Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Post surgery #1

Ok, I have already freely admitted that I am the worlds worst blogger! I have confirmed it with most of my readers and now my husband is also conceding the point!

Where do I begin?? Well, I finished chemo #8 on the 25th of Feb and managed to get through the side effects a little bit easier--mostly psychologically knowing I didn't have to go back for more chemo made it much more tolerable! I still am dealing with side effects--mostly neuropathy (numbness in fingers and feet) but that should subside in the next couple of months. Fatigue still plagues me but every day I feel stronger so I am moving in the right direction!

I had a Breast MRI taken and the results were not altogether surprising. The chemo appears to have reduced one of the tumors but not so much on the other one. This means that I did not have a full response to chemo and that there is cancer still inside me. In the meantime, my gallbladder has continued to be the source of misery, pain and suffering. So, when I met with the breast surgeon to discuss the breast-he was very surprised and disappointed to hear that my gallbladder was so bad off and not taken care of when it was flaring up! The plan immediately changed as he decided that he could not send me in for a mastectomy (or bilateral mastectomy) with a sore gallbladder as it would not be conducive to good healing.

So, yesterday I had surgery to remove the 2 tumors and a sentinel mode (left side) and a laporoscopic surgery to remove my gallbladder (right side). It was a 2 hour surgery which went very well but unfortunately I did not do so great immediately afterwards in the recovery room as I was there for 4 1/2 hours! And judging from the look on colman's face when I got back to my room--I didn't look so hot (I know that's hard to believe ...)anyhoos, after several hours of feeling cruddy--I now feel less cruddy! I might actually get sent home tomorrow much to the delight of the little ones!

Next week I meet with my oncologist on Tuesday to discuss how things have gone and aftercare. On Friday, (hopefully it will be doubly good) I will meet with my breast surgeon to discuss the pathology of the lymph node and tumor status as well as I should have the genetic results to help us determine how soon I have to go for the mastectomy or bilateral mastectomy.

I know that this is a lot of information and a bit confusing at that but, rest assured that I have had a lot of positivity in my life in the last few weeks as well:
Happy birthday to Colman SeNIOR--took my love to dromoland castle for a lovely getaway dinner, B&B. Returned home and had a splendid family party with the kids!
A special visit from my dearest friend Karen (notice I didn't say 'oldest'...even though she was one of the first to concur with my world's worst blogger title!)--we had a blast hobbling around (can't feel my feet and she had surgery on her foot--it was a great glimpse into our future as old chicks!)loads of yummy lunches and dinners!
Topped off the last week with a visit to Carrick on Shannon to celebrate our little Sheila's 3rd birthday with some of her cousins, aunties, uncle and grandma. This took us to st. Patrick's day land parade and boat parade on the Shannon river. Aunt cheena took our eldest boys out on the river to participate in the parade and they had the best time!! We then followed all of this up with a fireworks display down at the river that evening which was a perfect ending to a perfect day!

We have been extremely touched and humbled by all of the notes, letters, FB messages, phone calls--all too numerous to mention but absolutely appreciated from the bottom of our hearts! Our boy's school, Kiltiernan National school, has even organised a special 'healing' mass for me on the 9th of April for our kid's friends and the parents that we have been blessed to call 'friends'. Please know that Colman and myself are truly thankful and in turn pray for all of our friends as well--you are all so good to us and we are forever blessed by your presence in our lives!

I will be in touch again--I promise!!!
Thank you all for your friendship and love--it means the world to me!!
All my love,

Monday, 25 February 2013

Hallelujah honey!

Woo hoo!!! Well kind of!!! I am sitting in the chair receiving #8 of 8 chemo treatments! I never thought I would see the end of this tunnel and am extremely thankful to be here today!

It's been a long and windy road....(have that song in my head now) ...and my gallbladder is still being very naughty! It actually interrupted my date night this past Saturday! Bought tickets to see 'Lincoln' and made it to the restaurant when I was hit with attack #1. Went home, gave tix to the bbsitter, climbed into jammies, clutched hot water bottle and watched the avengers with our 2 older boys! had a second attack later as we watched the series 2 finale of downton abbey. colman reckons that despite the gallbladder it was a lovely date night!!! (he's always been easy to please!). Oh well, I have a lovely surprise planned for Colman this Friday to help celebrate the end of chemo and his birthday:-)

I have to tell you that we have been absolutely humbled and deeply touched by all of you that have reached out to us with words and prayers! I have heard from childhood friends, high school friends, work colleagues, friends of friends...the list goes on! A lady from our children's school who is on the parent council said they want to organise a healing mass for me before surgery! Regardless, Colman and I realise that we are truly blessed by God to count you all as our true friends! What an amazing journey it has been to date!! But made very special and ingrained in our hearts that we have been carried and loved the entire way by all of you! Words will never adequately express our gratitude to all of you! Just know that you give me the strength to face it and kick it!

I will have a busy few weeks full of scans, results, appointments preparing for surgery, etc. Keep the prayers flowing and know that both Colman and I offer our prayers of thanksgiving and blessings for you and your families! Thank you all for being such a great inspiration!

I'll be in touch soon and let you know what happens next!

All my love,

Saturday, 16 February 2013

A few recent pictures

The world's worst blogger!

