I have not been feeling good for weeks now. Dry heaves, throwing up, exhaustion. I just couldn't shake it. I know I had a full week of doctors rests and visits coming up and Clint and I just looked at each other in tears and thought "How" how can I do this.
My week consisted of Monday~ oncologist visit, Tuesday~ Radiation Oncologist visit, also~ Interventional radiation visit.
Wednesday~ CT/PT scan, Thursday ~Flow study test. Every day in town for something else, long and laborious. I was dry heaving several times a day and without warning, taking my medicines but nothing was helping. I was in bed sick and tired.
On Monday when I went into see my oncologist, dry heaving and gagging the whole way, tears streaming down my face, he told Clint."I need to put her in the hospital. Go to the emergency at Jeff, I will call ahead."
I did not want to go to the hospital, not sure why but I did know now that I did not have a choice. As Clint drove up Broad Street to Jeff, I was upset but knew I had to do this.
We were admitted on Monday around 10 AM. I was placed a a emergency room and they started with the testing. I finally got a room around 6PM, busy, busy hospital.
My experience was nothing like I could imagine. My room was new, the nurses and doctors and right down to Transport, who take you from test to test. These people were wonderful, friendly. The thing I heard most other than,"Can I take your vital signs" was what can I do to make you feel better, make you comfortable, too cold? too hot? need water?
I stayed in the hospital until Friday. I kept spiking a 102.5 fever. They gave me every test know to man, I think. They checked my tummy and colon for a blockage, my gallbladder, a cat scan of my head, chest, abdomen. Blood work every day, of course done at 4 AM. Cultures, samples of anything that comes out of your body. I had so many tests I lost count.
From all this testing I did find out that the cancer is NO WHERE else. Only in my liver. Which makes me happy, because when you are feeling sick, every ache and pain is Cancer to you. All my doctors came to me in the hospital to meet and discuss my treatments and test results. These doctors are young, knowledgeable, confident and efficient right along with the nurses, they answered every question and put us at ease. I did have the Flow study, they go into the groin to see if they can find a path to the liver to inject the radioactive pellets that will "Kill" the Cancer. All went well with that too, they found a path. This was done under conscious sedation, which means you are awake, but you just don't care.
I have only one complaint during my 5 days there~ NO SLEEP. I know you hear this all the time but it is true. Every hour they came in for something else, usually starting at 10 PM or so, vital signs, blood cultures, heparin shot in the belly at 2 AM( not a fun way to wake up) chest ex ray, yes in the middle of then night, more vital signs, more blood, take your pills, no sleep for 5 days. When I left there on Friday night I wanted to go to bed for a week.
I came home tired but at least I knew that my whole body was scanned and tested and probed. I am scheduled for the radioactive pellets in two weeks time, if the insurance company approves it. I am tired, been sleeping non stop to try to catch up on my lost sleep, but I do not have dry heaves and I am feeling better every day.
Sometimes you think you know what is good for you but this was not the case. A visit to a Wonderful Hospital like Jefferson put my mind at ease and let me know that the medical profession still cares, while I am still be treated, this is very important to me.
I know it's been a awhile since I wrote but now you know why!
Thanks again for all the cards and notes I came home to, I really appreciate your love and hope in me.
My cousin Daniele from Italy, my Mom and my Dad, a favorite picture,having dinner at our home.
As a child when you fall you seem to bounce back up. I often watch children run and play, fall and tumble and get right back up with out a problem.
Falling for an adult is an entirely different experience.
I am not sure if it because we are less close to the ground or our bodies hurt more as we get older but I am here to tell you it is a traumatic experience.
This week around 12 noon or so, after I was finished with throwing up and getting my head on straight and not feeling dizzy, Clint and I decided to take me out. I have been in the house for what seemed like forever.
We drove to Lancaster to pick up some plants for the garden.
It was a wonderful day, we had fabulous lunch at a Greek place, I had grilled octopus and Skordia, a mashed potato dip, and feta cheese. We relaxed and talked and forget all about the cancer.
We drove to Lancaster and although it was a cool day, spent time at the nursery checking out trees and bushes. We came home with lots of containers of Scotch Broom, which I love.
