Friday, February 26, 2010

- Sleeping Beauty . . .

. . . Sleeping Beauty . . . ah, yes, that would be me. Since I began the Taxol & Herceptin chemo this past Monday, I have had the joy of aching, eating & sleeping almost non-stop since Wednesday. A tough life, but somebody's gotta do it.

I did have a brief respite, I must say, before suffering these side effects. As I told you, I was stoned on Monday during the chemo (from the Benadryl they mix with it to prevent allergic reactions) and after leaving the hospital, I felt mighty fine for the rest of the day and the following Tuesday (from the steroids they mix with it to do who-knows-what). So I had a couple of days' break.

But from Wednesday until now, it's been pretty bleak. It feels exactly like having the flu but without the sniffles or cough or anything like that. Just body aches; that's it.

I called my Primary Care nurse in Oncology today to make sure this is a normal reaction and she assured me it is. Oh, goody!

Never mind, sleeping is better than throwing up, which is what everyone always expects will happen when they're on chemo. Thankfully, many of the chemos - especially the breast cancer chemos - are very good now and upchucking isn't as huge a likelihood as in the bad old days.

I think I mentioned before, though, that chemo knocks women into menopause, and I am definitely NO exception!! Whooeee, it's HOT in here! And "in here" is wherever I happen to be at the moment!! 

Why, I'm having a hot flash even now, as I type this!! What a delight it is to feel as though I really am in Hawaii after all, when in fact, my feet are firmly planted on the snowy banks of Quebec in the wintertime.

I'm absolutely, 100% certain that it is 400 degrees in this living room right at this moment. It must be - there's no other reasonable explanation for it.

Some of you have asked if my menopause will cease when I'm finished the chemo. The answer I've been given by medical staff is that if a woman is around the menopausal age anyways when the chemo begins, she'll go into menopause and stay there, whereas a younger woman will experience the menopausal symptoms but resume her periods when she's done with chemo. 
So the short answer is, yup, it's here to stay. Whaddya know!?!?

I guess this is a good segue (in case you don't know what that means, it's "to make a transition from one thing to another smoothly and without interruption") to refer you to my "Menopause" song, which I happened to write 'way back in 1999, before menopause was *ever* even on my radar.

Anyways, click on the link below, which will bring you to the Funny Videos page of my website. 

Then look underneath the video box and click on:
"Menopause! A favorite of women (and their men) everywhere."

And then you'll get an idea of what I'm going through right now. Except I don't feel moody. Yet.

Well, I must go back to bed, because my achy breaky body hurts when I sit up. Never mind, it's all a part of the journey, and these symptoms should clear up as I continue with the remaining 11 weeks of this chemo. Or, the symptoms will get worse. Hmm. The suspense is killing me!

Have a great weekend,

Love from ME!

Monday, February 22, 2010

- Yes, But I Never Inhaled

Okay, so I got stoned today. But before you start judging me, I want you to know that I never inhaled - not even a little bit. So there.

And it wasn't my fault. I mean, it's not like the nurses or my Oncologist asked my permission or anything! They just sat me down, inserted the needle, and told me to enjoy my new chemo regime. Well, they didn't exactly say that, but it was close.

So there I was, sitting in the beat up La-Z-boy chair in the Oncology ward, when suddenly, it HIT me! My mouth wouldn't work! My tongue had a mind of its own! I couldn't communicate in complete sentences! I was drowsy and disoriented! I was woozy! I was not myself!

I was . . . STONED!!!!

And you know what the culprit was? It was Benadryl !

Yep, in order to avoid any allergy flare-ups, which are a common side-effect of the Taxol chemotherapy I've just begun today, they give large amounts of Benadryl!
Man, that stuff was potent! 

George couldn't resist . . . he grabbed my cell phone and videotaped me trying to communicate, and I must admit, it was pretty funny. And no, I'm not going to upload the video here on my bloggy-blog. 

Some things are just meant to be private. I have a reputation to uphold. I have my principles. I am not going to throw away my dignity merely to give you good folks a good chuckle at my expense. No, sirree.

