My journey - battling lymphoma

Recently I celebrated my 46th birthday. I love celebrating birthdays! Then I participated as a co-captain for our local "Quabog" Relay For Life and the Pack 57 Rocks! Cub Scout Team. This was the time frame that I had discovered an uneasiness in my stomach and growth in my spleen and stomach. After weeks of monitoring, my husband Steve took me to the doctor who felt the lumps and ordered a CT scan. The CT scan showed a massive area, my spleen enlarged to twice its size and an additional growth lower in my stomach. Next was the localized CT guided biopsy and subsequent PET scan. The biopsy showed positive for lymphoma and most likely Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma.

This is my online journal sharing my experience through battling this cancer that has abruptly entered my life for no apparent reason. The story is documented here if you want to start from the beginning, you can check the archives on the side bar.

As a top competitive master athlete this year winning my age group at the Marine Corps Marathon and placing 3rd in the New England Trail Running Championship I have been truly excited with my results of late and am a truly driven athlete. Driven by goals.... my goal right now.... to beat this "thing"!

Friday, July 23, 2010

"Bag 'O Drugs"

Having cancer means being sick, really sick, sick enough to have to take drugs.  :(

I am not a drug person....  actually I have a really difficult time staying on a daily vitamin regime.  I used to be a Shaklee consultant and still use their great products including Physique, Performance, Vita Lea & Bcomplex, but like I said - I don't do a very good job of keeping to a daily regime.  

There was this incident back when I lived in Woodstock, Vermont, where I fed both Chester, my yellow lab at the time and my mom's German Shepherd, Katie food at the same time.  They fought with each other and my leg was bit in the tangle.   Gouged to the point making a bloody mess all over my mom's kitchen!  I of course tried to clean the wound myself and determined to get ready for my 1/2 marathon the next day bandaged it up.  I went to the ER and was given a tetnas shot, so I felt good to go!  After running 13.1 miles with the injury - the "infection" grew and I had streaking up my leg.  Crazy I know.  SO I went to the ER again and had it treated with an IV antibiotic that made me break out in hives - little red bumps all over my body.  Crazy story of my will and determination to run through everything and also an example that my body has a way of reacting to drugs!  :(

Now in treatment they are giving me some pretty strong drugs as mentioned and detailed in an earlier post, and then I have to take daily Alpurinol and Prednisone following treatment.  The feeling in my body is really strange, I feel jittery, fuzzy, and the metalic taste and change in taste buds is just very very odd.  Hard to explain, and I know this is just the beginning, but it is not so much fun. :(

So I have this bag I got from the Boston marathon this past year - a fun bag with inspirational and other quips on it for the motivated runner.  I love all the sayings and many apply to my current "situation" and give me strength.  I keep all my drugs in it and call it my "Bag 'O Drugs".  I labeled the top of the caps with their purpose or initial so I know what it is without having to read them all each time when looking.  I think it will be easier to keep track and think maybe a checklist so I know that I have taken what I need each day may be in order.  If they stay in the bag - I know where to find them and they don't get lost!  :)

In the "Bag 'O Drugs": 
A = Alpurinol  - daily med
P = Prednisone - 2 times / 5 days after treatment
drug for acid and heartburn
nausea drug #1
nausea drug #2 (in case #1 doesn't do it!)
sleep drug - as needed (haven't taken that one yet)
Tylenol - can't take Advil
Benedryl - for sore throat or other reactions

We need to monitor all symptoms and "report" if anything crazy happens.  I am not good at that either, as I hate to go to the doctor or complain period.  I have been trying, because from what they say if you don't stay on top of the symptoms they can get really bad and really side line you.  Which is definitely not what I want.

Feeling ok this week.  I have run 3 days and it was a true challenge of my focus.  I think the running stuff deserves its own post, but I feel strong even though this is Week 1.

Thanks for stopping by and checking in.  Please leave me a note.  I got a great call from a long time national, volunteer, friend, and cancer survivor Keith Warner out of White Bear Lake, MN.  He sent me a Hope Stone and is an amazing sense of strength and support - like so many more of you out there.  Thank you for your notes, cards and calls.

This week cards came from Nichole, Pat, Keith, Uncle Bill & Aunt Jeanette, Sue Ann, Carter, Linda, Marty & family.  So sweet of you all!

 We as a family truly appreciate you all.


Kevin M. Brunk said...

Nancy, you are an inspiration and a warrior. I'm sending you love, good karma, thoughts and prayers across the miles.

Wendy J. Matthews said...

Hey Nancy,

Just me checkin in today. I was glad you ended your entry with a :)...thinking of you.

My dad, an eighteen year lymphoma survivor, emailed me a note for you. I will try to copy and paste into your blog.

did you find a wig? I hope you tried some red ones know what they say about red heads....FIESTY.

Hope you are feeling good and can go for a beloved run soon.


Jeanette said...

You are so strong, I am thinking of you all the time.
I love you xoxoxo

Wendy J. Matthews said...

From my dad. He titled it CHOP therapy because they did not have Rituxan at the time he was treated. I think he wanted to give you an idea of the experience (highs and lows of treatment)...

Circumstances: I was 52 years old, very active,and very energetic travelled 3 days a week, was diagnosed early, had a great doctor. Had fantasticly supportive wife, children as well as extended family & friends ( great support group)

The cycle ( 21 days) 4 cycles. From January to April

Go in for treatment feeling great.

Get filled with chemicals including nausea preventive drug

Got a 1o day supply of prednezone

By the second day the prednezone made my stomach feel uncomfortable

By the 7th day I was getting tired easier than normal

By the 10th day was beginning to feel more tired but heartened by the fact that is was my last prednezone.

11th day stomach felt better was tired and most susceptible to infection therefore did not travel that week

By the 15th day was beginning to feel better but loosing more hair

By the 18th or 19th day felt like myself full of energy and bald as a coot

The 22cnd day back to the doctor feeling great an reluctantly ready to start all over again.

I was lucky because I suffered no major side effects, and here I am 18 years later feeling great not quite as energetic but just as good looking.

Good luck to you my best thoughts are with you and Wendy will keep me posted on your progress

Wendy's dad

Jane said...

I love the bag! And that pic showing the lumps is amazing. Keep up your amazing attitude! Love you, Jane

Joyce Pemberton said...

Hey Nancy - it's good to read that you can physically see the lumps shrinking...amazing. And your strength and stamina in the face of such a physical challenge has motivated me to finally start moving myself. I h ope you have a good week...tell Steve he is in my thoughts as well...and tell him to take care of himself.