My Journey

I have no idea what God has in store for me but I thought I'd chronicle my journey for those who have been praying for me this past couple of weeks as I was in the hospital and released.

Jan 19: I seen my surgeon for the post op checkup yesterday. Everything looked good. But I got information that shocked us. I won't go into detail other than I have a timeline. We have been in contact with The Cancer Treatment Center of America in the Phoenix area and I have a video conference with a nurse Monday aft. Hopefully we'll get an appointment soon. I'll be ending some of my business dealings to help cut stress and start to purge my storage shed and more. We're getting paperwork together to put together a family trust, living will, etc. I need to focus more on Jesus and I know I'll be seeing Him with it's my time.

Jan. 9: I was released from the hospital the evening of the 4th. The ride home was uncomfortable. I'm glad I had the walker I bought for mom years ago as I needed it Thursday and a bit Friday. I was able to also use it to haul laundry to and from the bedroom. I slept ALL day Saturday. But things started turning around on Sunday. I felt mostly functional though I still rest a lot. Today I spent some time at my desk and got some stuff ordered online.  My incision is still oozing and I have to change the dressing 2 - 3 times daily. I take antibiotics and a blood-thinning shot (Dean's gotten good at the shot). My appetite is still small but improving. We see the surgeon on Wednesday to remove the incision staples and map out the next course of action to keep the cancer at bay, we cannot kill it.

Jan. 2: Things change so quickly it makes our heads spin. All IVs are out,  only the heart monitor is left. I'm eating real foods (if hospital food counts). Should go home tomorrow. Yay!

Dec. 23:I had surgery but we had complications.  Could only take the gallbladder as my liver had some spots as the cancer metastasized. A couple biopsies showed they were killed by the chemo. My incision is huge and closed with staples and very painful.  My stomach and bowels aren't yet working so issues there. I will be in the hospital a while longer as we deal with these.

Dec. 16: My brother is flying in Monday and has rented a very NICE villa. Dean & I and Dad will be staying with him Monday night then Dean through Thursday and Dad again Tuesday. This removes an hour drive for us to get to the hospital Tuesday morning at O Dark 5:30. How sweet of him! I'll try to get him to give updates until I am able to on FB.

Dec. 13: Seen my surgeon yesterday, surgery is a go. There are 2 complications he's concerned about: 1- lazy stomach (it won't start working after surgery) and 2- leaking where he reattaches organs. The lazy stomach is the major. Also there is a 3% death rate with this surgery. He wanted to give me the cons but if I don't do this I'll die anyway. I go in the 20th but I don't have the time of surgery. I'll be in at least 7 days.

Dec. 8: Well, I thought I was coming alive but the fatigue just keeps hitting me. I seen the oncologist Monday for a follow up of the chemo. They seen a nodule in my right lung that was growing but it isn't cancer, hopefully just an inflammation.   Yesterday I  had a physical therapy assessment. I am definitely weak. She gave me some exercises.  Yesterday I couldn't get out of a chair without using my arms, today I can. Seems some of this is just a matter of time and waking. Saturday I'm getting a mani/pedi. I gotta start feeling like a woman again even though I'm bald.

Nov. 30: I'm coming alive after being down since Friday. Was a rough weekend with spontaneous vomiting Saturday evening and a horrendous belly ache Sunday. A nutritionist called Monday morning and we had a great visit about foods I can now eat which gives me more variety.  I can have ham and pork but no bacon or sausage. I'm thrilled! She was very optimistic that a few months after surgery I'll be able to eat just about anything again.... Looking forward to a nice filet mignon at Texas Roadhouse.  I was also told that I would start feeling better and better this weekend and that my hair would start growing back about the time of surgery. Yeah!

Nov. 22: These past few days have been filled with lots of sleep and weakness.  Good news... today is my last chemo and I'm scheduled for surgery Dec. 20. At least that's that plan. My surgeon meets with his surgical team Dec. 2 to make the final decision. I've already contacted my cardiologist to send the approval from my Aug. 31 heart check. The recent MRI and CT showed the tentacles have receded though the tumor hasn't changed. I see my surgeon again Dec. 12 for pre-op stuff.  I will be spending Christmas in the hospital. Oh well, life is more important. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We have friends bringing dinner though I'll be extremely fatigued and have no appetite.

Nov. 14: I have decided I'm a professional napper. I can sit in my chair and be sound asleep in minutes.  Not good for when you need to get some things done. Friday we went into Tucson for my scans. Funny how many people ask what the results were. Only my doctor will tell me and I'll see him Thursday. I'm eating much better, even some higher fat foods and not having any stomach problems. Praise the Lord!! Tomorrow is chemo and I'm definitely not looking forward to it. Hopefully it will be my last one.

