Minutes – January 29, 2014

Moments of Grace Logo

::faithful - prayers of thanksgiving and joy – it was another a beautiful weekend! I sat outside in a lawn chair and watched Mr. Pea and DirtBike wax the cars.

Chemo Warrior

::Kill All the Cells!! – Second chemo infusion was not as easy as the first.  It was the double dose day. I get one full dose of Gemzar in the first week of a cycle, then a second full dose of Gemzar AND a full dose of Taxotere AND a Neulasta shot in the second week of the cycle. The Gemzar scrambles the DNA inside the cells; the Neulasta forces my bone marrow to make white blood cells; and the Taxotere?  She’s a Mean Girl!  The first clue was the immediate allergic reaction to the drip.  I’m sitting there clicking away on my laptop sending messages for work and all of a sudden the world sped up.  I was HOT, my heart was pounding and I couldn’t talk.  Cherry Ames was with me and called the nurse.  They laid me out flat and immediately injected Benadryl and steroids straight into my port line.  WHOOSH!  It was like being the Star Trek Enterprise flying along at warp speed and then suddenly coming to a stop.  I became quite Zen, all relaxed and chatty.  I was feeling okay on the steroids for the next 30-ish hours and then came the crash.  Ugh. Saturday evening and Sunday were rough.  Taxotere does a good job at killing cells, but she’s not very discriminate.  She takes out a lot of healthy cells as well, like the inside of your mouth, taste buds, and all the good bugs in your gut that keep the plumbing working correctly.  All in all, it feels like extreme morning sickness, complete with nausea, aches and general lethargy, but without the anticipation of a sweet baby on the other end!  By Tuesday morning I felt human again.

The good news is that this is an OFF WEEK!!  No chemo, just lab draws and rest.

::creative – Making progress on the beanie.

::pondering –  Life in general. The fun stuff that we’re going to do this spring and summer.

::delicious – Wonderful neighbors stocked our freezer for this week – Yeah!!!

  • Brisket, Macaroni and Cheese, Green Beans
  • Chicken Soup
  • Vegetable Soup
  • Manicotti, Salad
  • Chicken and Tater Tot Casserole
  • Eat All The Leftovers!
  • Black Bean Tamales, Salad

Oh, and I didn’t get to all the planned baking last week. I did make an applesauce cake in the midst of my medically induced frenzy on Saturday morning, and we’ve been snacking on it.  Yum!

::fun - Ordination of our New Bishop!!  I will not be attending, as that day coincides with my lowest white blood cell counts and I can’t risk being in a crowded public arena.  Mr. Pea can’t get off work this afternoon, either.  However, the Architect and Cherry Ames will be there!  Cherry Ames just started a clinical rotation as the school nurse at The Architect’s high school; she’ll be manning one of the first aid stations during the ordination.

The head of our survey department at work is also undergoing cancer treatment.  I told him that between him being radioactive and me being poisonous, we should be superheroes and wear capes to work.  I am seriously, SERIOUSLY considering whipping up some satin capes with bling for us to wear to staff meetings – Radioactive Man and Poison Girl!!

::fashionable -  Dark Purple cashmere sweater, tweed dress pants, sassy boots. And a new haircut!  Check it out!

New Haircut!

I decided to be brave and buzz my head before it starts falling out – a decision made after talking to friends who have already walked this path and assured me that shedding hair all over the house is not only traumatic, it’s messy as all get-out and clogs up both the shower drain and the vacuum hose. Honestly?  I LIKE my hair short!  I’ve wanted a short sassy pixie style for decades, but have deferred to Mr. Pea’s preference for longer locks.  I am immensely relieved to discover that I have a very prettily shaped head – no lumps or bumps.  Most of this mini short hair will fall out before the end of this week, if all goes according to schedule – but it will be easier to clean up with just a sticky lint roller.

::looking ahead -  MathCounts on Saturday, storm drain system analysis, and finishing a report that has been nagging me since December.

Take a Nap. Keep the Faith.

angela pea

Minutes – January 6, 2014

Moments of Grace Logo

Joining the wonderful women over at Plain Grace to celebrate these Moments of Grace!

::faithful – prayers of thanksgiving and joy for Jenny – Happy Birthday!; praying for Jane as she continues with her recovery from back surgery, embracing physical therapy; for my kids as they head back to school, for focus, enthusiasm and [of course] learning; for myself and Mr. Pea, for courage as we forge through this Chemo Valley.

::news from the cancer battlefield – Since I’m sure you’re all bouncing with anticipation to know what’s going on, I’ll just jump right in.  We met with my oncologist Dr. Cloven last Friday to finalize “The Plan”.  After much prayer and research, Mr. Pea and I had pretty much decided to go ahead with adjuvant chemotherapy to be as sure as possible that there aren’t any more cancer cells lurking and waiting to attack.  Dr. Cloven’s commentary closed the deal.  She said, “If it were me, and knowing what I know as an oncologist, I would do the chemo now.  It’s easier to kill a few cells than it is to kill a tumor.”  Yep. Exactly.  That’s the grim reality of ULMS – if it comes back, its fatal; just a matter of how long you choose to fight against the inevitable.

So All-Righty Then. I get a port installed some time this week, and the first chemical cocktail infusion is scheduled for the afternoon of January 16.

::creative - Does halfway tidying the house count?  Tossing out umpteen-year-old eyeshadow?  How about dusting?

