Jill with Debbie's Dream banner at North Base Camp in Tibet 5/2010
Well, as always, it's taken me a long time to post this. As those of you following this blog know, Debbie's Dream banners were carried to Mount Everest Base Camp and on a summit attempt by two different people, one of them being me. (I went to East and North Everest basecamps) My beloved friend, Dipen, who was carrying the other banner and going for the summit, was evacuated from about 24,000 feet with a life-threatening ruptured appendix. Dipen endured a very rugged evacuation-process, taking several days to get him to a hospital in Kathmandu, where doctors emergently removed his appendix. I'm very happy to report he is doing well and recuperating from the surgery! I had the wonderful pleasure of visiting with him and his family at their home in Kathmandu.
Dipen and his mother at their home in Kathmandu 5/2010
Having fun during a wonderful visit at Dipen's home.
The banner that Dipen was carrying was given to a fellow Sherpa and DID make it successfully to the top of Mount Everest!!!!!!!! (I will post those pictures as soon as I receive them) Dipen is keeping that same banner and wants to carry it himself, on his next summit attempt, possibly during next year's climbing season. So the good news is that the message of Debbie's Dream is being publicized all over the world. I am proud to be a part of this valuable and life-saving foundation. Thanks so much for donating to Debbbie's Dream and for following my blog. Tashi Dalek and Namaste, Jill
I'll soon be embarking on an awesome journey through Tibet. While I'm traveling through Tibet (with an amazing group of photographers!) and trekking to the Kanjung Face of Mount Everest, my good friend and amazing Sherpa from my last trek, Roshan (Dipen) Bhattarai will be preparing to summit the mountain.
Dipen at summit of Mount Everest
As part of my trip, I'll be visiting North Base Camp, where I hope to visit with Dipen before his summit bid. Dipen has generously offered to carry something for me to the top of the mountain. It's tough deciding what to give someone to take to the top of the world for you!!! For me, it was a pretty easy decision. If you've been following my blog from the start, you'll know that on my last trek, which I named Trekking for Debbie, I raised $15,000 to help fight cancer. My fundraising project was dedicated to my sister-in-law, Debbie, who is fighting stage 4 gastric cancer. My efforts evolved into something much more than I had ever imagined. I have now passed the reigns to Debbie's Dream, Debbie's foundation to raise money and awareness specifically for gastric cancer.
Climbing to the top of the world is never predictable. If all goes as planned, you'll see Dipen wearing these bracelets and holding this banner as he summits the mountain. Debbie and I are very excited about this project. If you are able, please show your support by donating to Debbie's Dream. Thanks!
Debbie continues to fight cancer and has started her own fundraising project called: Debbie's Dream. Her dream, of course, is to find a cure for stomach cancer and she has created a nonprofit foundation specifically dedicated to this. I fully support her and want to help by asking my viewers to shift gear.
I'm handing over the reigns, so to speak, and wish Debbie great success in this new endeavor. With your help, Debbie and many many others in this fight, will see their children grow up, enjoy life and be around for those who love them for years to come.
Thanks so much!
(photo by Roshan Dipen Bhattarai)
Hi everyone, sorry it's taken awhile to start posting again. I've been back from my trip for about a month now and am just starting to edit my thousands of photos. With the holiday season beginning right when I got home, I haven't yet had a chance to take a deep breath and relax. Please know that I haven't forgotten about this website. If all goes well, this trek is just the beginning of a lifelong journey.
I want to thank everyone for the amazing support during my trek. I can't believe how much money we've raised for cancer research through your generous donations!! From the bottom of my heart, thanks so much! You are wonderful!!
Debbie continues to fight cancer and is currently undergoing her 13th round of chemotherapy. She is a brave and amazing woman and I am beyond happy that she is doing so well. We had a great phone call while I was at Mount Everest Base Camp. Through the amazing technology of a satellite phone, I woke her up in the middle of the night to tell her I had reached my goal. She told me how well she was feeling, how well her cancer had responded to the treatments and that she planned on being around for a long long time. The conversation brought tears to my eyes. (Or was that just the freezing temperatures??) Seriously, it was great. About 7 hours later, hiking by the light of my headlamp to return to camp, I was still energized from our conversation. It was a very difficult, 13 hour day, but worth it in so many ways.
I'm already wondering what my next trek will be. One thing I know for sure is that there will be more treks, so please stay tuned.
In the meantime, please check out my other website, sincityhiker.com, for photos from my trip. Eventually, I'll post some on this website as well.
Happy holidays to everyone. I hope 2009 brings great things to all of you but mostly, a cure for gastric and all other cancers!
Team Survivor Las Vegas provides free exercise, health education and support programs for women living with cancer. Their mission: Enable women to regain and maintain their physical and emotional well-being. They welcome women of all ages and fitness levels in all stages of cancer treatment and recovery. I was honored to hike with them.
For more information on them: Team Survivor
Group shot at the end of our wonderful hike
Bruce and his wife, Stephanie, couldn't find their backpack when they were leaving for the hike today. Bruce ended up carrying their granddaughter's backpack, a Tinkerbell pack! He was such a good sport about it, people were calling him Tinkerbell all day. Sorry Bruce, I had to post this!!
The pile of gear in my office...
Gabcast! trekkingfordebbie #1 - Trekkingfordebbie Podcast # 1
Please click the link above or the play button below to hear my first podcast.
I'm trekking to Mt Everest Base Camp in early November. The trek is dedicated to my sister-in-law Debbie who is battling stage 4 gastric cancer. Using this podcast, I will take the listeners to Nepal with me and hopefully give a glimpse of life in the Himalayas. Please tune in for future episodes.
I recently had the pleasure of traveling to Florida to visit my family and help celebrate Debbie's 41st birthday. Debbie and I had a great visit and we are both very excited about my upcoming trek to Nepal which will happen in just a few weeks. I will be posting audio podcasts while on the trek, a brand-new endeavor for me. Again, thanks to Jon Miller of The Rest of Everest for lending me his satellite phone! By way of my audio additions to the blog, you will hear regular updates as I trek through the Himalayas! I hope you'll check the blog and listen along. I'm also hoping you won't hear any sounds of altitude sickness in my voice!! Of course I'll call Debbie when I arrive at Mount Everest Base Camp so we can celebrate together. Thanks so much for your generous donations and following my blog. Please check sincityhiker for more training photos. I fly out on Halloween to head for Kathmandu and will begin the trekking portion from Lukla, Nepal, on November 4th. (Don't worry, we have early voting here in Las Vegas.)
