Yesterday was scary…. and so beautiful.
I decided I would get my cry out in the shower and then not cry all day. So I cried and cried and prayed to Jesus. Then?
I played the Gospel song by Kirk Franklin called “Declaration, This is it! “ and the song by hilltop worship “Not Today”. I sang the words as dried my tears and started to get ready. I chose my shirt…”Fighting cancer, taking chemo and still this sexy”, enjoyed every second of drying my hair, threw on some red lipstick in honor of the chemo, then packed my bag.
I packed a blanket my dear friend Joann gave me. It’s has pictures of my family, and I cover my body with it when I’m in the chair. I took out my chalkboard set, where I write what day of chemo it is for my chemo chair picture. I couldn’t believe I packed it away a year ago thinking it would be years before I needed it again. Then I packed mints, and my brand new big bible. Even if I didnt get to do my bible study, I would have it with me.
Rob took the kids to school and I did a dance party in my kitchen to the Kirk Franklin. “Are you going to wait a sign? Your miracle? Stand up fight! THIS IS IT!” I put it in instagram and Facebook stories for the day so anyone who wanted to dance with me could, and I know I didn’t dance alone.
Then rob came and we went to target for the frozen peas and socks…. and I raided the mini erasers for my class.
Always a teacher when at Target.
Then the beauty began.
The prayers on Facebook, the love sent my way. The president of the north fork breast health coalition sent me some humbling news and something to look forward to in March. My daughters track coach sent me a message last night of another event I’m looking forward to and humbled over for October. Total strangers who have been following me sent me messages of hope, as well as advice.
You all have no idea what a like, a heart, a comment, or a meme does for me. I see every… single… one. I still don’t have my fingerprints back on my fingers from the xeloda, so it takes a lot for me to type or respond on the phone, finding the right spot where my finger still works.
But I see you.
And I love you.
I walked into the cancer center and it has become a second home. Yesterday, God sent every single person who has ever helped me to see me.
Heather, the nurse my friend cathy sent to me, gave me a powerful hug. I know she was watching over me all day. My friend amy sent me her friend Monica who works in the infusion lab. My tomcat joe has a sister whose boyfriend’s mother trains all the nurses. She came and hugged me over and over as I sat in the chair. We talked about our love for the Murphy family, and last night I got a message from donors choose that I got a $25 referral credit, so I used it on Tomcat Joe’s sister’s
Classroom project. That family is a blessing. All of the receptionists know me by now and loved my shirt and red lips. I saw my pet scan tech Wayne from Mattituck down the hall as I was getting weighed and yelled I wanted better results next time. We both laughed. My friend from high school, Kerri, has a sister in law who She sent to me the day of my first biopsy, and she walked me through it all. She was there hugging me as well. I saw Pushpa, my clinical trial coordinator and she checked on me with hugs all day. Hermina stopped and we talked and hugged, and she told me some more things. The Adriamycin isn’t usually used in stage four, and it can cause blood cancers later on. But we are in shark infested waters right now, and going for the shark closest to the boat. That’s why research is everything. There may be a trial out now for the shark that’s ten feet away, so if I kill the shark with its jaws open and two feet away, I’ll be ok.
My port access for labs to make sure of the dosing I would get went beautifully, and they left the tubing in since I was getting chemo later. It’s a weird feeling walking around with a tube sticking out of your chest, not gonna lie.
Then we saw Dr Stopeck. I just love this woman. She and her new assistant, Mary, went over everything. When I told then I haven’t eaten anything except liquids since Tuesday, they were a little shocked. But when I explained how fasting would make the chemo more effective by making the healthy cells lay dormant and chemo cells gobble it up, they thought it was interesting and made sense. I emailed her all of the studies and papers I found on it. We also discussed the theory of Adriamycin and my dad, and the p53 specific mutation and how this could possible be a good DNA damaging agent, which is why my dad hasn’t had another cancer in over twenty years after getting FIVE primary cancers in rapid succession. I sent her all of the slides and files Donnie sent me on that as well.
We had a serious discussion about how this chemo is the “Big Gun”. I think it’s the mother of all chemo therapy for breast cancer. Which is scary. This has to work. We discussed how my scalp may really hurt as hair falls out in the next two weeks or so. We discussed nausea meds. I did zofran when I was pregnant and hyperemesis gravidarum all three times. It didn’t work. So we also added compazine. I may stagger the two drugs. One gives headaches and one gives tiredness. We will see. Donnie wants me to have a nauseous edge to keep me in a fasting state.
We also discussed neulasta. Donnie was adamant against it. She said my counts will drop to zero around day 7-9, and without it, i would probably have to delay the chemo next time. We agreed on making a decision each time and perhaps staggering it. Skipping every other dose, depending on my labs. I expect my labs to be great with my herbalists teas and Donnie’s supplements. It will be a challenge to swallow seventy something pills a day while nauseas on an empty stomach, but I’ll do it. Maybe that’s why God pressed the “Lets help Keri take more than one pill at a time” button last week.
She examined me and my breast is harder and the lump got bigger. I told her I wasnt surprised because I felt the pain in my breast. I’m super intuitive as to what is going on inside. She said the major pain issue is probably the liver tumors pressing on a nerve, as well as the diaphragm, which is why breathing is challenging. In a week or so she also agrees I will know if it’s working by the labs and my pain.
