Quilt, Sunflowers, Nurses & Test Results

Another long night after a chemo treatment when I have trouble sleeping, probably due to the steroids that help reduce chemo side effects. It’s a good opportunity to write an update, share sunflower pics and the story of my quilt “hug”.

A wonderful neighbor and family friend, Dawn, orchestrated the creation of a group quilt for me. Wow! It’s amazing. The quilt has 36 squares made by friends, family, neighbors, churches, and even nurses from Tufts! Again, wow. These people. What a blessing. I slide the quilt over me and it is like a warm hug. Physically and otherwise, I feel loved.

This quilt was a very well kept secret 🙂 Apparently it’s been in the works since March or April and I never heard a peep. Thank you Dawn, Trish, Mary B. and Melanie for putting the quilt together and making it happen, and thanks to everyone who made a square!

Here are a few pictures. I treasure it.

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I cried a little 🙂

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My platelets are closer to where they should be so I was able to have treatment yesterday. Chemo went well, partly because Nate and I were cheery due to some good news (more on that later). This is my 14th chemo cycle. Unbeknownst to me, the 12th cycle was milestone. That’s when the oncologist reviews the treatment and progress and makes changes if necessary. I doubt that my Dr will change anything since the treatment is working. Yay!

Last week I had the second TACE procedure. The side effects this time were not nearly as bad as after the first procedure. That was a relief. I attribute the difference (there’s no other reason I know of) to God answering prayer. I thank everyone who prayed for the second surgery to be better.

Also, I had an abdominal CT scan last week to check my progress, and am delighted to say that the nasty TACE effects were not for naught! Our oncology PA told Nate and I that the scan showed reduction of all tumors. Since starting treatment in February, the cancerous percent of my liver has gone from 50% to 30-40% in May. Not sure what the percent is now, but hopefully it’s lower due to the TACE procedures. Tumor markers in my blood are down to the levels of non-cancerous people, meaning that the cancer is currently inactive. Awesome! Praise God.

It is so nice to get some good news. Nate and I are happy but are realistic still. This isn’t the end of the problem. Likely, it means that I get more time.

Credit for successful treatment belongs partly to my wonderful oncology nurse Kelly. She means a lot to Nate and I. When she’s not there on a chemo day I get worried and hope that everything will go ok (it usually does :). She has made a huge effort to find out which chemo side-effect-reducing-drugs help me the most and the best order in which to give them.

She also makes us laugh. Joking with Kelly makes the time go by quicker and helps make infusion un-miserable. I believe that underlying her excellent care, apart from doing a good job, is the meaning of compassion- a real interest in Nate’s and my well-being.

When I found out recently that one of my acquaintances is an oncology nurse, I wanted to grab her by the shoulders, stand eyeball to eyeball and yell, “What you do is SO IMPORTANT!!”

The gratitude that I have for the Tufts nurses who have cared for me and mine is such that if I heard of one needing help, I would rush to offer any assistance that I could give. When Nate and I didn’t see Kelly for several infusions and couldn’t find out where she was, we were prepared for the possibility of helping her move if she was relocating, telling her superiors that she is the best onco nurse that they have, and threatening anyone who might be giving her trouble. Happily, she just had some time off coming to her 🙂

Labor & Delivery and NICU nurses rock, too. Creating quilt squares for a former patient is a testimony to the quality of the nurses who took care of our family of four. Our time with these special nurses was relatively brief. However, the emotional, physical and spiritual turbulence that Nate and I were experiencing and the decisions that we had to make created an intense, pressurized time in which the impact of our nurses’ care, kindness, empathy and understanding was exponentially magnified. Good nurses  make a life-long impact.

Here are some pics of sunflowers that have grown from the seeds that we sent out in remembrance of our babies. I missed a few opportunities to take pictures of flowers around town, as the weather has caused some to dry up. If anyone has pictures of their sunflowers, please send them to me.

 

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