Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Welcome 2009

The CT scan this morning has delivered very promising results. The cancer growth is stable – this is wonderful news as it means that the clinical drug is halting the growth of the current and new lesions! With today not being a full working day I do not have the full CT results so I cannot report back on the state of my lesions – will do this later. This morning I saw Dr T regarding the terrible pain I have been having in my left arm since before Christmas and I have been diagnosed with inflammation of the veins (too much toxic substance causes this) …. Argh.. it is really painful! I cannot received chemo in my left arm again and will do some hasty work coming Monday regarding having a port fitted. I have been saving my right arm for all the blood tests, etc. So, in conclusion, I remain on the clinical trial with a reassessment of the lesions end Feb 2009. Lets hope and pray that the good news continues thru 2009. I thank everybody who has been supporting me the past 14 month and wish you and your families a healthy prosperous 2009. I will be having a few glasses of bubbly tonight to celebrate today’s news and the new year.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

3rd round patupilone

I was really positively surprised by my white cell and neutrophil count last Thursdays. Both were inside normal range – well done dear body for recovering so well! With the holiday season in South Africa the wait for the blood test results took really long – waited over 4 hours and then got the good news that chemo would occur… .Whoopee! The past 3 days have been much better than cycle one and two on patupilone. I ‘m still bit nausea and tired, but don’t have the intense nausea of the past two rounds. Dr T (clinical trials unit) has put me onto the same anti nausea meds that I had previously on taxol and carbo platinum, and it seems to be doing the trick! I have been having my afternoon siestas and early nights to rest the body. No rest for the wicked as I will do a few hours work from home tomorrow.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

11th round of chemo

Today I have risen with a heavy heart as I face the clinical trials unit and my 11th round of chemo. We start the day with an ECG and blood tests, I then need to wait for the test results (about 1.5 hours) and then see the doctors for some checks and balances, ‘anti’ medicine prescriptions and then I finally get to walk to the chemo rooms with my files in hand. I must admit that I am not looking forward to the treatment knowing how I am going to feel for the next week. In my heart I have had enough of this toxic stuff … it has been 14 months of chemo.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Bron and Rory's wedding

Tuesday I decided not to take my cortisone (it was my last scheduled dose) and I really started feeling better from Wednesday. I still have the odd bout of nausea and tend to get physically sick in the mornings but managed thru Friday and Saturday without any medication. All is going really well this weekend and I have managed late evenings out and no afternoon naps, though I am not sure I will manage that today. Yesterday was my Goddaughters wedding day and Ian and I consumed an ample amount of bubbly. Bronwyn and Rory looked absolutely stunning and it was a wonderful ceremony and excellent party. Quite a few tears were shed as we raised our glasses to late Sharon (Bron’s mom passed away with cancer nearly 10 years ago).

Friday, November 28, 2008

Patupilone - round 2

The second cycle of patupilone is behind me. My white cell count and neutrophils are below normal range but still in allowable range for ‘chemo’ to be administered. Due to my severe nausea the doctors have readjusted the volume of chemo down by 25 percent and I am on much smaller doses of cortisone for the next few days. Shall we take some bets on what will happen in 3 weeks – I am game to place a bet that I will need medicines to increase my neutrophils and chemo will be post phoned, similar situation to a few months ago (unless the reduce chemo dose allows my body and blood cells to recover… but the effects are cumulative)

Dr J reckons I am a very strong woman – this comment brought a smile to my face – I know I am a very strong willed person (hahaha) and am blessed with a very strong physical body supporting me though this challenge.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Working in Antwerp

The past working week has been really busy and I have managed to keep up the pace. I am feeling much better than last week. Dr J (clinical trials unit) phoned my last Friday as I was still feeling really nauseous and the anti medicines were not offering any relieve. He told me to stop taking the cortisone which I have done since last Saturday. Physically I am feeling much better with the odd bout of nausea but it is not nearly as bad as last week. Tonight I head towards Holland to spend the weekend with my mother and then Tuesday I return to South Africa.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Post chemo blues

Just as I thought the tide was turning, life proved to me that it has not yet. Last Monday we had a water leak in the bathroom causing Dylan’s bedroom to flood and then Friday afternoon Dylan has a little accident on his motor cycle – no big hospital damage but enough to give him a lesson in riding motor cycles and to have respect for all cars.

Yesterday I went to work (first day since chemo) and managed just over 7 hours but was hugely stretched physically. I still have terrible nausea and fatigue and did eventually phone the clinical trial unit for additional medication. This week is hectic at work as we prepare for an overseas trip next week to Belgium and Copenhagen and after that I can look forward to a 3 day weekend with my mom in Holland. My mom is already planning everything including what we are eating at each meal… bless her!

Friday, November 7, 2008


Wednesday morning I received the call from clinical trials unit. I have been selected onto Patupilone (the trial medication). Treatment started yesterday with blood tests, ECG, doctor visit and then the walk to the chemo room with my folder. I was home around 2h30pm and rested the whole afternoon and went to bed early. Today I am feeling quite shaky in my body and I am really nauseous. I need to force myself to actually eat anything and that for a lady who never forgets to eat :) . Ian is coming home this weekend to help out with day to day life. He leaves Monday morning again and then comes back for good next Friday. On the renovation side things are also coming to an end. The builder wants to sign off today, the electrician and plumber are done except for the last finishing which they can only do when the kitchen is complete, and kitchen contractor is finishing next Thursday – so all on track to complete by next Friday.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tide is turning

Finally the tide is turning during this turbulent time. Yesterday morning around 08h15 the oncology clinic phoned me to share that Geneva has approved me on the clinical trials. I am a perfect fit… hehehehe. I will start treatment this coming Thursday and have to wait patiently to hear which arm I have drawn. We all pray and trust that God will give me the medicine that will cure me. About 15 minutes later I called my electrician and he fired me as the customer – I just burst out laughing as I have had my fair share of problems with him and all who know me, know that I have a high level of standard, for myself and other, and if you don’t meet this level I will not be a happy project manager, let alone customer when it is my own money being spent. This morning I already met another electrician on site and he called me later asking if he could start today as his plans for today were cancelled – ironic how all is just meant to be. Now the best news for yesterday – Ian phoned to share that he is coming home from 14 Nov – he has got a transfer to a local Cape Town based location! Blessing I am grateful for!! I can see a glimmer of light shining again.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


The past month has been one of the worst of my life. It is been an emotional and physical rollercoaster ride – the worst of its kind. I understand that smooth roads don’t deliver good drivers, but WOW there is a point of ‘enough for now’. As you know we are renovating our home and Ian is still working out of town, only coming home every second week-end, so it is pretty stressful dealing with the builders, electricians, tilers, painters and plumbers. A different kind of project to manage! Then I also have my commitment to my employer. With the renovations we have been lucky to have access to my brother’s home. My brother works in the UK but has a home just over 1 km from ours, fully furnished and unoccupied. So we have been living here for the past 2 months. Well, beginning October, Colin (my bro) sends down a Labrador puppy (Anouk) which has come to live with all his other dogs and the caretakers. Anouk was not even here for a week when she and Tobi (also a lab) were playing quite roughly and there was an accident whereby Tobi jumped up and landed on her leg. So off to the vet we went where Anouk needed an operation with plates and pin in her right back leg. The following week I had the wonderful news that my tumour counts were rising only to be confirmed as cancer again a few days later. The emotion of having to deal with all these things being thrown at us has been incredible. I will admit that I have been in a very dark pit and as I struggle to get myself out and positive again, I keep feeling the negative pull on the reverse. On top of all of this, Dylan had an accident Monday morning. I was in Johannesburg for the day and had arranged with a friend to collect the boys for school. Sean opened the visitors gate and went out thru it, then Tobi jumped up against the gate locking it. Dylan decided he would jump over the fencing rather than open the gate again. He had one leg on either side of the fence, started moving his back leg to swing it over and his front leg slipped. Causing him to crash land onto the spikes of the fencing. He went to school for an hour after which time he could not walk anymore, so phoned my friend to fetch him. Fortunately her father is out visiting from Oz and he is a medical doctor. He has a look and sent him off to emergency immediately. He has a haematoma on the scrotum. He spent 4 days in hospital as they were concerned an abscess was forming, after x-rays and scopes confirmed no damage to the plumbing. Thank heavens. Dylan is still walking around like the lone ranger with his catheter – hopefully this comes out tomorrow.

