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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy New Year! 2012

Hi Everyone!
Happy New Year!!!
Two updates in one month....Wow. This one is hot off the press or right after the doctors office today and thought I would share right away.
I went to the doctor today and the news is the cancer is on the move, spreading to be exact. All the tests came back from the hospital stay last week and blood work and it appears, my cancer is getting more aggressive. Darn those cancer cells, but I am bigger and tougher and together with your love and support, I am going to stay strong and fight even harder.
We now have to be aggressive with the chemo again in order to keep it in check.
The name of the Chemo is Topotecan. My doctors wants everyone to know the effects and side effects of the drug. It will be much like the first round of chemo, tired, getting sick, losing all my hair, along with the possibilities of blood transfusions, as this drug will hit my blood count. We will try this for three months to see if it works.
Below are some of the side effects just for all of your awareness. It does not mean I will get all the side effects, my history does dictate some will be an issue. I want to try this one as this is the recommendation of my team of doctors and Don and I looked it over and are aware of the good and the bad.
No traveling for me for at least a month doctor's recommend, until we know how I will react. Especially after my allergic reaction last week.
I love each of you and wish all a Happy, Healthy, and Safe New Year!
This is the name of my next chemo drug. Looks like I am in for a ride...:)


Side Effects:

Topotecan may cause very serious blood disorders (decreased bone marrow function leading to low number of blood cells such as white cells, red cells, and platelets). This effect can decrease your body's ability to fight an infection, cause your body to bruise or bleed easier, or cause anemia. Tell your doctor if you develop any of the following conditions: signs of an infection (such as fever, persistent sore throat), easy bruising/bleeding, unusual tiredness, fast/pounding heartbeat.
You will be closely monitored (e.g., with frequent blood tests) by your doctor while using this medication. Keep all medical and laboratory appointments.

Weakness, tiredness, headache, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and mouth sores may occur. Nausea and vomiting can be severe. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe medication to prevent or relieve nausea and vomiting. Eating several small meals, not eating before treatment, or limiting activity may help lessen some of these effects. If these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
Temporary hair loss may occur. Normal hair growth should return after treatment has ended.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: pain/redness/bruising at injection site, numbness/tingling of the arms/legs, yellowing eyes/skin, dark urine, lung problems (such as cough, shortness of breath).
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

I will keep in touch as I hope all of you do as well.
Sending Hugs,

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

December 14, 2011

Hi Everyone

Merry Christmas and Happy, Healthy New Year! I hope you and your families have a wonderful celebration of our Saviors Birth.

Family news first; Don is busy taking care of me and consulting. However, the consulting has been slow, a little bit busier than last year.
Meghann and Dave are busy with Donny (5) and Maureen (3). Donny started kindergarten and Maureen pre-school. If you are on Facebook, Meghann shares the family stories, they are hilarious. They also went on their first vacation with the kids, and drove to Florida for 10 days. They all had a wonderful time.
Maureen and John are busy with Marina (10) and Lilly (7). Marina is in 5th grade and Lilly started 1st grade. Marina is in Orchestra and plays the Violin, I might be bias but I think Marina is fantastic at playing the Violin. Lilly played soccer this year. The name of her team was the Angry Birds. They played well for all 1st time players. Maureen was able to attend a conference this year for vegans. We are so proud of her traveling and taking her health and her family’s health seriously.
Michelle and Mike are busy with Maeve (6), Fiona (4) and Kellen (3). Maeve is in 1st grade and doing very well. Maeve was chosen to be part of the Christmas Mass this year. Maeve also took Irish dance last year and Ballet this year. Fiona is in pre-school and is also in ballet. Fiona loves to sing to the radio. Kellen is our fast moving typical boy. In Sept. Kellen fell and had 6 inside stitches and 4 outside stitches on his forehead. Last year he also fell and received stitches on his forehead. Kellen takes after his Uncle Sean with falling and getting stitches before he was 5.
Sean married the love of his life, Lisa. We are blessed with another great daughter-in-law. They bought a house one mile from our house. Sean is a City of Chicago plumber and is a foreman. Lisa recently changed jobs and works in the neighborhood as an Office Manager and Graphic Designer.
Jonathan and Jessica are busy with Adrianna (3). Jon came back from Afghanistan in April and was able to attend Sean and Lisa wedding. We were blessed to see Jessie and Adrianna too. Don and I are hoping to go to visit them at Ft Campbell, Tennessee in Jan.
Jon is a full time mechanic with the Army and Jessie is in nursing school. Adriana is in pre-school/day care and doing very well.
Don and I are very proud of our entire family!

