Friday, December 29, 2006

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, y'all! Looks like I'm going to last into 2007. Don't know if I'll make it to 2008, but I would like to be around for the next presidential election. I wonder how early I can absentee vote.

We went to Grand Junction on Wednesday. I had a Gemzar infusion. My red blood cells/hemoglobin count was low, so I got an Aranesp shot to stimulate the bone marrow to produce red blood cells. I got a larger dose of steroids again, I think because my weight has been dropping a little bit - down to 137.5 pounds, so I've been pigging out lately. White blood cells and platelets were okay, and liver enzymes mostly good. Tumor marker is down to 2946 which is still really high, but at least it's down from last week. It was really busy in the infusion area this week - trying to fit five days of patients into four since Monday was a holiday. We go back again next week, but Dr. Bergen will be gone and I'll see another doctor. I only got infused this week - Dr. Bergen had 19 patients that day, so I didn't see him. I'll be getting a CT-scan about the second week of January.

Felt good yesterday from the steroids - I did bookkeeping from 5pm to midnight at (with a dinner break for a big hamburger), and then went home and read 'til 3:00 am. Robert got me for Christmas a copy of Cynthia Lennon's book "A Twist of Lennon" which came out in the late 70's. She is John Lennon's first wife. I had to read the last chapter about Yoko Ono first. Cyn was really gracious about what happened.

My bowling team (Mike & the Harem) is tied for first place with the Tow-Ho's. (The Duces and the Pecks are on the Tow-Ho's - Steve Duce is partners in the service station in town.) Tied for second are Mixed Nuts and Hawaiin Heat. I think the OJ's are in third, then the MAKK Daddies and Team #2 tied for fourth. There's only seven teams in the league and we're all pretty close. I'm hoping we can hold our lead and finish in first so I can get my picture on the wall of the Elks Lodge, fair & square. Some ambition - eh? We have three games left starting next Tuesday night. There's a private pot-luck party there tonight with bowling that I hope I can go to. Don't know if I'll hit my chemo slump by tonight or not.

On New Year's Eve, we've been invited to a friend's house on Log Hill for dinner. Moosie and Jim have just gotten engaged - yea! Moosie's sons are in town, and I am looking forward to seeing them and hear how their college experiences are going.

We took Ian to the airport on Wednesday when we were in GJ for my chemo. He made it home quite easily and his bag was one of the first off the plane. His bag got to Ouray on Christmas morning very early. The three of us went outside to meet the truck.

Robert is busy winding down The Sandman shop. We are getting things situated at the mineral showroom for and wrapping up 2006 bookkeeping.

Congratulations to my sister Diane who passed a kidney stone last week. I think this is the fourth episode she's had with kidney stones since high school. In that first incident, she was in terrible pain, and we were getting ready to take her to the emergency room. My mother was try to sew a hole in the toe of her hosiery and ended up stepping on the needle in the commotion, so we had two emergencies.

Just up here in Colorado looking forward to the fireworks on New Year's Eve at midnight. Hope I can stay up that late - usually the noise wakes you up. It's really loud and reverberates off the mountain side.

Sincerely, Caroline

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Ian's Here! Last Chemo Treatment

We went last Thursday to Grand Junction (GJ) for my chemo. My blood chemistry was improved, so I was able to have Gemzar and Avastin. I got a bigger dose of steroids than usual before the infusion, so I felt good on Thursday. But yesterday, I felt pretty rotten - headache, fatigue, chills, achy. My tumor marker was up to 3100+ this week, and I never heard what my liver enzymes were, but they must have been okay since I got the chemo.

I did open my husband's store yesteray in the afternoon and had some business.

Robert went to GJ yesterday to pick up his son, Ian, who had quite an experience flying out of Denver yesterday morning. His flight was scheduled to leave at 9:30am, and he arrived at DIA at 5:45am. He wasn't sure he would get through security in time to catch his flight - the line was wound around the airport twice. He made it to the gate on time as his flight had been delayed. Then he was told his flight had already left, then he was told, no, it hadn't. Anyway, he made it to GJ about 12:40pm, but his luggage has yet to arrive. Robert & Ian waited around a while to see if it would show up on the next flight, but it didn't. But at least he made it!

I'm feeling better this morning, but I'm still staying home doing some paperwork. I'm not doing my radio show this afternoon - just don't have the energy. We will put our tree up tonight and decorate it now that Ian is here.

