Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tumor Marker Results and Blast From the Past

I received my tumor marker numbers yesterday - my treatment was Mondayday. The CEA was up to 13.2 (from 10.5 last month) and the CA15-3 was down to 37.5 (from 38.5 last month). Anything less than 3.8 is normal for the CEA and anything less than 33 is good for the CA15-3.

1/2008 - 1.2 ng/mL
3/2008 - 0.9 ng/mL
6/2008 - 1.0 ng/mL
8/2008 - 1.1 ng/mL (need to double check this number, but it was in that 0.9 to 1.2 range)
9/2008 - 0.5 ng/mL
10/2008 - 0.9 ng/mL
10/31/2008 - 1.2 ng/mL
11/28/2008 - 1.2 ng/mL
12/30/2008 - 1.1 ng/mL
3/2/2009 - 1.4 ng/mL
4/8/2009 - 1.6 ng/mL
5/5/2009 - 1.9 ng/mL
6/4/2009 - 3.0 ng/mL
7/2/2009 - 3.7 ng/mL
8/3/2009 - 4.2 ng/mL
8/31/2009 - 5.1 ng/mL
10/2/2009 - 5.7 ng/mL (or was it 5.8?)
11/2/2009 - 7.6 ng/mL
11/30/2009 - 10.5 ng/mL
12/28/2009 - 13.2 ng/mL

And, here's the CA15-3.

Sept 2007 - 23 U/mL
Jan 2008 - 31 U/mL
Mar 2008 - 36 U/mL
June 2008 - 23 U/mL (started radiation that month)
Aug 2008 - 18 U/mL (week of August 4th)
Sept 2008 - 14.5 U/mL YAAAAAAY!!!
Oct 1 2008 - 19.6 U/mL
Oct 31 2008 - 15.3 U/mL
Nov 28 2008 - 19.5 U/mL
Dec 30 2008 - 16.0 U/mL
Jan 22 2009 - 15.4 U/mL
Mar 2 2009 - 17.8 U/mL
Apr 8 2009 - 19.6 U/mL
May 5 2009 - 18.4 U/mL
June 4 2009 - 19.7 U/mL
July 2 2009 - 22.1 U/mL
Aug 3 2009 - 29.7 U/mL
August 31 2009 - 31.9 U/mL
Oct 3 2009 - 38.7 U/mL
Nov 2 2009 - 36.4 U/mL
Nov 30 2009 - 38.5 U/mL
Dec 28 2009 - 37.5 U/mL

This is the fourth month that the CA15-3 has hovered in the same range - a good thing, I guess. The CEA, though, continues to rise slowly. When I asked Dr. K how he interpreted this a couple of weeks ago, his reply was, "it means that these numbers aren't really telling us anything". Sigh. I knew that, though.

In the meantime, the lymph nodes in my left armpit seem to be either getting a bit bigger or at least not getting smaller. It feels like I have a small egg under there. When I saw Dr. K a couple of weeks ago, he felt that between the tumor markers not going down and the swollen lymph nodes, it probably means that the current regimen (Tykerb and Femara) isn't doing the trick, so he was going to look into what my next option would be. We'll talk about that when I see him in two weeks.

Also, last week, as I felt around my right ribs where they are sore, I felt a small nodule, about the size of a grape, under the skin and under my right arm, just outside the reconstructed breast (the TRAM flap side). I showed it to the nurse the other day and she said she was going to call Dr. K and let him know. I'm going to call him today and see what he feels we should do. It could be a new tumor. Or, it could be calcifications from fractured ribs. It's not tender - not like the ribs - it's just there.

In the meantime, I had a nice long visit with Lisa, one of my first friends when we moved to Prineville when I was ten. I hadn't seen her since high school - we figured it had been at least 28 years since we last seen each other. We had a good visit - got caught up on where our lives were/are and then started chatting about where this person was or what happened to that person. It was fun and interesting . . . it was great to reconnect and I'm sure we'll see each other again. Gotta love Facebook!

Also, things are moving along with my family's move into my house. We've had discussions about what we're keeping and what we're getting rid of, etc. It's been kinda fun because we're reimagining how to use the space. Change is good. It's like the house is getting a bit of a facelift!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas and Post-Christmas Happenings

Christmas Day was fun, although Eddie went back east with his dad and we missed him at our Christmas dinner. We had ham at my sister's house and then watched GI Joe.

Yesterday, I had a lazy morning, then I bought a couple of storage bins - need to start packing up stuff to make room for my folks and my brother. Then, I started taking down the Christmas decorations - figured that should be first in order to make room.

Then, my family and I saw Avatar in 3D. I have to say, it's a very beautifully made movie and the story sounded familiar - big bad corporation trying to get/steal the natural resources from an indigenous people. The scenery of this planet was amazing.