Although, come to think of it, none of those reasons has ever stopped me before . . . but nah, I think I'll pass this time. Besides, I don't know how to upload a video from my cell phone. Oh, well.

So the Taxol part of the treatment went just fine, but by the time I got through that, it was 5 pm and there was no time left for the Part 2 of the treatment, which is the Herceptin. So I have to go back to the hospital tomorrow for another hour or two to get Part 2 over with.

Nothing much else to report. Oh, yesssss . . . there is one more little detail. 

Just before we got called from the waiting room to go in for the chemo, we decided to eat some cream of carrot soup that was on the lunch cart. 

Volunteers always bring around free soup, sandwiches, soft drinks, and tinned mandarins for the chemo patients & their companions. So there were some leftover lunches on the lunch carts, so George and I each took cream of carrot soup in a styrofoam container.

Of course, what do you do when you're sitting in a waiting room, eating? You perch the container on your leg, don't you? And you carefully dip your spoon in the cream of carrot soup and carefully bring the spoon to your lips, slurp the soup quietly into your mouth, and then you repeat the whole process, right?

Sigh. I guess Drama Queens have a different way of eating cream of carrot soup, which is to follow most of the above-described procedure, except for the part where it says "repeat the whole process". 

I did manage to successfully execute this process two or three times, but on the fourth try, I guess my brain played a trick on me and my leg twitched or something like that.

Anyways, you guessed it - I spilled cream of carrot soup all over my lap, onto my jeans & the chair I was sitting in, plus my favorite purse and the floor around my chair.

Not sure if you can imagine what this particular type of soup looks like when it's spilled, but if you can picture a baby throwing up, and imagine this putrid orange liquid with wee chunks of whatever in it on various parts of your clothing, then you'll probably have a very good mental image of what it looked like. It was gross.

I went to the bathroom to try & mop myself up, but of course, my jeans were getting kinda wetter by the minute since I was trying to rinse them with some water, plus the blue dye from the jeans was coming off onto the  paper towels. 

The electric hand dryer machine is about four feet up from the floor, so I couldn't figure out quite how to get the jeans close enough to it to dry them, since I didn't feel like disrobing in the bathroom & then hearing them call my name through the door that there was now a chair free & it was chemo time at last.

So I went through the afternoon chemo session with . . . er, wet pants, so to speak. These kinds of things only happen to me, I tell you. It's just not right.

Speaking of these things just happening to me, maybe you'd like to have a chuckle or two by listening to me tell yet another embarrassing story, except this one happened in a bus, not in a hospital waiting room. Just click here to go to YouTube:

Well, that's about it for tonight! I am still slightly stoned - actually, more sleepy than stoned - so I'm going to go to bed now. 

And just imagine! I get to do this every Monday for the next eleven weeks! Whoo hoo! The Quebec government is paying for a pleasantly plump, menopausal 50-year-old to do drugs! 

It just doesn't get any better than this, does it?!??!?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

- Full Speed Ahead (In The Palm Of Your Hand)

Okey dokey, so yesterday, it was back to the hospital to see an Allergist, Dr. Small, and then my Oncologist, Dr. Victor Cohen. 

George came with me so he could take notes, which is always a great idea whenever you go to a doctor, by the way, especially when it's about something very important. Take someone with you who can write things down, because if you forget what the doctor said (and you probably will), you'll have a backup. So George is always very wonderful about taking copious notes.

Dr. Cohen had asked Dr. Small to look at my case, since everybody in Oncology is pretty stumped about why I've had such a weirdo reaction to my chemo both times. So I guess they figure if they pass me around to enough specialists, SOMEone is bound to figure out what's happening with me! Right? Huh?

So Dr. Small looked up my info on his trusty computer and told me he couldn't see why there was such a problem. He sees a lot of strange reactions to medications and he says that Small Vessel Vasculitis is a pretty common one. 

But I AM THE MYSTERY PATIENT!!! It's meeeee, Dr. Small . . . I am the DRAMA QUEEN!! This isn't just ANY patient you're dealing with!! No siree!! It's meeee!!!

