Category Archives: Cancer

June 17th… in remembrance

Today is June 17th. Today I can’t help but looking back at what has transgressed in one full year.

June 17th my Mom came over to help me and my best friend Ashley came for a visit. Ashley was the one that got me to first go see the Dr, and her visits were wonderful in keeping me going. I remember sitting on the couch nursing Jacob. Ashley was next to me and Mom was in the Kitchen. I needed to be sick. I wanted to finish nursing first. Little did I know that would be my last time nursing my baby boy, my last time nursing any baby. I ran to the washroom and lost the contents of my stomach. Really the contents of my small intestine. Gross. I knew then and there I could no longer do this. I could no longer pick myself off the floor and pretend I was just a little sick. I needed help, my body wasn’t my own. The pain consumed me, the medications only took the edge off. My pain tolerance is very high, but this, this was beyond pain. I called for my mom. I need to get help, call 911. It blurs. I remember anytime I moved I would vomit. The paramedics carried me down the stairs. Even though I knew I needed this, the pain of knowing that my kids were scared washed over me. Here was their mommy being carried out of the house and was too sick to move without vomiting. I found relief in believing I’d be home soon, they would forget all about this, and they were in very safe hands. I remember thinking they should put the sirens on in the ambulance, and knowing that my mom was following behind. We arrived at the hospital. One of the paramedics asked me if I thought I could walk a few steps. If I was able to get off the stretcher and walk the few steps to the chair in the waiting room I could go through streaming, meaning the wait would be much less. I sat up and heaved into the bucket I hugged close. I swung my feet over the edge and again was sick. The nurse noticed at this point and yelled at us all that I was to sick to be in streaming and to stay on the stretcher. Once settled back in I felt a bit better knowing I was going to get help. Orlund had arrived about the time that the ambulance had so I was content having him and my mom with me. Anyone that asked any question my mom would drill into them that they’d better ‘fix’ me, I wasn’t going to go home until I was fixed. We later found out that there is a ‘saying’ in emergency ‘if mom say’s something is wrong, something is wrong’. I was finally admitted.

We all figured this would be a quick fix. Now that I was at the hospital under surveillance, with proper medication and all the tests readily available I would be home soon.
I’m not going to say everything that happened. However I was discharged from the hospital August 24, 2013. I stayed in the hospital for a total of 68 days. That is not including all the time I spent there before being admitted, Chemo day’s, follow up tests or my re-attachment surgery. I still have many tests and visits to the hospital I will be making but hopefully never in this kind of pain. I’m now going to include a transcript that one of my Dr’s wrote close to my admittance ~

This 29-year-old woman, mother of three was seen for assessment of abdominal pain possibly due to a small bowel obstruction.
Jennifer was a somewhat vague historian. Essentially she describes a two month history of abdominal pain which has been exacerbated since late May, 2013. It appears to be primarily central which will radiate into both flanks. It is aggravated by eating, changes in position and just about anything. In the last week it has been associated with nausea and vomiting and she has virtually stopped eating. Her stools have a slight tendency to be loose and she has noted a paucity of bowel movements and flatus in the last five days. Over the last three weeks Jennifer has undergone a number of investigations including
1. A CT scan of the abdomen May 30,2013 – small amount of free fluid nil else.
2. Ultrasound of pelvis, June 4,2013 negative.
3. Ultrasound upper abdomen June 6, 2013. The gallbladder and bile ducts were normal, multiple loops of peristalsing bowel.
4. HIDA scan June 13,2013; gallbladder promptly fills but does not respond to CCK stimulation, 29% ejection.
5. MRCP June 21, 2013; no evidence of biliary pathology, small amount of free fluid and pleural fluid; multiple dilated loops of small bowel, query small bowel obstruction versus ileus.
Jennifer has had no previous abdominal surgery.
Physical examination~
Pale young woman who is lying on her side with a bucket close to her mouth. She stated that she had been vomiting earlier and is quite intolerant to taking anything by mouth. She has been requiring large doses of narcotics to mange the pain. On examination the abdomen is protuberant. There are no scars. Bowel sounds are hyperactive. Soft to percussion and palpation. There is some tenderness which is maximum in the upper abdomen. There is no associated significant guarding or peritoneal irritation. No masses are palpable.
This 29 year old woman presents with a 4 week history of abdominal pain which was exacerbated over the last 5 days. An MRCP performed earlier today was suggestive of a small bowel obstruction versus an ileus. CT scan of the abdomen performed May 30 was entirely negative. As there may be some progression of her illness I do think it would be prudent to repeat the CT scan of the abdomen.