Then on Friday I went for all the medical screening for the clinical trials. My logic is that if I go for standard chemo now I will never that the opportunity to try the trials. If I go with the trials then I can reassess in a few months and return to standard chemo, pending the results. The good news is that my blood counts and chemicals are normal, my heart is very strong and normal and my lungs are just fine! The 3 growths are now 5 with a 6th one forming. The biggest grow 12.5mm 3 ½ weeks ago is now 21mm. All my tests have now been sent to Geneva for full screening and I should know by Wed whether I am accepted or not. Either way, Dr L (oncologist) has already processed standard chemo with the medical aid and this has been approved, so next week I will start treatment again.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Operation or not

The docs advise that they can operate but they can only remove what they can see with their physical eyes. The fact that the cancer is growing in various places shows that the cancer is microscopically in the whole abdomen, so an operation would just remove what we see today and then in a few weeks I will have new growths again.

I have finally decided to go for the screening on the clinical trials. This coming Friday I will go for all the interviews, contract signatures and all the medical tests and then I should hear within a week whether I am accepted and what treatment I will receive. I have full faith that God will give me the correct treatment to kill the buggers.

Friday, October 17, 2008


The past weeks have just flown by with being kept busy with the home renovations and working again. Monday (29 Sept) I went to have blood drawn to have my tumour marker checked, as planned. By Tuesday afternoon I had had no news so I decided to call the oncology clinic. Dr L was on holiday for the week so the nursing sister returned my call. Tumour marker was at 25.6. That was not the news I wanted to hear. The marker has gone up by more than 10 points, in fact by over 150% and that means there is cancer activity again. I phoned the oncology clinic again and asked whether Dr L would entertain a phone call with me, whilst on holiday but the reply was negative. Wednesday I phoned a very dear friend who is in the oncology industry to verify whether I was overreacting and she confirmed that such a large increase in the marker does indicate cancer activity. I must mention that my tumour marker is still in normal range (0 to 30).

The following Monday morning Dr L phoned me whilst I was driving to work to share that we have a problem and that my appointment with her for the afternoon would be postponed until I had gone for a chest/abdomen and pelvis CT scan. This was arranged for Tuesday (7 Oct) and I saw Dr L later that day. We received confirmation that I have 2nd generation ovarian cancer. There are 3 growths, 2 minor and one more concerning in the lymph gland. At this stage I don’t know much other than that I will need 6 months of chemo, administered monthly. The chemo cocktail will be different and the side effects will be much less debilitating. Dr L says that I will feel shitty for a few days post chemo but will be able to work and travel in the weeks in between chemo. That is all I know so far. I am waiting for the Dr’s to phone me in the next few days to agree the finer details of how we move forward and whether or not they are going to perform surgery to remove the nasty bits.

A few days later….

So, the Docs (trio of three) did contact me. Dr V (gynae) saw me personally without an appointment and before he rushed off to an emergency and told me not to worry about anything – all is still early days and he was surprised that Dr L and I had done the extensive tests we had to date. Dr H (the specialist gynae oncologist) also phoned and said based on verbal conversations with Dr L he was not too worried yet but he wanted to see the CT scans. I duly arranged to drop these off with him and he promised to phone me the next day. Which he did, Friday 11 Oct, with the news that I am definitely 2nd generation ovarian cancer with platinum resistance (in short the first bout of chemo did not kill the buggers!!). The options being presented to me now are either 1. Do nothing, 2, Partake in a clinical trial or 3, the generally accepted medical treatment for this stage to cancer. Ian and I have spent the better part of a week researching the options 2 and 3. The clinical trial is evaluating Caelyx (the standard chemo cocktail for this stage of cancer) vs a new drug called Patupilone. It is an open trial so post screening and acceptance you know which drug you are on. Caelyx has a 28 days cycle vs Patupilone having 21 day cycle. What I like about the clinical trial is that you received a much more intensive follow up and more CT scans so you are fully aware of your state of health. What I don’t like about it is that if I am selected and put on Patupilone then I feel uncomfortable for 3 reasons, being the chemo cycle (every 21 days and based on my previous experience that extra week makes the world of difference in terms of how you feel), the major side affect being severe diarrhoea with chronic doses of cortisone to counter this (can you imagine me sitting in a meeting and missing the loo…. Heaven forbid!! ). The alternate is standard ‘Caelyx’ 2nd line ovarian cancer treatment, with this treatment I may look a bit tanned but Dr H tells me that I have been through the worst chemo experience with my first cocktail (he personally would never take the cocktail…. Bugger him being a male!!)

So where to now….. Clinical trial and I have 50-50 % chance of getting Caelyx or Patupilone plus great follow up….. or Caelyx via my medical scheme……

Monday, September 1, 2008

Post Chemo – First round results

Last Thursday I saw Dr L (Oncologist) with my Ultrasound scans and x-rays in hand. The results on my bloods tests are: Red blood cells, platelets, liver and kidney functioning = Normal. Neutrophils are still low at 1.78 with the normal range being 2 to 7. That explains why I still tire so quickly. My tumour marker has risen again and is now at 9.2. I need to go for the tumour marker test again in 4 weeks and Dr L she gets concerned when it goes over 10. (I am concerned already as it is pretty close to 10 already). The scan also showed an angiomyolipoma on the right kidney. To make sure that all in well in the abdomen, I had to go for further CT scans today. The results are: ALL CLEAR. The month of September I will focus on working a few hours each day building up my strengths.

