Monday, November 26, 2007

first day back at work

This isn't treatment-related, but I thought I'd share anyway :)

I had my first day back at work today, and it was everything I expected:

- I got lots of hugs and hello waves from kids

- I began my day by collecting all of the dentist's stuff on the stage and taking it to the office

- I got lots of hugs from staff

- I spent all day moving furniture, unpacking, hanging things ... and I have many days' worth of the same left to do

- there was no paper in the copier

- the principal and I had a short chat, and she seemed genuinely concerned about my general well-being.... OK, that doesn't fall under the "expected" column, but it sure was nice

- the big cabinets that I requested in March to be removed are still there

- I got three bell kits, a tenor sax, and a bari sax :-)

It was a good day. It didn't wear me out. Tomorrow, I'm doing some instrument demonstrations for classes, passing out the forms to sign up, helping with a 7/8 elective class. Should be good :)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

PET, facebook, link to pics

Well, the results of the PET are negative. Lots of people around me are really excited about this, and I guess I should be, but I'm not.

The PET in July came back negative, and I've had eight chemo treatments since then. I fully expected this scan to come back negative. I didn't consider it as "good news" (though it is) as much as confirmation of what we already knew.


I went to paint at the cancer art day on Wednesday. I had a really great time. I was thinking that I wasn't going to paint anything cancer-related, just paint, but that's not what came out of my brushes at all. I am pleased with what I ended up with, though I might re-do it with pastels, as I think I'd be able to do it better. I'll post a pic once I have it back. The hospital kept them all to make a display.


A few weeks ago, during a bout of chemo-induced insomnia, I joined Facebook. I've connected with a bunch of former students, which has been very cool. I've connected with a few other people, as well. I don't go on it all that often, but it sends me email when I have a message or a friend request, so I know when to log in :)


Pics from the Lymphomathon are here. I'm in the yellow-shirt group shots (front row, center), but there aren't any other good ones that any of us are in :(

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I have been stuck by a needle six times today so far. (I say "so far," though I am not anticipating any more.)

I went to get a PET scan this morning. Needle Poke No. 1: they poked my finger to get a reading on my blood sugar. This is a test that requires four hours of fasting, though I don't know why and I didn't ask.

PET scans require an injection of radioactive stuff (that the machine subsequently photographs). Needle Poke Nos. 2, 3, 4: unsuccessful attempts at inserting an IV. I haven't been poked for a while, but that didn't change my ability to stave off tears only until the failure of the second attempt. And, one of the only times this ever happened to me, the third attempt hurt pretty significantly (usually it's just uncomfortable and a little pinchy).

Needle Poke No. 5: successful IV insertion. Minimal pain. IV worked long enough to flush it, put in the radioactive stuff, flush again. (It only stays in a couple of minutes.)

[PET scan was otherwise uneventful. I'll have results tomorrow.]

Needle Poke No. 6: I needed to have my weekly blood test done today (so I can have results tomorrow, before schlepping out to CA). Fortunately, the gal that did it was very good and needed only one attempt.

I will so not miss the needles. I will so never be addicted to anything that is injected.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

down with chemo BOOYA!

I'm done done done done done done :) :) :) :) :)

The video guy decided he didn't need footage of last night's concert, so he didn't come. Makes some sense - I didn't talk about band in the interview. He did come and do a little filming this morning. (The doctor came in to see me in record time this morning, and I waited for very little time subsequently to go to the infusion room. I think that had everything to do with the PR people being there...)

That's all. Joy rules the day!

P.S. The pic from dancing in the hospital is here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

video, chemo, upcoming stuff

Well, the PR people wanted to know if they could tape me dancing, so I set up something with Chad and they came and did video. It was a lot of fun :) and dancing requires enough concentration that I didn't much notice the camera. Once I finish treatments and get my body back in shape, I think I might take some dance lessons... maybe TJ will join me...

Tonight, Arizona Wind Symphony has a concert at the new Tempe Center for the Arts. It's a neat place, and I like playing there. The Banner video guy is coming to do more video.

Tomorrow is my LAST CHEMO!! The video guy is coming to do video of that, too (though he's not going to stay for the whole thing).

This seems like an awful lot of video for an internal newsletter, but whatever. It's turning into more of a little documentary. It's bordering on creepy. I will be interested to see what it looks like when it's done.

This morning, I went to have blood taken. While there, I asked the nurse a question about the anti-nausea pills they gave me last time (that didn't work at all). This is what I learned:

There are two different nausea receptors in our body. The IV stuff they give me floods one of those two, and works for about three days. The old prescription I have (compazine) works on the other receptors, but is mild. The new stuff they gave me last week works on the same receptors as the IV, which is why, when I took it on Friday, it didn't do anything.

She recommended that I take compazine starting right during/after chemo, then every six hours, whether I feel like I need it or not. It can be taken as often as every four hours, so if I'm feeling funky, I should move the dosages closer together. And now I know that the other stuff might work if I take it Sunday or Monday, if needed.

So, I have enough compazine left to take it every four hours for more days than I'm likely to need it. Here's to hoping it makes my last chemo weekend closer to the same as a not chemo weekend.

