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Health Updates

As many of you read on a previous post, my pancreatic cancer has come back. That means it is now inoperable and incurable. Rats!

December 10, 2014 Sorry to say this body of mine is growing weaker. I’m doing the best I can to continue writing, painting, loving and laughing. My cat Billy is a constant companion and has taken to snuggling up on my head if I let him. He keeps me amused. I’m not able to do much visiting anymore as conversation wears me out, but will still be happy to receive your good wishes!

November 19, 2014 I slept last night. It may have been a first, but I hope not a last. I finally took a sleeping pill. I’ve never been one to take drugs unnecessarily, but the drugs I have taken over the past three years have taught me to loosen up a bit. So even though I still fight it, I finally give in. In this case giving in means sleeping for more than an hour at a time. What took me so long?

November 10, 2014 My body is not exactly happy, but I am! The back pain continues to worsen and fatigue is still an issue, but I am enjoying some of the activities I had given up only a month ago. Sleep is hard to come by, so I think I’m finally turning into a night owl–or more like midnight owl. But the full moon light has been gorgeous at night.

October 31, 2014 My experience is one of ups and downs. Sorry to say I’m having a down period right now. The pain is getting worse and I’m having trouble getting a handle on it. Always hoping things will improve, however!

October 12, 2014 I am continuing to gain strength. Slowly, slowly, slowly, but am so happy with each new step. My endurance is also improving. Now if I could only sleep!

September 28, 2014 I am so happy to report that I am feeling better! My energy still fades rapidly, but have returned to some of the activities I enjoy. Never know where this roller coaster of life will take us next.

September 17, 2014 I had an appointment with my oncologist last week. Since I have stopped all treatment, I was on a monthly schedule to “check in.” He was so pleased with my progress that he said my next visit could be in 8 weeks. Good news. He said it is so hard for a doctor not to do something, but I was doing fine.

September 4, 2014 I feel better! The new drug has kept my edema under control and my legs are now back to normal. I seem to have more energy and can go longer during the day without completely being drained. It still tires me to do too much, which means almost anything, but I’m doing more as my body allows. I still am able to get through the evening and night with only 2 to 4 Ibuprofens. Considering how I SHOULD be doing, I’m doing great!

August 19, 2014 My window of energy is still closing, but I have time to write and laugh and love. My edema (fluid retention) is easing due to adding another drug. And watermelon, I’m sure of it! :-)  I did not have to have my abdomen drained last week, so I am happy about that! The swelling in my legs and feet have gone down and I am now able to walk without pain. Such simple pleasures in life!

August 10, 2014 Not much new to report. I am having my abdomen drained of fluid once a week and that makes me feel crummy for a few days. My energy is still declining, sorry to say. I have discovered the pleasures of pain pills and take them once in a while. Not too bad for what is happening inside of my body. I’m still enjoying what quality of life I do have and stick by my desire to live until I die, not die until I die! May you do the same!

July 28, 2014 My activities are getting fewer as I can’t seem to recover every morning like I have been doing. The activities that bring me the most joy now are writing, painting, laughing and loving. It’s hard to find ease in this body, but massages seem to bring me the most relief. Thank you to Mike’s daughter Michole, for her generous gift of a massage a couple of years ago. That is what got me started on massage again. And, as always, thank you all who are sending me prayers and good wishes. You can’t possibly know what that means to me!

July 19, 2014 I stopped all chemo treatments. My body decided it couldn’t do them anymore. Now we will see where Mother Nature and my Creator decide to take me. I feel better not being sick all the time, but I still don’t feel great and am lacking energy. This abdomen of mine is being drained once a week. Not a good thing, but I’m grateful it can be done. I appreciate all of the prayers you send me. As many of you know, I’ve outlived my second expiration date, and I am humbled by the love and support so many people send to me every day!

July 3, 2014 I’ve decided I do not want to continue with this harsh chemo treatment. It did stop the tumor growth, or more like postponed it, but I’m not recovering from its effects. I’ve decided I would rather live a shorter and better life than a longer and worse one, so with meet with the doctor to see if I have any other options. I still have quality time most days. Life is still good!

