Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"Thankful" Doesn't Really Cover It

My radiation oncologist's office called today, as I expected them to. I grabbed a pencil, ready to write down the date and time of my brain radiation now that my simulation (making of the mask that holds my head to the table) and small slice MRI were complete. The medical physicists had had enough time to figure out how to position the radiation relative to my brain lesion and I was ready to get it over with.

However, they did not have an appointment time for me.

Rather, they were calling to tell me that, from both the simulation CT and the 3mm sliced MRI, they could not find any evidence of any cancer in brain to treat. The 5x7mm lesion clearly seen in February is simply not there, and neither is anything else. They made no appointment because they can find nothing to treat.

To say I am stunned is an understatement. Yet, at the same time, I am somehow not surprised. I know that sounds crazy, but all this time so many of us have been praying for a miracle and, though many will say it was actually due to this past treatment or that medication, you all know what I think. I think we got a piece of our miracle.

This leaves two, far less concerning, areas to either investigate or treat (a definite lesion on my T9 vertebrae that hurts me a bit but will not kill me, and a minor biopsy taking place on Tuesday). I have seen the reports and all evidence shows that my body and brain are currently nearly free of cancer and the little I have can be well-handled with minimal side effects. All vital organs are entirely clear.

When I was imagining possible outcomes for my brain metastases, this was one I did not even think of. Who could?

Thank to you all who have prayed for this result so faithfully. Clearly, it is working.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Way Too Much Fun For A Monday Morning

We have had a mouse living in our kitchen for quite a few months. Every few days we see him, dashing from under the fridge to the dishwasher, or, most disturbingly, hopping out of the trash compactor when someone opens it. He has been getting steadily fatter as we are a great family to host a mouse, crumb wise. No matter how often we sweep the floor, it is a matter of moments before someone wanders through and drops more.

We have been trying to trap this mouse for months. At first (because he is awfully cute, just a little brown field mouse) we tried building a humane trap. After some internet research, Jay went off to Lowes and came back with buckets, wood, and various other items to build an elaborate trap. He covered a soda can with peanut butter, built ramps so the mouse could get up and then arranged the can so it would spin when touched, thus dumping the mouse into the bucket where we would find and release him the next morning. We didn't count on the dog, who licked all the peanut butter off the can overnight and then promptly got sick. Fail number one.

Next, we called pest control and asked for help. They set sticky traps at common entry points to the house. We never caught a mouse, but instead caught a baby snake. Seriously. We haven't felt quite comfortable at home ever since. Fail number two.

Then we set classic traps with cheese and peanut butter in his favorite hiding places. By this time, humane was no longer a consideration, we just wanted the mouse gone. Every morning we would wake up to find the traps licked clean and unsprung. This is one smart mouse. Fail number three.

During this time, we got a cat. She is a really great cat and we enjoy her on many levels, but it certainly crossed our minds that she could be of use to us as a mouser. Over the months, she has noticed the presence of the mouse and spends many hours staring under the refrigerator where she most often has seen him run. One time she caught him in her mouth but when Jay ran after her to collect the mouse she got scared and dropped him. Fail number four.

This morning, about 6:00am, before anyone else was awake, I was in the kitchen making the kids' lunches and the cat was in her usual position in front of the refrigerator. I opened the trash compacter and jumped when the mouse hopped out. Happily, the cat did not fail to notice this and within an instant had the mouse in her mouth. I started screaming, "Mittiny has the mouse, Mittiny has the mouse" and people started crashing out of bed and throwing open their doors. What a way to get the kids out of bed for school!

Mittiny ran up the stairs with the mouse in her mouth, lickety split, and proudly delivered it to Lindsey (her actual owner). As soon as she released the mouse and it ran, she grabbed it again and--get this--tossed it in Lindsey's bathtub where it could not scrabble out. What a smart cat!
We shut the bathroom doors and braced ourselves for carnage.

