Most Lovable Dog Contest! Check it out!

The coolest contest is happening NOW benefiting Basset Buddies Rescue, Inc. “The Most Lovable Dog” photo contest! With 104 dogs entered its going to be quite the heated race! For only $1 per vote (with all proceeds going directly to BBR) you can show your support by voting for your favorite most lovable dog! Hey! Vote for more than one!

Here are the current leaders as of Saturday (2/20/2010):

1st place: Charles #29 with 124 votes!

2nd place: Yogi #16 with 80 votes!
 
3rd place: Pw. Charlie’s Angel #33 with 65 votes
Would you like to join the fun? Its easy and just think about the hounds you will be helping! And just think about how happy you will make me? 
To see the most wonderful dogs competing for Most Lovable Dog by clicking here.
For instructions on how to vote just click here!
I promise you will NOT regret helping the hounds with Basset Buddies Rescue, Inc. 

Lymphedema

I find this interesting. 11 years ago I had 14 lymph nodes removed from under my right arm. I was strongly cautioned that I needed to be very careful to avoid lymphedema. For those of you who do not know what that is here is the definition from the Mayo Clinic:


“Lymphedema refers to swelling that generally occurs in one of your arms or legs. Although lymphedema tends to affect just one arm or leg, sometimes both arms or both legs may be swollen. Lymphedema is caused by a blockage in your lymphatic system, an important part of your immune and circulatory systems. The blockage prevents lymph fluid from draining well, and as the fluid builds up, the swelling continues.”

I will admit I wasn’t that careful. I didn’t have blood draws, blood pressures or anything like that – but being right handed it was hard to avoid lifting more than 5 pounds and even the occasional bruise or cut (yes, I am a klutz).

The surgery back this past October I had 2 nodes removed. Nothing major. I have been careful to not lift with that arm, no blood draws and so on. This morning I realized I have a touch of lymphedema in that arm! Nothing major at all! Just some swelling and tightness. I did notice the palm of my hand has felt bruised for a bout 2 weeks and I guess that is a symptom. I have some direction from the doctor to avoid it getting worse. So all is fine!

I just find it interesting that I can go 11 years basically not even thinking about it with 14 nodes removed only to have 2 little ones removed and it happens. But again, it certainly isn’t bad at all. Just a reminder that I need to be aware of what my body is trying to tell me: slow down!

The weekend is here and I am looking forward to a relaxing one! Hope you all have the great weekend yourselves!

Cailin’s Checck up

Cailin had her 6 week check up (although she will be 8 weeks this coming Saturday). She had her vaccinations and was examined from her little head to her tiny toes.

She seems to be hitting her developmental milestones pretty much on time and is getting stronger by the day. She is NOT a fan of “tummy time” but we can see her lifting and holding her head up for longer periods of time each day. Yesterday it almost seemed that she figured out if she kicked her legs her toys on the bouncer would jingle.

Dr. Barth found that Cailin has an “innocent” heart murmur. Very common condition for infants and children so nothing to worry about. She is going to see a cardiologist just to double check….but this is also standard procedure.

She is being switched to a new formula that is a bit more gentle for the tummy and was prescribed something for her reflux. Can I just say that being the grandma I have decided she does NOT have reflux?  In comparison to the projectile fire-hose style “spitting up” her mother did as an infant this is nothing! And in reality I really don’t think she is spitting up that much….but to Mary Beth it is a lot and she isn’t gaining much weight so we’ll do what we can to get it to all work out!

On to the weight issues. I shouldn’t say “issue” because it really isn’t one. She was born at 7.6 pounds and is now 8.1 pounds (in the 3 percentile). She did grow 1 inch! Heck, Mary and Anna were still bigger than Cailin when they were born! Dr. Barth says he is NOT worried about her being a slow grower since she is developing appropriately and has the heart murmur. For whatever reason infants with this “innocent” heart murmur grow slow. I think we are going to just have a little peanut on our hands!!

Mary is going to make the appointment for the cardiologist today and then we can pass on the update! No worries, though. Cailin is precious and perfect!!

Interesting turn of events

As my last post indicated I had an MRI on Monday the 15th. Yesterday afternoon I received the results which were a surprise to everyone.

Indeed the “missing” ovary was located. The doctor said it is located near a large artery in the pelvic area. He did review the ultra sounds done at the time of the surgery and confirmed that the ovary was not seen so he suspects it is surrounded by scar tissue or something.

OK, so that is what I was hoping for – it answers a lot of questions!

Here is the strange part – there is also an indication that part of the right ovary is also present. WHAT? OK, so I know darned well they told me they at least got that one! The whole point of my surgery back in 2000 was to get rid of the darned ovaries and the resulting production of estrogen to reduce the risk of a recurrence.

On March 5th I have an appointment with Dr. Tan who specializes in GYN oncology and surgery. Both my current GYN and Oncologists have reviewed the last MRI and agree that she is the person to see. They feel it is appropriate not because there is any concern for a cancer being present, but because she will have the best understanding of all the various possible resolutions and consequences to the choices to be made.

*IF* there is to be a surgery it might be a little more complicated that originally thought. In addition to surgery we’ll talk about the use of meds to control the estrogen. Who knows? The meds will certainly be less invasive than a surgery. On the other hand, at my age that means I might have to be on them for a significant amount of time so the side effects will need to be considered very carefully.

I think I’ll write a book. The title will be: “Are You Kidding Me?!?!” LOL

Happy Birthday to me – I had an MRI!

