But first... FUN WITH BOXES!!!
Now the more serious stuff...
Well, last Thursday I went in for the "big" appt. to see what stage they believe I am at and to find out the rest of the plan. After another very long week of pulmonary tests, a PET scan and an ultrasound on my thyroid, we were all a little worn out.
I am a Stage 2b. It is in the left side of my neck as well as my mediastinum (middle of chest). It is the area that is between your lungs. I will have to have 8 treatments of chemotherapy followed by radiation on both of these regions. The chemo is set to be two weeks apart but that could be adjusted to 3 weeks depending on my reaction (if any) to the chemo.
The tests are not over... they will probably continue and continue. They are not hard but they are a lot and it gets exhausting coordinating everything. So this coming week I go in for a MUGA scan (read why here) and then Thursday is a BIG day! On Thursday bright and early I go in for a surgery to implant my port. They will use this for everything (blood draws, medicine injections, and the chemo treatments). This avoids them having to poke me over and over and also avoids burns to the skin because of the chemo drugs (ahhh!).
Immediately following this surgery my wonderful Mom will take me over to the oncologists office for my first chemo treatment (probably barely awake from the anesthesia from the surgery). I think this is crazy and a lot for one body to take, but what do I know?!? While all this is happening poor Paul will most likely be working away with test writing (last week for him and them we get to have him to ourselves for a little while! Yeah!). Nona/Christy/Mom (Paul's Mom) is coming Wednesday night so that she can hang with Zane all day Thursday. This is just so awesome of her and I just can not thank her enough. They will have such a good time together because they always do and we will feel so cozy knowing that is what Zane is doing for the day. Hey, you never know... maybe even his Aunt Rae-Rae will come over too and they can take him to the play area in the mall! (It is just too hot here to go play in the park! Blazing hot and muggy!)
I am pasting in this blog an update my mom sent out that is written very well and gives you some more info and ideas on what is going on. I will probably do this from time to time because she will frequently be sending out emails to folks. This will be an energy saver for me sometimes but allow me to keep you all updated as well.
From an email from my Mom (Kim):
Most of you may already be up to speed, while for some of you this may be the first to hear the news. I will try to email all of you along the way as Danielle moves through her chemo and radiation and beyond. Obviously the best way for all of us to help is by sending love and positive energy her way to give her strength and that good cozy feeling of being in everyone's loving arms when the going gets tough.
So, here's some background -- Danielle has had enlarged lymph nodes in the base of her neck on the left side. The swelling and tenderness started in January at which time we thought it was from a sinus infection. After antibiotic treatment, the nodes were still swollen and tender. After MRIs, CT scans and wait and see's, Danielle finally saw a fantastic ENT specialist that wanted to biopsy two of the nodes right away. This was down a couple of weeks ago. Although the news wasn't what we wanted to hear, we are forever grateful to Dr. Laskowski (the ENT) for having the foresight to proceed as he did. The diagnosis is Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Altho a very serious cancer, of all the cancers, Hodgkin's has the best prognosis and outcomes -- so there is a silver lining.
This week has been a busy one. In order to determine the "stage" of the cancer, Danielle had to have two CT scans and a PET scan -- and of course, my fair-skinned, fair-haired daughter developed an allergic reaction to the injectable dye needed for the CT scan. So, on top of it all she had to take a prednisone pack to ease the nasty torso-covering rash that was very itchy! But, she made it through.
Today, we met with her oncologist, Dr. Daniel Morris to hear the results of the scans and what the next steps will be. Danielle has "stage two B" Hodgkin's which means the disease is detected in more than one location and she is symptomatic (night sweats, fatigue, etc.). The disease showed up in the neck (which we obviously knew), but it also showed up the space between her lungs and heart - the medial stinum. She will undergo chemo treatments every 2 - 3 weeks (depending on her blood levels) for a total of about 6 to 8 treatments, followed by radiation in both areas. Her chemo cocktail will be ABVD for those that want to surf the Internet for more details. The major side effects are hair loss,which typically occurs within the first 3 weeks, and the chemo may leave her sterile. Other than that, most other side effects such as fatigue and nausea are eased a great deal with medications. She will receive an injection of neupogen daily to keep her immune system strong.
We feel very comfortable with Dr. Morris and her nurse Barbara -- great people that really have Danielle's best interest and COMFORT as their top priority. (I seriously don't know how these people deal with this every day -- but I'm sure glad there are those that do!)
Next week, Danielle will undergo another day surgery -- this time to implant a port which will be located above her left breast. The port makes it a lot easier to give her the chemo -- they will even take blood samples via the port -- so no more sticking in the arm for her!! Within a day or two of the port implant, they will start the chemo.
Danielle is awesome. There are so many blessings that come to us mothers and maybe the best one is that we no longer think of yourself as number one! Having a baby and husband to take care of puts another perspective on life and we moms tend to suck it up like the best of them -- or maybe better than the best of them! She is strong, learning all she can to keep herself as healthy as possible -- and she has a lot of helpers at her side. I promise to send email updates along the way. We love you all very much...Kim & Pete
ON ANOTHER NOTE....
We have some new additions to the family (yes, I am crazy, but that is fun!). We got some chickens last weekend! This was one of my wonderful and most requested birthday presents! Paul, Mom & Pete built me a chicken pen and moved my Mom's chicken coop over to our house. (Those pics are not yet taken but hopefully will be soon!).
Zane just loves to take care of them. We have four of them and so far only one has a name and that is Prima. We asked Zane what he wanted to name one of the chickens and he quickly pointed to them and said "One!" So we made the name a little more interesting and we call her Prima. We will see what we come up with for the other ones.
It will take about 5 more months for them all to be making eggs. You can see in the pictures that we have them in a large dog pen until they get bigger so they don't escape the small spaces in the large pen.
When we were out feeding the chicks he kept saying "pet, pet" and trying to get in the cage. So finally I let him walk in there thinking that he just needed to get to the back of the cage because they were all gathered in the back. Instead he got in there and sat down and just watched them run around. He was so quiet and didn't move. Just watched. It was so darn cute we just couldn't get over how darn sweet he was!