Nov. 8: The fatigue wasn't quite as bad this past week but the weakness has been tough. I have managed to dehydrate a bunch of pomegranate seeds (great in salads) and do a bit of laundry. Dean's found some foods I can manage without indigestion which is wonderful! Hopefully tomorrow I can get more done.

Nov. 2: Got my  blood growth shot to keep my white cell count good. Fatigue is kicking in but I did manage to do some laundry, get pomegranate seeds in the dehydrator, and make a card for my blog next week. Heading to my chair. I'll probably come alive about Sunday.

Nov. 1: Chemo again. I'm now dreading it as I'm having such issues with the side effects. I don't like sleeping all the time. After we got home yesterday about noon I ate then slept the rest of the day. At least I have next week off.

Oct. 31: I have mostly come out of the chemo side effects as I am now awake and functional. Today I go in to have blood drawn, tomorrow is chemo, then Wednesday I get the blood growth shot.  I'll probably be down for about 5-7 days again.  Last night I threw up for the first time in quite a while but wasn't nauseous. I seem to be developing a mild cough and I think that's from being horizontal from the fatigue. Taking Delsym 12 once a day and trying to sit up over my knees a bit.

Oct. 26: The Nurse Pratictioner I seen yesterday was so nice! She was fine with my Monday blood draw. My blood work shows I'm very anemic due to the chemo. My liver enzymes are high due to the tumor. My other blood info was great, good white cells, kidney stuff, etc. Since the chemo is accumulative my side effects will get harder and longer lasting. I can already feed the fatigue starting to kick in. I had a good breakfast but my taste buds are quite wonky. I'm playing at my desk today while I'm alert.

Oct. 25: I have chemo today. I never recovered any strength though I did get over the fatigue after 8 days. We celebrated our Anniversary Sunday after church by going to Golden Corral. There I could pick out what I could eat but I have to say my taste buds were a bit wonky. Went in early yesterday to get my blood labs drawn as my regular oncologist desires but today I see a different one. Her nurse called me yesterday afternoon wondering where my results were. Told her I did as my oncologist wanted but now I'm wondering if I will have chemo. Funny,  no one told me she likes the blood labs the Friday before. Had I known....

Oct. 21: I finally was able to sleep a full night in bed last night but I am having trouble finding something appetizing to eat this morning. And I am tired again but mostly functional. Hate the thought of chemo next Thursday. I know I have to but I'm so tired of being tired.

Oct. 18: No indigestion so I was able to sleep in bed until my bladder said up at 1 am. Then I was awake. Needless to say most of today I've been sleepy. Didn't get much accomplished and indigestion came back. Took some Mylanta to help. Will take more tonight.

Oct. 17: What a week. The chemo started taking me out Wednesday afternoon, right after my blood growth shot. I slept through Friday with some functionality, just some. Could not eat much so thank goodness for protein shakes. Was able to eat a small bowl of Cheerios for breakfast, a half baked potato for lunch, and hubby brought me a milkshake for dinner. Saturday we had breakfast with friends but nothing tasted good except for some refried beans. Sunday went to church then Panda Express. I cannot eat anything beef there. Was sick with horrible indigestion the rest of the day.  Today is good so far. It's morning and I had a little bit of egg and a few bites of toast. Actually got more laundry done and worked with hubby on paying bills. I've been teaching him how to pay the 3 credit cards just in cast there is a time where I can't. Plus I'm working on some cards and starting the kits for my upcoming class. I've VERY slow and sit a lot but so much better. Hopefully it will get better and better this week.

Oct. 11: I woke up with a horrible stomach ache this morning at 2. Oh the pain. Indigestion. No more Mac & Cheese apparently. Took a tablespoon of Mylanta and a Tylenol. About 5 started feeling better but no sleep and it's chemo day. This is the 4th on and I'm halfway through. The doc liked my blood work but the liver enzymes are still elevated. Since I don't have another chemo for 2 weeks he says it's good. I lost 1.5 lbs since last week and I'm pleased it wasn't more with how poorly I've been eating. I did forget to let you know that I had an echocardiogram Sept. 30 and the cardiologist's nurse called me last Friday. My heart is good but my aorta is somewhat enlarged. No mention of an aneursym. I will be getting more echocardiograms in the future. My oncologist said some drugs can cause the enlargement but not the ones I'm getting.