We hadn't had dinner, so we grabbed a bite, then I went to my friend's house to play cards.

All in all, a good day. I need to get going today, though. Pack away the Christmas decorations and then start moving pictures and other things around.

Have a great Sunday!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Incredible Generosity

Someone I know - who wishes to remain anonymous - sent me money to give to my folks. I received it today, just in time for Christmas. He'd heard, through Facebook, of my parents' financial difficulties and I guess he wanted to help them out - which also helps me out.

So, this post is just to thank this incredibly generous person for the gift of a happier Christmas for me and my family.

Thank you! And, my parents thank you, too!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Preparations Completed!

I feel fortunate. I had a fairly relaxing day. Eddie and I had a lazy morning, then we watched Alvin & the Chipmunks the Squeaquel. It was a cute movie - and I thought the music choices were fun!

Afterwards, we went to the grocery store - holy cow! We circled the whole parking lot - all the spaces down one side of the store, across the front, to the other side of the store before we finally found one. It was crazy when we tried to leave - it seemed like there were a lot more cars and it took us about five minutes to even back out of our spot and get out of the parking lot. Of course, one person was rude about letting someone back out of their spot. It was the only instance of poor holiday behavior, even when I went shopping on Black Friday.

Then, Eddie had an appointment at the dentist's. He passed with flying colors - meaning, no cavities and only a little instruction about brushing.

I'm really going to miss him when he's in Virginia. He'll be gone eight days.

My evening was spent wrapping one last present, then creating rhymes for a treasure hunt - three for each child (Eddie, niece, nephew). They were small gifts. I was getting tired of finding rhymes!

Probably because this morning, for about five minutes, any time Eddie said anything, I would reply in a rhyme. That was fun! We were both being "weirdos"! Eddie likes to use that term for having fun - for being weird and silly and goofy.

Well, time for bed. I hope you all have a great Christmas Eve tomorrow. I just have a bit of cleaning to do tomorrow, then everyone is coming over to my place for the gift exchange. Eddie will stay the night with me - Santa will visit us tomorrow night.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Rib pain continues - off and on

I really wish I knew what was going on with those ribs - by evening last night, they were painful again. There's some tender spots right on the lower, lateral part of the right ribs, beginning just under the reconstructed breast and extending under the arm and around to my back. I didn't wear Under Armor yesterday - just a camisole. It feels better this morning - I wore Under Armor to bed and also did qigong to try to loosen things up. My plan is to take an Epsom salt bath this morning . . . if nothing else, those Epsom salts seem to relieve any achiness in my joints. My leg muscles - the calves and lower hamstrings - have been achey, too. I really need to get into a regular streching routine . . .

What's up for today? Decluttering, finishing up a beadwork project, making up rhymes for a treasure hunt for the kiddos, and then taking Eddie to Wacky Bounce with his classmate.

Eddie just asked me what we were doing today - and other than going to Wacky Bounce, he said that he was more than happy to stay home because "Mario Kart Double Dash will keep me focused". He just got a new game he can play on the wii - an early Christmas present. He's really become a Mario Kart officionado. He has almost all the games, I think, from the virtual console version of the original games to the wii. He also likes Mario Bros and Donkey Kong. My own brothers had a Nintendo years ago - they played Mario Bros for hours. For me, that whole franchise dropped off the radar until Eddie got interested in them this year. It's been fun seeing how the games have evolved through the years.

Well, have a great day everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dreamcatcher for a friend

I finally had time to make this dreamcatcher, using a few beads I bought in Hawaii at a beadshow (those are the wooden ones with symbols on them).

It's pretty basic - I do like the way it turned out, though. I wanted it to be asymetrical.

Holiday Week

This week, I am giving myself permission to take a break from work. Well, I do need to respond to a couple of emails. I finished wrapping almost all the presents last night while watching a movie. Yay! Eddie "helped" by taking the wrapped present and putting it under the tree. He kept wondering if the next one was for him! : )

So, what am I going to do with my time?

I want to do a bit of beadwork today. Also, I'd like to start cleaning up the spareroom in preparation for my family's arrival in the house.

I need to go to the grocery store - Spagedward is almost out of his Cheez-its. I should've bought stock in Nabisco years ago ...

One of Eddie's classmates will come over for a playdate this afternoon. They have been planning to race each other since last week - Eddie woke up this morning saying, "You're on!" So, I expect a loud, rambunctious afternoon.

I could really get into this kind of life - having relaxing mornings and only doing work that I want to do. I'll get there someday . . .

Have a great Monday, folks!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

There's my two full-time jobs . . . and my part-time job

Like most parents, I have two full-time jobs: the one that brings in the money and the one taking care of your child (or children).

I also have another part-time job: cancer treatment.

