Thursday, April 25, 2013

4/25/13 Friends=Gratitude

Friends = Gratitude
I’ve been fortunate enough to spend this past weekend with friends and am so grateful for the time together.  Saturday morning I was able to reunite with my St Joseph’s family which is full of healers and fellow cancer survivors.  Thank you for such a warm welcome.  Saturday evening and Sunday were spent with college friends, such beautiful people that I’ve now been friends with for over 20 years.  I truly feel privileged.  Many of you have commented on how many people these emails go out to and I often joke that this goes out to “100 of my closest friends”.  And I honestly believe that.  All of you are so close and dear in my heart - I just have to consistently remind myself of your love and thoughts for my health and happiness.  That is the main reason why I do this blog - to stay connected with all of you.  It’s been too easy for me to forget the love and connection of all mankind and that is one thing I’m trying to change. 

A few weeks before the bowel obstruction/hospitalization I lay in bed one night worried about what I was going to do.  I knew the pain was increasing and could actually feel a mass on the right side of my abdomen.  I feared in that moment that I would have to turn to chemo.  The thought completely devastated me.  At that moment, I thought if I do chemo I will not tell anyone.  I will seclude myself and will not be able to face anyone because I would feel like a failure.  I felt like people would be thinking that all of my alternative methods failed, and how ridiculous I was to think I could heal the cancer on my own.  I truly felt like a failure, but I see now this was devastating because it was my ego talking.  No such thing ever happened.  I went into the hospital and was pretty much faced with the choice of having chemo or allowing myself to deteriorate due to a dysfunctional bowel.  There was no choice: chemo was it.  

A month or so after doing chemo I had the realization that I was never made to feel defeated or like a failure by anyone, BESIDES MYSELF.  You all remained in a place of love and caring for my ultimate well being and nothing more.  You accepted me into your arms and remained gentle with my struggle of the choices in front of me defined by the ultimate desire for health and happiness.  I THANK YOU so much.  You really have no idea how much it means to me to be able to have gone through the struggle of feeling defeated and accepting of the chemo and have NO ONE think of me as a failure and instead shower me with your love. It is simply amazing to feel the well wishes, prayers, healing energy, healing light that all of you send. Thank you, again, to Meika, for sending out the email asking for people to come together twice a day to pray for me.  I know it makes a difference. 

So thank you for holding the space for me to BE.  To see myself as simply someone trying to heal in her own way, whatever that may be,  someone on an adventure to find the definition of healing (thank you Sandy Z for this lesson).  Most important in this journey is not only to find value and acceptance of all types of healing, but to truly find ACCEPTANCE of MYSELF and my JOURNEY of life.  

So for the medical update: With one chemo treatment my CA 125 (tumor marker) decreased from 256 to 28.  WOW!!!  Thank you for making that miracle happen.  After two courses of Neupogen (to boost my white blood cells that were depleted from that first chemo) I was able to get my second treatment of chemo on Friday, April 5th, after a complete emotional breakdown on my part.  I was looking for every reason to NOT get the chemo.  After my blood tests passed, my temperature and my blood pressure were normal, I finally surrendered to getting the chemo and allowed it to be.  I remained in bed, for the most part, until the following Thursday.  I finally felt like I was coming back on Thursday.  I guess I felt too well and pushed too hard because on Friday I was much worse.  I began to vomit and have intestinal pain.  I remained in bed again that Friday.  I woke up Saturday feeling well again and unfortunately I ate normal that day.  By Saturday night my intestines were a mess again and my mom had to take me into the ER.  I spent 6-7 hours in the ER and had another CT scan.  The good news was there was no bowel obstruction, the bad news was the “thickening/narrowing” of the intestines were even worse.  The ER doctor recommended I stay on a liquid diet for an indefinite amount of time. Why the intestines were doing this remains to be debated.  The radiologist read the CT as this being cancer.  This was very disappointing and yet confusing to me.  How could my tumor markers improve in such a miraculous way, and the CT look worse.  I spoke with my oncologist the next day and he said he specifically compared the CT from Feb to this current one and every lymph node measured smaller.  He explained the  problems with the intestines could be inflammation, possibly from the chemo or the cancer.  There is no real way to know what is the cause without a surgical biopsy (which is not an option).  So for the past two weeks I’ve remained on a liquid and now soft food diet and have done well.  I’ve actually been able to go off all pain medications this past week.  I did blood work yesterday that passed so I will have my third treatment of chemo tomorrow.  I’m also happy to report that my CA 125 is now 15 (normal is 2 - 35)!  