Monday, August 25, 2008

First post chemo tests

It is difficult to explain how stressful it is going for all these tests. I thought I was fairly in control until I was lying on the CT scan table waiting for the doctor. Those 15 minutes of waiting were just the worst - all alone in a medical gown with a small sheet to keep me warm. The actual scan and X-rays were done very promptly and I did not have to wait too long for the medical report. In essence the report says “no evidence of metastatic disease” which means no tumours found. Good news! Tomorrow I go to have blood drawn for the various tests on cell counts, tumour marker and kidney/liver functioning and then I see Dr L on Thursday morning. She called this morning to reschedule. Must mention that I have regained all the weight I had lost!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hair growth

In the past two weeks the hair growth has been amazing. I have a very good 5 day shadow on my head and my eyebrows and eyelashes have also made an appearance. The exercise side of my life is sadly missing at this stage except for the occasional walk with the dogs on sunny days. Added to that I have the most amazing appetite trying to make up for lost time, meaning that I am steadily picking up all the weight I lost. So, all is going well and slowly I am regaining all of my former self, plus a few extra fat rolls!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

First post chemo Doc followup

Monday morning I headed to the local pathologist to have some blood drawn. Just one vial as they are only testing the tumour marker this week. The nurse was quite surprised that I did not need my ‘normal’ amount of vials extracted, but that is good news. I am done with chemo and if I can help it, I do not want to go through it ever again!
The gynae visit went well. Dr V is an absolute pillar of strength and support for me. He is my confidante and my psychologist. A couple of minutes of his time and I am in a better mood. I forgot to ask Dr V if my appointments in future would be for a shorter period and a lesser cost as he does not have much to check anymore. :) It is hard to believe that 31 July last year Dr V picked up that something was amiss… nearly one year down track and I am on the mend again! My tumour marker registered at 8 with the previous marker taken in May being 5. Normal range is between 0 and 30.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sean 15

It was our baby’s birthday on Saturday. Sean turned a big 15! Ian was on his away week-end so we had a very quiet Saturday at home with Sean not even wanting to take a few friends out for a burger. His only request was pancakes for breakfast and this is a major cooking effort for me as there are many things I can do in the kitchen but cooking pancakes is not one of them. I did however manage to get a few cooked correctly and not as thick as doorstoppers.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Dark Days

The past 8 months I have been fighting a huge battle in terms of my health. It has been the only focus for many weeks and now suddenly the whole battle has ceased and this has felt me goalless. I am filled with emptiness where I keep asking myself “now what?” Whilst on an intellectual level I understand that it is normal to feel like this after a huge battle or project, I am feeling emotionally dark and quite depressed. No new goal or challenge seems to inspire me at the moment. I hope this phase only lasts a few weeks!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Recovery progressing

With each week that passes I am getting better and am managing to do more without the need of daily afternoon naps. I need to measure the recovery progress in weeks as daily it is still quite up and down. Every morning I look expecting into the mirror to see if little hairs are starting to grow yet, but to date they have not made their appearance.
Ian is coming home tomorrow for the week-end and we are all looking forward to that.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

House Sale

Our whole deal has crashed like a stack of dominoes. Our home buyer could not sell his home by the ‘due date’ and is not willing to resign as the lending interest rates are rising rapidly in South Africa with more hikes to come. Must admit that I do agree with our buyers and I am quite pleased from our own financial point of view as well, though a bit disappointed as the change would have been very nice. The change will just have to wait for a few months (or a few years depending on this depression). Now Ian and I need to make the decision as to whether we build on our entertainment room and then at the same time knock down are few walls in the living area, redo the flooring and the kitchen.
On the good new sides regarding my health – I must mention that I am off all medication for two weeks already including my sleeping tablets!!! Great stuff hey!!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Where to now….

For now my body is into recovery mode, not from the cancer but all the chemo. Strange how it is that eventually you feel like you are fighting the chemo more than the cancer. The cancer almost seems secondary.

The doctors are optimistic that they have killed all the cancer cells but cannot guarantee it, so I have quite a schedule ahead of me for the next 2 years where tests and scans will be done to check for cancer growths. July 16th I have an appointment with Dr V (gynae) where the necessary checks will be done together with tumour marker blood tests. Then beginning September I need to make an appointment with Dr L (oncologist) with lung x-rays, abdominal CT scans of all the organs and a load of different blood test to check cells counts, liver and kidney functioning. This cycle then repeats itself every 3 months for 2 years.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

June 08 already

The past week has just rushed by and it has been very quiet without Ian. I have been banished from our home study as Dylan has moved in and made it his exam study domain. Dylan is in the middle of his exam schedule and Sean starts Monday, so we are having lots of fun at home. I am still feeling the fatigue. Saturday morning the meditation group came through for a regroup meeting, this entailed sharing progress and partaking in a little group meditation. It went very well but left me feeling totally exhausted…. Just goes to show that my blood is not yet up to speed… 15 minutes of meditation facilitation and I have to have an afternoon nap followed by a very good nights sleep! Sunday was a very quiet day where I did nothing but relax and rest. All is going well on the Riddell front with Ian coming home Thursday evening for a ‘long’ week-end.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Post chemo blues

The past week has been the worst of all my chemo side effects. The nausea last week was terrible with me getting physically sick for the first time. Dr L changed my cocktail with the intent that it would help my bone marrow in recovery (which is still to be seen). Ian was home the week-end which was wonderful. I had a little job list for him (2 chores) that between myself and the boys we could not do. He left this morning again and will be home next Thursday evening. He has managed to convince his employer that coming home every 2nd week-end should be a long week-end! Much better for everybody! Dylan turned 17 yesterday. I can still clearly remember the day he was born and now we have a budding young man in our home. Ian took him for another driving lesson yesterday and Dylan even braved the quiet streets rather than just the church parking area! Well done Dylan!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Last round Chemo

Monday I received my last round of chemo!! I can hardly believe that the chemo rounds are done and I am not feeling a level of excitement and optimism yet. I am sure that in three to four weeks time when I don’t have to face the next cycle I will start feeling the levels of joy and gratefulness that I should be feeling now. Monday afternoon I got home about 14h30 and spent the balance of Monday and Tuesday warmly snuggled up in bed. Even Sean asked me yesterday “how can you sleep more tonight after all those hours sleeping today?”, but that is exactly what the body needs right how. I have been feeling really nauseas and the aching joints have not started yet.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sunday afternoon siestas

Sunday afternoon siestas are just the best thing since sliced bread. This week has passed at a rapid rate again. I saw Dr L (oncologist) on Wednesday and left with all the necessary paper work for the medical tests required in the next few months. Six weeks after this chemo round I need to have the tumour marker test done and schedule a visit with Dr V (gynae). Three months on I need to see Dr L with lung x-rays, CT scan of my abdomen and a load of blood tests to check my kidney and liver functioning, cell counts and tumour marker. This cycle then repeats itself every 3 months for one year, then we move to every four months for another year. I did not ask what happens after two years as we will face that when we get there.

Tomorrow I am dropping the boys at school and then Anet is coming to collect me to take me to the hospital for blood tests and then chemo if the counts are ok. I need to wait about one hour for the results so we will have a light breakfast at the hospital; they have a really nice café where we can relax.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Chemo Round 8 rescheduled

And history repeats itself again. My neutrophils are again too low for me to get chemo tomorrow and this time I have a double dosage of Medrol to take for a week. Last round of chemo scheduled for Monday 19 May. I am feeling quite depressed right now but will be better tomorrow.

Blood tests – chemo round 8

I have just returned from the hospital after having my blood drawn to test if chemo can occur tomorrow. Normally I have quite a firm feeling on whether it is on of off, but not this time. We should know by mid afternoon.

The beginner’s meditation workshop on Saturday was great fun and I hope that the eight people who attended now have the discipline to practice meditation for a few minutes a day. We are getting together Sat 24 May again to share progress and do a small group meditation. After all the folks left Saturday I had a 2.5 hour sleep!! Best sleep I have had in ages!

