|The KCA Bandits||
Hair has mostly fallen out… still have a few stragglers that won't go. Tempted to shave it with a real razor, but not quite there yet. Been sporting scarves and hats the last week. I'm having some fun with all of these changes to my wardrobe. Who knew I'd enjoy it so much? :)
Saturday's a Rugby Day!
Oh, how I have missed joining the Scylla for indoor practices and the Nash Bash tournament. Today I was able to join them (thankfully the rain ended before the game) for the first match of the Spring Season in the Midwest.
It was an early morning, meeting the girls at the Park N Ride bright and early and starting the 2.5 hr drive to Manhattan, IL. It was a great day… so awesome to be back with the rugby girls and happy to get a few hours of road trip with Heather.
Scylla won! It was a friendly (non-league game) and a great way to extend on the success from winning Nash Bash and preparing for our league game next weekend back at home.
Ever drove between Milwaukee and Chicago on I-94? If you have recently, you know the Cheese Castle. We stopped on our way home from the rugby game and had a blast exploring this place. The clientele are 'interesting', but the cheese is awesome! We recommend the grilled cheese from the grill. A must have is the Cheese Fudge… OMG, that is some yummy stuff!
After a short nap, we made it out to The Bubbler for Erin's b-day celebration and watching the Badgers play in the Elite 8.
Sadly, I got very light headed and dizzy not long after we got to the bar. Didn't pass out this time… thankfully! Heather, Park, and Joe got me hydrated and safely to the car. Lesson learned today… I can't keep going like the energizer bunny, like I'm used to doing. Drive to IL, rugby game, rugby social, drive back to MKE, Cheese Castle and NCAA March Madness in a bar = too much.
One week since chemo treatment #2. Feeling much better this time. Energy is slower to return this time, but everything else was easier. Nausea was much better… thank you extra drugs! Hydration was better … thank you IV fluids on Friday. Started eating normal food faster… and taste buds seem to have been less impacted this time.
1 week check-up from last treatment was a success! Blood levels are great (yay immune system!) and nurse consult was quick. In and out quickly and still got to see all my fabulous clinical friends at the infusion room for a weekly hello. :)
Today Heather and I completed the 4th day in a row of 4+ mile walk. Need to keep this going… woop!
Sunday Funday had taken on a new definition these days…
I enjoyed a relaxing morning, catching up on my DVR shows and enjoying my favorite news show CBS Sunday Morning. Rafiki and I had had some snuggle time, Heather was able to sleep in, and I was able to get some down time totally relaxing and not thinking about work or cancer. It was nice!
It was chilly today… so Heather suggested we head up to the gym and walk the track around the perimeter (every lap is 1/9 mile). I took another shower before we headed out … and was much calmer today from Saturday. I even tried some scrubbing of my scalp to see if there is anything I can do to help the progress. I'm not a big fan of the spotty hair sections. I will admit, the white white white skin under my hair is rather funny against my normal tanned face. Heather jokes that my scalp has never seen the sun, given how think my hair is. Since I was born with nearly a full head of hair, she may be on to something =)
The gym was great! I was a bit self-contious going there with my head wrapped in a scarf. Heather was great support and even knew how to wrap it in a way that made it stay still, cover what it needed to, and still help me feel comfortable. Days like yesterday and today, I don't know what I'd do without her amazing support! We walked until we both met our daily goals… Heather 10,000 steps and me 6,000 steps. By the end of the day, I made it to 9,200 steps, 3.96 miles, and 62 active minutes. Yes! Heart health is important! Not to mention, I still have a wedding dress to fit into by August 16th. No way this girl is gaining the average 5-10 lbs during chemo… instead, I'm dropping it.
After the gym, we went to the Public Market to pick up a few goodies for the evening. It was another difficult moment for my ego, and feeling like an outcast in my scarf. I know I will get over this quickly, but am sad it's hitting me so hard. Since when do I care what I look like? Oh well … nothing to stress about, but learning a few things about myself.
Sunday Funday ended with a visit from David Dann for a movie night. Heather was like a kid at Christmas as we watched Frozen. It was a wonderful evening… and also lovely to see David. I didn't know the soundtrack, but Heather and David sure did. Each song, I would look over and both Heather and David were mouthing the words and silently singing the songs like they were in the movie … so cute! What a wonderful way to end Sunday Funday!
