About this blog

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 11, 2010. As a result of my treatment, I have lymphedema in my left arm. I draw my strength from the Lord, as well as my family's Scots-Irish heritage. Our Graham's were a tough and scrappy bunch of fighters on the Scottish/English border. They came to America and continued to fight when necessary: in the American Revolution; the Civil War; and my brother is a Captain in the U.S. Army. My ancestors settled this country against all odds. My great-grandmothers on both sides of the family were pioneer women who settled the West. Along with that heritage, and the full armor of God, I am walking the walk and fighting the good fight.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Round Four ... done!

I just got back from my fourth of six rounds of chemotherapy.

This one took a little longer.  I am now a frequent visitor of the lab at Kaiser.  I had a bit of time to kill between dropping Isabelle off at 8 a.m. and my chemo appointment at 9 a.m.  So I went to Discovery lake for a quick walk/run.  I ended up running 2 laps and walking 1 as a warm up/cool down.  Not bad for 30 minutes, I thought.  I broke just a light sweat and remind my metabolism not to plummet, which was all I wanted to do since I had to go have chemo.

I was stretching out a bit by my car when I got a call from the chemo nurse. Apparently, the blood draw from yesterday they missed doing a liver function and creatinine panel. They only did a CBC. Great.  So I got myself over there quickly and was back up at the lab for another poke and another $10 co-pay. (Yes, that tangled mess of insurance just got another twist in it).  I was on time for the chemo appointment, but had to wait about an hour for the results to come in.  Time for some Angry Birds!!

Because of the snafus this week, I had a complete blood count done 3 times this week. One a week ago (10/15), one yesterday (10/21) and then today (10/22). The nurse let me look at the results of my CBC's after she mentioned that my white count was pretty high.  She asked if I had been taking the prescribed steroid, which I had. 3 doses before this morning's draw.  A week ago, my WBC was at 2.0, which is low. Yesterday, it was back up to 5.8. This morning, it was at a whopping 11.5! The nurse said it was because of the steroid. A high WBC count indicates that your body is trying to fight off something.  If it hadn't been the jump between yesterday and today, I would have thought maybe it was the flu shots. But that impact should be waning, and this was double over 24 hours!

The counts from last Friday are all lower. She said that was probably my "nadir point," which basically means my lowest point. On that day, even my red blood cell count was marked as low, just under the low end of the range. I asked for a printout of it and there is a lot of data on this sheet.  Abbrevations that I'm going to want to look up just to see.  The bottom line, though, is that as of today I was okay to get the chemo.   Oh, and the liver and kidney functions were normal too.  Sigh.  What's another poke, anyway?

Bring it ON!
Treatment itself went without incident.  I watched some news, read some Psalms, and played more Angry Birds. I drank 3 thermoses filled with water.  As I sat there, I couldn't help but overhearing other patients. It could be so much worse. The lady next to me was discussing with the nurse about how she has to go in every 3 weeks for chemo until next MAY!  And she had been going since last May. Granted, she was out quicker than I was.  But still. She will be doing this for months after I am done.

Chemo puts you on this life-cycle where you no longer think of life by the normal calendar. Every time you get a new event, you think....okay. Where does that put me on the chemo calendar?  Will I be at risk of infection?  Will I have taste buds? Mouth sores?  Eyebrows?  Life is just revolves around that chemotherapy wheel.  It goes around, around, around.  Chemo today, Cipro on Tuesday, wash your hands, wash your hands, round and around, blood draw, oncologist, round and around.

I want to share a quick verse I read this morning while taxotere was dripping into my veins. I may have shared it in the past, but it was so spot on while I was actually having chemotherapy:

Excerpts from Psalm 37
Do not fret because of evildoers,
Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
And wither as the green herb.  (vv 1-2)

For evildoers shall be cut off;
But those who wait on the Lord,
They shall inherit the earth.
For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more;
Indeed you will look carefully for his place,
But it shall be no more. (vv. 9-10)

The whole psalm is great, but these verses just brought comfort to my heart like nothing else. This cancer will be cut down like the grass and DIE. For a little while they are here, but if I am patient and wait, they shall be no more. We will look for them carefully later (scans, blood tests, etc), but they shall be no more.  I'm going to take this promise to heart and rest in it.  Thank you Lord for ministering to me this morning!

My prayer requests:
  • That I cope with the after effects of this round of chemo without too much discomfort, fatigue, etc. I would like to have more patience with my family for the next few days. I have found myself to be kind of impatient and nasty. I don't want to be that way.  I want to reflect the patience and peace of Jesus. 
  • That I have the energy on Sunday to do the event with the Chargers. Even though I don't know any one else, I'm really looking forward to it.  
  • Travel mercies for my family.  Jared is spending his last night in Iraq tonight and will be coming back to the USA tomorrow. Mom and dad are on their way to Georgia as I type this. God is good!

1 comment:

  1. So many important meanings in those verses. Thank you for reminding me of them. I need to dive into some Psalms tonight. I'm cranky haha. You're doing a great job, Tonya! You look wonderful. Those blood counts do get wacky along the way. One cycle my platelets dove down to 26, wbc down to 1.4, rbc down to 8.1...on verge of transfusion which wouldn't have been the end of the world just not something you want to have to do. You're doing great!