Monday, July 31, 2006

7/31/06 Chemo #2 day 6- Hard days

Dear friends,
I am in the thick of the effects of the chemo these days. I went to church yesterday and haven’t been able to do much of anything else since. I think the Neupugen shots are taking effect. Dr. Bourg told me they would make my bones hurt as the white cells are stimulated to grow. That seems to be happening. I actually gave myself my shots at home on Friday and Saturday evenings- I was really proud of myself since I am kind of phobic of needles. Laura was there to give me support and to make sure I did it correctly. Yesterday my neighbor, Lisa, who is a nurse, did it for me. That was so much easier. She is planning to do it today too.
My digestion is unsteady. Now I am also dealing with some sores on my head. I would appreciate your prayers that I don’t get any infections. I feel achy and headachy but don’t have a fever. An infection could be serious, so please pray that I wouldn’t get sick. My white count was up to 5.5 last week before chemo, and it will be checked again this Wednesday. Then they will tell me whether to keep doing the Neupugen shots. If my white count is up enough, I won’t have to do them for the week. I can hope and we can pray, right?
This is one of those times when I am feeling too tired and sore to do much thinking. I appreciate your prayers on these hard days. The Lord is my sustenance. I am just holding on. I was able to get our newsletter out last Friday with the help of my daughters. They have been such a huge help and comfort. Jesse went camping over the weekend with his friend’s family, and Jenni left for El Salvador where she is now. We were given tickets to the Rockies game last Saturday night by our friend, Andrew who is a DU student from Taiwan who is interning with them. We had a nice time and enjoyed the game. We are blessed with such wonderful friends and family. I will let you know how my counts go. Blessings- Nancy

Friday, July 28, 2006

Laura spent the day with me on Wednesday when I went for my second chemotherapy treatment. It is nice to go with someone you know well who feel comfortable with. Laura was perfect to spend that long day with. Thanks Laura! I'm a pretty blessed mom!

Chemo #2 of 5 is done!

Dear friends,
I went Wednesday the 26th for my second infusion of chemo. Laura went with me for the marathon. We got there a 9:30, hooked up my port, drew my blood to check my levels. Then we waited an hour for those results to come back and then met with my oncologist for half and hour.
He decided that we will plan for 5 cycles of chemo altogether, 3 weeks apart. So my next 3 are scheduled for August 15th, September 5th, and September 26th. Then I have 3 weeks to recover from that last chemo before beginning radiation treatments. That regimen will be determined by a radiation oncologist. I have to make an appointment and go see him sometime soon to get that ball rolling. He is a whole separate kind of doctor I have never seen before.
Dr. Bourg, my oncologist, told me that my first round of chemo knocked my while count levels low enough that I was on the brink of needing to do Neupogen shots this time. He is upping the amount of the Cytoxin chemo by 20% (from 500-600 -cc’s I think), so this time he sent me home with Neupogen shots and the nurses taught Laura and me how to do them. I am beginning that tonight. That will help increase my white cell count and hopefully keep me from getting any “life threatening infections” along the way. We also talked about all the headaches I have had since my 1st chemo and he switched me to a different anti-nausea medicine that doesn’t list headaches as a possible side effect. Hiccups was on the list, but I think I could handle that better. So far it has been MUCH better in that regard. The headaches have been controlable so far.
Chemo started at about 11:15 or so and we finished at 3:00. They put the Taxitere in more slowly as it caused me to get the shakes this time and can cause allergic reactions. They also put the Cytoxin in more slowly to avoid the headache problem I had last time. I began to get one but it subsided with some pain meds I took for it as it was going in. So it took a lot more time, but I didn’t feel as badly as last time.
I was actually up all day yesterday (Thursday) writing our prayer letter. I didn’t feel great, but didn’t feel like I had to lay down either. So the combo of doing the chemos more slowly and the new anti-nausea stuff seems to have made a difference. I am so grateful!
I went to the office this morning and am back home now. I feel the day 3 & 4 Taxitere muscle aches heading my way. The Neupogen is supposed to cause bone pain, as that is where the white cells will be growing. I have had some new nerve pain starting from the Taxitere, but it is intermittent and not too bad. He said that would probably increase as the treatments go on and would be worse for the 2 months after chemo is finished. But we can pray for those side effects to be minimal.
My sister-in-law, Shelby called to give me Psalm 34 while we were waiting for the doctor and it was perfect. Other books, cards and verses others have sent my way are also really hitting home and are confirming and solidifying my trust not only in God, but in His consistent loving character. We are never promised an easy life. And in the hard times, all the aspects of our ability to trust Him are activated. It is a privilege to experience Him in these intimate ways. Fellowshipping with Him in His sufferings is something hard to describe, but when you go through it, I think you can agree, it adds a new dimension to your faith. I hope you can experience some of it with me during this time if you haven't experienced it yourself.
May God bless your day and give you the ability to spot and bless someone in His name- Nancy Fritz

