Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Day 3 First Chemo Cycle

Last night I tried to be proactive in fighting the side effect of constipation with is associated with a number of the medicines that have been pumped into me. I took a dose of Senokot last night as per the directions on the package. At 4 a.m. my insides started to gripe a little, so I was up and ready until about 6:15. After feeding my cat, Frodo, and changing his water, I went back to bed. I slept right through until 8:15 when my hubby woke me up to take my next chemo meds. With my breakfast, I had to take 1 Allopurinol pill and 10 Dexamethasone pills. The Dexamethasone side effect on me is my mind races (more than usual) and my speech speeds up. I had to apologize to anyone I spoke to today as even I noticed I had a "running mouth". Anyone who knows me when I've had multiple cups of coffee, has witnessed something similar. The side effect of the medication is worse. At least I was able to laugh about it and recognize what was happening. Thankfully, the people I was talking to on the phone, regarding various upcoming appointments at the Cancer Clinic, were very understanding and able to chuckle along with me.

I sent my hubby back to work today. I am at home for the next number of days and today, I felt like I could take care of myself.  My appetite is slightly off due to the nausea. I find that eating smaller, lighter meals has helped. I still have to drink 8 cups of clear liquid or more every day to flush out the kidneys and help flush the chemo meds out of my system.  I made my oatmeal this morning and found I could only eat half of it.  I had no interest in snacks of any kind. For lunch, I had some of my turkey broth with a piece of toast and more water. I had water throughout the day and also some juice boxes. I was starting to get tired of water.

I passed my day doing some knitting, to keep my legs warm. I was feeling cold for most of the day. I had a very nice visit on the phone with my minister. I read outside in the shade of my front porch for a little bit until the sun came around. Then I moved to the patio in the back where there was finally a strip of shade that would fit my chair. I got tired of reading and would get a headache and be tired. But due to the revved up mind on the Dexamethasone, I would go on the computer and surf the internet looking up information on stem cell transplants. When I came across information that was a little disturbing, I then went onto Facebook and surfed for a bit. While on Facebook, I reconnected with a friend that I had lost contact with. It was nice. Later about 3 p.m., my stomach started to feel queasy again, so I had some toast and jam. That settled it down. I worked on some word puzzles and did more knitting. Then it was time for supper and again, I only wanted turkey broth. It tastes good to me right now.

After supper, hubby and I went for a short walk around the block. We were considering going further but I was afraid of getting tired before getting home again. So we cut the walk short and watched the Blue Jays game on TV.  Just as we were leaving the house to go for our walk, there was a FedEx box leaned against the side of the door. It was from my sister!! I brought it inside to open up after our walk.

So when I got home, I opened up my "care package". My sister was so thoughtful!! She sent me lip balm for when my lips will dry up due to the chemo. She sent me intensive dry skin repair hand cream, knowing that my hands will be dry from all the hand washing and hand sanitizing that has to take place at the moment. She even thought of sending a moisturizing mouth spray, knowing that I will have dry mouth! She sent candies to share with my hubby and she also sent some books that she had just finished reading! I'll keep them to return to her for my nieces to read. This was a real lift today!! I have always adored my little sister and we live so far apart that we don't get to see each other very often. I called her tonight and we had a really nice conversation. It looks like we might even get to see each other at some point during my treatments!

Overall today went well. I haven't had to take the supplemental anti-nausea meds called Prochlorperazine. The Dexamethasone is supposed to help combat the nausea. So we'll see how tomorrow goes. I may take the Prochlorperazine as a precaution before bedtime tonight. At this point, each day is a new experience in the chemo cycle. I feel I handled Day 3 well.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Day 2 First Chemo Cycle - Gemcitabine, Dexamethasone, Cisplatin

I didn't sleep well last night. I'm still experiencing the abdominal pain that has plagued me since April although it is getting worse. I arrived at the Cancer Centre at 9 a.m. and was immediately showed to my "chair". As always, they started off with a saline solution to clear my vein and intravenous site. The nurse also gave me the "little yellow football pill" which is Ondansetron to help combat nausea and vomiting. Then, the nurse hydrated me in preparation for the Gemcitabine, Dexamethasone and the Cisplatin. I felt really good during the process today. I was able to joke with the nurses and various employees walking by who recognized me from my job in the Tuck Shop. Some were shocked to see me and spent some time visiting. They had not realized that this was a relapsed lymphoma for me.