Shortly after receiving her diagnosis of stage 4 gastric cancer, Debbie traveled to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. That trip greatly lifted Debbie's spirits. During her consultation, the specialists there presented her with new possibilities to help battle cancer. Memorial Sloan-Kettering allows funds to be specifically directed toward gastric cancer. This is the main reason Debbie asked me to add them to this website.
Please scroll to the end of this post for step-by-step instructions on donating to Memorial Sloan-Kettering. I will be updating this site regularly with a running donation total to MSK.
I am still fundraising for Lance Armstrong Foundation as well. These are both great organizations! Your interest and generous donations help the fight against cancer. Finding a cure is quite the challenge, my hope is that it will happen soon!
The bright yellow thermometer on the right side of this page is a link to my fundraising effort for Lance Armstrong Foundation. All family members now wear Livestrong bracelets in honor of Debbie. If you'd like to donate to LAF, please click on the themometer.
I have set my inital combined fundraising goal at $29,029. This is the height of Mount Everest, the highest place on the planet. I am dedicating my upcoming November trek to Mount Everest Base Camp to Debbie. My plan is to phone Debbie when I arrive there and tell her the wonderful news of reaching base camp. (A GIANT thanks to Jon Miller of therestofeverest.com for loaning me his satellite phone!) Additionally, I will be posting audio podcasts from Nepal. Please watch for an introductory podcast soon.
Also--Please check out the rest of the website. Debbie blogs regularly and all of her posts are included. Please check my other blog for recent training photos: sincityhiker.blogspot.com
Thanks for visiting!! Jill
Note: When posting comments, please be aware that I do not receive your email address when you comment. If you'd like a response, please send me a comment that includes your email address.
Instructions for donating to Memorial Sloan-Kettering:
1 Click on the Memorial Sloan-Kettering icon below these intructions
2 Fill in personal information, donation amount, etc.
Select stomach/gastric cancers from the pull down menu.
Select yes and you will get another menu.
Fill in as shown.
The rest should be easy. THANKS!!
Thanks so much for all of your generous donations!!!!!!
Jill & Debbie
The Grouse Gulch trail for Handies Peak is a long hike (almost 11 miles) with almost 4000 vertical feet elevation gain. It was tough, but near the top, while feeling like I couldn't make it and a bit altitude sick, I thought about Debbie and her battle. I figured if she could do what she is doing, I could certainly climb a little mountain. The black clouds and thunder were rolling in fast, afterall, it is the monsoon season in CO. I pressed on and somehow found the top. Thanks Debbie, for the inspiration I needed to get there!
Next time, I'll do my hair before taking a picture of myself at the top!
View from Handies Peak--Yikes, here comes the storm!! Not the place you want to be when the lightning starts!
Latest posts from Debbie:
Hi everyone! No - I did not fall off the face of the earth AGAIN! Since my last posting, I have done so much that I find it hard to sit down and write but here goes!
I finished my 12th round of chemo and I did very well except that now I have stiffness in my joints every morning and every time I sit in 1 place too long. It mostly happens in my knees and fingers. The stiffness usually subsides after I get moving around. Typing helps my fingers loosen up. I think that the stiffness is the neuropathy getting worse. However, the stiffness is a tolerable side effect of the chemo so I started my 13th round of chemo this past Monday. Monday was not a good day. I was absolutely exhausted! However, today is better and I am looking forward to New Year’s Eve. My family and I hope that 2009 will bring much better health and more happiness for all of us!
Since I last wrote, a lot has happened. On a very positive note, BOTH Rachel and Zachary qualified for the 5th grade spelling bee at University School! This is the second year in a row that they BOTH qualified for the spelling bee! We are so proud of and excited for them! Also, I attended Sarah’s school holiday parties, Rachel’s performance in a school concert and Zachary’s first soccer game for the season. I was able to drive the kids to and from school several times and we even had some play dates here for the kids. I attended a Dolphin game, my adult dance class, and a few holiday parties. It is so nice to be out and about and to see so many of you!
For the most part, we have had an amazing holiday break. My sister Tammy, her husband and her kids came into town from New York and we have seen them a lot. We celebrated Hanukah with my family and Andy’s family and we have had lots of fun with the kids and their friends. However, on the last night of Hanukah, Sarah fell and lacerated her chin. Fortunately, Andy and my Dad (the retired plastic surgeon) took Sarah to the hospital and made sure that she was VERY WELL taken care of. She is doing great! You almost don’t know that she has 4 stitches in her chin except for the steri strip that will come off on Friday. She is a real trooper! She continues to delight us all! I truly believe that my 3 children inspire me to keep up the fight!
YES - I had my hair colored! My hair is about 1 ½ - 2 inches long now! My hairdresser said that I look like Jamie Lee Curtis. Even though Andy and my Mom say that I look great without my wig, I don’t have the courage yet to go without it. I am hoping that I will feel comfortable to stop wearing my wig soon before it gets too hot outside.
I appreciate that many of you are still asking me about my sister-in-law Jill’s fundraiser called Trekking for Debbie. Jill has now raised over $13,000 toward her goal of $29,029. Donations are still being accepted so please go to https://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/72835.cfm?ContentFor=Special and donate! This link will take you to the Sloan-Kettering donation page. Make sure that when you get to the section that says "Support a Program or Area of Research" you select "Stomach/Gastric Cancers". Also, under the section entitled "Tributes and Special Occasions", select "Yes" then select "In Honor of" and type in "Trekking for Debbie" in the space provided. This will make sure that all of your contributions are credited properly. Thank you in advance! We are still in awe of Jill's journey and I am inspired to "keep trekking!"
The meals have kept coming, which we really appreciate! It allows me to take care of myself and to be with the kids. Thank you to all who are involved!
Keep praying for me, keep in touch, and I wish you all a very Happy and HEALTHY New Year!
Hi everyone! No - I did not fall off the face of the earth! I am still here and doing very well! I am doing so well that I am out and about most of the time so I cannot force myself to sit down and write. However, there is so much to tell you all!
We had a very happy Thanksgiving with lots of family and friends in town. Also, Andy and I took Rachel and Zachary to swim with the Dolphins. Sarah was too little but she was allowed to watch. As we drove there, we were a little bit nervous but very excited. However, we all loved it! It ended up being one of the most incredible experiences of my life! I highly recommend it!
