Friday, October 18, 2013

October (so far)

     I haven't written in a while now so should probably update any interested parties about how things have gone after chemotherapy #2. Overall, Beth would say that the side effects were less this time - some of the ones she experienced the first time didn't appear and those that did weren't as severe. So that's good news.
     She's a bit worried about her fingernails, as apparently they can be affected in a couple of ways. Our niece Kim (during her treatment 3 years ago) got an infection in a fingernail that developed into cellulitis and required IV antibiotics in the hospital. When I talked to a coworker who had breast cancer treatment a couple of years ago, Beth was not happy to hear that her fingernails had completely fallen out! Beth did get an infected hangnail on one finger that started bothering her a little over a week ago, but she saw our family doctor right away and the antibiotic he prescribed seemed to take care of it.
     While her dry mouth still was a problem this time, she took the 'Magic Mouthwash' as soon as she felt symptoms and it never developed into as big an issue. However she says that she plans to take it for even longer with the next treatment as she's sure that will make it even less of a concern.
     The past couple of weeks have also been busy with nice visits from lots of friends and family. I was away at a men's retreat for a weekend but Beth had good support from our children. We've been very thankful and impressed with how the kids have really rallied around us and been more available. And of course granddaughter Lindsay therapy is always wonderful - we had a great time going with her and David to St. Jacob's Market when Rachel was away for an overnight in Parry Sound.
     Two days after the last chemo, Beth felt up to going to hear Paul Young speak in town. He's the author of the bestselling book 'The Shack' and he's also a fantastic speaker with an awesome story to tell. It was so nice to look over and see Beth smiling and laughing at the amazing things he shared. Beth's sister Sharon sent a perfect little poster that we've included here. There are some things that cancer just can't stop.
     The Grand River Cancer Centre (GRCC) is going to do genetic counselling with Beth so she has spent a significant amount of time lately gathering information for this. She needed to identify which of her 16 aunts and uncles and 27 cousins have dealt with cancer. Unfortunately there have been 22 cases in her mom & dad's families, which is kind of shocking when you realize that over half of her relatives have had cancer. Beth needed to send out release of information consent forms to 13 of them so that GRCC can contact the hospitals where they received treatment.
     So today (Friday, October 18) Beth had another appointment with her chemo oncologist. The news we're most excited about is that her hemoglobin (iron level) has gone up quite a bit - thank you for your prayers! Her level would still be considered on the low end but hopefully it will continue to increase. When the doctor examined the breast physically she was amazed that the tumour has decreased in size significantly. So Beth is ready for her next chemotherapy treatment on Monday. She has been in contact with the surgeon's secretary and has a consultation appointment booked for early December. The date for the surgery has already been set - January 31st.