Thursday, October 28, 2010

Finishing up

Just got the final instructions from Leslie and Dr. Hakimian and we are getting ready to go home..

1500 ml saline ( 3 bags )
4 bags of Mesna
1 bag of Cytoxan
At least one to two liters of water and... 1 smoothie

I think I'm ready.

For the record, I am leaving 7 lbs heavier than I came in this morning.

Can't wait to see the kids!

Getting ready for the "Stem Cell Rescue"!  ( Dr. Hakimian's terminology for autologous stem cell transplant  )

The never ending day

I am here in the hospital visiting with my friend and neighbor. She is amazing. She looks great and her spirits are high. Although she has a long road ahead of her, I am confident that she will win this fight!
Love you,

Suppose to be large and in charge!

Hey All-
I'm here with Rockstar! I was told she was going to look 30lbs heavier! I for one wanted to see the skinny girl fat-- NOT!  She looks as beautiful as ever!
She is talking to nurse Leslie about what she can and can't bring to hospital-- Wants her chapstick- it is the little things!
okay-- I'm no writer like the rest of them- Paul no judging:) 
She's getting loopy and full of laughs! Can't get anymore beautiful!!

The Big "C" - Part II

Written by Leslie-
Prior to my arrival, Jeanie informed me she was feeling loopy.  Of course I had to tell her that loopy wasn't a bad thing.  She needs to start saving some of her drugs for the rest of us.  For those of you wondering what she's loopy from, it's just good 'ole mass quantity. She feels as though she's had a bottle of wine, so I told her that for a little while, Benadryl was her new wine.  As always, Jeanie is in good spirts, tired & loopy, but laughing and getting through this moment.  She'll be able to check this one off as she prepares and goes through this journey.  A journey that she is allowing all of us us to be part of.   She is supposed to walk out of here 8-10 pounds heavier, which she said she is already starting to feel, but of course she looks amazing and you wouldn't know they've been pumping her with fluids since seven this morning.  It's just about time for me to depart to go home and get the kids but Beth is on her way - 3 minutes according to her!

The Big C Day

Good morning everyone!  It's Suzi here typing this blog as Jeanie gets her cancer-fighting army of Cytoxan.  While many of us were home drinking coffee and getting the kids ready for school, Jeanie and Mike were dropping the kids off at Lindsay's house (for a party we hear!) and heading to the hospital for a 7:00 am start.  It's a full day of treatment today, starting with hydration, Benadryl (to counteract possible allergic reactions), Mesna (to protect the bladder), and Cytoxan.  Nurse Leslie is on her watch today, so she's in great hands.  The Benedryl has gone straight to Jeanie's head, but she's a trooper!  Hopefully, she'll sleep for a bit and let the chemo do its work.  As her Aunt Sue wrote today, "the cancer doesn't know who it's dealing with!".  Stay tuned later for more updates from Leslie and Beth who will be visiting soon.  Bye for now!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Just What The Doctor Ordered......A Healthy Dose Of Fun!

Well I am one day away from the receiving my Cytoxin.  Yup tomorrow is the day they bring out the  big guns!  They give me the BIG JUICE!!!!!!  Everything I am reading tells me how tired and ill I am going to feel.  Lovely, huh?  Nothing like knowing what lies ahead.  In this crazy year of uncertainty, I have a hunch of one thing.....I am about to feel like crap!!!

So should sit I around and be depressed about?  Well I could.  But wouldn't that suck?  I mean I will be doing enough of that in the next couple of months.  So, it was time to allow myself to have a little fun. It started last Saturday night.  Our great friends Phil and Diana had their first and hopefully annual Halloween Party in the neighborhood.  Mike usually hates dressing up.  But he knew this year it's not about him!  So he agreed to not only dress up,  but really really dress up and totally get into it!!  And best of all, we totally kept our costumes a secret!  I dressed up as the sexy Nurse Candy complete with pigtails!  I have to admit although typically I would be a little out of my comfort zone in this costume.... I loved it!  And Mike, well he was dressed as Ralph, the creepy horny patient.  Before the party Dog the Bounty Hunter and his wife Beth, Snookie and Pauly D joined us!
Ralph my scary horny patient and me!

The Dog Bounty Hunter and his wife Beth, Pauly D and Snookie, me and Ralph!

Suz, Jen and me
Phil and me!  Caught you staring Phil!!
Diana and me

We had a blast and it was so great to forget about cancer and all the scary stuff ahead!

