Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Phil's Latest

While I was in WA, Phil finished a second round of chemo.  His mother and brother David stayed with him and saw him through the down days.  He had no complications, thank you Jesus, and managed to go on some sightseeing outings with his Mom toward the end of the cycle.  He is scheduled to start a third round with the nelardapine this Wednesday/Friday/Monday.

Phil had a bone marrow biopsy yesterday and it was quite the painful experience.  That is actually a good thing in his case.  It suggests that he has nice hard bones and not diseased lymphoma growing in there.  Dr. Kossman said as much and confirmed this when he was finished with the procedure - having had to take two, not one, core sample from Phil's pelvis.  OUCH. OUCH.  The final pathology results will take a few days to return but from the sample Dr. Kossman took the tissue looked fine and felt like cortical bone (synonymous with compact bone, it supports the whole body, protects the organs, stores and releases chemical elements such as calcium, etc).   This is exactly what we wanted to hear!!

Today Phil will be having a PET/CT scan to re-stage his cancer. The PET scan images the biology of disorders at the molecular level while the CT scan provides a detailed picture of the body's internal anatomy.  Together they give pinpoint information about the cancer's activity and guide decisions regarding treatment.  We want to hear that all is clear and Phil is in remission again.  He will complete this third round of chemo and then...

We'll be having a conference with Kossman on that soon.  Everything has changed since he relapsed and with this new chemotherapy.  Once we know where he stands with the new cancer staging we'll know what comes next, what to expect for the longer term picture.  Stay tuned Team Conrad and thanks for being with us this far!

Together Again

I've returned from Washington and am ready for whatever comes next.

It never ceases to amaze me what a healing effect time spent with people who truly know me has on my well being.  My peeps in Washington have walked so many miles with me - they literally prayed our kids into existence with me, saw me through painful, ugly times and then celebrated and partied with me like it was 1999 when those times passed.  It was balm for this gal's weary soul just to BE with them.  It didn't matter what we eventually ended up doing because it was the being with them that mattered.  Of course it didn't hurt that we went shopping and bought new shoes and outfits, went boating and drank cocktails at the lake, took my kids inner-tubing and wake boarding, explored my girlfriend's garden and saw all the plants I'd given her flourishing under her care and just sat around going deep in conversation. It didn't hurt that I walked right into their closets and pantries like no time had passed, borrowed what I needed, our daughter's swapped clothes daily, and life picked up right were it left off.  I stepped into my old life from my current life which up until now hadn't felt like much of one.

It's funny though, I was tired A LOT while I was there and remarked to myself that the pace we were running at wasn't that fast, in fact it was a normal pace for the "old" me.  It's just that down in San Diego, we don't do that much socially and I was out of shape and practice.  It was informative and telling.  By the time we left I realized that the kids and I were ready to return to our quieter lifestyle.  The life we live here is slower and less social due to the constraints of Phil's cancer and the limitations it puts on all of us.  Still, Phil and I have purposefully hunkered down and drawn close together, choosing to spend our energy on our Conrad quartet, creating memories and influencing the kids' character for the long run.

While in Washington, I overheard someone remark about how much I'd changed since the last time she'd seen me.  Being a woman I wondered if she thought I looked tired.  Older and run down?  Or was it because on that particular occasion I'd only paid a little attention to my hair and make up when in the old days I'd have been totally put together?  In the end it didn't really matter because it was all true.  I am tired and I am older and I am run down.  I don't spend much time on my hair and make up and in fact, I cut my hair short in Washington so I don't have to style it all the time.  At first I felt really sad at this remark, and that feeling does come and go from time to time but then I remind myself of what I truly care about - my kids, the memories we're creating and their character.  I don't want them caring about what my hair looks like or whether my make up is totally put together or not.  I'm more interested in the moment and in the healing effect of just being together.  We seem to have found that in the slower pace of our quartet for now.  Going back to my old life showed me that.  How strange and how refreshing that was to learn.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Finding Your Happy Place

Apparently 3 weeks have gone by since my last post. We've been in and out of one form of fatigue or another during this time and suffice it to say, there is a reason you haven't heard from me. Personally, I've been wandering in a desert of sorts; a desert of fatigue, migraine, emotional distress and even abject nothingness. What's more, this is a desert within me and a landscape I hardly recognize as myself. It makes me sad that cancer's fallout has taken up even an inch of real estate within me, let alone what feels like a parched acre of my soul that will forever be altered.

Tomorrow Phil starts his next round of new chemotherapy and we are thankful- that the chemo appears to be working, that he is able to actually stick to this regimen of every 3 week treatment, that he recovered quickly from the last round without any complications. But honestly, we are tired and have to remind ourselves to stop and count our blessings sometimes. I could be imagining it but it feels like it takes us days what it takes others hours to accomplish, hours what it takes others minutes. We move at a pace unlike anyone we know and share a lifestyle with no one.

I will be taking Bennett and Olivia up to Washington for a visit next week and we are all looking forward to them seeing their cousins, some classmates and to driving the old neighborhood. For me, it will be a much needed getaway but also a bit anxiety-filled. Phil will be at his lowest while I'm gone and that can be a fragile place. It is a place, by his side, that I've always been and yet he and I know that it's in my best interest to sit this one out. His mom and brother will (with Terry, Josh and my parents) be here to care for him, providing me with the respite I need as well. Time to find my happy place again.