She said she felt good about this. She has said that about every other drug too, but she always means it. I’m hopeful too.
Then we had over an hour and a half before my chair time, so we walked to the main hospital center. It has a big addition and we walked through it. It’s beautiful, and doesn’t feel like a hospital. I got a lot of looks with my shirt, red lipstick, and tube sticking out of my chest. I think I was confusing to everyone.
They have a Jamba Juice and a Panera as well as the cafeteria. Of course it’s while I’m fasting. Rob got soup and lunch, and I splurged and had warm liquid veggie broth soup and hot tea.
As we walked back to the hospital, i said maybe this is what Odile, “madame swoosh”, meant. Others who have this much cancer inside look like they are dying, but not me. She can’t explain it, but not me. She is coming back October 10th, and I cant wait to see her.
Walking into the infusion area was painful.
The damn bell.
I rang that bell and cried and prayed I wouldn’t ever be back, even knowing as a stage four patient it was likely, and here I am, exactly one year later. They called my name and I immediately got hugs from everyone. It was like coming home.
I love Stony Brook.
My nurse Jean was my first nurse last time I had chemo, and we’ve become friends. I had her granddaughter in first grade years ago, and when another teacher from my building was getting chemo, she wrote to me that I had the granddaughter of her chemo nurse in my class. Years later… I have the nurse I was told about.
She gave me a crown in honor of childhood cancer day. There’s too many damn cancers, and not enough research. I wore it in honor of all the children I’ve come to know through this.
With this chemo, it’s like you have your own personal nurse, as it comes in syringes and they have to push it slowly into the port. Jean knows rob and I so well. We joke and laugh and tell stories. When rob went to the bathroom, she said he really Ioves me, you can tell.
And he does.
He was my rock again all day. Held my hand with every scary moment. I pray for my children and everyone to have a Rob in their life.
It is a process getting chemo. We didn’t have to access the port so that was quicker. The pre med was pushed called Emend and will helpfully hold off nausea for three days. I’ve been told the hit comes around 7 or so, so I’ll watch this cycle then know which day to take off of work. Don’t tell me to stop working. I’m surrounded all day my friends and colleagues who are family to me, and these children have already worked their way into my heart. I’m getting to finally know their quirks and funny little things. The nurses warned me about germs, but I’ll be safe with hand washing and standing up when they hug me. I already did the cover your nose and mouth lesson, as well as if you feel sick, don’t tell me, just go right to the garbage can.
I’ll review it next week. We have off Monday and Tuesday, so that’s good. I got pictures of them playing and it was beautiful. Penny knows I love getting updates and pictures .
When the chemo came, it takes two nurses to check it is right, and comes in a huge yellow caution bag. I took a picture and prayed. I called it the blood of Jesus. It looks candy apple red. It took about fifteen minutes, then cytoxine was hung with my IV bag. I was pushed with a lot of saline to help with liquids. It’s so important I drink a lot and stay hydrated. The thing with Adriomycin is it turns your pee red. I was told if it’s still red after four or five bathroom trips, I’m not drinking enough and need to drink more. I’m not embarrassed to say after three I was all good.
That’s a relief.
Listen, you all know everything about me anyway… and no. I haven’t gone to starbutts yet.
I have no shame.
We finished chemo and went home. My amazing parents had my kids and got dinner for us from sarah and the cooking for friends meal train. Thank you all so much. I had no idea what a blessing it would be. Rob doesn’t haven’t to worry at all some nights and it makes his life a little easier.
Then rob, Morgan and I went to the middle school.
Because I can.
Once again, halls were easy to navigate and classes were not at all full. Come on, parents. Get to know your kids teachers. They are great. I had teachers that had Maddie looking out for Morgan. One of her teachers who was a mentor last year has offered to mentor Morgan again. So this morning, Morgan goes to school and spends some time before school with her beloved Benze. We are blessed.
I also got hugs and kisses galore from former parents and friends. Rob was like, come on! We’re not here for hugs and kisses!
But I was.
I totally was.
It filled me up with every person who grabbed me and hugged me and kissed me.
Thank you, RCSD staff and families.
I got home at 9:15 and went into a detox bath.
I’m been in one now again for the last half hour.
Quinn is starting to say he isn’t feeling well, but I know it’s anxiousness about me, as well as camping all weekend. I’m leaving my parents number with them if he needs to get picked up from camping. Morgan is staying with me parents because she can’t wait to snuggle with nanny and watch Rizzoli and isles or some show. They are my mystery girls. We are planning on packing a puke bucket if needed, meds, water, and then head to Boston with Maddie tomorrow. Hopefully Emerson will give us a tour last minute. We will come home Sunday.
Please keep praying that I detox quickly and feel NO side effects, and be completely healed forever.
God can do anything.
Look what He did yesterday?
I love each and every one of you. Those from Valley Stream Central, from riverhead, from cortland, who have all touched my
Life. Those who I’ve never met but have been sent to me. You give me as much love and hope as you say I give you.
It comes down to love.
Love always helps.
May today be a great day, because we are alive.
In Jesus’s name, amen.