Thursday, September 28, 2006

Here was the view from where we sat this time. Not bad. There was even snow on the mountains this time and a bright clear day to enjoy seeing them!
This is Kally. She did my first and 4th chemos. All of the nurses who work there were just great. They had to do about 20 things to make every session work as they switched the bags of medicines and chemos, set the timers on the infusions, ran saline in between, accessed my port and cleaned it afterward. I am sure they put miles on during the day. They have many patients going at a time all day and have to keep everyone strait. They are so optimistic and sweet. Since it was my last time, at the end, they all gathered around and sang to me, “Hit the road, Jack! Don’t want to see you come around here no more, no more! Hit the road Jack!” They blew bubbles and gave me a card they had all signed, and gave me hugs. It was a very nice send off. I am grateful I had such a nice place to go for those 5 long days.
My friend and mentor, Jeannie Dougherty was able to go with me to my last chemo on Tuesday this week. We have been friends for 15 years. I had prayed for 5 years for God to give me just the perfect mentor. After we moved to Denver, Jeannie and I found each other to be soul mates and have been meeting regularly together ever since. She is 10 years my senior, and has been involved in similar ministry with a husband who is also a leader. It is a match made it heaven. It was so special to have her there to share my last visit to that room- hopefully forever to actually get chemo. I may go back in to visit the nurses. They want to see my hair when it grows back in.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Chemo #5 was today- I'M DONE

Dear friends,
I wrote an update before leaving this morning and apparently it didn't post here for you. I left before I made sure it worked. Here is the latest...
I was told my ALT liver count was high last week and I asked you to pray. It was supposed to be 5-50 and was 204 last Tuesday. Yesterday's lab work, which the oncologist gave me this morning, had that number at 109. My AST liver count was supposed to be between5-40. Last week it was 84 and today was44. I would say that is reason to praise God. We prayed and it definitely improved.
Even with these numbers, my doctor said he didn't know if we could do chemo today. The pharmacist might not allow it due to the fact that the Taxitere chemo was apparently not leaving my body quickly enough, straining my liver, and doing it again would put even further stress on my liver.
So, after they consulted for a while, they decided that since all my liver counts weren't elevated, he was going to allow me to have chemo today. I told him that since so many people were praying that I would be able to have chemo today, chances were slim that I wouldn't be able to. I told him we won! He said that was a good thing! He was all for that!
I will have to have blood work done weekly for the next month so he can make sure I am OK. I told him about doing milk thistle supplements for 4 days and he said he had heard that was good for your liver. I will keep doing that and also do another supplement my nutrition doctor asked me to do for liver. SO, God answered our prayers. I also never got that cold. Although sore, I had quite a bit of energy over the weekend- a huge contrast to 7 years ago and another answer to prayer.
Today chemo was given through my port from 11:30 until 3:15. I slept for almost 2 hours of it due to the specific drugs. Jeannie and I had a nice visit before and after my nap. The Taxitere went in for over an hour which is causing extra side effects tonight. I feel fluish without the nausea. I went with Greg to Jenni's concert tonight and enjoyed hearing her first solo with the Gold Tones select singing group. I am very ready to get in bed now, but wanted to let you know how the day went. I will be starting Neupogen shots on Thursday for 5 days, and depending on levels in the next few weeks, may need to do another 5 day cycle before we are done.
Here is a huge request. The health insurance company that is giving us an offer for the non-Kaiser staff of our new organization, has said that they will not allow anyone to stay on Kaiser if they are going to give us a deal at all. Kaiser is willing to keep some of us who are currently in the midst of medical issues- even at a large group rate. (THAT we were thinking of as a miracle. Why would they do that? I am thinking God and our prayers had something to do with it.)
I am supposed to go in a week to have my first of two radiation set up appointments. And I am supposed to start radiation at the end of October. So I have to know what to do right away. I think the time between finishing chemo and jumping into radiation is key to getting the most out of the treatment. The radiation department and I have already invested time in meeting and he has designed my treatment plan already. Pray that this will work out. If I do it with Kaiser, it is a 30-40 minute drive each way, 30 times to their central office at $40 a time. On the other hand, there is a radiation office across the street from our Caleb Project office 5 minutes from home. I love my Kaiser doctors and don't want to switch. This is a big snag. We would appreciate your prayers that the Lord's will be known to all the parties involved in this decision- and VERY SOON!
I got my 2nd favorite chemo chair which actually gave both of us a good view, and Jeannie a great view the entire time- even when I was sleeping. It worked out well as we got to interact with the nurses more since we were by their desks. I have other things to tell you, but this is too long already. I'll get Laura to post a picture tomorrow. I am too tired tonight. God bless you and thank you more than I can express for your love and prayers! Nancy Fritz

