We had made it part of the process. Every week for 12 weeks, we loaded up a cooler with frozen mitts and socks, drove to Publix where they sold dry ice and bought a block to help the wraps get even colder. And while there, we would buy some ice cream that the dry ice would help keep cold as well. The cold wraps successfully prevented Cathy from having any neuropathy (numbness, pain) in her hands and feet from the chemo drug Taxol. And the ice cream gave us both something to look forward to. By the end of the twelfth week, Cathy was glad to say goodbye to the Taxol and cold therapy, but not so much the ice cream.
There is a bell inside the Infusion area that you are encouraged to ring for a milestone. So, this was Cathy’s first time ringing the bell. And it felt good.
The therapy shifts gears now to 20 days (Monday to Friday) of radiation therapy. After a simulation run, where Cathy got her first tattoos (which will help line her up during treatment), the radiation will begin sometime during the week of the 17th. The other part of the therapy that will continue is the Herceptin infusion. That will go on every 3 weeks for a year. But the side effects are much less taxing than its sister drug, there are no “pre-drugs” to minimize the side effects, and there are no frozen mitts!
All in all, giving up our weekly ice cream treat is a pretty small price to pay.
There was one more test done that doesn’t directly relate to the chemo. In March, Cathy had been diagnosed with an extensive clot in her upper right arm. After 90 days on the blood thinner Eliquis had passed, an ultrasound was done to (hopefully) confirm the clot was gone. Not so. There wasn’t much of a clot left, but she would have to do another 90 days on the drug to ensure the body had time to break up the rest of the clot. Since there isn’t any swelling or pain in the arm, this is just a minor inconvenience, not something that causes any difficulties.
The second weekend in June, we took advantage of the first break in Cathy’s treatment schedule to make a weekend trip to NC to visit with Cathy’s mom and sisters. After having weeks of near drought conditions in Jacksonville, it rained almost the entire weekend we were in NC. Quite a contrast. So, with the weather and Cathy still recovering from her last Taxol infusion, we spent most of the time indoors. The trip was a good one, since both Cathy and her mom are dealing with breast cancer, it was good to see how well each of us is doing in person. We enjoyed the time together, but had to head out early Monday morning. Cathy’s next treatment was scheduled for Tuesday.
But we had one more family treat in store. Back in Jacksonville, Dave’s sister Wendy and husband Dave, stopped by for lunch on their way north. We hadn’t seen Wendy since January, when Dave was having his heart valve repaired. (We didn’t see Dave that visit, so we hadn’t seen him since before Christmas.) They were both doing great, and we enjoyed the time to catch up in person. Oh, and the drought in Jacksonville seemed to have ended, since we drove through torrential rain to meet them that day. It was amazing to get so much family time within the space of just a couple of weeks.
Closer to home, we celebrated with Bobbi as she successfully had her final surgery and began recovering in anticipation of returning home to NJ. Don and she were apparently so anxious to get it started that they went to the hospital ER the night before. He was admitted for low sodium levels and she spent the night with him and the next night in the room next door. By week’s end, both were home, and doing much better.
Not all the work at Faith of late requires hammers and drills. When the office computer stopped working (coincidentally when Cathy was minding the office. Hmmm.), we helped scramble to keep essential functions running. The data hadn’t been lost, due to Dave’s efforts setting up a routine backup and making sure it continued to run successfully. So, before the replacement could be purchased and set up, we used the backup drive and Cathy’s computer to help reproduce the church bulletin and produce checks. When the new computer arrived, Dave spent several days configuring it, and we both helped with some of the transition issues with the church’s volunteer secretaries. Most functions are now working well, without too many hiccups. And when Kim’s Open Door was having internet issues, Dave tested and replaced the router to get it back up and running. We also sat down with Pastor Rigo to help him assemble data from the church’s budget and organization chart so he could use it for a class assignment. As usual, the formatting requirements from the school were not simple, so we helped him decipher these and transform his documents so that they met the specifications.
Then there was the more traditional work – painting the ceiling in the new guest room in Peeler, planning for the new bathroom within it and buying the supplies to frame the walls. Kim’s Open Door had a new sound booth that needed carpet installed and the door trimmed to keep it from damaging the floor. We spent a morning making that happen. And Dave also created dozens of drumsticks for Kim’s summer program by cutting up dowels. You never know what will come up next.
“It sounds like we are out of water.” Actually, we weren’t out of water. But the pump was running louder than it usually does. Finally, it started kicking on when we weren’t running water. The time had come to open it up and look inside. The pump had actually come apart, and the various screws were scattered on the floor. After trying in vain to re-seat them, it became obvious that we needed to replace it. Contacting Shurflo, we confirmed the replacement model and ordered a new one. (It actually took 2 tries, since the first vendor sent the wrong model.) In the meantime, we switched to the direct city water connection until we get the new pump installed again.
Our extended stay in Jacksonville means that we were once again in town for the United Brothers in Christ Annual Night Out. With great food and uplifting songs, we enjoyed the evening among church friends. You can enjoy a small sample of it in this video.
You might enjoy this article Cathy wrote for the Virginia State Park blog about the upcoming Cabin Work Week.