Robert & Ian will prepare our vegan feast, and I will open the bookstore for a while in the morning so we can get newspapers and maybe be there for anyone who needs a last minute gift. Then we'll have our meal and then reopen the store in the afternoon. The Beaumont Hotel, where our store is located, is serving Christmas dinner, and it's fun to see people coming through all dressed up and happy. Also, there's football on tomorrow, so we want to provide a place for people to go if they need a break from that or their families.

It snowed a little bit this morning, and we have quite a lot of snow on the ground. There are little mountains of snow around town where the road crews piled it up. Should be a good ski season and we can always use the moisture and snow pack.

Well, I suppose this will be my best Christmas ever. I'm still here and that's the biggest gift I could have wished for.

Hope your holidays are splendid and you and your families are safe and happy.

Just up here in Colorado, letting the chemo do it's work.

Sincerely, Caroline

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Situation Improving, Including Bowling Score

I started feeling much better yesterday. My hip hasn't been hurting so I feel encouraged that the radiation did take care of the tumor in my hip bone. Mentally, I had gotten kind of down and was cranky, but that has passed, too.

I attended the Woman's Club meeting yesterday and Doris Sutton was named "Woman of the Year". (Last year I was the recipient.) Doris is probably in her 80's and just does amazing things - she grows plants to sell at the Woman's Club Rummage Sale and they sell out the first morning. She helped get the Woman's Club Mini Park set up with the City of Ouray and lobbied for new playground equipment. She collected a gillion aluminum cans to help pay for the elevator in the Community Center. When I was City Treasurer here and Jim Miller was mayor, she and Verena Jacobson weren't afraid to come in and tell the mayor what they thought about various issues, and Jim Miller - who could be rather gruff and not afraid to cut people off - would be totally disarmed. I used to tell both of them I wanted to be just like them when I grew up. Doris said yesterday she realized that she has grown over 100 different varieties of flowers in her time here since 1961.

Last year, when I was awarded "Woman of the Year", it was one of my first outings after surgery and I remember it was so hard to get all dressed up and leave the house. I didn't expect to be here one year later to see this award given again, so I am really thankful that I'm still alive and doing as well as I am.

So I went to bowling last night, and had I not gone, our team would have had to forfeit. (One person was out of town, another had a school function that her kids were in.) Our team is in 3rd place, half a game from 2nd, and one game out of 1st. I bowled 78, 112, 129 and my hip didn't hurt. (It hurts a little this morning.) My average is 94 and my hadicap is 86. We lost the first game by a bunch of points, took the second game by 3 points, and then won the last by a bunch. In overall points, we were ahead so we took the "4th game" which is based on total points.

I couldn't get my ball to go where I wanted it to in the first game, so in the second game, I started bending my knees more, worried that it might make my hip hurt, but it didn't. So by the third game I got several spares which was very gratifying. The team we bowled against has some excellent bowlers with low handicaps. One of them, Richard Gibson, picked up some incredible splits - I was very impressed.

We have had probably two feet of snow since Monday night. Not a good day to travel in Colorado, but this will be good for ski season and the snow pack. We have winter storm warnings and avalanche warnings in effect.

I have chemo tomorrow and the snow she be letting up by then.

I have to scoot. I started changing out the window displays in the store last night and I have to go finish them this morning.

Happy Holidays everyone. Just be glad you're hear.

Just up here in Colorado happy about my bowling game.

Sincerely, Caroline

Friday, December 15, 2006

More Photos

By the way, there are two more posts below this.

The first picture is our cat Biscuit who has found a sunny place in the living room.

The next photo is me when I played Verena Jacobson, the mining camp school teacher, in "Vignettes of History" in October. Next to me is Sue Hillhouse who portrayed Evalyn Walsh MacLean, daughter of Tom Walsh who became rich from the Camp Bird Mine in Ouray County. Evalyn owned the Hope Diamond at one point as well as the Washington Post.

The picture of me in the brown chair is the chemo area at St. Mary's. I love those chairs - they have heat and magic fingers. I was disappointed that I didn't get chemo this week, because that chair would have felt good on my chills and achy joints. And there's nothing like chemo to give you dark circles under your eyes. My hair is much thinner than it used to be and will stick out sideways most the time. Some mornings after I've had night sweats, I wake up looking like Don King - it will stick straight up. But hey, I still have hair.

Next is Robert at Bosque Del Apache Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico, a wonderful, peaceful place. I can't say enough nice things about my husband, and how he has helped me through all this cancer stuff. Honey, you're the best.

Following that, I am standing at the San Rafael Swell on I-70 in Utah on our drive to Las Vegas last month. Note to self: this sweater makes you look big.