Mothers day was quiet and I was suitably spoilt by Ian Dylan and Sean. Dylan had his first driving lesson Sunday morning with Mom in the passenger seat. First thing Ian asked me when we got home is whether I needed a double whiskey! Ian left Monday morning again (04h15) to catch the 06h00 flight and will not be home for 2 weeks.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Single parenting

I am exhausted as I sit here typing this morning. The past few days have been hectic in terms of Mom’s taxi servicing. Besides the school drop off and pick up we have had extra tutoring sessions, sports training, career assessment testing and a dog that needed the vet. Our small mutt, Candy, has been limping for the past 2 weeks. Last week I took her to the vet and she was on anti-inflammatory medication to see if it would better the situation. The closing from the vet was that if she was not better after 7 days then she would need surgery to the right knee as the suspicion was that a few strands of the ligaments were torn. Yesterday morning early I dropped Candy at the vet for she scheduled sedation so that they can take proper x-rays of the joints to ascertain the exact problem. Candy is a dog that we adopted 5 years ago from Animal Anti-cruelty. At the time it was said that she was about one year old which we accepted as we are not qualified to dispute this. So, the outcome of yesterday is that Candy is OLD – she is 13!!! She has arthritis for which she is getting pain killers and a weekly injection and she has a bad ear infection. Other than that she is in good shape.

Ian has got the feedback that he will only be coming home every second week-end. I just hope he can negotiate that he comes home Thursday evenings and then departs Monday mornings before the birds rise.
On the home front: We have received and accepted an offer to purchase on our home, but this offer also has the condition that the buyers need to sell their property. The good thing is that the buyers current property is an entry level type home where there is still movement in the market. So, new deadline for off / on is 31 May.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Monday 05 May

In SA we have just had a week that contained 3 public holidays. Madness really when you think of the economic effects, but it seems to have had a positive effect on Escom (our local power supplier) as all planned power cuts have been terminated. Who knows for how long. Ian was home all of last week and we spent a lot of time together, mostly having lunches out so that I could still have my little afternoon rest. The boys were occupied with their own social lives, depending only on us for the taxi service. This morning Ian started his 5 month assignment in Bisho (a small town in the Eastern Cape) and I am waiting to hear if he will be coming home every week-end or every 2nd week-end. I am feeling good currently and am focussed on putting together a little workshop which is planned for Saturday. I have eight family/friends coming around for about 2 hours and I plan to teach them how to meditate. Should be fun and it is not too hectic in terms of effort and preparation for me.

Arie is home again and seems much better. The doctor is saying he had a virus that spread from the kidneys, into the blood and affected the brain.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Round 7 recovery

The past week has been full of the usual fatigue and nausea but worse than ever has been the pain in my ankles, knees and leg bones. It seems that with each round of chemo the pain gets worse and no amount of different pain killers seem to have an affect on the level of pain. Finally today, one week after chemo, I am feeling a bit better. I vowed today that once I am healthy and have my full energy levels back, I will never ever complain about fatigue.

Arie came out of hospital yesterday and seems to be doing reasonably. I promised my mom that I would go visit her as soon as my chemo’s are done and my blood counts are normal again. Dr L has said that I cannot fly until my blood counts have fully recovered.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Chemo round 7 Done and dusted!

As you all probably guessed, I got my dose of chemotherapy yesterday. Seven down and one to go! I am feeling quite excited about the thought of the last chemo session being behind me soon. The chemo nurse decided to use a vein in my hand again – how selfish they are as I am sure they have not needed to use the toilet with only one able hand! Down with my loose track pants, down with the panties and then the hoisting up episode again. I managed to only have to do this once and held my bladder until after all the tubes were removed. The last two chemo rounds I have been by myself for the bulk of the session. Anet dropped me at the chemo room at 09h00, she then popped around midday to give my feet and head a massage and then came to fetch me at around 15h30. Straight to bed at home, got up around 18h30 when Anet dropped by again with dinner for us. Felt really nauseas last night which is a first so early after chemo. Today I have been at home quietly and peacefully with Sanche dropping off dinner for us tonight. Thanks also to Anja acting as my boys taxi service.

My mom phoned me last night around 18h30. Arie, her hubby, had another stoke Tuesday late afternoon and was taken into hospital. At this stage he does not even recognise my mom anymore. I will phone her tonight again to get an update on the situation.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Chemo round 7 rescheduled again

This morning I was at the hospital for blood tests at 07h30 and we left for the chemo room at 09h00. Got to the chemo room around 9h30 and they said to wait a few minutes for the blood results so suggested we pop out for a cup of coffee. Whilst Ian was buying the coffee I received the phone call from Dr L’s surgery. My white blood cells are now just within range but the neutrophils are still too low to get chemo….. shit shit shit shit!!! (Actually want to utter the F word!). The good news is that my neupogen injection has been approved so that was administered at the chemo room. So, now I am back at home with some rest planned. Chemo is now planned for Wednesday (23rd) and I have just rescheduled my gynie Dr V to later this week as that was on the plan for Wednesday. The worst of all this is that Ian is leaving for Bisho tomorrow morning so I need to call in the support group to do all the driving around of myself and boys. All the rescheduling really fucks the mind!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Neupogen injection

Wednesday evening Ian and I had a lovely dinner with Sean opting to stay at home to give us “alone time”. Thursday I popped into the office for a few hours. It was lovely to see everybody again but exhausting to spend a few hours concentrating! I slept really well last night! This morning I phoned the oncology clinic and I am still waiting for the return call as the Neupogen injection is still not approved. (Neupogen is used to stimulate the production of granulocytes (a type of white blood cell) in patients undergoing therapy that will cause low white blood cell counts. Neupogen is used to prevent infection and neutropenic (low white blood cells) fevers caused by chemotherapy.) I actually doubt that I will receive the injection this round.

In this week I have been doing some thinking around the human body and its amazing ability to recover from injury and illness. It is truly amazing when you start understanding what happens when an infection hits the body and when you see how fast people recover from severe operations and therapy. The human body must surely still amaze the most dedicated scientists and we must be grateful for our bodies. When you are healthy you never think for a second about healthy cells, healthy blood counts, etc but once you know how you feel when your blood counts are not normal you get a new appreciation for healthy blood counts and look forward to feeling that ‘normal’ level of energy again.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Chemo round 7 rescheduled

I am surely psychic! The blood tests this morning revealed that my overall white blood cells and neutrophils are too low for chemo tomorrow. Once again I am on a week of medrol medication and a special request has been sent to medical aid for a 'blood booster' injection. I should get the approval by Thursday and then the injection Friday morning. Chemo is now rescheduled for Monday 21 April. Between all of us I am actually quite pleased that this round is rescheduled as tomorrow is our 20th wedding anniversary.
The second school term started yesterday (thank goodness) and Dylan left this morning for Grahamstown where there is a science festival for a week. Ian has been working from home for the past 2 months and it waiting for the go ahead for a six month assignment in Bisho. Once he leaves for Bisho we expect him to come home only every second week-end.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Monday blues

Hi All, I need to apologise for not doing any blog updates, but our home pc is on the blick! In fact, all 3 pc's (Dylan Sean and home) have given us problems in the last 3 weeks... can you believe that! So here is a quick update via a borrowed resource. The week has just flown by and I have had a fair share of visitors and have been feeling exhausted. We had a 'show house' again yesterday and I did very few preparations for this - the least I have even done and nobody made any comments so I will know for the future that less effort is also acceptable. The owners (Fam X) of the house that we have made an offer to purchase have come back to us asking that we extend the offer until 31 May 2008. This will give us another 6 weeks to try to sell our home in the worst market in years. We have said that is ok but are also pursuing quotes to do the renovations we had planned for our current home - with all these months of being at home I just want a complete change! Tomorrow is blood test day again - will let you know the results.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

08 04 08

Anybody into numerology? Today’s date must have special meaning… and what about the meaning of 08 August this year… 3 eights…. Would love to get feedback on what you think?

