Thursday, March 27, 2014

Scan Results

So last week I had my Bone Scan to see if the cancer had spread to my bones. It came back negative, which was a huge relief!
This week I had my CT scan to see if the cancer had spread to any of the soft tissue (organs). Today I got the call from my oncologist that there were "several small spots of concern" on my liver.
What does this mean:
- I will have a biopsy of these spots sometime within the next week.
- If they are cancerous, I will finish this course of chemo and then start another with a different Chemo drug.

This is not the news that we were hoping for, but we will get through it and do what we have to do to kick this stupid disease's ass!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Meg vs. Cancer Round 5

Friday (3/14) was my first Chemo without Baby S on board. It was a huge relief to know that there was absolutely nothing that could happen to Cora because of my treatment. 
My appointment was early which is nice because then I get home at a decent time to nap off the Benadryl. 
Like before I have to drink A TON!!! of water. BUT I no longer have a baby pushing on my bladder!!! This is fabulous news as it means instead of peeing every 20-40 minutes I can go every 1-2 hours, which leads to better sleep and feeling more rested than I did with Cora on board. 

This morning I got the call to set up my CT Scan which will be at 5:30 on Wednesday the 26th. I should get the results of the scan before my next Chemo appt on 4/4. 

Here are a few pictures of my favorite girls!
Keeping Cora entertained so Mama can sleep a little bit more.

Holding hands in the car

Tummy Time!

Good Night Snuggles

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Side Effects

I often get asked how I am feeling after Chemo, sometimes I feel like this is a trick question, which I know it is not.  My usual responses range from great to meh, depending on the moment. After the first week most of the common side effects have passed, but a few remain, they don't make me feel bad necessarily but they definitely prohibit me from feeling normal. So I figured I'd go through and list the possible side effects of the three Chemo drugs I receive and tell you about my experiences with them.

1) Bone Marrow Depression (Low White Blood Counts-Possible infection; Low Red Blood Counts- possible Anemia; Low Platelet Counts- possible bleeding)
         So my counts are low at least the first week, I know this because of the blood work done after Cora was born. I am also Anemic, so have been cooking a lot in my cast iron and taking an iron supplement. I've been fortunate to not have to deal with infection or bleeding and am praying it stays that way.  This side effect is the reason I have the neupogen shots for 7-days post Chemo (these also have side effects)
2) Hair Loss- so that happened two weeks after my first chemo, my eyebrows and eyelashes are working on making themselves extinct as well.
3) Nausea/Vomiting- I get two meds on Chemo days to help combat this side effect, but with the last two treatments have noticed that I needed my Zofran (yep more side effects) on the Thursday and Friday after Chemo (days 6 & 7 post)
4) Photosensitivity- This basically means I have to stay out of the sun, no biggie.
5) Pink or Orange Urine- yeah so that one is fun, and it starts about 10 minutes after my infusion is done and lasts about a day.

1) Bone Marrow Depression
2) Fatigue- Yep, this is one reason I am on the couch for the first 3 days and then take it easy for the rest of the week, I've been told that this side effect is cumulative, having only had Chemo while pregnant I can't accurately judge because at 9-months pregnant I was exhausted anyway after my last Chemo.
3) Hair Loss
4) Headache- So far no headache :)
5) Heart Toxicity-  Thankfully this is a no show as well
6) Nausea/Vomiting
7) Metallic Taste- I've not necessarily had a metallic taste but my tastebuds are toast after each treatment. After each Chemo treatment it seems to last a little longer as well. This makes eating challenging. You know when you have a cold and you can't really taste your food, it's like that only magnified, and it lasts for at least a week. This makes me not want to eat. While I was pregnant it was pretty easy to make myself eat, because I knew baby needed nutrition. I'm going to have to force feed myself now because I know my recovery time for fatigue will be lessened if I'm feeding my body good food, it just sucks when everything tastes like nothing. (Salt doesn't help, I realized early on that I was adding way too much salt to my food and it still wasn't really tasting)