Although I was in the battle of my life I was unaware of just how serious it was. I still want to write a book about my story, I don’t know where to start, and it pulls me down into this dark place. One I don’t like. I take it slow. I’m starting to think it’s time I visit that place just once in a while before I let it slip completely from memory. Thank you Jesus for deciding I needed to stick it out on earth for a bit longer.

Spring time!

Sorry I’m so incredibly behind on blogging…. to you very few people who read this…. Is that crickets I hear?

Chemo finished the last week of February. So incredibly thankful for that to be OVER! Since then I had some CT scan’s and blood tests etc. They were worried as some of my blood tests came back showing high liver counts (if colon cancer is to return it often shows up in the Liver or Lungs ~ and yes it’s still called Colon cancer!). However after the CT and Xray they deemed it a side effect of Chemo.

My mom returned from Thailand to help me out during my last treatment, sure is nice having her home!

My re-attachment surgery was April 1st. That’s right! My intestines are now reattached and I no longer have a baggy!! Woop woop!! I also asked them to ‘fix’ up my scar as it was very large, so they made it smaller and in doing so they also fixed my stomach muscles as they had gotten stretched out when I bloatedΒ  (first sick). So now they are back to being straight and I’ll be able to tone them unlike before. So it was almost like a little tummy tuck! Gotta love that!

Since Chemo and Surgery life has been slowly returning to normal. My fingers and feet are still numb, but I’m getting more and more feeling everyday. I tried doing an exercise program, I did day one and now one week later I’m still sore πŸ™ guess I should listen to the Dr and start off with walking! lol.

My mom and I went to Kelowna to the homeschooling conference, wow! learned so much and it got me so excited for homeschooling! It made it not feel like a chore, but as something to look forward to and enjoy πŸ™‚ always nice to have the flame of passion reignited! Since then Mom and I have cleaned up the disastrous toy room, and converted it into the ‘school’ room. moved all the books down there and set it up so that I’m able to teach more easily. and since it still houses many toys the littles play around us happily.

Next on the list? sew seat covers for my dining room chairs ~ doing that tomorrow. I almost had my entire office cleaned out, however with the arrival of Joy’s 6th Birthday party it got overloaded with the ‘still sorting’ stuff. Mom heads home on Sunday so I’ll be going the office alone. But if she can help me sew then I’ll be good to go πŸ™‚

Since my last post we’ve had all 3 kids birthday parties. Jacob’s was monster truck theme, Olivia’s was Periwinkle theme and Joy’s was supposed to be Dora, but got converted to Candy Land/fun colours. We had planned Joy’s to be outside, however the weather decided to not co-operate. Oh well!

I cannot believe it is May already…. It’s almost been 1 full year since I first realized I was sick. I find myself thinking about that time a lot right now, how we thought there was just something simple wrong and it’d be an easy fix. When really we had no idea what kind of curve ball we were getting thrown. So thankful that God knew and was prepared, He’s never caught off guard!

I’m going to try and blog once a week…..wish me luck! LOL. And I’ll be sure to post more pictures as we go πŸ™‚

Life

Today I had treatment #10! I almost didn’t have it due to my blood being low, but Praise God, it came up in time to receive treatment. I was delayed last treatment, by almost a week. I now have to take injections of some miracle drug that makes my blood produce more to bring up my blood counts. VERY expensive meds! But I feel wonderful! Even though my blood was down yesterday I’ve really noticed a change. I hadn’t realized just how sluggish I’d gotten. I was wondering why I couldn’t get going, or get off the couch! Now I know, low blood.

