Thursday, August 2, 2012

Quick update on my last few appointments. I had the pleasure of getting my port removed on July 23rd.  I have been looking forward to that day for a long time.  Everything went very well, until a few days ago, when I noticed infection settling in.  I did return to the surgeon's office yesterday and was put on antibiotic.  I hope it all clears up quickly.  I will return on August 6th to get my stitches removed.  I met with my oncologist on July 23rd as well.  We talked a bit about the preventative measures we will take now that I am cancer free.  I am to get either a mammogram or MRI scan every year.  I will also have to be on the drug Tamoxifen for the next 5 years.  This is an anti-hormone therapy that can help prevent the return of breast cancer.  My cancer was estrogen positive, meaning that it was hormone driven.  The Tamoxifen will help block the estrogen getting to my remaining breast.  I am not to get pregnant while on this drug.  Like most drugs, it is associated with certain side effects, such as hot flashes (which I have had all through chemo and despise them!) and in some cases, uterine cancer! I was a bit confused as to why I am being put on a drug to prevent my cancer from coming back, only to have a chance of it giving me a different one........ But the oncologist assured me that studies have shown that the number of women in which Tamoxifen prevented the breast cancer from coming back largely outweigh the amount of women who got uterine cancer.  It is a small percentage and he knows this drug will be beneficial to me. I am grateful to have had such amazing specialists to guide me through this journey.  They are so knowledgeable and have taken great care of me.  Again and again, thank you for your support and many prayers.  We have felt their power and strength and continue to feel it, as we look forward to moving on and remaining cancer free.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

We made it!!! :-)

WE HAVE FINALLY REACHED THE LONG-AWAITED END OF TREATMENTS!!!!!!!!!!!  I cannot even begin to describe just how happy and free I feel.  Monday, July 16th was my last chemotherapy treatment.  I could not wipe the smile off my face as I walked in the cancer center and into the infusion room, knowing it was the last time I entered that room.  I was finally reaching the finish line of what seemed like the longest journey ahead of me when I started. As I sat down tonight to update the blog, I began by reading all my previous entries.  Looking back on the journey now, time seems to have gone by quite fast.  But reading back, it seems like it started so long ago.  I cannot believe Jaden was 7 weeks old when I got diagnosed.  He is now a whopping 20 lbs, happy-as-can-be,7 month old, crawling all over the place. How time flies. I know I have not been very dilligent in keeping this blog updated this last round of chemotherapy.  At the beginning of these last 12 weeks of weekly chemo, I must admit I was a bit frightened and intimidated by the number of treatments I had left.  It seemed like an eternity to get through.  But how your thoughts and prayers have helped!  I was given the strength necessary to get through it.  As I mentioned in my earlier post, the symptoms with the taxol were different than the symptoms with my first 4 treatments.  I had a bit more energy with the taxol, although without fail, Thursdays of every week were the hardest days for me.  I was a lot more tired and fatigued on Thursdays.  That always seemed strange to me that it was the same day every week.  While I was able to hold on to my eyebrows and eyelashes with my first round of chemotherapy, taxol succeded in thinning my eyebrows significantly and taking most of my eyelashes.  Again, strangest thing to me, as my eyebrows and eyelashes were thinning, the hair on my head started to slowly peek through.  I have a regrowth all over my head now.  I was told that my hair will grow an average of one millimeter a day.  We have a long road back to my shoulder-length hair, but I am ecstatic to begin this journey!  The toughest symptom of this last round of chemo has to be nail dystrophy.  I was told before I began chemo that there was a good possibility my nails could fall off.  I was hoping to escape this particular side effect, but I did not. The flesh under my fingernails started to deteriorate, causing pain, odor and my nails to peel off.  I had to cut them down bit by bit, to let my fingertips air out and heal.  This was both a very painful and unpleasant task.  Any pressure or anything touching my fingertips was extremely painful at first.  Having my hands underwater has also been greatly uncomfortable.  My fingertips have now started to heal and I am without the most part of every fingernail now.  It is still a bit painful, but mostly, very unattractive and extremely impractical.  How I miss the use of my fingernails!!!  I am having to rely on others for the simplest tasks now.  I hear it can take a very long time for the fingernails to grow back.  I am hoping they will grow back as quickly as possible.  My toenails have thankfully survived the chemo untouched.  I am curious to see how quickly my body can recover from all the toxins that infiltrated it the past 5 months. I am so glad it is all behind me.  Another long-awaited appointment is coming this Monday.  I will finally have the pleasure of getting my port removed.  I had a port surgically put at the base of my collar bone (on my right side) for chemotherapy administration purposes.  It will be removed in the surgeon's office on Monday July 23rd with local anesthesia.  I will be glad to see it go!  I have grown accustomed to it over the last months, but it can still be quite bothersome at times.  I will also meet with my oncologist this coming Monday for a follow-up visit.  I anticipate more information on what is now in store for me.  I will post this information once I receive it.  So many feelings of gratitude rush through me as I look back at the last 6 months.  I am so thankful for the outpouring of love and support.  Reading back through my blog brought with it an array of different emotions.  Brougt back less pleasant memories I had somewhat put aside, along with fond memories of loving gestures and expressions of love from so many different people.  We are so blessed to have the support group we have.  THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts. I truly cannot adequately express the gratitude we feel.  Thank you for making us stronger through this journey.  I know it will never truly be over.  That is the reality for our family.  I know there is always a possibilty of it coming back.  But most importantly, I know this is all in God's hands and that He works miracles.  I know I have a strong foundation to hold me up and carry me through, in all of you, through your love, thoughts and prayers.  We love you dearly, we thank you deeply.  Further updates will come as I meet with my oncologist. :-)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