Yep, when he saw some of the results to some of my tests, suddenly it wasn't so common anymore. He got a very puzzled look on his face and got very quiet. And then he dismissed us, saying Dr. Cohen should give him a call when we got up to his office.

So we went to see poor Dr. Cohen, who says he gets a headache just thinking about me (gee, thanks) and who hoped Dr. Small would come up with some earth-shattering revelation about my health. But nope. 

Dr. Cohen phoned Dr. Small and they fretted together. They were double-stumped. They dunno. They just dunno. Heh heh heh.

So now what? Well, Dr. Cohen is worried about continuing with the AC chemo, which is so harsh on the body. There are only 2 rounds left to do, but still, he's concerned that even those 2 doses might do greater damage than just the vasculitis.

The next phase of my chemo - which was supposed to start only in March - is the Taxol combined with Herceptin. Taxol is a chemo that's easier on the body, and it's given in lesser doses, more frequently.

Whereas the AC chemo is given every 3 weeks, the Taxol is given weekly, for 12 weeks. And the Herceptin is not a chemo, it's a medication, I guess you could call it, given to combat one of the receptors that was found in my tumor, called HER2 (the Herceptin has no side-effects, so that's a plus).


SOOO . . . Dr. Cohen finally decided to ask the expert in all this - ME! Ha! No, I'm not really an expert, but it is my body, so he told me that it's ultimately my decision. Hmm. I always wanted to be a doctor!

And so I've decided to go with the Taxol & Herceptin, starting this coming Monday. I'm just as concerned as he is about staying with the AC chemo, even though there are only 2 rounds left. 

NOT taking the AC is a risk, also, though, because the Oncologists are confident that 4 rounds of AC chemo, followed by 3 months of Taxol/Herceptin is a good recipe for fighting cancer, and they don't want to mess with that recipe. 

We're basically choosing the lesser of two evils, at this point. Or at least, I hope we're choosing the lesser!

Well, at least you'll all know that for the next 12 Mondays, I'll be staying out of trouble. THAT'S a relief, now, isn't it??!!!

Here's a song from one of my favorite singers, Alison Krauss. Her voice is so clear and sweet, and it's soothing, too. The sound on this video isn't all that great, but . . . oh, well! 

The song is called "In The Palm Of Your Hand" and that's exactly where I believe I am - in the palm of God's hand. So why should I worry? 

People keep asking me how I can be so strong in all of this, especially given the complications.  Well, hell-l-l-ooo!!! I'm not doing this by myself!! I have Special Help!!! 

That's my secret, and I'm sticking to it. Except it's not a secret, because I just told you. So there!

Have a restful rest-of-the-week,

Love, Wendy

In The Palm Of Your Hand   by Ron Block

If I could have the world and all it owns
A thousand kingdoms, a thousand thrones
If all the earth were mine to hold
With wealth my only goal

I'd spend my gold on selfish things
Without the love that Your life brings
Just a little bit more is all I'd need
'Til life was torn from me

I'd rather be in the palm of Your hand
Though rich or poor I may be
Faith can see right through the circumstance
Sees the forest in spite of the trees
Your grace provides for me

If I should walk the streets no place to sleep
No faith in promises You keep
I'd have no way to buy my bread
With a bottle for my bed

But if I trust the One who died for me
Who shed His blood to set me free
If I live my life to trust in You
Your grace will see me through

I'd rather be in the palm of Your hand
Though rich or poor I may be
Faith can see right through the circumstance
Sees the forest in spite of the trees

Monday, February 15, 2010

- I Believe - 2010 Olympics Anthem

This year's Olympic song is sung by Nikki Yanofsky, an amazingly talented young woman. What a great anthem!

Nikki is 16 years old and she's from my very own city of Montreal. She began her professional singing career by performing at the 2006 Montreal International Jazz Festival.

This performance made her the youngest performer ever to headline at this festival. She has returned to this festival each year since, culminating in 2009 with a very special outdoor performance for the festival’s 30th Anniversary.

