Welcome to my blog about my mom, Loretta, and our journey through learning of her cancer and treatment.

Just a little background. Mom is 61 and hadn't been to a doctor in about 18 years until this past June 2011. The reason for this is due to the surmountable cost of insurance, even when your spouse has insurance it can be cost prohibitive.
So, Mom finally got approved by JPS in June and it was a good thing too, she had Basil cell carcinoma on the bridge of her nose. She underwent surgery to remove the tumor and plastic surgery reconstruction. She also has high blood pressure and Thyroid problems. We thought she was finally getting the attention she was missing and was going to be OK. Boy were we mistaken.
Mom started having some abdominal pain the first of January 2012. After talking with her and the pain getting worse, she finally agreed that she needed to go to the clinic or ER.
The following blog posts chronicle the events since then. Future posts will continue to explain treatment, issues concerning her condition and general comments.
I appreciate you taking the time to learn about what it means to be diagnosed and this type of cancer. Mom has been a trooper so far, she says "I'll beat this".

Monday, April 30, 2012

Happy Monday

4/30/12 - Monday

I called JPS IR Department this morning and got mom worked into their schedule at 11am this morning to get mom's drain replaced.
Got mom ready in record time and out the door so that we could get checked in and the paperwork could get through the proper channels, especially since this wasn't planned for more than 24hrs.
Mom was happy to know that they could get her worked in today.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bad Weekend

4/29/12 Sunday

I went back to mom's around 10pm last night to check her bandage and her drain progress. Well, I had hoped for better results than what I found. Mom said it drained really good for about 2 hours after Kathy left her and then it stopped.
I tried back flushing it and was able to devise a method of free flowing the bile into a bucket. This method was working very well. In a matter of minutes there was an inch in the bucket. I asked Kent to check on it and close the bags drain when he went to bed.
6am Sunday morning mom awoke to a full bag! But her pain was none the better, in fact, it was worse.
I went over at 8:30 to check her bandage and it was still holding and not leaking. Mom hasn't eaten solid food since Friday night, so I made her a protein shake. She said the first 2 sips were ok but then it tasted like cardboard. This is generally a yummy shake! Protein powder, Herbalife meal replacement powder (chocolate), pineapple, strawberries and almond milk. She didn't want anymore after that. I feel so bad for her. She said she was going to try sticking it out till tomorrow.
It's 3:30 now and no news from mom since this morning. I'll check in with her again around 6 when she has her next round of pain pills. Hopefully she'll be feeling some better.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Clogged Bile Drain

4/28/12 - Saturday

Well, as luck would have it, mom was doing pretty good this week until today when her drain clogged up.
She called me this morning in extreme pain and asked me to come over. I got there and she wanted me to back flush her drain and change her dressing. I thought I solved the problem because after I back flushed it, it was draining very well. I got the dressing changed and mom all comfy in bed. Her pain had eased up, due to the release of the backed up bile.
Mom awoke from a 6 hr sleep to a soggy bed. Her drain was clogged again and the bile was leaking externally of the drain, all over her and the bed. Kathy went to CVS and got her some waterproof bandages in hopes that it will help contain the bile a little better. She also got her some chubs to keep the bed from getting wet.
Come Monday morning, I'll call and get her scheduled for her drain replacement. I also need to talk to the Dr about making this a weekly standing appt.
Mom looks so bad. She's down to 115 and you can see all of her bones. Except in her left lower leg, where she's so swollen that her foot looks like it belongs to a 300lb person.
Her primary doctor did a sonogram and ruled out a blood clot. She also said there wasn't much they could do for the swelling. For her to keep her feet elevated.
Please keep mom in your prayers.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Leaking Bile!

4-19-12 Thursday

Mom called last night and needed a ride home. She went to the bowling alley with dad to see her friends and started feeling very nauseous.
I changed her dressing on the bile drain bag and mom tells me it's been leaking lately.
7am this morning she calls and says she wants to go to ER for them to fix the drain. We got here at 8:45 am and we are just now in IR where they do the procedures. Doctor thinks it may be clogged due to the tumor.
They will be doing a check on the drain and probably replacing it.
As I thought, they replaced the drain with the largest one they have. Doctor said that it was all clogged up, probably due to the tumor and that this will keep happening. He then gave me the direct number to the IR department so that we don't have to go through the ER for this type of a thing.
It seems that every time we do something we get one more piece of the puzzle to allow us to get where we need to be faster.
Mom was released from the ER around 4:15. She's safe at home now feeling much better.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Radiation Simulation

4-16-12 Monday
Mom has two appt's today.
We started at the cancer center at 8am with blood labs, initial consultation with radiology tech and then mom had to drink 2 bottles of barium. It's now 11:54 and they finally have her in the CT machine getting it all mapped out and documented. It will now be about 2 weeks till she starts treatments.
Mom's next appt is with her primary doctor at 2:30p.