I was in the Cancer Clinic from 9 a.m. through to 2:30 p.m. What a compliment it was to have my nurse celebrating that she had me for a patient today. After talking to some of the other nurses in the chemo lab, she realized that she recognized me from the Tuck Shop. The other nurses were envious that she was assigned to be my nurse today. My nurse from yesterday stopped by numerous times to check on me. Two of my nurses from 5 years ago recognized me and stopped by to visit and check on me. It was a day of warm support and caring. I was very impressed and it made my day go well.

When I left at 2:30, I was feeling so good that I was considering going for a walk with my hubby tonight. While I awaited for my hubby to come by the main doors to the Cancer Centre with the car, one of the volunteers working the information desk came over and gave me a big hug. She has worked with me in the Tuck Shop since June. She was so happy to see me and indicated she had been given the address for this blog. I encouraged her to follow along.

After I got home, I rested and read for a little bit. Around 4:30-5:30, my stomach started to ache and I was starting to burp frequently. It was too early to take my next dose of Ondansetron so I took my supplemental nausea medication called Prochlorperazine. This should help calm the stomach until about 8:30-9:30 when I can take the Ondansetron dose.

Needless to say I did not want to eat very much supper. I had one small barbecued chicken thigh and 2 small pieces of roasted potato. As I was finishing my supper, my hubby made the comment that I was looking very tired. I was feeling cold and I continue to feel like my body is sliding downhill. I did take my temperature as I have to be very aware of fevers which can occur within hours or up to days after the injection of any one of the "medications" Gemcitabine, Cisplatin or Dexamethasone. My temperature was normal. So I just added a sweater and put on some long pants even though the heat outdoors is quite warm.

Now I intend to watch some television and do some knitting. I'm working on an afghan and it is long enough now to help cover my legs. I'll stay up long enough to get the Ondansetron into me and then I'll head to bed and rest.  I do not need to go back to the Cancer Centre until Monday when I will have a shorter day there while Gemcitabine is put into me.

Overall, today has been a good day with lots of laughter and friendship. Certainly, I was feeling blessed because I did see people who are further along in their cancer treatment journeys and not doing so well. Here's hoping and praying that I will keep my blood counts up and not need transfusions or delays to my treatments. But today was a good day.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Day 1 First Chemo Cycle

I had an early start to the day because I had to be registered at the Cancer Clinic at 8:30 a.m. I started my day with a bowl of oatmeal and my Allopurinol which needs to be taken with food. Then off we went to the Clinic to start my first day of chemo. I knew what to expect because I had the Rituximab 5 years ago when I had chemo.

Because I had a reaction to the Rituximab 5 years ago, they gave me Benadryl pills to take along with some tylenol before they started the IV. The first bag emptied in through my IV was hydrocortisol followed by a saline solution and then the Rituximab. Just like 5 years ago, the nurse started the Rituximab slowly at 20 ml per hour and then this was raised by 20 ml every 30 minutes with the hope to get to 200 ml per hour. We got to 60 ml per hour and I started to feel some itchiness on my left ear and on my scalp. I remember that this is what happened 5 years ago when we first had the Rituximab. I let the nurse know and because I didn't have any visible hives, we continued and bumped up the drip to 80 ml per hour. Then a few hives showed up near my hip. I rang for the nurse and she was immediately there. She stopped the drip and then put a bag of benadryl in to combat the allergic reaction. Once it was finished, I was feeling very sleepy but the itchiness was less. Then another bag of saline was entered into me. Once the hives were totally gone, we started again slowly with the Rituximab. The nurse adjusted the drip back to 40 ml per hour. This time, we were successful and managed to get the drip increased to 100 ml per hour which finished the bag.

I was at the Cancer Clinic about 6 1/2 hours today. I returned home by 4 p.m. The only side effects I seemed to have was tiredness and feeling cold. So I went and had a nap. When I awoke around 6, I had a bowl of turkey soup. I wasn't very hungry. Then a very good friend from around the corner contacted me and I asked her to come by for a visit. What a nice evening it was!!

So now I gear up for another 6 to 8 hour day tomorrow. This is where the unknowns are. I haven't had the Gemcitabine or the Cisplatin and so I don't know what to expect. I know that in the morning before going to the Cancer Clinic, I'll have to have some food to take the Allopurinol. Then I'll go to the Cancer Clinic and have the two medications put in by IV. The IV was kept in my arm today so that I didn't need to poked again tomorrow. They'll just attach the IV tubes to what's already in my arm. Then tomorrow night, I'll take one pill of Ondansetron for contolling the nausea that will happen in response to the 2 IV meds. From what I understand, I will lose my hair in subsequent rounds of chemo as it is a side effect of these meds.