Last chemo today 9/26/06

I leave in 45 minutes for what I hope will be my last chemo treatment. My friend and mentor, Jeannie Dougherty is going with me. I am praying that everything will be clear for me to do it today. I have been trying to boost my liver with a supplement called Milk Thistle for the last several days. I had my blood drawn yesterday and will find out what it shows when I see my oncologist at 10:00 this morning. Then after meeting with him I should start chemo at about 11:00 and finish about 3:00. We will try for the nicely located chair which I have been able to use 3 out of the last 4 times. I will send an update tonight. Hopefully I will feel good enough to go with Greg and Jesse to Jenni's choir concert. It is her first one as a "Goldtone." That is the top vocal group at her school. If I feel badly I won't go, but a few times it hasn't been too bad the night of. Thank you for praying for me today. It means so much to me. God bless you- Nancy Fritz

Thursday, September 21, 2006

9/21/06 A few things to pray for before # 5

Hi friends, I got my blood work and have talked to the nurse at my oncologist's office. My white count is OK (7.4 for those of you who knows what that means), but a few liver function levels are high. One of them, ALT is at 203 and normal is between 5 and 50. The nurse said that this staying this high or getting higher could mean postponing chemo on Tuesday. I feel a little like I am fighting a cold. I am doing all of my fighting things like resting, taking Cold Snap capsules, eating oranges, Sambucol Syrup and Cold Care tea. So far so good. The nurse said that as long as I don't get a fever, I could still get chemo if I am at the end of a cold. I would appreciate your prayers that all would be OK for me to have chemo next Tuesday. I really want to get this last one over with. I will keep you posted. I am attempting to get a prayer letter written and sent before Tuesday. Here is some good news about our health insurance. Our coverage for our new organizaton was maybe going to cause us to have to leave Kaiser (our HMO) right in the middle of my treatment. The short of it is that Kaiser is allowing a few of us to stay on with them with large group rates. There is no obvious reason for this and we are really thanking God. The whole staff is getting a few options. Our medical co-pay account will not start until Nov. 1st instead of Sept. 1st due to setting all of this up, so currently we are covering our co-pays through our paycheck. We increased our salary to do this, so the money many of you gave for medical is being used for that. Radiation will be $40 a visit/30 times ($1200), but I start right around Nov. 1st, so most of that will come out of next year's co-pay money. God is providing for us. We are doing well. And a praise I have is that compared to my experience with cancer 7 years ago, I have more energy and less fatigue. God's grace and Neupogen making more white cells. I am feeling the side effects, but it could me much worse! Again, thank you for praying for me and for my family. We are hanging in there and appreciate all of your support. God Bless you! Nancy

Monday, September 18, 2006

9/18/06 One week until #5- So far, so good!

September 18th, 2006
Dear friends,
I want to let you know that God isn’t just listening to our prayers, but He is choosing to answer with some of them with a “yes!” Just for the record, we are never promised yes answers, or that life will be easy. But He does promise to be with His children. I can testify that HE IS HERE, and that He is involved in my life in an intimate loving way. Even if our prayers were answered with “no’s”.
It is almost 2 weeks since chemo #4. The good news is that I have made it pretty well these last 2 weeks. The not so good news is that I have to do it again (and for the last time!) in a week. I was told back at the beginning a list of some probable long term side effects from one of my chemos (Taxitere). Those have to do with general bone aches and also nerve damage in my fingers and feet/toes. My doctor told me that those would be the worst in the 2 months following my chemo treatment and would totally go away at about 18 months to 2 years. The very good news so far is that although some of that has been happening, it has really been very little so far. They are like migratory arthritis pains that I feel for a little while and then they go away. Some nerve tingling, but it also goes away. Most people only have 4 rounds of this chemo, so I am thinking if it was going to be severe, I would be experiencing more of if by now. After the initial chemo side effects and Neupogen shot side effects of intense hip, back and neck pain die down about 11-12 days into the cycle, I just have some aches and pains and headaches to deal with. Oh, and lots of hot flashes! I have to take naps many days, but the medicines have helped me deal with the side effects (other than the hot flashes) adequately.
My blood work shows my white counts to be good. Some other levels are off- either high or low, but nothing alarming. I had blood taken today to see how I am doing this week before chemo so Dr. Bourg can closely monitor my situation.
So, if you are with me and my neck starts turning red, I will probably pull off my outer sweater and fan myself. It just can’t be helped! Thanks for praying and caring and reading these blogs. I am so grateful for those standing in the gap with me.Blessings- Nancy

