Monday, January 22, 2007

I Kind of Know How New Orleans Feels

New Orleans got hit by Katrina in September 2005, and about a month later, I found out I had a tumor the size of a citrus fruit. We're both recovering, not sure we'll make it, but we want to. New Orleans didn't make the Super Bowl, and my bowling team didn't get first place, but we did take second!

It was very close, but we took three of four games. I think we took total points by only four. My average is up to 98 (handicap 82), and I bowled 100, 115, 111.

New Orleans should be very proud of how far they came in the playoffs. To all my coon-ass friends, you should feel good about yourself.

We will be very busy the next few days, but I should be able to post this weekend from Tucson.

Just up here in Colorado, looking forward to our working vacation.

Sincerely, Caroline

Sunday, January 21, 2007

I Have a Bad Cold But Still Got Chemo

I've had a bad cold this week, but I still had chemo this Friday - Gemzar & Avastin. I have not been able to sleep tonight which I think is the steroids. We are leaving town for the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show on Wednesday and have a ton of things to do by then. Robert is still getting moved out of his gift shop space, plus he has to pack for the show. I still have to get W-2's and quarterly payroll taxes done. With the cold this week, I've been knocked out a bit, but seem to be getting better.

Hemoglobin fell below normal this week but wasn't too bad. Platelets also somewhat low. Weight was 63 kg, same as last time, but I've been eating like a pig. (This is my favorite part about cancer, you get to eat anything you want and not gain weight. I could probably eat a whole friggin' cheesecake and not gain an ounce.) I went back on the Xeloda on Friday night. Liver enzymes were mostly good. The ones out of what were only slightly so. Bilirubin was normal. Haven't gotten CA19-9 tumor marker yet.

Dr. Bergen said that the next time we are in Denver, we should check in with the Anschutz Cancer Center at CU Medical Center to see what other procedures they might recommend that aren't available in Grand Junction. We will probably do that the end of February.

I go back for chemo at 9am next Wednesday. We'll leave Grand Junction and head to Arizona. We hope to make it to Prescott to my sister's house, by Wednesday night. We'll head down through Moab, Monticello, Bluff, Blanding, and Mexican Hat. We should be in Tucson by Thursday and ready to sell minerals on Friday. We don't know our room number yet, but we'll be at the Inn-Suites. (At this show, you set up in your motel room.) I am looking forward to some warmer weather and flatter terrain and not having to worry about slipping on the ice and snow.

Well, the bowling team is tied for second with the OJ's who are supposed to be hot right now. We have a tie-breaker game tomorrow night. Even if we lose, I think we still get a trophy for third place. I think I should get most-improved bowler. I think my handicap has dropped almost 10 points, I've never missed a game, and I had chemo and radiation during this league. So I think 3rd place is pretty darn good.

I hope to do my radio show at 1pm tomorrow as well on KURA, 98.9. I think the show is "streamed" on the internet, but I have no idea how you pick it up. They just got a new turntable so I can play vinyl tomorrow if I want. Far out, man!

Okay, I'm going to try to go to bed now. We got a little snow tonight, but only an inch or so.

My deepest sympathy is sent to the Clements family in Utah. Mark Clements, my fellow cholangiocarcinoma patient, passed away last Friday. He was 40 years old and leaves behind a beautiful wife and four wonderful children, not to mention many friends and family who loved him dearly. His sister, Stacie, has been instrumental in setting up the cholangiocarcinoma website for which I am eternally grateful.

I'm sending my love to my Aunt Jean in Florida who is struggling with several health issues at this time, and to her children Donald and Nancy.

Also, I want to send a shout out to my relatives from Kansas City and in southeastern Nebraska. I'm sorry I haven't written but I really appreciate all your cards, letters, and e-mails.

And thanks to all of you who are praying for me. I think God has heard. I'm still here. I don't know for how much longer, but I told God he has to let me live long enough to finish cleaning up and organizing my house. And for those of you who have seen my house, you know that might take a while. I'm slowly, but surely making some progress. I'm kind of like Earl (from the TV show "My Name is Earl") - I have a list of things. I'm not leaving till I get 'em all done.

Just up here in Colorado, hoping to get some sleep so I can do good at bowling tomorrow night.