Yesterday I celebrated my 45th birthday by having an MRI. May I suggest that no one chooses to have one for their birthday? :o)

I am VERY claustrophobic. The strange thing is that I never was until my first cancer diagnosis back 11 years ago. I’ve had 2 other MRIs since (and various other “close” tests) and did fine with a little help from the versed (which I happen to really like) so I wasn’t too worried. This time I was given Xanax instead of Versed. Hmm…wasn’t real sure how that was going to work when it seemed like it didn’t do anything to calm me down. AND Perry wasn’t allowed in to hold my hand. That kind of threw me for a loop.

This time I went in feet first so I could look up a bit and see outside. OK, I think I can do this. So in I go and I immediately hit the button to get me out. Nope! Not gonna work! So we try adding another pillow because I also have issues with laying too flat. Back in I go…and back out I come! LOL I finally realize the issue was that my arms were crossed over my chest and I had the sensation of being constricted. I was picturing myself being squished into a toilet paper tube.

Now by this point I am getting a bit worried because I wasn’t sure I could do it. But the two techs were WONDERFUL and came up with the suggestion of putting my arms over my head…and it worked!!

When all is said and done it went very well. I should get the results later this afternoon. I am having a bit of a reaction – but from what I do not know! My joints feel slightly swollen and my asthma is really acting up. I also am finding it necessary to visit the bathroom every 10 minutes. (BLECH) Maybe from the contrast? Maybe from the Xanax? Perry and the doctor on call (yes, I did call) think its stress and anxiety. Maybe – but I’m excited to get these results so that doesn’t make too much sense to me. This will tell us IF there is an ovary that needs to be removed. If it is there we yank it out! If it isn’t…well, we don’t. It will also help determine which med I will be on as far as the continued treatment for the cancer. So, no matter what, I see nothing but good news either way!

Perry was worried about them finding more cancer but I absolutely do not see that as a possible outcome. After all, I did have a CT scan a couple days before chemo started and there was NOTHING more found at that time. He’s just a worry wart! :o)

So, I’m home from work and laying in bed with my computer – watching the rebroadcast of the Westminster dog show from last night (and NO – the Basset didn’t win although she was by far the most beautiful dog of all) – and getting some obviously needed R&R.; 

I’ll update when I hear from the doctor!

Saw the GYN today!

And do I LOVE this guy!! He was the doctor who delivered baby Cailin. He also did his homework! He asked how Cailin and Mary were doing and if being a Grandma was going ok!

The task at hand is to determine whether I have an ovary that might still be functioning enough to give off estrogen and thereby possibly being a source to trigger another cancer. His rule was that if the FSH test came back under 50 I was to have an MRI to see if the could find the ovary. My FSH levels are at a 45. Barely under the wire! I have an MRI scheduled for next Monday. Once found it will be removed laparoscopically.

The test results will also determine which medication I will be on for the next 5 years. I’m hoping it isn’t going to be Tamoxifen. That really didn’t work well for me. If I understand my oncologist correctly Tamoxifen shouldn’t be an option being that I am technically more menopausal that not. Does that make sense? :o)

I suspect I’ll have one of the following three as options:  Femara, Arimidex or Aromasin. There is another on (Herceptin) but we already know I don’t qualify for that one.

This is exciting news for me! I see light at the end of the tunnel! It is so good to be able to tackle what I see as the road blocks. I am especially happy that I can have the MRI! I really need to have an answer to the “missing ovary” mystery once and for all!

I’m off to dig my car out of the drive way…happy Monday!

Baby Cailin! Almost 7 weeks old!

A quick update on Baby Cailin! The gorgeous little one will be 7 weeks old in a couple days. She is sleeping through the night (which Mary is VERY thankful for). She just started smiling at us. I will admit we need to tap dance on our heads to get a smirk…but every little smile melts our hearts! She also LOVES to dance with Grandma!!

Here are a few recent pictures!

 
 

It’s Official! NO MORE CHEMO!!

I had my appointment with Dr. Garino this afternoon and it was decided that I will not need any more chemo! YIPPY!!! Boy does this ever feel great! It is so hard to believe how quickly time flew by! I am happy to report that I am doing well!

There are a few little “loose ends” to take care of.  I will be having a Bone Densitometry

 done.  It is also called a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan. Basically they scan the bones to determine the possible degree of bone loss that may have occurred from the chemo and from the past 10 years after my hysterectomy. If bone loss is found then I’ll probably start on the Fosamax which help regenerate bone growth.

On February 8th I’ll see the gynecologist to help try to solve the mystery of the missing ovary.

Back in 2000 when I had the hysterectomy I also had my ovaries removed. Funny thing – they could only find one! My doc at the time was a bit befuddled by the fact that it was just GONE. Apparently it looked as if it had been there at one time. They looked and it was just written off as “gone.”

Over time we’ve determined it must be there somewhere (based upon certain blood levels and symptoms) and this a cause of concern. My original cancer (in 1998) was estrogen negative. This time both tumors were estrogen positive. Estrogen is being produced somewhere and could very well be the trigger for the cancers.

Today I had an FSH test done (another blood level). I had one done about 6 months after the hysterectomy. At that time the results showed “ovarian functioning.” With no ovary?? I think not! The results this time will determine if nothing else if I will be put on “anti-estrogen” meds for the cancer (and which one will be appropriate). Being that chemo may have put me into menopause (and by the amount of hot flashes I have I think I already know the answer to that one) the results may not really help us determine if there is an ovary or not.

Let the mystery continue for now!!