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Marilyn went with me to my 4th chemo treatment last week. Here we are with the view behind us. It was hazy, so I don't think you can see the Rocky Mountain range behind us. They were there and beautiful, testifying to God's creativity and presence. The view of the city is pretty nice too.

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11/06 A week after chemo #4

Dear friends, I tried to post a picture after last week's chemo of Marilyn and me, but was not successful in getting it posted. Keep and eye out and I will see if Laura can put it up for me. It is a week later and I am holding my own. I spent most of the day resting and sleeping today, controling a headache. I am managing, but not feeling great. I have had 4 of 5 of my Neupogen shots that make white cells produce quickly. That should be working and tomorrow the bone aches from that will peak. The good news is that so far that has been working. I will have blood work tomorrow to see how I am doing with all the counts. I have a sore jaw which seems to be a little infected where I still have infection in my jaw. I had most of that removed last year, but ran out of time to deal with it at that time. I was going to do the rest next spring. In the meantime, I would appreciate prayer that it stays under control during these last 2 chemo cycles. My port is on the same side as that suspected infection and it is a little sore on and off. I still need the port for the next chemo and an infection would be bad at this point. So far I am OK with just the expected side effects. I would say hot flashes are the biggest inconvenience currently. They are chemo induced and occur hourly or more often daily- night and day. My neuropothy from the Taxitere is still not bad. There have only been tinges of numbness and tingling which they said to expect, but it hasn't been constant. My fingernails haven't turned black either si far- which they told me might happen. That is good news! So now I am mostly headachy and just generally sore and achy all over. Thank you for sticking with me and our family in your prayers. We are so grateful for you and the Lord's faithfulness during this time. 5 more weeks to be done with chemo, then 2 weeks off before radiation. We are getting there! God bless- Nancy

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Chemo #4 is in and doing its stuff!

Dear friends, I went today with Marilyn for my 4th chemo. My port worked well and at 9:20 they did my blood draw through it and got it ready for chemo later. We waited an hour and met with Dr. Bourg so he would have a chance to get the results. My bloodwork was OK, and he told me I am a little anemic, but otherwise was good to go. I asked him my list of questions, and he gave me his answers. We are still planning on 5 chemos, as the side effects are being managed OK so far. The next chemo is scheduled for Sept. 26th. Chemo actually started at about 11:15 and ended at about 3:30. There was some time in between when they had to flush out the tubing with saline before starting the next kind- 5 pouches in all. Marilyn and I had a nice time talking, I took a 1 1/2 hour nap while she read and worked and we talked some more. I had the same nurse as my first time, and she knew I like the corner chair. She suggested me having my blood drawn there and leaving my jacket to save the chair for when my chemo started. When I came back in for chemo, all the chairs but that one were full, so we walked right over and settled in to the great view. The nurse, Cally, got a kick out of hearing that there were people praying for me to get that chair. It is a small thing, but was a touch of grace from the Lord. Also, the nurse who weighed my in at the beginning just happened to have gone to High Calling this weekend with our coworker Cyndee the day after we left there. It is a small world. I feel tonight like I had a good dose of chemo today. That means I feel pretty awful and need to lay down. I just wanted you to know how it went and to thank you for praying. I will be starting Neupogen shots again on Thursday until Monday. One thing to pray for now is that my surgeon needs to talk to my radiation oncologist to determine if they need to do the 4th field from behind my left upper arm or not. If there might have been cancer left up in my armpit, which I think the surgeon told me, then that would be the right plan. If not it would be great to not have to do that extra field. That field could increase my risk of lymphedema in that arm in a year or two. That conversation needs to happen between those 2 doctors, and Dr. Bourg emailed them both about it. I am going to try and post a picture of us at chemo today with the view from the window we could see from that chair. If the c\picture isn't there tonight, Laura will help me post it tomorrow from college. I need to go lay down. God bless you all! Nancy

Greg on the mountain

Behind Greg is a view of where he will be hunting this fall in California Park, Colorado.
This is Rilla, our 89 year old friend who runs a souvenir shop and a little country church in Hans Peak Village near Steamboat Springs.

