Thursday, March 12, 2009

2/12/09 Updates

I have a shorter update this time. Yesterday I went back to the oncologist and then got my second chemo treatment. There is a chance that my treatments to get rid of this lymphoma might change. The original plan was to have 4 cycles (8 treatments) of chemo, then a month off, then a month (20 treatments) of radiation. This plan would increase my risk of breast cancer, heart problems, and thyroid problems because of where they would have to aim the radiation. I’d have to start getting mammograms at age 30, and have regular heart and thyroid tests.

After doing more research and talking with his other lymphoma colleagues, my oncologist is considering a plan 2. This plan would involve 6 cycles (12 treatments) of chemo and no radiation. He said that with plan one my chance of being cured and having no more lymphoma problems would be just decimals better, but it would bring with it the other risks. My chance of no more lymphoma problems with plan 2 would be just decimals worse, but I would have no other risks.

We, along with the doctor have decided to wait a little longer to see how well the chemo is doing and to make sure the chemo is working as well as we think. We won’t be able to tell how well it’s working until I do my next PET Scan in about a month. We have until about May or June to decide for sure. My doctor’s going to do more research and talk to more doctors so they can make sure they’re doing what’s best for me.

I think I can stand another 2 months of chemo and 2 months with now hair if it means I don’t increase my risks for all that other stuff.

P.S. If you don’t have a blogspot account but want to respond, you can e-mail me at

Friday, March 6, 2009

Facebook Note Posted 3/6/09

So this update isn't as happy a I hoped it would be, but it seems like everything is going to work out fine.
Matt and I made it to Ash Grove/Springfield last weekend to visit his family and get our engagement pictures taken. I was very happy with how our pictures turned out and it was great to see his family, but the weekend was hard. Friday afternoon I started to have pain and kind of a tingle in my mouth, jaw, and tongue. At first it was just kind of annoying, but by Saturday night it was very painful. It took a lot of phone calls, but Matt and his family eventually got a hold of a doctor who called in a prescription. The pharmacist in Ash Grove actually took the call at home and opened the store so we could get the medicine I needed to help with the problem in my mouth. I don't know what I would have done without Matthew's family. They were so helpful and kept running to get things to try to help me. I'm really lucky to have such awesome future in-laws! Sunday my mouth wasn't great, but it was starting to get better.

Matt and I got home Sunday night and I had planned on going to work Monday, but that didn't happen. Sunday night and most of the day Monday I had really severe pain in the areas where my swollen lymph glands (the cancer) are. Although it wasn't any fun, I agree with my brother-in-law that its kind of cool that the chemo is working and that I can actually feel it attacking the bad cells. Anyways, after the pain came the vomiting. For a few days I wasn't able to keep anything down.

Tuesday I went back to work. I talked to the principal and assistant principal and gave up my job. I had hoped I'd be able to only miss one day every other week and that the weekend would be enough time for me to recover, but it looks like the chemo's going to be harder on me than that. I thought it would be better for my students to have a teacher who could be there all the time. Also, its a lot more work for me to miss school than to be there. I'm sad about having to leave Jackson, but its cutting out a lot of stress and I still plan on subbing some on my good days. The principal and assistant principal were so nice and understanding. They said they know my heart is in the right place and I have 110%. They made me feel a lot better about leaving.

Anyways, Tuesday was a hard day at school. I was pretty weak and still unable to keep food down, but I made it through the day. Wednesday I also went to school, but only for half a day. Again I was just really weak. I could teach, but I couldn't stand long and I was really tired. Wednesday evening I got a call from the school. They wanted to check on me and let me know that they found someone to replace me so I could stay home and focus on getting better.

Since then, things have been better. I've been able to keep food down for a couple days now. I've had some sinus junk and a headache, but that's because of the change in weather and all the wind. Yesterday I went to my sister's for awhile and played with my niece and nephews to keep myself from getting too inactive. Today I'm going to start filling out job applications (I've already turned in one job application for a job that I REALLY want, so wish me luck!) and I'm going to Jackson to take some papers back and pick up my stuff that's still there. I really am feeling much better now! Hopefully we'll have the medicine figured out better for my next chemo treatment so I don't get so sick. My next treatment is on the 11th.

When I have time and feel well I'll give more updates. As always, thank you for your love, support, and prayers!