Yesterday was also such a fun day.  My little posse of the best girlfriends a girl could ask for joined me at the Wig Shop.  Reality once again was kicking in.  The storm is approaching faster than I want it to!  Well a little Ativan and girlfriends waiting for me and determined to make a depressing situation fun quickly took away my panic attack!  We had so much fun trying on all the bandanas and hats.  My friend Shayna, a breast cancer survivor was there with me to show me the ropes!    Four years ago she was in the very same shop in my place.  Today, she is healthy, strong and beautiful and such an inspiration to me! Although Beth, Suzi and Leslie have never been the "cancer patient"  they took every step with me, trying on all the bandannas and wigs and made me laugh more than I have in a long time.  I know how hard this was on all of them as well, but they were so strong. I love them all so much.  You are my rock and you give me so much strength!

BFF Beth and me
BFF Suzi and me
Shayna, Leslie, Suz, Me and Beth
Me sporting the Jennifer Aniston wig!
Blondes do have more fun!
Having fun with our Sexy New Looks!
Love this photo!!  That is what my friends have done for me, carried and supported me with so much love and support!
Check out some of the photos from the day.  Funny thing, we were shoved in a room full of bras trying on all the bandanas.  Next it was time to try on some wigs!  I don't plan on wearing one, but we had blast sporting the new sexy looks!  I love shots!  Who knew I could have so much prepping to lose my hair!  Speaking of, Saturday is the big day.  My beautiful friend Diana is coming over to the honors!  We decided to make a party of it.  So stay tuned for my updates over the weekend.  This is going to be a tough one for me.  I feel so vane writing that.  I really don't think I am that attached to my hair.  I honestly think it is a more psychological thing than anything.  It is the start of my journey.  And I will look like a cancer patient.  That is what I am, right?  Can't hide it and can't deny it!  I got the big "C"!!!

Well, I need to wrap this up for now.  Today I have a doctor's appointment to find out all about what I can expect from tomorrow's treatment.  Tomorrow is the start of my challenging days ahead.   But today I am feeling healthy, strong, loved and supported! xo

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk

Don't cry over spilled milk!  Isn't that what we have always been taught?  Well that is exactly what I did last night.  We were having dinner at around 7 last night.  It is later than I like to have it, but Mondays are our our busy days.  Mike is away on business.  So after running around for 4 hours after the kids got home bringing them to piano and theater class, I helped them with their homework and then whipped something quick for dinner.   As the kids were rushing around helping me set the table, Sarah volunteered to pour the milk.  Well someone banged into her arm and before I knew it the gallon milk was spilling all over the floor.  At that moment I literally lost it!  I fell to the floor and cried my eyes out.  Sarah ran upstairs crying "I'm sorry, I'm sorry" and the other kids ran to get paper towels to help clean the mess.  All I could do was cry.

What had just happened?  Was I really having a complete meltdown over some silly milk spilling?  No of course not.  I am slowly resigning to the fact that it is fast approaching the time that I have dreaded for the last 4 months.  I feel healthy, I feel normal finally once again.  Why do I need to go through all this stuff?  Why does life need to be disrupted?  Why do I need to be ripped away from my family and be stuck in a hospital for the next few weeks feeling sick and weak?

I know that the cancer is not gone and that I am still sick.  I've done the research and I know that the chemo followed by the Stem Cell Transplant is the recommended treatment to hopefully put in remission and keep me there for a little while,  I need this to buy me more time.  More time with my incredible children who need their mommy.  More time with my husband, family and friends.  Just suck it up Jeanie and do needs to be done. Easier said than done.  Reality is crashing down hard.  I have never been so frightened in my life.  I feel so lonely and scared and I am not even in the hospital yet.  I can't look at my kids in the eyes or give them a hug without breaking down in tears.

As I watched the kids hop on the bus today and blow me kisses from the windows all I could think was "Why?  Why is this happening to our family".  I need to be here for them.  They need me and I need them.  They are only 10 and 7!  I am so sad that they need to go through this.  I try to talk positive to them and reassure them, but they know I'm scared.  How can they not?  Mommy can't even look at them without crying.

I have 2 days before my big chemo treatment.  I know my energy will be slowing down and my focus will need to be redirected to me.  What to do for the next couple of days?  Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have a hard time sitting still.  Who knows what Mike will come home to tomorrow.  Heck the house could be decorated for Christmas!  Actually this morning I  framing some photos to bring to the hospital so that I can be surrounded by my kids.  Also, Mike surprised me over the weekend and bought me a beautiful laptop to have in the hospital.  Yeah!  I will have contact with the outside world while in my "bubble" in the hospital.

