Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Only One Chemo Left

Phil just finished his last bag of chemotherapy late tonight, and the plan is to be discharged tomorrow. This particular chemo went smoothly, with no vomiting as of yet. It was our first time going through chemo without parents on either side helping us, so Hannah really has taken over. She has been an unbelievable help- such an amazing friend and loyal companion to us.

I have recently gotten to know our friends' (Vanessa and Ashley) mother in the past few weeks and she has been an amazing emotional support to me. My first time meeting her was when she walked up to our door one morning with gifts (from her workmate, whom we've never met- fresh baked cookies and all! Thank you!!!) and I was crying. I don't cry often, but it was that kind of morning where I was just angry and lost. She showed up and just held me and we cried together. In that moment I knew she understood without my explaining. Sometimes you just need a mother's embrace. Without the congregation, and neighboring halls we would never have met all of the epic humans we now love so dearly.

Today Melody stopped by the house, the morning I woke up after spending a night at home to recoop a bit. She brought yummy treats, more gifts from her workmate (thanks AGAIN!!) and of course more love and support. I noticed her earrings, with little moonstones dangling from them and I said that I loved them. She then took them out of her ears and handed them to me and said, "They're yours now. My teardrops for you." Ya, try not to cry after that...




Linda has been kitten-sitting for us and we are so thankful for her as well. There for us at the drop of a hat. Tom spent the day with Phil when I went home to spend some time with the babies and sleep in my own bed. I felt so calmed, knowing Tom was here providing support, laughter and care for Phil while I was away. Today Kevin spend the afternoon with Phil while I was still at home, and later on he came to sit with us while we listened in on the phone to the memorial. It will be a very special memory for all of us. On such a sacred occasion, Kevin chose to spend that time here with us and I just can't imagine anything more loving. He has been such an amazing friend to Phil emotionally. Can't even begin to explain.

Phil has been having a hard time wanting company around so I've had to turn down a few offers from you dear ones to spend time, and I'm so sorry about that. Soon he will be feeling better and we will SO be up for visits! Please don't take it personally, I'm sure it's a little bit hard. He's just so drained from months of fighting and being brave. I can't believe he only has one more round to go.
CAN'T.

The pet scan revealed that all of the cancer is gone. Very hard to grasp, as our reality is harder then ever. But the light at the end of the tunnel is shining over there in the distance. A little light in the fog. There is only a small piece of tumor above the heart but it did not light up at all and that means it's benign (non cancerous) and the chemo has really won. Phil has had reasons to fight to live. All of you are part of that. Thank you for not giving up on us!!!




Here's Phil being silly with his winter hat ;) I have seen glimpses of the dry humor I so love in him in the past week or two and it is telling my heart that he's coming back to himself. Butterflies in my stomach.


For instance, THIS face when he turned on the tv, and the creepy "scenery" channel with weird zen music plays in the backround... Now there's the boy that makes me giggle ;)


Here is an afternoon Hannah spent with us, which was magical and encouraging for both of us. We watched Friends on dvds ( Thanks Candis and Roger for letting us borrow! ) and laughed constantly. I'm totally in love with Phoebe, for obvious reasons!



Also thanks to John Sr. for spending an evening with us, while he was in town to purchase and fly back a new plane to Florida. He is a pilot and was very excited to fly across the States- that would be pretty cool! He gave us a very generous gift that will help immensely through this time. Also his family are pitching in altogether to buy Phil a new phone since his is broken. Isn't that so sweet? It is hard for them to not be closer and see him, but this gesture is a HUGE help in our life! Hopefully we can have a nice little family reunion altogether when Phil is well.

Summer is on the way, and I am getting excited for coconut water, laying poolside listening to Beach Boys and Bob Marley, and nice long drives to the coast. I have been spending alot of time creating playlists and soundtracks for the season on Grooveshark and Spotify- very nice way for me to zone out when Phil naps.

California is just so awesome and we are making plans to camp soon. I can't imagine anything more magical for us after his chemo. Life is hard, but life is beautiful too. I miss the forest so much it hurts, and I want Phil to take me there more often. I want to really immerse ourselves in nature and be healed by it's peace-giving powers. We are also planning to visit mom and dad in Yuma, where the desert will feel so good while Phil heals. I'm choosing not to think too much about Phil weaning off pain medication because it will be the hardest thing on earth for us. I think Yuma would be a nice place to go through hell though, with mom and dad there to help us. Besides the Mexican border is just up the road and there's nothing better then authentic Mexican food when you're down.