June 21, 2014 My San Francisco oncologist was happy with my CT scan. He said my liver is looking good and that my cancer has stabilized. He will keep me on the same chemo protocol for now. I had another 12  pounds of fluid removed from my abdomen, but Dr. Baron feels it is not cancer related, rather it is because I am extremely protein deficient. He compares me to the starving children we’ve all seen pictures of, where their belly is distended and they are starving. He said that is me. So, I’m following his advice and trying to eat more–especially high protein foods. He was encouraged with the report and I was relieved!

June 3, 2004 I’m happy to say that acupuncture, along with Mike’s healing hands, massage, energy treatments and chiropractic work is helping ease this back pain. Part of it is because I’m in bed so much and part of it is due to pancreatic issues. Chemo effects still keep me down for most of the week, but I’m happy to report I was able to get my book manuscript sent to the editor and should hear from her soon. I was excited to have some time off from writing, so what did I do? I started my second book. It may not be riding my bike, but it’s enlivening, nonetheless. I will soon go to San Francisco for another CAT scan and re-evaluation. I would love to be taken off of this Oxialiplatin drug!

May 27, 2014 Last week I had over 11 pounds of fluid drained from my abdomen. Sweet relief!

May 20, 2014 I have been plagued by chills and flu-like symptoms and terrible back pain even though I’m off chemo until next week. My bloated abdomen has me wearing maternity pants and I’m  happy to have made that discovery! They’re the best invention ever. Like I tell Mike, however, I may be feeling more and more symptoms, but I’m also feeling the vital energy inside of me is strong. Like all of us, I’m doing the best I can to live my life to the fullest. As you know, some days are easier than others!

May 9, 2014 My energy is declining, but my spirit is not! During the few precious hours in the morning when I feel good, I am finishing my book manuscript, getting ready to send it off for editing and publication.  In the meantime, I continue my weekly massage and energy treatments and have begun acupuncture to help me find ease in this body. The chemo drug Oxialiplatin continues to get the better of me for over a week, and I have one more infusion before seeing the doctor in San Francisco. I will decide then what the next best course of action should be.

April 26, 2014 Still recovering from the last chemo infusion, and am scheduled for my next one in a few days. Seems like my plans nowadays revolve around when I have chemo and when I don’t. It’s a tough road to walk, but the thousands who have gone before me have smoothed it to a road I can travel. May I do the same for those you may come after me!

April 9, 2014 The different chemo drug I’m taking (by infusion) has wrestled me to the mat! I’m going for the best two out of three. The chemo infusion is scheduled once every 28 days, so I should have time to recover in between. Daily chemo pills are taken for 14 days a month. I have had abdominal swelling which resulted in 6 pounds of fluid being drained from my abdomen. I’m now on a diuretic that is helping to relieve the situation. Mike continues to support me and take good care of me–as do my beloved friends. Life is sweet.

March 13, 2014 Good news: my cancer is not spreading to other organs. My chemo regimen has changed, however, and I will soon be taking a chemo drug I had two years ago. It’s rougher on my system–but not as rough as cancer! I do not return to San Francisco for my next evaluation until June. That makes me happy!

February 14, 2014 Another bump in the road preventing me from chemo yesterday. Looks like I’ll have a medical procedure instead to determine if the chemo is working.  The upside to not having chemo is that my head is clearing and I feel like dancing! Not a bad alternative.

February 7, 2014 Yesterday’s visit to the oncologist was eventful. I got sick while in his office, so he deferred all chemo for a week. He suggested putting me in the hospital. I suggested putting me into my own bed at home! He agreed with the understanding that I would go to ER immediately if symptoms worsened. Deal! I’m better today.

January 14, 2014 I have recovered from THE BUG! Yay! Now I can return my attention to moving my body more. It doesn’t like being in bed all day!  I was able to have chemo last week, and if my blood counts are high enough, will have it again this Thursday. I take chemo pills daily. They have an effect, but not as dramatic as the infusions.

