Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hospital Stay

Brenda has now been in the hospital for about five days. Friday was by far the worst day. When people talk about hitting bottom, she definitely hit bottom on Friday. Physically and most of all, emotionally, she was worn out. Everything she tried to consume (which was very little), immediately was refused - I don't want to go into too much detail because she will give me crap, but I think you can probably use your imagination. I lost track of the numerous different forms of intravenous they had hooked up to her and the numerous different medications to relieve the stomach cramping, diarrhea, nausea, etc.

Yesterday (Saturday) she rounded the corner and started to feel a little better. She looked better, sounded better, and her spirits improved a bit. Her white blood count started to climb back up and they finally allowed her to take Imodium to slow things down a bit. Today, her temperature returned to normal and she was able to eat a quarter of a bagel, some grapes, and a small amount of rice and stir-fry vegetables that I made for her - the hospital food is horrible and she joked that she couldn't even stomach the pancake that they tried to give her for breakfast. Today, at about noon, they also stopped giving her the saline by intravenous and only hooked her up to give her the antibiotics.

She has had a pic line installed in her arm, which is a semi-permanent IV hookup to make it easier for the nurses. It is basically a direct line to one of her veins, which are hard to find on Brenda, so now the nurses don't need to poke and prod to find veins for her IVs. We need to come up with a name for it because they said it can last for up to a year before they need to change it and so Brenda and her pic line need to become friends, even though she can't stand the thought of something foreign sticking out of her arm.

We are hoping that her doctor sees enough improvement to allow her to come home tomorrow. She would be much more comfortable at home and she is missing the pet therapy that she receives from our dog, Rudy.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chemo - Round #1

I apologize that it has taken so long to give everyone an update. We really appreciate all of the emails we have been receiving from everyone with words of encouragement, offers to help in different ways, and most important, all of those who have been faithfully praying for us. I wish there were more hours in the day to personally respond to all of the emails and comments on Brenda's blog, but for now, please know that we really appreciate everyones' support and we are so thankful and blessed to have such great friends and family.

Brenda is currently in the hospital, in Red Deer, receiving treatment for an infection or bug that she picked up since having her first chemo treatment last Friday. She was doing quite well for the first couple of days after treatment, but according to her oncologist, that was mainly because of the steroids they prescribed before and after her treatment, to reduce swelling. She wasn't feeling very well on Tuesday and by Wednesday, at noon, she had an elevated temperature and needed to get checked out. One of the side effects of chemotherapy is reduced white blood cells, which provide us with our immunity to fight disease and infection, so it is fairly serious when someone undergoing chemo treatment gets sick, so we headed off to the emergency dept again.

She was admitted and has been receiving antibiotics by intravenous to fight the infection and is supposed to receive medication to increase her white blood counts. We hope and pray that the drugs do their job and she recovers quickly so that she can return home and recuperate. Until her white blood counts increase, she will remain in hospital, under close supervision - hopefully for just a couple more days!


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Back in Edmonton

I've got one more day of radiation tomorrow and I start chemo on Friday. Chemo will be 3 hours every 3 weeks for 3 rounds to start.

I'm at a loss for words these days. It is hard to come to terms that I have Stage 4 breast cancer at the age of 31. Cancer is consuming my life. Since my life is now threatened I would rather spend my time doing other things, and thinking other thoughts - but it is just too damn hard!

Amongst all of the bad news I want to share with you something positive. On Sunday with just Carman and our Pastor, in our empty sanctuary, I was baptized. I have always believed in God, but it wasn't until my early 20's that I accepted Christ into my life. I have wanted to be baptized for some time, but I felt it was something I should no longer keep putting off. I need my Heavenly Father and my Savior more than ever, and I wanted him to know that even amongst the storm I am seeking His face.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy New Year?

This is Carman writing on behalf of Brenda - for those of you who don't know me, I am Brenda's husband. I'm not nearly the writer that Brenda is so I hope I can do her blog justice. She speaks from her heart, so I will attempt to do the same and be as open as she is. Some of us guys have difficulty stating our true feelings and showing emotion because we think it shows weakness. I have never in my life been more in touch with my emotions and feelings than the last few days.

It is amazing how things can change so quickly. Brenda finished her radiation on December 8th and for the most part she felt great. Her energy was returning, the pain in her chest was gone, and the skin burning from the radiation was healing. She was starting to return to some normalcy of life, doing some work, walking Rudy, etc... On Boxing Day she started to feel sick with the flu, vomiting, feeling achy, no appetite, no energy - typical flu symptoms. She started to feel better so we went to some friends on New Years Eve to hang out, play some games and eat all kinds of great food. Brenda even lasted until about 11:30, which is the latest she has been out since my friends' wedding in August. The next day it all started again...

She was starting to feel some sharp pain, not the achy pain due to the flu, but the sharp pain she had grown accustomed to when they detected the cancer in her sternum. She spent a restless, sleepless night, Friday, tossing and turning, unable to get comfortable. The pain was originating in her back, side, and the lower part of her ribs. Not wanting to go through the same thing again, Saturday night, she asked me to take her into the emergency department in Red Deer to see if they could give her something stronger for the pain. They ran some tests, took some x-rays, and were concerned that she might have a blood clot that was causing the pain, so they asked us to come back the next morning (Sunday) to have a CT scan. The CT scan did not show a blood clot, but it did show more of what we did not want. Before the doctor even spoke, we knew what he was going to say. The CT scan showed cancer on her spine and on her liver and the specs that had shown up previously on her lung had now grown.

The last couple of days have been a bit of a blur. My parents came for awhile Sunday afternoon to cry with us, pray with us, and give us encouragement. Our pastor also came Sunday night to give us some encouraging words and he shared some verses from Psalms 27. Verses 1 - 3 say "The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men (or cancer) advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear," and verses 13 & 14 say "I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."

Since we have received this latest news our hope has been destroyed. We are very angry, and we don't understand why we are being put through this. We believed that the cancer was under control and that the treatments Brenda was receiving were doing their job. It is very difficult to think about the future right now and to grasp what might be in store for us the coming days or months. We just cling to our love for each other, the love and support of our friends and family, and the hope that God still wants us to have a long life together.

Our radiation oncologist, Dr. Tankel, phoned this afternoon and we will meet with him tomorrow at The Cross for more tests, an MRI, and possibly the start of more radiation. We pray that everything goes well tomorrow and that the tests performed and decisions that are made will help us move towards the positive outcome that we long for.