I counted the total number of appointments I had this year. It includes seeing my oncologist or his assistant, the zometa treatments, the dentist, the counselor, the acupuncturist, and a couple of appointments for Eddie.

Exactly how many appointments did I have this year? Drum roll, please:


Yes, seventy-seven appointments.

That's a lot better than last year, when I had 125 days where I had appointments.

But that means that I had appointments on 20% of the days in 2009. 20%.

If you consider that I have travel time and assume an average one-hour appointment, that means that 150 of my waking hours were spent going to medical appointments.

That's almost a month of work hours (40 hours a week x 4 weeks = 160).

Amazing, eh?

And, there's a Plan C

As recent readers of my blog know, I've been trying to institute some ways to save money with impending pay reductions. I'm still planning to pursue a version of Plan A, but Plan B was to fix up the house enough to be able to sell it.

Plan C is to invite my folks and brother to live with me. Something happened yesterday and it looks like Plan C is what we'll do.

My dad and my brother have been looking for work the past two years. I know that my brother has put in well over 100 applications and my dad maybe 30 or 40. No interviews. At all.

In the meantime, several years ago, my mom had acid reflux, but it'd gotten so bad that she'd lost about 10-15 pounds and then had blood in her urine. So, she had an endoscopy. After insurance paid, she owed a significant amount of money. But she couldn't afford to pay. They took whatever was left in her checking account yesterday and left her broke.

I ended up giving them some money from my savings, but in the end, it's a bandaid approach. We all need something that will put a dent in our debt - me in the home equity line of credit that I used when first diagnosed two years ago and my folks who have old medical bills.

So, they're moving in to my house. Probably after the first of the year. I do have two rooms that I don't even really use in the house. We're all going to adjust. But right now the benefits outweigh any negatives to learning how to live with each other again. We each save several hundred a month in expenses, which we can use to pay down debt, and I get home-cooked meals more often. They can help with Eddie in the case I have to have chemo. Dad gets a much bigger yard to play in - for his garden and such. They get internet access and satellite TV. We will now have two cats and a dog. We'll need to figure out storage.

So, some big changes in store after the New Year. I think it'll all work out.

Have a great week-end everyone!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Note to Self

Stop reading the FB posts of conservatives I grew up with. It's infuriating.

Okay, deep breath. Deep breath.

I really want to post a reply . .. but it's Christmas, so I'll let a sleeping dog lie. Or, in this case, a sleeping elephant.

Lazy Day

Now, I'm realizing why I bring Eddie to school every morning! It's to get me out of the house and at work!! LOL

Eddie's dad took him to school this morning, so I'm able to have a lazy morning.

I need to get going, though. I have an eye appointment and then I'll help out in Eddie's classroom.

Yesterday was a little rough. I started it off with a bloody nose, had a bit of diarrhea again, and the pain in my right ribs had migrated around to the back ribs. It bothered me to breath deep, so my breathing was shallow.

It's better now. I slept last night in an "Under Armour" shirt and that gave the ribs more support. I think it helped because I'm able to take deep breaths without more than a tinge of pain.

Enjoy your Friday! 7 more days until Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas "Service" Tonight

Eddie goes to a religious school - and they told us today that it would be a service or worship and not a "program" or "concert".

Eddie has a speaking part.

I'm already proud of him.

Not much else in the news department. Just trying to clean up my office. Haven't called yet about getting my ribs x-rayed or whatever, but they are still sore. Have a great evening everyone!

P.S. Eddie not only had a speaking part, but he was the very FIRST child to speak for the whole program! He did a great job - he enunciated clearly, into the mic, and spoke in a calm, measured voice. Wonderful wonderful job, boogaloo!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Earache's gone, but now ...

I have diarrhea and my sore ribs are aching more.

Not sure what's causing the diarrhea - it is a side effect of Tykerb and I was off of it for three days while I waited for my doctor, the pharmacy, and insurance to do what it is they do best. I started taking it again on Sunday, so perhaps my body is adjusting to it again.

My sore ribs, though, may indicate a fracture. The slight pain has been increasing - deep breaths hurt and last night, I experienced pain as I tried to roll over on my side.

My doctor or my physician's assistant noted that when bones are radiated (and my ribs on the right side have been radiated twice), it changes the architecture of the bones and sometimes, they can spontaneously fracture. I didn't really do anything strenous lately and I haven't fallen on them. I have tried to sleep on that right side more since I have swollen lymph nodes under my right arm and they get uncomfortable when I sleep on that side. It's one of those cases where I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't when I try to sleep. A few weeks ago, I may have overreached once when I played v-ball, but if that's the case, then why have I been experiencing more pain in the last week?

I know there isn't much to do with broken or fractured ribs. They just need time to heal. I am, however, thinking about asking my doctor if I should get an x-ray.