Oct. 10: I have had such horrible fatigue Thursday through yesterday. Along with it is the inability to eat. Nothing tastes good so I mostly had protein shakes trying to keep something in me. Today is good. I feel alert though a little tired and am enjoying a McDonalds Strawberry Banana Smoothie. I've gotten my blood drawn for tomorrow's oncologist appt. and chemo. I also got a few groceries. I'm busy switching out Tshirts for sweaters and have found some nice dress slacks from years ago that now fit! I even found some winter pajamas that fit! YAY! 

Oct. 4: I seen my oncologist today before chemo. (He was 45 min. late, kinda aggravated me.) My blood count now is slightly elevated (good thing!!) as are my liver enzymes (bad thing). If liver enzymes are high next week we'll adjust the chemo doses. At least now I can go back to church and stuff though I have to be more aware of people around me. My weight stayed the same as last week so that is really good. I'm having minor diarrhea with is no big deal especially since I'm inclined to being lightly constipated. I am eating more and a wider variety as my stomach can handle more "fats" better. 

Sept. 28: The hair loss has started. I contacted a friend and she cut it off. Very shocking, stubby, and stickery. Didn't use a razor and shaving cream as I had some dry spots and she didn't want to take the chance of damaging those.

Sept. 27: Today's chemo has been canceled due to too low white blood cell count. Waiting for authorization for an injection to jump start white cell production. I am officially supposed to start avoiding people. Ugh. I will be going to a new schedule of 2 Tuesdays of chemo, then a week break with the shot. Oncologist was happy with my 1.5 lb. weight loss. By golly, I'm going to reach my weight loss goal this year! 10 lbs. to go!

Sept. 24: The last 2 days were full of fatigue from the chemo. It seems to wait 2 days then it hits me. If all that it does is make me sleep, ok. There has been some nausea but the med I was prescribed works so-so, Mylanta seems to do better. I joined the gals today for our monthly Tucson sample club meeting and, other then feeling weak (am finally eating) I really enjoyed myself. We did some retail therapy at Bluemoon Scrapbooking then went to lunch at at Kneaders. I had a small cup of chicken noodle soup (ate the broth and some of the noodles, chicken, and carrots) and a strawberry smoothie. That smoothie was wonderful! My oncologist warned that the 15th day after chemo starts the side effects get worse so no plans for next week except my heart ultrasound Friday morning.  When I got home I was pretty tuckered out. But it was a wonderful day!

Sept. 20: Seen my oncologist before my chemo treatment today. He was real happy with my blood work yesterday but concerned as I lost 3 lbs. since last Tuesday. Asked why and I told him about the low fat, low carb diet the hospital put me on when I was release Aug. 12th. Said EAT, eat burgers, eat anything I wanted! So, after chemo we went to have a burger. I ate 2/3 of it and 1/2 of my cheese curds. They were oh so good! And 2 1/2 hours later, no upset stomach! Praise the Lord!! And he was real happy about how I felt the last 2 days!! He says the chemo is working! Well, 2 treatments down and 6 to go!

Sept. 18: Today is the best I have felt since I went into the hospital Aug. 8!! No pain in the side, no fatigue, had some energy. Oh my gosh but this was wonderful. And it continued into Monday! I got so much done!

Sept. 16: I had quite a bit of energy the day after chemo but the next day... yep, some fatigue. I felt so tired for about 4 hours then better. We went to dinner with my dad and his wife and I ate 1/2 of a grilled salmon dinner. I kinda ate too much and had a little indigestion so took some Mylanta at bed time. Today a bunch of us went to Mesa, AZ (a Phoenix suburb) for the annual Stamp and Scrapbook Expo. I felt pretty good except for a bit of indigestion and managed to spend some money on some fun products! I even met Mary Ann, the owner of The Rabbit Hole Designs. What a sweet lady. I plan on dropping out of the Design Team (tried when I first was diagnosed) but I think she'll accept it this time. I'm really not dependable to post when I'm supposed to. 

Sept. 13: I had my first chemo today. The nurse flushed the needle that St. Mary's left in and all worked properly. She then gave me an infusion for 20 min. of something that is supposed to minimize side effects, then 30 min. of one of the chemo drugs, then 30 min. of the other chemo drug.  Afterwards we went to have lunch, bought some groceries, then home. I dozed for a couple hours as I was so tired from not sleeping well last night. I hope today I will be more energetic! 