Last but not least is a picture of Robert with our friends Duncan & Mary who visited us right before Thanksgiving on their way to New Mexico. Nice of them to come out of their way to see us. And for those of you who know Duncan, I'm proud to report that he can still make a restaurant lose money on "All You Can Eat" dinners. We went to the Bon-Ton here in town on all-you-can eat-pasta night, and he is the only person I've ever seen order a second bowl.

One other note. This past Tuesday we went up to Grand Junction the day before chemo, and we attended a luncheon for my support group up there. It was really wonderful to see everyone. We spent the night at Two Rivers Winery B&B - Robert's son Ian had given us a gift certificate there. We went to a matinee and saw "The Queen" which we thought was quite good. We went to dinner and were going to see another movie, but I started feeling really rotten, so we just went back to room and took it easy. I was freezing cold and climbed into bed with my clothes on including my hat, coat, and gloves.

Close Encounters with the Deer

On November 24th, the day after Thanksgiving, I was headed to the bookstore to check on an employee when I noticed a huge buck in my neighbor's yard.

He let me take a few pictures of him, and there were also a couple of does. So I went over to our yard and shook our apple tree so the deer could have the last little shriveled-up apples of the season.

So the deer came over to eat the apples which the buck particularly liked. (We'll call him Woodrow.) One of the does was pretty tame and would come very close to me. (We'll call her Daphne.) When the apples were gone, I turned around and the doe was right behind me. I thought she was going to goose me in the rear. So I went inside and got a few carrots which she would take right out of my hand. The buck didn't care much for the carrots. Yes, I know I shouldn't feed the deer, and I promise I won't do it again, but I couldn't help myself.

Then, Daphne must have assumed that we were on a first name basis, so she drug the Halloween pumpkin from our front porch and started in on it. We hadn't carved it - it was just a solid pumpkin. She proceeded to tear it shreds and ate almost all of it in one go. She had her head down inside the pumpkin, just chowing down.

Woodrow made noises that sounded like creaking wood, and he seemed quite interested in the doe. At one point he started to bugle, and I went inside! I didn't want to get too close to his antlers.

By the way, our yard is covered in several inches of snow again. We may not see the grass again until April or May.

No Chemo This Week

For the first time, I was not able to have chemo this week due to low platelets, low white blood cell count, and a fever. I've been having flu symptoms and feeling crummy off and on since chemo on December 6th which included the Zometa (bone strengthener) infusion. Dr. Bergen says that Zometa can make you feel like you have the flu, but it usually passes after one day. It first came on last Thursday night (Dec. 7th) after the steroids that I got with chemo wore off. It improved some over the weekend, but it came back Tuesday night.

Dr. Bergen said it might be the flu so I'm taking an antibiotic. It could be a blood infection and blood was drawn to do a culture, but today after 48 hours, nothing had shown up. It could also be "tumor fever". I'm wondering if it could be the Zemota. I think I also let myself get dehydrated.

Yesterday, I spent all day in bed with chills, low-grade fever, headache, joint pain, nausea, dizzyness, chest pain, abdominal pain, mouth sores, and fatigue. Today, I am better, but I had swollen and sore joints this morning, mostly my fingers and knees. I didn't eat or drink much yesterday and today I weighed 4 pounds less today than on Wednesday. So I've been eating and drinking and I'm feeling better, but I still have some swelling in my joints.

I saw Dr. Oldroyd (the radiation oncologist) today. Both he and Dr. Bergen don't think I need to have the hip surgery. We'll do a scan in a few months to know how the radiation did, but mostly pain is to be my guide and that has been subsiding.

On the plus side, my tumor marker is down to 2963 (from 4164) and my liver enzymes continue to look mostly good.

I will close this post and work on getting some photos on this blog in other posts.

Thanks, as ever, everyone for your care and concern.

Just up here in Colorado drinking Gatorade, decaf tea, and lots of water. Don't forget to drink your fluids!

Sincerely, Caroline

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Quick Note

Just wanted to do a brief update. We are very busy with a lot of year-end bookkeeping and other business-related issues, so if I don't post for a while, it's due to work. We are closing Robert's shop The Sandman on December 31st. Robert has an internet mineral business,, that will become his primary focus. He will still do some sand-pouring, and we will stock the bottles at the bookstore.

Last Friday, I saw Dr. Bynum, the orthopedic surgeon, about possibly having a pin put in my hip. We will discuss that with Dr. Bergen and Dr. Oldroyd this week. The cancer is not in a weight-bearing area at this time, but the bone apparently could break easily and we wouldn't have much left to work with if it did. I have a follow-up with the orthopedic doctor in January.

