Category Archives: Treatment Updates

Surgery Day Begins


Loretta is chillin while we wait for them to start the first procedure of the day.  They are going to insert a guide wire for the surgeon to follow as she takes the additional margin that they wanted.

She is in having it done now….


It’s a beautiful day in Seattle (it’s always like this – ask anyone) but we are looking forward to this day being over.

I will update the blog as things happen.

Chemonday No More

Yesterday was the first Monday in a long time that I didn’t have chemo.  It was great not going to chemo.  I do miss spending time with my various buddies.  They were all great and they will never know how much I appreciate the time they took going with me.

The weird thing about the last chemo is your brain says “Yay the last one.  I am done.”  But, your body still has all the same side effects (multiplied by the previous 15 infusions) it did the prior week.  These side effects will last several weeks.  Just in time for surgery!

I am scheduled for surgery on August 21.  Some additional (2mm) margins will be taken where the DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) was located.  The surgeon will do a touch up on the scar from the previous surgery.  And, she will remove my port!  I am so happy to have my port removed.  I have a real love/hate relationship with my port.  It has served me well but it is time for it to go.  Sometimes I think it wants to leave on its own.


So, I bid a fond adieu to my Bard, single septum, Power Port.

Last Chemo!!

YAY!!!!  This leg of the journey is over.  I had my last chemo this afternoon.  Alexa was my chemo buddy the first part of the day and Roberta was my chemo buddy the second half.  I can’t say it enough – I am very lucky to have such great friends and family.  There are people who show up for chemo all alone.

I am also very thankful for the lab staff and the chemo staff at SCCA.  From the check in people to the nurses.  They greet you with a smile, get you warm blankets and even decorate your id bracelet with stickers for your last day.

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This is Bo.  He works in the lab and accessed my port 9 of the 16 chemos.


My decorated bracelet.

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This is me checking into chemo for the last time.

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Alexa, me and Roberta waiting to be called for chemo.

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Cathy, my nurse, and me.  Cathy was my nurse for my first and last chemos and several in between.


The bag on the left is the Taxol and it is empty!

I still have to get through the next couple of weeks of side effects but should start to feel much better after that.  The next leg of this journey is margin surgery on Aug 21.  But for tonight I am going to celebrate the completion of chemo with Scott and a couple of glasses of sparkling apple cider and a great meal provided by Micheal.

Second to Last Taxol – Moving Week

Well this post is just a bit late!  What a week it has been.  It started out like the previous 11 weeks, Chemomonday.  My buddy for the day was Alexa.  Thank you Alexa.  We did the usual  – take the ferry and walk to SCCA.  We stopped at Whole Foods on the way to pick up lunch and for me to hop into the bathroom to apply Lidocaine and Saran Wrap to my port.  I know the bathroom code by heart.  They never seem to change it. We then finished the walk to SCCA and checked into the lab.

The lab was really quiet for a Monday.  This is very unusual.  I was able to get my favorite port accessor, Bo.  He is very good and I have seen him for more than half of my chemo visits.  After lab, we went to the 5th floor, checked in for chemo and sat down to wait and eat lunch.  This is were the story gets interesting (not really but saying it sounds good.)

While hanging out, my left ear started get red and hot, what I call Hot Ear.  It occasionally happens to me and goes away after a bit.  Well this time it didn’t go away but continued to spread until both ears and my face were red.  This was not the flushed face I usually get on Tuesdays after Taxol.  This was the white eyed, red faced, raccoon look of an allergic reaction.  It was red and hot and hot and red.  A very attractive look to accompany a bald head and angry, rashy arms.

When my chemo nurse, Cathy, saw me she was like “What’s up with your face?”  I said I didn’t know and that it wasn’t only my face with an issue but my foot needed a little looksie, too.  (On the Saturday before chemo my left foot was swollen on the top just below the middle and second smallest toe.  The skin in between the toes was sloughing off and just plain yucky.  While the swelling was down, the skin was still pretty bad off.  I am such a joy to take to chemo!)

Cathy called the lab to see if they had used anything new while accessing my port.  They hadn’t.  She then talked to the oncology nurse who talked to the oncologist.  Those chemo nurses are on the ball and take really good care of their patients.  I was given IV Benedryl for the allergic reaction.  In about 10 minutes my face started looking better.  in about 20 minutes it was almost back to normal.  No one knows what happened, just one of those mysterious things.  It happened again the next day, but not to the same extent.  As for my foot, again, who knows what is happening.  I was told to soak it in an astringent solution and apply Neosporin.  It was so much better in a few days that it is hard to believe how bad it had looked.

