Cancer Journal


Jan. 16

Happy New Year to you! Hope your holiday season was peaceful and full of love!

My in-laws came down and stayed a couple of nights with us during Christmas time. We really enjoyed having them with us! David, the kids, and I left for my home town of Jacksonville, FL on Dec. 27th. Made a pit stop in South Carolina to buy some great fireworks to celebrate the New Year with my family and friends. What a great time it is to be with the ones I love most. Stayed there until Jan. 6th and left the next morning. Armani left Jax a few days earlier since her school started back on Jan. 2nd. My in-laws picked her up from the airport. Mom Perrin took Armani home and stayed with her for the remainder of the time until we got back home.

Looks like we'll be moving to Jax within the next couple of months! Put our house up for sale -- I only hope we sell soon, even in this bad seller's market. We have yet to buy a house down in Jax, but that shouldn't be a problem. There are so many houses on the market right now!

As far as my health is concerned, I'm feeling great. I even ran my first-ever 5-mile run while in Jax! I have never been a runner. My first attempt after chemo at running a mile took me 30 looong minutes, and I was very much out of breath . . . and so out of shape. I am now able to run 11-minute miles. It's not fast for most, but fast for ME. And I normally do 3-mile runs throughout the week along with three days devoted to weight-training. This morning, David and I ran 3.6 miles outdoors in the c-c-c-cold! I think it was 45 degrees, but with the wind chill factor, it felt like 35! Started out with a hooded sweat jacket, hands in pockets, but that didn't last long at all. The jacket was soon wrapped around my waist on my run back home. Ahh. The best part of working-out is ending the workout. Hahaha!

Still have the numbness in my fingertips, though there is definitely a decrease in the amount of numbness. My feet aren't as numb as they used to be either. I actually felt very ticklish when I had my last pedicure a couple of weeks ago! First time in a long time since I had the giggles from any sensation in my feet!

As of today, I've lost 28 pounds since my last chemo session in April. Slow-going, but steady -- and that's a good thing! I went from a Size 12 pants to a Size 4. I'm starting to see a more defined waist again, my tummy's flattening out, and my legs and arms are really toning up. Hair's growing in thicker than normal (I'm not complaining), and it's finally getting longer since I stopped visiting my hairstylist for a monthly "trim." Dark pigmentation on my legs are still visible. Saw an esthetician today for a follow-up, and we both think it's time to see a dermatologist since the cream she prescribed a few months ago didn't work.

Will post new photos soon!


Feb. 21:

Just finished my 90-minute workout at the gym this morning. I really didn't feel like working out, but once I got to the gym and started my lat pull-ups, I felt strong and ready to face the remainder of my upper-body weight-training session. I keep track of my progress by logging the type of exercises and the amount of weights I use. I'm really excited to see a marked improvement both in my strength and endurance over the past several months and even in just the last three weeks.

I'll be heading to OPIS this afternoon for my first quarterly blood work of the year. Since we have plans to move to Jax by the summer, I'll also pick up a copy of my last PET scan on disc. Wonder if it's a CD? I didn't know scans were saved on disc these days. I'm impressed with technology!


Feb. 23:

Results of my blood work came back clean! CEA level (tumor markers) were low at 1.6 even though this number is up from last quarter at 0.6 which was called "lower than low."

Been suffering from severe headaches this past week, and I don't get many headaches. Think I'll set up an appointment to see my doctor next week if headaches continue to persist throughout the weekend.

Heading off to the gym. Today's Legs Day with weights, and if I'm feeling energetic, I might do some running too.


Feb. 24:

I received a copy of my lab results today and placed it in my medical file. I happened to glance at the dates of my last PET and CAT scans and realized I am due for a CAT scan at the end of this month and a PET scan several days later. Guess I'll have to call the primary doc again to get two more referrals for these procedures. At times, I feel that medical insurance protocol can be such a pain in the butt. Next month, our new insurance coverage will go into effect, and then I won't have to deal with obtaining a referral to see a specialist.


March 18:

I was at the Emergency Room all day today, thanks to excruciating pain in the abdominal area. The pain started Friday night, and it was constant for about five hours before it lessened around 10 p.m., just in time for me to get some sleep before I woke up five hours later from more pain. Let me tell you, the pain was very similar to child birth contractions. I was in THAT MUCH pain. Before Andrew fell asleep, he told me he prayed to God to make Mommy feel better soon so I would stop crying. How sweet he is!

