Thursday, August 29, 2013

One Cycle

Today is the last day of my first cycle of Xeloda. Hip, hip, hooray!!! After tonight's dose, I get a week to let my body rest. I can't believe how quickly two weeks passed. I kept waiting for this moment so that, hopefully, I could feel a little more normal again. Maybe I can bake?

The first week was filled with nausea and great fatigue. I just wanted to sleep to forget about the nausea and sleep to sleep.

The second week was a lot better.

Nausea. I kept craving meat. As I filled my stomach with more red meat, the nausea seemed to get better. There were two times when I ate meat and I, literally, felt my eyes brighten. Brighten like Jonathan (King Saul's son), when he ate honey when he didn't know he was not supposed to.  The ginger candy also seems to help. Oh yeah, and I gained 4 pounds. When I find something that I can eat, I stuff my face to get rid of the nausea. Not good.

Morning sickness-likeness. Make sense. Cannot tolerate strong tastes or smells. Right now, I don't even like the smell of rice cooking. Or garlic, cilantro, Korean food, water. Ok, water doesn't have a taste but it reminds me of the meds that I have to take which makes me queasy which makes me want to not drink it even though I have to. I have to pray a lot and psych myself out before I eat.

Fatigue. The fatigue is still with me but it is so much better than dealing with the nausea. There are times when I have to support my head in my hands, slur some words, or not talk at all. I learned that it takes a lot of energy to yell up the stairs for your children to come downstairs, so I don't do it. It also might not help that I keep waking up in the middle of the night. A lot, lot. Don't know why. It just happens. Pray that I can have restful sleep.

Feeling radioactive. Okay, maybe not radioactive, but having extreme hot flashes. They come and they go. It is way worse than my menopause hot flashes. I feel like I am building up in radioactive energy and just might glow in the dark. Maybe I watched too many Avenger cartoons?

Fingers and feet. There is also this thing with my fingers and bottoms of my feet. My fingers and feet get these little "needle-poke-like" feelings when I press on them. It's as if there are little needles all around. You might be saying, "Well, stop pressing on them!" It ain't easy! Living life, you have to press, in order, to open or do anything. Even when I wash my hands, I try not to rub too hard. Also, another reason for my radioactive theory is that my hands and feet are warm. Sometimes hot. This is extremely unusual for a woman who had hands and feet made of ice bricks.

Brown spots. I didn't realize that when you take any type of chemo drug, you have to stay out of the sun. I put on spf and try to stay out of the sun, but there are times when it can't be avoided (in the car). I recently noticed more spotting on my face. Those of you that are young, you'll understand when you're older. Be thankful.

Cold. I am always in fleece or a sweater. I walked out in the 90 degree weather and sighed in relief. It was just right for me. I shudder to think about winter. Oh yeah, I also caught a cold. Don't know how, don't know where, but I have a cold. Last night, we also realized that A2 has a fever and swollen lymph nodes! Please pray!

But, overall, the second week has been so much better. Thank you so much for all of your prayers! I truly feel that God has been answering your prayers for me!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

He's Been Faithful

As I got ready to go to bed, this song kept going through my mind. This joy, renewed hope, and excitement kept springing up inside of my heart. I was reminded of a truth that I could never deny: He's been faithful to me. At times, I have been faithless, but throughout, He has stayed by my side. 

My prayer is that all of you will see what a good and faithful God He really is. It is not about what other Christians have done or not done. It is about Him. Him alone. Have you read the Bible lately Have you read about who Jesus really is? Start with the book of John and see for yourself. 

He is gentle. He is strong. He is kind. He is passionate. He is full of grace and truth. He is faithful. 

Have a blessed Sunday!

by AGCChurch

Friday, August 23, 2013

One Week With My Friend, Xeloda

Last Friday I started taking my oral chemo drugs. I take three pills in the morning and three at night. I have to take the Xeloda for a two week period and then let my body rest for the third week. This will happen for three cycles which total nine weeks. In order to not touch the pills, I use a small spoon to pick up the pills and deliver them into my mouth. Now, I can swallow all three in one gulp.

The first day wasn't so bad. I kept expecting the sky to fall on me. I did feel this weird feeling in my stomach and hands, but I started to second guess myself and wonder if it was psychological. When nothing really happened, I started to feel guilty for not having any side effects. Guilty to all those people who have endured aggressive chemotherapy.