The hour and a half ride home through the country side of Lancaster was beautiful. I was calm and collected and so happy to be out and gather flowers for my garden.
I made one major mistake, as we pulled into the driveway and parked, Clint said to me loud and clear, "Go inside and I will unload the truck". Me being me, who always helped, got out the truck way too fast, picked up a large container of Scotch broom. Little did I know the thing had wings, I got dizzy and it pulled me up the driveway, with Clint yelling all the time"what are you doing" he said I passed him at 100 miles an hour and thought, this is not good.
Never did I think to drop the flowers and roll on the grass. I hit knees hard on the asphalt, rolled over, my body in shock, pummeled my left side and started bawling hysterically. My good mood vanished with the drop of the Scotch broom. When Clint could get me off the ground, both knees bruised, couldn't walk, calmed me down somewhat and brought me upstairs.
The phone rang and it was my oncologist asking how I was doing~perfect timing~ I was a mess! I told him I just fell and he was very concerned, he wanted to see me, he wanted to put me in the hospital, he had been saying this for a week or more and I DID NOT want to go to the hospital. You know me and rejecting everything first! I was dehydrated and he ordered fluids. I went to see him today. We had a wonderfully long conversation as we talked about how I feel good for a day and bad for three days. I've been getting headaches which I hadn't before so more tests.
But, to tell you the truth I feel good today, I am sitting here writing a blog. I ate 3 meals without bringing it up. Could be the Cancer, could be the chemo, could be anxiety, could be the mini steroid I am taking. Who knows, at this point my least favorite thing is the steroids, so I will gradually remove them and go on. Today I feel like doing things, I will hope and yes, set my mind to~each day is special, feeling good or not!
Thanks Doc for taking the time to go through every possible question, concern and for being so compassionate, I am lucky to have you on my side.
I am blessed, I know I say that a lot but it is true.
I am surrounded by arms wide open and prayers and thoughts and love all around me.
I feel this every day, especially when I am sick and too tired to get out of bed. I think of my wonderful bedroom, where I have been spending most of my time (other than the bathroom floor), three beautiful windows that look out into the sky, my comfortable bed, and my husband that doesn't take his eyes off me.
Tina and Dominick are like Hawks, they follow my every move, they are my "watchers" too, I am Lucky indeed!
I am surrounded by love and hope and inspiration from all my clients who I really like to call my friends. That has what you become, my army of inspiration, the hands that hold me up and tell me it will be OK. All your wishes, cards and messages and hope for me is overwhelming. I am blessed, I am lucky.
I had a wonderful dinner with close family. We ate at my Mom's, she insisted. I have still been beleaguered with side effects, so I was happy to be at my Mom's. Everyone made something and it was wonderful. We talked, we argued, we laughed, we remembered my Dad. Another holiday thinking of him at the table, enjoying the meal and joking with everyone. In my heart he was there.
Next two weeks~ lots of tests and meeting with doctors. The chemo isn't working and they are proceeding with the Interventional Radiology. Those tiny pellets they put in the liver to kill it. I figure what the heck, they tried to burn them out, microwave really, it didn't work, they tired to poison them out with high does of chemo, that didn't work so now they want to radiate them out. What the heck, go with the flow!
Speaking of flow, before this happens they will do a FLOW STUDY to see if they can get the pellets where they want them. That is on April 26. Operation is May10 if that works out.
I am feeling better every day. Still have some really bad days but I can see I am coming out of this, thank goodness, it has been a long road and I want me back.
I thank each and everyone of you who has thought about me or sent me a note(love those notes) couldn't do this without family and friends. So THANK YOU I wish you a blessed and peaceful Spring.
I just finished watching a movie called "Tangled".
It is a Walt Disney movie based on Rapunzel. I put it on for the kids, their request but I finished watching the movie myself. I couldn't tear myself away.
Of course it started as almost all movies do, the good guys and the bad guys. It was an intriguing story, as the characters worked their way through situation after situation, always trying no matter what.
At the end, as the good guys won and the brightly lit lanterns filled the sky (I can't tell you everything!) It brought tears to my eyes (been emotional lately). I realized that no matter what, no matter the MRI or PT scans or cancer or feeling bad, it was up to me to be happy. Each and every day. It was my choice.
