July 16, 2009

Back in the High life Again?

 Today I am sitting on a beautiful green mountain top feeling a slight breeze while the smell of wild flowers wafts across my face and blows through my long, thick, curly, blonde hair (hey it’s my daydream!) The white puffy clouds dot the blue sky.  

    Today is a day of rest and reflection. My family and I have been looking forward to this moment for over nine long dark months.  It is a day to peer down off this steep mountain peak and realize how far I have climbed.  I am tired.  I am thirsty.  I have blisters and battle wounds but today, “I made it to this mountain peak and the mountain’s under me.” 

    We met with Dr. Tricot yesterday. I “aced” my tests and scans! All the results indicate that there are no signs of any active myeloma cells. I am in complete remission! 

    Now I wish I could dance through the field of daisies like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music and say this is the end of my journey.  It is the end of days and weeks living away from the family.  It is the end of aggressive, high dose chemo, and two stem cell transplants but it is not time to retire my hiking boots yet.

       I will still be undergoing maintenance therapy for the next year.

This involves four chemo injections a month of Velcade, along with a steriod drug, Dexamethesone, and Thalidomide an “anti-cancer” medication. The Doctor explains that   this regimen will kill off the “sleeper cells” lurking in my body and give me the possibilities of a much longer remission.  

     I haven’t felt “normal” for over a year. I told Dr. Tricot that I would love to go off all the medication for a couple weeks to see what I feel like without any side effects.  He laughed and explained in his Belgium accent,  “You must remember what our objective is, you haven’t reached the finish line yet, but you are doing everything possible to get there and the rest is out of our hands.”

     These words brought me comfort and assurance that this dark, difficult journey for our family has been worth it.  That I have scaled this steep, sharp, rocky mountain knowing that I am doing everything I can possibly do to reach the top and to extend and improve my life.  The rest is in God’s hands.  

      I am tired.  I am thirsty.  I have blisters and battle wounds but today, “I made it to this mountain peak and the mountain’s under me.” 

July 08, 2009

Test Day

    Tomorrow is test day.  Joe and I will head up to Huntsman to see exactly how much progress has been made through chemo, two stem cell transplants, and specialized drugs.
     I will have lab tests run first, and bring in a 24 hr. urine collection (fun :0)  Then a bone marrow biopsy and aspirate.  If you want to see what this involves, there are some great videos on Youtube.  None of my sons were brave enough to watch, but my daughter and I watched them twice.
   I will also have a combination PET/CT scan.  This procedure takes about three hours, because first  they must inject you with a small tracer quanity of radioactive material that is attached to a sugar which goes to the metabolically active parts of your body.  You have to sit in a recliner in a quiet room for 45 minutes to give the sugar time to get where it needs to be before the procedure.  
   One time I brought a book to read, but the nurse told me I couldn't read because then all the particles would go to the brain. interesting.
    After a peaceful rest,  you are lead to the room with the big tunnel machine.  The nurse shows you where to lay down.  The blanket covered "bed," is abut 12 inches wide.  So you lay down with no place for your arms. Do I lay them across my chest or let them dangle to the floor? Then the nurse steps in with big black velcro straps.  She straps your legs together below the knees.  Then straps your arms closely to your body.  "snug as a bug in a rug!"
     That's the easy part.  "Let the magic show begin!" Now you must lie perfectly still for 45 minutes to an hour as the bed moves through the tunnel.  
    What do I do?  Do I sleep?  What do I think about?  The first few times I went through this procedure my objective was to try  not to think about anything.  Because one thought would lead to another and ultimately end up rather quickly back to cancer.  Bringing fears and fighting back the tears.  
   Now my mind wanders all over during the scan.  Last time I could not get a John Denver song out of my head.  "Country Roads take me home to the place I belong...  The problem was I forgot most of the words, but kept starting over, ugh! very frustrating!!
    When the test is over and the straps are removed from "the Magic show," they point the way down the hall to the waiting room.  The only good thing, I've decided, about this whole day, is I don't have to worry now (since I've lost my hair) of getting up and walking out the door with "bedhead!"
    Well there is no last minute cramming for me.  We will get the results of the tests from Dr. Tricot next Wednesday.  Wish me Luck.  We are expecting the best.  I will keep you posted.
                                Love, Kris

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