Friday, April 13, 2012

New Stent

4/13/12 Friday

We signed in at the registration desk at 7am this morning for Mom's stent replacement or new stent. We really don't know what the plan will be until the Dr gets in there. Mom's hopeful that they will remove her bile drain bag as well.

Mom was in surgery an hour and then the Dr came and got me to explain what he did. They were able to pass the drain through the stent this time to provide better drainage. Her right side is the only side that is draining. The left side is compromised by the tumor. If her bilirubin counts don't go down, it's possible that they will install another drain on her left side.
Let's hope and pray they don't have to do the left drain.

Radiation Consultation

4-12-12 Thursday

Met with Dr Hernandez today. He's optimistic that radiation can help shrink the tumor.
Monday next week Mom has a CT scan, they call is simulation, as she will be in the position for radiation. The Sr then has to mark every slice of the scan to show the computer the good tissue and the tumor. This process will hopefully protect the good tissue.
Then she will start treatment in about 2 weeks. Her treatment will be everyday, Mon through Fri, for 30 visits.
Keep your fingers crossed that it will shrink the tumor enough to allow Dr Sateya to perform the Chemoimobilization.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

No more Chemo

4-11-12 Wednesday

Well, today was to be the start of round 2 on Mom's chemo. As you all know she was in the hospital until Monday night of this week. She missed an appt with her chemo Doctor on Tuesday due to being behind on mail. So when she showed up for treatment today they shuffled her over to see the Doc.
Dr. Isa told Mom that the chemo treatments weren't working and they are going to discontinue chemo treatment. How do they know that this second round wouldn't have made the difference. Seems to me like they don't want to waste their time with her.
Tomorrow at 11am we will finally meet with the radiologist for a consultation. I'm hoping that that isn't a closed road too.
Keep Mom in your prayers.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Coming home again

4-9-12 Monday
Mom's INR count came down relatively quickly after 6 units of plasma on Saturday.
Today the installed the filter in femoral artery so that she doesn't have to be on coumadin or any other major blood thinners.
He was released around 6:30pm, after seeing the radiologist. He gave her his direct line to call and reschedule for Thursday.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday in the ER

4/6/12 - Good Friday

Mom's primary doctor called this morning to tell her to go to the hospital via ambulance. Her INR is very high, meaning her blood is dangerously thin.
They will be admitting her to stabilize her blood levels. They will then decide to either put her on blood thinning shots 2x a day or install a filter in her artery. They will also replace her drain while she's here.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Chemo treatment update

4/2/12 - Monday
Ok, I know it's been a long while since I last posted any updates or info.
So 3/21 was Mom's first chemo treatment and surprisingly enough, she tolerated it very well. Of course she was tired for a few days afterwards, but she also doesn't know how to "slow down"...
The following wednesday was her second treatment and again, she did very well. She's been making the twice a week trip to the bowling alley to visit with their friends, but last Thur night she stayed home. She said she was really tired.
Mom still has a lot of spunk, but she's still loosing weight. So much so that her doctor has prescribed Carnation protein drinks. Problem is, she's on Coumadin and can't have vitamin k. The carnation drinks have quite a bit of vitamin k in them. No need to worry, I have her all set up with Herbalife protein shake mix and some added soy protein powder. Neither of them have vitamin k. She loved the chocolate/banana shake I made up for her tonight.
Tomorrow is her chemo day, but this is her off week. She will resume these 21 day cycles next Wednesday.
Monday 4/9 is her radiology consultation. She missed last weeks appointment. Since she missed her appt, I've taught her how to use her smartphones calendar for appt's.
On a side note: I bought mom & Kent (dad) matching magnetic bracelets.
Mom reports that her tumor pain has decreased since wearing it and dads pinky finger (arthritis) doesn't bother him anymore. I don't care if it's subliminal or real, her having less pain is worth it.