I closed my eyes and thought, none of us know the future, so I might as well be the best I can be even if it is not as I was 2 years ago. I can still be filled with joy as the sun rises and I see a new day, It can make my heart sing to see the flowers of spring bursting all over, I am happy to be surrounded by such a overwhelming show of love and support and prayers. I can say that I kiss each one of you that send a card, email or anything, I bless you and love you, it helps me every day.
And so for the MRI report.
I went yesterday with high hopes in my heart but not on my face. I was nervous, tired, still not feeling well and not knowing if I could do another chemo.
Clint and I waited in the doctors office for him to come in a read the report.
He came in closed the door and looked utterly perplexed. He said to me" Susan the report indicates that you have had a mixed response to therapy" what this means is that the large tumor that they were targeting with the chemo has responded and shrunk about the size of a dime. It went from 12 cm to 9 cm. BUT, there is always a but, more tumors have pooped up, small but new. HOW CAN THAT HAPPEN??????? while killing one, more show up???
He said he has to think about this and seeing how sick I was he took me off this type of chemo. It is not working he said. He told me he will consult with the other doctors and get back to me by Monday.
I went home tired, scared and relived to tell the truth, at least I have some time to recover and get my spirit and strength back.
This news brought me down yesterday but when I woke up this morning I thought"no one knows the future" I will continue to believe in my miracle and think the best will happen no matter what, I do believe this to be true!!
And so like Tangled I will know that the good guys will win!!!!I am a good guy!!!
I am scheduled for chemo tomorrow. My oncologist gave me off last week again.
I had a tough time. As I said before this chemo is cumulative and each time I get infused it gets worse. I had severe dry heaves, nausea, getting up in the middle of the night to throw up, just awful, violent really. I had tears in my eyes most of the past three weeks. It is hard not to, between having the runs one day, having constipation the next day, that is another thing that just throws you right off. I was dehydrated and the doctor sent 4 bags of fluids, I was re-accessed and I gave myself those fluids. They made me feel a little better but the tiredness and the wanting just to throw up all the time is so taxing.
Yesterday, 3 weeks after chemo I started to feel like myself again, just thinking about things I want to do made me feel better. I had my MRI yesterday, a beautiful day spent downtown in a waiting room for 6 hours. I won't know the results until maybe tomorrow when I go back for my chemo.
I am expecting a miracle. Really I am. This chemo has been so tough it has to be tough on my cancer too, wouldn't you think?
Some days I am down and this is one of them. This is not a joyful blog, it is one of tears, tiredness, and I just want this to be over. It is how I feel, not everyday, but these times when I am waiting for a scan result, it wears on me.
Thank you, everyone for all the support, cards, prayers, thoughts, notes. It really helps me.I appreciate it all.
As a little girl I also knew how lucky I was. I had a stay at home Italian mother who cooked every meal, every day.
For breakfast I had fried eggs cooked in olive oil with crunchy toasted Italian bread to dip, I had hot lunches when I came home from school at noon.
I had wonderful dinners with my family.
My mother was and is still a magnificent cook. My dad would work late at the Barber shop and get home around 7 PM, we had all eaten but we would sit at the linen laid table while he had a wonderful hot meal. Toasted bread, a glass of wine, a fresh green salad and my mom would usually make 3 other things, a pasta, a meat and a vegetable. It was always wonderful.
As my dad retired, while he was still able to drive they would go out and eat for lunch. When his driving abilities disappeared she made a hot fabulous lunch for him every day. I live only a half a block away and if I stopped at lunch I would find them facing each other at the table with their glass of wine laughing, enjoying each other and reminiscing of old time. She would always add a chair and I would join them.
When my dad passed in November, a few days afterwards, my mom said to me" I am not cooking anymore" I couldn't believe my ears. "Mom you are a wonderful cook, everyone loves your cooking and you love to do it"
Well the world works in strange ways. Soon after my dad passed I had some tests that indicated the cancer was back with a force, I was not eating and losing weight fast. This upset my mother greatly and she started to invite us to a hot lunch at 1 PM everyday so I was sure to eat. Clint and I are not picky eaters but eating my mothers food is like dining at a fine Italian restaurant in Italy daily.
