Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgivng!

Last year at this holdiay, I was really scared that it might be my last Thanksgiving. But I'm still here and very grateful.

Also, I will see my 52nd birthday this Saturday.

We got back Monday from our trip to Las Vegas which was fabulous. The Cirque du Soleil show was great. We also had lunch at the Quark Bar & Grille which has a Star Trek theme which I really enjoyed. We did go to see the Dancing Waters at the Bellagio as well. (They have an elaborate fountain that is choreographed to music - very relaxing to watch.) We had great weather. Thanks to my sisters Suzie and Diane and my brother-in-law Al for making this possible. Also, thanks to my childhood friend Beverly Bowden who came in from Ft. Worth to join us. I will have some pictures to post later on.

I had my last radiation on Friday, November 17th. I still have some pain in my hip which they think may have been aggravated by bowling. I don't bowl again until next week, so maybe I can bowl the first game or two and then have a sub step in or use my bowling average. I will see the radiation oncologist for a follow-up on December 15th.

I see Dr. Bergen (my oncologist) next Tuesday to start infused chemo again. (I'm still taking Xeloda orally and am able to stay on it longer before the hand-foot syndrome gets too bad.) I think he'll be doing Gemzar and Avastin next time. I will get to go to my support group that morning in Grand Junction, so that will be good. I expect that we will be setting up some future scans. I'm anxious to find out what my bloodwork results will be. I think I'm still anemic. I am tired a lot.

I am also scheduled to see an orthopedic doctor in Montrose on December 8th regarding the hip bone and whether or not I'll need a pin in my hip. I have fallen twice recently. Once was in Vegas when I tripped on a mat in the lobby and landed on my knees. I tripped yesterday at home over the vaccuum cleaner cord and landed on my right side. Fortunately, I didn't land on my left side either time. I am walking more slowly and watching the ground.

We just had some friends pass through town who spent the night last night - Duncan & Mary Edwards of North Carolina. They used to live in Denver. It was great to see them. We had hoped our friend Darlene Ritchie of Denver would be able to come for Thanksgiving, but she had some other issues come up and won't be able to join us, but we hope to catch up with her soon. Robert's son Ian will be out during Christmas and we will have a vegan holiday dinner.

Robert is going to cook for us for Thanksgiving - a turkey and some of the trimmings. We will eat early and then go open the book store. We actually enjoy being open on the holidays. People are in a good mood, there's no orders coming in, and it's a pretty relaxing day.

It's a gorgeous, sunny day in Ouray and looks like we'll have good weather for the rest of the week. Next weekend, we will be in Los Alamos, New Mexico for a gem & mineral show. I love this little club show - the members are so nice and the auxiliary that has the food concession does a great job of home cooking. The other dealers are very friendly, too.

We went to see the new James Bond movie in Vegas this weekend and it was good. We all felt the new actor is the best Bond since Sean Connery.

So that is it for now. I hope everyone has a beautiful Thanksgiving.

Just up here in Colorado enjoying the sunshine and watching the snow melt in our front yard.

Sincerely, Caroline

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Seven Down, Three to Go

Here are some photos from the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge in San Antonio, NM. Robert and I went there last Sunday morning. There were thousands of birds. The white ones are snow geese and the gray ones are sand hill cranes. I wish somehow I could have captured the sound of the birds - I especially like the crane's calls. I could have sat there all day listening to the birds. It is a very peaceful place.

We had a good time at the mineral symposium. We got to see many friends. We attended the talks and dinner on Saturday, but couldn't stay on Sunday for the lectures and auctions. We did the tail-gate show at the Super 8 Motel, and we were happy with our sales.

We stopped on our way home and saw friends in Durango. Ouray had gotten about a foot of snow while we were gone and coming over Red Mountain Pass was a bit treacherous.

My friend Nancy Wolkin of Ouray took me to radiation today. Alida Allison took me last week on Tuesday. Thanks ladies for the rides!

Okay, bowling scores. Last night, our team was tied for third place before we started to bowl. We took three of four games by a narrow margin against the second place team. I bowled 88, 100, 86 - almost the same as last week. My hip was getting sore by the third game despite taking Ibuprofen.

I get a lot of pain in my lower left abdomen just above the hip area and some pain in the hip bone. I've also been tired. I'll be done with radiation on Friday. We're off to Las Vegas after my Friday treatment to see the Beatles Love show by Cirque du Soleil. Yippee! We'll meet my sisters there and come home on Monday.

So that's it for now. My best to you all. Don't forget to have at least a little fun everyday. And for God's sake, don't forget to eat your fiber.

Just up here in Colorado, enjoying being snug at home on a snowy evening.

Sincerely, Caroline

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Four Down, Six to Go

I had my fourth radiation treatment this morning. It goes very quickly now. They've done scans and I have little dots tattooed on my hips. I do get pain in my left hip, and Ibuprofen helps, but I also got a prescription for Oxycodone which I'll probably take at night.

We saw Dr. Bergen yesterday, and he has suspended Gemzar infusions until after radiation is over. I next see him and have chemo on November 28th. It was one year ago yesterday that I first saw him, so I took him an anniversary card. I was diagnosed with cancer on Oct. 25th, 2005, and I'm still here.

The spotted appearance of my spleen turned out to be nothing. The gastroview that I drank before the CT scan last week and/or the injection before the bone scan to light up your bones may have caused it.

I am still taking the Xeloda orally. I do feel tired which I think both the chemo and radiation are causing.