The year flew by pretty fast. I have been going through a battery of tests and biopsy and hospital stays.

A quick review, July, you may remember the CT scan blood, work and MRI showed a mass on my stomach and esophagus, and had not penetrated the stomach wall, the cancer is covering the outside of the stomach and esophagus area. That was unexpected to hear at the time, however, I was not feeling the greatest and I found out why; the cancer was spreading.
I was hospitalized for a week in September and I had enough tests and probing, including a biopsy of my liver. The esophagus came back abnormal and the spleen enlarged and the liver enzymes were high. After plenty of IV’s and medication, things were under control.

Two weeks ago, Don and I had a meeting with the doctors and the decision was made to do further testing, CT scan, MRI, etc. gather all the results and make the decision on what is next.
I had a biopsy on my liver and bone marrow and the tests results came back normal; thank goodness. However, my lab results for my CA 125 on the rise and other numbers are not at the normal range, either too high or too low. All of this means, my body is beginning to reject the Taxol as a effective chemo drug. Taxol is now working against my good cells and helping the cancer cells. In January, I have another team meeting with the Doctor’s to decide on the next route of treatment.

To throw a monkey wrench in this week, I had an allergic reaction to the Taxol. I am extremely red all over’ like a sunburn. I have a very bad headache, I can only guess what people with migraines go through, and this one is terrible. I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow. However, the doctor said today on the phone, the allergic reaction will have to take its normal course of healing. Healing can take a few days to a week to recover.

All in all, I am counting my Blessings and fighting strong against cancer, with the exception of a few hiccups along the way; nothing I can’t handle with the love and support of all of you. I love receiving e-mails and updates from friends and family. I am lucky to have wonderful friends that visit me at home. Many of you send me updates on your life and your family and I truly love reading each of the e-mails. It may take me awhile before I respond to e-mails, because I might be visiting and spending time with my family or friends or I may not be feeling well. Cancer has provided me with special time with family, my grandbabies and friends. If I did not have cancer, I would be working and not having the time I desire to spend with family and friends.

I have the most wonderful and exceptional husband and children with their spouses and the greatest grandchildren any wife, Mom and Nana could ask for. Each family member has a unique personality with a loving, humorous and supportive and extremely helpful spirit. I love each of you so very much.

Also, my brother, Larry; my sister-in-law, Donna; my sister, Carolyn; my sister JoAnne; and my Dad and his wife, Joan; each call me often, support and love me for who I am and pray for my healing every day. The Walsh Sisters, keep me laughing and love me unconditionally. I love you too!

In addition, I have a group of girlfriends from across the Country that come and visit me 3 to 4 times a year. We are forever friends and we have a blast when we are together. And, Ethel, my dearest friend for over 35 years, my life would not be the same without all of you. I love all of you more than I can express in words. Your love and support means the world to me.

I hope to have completed our Christmas cards by this weekend. For all those overseas, it is too late to mail a Christmas card, know we think of each of you often and remember our visits together.

It is my wish and prayers, each of you have a Blessed Christmas and safe, happy, healthy New Year.

I will try and be better with my updates and sending them more often, sorry this one took 6 months, I will make this my New Year’s resolution.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer Time

Hi Everyone
I hope everyone summer is going well.
My update is, I have to have a bone marrow bioscopy
on Tuesday morning and will be home Monday afternoon.
For three months, I have been struggling with platelets dropping from 90,000 to under 50,000. Not Good,
I am tired, bruise very easily and have bleeding issues
I have had increasingly difficulties withy walking and have a wheel chair as needed
Otherwise all is doing well. Sean and Lisa wedding was beautiful.
As soon as the pathology report came's back late next week I will let you know the outcome.
Take care for now and love each of you.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter

April 23, 2011

Hi Everyone

Time does fly when you are busy and having fun. 
I have been asked to give an update since it has been almost 8 months from my last update. Hard to believe that time passes quickly.