It will be hard for a while still, and it's best not to rush things in my mind, but also not to think it will last forever. Phil must rebuild his body and soul, and I must begin to take care of my health as well. I have completely neglected my health and starting over together will be an amazing thing, a great weirdly romantic quest for us both. Juicing, walks and swims are the plan, nothing will be extreme because we're too tired for extreme. Exercising while doing things that are enjoyable will be our best bet. Kevin and Jon have talked about helping Phil with his rehabilitation, and I know Tom and Jeff will be into that too. We will all help each other- we are young and will bounce back pretty fast. Especially if we have good attitudes. Emotional issues, PTSD and depression is something both Phil and I will need to get help with. That is clear, but one thing at a time.

Annoying thing that happened the day before we went in for chemo....the toilet overflowed and flooded our bathroom. YEP. That was one of those moments where you're so livid with life that you have that thought- I GIVE UP. I grabbed towels, and the dust pan and scooped up the water and dealt with it. No screaming or collapsing or walking out the front door happened. Afterward I just went in my room and napped for the rest of the day. There's only so much two people can take! It was fixed two days later and thankfully I don't see that happening again. Great story, done now.



While I was home preparing for Chemo, I started to work on a spiritually inspiring scrapbook. I am really enjoying it and looking forward to working on it again when I get home. It's helping me to look up scriptures and review old articles that I have loved in the Awakes and Watchtowers. I clip out the pics I like and also pics from any other mags sitting around. I'd like to go to Michaels and get a few supplies too. Also craving a Target run, maybe buy a few summery clothes. It's getting pretty warm and sunny here already. Sorry, to those of you still dealing with winter!



After my last blog post, look what Margaret Jones brought by for Phil....
SHE KILLS ME!! So helpful it's not even funny...


I was also able to make my first meeting in months last week and I received the most love, embraces, smiles and encouragement I could have imagined! It was such lifechanging experience. Not only did I receive a boost from all the friends but also by Carlos, Steve and Angel after the meeting. I got special attention and encouragement through scriptures, and them just listening to my feelings. Once again, a direct blessing from Jehovah. He has never left us in the lurch.

As far as things Phil is into right now, here we go:

- For some reason I can't find him his favorite cereal, Banana Nut Crunch. If you find out where we can buy a few boxes, please let me know.

- I would like to get Phil drinking coconut water to build up his immunity, and aid with digestion. Any unsweetened kind is perfect, and great for adding to smoothies and watering down his sweeter juices. It can get expensive, but I have heard that Trader Joe's has a cheap one, I'm going to look into that. We have a gift card for TJ that I haven't used yet as well.

- I love going to Sprouts and Felipes for healthy food- if you ever go and would like company let me know. Felipes is very cost effective, especially because Phil breezes through raspberries, blueberries and strawberries like there's no tomorrow. They have those big bins of strawberries cheap and they're so good for him! He loves the berries in yogurt. My favorite yogurt is Brown Cow, as there's no yucky stuff in that kind. I think Felipes has some natural kinds of yogurt too.

That's all I can think of at the moment but Ill blog if I think of anything else :)

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Tomorrow the Klischuks from Florida are coming to visit us before heading over to Hawaii, and it will be nice to see old friends after a long week. We love all of you and I thank you again for all of your prayers and support. You keep us going.
I'll write again soon.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

2 More Chemos

We have been home almost a week from Chemo and Phil is just starting to feel a bit better. This session was extra yucky because Phil is experiencing a new kind of pain in his chest that resembles something sitting on him. Drs have done many tests with no results. His heart is fine which is good. Me and drs have been brainstorming and have come to the conclusion that it is probably scar tissue and a nerve problem. All we can do is guess at this point. All throughout the chemo and days after the session was done he had to stay in hospital longer. Once again, nothing was solved. The awful thing about him staying longer was that the staff erased his pain management information (iv dilauded every 3 hrs) thinking he was going to be discharged home, but he ended up staying. For the 3 days extra that he stayed, they never allowed him IV dilauded, except for about 3 times after begging, crying and almost losing it completely. That was all of us- Phil, Kay and I. I have never seen Phil so angry, frustrated and at his wits end. It's not really worth getting into the details of how awful it was for him, but just know he's scarred and more then ever, can't believe he has to survive 2 more chemos.