Sincerely, Caroline

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Second Place

We started out bowling really well last night and took the first two games, but Hawaiian Heat came on strong in the third game and beat us in total points as well. So we took two of four games. We are now in second place. If the OJ's (Lynn Olin and the Jennings brothers) take all four of their games this week, we will be tied for second and have to have a bowl-off with them for 2nd. They're supposed to be really tough right now.

My scratch scores were 109, 88, and 112. Mike Wage, our best bowler, had a scratch score of 204 in the first game.

Well, it looks like we'll "medal" (end up in the top three). The no-tap league starts mid-February and our team plans to bowl then, too.

I have a cold today, so I am laying low and getting some bookkeeping done. My husband Robert is in City Council meeting all day and tonight as well. He had to get up at 5:30 am this morning as the City Council cooks breakfast for the employees once a year and today was that day.

I watched part of the Golden Globes last night, and I was glad to see Hugh Laurie win for "House". We recently watched The Chorus (La Chorista) and Men with Brooms on DVD and they were both good. Men with Brooms is a comedy about the sport of curling.

Back to work!

Just up here in Colorado, understanding what Michelle Kwan felt like when she got the silver at the Olympics. I still feel good about myself!

Sincerely, Caroline

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Greetings from Gravyland

I really didn't expect to still be on this earth by now, so I consider my life to be "gravy" at this point. I am sopping it up with a biscuit and enjoying every bite! There's a song by the folk-singer John Gorka called Gravyland which he says is "the kind of song you write when your real life exceeds your dreams". It's on his Temporary Road CD which I think is his best. It also has the song Looking Forward which is the first song I ever heard by him. I was working on an audit in Abilene, Texas in 1993, and they played it on the NPR station. Robert & I got to see John Gorka and Lucy Kaplansky in concert together at a winery in Grand Junction a few years ago. It was a real treat for us.

I had a CT-scan last week. Two of the larger tumors in my liver have grown by 1 to 2 cm which is the bad news, but the good news is that they didn't see any new tumors anywhere else such as in my lungs or abdominal wall. We're going to stick with the current chemo regimen despite the growth. We think that my being off chemo while I was on radiation in November is what allowed the tumors to grow.

I had a Gemzar and Zometa (bone hardener) infusion this week. I'm tired this weekend from the chemo. I would normally be at the radio station doing my show right now, but I am just too tired. My tumor marker was back up over 3300. My hemoglobin was 13.5 which is in the normal range which is the first time it's been that high in months - the Aranesp shot did the trick. Platelets still a little on the low side. Weight was 63 kilograms. I had three breadsticks with my pasta at Olive Garden that day.

We took three of four games against the MAKK Daddies last Monday night. (The MAKK Daddies are: Junior Mattivi, County Sheriff; Chris Alvarez; Shane Kavanaugh, Ouray Policeman; and Adam Kunz, Ouray Fire Chief. Junior and Shane had new bowling balls which I coveted, although they had some trouble adjusting to them which may have helped us to win.) I bowled a 138, 94, and 98. That first game was 42 points above my average (96) - we took that game by 64 points. I had the same scratch score in the first game as Mike Wage, our best bowler.

We were tied with the Mixed Nuts who took all four games last week against the Hawaiin Heat. We bowl HH tomorrow night, and the Mixed Nuts have a bye. We have to win all four games to stay in first place. WISH US LUCK!

The Ice-Climbing Festival is going on in Ouray this weekend, and we have people from all over the world in town. We've had a bit more snow, so we definitely have a cold, but beautiful winter happening outside.

Okay, I think that's it for now. I feel a nap coming on. I took a long nap yesterday afternoon and was awakened by fireworks at 5:30pm. Apparently, the Fire Department blasted off the ones that wouldn't go off on New Year's Eve. I'm sure it was part of the festivities at the Ice Park, so it was a nice touch.

Just up here in Colorado enjoying biscuits and gravy.

Sincerely, Caroline

Monday, January 08, 2007

Tied for First; Feeling Better

After last week's round of bowling, my team is tied for first again (with the team Mixed Nuts). Yippee! We have two games left - tonight and next Monday. Wish us luck. Like I said before, I want to get my picture on the wall of the Elks' Bowling Alley on a legitimate basis. It'll be part of my legacy in Ouray. Only the first place team is pictured. It'd be awesome to win for a regular league and not just No-Tap (which starts mid-February and I hope our team will do that league).