The past week has just flown past. We, the family, went away for a few days. It was wonderful and I managed to get through 3 novels… that just tells you what I did in the week…. Absolutely nothing! The boys had a wonderful time as we stayed on a timeshare resort on the waters edge. They entertained themselves with waterskiing, fishing, tennis, squash, cycling, swimming and chatting up girls. The weather was great for the first 5 days so we cannot complain about the 2 days of rain at the end of the week.

I am feeling much better this week, though I am tired I am managing not to sleep in the afternoon but then do have a good 10-12 hours sleep at night. I can feel that my blood counts are not up to speed.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Chemo round 6 recovery

Chemo started at 09h00 last Wednesday and I was home at 14h00, straight to bed and I slept to around 18h00. Thursday I spent the whole day in my pyjamas and had a morning and afternoon nap. Nobody can comment that I have not been looking after my dear body. Friday and today I have spend the day lazily at home with plenty of little lie downs and I had a wonderful 12 hour sleep last night. I seem to have a few nights where I sleep really badly (waking many times) followed by a night where I have a good deep sleep (suppose it depends on how deep I looked into the whiskey bottle :) ). The nausea is pretty normal for 3 days post chemo and the bones are aching. The worst ache is in my ankles and my knees. At this stage I have succumbed to cortisone – with the first chemo round I got a prescription which I have not taken until this round - what the hell, my body is so full of drugs an extra one is going to make no difference and if it is eases the aches I am smiling all the way.

I will not be updating the blog for a week… back 7 April again.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Chemo 26 March - on track

My neutrophils have just made it into chemo limit. They are 1.69 with the normal range being 2.00 to 7.00, but need to be above 1.5 for chemo to be administered. I am willing to take some bets that I will have a problem again next month…. Who is taking me on??

The Easter week-end was fantastic and looking back I am grateful that the chemo was delayed. Everything always happens for a reason though we often only understand the reason in hindsight. Most of the time I just relaxed at home with DVDs and books to keep me company. The boys went camping for 2 nights, leaving mom at home alone… BLISS !!!

Thursday, March 20, 2008


After about an hour wait on Tuesday I finally saw Dr L. We had quite some discussion around the fact that my neutrophils are not recovering. This is caused by repeated cycles of chemo and my body is reacting by going on a “bone marrow strike”. Five days on Medrol (Medrol has many uses in the treatment of cancer. Medrol is most often as a supportive care medication. Medrol is classified as a glucocorticosteroid - and my neutrophils have not recovered at all, so Dr L has extended the medication for another 5 days. My problem is that this is a cortisone type drug and I have a real mental block against them. I can see the daily weight gain which I hope is only water that I will disappear once I am off the drug again. I was really enjoying my new body at the reduced weight! Just for information, this is my fourth round on Medrol, I just seem to need more and more of the drug to stimulate the bone marrow. Dr L is going to reduce the taxol and carboplatin (chemo drugs) by 10% for the coming chemo round thereby hoping that I will not need cell boosting and extension in the schedule. Next round now scheduled for Wed 26 March (pending blood tests Tues 25th).

Wednesday this week I decided to try something new to averted the chemo side effects. I booked myself for an Ozone (pure oxygen) injection at the homeopath/medical doctor. The recommendation is that I must have 10 injections initially and then reduce to one injection before and after each chemo session. The injection today was really painful and I have quite a swollen elbow. I just wonder if the precious air went into my vein or the surrounding tissue… more like it went into the tissue and it feels bruised just like when the IV in the hospital started seeping into my soft tissues. I asked Dr L about this Tuesday and she said it would give me more energy but would not do anything for my blood counts but I still think it is worth a shot. I will wait a day to two to see if I feel better and to see how my arm settles before making the next appointment.

Today the first term of our school year comes to an end. Dylan and Sean will be home for 3.5 weeks again – seems like yesterday when they had their summer school holidays. Colin, my brother, arrives today from the UK for an Easter week-end visit to Cape Town. It is going to be great seeing and sharing with him.
Ian says my site is lacking humour… sorry, but is reflecting what I am feeling at the moment… lots of frustrations and irritability.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Neutrophils still down

I went to collect my medication Friday afternoon and took it as prescribed. I did blood tests again this morning with the oncology clinic phone call to me this afternoon. The neutrophils are still down so I cannot get chemo tomorrow. I will however see my oncologist Dr L tomorrow morning and get another prescription for more intense medication to boost the immune fighters. Chemo is now scheduled for Tues 25 March.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Neutrophils needs boosting

The past week has been busy for me. I have one appointment a day and I start stressing. Hahahahaha It is going to take me a while to settle back into work routine and the stresses that it brings. On the health front I am doing ok with the normal tendency for tiredness. I am scheduled for chemo Tuesday 18th March and for some subconscious reason I went for my blood tests Friday morning rather than Monday morning. By 13h30 Friday the oncology clinic phoned to say that my neutrophils are low (again!) (I could have told them that because I know what I feel like) and they emailed a prescription to me for medication to boost the cells. Need to take a double dose of medication for 5 days and have blood tests again Monday morning.

My hairs started falling out Thursday. The little hairs are about the length of eyelash hairs. Shame… the poor hairs battled to grow with the 6 weeks break in chemo cycle (due to operation) and now they are losing their battle. The loss process is quite unemotional this time round, which is good news.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Pieces of my life

On Thursday the agent came back to us with the message that the sellers did not want to accept our offer and reverted with a counter offer that was too high in my mind. Well, old stubborn Alida ‘kicked’ in…. I was not changing the offer to purchase and in essence this is the signal that we should not be buying another home and rather building onto our current home. Deep inside I did feel a bit of disappointment as I was actually looking forward to the renovation project. I shared all the news with Marietjie Thursday evening and she was over the moon that the old Alida is back….Being stubborn and getting excited about a project. As Friday progressed I was mildly surprised that there was not another counter offer as the house has been on the market for months and by Friday evening I was at peace that this deal was not meant to be…. And then during Friday evening we received a text message with the revised counter deal! Slept on it and re-signed the offer to purchase subject to the sale of our current home by 16 April. If this does not happen, then we will be at peace that it was not meant to be. All these home buying activities are helping to keep my mind busy. Tomorrow we are having a ‘show house’ (which means open to the public as a sale item) so we have a fair bit of tidying to do with the assistance of our two teens. Need to make sure that the garden is neat and the home is free of dog hairs.

The past week I have been focusing on picking up of the pieces of my life with a view to get it all going again. I cannot believe it is one week short of 5 months. I have started a very mild exercise program and have been shocked by how the chemo has destroyed my body. Last year I was busy studying an Applied Metaphysics diploma course and still have bits of the last assignment outstanding. This week I have scratched this together and got my mind around completing these by end March. It is feeling good to have a purpose again that is other than fighting the illness.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Eating habits

Quite often I feel like I have been feeling the past week. I just don’t know what to write as the chemo routine is repetitive and the side effects are following the same course. It is now a week past chemo and I am feeling good again. I certainly have my appetite back but that is the one thing I never have a problem with. One so often hears of people who say that they were so busy or so absorbed that they forgot to eat… well, that certainly never happens to me. I am very aware of my stomach and it needs to have food in it! On Monday I started an exercise programme with the blessing of all my docs, with the avoidance of tummy exercises for another 3 weeks. The first session was slow but a first step to rebuilding my body muscle. The target is to exercise 3 times a week. I would like to build up to 5 times a week in my good weeks and then chemo week will be off limits again.

