6 Down, 2 To Go

What a busy week.

We have our surgeons.
Tuesday, we decided that Dr. Barber will do my double mastectomy, some time around Sept 20. Medically, this surgery means no radiation and a 2% or 5% chance of recurrence, depending on the make-up of the tumor.  Psychologically, it is the best choice for me.  He will also biopsy the lymph nodes closest to the tumor (we know that 1 was positive in February) and remove those, and then the lymph nodes under my armpit, if necessary (we don’t expect the latter).  And he’ll remove my port.

During the same surgery, Dr. Woods, a ringer for George Stephanopoulos, will do reconstruction by inserting tissue expanders.  Every two weeks following the surgery, the expanders get inflated until Iwe are happy with the size (insert joke here).  Then the expanders are replaced by implants in a second surgery.

The list of accolades these doctors have received over the years is long.  We’re happy to have them.

Taxol #2
When we arrived for labwork yesterday, the check-in guy said, “It’s the Stair People!”  I walked the stairs first this time, so only one blood draw.  Less drama, but still a 10-hour day.  A visit from my college roommate helped break it up.  Today at 5:30pm, I go back for the Neulasta shot.

Happy KidsIn the meantime, our kids are doing great and are happily occupied at nature camp.  Many thanks to Mrs. Abraham and the Lober family for taking care of them afterwards on our long days this week – they loved every minute with you.

On those same days, we came home to fresh flowers and meals from friends and neighbors.  Such a boost for us.  And I absolutely love the comments on this blog and the heartfelt (and funny!) cards.  It all makes me feel that my family isn’t alone in this.  Priceless.

Hair loss, 5 days after 1st TaxolFinally, I do still have hair.  Tiny ponytail, big part.

We can see the finish line!

Just Another Day

Love the BeauBeau® head scarves at 4women.com!

BeauBeau head scarvesAnything to make her laughIMG_1258



Today, I am going to pick up my new hair and shop for new boobs.  What’s on your calendar?


Day 5 after Taxol #1

Doing well!  Slept most of last weekend while my hubby and in-laws held down the fort.  Functioning by Monday.

My biggest complaint after Taxol #1 was the feet pain (I know – enough with the feet already!). But I’m sure that was from Sorafenib and walking the stairs to get my white blood cell count up before Thursday’s infusion.  It’s mostly reversed now.

I’ve also had bone pain from Saturday’s Neulasta shot.  Not sure why it’s hit me now (and not after the 1st two shots), but maybe that means it will actually work this time.  The aches are especially bad in my ankles, knees, thighs and hips.  I’m taking Hydrocodone, which helps a bit, but will try Claritin and Aleve today, as suggested on some online forums.

Nausea and other stomach-related fun lasted just a couple of days.

My hair “thinning,” however, has escalated.  Joey bought a trimming/shaving contraption today at Target, for when I just can’t take it anymore.  In the meantime, I’m trying out hats and scarves (and big earrings! and eyebrow pencils!), still imagining that a wig will be too hot.

Pillow, Day 4 after 1st Taxol

My pillow on Monday morning

Hairbrush, Day 5 after 1st Taxol

From my hairbrush, Tuesday

More poking and prodding for me of a different sort this week – I have my annual skin cancer screen tomorrow at the dermatologist.  And on Tuesday, July 24, we will meet with a new surgeon, Dr. William Barber, and plastic surgeon, Dr. Joseph Woods.

Taxol #2 is scheduled for July 26.

Thank you for checking on us!



On to Taxol

(from the files of Joey the guest-writer)

We went in today for our first round of Taxol and Nicole did great, as usual.  Our only hiccup today was that her blood counts came in too low initially again, this time in the mid 800s (she needs to be at 1,000 in order to be able to do chemo on any given day).  So, off to the stairs we went again!  24 steps per flight, five flights, seven trips up and down the stairs.  1,680 stairs in total – 840 up and 840 down.  She did the blood test again and scored in the 1,200 range.  We are now true believers in climbing the stairs to boost your white blood cell counts.  Two for two.

Taxol is a bit quicker than Cisplatin – only a three hour infusion, plus about a half hour of pre-meds.  Still, a really long day.  Today was made considerably easier, though, by two excellent neighbors in the infusion center – Mike and Mary, who were about our parents’ age, struck up a conversation with us and we talked and laughed with them for almost two hours.  We covered politics, history, careers, hobbies, children and grandchildren.  They are fabulous people and we really enjoyed talking with them.  Cross your fingers for Mike, who has battled and beaten cancer twice and is on his way soon to get a bone marrow transplant.  We were in awe of his great spirit.

Thanks also to my parents, Dan and Betty Jo (aka Grammy and Pops), who came in yesterday and are keeping the house and kids in one piece this week.

It is GREAT to have good friends and family like you all.  We can’t tell you how much we appreciate all the support and help we get from each of you.


Easy Readers for Boys

Our 6-1/2 year-old son is reading now - so cool!  But it was easier to find beginner books for our daughter.

The summer before his kindergarten year, we tried BOB books.  He liked those for the sheer number of tiny books in each set.  But he preferred the stories in the Brand New Readers series, especially those about the worm, monkey and dragon.  We found those locally at The School Box.

Elephant_Piggie1But most of the credit to igniting Sam’s reading spark goes to Mo Willems.

His Elephant & Piggie books were the first to get our son excited about being able to read.  We Are in a Book!, I Am Invited to a Party!, Watch Me Throw the Ball! and I Will Surprise My Friend are favorites.

We still hear Sam cackling in his room at night as he rereads them – often using the super-soft stuffed characters to act out the stories.

Here are the others he found interesting enough to read himself, roughly in the order that he was able to read them:

Now, the summer before 1st grade, he’s reading these chapter books:

  • Roscoe Riley Rules.  Great beginner chapter books.  My daughter loved them, too.
  • Encyclopedia Brown series.  My husband loved these as a kid.  Each book is divided into several mini mysteries to solve.  Good for read-aloud, too.
  • Magic Tree House series, which we also read aloud to both kids a few years ago.