Another development - the 1 chemo drug that I am on does not inhibit hair growth so my hair started growing back in late September. My hair is about an inch long now. I am so excited! I just made an appointment to have my hair colored! I can't wait!
Since I wrote last, my sister-in-law Jill climbed to the base camp of Mount Everest! We are so proud of her! From her climbing group of 10 people, only 3 people made it to the Base Camp, which included Jill. She had a bad case of altitude sickness but she persevered and made it to the base camp, just like I am persevering against my cancer! Wow - major similarity here! After her incredible climb, Jill then got stuck at the Bangkok airport for a few days while the airport was under siege by protestors. Can you believe it!? We were calling the US Embassy. Jill ended up traveling 10 hours by bus to an alternate airport to fly out. It took her 2 days of traveling to get back to the US. We are still in awe of Jill's journey and I am inspired to "keep trekking!"
Jill has now raised over $13,000 toward her goal of $29,029. Donations are still being accepted so please go to https://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/72835.cfm?ContentFor=Special and donate! This link will take you to the Sloan-Kettering donation page. (If you can't click on the link please type it in). Make sure that when you get to the section that says "Support a Program or Area of Research" you select "Stomach/Gastric Cancers". Also, under the section entitled "Tributes and Special Occasions", select "Yes" then select "In Honor of" and type in "Trekking for Debbie" in the space provided. This will make sure that all of your contributions are credited properly. Thank you in advance!
I start chemo round 12 tomorrow so wish me luck, keep praying for me and keep in touch!
YEA!!!! I had a CT scan on Thursday and MY TUMORS ARE CONTINUING TO SHRINK! It is unbelievable that I am having such a positive response to the 1 chemo drug (called 5 FU). I feel so blessed and relieved! I start my 11th round of chemo on Monday.
Another piece of exciting news - my sister-in-law Jill called me on her satellite phone at 2:35 a.m. to tell me that she had reached the base camp of Mount Everest! HOW EXCITING! What a tremendous accomplishment! I had trouble falling back asleep after my phone conversation with her because I was so excited for her and proud that she is trekking in my honor. Please consider visiting her website to follow her trek at http://www.trekkingfordebbie.blogspot.com/ and listen to her podcasts. The pod casts are very interesting and inspiring and are only about 2 minutes each.
If you haven’t already, please consider making a donation to the stomach cancer research being done at Sloan Kettering. To contribute, go to https://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/72835.cfm?ContentFor=Special. That link will take you to the Sloan-Kettering donation page. Under the section that says "Support a Program or Area of Research", plaese select "Stomach/Gastric Cancers". Also, under the section entitled "Tributes and Special Occasions", please select "Yes" then select "In Honor of" and type in "Trekking for Debbie" in the space provided. This will make sure that all of your contributions are credited properly. I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart who have made a donation toward the research being done on stomach cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering! The Sloan Kettering stomach cancer research is very promising for me so my family and I are very excited about Jill’s efforts and about your support!
Keep in touch!
Fortunately, the mouth sores are gone and I am able to eat normally again. I still have a bit of a cough and, as a result of the cough, my voice is a bit raspy, but I don’t mind because people are calling me Demi Moore. Gotta like that comparison!
This is my third week in my 3 week chemo cycle and I usually feel pretty good during this week (I am getting the hang of this routine). SO - I went out to eat with some terrific friends yesterday and Saturday night and I went to the Dolphin game on Sunday! Yippee!!! It is nice to be out and about and feel like I am part of the world again. I have more outings scheduled for this week to see friends and family before I start my 11th chemo cycle on Monday, November 17, 2008. I plan to go to the University School 5th grade lunch on Wednesday and to some other lunches this week as well. Also, Andy and I are taking the kids to New York from Saturday to Sunday for my niece and nephew’s 6th birthday. That will be a whirlwind but lots of fun! Today, there is no school for Veteran’s Day so I am taking Zachary, Zachary’s friend and Sarah bowling. Rachel slept out for a birthday party and has another birthday party today.
The neuropathy in my hands and feet is still there but I am learning to live with it. The drug called Lyrica may be helping a little. I have another CT scan scheduled for next week to see what the cancer is doing. Hopefully, the cancer is still shrinking! That would be the best news!
I want you all to know that I really treasure your postings on Caring Bridge! I usually wait to read them until I "need" them. So many of you have said that I am an inspiration but I feel the reverse - that you are all an inspiration to me! I really need you all. I feel like having the Caring Bridge cite has aided me in my fight against cancer because I am inspired by all of you to keep fighting. I read all of your postings and I am invigorated by your positive words. Please know that I read all of your words and I love them and you all!
To update you on Trekking for Debbie, my sister-in-law, Jill Guttman, left for her trek in my honor to the base camp of Mount Everest on October 31st. She is scheduled to reach the base camp on November 14th. She started her climb on November 3, 2008 and she has now posted 5 podcasts via satellite phone. They are incredible to hear! Please visit her website to follow her trek at http://www.trekkingfordebbie.blogspot.com/ and listen to her podcasts. She tells about meeting monks, teaching the staff the Hokey Pokey, meeting a nun who now wears her Lance Armstrong bracelet, and much more. The pod casts are very interesting and inspiring and are only about 2 minutes each! Please listen to them if you get a minute. DO NOT make any donations through this website though!
I know that a lot of you have made contributions to the stomach cancer research being done at Sloan Kettering. I am so grateful to you all for your contributions! Others of you have asked me how to contribute. To contribute to Sloan-Kettering, click on this link: https://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/72835.cfm?ContentFor=Special. This link will take you to the Sloan-Kettering donation page. Make sure that you have reached the Sloan-Kettering donation page. If you can't get to the donation page, please contact me before making a donation. Once you reach the donation page, make sure when you get to the section that says "Support a Program or Area of Research" you select "Stomach/Gastric Cancers". Also, under the section entitled "Tributes and Special Occasions", select "Yes" then select "In Honor of" and type in "Trekking for Debbie" in the space provided. This will make sure that all of your contributions are credited properly. As of now, Jill is not able to update the Sloan Kettering pledge amounts because she does not have computer access on Mount Everest (she barely gets to shower) but Sloan Kettering is updating me on the pledges on a weekly basis and Jill will update the amounts on her website upon her return. I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart who have made a donation toward the research being done on stomach cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering! The Sloan Kettering stomach cancer research is very promising so my family and I are very excited about Jill’s efforts and about your support!