I hate being nauseous and sick. Always!! So I hope that we can keep it in check. I'm sure that my taste buds will be affected. This will be the challenge. Then I will have other pills to take starting on Wednesday. The prescription for these was filled today at the pharmacy at the hospital.

I'll make sure tomorrow, I have my puzzle books and the novel that I'm currently reading with me to help pass the time. Of course, my hubby will be with me and we'll be able to commiserate together. I do know that my nurse today mentioned that she is working again tomorrow. She is very nice and was somewhat talkative although she was very busy. It'll be nice to see her again tomorrow.

I have to say that everyone's love, support and prayers has helped lift my spirits today. Thank you for that. In the end, that's what is important in life.....family, friends and love.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Getting ready to start my R-GDP

Yesterday, I took my turkey carcass from our Christmas dinner out of the freezer and boiled it all day to make turkey broth. As has been the norm for the last couple of weeks, I slept badly last night. It doesn't matter what position I lay in, I'm in discomfort. I took 1000 mg of Extra Strength Tylenol around 1 a.m. to help. It barely touched the pain. Finally around 3:30 a.m. I fell asleep. My cat, Frodo, jumped up on me at 6:43 a.m. to let me know that it was time to feed him. So I jumped out of bed, changed Frodo's water and fed him. Then I went to the fridge and took out the large soup pot that still had the turkey carcass and I separated it all. I froze some turkey broth so that when I have days that I don't feel well, I can at least have some broth. Then I made turkey soup and let it simmer all morning. That will be my dinner tonight and if there's some left over, I will freeze it for meals later on.

After all that was done, I got my laundry done. I wanted to get everything ready for the week. Chemo starts tomorrow, but I still had to take one tablet of Allopurinol this morning in preparation for the chemo. This pill will help my kidneys process the cancer cells. It needs to be taken with food, so I had it with my breakfast.

Hubby and I decided yesterday that today we would go out on the Honda Goldwing. We refuse to let the cancer take one more day from me before it needs to. So out we went for our annual jaunt to Westport, Ontario. We love this village! At least once a year, we go to The Cove Inn for lunch. So that's what we did. I wasn't really hungry but again, I don't want to give in to this cancer. I had Beef Dip Au Jus. At one time, a meal like that would be perfect for lunch. I struggled to get through it, just because my stomach often feels full and if I overeat, then I struggle with pain in the abdomen. After our lunch, we hopped back on the bike and took some back roads over to Perth. Then I had to admit to my hubby that I was tiring fast and needed to head home. We enjoyed the ride home and I, as always, enjoyed the scenery.

After a long nap, I awoke and realized I needed to bring in the laundry off the line and get our turkey soup heated up. I wasn't hungry, but again, I forced myself to eat a bowl of soup. Who would have ever thought that I would have to force myself to eat?! Me....who used to love food!! Now my response to food is ... meh.

So after supper, I got my backpack out and loaded it up for the ordeal of chemotherapy tomorrow. I will be there for 6 to 8 hours as Rituximab is pumped into me. So in went fig bars, chocolate covered almonds, chocolate covered raisins and  gummy juice snacks. Then went in the puzzle books and a book I'm currently reading. The anxiety just reared its ugly head and I was overcome with anger and frustration. This isn't fair!!! This SUCKS!!!!  I feel like I'm on a train and I can't get off. It's rolling along down the tracks closer and closer to this dreadful chemotherapy journey. I'm afraid of the side effects on my body. I'm afraid of what's going to happen. But I really don't have a choice. I need to do this.

My bag is packed and ready to go first thing in the morning. Now my evening lies before me. More anxiety. More pain. More sleeplessness. I will try knitting, reading, doing crosswords, sudokus and playing on the computer. Just putting in time. Waiting....waiting......

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Follicular Lymphoma and My Chemotherapy

After getting the diagnosis on Wednesday, I chose to finish my work week at my part-time job. I needed the distraction from my health reality. I said my good byes to my co-workers and the volunteers I worked with yesterday. It was a very hard end to the week. Last night, I was restless. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't concentrate to read or do knitting or any of the sudoku/crossword puzzles that usually help calm any anxiety. Nothing is working.

