Five Months Since Chemo…All is Good

It’s hard to believe that it is now April….nearly four months since I posted on December 8 that my PETscan was clear. I’ve had my 3-month checkup and all continues to be clear. My next 3-month checkup will be next month – May. My energy continues to return from the chemo treatment effects. I am almost 95% back to my high energy level. Five months since chemo, I now sport the “Jamie Lee Curtis”hairstyle….my hair continues to return…wavy and curly and short!

So….what have I been up to? I returned to working part-time and I mean just that – 10 hrs or so a week for a yarn shop (friend) where I helped out last year prior to my ER trip. I have been attacking the projects from my “To-Do” list from last year that were pretty much on hold. One of the “To-Dos”was to sort through all my knitting stash and projects….yep it’s confirmed that I will be knitting for the rest of my life and then some! While I was in treatment it felt like I didn’t get much done, but in fact, I knit multiple hats, cowls and wash cloths. Since December I knit the sweetest baseball caps for cousin Bev’s twin great grandsons. In late February I came home from working a couple days at Stitches West in MaggiKnits booth with a gift of the BallyMurphy Shawl which is now nearly half-knit. I also knit another couple hats and have embarked on two more knitting projects – The Rebozo Shawl and Our Best Shawl.  I just completed six customized pillowcases for gifts which have been delivered. I will be updating my Skein Lane blog with pics of finished items.

My 24-yr old grandniece Chloe is with me now for an indefinite period as she proceeds through life transitions. As she seeks employment she continues write….she aspires to be a published writer. She loves to cook and I must say that all of the dinner meals that she has prepared have been top-notch. She also walks Lucy dog three times a day…the results are wonderful….a more fit and rested dog.

Now that the rains have let up Bill and I have resumed our daily walks. My garden calls…much to do there. Once the weeds are out the serious work will begin.

Many thanks of gratitude again for all the loving support that got me to this point. My continued prayers to and for my circle of family and friends who are still fighting cancer.

Reports are In

Caring Bridge Journal entry by Carolyn Pugh12/8/2016

The report is in….the doc says “Excellent news. Your PET/CT is normal”. Goodbye Mathilda!! 🎉💥🎶🎈🍷💃🏻🎉😎

i am so grateful for this “second chance” and the opportunity to now heal. I will see my doctor in mid-February for 3-month follow-up. My goal between now and then is to build my cell count back up as well as to embark on aerobics at our local YMCA. My first steps in recovery are that I exercised a couple of gift certificates….a facial yesterday and a body massage today. It’s been raining for the last couple days so walking has been limited.

And now the season’s celebrations begin. Tomorrow is our Friday Knitting Group annual luncheon ‘it’s the season’ celebration. I might just sip my first margarita since much earlier this year. I do love a margarita and our very own FMK bartenders fix the best…..although I think mine will be a diluted version of the best. Hang on….I know my niece also claims fame to fixing the best. How lucky for me that there is an extended family gathering at my niece’s home this coming Sunday. The following Saturday the Saturday knit group will celebrate with a potluck….we love each other’s cooking. There is truly much to celebrate this year.

i have been asked before and just today about my plans going forward. There is much for me to catch up and enjoy while I “recover”. Cooking, gardening, blogging/writing, knitting and crafting are a few of the things that are high on my list. Once my blood count is right, I will begin plotting out travels….I want my blood count right before I even consider getting on a plane. I have a history of being one of those folks who catch the germs on a plane….so no reason to take any chances.

I continue to be grateful and thankful for all the love and support during these last months….I know it made the journey easier. Thank you so very much .

Carolyn 😘

ps….ta ta Mathilda.💃🏻🍷💃🏻 you’ve been booted!👢👢👢

Now I See The Light

CaringBridge entry— 11/9/2016

The aftermath of the last chemo has been a rough ride…….I was warned and I thought I was prepared….but this last onslaught was much worse than I envisioned.

The first 5 days after the last chemo….literally the last….were smooth sailing. Then came Sunday(Oct 30)! While making coffee I felt my body collapsing. I was able to lean on the kitchen sink and realized that I needed to slide to the floor. I am so grateful that I didn’t faint which might have led to serious injury. After a few minutes I regrouped and moved around slowly. By the afternoon the “great fatigue” started. That lasted for a week….just as I was turning that corner the mouth ulcers erupted.

On my Sunday (Nov 6) morning walk with Lucy dog I ran into old friends Eleanor and Nick. It was great to see them but I was barely able to say even a few words. My mouth – specifically my tonsil and back of tongue were hurting, even with pain meds.  I spoke with oncology twice during that week and was assured that I am on track but have been hit hard with the last chemo treatment. The thing I have worried most about is hydration. It’s hard to imagine that I had to drink all liquids with a straw which I am still using depending on how it all feels. Eating certainly has had its challenges…..a lot of ice cream again and mashed foods.