Keep in touch!
Love and Namaste (as they say in Nepal), Debbie
I finished my 10th chemo cycle of the 5 FU this past Friday, which was Halloween. I was upset on Friday because I was not feeling great and I always go trick or treating with my kids. Well, I was not going to miss the fun, so I got up and went. I was really glad that I did! The fresh air made me feel better and the excitement made me forget that I had been feeling sick. I also had some family over who helped me, along with some of our neighbors and Andy of course. I had a really good time and I actually made it around our neighborhood and to the neighborhood party afterward. Rachel dressed as a rock star, Zachary was a Miami Dolphin football player and Sarah dressed as Alice in Wonderland. They were adorable, had a lot of fun and (of course) ate a lot of candy.
Unfortunately, we all came down with a cold and cough this week. Zachary was out of school for 2 days, Andy lost his voice and I had a fever on Monday. I also started to develop the painful mouth sores from the chemo on Monday. I had to cancel 2 lunches with friends on Tuesday and today because I can barely talk and most food hurts my mouth. Soup is my good friend right now! Otherwise, I am feeling reasonably well. The neuropathy in my hands and feet is still a problem. I started a new drug called Lyrica last week to hopefully help with the neuropathy. It may have helped a little but I am not sure if it is the drug or if I am just getting more used to the numbness and tingling. I have another CT scan scheduled for next week to see what the cancer is doing.
To update you on Trekking for Debbie, my sister in law, Jill Guttman, left for her trek in my honor to the base camp of Mount Everest on October 31st. She is scheduled to reach the base camp on November 14th. She said that she will post another podcast soon. Please visit her website to follow her trek at http://www.trekkingfordebbie.blogspot.com/ . Jill is not able to update the Sloan Kettering pledge amounts because she does not have computer access now but Sloan Kettering is updating me on the pledges on a weekly basis and Jill will update the amounts on her website upon her return. I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart who have made a donation so far toward the research being done on stomach cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering. The Sloan Kettering stomach cancer research is very promising so my family and I are very excited about Jill’s efforts and about your support!
Keep in touch!
I am sitting in my doctor’s office right now about to start my 10th round of chemo. I am scared though because my neuropathy (which is the numbness, tingling and weakness in my hands and feet) has gotten worse over the past several weeks. It now hurts when I walk barefoot and I am having a little trouble typing this update. My doctors tell me that they are still convinced that this additional numbness is a continued delayed effect of the previous chemo that I was on and that the neuropathy can continue to get worse for another month or two. If the neuropathy gets any worse, I may need to rely more on other people to help me and the kids. The worsening of the neuropathy is a scary thought since I am so used to being active and independent when I am well. We are just hoping that the current chemo drug that I am on is not the cause of the worsening of the neuropathy, since it has continued to shrink the cancer tumors. I am trying to help slow the worsening of the neuropathy by continuing to do acupuncture, exercise and meditation and to participate in yoga.
I have spent the past few weeks trying to catch up on my life. I finished my continuing legal education credits to keep my bar license current. I know it’s silly to care about an active bar license now but I worked so hard to become a lawyer and to build up my law practice so I feel obligated to keep my license current. I have also gone shopping, out with friends, and seen some movies and I took Rachel and Zachary to the Cheetah Girls concert this past weekend. I also made it to my adult tap/jazz/ballet class on Saturday. I just love dancing so I was very happy to be able to participate in the dance class! I also volunteered in Rachel and Zachary’s art classes and we all went to bingo night at their school. It is nice to get into the school to see the kids, their friends, the teachers/administration and the other parents. I also had my parent/teacher conferences for all 3 kids. It is such a pleasure talking to the teachers about my kids! I am so proud of how they are all doing! They are such well adjusted kids and they are trying to take this all in stride.
Last week, my best friend from college, Laura, came from North Carolina to visit me. She stayed with me for 2 days. The kids loved having Laura in the house. It was so nice to see her!
I have also been working with my sister-in-law Jill on her Trekking for Debbie website. You can see the website at http://www.trekkingfordebbie.blogspot.com/. As many of you know, Jill is climbing to the base camp of Mount Everest to raise money for stomach cancer research in my honor. On her website, Jill has a link for donations to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center where donations can be made specifically for gastric cancer research. I have been asked many times about whether people can make donations so I am now requesting that donations be made to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for gastric cancer research. I have chosen this program because Sloan-Kettering has a Phase 3 trial currently going on for a new stomach cancer drug. This drug has been used successfully already for colon cancer so we are hopeful that the drug will be useful for fighting stomach cancer also. We are also hoping that if we raise additional funds, the trials for this new drug will be completed in time to help me in my fight against stomach cancer. Many people have asked what they can do to help my family and me. At this time, I am asking for your help by donating to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for gastric cancer research. Jill has done an excellent job giving directions on her website on how to donate. Jill is leaving for her trek on October 31, 2008. She will reach the base camp at Mount Everest on November 14, 2008. Jill will be taping pod casts from her trip. Her first pod cast is already posted to her website. You can listen to it by clicking on the link that says Gabcast. She also plans to call me from the Mount Everest base camp on Friday, November 14, 2008 using a satellite phone. I am so excited to receive her call! I hope that you will all listen and that you will consider donating to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for gastric cancer research. Thank you!
I started my 9th round of chemo last Monday using only the 1 chemo agent again. This was my 3rd chemo cycle using the 1 chemo agent. Basically, I was very tired and queasy this past week but I really wasn’t too bad off this time EXCEPT that on Wednesday night the tubing from my chemo pump to my port sprung a leak. (There is never a dull moment in my house.) Andy taped up the tubing and then we were up for half of the night waiting for the pharmacy to deliver a new pump, which Andy skillfully hooked up. I don’t know what I would do without him! I had to extend my chemo a few hours as a result. I was disconnected from the chemo pump on Friday afternoon. I had the continuous infusion for 4 days instead of 5 days this round because of the horrible mouth and throat sores that I got last cycle. Fortunately, this cycle went much better! It is Sunday night and, I am happy to report, I don’t have any mouth sores! I hope that this good news continues this entire week! I still have the usual abdominal issues from the chemo but it is much better than last cycle as well. I was even able to go out yesterday and last night to a bat mitzvah! It was so nice to celebrate this simcha with friends and be out and about! My major problem still continues to be the neuropathy (numbness and weakness) though. The numbness and weakness in my hands and feet has not gotten any better and has probably gotten slightly worse over the past weeks. I have started to get tingling in my hands and feet too. However, I have been assured by many cancer patients that the neuropathy will most likely subside, at least a little bit, over the next year. I am hopeful!