Yesterday, the pain wasn't constant and it wasn't nearly as bad as the prior night. But it lasted all day and all night. Of course, I was very worried about the possibility of cancer recurrence. That's why I decided to check into the ER this morning when the pain was still present.

The staff took good care of me. I was admitted into my own room within minutes, despite a waiting room full of other sick or hurt people. At least four nurses each tried twice (that's eight different pin pricks, plus one more from a nurse who tried three times -- one in my hand and one near my thumb) to hook me up to an IV for pain meds, fluid, and contrast dye for a CT scan but was unsuccessful. So I was given oral contrast to drink prior to the CT scan, which tasted like lemonade, and a shot of Dilaudid to subdue my pain, which definitely worked. I felt like I had a few too many Martinis, hahaha!

One of the nurses came into my room and asked me many questions about my colon cancer diagnosis out of her own personal curiosity, and I was happy to answer all of them.

Turns out I am very constipated. I've never been constipated in my life, and now I know how painful it can be. I was embarassed to be in the ER for constipation, but I was relieved to learn that the pain was not cancer-related. I think the doc and nurse were relieved for me as well.

I'll tell you that I am very frustrated to be the target of gastrointestinal problems (constipated today, cancer diagnosis/chemo in 2005-2006) because I take good care of myself! Everything the doctor suggested to relieve or prevent constipation, I already do! Exercise on a regular basis. Drink plenty of water. Eat vegetables and fruits. Stay away from dairy and refined foods. I am just beside myself right now. I don't know what else to do to prevent any other type of tummy ailments! I am to rest until the pain subsides enough for me to carry on normal activities.

So I am to take 17 grams of Glycolax (Miralax) powder stirred into 8 ounces of water until dissolved. No taste. No problem. This medication is supposed to allow the stools to retain liquid for easy passage, so to speak. Gross, I know, but as I said soon after my colon cancer diagnosis, there is no longer any embarassment to discuss natural bodily functions.


Fri., March 23:

It's been a week since my abdominal pain started. The pain gradually subsided over the past few days, and I'm not feeling any pain at all today. I ran two miles today for the first time since last week. It felt great to be outside on this beautiful spring day. Reached over 80 degrees with a welcomed breeze throughout the day! But I think the high for tomorrow will only be 60. No worries. Warmer temps will be just around the corner.


Sat., April 7:

Can you believe this? We have over two inches of snow on the ground today! Tomorrow is Easter Sunday. April! I'm sure Armani's laughing right now. She's down in Miami's South Beach for Spring Break. Andrew had fun this morning in his snow suit, snow boots, coat, mittens and a bagful of beach toys to make snow castles on our front lawn.

Today marks my one-year anniversary ending six months of chemotherapy for colon cancer. I feel very blessed to be alive and well today. These days, whenever I think I'm having a bad day for one reason or another, all I have to do is recall everything I went through, beginning with my cancer diagnosis. It puts everything into perspective for me.


May 21:

Feeling very gracious for living my life. Really living it! I have no complaints whatsoever.

Still suffering from neuropathy (nerve damage). Hands and feet are still numb, though I am gaining more sensation with each passing day. Odd that my left index finger went completely numb this morning.


May 22:

Left index finger is back to normal today, but now my palms are tingling. Maybe this a sign that my peripheral sensations are coming back. I hope so!


May 23:

Now my right index finger is completely numb.


May 24:

Both index fingers are back to their "normal" feeling. Went to OPIS to get my bloodwork done. Thought I was overdue, but because I was admitted into the ER on March 18th, that bloodwork counted. Oh well, better safe than sorry. Unfortunately, even though Ms. Catherine was able to get some blood on the first draw, the vein blew and she had to prick me a second time.


May 25:

Ms. Chris called with my bloodwork results. Though my blood sugar level was low, perhaps because I hadn't eaten prior to getting my blood drawn, everything else looked great! My lower right arm looks sadly bruised, especially where the vein blew yesterday...and it is sore to the touch. I'll live. :-)


May 30:

What a nice surprise when I ran into Dr. Cross at Target this afternoon! We hugged and spoke briefly. Sure miss his smile and Jamaican accent!