Today, I am meeting some friends to go shopping for some head wraps and hats and maybe will try on some fun wigs!  I am sure we will have lots of laughs, just what I need right now!  Hopefully I can try to forget the spilt milk from last night and enjoy the fun moments of today.

Love you all for your continuing love, support and prayers.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Just Let Go!

Emily and Uncle Rob!

My brother Rob came and spent the day with us yesterday!  Emily just adores him.  Isn't he handsome?   I just had to post these photos they make me smile!  You see my brother Rob is the ultimate fun loving uncle who just loves to play with his nieces and nephews.  My kids literally beam when they are around him.  Rob is like a big kid trapped in a man's body.  He will do anything with my kids.  Even if that means humiliating himself in the process! 

  I have spent the  past few days preparing for hibernation.  That is really I how I can best describe it.  I feel like the mother bear gathering the food and necessary survival supplies for hibernation with her cubs.  The kids are fully equipped with boots, snowpants, hats, gloves, winter coats and warm comforters for their beds.  We could have a blizzard and lose power and the Dreyer family would be ready!  I have made checklist upon checklist for my kids, Mike, grandparents.  Every free moment while the kids are in school I fill preparing.  I think in some way it has been my coping mechanism.  Spend every waking moment focusing my energy on preparing and controlling what I can, so that I don't have to spend time sitting and thinking about what I can't control. 

Well yesterday I spent the day with my brother Rob.  He was exactly what I needed.  After an emergency run to the Elementary School to pick up Emily after a fall from the monkey bars (she is fine!),  Emily and I picked up Rob and went out for lunch.  After that Rob helped me pull out all the Halloween decorations and we transformed my house to Spookyville!  It looks incredible!  After that, we did crafts with Emily and then decorated cookies with all the kids after school.  Fun, Fun, Fun is what we had the whole day!  The lists and daily strict regimen of homework right after school was replaced with running around in costumes, eating lots of sugar and giggles.  

Once the sugar really kicked in the kids went out to play a soccer game with the neighbors.  Rob and I got to hang out and talk.  He shared with me how much his life has been changed since my diagnosis. Rob and I have for the most part always been close.  But in the last year we have had some challenges and chose to spend some time apart for a while.  We were reunited after my diagnosis.  Up until yesterday, Rob was still carrying guilt from the past.  I shared with him that the one thing that I have learned from the past few months is that those negative feelings of "would have, should have" really get you no where.  I do live today how I want to live and try not to worry too much about yesterday.  I am definitely still struggling with not looking too far into the future.  But the past I am able to let go of.  

Forgiveness is so hard especially when it comes to forgiving yourself.  But once you do, living is so much better!  I have always carried my Irish guilt for anything and everything in life.  It is not like I ever did anything that profound in my life to feel such guilt.  But knowing I may have hurt someone or disappointed someone would leave me feeling so much pain.  So yesterday, the gates opened and the guilt was released.  Rob and I in that moment were back to where we were 8 months ago.  He is a loving brother and uncle and I am so fortunate to have him in my life!  

 Today, I go back to my reality of checking off the to do lists and getting my family prepared for the next few months .   Tonight I am spending the night going out with my girlfriends for a fun night out.  I know that one week from today I will need to let a lot just go and my focus will need to change to me and my recovery.    This will be my biggest challenge yet!

 Thank you for all your continuing love, support and prayers.  

Monday, October 18, 2010

My Caring Bridge site has been such an incredible means for me the last few months with all of you, regarding my Multiple Myeloma diagnosis.  Your outpouring of love, support, and incredible words have meant the world to me.  You have given me so strength during the most difficult time of my life.  I have decided to take on the Blog world!  I have never been that technical when it comes to the cyber world, but I figure what the heck, time to reach out and take some chances!  I hope you enjoy my blog.  My intent it is to share with you my story in the most honest way that I can.