First, my health issue, all winter long, I have been dealing with Herniated discs L4 and L5 and the narrowing of S1. What does all that translate to? Tests, MRI, CAT, EMG and others, seeing Orthopedic, Neurosurgeons and other doctors. It came down to I was badly needing back surgery as my right leg went numb. However, this would mean I would have to come off Chemo for 6 months and take the risk of the cancer going rapidly wild. My team, Don and I decided not that route. We are doing pain management and physical therapy at home. All seems slowly mending but not as fast as I would like it to go, I know patience is a virtue…I must have missed that class. Hahahahah

Currently, my body is beginning to reject the chemo, I have signs that my urine levels are high in protein and hemoglobin is dropping and my liver enzymes are rising (once again). I am being watched and the plan is to perhaps stop chemo for 30 days the clean my system and give it a rest, the down side is the cancer can rub wild and difficult to control. It is a wait and see process for now.

I have Home health care 4 days a week, which means, the nurse comes and takes vitals and starts an IV and then Don or I can start IV’s during the week and let them run 4 to 8 hours, depending. Don is trained to change my port if necessary and also provide me with IV fluids. I can do the IV fluids but I am not ready to change a port just yet. I use, press and seal to take showers or baths around the port and that seems to work very well.

Overall, I am feeling well, tired and fatigue are part of my day but not as bad as last year.
I wear a leg brace and use a cane to get around and do not drive very much anymore, as it has affected my right leg.

Second set of events, Jon comes home at 3:30am tonight from Afghanistan and will be in Chicago sometime mid May (13 or 14) for Sean and Lisa’s wedding. We can hardly wait to see him; he has been gone for over a year.

Third, the wedding plans are coming along very nice. I made the flower girl dresses for Fiona and Lilly. They turned out really cute and glad I was able to remember how to use a sewing machine after all these years,

The last fitting will take place on Easter Sunday and I think we are complete. We will have a house full of guests for the wedding, Jon, Jessie and Adrianna and our good friend Debbie from London is coming in all staying at our house. Others, like my Dad and other friends will be staying at the Oakbrook Marriott hotel.

Don and I are looking forward to spending some time with my Dad and Joan (step Mom) while they are here.

Instead of doing this years annual walk/run for Ovarian cancer. I instead reached out to many of you and asked to donate to a Chemo buddy of mine. In desperate need of clothing, groceries and gift cards for her family. Cancer patients do not receive assistance in this areas and we are expected to pay 20% of all medical costs. Chemo alone runs in the thousands of dollars. It is education people on these small facts.

A person (sibling) in my own family, last Dec bad mouthed me because this person said it was not true. The cost were not that high and of course Don and I made money to cover these outstanding costs.

It is terrible to be judge by others when they themselves have no idea what the costs are and what others are dealing with. The rest of my family, quickly came to my aid with open heart and listening. Something I will treasure my entire life.

Rebekah is going through something similar. I had her information checked and verified before I moved forward. Rebekah, and her family are so appreciative of the generosity of strangers. I was happy to pay it forward to another in need. It is the Christian thing to do; “do unto others as you would have done UN to you.”
God provides, it may take awhile and it may come from unexpected resources but he does provide. I am working on putting a book of resources together for cancer patients. My wish, is that the resource book helps those in need. Someday, people will stop judging others and start looking at ways to help one another instead of complaining about others out of pure jealousy.

That’s all from my soap box…hahahahaha I want to personally thank each of you who helped Rebekah, she is most gracious in your generosity and kind and supportive words.

Other than that cleaning and getting ready for this years garage sale in June is keeping me very busy.