Then Saturday came around. That is when the nausea and this burning sensation at the back of my throat hit me. Thankfully, I didn't throw up. It would be tragic for all that lethal medicine to come back up. It felt like I might feel better if I threw up, but in this situation it would make things a lot more complicated.

It has been a week since I started the Xeloda and here is what I learned:

  1. I can be such a baby. I will not lie, I lost it a few times during the nausea.
  2. When you're body tells you something (in terms of cravings), you should listen. My body kept wanting meat, and last night I think I figured out why. Yes, my body needs the protein, but something else. Plain and simple: meat takes a few days to "rot" in your stomach. Just the way it is. Having that "something" in your stomach keeps you from the stronger nausea that comes from not having anything in your stomach.
  3. Real ginger candy helps with the nausea. Never thought that I would enjoy eating ginger candy. All Korean Americans have a story or two of biting into a chunk of ginger in their kimchi. Not pleasant. But, I feel a whole lot better eating the candy with the bite than eating the antipsychotic, schizophrenia drug the doctor prescribed for the nausea.
  4. Your body gets super tired so you need to rest. When your feet start to shuffle rather than walk, it is time to rest. When you start slurring your words, it is time to rest. When your eyes are ready to close, it is time to rest. 
  5. Stay away from dairy and acidic foods. Gotta keep the stomach happy.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


I had to take A1 to the doctor on Wednesday. He has a virus and some of his insect bites (that were blisters) had become infected. As a result, he started taking antibiotics.

My body has been fighting something also. I still don't feel 100% so I called the oncologist office about it. The nurse said that I could wait another day before taking the Xeloda. Hopefully, I will be starting the Xeloda on Friday.

God has been working a lot of exciting, unexpected things in our lives. I will write about them later, and my spirit keeps singing that His "grace is enough!"

by Charlesc28

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Reflections From the Oncologist Office Waiting Room

The oncology office was bustling when I went in. To avoid the crowd, I chose a seat facing the window-wall. I love those kind of walls. You know, the kind of walls that aren't really walls but are all glass. I guess it technically is a wall but you know what I mean!

It was a beautiful day. On my drive to the hospital, I had to keep myself from driving off the highway because I kept wanting to stare at the clouds. I love staring at the clouds. They are so grand and beautiful and fluffy! The clouds were exceptionally brilliant against the blue sky!

As I drove on the highway, I felt like the clouds (which covered the horizon) were all leading me to a spectacular, heavenly place. It felt as if they were all pointing to one place. Don't know if that makes sense, but it was exciting to me. Calming.

I had to sit in the waiting room for quite a long time, but I enjoyed just staring at the sky. The clouds were so white and the sky was so blue. And, it was one of those days where the clouds were moving so quickly.

During this time of solitude, I felt as if God spoke to my heart. He was reminding me of the things that I could be thankful for:

*that my breast cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes*
(where others have had to have their lymph nodes removed and suffer the effects)

*that I had hormone therapy*
(where others have had to have radiation/chemo)

*that I could have oral chemotherapy*
(where others have had to have surgery to have ports put into their bodies for intravenous chemo)

*that I have hair*
(where others have lost all of theirs)

When I saw Dr. K, she gave me a hug. I could feel her care and concern. She went over the Xeloda with me. I will be going through 3 rounds of this medicine. Two weeks of medicine and one week off (to give my body time to recuperate before the next round), and so forth. Dr. K actually told me of another patient who was on the same drug and was running a daycare. I was like, "Say what?" She said that that woman was experiencing minimal side effects. Amazing!

The nurse that is assigned to me explained the common side effects and the procedure for taking the medicine. It was a bit overwhelming, but I have a booklet to go over at home. The most common side effects:

1. diarrhea
2. hand-and-foot syndrome
3. nausea
4. throwing up
5. sores in the mouth
6. fever

One of the pamphlets also said that dizziness was a side effect. That brought back horrifying memories of my morphine reaction. Yikes! 

There are different medications to take along with certain side effects. I am not too excited about taking more drugs to help me take my drugs, but if they help... 

Fear still looms around me. Fear of the unknown. Fear of what types of side effects I might experience. In my experience, I experience a lot of side effects. But, I know a lot of people are praying for me! Pray, people, pray! Please!

Please also pray that I will be 100% when I start taking the Xeloda on Thursday. I haven't been feeling myself since Monday. I had a queasy stomach, chills, hot flashes, achey body... When I got back from the doctor, I found that A1 had a fever and chills. Not a good situation. 

