A New Me

I am writing this eight days since my last chemo. I have not felt this well in months! There are still some lingering side effects. I do still struggle with neuropathy in my fingers, but it does seem to be improving. I’m hopeful it will eventually go away completely. There is still some loss of taste, but I’m thrilled to report that is slowly returning as well. Fatigue is still a struggle, but I’m not sure how much that is chemo related and how much it is because I’ve basically done nothing since September and have no stamina. As Eli gets bigger I find it hard to hold him for more than a few minutes because my arms are weak. Walking wears me out. I naturally like to run everywhere I go and I get winded and have to stop to catch my breath. That too should improve with time and movement! Building up muscle tone will also take time. Who wants to lift weights with me? No one, okay I understand!

I wanted to share a fun text I got yesterday. A dear friend and I had been texting back and forth and then she said, “Guess what today is!” My first thought was that it was April Fool’s Day and wondering how she had pranked me…I replied with, “April Fool’s Day.” While I waited for the gotcha moment…She quickly replied, “No, it’s Thursday and you have no chemo!!” I absolutely love how so many close to me jumped on this rollercoaster and have taken the ride alongside me. She was celebrating with me as many of you have. It sure makes a girl feel special! And as a side note, I don’t think I even wore pink! I’m giving other colors a chance.

Instead of having chemo, I went for a radiation mapping appointment and I will do a separate post on that. I then went to work and had a great afternoon. We were made aware of a “Future Raiders” baseball game at the high school and I wanted to take Isaac, but I wasn’t sure how tired I would be after a full day. I was feeling okay so I cooked dinner and proposed going to the game to the family. We hadn’t done anything like this in a while because of me and COVID, but we decided to go. I am so glad we did! I can say I would much rather be outside enjoying a perfect Texas night spending time with my family than asleep in bed feeling horrible after chemo! I was still not that tired after returning home and enjoyed relaxing with Chris and watching pointless YouTube videos. It was such a huge difference from the 12 previous Thursdays.

I titles this post “A New Me” because it is truly how I feel. I am settling into my new jobs. Yes, jobs. Both are going great and God is doing some amazing things. I never intended to go back to work full-time, but these two part-time jobs will keep me good and busy during the days. It has felt so good having something to do and feeling productive.

This week has felt…normal. I know that thanks to 2020 it’s a new normal, but it’s the most normal I have felt in a year. I am working. I am attending baseball practices with Isaac. We are going to watch baseball as a family. Six months ago I wasn’t sure those things would ever happen for me. There was so much uncertainty as to if I would be around to do those things.

While my fight isn’t over, the hard part is done. Surgery and chemo are behind me and by mid-May I will be done with daily/weekly doctor visits.

To quote the lyrics of one of my go-to songs, The Father’s House, “My story isn’t over, my story’s just begun” I cannot wait to see the chapters God is going to write for me!

Isaac taking in his first “real game”

What a week!

This week has been one of the best in many months. I have a lot to share and a bad habit of rambling so I will try to make this a comfortable length to prevent reader fatigue Ha!

A little back story, I have gone back to work. A few weeks ago I went back to my comfort zone and started doing transcription again. It wasn’t something I ever intended to go back to, but it worked for my schedule, chemo side effects, and childcare purposes. It’s been going okay, just slow at the start which is to be expected. I am only working part-time as to know get burned out again!

Then an opportunity arose that I was not expecting. I became aware of a position at our church and decided to step out of my comfort zone and show interest in the position. Taking a position that I consider a stepping stone to my dreams. I accepted a part-time position working alongside a lady I dearly love and who is easily in the “my person category”. I have no doubt that this job will be incredible as the team I get to work with is beyond good at what they do. I am blessed to be able to be a part of growing the Kingdom and pouring love and truth into the children at our church. I am officially the assistant to our children’s pastor! To the person leaving the position and giving me this opportunity, I am so sad to see you go and I pray I can do this job as well as you have for nearly a decade!

As if this wasn’t exciting enough, today was MY LAST CHEMO. When I started back at the first of October, March seemed so far away. There were times I didn’t think I would make it. I felt horrible. I got depressed. I was on a rollercoaster ride with no end in sight. But God and many people got me to today.

The day started as always, with blood work. I had been so tired from working the past two days I crashed hard last night and completely forgot to take my night before steroids. Woke up this morning late and ran out the door without taking it…realized on the way to the clinic. Thankfully I was scheduled to see my medical oncologist after my labs were drawn so I informed her and she wasn’t concerned. Whew! I hadn’t messed up to the point of having to reschedule! I was also concerned that mu extreme fatigue might indicate low blood counts…Please no! I wanted to get this treatment over with!

My lab work came back as well as can be expected after 15 total rounds of chemo. I was given the green light to proceed with the last infusion! We discussed how I was doing. The neuropathy has increased the last few weeks and I pray it resolves quickly once treatment is complete. I have been dealing with allergy issues and drainage (Who in Texas hasn’t). Out of an abundance of caution and to make sure I am healthy before radiation begins, the doctor called in a prescription to clear up the sinus issues. With that, I was wished good luck and sent to the infusion waiting area. Below is a picture of me in the doctor’s office showing off my last day of chemo outfit. The shirt was made by a friend, Nikki. Thank you! I got so many compliments. The tiara was an amazon find. Chris questioned why I needed a tiara and I said because I do. That was the end of the discussion! Ha!

Of course the shirt needed bling! Glitter is my second favorite color. (Pink is tops!)
The tiara…and hair!