My eyes are gritty and I feel like I need a good cry. But the tears won't come. I'm terrified! So I've taken time this morning to look over the pamphlets describing my chemo regimen. To be informed is supposed to help, I think. But still very restless.

My chemo cycle this time is 21 days times 4. Each chemo cycle is 21 days long and I will ahve 4 treatments. On Sunday, I will start with a pill form of medication called Allopurinol. This will help my kidneys break down the cancer cells as they are released into my kidneys during the cycle.I will start on Monday (Day 1) with only one "medication" being put into me intravenously. I had this one in my last chemotherapy in 2012. It's called Rituximab. On Monday, it will take anywhere between 6 to 8 hours to get it into my system. Tuesday (Day 2) I will have 2 "medications" put into me intravenously. They will be Gemcitabine and Cisplatin. My next medication will be Dexamethasone (like Prednisone that I took in 2012) that I believe I will be taking Days 3-6 (Wednesday to Sunday). I'm not 100% sure on the dosing schedule for the Dexamethasone. I'm sure I will find out on Monday (Day 1). On Day 8 (Monday, Aug. 21), I will have only the Gemcitabine put into me intravenously. Then I just recover and ride the roller coaster of side effects until Day 21 where I will take the Allopurinol again and we start the cycle all over.

It is the possible side effects of the chemotherapy that really scare me. I've had the Rituximab before so I know what to expect (chills, tiredness, nausea, and headache). The Gemcitabine commonly causes anemia, nausea/vomiting, hair loss, tiredness, headache and diarrhea. Losing my hair doesn't really bother me. I still have some of the toques from last time and I just bought some really nice and easy to use head coverings. The diarrhea side effect may counteract the side effect from the anti-nausea medication (Ondansetron) which really gave me constipation last time. The Cisplatin possible common side effects include ringing in the ears/hearing loss, kidney problems, salt imbalances and neuropathy (tingling/numb toes or fingers). The Dexamethasone commonly increases risk of infections (combined with the anemia from the Gemcitabine, this scares me!), nausea, heartburn, stomach irritation, trouble sleeping, mood swings, increased appetite (might counteract some of the other meds' side effects), restlessness. The doctor already warned me that the Dexamethasone could act like the Prednisone the last time. It revved up my mind so that I remember being very tired and laying in bed but not able to sleep because my mind was racing. So don't be surprised to see posts in the middle of the night while my brain is crazy and active.

All the pamphlets say to drink plenty of water to help flush the system. I always drink lots of water but I will make sure that the glass is always full beside me.

Now I remember why I liked to post in my blog. Just the act of going through all the pamphlets and putting my thoughts and fears in written form has helped to calm me. I'm still scared but inside I, currently feel a little less restless. Now I'll go on with my day which includes mundane tasks like cleaning and grocery shopping. I'll be picking up foods, snacks and drinks that I can have with me on Monday for the 6 to 8 hour time in the chemo lab. I'm also making some turkey broth for later use. I'll probably make some turkey soup tonight or tomorrow morning.


Friday, 11 August 2017

Celebrating each day of health and then BAM...."I'm Baaack".

So I haven't posted on the blog in over a year. That's because I have been enjoying my 25 hour per week part-time job at the local hospital and teaching approximately 4 1/2 hours per week. I have continued to volunteer at the hospital. It makes me feel good. In my spare time, I've been living life to the fullest by going hiking and geocaching (a GPS treasure hunt) and riding on the back of my husband's Honda Goldwing. Life is too short to spend sitting on the couch.

I lost weight due to the activity in my job and then my weight became stable. I've been in the best physical shape than I've been in years. In November 2016, I started to lose weight again. I wondered why, but didn't really pursue the reason. Who complains about losing weight?! Especially when I've had a tendency to be slightly overweight throughout my life. At Christmas, I noticed that the Christmas dinner didn't sit very well with me. I put it down to the heavy meal and that I'm not used to eating so much. I've been eating healthier over the last year. I ate lots of chocolate and goodies over the Christmas break while visiting family. When I got home, I weighed myself and noticed that I hadn't gained any weight. Woo Hoo!! Right? Then I noticed some small changes in my digestive system. Little aches here and there and changes in bowel movements. Hmmmm.....well, maybe I'm just getting older. I noticed the night sweats were a little more often again but put it down to menopause. My hands have started to ache and the knuckles are changing. I made a note to mention all this to my family doctor at my upcoming physical.