I was feeling sorry for myself, but my cousin expressed sympathy for me, King Island-style, on Facebook a minute or two ago and my mood kinda lifted. Amazing how that kind of support can make you feel.

I also finished this introductory chapter for a book proposal today. That feels good.

Tonight, I'm would like to get my Christmas cards ready to send out.

P.S. Eddie had a bit of diarrhea, too, which suggests that he and I were around something or ate something that would cause both of us to get it. We made cookies at my sister's house on Sunday - something we ate? That would've affected us sooner, so maybe some little bug over there? Who knows? I'm feeling better today. And, I got my cards ready to go. Eddie has a Christmas worship service tonight so while his stomach isn't quite 100%, he's still going to try to go to school so he can go to the program tonight.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Holiday Joke (a bit suggestive)

My cousin, Theresa, sent me this joke:

Why is a Christmas tree better than a man?

It stays up for 12 days and nights, has cute balls, and looks good with the lights on!

Ha ha ha ha ha

Mmm mmm good - Yay, Oh Shoot!

Yesterday, my family celebrated my nephew's 11th birthday and then we spent a few hours cutting out (flour is our friend), baking, and decorating Christmas cookies! The flour was flying!

I think we made about 7 dozen cookies in total. Then, my niece helped me make a batch of rice krispie treats, which we colored red and green. So, it was fun!

Today, I was supposed to interview an elder, but she decided that she didn't know enough, so I spent the time trying to get caught up on email and finishing up some grades. Then, I actually finished writing the introductory chapter for my book proposal. Now, I just need to edit it and send it on.

My volleyball team won our match pretty handily tonight. It was fun. We lost the first game, though, because we made too many errors. It was fun!

The rest of this week, I need to identify other interviewees and then follow up on a couple of projects. I have a grant proposal (that I'm working on with three others) and two applications, all due in January, to work on.

Then, next week, I will be on a little holiday and plan to spend it hanging out with my son. Yay!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Oh, What a Night! or Slip-sliding Away!

So, Friday night, I went to a colleague's house for a potluck (except I wasn't sure if I was going so I didn't bring any food). I saw the forecast, which said that there'd be freezing rain around 7pm. I got to the potluck about 5:30pm and then left about 6:50pm. I followed my colleague out the door - and discovered the steps were icy as well as the road. She got in her car and I got in mine and I followed her up the small street to the street sign - she tried to turn right to go down hill and she slowly started sliding and ended up spinning about 270 degrees so that she was pointing left and uphill.

I saw that the road was dry to the left of the stop sign, so I drove there and had some traction and then started downhill to the right - and immediately started sliding a bit sideways, and if I hadn't been able to stop, I would've slid into the trees and/or a mailbox. When I came to a stop, it was in a dry spot under a tree and my right leg was shaking so bad that I decided I shouldn't drive any more.

I went back to my colleague's house to tell my chair and his wife that there was black ice. The host decided to take his car down the hill since he was supposed to take his wife to the train station early in the morning. But as I walked to my car (in the hopes of talking my chair into driving my car down the hill) next to my colleague's car, he fishtailed and the host ended up rearending my car - smashed his headlight and I have a cracked and scratched bumper. My muffler/tail pipe has a small notch.

My chair and his wife decided to walk home, so after getting my car somewhat out of the way and down the hill onto a wider street below. The three of us then walked to their house - the idea was that they might be able to drive me home, but as we were "slip-sliding" to their house, we realized just how icy it was, so I ended up staying the night at their house. It was certainly an adventure - we ended up walking on grass and loose gravel and fallen leaves whenever possible.

The next morning, it was still very icy and I wanted to get home, so I walked first to a coffee shop and had chai and relaxed and thought I might be able to catch a bus that would get me close to my house, so I walked to a bus stop. But after waiting 10+ minutes, I started walking home. Fortunately, I remembered that my dad had to take mom to work and he was close to where I was, so he picked me up. By that time, it had started raining and the icy roads were thawing. He took me to my car and I drove home.

In honor of the night, here's the lyrics to Oh What a Night - I've taken some liberties with the words, though, so beware! : )

Song Lyrics - December 63 (Oh What A Night)

Oh, what a night, late December back in '63
What a very special time for me
As I remember what a night!

Oh what a night,
I did not know there'd be freezing rain
But the streets weren't going to be the same
What a rain, what a night!

Oh, I got a funny feeling when I walked to the street
And I, as I recall there was a lot of sleet

(Oh what a night),
Hypnotizing, mesmerizing me
The ice was reflecting off the trees
Sweet surrender, what a night!

I felt a rush when I heard the headlight break
Spinning its wheels, I knew I made a mistake

(Oh what a night!)

