-on list would be super long):

-  She has been a constant support for me through this whole cancer thing, starting WAY back when it started.  This includes not getting mad at me for telling her I had cancer with a text message that said, "thyroid cancer."

-  She lets me fawn over her baby pretty much whenever I want.

-  She texts me pretty much EVERDAY.  Sometimes asking how I am doing.  Sending me cute and funny videos and/or photos of Braxton.

-  She took an entire day off of work and put Braxton in daycare to spend the day with me after my surgery.  She basically watched me sleep.  And then she gave me a manicure.

-  On multiple occasions, she has sat and been sad with me.  Cried and sulked with me.  And then when I am ready, started pointing out the bright side to me.

I don't know what I did to deserve such an amazing friend.

Happy Birthday Jo!!  Love you!!




PS - In the background of that picture is Rikkie.  She is also super amazing too, just in case you wanted to know.  Seriously, she's like Superwoman.
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