Homeschooling is going great! I took the week off over Christmas and it set us behind a bit, but we are getting back into the swing of things. Before I had Chemo on Wednesday’s so would cram all of Joy’s schooling for that week into 2 days, but now Chemo is on Tuesdays so I do half the work on Monday and I’ll space it out through the week (more like Thursday/Friday), which is nice for her and me. She also had read 2 words all on her own (sounding out etc), bat and cat. Joy is so excited that she’s learning to read. She knows her letters and their sounds, just has a hard time figuring out what the sounds are saying.

I’m going to be doing a blog post of photo’s. I was looking through our cell phone at all the photo’s we have from this past year. It’s going to be a post letting the photo’s tell the story of our summer. Just gotta get Orlund to make something to display them easier (there are a lot).

We are also in the Birthday season! Already had Hazel and Orlund’s birthday’s. February luckily is the slower month (since I still have Chemo) with just Hugh’s birthday. The girls have already placed their ‘orders’ for birthday cakes and themes. Jacob is having a monster truck theme (girls picked) his Birthday along with cousin Ava’s is in March. April is a bunch of friends birthday’s along with Olivia’s (and my 30th), Olivia wants a Periwinkle birthday theme (Joy had that last year) so I have lots of decorations already organized and I bought a bunch over Christmas (snow theme basically), she also want’s a surprise cake, but I’m listening to everything she’s said. she wants Periwinkle on it, along with a rainbow and hearts, and sparkles… I’m going to have to get creative! May brings Joy’s birthday and Virden’s. Joy wants a Dora theme……. I don’t know where she came up with that as they don’t watch Dora… But I’ll have fun with that, I’ll have a pinata that Swipper swipes and they will have to follow the Maps directions, going down the street, playing hop scotch and a few other things then coming back to find the pinata in the back yard. I think it’ll be loads of fun for a 6year olds birthday. Oh and her cake? Not Dora, nope she wants it to look like the Candy Land board game. I actually have a recipe and directions from a magazine! It’ll be fun except the cake has to be decorated with the candy the day OF the party… so I guess I’ll be busy! But it’ll be loads of fun! And that’s the birthday season, there are 3 birthday’s all in July but that’s the only other really busy month.

Bought Orlund a wii for Christmas, and bought him the wii fit for his Birthday. It actually works out great because with me having a cold sensitivity and low energy the girls aren’t getting much exercise.. but with the wii fit we have them running every night! I don’t like so much technology but for now it’s working out perfectly! They get their exercise and I don’t have to bundle up 3 kids! LOL.

Well I think that’s it for this blog post! I’ll be sure to get those pictures up as soon as I can πŸ™‚

God Bless!!

Chemo

So sorry I’m behind on the blog πŸ™

Today I had Chemo round #6. So I officially only have 6 left to go πŸ™‚ It’s exciting and tiring thinking that I’m half way…
The Chemo I’m on is a ‘less harsh’ kind, I’m so thankful it’s not a harsh kind! Chemo is not fun. Plain and simple. If you saw me on the 9 days that I feel good you wouldn’t know it’s as hard as it is. But the other 5 days (this is every 14day cycle) you might not even recognize me. You can feel Chemo cursing through your body, like a poison, a heavy weight weighing you down. I have cold sensitivity which makes drinking water difficult, it gets colder as I drink (and due to Chemo and my Ostomy I HAVE to drink at Minimum 8glasses a day). It feels like crystals forming in your throat. This also makes my tongue go ‘lazy’ making me talk funny and slur my words. My hands and feet go numb and tingly when cool, actually any part of my body does. My hands also feel like they are seizing up, or getting lazy as well, making writing almost impossible (luckily they are working right now). nightly Orlund and I play dominos, I fumble the tiles and have to shake my hands out regularly to try to get them to ‘wake up’. I also have what is referred to as “Chemo fog”, it’s like I’m in a fog and have a hard time connecting things like I normally would (took me like 15 times watching those ‘don’t be a luger’ adds to figure out what they mean). I also have apparently short term memory loss, which is a side effect of Chemo, and from the Coma/trauma I endured. So we try to play games and keep my mind active. I’m very tired and some times I can’t physically lift myself up to get going. I call Thursday and Friday ‘movie days’ because when Jacob is napping I put a movie on for the girls so I can nap too.

