When I issued my last post I thought it was my last. But I miss my blog friends and all the wonderful messages they have been trying to get through to me so feel I owe everyone an update. I may occasionally post a blog here and there as life continues on - even though much different than before.
I found out my diagnosis July 10th. They established early on that they felt they had a good shot at removing my tumor with surgery and I was referred to one of the very best surgeons in Vancouver. He specializes in lung transplants and pancreatic tumor surgeries. At the same time my gallbladder which had flagged all of this needed to come out. Surgery was scheduled for August 14th. As this is considered critical illness hubby was allowed to visit in the hospital of which I spent 3 nights. The night before we sat in a hotel room preparing ourselves mentally and received a call from the surgeon - due to the CT scan just a couple of days before it looked like the tumor was too close to a vein to proceed. Instead of doing major surgery they proceeded with removing my gallbladder and did a biopsy on the tumor to confirm the cancer.
On my 51st birthday I found out that yes indeed it was cancer as we had all believed. September 1 I had my first chemo treatment. I get it every two weeks and I go for a full 8 hours and then have a bottle on IV I take hope for 2 more days of treatment. Not everyone who has chemotherapy has similar treatments. It is different for every person and every type of cancer. It turns out that the first chemo bag I get (I get 3 then 1 takehome) I am allergic/hypersensitive to so every day of chemo is now multiple hours of antiallergy meds then chemo then more allergy shots as more issues come up. This drug is the very best drug for shrinking my tumor so we continue on. The hope is that by the end of November we can do surgery to remove it and surrounding tissue and possibly my spleen as it shares the same blood vessels as the pancreas. As it stands right now they think it has not spread and I have a very good chance at living many more years if we can do surgery. Not as good if we can't. Only 10-15 percent of people with pancreatic cancer qualify for surgery. You have to be healthy enough to withstand both the surgery which is major surgery and chemo. If I do get surgery then I have another 3 months of chemo afterward.
Nothing has gone to plan exactly here(always day to day with cancer) but I do feel I have the very best team of surgeons, oncologists, and nurses taking care of me. Some appointments are done by phone thanks to Covid (a plus in my books) and some in person. Every time after chemo I lose about 5-6 days then I perk up and have about 8 good days where hubby and I try to live our lives to the fullest. Yes, I am tired but I am relatively healthy and now can eat a lot more without my nasty gallbladder which was apparently blocked with a really large stone. I've just gone through my 3rd treatment and will have 2-3 more before a decision and more ct scans will be made regarding surgery.
My husband has been the most wonderful man in the world. We already had a really great relationship and this has brought us even closer together if that is even possible. He truly is the kindest and loving/caring man and takes really good care of me on those days when I need it. We just celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary and we are both hoping for more wonderful years together.
Buddy has also been my little hairy rockstar - those days when I am in bed after chemo he doesn't leave my side. Only when he understands I am feeling better he turns into his normal fun playful self. Thank goodness for these two, they truly let me keep my sanity.
One thing I am ever so grateful for is that we got to see 3 of our 4 kids in June - something that is now not possible due to exposure and my lack of an immune system for likely 6 months. The second you have your first treatment you become immune-compromised overnight. One day at a time is all we can plan right now but we communicate with them very regularly and they are all very supportive of me.
We are still running our company but only with existing customers, not new ones. Strange to turn down business but new clients would be impossible at this time and our existing customers are flexible and understand what is going on. Luckily financially we can retire anytime but the company does give hubby something to do other than worry about me and without new clients to onboard my work is much less and can be done when I feel good. While all of my actual care is taken care of through our free healthcare we are still spending about $500 a month on medications for after chemo (mostly anti-nausea drugs that work very well, thank goodness). All of our planning and saving has paid off but I really don't know how people with debt/COVID loss of income/no savings do it. There is some financial relief for these pills called Pharmacare in BC depending on your income. We don't currently qualify but may next year with reduced salaries this year. In the meantime we are fine.
Oddly I still have kept my hair after 3 treatments. It is thinning and has slightly changed colour to reddish-brown. Apparently, the drugs I am on aren't as harsh on the scalp as some (most breast cancer drugs take your hair right away). I am trying to be super delicate with it as my scalp is itchy and I have been adding oil treatments and only washing it every couple of days with baby shampoo. I am fine if I lose it but for now, it is nice that it has stayed after a full month of treatment.