Hello everyone!
I have graciously accepted the title of the worst blogger in the world! It's not that I don't want to write more often-- truthfully, I don't have that much new to say and/or I don't want to burden or worry anyone with the day to day struggles that are more a part of this journey than I thought they would be. For most who know me, I don't typically do 'negative' so I reserve blogging for the days when I feel a bit more positive and stronger in myself!
So, the GOOD NEWS is: you not ugly (my 6 year old announced this to me a while back) the bad news is: cumulative toxins in your system stink! I have #7 of 8 chemo's in me now--yeah me!! It has been an excruciating week of bone pain thanks to the shot that I have to give myself on day 2 to help my white blood cells and stave off infections. But Egads! The bone pain is truly enlightening! I have found some comfort by offering it entirely up to christ's suffering on the cross-- I find it brings some consolation! Otherwise the next step is morphine which I am trying to avoid for as long as possible!
On a positive note: I stepped out on Thursday morning to give a 2 hour dementia presentation on behalf of our charity DREAM (dementia, research, education, advocacy in motion) to a group in Galway. The reception was so positive and exciting that it was well worth coming out of the sick bed! Reason #1- it was great to actively change people's perception of dementia and give them a more positive and hopeful outlook and reason #2- it was great to not think about cancer for a few hours, to just be 'normal' again:-). It makes me very excited to be nearing the end if this portion of my journey!!!
The story of the gallbladder (which has been very naughty!) is that it has to come out. They are trying to manage it and control the pain with strong antibiotics and pain killers but I am quickly realising that it is one of those distractions to the underlying cancer where the timing of it couldn't be worse! They are debating on when would be safest to remove it and due to the nature of the upcoming breast surgery could set me up for a very long recovery period by throwing another surgery in the midst of the priority surgery.
Regardless, I am hopeful that it will settle now that it is being better managed! (A girl can dream can't she?)

Another positive aspect this week is the beginning of the Lenten season which I personally feel more excited about than the Christmas season! It is a wonderful opportunity to take stock of my life, identify the areas in my life that I would like to improve myself, make real changes and unite myself more closely to my faith in Christ. It's a wonderful opportunity for everybody, regardless of where you are on your faith/doubt journey to pause, reflect, change, unite, embrace, accept, and hopefully to identify yourself as a child of God! I am sorry if this makes my atheist friends uncomfortable but you know well enough that it is my faith that has gotten me through this journey the first time around and is absolutely saving me time and time again in this second round!!!!

Please continue to pray for us friends as we need it! The kids are doing great but I know it is not easy on them and there are times that I see their sadness and worry in their faces, actions and words. And for my dear, sweet, positive Colman--he has been a rock throughout but I know that at times he is worried and frustrated as he feels he can't do more or make the pain go away for me! His positivity and relief that we are nearing the end of this part is palpable!
I love you all and wish you a blessed Lenten season!
Until next time--from the worst blogger ever!!!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Home sweet home

Hi lads and lassies,
Just to give you the latest--I was sent home yesterday afternoon. The doctor came in to see me and was going to keep me until Sunday until I gave him the puss in boots/big eyes welling up with tears! Thankfully he consented for me to go home as long as I take it easy and take all the meds. Yeah! I don't know who is happiest me, Colman or the kids:-)

So, I have little stones and some sludge in my gallbladder likely a casualty of chemo. It will have to be removed later this year after I finish taking care of the business at hand! Hopefully it won't kick up again--please God!!

So back in tomorrow for chemo #6! Colman's mom Kitty is coming down and staying this week to lend an extra hand as I am a bit depleted of energy after my 'well' week! I was robbed I tell ya!

Love to you and thanks again for all your prayers!
Always, Heather

Friday, 25 January 2013

Well week where are you???

As I write this to you from my hospital bed I have to sit and wonder, what happened to my well week??? I'm supposed to be lunching with ladies!!! And dressing up! Not this time says my body!
Just a little update: since Christmas I have had a severe pain in my stomach that squeezes my chest/sternum. Very painful but usually subsides shortly after it starts . After the New Year's Eve treatment it happened again and lasted overnight but again, it would subside and was manageable. This time around I haven't been as lucky! Last Monday it came back and put my entire stomach into a spasm for 90 minutes. It was truly terrifying as I couldn't breathe and could find no comfort. Colman was up on Dublin overnight for a meeting so we had to call in a Calvary! Our babysitter Christina was brilliant and fortunately the kids were unaware of the entire episode which I am eternally grateful as it likely would have scared them indefinitely! My friend Mary, a nurse, rushed over and took control of the situation and managed to stop the spasm. Colman's brother Kevin came rushing over to do whatever was asked of him(drive to hospital/stay with kids) and our brilliant, always loving and ever dedicated child minder Libby came back to our house to stay the night with me and help get the kids off to school the next morning. After this episode, I was completely out of it and depleted of energy. I was told to go to my GP to have it investigated and luckily(?!) the pain returned on the way to the dr's and he was able to see it first hand. Off to A&E to then be admitted to hospital as my body is fighting some infection and they think it has to do with my gallbladder and my liver function seems to be affected as well. Will know more today but asking for your prayers in the meantime!!! I feel all right bit heart is missing the kids terribly! Hope to be sent home no later than tomorrow as I am due back for chemo #6 on Monday and just want to get closer to the finish line!!
Now I didn't share this with you to worry you but just to keep you on the loop!!! I am not worried--it is just an infection and I am being treated for it!
Love you all and thank you so much for all of your love, prayers, support and encouragement!