Music by Stephan Moccio, Lyrics by Alan Frew 
There comes a moment, when my heart must stand alone
On this lonely path I’ve chosen,
Like a house that’s not a home
Sometimes when I feel I’ve had enough
And I feel like giving up
You will me to be all I can be
Now nothing can stop me
I believe in the power that comes
From a world brought together as one
I believe together we’ll fly
I believe in the power of you and I

This is the moment we have dreamed of all our lives
We’ll be the change we wish from others
We’ll stand tall for what is right
And in my heart there’ll be no doubt
The arms of the world will come reaching out
And embrace me to be all I can be
Now nothing can stop me
I believe in the power that comes
From a world brought together as one
I believe together we’ll fly
I believe in the power of you and I

I believe the time is right now
Stand tall and make the world proud
I believe together we’ll fly
I believe in the power of you and I

I believe in the power of you and I
I believe together we’ll fly
I believe in the power of you and I
I believe our time is right now

Stand tall and make the world proud
I believe together we’ll fly
I believe in the power … of you and I
I believe in the power … of you and I.

Well, this afternoon I'm off again to my home-away-from-home, the Jewish General Hospital. Today I see Dr. Peter Small, an Allergist, and then my Oncologist, Dr. Cohen. 
I'm now three weeks overdue for Chemo #3, which they don't want to give me until they figure out why I developed Small Vessel Vasculitis after Chemos 1 & 2. So it should be an interesting couple of appointments. 
I hope Dr. Cohen isn't still getting headaches when he thinks about me. Hmph. Not my fault my body is WEIRD!!! So stay tuned...

 Proud to Be Canadian
Have a great week, everybody!
More About Nikki!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

- Foiled Again

Oh, dear me, we're back at square one. Well, I guess I should say I'm back at square one - you're not, unless you consider that following my journey on this blog kind of symbolically, in a mysterious sort of way, puts you also back at square one. If you get my drift.

Anyways, Monday was Hospital Day for me again, and after my regular blood test, it was off to my appointment with Dr. Cohen who, it turns out, is still very troubled about my situation and the fact that three weeks after both chemos, I developed SSVV - Stupid Small Vessel Vasculitis (that extra "S" is added by me, in case you didn't know).

Dr. Cohen has a wonderful reputation at the Jewish General and I'm just so impressed with how conscientious and concerned he is. He assured me that he has been consulting with other Jewish General specialists, including Dr. Billick (an Internist) and Dr. Small (an Allergist). 

Hmm . . . turns out the specialists are equally perplexed and don't quite know what to make of my rare, they've-never-seen-this-before reaction to this AC chemo. 

Well, I suppose I should tell them that I am a Drama Queen. If they're gonna know anything about me, it's that if there's a way to be different, I will find it, thank you very much. After all, who wants to be normal??? Not I!!!

Well, anyways, the result of everything is that my chemo has been delayed yet another week. That's two weeks now and counting. And next Monday is a no-go, also, because next Monday is when I see Dr. Peter Small, the Allergist who will try to figure out why my body has this particular aversion to AC chemo. 

You'd think my body would be co-operating, wouldn't you? I mean, what human body do you know that would want to have cancer cells bouncing around it? Sheesh! Picky, picky! It's like my body is saying, "No, no, no - I don't want that chemo chasing away random cancer cells . . . I want another chemo! Whaddya got?" 

And basically the doctors are saying, "Oy vey!" (remember, I'm at the Jewish General Hospital) "There is no other suitable chemo! Unless you want one that is toxic and makes you puke, already!" Silly body.

Well, what can I say? The doctors are faced with a very difficult decision and they aren't quite sure what to do. 

I suggested skipping over this phase of the chemo and moving along to the next phase, which is Taxol and Herceptin combined, but Dr. Cohen doesn't like that idea.

He's explaining that the recipe they have has proven to be effective in so many of their breast cancer patients and they don't want to mess with that recipe. Skipping over the remaining two cycles of AC chemo could jeopardize my chances of beating this beast, and they just aren't eager to take that big a risk.

Aww, I'm touched. They care about me. Next time I'm in, I think all my doctors and me should have a group hug. 

No, seriously - I think it's great that they are doing their darndest to try and figure out what's best. I guess I'll find out after the results of the allergy test are in, but it means that I won't be getting any chemo until at least the end of the month.

