Review: Anne started a new chemo regimen in her battle against leiomyosarcoma. The new medications leave her extremely exhausted and the side effects are much more severe. Despite being proactive with her fluid intake and medications to counteract the side effects, she is having to go to the clinic for stronger medications and additional fluids. Anne continues to fight the side effects on all fronts with lymphatic massage, acupuncture, prayer, and other natural remedies.
June 1-8: Anne completed Cycle 2 of the new chemo regimen. While she was still very tired, she did have some bursts of energy that allowed her a couple of lunch dates and a lymphatic massage. And her handicap placard arrived.
June 9: Anne’s son competed in an underwater robotics competition held at the local high school pool. Even though she had just gotten the two chemo drugs (Gemcitabine/Docetaxel) the day before, she was feeling well enough to go watch. When the competition ended, Anne’s family went ahead to the car as Anne slowly made her way. As she was walking, she said darkness started closing in and she felt lightheaded and very weak. Using the handrail, she was able to lower herself down. Luckily there were two off-duty EMT’s there and were able to begin assisting her and call 911. When Anne did not come to the car, Ray went looking for her and rode with her in the ambulance. At the hospital, they gave her more fluids and asked a lot of questions to ensure it was only dehydration and not anything more serious. Anne’s Facebook post about the incident prompted a message from her nurse and doctor, reminding her of what an amazing care team she has.
June 10-18: A week break from chemo gives Anne time to recover from the double whammy of meds. She is slowly adjusting to the new meds and learning her limits. Because they leave her so exhausted and because of the unpredictable side effects, Anne does not plan more than one event for the day. She received more fluids, had a check-up with her favorite surgical oncologist, and had a couple of lunch dates. Her acupuncturist even made a house call just for her.
During this week, my youngest and I stopped by for a visit as well. (I think the next blog will be the conversation we had beforehand.) I was so surprised to walk in to see some fuzz beginning to grow on Anne’s head! We talked about how difficult it is for her to be home most of the day. We joked about the old Alfred Hitchcock movie “Rear Window” where the homebound main character begins to make up stories about his neighbors. We talked about “chemo brain” which is a somewhat unexplained side effect that makes it difficult to remember/recall. We talked about her favorite doctor and how much she appreciates his low-key attitude. If he’s not acting worried, she’s not worried. Lastly, we talked about her son. He is going on a trip this summer. Anne is worried that he will worry while he is away. She just wants him to enjoy being a teenager.
June 19: Anne and her mother-in-law had pedicures. Her color of choice this time was “Summer Sangria.” Anne shared her story with another customer whose mother had battled ovarian cancer. As the woman left, she told Anne that she was paying for both Anne’s and her mother-in-law’s pedicures. Anne continues to be humbled by the outpouring of kindness of complete strangers.
June 20: Anne is having her next tattoo designed. I went with Anne and her niece to see the first draft of the design. It looks perfect!
On the way there, we talked about a friend of Anne’s that was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Anne put together a “survival bag” for her with things you may not think you need to cope with the side effects to include kids toothpaste and toothbrush. She also included a letter saying she just needs to take one step each day. Some days it looks more like a shuffle, but it is forward progress.
June 21: Since the beginning, Anne has explained to me that she tries not to “go down the rabbit hole” of what-if’s, however, this day got the better of her. After posting on Facebook “I may seem strong, but I feel like most days I’m just faking it,” Anne was overwhelmed with comments and messages sending encouragement. This fight will take a village, and Anne’s village is more than prepared to do their part.
June 22: There is nothing like a quick visit with your sister to raise your spirits. Before going to chemo, they found some delicious treats at two local restaurants. At chemo, Anne got good news. She had gained back ten pounds. and her white blood cell count was overachieving. You may recall: Anne receives a shot of Neulasta a couple days after chemo to help boost her white blood cells because they are susceptible to the chemo and are necessary to fight infection. She will not need that shot this time.
June 23-30: With Anne’s mother-in-law returning home for the summer, Anne is not able to rest as much. She was able to drive herself to the hospital for some bloodwork to prepare for her next check-up with her doctor, lymphatic massage, complete paperwork for her son’s activities, some housework, have some bunny visits, and even a small workout. It sounds like a lot, but as I said before Anne is now very strategic with her time and energy so she does not overdo it. Anne’s village continued to support her as they participated in Relay for Life.
While the following quote has been used in times of disaster, I feel it very fitting for where Anne is at right now. What she is facing is very scary.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” -Fred Rogers
This month, Anne was reminded time and time again that she is not alone in this fight. While the journey is getting harder, she is relying on her village more and more. She needs their prayers and words of encouragements. She needs lunch dates, outings, and just a phone call to remind her she is more than her diagnosis. She sees her village extends beyond her family and friends to her care team and strangers.
Music is a big part of Anne’s life. You will not find her at an appointment without her iPod. On her current playlist:
Follow Anne’s Journey with LMS
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