I had my CAT scan yesterday and, surprisingly enough, the tumors in my liver are continuing to shrink on the 1 drug chemo regimen! Yippee!!!! This is amazing and wonderful news! My oncologist was not expecting the tumors to continue to shrink while I was only on 1 chemo agent. We were just hoping that the size of the tumors stayed the same and didn’t get any bigger or spread. My doctor said that my response to the 1 chemo agent is "excellent"! I am so excited! We couldn’t have gotten better news! The plan now is for me to start my 9th chemo cycle on Monday using the 1 drug chemo regimen again and to have the continuous infusion of this 1 chemo drug until Friday.
More good news, Rachel and Sarah went back to school today after having a stomach virus and I am feeling much better too. (The stomach virus ended up traveling through our entire house.) Andy and Zachary were still feeling yucky today but they were steadily improving throughout the day. I hope that they are both feeling well by tomorrow so we can enjoy the weekend! I hope you all have a wonderful and healthy weekend!
Wow – last week was tough! Starting last Sunday, I couldn’t talk, eat or drink because the mouth and throat sores from the chemo were so bad. By Wednesday, I had gotten dehydrated so I spent 5 hours in my doctor’s office getting fluids. BUT – on Friday morning, I started being able to talk and eat again. What a relief! I felt well enough to go to Disney World! You can’t hold me back! Andy and I had planned to take the kids to Disney World back in April but we had to cancel the trip because I was so sick. Now that I am feeling stronger, we took advantage of a work meeting that Andy had in
Some good news, my tumor marker, which started at 177 back in April, is now .8!!!! My doctor tells me that anything below 5 is normal. I am so excited at this news! I will be having a CT scan on Thursday for a look at my liver again to make sure that the cancer has not grown larger and to make sure that the 1 chemo drug is keeping the cancer at bay. Unfortunately, the numbness is still getting worse in my hands and feet. It has spread up my legs a little too. I am still hoping that the additional numbness is a continued delayed effect of the previous chemo that I was on. Time will tell as they say!
I finished my 8th cycle of chemo on Saturday using only 1 chemo drug. I was slightly nauseated during this cycle so I am glad to be finished with it. I was able to keep a pretty regular schedule last week though. I managed to attend the open houses at both schools for my kids and I went out for some birthday lunches with friends. However, I have now developed very bad mouth sores, which are a side effect of this chemo drug. I have gotten these sores before but this time the sores are worse. I can’t even talk or eat because it hurts. As a result, I haven’t been answering the phone and I haven’t been able to eat much in the last 2-3 days. You know it - I’m hungry! The sores usually go away in a few days so I expect to catch up on my eating and phone calls then.
Unfortunately, the numbness in my hands and feet has gotten slightly worse again. My doctor is assuring me that this 1 drug is not the cause but rather the additional numbness is probably a delayed effect from the "heavy duty" chemo that I was previously on. My doctor is telling me that the numbness will probably stop getting worse about now but that it may take months or even years for it to go away, if it goes away at all. I have spoken to other cancer patients who had the numbness and who tell me that it mostly went away but that it took a long time. I am hopeful that my numbness will go away so I know that I have to be patient. For now, I am continuing to exercise and get acupuncture as often as possible in the hope that these things will help reduce the numbness faster. I stopped the ultraviolet light treatments (called Anodyne) because I felt that they were not working. I will be getting a CT scan at the end of next week to see how the cancer is reacting to this 1 drug chemo regimen.
Other than the mouth sores and the numbness, I feel pretty good. This 1 chemo drug only affects my white count a little so I am able to go out when I feel well enough. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like going anywhere today because my mouth is so sore. However, I had a wonderful weekend and a terrific day yesterday celebrating my 41st birthday! I know a woman doesn’t usually reveal her age, but every birthday of mine is a celebration for me and my family. My day started at Temple for the 1st day of Hebrew School so I saw some of you. Then Andy and the kids made me a special birthday brunch and we spent the afternoon swimming. I haven’t been able to swim with my kids very often lately so it was a treat for us all. After that my parents took us to dinner which included my sister Shari, her husband Pete and my sister Tammy, who flew in from New York to celebrate with me. It was exhausting but wonderful! I am looking forward to my 42nd birthday already!
Sorry that I haven’t written an update for a while but I have been trying to live a "normal" life for the past week or so. To that end, I have gotten out for a few lunches with friends, taken my kids to birthday parties, gone to yoga and acupuncture as well as a cooking class, and I even had a few of the kids’ friends over to play! My kids loved having their friends over to our house finally! It was so nice being able to host their friends here which I haven’t been able to do in months!
I started my 8th round of chemo today which is the 2nd round of the 1 drug "maintenance" chemo. I will have a continuous infusion from a pump of the 1 chemo agent until Saturday. I am hoping that I will not have any bad side effects from this round of chemo, especially since my 41st birthday is Sunday and I plan on celebrating with my family!
My numbness has gotten a little worse in the past few weeks but my oncologist believes that the worsening of the numbness is a delayed result of the heavy duty chemo that I had previously. My oncologist believes that the 1 drug maintenance chemo will not cause any further worsening of the numbness. I will have another CT test in a little over 2 weeks to assess whether the maintenance chemo is keeping the cancer at bay. I have always been a very good student and I am studying hard for this test! I hope to make the honor roll!
Keep in touch!
I completed my 7th cycle of chemo on Friday, August 29th but this time I was only on 1 drug for 4 days. As expected, the side effects were much less severe so I didn’t need any fluids or IV medicines. For the 8th cycle of chemo, I will get the 1 drug again but for 5 days. Then, the plan is for me to have another CT scan to see how the cancer has responded to the 1 drug. The hope is that during these 2 cycles using the 1 drug, it will keep the cancer in check and that the numbness will begin to subside and that I can continue on this 1 drug indefinitely. However, my numbness has gotten slightly worse in the past few days. We are not sure if the additional numbness is a delayed effect of the 6th round of chemo but we are in a wait and see mode. To that end, I feel that I need to do everything within my power to help reduce the numbness so I plan on increasing my exercise, acupuncture and the ultraviolet light treatments.
Fortunately, I am feeling really well and my white count was fine yesterday! I didn’t even need to receive the shot that I usually get which boosts the production of my white blood cells. I was even able to take my kids to school today! I take great pleasure in doing the little things these days!