We are leaving tomorrow after radiation for Socorro, New Mexico for a mineral symposium. We hope to get out to the Bosque del Apache bird refuge. There should be sand hill cranes and snow geese. I'm looking forward to getting away for a little bit.

I did bowl Monday night after my first radiation treatment. My thumb had two sore places on it, so I wore a glove which I think supressed my bowling scores: 89, 100, 80. My team did win three of four games. We were tied for fourth place as we began Monday night. The nurse at the radiation clinic gave me some latex gloves which I can wear to bowling if needed, but I'm also using them at night with bag balm and my hands are much improved.

We have seen bald eagles in the trees along the Uncompahgre River in Ridgway on three different occasions. One of the nice things about the trees being bare is being able to see all the bird's nests.

Well, I should scoot. I need to undo the Halloween window at the store and put winter sports books on display. It won't be long now until we'll have enough snow for XC skiing, snow-shoeing, downhill skiing, etc.

Just up here in Colorado enjoying a warm, sunny day.

Sincerely, Caroline

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Starting Radiation Next Week

We met with Dr. Oldroid, the radiation oncologist, today, and I will be starting radiation next Monday in Montrose for two weeks (Monday - Friday). We will have to alter our vacation plans, but we still plan to go to the New Mexico Mineral Symposium next weekend and the following weekend, we're meeting my sisters in Las Vegas to see the Cirque de Soleil Beatles show!

The radiation has a high chance of taking care of the cancer in my bone which is actually not in the ball. It's in the spur that is on the outside of the thigh. He said he did want to also target the hip socket as well because it's a hard place to get to, so he wants to take care of any cancer cells that might be there.

He did say that I don't have to give up bowling!

I have to run. I have book club tonight. This weekend I'm in another writing workshop taught by Mary Crow, Poet Laureate of Colorado.

Thanks everyone for your warm thoughts and wishes.

Just up here in Colorado, trying to get a fire started in the wood stove. Kind of chilly tonight.

Sincerely, Caroline

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

It's in My Bone, Damn It!

Had the scans today and they found cancer in my left hip bone - in the ball of the hip socket. When I walk, I could feel something there. The good news is that this is very treatable. The better news is that the tumors in my liver look stable. The possible bad news is that my spleen looks mottled or spotted on my CT- scan, but Dr. Bergen says that cancer rarely goes to the spleen. We'll have to wait for the written reports from the CT-scan radiologist.

I will have radiation for the bone, and we meet with a radiation radiologist tomorrow in Grand Junction (GJ). His name is Dr. Oldroid. (Robert says this is opposed to Dr. "New Droid". I think I'll just call him R2D2.) Anyway, they were going to send me to a radiologist in Motrose (which is 65 miles closer than GJ), but I have to have a "simulation" with a CT scan first so they can mark precisely on my body of where to direct the radiation. They don't have the equipment for that in Montrose, but I may be able to have my radiation treatments there. We're hoping the simulation can be worked in tomorrow in addition to meeting with the radiologist and possibly even the radiation itself. Dr. Bergen didn't give me chemo today in case I have radiation tomorrow. He says the two together can make you really sick, so we held off on the Gemzar infusion. He told me to keep taking Xeloda. (I had to suspend it last weekend as usual due to hand-foot syndrome which hit my hands more this time than my feet.)

We're not sure how many radiation treatments I'll have. I've heard it can be every day for two weeks, but another radiologist told Dr. Bergen they can possibly do it in one shot. We are supposed to go to New Mexico and Arizona for ten days leaving on Nov. 10th, and I'm hoping it won't interfere with this trip.

Dr. Bergen says we will be starting the Avastin and he also wants to infuse another drug once a month to strengthen the bone, but I can't remember the name of it. He said I need to be careful about falling as my bones will be more brittle. Guess I'm done with skiing for this lifetime. Rats! I also have an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon in Montrose. Dr. Bergen said we may want to put a pin in my hip bone which is a fairly minor procedure.

Robert has suggested I give up bowling, but I don't want to. I've decided that I'll just stand up straight and hurl the ball, overhanded if necessary (just kidding), OR just hold it between my legs and chunk down the lane. Our team was in third place before we started Tuesday night, but we lost three of four games, so I don't know where that will put us. I started off great. My average is 93 and I have an 87 handicap. I bowled a 124 in my first game (211 with hadicap), and then my hip started hurting and I bowled a 90 and then 75 (ugh!). The best and worst games of my season, but I calculated that the Tuesday night games still raise my average to 95. I've never know anyone who's broken their leg bowling, so I really don't want to give it up!

My hip pain had actually gone away for a few days before bowling, so I thought sure that nothing would turn up on the scan. No such luck. I did feel awful last Saturday morning from chemo and couldn't get to work until 11:30 am. My bones ached, my muscles ached, my organs ached. It hurt to open my eyes. Once I got to the bookstore, I just perched on the stool behind the counter and took it as easy as possible. When I woke up Sunday morning, I told Robert, "I feel much better!" Yesterday, I almost felt normal.

I need to do a few shout-outs to family members. To my cousins in Nebraska, I hope Tony has as speedy as recovery as possible. To my Mississippi in-laws, thank you for the wonderful blanket with the felted hearts! I just love it.

Just up here in Colorado going to the doctor a lot. Hey, now I get to check out the radiation department at St. Mary's. I think I've had the full cancer experience: surgery, clinical trial, chemo (both oral and infused), and now radiation. More fodder for my book.

I'm really not ready to leave this world yet. Cancer be damned!

Sincerely, Caroline