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About a month later from my last update, and life goes on with fun Summer happenings and family time.

You may recall in my last post that I had just planted my vegies into galvanized stock tanks.  All was going so well at first.  Then some bug attacked the kale and one pepper.  Kale of all things!  One plant survived and is doing well, and whatever it was that got those plants, has not returned, luckily.  So far we've been enjoying lettuce, zucchini, basil, cilantro (going to seed now), and some herbs.  There are tomatoes and peppers forming too.

Can you believe it?  Mark is out on the tractor mowing all the fields again.  This was such a wet Spring that things have not died completely down yet.  I sure hope this is the last time for the year.  It's getting very old.  But on a positive note, we both got out and hacked away the ivy from the base of the oak trees.  It's been on my list for quite some time and I think we (mainly "he") got a handle on this problem.  Now if we could find something safe to spray on the new ivy shoots, poison oak, and blackberries.  Oh, the country life. 

We've been busy and having fun so far this summer.  And my stamina is up and I seem to be holding up to our fast paced schedule.  Although I had a few "bad days" on a recent camp trip.  Not sure what it was about, and I try not to worry about heart or cancer, as it seems to have subsided and all is well now.  It's just something to keep tabs on and mention at my next appointments. And by the way, those appointments are now scheduled out even further.  I think I mentioned a month ago or so that my cardiology appoints are now further apart.  Well, when I saw my oncologist earlier this month, he too, for the very first time ever, suggested I do my labs every two months, rather than monthly.  And I won't see him for six months right when my next CT Scan is due. I used to see my oncologist every 2 months and have scans every 4 months.  I'm going to take this as a very good sign and roll with it. 


Want a little summary of fun times since my last post. 
😎 Here you go  😎
Our tap dancer granddaughter in her recital - Singing in the Rain

After the recital

Anniversary weekend in SF - Giants Game

Anniversary weekend in SF - Rent & Dinner Out


Oo-koo-lay-lay Camp - Lake Berryessa
 
My Birthday Week Camp Trip with daughter and grandson - Little Grass Valley Reservoir









 




 















And on the medical research front:
Dear friend and cancer researcher/expert, Kate, shared this news... "This is very exiting; an antibody derived from alpacas was recently approved as a therapy for a rare blood cancer. This is an older article..."

Ablynx‘s Nanobody platform has used the smaller than human monoclonal antibodies from an alpaca to develop the phase III Orphan designated drug Caplacizumab. A phase III study ‘Hercules’ is now pioneering Caplacizumab as the first ever anti-Von Willebrand factor (vWF) nanobody for treating an ultra-rare blood clotting disorder.




~ HAPPY SUMMER ~


B  E  L  I  E  V  E

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •

THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comment.

You can also find me on FacebookRavelry, and just occasionally on Instagram and Twitter. Just click the corresponding name above to go there.
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I had my semi-monthly CT Scan yesterday and just received the call that all is well.  I was thrilled to get the call, as I don't see my oncologist for a couple of weeks, and that would be a long wait for the results.  Especially since this is the longest I've gone between scans.  I was getting a CT Scan every 4 months.  But since I'm doing well and liver tumors are all but non-existent, it was advised I could go a bit longer between tests. Of course that made me nervous, so the call was very welcome. I'll get a copy of the report with details at my next appointment.

On the subject of cancer, Medscape just posted a very interesting article on how the medical community is doing a poor job of delivering appropriate targeted therapies to patients. It is based on a recent report by Foundation Medicine and Flatiron Health, and focuses on lung cancer.  But we should all be concerned about this. (Click on link in first line of this paragraph).

I've actually got out and pulled some weeds this week.  I don't last too long out there, but every little bit helps.  Mark has spent all week either on the tractor, the riding mower, or using the weed eater, to erratic all the high grass and weeds.  We've had so much more rain than usual that everything was quite overgrown and tall. Not to mention how late it is because of the wet weather.  All in good time.

But I was so sad to go out to my little vegetable garden this morning and find something had snapped off a pepper and kale plant at the bottom stem, and nibbled a few other things.  My garden is in three galvanized bins, like the ones used as stock water tanks.  This allows me to have things up close to the house.  Our property is all fenced so I doubt it was a deer, which probably would have cleaned everything out.  Perhaps a hungry squirrel or a big fat rat is the culprit.  Either way, I hope they got enough last night, as everything was looking so good.