"Well, in other news", as they say on TV, you may or may not have noticed in the last posting, "Fit As A Fiddle", I was wearing my handy-dandy brand new wig! I got it from Windsor, Ontario from a sweet lady named Jackie. She owns a store there called From the Heart Card, Gift and Wig Boutique.

I found her online and now we're friends and everything! She sent me my new wiggie and I just love it. The other one is history. This one is way cooler!
I posted all kinds of wiggies on my Facebook page and my Facebook friends voted on which one they liked the best, and this one was the clear winner. 

So now I am feeling very gorgeous and I don't have to go outside in the cold with a bald head or with a wig that I don't like all that much. The other one was okay but this is my fave.

Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. I guess there isn't any other Drama Queen news for now, so I'll love you and leave you, but stay tuned right here on "The Young and the Breastless" for the next episode, coming soon to a blog near you!

Love, Wendy

Saturday, February 6, 2010

- Fit As A Fiddle

Well, Adventures With Wendy just never stop! Thursday was FITNESS DAY with Liliana and the Film Crew at the Wellness Center!

The Wellness Center is the lovely house owned by the Jewish General Hospital where they offer support groups for cancer patients, art therapy, dance . . . and EXERCISE

Oh, how I LOVE exercise (not really). The Wellness Center has a GYM!!! And Thursday was the day the film crew filmed me EXERCISING!!! 

It just doesn't get any better than this.

First of all, here's the crew: On the left is Zoe, the sound man (I guess we can't say "sound girl" these days since that sounds very old-fashioned & sexist).

Liliana Komorowska is in the middle - the film's director. The film is called "Beauty & the Breast", in case you've forgotten.

And on the right is Beata, one of my favorite Polish chickies in the world. She's SO sweet, and besides, she just bought one of my CDs, which also puts her at the top of my list of favorite people. 

She's Liliana's assistant, does anything and everything, and always does it well.

And then we have the two goofy camera guys, Zac (left) and Van (right). They are pretending to kiss but it's just pretend. 

They are both so much fun to work with. 

Actually, Liliana, the Film Crew and I have bonded so much over the past two months that we've decided to sell everything we own.

We're all going to buy a farm in the countryside and live communally. 

It just seems like the right thing to do. It'll be Quebec's newest reality TV show. Zac & Van can film us 24 hours a day. Not sure what the focus will be once I've been declared cancer-free, but I'm sure we'll think of something.

Okay, for all you literalists, I'm totally just kidding about the living-in-community bit.

Anyways. So I waddled into the Wellness Center Thursday for my fitness appointment. Liliana glided in after me. Now, wait a minute . . . if the past tense of "hide" is "hid", is the past tense of "glide", "glid"? Liliana "glid" in after me? No, I guess not. Silly English language.

Liliana is tall & slim, so she glided in after me. Then the film crew walked in. Camera & sound people don't waddle and they don't glide. They just kinda . . . walk. Actually, they trudge, because they're always carrying so much equipment, like cameras and microphones and lights and stuff. So I guess the film crew trudged in.

As usual, we pretty much took over the place - the gym, I mean. Then it started. Okay, first: this is Anouline, my personal trainer:

She's really great and makes me do hard stuff so that I sweat a lot and everything. 

Anouline is hired by the Wellness Center to help us get in peak physical condition . .

. . . so we can kick cancer's butt. Yeah!

Ah, yes - here I am doing my famous "balancing on the exercise ball" routine. It's great for burning every ounce of cellulite off my thighs.

And here I am trying not to look too distressed as we do those dreaded sit ups, which are about as fun as eating asparagus and brussel sprouts.

Ah, yes, and the famous "pull downs" to develop my biceps or triceps or bilaterals or whatever it is you call 'em. I should have a six pack in no time.

I just keep telling myself, "ENJOY"!! All kidding aside, I really do enjoy working out! 

It's a marvelous opportunity right now to build up my immune system - which is compromised by the chemo - and to develop some strength and stamina for what remains ahead.

Well, in other news, there's an interview with me published in The Suburban this week.  You can take a peek at it on my website:

I'm just getting famous-er and famous-er! I should start selling off my autographs on e-Bay or something.