Last Friday Anja popped by for a chat and a drink and as she left she said “you must be so frustrated by the walls of your home that I will not be surprised if you want to buy another house”…. And I said “Guess what…. We have been looking at other houses!!!”. And I do feel frustrated with the walls around me and seeing all the things that needs doing and then this frustrates Ian as all I can talk about is ‘work’ (a four letter word!!!). For the past few weeks Ian and I have been looking at Show Houses on Sunday afternoon…. We have nothing better to do with our time! There has been one house that has really been ‘talking’ to me and we have been back 3 times… It needs a huge amount of work but I can see the potential of a great home and we can probably get the house at a good price and it is in a better area than we are currently. Well, this afternoon we signed an offer to purchase and we have 5 weeks to get a deal on our home. Lets hope the owners accept the deal tonight.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Hair growth

Last Friday my dear sister in law and special friend, Marietjie popped in for a whistle stop visit. A glass of water and off she was again. During this brief stop she was overawed by my head hair growth. Since the beginning of the year a few very blond curly hairs have started growing on the top of my head. They are really ‘die hard’ hairs that have not fallen out with the chemo’s. Then about a week ago very thin sparse brown hairs have make their appearance on the top of my head (not the sides…). The only problem with the very fine blond curly hairs is that they are confused which part of the anatomy they should be growing on. This gives me hope though I know I will lose these brown hairs again with the chemo routine facing me, but 6 weeks post the last chemo I will start sporting hairs!

Feeling ‘normal’ for three days post chemo. Yucky!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Marvellous human body

For the past few days I have really marvelled at the human body’s ability to recover. When I had the hysterectomy I gave full credit for my quick recover to my gym routine thinking that my level of fitness really paid off. It was the first time I was really grateful for sticking to the routine of rising at 05h30, gym 06h00 until 0h700 with my personal trainer, rushing back home to take the kids to school (they stood waiting outside in the driveway so that we could depart for school at 07h10), back home to have a quick shower, get dressed and start work for the day. Every morning was a complete rush and I would get anxious if the schedule was late by one minute! I was fortunate to have the arrangement to work from home until the traffic died down a bit. This way I could easily do one to two hours at home in total silence with no telephone or people interruptions. Then off to work for the day, around 18h00-18h30 was back home again (when the worst of the traffic has gone), supper, clean up kitchen, watch a TV program, help the boys with homework every once in a while and then bed… what a boring life when one relays it in this manner. I have regressed off the subject. With the operation earlier this month I have astounded myself in that I was walking with a nurse on each side of me about 18 hours after the operation, 48 hours after the operation I was independently mobile with my IV trolley as support and 5 days later I walk out the hospital unaided. All this whilst I have not been to gym in 5 months, so I cannot give all the credit to being fit – the body heals itself in leaps and bounds when one measures progress in 24 hours chunks (I know that Eileen will agree with me when looking at Adam’s recovery from major heart surgery earlier this year). And the spirit to live is so great that one just cannot understand where it comes from. Many people have told me in the past months that I am a strong person, not physically but mentally and after my experience of myself in the past two weeks I must agree with you all. My spirit is very strong…. Even surprising me!! We all need to be grateful for our human body’s ability to recover – a blessing which is truly amazing.

I am ready for chemo tomorrow and the stash is waiting for me (I must just remember to use it)!!! I am going to have a glass of bubby tonight to celebrate my recovery to-date! You are all welcome to have one on me!! I sound like a drug and alcohol addict. hahahahaha

Friday, February 22, 2008

Chemo Round 5 - confirmed

The oncology unit phoned me yesterday afternoon to share that the medical aid has approved the next batch of treatments. Chemo cannot happen on Monday as they don’t have all the toxic drugs in stock so I am confirmed for Tuesday. The oncologist appointment (which occurs before each chemo) is nice and early (9h00) so I should be done by 16h00.
Today I am going to try to get through the day without any painkillers. I just need to give my body a bit of a breather and it is not feeling too bad (at this stage).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Post operation recovery

I had a very quiet relaxing week-end with zero visitors. Monday Dr V phoned me after he had a discussion with Dr L in terms of where we are with my health. Dr L had already submitted all the details to the medical aid for approval and the plan is to start chemo this coming Monday 25 Feb. Must admit I had to take a very deep breath to stop myself from bursting into tears. I had mentally prepared myself for 4 weeks off which would have allowed for a really nice recovery from the operation and now I am faced with just 14 days between the operation and chemo, exactly the same as what happened with the operation 15 Oct and first chemo 29 Oct. So next week I will be feeling really shitty as I have been quite nauseas these past 10 days so the chemo will just add to that! As at this morning I have still not heard from the oncology unit so I phoned them. Guess what… seems there is a delay is getting the medical approval because they have a new lady doing the work. I told them “well, I am quite used to delays from your unit as there is always some or other reason for this, but a bit of communication from your side will do wonders rather than the deafly silence!!” I am now more accepting of the fact that chemo will occur next week.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Post 11 Feb operation

Firstly, thanks to Ian for writing the great blog updates.

I am going to give you the full account of the last week or so. Last Saturday was a very quiet day and we spent all day at home. The gardener was meant to arrive and I had great plans to remove some bushes and plant some new plants, but alas, that did not happen as he did not arrive. Dylan and Sean promised me that they would remove the bushes but with teenagers you need bucket loads of patience as everything only happens when THEY are ready.
Sunday was a strange day. I felt calm but was dizzy and felt ‘outside’ my body. Difficult to explain when you feel your head and mind are not quite with you in the physical body. Around 2pm I just could not ‘relax’ at home anymore and convinced Ian that we needed to take a drive to a nursery a few kilometres away. There we strolled and browsed through the various plants and water features for sale. That did not make me feel any better as it was hot and humid. At the nursery we shared a toasted sandwich and had two drinks! Now, that make me feel better! Came home, prepared supper and the whole family was in bed, lights out, by 9h30pm. Even if Ian had some hacky packy on his mind for the evening, it would not happen because Sean snuck his way into our bedroom and camped out for the night. The air conditioner ran all night (one on the most humid hottest week-end we have had in Cape Town).

Monday morning I had toast and low fat cheese for breakfast and then relaxed and meditated in a lavender bubble bath. I felt totally calm and in control, no dizziness or giddiness. Ian and I dropped by the shopping mall to kill some time, arrived at the hospital at noon for blood test and checked into my room. The nurse arrived to do all the admission questions, screening and checking. The nurse asked if I had shaved and I answered “I don’t need too”…. It took her a moment to realise what I have said. :) Then Charlotte arrived – she was the nursing sister who was such a huge emotional support when I got the news 18 Oct of my cancer – and I just could not control my emotions anymore, lots of tears and hugs (Charlotte did not recognise me initially with no hair). How do you explain to anybody close to you how scared you are for what the doctors may find. Post the admission Ian left and I was alone with my own thoughts and prayers. The minister who confirmed me over 30 years ago surprised me with a visit, he did a small bible reading and a special prayer. The porter came to fetch me just after 4pm, so now the show was on the road. Inside the theatre area Dr V came to chat to me and asked if I had any questions about the procedure. We had to wait a few minutes for Dr H, a specialist oncologist gynaecologist, to arrive and during this time I got kitted out with a bright orange bandanna to keep my head warm. My 2 special doctors wheeled me into theatre. I must add that I have two of the very best doctors looking after me. I have the greatest respect for both these men.