Again, please understand that I cannot write individual thank you notes (even though I would love to be able to do that) to all of you who have delivered meals, sent cookies, books, gifts or cards, made donations, driven the kids, etc. So please accept this "Thank You" from me and my family for all that you have done for us! I am so touched that so many of you continue to remember me and my family with all that goes on in our hectic lives. I have witnessed so much goodness in people and I continue to be amazed at how much goodness is out there - from my best friends and closest relatives, to people who I barely know like a friend of a friend who heard about my plight. The outpouring of support has known no boundaries. It is just incredible and very appreciated! "Thank You" again form the bottom of my heart!
I had a CT scan this past Thursday and it went really well. My tumors were about 20-25% smaller than my last scan in July. Unfortunately, the cancer is still there though. So I am sitting at my doctor’s office now about to start my 7th chemo cycle. However, due to the numbness in my hands and feet, I am only going to be on 1 drug for this cycle and the next cycle. After that, I will have another CT scan to see what the cancer is doing in response to the 1 drug. This 1 drug is much less toxic to my nervous system so we are hoping that the numbness will get better in the next few weeks while I am off of the other 2 drugs. We are also hoping that the cancer continues to shrink or at least that the cancer doesn’t grow while I am on the 1 drug because this 1 drug is supposed to be much more tolerable for me than the other 2 drugs. I am hoping that I will be able to function relatively normally while I am getting chemo. I am also told that if I continue on this 1 drug, my hair will grow back – YEA!!! For me being bald is the worst thing about the cancer because it makes it so obvious that I have cancer and I feel like I don’t look like myself.
In addition, I am keeping up with my acupuncture and I have started yoga as well as a treatment using infrared light to help with the numbness. In combination with getting chemo and fluids, I feel like I have no time for anything else!
I had a really good week this past week. I accomplished a lot and felt very productive. Since my counts were good, I was able to take the kids to their first day of school. It was nice to see some of the moms and dads at the schools! I miss being out and about. The kids did very well and they are enjoying school already. This weekend I saw a movie with my sister
I went to my doctor’s office last Wednesday for my white count and it was not good. However, since I was feeling well, I really wanted to go away with Andy and the kids for a few days. My doctor told me that I could go but that if I got a fever, I needed to go immediately to a hospital for IV antibiotics. Thankfully, that didn’t happen and we had a really nice 2 days away in St. Augustine, Florida. Rachel and Zachary studied St. Augustine in school this past year so we had planned to visit back in April (but you all know what happened then). I didn't even use the wheelchair we had brought with us! I made an effort to try to walk where we needed to go but then took a trolley when I needed to rest. The kids and Andy were also so terrific - they let me nap in the car both going up and coming back! I am so lucky to have them all! We did a lot of laughing, which is the best medicine!
I am feeling really well! I still get tired and the numbness is worse but I am hopeful that it will improve. I am exercising and conducting most of my "regular" daily activities. I am even taking the kids to their first day of school today! I can’t wait to see many of you and give you big hugs. Yes - my counts are good this week so I can give lots of hugs!
I have a CT scan tomorrow morning. Hopefully that will show another improvement in the shrinking of the cancer. I start chemo again on Monday but they will only be giving me 1 of the 3 drugs that I was on previously because the other 2 drugs are too toxic right now to my body and are the cause of the numbness. My doctors hope that the cancer will continue to shrink on this 1 drug or at least stop growing. They are calling this "maintenance" chemo and the plan is to keep me on this 1 drug for a long time. I am also hoping that by only being on the 1 drug, I will be feeling more normal in between my chemo cycles and that the numbness will improve. Time will tell!
Today is Tuesday and I did not go the my doctor’s office because I am feeling pretty good - thank goodness! I will need to go in tomorrow to have my white count checked because it wasn’t good yesterday. However, if my white count is on its way up, Andy and I may take the kids away for a few days since our trip in April was cancelled (due to obvious reasons) and we haven’t been away all summer. We all need a break and it will be good for the kids to get away before school starts.
On the down side, the numbness in my hands and feet has gotten worse. I go to acupuncture in a little while. I never believed in acupuncture before but I am a believer now. Since I started acupuncture, my night sweats have stopped, my cramping is much less, my red blood cell counts are good and my numbness improves. However, my oncologist says that if the numbness does not get better, we will need to discontinue 2 of the 3 chemo drugs which cause the numbness. Only time will tell but I am hopeful that if I need to discontinue 2 of the 3 drugs, that the remaining drug will keep the cancer from growing. They tell me that I could be on the remaining chemo drug for a long time (I have no idea what that means). I have another CT scan on Thursday of next week to see if the cancer has continued to shrink. I will let you all know the results.
On the up side, I continue to receive cards, postings, meals, phone calls, homemade soup and cakes, emails and packages which always lift my spirits. Please understand that some days, I can’t even walk so it is hard for me to respond to you or thank you but PLEASE know everything that you are doing makes you a part of my battle and I really appreciate all that you have done and are continuing to do for me, my kids and my family!
Today is Friday and I am doing really well! I was able to go out this past weekend. Andy and I saw Mama Mia, went out to dinners and got things done around the house. I also took Zachary to see Space Chimps. Needless to say, I ate more than my fill of popcorn at the 2 movies! The scale is no longer my friend but it certainly was a fun filled weekend! I am looking forward to going out again this weekend and enjoying myself (but eating less) before my 6th round of chemo starts on Monday.
Sarah got tubes put in her ears on Wednesday. I had to wake her early in the morning and she wasn’t allowed to eat before the surgery but she was a trooper! She even went to camp yesterday for the last day. For those of you who wrote me about your experience with ear tubes, thank you! It really put me at ease knowing that the procedure is so prevalent and successful!
I went to my doctor’s office on Thursday to get my counts checked in anticipation of starting my 6th round of chemo on Monday. My counts were really good so we are on for Monday! I think that the acupuncture, yoga, relaxation, daily exercise and daily dose of laughter with my kids are all helping me recover faster from each chemo round.
I am doing pretty well today. My port was de-accessed today, which is the earliest in my chemo cycles ever. I didn’t even need fluids today. I am very encouraged by that! Little things – right?! I have now had 4 acupuncture sessions and I think that they are helping, at least a little with the night sweats and the numbness. I have also started to try to relax more and not deny that I need extra rest. Rest and relaxation are hard things for me to do during the day because I always did 5 things at a time! I will also try out 2 different yoga places in
I am not allowed out in public yet because my white blood cell count is still really low. I will go back to my doctor’s office on Friday to have my counts re-checked because I would love to catch a few movies this weekend! I can definitely sit and watch movies and have a large bucket of popcorn!