Chemo makes homeschooling a bit more difficult as well. I don’t have the energy I wished I did to make it more fun, but I do the best I can (and hey, it’s Kindergarten). I basically do the regular schooling on my ‘non-Chemo’ weeks and then cram the other weeks into 2 days! Luckily Orlund is doing math with Joy so he can do that every evening easing the load for me (I just discovered it’s a seperate curriculum so we are a bit behind! lol).

That is basically what is going on in our lives. Our lives are broken up into 2 week segments, chemo-week and non-chemo week. Just like our weekends, making Christmas shopping more scheduled than usual! November 30th we are celebrating Christmas with my family, so had to do all that shopping last weekend. Just like there is only one other weekend that is a non-chemo weekend before Christmas with Orlund’s family! Gotta get their lists!!

Through all of this I have to keep Praising God. He is just so wonderful to undeserving me. Honestly. As I think back on all that’s happened He had everything scheduled and timed out perfectly! And He continues to Bless me, my Hemaglobin is staying nice and high (actually went up a little again), so I’m able to stay on track with my Chemo. (Which keeps Christmas as a non-chemo week!). Thank you God for loving me so much to send your precious Son Jesus to make a way for us all!! And as Christmas approaches we celebrate His birth!

God Bless you all!

 

Things have changed!

Reading my last blog entry makes me realize just how much my life has changed since then. To recap quickly (who am I kidding? I’m never quick!). After my blog I ended up in emergency instead of the Dr’s appointment. I ended up there a lot. I had more tests done. I had two hyperventilating experiences where my body seized up. More ultrasounds, CT scans etc. Everyone admitted I was in pain but no real answers. On my second trip to the hospital via ambulance my mom demanded that they ‘fix me’. She told every nurse, doctor and anyone that would listen (or not listen) that we wern’t leaving until I was better. I got admitted June 17th, 2013. I got sicker, had more tests and bloated up like a balloon. (I got bigger in my tummy than I ever did when pregnant… talk about stretch marks!). At this time my dad came down with phemonia (sp?), he was also bright yellow! He got admitted as well. My mom was able to get us moved onto the same floor/wing so at least it was easier on her for visiting. My dad had a rough go, but got better and went home. The doctors thought they had a diagnosis… They figured I had Crohn’s disease. But they weren’t sure so didn’t want to do a surgery incase it could be fixed other ways. One Doctor figured I was just having abdominal migraines….. I watched the Canada Day fireworks from the 5th floor of the hospital. I was doing ‘better’ on the strong meds and steroids. July 4th I was scheduled for a Colonostopy (sp? I’m on Orlund’s laptop and spell check is off, sorry). I don’t remember July 4th other than texting my mom and best friend, they’d both asked how I was ~ to mom I just wrote ‘hell’, and to Leah I wrote ‘terrible’…

I don’t remember the rest, it’s been told to me. I wasn’t doing good, they thought perhaps I had a blood clot in my lungs as I was having a hard time breathing. They took an X-ray (at my bed) and started to take me down to ICU. One Doctor then grabbed my mom and Orlund (and Leah) to ride in the elevator and informed them that no I wasn’t going to ICU, but into emergency surgery!

My bowl had ‘erupted’, I was septic! (My mom later heard there is only a 20% survival rate). They went in and tried to ‘clean’ me up, they discovered a huge mass in my large intestine, the surgeons thought it might be cancer so followed proceedure and removed it all. They removed approx 1/3 of my Colon, and had to remove some of my stomach as the mass was attached. I might be stating some of this in the wrong order, however at some point they had to do a tracheotomy (thing in your throat to help you breathe – also prevents you from talking). They told my family I would wake up the next day. July 5th, my mom’s birthday. But I didn’t wake up, instead I was put in an induced coma ~ for 2 weeks. There were many issues due to the infection from going septic, my blood pressure, body temperature etc were hard for them to maintain. While my fa.mily was going through the scare of their lives I was having the most horrific hallucinations. The nurses were trying to kill me, so I thought, thank goodness they weren’t actually! My mom had her Ipod playing Christian worship music 24/7 for me. During one hallucination a worship song broke through and I could feel God saying “come on Jenn, it’s time to pick yourself up. I’m here to help. Now go help others”. I was able to get up and fight out of it. I had one more full hallucination, it wasn’t scary like the rest. I still saw odd things after for a few days but no more full hallucinations. Praise God. The Doctors told my family many people hallucinate for weeks or months after the strong drugs I was on.