We spend a lot of time with Mom and try to have her for supper at least once a week. My first round I couldn't drive as an anti-nausea medication was making me dizzy but I cut back on that and could drive the second week after chemo so have been able to spend more time with her getting groceries etc. I am limiting my exposure to the public by ordering groceries online but can still act as taxi for Mom and hubby picks up whatever we can't get by ordering online including many trips to the pharmacy.
We have taken more selfies lately as we try and get out to the ocean at least once every two weeks. Here are some of those:
The first two were taken in August at the beach with Buddy - before my operation.
We had a lot of smoke from the fires from California, Oregon, and Washington a few weeks ago but then had wind and rain and most left. Unfortunately, the day after we took these shots it has come back.
Anyway, thank you all for your sweet thoughts of me and I will try and keep future updates every few weeks. I still may occasionally comment on your blogs (yes I am still reading them) but sometimes I just don't have the willpower or know what to say. So at this point - stay safe, wear a mask, be sure to get out and vote (and remove the orange maniac from the Presidency) and live your life to the fullest each day. As they say, YOLO - you only live once.
It warms my heart to hear form you, and you look absolutely beautiful. I love your furry rock star companion-they sure know what their humans need. I will keep sending all my good thoughts for you into the universe, and hope they land with you, your husband, mom, and care team.ReplyDelete
Thank you Sam, I am so lucky to have the husband and furry companion I do. I feel loved and cared for and that is half the battleDelete
I am so happy to see an update from you. Wishing you all the strength in the world.ReplyDelete
Thank you so muchDelete
It sounds like your treatment team has an excellent plan for you,and your hubby and doggie are VIP parts of that team. I hope you do post as the spirit moves you so we can keep up with how you are doing. I enclose a hug from me in coastal California.ReplyDelete
Thank you for your kind thoughtsDelete
I am so glad to hear from you Cheapchick. You are in my thoughts every day. Thanks for the photos you have posted. You and your DH look good and I am so happy for you that he is a sweet person always on your side. I am hoping and wishing for many anniversary celebrations to both of you. Tons of hugs from across the pond and then some.ReplyDelete
Thank you T'Pol, hugs backDelete
Thank you for the update.. My prayers are with you and your family.ReplyDelete
Thank you for your kind wordsDelete
Nice to hear an update. Sending good thoughts your way!ReplyDelete
Thank you - every good thought is appreciated!Delete
Thank you for sharing. Though I miss reading your blog, your time and energy is best spent elsewhere. I continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers.ReplyDelete
Thank you so much AnneDelete
Thank you so much for the update, Cheapchick. Keeping all fingers and toes crossed for you and yours.ReplyDelete
Thank you for thinking of meDelete
Thank you for the update as I have been wondering how you were doing. I am glad that you have such good care and are able to even do some of your treatment in your own home.ReplyDelete
I will continue to hold you in my prayers.
God bless and keep you.
Thank you Jackie, I am receiving very good care and feel that it is up to fate and God at this pointDelete
Praise God!!! I was so excited when I saw this post! Many prayers for 'Cheapchick' and I think God knows you by that name as well as your given one!ReplyDelete
Loved the photos! You look great!! So does your husband!
Will continue to pray for you every single day and trusting God for all to go according to his plan.
We will definitely be voting - to KEEP Trump as our President for four more years!
Thank you for your kind thoughts Linda. I will have to agree to disagree with you but still read your blog and keep you in my thoughts as well. Take careDelete
Happy to have an update from you. Praying for a great outcome for you. Glad you are managing chemo as well as you are and have more good days than bad.ReplyDelete
Round 1 was hard without knowing what it was like but we tracked things and are managing meds and know good days are possible which we were'nt sure about when it started. Now we live for those daysDelete
I am relieved to hear from you. I often gaze across the water to Courtenay/Comox and think of you. I'm looking forward to the day you tell us the tumour has shrunk enough for surgery (I'm sure you are too!). Warmest wishes, SueReplyDelete
Thank you so much Sue. Take careDelete
Its so good to hear from you. You look absolutely beautiful and the love radiating between the two of you is palpable.ReplyDelete
Your treatment sounds really grueling, my heart goes out to you dealing with it all.
With such a brilliant medical team, your husband and family, Buddy and all your friends in Blogland behind I know you can beat this.
Thank you so much for giving us an update on your progress.
