#167–Halfway point milestone . . .

 

Today, I am at exactly the halfway point––a milestone. I have completed three cycles and tomorrow I start the fourth cycle of six. This afternoon, I see my oncologist to see how I’m doing. I had two scans last week to see if chemo is working. To see if it’s been worth it. To see if I continue on the same schedule. So naturally I’ve got my fingers crossed.

I spent two days last week and four days this week at various buildings of the PeaceHealth Peace Harbor Medical Center.

I spent two days last week and four days this week at various buildings of the PeaceHealth Peace Harbor Medical Center.

Third cycle––slow bounce back

Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, you realize that you don’t. I thought I had figured out a trend––four low days during the first cycle, three the second one. I was anticipating only two down days. Well, that’s not how it played out this third time around.

I had four down days—not as bad as the first time but worse than the second time. These were followed by four semi-down days. This slow bounce back was new. On the first two cycles, I bounced back in a day. Not so this time.

I was learning once again that when it comes to chemo, you just have to go with the flow–one day at a time.

This time during my down days, I felt lightheaded or outright dizzy if I stood up. I felt okay only as long as I was seated or lying down. So it took forever to do anything if I had to stand up. I don’t think I had chemobrain, but how would I know. Hmm!

Fortunately, I had arranged to hire a friend of a friend that I knew casually to come in to help. She was a Godsend. She was only able to be with me two or three hours each day, but she didn’t waste a minute. And I had in mind what I wanted her to do, so when she asked, I pulled out my list. Not really!

The first day, I didn’t actually have a plan so we got to know each other and I thought of things on the spur of the moment. After that, I did have a list, but I didn’t pull it out. I just kept it in mind. Those who know me well, know I’m the queen of “to do” lists.

She didn’t mind bringing some stuff down in the greenhouse and outside in the yard into the basement. She didn’t mind anchoring stuff on the deck in preparation for our big windstorm a couple of weeks ago. And she didn’t mind cleaning the bathrooms, changing the bedding, and mopping the kitchen floor. Before she left each day, she fixed my lunch. Wow! I could get used to such help.

We found we had a lot in common and I look forward to having her again on the last two cycles. I may need to increase her time to six days or more. This time I had her four days. I’ll see how this next cycle plays out before deciding.

Halfway point tests––MUGA scan and CT scan

I went in to the hospital last week on Wednesday for the MUGA heart scan. I told the gals at the front desk that I had come to the hospital to be mugged—they always appreciate a sense of humor.

This time, I’m happy to report, I did not crash the computer like last time. (I had to come back a second day last time.) The test was completed in one day, which is good. I don’t relish being given radioactive isotopes two days in a row again. This is a difficult test from the point of view of the person on the table. I was connected with wires to three different patches on my skin and had to lie perfectly still for ten minutes with this big machine sort of suspended over my chest. Then it rearranges itself and I do it again for ten minutes. I did get to listen to Christmas carols, but the technician wouldn’t let me sing along.

This test is to see if my heart is strong enough to handle some of the chemo drugs. The doctor had said after the first MUGA scan that I was at the “low end of normal, but that should be okay.” Not exactly resounding! Soooooo I’m just a little anxious to hear his assessment this time.

On Friday, I went in for the CT scan. But first I had to drink half a container of white yucky tasting—berry flavored—contrast stuff about 10 p.m. the night before. And then not eat or drink (even water) until after the test. Not being able to have even water was the hardest part. I did get up several times during the night and rinsed out my mouth again and again (sort of cheating) when I felt incredibly thirsty. Then about one hour before the test, I drank the other half of the stuff. The preparation was the hard part.

The test was easy compared to the MUGA scan. They put an IV in my arm and I move in and out of the scanner and hold my breath when it tells me to. And just when I think I can’t hold it one second longer, it tells me to breath. That process happened twice. Then I went home and had a really big breakfast.

The Willamette Valley Cancer Institute in Eugene is where I'll be spending Christmas Eve Day. Bummer!

The Willamette Valley Cancer Institute in Eugene is where I’ll be spending Christmas Eve Day. Bummer!

Fourth Cycle––starts Christmas Eve Day

This chemo stuff certainly keeps me busy. This week I went in to have blood drawn for lab tests yesterday. Today, I go in to see my oncologist. Tomorrow, on Christmas Eve Day, I go to Eugene to have my chemo treatment, bummer. That will take the whole day. I get to take Christmas Day off, thank goodness, but I have to go in on Friday to have my Neulasta shot. Not exactly my idea of an ideal Christmas week. Normally, I would be in California with my family. Like I said, I’m learning to go with the flow.

Edna and Sir Groucho relax in the living room with the wood stove going on her last visit. She'll be back in after Christmas.

Edna and Sir Groucho relax in the living room with the wood stove going on her last visit. She’ll be back after Christmas.

Next Monday, my sister arrives and will be with me again for ten days. She will not only be incredibly helpful, but also fun to be around. We always have a good time together. And she is one of very few people that Sir Groucho totally accepts. He even sits on her lap when I’m not available. So during the fourth cycle’s low time, I’ll have my sister’s visit to look forward to. Life is good!

Sir Groucho thinks he's a present.

Sir Groucho thinks he’s a present.

Here’s wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

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About crossingsauthor

Freelance writer/editor and author of Crossings: McCullough's Coastal Bridges, The Crossings Guide to Oregon's Coastal Spans, and Around Florence. Spent 22 years teaching 1st and 2nd grades and 21 years as editor/staff writer with Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines.
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7 Responses to #167–Halfway point milestone . . .

  1. Laurel G. says:

    Evelyn and I saw each other at the Gold Beach Post Office yesterday. We shared our reactions to your on-going blog-chemo journey. She has already expressed our shared sentiments about the grace and fortitude you have shown all of us. I will re-emphasize what it means to your friends and followers, on the sidelines. No one knows if or when something similar will occur. The descriptions and perceptions of your experiences that you reflect in such candid, insightful, and sometimes humorous posts are appreciated. Maybe it will be for our own purposes, or to extend to a loved one who is facing a similar foe. Nonetheless, information is power, and your posts can serve as an inspirational path to acceptance and recovery. Love you!

    • Judy Fleagle says:

      Thanks, guys! I love the support of everyone–especially you two who are far away. You have no idea how wonderful it makes me feel to have your support. Love you both!

  2. Hope says:

    Thanks for being a lovely neighbor, Judy. I’ll be glad when your taste for Guiness comes back. That’s MY new Years’s wish for you!

    • Judy Fleagle says:

      And my wish for you is that you continue to enjoy knitting. I love the results! My adorable monkey is now master of the kindling at the wood stove. And I love the yarn-ball-with-knitting-needles ornament––a true original! Thanks for both!!!!!!!

  3. Judy Fleagle says:

    Thanks Phyllis and Evelyn. And, yes, Sir Groucho has lots of good juju!

  4. Evelyn says:

    Even though you won’t be “home” for Christmas, remember that in the hearts of your family and friends (that’s us!) you’ll be thought of with support, love, and absolute certainty that you will soon regain your good health. It can’t be easy, but you’re a shining example of how to handle adversity with grace and a positive outlook. (And, maybe some good juju from Mr. Groucho thrown in for good measure :))

  5. Phyllis Bright says:

    I’ll be thinking of you Christmas eve and the next day of course. Love ya.

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