At this point Phil is past saying, let's get this overwith- he is just exhausted beyond belief and sick of being in pain- once again, mystery pain. We are at the 8 month point and praying everyday for the strength to keep positive. And we do, as much as we can. The last vestiges of hair, like his eyebrows and eyelashes are almost gone and he is weaker then ever, even having a hard time walking without wobbling. I am sharing this because although it's great that the cancer is disappearing, he is in the worst shape he's ever been through this whole thing (except for the near death days) and he really still needs your prayers to keep strong. He is back on pain medication, which means he went through detox really for nothing, so instead of worrying about just how much he is taking- we are just set on keeping him as sane and comfortable as possible.

He will be getting a pet-scan next Tuesday, which we are hoping will reveal updated cancer results and more importantly what this new pain is being caused by. He can't keep taking so much medication, ignoring a big problem- although we both don't think we can't handle any more bad news. But we're just not thinking about it or worrying right now, because there is no point. Sometimes I just lie to myself that it is nothing at all, and just a simple nerve problem that will be fixed on it's own. I have to say, lying to oneself for self-preservation can work for short-term sanity.

Kay went home two days ago and she was of great help, even sleeping overnight twice with Phil and taking my place as bodyguard and fighter for him with the nurses and drs. I was able to stay home alone and sleep in my own bed- it's been SO LONG and I can't tell you how much that did for me. She helped with cleaning, and with cat stuff, rides, laundry, picking up stuff, you name it. I would like to mention that Hannah, mom and dad, Kay and all the extended family and close friends who support us emotionally and who answer all your questions on how we are doing - they need your prayers as much as we do. They are so tired and drained themselves, and in order to keep giving to us they need help from above. If there's one thing I can ask for in this email, it's for your prayers for our family. They have been going through this with us from the start and are experiencing their own burnout already. Think of them taking care of their own families but checking in everyday and just worrying about us all the time. How tiring. We couldn't get through without them, so please remember how much they also need your encouragement. Your embraces, and understanding will do wonders for their refreshment.

The cats are doing well, and I'm keeping the house disinfected daily. Neither of us have signs of ringworm which is great. It's hard to get if you are keeping extra clean, washing laundry with bleach and vacuuming constantly. In a few weeks Wolfie will be completely clear of it and I will be spending less energy cleaning, and more in taking care of myself and Phil. Wolfie and Minou are our babies and I will do anything for them. It is amazing how much they make Phil smile and laugh everyday. Nothing could make me happier. We saw a Too Cute episode while we were in hospital featuring Munchkin kittens, and Phil's set on getting one. If you don't know what a Munchkin is, it's a kitten with extra short legs. I think they're sad looking, but he's obsessed!....



Currently Phil is enjoying Friends and Seinfeld reruns and is hooked on cereal, cereal, cereal! If there's something you want to gift Phil it's cereal. He goes through about a box a day. He has it with either 1% or 2% milk. Here are his current favs:

CEREAL
-Banana Nut Crunch
-Honey Nut Chex
-Raisin Bran
-Frosted Mini Wheats
-Cinnamon Toast Crunch
-Lucky Charms
-Apple Cinnamon Cherrios
-Honey Bunches of Oats

TREATS (he eats these all day)
-Snickers Ice Cream Bars
-Coffee Ice Cream
-Caramel center Drumsticks
-Peanut Butter Cookies
-Macadamia Nut Cookies
-Cadbury Fruit and Nut Bar
-Aero is his favorite chocolate bar
-Caramello

DRINKS:
-Dole fruit juices (strawberry, banana, peach type thing)
-Arizona Green Tea
-Lemonade Ice Tea

HEALTHY SNACKS
-Bananas, blueberries and raspberries - he's obsessed!!
-Lemons for alkaline water

CURRENT FAV MEALS
-Pierogies w bacon and onion topped with cheddar cheese and sour cream
-Domino's Cheese Pizza and BBQ wings with bleu cheese dressing
-Any form of creamy pasta (I add mushrooms and broccoli for extra health)
-Caesar salad with lots of parm (amazing cause it's healthy)
-Macaroni and Cheese
-Grilled cheese with tomato

That's about it for now. I'm shooting to make the Saturday meeting, as it's been months since I've been there in person, and I truly need the encouragement. Phil is still too tired for company at this point but by next week I'm sure he'll be up for short spurts of company. We love you all and I'll keep in touch when we know more.
Hollie