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

This is my friend Lisa Horn. She is a close friend and prayer partner. Every time I have surgery or chemo, she brings me flowers. Since she is in a seminary class this week, she brought them on Sunday. God has given me incredible friends! Thanks Lisa!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Chemo # 2 Tomorrow

Chemo # 2 Tomorrow
Hello all,
It is the evening before my second chemo and I am trying to finish up things that take concentration and/or energy. Tomorrow my doctor plans to give me a larger dose of one of the chemo drugs- Taxitere. Laura, our 21 year old daughter, plans to go with me. We check in at 9:30, have my blood drawn through my port (for which I am still VERY thankful!), see the oncologist at 10-10:30 and then start chemo between 10:30 and 11:00 a.m. The pre-medications took about an hour last time, then Taxitere for an hour and then Cytoxin for 45 minutes with saline to clean things out in between. So we will hopefully be done by around 2 p.m. and home by 2:30-3:00. My white count got low, but not low enough for me to have shots to boost my white count. I haven’t felt great but have done pretty well since the first week.
I should find out tomorrow how many doses I will have. My doctor was researching to see if I should do 4 or 6 cycles- every 3 weeks. Again I would ask you to pray for minimal side effects, and that these medicines will kill any cancer cells that are loose in my body looking for a place to take root and grow. We have a big God and He can surely do this. Pray for me to stay healthy otherwise and for everyone in our family to stay healthy. Greg has a sore swollen gland in his neck today we are keeping an eye on.
Yesterday a place opened up on a team from our church going back to the children’s home in El Salvador we went to last summer. Several from our small group families are going again. The money for this ticket has already been raised, and our 17 year old daughter, Jenni, was asked to go with them. She/we prayed about it overnight and feel that since she has already been there, knows many on the team and at the home, has a valid passport and innoculations, knows some Spanish, can lead worship and has a flexible schedule, we decided to let her go. We feel a peace about it. She filled in all the paperwork and turned it in this morning. They are scheduled to go on Saturday morning 7/29, and return on the following Saturday night. We would really appreciate your prayers for them. And thank you for praying for us through this next cycle. Laura or I will let you know as soon as we can how it goes tomorrow. God bless you! Nancy

Friday, July 21, 2006

See description below. Also today was the first day I wore my wig to work and many didn't recognize me! Many also said maybe I should do my hair this way all the time, they like it so much. Nice compliments which give me confidence.

It's in the bag!

This is a picture of me with Allison the other night. The bag contains most of my hair and the scarf is very soft cotton. That is nice since my scalp is still tender. I will be happy to not have to clean up hair anymore. (That is one reason we only have pet fish.) Greg comes home from CA where our board meeting and large conference are tomorrow. Jenni gets home too. Laura is really getting a good idea of what life is like in DC so she can pursue job options there if she wants to for after graduation. She'll be home Sunday. I was grateful to get a headache under control yesterday before it go too bad. Thanks for praying!
God Bless YOU!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Going, Going Gone! My hair that is...