Unfortunately, Sarah has been sick since Sunday with a fever and another bad ear infection. Every cold goes right to her ears. After 6 months of almost constant ear infections, we have decided to have tubes put in her ears next week. She really is a little trooper though. Sarah, Rachel and Zachary remain a constant source of joy in my life!
I would like to thank Rachel and Zachary’s friends and their parents who have Rachel and Zachary (and even Sarah) over and even drive both ways when I am not feeling well. It is such a help because it gets the kids out of the house, they have a good time, it allows me to rest when I need it and it frees Andy up to take care of other things that get neglected! Thank you so much!
I started my 5th round of chemo on Monday even though my counts weren’t terrific. I was able to walk a little on my treadmill on Monday and I received acupuncture on Tuesday. But by Tuesday afternoon, I started to fell yucky. I plan on starting yoga soon too. I hope that all of these things will help me have an easier time of it so that my body can be strong enough to endure all of the chemo rounds that I need to make this cancer go away. I must think positive! Today is Wednesday and my numbness has not gotten any worse, thank goodness, so we proceeded with my 3rd day of chemo today. I will still have the 3rd drug continuously infusing until Friday and, of course, I get daily hydration, magnesium and potassium at my doctor’s office almost everyday, which has definitely helped.
Regarding the kids, Rachel went to the first session of Pine Crest and has decided to continue there for the 2nd session too. She just loves it there but she is the type of kid who is happy just about anywhere. She comes home singing songs from the song contest or her cabin cheers. She is also continuing dance 3 days a week and still takes piano over the summer.
Zachary is at Sagemont Sports camp and just loves it! It is his 1st summer there. One of his best friends goes with him and his best friend’s mom Tracey drives both ways for us every day. She is a life saver! Zachary’s arm continues to heal. He is now allowed to remove the brace from his arm on a limited basis for the next week.
Sarah is at Temple Kol Ami Emanu-El for camp and they are teaching her to swim. It is incredible. She had absolutely no desire to go under the water just a few weeks ago and now she begs us to take her in the pool so she can swim under the water. What a different kid! Unfortunately, she is still having ear infections every few weeks so we may need to have ear tubes put in soon.
Andy and I have begun to watch the series Scrubs and many other movies to pass the time while I am laid up. Scrubs is really funny! If you have any other movie or TV suggestions, please pass them along!
The meals continue to arrive and we are so appreciative for them! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! It really saves us from worrying about shopping for and preparing food for several days every week. Right now, my job is getting chemo, getting tests and blood work, resting, going to see my doctor, trying to exercise when I feel up to it, and just trying to get better and stay strong. So the meals are one less thing that my family and I have to worry about.
You all continue to be a source of strength for me when I see your postings. I need all of the positive energy I can get so please continue to send it my way!
Our flight up to New York was uneventful. The first doctor we saw on Wednesday afternoon specializes in integrative medicine. She advised me on nutrition, vitamins and exercise. She dispelled a lot of internet myths and advised me to follow a sensible, healthy diet that would be good for just about everyone - more vegetables and fruit, less processed sugar and high fructose corn syrup, eat protein, etc. Regarding vitamins, as a chemo patient, I need to be careful not to take anti-oxidents because they interfere with the chemotherapy but I need to take extra calcium and vitamin D. Also, I am not supposed to take any wheat grass or use essential oils, which may interfere with the chemotherapy. She advised against any "special" diets, like macrobiotics, or any of the special juices we all hear about. She wants me to exercise 6 days a week for at least 30 minutes. Lastly, she wants me to start getting acupuncture (without herbs) once a week, which is supposed to help relieve the side effects of the chemotherapy including the nausea, diarrhea, night sweats, leg weakness and hand and leg numbness. My first acupuncture appointment is today because she advised to have the treatment at least 2 days before chemo begins again and my 5th round of chemo begins on Monday. All in all, she was very well informed and knowledgeable and we were very glad that we met with her.
On Thursday, we met with the Chief of Gastrointestinal Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering. He was very nice and made it very simple. He told me that at this point radiation and surgery are not options because, generally, they don’t work for stage IV stomach cancer. Therefore, I need to continue with my current regiment of chemotherapy until it stops working. For now, I am fortunate that this chemotherapy regiment is working! He termed my response to this chemotherapy regiment as an "excellent response." Therefore, I need to keep going chemotherapy until the cancer stops responding to this regiment at which time we will switch to a different regiment. So unlike we previously thought, we will not be stopping at 6 cycles of chemotherapy. Also, I will need to proceed one week at a time because there is no medicine that I can take that will cure this once and for all. All in all, we were very happy that we made the trip and felt that we came away with a lot of knowledge.
We also were able to briefly visit with my sister Tammy, her husband Jeff and their twins Ryan and Amanda. I got lots of hugs and kisses which, alone, would have been well worth the trip!
Our trip back to the airport yesterday was VERY eventful! Our taxi overheated in Harlem! AAAGGGHHHH!!! We started walking to look for another taxi but they were all full. Luckily, my Dad spotted a bus that was heading to the airport. We felt like we were in a scene from the movies! We got to the airport and ran to security and then to our gate with only 5 minutes to spare! It’s a good thing that I had been exercising to strengthen my legs otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to keep up with my guys and we would have missed our plane! WHEW! We were laughing the whole way home.
I am feeling relatively good so we had a fun filled weekend which included bowling, haircuts, a movie and swimming. Sarah is really starting to enjoy swimming. Rachel was helping her and Zachary and I played water basketball. I am trying to make everyday with my family count.
Today is Monday and Zachary finally went back to camp. Thankfully, he had a terrific day! Sarah has another ear infection but the antibiotics seem to be working. Rachel is thoroughly enjoying Pine Crest but forgot to put on sun screen today so she is a little burned. She will regret it tomorrow!
As for me, I have hit a little road block that is frustrating and scary. On Friday, I developed numbness in my hands and legs as well as continued weakness in my legs. I need to grip a pen tighter to write and I need to be more conscious when I walk to avoid losing my balance. I think that I am getting more used to the feeling though and I am compensating well. However, my oncologist doesn't know if he will be able to do anymore chemotherapy due to this development so he wants to see what the CT scan shows tomorrow and he wants me to discuss the numbness, weakness and the CT scan with the doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York. I guess I will know more in a few days.