And that's basically it! Other than being in the Wellness Center Personal Olympics, my week was pretty uneventful.

My legs are almost completely back to normal again; the vasculitis cleared up by the third or fourth day on the Prednisone, so that probably means Dr. Cohen will want to resume the chemo again this Monday, provided he feels it's worth the risk . . .

Have a blessed weekend, and when you're down and blue, just remember this encouraging thought: "You are unique, just like everyone else." Moaahahahaaa!!!

Bye for now,

Love, Wendy

Here's a beautiful song for you to listen to:
"Scarborough Fair" from a Celtic Woman concert.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

- So Last Time On "The Young and The Breastless" . . .

So last time on "The Young and The Breastless", our heroine (that would be me) had just discovered her amnesia was the result of a fall off of a huge oceanliner that was sailing across the, er, ocean . . .

. . . when her jealous hairdresser/accountant pushed her overboard, causing her to plunge screaming and flailing into the dark and treacherous waters, hitting her head on the ship's railing as she fell .  . .

. . . she assumedly lost consciousness and when she came to, she had washed up on a desert island full of poisonous snakes, writhing and hissing just inches from her salt-soaked face . . .

But enough about me. How are all of you today? Yes, yes, I know . . . you're dying to know (oops, I shouldn't use that word while I'm a cancer patient) . . . you're all eager to know what my prognosis was yesterday when I saw my cutie-pie Oncologist, Dr. Cohen. Okay, I'll tell you.

Dr. Cohen is the one, you may recall, who's camera shy and didn't like it that Liliana and her Film Crew showed up with me at his office the first time we actually met. Although we did get a very good picture of his back as he checked out his computer, we don't actually have a pic of his face, so I can't show you what he looks like.

Okay, so I'll continue with more about ME, but only because you're insisting. So yesterday, I showed up at the hospital for what was supposed to be Chemo #3. 

As I told you guys in yesterday's posting, I was pretty sure I'd be getting another break in my chemo regime, as Dr. Cohen is way too smart & cautious to give me chemo when my Small Vessel Vasculitis is in play.

I also told you I was fairly certain he'd be very upset, and boy, was I right. He was crestfallen! Whoa, we don't see that word very often, but Dr. Cohen's face was crestfallen when he found out I had IT again.

You have no idea how tempted I am at this point to actually show a picture here of what my legs look like at this moment. The Drama Queen in me wants to do this SO BADLY. In fact, I think I cannot resist the temptation, so either miss half the story and scroll down, or take a deep breath and Enter My World With Me:

Ewwww!!!! I know, I know, it's gross and you'll never be able to get this image out of your mind for the rest of your life. Those horrid, ugly spots are burned into your thoughts, now, and you won't be able to sleep for weeks!

"Oh, deal with it", I say - I'm the one who has to walk around for another 3 weeks with this, so ha! The least you can do is look at it and moan and groan for me. Thank you. 

Hey, where are you all going? I haven't finished my story yet!!!

Love you guys for looking. Don't feel sorry for me; it doesn't hurt at all - just gross to look at. Anyways, Dr. Cohen actually told me he gets a headache now when he thinks of me. Imagine telling that to his poor patient (me)!! It's not my fault!

So we had a little bit of a chuckle over that one. Well, at least, I was chuckling. He wasn't. He's very upset, as I said, because he's very perplexed as this condition is obviously a reaction to the chemo I'm on, which I really do need to give me a fighting chance against any possible cancer cells still floating around in my body.

Dr. Cohen promised me that he would consult with a specialist, and they will decide whether or not to continue with the AC chemo. 

He said this is a very difficult decision for them to make. The alternate chemo they could put me on is not as effective and is much more toxic to the body, meaning that I would possibly and probably experience a lot of nausea & vomiting. Oh, goody.

Avoiding the AC chemo completely (there are only 2 sessions left) and moving on to the next step in my treatment, which is Taxol & Herceptin, is not really an option, as the AC chemo or its alternative really kicks cancer's butt. 