Midday Sunday it was clear that I was in more trouble and thought it was brilliant when Karen K – one of my long time friends and chemo buddies –  suggested that one of the nurses in our knitting circle take a look at my mouth. So it was Ellen to the rescue. I was barely able to speak (I wrote her a note)….she was my nurse, spokesperson and advocate all rolled into one. She and Bill conferred…well me too….and off to Kaiser we went. We were back home within 3 hours with morphine in hand. It’s now Wednesday morning and I have stopped that drug …..I can also talk a bit. The day that I couldn’t talk at all was pretty funny. Here’s what I shared on Facebook.

There is always a bright side….yesterday Bill and I cracked each other up with our hearing/speech impaired situation. My speech is impaired while my mouth heals from bad side effect reaction to last treatment.I write…….he says, “Careful you don’t get writer’s cramp from being so chatty!”   

The great fatigue has stayed at bay for a couple days now and the mouth is beginning to heal. Yes, there is light at the end of this tunnel and to the back of my throat….lol! Thanks to all for your help and in particular to all who rallied around me this past week. It might seem like small things but they were big things…Bill continued to make dinners and make sure I was down for a rest (that was easy) each afternoon; Kimberly walked Lucy; Karen and Ellen made sure I got to Kaiser on Sunday; Terry fixed my printer; Jan popped in  with a surprise lunch or two; Cindy popped in with listening ear and helping hand, and  “love notes” sent from so many of my knitting gang, friends and my family.

I see the doctor this coming Monday. Yeah! There is light!

Carolyn

Red Letter Monday

CaringBridge Entry— 10/27/2016

Monday was a “red” letter day. It was the last chemo treatment of the 6 which was exactly 5 months since I was in ER at Kaiser Fresno.

Many of you know that the last few weeks have been rough with the “great fatigue” following Chemo #5. Just as I turned the corner to feeling better, I had a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I have been pretty even keel during these last 5 months but I am thinking the 16 days of fatigue took its toll. This past Saturday my friend Cindy was so helpful in “talking” me down and that was immediately followed with my buzz cut by Bonnie. I was back to laughing!

beattie-family-10-09-16Sunday was a special day in that some of my favorite cousins– Dana, Avril and Jill – were in the Bay Area from HI, CO and WA. We are able to meet at Skates on the Bay for lunch and I was able to have the energy to do so. It is always so great to see them. We love to laugh and we are pretty darn good at it.

With chemo #6 I was a bit surprised that I started to experience nausea during infusion. That was a first and we (the nurse and I) were able to get it quickly under control. It’s day #3 since infusion and I am still upright. I do rest every afternoon….but so far I have not crashed. I am pacing myself! I have been able to walk Lucy which is important for me as well. My wonderful friend Kimberly has been on back up and did jump in on Chemo Monday. Lucy loves her and was more than happy to see her.

karen-and-carolyn-10-24-16Thank you to Karen K for being my buddy partner again. It is so enjoyable to spend time with her and she got me inspired by so many projects. There is a word amongst some of us about “squirreling”…we jump from one topic to another quite quickly and often mid-stream.

As of this coming Monday I will be medicine free with exception of the medicine to ward off herpes simplex (cold sores). That will continue for 3 months.

What’s next on this journey?

  • See the doctor on November 14. I envision that a PETSCAN will be scheduled soon after that. I believe Mathilda had her last dance and that I will get a clear report.
  • Dedicated work to regain my health and physical strength.
  • Travel to Idaho in the spring or summer to visit my youngest sister and her family of four kids…..then onto Colorado for a few days.
  • Work in my overgrown garden.
  • Cook again which I am eager to do. Bill is eager too!
  • Make phone calls that have been on hold due to my low energy level. My cousin Diane has been one of those on hold and we love to talk. I have just needed energy to hold a long conversation.

Some funny notes!

  • Last night my niece Honara asked who weighed more….me or Lucy? I still have 25 lbs on her.
  • I did want to loose weight but this was a rough way to go about it.
  • I have eaten more ice cream in the last 5 months than I have eaten since I was a soda jerk in high school.
  • My WORD friends are still playing with me….I am so addicted.
  • I have become a “binge” watcher of programs on ACORN TV and Netflix. Don’t believe I will be giving that up.
  • During Chemo #6 I had trouble joining my cast-on into a round for knitting….Karen K quickly came to the rescue.

Thank you to Bill, my “family of friends” and family for all your love, support and prayers during this journey. I believe that this support along with the chemo has saved my life. I don’t believe I could have done this alone.

I will be eager to share the next chapter of this journey as I know more.

Carolyn

The Wow Continues

CaringBridge Entry — 10/18/2016

After a week of great fatigue a few nights ago I decided I needed to change my pace to better manage this increased downtime. Instead of trying to get as much as I can done before I crash, I have been focused on what I want to get done for an hour…..and then then take an hour break. That has been easier on me as my need for more rest/sleep time has increased dramatically. I can only say, “Thank God I only have one more chemo!” I have been a high energy person all my life and this is humbling to say the least. My brain is engaged but my body is not!!! I have been successful in warding off another full blown case of mouth ulcers which started appearing last Wednesday (7 days ago). I didn’t waste any time ordering “Magic Mouth” medicine” which is a miracle drug. I am praying that my white cell blood count will be okay next Sunday morning so that I can proceed with this last chemo #6 on October 24. I want to be done and begin the next phase of recovery.