When I came to it was scary. I couldn’t speak, and I was strapped down with lots of machines attached to me. I couldn’t sleep at night. It was horrible trying to communicate. luckily one nurse finally decided to unstrap my arms, he made me promise not to pull the tube out of my nose (so tempting). I promised. Everytime I went to reach for the tube I’d remember my promise and left it alone. I tried to write notes to everyone so they could know what I wanted etc… I couldn’t write! I just scribbled like my 3 year old. It was frustrating but my family got pretty good at reading my hand/eye gestures. writing came first, what a relief when it did. I could communicate!

I don’t know how long I was in ICU before I got moved to Step-down (a part of ICU but not one-on-one care). In Step-down I got to watch free TV on a giant flat screen TV! (could have in ICU but wasn’t facing the TV). First news I watched? Train crash. Prince George was born. And then I switched to watching HGTV. I noticed my body was different. I was skinny, really skinny (lost over 35lbs). I had a large incision down my abdomen (had a special machine/bandage called a VAC dressing ~ amazing invention). Had a Cathetor (not fun), an illiostomy, PICC lines, Trach…. slowly I got the Trach removed and was able to talk!! HOW WONDERFUL! I also had to start physio it was scary trying to learn to walk again, luckily my physiotherapist was amazing and really worked with me.

I finally got moved to ‘the ward’… I was on the post-surgical ward… basically where all the abdominal patients are ~ who were mostly over 70years old… and smelly…. Oh the stories I could tell, and probably will. just not right now.

Oh I forgot to mention my diagnosis. While in ICU the doctor and a bunch of nurses, social workers etc came in to explain it all to my family and I. It was Colon Cancer. Stage 3. Sounds scarier than it is. They removed ALL of the cancer! They tested 37 lymph nodes, only one (that was against the cancer) showed a little cancer in it. The only reason it’s stage 3 is because it had attached to my stomach. They want me to do Chemo as a precaution. This also increases the risk for my kids to get it, they will have to be tested when older, but I believe they will never have to deal with this.

My infection took a long time to clear. August 24th I finally got to come home. That following week I was at the Dr’s almost every day, or at the Nursing clinic to change bandages. I now have no bandages on me :). Tomorrow I go for yet another CT scan, I had one small sign of infection left, I’m believing it’s gone now so we can get going on Chemo. Then on the 10th of Sept I have day surgery to put a port-a-cath in (it’s like a PICC line but under my skin so I can have showers etc with no issues). Then Sept 11th, Orlund and my 9 year anniversary, I will be starting Chemo. I will have treatments every 2 weeks for 12 rounds (approx 6months). After Chemo is done, in a couple months after (provided everything is clear – which it will be) then I get my intestines re-attached (that’ll be nice).

It is so wonderful to be home. I was honestly scared to come home as I thought it might set me back, but the Doctor was right and it’s made me stronger (and the fact that I can stand our food helps!). My mom has moved in with us to help me out with day to day living. taking care of the kids, house and me. It’s wonderfu to have her here! Orlund has been amazing!!! He’s still working on his courses, and working full time (this week he’s been off), helping with the kids, house and me as well.

Even though I’ve been through a lot these past few months I feel blessed beyond measure! So many people prayed for me, and blessed us with meals, gifts etc. God is SO good!! My cousin gave me a ‘plack’ (for lack of a better word) that inspired me along the way and helped me stay strong it reads “Believe with God all things are possible”.