Oh, I got a funny feeling when I walked out to the street
And I, as I recall there was a lot of sleet

Oh what a night! Doo dit doo dit dit doo dit doo dit dit
Oh what a night! Doo dit doo dit dit doo dit doo dit dit
Oh what a night! Doo dit doo dit dit doo dit doo dit dit
Oh what a night! Doo dit doo dit dit doo dit doo dit dit

Oh what a night,
Why didn't I believe the weather man?
Seemed so wrong, but now I know he's right
What a bummer, what a night!

I felt a rush when I heard the headlight break
Spinning its wheels, I knew I made a mistake

(Oh what a night!)

I felt a rush when I heard the headlight break
Spinning its wheels, I knew I made a mistake

Oh what a night! Doo dit doo dit dit doo dit doo dit dit
Oh what a night! Doo dit doo dit dit doo dit doo dit dit
Oh what a night! Doo dit doo dit dit doo dit doo dit dit
Oh what a night! Doo dit doo dit dit doo dit doo dit dit

I know my friend Heather could do a better job . . . but I need to get going on my day! Happy Sunday everyone. Oh, yeah. I'm fine. We're all fine. It was just an interesting adventure!

P.S. Monday postscript - actually, my chair slipped and fell yesterday while at another potluck up in the hills - he landed on his wrist with his knee bent, so he's in a little pain today.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What a day, what a day, what a day - Part 2

Woke up this morning only to discover that my hot water pipe was frozen, although I wasn't sure if it was the hot water heater or not. Had cold water running through it all day - then this afternoon, talked to NW Natural, someone from Judson's, someone from one Heating place and then Hendrix - finally got hold of a technician who asked me to check the pipes coming off the heater and found that one of them was warm. Okay, hot water heater is working. Someone else suggested that I run my dryer in the garage to warm it up. Had it going for awhile this afternoon and then when I returned from dinner at my folks' house. About 30 minutes later - I heard a sputter, then a gush from all my faucets - checked the water - Yay! It was hot.

Whew. Saved me from one expensive repair.

But then, my cell phone kept randomly turning off. Eddie dropped it in some water last January. After blow drying the innards for awhile, it worked fine for a few months, with only occasional glitches. But I started getting them a few times a day, soooo, I decided to replace the phone. This means a little more money out the door . . . I got the phone today. (I don't have a land line.)

Then, I saw my physician's assistant - she works for my oncologist. I've had tenderness around my right ribs (where I had radiation) and this morning, I felt as if I had an egg under my left arm pit from swollen lymph nodes. As I mentioned one of my numbers had inched up again. She decided to bring in Dr. K. The result? Dr. K said that we were not getting the result that he wanted from the Tykerb/Femara mix and so he will think hard about what to do to change up my treatment come January. One idea was to start on Gemzar with Herceptin (getting IV chemo once every two weeks); another is to maybe see if I can get neratinib (a new drug that is like Tykerb - you take it as a pill; however, I guess the major side effect almost everyone gets is diarrhea) or TMB-1 (I think that's what it was) which is a "smart" Herceptin - a drug that can find the cells that are overexpressing Her-2 and then go inside it and stop it from multiplying and growing - in other words, it would only affect cancer cells.

I may also have a new scan in January - to see what's going on in the left lung as well as to see if I have any new or spontaneous fractures in my right ribs since they've been more sore these past few days.

I also found out that our Radiation Center will be getting new technology there by the end of January - I saw two of my techs at the restaurant where I ate lunch today. It's called "stereostatic radiation surgery" and it's a method whereby they are imaging your lung (or other soft tissue) that's moving and direct radiation specifically to a site that has a tumor. This is crucial for lungs since they are constantly moving as you breathe. The techs said that maybe I can suggest to Dr. K to put my case before the local Tumor Board to see if maybe I'd be a candidate for this.

I was upset to hear I might have to have IV chemo. I was feeling pretty discombobulated all day today, because of the frozen pipes, this news, the new cell phone, and all that happened yesterday. But when I had dinner with my folks, they reminded me not to borrow trouble before it's here. So, I'll put away any thoughts of changing up my treatment until I see Dr. K in January. And, have a great Christmas.

And, when I got home, my pipes thawed. So, I'm feeling better and not quite so overwhelmed.

Still have a bit of an earache. Still taking the decongestant. Still need to grade two more papers and then I can submit my grades.

So, everyone, have a great Friday. Things can only improve from here, eh? : )

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What a day, what a day, what a day

I've been fighting an earache for three days, sometimes with a sinus headache. (Of course, in the back of my mind, there was always the worry of there being a tumor somewhere in the brain causing these aches.)