Thank you for being interested in my progress.  I appreciate all of you in my life and make it a goal everyday to feel your love and well wishes for me.  
In love and health,

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Update 4/3/13

Well I’ve delayed in writing a post because I was trying to send out some profound words, plus give a health update as of 3/29.  I’ve lacked the motivation to create the profound for some time and have now probably waited too long because several of you are reaching out asking what is going on???  So I decided to delay the profound for now and will suffice to just give the health update.  

I still only have had the one chemo treatment of both medications on March 7th.  My white cell counts continue to be too low to receive chemo again.  The plan was to skip day 8 of treatment (day 8 is only one of the medications) and resume with both medications at the scheduled date of round 2 of chemo on March 29th.  I did my pre-chemo blood work on the 28th and shortly after was contacted by my oncologist, Dr. Ng.  He said my white cell count stayed the same (still below normal), but the auto Neutrophil count was even lower than the testing 2 weeks ago.  Chemo was cancelled again.  This time it really didn’t bother me.  I was strong in my feeling that there is a stronger power deciding when and if I need chemo again, and that is what is determining the schedule of chemo treatments, not the medical protocols, the doctor, or me.  

I met with Dr. Ng in the office on Friday, March 29th.  His plan is to lower the dose of each chemo agent for future treatments.  He gave me the option of whether to stay on the day 1 and day 8 treatment plan or to just have day 1 only in the 21 day cycle.  I chose one treatment only at this point.  He ordered another course of Neupogen injections to do now and the plan is to do the injections with each round of chemo, now knowing what an effect the chemo has on my bone marrow.  The Neupogen is a growth factor that stimulates the bone marrow to produce at a much greater rate.  Although, right now it seems necessary, it is a very difficult medicine for me to tolerate.  It too, has the potential, to create extreme muscle and bone ache.  I seem to have gotten far more aches than the average person, but also not considered dangerous (just painful).  On Sunday, March  31st the effects were so bad all of the pain medication I have could not control it.  I ran a fever for about 24 hours and really could not function.  Fortunately, the rest of the days have not been quite that bad.  

On the more positive note, much more positive note...with my blood work done on Thursday, March 28th, we also checked the CA125 (ovarian cancer tumor marker).  My previous level the week after chemo was 256, this time is was 52 !!!!  It had dropped 204 points.  My surrender to the chemo definitely helped.  This is why I believe the past few treatments have needed to be canceled.  And why I don’t think I need day 1 and day 8 of treatment each round.  I have even challenged Dr. Ng’s thinking about whether it’s necessary to do 6 rounds of chemo.  With such a positive result after one treatment (not even one complete round), why do more than necessary?   Medical protocol says with ovarian cancer you give no less than 6 rounds (NO MATTER WHAT).  I’m starting to open the door in Dr. Ng’s thinking to treat me based on me and my results, not what medical research/protocol dictates.  Either way, I’m very confident in my ability (with higher guidance) to decide what I need in treatment and even if it is suggested to do more based on research and protocols, I will do what is necessary for ME!

I have been resisting the chemo since I last received chemo (April 2011) and I believe with the surrender to the treatment it allowed me to relax and trust so much that it opened myself for everything else I’m doing to work even more.  Especially for me to reach a place where I could be open to feeling all the love and support of all of you out there and dissipate the feeling that I was in this all alone.  Thank you.  

I will get you the profound when I feel inspired to write in that way.  
In love and health,

Dr. Oliver