Some recent fun outings happened while niece Jonnie visited during her road trip from San Diego. Then we camped at Bothe State Park in St. Helena for two nights with girlfriends (and their hubbies) from nearly 55 years ago. And more...

Fun times for sure. Especially now that we are getting some nice Spring Weather.


SF Giants game with my favorite guy.

My garden.  This is the container that was eaten by a scoundrel. 
Peppers, kale, cilantro, oregano and Thyme

Zucchini, lettuce, and few wayward potatoes left over from last year.


Wine tasting and fun times with niece Jonnie & family.
 




Farmers Market Night

Camping at Bothe State Park


That's all for now.



~ Until Next Post ~


B  E  L  I  E  V  E

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •

THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comment.

You can also find me on FacebookRavelry, and just occasionally on Instagram and Twitter. Just click the corresponding name above to go there.
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Today I met with my oncology nurse for my port draw and subsequent labs. These results will arrive in my online patient portal later today, and the tumor marker results will show up in a day or so.

A few days ago, I met with my cardiologist, for my ICD interrogation (check up) and Echocardiogram results from last month. My echo results, and EF (Ejection Fraction) are unchanged at a range of approximately 35-40%. (55% being a normal).  I asked if he had expected this. He replied with my exact feelings and hopes, "I had hoped it would be better, but no change is also good."  Meaning at least my EF had not declined any.  So I must tell myself this is all good.

My cardiologist also found that I had about 3 episodes of V-tach (Ventricular Tachicardia) in late April and early May. These were only for 10 seconds at a time, so no shock was necessary from my ICD; so either my heart automatically corrected this situation, or my ICD paced me back to normal. After getting home and looking at my calendar, I realized that two of the instances occurred the day we were coming home from a camping trip.  I awoke that morning feeling light-headed and slightly nauseous, I thought to a late night out by the camp fire the night before. But perhaps there was more going on than I realized.

The summary of all this is that I continue to feel good and will have a CT scan in a few weeks with more information of the tumors in my liver, which I hope continue to decrease. 

That's all for now.



~ Until Next Post ~


B  E  L  I  E  V  E

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •

THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comment.

You can also find me on FacebookRavelry, and just occasionally on Instagram and Twitter. Just click the corresponding name above to go there.
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Yes, we are just living life as best we can and to the fullest that works for our family.

Why I don't Blog as much when I'm well, I don't know.  I guess part of me is just living life; you know, doing what an average person does from day to day.  And that is all very good.   

Since my last post of March 22nd (REALLY, that long ago??), we've been busy with family, some projects in the yard (WEEDS GALORE!) and having fun.  What better thing to keep busy with!  And of course I have been knitting every single day, as is my norm, and trying to keep my fingers calloused up on my ukulele and my body a bit healthy with my tai chi. The walking seems to evade me, but I am trying to get out when I can, mostly when camping in our sweet trailer.

My latest lab work all looks within normal ranges, or close enough.  And I just got the results from my latest echo today. Although I had hoped for improvement, my cardiologist seemed very excited that there had been no change and my EF continues at 35-40%.  So if he is happy, I am too.

Here's the latest in photos.

Friends sitting on Dad's Bench at Pacific Star Winery

 A fun day out at Stillwater Cove bluffs on a recent camp trip



  Mark's birthday and showing granddaughter how to weave.

 



  Fun Easter Sunday with family

Beautiful day for an SF Giant's game. The Vallejo Ferry is the way to go.
 
  Got some veggies planted - tomatoes, peppers, basil, cilantro, kale, lettuce, zucchini, thyme, oregano.



  My latest project,  the Shetland Wool Week Beanie, but with my addition of waves and a fish, rather than the boat in the pattern.


~ Until Next Post ~


B  E  L  I  E  V  E

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •

THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comment.

You can also find me on FacebookRavelry, and just occasionally on Instagram and Twitter. Just click the corresponding name above to go there.
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Spring is here! And that makes me smile.  Longer days, loads of green everywhere in Sonoma County, some intermittent rain rather than the deluge we've had these last couple of months, and just that feeling of renewal and time to get back on track with the season.