Last great news of the day… the Milwaukee Scylla won Nash Bash, a women's rugby tournament this weekend. I was so bummed I couldn't join them this weekend, but so proud of them for starting the Spring in kick-ass form. Not bad for a team who still doesn't know what the grass looks like yet this Spring. Love you ladies! I am soooooo proud of you and wish I could have been there!
After my second hair shaving today … you can see how the hair is starting to fade in patches. Pretty excited for this phase to end and just to have a bald head. Deep breaths, all in due time.
Woke up today feeling much better than Day 2 last time through! Stomach was feeling more settled, headache seems under control, I'm getting my fluids down and staying hydrated. The weekend was starting great. I was fatigued, but after a relaxing morning managing to motivate for a walk with Heather.
I decided to take a shower before we set out… and that brought an unexpected challenge. Over the last couple days we'd been seeing my hair thinning, weeks after it had been predicted to happen (remember, they said that my hair would DEFINITELY fall out between days 10 and 14 after the first treatment). We weren't surprised that my second treatment would be the final blow to my hair follicles. Day 23 and I'm finally losing the battle to hold on to my thick hair. It had been just over 2 weeks since I'd shaved my hair… and it was growing back. I was digging the G.I. Liz look and cruising around with my nearly bald head and fun earrings (yes, I just made a positive comment about girly things like earrings … LOL). As I was in the shower, my stress level skyrocketed when these small hairs were breaking away from my head in massive amounts. I had hair on my hands, face, down my body … yuck! I freaked out! Thankfully I have the amazing Heather Dooley, who knows how to calm me. She interrupted my shower and shaved what hair I had as short as her clippers would allow and I set back out to finish my shower. It made a huge difference. One thing is for sure, I sure was right that my hair literally falling out in clumps was gonna freak me out. I didn't think it would get me so bad, being so short… but man, it really sent me on a freak out. After my shower, I was able to calm down and Heather and I did take a nice walk around the Third Ward and we managed to get in 5,545 steps, 2.39 miles, and 34 very active minutes. That's major progress from last treatment, when I wasn't able to motivate for a walk until Monday. Two days progress, Yes! The AC may be kicking Vlad's butt, but I'm doing the important things to make sure I'm taking care of my heart and doing what I can to help mitigate any heart damage from the meds.
We've got this Heather Dooley! Today you were my hero… and now I'm ready to embrace the final loss of my hair. Goods news… it's time for me to start wearing all of my adorable and amazing scarves and hats! Yippie =)
Worked from home today and felt much better than the day after last treatment. My stomach is calming from the wild roller coaster from last night. I worked from home today and got some much needed administrative work done I've been needing to catch up with. I even had a visitor, when Alyson came over for our afternoon work meeting at the condo. Thanks Al!
Then back to the Vince Lombardi Cancer Center for some IV fluids at 4pm. We were happy to arrive and see Nurse Catherine again… who gave us the great news that Dr. Flej said NO NEULASTA! IV fluids only … woop! When I was describing how I was feeling, I was pleasantly surprised to learn there were anti-nausea meds that I hadn't had the first time that we could add to my IV treatment today, along with additional oral meds for me to take home. As a result, I received Ondansetron through my IV and received another Rx to pick up at CVS. I'll take anything that help.s =) I will say, as we left the infusion room on Friday night, I felt better than I could have imagined. I feel so different the day after treatment than I did in last cycle. We are learning!
Started the morning at work, giving leadership an update on the two-day Integration Kick-Off meeting. Left Waukesha after that and headed back to Milwaukee for chemo. The last week has been so busy, dare I say … I'm looking forward to chemo because I will finally get some down time. Yeah, that's kinda sad. I'm still so happy with how the past week went at work, so I'll take the chill time however I can get it.
As we walked out of the house… Heather opened the mail and sure enough, I've been summoned for Jury Duty in April. That's not good!
It was nice to have Shirley back in the lab, she's always so friendly and puts a smile on my face when she's accessing my port and taking my blood. Then we met with Dr. Flej, who asked us the usual update questions about my physical and mental state. We talked about the injection I'd gotten the previous Friday to kick-start my bone marrow production … how my cold & cough had resolved … and best of all, she checked out Vladimir (the tumor). She's convinced it's loosening up and moving around more, which is great. That means it's separating from my pec muscle. She had Heather feel it also. They both agreed they could feel the difference… yay! Dr. Tjoe had predicted and Dr. Flej confirmed that over the next couple weeks after today's treatment we should start feeling the size of the tumor shrink. Fingers crossed that is true. You are going down Vlad!