At the end of April, I went for my annual visit to my family doctor and mentioned all these things. The ache in my abdomen was more constant starting about mid April. My doctor sent me for an abdominal ultrasound and the results showed a large gall stone in my gall bladder. There's the source of my abdominal pain, I thought. My doctor then referred me to a GI Specialist for a consultation. On June 6, he poked and prodded my stomach area and declared, "Where you have pain, is not where the gall bladder is. I'm sending you for a CT scan." I let him know who my oncologist is and that I would be seeing him for my annual appointment the next day. OK, I thought, no big deal. I've had a number of CT scans.

On June 7, I met with my oncologist at the annual appointment and told him what was going on. He felt around but couldn't feel any lumps or anything. This is good news! After telling him about my appointment the previous day and that I was being sent for a CT scan but it wasn't scheduled yet, he said "That's good. I'll await the results." He set up another appointment for me in 2 weeks time. This was all at the beginning of June. The next day after seeing my oncologist, I received a call to come for a CT scan that afternoon (June 8). I went.

I continued to work, finished teaching my students for the school year, organized their recital and continued enjoying life. The difference being that my abdomen is constantly aching and I'm relying on extra strength Tylenol to manage it. On Monday, June 19, I came home from work to find a message on my voice mail at home. It was the GI doctor himself asking me to call him. I called him the next morning while at work and left a message on the voice mail.  When I had another break in my morning, I called again. The GI doctor's admin. assistant answered the phone. When I told her who I was, she said "One moment please, he wants to speak to you." The doctor came on the phone and let me know some concerns showed up on the CT scan. He wanted to set up an appointment for an endoscopy ultrasound/biopsy. I said OK. It was set up for the Friday, June 23, just 3 days later. This concerned me because of how quickly the procedure was booked. My mind told me this does not bode well for me.

Meanwhile,I saw my oncologist the next day (Wednesday, June 21). I had my husband come with me to this appointment. The oncologist let me know that the CT scan showed 3 enlarged lymph nodes that are a concern. One was 4 cm in length and looked like it may be part of my pancreas. There were 2 more lymph nodes, one measuring 3 cm x 3 cm and one measuring 2 cm x 2 cm. Hence the scheduled endoscopy to see what is growing inside of me.

While all this is going on, my daughter was coming home to have 4 wisdom teeth removed. I had taken the Thursday off to "mother" her and monitor her after being sedated. I was now having to take the Friday off as I was being sedated in order to do the endoscopy and biopsy. Thank goodness, our daughter was out of it and didn't ask questions. My husband and I decided not to tell anybody (our children, family or friends) until we had confirmed information to tell. Unfortunately, I did have to tell my manager as I was taking all this time off for appointments and my husband had to tell his managers because he had to leave an important time in his business as well. The good news about the endoscopy was it showed it is not my pancreas. It does seem to be just the lymph nodes. There was not enough cells to determine a diagnosis, so I am now awaiting for another CT scan (full length from throat down to the bottom of the pelvis) and another biopsy procedure called IVR to be scheduled. I am also awaiting a scheduled colonoscopy.

I always said that waiting and the unknown are the hardest. Your mind is distracted. I can't read for any length of time. I'm not sleeping. I've tried to knit but again, I can't concentrate for any length of time. So my husband and I have been walking, going for rides on the motorbike and sitting outside on the patio. We've been trying to enjoy spending time with friends. I've been relying on all my "tools" that I learned from my last bout with cancer to keep myself sane. It's hard to continue to act "normal" when you know something is growing inside of you. The "What Ifs" are in full bloom and my imagery of the closet in my mind isn't working. The closet seems to be full and I can't slam the door shut. All the "what ifs" are falling out chaotically in my mind..

I bumped into my oncologist on Friday, July 7 in the hallway at the end of my workday. I chatted briefly with him about my anxiety levels. Of course, he is also in wait mode with me. He did mention that when lymphoma relapses it doesn't come back as the original sub type of lymphoma. It comes back as a different one. This is why we need another biopsy so that he can correctly identify it and plan the correct treatment for it. My oncologist is Dr. David Lee. He is so caring and compassionate. I have been blessed again with a wonderful doctor.