I also had to get my teeth cleaned. I also have a canker sore on the back and bottom of my tongue. The dentist felt that there's a cavity next to one of my crowns, which is apparently getting old. So, the dentist wants to redo the crown and while he's there, he'll be able to see if there's a cavity. Price tag - about $300. It's not urgent, so it'll wait until spring after I receive my tax refund.

After the dentist's, I went to Immediate Care to have my ear checked. No infection, but the doctor felt that my eustachian tube is congested. So, she gave me a prescription for a decongestant. I dropped it off at the pharmacy and when I looked at the prescription, I realized that the doctor didn't write my name on the prescription, but another patient's. Fortunately, the pharmacy said they'd call the doctor to verify that the prescription is for me, not the other person, and then they'd fill it.

Then, I went to Freddies to pick up a couple of things. I went through the U-Scan and then paid with my debit because I wanted cash back - only $20.

I then parked at Eddie's school and it was when I was walking to my office that I realized that I left my cash in the dispenser.

I grabbed a bite to eat on my way to my office and called Freddies - they said to come in and fill out a form about the cash and noted that no one turned in a lost $20. If no one turns it in, then I lost $20.

I had Thai food for lunch and as I bit into the carrots and broccoli, my molars hurt - obviously from the cleaning today. My jaw is still sore.

I went to my office and then went to the Dean's Holiday Party. Had some good visits with various people, including a couple of conversations about this new initiative that launched a few weeks ago.

Went back to the office and talked to my Chair about future plans; one that I proposed won't work, but I think I can figure out a work-around.

Picked up Eddie, went to Freddies, filled out the form, then to the pharmacy - got the decongestant, but insurance didn't pay for it, so it was $11 out of pocket.

End of day tally: Negatives - sore jaw, congested eustachian tube, lost $20, paid $11 for a prescription, need a new crown for about $300, still need to grade about 7 papers. Positives - good conversations, good food.

I took a decongestant a couple of hours ago and there already seems to be some improvement in the earache and small sinus headache. Whew. Seemingly no tumors, then. Things like the earache are like salt in a wound when you're living with metastatic cancer. On the other hand, why not me?

It ended up being a good day. A little touch and go there, but a good day. Especially since I will soon be finished grading papers! Yay!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

This is pretty cool!

The chair of my department requested some information about the Charitable Prescription Drug Program (which goes into effect Jan 1, 2010, although I don't know yet of any pharmacies that have agreed to participate) and found a copy of the bill online:

Charitable Prescription Drug Program

My name is on the bill:

Sponsored by Representatives GELSER, BARTON; Representatives BUCKLEY, GREENLICK,
MAURER, STIEGLER, THOMPSON, WITT (at the request of Deanna Kingston)

How cool is that? : )

Remember to ask your pharmacy to participate and maybe work with charitable organizations in your home town to set up "charitable prescription drug program" funds to help defray the "handling fee" that might be charged to patients. And, ask your pharmacies to start dispensing meds in individual-dose sealed packages!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Nice Sunday

Today was a relaxing day. Lazy morning, then dad helped me put up a few more lights at my house, then Eddie and I ran a couple of errands, then watched Planet 51 at the movie theater, then we got groceries, I folded laundry, and now we're just relaxing. Eddie will take a bath later. Still need to pay bills. I brought work home, but haven't looked at it. Which will be okay. It will get done.

It was a good day. A good day indeed.

Dang hackers! (A guest blog by Eddie)

I found a hacker in Mario Kart Wii. This guy kept shooting blue shells and bom-ombs and giving everyone (including me) a bad time!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Today's Events

Eddie and I will be picking up our Christmas tree later this morning.

Dad and mom are heading over to help me put the lights up on the house.

It's a decorating kind of day.

I need to write some, edit and add to a proposal, call people to do an interview, etc.

Nah! Gonna enjoy the sunny, if chilly, day today. Decorations are always fun!

Happy Saturday!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Yay! Volleyball

Yep, we won our volleyball match. Can't remember the score, exactly. It was good. Had pizza and beer beforehand, then met afterwards.

Good company. Good game. Good fun. 'Nuff said.

Happy week-end everyone!

The Beavs lost 37-33

Well, bummer. The Beavs lost the game last night.

I, however, mooched off my good friends for dinner. It was a nice time visiting, eating, and hanging out. What more can you ask for?

And, this morning? I'm actually ready to go. I'm usually running about 10 minutes behind. A morning doesn't get better than this!! Especially since it's Friday and I can sleep in tomorrow.

Volleyball tonight - and we're meeting at Woodstock's beforehand.

Tomorrow, putting up Christmas lights and maybe getting the tree. DirectTV will be installed also.

So, a fun and relaxing week-end is in store. Yay! Happy TGIF everyone!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Trash talk - OSU/UO Civil War Game for the Rose Bowl

Normally, I'm not a huge college or professional football fan. It makes me mad that athletics is valued over education in this country. But that's my opinion - and I'm an educator.

