Monday, December 28, 2009

Busy busy

I've been so busy lately that I've not been getting on the computer. I have some cute photos of Rachel that I need to post. I just can't seem to get the time or motivation.

On the cancer front, I've postponed my next chemo until January 4th. I was cleared to drink adult beverages for Christmas & New Years, but if I'd left my chemo day alone, I'd be having chemo on New Years Eve. Not a good plan in my opinion. My hair is falling out again. Its almost more annoying this time. I'm not exactly sure why that is, but its the way I feel. Maybe its b/c my hair had already starting growing back & its leaving again...

Rachel is doing great. She's taking 4.5 oz every 3-4 hours already. She's an eating machine! If I'd feed her every 2 hours she'd take it I think. However, the pediatrician says she can only eat every 3 hours at minimum. We weighed her unofficially the other day at my doctor's office. With her clothes on she was 11 lbs! She wasn't quite 4 weeks old yet! ;-) I grow big babies whether they're breast babies or formula babies apparently!

Simon's Christmas was great! We got him a Dig'n Ride (its a digger that he can ride on in the house). He also got a large assortment of other trucks and toys too. He's very happy! Andrew got me an 'Open Hearts' collection angel. I found Andrew the same pocket knife I gave him last year & a wallet. Rachel got the movie Snow White and some clothes for the most part. She really doesn't care as long as I give her her formula... :-)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Electronic Christmas greetings

Believe it or not I bought more Christmas cards than ever this year & still ran out of cards b/4 I ran out of recipients! :-) So here's one of my solutions - I'm composing practically the same thing here on my blog & sharing it w/ all my e-friends! I really didn't want to leave anyone out, but I lost my addresses from last year & waited until late b4 ordering my cards, so I didn't have a chance to ask for more addresses. I hope these greetings find everyone well & bring in a wonderful Holy season!

Unto us a Child is born! +

Have a Merry Christmas & Blessed New Year! Thank you for all the prayers & thoughts through this difficult time! ~ the Vandivers

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Blessed day!

Such a wonderful blessed day! Thank you to all who made an effort to attend the baptism. For those that didn't get a chance - the surprise was that Andrew got baptized as well as Rachel. It was a joint ceremony. Andrew is now officially a member of the Catholic Church in all its glory! He still needs to be confirmed at a later date, but that's no biggie! I'm so happy & proud that my miracle baby & wonderful husband are now officially members of God's community!

Check out this blog... Its a friend of mine that is currently a freshman photojournalist major. She did a story on the journey my family has been on for the past 5 months.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Rough week

Its been a rough week. I've got some kind of cold/funk thing still. Andrew had an allergic reaction last night at his mom's Christmas celebration, Simon is being a bit more dramatic lately (might be getting sick), and Rachel has been spitting up a lot all the sudden. She may be coming down w/ something too. Tomorrow we're going to baptize her. I still haven't decided which gown she should wear... Frilly or not

Monday, December 14, 2009

Another day in my life.

Well, this Taxol is kicking my hiney! :-( Rachel is doing good, but I'm feeling every bone and muscle screaming in my body for relief. I also feel like I swallowed a razor blade for some reason. Oh well, if it gets rid of this demon cancer, I can survive it!

I can't believe how smart Simon is already! Not only does he know pretty much all his colors - red, blue, yellow, purple, green, and orange (he can even say all of them) - he also already knows some of his letters by sight. We have some of those magnetic letters for the fridge & he can pick out A, E, I, O, & P. He can also help you say the alphabet after you get to the letter O. If you say O, he says P, you say Q, he says R, etc. He can also count to 3 (altho 'three' sounds just like 2). He's just amazing me w/ his intelligence! I love it!

Rachel is also amazing me. She honest to goodness smiles 'on command' - mostly for anyone but me. She can also hold her head up for about 10 seconds at a time for a period of about 15 minutes. She loves to take a bath - apparently she inherited that from me! She likes to soak in the sink of warm water. She's not a big fan of getting wiped though! She's also eating like a champ!