Chemo #4 of 5 is tomorrow

Night before my 4th of 5 chemos
Blog Update 9/4/06

Dear friends,
Tomorrow I go for #4. I can hardly believe it has already been 9 weeks since I began the process of chemotherapy. In some ways it really does feel that way. I can hardly remember shampooing a head full of hair. I am not sure I understand why, but even though I am still in chemo, my hair has begun to grow back. It is about 1/3 inch long and I can feel the wind blow through it if I don’t have anything on my head. I know that sounds strange, but it feels good! That is especially true if I am in the middle of a hot flash. Chemotherapy has stopped my eggs from growing, and has thrust me into menopause prematurely. So this has been very sudden, but I was warned it would be a side effect. I experienced this 7 years ago also for several months.
I know people joke about hot flashes all the time, but getting completely and totally overheated with no warning for a few minutes, almost every hour day and night, is a chore. Greg pointed out that we women have Eve to thank for this experience. If only she had known the scope of what the consequences of her actions would be…
The Taxitere is gathering in my system and showing up in some of the longer term side effects I was told about. Bone and joint aches in my legs, back and neck mostly, and nerve tingling and prickling mainly in my hands and feet. This has lasted this entire 3 weeks this time. I was told this would peek in the 2 months after chemo, which will overlap with radiation, I expect, and then tapper off over the next 18-24 months. I have friends who have had very different experiences with this and would ask you to join us in praying that mine will be minor.
In this 3 week cycle I had about 3 days that I could handle without any pain meds. I was able to function for the last 1 ½ weeks, but ran out of steam part way through the day. Today and yesterday I actually got a project done. It wasn’t big, but it felt good. I also switched desks at the office on Friday with my friend Marilyn who is planning to take me to chemo tomorrow. We plan to leave at 8:15 a.m. and will get home between 3 and 3:30 p.m. I have my port accessed and blood drawn from it at 9:00, see Dr. Bourg, my oncologist, when the blood results come back at about 10:00, then chemo about 11:00 after they mix my meds to his specifications. They start by giving me pre-chemo meds for about an hour, and then the other two chemos for the next 2 ½-3 hours.
Things to pray for: Again trivial, but it would be nice to spend those 4 hours in a chair with a view of the mountains. Pray I’d have no allergic reactions to anything. Pray that my blood work would show that I can handle the chemo. That means white cell count and platelets, etc. are where they should be. If not, they would send me home without it and I would be sad. Pray that as I go in and have this toxic stuff put in me, that I would welcome it in to do its work in killing any cancer loose in my body. Pray that I would be able to manage by God’s grace the side effects of this all on my body. Pray that I will be able to remember what questions I have for Dr. Bourg while I am there. I make a list each time and he patiently answers and explains until I am satisfied. I want to know about how much radiation I need, because the 4th field they plan to shoot may not be necessary based on what my surgeon and Dr. Bourg think. I’d like to avoid it, but want it if I really do need to do it. Did the surgeon think there was still a possibility of cancer above the initial surgery sight in my armpit. She told me there probably was, but I want them to confer with each other so we do the right thing.
Praises- We had a nice time at Steamboat at our friends’ mountain home. I did some of my thinking and decided that there is much more to do. I worked on my living will which the radiation oncologist wants us to do and it raised a lot of questions for Greg and me. We are going to have to sit down and determine our values. At least now I have a list of things to work through in more detail. Thanks for praying for that time. God used it.
Greg got his 3 projects done and we took a day to drive over a pass (4 wheel driving) to where he hunts with Jesse in October. At one point we had to stop the truck on a substantial road to let a 6 foot long Aspen tree cross the road on its side and seemingly by itself. As we stretched to look, we could see a large beaver (Ohooo, a hot flash!) on the other side of the tree pulling it toward his construction project on the other side of the road. It was amazing that we just happened to drive by right then in time to see that. It was a treat from the Lord. “So why did the tree cross the road? To become part of a beaver’s dam!”
I need to get to bed so I can be rested tomorrow and not get sick. Blessings to you all, and thank you for your interest and being willing to share in this experience with us through our concern and prayers. Lisa brought me sunflowers today. They are bright and beautiful! Others will be bringing meals starting tomorrow night. God bless you! Nancy Fritz