I hit the chemo slump on Saturday, but I'm feeling better today. I just got really tired, and Robert & I were going to the mineral showroom to finish some 2006 bookkeeping, but I sat down on the bed which ended up being a long nap with Biscuit (aka Jabba the cat) on my chest. She's like a paperweight holding me down. It didn't take too much persuasion to lie down and stay put for a while. We did get to the mineral showroom yesterday and got most of our work done. I'm going to try to add a link to this blog for our website for

My left hip does hurt some, but it may be the Aranesp shot stimulating the bone marrow. My right hip hurt this weekend, too, but it went away. That makes me think it's the Aranesp. I also just found out that my CA19-9 is back up to 3295, dang it. I need to get back on my Xeloda tonight after I bowl. I stopped Saturday night because the hands and feet were swelling up. On a positive note, my hair seems to be getting thicker and not so fuzzy.

My good days are starting to be better, and the bad days aren't so bad. The Prilosec seems to help with the queasiness although I do still get it, just not as much. I think the radiation in November added to my fatigue recently. Maybe that's wearing off - hope so. My weight keeps trying slip down on me despite adding bacon, butter, and cake & ice cream to my diet. Fortunately, my appetite is good. I think there's some fudge out there with my name on it that I'll track down today. After being on and off Weight Watchers most of my adult life, this is a real change. I think we'll go to Olive Garden for lunch on Wednesday after my scan and chemo, and I'll eat all the breadsticks I want!

We had more snow last week, so it is a white, winter-wonderland outside.

I want to thank everyone again for all your prayers, positive thoughts, cards, gifts, flowers, and warm words. It keeps me going, and I think the prayers are working. As I've said before, I didn't think I'd be alive at this time, and it's just great to be here!

I have to scoot. Gotta get some work done while I have some energy.

Just up here in Colorado enjoying a sunny, bright white day and hoping to bowl well tonight. You can imagine what fun it is to say to some of those crusty Elk dudes, "Hey, I'm a woman, I have cancer, and I'm bowling better than you!"

Sincerely, Caroline

Thursday, January 04, 2007

More Chemo. Bowling Team Took All Four.

I had chemo yesterday in Grand Junction (GJ). My hemoglobin/red blood cells were improved. Platelets were on the low side, but I was still able to have chemo - Gemzar and Avastin. I haven't gotten my CA19-9 tumor marker results back yet. My weight was down a bit, so I'm doing my best to pig-out. I'm doing the inverse Weight-Watcher's diet. I am back on my oral chemo, Xeloda. Usually, I take it four or five days a week, then I have to go off due to hand-foot syndrome for two - four days.

My regular oncologist was out of town, so I saw another doctor. She recommeded taking Prilosec for my queasiness/nausea, so I took one today and it seems to be helping. The nausea I get from chemo isn't like the nausea you get from food poisining, the flu, or drinking too much alcohol. It's like a heavy feeling in my stomach that makes me not feel like eating, but once I do, I'm fine. It is uncomfortable and occasionally, I feel like I will actually hurl, but I never have. The substitute oncologist said that the acid balance in your stomach gets out of whack with the chemotherapy, and the Prilosec may help. I think she may be right, but it'll probably be a few days before I know for sure.

I am scheduled for a CT-scan next Wednesday morning, and I'll see my regular oncologist after that. I should have Gemzar next week and possibly another Zometa (bone hardener) infusion. I get the Avastin every other week.

I'm starting a drawing class next Tuesday night here in Ouray, and I'm looking forward to that.

I have two more weeks of bowling. The official scorekeeper went through and double-checked all the scores from bowling and found that we were actually in fourth place, but very few games separate the teams. The Tow-Ho's were in first place, but we bowled them Tuesday night and took all four games. I'm not sure yet how we're standing after this week. My husband Robert came by the Elks after his City Council meeting, and we talked him into subbing for one of our missing team members. He did pretty good. His handicap is 72 which isn't bad for someone who hasn't bowled in five years.

We will be doing the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show later this month. I'm looking forward to some warmer weather and flatter ground. It's so icy here right now and hilly in Ouray that slipping is always a risk. A good friend of mine slipped on a patch of ice the day after Christmas and broke her arm.

Hope everyone is doing well out there. We ate black-eyed peas on New Year's Day for good luck. It's a southern thing that we always did when I was growing up in Dallas.

Just up here in Colorado, walking around with a ski-pole, trying not to slip on the ice.

Sincerely, Caroline