On the day you posted about your pancreatic cancer diagnosis, I read your blog, went outside and repotted an ailing plant which since I lavished a little more care on it, continues to flourish. I look at it every day and think of you.
Sending you all my love (and give that fabulous husband of yours a huge hug from me, he's a superstar!) xxxx
Thank you so much. I really picked a winner in my life partner and he gives me so much strength. I was so happy to see you got to go to Greece and love seeing your updates...and I found a similar plant growing in a crack in our sidewalk that self seeded from last year. I repotted it and it's doing well. Persistence and strength pay off.Delete
I'm so happy you updated! I believe that's important for you and also for us, your readers. Please take good care & don't worry about the politics of other countries... most folks have enough to worry about with their own country's government. *lol* Praying for you~ Andrea xoxoReplyDelete
Almost all of my relatives live in the States and I was born there so have a vested interest but so glad we moved to Canaeda. Thank you for your kind thoughts.Delete
So nice to hear from you and to learn that you are coping well. It makes a difference when you have a loving partner and canine companion. May your treatments lead to a successful surgery so you can enjoy many more years here on this rock.ReplyDelete
Thank you Peter. It does make us so thankful we moved here when we did. I love living here on the most beautiful place on earth and am glad on our good days we can go enjoy itDelete
I'm so glad for the update, thank you! You are in the thoughts and prayers of many. Who new Buddy had so many talents? :)ReplyDelete
Buddy is such an empathetic dog, we really are blessed that we were able to bring him home to be part of our family.Delete
Unbelievable! I was thinking about you less than a week ago, and wondering how it was going. I was very excited to see your email this morning, and rejoice with you to the fullest. So glad you posted this update!! ;->ReplyDelete
My husband has Multiple Myeloma (since 2006 at age 62), so we have been going through what you describe for many years. It isn't an easy task; our lives are completely different now. But we just keep on keeping on. The treatments and medications make life difficult, but the key word is "life".
Keep up the healthy lifestyle. We are convinced that is a big part of what has kept him alive all these years. The docs are all mystified by his continued hold onto life, and we are more than grateful for these years together.
My heart just absolutely swells with joy for you! So glad you let us all know the good news.
Thank you for sharing your husbands story - those kind of stories keep me going and I hope to be one of those stories.Delete
I would like to share with you that my husband had stage 4 cancer, it was in the neck and lymph nodes. He has been cancer free for over 3 years now. He had the same chemo as you with the full 9 hour day, and then the take home chemo. I have been thinking about you and glad you have been able to post an update.ReplyDelete
Thank you for that - I intend to be a fighter and based on my age and the fact I had no cancer symptoms (we only found it based on gall bladder) am one of the few lucky ones who got it early. I truly hope and intend to fight and get several years. I am tough and will do just about whatever it takesDelete
Build up your strength and take your rest when you can.ReplyDelete
I've looked after many patients with Pancreatic Cancer. The Whipple procedure is hard and I'm pretty sure I know who your surgeon is (the best in Alberta is in the hospital I work in). You're in good hands.
Posts like this should be made required reading for those who call universal healthcare a failure.
My surgeon in Vancouver is Dr Kim at Vancouver General. My tumor is slightly different place so will be Distal Pancreatomy. My gall bladder was biopsied as well as ct scans taken in other parts of my body. So far just good news there....praying I can have that surgery. Our healthcare in BC is even better than Alberta, I have felt it every step of the way. Lower wait times, such kind and caring Drs and the nurses have been the most amazing people. And we are so lucky I can get chemo from our brand new hospital 10 minutes from my health. We are very thankful about thatDelete
from my house I meanDelete
I've been checking your blog every couple of days to see if you had given an update and I'm so pleased to see that you have. You're going through a tough time but it sounds as though there is so much more to be optimistic about than your last post. I'm keeping you and your hubbie in my thoughts (and I love that last picture of you two). Stay strong. You've got this!ReplyDelete
Thank you so much. We are trying to be optimistic, at this point that's all we can do. And fight.Delete
Oh, dear wonderful Cheap Chic Chick! Thanks so much for sharing this update. I think about you all the time but have wanted to respect your privacy. I have lost hope in so much lately but, especially after reading this, I have not lost hope that you will get through these terrible times and you'll be well again — and maybe even go shopping without coupons! So glad you have your incredible husband... and Buddy! Sending you abrazos grandes from Spain.ReplyDelete
Thank you Mitchel, don't lose hope. That's all any of us have. Tides will turn, things will get better. This is a year all of us could have done without but keep joy in your heart with your husband and kitties and the fact you live in a beautiful spot. The other things will get better. Thank you so much for thinking of me.Delete
I'm so happy to see this update! The team you've gathered around you (including your husband and Buddy) are obviously doing all they can. I'll be sending positive thought that you are able to manage the surgery this fall and regain your good health.ReplyDelete
Take care and stay well!