January 1, 2014 Guess this system of mine just isn’t strong enough to fight off those germs! I’ve been sick for the past few days, but bless Dr. Figueroa, my Redding oncologist, for keeping me out of the Emergency Room. He sent me for blood tests and determined I could stay home on a regimen of antibiotics. What happened to those weeks of feeling good while off chemo! Well, this is a new year and already I’m feeling better than yesterday. May the feeling better continue!

December 21, 2013 (Winter Solstice!) My latest CT scan revealed that my tumor has grown slightly, but has not metastasized. Since the shots they give me to increase my white cell count make me so sick, the doctor changed my chemo regimen. I will now be having two weeks off of chemo instead of one. Hopefully that will give my body a chance to build itself up before the next round. I’m excited that I will have an extra week to feel good!  I won’t return to San Francisco until March.

December 7, 2013: Not much new to report. The shots they gave me daily last week to increase my white blood cell count kept me down, but hopefully will soon be feeling perky again!

November 24, 2013: The good news is I couldn’t have chemo last week. The bad news is I couldn’t have chemo last week. Good news because I actually felt well enough to go on a hike up Kanaka Peak. Bad news because my white blood cell count was down too low. They will begin giving me white cell booster shots next week, however, to keep me on schedule. Even so, I seem to be getting stronger and happier throughout this process. Thanks for your help and prayers!

November 4, 2013: I have been so active and so happy lately! I have had several days where I have had energy until 9 p.m. And a couple of weeks ago was the first time since surgery (Whipple Procedure) in August 2011 that I have been able to take a deep breath and yawn without abdominal pain.  For the past two weeks food has not given me as much trouble! Lastly, my cancer markers have dropped from 124 to 79. (This is a good thing!) I am still on daily chemo pills and once a week chemo infusions. I return to San Francisco in December for my next progress report. Thank you, as always, for including me in your prayers. You are making a difference in my life!

October 10, 2013: I’m having chemo this very moment! That’s good and bad news: :-)  Good, I’m still upright and my pain is minimal. Bad, I don’t feel good for a few days. But, things are “normal” and happy around Madden’s mountain home. Michael is indeed an angel for all of the kindness and strength he gives. My new-found friend, Bigbaba, is also helping. And, of course, all of your prayers are Heaven sent!

October 2, 2013: I’m doing very well! Fatigue is the biggest issue I have, except for the obvious. :-) Since I’m on now taking chemo pills daily instead of one weekly infusion (now doing both), it is harder for me to be physically active. However, I’m happy and life is good!

August 8, 2013: I’ve been meaning to tell you that I’ve been too busy having fun to open my computer so haven’t posted an update in a while, but I did go to the hospital with a fever last Saturday. Yuk! Now, since I’m not up to running off to the swimming pool or a bike ride, I have time to let you know that I’m doing okay. They did not find anything life-threatening, except me when I insisted on being released.

July 18, 2013: I am so happy to report that I had a great week last week! It was my week off of chemo, and it felt great to feel good. :-)

July 5, 2013: No new news on this page is usually good news. I’m the same. Still feel extreme fatigue daily and nauseous for a few days after chemo. Life is still sweet and I am able to do some of the activities I enjoy–just not too many of them in one day! Enforced slow down. Mike is taking great care of me, as are all of my beloved friends.

June 19, 2013: We returned late last night from a medical trip to SF. Happy to report that my cancer is still stable. Apparently with malignancy, one either has the tendency to have blood clots or to not clot enough. The CT scan revealed a blood clot, so will be on blood thinning medication from now on. I return to SF in two months.

June 10, 2013: Chemo had lowered my white blood count low enough that I needed neupogen shots for five days to raise it again. Also must have caught a bug last week, as my temperature spiked at 102.4 degrees and I have been “down” for a few days. I avoided the ER, but probably shouldn’t have! I’m starting to feel better today, however, but will still go slowly! Tomorrow is my Tuesday off chemo for the month. Yay!

