Tuesday, July 24, 2012

And I cannot forget this one little important announcement...

Sweetie's daughter gave birth on Wednesday to Braden James dos Santos, weighing in at 7' 7 oz, 18 1/2" long.  That makes me a great-grandma!  Here's a picture of the handsome little guy:
Braden James dos Santos

And another:

Christine with her grandson Braden

OK, one more for good measure:

Photo: 2012-07-18_14-02-47_973

Congratulations to Britney and Bruno dos Santos and the whole family! 

So busy with life!!!

Wow, these last two weeks have been jammed with lots of mostly fun things, I almost don't know where to start.  So I'll get the one bit of "not so much fun" news out the way first.

Xeloda can cause hand/foot syndrome - feeling hot, peeling, redness, blisters, etc.  And while I had been basically free of this side effect for the first round, it caught up to me on this second round.  On the Saturday of The Prouty, it was hot, very hot.  And while I didn't walk around that much and I wore the most sensible (and expensive) pair of sport sandals that I own, I developed blisters on both of my feet - just below my second and third toes.  Big blisters, longer than an inch and about 1/2" wide.  On Sunday they got a little worse and by Monday I didn't want to do much walking at all.  Now, keep in mind that I wore the same style of sandals in Paris and walked for nine days with nary a red mark.  So I was pretty sure I knew what caused it.  And I had a few small mouth sores and my lips have been peeling - as if I sunburned them.  On Tuesday after we got home, I got a call from the Genentech support RN (Genentech makes the Xeloda) and she told me I had to stop taking the chemo immediately and notify my oncologist.  Apparently, this is a grade 3 side effect that must be reported to the FDA.  Yeah, they actually keep track of this stuff.  Well, I had just taken the last dose of the second round, so I was heading into my "off" week, so that wasn't an issue.  I emailed my doctor and she immediately responded with instructions to her nurse to check with me on Friday.  If the feet were improving, I could start chemo again on schedule with a reduced dose.  Otherwise, we'd wait until the problem had cleared up.

The good news is that the blisters are healing, I got the OK to proceed with chemo, and I'll start round 3 tonight.  The dose was reduced from 1500 mg to 1000 mg twice a day.  Maybe this will also help with the "spicy food and red wine syndrome".  Both things cause a little burning as they head down my esophagus.  The obvious solution is avoidance, and in many cases a good red Sangria makes a pleasant substitute for the red wine.  I'm hoping this reduced dose solves both problems.  And that it works.  I have a PET/CT scan on 8/6 that will tell the story.

Now, on to more fun news.  The Prouty was awesome!  And Rick rode 20 miles with Christine - I was so proud of him.  It was hot and mountainous, but he finished and he looked pretty good when he came through that finish line.
Christine and Rick finishing 20 miles!

Alex, Conner, Allison and me finishing our little walk

Sweetie and some of her Sweathogs - Ron Faucher, my son Ron, Allison, Alex, Sweetie (aka Christine), Paul and Conner

Getting ready to ride - Paul, Conner, Allison, Christine, Alex and Rick

After The Prouty event, we drove to Woodstock, VT and checked into our B&B, where we were meeting our good friends John and Donna from Missouri.  We stopped on the way for provisions - wine, local cheese and crackers.  They arrived from the Manchester, NH airport about a half hour later and we enjoyed our cocktail hour and caught up on all the news.  Then we went out for a nice dinner.  The following day, the guys played golf and the girls explored Woodstock, Queechee, and the surrounding area.  And we did our part to support the local economy and the "made in the USA" initiative.  Did you know that if every person spent $1 a day on products made in this land of ours, it would go a long way towards solving our economic and unemployment problems.  We both did our part!!!   Here's a link in case you'd like to read about some of the initiatives underway:

After golf, we had another nice cocktail hour with the guys, then we went to a local restaurant with a Caribbean flair...very nice!  Of course, the company was excellent so it was a "no lose" situation!