There was a slight hiccup once in the infusion room. When you are using a port for treatment they like to see a slight blood return before they start infusion. This shows them the port is operating and in the vein properly. For the last few weeks my port has been giving us problems and not showing any blood return. Because I could taste the saline as it was being ran through to flush the port, we proceeded. Today, my nurse was not comfortable doing that so After trying several different positions with no luck, we had to resort to a medication they call TPA. It sits in the port for at least 30 minutes in an effort to break up any clots or blockages and to open the port up. He said sometimes it can take up to two hours. I was already planning to be there for two and a half hours. I was not looking forward to adding two more hours. If unsuccessful after two hours, my treatment would need to be postponed while images were scheduled to check the function of my port. So not cool on the day of my last treatment! Thankfully, after 30 minutes he came back to check on me and the port operated perfectly! we were ready to begin!

Before anything was started, the nurse came out with a sign to hang on my IV to show it was my last day!

Everyone who saw it commented and congratulated me. It was fun!

We then went through the normal process of a bag of fluids, two pre-meds, and the chemo. I attempted to watch Hulu during this time but the Wifi just would not cooperate. I took a nap instead.

Before I knew it, the nurse was bringing out a bell and unhooking me from the IV. I got emotional realizing it was done! 16 rounds of chemo over 6 months….DONE!

The bell and my T-Shirt (A gift from Texas Oncology)

Everyone in the room cheered. Everyone in the room knew the joy I was feeling and shared that moment with me. It was such an incredible feeling!

I gathered my things and headed out to celebrate with Chris and Eli who were outside in the car eager to pick me up. When Isaac got home from school I got a famous Isaac hug and we celebrated together. That boy sure is sweet! He may have been more excited than I was!

As if my day/week hadn’t been fantastic enough, we had dinner plans….with my brother and sister-in-law. I really hate that title. Let me fix that. We had dinner plans with my brother and sister! It has been February of 2020 since we’d seen each other and I was beyond excited to get to visit! They picked up dinner and met us at one of our favorite parks. We got lost in conversation and before we knew it the sun had set and the mosquitos were biting. It was time to say our farewells. We hugged (Sorry not sorry. I needed hugs!). And got in our cars to head spectate directions. It was then I realized I had not taken a single picture! My mother would be sad! So I jumped out and ran to their car. They agreed we had to digitally document the evening so we took a few pics. Thanks so much Jon and Gina for coming to celebrate with us today. It meant so much!!!

I will end this post with those pictures. Stay tuned for the next steps of my treatment plan and some other posts along the way.

And never forget that God >……Than Any Battle!

Pics in the headlights….sunglasses still on my face….so happy!
Why didn’t someone (Chris) tell me about the sunglasses?!?😎

Taxol Treatment 9 of 12

It has been a minute since I’ve updated. I feel I just repeat the same things over and over, but I know a lot of you want to know how things are going. I am working on a few different posts and would love ideas on what you want to know. If you have a question, leave a comment. I plan to do a Q and A post soon!

This past Thursday I had my 9th Taxol. It went much the same. The doctor has been giving me an extra bag of fluids each treatment which seems to help my energy levels the day of treatment and the day after. I came home and slept for several hours, but then slept zero Thursday night. The lack of sleep does a number on me emotionally. In addition, the medications mess with your hormones which too makes me emotional. There are times I feel like crying for no reason at all. I feel like if I start crying I may never stop. This has been a struggle the last two days.

The expected pain has started to set in and I fully expect tomorrow to be the worst day of it. That seems to be the routine. By Tuesday I am usually feeling much better and ready to tackle it all over again by Thursday. Okay, that’s a lie. I am never ready for treatment day….Just when I start feeling better I have to get knocked down again.

I keep telling myself I have been doing this since October and there are only three weeks left, four counting recovery, but it feels so far away. I am tired. Not just physically, but mentally, emotionally. I want so bad to be done….but then a whole new scary journey begins. I know what to expect now with chemo, but what will radiation bring?

I feel I don’t talk about the emotional struggle enough on here. My family and close friends see it, but I don’t share enough about it. The is almost as much about the mental fight as the physical, if not more. I want to quit. I want to feel normal. I want life the way it was in July of 2020 when there was nothing wrong with me. The reality is, my life will never be the same. I will forever be post-diagnosis Carrie. My families lives will never be the same. They will all have gone through this with me. It’s hard on them. They put on a brave face for me, but I know they hate it and are tired too.

So how do we make it? God! We pray. We lean on our friends and family when we can’t support ourselves. We keep a positive attitude and find the good in whatever we are dealt. When I can’t see positive, someone else helps me find it. We keep a sense of humor about it all. Sometimes people may be put off by us laughing or joking about my cancer, but laughter helps. Sometimes laughing is all we can do to get through.

My medical team at Texas Oncology is great. They are always positive, but real. They tell me what to expect and support me as those things begin to happen. But mostly, they are awesome because they get me. I feel comfortable being honest and telling how I’m doing. I know they won’t get upset if I didn’t drink enough water that week or lost some weight. If I say I was so mean this week to my family, and they assure me it’s the chemo making me that way. They are awesome because they laugh with me when I crack stupid jokes….or wear silly shirts! They cheer me on and are just as excited as I am that my chemo is almost over. It will be weird not seeing them every week! But they swear after this they never want to see me again (at least in the office).

I have said so many times that sometimes it’s okay to not be okay. This week, and over the past five months, there have been moments of not being okay. I want to thank those who have listened to me, cried with me, and picked me back up. For reminding me what I have already overcome and told me I only have THREE MORE TREATMENTS! 5 months of chemo done, ONE to go!

I saw this on Amazon and had to have it. The staff loved it!

God > Cancer!