We are in heaven, I stopped losing weight, Clint has the biggest smile on his face and we get to spend all that quality time with my mom. Stuffed cabbage, roasted chicken and potatoes, veal in a lemon sauce, meatballs an gravy meat, roasted sausage unbelievable stuff!
She is a strong women and everyday I see her she amazes me more.
She talks about past, present and future with no problems at all, her memory is unbelievable, her desire to shop and travel and gamble at the casino is phenomenal AND We have inherited my fathers wonderful gift of my Mothers food!
Every day during my treatment I try to change my thoughts to something positive and bright. This is my gift. I am truly blessed by this. Thanks Mom!!!!
I've been sick since last week. Sick Sick Sick. The doctor gave me a week off to get back to normal but I had only one day. I went out on Friday with my mom and Clint for a short time and then stayed in bed the rest of the time. When I went for chemo on Thursday he suggested another week off to recover.
This is a serious drug, this is a nasty drug, it is cumulative. Every week it makes you weaker and weaker. He wants to do a serious of test as well, an MRI next week so I thought that if I didn't feel good all last week maybe I should just get on with it and so I did. I got chemo again on Thursday.
It put me down, I was and still am not feeling good. Just sick, queasy, nauseous, dry heaves, tired, tired tired, no other way to say it 24 hours a day. Almost too tired to take a shower at night. I need a rest just to think about going to the bathroom!
I have not read emails in so long, my desk is a big mess, I know I wanted to write a blog but couldn't think straight.
I was reaccessed and given 2 liters of fluids and also a steroid for my nausea that I hope is working.
I just want to feel better. These gorgeous days outside with the spring breeze and all the flowers~ I want to be outside!
So just an update. Still sick, still fighting, still positive, still OK but CAN"T wait to get better real soon!
I had my port accessed, they drew my blood, took my vitals, lost 2 more pounds. I spoke with the assistant to the Doctor, as we talked I asked if the doctor would consider giving me a week more to recover. She felt like he would agree. My blood work was all low,not low enough for another blood infusion but still lower than it should be, my body was still making blood but all numbers were low enough for me to feel this exhausted.
As my oncologist discussed everything he felt it was a good idea to get me back to my old self before going on, another week to recover would be fine he said. We will do another infusion next Thursday. HALLELUJAH!!!!
I felt such relief, I went home to bed I was so happy!
I had to get out of the house, so yesterday Clint took my mom and I out to Booth's corner where we walked around and bought odds and ends, then we went to lunch, then home to bed. But it was such a nice day.
We enjoyed ourselves, I got out of the house, today I am even feeling just a little bit better, I am happy!
Thanks again for all the notes you've been sending, I keep every single one. I love them, I am blessed in so many ways!!! thank you.
You very rarely hear me say that sentence or anything similar~is there something I did? is this bad karma? how did this happen to me? I was going on my merry way, cooking, teaching, traveling, enjoying my family and great food, having fun, being a good person and then this comes along and rips my world upside down. How did this happen to me? I want my life back.
Laying in bed 20 hours a day allows all these thoughts to come to the surface.
Try as I might I do have these moments where I think~what happened to my life?
As I speak to more and more people I realize that everyone is going through something. It may not be Cancer but no matter where you are in your daily life you are dealing with questions about family, finances, friends, health, love, about living, about what it really means to get up every morning and have a purpose.
I try as much as I can to let every day be a blessing. I try to turn my sights to how really blessed I am with family and friends and support through this all. Even the small fact that I love my bedroom where I now spend most of my time.
This weekend I learned an important thing.
Clint and I were watching the Nascar Daytona 500 on TV. Danica Patrick is driving for Nascar, one of the three women who ever drove in that sport. She was in a horrific crash in one of the races. Her car was hit and it went flying, turning this way and that, she had no control as she hit the wall and spun around.
As the inside camera showed her movements, she lifted her both hands off the wheel and put them to her face.
