Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Oops. It's been a while :)

Almost 2 weeks! And it's been a busy 2 weeks.

But back to the chemo, briefly. As well as the infusion every 3 weeks, I also take oral chemotherapy every morning and night. The combination is Folfox (infusion) and Xeloda (tablets). So there's not even a week OFF on this regime.

My busy 2 weeks, started when I drove to Rydal (daffodils in spring) on Monday afternoon to stay with my friend, Anne, for a couple of nights. As with anywhere over the range, the seasons are very pronounced. The autumn colours were magnificent, daffodils were being planted, there was frost on the ground in the morning - but the days were sunny and warm.We had a lovely time catching up with all our news. It was amazing to hear about Anne's trip to Scotland to visit the Outer Hebrides Islands. She flew off yesterday for 5 weeks.

From Rydal I drove to Ryde to visit my Chinese herbal doctor who asked me how I was feeling - of course. When I told him what my complaints were - particularly the pain in my lower gut from the Xeloda, he gave me the appropriate acupuncture needles and the pain disappeared - and it hasn't returned since. It feels sooooo good.

The next day I flew to the Gold Coast to spend time with my son, Tim, and his son, Oscar. We had fun reading stories, kicking balls, riding scooters, going to the coffee shop for his vegemite scroll and my green tea and just generally hanging out :)

Oscar in bed waiting for a story from Mumma Tez XX

Oscar with his swimming teacher, practicing 'big arms'

I also attended one day at the POWERtalk Australia annual conference. It was wonderful to see so many long time friends again and to enjoy the professional presentations that were on offer. My congratulations to the conference committee for providing such a valuable learning, networking, speaking, fun experience.

It was beautifully warm on the Gold Coast, so I didn't need to use the gorgeous possum wool gloves that my friend, Judi, delivered from New Zealand. Thanks JJ :). And I didn't have pins and needles in my hands once.

But I'm certainly wearing them now that I'm back in Wollongong. It's really quite cold - well - 17'C - that's cold for here.

Yesterday I had yet another blood test and will see the oncologist on Tuesday for the results. I'm not sure if there is likely to be any measurable change in the readings after only 2 weeks on this new chemo. We'll see.

Last night I attended a brilliant concert. The Australian Chamber Orchestra is touring and comes to Wollongong for one concert each tour. Touring with them is 'the dancing clarinetist' Martin Frost. If you click on his name, you will be taken to his website. It says "Martin Frost has to be heard to be believed". I agree, but he also must be seen to be believed. It was magical :)

Friday 27 May @ 7pm

Friday, May 13, 2011

Pics of last weekend and new chemo

I want to share this website with you. There are webcams out in the national parks in South Africa, strategically placed by the water holes so that the animals can be viewed when they come to drink. Early morning and dusk (South African time) are the best times to see the animals come to drink. Take a look and enjoy. SA time is 8 hours behind Sydney.

The following few pics were taken last weekend when I went to Cowra with Tim and Debs to stay with her parents at their property.

The farmer and his stock

Boys working on the fences

Mother's Day breakfast in the sun. Terrie, Ross, June and Tim. Debs took the photo.

Koi in the pond at the Japanese Gardens in Cowra

The pond at the Japanese Gardens

Overlooking the Japanese Gardens

It was a wonderful way to start the week. I was a back seat passenger with a pillow for the 4 and 1/2 hour journey. Tim's flight was cancelled and he had to wait 4 hours for another flight so we arrived very late.

It was a beaut couple of days.

So....... I started the new chemo regime on Friday. No pump this time, just an infusion for 2 and 1/2 hours. Happy environment with lots of chat among the patients and the nursing staff. I finished knitting a pair of socks and talked to a couple who do a lot of caravaning. Very productive morning.

Then off to lunch with some special friends and home to rest for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

Side effects of this chemo - sharp tingling in hands when cold. And, of course, IT'S BLOODY COLD RIGHT NOW!!!! My hands started to tingle as I left the chemo clinic - cold door handle, cold wind. So I hurried home and dug out my gloves. I wear a white cotton pair when I'm the house and a respectable grey woollen pair when I step outside. You just don't realise how often you touch the cold fridge door, as you open and close, and fridge contents :), turn on the cold water tap in the kitchen and the bathroom! So... all the ingredients from the freezer and fridge that I will need for dinner tonight are out on the kitchen bench all day today so that they won't be too cold when I peel and chop without gloves.

One of my friends, who is coming to the Gold Coast next week, is bringing me a pair of possum wool gloves. Possums are pests in NZ as they are not native to the country, so they make lots of garments from their wool. It is beautifully soft and warm.

I'll be on the Gold Coast next weekend, in fact I'm going for 6 days, to stay with Tim and Oscar and to attend the National Conference of POWERtalk International - on Friday and Saturday. I'm looking forward to catching up with lots of very special, long term friends.

Right now it's 2pm on Saturday 14 May and I've been gallivanting all morning. Time to stop and rest.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Chemo, scan, cloud, silver lining

Just quickly - because I'm not in the right frame of mind for a lengthy message

1. Regular blood test prior to next round of chemo
2. Results not good - cancer markers have increased, so chemo is cancelled. Bad news, good news.
3. Referred for PET scan at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital to see what's going on inside
4. PET scan this morning (Monday)
5. Visit to oncologist this afternoon for results
6. Results not good - tumours have grown slightly and there are some spots on one of my lungs which may be metastases (new secondary tumours)
7. We have run out of options for chemotherapy and I am sticking with my decision not to have surgery
8. Oncologist recommends treatment with the chemotherapy that I had way back in 2006 which did not work on the original tumours in my liver. He says that the tumours I have now are different from the original and there may be a chance that they will respond to the treatment.
9. Start new chemotherapy regime this Friday with an infusion every 3 weeks - but just a 2 hour session at the clinic and no pump to wear home.

And you may wonder why I made reference to a 'silver lining'. They say every cloud has a silver lining. When the blood test showed that the chemo wasn't working and that it would be stopped, it meant that I would be free of it. My son had invited me, for the Mother's Day weekend, to go with him and his girlfriend to visit her parents on their rural property at Cowra NSW. If I had been on chemo, I would not have been up to the trip or to being a congenial visitor in the home of people I had not met before. I was going to be in reasonable shape without the chemo pump - so I accepted the invitation and we all had a wonderful weekend. Great people, beautiful property in a beautiful part of the world - great weekend was had by all :)

Tuesday 10 May 2011 @ 1.25am. It is 5 years ago today since I was diagnosed with cancer.