I don't know why, but I decided to go over my last few CBC lab results and paid close attention to my CEA levels (tumor markers):

  • Nov. 20, 2006: 0.6
  • Feb. 21, 2007: 1.2
  • May 24, 2007: 1.6

Though the numbers themselves are low, Dr. Cross once told me that the trend is what matters most. The numbers are rising. Think I'll give OPIS a call tomorrow morning.

June 1:

Called OPIS. Asked Ms. Chris if Dr. Cross was in the office today. No luck. Told her I noticed a rise in my CEA levels and would like Dr. Cross to take a look at my charts. He will be back in the office on June 6th and should call me then.


June 3:

I just finished an hour of cardio at the gym, ate a banana and drank a protein shake. My left fingertip is numb down to the second knuckle. I can't feel anything at all, though I do have feeling at the base. Other fingers are number than normal: my left thumb and my right ring finger and pinkie. My toes also feel extraordinarily numb. Don't know why, though I do wonder if it might be the shoes I wore to the gym. I wore my black Nikes instead of my Asics (love them!) running shoes. The Nikes caused a raw spot on the back of my right heel. I won't be wearing the Nikes for cardio anymore. I do have a pair of white Nike Impax which I might be able to interchange with my Asics when I'm doing intervals or hills on the treadmill. I'll try them out tomorrow morning and try to save my Asics strictly for running.

I called OPIS last Friday to let Dr. Cross know of my concern for the rise in my CEA levels over the past three CBCs (complete blood counts). I should hear something back from him this Wed., June 6th when he gets back into the office.

8:49 p.m. - Well, seems like my fingers and toes are back to "normal." I'm off to bed. Tired from getting up at 5:30 this morning, what now seems to be my body's alarm clock setting the past month or so. Not a bad thing, really. I can enjoy my first cup of coffee and a piece of fruit before stretching and hitting my ab workout while the kids are still asleep!


June 6:

Ms. Chris called to let me know that Dr. Cross has ordered a PET CT scan. Once the appointment has been set up, I should get a call with the exact date and time.


June 7:

PET CT scan is scheduled for Tues., June 26th at 9:45 a.m. St. Mary's Hospital no longer provides PET scans, so I have to travel to Waldorf, a 45-minute drive. I am not to eat food four hours prior to my appointment; no exercise the day before; and I must drink 16 oz of water one hour prior. Basically, I need to drink my entire bottle of water -- which I carry with me everywhere I go -- while I drive to my PET scan appointment.

Of course, I am worried that I might have a recurrence of colon cancer. But I refuse to give in to a pity party. At this point, I will try to take one step at a time and continue to enjoy every day with my husband and children. I can't help but think that if I do find out of a recurrence, I know I will be much better at coping with my emotions. I stopped attending church regularly over 20 years ago, but it doesn't mean I have stopped believing. I have had many private talks with Him over the past two years, and I can honestly say that I feel at peace with the inevitable (whether or not from cancer). I am no longer afraid of the next chapter. Besides, I have so much more to think about right now.

Next week, while Andrew visits with Grandma/pa Perrin, Armani and I will be flying to Jacksonville, FL so she can visit with relatives while I continue our search for a home. We get back from our trip on the 15th, stay at Mom/Dad Perrin's overnight as Mike and Jen's wedding reception will be the following day. On June 18th, Andrew, Armani and I will be flying up to Portland, Maine for several days. My favorite photographer (back in the day when I used to model) will be shooting photos of my children for comp cards and get them started in modeling. Armani expressed an interest in modeling, and I thought this would be a great time to get the ball rolling.

After our trip to Maine, it's back to Jacksonville, FL in time to be with family on the 4th of July. I have plans to leave the children behind while I travel back up to Maryland to handle our pack-out. We have movers scheduled for the week of July 9th, and then we close on our house with the new owners on July 16th.

Whew! Lots going on this month. That, on top of my health and the worries that come along with raising a teenage daughter who thinks the whole world revolves around her. Ha!


June 14:

Finally found a house in Jax this week. Narrowed David's search down to four houses plus two more that the agent pulled at the last minute. David made the final decision, and we placed an offer to purchase. The sellers agreed to our offer, so on July 18, we will have a home to move into. Leaving for Mt. Vernon, VA tomorrow to stay at Mom and Dad Perrin's place since the following day will be Mike & Jen's wedding reception.