1) Bone Marrow Depression
2) Hair Loss
3) Neuropathy- (numbness/tingling in your hands and feet) Again I've been lucky so far to not experience this one.
4) Nausea/Vomitting
5) Joint and muscle pain- My hips are killing me by the end of the first week post Chemo.
6)  Fatigue
7) Nail Bed changes- I have Chemo lines as seen below. I've heard from some others that nail polish won't stick to their nails so I'm very glad a friend of mine just started selling Jamberry Nails which stick fabulously to my nails so I don't have to see them.
8) Stomatitis (Mouth Sores)- I have to be vigilant about brushing and using my salt/baking soda water mouth wash after I eat to keep these at bay. The other day I was so excited to have some orange juice without getting heartburn and after two sips I had a sore on the side of my fun.

MISC- There are other non-specified side effects as well that effect cancer patients in general
- insomnia- I only have had trouble sleeping on the first two nights post Chemo but that has been because of the insane amount of water I have to drink
- anxiety- So far I have been able to talk myself down from my irrational fears, hope it stays that way
- memory (Chemo Brain)- yeah so pregnancy brain is going to be extended by a few months :)

OTHER- Neupogen, Decadron, Zofran- I take these meds to lessen the side effects listed above but they come with their own joys
- Bone pain from Neupogen- this seems to hit randomly for the week I get the injections
- Heartburn from Decadron- This was made worse with pregnancy and I am really hoping that rounds 4-6 are better because it is pretty bad for the 3 days I am on it and about 3 days after.
- Constipation from the Zofran- enough said.

So now you know how I am feeling, but if this is what it takes to beat this stupid disease so I can continue to truly live to see my two beautiful little girls grow up I am all over it. All of these side effects will pass and be a mere memory. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Adjusting to Life as a Family of Four

So after the crazy, quick and intense birth of Miss Cora, Sam was finally able to meet Cora on Saturday morning.

Daddy and his littlest girl. 
Mama and Cora

We had lots of visitors on Saturday and Sam went home to be with Ellie that night so Cora and I had major cuddles and Mama/baby time.  Who wouldn't want to cuddle this sweet little one?

On Sunday, my parents stayed with Ellie at home while we were in the hospital for one more day due to Cora's bilirubin levels. She had to be on the biliblanket and get blood drawn twice.
Ellie's new baby...Coraline

My parents got Ellie an American Girl Bitty Baby, who she named Coraline. For a brief moment she changed her mind and called her Bella, but that lasted less than 2 hours.

Cora looked like a glow-worm during the night, I gotta admit, as much as I wanted to take her home, this was pretty cute.

On Monday we were cleared to go home, Cora would be monitored for her bilirubin levels, which meant a bili-blanket at home and daily Dr. appts until her levels were down.  Sam's parents had Ellie at their house, so when we left the hospital they left to meet us at home. Ellie was so excited to meet her little sister, and wants to constantly see what she is doing and help with her, she is a great big sister.  Princess is super protective and every new little sound that Cora makes, Princess has to check it out to make sure Cora is still OK. As for the cat, I don't know if Spiff has even noticed that there is a new baby in the house as the last few weeks he sleeps on Ellie's bed most of the day/night.
Here are some of my favorite pictures from Cora's homecoming.
Ready to go home!