On Tuesday, we moved.  Yes, we moved.  We moved about 50 yards into our construction zone.  I hired Hill Movers and they sent three guys to carry our belongings from one 3 story townhouse, 50 yards down the street, into another 3 story townhouse.  This is almost like a movers worst nightmare.  Loads of stairs in both homes with no driving break in between.  They were awesome!  And they were tired.  David and his friend Nick stopped by and helped with the move.

On Wednesday my dear friend (and Realtor) Eileen came to help me move the rest of the stuff that the wasn’t ready for the movers.  It turned out to be way more than I thought. Eileen must have made twenty trips (just like the movers) to the new townhouse.  We got some unexpected help from a friend and his two boys who happened to be in town on a visit.  Thanks Jim, Logan and Taylor.  Wednesday night, the move was finally complete.  Eileen, you rock and I owe you big time for all your help.

Thursday I was exhausted. Scott came home from work and worked on the house for hours.

Friday I was exhausted. (I do have a separate story about my encounter with PHONE GUY that my Bainbridge Island female friends will appreciate.) Scott came home from work and worked on the house for hours.

Saturday I was tired. Scott worked on the house for 12 hours.

Sunday I am tired.   Scott is still working on the house.

Our contractor has been working as much as possible but there is a lot to do.  The final product is beginning to emerge and it is a beauty!  Scott has done the lions share of unpacking while installing the kitchen, helping lay the floor, building out a closet, setting up the internet and cable, and doing a million other things.  I, on the other hand, feel like a slug.

Would I recommend renovating and moving at the end of six months of surgery and chemo?  I am not sure I would.  But I would recommend not putting your life on hold when a great opportunity presents itself.  The cancer treatments are temporary.  The renovations are temporary.   We seized the moment and we are very happy that we did.

Taxol – The Fourth Quarter

The fourth and final quarter of chemo as begun!  I have three Taxol treatments left.  I am sure you have all been waiting with bated breath to know if I am on or off “The List.”  While my name is on “The List, I am actually no longer on “The List.”  I saw the oncologist and he said I don’t need to be on “The List”.  So tomorrow I will contact the oncology nurse and have her officially remove me from “The List.”

Speaking of oncologists, after monthly visits, I don’t have to see him for three months.  We talked about the on going side effects, particularly the lovely mouth sores.  The way to really get rid of them is to delay chemo for a week.  Well he know I wouldn’t go for that.  I would rather deal with the mouth sores than prolong the chemo.  He did say to me “You know, I threw the kitchen sink at you.”  Well sometimes I feel like I was hit by a kitchen sink.


This is a picture of me when I was cold.   I love blankets out of the warmer.

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I was still cold.  As you can see there is the cup of ice I chew to help with the mouth sores.  I don’t wrap my feet in ice anymore.  The baby toenails are goners no matter what.


I finally warmed up enough to remove some of the blankets.

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Scott hanging in the chair.  Claire took these photos.  They were both with me for the day’s activities.


Me and my pole posing in front of my room.


Claire FaceTimed with Diana.  Gabrielle was my nurse for the day.  If you look closely in the upper left of the iPad, you can see my port being flushed.  Poor Diana, that was what she was watching while we were sticking out our tongues.  I have the best siblings in the world!

“The List” update

I realize after reading comments that my last post sounded like SCCA is disorganized and full of unnecessary red tape.  That was not what I intended to convey with the post.  It is very important to keep germs contained to the current germ holder and not spread them.  Does everything run as smooth as silk, no, but I think it runs as smooth as it can.

Hundreds and hundreds of people are serviced at SCCA everyday by hundreds of hard working people.  Do things get mixed up now and then?  Of course.  But, when I had an issue with an individual in the lab, I left a comment card and was called back with in a few days.  Patient services was glad to get constructive feedback and I was happy to be heard.  If I need to see my oncology nurse without an appointment, she (or another nurse if she is out) is available by just asking to have her paged.  If I call to talk to my nurse, she is either available right away or calls back in a very timely manner.

The scheduler for all my appointments works very hard to have my appointments scheduled with the minimum amount of time needed between appointments but not more wait time than necessary.   And, I can’t say enough about the chemo nurses.  They are kind and patient and knowledgeable.  I always feel like I am in good hands during chemo.

So, is everything always perfect?  No.  But rules and regulations are put into place to keep people safe and healthy.  I think people need to be their own advocate, need to speak up when necessary and need to appreciate the work of those who deal with many, many people every day.