So hubby and I started a new eating regime (prefer not to call it a diet) going on nearly one full month, which will be this Sunday, just 2 days away.  We'd plan to do something last year, but the timing never seemed just right.  There was always an event or something on the horizon to prevent us from getting started.  But now, we're well into it and doing pretty good, actually.  The plan is the DASH Diet, or "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension." I had heard about it some time ago, as heart healthy, etc., and the book has been here for some time, years! 

So this year I started looking at many other popular options; Mediterranean, Keto, Paleo, Whole Food - there are so many out there these days that it is a bit overwhelming. So we decided to jump into the DASH plan.  

The DASH Diet has been ranked as the "Best Overall Diet" by US News & World Reports for 8 years in a row.
 
There are two phases: Phase One is basically loads of veggies, lean proteins, healthy fats (no butter), limited dairy - mostly fermented, beans and nuts.  Phase One eliminates absolutely all carbs - no sugar, no grains of any kind, no fruit, no starchy veggies, and no alcohol. Phase One lasts two weeks. AND... we succeeded, slipping once or twice for a glass of wine/beer at a special function/celebration. But we stayed at this phase for nearly a month.

During Phase Two you add in fruits and healthy whole grains in moderation. We began to add in the limited fruit this week, and I'm thinking it is time for some limited grains.

We've both lost a little weight; me about 5 lbs, hubby over twice that (of course). But I'm noticing a drop in my blood pressure, which is good. I've had high blood pressure for years, like much of my family. Then there was the heart failure diagnosis (CHF/CM) in 2013, and all the meds I've been on since then when I was so bad that I was scheduled for a heart transplant. But for the cancer history I was not a candidate for a transplant until 5 years had passed, so I was in the educational/training process for an LVAD (Left Ventricular Heart Device). Then the meds improved my heart somewhat. I'm still not in normal heart function ranges, but with about 5 different heart meds daily, I can get around pretty well. I'm actually at the point where I may need to contact my cardiologist to see if we can reduce some meds so my BP doesn't drop too low from this new diet!

There is a Mediterranean version of DASH too, so I may look into their recipes. 

One of the big differences I've notices is absolutely no hunger, and no cravings.  I generally like some sweets from time to time, so this has been very interesting that I can do without them. But I am so proud of Mark.  He is doing so well with this. Now we just need to incorporate more exercise on a regular basis.  That seems to be the real challenge for both of us.

I just saw my oncologist this week for my checkup.  I now see him every 2-3 months, and CT scans are now on a semi-annual basis.  That is a sign of things going well.  I haven't gotten my lab and tumor marker results yet, as they are having issues with their patient portal; but his assistant will mail them to me soon.  For now, all is good. I'm still tolerating the meds. He said what will usually happen is one of the tumors will make a spurt of growth. If/when that happens, or I have problems tolerating the Xeloda, then my oncologist tells me there are still more drugs we can switch too. He also said they can do a localized radiation to the liver tumor(s) if need be.  I'm not excited about that thought, but for now it is what I call a "pie in the sky".

So aside from a short camp trip out to Doran Beach with dear cousins, a fun excursion to Stitches West) and several sweet moments with our daughters, their families, and three of the most precious grandchildren, it is full steam ahead. And cussing at how hard we are getting hit with our tax filing this year. Thank you Mr. Not My President.


Fun times at Stitches



Doran Camping

Cousins

Little cousins

Sarah and her sweet buddy
Auntie/Mom and cousins at the top of the property on Sonoma Mountain Road

Barsun family



~ Peace and Love ~


B  E  L  I  E  V  E

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •

THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comment.

You can also find me on FacebookRavelry, and just occasionally on Instagram and Twitter. Just click the corresponding name above to go there.





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It is frustrating, to say the least, to see the focus still on awareness and so little going to research. I think we are all very well aware.
 
This is a quote from the following article....

"The breast cancer agenda shouldn’t be finding breast cancer. It should be saving those afflicted with the disease: figuring out which DCIS becomes invasive, and learning about the system of metastases. Just think, if all the dollars that awareness charities raised during the month of October went to labs and competent research doctors instead of marketing experts, the problem of breast cancer—and other cancers along with it—might be solved."