I don’t remember much of the balance on Monday. I remember seeing Ian, telling him that I was sore and then saying that he may as well leave as I am not much to talk too. Tuesday I spent the whole day and night lying on my back, getting IV feeding. No food or liquid was allowed to pass my lips until the intestines started acting normally again. The omentum was removed, this is a layer of fat that lies between the intestines and the skin across the front hip area, and the way I understand it is that the omentum protects the intestines from infection, so for example, my left ovary was still cancerous and the omemtum will then grow a protective layer around the ovary to protect the balance of the abdomen from infection, in the process getting infected itself. My guts were in shock because the caretaker has been removed, so they lay there rigid and unwilling to do anything. Dr V popped around to update me that they removed 10 bottles of various goodies from my abdomen. They removed the left ovary, the omentum, a small growth from the bladder, quite a bit of scar tissue where the right ‘extended’ ovary was, abdominal fluids, etc. All this has been sent for histology. I did a small walk around my bedroom and sat in a chair for 30 minutes – shew !! that was enough for the first day.

Mr V phoned me Wednesday morning elated with his news. All the histology was negative with the exception of my left ovary. I was so drugged and my tongue was so thick that I could not even respond to him properly and somehow did not feel the elation in my heart. I was still ‘nil per mouth’ lying on my back. By the afternoon my guts started moving inside my tummy like a big lazy python, but this was not enough for the nursing care to remove the ‘nil per mouth’ restriction. Late afternoon Dr H and Dr V popped in. Dr H sat on the end of my bed and Dr V on a chair on the other side of me. Dr V had to find another vein in my right arm as the IV drip had started seeping into my soft tissue. The nurse had tried 4 times and just could not find a vein in the right arm and the left arm is totally buggered from chemo. Dr H explained that at this stage all visible signs of cancer have been removed but that I do still have cancer at a microscopic level and that I will have to undergo more chemo to kill each and every one of the cancer cells. If just one little cancer cell remains alive it will grow and within 6 to 12 months I will have visible cancer again. The recommendation is 2, probably 3 more rounds of chemo but Dr H would discuss this with Dr L (my oncologist). My visitors Wednesday were elated with the news, but still I didn’t feel it. Wednesday evening my catheter was removed and I could walk to the bathroom with my IV trolley are support. Freedom!!

Thursday I got started on a liquid only diet, chicken broth and jelly for breakfast, lunch and supper! Once deprived it is amazing how excited one can get about chicken broth!! Friday Dr V pops around, says the IV can be removed and if all goes well, I can go home Saturday. Friday afternoon Dr H phones me post a discussion he has had with Dr L regarding my health. Their combined recommendation is four more rounds of chemo….. shit shit shit shit shit…. I cannot believe that I need to go through the last 4 months again!!!! How does one feel happy that there is no visible cancer when you have 4 rounds of chemo facing you. It actually just fills me with emotion, crying as I write this… I just don’t feel the happiness that everybody seems to think that I should have. I still feel like a cancer patient and I am one…. Four more months of nausea, of aching joints, of no hair, of feeling exhausted, of low white cells, of neutrophils that need boosting…..

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Post op 13 Feb

I can’t wait for Alida to get out of hospital so she can relate in her own words what she is experiencing and what is going through her mind! In the meantime you’re stuck with me, so bear with me and she will soon be back in action wowing you with insight and wit.

It has been an up and down couple of days for us. After contacting the doctor the next day (that’s another thing – I am always a day late with my postings!), I needed to hear that the operation was a resounding success, only to be told that there were a good couple of spots removed that were sent off for to histology. We had to wait for the results before any further plans of action would be undertaken. A couple of stressful days later, we were advised that most of the results, bar one (the remaining ovary), were negative. Long story short – 9 negative and 1 positive does not mean that she is clear of cancer, so 3 more chemo sessions, the first one of which will be in three and a half weeks time. (Not new news, we were told up front that more chemo session would follow the op)

On a more cheerful note, I am pleased to announce that Alida is bouncing back strongly. Not even 24 hours after the operation, she took her first walk to the door and back to the lazy-boy where she sat for a while before going back to bed. And tonight she walked off the toilet on her own, came back and asked us boys if we heard her. Pleased to say we did not and neither did the rest of the ward. She also was allowed her first cup of tea this evening, the first thing across her lips since 10:00 Monday morning.

I’m rambling now, so I’ll say cheers. One last thing – it looks like she will in the hospital until Monday, so feel free to pop in if you’re in the vicinity.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Road to Recovery

Well, after my Blogging 101 course this morning, and on Alida’s instruction to listen carefully when Dr V calls to give feedback after the op, I can report that what I remember hearing was that all the bad stuff was removed, including the remaining ovary. On the positive side, the lymph glands were 100% normal so were not removed, and all vital organs came up clean. Wasn’t thinking clearly enough to ask about the hip, further chemo sessions etc. so I will be contacting him again first thing.

The day was a bit of a blur, Alida did not want to hang around at home, so we went down to the mall, did a little shopping, then hit the hospital at 12:00. Blood drawn AGAIN, then booked in and went straight to the ward to wait! Outwardly she looked pretty calm, but believe me the emotions were in a turmoil. What an incredible, brave person and I cannot express adequately in words what she means to the boys and myself.

At this point I would just like to thank the circle of family and friends who have been such incredible pillars of support. Thanks for the prayers and positive thoughts, without you it would have been so much harder to cope. I feel that the next hurdle has been successfully negotiated and we are looking forward to healthy recovery.

Until next time!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Happy Birthday

Today is my birthday – need to update my profile – another year older and 50’s just round the corner.

This year I have been blessed with many text messages, emails and phone calls. Thank-you for all who remembered and made me feel like a princess today! We have the family and a few friends coming around tonight with Karen, my stepsister, doing all the catering.

C from Dr V’s rooms phoned me yesterday at 17h00. The assisting doctor cannot make Monday’s theatre timeslot due to a change in his schedule. The option to postpone is not favoured by Dr V and I agree with him, I personally would not like to delay anymore either. So, operation has been rescheduled with all the necessary medical approvals for Sat 9 Feb. Around 15h00 today C phoned me again, the assisting doctor has changed his schedule and the operation is back on track for Monday. The doctors prefer a normal working day as all staff are available. C kindly offered to phone the hospital and medical aid to change the dates (again).

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Neutrophils down again

The oncology clinic phoned me yesterday afternoon with my blood test results. The overall white cell count is a bit low, but once again my immune soldiers are way below any normal range. I got a prescription emailed to me and am on medication for a week. I just hope and pray that the body recovers in the next week so that the operation can continue as scheduled. I really want the operation behind me as soon as possible. I am not looking forward to the procedure at all.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Eyebrows and eyelashes

Monday morning I went to the hospital to do all the pre-admission paperwork and the medical assessment. The hospital keeps your records active for 3 months only, so I had to go through the whole procedure again. Charmaine, the lovely lady who helped me, even phoned the medical aid on my behalf and received all the necessary approvals. I have relayed my whole medical history again and signed all the papers to receive surgery and blood transfusion if necessary. Everything is now in order for Monday 11 Feb, 16h30. Friday I have to go for blood tests again and Monday 4 Feb I see Dr V for my pre-operation scan and check up.