While awaiting the next CT scan, my husband and I have started to look more seriously at the details for my Celebration of Life/Funeral. Some of these details were already planned 5 years ago but others were not. Now is the time to keep the mind busy and finish the job. My husband and I have also been struggling with when do we tell the children and our family and friends about what we are dealing with. We again agreed that no phone calls would take place until I have a full diagnosis and treatment plan that I can share with people.

I received the appointment for my CT scan and it took place on Wednesday, July 12. The next day, July 13, my oncologist dropped into my workplace and asked to speak to me privately for a few moments. The CT scan showed just the 3 tumours but they are bigger than they were on June 8. This cancer appears to be aggressive. In the hallway outside my work, I signed the permission form for the IVR. In the following week, I will have my only week of holidays. Our plans have been adjusted so that I am able to return to the hospital if required. On my last day of work before holidays, I was given the date for my IVR. It will be done on Friday, July 21. The good news about this date is that I will be able to go away for 5 days on the back of my husband's Honda Goldwing and have a holiday before my world gets blown apart with a diagnosis, staging, prognosis and treatment plan.

I continue to have sleepless nights due to an active brain, constant pain in my abdomen and a bladder that seems to need to be voided more often. I suspect something is pressing on it. Again, the waiting and the unknown are the most difficult part of this so far. So we planned a last minute holiday to ride the Goldwing down into New York State. What a great holiday it was. Although cancer is in the back of our minds, we enjoyed the ride, the great weather and got to see the Syracuse Chiefs and Binghamton Rumble Ponies play ball. We saw 6 ball games in 5 days. My hubby was also so considerate and we went to visit the Animal Adventure Park near Harpursville, NY. I had watched April the Giraffe in March and April through the Giraffe Cam and witnessed April have her calf, Tajiri. It was great to see them in person but I thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the exhibits at the park. It was a bright, sunny and hot day. This holiday was a really nice getaway from the concerns that were always in the back of our minds.

We arrived back home on Thursday, July 20 and then I went for the IVR on July 21. The biopsies were taken and then we were back to waiting. Again, as I recovered from the small invasiveness of the procedure in my abdomen, it was difficult to keep my thoughts from the "what ifs". Again, I started to question whether to tell my children and family but then reconfirmed in my mind that I need to wait until I can tell them exactly what kind of lymphoma I have and what the treatment plan is. Once I have that information, hubby and I will be busy on the phone informing family and friends of the return of the lymphoma. I will have to contact my remaining students and let them know that I will not be teaching in September.

On July 28, as both my children were calling and it is sometimes difficult to reach them, hubby and I decided to tell them the information and procedures that we have gleaned in the last couple of months. Needless to say, they were both shocked and need to process the information. However, they were glad that we let them know. Now we can keep them in the loop and a little weight is off my shoulders. The plan is still to tell the rest of our family and friends after I have a diagnosis and treatment plan. Waiting is the hardest....the unknowns are difficult. I have to refrain from using Dr. Google.

Knowing that "Dooms Day" is coming up within the week, hubby and I decided to use our long weekend and hop on the motorbike. We left home on August 5 and went to Alexandria Bay, NY for a few days. What a nice interlude this was!! Hubby was hoping that we could just forget about the cancer for a few days. Little did he realize how much it hurts me. I can feel the tumours in my abdomen when I walk (as they get jostled about). Although you can't physically see them, they are large enough that when I try to sleep at night, I can't find a comfortable position with no pain. Hubby hadn't seen me struggle with fatigue or breathlessness as the month of July advanced. On this long weekend interlude, we visited Boldt Castle in the 1000 Islands. What a lovely afternoon it was, but it brought home to my husband the reality of what's going on inside my body. We had to stop numerous times to sit on benches because I was too fatigued to go on. As we climbed the stairs in the castle, he saw me become breathless and again having to find a place to rest before going on exploring the finished areas of the castle. Having said all this, it was still a really nice time away before "all hell breaks loose" in the next week.

On August 9, I met with my oncologist (hubby in tow) to hear what the diagnosis is.  I have Follicular Lymphoma and will start my chemotherapy on Monday, August 14. I will have 4 treatments of chemo (21 day cycle for each treatment) and then if the chemo has been deemed successful, I will have a stem cell transplant using my own stem cells. Apparently, this chemotherapy will be much stronger, harsher and aggressive than what I've had before. It is expected to be much harder on my body, blood counts and there is the very real possibility of infection. What a lovely anniversary gift to give to my husband.....our anniversary is Aug. 10. So here we go. I AM TERRIFIED!