Taking a Break

Another gorgeous gift!

Another gorgeous gift!

This week my oncologist decided that I won’t do a sixth round of chemo. Apparently the cost-benefit ratio tends to shift with each subsequent round, so the first rounds typically affect the cancer more, whereas the later rounds would often have a smaller impact on the cancer but a larger one on the body.

I was feeling a lot of side effects, many of which can be permanent, so we’re taking a break from chemo. I was willing to go another round, but quite relieved and thankful that I don’t have to. I’m still very tired, often struggling to think clearly, and feeling worn down.

Some of the side effects may disappear in weeks, some will likely take months, and some may remain with me. If you are a praying sort of person, I’d welcome and appreciate your prayers for complete healing: not only from the cancer, but also from the effects of treatment. I am so encouraged and uplifted by the many reminders I receive from so many of you who hold us in your hearts, thoughts and prayers … thank you!

I’m quite puffy from the combination of the chemo and the steroids I continue to take for the cough. This is uncomfortable and inconvenient since many of my clothes don’t fit! Another prayer request!

I continue to try to practice good self care: to eat well, rest well, exercise appropriately, have fun with the kids, etc. I try to discern my priorities and ration my energy wisely. This can all be quite challenging!

Can I take a moment to say how amazing my family is? Jono has had to pick up a larger share of the family responsibilities, and the kids are stepping up well too. Our eldest turned 13 last month, and the other day I was sitting at the table, unable to eat what the rest of the family was eating and too tired to figure out what to do about it. He said (right in the middle of his dinner), “Mom, would you like me to cook you eggs for dinner?” What a lovely and thoughtful teen! He regularly makes our Saturday breakfasts too! Our 10yo is so keen and quick to help. He is an initiative-taker, and often jumps up to help without being asked. Our 7yo also loves to help, and can become very disappointed if a sibling beats her to helping with something. They are very capable and cheerful workers (much of the time!), and I am very proud of them! I am so grateful for the many ways our family is pulling together during this challenging time.

My talking voice seems to be continuing to improve, my nose seems to be bleeding a bit less, and I’m getting better at the exercises my physiotherapist gave me … in fact, I’m doing so well, I don’t need to see her regularly anymore! There is always much to be thankful for, including the warmer weather and the sun, robins, flowers, the faithful love of God, and the generosity of so many friends.

Round Five of Chemotherapy: Quick Update

First of all, I’m sorry for the long lag between posts… Partly it is because my computer has been acting up (it may actually be time to replace this decade-old device!), partly it’s because I’ve been more tired lately, and partly it’s because the warmer weather has been inviting me out to look for signs of Spring! Many of you have assured me I don’t need to apologise or explain, but since I know that many of you are wondering and waiting for updates I will quickly write and post this before I head back out again!

Secondly, I want to express my appreciation for the many people who are contributing in so many amazing ways to our lives. We are so blessed! I’ve seen a physiotherapist at the cancer centre who is helping me learn to breathe better and improve my balance. I love receiving encouraging messages from friends near and far! I cannot express how deeply we appreciate the prayers of so many people in many places. We’ve received gifts and care packages and encouraging visits. Friends continue to bring us food and serve our family in so many ways. I am loving being able to be outside to enjoy the warmer weather to reconnect with many folks I haven’t hardly seen over the winter. I am so thankful that my voice is improving – I still can’t sing, but it is easier for me to talk now! I get to have significant conversations with people regularly, and this energises me. These good gifts nourish me deeply, and we are very grateful!


One of the many beautiful gifts!

Thirdly, here is the summary of Round Five of Chemotherapy: intensified highs and lows…

The first week plus I felt so tired I would often fall asleep within moments of sitting down. Afterwards, I wondered if I was fighting a bug in addition to the chemo effects. My feet and hands were feeling very numb, I experienced more painful muscle cramps, my balance was worse, and the nausea continued after the first three days. I didn’t take my extra nausea meds, but several times seriously considered it and took to wearing my anti-nausea bracelets most of the days and nights. Accessing vocabulary / remembering / thinking was often very challenging and multi-tasking impossible at times.

Suddenly I started feeling better: I had more energy and could walk farther and faster than I’d done in ages. The exercises I’d been doing started getting easier. I noticed a spring in my step. I focussed on getting out more.

Now I’m in my neutripaenic (sp?) phase, where I have virtually no immunity / red blood cells / platelets, so I’m feeling tired again, but finding with good rhythms of activity and rest I can still get out a bit and get a few things done.

On Monday I have an appointment with my oncologist to learn whether I will have a sixth round of chemo. If I do, and if things continue in the previous schedule, I will likely start next Thursday. Amazingly, I feel deep peace …

Thank you so much for travelling this journey with us. We are grateful for so many good companions.