July 18, 2006
Dear friends,
A friend asked last week how I am doing other than physically. I thought it might be good to share that here. Some of you might have either been through this kind of treatment for cancer, might be going through it now, or might know someone who has. I have to say right off the bat that I am in a support group with 30-40 other women who share my history of breast cancer. We are sisters who have a special bond. Some from our group have already gone before us to be with the Lord. If that is true for you, what I tell you about my experience is something you can relate to. To those of you who are being exposed to all of this through my experience, please know that every situation is different, and some are much harder than mine. I have many heros from my Friends For Life support group and others I know from elsewhere who have been, or are in, similar or rougher waters than I am. I pray for them like you are praying for me. My hope is that with my ongoing story I can share with you what this experience is like, how to pray for me or others you know who are going through this, and so that we can all know God’s presence and love more deeply.
As to how I am handling this other than physically…I am feeling a little torn. At first when I heard my cancer was back, I thought about how there are some things I need to get done in case my time is short. Letters for my kids, people I need to talk to about important things, get my life really organized, spend lots of time spiritually preparing, etc. Then my doctor told me that my prognosis is hopeful and that I have an 85% chance of living at least 2 to 3 years, and I felt like there is less of an urgency for me to do all of those things.
Now the tension I feel is whether to do those things that have a more long term, extremely important value, verses going back to just living day to day like I did before on the days I am feeling better. After all, maybe I will be around for a long time to come and can think about this if I ever have another recurrence. BUT, I think the things I want to do could take a lot of time, and I probably should be doing them anyway. Pray that I would have balance and discipline to use these unique days of down time the way that will honor God the most. I have permission to not be doing a lot of my usual stuff right now, so I think I need to be a good steward of this time. I can relax, rest when I need to, and “be” more than “do” for now. I need to keep the stress down (according to my doctor), and I think I can find a balance as I navigate through this time as you pray for me. Some days just watching a movie or old Dick Van Dyke shows was all I could do. We are taking it day by day.
My hair is really falling out today. It is about 1/3 to ½ gone. I figured that I have been through this before and it wouldn’t really bother me. I think about how grateful I am to be looking across the room at my very cute wig and a few nice hats and scarves which were provided by some of you giving toward extra medical expenses. I will save a lot of time in hair care in the next 8 months or so. But it is strange to have your hair fall out just the same. My scalp is itchy and sore- it feels like when you let down a ponytail and your scalp feels weird while your hair is getting used to the new direction- only amplified. It was hard to sleep last night because of this. I am trying not to touch it much as every time I do, more comes out. I was at the chiropractor today and she massaged my head to help with my headache and lots of hair came out as a result. So it is an adjustment. I’m not crying, just pensive.
How I’m doing physically…For a week after my first chemo, I was really not able to do much of anything. I felt too tired and sick to do much of anything on my “important” list. I have felt very much better since last Thursday, and have felt up to around 80% of normal. My major current health problem is headaches. I am only able to take Tylenol which doesn’t work very well for me. So far, this has only been debilitating for a few half days. Today was one of them. Going to my chiropractor regularly has really helped. She is letting me come as often as I can at no charge and says it is her unique way of helping me. Others have made meals and done other things, and this is her way to bless me. It is beautiful how God is using the Body to bless us through this experience. It is a rich time for us.
I went to my doctor for bio-meridian testing today. Connie spent almost 2 hours with me and we worked out a plan to help my body stay strong during chemo. I came home with some extra supplements and homeopathics which she tested me for specifically. So I know they will work optimally for me. The testing revealed that even with all I have been through with surgery and chemo, etc., my body is doing very well. I am still healthier now than I was when I first went there last September. I also got to talk to Dr. Choi who gave me the information I needed about issues of long term treatment with hormone therapy, etc. That was excellent and very helpful. I now know what questions to ask and what steps to take. She has the double wisdom of being a gynecologist as well as very informed about nutrition and natural medicine. I again feel blessed to be able to see her. I think it will make chemo much less devastating to my body- hopefully with less long-term side effects. I couldn’t have gone without the special medical money many of you sent, so thank you so much for that if you were one of those who helped in that way!
I am having some muscle and nerve cramping and tingling, but not too bad. That is one of the Taxitere side effects they told me to expect. It accumulates over the duration of treatment. My digestion is doing much better. I have 7 days before my next chemo (I am not looking forward to that!) and blood work tomorrow to check my levels. If they are OK I will not need to give myself shots to build up my white count. My next door neighbor is a nurse and is willing to do them for me if I need them.
I believe that Tim (HR Director at Caleb Project/new org) has fixed it so we can stay with our current Kaiser health insurance HMO for the duration of my treatment- maybe for this entire next year. He is working hard on finding the right set up for the new org. It is a complicated situation. So I will be able to stay with my doctors and am very grateful. . Thank you for praying about this. Again-God at work.
Jesse is healing up from his wisdom teeth extraction really well. Laura is in Washington, D.C. looking into jobs for after graduation in Dec. Jenni is in Tennessee for a huge youth conference. Greg left today for California where he is until Saturday for the new organization’s first board meeting. I think this is the first board meeting I have ever missed in 20 years. I usually do the food for them and really enjoy being with them twice a year. Greg will also attend the ACMC national conference (now it is the new org’s conference). Greg will address the whole conference on Thursday night. Allison is working hard babysitting daily and just did 10 days with the 2 girls while their parents were in Greece.
I was hoping to make this shorter and do more entries, but have been tired and the days have rolled by. Thank you for sticking with me/us and caring enough to check the blog. I am grateful for such wonderful friends! God bless you!
Nancy Fritz

Like this wig?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

July 13, 2006

Dear friends,

I will post this on the blog where there may be a picture to look at too. Go to this address to see all of the updates so far if you are interested: It works just like a web site, so if you can get online, it should pop up for you.