Thank you - I am hell bent on getting that surgery no matter what. It was gut wrenching in the summer to be told at the last minute they couldn't do it but hopefully things will go my way this timeDelete
I'm SO very happy to hear from you & know that you are doing as well as you could hope during this time. I've missed your blog, but totally understand that you have other priorities in your life.ReplyDelete
You look absolutely beautiful - in the original picture, and now. It's so awesome to hear you & your husband are an unbeatable team.
Sending you more love to continue down this path.
Thank you - I used to blog about upbeat things, difficult to do these days but life everywhere is odd now so wanted didn't think it was right to leave everyone hanging. No one knows when their time is up and mine is not yet so I am fighting the fight :)Delete
I am so thrilled to hear from you & read your update! I still clicked on your blog despite your "last" post, and held out hope. Hurray! Sending all my good thoughts your way.ReplyDelete
Thank you Dianne, any good thoughts are much appreciatedDelete
I am so glad to hear your update. I have tried to post a couple of times on your second to last post just to let you know that I am thinking of you and sending you many positive thoughts. You have a wonderful support system and the best team of doctors! Stay strong and know that many of us in blogland are keeping you in our prayers!ReplyDelete
Thank you so much. Yes, I am very lucky, my support system couldn't be any strongerDelete
I am very, very glad to hear your progress -- even though you got to relive it as you were writing about it, no doubt. Based on comments here, I'm obviously not the only person who thinks of you as a friend. Whenever you get the time and strength, would love to hear how you, Buddy and your husband are doing. Keep getting well...ReplyDelete
Thank you Cindy. We are just trying to do the best we can every dayDelete
I am so thankful that you have hope now and pray things continue to go well for you.ReplyDelete
Thank you for your kind thoughts KathyDelete
I am so very glad to see your post. I had read your blog for about 3 months and not posted before your last post. I've thought of you, hopeful that you are doing well and I'm so glad to hear about your progress. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers, Celie in Wisconsin.ReplyDelete
Thank you Celie, take care and stay safeDelete
I am so glad you decided to post again! And a wonderful hopeful update at that.ReplyDelete
Thank you Kerry :)Delete
Thank you for the update. Thinking of you. 💕. As a cancer survivor myself, I am very optimistic for you!ReplyDelete
Thank you - there has been so many advances in the cancer world and other than this am relatively health now that the gallbladder is gone. I am withstanding Chemo well although my dr tells me they have me on the most brutal of chemos to try and shrink the tumor to do surgery. We are optimistic and I have a 10 year plan :)Delete
So glad to hear about your promising outlook!! I have thought and prayed often for both of you and will continue. Medical advances in the past couple of years are amazing.ReplyDelete
Yes you are very right, best not to look at stats as many are old and also many people have this type of cancer don't find out until surgery isn't an option. I choose to remain optimisticDelete
I am so glad you decided to post again. I have had you in my thoughts a lot. Glad you feel good about the battle. We live in the Seattle area so you aren't that far away - I'm sure my thoughts for your recovery are strong!!!ReplyDelete
Thank you my friend!Delete
I'm not sure how I ended up here, from someone else's blog I'm sure. I'm a nurse in cancer care in Edmonton. Hopefully the 5FU works well and they can do the surgery.ReplyDelete
I'm glad that you and your husband can still enjoy time together
Thank you. My good week between 2 week cycles is almost like normal life (except now I am cramming 14 days of life stuff into 7). I am one of the lucky ones that way. My biggest hope is to remain as healthy as possible. I am power eating and trying to gain weight before surgery as lost 6 pounds in 3 days last time I was in the hospital. Thank you for your kind words. I have serious respect for nurses these days, your work is amazing.Delete
Long time reader, first time commenter :) Thank you for the update, You are often in my thoughts as to how you were getting on. Take care from Australia xxReplyDelete
Thank you so much KirstenDelete
I'm so pleased to see your update! and what a lovely pic of you both. You're in my thoughts.ReplyDelete