Friday, March 25, 2011

Changing Residents

Mid March we changed our address from Constance Lake to 153 Ontario St. Apt1.  I thought I would show you some pictures of the transition.  Cottage - quiet, wood heat, creation, beauty of nature    Apartment - warmth  bills (water, electric, phone, internet), town.
Life is a continual change.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

First Chemo Treatment

Here it is March 23rd and this past week has been a bit daunting.  We travelled to Sudbury a week ago Monday for the first chemo treatment.  It was a long day as we left early in the morning and we got to the hospital at about 930 and waited.  The chemo started about 11am and took about 2hrs until all of the chemicals were pushed into the port in Mary’s chest  Before the chemo started they gave Mary some anti- nausea drugs that were to last 24 hours.   At about 1:30 we stopped for some lunch and then headed home, but we were less than half way home when the nausea hit.  That night was a bit overwhelming for me as Mary was feeling rotten  and there was nothing I could do.  Tuesday to Friday was a bit of a blur but Mary did get progressively better.  By the weekend Mary thought she might survive!  Here is a note she sent in an email on Sunday.
“We are surviving the first of the chemos- barely! i think this is as hard on Tim as me as he has to watch/listen to barfing!  This week has been pretty rough but hopefully the next two weeks will be better before they do the next treatment. This afternoon we went out for a ride and i lost a handful of hair- not a dry drive by any means!  We had Aly and Matt (  Clark) here for the weekend so it was really nice to see them even though I couldn't do much. It was so encouraging  to hear them talk of their wedding plans and hopes  and dreams for the future!  And Matt made me some creamy mashed potatoes  which went down well!”
“Our new address is 153 Ontario St. Apt #1  P.O. Box 493 Thessalon, Ontario  P0R 1H0
we are settling into "Normal" life- phones, internet, electricity, running water and bills!!
I feel claustrophic at times but hopefully will make the transition gracefully. This is our path at present and we want to be found faithful.”
Today was a good day and we had a nice visit from Burnley and Zoe.  Mary ate well and did not have nausea  at all.  This is the 10th day of the treatment when her blood count is supposed to be the lowest.  We will have to careful with people who are sick and guard Mary from infection.  I take her temp twice a day.  If it is 38 degrees C,  I am to take her to the emergency dept. immediately.    We have a video conference with the oncologist on Monday and hopefully we can deal with the nausea and vomiting for next time. 
Thanks so much for all the notes, emails and phone calls.  We really appreciate all the support and the prayer. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Off to Sudbury Again Tomorrow

This has been a busy week again.  We travelled to Blind River Monday to see our family doctor and have an ultra-sound.  Mary had been fasting since Sunday evening for the ultra-sound which was to be Monday at 1245h.  We had our doctors appointment at 10am and then went to Tim Hortons.  I went in to get a coffee and when I returned Mary was eating an orange and some crackers left in the car.  It.didn't twig with me until we got to the hospital for the ultra-sound.  Then I asked Mary, "Aren't you fasting?", then it hit her as well and she said she must have just forgot and ate the orange.  Needless to say the tech would not do the ultra-sound so we had to book again for Wednesday.  Tuesday we went to Sault Ste. Marie and then back to Blind River on Wednesday.  Thursday we travelled to Sudbury for the surgery to implant a port in her chest.  I will let Mary tell you about that day.
This is Mary now! I have  been very unsettled about whether to do the chemo or not as I have been feeling so well and have lots of energy again! Why would I want to do something that would make me sick?? We had a frank discussion with our wonderful family doctor on Monday morning who listened to our fears and doubts  and encouraged us to make our own decision.  By Wednesday we were still unsure what to do, so I started praying specifically for an answer.  The weather report on Wed evening was not good- snow storm followed by freezing rain overnight. So I decided that if the roads were closed on Thursday morning, I would take that as a sign that we would not do the chemo! Roads were not closed on Thursday morning so off we went.  But the roads were slushy and slippery- so I decided that if we slid off the road and missed the appt., I would take that as a no to chemo. We arrived in Sudbury without incident.  Then the nurse told me that I was no longer on a surgery list. I was now on a wait and see list as some emergencies took precedence.  I decided that if I didn't get the port in, I would take that as a no to chemo.  Tim and I went sound asleep in the waiting room and then the fire alarm went off!! The doctor came in and got me and said as soon as the fire alarm went off she had 45 mins before her next surgery and she would do my port!  So I climbed up on the operating table and she did the surgery as soon as the alarm quit!! You would really think that I would quit putting out fleece but no!! Friday morning , I woke to the question again- should I do the chemo or not? Lord please give me peace about this. Probably a couple of hours later, a friend of ours who had been through breast cancer 4 years ago phoned and we talked for quite a while. She was such an encouragement and gave me lots of ideas about what to do during the treatments.  Best of all, she had the same type of cancer- HER2+ and had the follow-up treatment for the year.  She assured me that the year long treatment was not as bad as the first chemo treatments and that I would be okay!  It was an answer to prayer and I now feel ready to go ahead with this tomorrow.  I am not looking forward to it but I am ready to get on with it.

 Tim again.  On Saturday we moved into a little appartment here in Thessalon and got settled in.  It felt good to have a place of our own again and try to get ready for the chemo treatments.  It is a quiet basement apartment with two bedrooms.  Mary got a red sofa in the Soo on tuesday and it is the only furniture in the living room.  I am sure it will get a lot of use.

Please keep us in your prayers as we head to Sudbury tomorrow.  Thanks to all.  Tim

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March 1st Update on Mary

This has taken us a few days to process and to think through, and now we will try to let you know where we are at.  On Friday Feb. 25th we met with the oncologist and were blown away by his report.  On our last post we mentioned that the results of one test had not come back yet but now those results are in. That test  HER2 returned postive which is not a good thing.   We quickly learned that what you don't know can hurt you! 
Basically the HER2 test is fairly new and not done routinely but tells the doctors a lot about the type of cancer and how aggressive it is.  HER2+ is a gene that has more receptor sites than normal and is producing too many cells too rapidly.  The doctor then explained that she would need chemo to kill the cells that had already spread throughout Mary's body. This chemo would start in 2 weeks and involve one treatment every 3 weeks for 18 weeks.  We were kind of prepared for that as it had been mentioned previously as a possibility.  But with the news of the HER2 gene it means an extra year of treatment after the initial chemo. The idea of another year of treatment is daunting!  The plan is to surgically implant a port in Mary's upper chest so that the chemo can be injected as this would be over an extended time.  Needless to say we were still overwhelmed by it all.  There are so many unanswered questions and some fears.  We have been on the internet researching recommended  drugs, side effects, alternatives, coping with chemo etc.  We are also in the process of finding an apartment in Thessalon to live in.  The treatments will be in Sudbury but we plan to stay in Thessalon between treatments.
We are just waiting to talk to the surgeon about  the intervenous port and a consult with our family doctor in Blind River.  We are praying that the Lord will direct us on the right course of action and wisdom and courage. I hope we  can maybe get away for a few days (maybe Ottawa or Toronto) before the chemo starts. We again would like to thank you all for prayers, notes, and concerns.  We are negligent about replying to emails but hopefully will get a chance to talk with you. Thanks so much.