This is day 8 since my first chemo. I wrote a long email about that last week, so I will just let you know how the week has gone. I felt sick last Wed. and Thursday in a fluish way. Headachy and just crummy. I basically stayed close to my bed. Friday morning I went to Caleb Project's staff meeting and did a few things, but faded fast after lunchtime. Muscle and joint aches set in, which increased and lasted until Monday when they began to taper down bit by bit. I was constipated until Monday and then had the opposite problem until last night. I lost 5 pounds this week. The weight is beginning to come back on. I have had a few very bad headaches for which I am not allowed to take my usual aspirin products due to chemo causing low platelets. Saturday was particularly bad with a headache gone crazy. In the evening I was sick to my stomach, but that was the only time, and I think it was due to the headache.

Jesse had his 4 wisdom teeth pulled on Tuesday afternoon. He has done pretty well and isn't too swollen. He drove there and I drove him home. We both slept when we got back.

Today I got my counts back and they are in the "normal first week of chemo" window. My white count is 2.0, which the nurse said they expected. If it is still that low next week I will need to do shots to help bring that count back up. I am getting some sores in my mouth today which didn't happen last time I had chemo, so I picked up a prescription today for a special mouthwash to help that heal. Even something as small as that could cause me to miss my next chemo or could cause an infection. These are the days when I need to be really careful to stay away from germs. There are MANY things I am supposed to watch for and call the doctor if any of them show up.

I plan pick up my wig probably on Saturday. My hair is starting to fall out more than usual today and it feels very straw-like and dry. My head itches. I probably still have about a week until I have to wear my wig or a hat.

It has been a long week. I feel like I am feeling up to about 70-75% today and got away with just a nap which is great. I think this gives me an idea of what to expect the other cycles. I expect to have at least 3 more cycles 3 weeks apart. My next chemo was going to be on the 25th of July, but they called to ask me to do it on the 26th instead as my own oncologist really wants to see me that day and has no time on the 25th. He told me he plans to up my dose of chemo next time, so I may have more side effects. I know your prayers make a difference and I treasure you lifting us up to the throne. Your emails, cards, meals and encouragement has meant a great deal to us. Thank you all!

May the Lord bless you richly-
Nancy Fritz

Saturday, July 08, 2006

7/8 Chemo #1 Day 4

Dear friends, Several friends have brought the greatest meals to us these evenings and it has been a huge blessing. I have been able to eat without having to worry about cooking which has helped tremendously. I have been feeling like I have the flu for the last two days. Mostly achy and tired with a very bad headache thrown in. I have only been sick to my stomach tonight, but I think that is due to my headache. I have to be careful what I take for a headache as my platelets are expected to drop due to the chemo drugs I was given. Aspirin isn't allowed during chemo as a result. I'd appreciate prayer that we could get my headache under control. Please continue to pray for the complete healing where those 2 teeth were pulled 2 1/2 weeks ago. My white count is going down and that area isn't completely closed up. They told me I might have aches and pains on days 3 and 4, so maybe now that will let up- now that 4 days are almost over. Thank you for praying! I am hoping to go to church in the morning, but I'll have to see how I'm doing. I continue to be grateful for your love, concern and prayers. Blessings- Nancy

Thursday, July 06, 2006

July 6th- the day after chemo #1 update

Thank you all for praying for me. I haven't been sick to my stomach at all and had a pretty good morning. I started to feel less good in the afternoon and feel pretty "chemo-y" tonight and will turn in early. It is only 1/2 to 2/3's as bad as 7 years ago, so that is a real praise. Your prayers are a treasure to me and us. God bless you! Nancy

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Today at my first chemo infusion 7/5/06

Janet and I have been friends for about 15 years. We went to El Salvador together last summer and have been in small groups together. She is a PA and listened and took notes today with medical ears which was a great help. We thought we would be there from 9 until 12:30 and ended up not leaving until 3:00. Thanks Janet, for driving and spending the day with me! Thanks Lord, for giving me friends like Janet.

