Friday, August 21, 2009

20 Down ... 16 to Go!!!

Well as stated above, I've gone through 20 rounds of radiation so far and have 16 more to go. It's the strangest thing to look in the mirror and see a 7" x 7" square (yes I did measure it, so its not an exaggeration!) of skin that looks like a cross between an over-ripe strawberry and a brownie that's been in the oven a bit too long! Interesting visual isn't it. After talking with my radiation oncologist today, he indicated that instead of seeing me every Friday, I will now be seeing him every other day so he can monitor my skin as it seems to be breaking down under the strain of the radiation (don't worry, I won't go into that description!!!)

Also, you might remember that I had/have a problem with the ceiling at the hospital ... its boring white acustic tiles that you have to stare at, well on Thursday after the technicians (Sandra and Venecia) finished getting me settled on the table, as the machine started to rotate around giving me a view of the ceiling, I see a sign that the girls put up that said "Hi Kathie, What are you looking at (with a smiley face)". It was the funniest thing (sounds pretty lame as I describe it, but I almost needed Depends!). These girls are so positive and do everything in their power to make it a "pleasant" experience. On Wednesday, they turned the lights off in the lounge as I was walking out and jumped out and yelled "BOO". It definitely appeals to my sense of humor. On Monday I am going to draw a winking eye on my chest with a note that say's "What are you looking at" or something equally as silly. The things you look forward toooo!!

Also, the bigger news that I should have mentioned first .... JASON GOT ACCEPTED TO LAW SCHOOL!!!!! WAHOO!!!! He's been there all week at orientation and starts classes on Monday. We are SO PROUD of him! So it looks like in 3 years we will have a dual graduation ... Elizabeth with her BA from Vanderbilt and Jason with his law degree from Elon! Hopefully they won't be scheduled for the same day! and boy is this house quiet and a bit lonely ... we do miss them!

Have a great weekend!

Love, Kathie

Friday, August 14, 2009

15th day of Radiation

Still not glowing (but haven't tried standing under a black light ... so don't know for sure!). ONLY 21 more sessions to go. Met with Dr. Miercort today (radiation doctor). He confirmed the effects that I am experiencing from the radiation are normal (sternum feels like I have been pounded on by a gorilla, my right side is such a pretty color ... think ripe strawberries, my chest skin is feeling like someone is pulling the saran wrap a little too tight and by noon I feel like a washed out dishrag. Gee, what a great picture I describe, but other than the above, I feel peachy keen!

Life in the Spitzer household will be changing drastically this weekend. Jason decided about 10 days ago to desert us and move to Greensboro, NC (I didn't think my cooking was that bad!). I wonder if the fact that his girlfriend is heading back to Elon (NC) tomorrow has anything to do with his decision! Melissa - who lives in Naples, is such a FANTASTIC woman and who possess all of the qualities you hope your children would find in a girlfriend/boyfriend (and she is really cute too … plus I think she can actually get him to keep his new apartment clean!! … what a woman!). If he doesn't get into law school (keep your fingers crossed that he hears something next week), he will be joining the "real world" and looking for that horrible 3 letter word ... JOB. He already has a roommate and is pretty psyched to start a new life (Robert and I are both jealous and sad at the same time). As for Elizabeth, she is heading back to Vanderbilt tomorrow (actually first to her mom's mountain home in NC for a few days and then onto Nashville on Thursday). Robert will be flying to Nashville on Thursday to help her get settled into her new dorm room. Nancy (Elizabeth's mom) will be helping her unpack, Robert will do all of the electrical connection stuff and Elizabeth has recruited a few boys to help with the heavy unloading … her room is on the 3rd floor with no elevator (way to go Elizabeth!!!). Wish I could be part of this "fun" but I have my rendezvous with Dr. Miercort!

So other than what I mentioned above, life is pretty much the same. Definitely miss my mom though. Since she went back to NJ on Monday, we are back to having to cook for ourselves and we don't have a regularly scheduled cocktail hour! BUMMER!!

Have a great weekend!

Love, Kathie

Friday, August 7, 2009

Life is Good!

We went to the Moffit Cancer Center on Wednesday for the second opinion of the course of my treatment. Needless to say, the few days leading up to that were not very good sleep wise for either myself or Robert. We finally got there and had to wait almost 3 hours before we saw anyone (very tough on the nerves!) and then we saw first a resident as well as fellowship person who asked alot of questions and then went over what they thought. We then waited another 1/2 hour before the big guns guy, Dr. Solimam came in to talk with us. The gist of it is he concurs with my oncologist that for my treatment, radiation is the best course of action and that chemotherapy would not be warranted. The areas that were not "margin clean" were small enough that radiation would get those suckers and they thought chemo would be an overkill (glad I didn't postpone my annual mammogram or else there would have been a different diagnosis ... hint hint for all of you woman out there who postpone yours!). Thankfully my cancer was caught early! He did suggest for an overall point of view that I research clinical trials for Herceptin (the drug that treats the Her2Neu aspect of my breast cancer ... great moving about the development of this drug... Harry Connick Jr plays the dr. who developed it ... "Living Proof" ... great movie and a definite tear jerker! But without his persistence, there wouldn't be any drug out there to treat this type of agressive cancer! So I will research it and look at the criteria out there for it and see if it is something I want to pursue or qualify for.

Other than that, have my 10th radiation treatment today ... only 26 more to go! The fatigue is definitely setting in .. I am wiped by early afternoon. But luckly so far no radiation burns (have a salve that I put on 3 times per day) but the skin is getting tighter which I have to try and reduce so that the reconstruction goes easier (sometime in January/February). I also developed an infection in one of the drain sites (the scar from the mastectomy drains. Have been using an antibiotic ointment on it but the dr. will determine today if I need to go on oral antibiotic to treat it.

My mom has been here since Monday and is a great help. She is like the energizer bunny. Nothing stops that woman. She is determined to rid every weed out of my garden before she leaves! And the kids (and Robert) have seconds/thirds when she cooks so they aren't too keen to see her go either (I NEVER get them to have seconds when I cook .. lucky if I can get them to finish their plates!)

Today I need to tackle all of the medical bills. I put them in an excel spreadsheet based on the information from the insurance forms and actuals bills last week ... that's when I found out that if I spend any more than 1 hour on the computer my right arm is not happy. Anyway, I want to review each one to ensure no double billing, etc. and then start that lovely part of paying them. Boy am I glad I have insurance ... THANKS PWC FOR HAVING SUCH GREAT COVERAGE!)

I forgot to mention the amazing medical knowledge of both Robert and Jason. Last night over dinner they wondered why I am not covered in some protective covering while being zapped by radiation (especially since the technicians are behind a 1 foot deep wall. So in order to protect me, they made a tin foil helmet for me to use to protect my brain. They are still revising it to figure the best way (and most stylish) to protect my female polish brain (for some reason they think I need all the protection I can get :( Stay tuned for pictures ... yes beer and wine was consumed during this endeavor!

Have a great weekend all! Miss you!

So that is the exciting news in my world.