3 down, 9 to go!  It feels so good to be able to say I have less than 10 treatments left.  Getting Taxol through chemo every Monday hasn’t been as bad as I was anticipating. The symptoms this chemo brings are a bit milder than the last chemo I was getting.  On the plus side, my appetite has returned and I am not as exhausted as the first chemo.  I experienced a metallic taste in my mouth for a bit, but it has left and not come back for quite some time now.  So I hope it stays well away. I am loving being able to enjoy food again.  On the down side, I seem to be experiencing a bit of what they call “chemo brain” with this chemo.  I seem to be a bit more forgetful and have been a bit confused regarding dates of events, etc.  Poor Halle has been the one to really feel the consequences of this forgetfulness and confusion, as she has had specific things to bring to school on specific dates.  Let’s just say some things didn’t make it to school, while the ones that did made it there on the wrong days... Thank goodness for me, she is very forgiving and understanding. This chemo is also different from the last, as I seem to feel its tiring effects toward the end of the week as opposed to the beginning.  Oddly enough, I feel pretty good right after chemo as well as the few days following.  It is usually around Thursday that I start feeling pretty tired.  But again, not as exhausted as I experienced with the first 2 drugs, so I am very happy about that. I do not have to get the Neulasta shot (shot to boost my white blood cell count) with this particular chemo, which I am ecstatic about.  One less prick and poke J. I will be meeting with my oncologist this coming Monday for the first time since I have started Taxol. I am hoping he will be as pleased with the way things are going as he has been so far.  I feel so fortunate to have had a milder case of physical symptoms than most people while going through chemo.  I will admit it has not been as hard on me physically as it has been on me mentally and emotionally. I can deal with being tired, nauseous, pain in my fingertips, stomach problems, and even hair loss. I know this too shall pass.  It has been much harder to deal with slowing down, not being able to do all I used to do, feeling like I can’t take care of my family like I used to, having to rely on others a lot more.  I at times have felt without purpose.  Or standing still, not able to go forward, like our life has been put on pause for a while.  I try to keep these thoughts at bay. The few times they have infiltrated my mind, I find much strength in the scriptures and kneeling in prayer, finding comfort through my Savior and Heavenly Father.  Strength also comes in the embrace of my loving husband, family, and in the number of thoughts and prayers of loved ones. I have become grateful for this opportunity to grow, to become stronger than before.  I have realized that I would be in much more of a standstill if I did not have any adversity in my life.  I am learning so much about myself and my relationships.  I am so grateful for a loving Father in Heaven, who provides me with the tools I need to make it through difficult times. For all the tougher times in my life, I am thankful.  For it has brought with them a deeper and more personal relationship with my Father in Heaven, an increased understanding of who I am and who I can become.  Thank you again for lifting me up through this journey.  I am overwhelmed with thankfulness for each of you.

Friday, April 20, 2012

It has been too long since I last updated the blog. We have gone through two more treatments since my last blog update.  Both treatments brought with them the usual symptoms of fatigue and nausea, but this time accompanied with the wonderful symptoms that come with allergy season.  It has helped tremendously to have Jason’s mother keep the children for a couple of days when I go in for chemo.  The rest I get those first few days after treatment is crucial to how I feel the rest of the week.  Jason and my parents have been a huge help here as well in helping take care of the children and allowing me to get the rest I need.  I am so blessed with an incredible support group.   This last treatment, which was this past Monday, marked the end of my first “round” of chemo.  I was to get 2 drugs for 4 treatments, every other week.  Monday was the last of those 4. I will begin a new drug (Taxol) on April 30th and will be receiving chemo weekly for 12 weeks.  This should then mark the end of my treatments.  I must admit I will sorely miss my weeks off in between treatments.  It has been quite nice to get a week where I would feel as close to normal as possible.  But the sooner we can get treatments over with, the better! So I am ready to tackle this new schedule. I will meet with my oncologist on Monday to further discuss this next round of treatments.  With every appointment I have had with him, he has been well pleased with how I have handled treatments so far.  I am maintaining my weight and my white blood cell count has been good and steady.  I still get a Neulasta shot the day after each treatment to boost my white blood cell count.  He hasn’t had to give me any additional shots as my levels have been satisfactory.  This is very good.  I am hoping to be able to keep this up for the next 12 weeks.  This past month brought with it bittersweet moments.  Bitter being the reach of a new milestone.  I turned 30 on March 28th!!!  I can hardly believe it.  I was always a bit afraid of this number, but turns out I feel just the same as I did when I was 29.  So not such a big deal after all.  The sweetness of this moment was the surprise arrival of my older sister Melanie, who lives in Montreal, Canada. She surprised me the night of my birthday, and surprise me she did!  I frightened my son as I screamed so loud when I saw her walk through the threshold. Jason said Jaden almost leaped out of his arms he was so startled by my reaction.  I consider my siblings (my own and my husband’s) my best friends and being able to celebrate with her was the best present I could’ve ever asked for.  I am so grateful to her husband for holding down the fort back home so she could come.  As if that wasn’t surprise enough, a few days after my sister left, my brother Etienne and his wife Melany came in from Montreal as well for yet another surprise visit.  It was so incredible to be able to spend time with such loved ones so unexpectedly. A sweet reunion it was. Turning 30 ended up not being so bad after all!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