May 26, 2013: My condition is pretty much the same. Fighting fatigue, but enjoying time with friends and loved ones. I suspect no new news is good news!

May 18, 2013:  With all the fatigue and weight loss, I still feel good in the mornings! I’m not suffering any pain and am trying to eat more. I enjoy activities with friends, and find life sweet. Spirits are high even if the flesh is weak. I will resume weekly chemo on Tuesday and do not have to return to SF until mid June. Thank you for all of your good wishes and prayers!

May 4, 2013: My chemo treatments are less severe than two weeks ago. I am not feeling sick, only fatigued. I have been able to walk, however, and am up to 3 miles on the trail and 7 miles on my bike. It may be a far cry from walking all day and biking 100 miles, but each step and each pedal is just as sweet as any I’ve ever taken. Weight is an issue. I’m not eating enough, so am TRYING to eat more.  Bring on the banana splits!

April 28, 2013: Just returned from my check-up in San Francisco. The CT scan shows that my cancer is stable. I was hoping the tumor had shrunk, but maybe next time. Oncologist says it’s the next best thing, more like a pass/fail test. Therefore, my chemo protocol remains the same: three weeks on (1 x week) and one off. I will go back to SF in June.

I’m encouraged that I did not get sick after this chemo treatment. Dr. Baron says 98% of patients receiving the drug gemzar only (as I am) should be able to continue normal activities. I’m hopeful. His prescription for me: eat MORE and exercise MORE. Okay, will try to do just that!

April 18, 2013: This is my week off of chemo, so am starting to feel good again. Yay! I go to San Francisco next week to see how effective my treatments are. Will know at that time if I will continue current treatment or change to a different one. I’ve been getting a lot of sleep lately!

April 10, 2013: Chemo and I had a wrestling match last week. It floored me on the first try. Several days of emptiness inside due to extreme fatigue. One day of not being able to sit up, eat, or even brush my teeth. Tough times. However, two days before my next chemo, I felt a little better and was able to join my friends Christine and Diane for church and lunch.

I had chemo again yesterday so will see how this week goes.

Even through the difficult days, my spirits remain high. I do love life, and do love people!

March 28, 2013: I had chemo Tuesday the 26th with only the drug Gemzar. The most difficult side effects for me on this drug is fatigue and insomnia. Hopefully both will improve. The good news is that I still have an appetite and feel like eating. Having lost 10 pounds, I will be happy to eat as much as I can. Had a banana split last night–usually unheard of after a chemo treatment. Yay!

My protocol is to have chemo once a week for three weeks, take a week off, then start again. Most of these will be in Redding–except for the visits to San Francisco.

Thank you to all of my well wishers!

March 23, 2013: Yesterday’s procedure went smoothly. The doctor inserted a needle with a camera on in into my liver bile ducts. He did not find any obstructions, so did not probe further. Since my bilirubin levels have returned to normal, it has been determined one of the chemo drugs is what made me so sick. Therefore, I will resume chemo next week without the offending drug.  I will return to San Francisco next month for a repeat CAT scan to see if the chemo is effective.

March 20, 2013:
The chemo drug I can’t take anymore has made me lose my hair. When it first began to come out, I asked Mike if he liked my hair. What else could he say but, “Yes.” So I reached up and pulled a clump out and handed it to him. “Would you like some?” I asked. We both roared with our appropriately “sick” sense of humor.

I will soon have my liver procedure and will post the results.

Here’s where I stand as of March 16:

Two rounds of chemo treatment have caused problems. My liver enzymes are too high. Consequently tests were performed in San Francisco yesterday and a possible blockage of the liver was discovered. I will return to SF next week for a medical procedure to see if that is so. If it is, they hopefully will be able to place a stent that should relieve the blockage. At that time I should feel better and have more energy–YAY! Until the results of that procedure are determined, however, my chemo has been stopped.

I tire easily but am in excellent spirits. Mike and I find a lot to laugh about together and a lot to cry about. Something along the lines of

it was the best of times…it was the worst of times….