Taxol Eight – “The List”

ChemoMonday proved to be quite an interesting day.  I had been suffering from “the crud” and still had a hacky cough and runny nose.  So, when I went to SCCA, I put on a mask so as not to infect other immuno-compromised individuals like myself.

I checked in at the lab (1st floor) and the check in person asked if I was having cold symptoms.  I answered in my husky, raspy, cruddy voice that I had a cough and runny nose.  I was then whisked into the lab and put into a room where the door couldn’t close fast enough.   I had my port accessed, as usual, and left to check in for chemo (5th floor.)

Still wearing my mask, I arrived at the check in counter where the chemo check in person looked at me and asked if I was on “The List?”  I told her I didn’t know what list she was talking about.  She said since I was wearing a mask I needed to be cleared off “The List.”  I told her I didn’t know what she was talking about but that I didn’t have a sore throat or fever.  I asked if my chemo nurse had this special power to clear me and she told me maybe I should go talk to my oncology nurse.

So off to the 3rd floor we went (my sister Claire was my chemo buddy du jour) where I paged my oncology nurse.  She came out to the waiting room and I explained I needed to be cleared to get off “The List” that I wasn’t sure I was even on.   I asked her if she could clear me.  She looked at me and said “Me?  I don’t even know what you are talking about.  I need to talk to the doctor.”  Off she went to find the oncologist.  A bit later she came back and said you are on “The List” and will stay on “The List” until you have three days of no coughing or running nose.

Sigh…..Back to the 5th floor to the same check in person to tell her I am now on “The List.”  It takes about a nanosecond to get on “The List” so I asked how long does it take to get off “The List”  All four of the people working at check in drop their heads and shake them slowly, “It can take a month” one of them replied.  A month!  I am told I need to sit in Respiratory Isolation.  Sigh…..  So Claire and I sit in the “special” seats so I can hack and cough and blow my nose without infecting anyone.

When it is my turn for chemo, I am assigned to room 22.  It is one with sliding glass doors.   As soon as the doors are closed a big STOP sign is slapped on the front along with a green sheet of instructions on entering my room.   These are essential precautions so the nurses don’t spread my germs to other patients.  While I understand and appreciate these procedures, it does make one feel ever so slightly like a pariah.

On Friday, if I have stopped coughing and running, I can call my oncology nurse and ask to be taken off “The List.”  If not, there I remain, to be put in isolation for another week (or month) until I can be removed from “The List.”

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Tricks of the Trade – Seventh Taxol

One of the rarer side effects of Taxol is “nails changing color or becoming brittle.”  The oncology nurse told me that you could loose your nails with Taxol but not to worry about it unless they ooze.  Well… poor baby toenails are not what they use to be.  They have become the victims of Taxol.  They have oozed.

I chewed ice during the A/C treatments to stave off mouth sores.  I got mouth sores anyway but maybe they would have been worse without the ice.  I have mouth sores now and am once again chewing ice during chemo. To help alleviate the nail issues, the chemo nurse decided I should try icing my feet while having chemo.  The same principle applies to the toes as chewing ice does to the mouth.

It just so happens that biohazard bags are the perfect foot icing device.  There is a zip lock compartment that holds the ice and an outer pocket that is perfect for your toes.  So with ice on my toes and ice in my mouth and heated blankets on my body, I spent my infusion time cold and warm.  As with my mouth, I am not sure how much it helps but am worried that if I don’t ice, things could be worse.



Sixth Taxol – A Day in Pictures

Today’s post will mainly be a pictorial.  I have reached the 1/2 way point with the Taxol.  YAY!!! Diana came with me again today.  Unfortunately, she has a bad cold so had to wear a mask the whole time we were at SCCA. image

Diana was banished to The Chair behind The Stuff.  (We drink copious amounts of water.)

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This is me waving “Hi” to my nephew Anthony who was going to get this image via text.  Sorry, Anthony, no exclusive photos for you.

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Baldy and Snotty climb the walls as they wait for labs.

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Diana got this picture of me taking a picture of me and my pump.


Self Portrait with smirk and slight googlie eye.  (It is hard to know where to look when taking a self portrait.  I chose to look at two things (who can make up their mind?) thus the googlie eye.)  Note the slight green pallor.  I hope it was the lighting.


The long-awaited self portrait with me and my pump.  I love my pump.

Some people go out and buy pumps and put them on their feet.  Not me.  Pumps are for fluids that go straight into your heart where they do bad things to bad cells.  I once showed up at work with two different color pumps – black and blue.  It was a long day.