So many wondrous things! Even w/ the cancer and chemo I love my life! A wonderful husband & 2 awesome kids. What more could a girl ask for?!?!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Do you believe?

Do you believe in every day miracle? Can the power of prayer have such a profound effect on an individual to make that individual be healed? If so, then jump on the bandwagon of those who believe that my 2nd lump was cured by the power of prayer. On initial examination the Dr was probably 85-90% certain it was cancerous. Now I have a clear PET scan all w/n just a few days.

Praise God! I'm in awe as to why I deserve two miracles in such a short amount of time. The first was Rachel's healthy, normal, blessed birth and now this... I am truly humbled.

Isn't it wonderful and/or odd that this is the time of year when people put out signs asking/saying "Believe" but they're actually wanting us to believe in Santa Claus. So few people truly remember the reason for the Season is God & God alone. He needs us to believe in Him and His Son's miraculous birth so that we may have eternal life with Them.
Let us all BELIEVE in the power of God!

Let us not forget to show God the depth of our believe by attending Mass - especially December 20th at St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church in Curdsville, KY . That is the date of Rachel's baptism & a special surprise. Come one, come all!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Day 1 of Taxol down!

Day 1 of Taxol chemo down. 3 more Taxol treatments to go. They'll be once every 3 weeks (at least that's the plan for now). I'm feeling kind of sick, but hoping that the drugs they give me will keep me from losing what I've been able to eat today. **NOTE** Please disregard blatant mis-pellings, grammatical errors & the like. I'm typing under the influence of some stout drugs!

My new growth of hair is most likely going to fall out again. Plus the usual fatigue and weakness associated w/ chemo. Hopefully I can fight it off & still be a good mom & wife for my family.

One of my biggest fears now is that I'm going to have a chain reaction if/when Rachel or Simon spit up/throw up. Its that kind of nausea... always in the background waiting for an excuse to escape.

I'm so relieved about the clear PET scan. That was truly wonderful news. I did finally get all the MD Anderson stuff straightened out - the hell w/ them if they don't like it! If something changes I'll put it up here ASAP.

Rachel is doing so well. I know all mom's say this, but she's *very* aware and advanced. She can smile kind of on request and/or in imitation. She already coos and 'talks' to get what she wants. If you catch her eye she'll follow you w/ her head and eyes if you move slow enough. Right now she's staring lovingly in Andrew's face and giving him smiles as he smiles & talks to her.

Simon's doing great too. We're slowly trying to figure out if he's ready to potty train. I think he's close, but not quite confident enough yet. He's still in love w/ Rachel though & wants to 'help' all the time. Its so sweet!


Just got the good news that my PET scan is clear! That means there isn't any other cancer cells anywhere in my body!!

Now I've got to call MD Anderson to figure out why they won't communicate w/ Dr. M. Grrrrr!!! It appears that Dr. L & her whole team are out of the office for a breast cancer conference in San Antonio. There was no one there to actually talk to Dr. M. Angela (Dr. L's nurse) finally called & spoke to Tiffany.

Dr. M decided to give me the full dose of Taxol once every 3 weeks. I'm fine w/ it. When Dr. L gets back in, she can contact Dr. M if she wants any changes. Apparentely the Taxol is pretty stout b/c they doped me up w/ enough stuff that I probably slept for 2 hours while I was getting the rest. I get a cocktail of a steroid, Ativan (nerves), Benadryl(allergic reaction), Zantac (allergic reaction), Aloxi (nausea), and fluids before the chemo even starts. Then I get the chemo spread over a 3 hour stretch of time. I think I slept for 2 of those 3 hours! That's an amazing feat for me since I generally don't even sleep well in my own bed - much less in day-light w/ people talking, walking around, etc.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

PET scan done!

Thanks to the miracles of Xanax I slept through part of my PET/CT scan! I prepared this time, so I didn't freak out like my earlier MRI experience. Tomorrow I'll start chemo & hopefully be that much closer to being finished w/ this mess!