On Monday we checked out of the B&B - the guys went first so they could meet their tee time at The Equinox in Manchester Center, VT.  We gals had a more leisurely drive, leaving about an hour afterwards, and took in the beautiful scenery.  We were lucky enough to arrive in town at the same time that a Model T Club had inundated the town with their beautiful antique roadsters.  We stopped at a local drugstore for first aid supplies to help my ailing feet, and there were several in the parking lot.  We spoke to a couple from Ohio who explained that they had trailered their buggies to VT and were doing a 100 mile circuit.  It looked like a lot of fun, and seeing so many in the town was very neat.  Donna checked into her hotel room, we strolled around the grounds a little bit, then we parked ourselves in rocking chairs on the front porch with glasses of iced tea and waited for the guys to return from golf.  Manchester Center is really pretty - I hadn't spent much time there and now I want to go back in late September for an overnight stay.  The place is loaded with outlets, but they blend in with the local charm of numerous B&Bs, shops and restaurants.  Donna and I drove up to the Wilburton Inn, situated on a hill with fabulous views of the Green Mountains...and very strange sculptures on its grounds. 


Now that I have visited the website, I have learned that the sculptures have a purpose - to illustrate the conflict resolution process.  We should have looked more closely, it would have changed our perspective completely!!!


Are you still with me?  This is getting long!!!

We got home Monday night and I did a lot of resting my poor feet.  They were not happy; and as any woman knows, if your feet are not happy you are not happy!  The tootsies spent some time in the lake and more time in the elevated position with my butt in my recliner! 

This past Saturday, John and Donna came for dinner before heading to their airport hotel (they had a 6 a.m. flight).  We had a great time and the weather was perfect, we had a nice boat tour of the lake while sipping wine and eating great local Grafton maple smoked cheese.  Dinner was steak and lobster - how can you go wrong with that combo?  And their visit was motivation for us to finally get "settled" in our little house.  After a year, it was about time!  All the stuff that needed to be stored in the attic finally made its way there, Rick's office was presentable for the first time, the guest room looked like it could accommodate guests, and our bedroom was finally rid of the stuff one stashes when making your downstairs presentable! 

And then Sunday rolled around and we were the site of a pretty big family gathering/lake party.  At its peak, there were 16 of us enjoying the lake, the boat, bbq chicken and sausage, fresh corn, fruit, a very tasty pasta salad, and a birthday celebration for Connie Russell - Paul's mom complete with a fruit tart (her favorite) and a chocolate banana cream trifle.  We realized that our big lake party last year was on the same weekend - we may have started a birthday tradition.  It was crazy busy and crazy fun!  I have enough food left over for another army! 

And that's good because yesterday I was in "recuperation" mode...lol! 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tumor markers up a little

Not exactly good news, but not totally unexpected either...

My CA27.29 (tumor markers) came back at 91 as of Wednesday.  It was 55.8 at the end of April when last measured.  My oncologist reminded me that I didn't start treatment for several weeks and I've only completed 1 1/2 cycles of Xeloda.  So it isn't exactly a fair assessment of whether or not Xeloda is working for me because we don't know where I was the day I started treatment.  We'll use the 91 as a baseline and test again in mid-August.  I have a PET/CT scan scheduled for August 6, and that should give us some idea - if there is stability or regression, that will be great.  If the cancer has progressed, I'll be lobbying for another chemo to accompany the Xeloda, or we head in a completely different direction.

I continue to look and feel like a completely normal, healthy human being. 


One of my breastcancer.org sisters posted this on our discussion board and I just had to share it! 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Time for The Prouty

Last July our family made the drive to beautiful Dartmouth, NH, to participate in The Prouty, a fund raiser for the Norris Cotton Cancer Center: 

Our team name is Sweetie and Her Sweat Hogs - named in honor of my son's lovely partner, Christine Sweetser.  Without her encouragement, none of us would have participated in this great event last year.  She is a physical therapist, a tri-athlete, and a wonderful part of our family.  She lost her own mom to cancer, so it was natural for her to get involved in this event.  And last year she was accompanied by several of our family members who biked more miles than they probably have ever biked at one time, in such mountainous yet beautiful terrain.

It was such a great event, and everyone felt so good about it (after they recovered, of course!) that we are doing it again. 

Like all of these fundraiser events, we are encouraged to solicit donations.  I'm attaching a link to our team page in case you'd like to support our cause. 

Thanks in advance for your continued support - both emotionally and in every other way!