One only realises that hair, eyebrows and eyelashes have an important function when you don’t have them. On hot summer days little beads of perspiration form on your head. Normally the bulk of your hair would absorb this moisture and you would feel the dampness in your hair. With no hair, these little droplets form larger rivulets than run from your head down your neck, sides of your face and down your forehead and straight INTO YOUR EYES, causing your eyes to burn like hell!! On top of that we have been having lots of wind causing every little dust particle to be attracted to my eyes. So when you see me with red swollen eyes and tears rolling down my cheeks, it is just the heat and dust doing this to me.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Weed tea

Meditation evening on Thursday was great. Six of us got together and we did 2 little meditations and quite some socialising afterwards. It was wonderful to see all the friends together again. Friday I did the grocery shopping by myself for the first time since the op. After all the walking, carrying and unpacking I was exhausted - I had to have a little lie down (cannot believe how stuffed my body is).
Now I need to make a confession. Remember my post on “to weed or not to weed”. Well, after many peoples advice to try weed to ease the pain, I managed to get a small stash in anticipation for the last chemo week. The full intention was that I would brew a tea with this and I even received a lovely little teapot and cup as a Christmas gift – perfect for my brew. Well, more than a week after chemo, with the pain now under control, I remembered my stash… can you believe it.. I forgot about it completely!! I am definitely not an addict of this drug. Stupid me!!! What is the shelf life of weed? Can I keep the stash until I know the next steps after mid Feb?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Busy Bee

Tuesday morning we went to the dentist for our regular check-ups. All ok on the dental front for Dylan, Sean and I. Tuesday afternoon I went to the office for the first time since the operation and diagnosis. I was a bit nervous as I now had to face all the work colleagues looking like a real chemo kid. I did a bit of focussed breathing to calm the jitters in the car park and headed up stairs. Fortunately all my access cards still work. At reception I got a big bug from the receptionist and lots of hugs from the team. Even the tea lady had a huge hug for me. I felt a much more relaxed after that. We spend the afternoon chatting about what is going on at work and catching up on personal stuff. It was wonderful!!!!
Wednesday Richard (my boss) picked me up and we had lunch and a one-to-one update on what is happening on the work front. Was good to see him and have the time with him. The last 2 days have left me exhausted and I slept like a baby last night.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Feeling Great

I have had 2 great days. Two days without any ‘anti’ drugs! Ian and I popped out to the shops yesterday and had a lovely lunch outside in sunny Durbanville. Spent the afternoon covering books! Today has been great too, I am still a little bit nauseas, my bones are feeling much better and I have more energy. The only thing that frustrates me is my ‘chemo head’. I know what I want to say and as I start talking I forget some of the words – drives me mad!!! My meditation group have all been asking for us to get together again, which we have not done since Sept last year. I have suggested we do a group meditation this Thursday for one hour… will let you know how it goes!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Schedule 1 completed

My aunt Hennie popped around Sunday to say goodbye as they head back to Singapore after a Christmas break with their children and grandchild. Her son-in-law lost his dad over the week-end due to lung cancer, which was diagnosed 20 weeks ago. Cancer can progress so quickly. Monday I completed my last round of chemo in this session. The operation is set for Monday 11 Feb, late in the afternoon. I still need to get medical approval for the operation and will do this next week, once I feel a bit better. Post the histology of all that will be removed from my abdomen, the next steps will be agreed, but I am preparing myself for another 2 to 3 rounds of chemo as per the original chats with the Docs. The boys went back to school today and I love the ‘normal’ routine. For the first time in my life and their lives I have been a full time mom and a sick one in that. It has been quite a learning experience for all 3 of us. I am experiencing the normal cycle of nausea and the bones are starting to ache along with a dumbness is my fingers.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Chemo Round 4 now on track

Thursday I woke up feeling like a truck had run over me. I had a huge headache and my body was numb. Worse than any hangover that I have had in a long time. After a few paracetamols and an easy day, I felt much better by the evening.
Went for blood tests this morning and the chemo practice phone me around 11 to say that my blood counts are normal and chemo will happen on Monday. We have an easy week-end planned – the norm for the past few months. (Quite boring for most folks).

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Neutrophil generators

After 5 phone calls to the oncology unit, I finally got a call back after 14h00 to inform me that the medical aid has approved the injection. Madness really when you think about the time and effort that has gone into processing the approval vs the administration which took seconds! This magic potion is going to kick my bone marrow into action and get them generating cells! And the side effect is sore bones…. Argh again… Chemo causes sore bones and this too!! We are keeping to the schedule of blood test Friday morning and chemo Monday 14th.

I am expecting Dylan home this afternoon, he has spent a week away with friends camping and hiking in the Cederberg. After the initial homecoming I am sure he will be heading straight for the shower and then bed. I missed the bugger. I must thank the parents who took both Dylan and Sean for a holiday during this school break. Really appreciate it!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Chemo Round 4 rescheduled again

All the emotional preparation for Thursday’s chemo session is again for nothing. The medical aid has as yet not approved the special ‘neutrogen’ that I need (Neutrophils are the white immune fighting cells). This afternoon’s conversation with the chemo practice has now changed the dates again. Assuming I get the generators tomorrow morning, it will only be possible to check my blood late Thursday or early Friday morning, so this has moved chemo to Monday 14 Jan. In the meantime I have been doing lots of resting but still feel permanently tired.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Chemo Round 4 rescheduled

This morning I went for the routine blood tests that are done before chemo to check that the body has recovered enough to allow the next round of chemo to occur. Around lunch time the oncology practice phoned me to say that my white blood cells are way too low for chemo to occur on Monday. Effectively it is my immune fighters that are way below normal. Explains why I have been feeling tired and I was even having a little ‘rest’ when the practice phoned. The oncology nurse reiterated that I must take it easy, must have my rests and keep visitors to a minimum! Nobody with any form of sniffle, cough, temperature, etc may come close to me and crowded places are a no-go zone. Sigh. By this afternoon I had learnt that I need a special once off dosage of white cell generators but this takes 48 hours for the medical aid to approve. The plan is that I get this at the chemo room on Tuesday, more blood tests Wednesday morning and chemo planned for Thurs 10 Jan.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

2008 01 02 Welcome 2008

The new me.... (my eyebrows are now finally giving up on me too)

The festive season is behind us and the whole world is focussed on a new year in personal, work and education. The shops are still buzzing but now it is the ‘back to school’ gear for us here in SA. Christmas week was a good week for me. Christmas eve we had a brother in law and brother around and Christmas we lunched with my family at my Dad’s place. I even had a little pony ride Christmas afternoon. All went well until Sunday when I got hit by a terrible tummy bug. Spent most of Sunday evening and night with the face looking down the porcelain pot!! New Years Eve I was still exhausted and not yet 100% so Ian and I did what we both really enjoy. We spent the evening at home with movies and by 22:30 it was lights out for both of us! Sean spent New Years eve with a buddy and the next day came home saying “Oh, happy new year mom… sorry I forgot cos I am not really a new year type of person”. Must admit that Ian and I are the same, we don’t need all the partying, drinking and late nights. Dylan spent new year camping with a friend at a dam and mentioned today that there were an amazing amount of fights new years eve…. Even more reason I don’t need the ‘over done’ bit.