Rahcel & Simon are so great together. Simon is actually pretty good w/ her. He wants to be involved at all times, so we're trying to let him 'help' as much as possible. I would definitely not trust him w/ her by himself, but he has helped me feed her, change her, dress her, bathe her, etc. Rachel for her part is already reacting & smiling at her 'favorite' people. Its beyond gas b/c she actually does it in response to something - a noise, a smile, a face, etc.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Change of plans!

Well, today I was supposed start my chemo at 9 45 am. We (Andrew & I) got there to start and waited for quite a while to even be looked at by a nurse. They did my blood counts & everything was good (white blood cells a little low, but not enough to stop anything). Then Dr. M examined me to find the new lump. He manipulated the area & couldn't find anything. I asked him what that meant - he says there's a 70-80% chance that what I felt was just scar tissue that was inflamed from pregnancy hormones. It could still be cancer, but even if it is the course of action will not change. To ensure that there hasn't been any spreading of the cancer, tomorrow I have a PET scan. Then I will start my chemo on Friday. The PET scan means that I won't be going to Houston. The reasoning is this - the PET scan will tell us if the cancer has spread. The tests they're wanting to run in Houston will just tell me if the new lump is cancerous or not. It won't tell me anything about whether or not I have cancer elsewhere. I'd rather know that the cancer is isolated than just have an answer if the one lump I felt is/was cancer.

Thank you for all the prayers & thoughts!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I've been remiss again...

Well, its been a crazy time. I haven't been blogging b/c I've been concerned about other things. Rachel is doing fine. I think she's going to be growing quite nicely! She's eating 4 oz every 4 hours and sometimes demanding more after only 3 hours. Simon is doing great as well. He's still in love with her, but he's getting a little more comfortable with her. Its not a great thing b/c that means he's more touchy-feely than he needs to be... Andrew is also doing well. Business is definitely not brisk, but its enough to keep him paying his bills!

I was upset today though. I've been having second thoughts about my chemo and going to Houston. Dr. M said I could skip chemo until I got back from Houston - to avoid being sick on the trip down there. However, Dr. L from Houston sent an email that made me think she didn't want to do any testing on the lump I found to see if its a tumor or scar-tissue until after I finished all my chemo. That would have been 12 weeks of not knowing what this lump is. I couldn't take that mentally or emotionally. I immediately got on the phone and tried to get it straightened out. I think the consensus is that the testing on the lump is going to be done - Dr. L meant for it to happen regardless. However, according to Dr. L the most important thing is to not delay my chemo. I think we're still going to Houston for the testing next week. The testing could be done here, but I'm afraid something will get missed or done not quite up to MD Anderson standards. So tomorrow I'm going to start this next round of chemo (Taxol) at 945 am. Then theoretically Andrew & I will leave for Houston early Sunday morning. We should be back in town by Wednesday for my next chemo treatment.

This new lump has me more upset than the original lump did I think. The thought of having gone through the chemo while pregnant w/ all the risks and worry for nothing is driving me crazy. I'm also probably doing the hormonal switches/moodiness associated w/ a recent delivery, so my emotions are all over the place (well, by my standards anyway). Also, I'm nervous about this new chemo anyway b/c I don't have the pregnancy to 'protect' me from the side-effects. Plus I've got 2 kids now to worry about - even though my mom and mother-in-law (and lots of other people) are still helping me out tremendously. Its going to be hard to leave my babies behind just to go to chemo & Houston - much less anything else.

I'm really afraid too that this cancer is resistant or something. I know that's a negative thought, but I just can't get it out of my mind. I was ok with the cancer when everyone (doctors and others) told me the chemo and surgery would take care of it easily. Now that it seems like either a) my body is just cancer-crazy & can recreate cancer *really* fast, b) the excisional biopsy didn't actually get all the tumor nor did the chemo kill all the cancer cells, or c) some combination thereof.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Sleepless night...