A breast cancer patients perspective on research and awareness...


~ Peace and Love ~


B  E  L  I  E  V  E

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •

THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comment.

You can also find me on FacebookRavelry, and just occasionally on Instagram and Twitter. Just click the corresponding name above to go there.





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I am certainly not!

It's odd that I have such a good feeling going to the St. Joseph's Cancer Center at Round Barn Santa Rosa oncology center every month (although the Round Barn tragically burned down in the 2017 wildfires), considering all the painful infusions I've been through there over the years, plus radiation, biopsies, surgeries, blood transfusions, oodles of tests and scans and exams, just to name a few. But the staff is always so supportive and cheerful, and the fact that I now mainly go there for labs and check ups, and typically get good reports, kind of makes it a happy place. So that was my realization last week as I walked into the Center for my monthly labs. And again everything is all good. There are a few lows and highs on the report, but nothing to be concerning. I'm now good for another month.

This year, some 7,500 people gathered in early December at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, the world's largest annual conference devoted to breast cancer.  Here's a great article from NPR ..... on how patients are helping to change the dialogue around breast cancer. 

January is coming to a close and I've hardly posted here much. I guess our little trip to Mexico set me a bit behind for the holidays and then everything was a whirlwind. The holidays were perfect, as usual. The daughters, with their families, were here for a few days, and the grandchildren always bring me great joy and laughter. Then we had a wonderful trip to one of our favorite coastal retreats at Pacific Star Winery for their annual crab feed earlier this month, and finished that week off with 3 stormy nights at Wright's Beach camping with great friends. Loads of laughter, some good food and wine, challenging cribbage games, and giant waves that forced us to move to higher ground on our last night. All great excitement and good stories to tell. 

Here's a bit of a recap of some fun moments over the last month...
(Just click on each link for a photo collage)

Holiday Fun

Crab Feed & Wrights Beach Camping

And in case you don't go for the links above, here are a couple of my absolute favs from the holidays:


My 3 loves.

Modeling all the hats I made them for Christmas.



Goofing around



Life is good!

  
Until next time...
~~~~~~

~ Enjoy every day ~
It is a gift to you, your family, friends & loved ones.

~ Peace and Love ~


B  E  L  I  E  V  E

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •

THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comment.

You can also find me on FacebookRavelry, and just occasionally on Instagram and Twitter. Just click the corresponding name above to go there.


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On Friday I saw my oncologist for labs, a checkup, and to review my recent quarterly CT Scan.

No new findings of new or progressive metastatic disease. Still one stable 7 mm lesion in my liver. The other smaller lesions is no longer visible. There were a dozen +/- at initial diagnosis. Labs good too. Clicking my heals here.

When I asked if I will stay on Xeloda indefinitely, he said “You’re having remarkable results with it so we’ll keep it up as long as you can tolerate it.” So I’m a happy girl. I will see my oncologist in another three months, and CT Scan has been pushed out a bit now with this good news to 6 months, rather than the usual 4 months.

Had planned to celebrate with girls and grandkids Friday afternoon on the Napa Santa Train. But we have postponed till tomorrow so that some hint of sickness by them could subside. 

Meanwhile I'm still fighting that nasty cold going around, that both Mark and I caught at the end of our recent trip to Mexico. It has settled into head and chest, as usual for me. But I'm on the mend and will just need to deal with this nagging cough and stuffiness for a bit longer.

A couple of weeks back, we returned from fun times in the sunshine with my beautiful sister and her hubby at Le Reve resort near Playa del Carmen. Weather was perfect; great food and drinks; fun excursions, and the best company we could ask for. Thanks for the fun adventure!

Snorkeling excursion to Cozumel.




So after about 10 days of horrible smoke here from the Paradise fire, then this cold, I feel like I can finally get into the holiday spirit and the decorations are finally up and we're ready to get our Christmas Cheer on. And we were just blessed with a good rain storm this weekend.

Life is good!

  
Until next time...
~~~~~~

~ Enjoy every day ~
It is a gift to you, your family, friends & loved ones.

~ Peace and Love ~


B  E  L  I  E  V  E

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •

THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comment.