First chemo done!

July 5th, 2006 7:00 p.m.
Dear friends,

I am home now and thought I would give you a report on how today went since you prayed and so you will know how to keep praying. I am also posting this on my Blog site: with a few other recent updates. There are some pictures there too. Feel free to check the blog for updates. I will put information there at least weekly or when there are new things to share.

I was with my oncologist from 9 to 10 this morning, had orientation and then chemo took from 11:00 until 3:00. I had 1 hour of pre-meds (3 kinds of anti-nausea meds), 1 hour of Taxotere, 1/2 hour of Cytoxin and then more saline to wash it all down. My port worked like a dream and I could hardly even feel her putting the needle in and taking it out. We didn't do the numbing cream on the port this time, but it hurt so little, I don't think I even need to in the future. My nurse, Kally, was very pleased with how well the port worked. She was great and took great care of me.

I haven't thrown up but feel like I might and generally feel pretty awful. I have a headache (which is getting manageable due to medicine I just took) and am achy. The oncologist just called about 5:00 and said I am to call him if I do throw up as there is other medicine they can still give me. He said he will be watching my white counts closely. I am supposed to get blood drawn weekly. My next chemo will be on Tuesday mid-morning, July 25th, and probably on Tuesdays for the remainder of my chemos. He will see how I do with white counts before we decide whether to do four or six cycles. He is also still researching this for me specifically.

They were just wonderful. The new oncology area at Kaiser (since last time for me) is beautiful and you can see the entire skyline of Denver out the window. The chairs are new and very comfortable. The whole experience was done so very well. Having my friend who is a PA go along was a great asset. She asked great questions and remembered things I didn't. We listened to part of a wonderful teaching on her i-pod until I got sleepy and napped due to the Benedril I was given for anti-nausea before the chemo was started.

So thanks for praying for me. Our missions pastor and his wife brought dinner tonight. He will be having prostate cancer surgery on the 11th. We had prayer together before they left. I told my nurse today that I doubt there was ever anyone with a better support system than mine, and it is true! I thank God for all of you. What a treasure to be going through this with so many praying for me and loving me. Some have woken up during the night praying, are bringing meals this week, have sent encouraging notes, cards and flowers. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9.) I feel weak today, but He is sufficient. God bless YOU!


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Chemo tomorrow 7/5/06

Dear friends, I want to thank you all for your prayers and the love you have expressed to me and my family over these weeks. I went today with my 3 daughters and a friend and her daughter. (See the picture below.) I will put a picture of me here with my wig on once I start wearing it. Tomorrow is my scheduled first chemotherapy treatment. I am going with a friend who is a PA. We will see my oncologist at 9:00 and then the infusion is supposed to start at 9:30 and last about 3 hours. Janet and I are bringing a CD teaching to listen to together. Last time I had adriamiacin/cytoxin together and this time I am supposed to have taxitere/cytoxin. I know the side effects I had last time, but don't know which ones were from the cytoxin. I am healthier this time than last time due to all the nutrition stuff I have worked on this year. My two teeth were pulled 2 weeks ago and that is healing up OK. My surgery area is gradually healing too. I think that is doing pretty well. I can get my arm over my head which is important. I have been stretching it every day. My port is tender if I move certain ways but otherwise it is fine. So I think I am ready to go. I would appreciate your prayer for no allergic reactions, for little to no side effects and for the chemo to do its job in killing any cancer cells that are in my body. Pray that my mouth and surgical sights would continue to heal. Thank you for your love and concern and for coming before the throne of God on my behalf. I am so blessed! I will let you know how I'm doing again as soon as I am able.

Family Picture

At your request, here is a picture of our family, taken in December. Jesse is at the top, Greg and Nancy in the middle, and then Allison, Jenni, and Laura in the front row. We live in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

Laura is now 21 and is preparing to graduate with an Entrepreneurship degree from Grove City College in Pennsylvania in December. Allison is 20, studying Elementary Education at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida. Jenni is 17 and will be a senior in high school this year and Jesse is 15 and will be a sophomore.
Well, today we had our visit to Linda's Boutique to pick out a wig for me. My lovely daughters, Jenni, Laura and Allison finally have matching hair so you can tell they are sisters! Aren't they cute?