Sept. 12: The people at St. Mary's Hospital in Tucson that prepped me and installed the port were wonderful. They calmed and helped me considerably but I have to admit I was struggling with the thought of all this. It feels like a bad dream. While getting the procedure I was mostly conscious and the nurse Ashley was great at wiping my eyes and itching my nose. The 2 guys and Dr. Walsh talked me though much of it but I think I was in and out due to the  sedative and pain reliever. I was in recovery for about an hour when the nurses, Jamie (such a sweet lady) and (dang, I can't remember her name) got me dressed and walking. I was off balance for a couple hours. After release hubby and I went to Firehouse Subs as I was pretty hungry! We got home and I dozed for a couple hours. Since they decided to leave the needle in my port for the chemo tomorrow I slept in my chair hoping I wouldn't dislodge the bandages. I can't raise my right arm very high for the week and get to take off the bandages Thursday afternoon and shower. Tomorrow is my first chemo session.

Sept. 12: Today we're heading in to a hospital in Tucson to get a port put in my chest to administer the chemo which I start tomorrow.  I've had no food or water since last night. I'm taking a protein shake with me for when I am allowed some nourishment. I'll update you later with more.

Sept. 6: The oncologist experience. I will be taking 2 different drugs through a port starting next Tuesday if all works out. I will lose my hair, suffer fatigue, have flu-like symptoms and joint pains. I should hear from a hospital in Tucson to set up my appt. as out patient (hopefully by Friday) to get the port in. Dr. Ahmed will start me with 3 weeks (once a week) treatments then a week off.  They will be doing blood labs regularly the day before to watch numerous things. 

Sept. 6: Today is my initial consultation with "my" oncologist, Dr. Ahmed. I will be finding out what all will happen to me for the next 2 months. I'm working on keeping my eyes on Jesus and trusting Him to help me through. 

Sept. 4: I have so many caring friends (also on my FB pages) that let me know they're praying for me. Thanks for the cards and emails, and especially the prayers! Thank you, Judith, for the wonderful Jesus Calling journaling devotional! And Robyn for telling me about the Pray First phone app! I love it! And for all the hugs in church this morning to those who know who they are. I love our church and my church family who keep me strong and uplifted.

Sept. 1: My gosh but the doctors have me on a roller coaster! My surgeon found a complication (tentacles touching 2 major blood arteries) so surgery is off for now and I'm scheduled for 2 months of probably aggressive chemo to remove the tentacles. I have my consultation with the oncologist Tuesday afternoon. I will have more labs and scans Nov. 10 and another visit with the surgeon a week later. I'm just exhausted.

Aug. 31: Oh my how things changed today!

Seen the cardiologist for pre-op stuff. Due to my never smoked, fairly active, and good EKG no stress test was required! All good.  We ran an errand for hubby and as we were leaving a store I got a call from my surgeon. He wants to see me tomorrow at 9:30 to schedule surgery. My head is spinning! This is great news but not for my blog! Oh well! 

Aug. 29: today I had my CT with Contrast and MRI with Contrast. I was holding it together pretty good until I got the answer as to why the CT. I was told it was to see if the damn C had metastasized. I lost it for a few minutes. That is not what one wants to hear. The CT took about 5 minutes. Yes, you get a warm feeling when the contrast is added to the IV. The MRI lasted about 25 and was extremely noisy even with the head phones on. No feeling when the contrast was added. We ate at First Watch then went home.

Aug. 25: I finally got my appt. for Pima Heart & Vascular in Tucson. I think they'll be doing the chemical stress test to make sure my heart is healthy enough for surgery.  Friday, Sept. 2 I have my regular dental appt. Next week will definitely be busy!

Aug. 23: I now have appts. for the MRI & CT scans for next Monday at Banner South hospital. Also got the referral to see a cardiologist near TMC so will be calling shortly to make the appt.  Follow up appt. with Dr. Khreiss is Sept. 12 to go over all scans, etc and schedule surgery. Nurse said it is an very invasive surgery but they'll have me up pretty quickly. Unknown if any chemo or radiation will be required.

Aug. 22: This was a very emotional day. We got the referral from my PCP and headed to see the surgeon at the Banner Cancer Center in Tucson. I got checked in and sent to the waiting room. Dr. Khreiss was just a few minutes late, I was impressed because you usually wait at least 1/2 hour after your appt. time before they can see you. The news wasn't what we hoped for. He said pancreatic duct cancer is considered agressive. He reassured me that I'm in good hands. Needless to say I was shaky and weepy. I had 3 vials of blood drawn and am waiting to hear when I'm scheduled for an MRI with contrast and a CT scan. I also have to see a cardiologist to be sure my heart can handle a surgery or whatever they throw at me. I'm sure it is. I've lost 10 lbs. in a month and they were not real happy about that. So now we're back to waiting. Hopefully today I'll get the schedule.