Facebook Note Posted on 2/26/09

I have some good updates this time!
First of all, on Friday (Feb 20) I decided that I didn't want to deal with trying on dresses in a wig. I talked to my mom and sister, and Matt called his mom and everyone cleared their schedules to come dress shopping on Saturday. At first I wasn't sure I'd find the right one, but after trying on many dresses, the owner brought out a dress that I would have never picked on my own. I wasn't even sure I liked it on the hanger, but I put it on fell in love with it!

Monday and Tuesday I went back to work. Tuesday was horrible, I had to be at the hospital at 6:30 for a breathing test. It took forever. Then I went to school which was even worse, from catching girls stealing candy to catching boys cheating on a test, to having a parent start to accuse me for her son's problems with Math (luckily Mrs. Welker was there to stand up for me and prove the parent wrong). Parent teacher conferences lasted until 8, then I had more stuff to finish before being gone for 2 days, so I ended up not leaving until 9:30.

Wednesday was the good news day. I went back to my oncologist. He looked at my test results and staged my cancer at a 2A. 2 means that there are lumps in 2 locations (my chest and neck) and A means that I don't have any of the other symptoms that go along with the cancer. He also told us that I will only need 4 cycles (8 treatments) of chemo and then some radiation. He said that there are good patients who are easy to cure and do well with the treatments, and there are bad patients who have a much harder time. He told me that I was a really good patient and this should be no problem. I go back to him in 2 weeks.

After my appointment with the oncologist I got my first chemo treatment. It took a lot longer than normal because they had to talk to me and give me all the side effects of the drugs. They also had to give me test amounts of some of them to make sure I didn't have bad reactions. I did well with the chemo and slept through most of it. After I got home, I felt a little sick to my stomach, but they gave me medicine for that. Mostly, I just felt sleepy. I am off work today also because they wanted to make sure I reacted okay to everything. I slept in, but I feel fine.

Today I'm going to visit some of my former students, then I'm getting my nails done. Tomorrow we're off school because of parent teacher conferences, and I'm getting my hair cut. Friday I'm visiting some of my other former students, and then going to Ash Grove/Springfield for the weekend.

Again, thank you so much for your love, prayers, and support! I love you all!

Facebook Note Posted on 2/18/09

I know I promised updates, but I decided to wait until after my appointment with the oncologist today. So here are all the updates since my last note...
On Feb 11 (the day after surgery) I went back to the ENT to get the drain removed and a couple more stitches added. It hurt a little, but not too bad. I did well on the 11th and 12th. On the 13th I went back to work. My students were very happy to see me. I did pretty well most of the day. My head and neck hurt some and I was tired, but overall things were good. My wonderful husband-to-be met me at school after work and helped me get things ready for the following week and lug my piles of papers that needed to be graded to my car. During the day my stomach began to hurt a little, but I didn't think much of it. By the end of the night I was pretty sick.

We thought I was having a bad reaction to my antibiotic so we called the doctor and he told me to stop taking it. That didn't make things better so we realized that I just had a stomach virus. By late Monday night I was finally able to keep food down.

On Monday (the 16th) I went back to the ENT to get my stitches out and he gave us the results of the biopsy. I have a type of Hodgkin Disease (or Hodgkin lymphoma) called Nodular Sclerosis. I don't really know what it means, but I do know that its even easier to treat than non-Hodgkin lymphoma. I stayed home from school Tuesday because my body was still a little weak from the stomach virus and all that.

Today, Wednesday (the 18th) I had my appointment with the oncologist. First, however, I went to school for a few hours, got a note from yesterday's sub saying that my class was one of the worst she's ever had, chewed them out, and took away recess. (They weren't too happy with me, but the sub today said they were much better than they had been last week.) My oncologist is a very nice man. He works at Barnes in St. Louis and comes down to Cape one day a week. He is a lympoma specialist and that's pretty much all he deals with in St. Louis. He got things started right away. Today I had blood tests and a bone marrow test. For those of you with weak stomachs, I won't explain the process of that, let's just say its quite painful. I will be going back to the doctor this Friday and next Tuesday for more tests. Next Wednesday I will go back to talk to the oncologist and get my first round of chemo.