After meeting with Dr. Flej and confirming my blood counts had returned to healthy numbers again, we proceeded back to the infusion room for my treatment. Nurse Catherine was teaching a nurse from one of the inpatient nursing units today. I always enjoy seeing the teaching aspects of medicine. Even as a patient, I never doubt why I have spent my career in the Healthcare industry.
My mental state was much healthier today than it was three weeks ago. While there's nothing exciting knowing you are about to poison your body into feeling like crap for the next few days, it's a necessary evil to beat Vlad and kick this awful disease. The good news… it felt much different this time. When I was asked about my anxiety level three weeks ago before my first treatment, I reported an 8 of 10. Today, I reported a 1. What a difference three weeks and going through my cycle once can do. Today I also felt my headache coming on as I was getting my three anti-nausea meds through my IV before the chemo. Not to fear, they were able to get me some Tylenol as a preventative measure.
Dr. Flej had suggested I come back Friday to get some IV fluids, in a effort to prevent the dehydration that sent me to the ER last time. She also suggested to the nurses I may want to get a Neulasta injection. The Neulasta injection is the stronger bone marrow production injection than the one I received a week ago. I sure hope I don't need to get it… but if Dr. Flej feels it's important, of course I will. The bone pain was pretty yucky and the fatigue was leveling for the milder of the two injections. However, if this is what it takes to keep my immune system at a healthy level and keep my treatment on track, it's something I'll have to do. Fingers crossed when I'm back tomorrow it's just for IV fluids and no injection. =)
As for Jury Duty… Nurses Genevieve and Jessie were all over this problem. No surprise, their reaction to me attending Jury Duty during this battle was all about getting me out of it. Lesson #1 I've learned is not to be in large groups of people and public places. Lesson #2, I can't sacrifice my treatment plans just because I was summoned to Jury Duty. So, together they started working on a letter for me to provide the Court. I feel bad in some ways, as I am overdue my turn at Jury Duty. With that said, there is no way I can handle another stressor during my treatment cycle. Fingers crossed the letter will get me delayed until I've beat this and am cancer free.
As I was going to bed tonight… I learned an important lesson. I felt much better today leading up to and following my treatment. I think I pushed it with what I ate and next time need to eat more mild foods. As I was going to sleep, for the first time yet … I was convinced I was going to throw up. I didn't, although at moments I think I would have preferred to. Lesson learned here… eat milder foods the day of my treatment. Tacos before and a chicken sandwich after was pushing it. They were good at the time… but I did pay the price later.
All in all … it was a successful day and AC chemo treatment #2 is behind me. 2 of 4 down!!!
As many of you know, I started an amazing new job just a couple weeks before my diagnosis of breast cancer. I was honored to be given the role to integrate API Healthcare, a workforce management software business, into GE Healthcare. This job was a dream come true, and likely the hardest job I would ever love. My diagnosis with breast cancer was confirmed two days before we closed the acquisition with API Healthcare. The timing could not have been more challenging nor stressful. None the less, I had an amazing group of colleagues and a clinical team around me to help me through this challenge. Women I barely knew, or had just met, reached out to share their personal stories about their own battles with breast cancer. My new colleagues at both GE and API helped me balance the incredible challenges that we faced in the early days of an acquisiition.
One of the most important roles of the integration is the formal Integration Kick-Off, when we bring leaders and functional counterparts together from both the GE and API Healthcare sides of the business to discuss the plans for the integration. Given my chemo schedule, we delayed this two day meeting until this week … knowing I'd feel my best as I was ending the three week period after my first chemo treatment and preparing to get my next one. So… we scheduled the two days for Tuesday & Wednesday, just in time for my second treatment on Thursday.
Months of planning and balancing my personal challenges with those at work, all came together on Tuesday when we brought together 60 representatives to formally kick-off the integration discussions, 30 from GE and 30 from API Healthcare. It was an incredible couple of days! My favorite part of an integration is when we come together and work on plans with the acquired company's voice … as they are the experts of their business. The past two days were amazing! Long days and a tremendous amount of information to cover … we made great strides as a cohesive team about how to best approach bringing the amazing company of API Healthcare into the GE Healthcare family. I love my job!