I have been able to plan and manage my down time so that the three knitting workshops have been able to continue….yeah! I am even making some progress on some of my projects even though there have been some days that even the idea of knitting is exhausting. Hard to believe isn’t it? And imagine this….even being on the phone was too exhausting so text became the general method of communication.

As many of you know, I have loved eating all my life…..and that love certainly helps now as it would be so easy to not eat. Thank God Bill prepares a wonderful basic dinner meal. We’ve had roast chicken, steak, and salmon to name a few. I did say the other day that I would be glad when I can help with the cooking again. He smiled and said, “Me, too!”  (Right now I am okay for prep sometimes and most often clean up.)

This morning I had to break out laughing once again. The question, “Who has the most hair on the floor? Me or Lucy?” You might ask, “Do you still have hair? Weren’t you going to buzz it?” Well, until just this last week or so I still had some bangs. Now it’s just a fringe and a few strands that are going bye-bye this week. I am amazed that I still find my hair on the floor. I know longer stands of white hair do not belong to Lucy dog or the boy cats. lol

It’s now day 15 since my last chemo and I am thinking I might be on the upswing…..no marathon for sure….just a little more normal. Hurrah would be an understatement. Okay…..that’s it for now. Lucy and I are going to “hit” the sidewalk shortly…..oh I should be careful with those words. I have been known to hit the sidewalk literally in the past.

Thank you to all for your continued amazing and wonderful support.

Carolyn

ps…..I have been in communication these last 24 hours with both my doctor and my oncology nurse. They both assure me that I am on track and that the chemo effects are cumulative. I was reminded about protein, water and exercise. I have been on track with the first two….now will beef those up and can now increase my exercise! Yeah!

Chemo # Done!

Hurray….hurray….🎉💥🎉💥 only one more chemo to go. October 24 will soon be here for the last one and Mathilda’s last effort at a dance. With yesterday’s chemo and the upcoming one I am and will be on immune boost injection for 5 days after each chemo. I will then be done with this chemo therapy and can began the next stage of regaining my health ….continued good rest along with the most important part….increased exercise program. I will be back at the gym for my aerobics class in January!!

img_0823Long-time friend Karen K was my chemo buddy again. We chatted, knit and we planned our Friday morning knit group Christmas Season celebration. We have to plan early as calendars get full quickly. We usually celebrate at Skates but his year it will be at Karen’s home. We had another celebration there last year in the summer…..it was so much fun and so easy re ease of moving around and having conversations among all of us. So….of course when Karen suggested her home I immediately said “Great idea! Let’s do it”.

I recently started “drooling” about a new knitting book “Noro Silk Garden – The 20th Anniversary Collection” and it magically appeared out of Karen’s bag yesterday. I already see many garments that will be on my needles during the coming months. Thank you Karen….and thank you for spending the day with me!💕

I am trying to get much done this week catching up with things….the last 3-week cycle required more rest. I usually feel good for the first week and then down for the the 2nd one. This time of down time included the third week. img_0815

I did manage to spend three or so hours at the Little Farm and Merry-Go-Round in Tilden Park this past Saturday with my grand niece Shelby and her young family and friends. So enjoyed that….I paced myself pretty carefully but still was exhausted when they dropped me off. In fact, I was flat out for two hours!!

 

img_0833I certainly learned to play “Word with Friends” and watched the entire new series of “Longmire” on Netflix. I am ready for the next season and, of course, that is probably a year away. I did finish a ribbed hat with band of glow yarn for cousin Freddie…photo attached. Knitters…this was a great yarn to knit. If you want to know details, let me know.

One of my friends who has very much been part of this journey recently said it seems like this time has gone by fast…but maybe not for me. In fact, at the beginning I thought what a long time and how would I get it through it. But I knew that was the choice and I had to do it. Now that the chemo part is almost over, it also doesn’t seem so long to me in the big scheme of things. I certainly have a deeper appreciation of life…..every day is a blessing.

Onward…..and love to all!

Good News – Mathilda Lost a Shoe

As many of you know I had a PET scan yesterday morning. I am very pleased with doc’s email message this morning, and I am cautiously (just because) optimistic about end results when I complete my last two chemo treatments in October. I see bubbly and the words cancer free on the horizon🍷🎉🎈💕🎶💥. Thank you all many times over for the continued support and prayers.

Dear Carolyn,

Excellent news. Your PET/CT scan shows almost complete resolution of the prior abnormalities.

Best wishes,

David Baer

 

This post originally appeared on CaringBridge on Sept 27