Oh yeah, one more thing to be thankful for: no hair loss!

Monday, August 12, 2013

My Prognosis

Before leaving for Panama, I had to have another round of CT and bone scans. It was the usual scans that I have every three months. I had mentioned that some of my blood levels were going up and were unexplained. If nothing came out on the scans, Dr. K wanted to have some other tests done.

Well, I got a call the day of my scans. Dr. K had gotten the results. She needed to get in contact with me because she would be gone for two weeks. My cancer had spread to my liver. There were spots on my liver that had not been there before. She ordered a CT-guided biopsy.

The week before leaving for Panama, I had to go in for a CT-guided biopsy of my liver. They sedate you with "twilight" anesthesia. You are out but they can ask you to do different things and you can respond. Then using the CT, they guide a needle to a specific area to get a sample of the cancer.

For my first CT-guided biopsy (of the cancer in my spine/hips), I was knocked out and could not remember anything. For this biopsy, I remember waking up a few times and looking at the doctor. He was guiding the needle into those spots on my liver. He said something and then I felt a jabbing pain. It hurt. I was in and out of consciousness. I kept hoping that I wouldn't wake up or remember anything. I do remember.

It took two hours for me to wake up from the sedation. I felt achey - your liver is on your right side under the rib cage. Thankfully, they didn't have to go between my ribs to get to my liver. If that had happened, recovery would have taken longer.

Now what?

Tomorrow, I will be going to see my oncologist. She wants to start oral chemo with a drug called Xeloda. My close friend has gone through chemo and she said that the oral type is a lot better than the intravenous kind. Very thankful for that.

I was grocery shopping when I got a call from the pharmaceutical company that is shipping the Xeloda to me. It was a bit scary. For example, they said that it is ok for me to handle the medicine because I will be taking it. But, if someone else has to handle it for me, they have to wear gloves. There is nausea, mouth sores, hand/foot syndrome, lowered immune system...

Am I afraid? Hello......... I would be lying if I said I wasn't.

Please pray for me. Also for my family. They have to watch me and take up the slack for what I can't do for them.

What Not to Say

A week before we left for Panama, we visited a samonim (pastor's wife) that we know. She had endured a grueling year of aggressive chemotherapy. I believe that her husband had said that the doctors had switched her treatment 8 or so times because her cancer was so aggressive.

We went to visit her because she had been admitted to a hospice. Patients enter a hospice when there are no more treatments available and when it is too difficult to take care of the patient at home. She had endured all that she could and was now awaiting her entrance into her eternal home.

It was not easy seeing her. We had seen her before going to Kona and she had been full of strength. She even taught me how to make this awesome kale/tomato soup. Entering her room, we saw that her cancer treatments had taken all strength, fat, and muscle from her body.

Someone else came a few minutes after we had. They brought two women who were strangers to the samonim. They said that she needed to eat. Had Samonim not been trying to for the past two months? They told us not to cry when we were praying for the samonim. Should we not be able to express our love for her in this way, especially after all the pain she had endured? They told her that she was going to hop out of bed soon... if she took a certain supplement. Yes, that is what they said.

I wanted to yell, "Get out of here!" But, I stayed quiet out of respect to the person that had brought these women. At the end, there was even, "If you order right now, they can send it to you by tomorrow for a $70 charge." The moksanim (pastor) and samonim were desperate. The person was persuasive. A lot of money went out for those supplements.

As we went to our car, I told my husband:

1. I was angry at those women for offering such false hope. Those supplements couldn't guarantee anything. Jesus is our only hope. Our eternal hope. The only One who can comfort in these types of situations.

2. If I am ever in hospice care, I do not want strangers to come into my room. I want people who knew me and loved me to surround me.

There is a time for everything. When you go into such a situation, be Jesus' hands, feet, and mouth. Comfort. Pray. Listen.

Samonim passed away into eternal glory that Saturday.

We were so thankful that we could go to her funeral the day before we left for Panama. We took our children because they knew her. I have written about this before. I do not want to shield them from this reality: life and death are a part of living in this world. But, we are so thankful that this is not all there is.

When we accept Jesus into our hearts, we have an eternal home. We are sad because we won't see her in this world anymore, but we know that we will see her again one day. Her two daughters praised their mother for teaching them about establishing a sure foundation in Jesus. They were devastated by the loss of their mother, but they knew that they would see her again.

All I could do, was pray for Samonim's husband and daughters and say, "The Lord comfort you."