Monday, August 10, 2009

There might be some PROGRESS!

It's summer in Ohio and I'm a whining. I didn't work today so i thought I better run early. I was at the track at 8:30 am and it was already sunny, 90 degrees, and muggy. Not my favorite weather. I'm so tired with this heat and humidity that i took coffee with me instead of water. Not a very good idea. I was panting like Bunny after a half mile.

I decided its time to really start pushing myself. So I started off running a 200m. I was trying to make the whole lap but just couldn't. So I ran 1 minute, then walked 1 minute. That's a lot harder than it sounds especially if you're over 40 (or in my case 50). Well I did the whole 5K doing the walk/run. A lot of you know that i don't like to sweat. Boy, did i ever sweat. It was disgusting. Good thing i don't have leather seats in my car...i would have slid over to the passenger side.

I really didn't feel bad doing it even though it was pretty hard for me. I'm glad i was alone....if i had to carry on a conversation with someone i would have collapsed. Now if i can just get rid of the cramping in my hip and legs....never had that before. I'm sure chris amato will give me a massage tonight. If i can stay awake until he gets home that is.

I sent out some emails for donations for the run. Over a thousand dollars in 2 days!!! You are amazing. I am so thankful for your support. Team Nancy Pants is awesome and i know we're going to win!

Monday, August 3, 2009

i'm training.....HARD!

now that john and dr have deserted me in my efforts to train, i'm on my own. so 3 or 4 days a week i find myself at the local high school track trying my hardest to run a 5K. so far i can run a 2.5K and i walk the other 2.5. one of the biggest obstacles i have encountered is keeping track of how many laps i've done! i know, i know, i'm a little senile. so now i walk in the numbered lanes. at first i thought i was just getting faster, then i figured out i was losing count.
in the beginning, dr had me running the straight away 100's. i got to the point where i could do that without much difficulty. and the farther i went the easier it was. then i started runninng 150 and walking 50. then my knee started swelling. so i whined to the orthopods that i work with and they injected it. it was pretty sore for a couple days, but now i'm back on track. on sunday i actually ran a 200 without stopping. i just wish i could run the whole lap without walking at all. my progress is so slow that i'm a little discouraged. remember, i was never a runner. i just had another birthday so i'm getting closer to a hundred, and no Pat, i do not find this addictive!!! in fact i feel like i'm going to have a stroke out there.
jt, aka chris amato, went to work out with me last weekend. i thought, oh good, he's even older than me and he's always whining that his hip hurts. so i start sprinting on my first straight away 100 and when i start walking he keeps running....for 2 miles straight. yikes!
i'll keep working at it, but i welcome any advice. i really want to run the whole 5K in october.
just a reminder.....on august 23 we leave for johns hopkins for another scan. i am having the scan on monday august 24 at 10 am. say an extra prayer that day. if i'm clean i can get another vaccine booster. i'm starting to have my usual melt down that occurs before a scan. i know worrying won't change anything, but i still worry. this is a HUGH scan. if i'm clean it will be my 3 year anniversary since diagnosis. nothing short of miraculous. and i have all of you to thank for all the love, prayers, and support. you are the best!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

DR is a slave driver

thought i would update you on my progress in training for the 5K in october. i started out by mapping a course through the neighborhood. beautiful weather, beautiful puppy(one year old named bunny), and brand new running shoes. so off we'd go every night after dinner. i didn't think it seemed that hard to walk so i started to run a little....very little. i would run about 30 seconds every 5 minutes. that seemed pretty hard. as much as i like to walk with bunny, i found she was a little less focused on my training than i hoped. she would stop to visit all her dog friends and managed to entice a few of them to break free of their invisible fences. she would chase bunnies. she would greet all walkers and bikers along the way. so since this wasn't taxing me too much, i decided to enlist DR to train me.
last night we went to the local high school track. he told me each lap was a quarter mile. i thought no big deal. after the first lap, i thought, well maybe this is a little longer than i thought and i better pick up my pace. so i decided to run the 100m straight aways. after DR lapped me twice the first half mile, i decided to show him how fast i could be. i started timing myself on the 100's. when all was said and done, i finished the 5K in 45minutes. i didn't think that was so bad. i was drenched in sweat. Dr had like one bead of sweat on his forehead. i drank 2 bottles of water and crawled to the car. DR had to drive home i was so weak! when my alarm went off for work, chris had to practically lift me out of bed. every bone in my body ached. i bought some icy hot today. i'm thinking about having my favorite orthopod, paulie fenton, inject all the joints in my body before my next run.
my exercise addicted sons keep telling me it will get easier and i will look forward to running. i don't think they know me very well. i think they are out of their minds! but i will train for this run. i figure i have a few months.....i wish they had a 1K for the people with the disease and the healthy ones could run the 5K!
i'll keep you posted

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

setting another goal

may 30,2009

graduation has come and gone. i had another clean (YES!) Cat scan on may 28. i've decided it's time to set another goal. pat and dr have challenged me to run the 5K for the Hirshberg Foundation in LA in October. i'm not sure they remember how old i am, and i'm not telling. also, i've never been a runner. my only claim to fame is that i held (briefly) two national records in swimming....i was 10 years old. so in other words, i peaked at 10 and haven't done a noteworthy thing since!

