Chemo Round 5

Holy moly what a difference a new chemo drug makes!

This round was the first of the “second leg” of my cancer treatment tour, if you remember. The first “leg” was an A/C drug (don’t ask me to spell them right now). There were four dense dose treatments (in other words: super potent, crippling doses). The reason for this new drug (and up to 12 rounds of it) is because while the A/C treatment is super powerful, we want to make sure all the cancer cells get blasted.

You can think of cancer treatment as a sort of war on cancer. Each treatment type is a different branch of my cancer-fighting military. Surgery was the first surge. It wiped out what we hope to be all of the enemy. We wanted to be sure, so we sent in the second branch: A/C treatment. While chances are, those drugs got anything remaining, research shows that coupled with my new drug, Taxol, the eradication of cancer cells is even more successful. So Taxol is the newest branch of the cancer-fighting military we are sending in. The last will be radiation.

I got my back to school hair cut the day before treatment (it’s not actually growing, but it was looking patchy. It’s even shorter now)

The difference in side effects is almost inexplicable. A/C treatment made me feel like I was dying about 24 hours after treatment. It felt like I would never feel better again.

Before infusing the Taxol, they loaded me up with antihistamine and Benadryl (because pretty much everyone is allergic to Taxol–it’s an irritant. I got quite loopy from that, naturally. Then they pumped in the drugs. I had zero reactions, so I may be able to go lighter on the Benadryl next time.

The side effects are still hair loss (see that picture above), and sometimes nausea (I didn’t have any), low blood counts (because it’s attacking fast-growing blood cells), and mouth sores (none of those yet either). It can also affect my nails and give me joint and muscle pain. The only irreversible side effect is peripheral neuropathy, which means loss of feeling in my fingers and toes. That one they monitor super closely because they can adjust the med or skip one altogether to reduce that happening if I start to notice tingling. That is really my biggest fear.

Anyway, I got home Wednesday and took a nap while the rest of my crew headed up north to spend a long weekend with my parents at a cottage they rent with us each year. When I woke up, I felt great! So different then A/C treatment! I was refreshed and actually worked on school stuff Wednesday evening!

Thursday I woke up and packed myself up and headed to the cottage!

Grandpa and Grandma play some cards with the boys.

Saturday I even went to the beach! This is the first (and probably only) time I have been able to sit on the beach all summer due to my treatment. Chemo makes my skin SUPER sensitive to the sun. Cortney bought two SPF 50 beach umbrellas, I had my SPF 50 hat, plus I slathered in SPF 50 (twice because I reapplied) for the two hours we were at the beach, and I still walked away with a little coloring.

But it was worth it!

The kids could have stayed here all day! (Also isn’t my mom the cutest?)

She would not go near the water without her daddy.

She has mastered the art of relaxing on the beach…just like her mom!

See? Proof I made it to the beach this year!

Even though we couldn’t hit the beach for the entire time we were there, the cottage happens to be on a small, inland lake and the boys had almost as much fun swimming at the end of the dock.

Charlie and his popsicle “floaty” tricks

Eddie and his clowning!

I would say I spent most of the time in the shade near the cottage with my book or watching everyone play, but it made me feel like a real person doing real summer things to be able to even go. With the A/C treatment this weekend would have been impossible right after a round of chemo. I would have been comatose all weekend.

Yes, I still got tired quickly and sat down a lot, but I was there to watch my goofy kids have all the fun and live their best lives.

I don’t even know. These two were nut jobs the entire weekend.

And of course, to round out the weekend, my dad took us all out for huge ice cream cones for lunch on Saturday. Because is it really vacation if you don’t have ice cream for at least one meal?

I am so so so SO thankful for this new drug. I hate that I have to go through any of it, but since I do, feeling more like myself is the way to go.

I will be getting Taxol infusions weekly on Wednesdays until October 24 (we are hoping to get in 12 rounds total).  Please pray that my body keeps handling the meds well (my doctor told me that after all the A/C treatments, my blood counts were so good, you couldn’t even tell I had been on chemo! Keep doing that, body!)

This is my final week of summer before I go back to school (Eddie and Charlie still have three more weeks until their district goes back), so please pray for my anxiety and for my students as they get ready to have an English teacher who is out ever Wednesday and dealing with, well, cancer treatments.

5/16 done

Reflections on a Summer Almost Gone

I’ve been back to school for a week. Our kids still have one more week, but soccer practices have already started. The calendar says it’s still summer, but as far as our schedules go, it’s fall.

I wasn’t the fun mom or the productive writer or the great house organizer I wanted to be this summer. I didn’t do the things I wanted with my kids, I didn’t meet my self-imposed deadlines, and exactly zero of the organization projects I wanted to do this summer got done.

I keep blaming the fact that my summer break was shorter by two weeks and that I had less kid-free time, but to be honest, I just didn’t manage my time well.

But the kids loved the summer. We made trips to the library, walked to the donut shop, splashed at the splash pad, played at parks. It wasn’t such a scorcher this year, so we were able to go outside almost every day. Cortney expanded the sandbox so all three kids could play in it, and they took advantage.

It wasn’t a super busy summer, and that was Ok.