Instead of trying to control a car where the steering wheel was ripping from side to side, she took her hands away from the steering wheel and let the car go where it might. I thought to myself that would be a good lesson in life, when you really can't control what is happening to you, it is best to let go and let life take over. Stop the drama and the fight against what you can't control and let it be.
This has been a tough two weeks for me, I never really felt good at all. Today is Wednesday and I go in tomorrow for another infusion. I am tired, weak, nauseous, I really haven't stepped out of the house in almost 2 weeks, I am not sure if I can do another 2 weeks without feeling good at all. I will go down and maybe he can give me a week off just so I can feel like myself again before I go in for another round of chemo.
Thank you for all your cards and notes, we really appreciate it. Thank you for everything actually, for just being there for me, makes all the difference in the world.
Enduring this chemo is not fun, I will be the first to say so, I wake up more tired, if that is all possible, then when I went to sleep. It is an exhausting tired, a fretful tired, a despicable tired. Takes your breath away, and on days I feel like I am sleeping my life away in my bedroom. It is nice out side an all I can do is just sleep, very discouraging.
I wake up and try to be grateful for all that I have. I do have so much in my life.
One of the things that keeps me going are your notes, letters, emails, calls. I look forward to it each and every day. I love to read the notes that let me know how we met, how you've come to classes, what you make from my cookbook. It is just wonderful for me. My new favorite person is the mail man.
I love the reassurance, the inspiration, the love you send to me. It helps, each and every note helps me to get better.
You are giving me my own words back, tell me I can do this, that I am strong. It is just what I need to feel~ like I can do this.
I have always been a positive person but these past months have tested my strength. I lost myself in the sadness of it all, I thought I would never be myself again. With all your help I am on my way to being better, with all your love and words of encouragement, with all your prayers and thoughts, cards and notes. Telling me how much I mean to you, telling me how much cooking made a difference, these are true gifts to me and I love each and every one. Thank you.
Thank you for being there for me, for letting me know I did make a difference.
This is my 3rd infusion and it is tiring, how else to put it?
I am in bed most days, from the morning until night time, getting up just to maybe eat a little something or just go to the bathroom. It has almost been a week since the infusion and I feel no different.
So each day I know my body is just trying to recover from these drugs, I know I will get better, one day at a time.
Please keep writing!
Around this time last year a very close friend of my daughter's, a NHL linesman came to visit.
I've know Jonny as long as Tina and every time he comes to Philly to o a game he comes to visit us.
He is newly married and brought his French beautiful wife. It was such a nice visit and we went to the game the next afternoon. Jonny always says a prayer when they drop the first puck and I got to see it first hand! God has to be listening to that!!!
I go in for Chemo tomorrow, one day earlier. I am just starting to feel better~go figure!
I am sure I will be sleep induced for a while!
As I was sleeping and dreaming in my chemo induced state last week, my daughter was planning her son Brandon's 6th birthday.
Tina has one a theme for each of her kids birthdays since they have been born, these kids know how to pick a theme and Brandon wanted a Circus theme. There was a clown doing face painting and balloon animals, there was a hot dog machine with all the fixings, there was a candy table made in heaven, the kids went crazy, there was a party photo box where you pick your own costume and take a picture.
Red balloon noses to try on!
Tina even hand cut from tissue paper the rings of tissue that went around the elephant's neck, she thought of everything.
I was able to stop by for a short visit and here are some of the fantastic pictures!
The kids had a great time and so did the adults!
Cookies, cupcakes, peanuts, candy, hot dogs you name it and Tina had it!
I am an optimistic and happy person.. I would rather see life as exciting and challenging and enjoy every minute than dwell on the negative .. I love to cook and have my family around .. big family dinners and celebrations are always held in my home.. I have a huge table 10 feet long ..filled with food and family.. I have learned many of my mom's old recipes and try to recreate many of the dishes I grew up with .. I am teaching my grandsons to cook .. they love it! I have a wonderful,happy, loving relationship with my husband. He supports me in everything I do and is my biggest fan and taste tester.. he loves all things Italian too!
I love to cook, write, eat and laugh .. I wrote a cookbook in 2004.. the title? LIVE,LAUGH,COOK! what else!