Hope all is well with each of you, love and miss you.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

May 2010

May 2010
Hi Everyone;
I had treatment today and doing well. As you may know from my last update, my CA 125 level jumped from 10 to 178; it has gone down to 39. YEAH! The Doxol (new Chemo) is working. The drop came faster than we expected but much wanted. This chemo is a bit different than the previous chemo. The side effects are swelling and burning and blisters on the hands and feet and mouth sores (blisters), much like canker sores. I have to have bags of peas placed on my hands and feet every day for an hour on a couple hours off to control the blisters. I have had blisters in my mouth, down my throat, my elbows and other unwanted areas. The blisters are uncomfortable and irritating. I have some medications and lotions to deal with the discomfort. Treatment with this chemo is every other week.
As many of you know the Ovarian Cancer walk was on May 1st and it was a huge success. Over 3,000 walkers came out in support. I had Team Margie and family and friends joined me in the walk. I did not walk but they all walked for me. I had two of my sister-in-laws keep me company on the park bench as we cheered on the walkers. I have attached a picture. In the picture you can see my hair is really dark and curly and growing back (I am holding the sign with my sun glasses on). It was a great time with everyone. I want to thank everyone for the support. You may have walked, donated, or sent kind words of support and love; I want to thank each of you for being there for me.
I also was fortunate to have had visitors this month also. My Dad has been living in Montana for 20 years and we had not spoken in more than 25 years. Too much to go into but he reached out to me this month and at the age of 88, traveled by train to Chicago to see me and reconcile. It was wonderful visit. I am thankful for his determination and reaching out to me. In addition, I had three of my dearest friends come to Chicago to visit me. We had a blast together and drove to see two more friends; we affectionately refer to each other as ‘sisters’. They look out after me and care for me and love me. It is wonderful to be cared about so much. This month brought so much outpouring of love; I am humbled by the support.
Everyone in the family is doing well. Jonathan is now in Afghanistan; he is there for the next year. Please keep him in your prayers. Sean bought a house near us. He is renting his condo and moved in with us until he closes in June. That’s all the news for now.
I hope all is going well with each of you and I will send another update next month.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

April 2010
Hi Everyone;
It has been a couple of months since my last update and people have e-mailed and wanted to know how I was doing. Thank you all for caring about me.
The cancer returned in January 2010. My CA 125 level jumped from 10 to 178. After several tests, it was clear, the cancer had returned. We had a meeting with my team that includes the Oncologist, GYN surgeon, nurses; the conclusion was to start me again on chemo therapy. This chemo is a bit different than the previous chemo. The side effects are swelling and burning and blisters on the hands and feet and mouth sores (blisters), much like canker sores. I have experienced the mouth sores so far and swelling. I have to have bags of peas placed on my hands and feet every day for an hour on a couple hours off to control the blisters. Because of the mouth sores, I lost 6 pounds in less than a month. The doctors placed me on’ ensure’ a protein drink to help with energy and make sure I have enough protein to heal the mouth sores.
One of my questions to the team was; when do we know the chemo working? Generally after the 4th treatment, tests will be performed and CA 125 level should go down. If not, other chemo treatments will be administered after the team meets and discusses the alternatives. I also asked, how long will I be on chemo? The answer is; for the rest of my life. Even if I go into remission again, I will need chemo for maintenance to keep the cancer under control. As you might remember from earlier updates, there is no cure for this cancer. Generally, when cancer returns, the cancer is more aggressive and becomes harder to treat. Cancer is sneaky and learns to adapt in many ways to the treatments. Right now, all is going as expected.
On the family side; Jonathan, Jessie and grand baby Adrianna were able to be here in Chicago with us for Easter. It was the first time in years that we were all together for Easter. Don took pictures of all 8 grandchildren, then a picture of all the kids, then with everyone. How awesome was that! Maureen had all of us at her house Easter morning for breakfast and an Easter egg hunt for all the little ones. I had a great time. Don cooked Easter dinner which was delicious. It was great to have all the kids together. Jonathan will be deploying to Afghanistan at the end of the month. Please remember him in your prayers for safe return.
I hope all is going well with each of you and I will send another update next month.