Right eye is bothering me. Pulled out my contact this morning and it was stuck to my eye. Felt like I pulled the cornea with my contact lens! Funny thing is, Armani's right eye is bothering her too. It looks red and irritated.


June 15:

My eye is really red and was puffy when I awoke this morning. Armani's eye looks even redder, if that's even possible. Nice to see and be with Andrew again. Sure did miss him.


June 16:

Mom took it upon herself this morning to make an eye appointment for both Armani and me. My eye is so swollen and red and Armani's is bright red. The ophthalmologist concluded Armani has bacteria in her eye. Bet it's from the use of an old tube of mascara! An antibiotic in the form of eye drops was prescribed for her. My eye is inflamed and irritated from the removal of my contact lens. Tobradex, eye drops with steroids, was given to me. By the end of the evening, my eye looked much better.


June 17:

My eye is constantly watering and still very swollen. It's red again too. Guess I'll just keep using the drops. I need to pack for our trip to Maine tomorrow morning.


June 18:

No contact lenses for me this morning. Eye is puffier than normal, and now my left eye seems to be getting irritated.

By the time we landed in Portland, Maine I felt like I was coming down with the flu. My body and head aches tremendously. My tummy is cramping up. Settled into our hotel room and allowed the kids to swim in the pool while I slept for two hours.


June 19:

Woke up this morning drenched in sweat. My tummy is hurting more today, and I have a fever. Must be a stomach bug, though I don't have diarrhea, thank goodness. I will have to stay behind during Andrew's photo shoot today and ask Armani to be his stylist.


June 20:

I cry and huddle into a fetal position between waves of pain. Armani put it upon herself to call Stewart the photographer to have him take me to the local outpatient clinic. Blood work, urine sample, rectal exam, IV insertion and fluids for dehydration were given to me prior to downing four cups of contrast dye that looked like fruit punch. My pain was almost unbearable, similar to birthing contractions. I was given three separate doses of morphine to relieve my stomach pain. Unfortunately, the morphine effect was short-lived. I could have used something better, but the doc only gave me more. Two-and-a-half hours later, I got more contrast dye, only this time, it was inserted into my IV which felt like a warm rush of hot liquid throughout my internal organs before being glided into the CT chamber.

The scan showed abnormal blockage in the left side of my colon, more than likely adhesions where the two ends of my colon were surgically joined together. The doctor also took a look at my right eye to make sure there were no abrasions to my cornea and recommended I discontinue using Tobradex. I was transported via ambulance to Maine Medical where I am to have an NG (nasogastric) tube inserted down my nostril, through my esophagus and into my stomach to pump out excess gas. And possible surgery to remove the obstruction. Stew is also a colon cancer survivor. He mentioned his harrowing ordeal with the NG tube. Great.

My cell phone rang. I asked Stew to bring over the trash bin to my side and motioned Stew to get the phone from my purse and answer the call. It was David. A huge wave of pain came crashing down on me and...oops! Thar she blows! And just like that, it was time for my ambulance ride to Maine Medical!

I was too close from having all of the procedures performed by one of the surgeons, when I lucked out and had a bowel movement (BM). It was very loose to say the least, but regardless, it was a BM and it saved me from getting the NG tube and surgery. I was put on a diet of nothing and a night of medical observation.

Thank goodness all was going well with me. My stomach pain was lessening with each BM. I was able to stay away from narcotics, only using Tylenol to relieve my massive headache and the dull pain in my lower belly. I feel parched but am still not allowed to have anything to drink by mouth.

Stew and the kids came by the hospital to visit me. He was kind enough to care for the kids today by taking them out for a fun-filled day at a local pizzeria/arcade for lunch, some down time at the park as well as more photos, another outing for dinner, and having them sleep over at his home this evening so the kids would not have to be alone in our hotel room.

It's about 8:00 p.m. right now. Stew called to let me know that David just finished his round of flights and landed at Reagan National Airport in DC. As soon as he got word that I was in the hospital, he turned back around and took the next flight up to Maine. He should be here by 10:30 p.m.

It's not hospital policy to allow guests to sleep in with the patient especially if there's a roommate (there was), but one of the nurses was kind enough to set up a bed for David in an empty room down the hallway. Knowing David was right down the hall and my belly pain subsiding, I slept peacefully for the first time in days.