You can also find me on FacebookRavelry, and just occasionally on Instagram and Twitter. Just click the corresponding name above to go there.


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In addition to my recent oncology checkup, I saw my cardiologist this past week. All is good on this front as well. No episodes whatsoever in my ICD interrogation, so my next followup will be in 4 months. This is always good news to get.

As you may have read in that oncology post, I had some HFS (Hand and Foot Syndrome) issues and my dosage was reduced. I guess I had such a bad feeling about it, and it lingered a bit long, that I totally forgot to restart my Xeloda a week later for a few days. I'm back at it and so far so good. Hopefully reducing from 3,000 mg/day down to 2,500 mg will do the trick.

On the HFS subject, I recently had a conversation with a friend about how the fingerprint security on my iPhone no longer works. She explained a couple of times that I just needed to re-enter my fingerprint into the security setting and all would be good. I had to repeat several times that, no, it was not a matter of the setting, "that I have no fingerprint" from my chemo medication. I think she finally heard me, but just in case, here is a link to the "no fingerprint" subject for those wondering what it is all about, or with inquiring minds. It's a real thing. 

By the way, my hands and feet have never gotten as bad as those in the photos. My oncologist would not let this happen. He inquires each and every visit about how they are doing; and just recently made a change when I was having more pain and discomfort than in past.

We recently returned from a wonderful month-long trip all around the state of Oregon, with a brief stop in Vancouver, WA, and places to and from Oregon. There certainly are some wonderful State Parks and surrounding areas in this neck of the woods. Being our neighbor to the North, Oregon is one of our favorite trips. Click the link above for a bunch of photos from this excursion.

So in closing, be sure to get out and vote next week. It's so very important.  

Until next time...
~~~~~~

~ Enjoy every day ~
It is a gift to you, your family, friends & loved ones.

~ Peace and Love ~


B  E  L  I  E  V  E

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •

THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comment.

You can also find me on FacebookRavelry, and just occasionally on Instagram and Twitter. Just click the word above to go there.


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Here we are a full month later and I'm back at it.  Today I had my port draw and Oncology check up with Dr. Anderson at St Joseph's Round Barn Cancer Center, Santa Rosa. All in all I'm doing well. Labs are all good, I've got one nagging concern; but am feeling good overall, having just returned from a wonderful month-long travel trailer trip, mostly in Oregon. (more on that later)

But...
My feet are the worst they have ever been and I can hardly walk. The Hand and Foot Syndrome or Palmar-Plantar Erythrodysesthesia from the Xeloda has gotten the best of me. Yesterday was the last of my seven-day-on cycle with this chemo pill, and I should have known better to not take one or both doses yesterday as my feet were feeling a bit tender. But it wasn't until last night, after already taking the Xeloda for that day, that they were hot, very red, and painful. Then this morning, I could hardly walk. I won't be surprised if I have large peeling blisters on the whitish blotchy area on the outer edge of the ball of my foot, and on that similar looking area of my heal. The left foot is the most uncomfortable.

After my oncology appointment two months ago, I started doing 7 days on and 9 days off. So I really didn't want to skip doses, like I had in past when feeling this coming on, as it usually subsides quickly and I really need to stay on top of the cancer. After all, I've been on the Xeloda for two years, and that is far longer than the norm for this drug. So you can see why I was torn and cautious about skipping a dose or two.

As of today, Dr. Anderson has suggested I take 5 pills a day for my "week on" rather than six a day, and go back to the one week on, and one week off routine. 

By the way, this drug has removed nearly all of my fingerprints, and causes my hands to be very dry and peeling frequently at most joints. So you get an idea of how it affects the hands and feet.

Wish me luck that the feet improve quickly. I am lathering them with lotion often, as recommended. Hope to be feeling better tomorrow.


 The foot of Xeloda chemo pills and what is called Hand and Foot Syndrome.


Until next time...

~~~~~~ 

~ Enjoy every day ~ 
It is a gift to you, your family, friends & loved ones.

~ Peace and Love ~


B  E  L  I  E  V  E

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED • 

THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comment.

You can also find me on FacebookRavelry, and just occasionally on Instagram and Twitter. Just click the word above to go there.

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