We don't know for sure yet what my treatment will consist of. We do know that I will have 4-6 months of chemo with two treatments each month (every two weeks). Hopefully that will be all, but we'll have to wait to know for sure. My doctor thinks I will be able to continue to work (which is great because I love my job) and is going to try to schedule the rest of my treatments on Friday afternoons so I will miss as little work as possible.

One downside of the chemo is that I will lose my hair, but its just hair. I can get a wig for now and my hair will grow back later. The doctor said I should have a full head of hair by our wedding! Matthew and I have had to change our plans a little bit. His uncle is a professional photographer in Springfield and was going to take our engagement pictures this summer, but now instead we get to push them up. I'm getting a cute (I hope) new haircut and we're getting fun pictures taken on the 28th. I'm actually REALLY excited about getting to make a trip to see his dad's family and take some cute pictures.

I think that's all of the updates I have for now. I want you all to know how much I appreciate the love, support, and prayers you have given me. The number of messages I've recieved has been unbelievable. I truly am blessed to have such amazing friends and family. I teach at a Vacation Bible School every summer and this past summer our bible verse of the week was "I can do all things through Christ because he gives me strength." This verse really means a lot to me. I know God will help me through all of this and before we know it I'll be cancer free!

Again, thank you so much for everything! I'll post more updates when I have them.

Facebook Note Posted 2/11/09

I figured I'd write a note to tell about what's been going on lately and how I found out I had cancer.

In about mid December I noticed that my lymp glad was swollen. I figured it was no big deal because I seem to get sick everytime the weather changes and after a little while the swelling went down. This time it was a little different because the swelling came back after a little while. It didn't cause me any pain, it just looked like there was a ping pong ball in my neck. I didn't really have time to go to the doctor because I was graduating from college on December 20, then there was Christmas, then traveling to St. Louis and Springfield to visit the best future in-laws in the world. After we got back from traveling I had one day off before I started teaching in Jackson.

I knew I needed to go to the doctor because the lump wasn't going away this time. I really didn't want to miss any school beacuse I had just started and I really love it there. I was off on Martin Luther King Jr day so that's when I first went to my family doctor. He couldn't figure out what was causing this (usually with lymphoma you have a lot of swollen lymph gland and I only had one that was visible). He sent me that day for blood tests and the next week for a ct scan.

The blood test showed that my iron was low (no surprise to me) so he put me on iron pills. The results of the ct scan made my doctor decide to sent me to an Ear Nose and Throat doctor beacuse he would know more about a case like this. My ENT noticed in the ct that I had a swollen lymph gland in my chest that and that same day did a needle biopsy. He had to tell me about all the possibilities of what it could be, but we were still hopeful.

The results for the needle biopsy showed that it was suspicious for malignancy, which meant it could be cancer. That's when he decided he needed to do surgery so they could do a full biopsy and get the lump out of my neck. I went to a preop a few days before the surgery and they drew more blood. (I was never really afraid of needles but its getting to the point where they REALLY don't bother me so much.)

So then came surgery time. I didn't tell too many people what was going on because I didn't want to scare anyone before we knew for sure what was wrong with me. Through all of this I was somehow able to stay pretty positive and I only missed the last hour of school a few days. When I told my students I would be gone for three days they thought I was going on a vacation because I was sick of them already.

On Tuesday 2/10 I went in for surgery. I really wasn't scared, just frustrated because while they were preping me and waiting for my doctor to finish the surgery they had before me, I could see people eating. I was starving but I wasn't allowed to eat. I guess the surgery went well. I feel asleep before they even moved my bed and barely woke up when they moved me into a big chair in the recovery room. During my surgery they took a cross section of the lump and found out it was lymphoma. They'll have to do more tests to find out what kind it is. When I woke up more in the recovery room I decided I just wanted to go home. They made me keep down a few ounces of sprite and then I was allowed to leave. Right now I haven't gotten a good look at my wound. They've got me wrapped like I have a broken neck and I have a drain (just a little tube) in my wound to get the nasty stuff to come out of the inside. Today I go back to ENT's office to get the drain removed and hopefully another bandage. Last night I wasn't able to keep food down but hopefully today will be better. I plan on going back to work Friday (it will be a very easy day).

I want to thank all of you for your love, prayers, and support. It makes me feel so much better to know that all of you are here for me. Lymphoma is a very curable form of cancer. I'm still young and strong. I know I'm going to beat this, so no worries! I love you all!