We did go again with my parents up to Pentwater for a long weekend. It was pretty windy and a bit chilly, so my dad didn’t take his boat along this year, but we had fun anyway.

We went from a Thursday to Sunday, and we packed in a whole lot of sitting around, not sitting around, and yummy snacks.

Grandpa made breakfast every morning and since the Sluiter children could basically eat ONLY breakfast foods for the rest of their lives, they were thrilled with homemade french toast, pancakes, and breakfast meats each morning.

And even though it was cloudy, windy, and sort of chilly, we still went to the beach on Friday because guess what? Kids do not care. They just want to play. So we adults sucked it up, and let the kids play for a few hours.

While Alice and Charlie stuck mostly to the sand, Eddie (who may be part fish) was in that chilly water almost the entire time we were at the beach.

Last year Alice wouldn’t even let her big toe touch the sand. This year she literally rolled in it as if it was the best thing ever to touch her skin. Kids are weird. And awesome.

My mom and I planned the meals/groceries a few weeks in advance, and we kept it pretty simple: grill foods and snacks. Of course my mom brought the fixing’s for s’mores even though the cottage doesn’t have a fire pit. But we had a charcoal grill!

Mmm…s’mores over charcoal!

Of course beach + s’mores = messy toddler, so a sink bath was in order. What cottage experience is complete without a toddler in the sink?

And just because it was cooler than usual, didn’t mean that the grandpa couldn’t take the boys fishing each day. Or that we couldn’t do a little ring toss, badminton, or card games.

Grandpa even helped Eddie with some of his cub scout adventures. They spent a lot of time on the fishing adventure learning types of fish in Michigan, Michigan fishing regulations, and of course catching fish!

They even learned about canoeing since the wind died down on Saturday.

Charlie got a ride in the canoe too!

Sunday was warmer and sunnier, so we hit the beach one last time before heading home. And of course Grandpa and Grandma had to treat us to ice cream!

I love that we have this summer tradition with my parents. It’s so fun to spend time together playing for four days.

Plus it’s a nice way to wrap up summer before I go back to work and the craziness of fall kicks back in. Even though the summer didn’t end up being exactly what I had in my head that it would be, we still had a great time.

And now I have to get back to lesson planning and making seating charts.

 

 

holiday on a holiday

I have so many pictures from our cottage “holiday”.

So I am taking today, a holiday, to pass them on to you, oh internet.

Enjoy.

This is what dinner looked like every evening. A picnic table, food, and family.

This is what dinner looked like every evening. A picnic table, food, and family.

This was Charlie's pooping stump.

This was Charlie’s “business” stump. Yes, he is “processing” in this picture.

 

Cort and I had a date afternoon where we walked the pier in Pentwater, checked out the state park beach, and did some touristing downtown in all the shops.

Cort and I had a date afternoon where we walked the pier in Pentwater, checked out the state park beach, and did some touristing downtown in all the shops.

out to Lake Michigan

out to Lake Michigan

 

In to the channel

In to the channel

Downtown Pentwater has a winery, the Oceana Winery. My brother and his wife were there when we walked in, so we had some wine-tasting company.

Downtown Pentwater has a winery, the Oceana Winery. My brother and his wife were there when we walked in, so we had some wine-tasting company.

 

We ate food on a fire.

We ate food on a fire.

My brother read with is little daughter.

My brother read with is little daughter.

 

Cort channeled his dad's talent of making DELICIOUS breakfast for the masses.

Cort channeled his dad’s talent of making DELICIOUS breakfast for the masses.

My niece played in her "playpen"

My niece played in her “playpen” so she could stay clean

 

yeah, she's pretty cute.

yeah, she’s pretty cute.

Charlie played in the dirt.

Charlie played in the dirt to stay dirty.

 

Yeah, he's pretty cute too.  And apparently he's also packing heat.

Yeah, he’s pretty cute too. And apparently he’s also packing heat.

The kids spent time with grandma...

The kids spent time with grandma…

...and grandpa

…and grandpa

We played games.

We played games.

Learning to hold all those cards was tricky.

Learning to hold all those cards was tricky.

 

sometimes we won. Ok, Eddie and I won ALL THE TIME.

sometimes we won. Ok, Eddie and I won ALL THE TIME.

It was like roughing it...but not really.

It was like roughing it…but not really.

 

I mean, this doesn't look too rough.

I mean, this doesn’t look too rough.

 

family beach days were daily occurrences

family beach days were daily occurrences

Swimming was fun

Swimming was fun…

 

Until you got yelled at.

Until you got yelled at.

 

They never played nicer than when the collaborated on digging massive holes.

They never played nicer than when the collaborated on digging massive holes.

 

We cleaned ourselves sometimes.

We cleaned ourselves sometimes.

 

These two were inseparable--from each other as well as Jack from his Oriental Trading Company Catelogue. It was his weekend reading.

These two were inseparable–from each other as well as Jack from his Oriental Trading Company Catelogue. It was his weekend reading.

Quality time was spent together.

Quality time was spent together…even if we were a little grungy feeling for 5 days.

It’s definitely busier with two kids running around.

Gone are the days when my vacation schedule is my own.

But for now, that is Ok.

Happy Labor Day Weekend.

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