Friday, January 30, 2009

Month in review

I started this month with big plans. I was going to take a photo every single day. By the third day, I was already behind. So this is my compromise -- a collection of photos for each month. We'll see how far I really get with that...

I can't believe January is almost over. It's been a weird month in Florida, with some days so cold we had to break out the big coats and other days so nice we could have tea parties in the playhouse.

Another one of our favorite things this month: coloring. Julia and I will sit at the table for an hour at a time and color away. It is so much fun. However, Julia will only color with a purple crayon. Is that weird? I bought her the big Crayola 64 box, but she's not interested. It's best anyway, because frankly, I really don't want to share. I love all the delicious shades. And there's lots of new names since my youth, like Almost Famous and Macaroni and Cheese. I even have my own Sesame Street coloring book. I urge everyone to get get one. It's a great way to pass the winter.

Of course we're still relishing Mike's good news this month. But poor guy. I was looking at the calendar, and the number of doctor's appointments, etc. for him this month was insane. The chemo has caused his blood pressure to spike, so he's having to see his regular physician for that on top of everything else. So the grand tally: Three chemos, five doctors appointments with three different doctors, two CT scans, one ultrasound and four lab visits for bloodwork. Enough already!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The plan

We met with Dr. Neel on Tuesday to go over the CT results. I can't remember all the numbers but one of the tumors shrunk from 3 cm to 1 cm. That sounds pretty darn good to me. Mike said he was pleased but still a little bit cautious. Dr. Neel told him to go ahead and celebrate because this is good news! How nice is that to hear at an oncologist's office?

The plan is do this chemo for two more cycles -- that's six weeks (four chemos in total). And then he'll order more scans. He says people can build up a resistance to chemo, so that's why he's going to recheck so soon. If the tumors are still shrinking Mike can continue on with this chemo as long as it's effective and he's handling it ok.

So we left the office and ventured down the hall to the chemo room to start this again. This time, it wasn't so bad because we know that this stuff can work. We'll be praying that it keeps on doing its thing... We were inspired by a little old lady who was having her second to last chemo. The nurses all cheered her and said "Yay, it's almost over." And the sweet little old lady said "Yeah, then I'm gonna go have a drink."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Some GOOD news

The CT scans show IMPROVEMENT!

Dr. Neel called this afternoon with the news. I literally fell to my knees to thank God. I am still shaking as I type this. When I called Mike to tell him, I was sobbing so hard he thought something had happened to Julia... I can't even descibe the feeling of relief and gratitude.

I don't have a whole lot of details since we'll be seeing the doctor tomorrow. But he said the tumor in Mike's neck has gotten smaller and the lungs look better. So this chemo is obviously having an effect and the plan is to continue. After we see Dr. Neel, we'll be heading straight to the chemo room. This is one time we might be happy to be there.

I know this doesn't mean it's over, far from it. But to finally have some good news was almost more than we could hope for.

Thank you all for your prayers.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Happy thoughts

Does this melt your heart, or what? Julia and her little friend Landon at the playground this week. Yes, they are holding hands!

I'm trying to think happy thoughts like this one this week. It's scan week. I hate scan week. Mike is having CT scans to see if this new chemo is working. On Tuesday, he had an abdominal scan -- guess they want to see if the cancer has spread. Not something I even want to consider. And Friday, he has a scan of his head, neck and lungs. We get the results Tuesday.

We've never had good news from a scan. But we're trying to remain upbeat. The waiting is hard. I think they should have to tell you right then and there. It seems cruel not to. Yes, the tumor in Mike's neck is visibly smaller, but we're not sure if it's continued to get smaller since I posted about it last. I guess we'll get some answers next week. If there has been some progress, we'll continue on with chemo that day. If not, I guess we'll be weighing some options.

So keep your fingers crossed and please say an extra little prayer for us.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Trick trick

I'm taking a break from cancer to bring you this: I found a way to get Julia to eat her vegetables! Exciting stuff, I know. But as if I don't have enough on my plate, I lay awake at night worrying she's going to get scurvy because of a lack of nutrition. And it's not that she is eating bad things -- in fact she won't even touch a cookie or a brownie or anything sweet, oh no -- it's that she eats NOTHING. I often say she subsists on Goldfish crackers and air. The list of foods she will consume has dwindled down to this: waffles, yogurt, noodles, chicken, English muffin pizzas, most fruit and sometimes corn.

So I got Jessica Seinfeld's book "Deceptively Delicious." The concept is basically pureeing fruits and vegetables and hiding them in foods kids will eat. So I decided to give it a go by making her
buttered noodles with pureed yellow squash. It was pretty simple.

Chop it up:

Steam it:

Puree in a mini food processor:

It looked just like regular noodles. (Once upon a time she loved peas, so I always put them in with the noodles in hopes that she will decide she likes them again...)

And the taste test:

It was a success! She ate the whole bowl. I am so excited. Next week I'm going to puree some spinach and stick it in the sauce on the pizzas. Jessica Seinfeld even makes brownies with spinach puree. I'm not sure I'm ready to go to that level. But I feel so much better knowing Julia's getting some veggies in her. I may have to try this trick on Mike as well. Don't tell....

Thursday, January 8, 2009


It's back! Mike debuted his new do at work today, and I have to tell you that when I saw him walk in, my heart skipped a little beat...

I was so excited for him to be able to return to some normalcy. The first round of chemo drugs caused his hair to fall out, and if that wasn't bad enough, another drug caused a rash on his head that left some scarring. He's had to wear a hat since July.

But the hair started growing back. It's black (with a hint of gray) AND ... I think if it grew out some, it would be CURLY. There's definitely a wave going on.

I remember how bad Mike felt when his hair started coming out in his comb, and then later in clumps in the shower. And I remember how it broke my heart to have to clean the pillow with a lint brush every morning. It's hard enough having to fight cancer but doing it when you have to face the world with a different look makes it worse.

So I just feel like this is little victory for him. A kick in cancer's teeth.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A new year

Can you guess what I got for Christmas? A fun little photo editing program called Adobe Photoshop Elements. I've been playing with it for days. It has all kinds of neat tricks for making colors brighter and fixing up your photos. It even has a tool to whiten your teeth. How cool is that?

So I made this collage with some pictures from our holidays. Julia was not all that into opening presents on Christmas morning, but she loved playing with everything once they were unwrapped. It was so warm here on Christmas Day that we took a walk on the beach. I'm still trying to decide how that stacks up to sled riding and hot chocolate...

I made it home from work at 11:40 on New Year's Eve, just enough time to slug down some champagne and kiss my husband when the ball dropped. I'd been thinking of some resolutions -- like de-clutter my garage, eat more vegetables, put an end to soap scum in the shower once and for all -- but I decided none of those things really matter in the long run. No, this year, all I plan to do is wrap my little family in my arms and squeeze really tight.