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"!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

RCHOP Treatment: Day 2

Chemo - referring to chemical therapy specific to the treatment prescribed to cure the cancer that is personally set up JUST for you.

My regimen is R-CHOP.  I found this great article that explains all the drugs here on .   Yesterday was a mixture and today specifically the R = Rituximab.  I needed to get the first dose of this one separate to monitor the side effects as it can be tough to take on the first treatment.

Drugs in the R-CHOP Regimen

The R-CHOP acronym is composed of the following drugs:
Rituximab - the magic bullet
Cyclophosphamide - Anti Neoplastic Agent
Hydoxydaunorubicin (doxorubicin) - an anthracycline antibiotic
Oncovin (vincristine) -- vinca alkaloid works to inhibit cell division
Prednisolone - a steroid that helps with anti-inflammation

"Cocktails" are served up in the back - the nurses station - we joked about this today when I was at the doctors for Day 2 of my treatment.  I will have to start a countdown clock to post here on the blog so you all know when I am done!  So the "bar tender" nurse in the back sets up the IV drugs as the patients come in ... today there were quite a few folks in for treatment - about 6 of us total.  Steve and one other caregiver topped it off.

It is interesting seeing the different types of patients and what they have to spend the time, most have ear buds and music, but some books and writing and like to talk to the others.  Others kick back in the comfy lounge chairs and take a snooze, often to the point of snoring..  (someone PLEASE wake me if I EVER start to snore).  :)  The ones chatting about their complaints of treatment and symptoms and being not so much fun was giving me bad feelings and wary of making any type of conversation with others .... and I turned up my Nano louder to my Country playlist of the day.  Complaints or Country music - tough choice, but my running music was just driving me crazy after taking my first prednisone this morning.  :)

I wore my tech T-shirt of the day for inspiration--- my 2007 Ford Ironman Triathlon 70.3 World Championship shirt --- a fond memory of racing in Clearwater Beach Florida.  Very proud of myself for making that trip and competing that day.  Check out the story here from my Mountain of Dreams blog.  Lots of great stories from my racing and running, including running tips and lately more photography challenges, but lots of inspiration none the less.  :)  I started this blog in 2006 as a writing outlet and a place to share my racing, running and triathlon experience, my photography and my life with others.  I love looking at the archives as well as the more recent posts mostly which have been on photography.  I house my race resume here and direct people here if they are looking for tips.  The best way to surf it is to go to the labels and click on what you are interested in.  I have a separate photography page now set up with Bloggers new interface and the challenges have been so much fun.

So I worked my time away on my IBM PC to try and catch up knowing I am not flying to Houston this week for the American Cancer Society Relay For Life  National Relay Summit.  It is hard for me knowing I will miss meeting some amazing people, new companies are invited specifically to attend and it is so important that they have a great experience, feel the Relay passion, enthusiasm, power and go home jazzed and ready to hit the ground running fueled with knowledge and resources and new relationships to grow in the National Team Program that I direct nationwide.  But -- I am proud as a good staff person that i have some amazing volunteers set up to facilitate and speak with my prepared powerpoint and tools.  Rene from Curves is amazing and Melanie from the Jaycees also fits the bill as a top level national volunteer.  I also have my great colleagues Kyla Harrison, Judy Reiching, Laura Donmoyer and Melissa Ames set to present and give the tools and answers.  I feel confident that everything will be great and so happy that I planned and got it all in place with all this hanging over me the past weeks it has been completely overwhelming.

SO I will miss the purple Kool-Aid, the purple boa's, the conversations in the hallway, hearing inspiration live, loud and clear, leadership volunteers from across the country --- it is a Relay Summer Camp for national leadership and my favorite conference of the year for lots of hugs and support.

Photo of my dear friend and Hall of Fame Member - Pat Flynn and I at the end of last year's National RFL Summit:

Oh ya - back to treatment....  that was me, so focused on my email and preparing that I forgot I was there... :)  I did get some symptoms, heartburn, headache, dry mouth and sore throat - that caused a flury of activity and doctor / nurse attention!  :)  It was funny - - same as when the man yesterday exhibited symptoms, they watch you like a hawk and slow down the treatment until the symptoms go away.  Very cool indeed.  Great teamwork and I love this place.