And, even though there are monetary considerations in the OSU/UO Civil War Game, there are still some vestiges of winning for the sake of winning - for the sport of it not just the money that I like. I'm not explaining myself well; suffice it to say that I think it's fun to root for the OSU Beavers over the UO Ducks in the Civil War.

To that end, I share some trash talk:

Why do U of O graduates put their diploma on the car dashboard? So they can park in the handicap spots!

Beaver in the car - Duck in the trunk!

And, there's a few more, courtesy of Beaver

How do you get to UofO from OSU?
Head south until you smell it and east until you step in it.

Two Duck fans were walking through the woods when they came upon a set of tracks. The first Duck fan said, "Those are deer tracks." The second Duck fan said, "No. They're two big to be deer tracks. They must be elk tracks." As they were arguing back and forth they got hit by the train.

Four alumni were climbing a mountain one day. Each was from a different Northwest School, and each proclaimed to be the most loyal of all fans at their alma mater. As they climbed higher, they argued as to which one of them was the most loyal of all. They continued to argue all the way up the mountain, and finally, as they reached the top, the Cougar hurled himself off the mountain, shouting "This is for WSU!" as he fell to his doom. Not wanting to be out done, the Husky threw himself off the mountain,proclaiming "This is for U of W!". Seeing this, the Beaver walked over and shouted "This is for everyone!", and pushed the Duck off the side of the mountain.

Seems that a Duck was driving North from Eugene at the same time a Beaver was driving South from Corvallis and they happened to meet head-on in a horrible crash on I-5. Miraculously, both climbed out of the steaming wreckage...their bodies intact. They examined the twisted metal and realized that they were truly Ducky to be alive. The Duck said, "This must be a sign from God that we should end the bitter rivalry that we have had since the beginning of time." The Beaver agreed...he went to his trunk and pulled out an unbroken bottle of whiskey. "This is truly remarkable," he said, "God must want us to toast our new-found friendship." He twisted the cap off and handed the bottle to the Duck, who took several big swigs, wiped his chin and handed the bottle back. The Beaver replaced the cap, and without a word, put the bottle back into his trunk. "Aren't you going to celebrate our Duck?" asked the Duck. Nah, I thing I'll just wait for the troopers to get here"

Mike Billotti passes away and is met in heaven by God himself. Upon speaking with Mike, God shows him around heaven and eventually leads Mike to his new home, a humble abode painted yellow with green trim and with a small UO flag over the door.

Feeling special, Mike begins to smile humbly but not before looking up the road to a marble mansion on the hill. Huge black and orange flags decorate the brick laid driveway leading up to the golden gates and enormous trees garner the landscape draped with OSU banners. Hanging over the European doors is a massive OSU flag hanging from a golden flag pole.

Distressed and upset Mike asks "Why does Dennis Erickson have such a beautiful house while I'm stuck with this shack?"

In all his wisdom and kindness, God smiles gently and politely answer back, "Don't fret Mike, the house isn't Erickson's, it's mine."

A first grade teacher explains to her class that she is an Oregon Duck. She asks her students to raise their hands if they were Ducks too. No one really knowing what an Oregon Duck was but wanting to be like their teacher, their hands explode into the air like fleshy fireworks. There is, however, one exception. A girl named Kristen has not gone along with the crowd.

The teacher asks her why she has decided to be different. "Because I'm not a Duck." Then, asks the teacher, "What are you? "Why, I'm a proud Oregon State Beaver," boasts the little girl. The teacher is a little perturbed now, her face slightly red. She asks Kristen why she is a rebel. "Well, my mom and dad are Beavers, so I'm a Beaver too." The teacher is now angry. "That's no reason," she says loudly. "What if your mom was a moron, and your dad was a moron. Would you be a moron too?" A pause, and a smile. "No, then," says Kristen, "I'd be a Duck!"

Just some neighborly trash talk! Hee hee.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"You look a lot like me! Are you my twin?" by Eddie

Every week, Eddie's teacher has the kids write creative stories. I haven't seen one for awhile, until today, so I'll share it with you.

"You Look a Lot Like Me! Are You My Twin?" by Eddie

It was 6:30am on a Monday morning. I got up and I saw someone else in my bed. I was extremely shocked. I jumped 3 feet in the air. "Who are you?" I said. "Oh, I'm your twin, James Kamis." "Oh," I said. 1 hour, 30 minutes later, we arrived at school. "This is my school," I said. My twin and I walked into 4th grade. "Good morning, Eddie," said Mr. W. "Morning," I said. "Who's that?" asked Mr. W. "This is my twin, James Kamis," I said. Mr. W put a tag with James's name on it. After school, we played Mario Kart Wii. It was fun. James won by one point! Strangely enough,in the last race, James came in 1st (I was in 2nd) by one millesecond [sic]! Really! It was insane! Then I showed James my computer. We played Monkey Kick Off on Miniclip. It was fun. Then we had spaghetti for dinner. It was delicious. Then we went to bed.