Aug. 19: I was supposed to see my doctor's medical assistant today but an hour before I needed to leave we got slammed with 3/4" of rain. Our gully that we have to drive through was roaring with flood waters. Needless to say, the doctor's office couldn't get ahold of the assistant to delay my appointment about 1/2 hour. So, canceled. My next appointment is Monday with the surgeon.

Aug. 18: mid morning... finally heard from one of my primary care doctor's people. I need to get some Mylanta and Liquid Benedryl, mix 1 T. of each and rinse my mouth 4 times daily. Went into Green Valley and got the stuff. Gave it a try and it feels pretty good! Hopefully within a day or so my mouth will be back to normal.

Aug. 17: mid morning... still waiting to hear from my primary care doctor about the meds. My mouth is a bit better. Had quite a lesson with hubby how to pay one of our credit cards. I had him write what to do in a notebook. He only got a slight headache but now knows why I get after him about receipts! Heard from my surgeon's office to confirm my appt. with him Monday.  I'm feeling pretty good, slept well last night, ate a decent breakfast. On to working at my craft desk soon.

Aug. 16: Feeling much better. Spent yesterday morning running errands. Probably overdid it but I got a lot accomplished. Today my mouth is very sore with itty bitty blisters from my 2 meds. Called my Primary Care Doctors office. Could only leave a message and they'll probably call me back tomorrow. I stopped the meds. A few hours later it seems the blisters have disappeared but my mouth is still very sore. I am also unemployed. Right now I'm still recovering from my stay in the hospital but who knows what happens next week when I see the surgeon. The church told me to keep my keys as they expect me back.

Aug. 14: We went to church. I'm moving kinda slow as my side hurts from the intubation and stent. We eat breakfast at our church coffee shop and Jeanine got me the oatmeal I like as everything else I'm not allowed! Great prayer time in service. I did finally start crying and 2 sweet ladies sat next to me (Dean was on security and was patrolling the grounds) and helped me through it. 

Aug. 13: I slept. We had breakfast with friends and they are all so precious to me. So much support!! We then went grocery shopping for the foods I can have. 

Aug. 12: I was released in the afternoon. Dr. Hanna, who did the ERCP, said he'd call with the pathology results. We headed home. I got put on a low fat diet.  As we drove in our yard Dr. Hanna called with the results. The one word that puts fear in most people, cancer. Pancreatic cancer. He was encouraging in that he said all the tests show it is localized in the duct, has not metastasized, and we caught it early. So, thank you Jesus for the gallbladder attack!

Aug. 11: my blood numbers were coming back in line, my blood pressure was great. They found some pain medication that wasn't a narcotic that worked and I quit vomiting. I was put on a clear liquid diet for breakfast and lunch. That night I had mashed potatoes with gravy. No news on the sample they took. Originally I was scheduled to have my gallbladder out but with the scans and the blockage this got canceled.  Seemed like every couple of hours things changed. Dr. Khreiss' office called and set up an appointment with me for Aug. 22.

Aug. 10: I had a CT scan with contrast. Something.... That afternoon I had an ERCP. They put me out, intubated me, ran a camera down to check the gallbladder, pancreas, and liver. They found a blockage in the pancreatic duct, took a sample, then put in a stent.  Dr. Hanna then sent my info to Dr. M. Khreiss at the University of AZ Cancer Center. Now it got scary.

Aug. 9: They tried a different narcotic pain reliever, same problem. I made good friends with the little green vomit bags. I had an MRI that night. 

Aug. 8: I was admitted to the ER at Tucson Medical Center. They took blood, inserted an IV and started a narcotic pain reliever. Nope. I got so dizzy and started vomiting. I got an ultrasound about 2 that afternoon since I had a little food that morning. They seen something and admitted me to the main hospital at 9:30 that night.

Aug. 8: I was in pain and it was getting worse. I also had nausea. I wanted to go to ER. We stopped at the doctor's office and I got my blood drawn. We then stopped to eat so I could take my bladder infection pill with food. I could barely eat. In fact, I was having appetite issues ever since this started and had lost a couple pounds.

Aug. 5: I had an appointment with my primary doctor's office with a PA. She poked me just right and the pain was intense for a couple of seconds. She said it was Murphy's Rule that my pain was a sign of gallbladder issues.  She also took a urine sample and I had a bladder infection. She sent for a referral for an ultrasound and wanted me to come back for a fasting blood draw.

July 26, 2022: 2 in the morning I was awakened with the most horrible stabbing pain in my right rib cage. It felt like someone was shoving a stick all the way through. Front and back hurt. After a couple hours it minimized to a dull pain that was relatively easy to ignore. I went to work that morning to clean our church. I continued on through Aug. 8 with working and functioning fine. I did notice my stool and urine were funny colored.

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