After about an hour, when the noises had stopped, Jay ventured in to see what we were dealing with. A very happy Mittiny came out, satisfied that she had played properly with her prey and pleased her owner, but the mouse was still very much alive and uninjured in the tub. Fail number five.

So, we had the mouse trapped, but the cat was clearly not going to finish the job (got to keep her a little hungrier, I guess!). Jay, my brave husband, scooped the mouse into a tupperware, got in the car and released it in a distant field, certain that even if it could remember how to get back to our house, no amount of crumbs would be worth another possible hour spent "playing" with the cat in the tub. I don't expect we'll see this mouse again.

See? If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Long Time, No Post

So sorry! To those of you who check this blog regularly, it must seem an eternity since I wrote anything. I will truly try to be more consistent.

The problem, as far as I can tell, is that I am vacillating between feeling well and not feeling well. When I don't feel well I sleep a lot and spend tons of time watching fine programming with my kids such as Phineas and Ferb and Spongebob while shivering under my warming blanket. My kids love this (and I am actually amused at some of the shows--scary, isn't it?). However, it is not very productive, so when I do feel well I immediately launch into hyperdrive and work to restore order to my life and my home. There is simply no place for blogging in either of these modes, so I am just going to have to be more consistent about feeling well, that's all. I'll be working on that...

I am busy preparing for brain radiation sometime in the next two weeks. I completed my simulation on Friday and my 3mm slice MRI on Wednesday. Good news from the MRI: it did not turn up anything smaller or new as my doctor had thought it might. There is just the one lesion and soon it will be jettisoned from my brain. Good riddance! The simulation is where they make your mask, strap you to the table (definitely not for the claustrophobic) and run you through the CT scanner so the medical physicists can figure out where to point the radiation relative to where your tumor is and where you will be positioned on the table. It is a very precise and impressive science.

Just for fun, we are also playing "beat the clock" as we race to get the radiation done before my insurance turns me into a pumpkin at UCLA on March 31. So far we are on track to get this done, but it does add a little excitement into the mix. I have my last Herceptin treatment with Dr. Glaspy and his amazing staff on Thursday. I will really miss them and hope everything wonderful I've heard about my new oncologist at Cedars-Sinai is true. I have no doubt that it is, but it is still difficult to leave a medical team you have trusted with your life for two and a half years.

I did visit one of my new doctors at Cedars-Sinai last week. He was great and knows my new oncologist well and also closed the loop about what he was doing with Dr. Glaspy. I really appreciate that attention to detail since there are so many little weird medical things going on with me--a formerly very healthy person--now. This new doc needs to do a biopsy on a small mass that is probably not anything more than a blood clot or a polyp, but with my history no one is taking any chances. So, off the Lovinox for a day and biopsy away! I am seriously praying it is nothing. I need another cancer like I need a hole in the head. (I mean another hole in the head...)

In the meantime, we have had no shortage of things to keep us busy. We have been agonizing over where to send Joey to high school and have very happily and finally come to a decision about that (Paraclete, yay!). That has taken a lot of stress off me and I know it is the best decision for all of us. Sometimes you just have to go through some songs and dances to get to what's best.

Bella had a birthday in late February and is now FIVE YEARS OLD. Crazy, but true. She is a sweet girl and I am so happy God gave her to us. We had a small party for her at Chuck E Cheese per her request. It was nice that everything was done for us and the kids loved it, but about halfway through the party Jay turned to me and said that the place represented every single value we are trying to steer our children away from: need for continual entertainment, constant push for more (tokens, tickets, prizes), etc. Guess we won't be having any more parties there!

I've also kept busy sorting out medical bills (some of my hospital stays were miscoded and insurance is not paying--but they will, I'm sure, it's just a million awful phone calls until they do), finishing taxes, and doing all the things I'm sure you are all busy with as well. Julia is starting her much-needed orthodontic treatment, Lindsey's Academic Decathalon team placed 8th out of 101 schools on Saturday, Sam is reading the Hunger Games (as we all have been doing), Natalie has figured out Club Penguin and how to spend her siblings coins...

In other words, life goes on. A blessing in itself.