So that's why Dr. Cohen is so troubled with this new development of my second outbreak of the vasculitis. But it's very reassuring, actually, to see a doctor so concerned on my behalf - he seems to be very conscientious and I really appreciate that.

I'll see him next Monday after he's consulted with the specialist and he'll have a verdict. Can't wait!

While I was in his office, I asked him about my overall prognosis - my odds of 'beating the beast'. At least that was good news! 

He told me I have a very good chance of recovering from all this and making the 5-year mark, which, in the cancer world, is the "magic" number for being cancer-free. 

Ah, the silver lining in the midst of all these clouds!

Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. I don't have any other earth-shattering news at this point, although if you gave me a few hours, I'm sure I'd manage to come up with something.

I would like to say that I'm working out now with a personal trainer, provided absolutely free of charge, at the Jewish General Hospital's Wellness Center. They have a small gym at the Wellness Center & I go for one hour twice a week. 

Today is my third or fourth session and I'm really looking forward to it! I'm hoping to lose a few pounds over the next few weeks or at least to maintain my current weight. 


Surprisingly, Breast Cancer chemo patients actually often gain 10 or 20 pounds during their treatments. The chemo is an appetite stimulant and the anti-nausea drugs are very effective, so it's not like the old days when you had to live next door to the toilet. Plus I'm on the Prednisone, which causes the body to retain water.

Oh, yay. So I've got a bit of a challenge on my hands (or would that be, on my thighs and stomach) to not blimp out. It's very difficult for chemo patients to lose weight and doctors don't recommend even trying, so we'll see how it goes . . .

Maybe today I'll take a bunch of pics of me working out. Or rather, my personal trainer - Anouline - will take some pics of me if I ask her really nicely. 

So stay tuned, my faithful bloggy-bloggers - there's always much, much more to come . . . right here on "The Young and the Breastless"!!!!

Love, Wendy 

Monday, February 1, 2010

- Vasculitis Revisited

Well, wasn't that a fun weekend! In case you don't know what I did, I went on a women's retreat with my favorite-church-in-the-whole-world, Westview Bible Church. We were a bunch of 96 or so C-R-A-Z-Y ladies holed up in a convent / conference center with anything and everything but silence as our guide.

Okay, so our madcap group of ladies didn't look exactly like this (does everyone know what "madcap" means? I know not everyone reading this has English as a first language . . . it means "wildly or heedlessly impulsive; reckless; rash: as in, a madcap scheme").

Our clothes are slightly more modern than in this picture. And our hair, too. But this photo from the internet kinda grabbed me so I decided to throw it on here for laughs. Ha!

Anyways, there we were, 90+ women between the ages of 35 and who-knows-what, trying to behave like civilized human beings. It's not easy, you know. Many of us never had a proper upbringing so we never really learned how to act in a socially appropriate way. But we did our best. 

We had some lovely music and we worshiped God together, and we listened to our sweetie-pie speaker Sue MacDonald; we ate chocolate and met in small groups, we prayed and we laughed and generally speaking, just had a marvelous time together as we always do every year in the last weekend of January. 

We chattered like hens at breakfast, lunch and dinner, consistently annoyed the cleanup crew by overstaying our welcome at the dining room tables long after the meals were finished (sorreee!), and generally drowned out any and all other sounds within 10 miles of the place.

And then, on Saturday night, we had our talent show. And wasn't it great!!! Amazing!!! We have some very talented gals in our midst. 

We had a group of 4 ladies over 50 doing a wonderful rendition of Money Money Money by Abba, from the Mama Mia! movie . . . boy, were they dolled up! Boas and everything!

Whoo-hoo, wish their husbands could've seen 'em! Then Peggy did her skit with Cindy. . . Peggy was "Noah" (as in Noah-and-the-ark-Noah) and Cindy was God (as in God-Who-created-the-world God).

I don't know that Cindy was totally convincing as God since her voice isn't very deep and she was hiding behind the stage curtain; you could see her shape throughout the entire skit, so you could tell it wasn't really God at all (unless you think that God hides behind stage curtains, is about 5'5", and very, very slim.) But Peggy was very convincing as Noah.