We got to meet Dr. Mullally's partner Dr. Lindsay Rockwell - a small lady - very bright, very very nice --- with very cold hands  (which I liked actually because I am burning up most of the time these days..).  She has this miniature Australian Shepherd dog that wanders around the office meeting and checking out everyone.  Very cute.  The interior decorating is all her too - says the nurses.. (i mentioned that they should have a braided rug in the middle of the floor and if it were up to her, they would!)  It is a very comfortable atmosphere and just a super office.  SO happy we are there for this trek.  :)

To be treated in the "Happy Valley" for cancer...  just gives it a new meaning.
My power song of the day?
Just Stand Up!  Love the words.
And I found a new Caregiver song too!
Umbrella - by Rihanna  - but you need to listen to the words from the mind of a cancer survivor.  :)

Here i am with my inspirational tshirt, my IBM on my lap with my headphones... pretty funny eh?  There is the nurses station in the back where they make the "cocktails" --- I asked if they want me to donate a blender for the cause, not sure if they got my humor....  :)  But some smiled.....  :)

Humor, Optimism & Strength will get me through - thanks for all your prayers and support!  And POWER thoughts as Amanda LaKier's girls have sent!  :)  You all rock!  And have some purple kool aid for me if you make the trek to Houston! :)

Steve was so gracious to take my picture again --- check it out they even gave me Relay purple for my bandage this time!  Thanks for stopping by and please leave a comment! :)



Joyce Pemberton said...

Love the dialogue on wigs...who would have thought there was so much to consider? I remember when I went to my first Look Good, Feel Better, it changed how I see my job and my role. On another note...been so careful...I so don't want to say the wrong thing...I remember on our journey rolling my eyes on almost a daily basis at what some people would say - even with the best of intentions. Now that I'm on the other side and know how badly I want to say the right thing for boost YOU....and so afraid of saying the wrong thing. I would imagine so many others feel the same way. You are just so loved Nancy...and I've always admired you...and had fun with you...and enjoyed working with I will be watching this journey closely and chiming in once in a while. Love your attitude and humor Looking forward to celebrating with a nice glass of wine when this is all way behind you.

Julie said...

Hey Nancy,

Not exactly sure what to say here, but I wanted to post something to let you know that I am here and am thinking about you! Seeing your picture here reminds me of when I used to take my mom, also named Nancy, to her chemo treatments for breast cancer. She used to pretty much zone out, but they also gave her some drugs that would knock her out so she was fairly sleepy. She often said some very funny things when in that state.

One non-related thing, do you know that I am wearing a bike helmet that you gave me a looong time ago? I think of you every time that I bike. It is also purple (-:

Hang in there. Will check back with you later.


Ashley Sisk said...

I just wrote a really long note and there was an error. I'm now following your story and I'm so glad we've connected. You're a much stronger woman than I've ever realized and I'm so glad to be a part of your story. You really are an inspiration.

Shelley said...'re amazing! Thanks for letting us follow along with your journey. Here's a quote I love: "Fall seven times, stand up eight." It's a Japanese proverb.

Nancy E said...

Thanks you guys! Julie - so glad you are still using that very cool (I remember it well from triathlon days) bike helmet! You can wear it for strength! :)

Thanks Joyce - your notes are always so warming and heart felt.

Ashley - photography is my true outlet and you have inspired me to do more with these fun challenges and your great photos!

Shelley - love the quote! Reminds me of how 3 strikes and your out played out in my treatment on day 1 when the nurse poked me 3 times.... My friend Lynne says I should limit it to 2... :)

Love your comments - keep them coming!

Kim 7ing said...

Nancy - Thanks for sharing 'the news' and your blog with me. I have been working with cancer patients for over 30 years and have been a volunteer for the American Cancer Society since July 18 1970 - everyone always seems to try to find a reason 'why' they have cancer. When I read you story, think of your determination and the ability you have to impact the lives of cancer survivors and caregivers so positively I instead think of how your cancer experience will 'touch' the lives of those you love and those you are able to reach through your efforts at ACS and in your athletic and photographic worlds. Hundreds of thousands that may receive a message that wouldn't be sent if it weren't for your personal journey. Your are an amazing woman and I know your story will help, comfort and give peace to so many. I know you are a fighter and your passion will drive you to beat this thing - no matter what it takes! Cocktails, wigs, Nanos, iPads, special t-shirts, journals, photographs,hubby, family, friends,rest, prayer, healing and even purple kool-aid may all be part of the cure! God Bless and know that my thoughts and and prayers are with you always, Kim

Karen said...

I'm so glad to see your characteristic smile showing so brightly in the new photos. I have to tell you that I have this weird, nagging sense that for all of the reasons that I started my own new journey, that I really wish the timing were better. I hope you know how much I will still FIGHT BACK in your honor and that I think of you and pray for you every day. I don't have any good wig advice (but if you ever do get grey hair, I'm your girl!) but like Joyce said, I do recall people just not knowing what to say when we experienced what you and Steve are now. Everyone I know is definitely thinking of you and loves you... I will keep sending you lots of strength and positive thoughts!

Olivia said...

Nancy, I think of you often and know you will beat this thing. While you may not hear from me everyday, you are in my thoughts and prayers.
Hugs to you.