dr thought he'd help me by setting up a workout schedule for me. so i started walking the route he set up for me. i thought i was doing great. i would take my favorite dog, bunny, lace up my shoes and head out. i didn't think it was hard at all. it only took about 40 minutes on my first walk and each day i got faster. i guess i got too fast because Dr asked what route i was doing. when i told him he started laughing.....what i thought was actually 3 miles was only 1.6 miles! it's not as much fun now and i'm really slow. every now and then, i run for about a minute. the next morning chris has to help me out of bed. i wish i hadn't told everybody that i was training for this race......

had the surgery, now what?

since the cancer had already spread to the liver, i was told my prognosis was grim. i met with an oncologist and he said i had "single digits" in months to live. he said i would only be offered standard treatment and i wasn't eligible for any clinical trials. i told him that my daughter would graduate from Notre Dame in May. he said i shouldn't plan on being there. my husband's response was, you don't know my wife very well, and the fight began.

i only had one prayer in those first days. i begged God for some time with chris and my children. i was told again and again that i wouldn't have that time. so chris, viewed by some as a bit of a pit bull, started doing some research. we started travelling from one comprehensive cancer center to another. in the beginning, no one had anything remotely hopeful to share with us, so we asked for prayers....and more prayers.

what we encountered was a tremendous swell of support from family and friends. i tried just about everything anyone suggested. i had chemo and radiation. i was massaged, had reflexology, healing touch. i was rubbed with essential oils. i drank mangosteen, downed supplements, ate blueberries. i lit candles from the grotto at Notre Dame, i used holy water from Lourdes. we devoured every article on pancreatic cancer that was sent our way. most of them were not very encouraging. but those that sent them were always encouraging. they made me feel i could be in that 5% that survived.

every time i prepared for a CAT scan, i invited friends and family to a prayer service. i witnessed all these faith filled people join our family in prayer that my scan would be clean so i could continue treatment. preparing for a scan scared the holy crap out of me! i would leave these prayer services filled with peace and strength. at these services, people would often touch me and give me a prayer. my day planner is filled with these prayers.

i never really liked being the center of attention, but suddenly i was. people showered me with love and concern. i have saved each card, note, book, and gift i've been given. many of these i share with others who have been diagnosed with this horrible disease.

i can't even begin to thank all the people that have been part of this journey. so many people have touched my life in the last 3 years. some of them were strangers to me. some of them were co-workers, some of them were family. all of them have become my friends. they took me to chemo, they fed my family, they loved my children, they listened and supported my husband. they gave me the opportunity to continue to work. that gave me a reason to get out of my "jammies" and feel normal and care for someone else. they cleaned my house, they gave me frequent flier miles, they gave me encouragement and the strength to fight. the sent me emails, the texted me, friended me on Facebook, and embraced my children when they were scared.

this fight isn't over. i am currently in the vaccine program at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. the purpose of this vaccine is to find and kill any microscopic pancreatic cancer cells still in my body. i can get a vaccine every 6 months as long as my CAT scan is clean. my oncologist at JH is Dr. Dan Laheru. what a great man! he is patient, kind, empathetic and always available if you need him. he was one of the first people to offer me HOPE.

i not only went to katie's graduation but i was also at dan's graduation in May of this year. i spent a lot of that weekend at that beautiful Notre Dame grotto on my knees in thanksgiving. i am so awed by His goodness. every morning i would walk to the grotto and light a candle for all you wonderful people that prayed so hard for me. i felt like i took a little part of each of you with me. i bawled like a baby most of the weekend.....but they were tears of joy and gratitude.

from the beginning.....

i've been asked to blog a bit about my journey with pancreatic cancer. i can't find the journal i did when i was first diagnosed. this is how i remember it....
in august 2006 i had an episode of pancreatitis that i just couldn't shake. i had been having episodes of pancreatitis for 10 years but there was something different about this one. i was admitted to the hospital and all my scans were clean. but i still wasn't feeling any better. then i became jaundiced and that seemed to get everyone's attention fast.
i was transferred to cleveland clinic where they put in a stent. i felt a little better but still not great. then they did an endoscopic ultrasound and they saw a pancreatic mass. i was quickly sent to a wonderful, kind, highly skilled surgeon named conrad simpfendorfer. i swear i didn't make up that name! after lots of tests and discussions, i was scheduled for a whipple surgery. i'll spare you the gory details but will tell you it's a huge surgery...some organs come out and some are rearranged. but it was my best chance to fight this horrible disease.
on october 5 when they began surgery, they noticed a lesion on my liver. they biopsied it and it came back negative for cancer, so they proceeded with the whipple surgery. five days after surgery the surgeon came to me and said he had bad news. he said the final pathology reports on the liver came back as cancer. that meant i was Stage 4 and would not have been eligible for the whipple. i figured maybe he just saved my life.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pancreatic Cancer