Last night Rachel decided that she'd slept more than enough during the day. She did the 'normal' thing of wanting to eat every 1-2 hours until about 1 am. Then she decided she also wanted to eat at 4 am and then it wasn't good enough for her to be in her bassinet... No... She wanted to be held. So I held her all night. The bad thing is that I think I gave her a heat rash on her face b/c we were skin to face most of the night. She's got pebbly-bumps all over her face... Oh well, they'll go away. At least I know she was warm enough.

Simon on the other hand went to sleep like a little angel. I put him down to bed at his normal time and he even crawled into the bed for me. We sang some songs - including some Advent/Christmas songs and said our prayers. He slept all the way through. I think he's adjusting pretty well.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Settling in...

Today was Andrew's first day back at work. I took the easy way out & sent Simon to my mom's for the morning. Rachel & I slept in for a while, then we went to visit Nana & Simon. Everything is really going pretty well. Simon didn't sleep well last night - Andrew had to hold him all night in the recliner. However, Rachel sleeps from 1am till 730 am or so every morning. She's actually even sleeping right now. Usually she tries to eat every 2 hours between 6pm & 1 am. Tonight she must just be really tired. I hope that doesn't mean she's not going to sleep tonight for me! I think we're getting into our routine of happiness!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

bad news - need encouragement

Well, here's the bump in the road I mentioned yesterday...

While I was in the hospital I felt another lump in close proximity to the 1st. I've had another ultrasound & the oncologist is pretty sure its another tumor - possibly this time in my lymph node... The mass is 1.7 cm already. The theory is that it began growing once I quit the chemo 7 weeks ago. That's one quick growing/aggressive tumor! I'm feeling pretty down & overwhelmed right now. Anything would be better it seems...

The plan of action at this moment is to start my chemo as scheduled on December 8. Andrew & I will then be making a trip to Houston starting December 13th for further testing at MD Anderson. So far I know they're going to do a ultrasound guided core biopsy on December 14th. I'm also trying to go ahead & get all my consultations done at that time as well. I won't really know anything more until after December 14th.

The blessing is that Rachel is just fine. Hopefully there won't be any more complications in my treatment. I knew it was going to be a long hard road, but this is putting another up-hill struggle in the mix that I wasn't expecting. Andrew is going to be there every step of the way...

By the way today was mine & Andrew's 3rd wedding anniversary. Not a very good way to celebrate 3 years, but we have been blessed both w/ children as well as with each other. Here's hoping we get at least 3 more years! I love my husband tremendously.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Crazy times...

Its been crazy, but wonderful. There is a new bump in the road, but I'm not going to get into it until I know more.

Rachel is absolutely fine though. She's eating like a little piglet. She's already up to 3 oz per feeding. Right now she's generally eating every 3-4 hours, with a couple times at night (between 6 and 11) of wanting to be fed every 2 hours. However, last night she ate at 1 am and slept until I woke her up around 8 am. That's amazing to me... When Simon was this age he was eating every hour to hour & 1/2!

Simon is absolutely loving her. He can't leave her alone (in a good way). He's not seeming to be jealous or anything either. He is a bit nervous if Andrew or I aren't w/ him or visible at all times, but I think that's just a phase he's going through.

Andrew is adjusting quite well too! He's such a great daddy. His babies love him from birth onwards. I love him too!

My Chemo-Jane hair-style

My Chemo-Jane hair-style
I just had to have my mom buzz my hair because it was falling out so badly.

Pre-op wearing my hand-crocheted cap with my prayer shawl.

Pre-op wearing my hand-crocheted cap with my prayer shawl.
My loving husband is watching me distract myself with a game on his iPhone.

2 days after my BMX w/ 100ccs in the TEs

2 days after my BMX w/ 100ccs in the TEs
I even have a fashionable belt to hold up my drains.

3 weeks post-op w/ 400ccs in each TE

3 weeks post-op w/ 400ccs in each TE
The smile is fake because the TEs were irritating!