Thursday, May 26, 2011

The First Chemo Experience

Thought I should describe what having chemo therapy is like. At the hospital they call it an infusion. Anna & I went to the infusion room at around 7:oo am and were prep'ed for Anna's first infusion. It's basically an iv that they use to 'infuse' someone with the various chemicals used to fight the cancer. We met the infusion nurse, Britney, and sat down and relaxed. The room was pretty big with about 7 or 8 other chairs around the perimeter for other patients.

Britney talked with us about what was about to happen and asked us multiple times if we had any questions. She then started and iv in Anna's arm. Anna HATES iv's (she hasn't had good luck with them in the past). This time wasn't much different; she needed to be poked twice. The doctor thinks they will be able to give her the infusions through an iv rather than have to insert a picc line or a port. This is mainly because Anna will be going in about every two weeks. Some of the people we met there have chemo treatments multiple times a week and need an 'easier route' to get the drugs in them.

They started Anna on steroid and an anti-nausea medicine before they started the two chemicals. Anna's first chemical was a bright red color, our nurse described it as looking like 'fruit punch', and it did. The next chemical was clear and needed to drip for a little over an hour and then she was done.

The whole process took about 3.5 hours and was pretty relaxed. People would trickle in throughout the morning and get set up for their infusion, some people would lay there wrapped in warm blankets and others would read or just visit with friends & family. One lady totally set up shop and it seemed like she was at work with her lap-top out and making phone calls. All told the actual treatment itself wasn't too bad.

That night Anna started to feel a little sick with a headache and body aches. As the night wore on she felt more and more (?), she said it's hard to describe. It's not like really feeling sick...maybe 'yuck' would be a good description. All told this first experience with chemo kinda sucks.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wig Shopping!!!

(Imagine this being said through loud speakers)
Which one of these wigs made the cut; which one did Anna select?

We call this one the Golden Lining...

The Shoulder Length Sundown...

The Babelicous Brunette...

The Dark Cascade...

The Lightbulb...

The Spunky Side pin...

The Highlights to Heaven...

Finally hair that would match my daughter's...

not a chance

Which of these women are wearing a wig?

Please submit your guesses below...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Great News!

This last week Anna went in for a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan. The purpose of this scan was to determine if the cancer had moved anywhere else in her body. The doctors told us that cancer cells primarily use sugars as their energy source. So Anna was given an IV with radioactive isotopes (sugars) and then put in a tube that is able to see the 'hot spots'. Anna said the test itself wasn't too bad and that if she had been in there for another 15 minutes they would have had to wake her up (they gave her those nice warm blankets). After waiting for a couple of days Anna called and asked if we could find out the results of the test. Thankfully the only areas that showed any activity were the ones we already knew about. We feel very relieved that the cancer has not spread to other areas. After consulting with the doctors and surgeon we are moving forward with the first round of chemotherapy on the 25th of May, this coming Wednesday!

We are holding a fast starting this Saturday to Sunday for anyone who would like to participate along with us. We are praying that the chemo will do what it's supposed to and that Anna will continue to be able to function as a mother while going through this process. We really have felt the prayers and support offered in our behalf. We have felt very calm and at peace and know it is because of the prayers and concern of our family and friends.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Through the eyes of Daphne

With all the new talk around our house Daphne has been listening in on every conversation. She keeps asking Ben, "Why does Mommy have to go see the Huntsman" or all types of questions along that line. The other morning we told her that we wanted to take her to the Huntsman so she could see where Anna was going and will be going . She immediately said "NO" she did not want to go and said that she was scared. We said ok and then later that night Anna was talking to her right before bed and asked her again and got the same response. Anna told her there was nothing to be afraid of and then she said "but mom, the Huntsman was supposed the kill Snow White." Her little mind put Huntsman Cancer Institute and the Huntsman from Snow White together as one in the same. We explained to her that the Huntsman Cancer Institute is where they are going to help Mommy get better from her cancer. She now is willing to go and check things out (as long and no one lives there).

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Opinions needed

Given the course of events that are to play out eventually we decided that to be proactive it's time to start looking at wigs. The purpose of this post is to hear from all you lovely folks who are following this blog. We are looking for opinions on the kind of wig Anna should go for. Ben thinks Anna should go for something different than her current hair style (so as not to bias people too much he will withhold his reasoning's) and Anna is unsure about what she wants. If you feel so inclined please offer your thoughts on the style, color, length (is there more to hair than these three dimensions?), etc., that Anna might consider. Just post your comments below and plan on waiting with bated breath until the decision is revealed!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Our first trip to Huntsman

"What are you here for?" asked a woman about Anna's age as she adjusted her picc line.
"Breast cancer" Anna replied.
"Oh that's what I have!" almost as if we are now part of the club.

Our first trip to the Huntsman was in a word; amazing. For those of you who haven't been there it has a very welcoming and comfortable atmosphere. We first had a bunch of paperwork to fill out and then were taken back to meet the treatment team. We met with three doctors, the lead Doctor, a Fellow, and a Resident. The lead doctor's name is Dr. Ward. He seems really nice and personable. He talked to us about the kids, our day-to-day activities, etc. We then met the main nurse, Marsha, and then a social worker, Lisa, who was there to check on our emotional state. At one point we had all five of them together in our room talking to us about the future. It was a really cool experience.

At this point the plan of attack is to do more testing to determine if the cancer has spread anywhere else in the body. Anna has a PET scan and an MRI scheduled for next week. These tests will help us determine if we are going to do surgery or chemotherapy first. The decision will be made when we go back to meet with Dr. Ward on the 25th of May. We are really glad to have things moving along the way that they are.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Door Marked Cancer

As most of you know we moved to Bountiful in January. One day when Anna was moving boxes she felt a pain under her right arm. It felt like a little ball was under her arm up against her ribcage. In talking with Sarah, Anna's sister, one day she recommended that it be looked at by a doctor. An appointment was scheduled, a mammogram carried out, and biopsies of the "areas of concern" conducted. Three different areas were looked at, the one under arm which ended up being a lymph node, and two different sites in her right breast called micro-calcifications. Each of the biopsies were positive for cancer. It was discovered that Anna has 'Metastatic Carcinoma, Grade 2/3': Breast Cancer. From what we know at this point it is an Estrogen and Progesterone receptor positive cancer (not too sure what that means exactly), but our doctor who referred us to the Huntsman Center said it was a cancer that usually responds well to treatments.

We thought this blog would be a good way to keep our friends and family updated with this new phase of our lives. The name of the blog was inspired from an interchange shortly after the doctor called with the news. Through tears Anna and Ben looked at each other and Anna said "I just don't want this in my life; I just don't want to go through this". Needless to say Ben agreed. However, this is a new phase and direction our lives are taking and like it or not we are walking through this doorway together. We are not sure what is on the other side or what we will need to go through to get through it but the things we are sure of is the love and support of our family and friends.

Our adventures continue May 11th when we meet with a doctor at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake. We will continue to learn more about what is in store for us. Hopefully we will be able to start to addressing things as quickly as possible.

Our mental and emotional state at this time is readiness. For those of you who know Anna she doesn't like to dilly dally and is anxious to get things started. We think the first step will be more testing to see if the cancer is located anywhere else. We hope to be able to keep this blog as up to date as possible. Feel free to comment or contact us. Here we go...