the day has come, the hair must go

As Jason posted Monday, we have completed a second round of chemo. The fatigue and nausea have somewhat intensified compared to the last round, but definitely nothing too bad. I feel so blessed to not be so sick. I have been anticipating the hairloss to occur around this time, since we were told that's when it usually happens.  I was a bit taken by surprise though, as I was running my fingers through my hair while getting ready to head out for chemo Monday morning.  Hair started falling out with every stroke.  It got progressively worse as the day went on.  Hair was all over my pillow as I awoke Tuesday morning and as the day progressed, strands became more like clumps.  This morning I again awoke to a pillow covered in hair.  It became apparent that the day had come.  So I had my personal stylist, my dear sister Arianne, come and do the job.  We were both very nervous and in no hurry to get started.  She lovingly buzzed her youngest son Mason's hair in an act of support before we got started.  He is such a stud.  We tried to stall for quite a bit but eventually got to the task at hand.  Even through the nervousnes, I felt a great peace.  I know this is only for a moment.  It is only physical and I know it will grow back.  I have been so uplifted by all of you, by those who have shaved their heads in loving support, and by the tremendous amounts of prayers.  It gave me the strength I needed.  And I now know how it feels to shave my head.  It was something I always wondered what it would feel like, and especially look like.  It feels different, that's for sure.  A welcome cool breeze on the top of my head as the thermometer has been climbing lately.  I will mostly be sporting scarves and hats from now on.  I have been contemplating getting a wig, but we will see. I know I do this at the end of each post, but it doesn't feel right to log off without thanking you.  This all would be way too much without your support.  I feel like my family and I have been able to go through this experience with such peace and comfort, and I know it is because of your love, thoughts, support and prayers.  It wouldn't be right to let a moment go by without thanking you and my Father in Heaven.

Monday, March 19, 2012

We have gone through another round of Chemo, and Audree is still as strong as ever.  It is tough on her body, and the thought of losing her hair is tough on her, but she is holding strong.  The week that she has chemo is tough and takes her a few days to recover.  On facebook my brother created a group called Team Audree.  And a lot of people have posted their support by shaving their heads for her.  All these little things have made this experience a lot easier, and has brought smiles to our faces.  Audree keeps being super mom and spouse.  From talking to her you would not be able to tell that she is going through cancer treatment.  I know this because of all the prayers we have received on her behalf.  Their may be a lot of different religions involved, but as a christian community it is amazing to see everyone come together to pray for one person.  Throughout this process I am continually reminded of the parable in the scriptures that talks about the lost sheep, and how the shepherd (Jesus Christ) will not leave even one behind, that the worth of all souls are great. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

First I have to say, that everyone has been awesome, and we love all the support we are getting from everyone.  We have received lots of cards, flowers, gifts, and even have lots of people shaving their heads in support of Audree.  We have truly been blessed, and all the love and support has made this such an easier thing to deal with.  Today was Audree's first Chemo session, and so far so good.  It took almost 3.5 hours for the treatment from setup to finish.  I was not able to sit with her, but when I picked her up she said she felt fine.  I contribute that to how in shape and fit she is.  She has always eaten right and worked out each day.  So I guess that stuff is good for you.  I am trying to follow her lead.  She has been amazing through this whole thing and has been able to laugh and enjoy this process even though it is very unpleasant.  Staying positive is key and she is awesome at it.  I could not have received a better eternal partner than her, she really makes everyone around her better.  The plan is Chemo every other Monday for 2 months (4 treatments for all you English majors).  After that she will have treatment once a week for 12 weeks.  This is the plan the doctor put us on, and he said this could change in that it would be decreased or increased depending on the results.  The best way to look at it is 2 different treatments because she is being injected with different medications.  One is 4 treatments the other is 12 treatments.  We do not expect all the treatments to be as smooth as this one.  They said the first treatment is given at a slower pace to allow your body to get use to it, but we are praying for all of them to be as smooth as the first.  I hope they go that way for the sake of our kids because I cannot take care of our kids the way she can.  She is an amazing mother and wife, and I do not want to see her suffer.  Thanks for the support!!!