Since June 3, 2010 my life has forever changed.  My life was turned upside down and all around when I received that dreadful call.  That was the day I became a cancer patient.  Up until that day, I was a 39 year old loving wife and proud mom to 4 beautiful children.  My life was like many of yours enjoying my amazing family, friends, and the joys of life.   Being athletic was my other passion.  My kids were so proud of their strong mommy with big muscles!  My husband Mike always joked that I will outlive him because I was so healthy.  Yet although I lived a healthy lifestyle and was probably in the best shape of my life,  cancer chose me.  Cancer decided to invade my body.  Not just any cancer, but an incurable blood cancer, Multiple Myeloma.  This cancer begins at the Plasma Cells and then attacks your bone marrow and ultimately your organs.  Kind of ironic how life is sometimes.  This type of cancer chose me.  A woman who worked so hard to stay healthy and fit.  I was never a smoker, I didn't do drugs.  I eat a healthy diet.   Ok I like my wine and enjoyed some crazy nights in college and in my twenties, but seriously, me have cancer?  

I often wonder, when did my biology change?  When did that one little cancer cell appear in my body and decide to multiply?  Was it during my shy awkward years in middle school?  Or maybe the summer before my freshman year in college?   Or was it during my year abroad in Spain?  Or maybe it wasn't until Mike and I moved to San Diego?  Of after my children were born?  Or was it actually just this past year?  I will never know.  And it really doesn't change much.  I have the "C" word and it SUCKS!  But now that I have it, there is only one thing to do..........BEAT IT!!!!!

Today, I just completed my 5th cycle of Velcade and Dexamethesone.   Last Thursday, I went down to Dana Farber for a whole day of tests.  During my eight hours, they collected over 22 tubes of blood, took 17 x-rays, did an EKG, a Pulmonary function test, an RVG Scan, and a Vein check.  I also signed every waiver imaginable.  Provided nothing comes back negative, I am 10 days away from my mobilization phase of the Stem Cell Transplant.  Next Thursday I am scheduled to begin a high dose chemotherapy treatment called Cytoxin.  This is the BIG STUFF!  The stuff that wipes everything out, good and bad.  Yup that means I'm losing my hair!  I can't believe how time stood still for me for so long and now it just seems to be slipping away so fast.  Since I have been diagnosed I have read everything I can regarding the Stem Cell Transplant and no matter how prepared I am I find myself unable to close my eyes and sleep.  This is really happening!

Today was a very busy day.  Mike got up at 3AM and had to catch a flight.  After I got the kids off to school,  and took my morning walk with dog Flower, it was time for me to get to chemo.  Today was the first time I ever went by myself.  I have been so blessed to have my husband, family and best friends to accompany me on my days of treatment.  Sometimes we get so caught up with conversation and laughter I forget why I was even there.  But today, I chose to go alone.  It gave me a great opportunity for some quiet "me" time .  I of course did Jeanie type A things like add to my growing list of things I need and want to do before my transplant.  But I also had time to reflect and check in with myself.  I had my favorite Chemo nurse Leslie who always makes me smile and has a special way to ease my anxiety.  Not only has she been a nurse for over 30 years, but her daughter also went through a Stem Cell Transplant a year and a  half ago.  I am grateful I have Leslie in my life.  It gifts like her, that help strengthen my faith and I truly believe people come into our lives for a purpose. 

After treatment I had to run some errands and then it was time to get the kids off the bus and drive them to piano and theater.  After that, it was homework, dinner and then some snuggle time with them on the couch.  It had been a very busy day and I was exhausted.  When it was time to tuck them all in, my emotions got the best of me and I lost it.  All I could do was cry.  My son Cam kept asking me to please stop.  Sarah ran and got the tissues.  Emily rubbed my back, and Mitch held my hand.  I tried to fight the tears, I really did.  But I couldn't.  I am scared and I know my kids know that.  All Cam kept saying was "Mom there is no need to cry.  You know the chemo is working!"  He is so strong for a 10 year old boy, it  scares me.  He doesn't allow himself to feel sad.  On the other hand, Mitchell's eyes filled with tears and the girls just got concerned.  They saw me break.  They know I am scared.  And now I needed to say something that would ease there minds so that they could fall asleep.  After a few moments.  I was able to get some words out.  I told them that they have been my strength.  They bring me so much so much happiness in my life and I couldn't be more in love and more proud of them.  I also told them that mommy was tired and needed to rest.  Because although their love has helped me so much, and the chemo, I need rest to keep my strength.  I want to fight this with all my power so that I don't need to go to doctors everyday and I can do what I love best, being their mom.  

As I write this, the house is silent. The kids are all fast asleep, as well as Flower.  This is time of day that is the hardest.  Nights seem to go by so slowly.  I could stay up all night, but I know that won't make for a very good morning trying to get the kids off to school.  So I am going to have a glass of water, along with an Ativan, listen to some relaxing music and hope for the best.  Tomorrow is another day and I want to enjoy it!  

Sleep well.