::pondering –  Being bald.  Really.  Here it is the coldest winter in Texas in forever, and in a few weeks I won’t have any hair to keep my head warm.  Why am I so focused on the bald part?  Injecting my body with chemical poisons doesn’t phase me, nor does the thought of feeling tired and nauseous for months on end. But bald?  I can’t stop thinking about it, and what it will feel like and look like. As with most things, I bet the reality will be a thousand times less awful than the anticipation. Besides, there’s a wig and dozens of beautiful scarves just waiting to be put to use. 

::delicious -

  • Potato Soup, Parker House Rolls
  • Leftovers
  • Pizza Night for the kids; Mr. Pea and I will be at a swanky retirement party.
  • Tamales, Black Beans and Spanish Rice
  • Chicken Soup with Veggies
  • Baked Pork Chops, Stuffing, Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  • Beef Burgundy, Smashed Potatoes, Broccoli

::fun – DirtBike and I were mountain bike trailbulding on Saturday. That red squiggly line on the map is what we were working on.  DirtBike cut down several trees; I helped clear brush off the trail and visited with my friends.

Gateway Mountain Bike Trail

That’s me holding not one, but TWO pulaskis.  Oh yeah.  I’m a two-fisted privet mangler.

Me.  Being Silly.

::fashionable -  Brown dress pants, orchid purple sweater shell, marled navy, brown, orange and purple cardigan, brown boots.

::looking ahead -  Gearing up mentally and physically for the huge task of traveling through this valley.  I can rejoice, though, because I don’t have to hike alone.

  Keep the Faith.

angela pea

Minutes – December 16, 2013

::faithful - praying for my kids, especially my youngest son; for my and Mr. Pea’s discernment on the ‘next step’; for my friend Angela’s Mom.  

::news from the cancer battlefield – Week Three is amazing.  I can now walk at regular speed, touch my toes and I even climbed four flights of stairs on Saturday evening.  Whoot!!  I’m getting more restful sleep, and I’m back at work.

I had my follow-up visit with my oncologist last Thursday, and we reviewed the nitty-gritty details of the pathology report.  (The earlier information that lymph nodes were clear was delivered by phone.)  All in all, it was good, as good as one can get with a ULMS diagnosis – Stage 1A. The only troubling marker was the density of the cancer cells.  When samples are studied for pathology, technicians count the number of cancer cells in a 10x field area under the microscope.  Normally, (Ha!  as if cancer can be called ‘normal’) classification is based upon 5 cells per 10x; 5-10 cells per 10x; more than 10 per 10x; or too many to count.  My count was 25 cancer cells with ‘multiple and bizarre nuclei’.  Now we are tasked with deciding on a follow-up plan.  I have two choices:  monitor like crazy and pray that it doesn’t come back; or embrace a round of chemotherapy, monitor like crazy and pray that it doesn’t come back.  There aren’t any clear-cut studies to show that chemotherapy significantly decreases the risk of recurrence.  Why?   Because most women with ULMS don’t discover it until it has progressed to Stage II or higher, and they die…there isn’t a big pool of survivors to study.  (BTW, as I am now a statistical anomaly, I will put myself in the registry of survivors for tracking and further clinical studies.  I have nothing to lose by helping the doctors and scientists figure out a way to kill this beast!)

Mr. Pea and I are studying all the information we can find, praying and asking a million questions. The one important question I FORGOT to ask Dr. Cloven after she explained the alternatives is what she would recommend.  Can you believe I forgot that?  I’ll call her this week to ask.  We will meet with Dr. Cloven again on January 2 to make a final decision.  My inclination is to hedge my bets for long-term survival and rock a wig for several months until my hair grows back.

::creative – More Christmas Surprises!! Knitting, knitting, knitting.  It’s soothing.

::pondering - Parenting.  It’s sometimes very, very hard.  And time goes by so fast.

::delicious - Easy does it again this week.

  • Hamburgers, Broccoli Salad
  • Grilled Chicken, Mixed Veggies
  • Macaroni and Cheese, Spinach Salad
  • Chicken Spaghetti and some sort of Veggie
  • Tacos, Black Beans
  • Out for Dinner – Italian!!
  • Something I will Figure Out Later in the Week

::fun - Mr. Pea and I visited Sundance Square Saturday Night.  The Fort Worth Jazz Orchestra had a free concert – Duke Ellington’s renditions of “The Nutcracker”.  It was so wonderful to sit outside in the crisp air, see the Christmas lights, enjoy the music and watch all the little kids visiting with Santa.

::fashionable - I have on HIGH HEELS today!! Oh Joy! I’ve missed my sassy shoes the past three weeks.  Black pencil skirt, cardigan and a cheery, Christmas-y green shell. And a jangly, sparkly crystal bracelet.   I’m getting my hair cut this week.  I’ve let it grow out considerably over the past year and it’s well past my shoulder blades now.  I’m going to get it cut much shorter, so that when it gets REALLY short (ha!) in a few months, it won’t be such a shock to everyone.

::looking ahead – Wrapping presents, mailing cards (maybe), The German Club Christmas Party on Saturday.  A house full of 50+ teenagers, bonfire and lots of good German food.  Don’t worry – it won’t be a stress on me.  Teachers and students bring all the food, set up and clean up.  All we provide is the house and firewood.  We’ve been hosting this shindig for years and it is always so much fun!! 

Linking up at Plain Grace- come join us!

  Keep the Faith.

angela pea