"She's so silly!!"
"Hi, Cora"

"Awww, she's so cute"
Princess meets Cora

Sager Family

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Welcome Coraline Joan Sager

On Friday, February 28th I had my regular NST appointment, at which I was having non-painful contractions 3-7 minutes apart. I mentioned to the nurse that Sam was in Sacramento, accepting our school's Schools to Watch award, a huge honor, and that he would be home on Sunday. She told me to drink lots of water and that she would see me Monday. I went home and plowed through water and sat on the couch and the contractions subsided. I called Sam and filled him in and we decided that he should catch an earlier flight on Saturday evening after the team's presentation. I also asked my mom to spend the night just in case. 
Sam with Serrano's Official Schools to Watch Award
Like every Friday night, my friend Glynnis came over (Sam is usually at karate) to keep me company we had dinner, watched some TLC, chatted, etc. My mom came over and helped put Ellie to bed. Around 11:00, we moved Ellie to my bed so my mom could sleep in Ellie's bed and off to bed it was.
Just as I was falling asleep, I needed to pee (the story of life for any 9 month pregnant woman). As I sat up, I realized that it wasn't needing to pee, and rushed onto the tile, so much for water and rest, this baby was in it's way! (This was at 11:30) I put a towel between my legs and penguin walked down the hall to let me mom know, she called my dad to meet us at the hospital. I called answer...waited a minute called again...then sent texts to several of the people up in Sacramento with him to see if they were with him at the time. I then called my in-laws, I could tell that my mother-in-law had been asleep because our conversation went something like this:
Me: Hi Kathy, my water just broke
Kathy: Oh my, do you want us to meet you at the hospital?
Me: No, I need someone to stay with Ellie, do you think Julie could come over, or Wayne could stay with her?
Kathy: Sure, are you going to head to the hospital now?
Me: No, I have to stay here until there is someone to stay with Ellie.
After reaching my in-laws I tried calling Sam answer. So I called our friend Anna who was up in Sacramento with Sam. The first words out of her mouth were "Are you having a baby friend?" As soon as I said yes she passed the phone to Sam. He would go up and pack and get the first flight to Ontario that he could.

Luckily, my bag was already packed so I just had to get a few things together. During all the commotion Ellie woke up and started chattering about all sorts of random things, like cat school taught by Aunt Deanna. When Wayne, Kathy and Julie got to the house we were off after several rounds of hugs and kisses from Ellie and tears (she wanted to come with me).
My saint of a sister-in-law had to endure Ellie chattering for quite a bit longer...and she not only stayed with Ellie for the night but then took her over to my in-laws for the day.
Anyway, we got to Kaiser Fontana at about 12:30, I got into Labor and Delivery and then sat with my mom and waited to be processed while the other three parents were in the waiting room. A Dr. finally checked my progress at around 1:30ish and I was 4cm dilated 90% effaced.
Unfortunately none of the nurses on duty that night were comfortable accessing my port, so my IV had to go into my hand. One of the nasty things about Chemo is that it makes your veins very sensitive, so the first try was a bust (literally, my vein blew) so was the second, so the nurses called anesthesia to place my line. As the anesthesiologist left, he said "see you in a bit for your epidural" (I should have taken that as a bad sign...just like saying good luck to an actor before a performance) All this was done by 2:30 and we left for a labor and delivery room at 2:40. This whole time my contractions were strong and steady. As we got into the Labor and Delivery room and they had me switch beds a doozy of a contraction hit. I was literally half-way on each bed unable to move. I made it on the the L&D bed, the Dr.s came in and I was now 9cm dilated and they could see baby's head. This meant no epidural...and that it was already time to start pushing.  ***On that note unless you can guarantee that you won't be pushing for more than 10 minutes, I highly recommend getting the epidural!*** At 3:07, Coraline made her debut into the world, my mom got to cut the cord and announce to Sam and the other waiting grandparents that Cora was here.

Introducing Coraline Joan Sager
Born 3/1/14 3:07 am
7lbs, 21inches
After I was all stitched up and settled into the L&D room (about 4:00) the other 3 grandparents came in to meet the newest Sager family member. Poor Sam was still waiting in the airport. As soon as the airport in Sacramento opened, Sam was first in line and was able to get on the first flight to Ontario which left at 7:20 and arrived at 8:35. 
I was moved to a regular room at about 7:30 and my mom stayed with me until Sam got in at 9:15, he was one proud daddy!!