I have a PET scan scheduled for early Tuesday and an appointment with Dr. Radiology on Wednesday morning. I'm hoping the PET results are back in time for that appointment.

On that same Wednesday (a week from today), there is an art thing at the hospital for cancer patients, survivors, etc. I'm going to go over and paint after my doc's appointment. I am trying to think about how I would like to visually represent this journey, but so far, I got nothin'. If you have any thoughts or suggestions, please leave a comment. Even if I don't use it, you never know what's going to trigger a new idea.

A week from Saturday is the No Mo Chemo party. (I'm making CDs to play - if you have suggestions/requests, let me know soon :) ) I am so happy to be ending this phase of treatment. I was talking this morning to a guy who I've seen regularly at the office. He's been coming 'round since December or January, and his conversation implied that he had radiation before that. I don't know what kind of cancer he has or if it's the first time he's had it, but I'm glad that I'm not coming up on a year of chemo...

(If you are a local, you should have received an Evite for the party. If not, e-mail me, and I'll send it to you.)

Monday, November 12, 2007

yesterday's walk

The walk for lymphoma research was yesterday. It was a cool, sunny morning - great for walking or running. My team had five people in it (which was my goal), and we had a nice leisurely walk around the Phoenix Zoo.

Before the walk started, the event people took a picture of all of the survivors. They also took a picture of us as we started the walk. If I am able to get copies of those pics, I will post them. I don't know if that will happen, though.

Nothing terribly exciting about it, otherwise. Just wanted to let you know that we went and walked and it was nice :)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

fun things

Last week, I got to dance with my dance teacher in the atrium of the hospital in scrubs. It was a blast. Kind of a long story as to how it came to be, and I don't feel like typing that much right now. Here is one of the pics I got from the PR people today:

Since I'm posting a pic, I'll put in a little plug for Chad here. He's an awesome dance teacher. If you live in the Phoenix area and want to dance, I recommend him. He teaches ballroom, Latin, NY Hustle/Argentine tango, swing through Tempe Parks and Rec four sessions per year. His studio is Arthur Murray, at Indian School and 12th St (I think). More info at or at

As a result of the dancing, PR called me and asked if they could do a patient profile of me for their November video newsletter. I went yesterday and was video-interviewed. It was a little scary and a lot fun. I'll get a copy of it in a few weeks.

That's all from here for now :)

Monday, November 5, 2007

the weekend went OK

Well, it's Monday morning, and I am feeling pretty good. No throwing up this weekend, though there was no shortage of nausea. It's all good. And it's only happening once more :) :) :)

I mentioned in my last post that I had a few links regarding cancer and obesity. Here they are:

(As if there was not already enough to be concerned with for friends and family who are overweight (heart disease, diabetes, and all the side effects of both of those!), we add this in to the mix of potential issues. It's not worth it! That's really all I can say...)

One more treatment, on November 15, and then chemo-hell is over!!

I'll know some time in the next month what my radiation schedule looks like. I know I get a month off between chemo and radiation, which means the earliest radiation would start is December 17 (the 15th is a Saturday). I'm hoping to get in, get it started, and get it done.

I know you're all jealous because you want radiation for Christmas, too, but not everyone can have it... ;)

Next weekend is the walk for lymphoma that I'm participating in. If you would like to sign up to walk on my team (it's a 5K walk through the zoo) or would like to donate, go to this link:
(Click on "My Team Page" and then "Join My Team" to sign up to walk with "Heat's Herd.")

That's all from here for the moment!

Friday, November 2, 2007

chemo #11 - almost done

Well, yesterday was chemo #11.

My doc's appointment went pretty well. We talked for a few minutes about all my new nasty side effects last time around. He brainstormed a little (had I been in contact with people with a bug?) and gave me some new anti-nausea meds. He also told me if they didn't work, to call for something else, not just to sit around in misery. Good to know.

I should have had chemo at about 10:30. Just about that time, one of the nurses came out and said that they didn't have the results of my labs and that they were re-ordering them STAT but that it would likely take about four hours. She confirmed my phone number. I came home and went back later when they called. I'm glad I live nearby.

I had a few funky weird sensations that I've not had before while the drugs were being dripped. They weren't painful, but they caused me some concern, partially because they were mostly in my chest, and partially because I've never had them before.

If this weekend is as bad as last time, I'm going to ask the doctor when I see him how necessary this last treatment is. I'd rather not be really sick and just take the last one and be done ... though a weekend of throwing up might be worth getting out of some chemo. We'll see what happens.

Anyway, the doc and I also talked about weight. He said it is unusual for him to see a patient who isn't overweight. We talked about exercise and how great it is. We talked about how risky being overweight is as far as cancer is concerned, not to mention diabetes and heart disease. When I send out my e-mail update, I'll put more about that in there, including a couple of links that I happened to have read on Wednesday. (I'll post the links here, too, some time later.)

I decided to hold off on the update until this weekend is over, to see how it goes.

Feeling mostly OK so far.

That's about all from here. More after the weekend, most likely...