The end.

[any typos are mine]

Isn't that great? I think he understands dialogue pretty well.

An Emotionally Tiring Day

I had an appointment with my counselor and rehashed the events of last week - having to do with the post where I couldn't say much. It was draining. Didn't realize how much emotion I was still holding in. It's a good thing I let it out. But I'm feeling tired and drained.

Also managed to send out recommendation letters, some paperwork related to the Statehood project, emailed a few folks to find more interviewees, and graded some papers.

Then I picked up Eddie, took him to Wacky Bounce, wrote a draft of a poem which I may include in my book proposal, and had dinner.

Still need to go to the grocery store. Then, I can relax. And, get a good night's sleep.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December's Tumor Markers

I received my tumor marker numbers today - my treatment was yesterday. The CEA was up to 10.5 (from 7.6 last month) and the CA15-3 was up to 38.5 (from 36.4 last month). Anything less than 3.8 is normal for the CEA and anything less than 33 is good for the CA15-3.

1/2008 - 1.2 ng/mL
3/2008 - 0.9 ng/mL
6/2008 - 1.0 ng/mL
8/2008 - 1.1 ng/mL (need to double check this number, but it was in that 0.9 to 1.2 range)
9/2008 - 0.5 ng/mL
10/2008 - 0.9 ng/mL
10/31/2008 - 1.2 ng/mL
11/28/2008 - 1.2 ng/mL
12/30/2008 - 1.1 ng/mL
3/2/2009 - 1.4 ng/mL
4/8/2009 - 1.6 ng/mL
5/5/2009 - 1.9 ng/mL
6/4/2009 - 3.0 ng/mL
7/2/2009 - 3.7 ng/mL
8/3/2009 - 4.2 ng/mL
8/31/2009 - 5.1 ng/mL
10/2/2009 - 5.7 ng/mL (or was it 5.8?)
11/2/2009 - 7.6 ng/mL
11/30/2009 - 10.5 ng/mL

And, here's the CA15-3.

Sept 2007 - 23 U/mL
Jan 2008 - 31 U/mL
Mar 2008 - 36 U/mL
June 2008 - 23 U/mL (started radiation that month)
Aug 2008 - 18 U/mL (week of August 4th)
Sept 2008 - 14.5 U/mL YAAAAAAY!!!
Oct 1 2008 - 19.6 U/mL
Oct 31 2008 - 15.3 U/mL
Nov 28 2008 - 19.5 U/mL
Dec 30 2008 - 16.0 U/mL
Jan 22 2009 - 15.4 U/mL
Mar 2 2009 - 17.8 U/mL
Apr 8 2009 - 19.6 U/mL
May 5 2009 - 18.4 U/mL
June 4 2009 - 19.7 U/mL
July 2 2009 - 22.1 U/mL
Aug 3 2009 - 29.7 U/mL
August 31 2009 - 31.9 U/mL
Oct 3 2009 - 38.7 U/mL
Nov 2 2009 - 36.4 U/mL
Nov 30 2009 - 38.5 U/mL

Hmm, how does one interpret these results? A reminder of what the nurse told me last month, which is that sometimes the number spikes after starting a new treatment before it comes down again. Sooo . . . the fact that the CA15-3 is going down is a good thing and maybe the CEA went up because as cancer cells die, they put off more of the protein (carcinoembryonic antigen) into the blood. Hmm, I kinda like that explanation, huh?

Despite some interpersonal drama that occurred last week, I have been sleeping quite well (I have had four nights in a row in which I slept at least 4.5 to 5 hours at a stretch, followed by two more 90 min to 2 hour stretches of sleep). People keep telling me how healthy and energetic I look. I feel fairly well - just some slight fatigue in the late afternoon - and have been productive at work and at home and have been having fun with Spagedward. So, I'm well. I can't complain too much - just wish that CEA number would stop spiking and start going down down down. I guess I can't complain too much about the CA15-3 number - that's stable.

It's a wait and see game . . . I see my oncologist's physician assistant next week. My guess is she says "wait and see" as well. I still have swollen lymph nodes - but it's hard to tell if they are smaller or not. At one point, it seemed like two had sorta merged to become one. I feel a space between two of them now - but one of those feels larger than it had been.

Wish they could come up with something better to measure progress.

Dr. K did say that taking them monthly wasn't too productive and that it might be better to wait a few months between measurements.

I kinda like the monthly, though. It's the kick in the pants I need to keep with the program and/or redouble my efforts at things like meditation and qigong.