I had the Zemota infusion along with Gemzar last Wednesday. The Zemota is the bone strengthener. My bloodwork was still good. I felt good the first day after infusion and then went into a chemo slump on Thursday night and felt like I had the flu. Those symptoms have been improving everyday.

We see Dr. Bergen again this week on Wedensday, and I have a follow-up appointment with the radiation oncologist (Dr. Oldryod) on Friday. There's still pain in my hip, but it is gradually getting better. I'm being very careful not to slip on snow or ice.

My bowling team has a bye this week. It's getting very hectic with all the Christmas activities and holiday business coming upon us, but it's fun, too. Robert's son Ian is coming for the holidays, and we are looking forward to that. He eats a vegan diet, so we will have a healthy holiday meal.

Well, I gotta get back to work. Again, I owe many people a call, e-mail, or card. I'll be in touch soon. And I still want to get some pictures posted.

Thanks again for so many prayers and good thoughts.

Just up here in Colorado getting some work done.

Sincerely, Caroline

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tumor Marker 4164, Bowling Team 1/2 game out of First Place

My tumor marker last week was an all time record high for me - 4164. Normal is something like 0-60. Looks like I will be staying on the Gemzar, but I'll find out more tomorrow when I see the doctor.

In fact, I have to get up really early and I need to hit the hay. We see Dr. Bergen at 8:30 am and then we're driving over to Denver for a quick business trip. We'll be back home Thursday night.

I bowled a make-up game last night and I didn't do so good: 97, 75 (ugh!), 96. We are in 2nd place and are half a game behind the first place team. My average was 94, but it'll go down again.

We had a good time at our show in New Mexico last weekend. Nice people in that gem & mineral club.

I still need to get my deer pictures posted and will try to do that later this week.

Just up here in Colorado, catching up on some e-mail and staying up too late! Hope everyone is doing well out there.

Sincerely, Caroline

Friday, December 01, 2006

Headed to New Mexico

I have much to tell, but it's been hectic the last few weeks, so here is a quick post before we leave for Los Alamos, New Mexico today. We're doing a gem & mineral show there.

I saw Dr. Bergen again on Tuesday. My bloodwork was in good shape. I have a few things elevated, but he said that was due to the chemo and things looked pretty good in that areana. A nurse at the radiation clinic pointed out that my cholestrol is high, but Dr. Bergen said that it's not a concern at this point. He implied that the cancer will get me long before any heart disease.

I was infused with Gemzar as well as Avastin on Tuesday. I will have a bone strengthener infused next week which I will get once a month. The Avastin is done every other week. If my CA19-9 tumor marker is down, we will probably drop the Gemzar. I haven't gotten those results back yet. I was off the Gemzar for almost three weeks while doing radiation, so Dr. Bergen wants to see if it made a difference or not. If my tumor marker is down, then we'll assume the Gemzar isn't doing that much.

I did get to attend my support group briefly on Tuesday and it was nice to catch up with those gals.

I am taking the Xeloda orally still, but I had to suspend this week as my feet are swollen and tender again from hand-foot syndrome. I've been on my feet more this week at the bookstore and yes, I did bowl Wednesday night. The Avastin may be contributing as well.

I got my steroids before chemo so I felt good on Wednesday and bowled that night, even though my husband and doctors are trying to talk me out of it. My hip did really hurt the next day, but it hurts most of the time. I bowled 85, 126, and 92. We took all games. I think we are in second place at this point and closely chasing the first place team. I picked up one incredible split. I thought my ball was going to miss the middle pin, but it just nicked it and it gently rolled over and got the corner pin. I love it when that happens. Everyone was impressed!

I will be having some scans in the near future to check on the radiation progress and my hip bone, but nothing has been scheduled yet. I do see an orthopedic doctor on Dec. 8th and have a follow-up with the radiation oncologist on Dec. 15th.

We have a ton of snow here, so I am careful walking around. Last week, I had a wonderful close encounter with deer in the front yard and will get those pictures posted soon. I have some other pictures from this fall to post as well, but that'll have to wait until next week.

I have to scoot. I have a bunch of stuff to do this morning. Mary Lou, if you read this, I will call you this weekend. I'm sorry we missed you on our Socorro trip. I got your card.

To many friends and family, I am very behind in correspondence. Jan Ruby, I want to do lunch, I've just been really tired from the radiation, so I've been spending time resting, but I hope to catch up with you soon as you always bring my spirits up.

Okay, gotta run. Just up here in Colorado embracing the meds. I'm too busy to have cancer and let any side effects keep me down, but it's not always easy to get my body to do what I want it to do.

Sincerely, Caroline