Vanessa wowed everybody with her 'fro wig & her four-inch (or were they five?) red platform shoes covered in sparkles, and she belted out an amazing song & had to do two encores!

And of course, I had to get up there and sing "Menopause". It's kind of an annual ritual, and they haven't chased me off the stage yet for singing it a gazillion times this century, so I guess I can still get away with it.

After the Talent Show finished at 11 pm (it finishes later and later every year!), most Reasonable People went up to bed, and the rest of us stayed downstairs and giggled hysterically at Karen K's stories until around 1:30 am. 

By the way, this is what the sunset looks like just outside the retreat center - nice, eh?

Anyways, when that lot had gone off to bed, I managed to find a covert party still happening upstairs and hung out there for awhile. Keep in mind that I had slept through two out of the three teaching parts over the weekend, as I was feeling pretty wiped from the chemo. That made it a bit easier to stay awake until about two o'clock.

And that's when I discovered IT. I was visiting the potty one last time before going to bed, and that's when I saw THE SPOTS. 

Yep, those nasty red spots on my upper legs. Gasping to myself (because most other Reasonable People had gone to bed, so I couldn't gasp for the benefit of anyone else), I pulled up my pantlegs and sure enough, my lower legs were covered in that nasty rash I had back in December. It was the Return of the Small Vessel Vasculitis. Drat!!

Now, for those of you who weren't yet fervent readers of this blog back in December 2009, I will clue you in: I had a nasty case of what the doctors diagnosed as Small Vessel Vasculitis. It manifests as red blotches all over the legs, followed by swollen joints which feel like a very painful, severe form of arthritis. 

It happened 3 weeks after my first chemo, and here it was happening again, 3 weeks after my second chemo. Well, at least my body is responding in somewhat of a predictable manner.

The first time it happened, my Oncologist's theory was that the vasculitis was a direct reaction to my chemo, but he had no way of knowing for sure. He'd never seen that reaction and neither had any of his colleagues . . . they were mystified & could find no precedent when they researched it. Don't I love being unique! 

My chemo treatments were suspended for around a month while he  did further research & consulted with other Oncologists. 

When he could find nothing conclusive, he cautiously resumed my chemo treatment on January 11th when I went in for my second round, almost a month overdue. My instructions were that if the vasculitis flared up again, I was to go immediately to Emergency, get my blood tested, and get them to give me Prednisone again, which clears everything up in about a week or two (and hopefully this time around, it'll prevent that arthritis from kicking in.)

And then we'd know for sure that this chemo I'm on is causing the reaction and I'd have to be put on another type of chemo.

So . . . I packed up my bags at 2:15 am, with the help of some dear gals who were as crazy as I am and hadn't hit the hay yet. Two of them went out in the bitter cold to fetch my car from the parking lot, and delivered my car to the door, helped me load the car, and hugged me farewell as I drove off into the night to the Jewish General. One of them wanted to go with me, but I convinced her that it really wasn't necessary.

By 3 am, the Jewish General nursie was taking my blood and giving me my "drugs". I had a nice little nap on the Emergency room bed while I waited for the results, and at 5:30 am, the doctor woke me up to tell me my bloods were normal and I could go home. 

So even though some weird reaction is happening in my body, my blood is normal. Go figure.

There you go. You're up to speed with my ongoing saga and my Very Dramatic Soap Opera, "The Young and the Breastless". 

I am off to bed now, and tomorrow morning I will wake up at 7 am, leave here around 8:15 am, and get to the hospital for 9 am. I will have an EKG for the heart study to make sure my heart has not been damaged so far by the two rounds of chemo (which is cardio-toxic).

I will go up and see Dr. Cohen, and show him my yukky-looking legs. He will shake his head and look very troubled, and then he'll decide what the heck he's gonna recommend next. For sure, he'll take me off of the AC chemo that I'm on. I'm pretty sure I won't get Chemo #3 tomorrow . . . it'll be delayed a week or two while he figures out what to do. He won't want me receiving any more chemo until this vasculitis clears up. 

And then . . . I'll come home and have a nap! And Adventures With Wendy will continue!

Good night!!!

Love, Wendy