June 21:

I was given the OK for a liquid diet this morning - jello, coffee, orange juice and water. I tried the coffee and jello, but within an hour, my belly started to ache again. The doctor put me back to eating and drinking nothing for the rest of the day.

Good news is I lost some weight, weighing in at 118 pounds today. What a way to lose weight, huh?

I introduced myself to my roommate Kerry earlier this afternoon. Turns out she was in for exactly the same thing as me, only she had to have an NG tube and surgery to remove adhesions from a previous hysterectomy. Plus, she and her husband are in the process of moving out of their home tomorrow. How coincidental, as David and I are in the process of moving as well!


June 22:

I was able to handle the jello I ate this morning. I even walked a mile around the hospital ward with David and Andrew to get the blood flowing.

I was famished when it was dinner time. I ate turkey, chicken, a few bites of stuffing and mashed potatoes. I ate all my green veggies and devoured the slice of pumpkin pie. To my surprise, I kept my food down.

The doc gave me the go-ahead to be discharged tomorrow after breakfast. David checked on departing flights, but there were none available. So he decided to rent an SUV so we can drive back home. He figured it would take approximately nine hours to get to Southern Maryland.

In the middle of the night, I was given a shot of Heparin in my left thigh to ward off blood clots. I almost forgot about the shot until the following morning.


June 23:

Owwie, feels like a mad man punched my left thigh! Breakfast was especially delicious this morning, and I was even able to keep down my coffee! Discharge papers are set. David and the kids are packing our belongings, and I'll be leaving by 11:00 a.m.! One more Heparin shot to go and a prescription for pain meds to get me through our road trip.

I think we would have been able to make it home in David's estimated time frame had it not been for the four-hour traffic in NY. We hit Delaware and decided to get some shut-eye before moving forward with our trip the following morning.


June 24:

Breakfast at Cracker Barrel. Yum! Bet I've already regained the weight I lost this week. :(

Before we could get home, we had to swing by Reagan National to drop off the rental car and then to Mom and Dad Perrin's so David could drive his car back down. Another two hours to drive before settling at home.

Safe and sound in our home now. No rest for the weary! Tons of mail and email from both of our realtors in MD and Jax. I can't wait till my To-Do list starts to dwindle!


June 25:

Yet another day goes by without any exercise for me. I have a PET scan scheduled for tomorrow. Part of prepping for the scan includes no exercise 24 hours prior, low carbohydrate dinner tonight, no food four hours prior and 16 oz of water one hour prior to my 9:45 a.m. appointment.

David left this afternoon for the rest of the week for his flights. Hope to see him down in Jax on July 1-3 when he's done flying. The kids and I leave for Jax on the 27th. I'll stay until the 4th of July. Airport shouldn't be too busy on a holiday, which would make traveling easier on me. The kids will stay behind when I leave for MD one final time to do last-minute tasks around the house before I meet with the movers on the week of July 9th.


June 29:

Great news! PET scan came back clear. One less thing for me to worry about right now!


July 5:

Got back home from Jax yesterday evening. Mom and Dad Perrin picked me up from Reagan Nat'l Airport as I left my car at their home during my trip to Jax. Almost forgot to mention that on our way to Jax via Reagan Nat'l at around 4:00 a.m. on Wed., June 27th, I hit a running doe! Yes, I hit its right hind leg, and at 70 miles per hour, I can only surmise I broke its leg. No damage to our SUV, thank goodness. And most importantly, we were all safe. Talk about being shaken up! My nerves were on overdrive for at least 15 minutes afterward! No worries about deer running into the streets when we move to Jax!

Talked with one of our neighbors today whose daughter will be moving in with her fiancée next spring. David and I will be giving them our family room set - sofa, love seat, chair w/ ottoman, coffee table, two end tables and matching lamps. Andrew had been "storing" food under the loveseat cushions, and since I only clean furniture once a month, the foods had to be sitting on the sofa for at least a month! And according to David, he found a clump of what used to be cereal soaked in milk. Gross! So the kids will have to clean up the mold from the loveseat when they move it from our basement to their storage unit. Hey, the set is a freebie…it's the least they can do! They're good kids and expressed their gratefulness to me several times this afternoon for the set. Know what this means? New family room furniture for us! Yippee! Hahaha!

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