I started my 4th round of chemo last Monday and finally started to feel better yesterday. Today, I actually drove myself to my doctor’s office. I haven’t been able to drive myself anywhere since a week and a half ago. When I can drive myself it is an indication that I am feeling better but, watch out - I am out on the roads again!
Chemo is very isolating with being at the doctor’s office or in bed for 11 days and then not being allowed in public when my counts are down. Thankfully, my white count is on its way up and I actually went out today to do some errands after the doctor’s office. I will now be able to catch up on my life until my 5th round of chemo which begins on July 14, 2008.
I will have another CT scan on Tuesday, which hopefully will show that the cancer has shrunk even further. My tumor markers have been good and I think that my belly is smaller so I continue to be hopeful that my cancer is continuing to respond to the chemotherapy.
On Wednesday, Andy, my father and I will travel to New York to meet with some doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center whom we hope may have some insight into what we should do next and if there are any other treatments that I should consider.
Other news – Zachary’s arm is healing nicely. The hard cast was taken off yesterday and replaced with a removable brace. He has been cleared to go back to camp on Monday with the brace, which he will need to wear for 2 weeks. We are all very happy that he can finally start enjoying his summer!
I hope that you are all enjoying your summer and have a happy and healthy 4th of July!
Love and lots of hugs,
What a week I had this past week! It started with the 3 kids starting camp on Monday and really enjoying it! Then on Tuesday, Zachary broke his arm and is now in a cast for 2 weeks which will be followed by a removable cast for another 2 weeks. So, needless to say, he can’t attend camp for at least 2 weeks. He has been home playing video games ever since so if there are any kids who are home now with nothing to do and who might need some company, let me know. I may be able to convince him to visit and hang out for a little while. The girls are doing great and are happy at camp!
I spent last week finalizing the shutting down of my office. (Yes that took a while!) It was capped off on Friday with the final move out. I was so lucky to have about 10 friends, my parents and Andy there to help ease my physical and psychological burden of closing down my law practice after 10 years of having my own office. It was sad but I know that I am moving onto a new chapter in my life – the chapter that involves the biggest fight of all – the fight for my life. It will also give me the chance to be with family and friends and do some things that I have wanted to do. On that note, I had lunch with some friends on Wednesday and Andy and I went out with friends on both Friday and Saturday nights and had such a good time. Laughter is terrific medicine! We hope to make some more plans with more of our friends in 2-3 weeks when I am feeling well and between my chemo cycles.
On Sunday, we had an ice cream party to celebrate Rachel’s dance recital and Zachary’s math competition. Ice cream parties are a Guttman/Zelman favorite pastime. We find every excuse in the book to have an ice cream party. (Normally we would hav e had 2 separate ice cream parties but since we were just a little delayed because of my chemo schedule we combined them. We had 5 flavors of ice cream and about 15 toppings to choose from. Yummy! Then, after the relatives left and Sarah went to sleep, we had a big kid family game night and played Pictionary Jr. It was so much fun! Zachary and I lost to Andy and Rachel but we are demanding a rematch!
I started round 4 of my chemo cycles and made some new chemo friends and saw some old familiar faces. I am now the experienced chemo patient so I filled in “the new guy” and his wife with all of the chemo details. Today wasn’t too bad so here I am at my computer reaching out to all of you! I hope you are all doing well, having a good summer and taking care of yourselves and, if you haven’t in a while, get to the doctor!
Love and lots of hugs, Debbie
I know, I know - it has been a week since my last update. Sorry! I think that is the longest I have gone so far without an update. I can usually tell because I start getting emails from people asking for an update so here goes. I have been feeling pretty good (relative to after the 1st and 2nd chemo cycles) since my last update. I got fluids on Wednesday, I didn’t need fluids on Thursday but I did need Magnesium on Friday so I spent 3 hours at my doctor’s office getting an IV. After that I started feeling really good and so I have been running around trying to fit 21 days into 10 days while trying to rest too. I definitely overdid it this weekend though since we cleaned out the garage and the kids closets on Saturday and then Sunday was Father’s Day and I wanted Andy to enjoy his day. He actually got a run in.
Yesterday, I got a shot to boost for my red blood cell count. Soon after I got feverish, nauseated and exhausted. I figured out that my symptoms were thankfully from the shot and I felt better this morning. This week, I am spending most of my time in my law office to wrap things up and close down my practice. It looks like I will be mostly done by Friday and out of my office space for good. It is a sad and slow process. Anyone interested in helping move boxes on Friday, let me know. We may need some help and it will make the process less sad for sure!
Now here is a little preaching (which I don’t usually do) but I believe that you can tell a lot about a person from how they act when the chips are down. From this experience so far, I can tell you that most people out there are terrific, warm, loving and giving people but, unfortunately, I have encountered a few who aren’t but I won‘t dwell on those because they aren‘t worth mentioning. I have had offer after offer from other attorneys to help me for free with whatever I need which is heartwarming and very touching for me. As an example, I had a wonderful conversation with another attorney today who offered for his firm to handle my practice for free and also offered just to listen if I needed. It was very moving. I didn’t know that so many people cared about me and my family (and extended family).
On a lighter note, I didn’t really lose any weight this chemo round so I can’t eat everything in sight like I did after my 2nd round of chemo. After my 2nd round of chemo, I told Andy that I was going to eat like a teenage boy and eat him out of house and home (which I did). Oh well! Back to the real world!
The 3 kids started camp yesterday. Rachel is going to Pinecrest the first session and then dance camp for 3 weeks. She loves Pinecrest so far! She came home singing her cabin cheer already. Zachary started Sagemont Sports Camp yesterday with several of his friends. It is his first summer there and he seems to be enjoying it. I am lucky to have one of his best friends’ Mom driving him both ways EVERY day otherwise he couldn’t go there. Sarah is going to camp for the first time this summer. She started at Temple Kol Ami Emanu-El. She was not happy when I left her yesterday but she did great after I left and she was beaming today when I dropped her off (what a relief)!
Love to you all and I hope you are having a great summer,
I started my 3rd round of chemo on Monday and since I am not feeling too badly yet, I decided to post this update. Today, I am just tired and weak. The chemo usually starts to hit me really badly by Friday and I will usually “be out of it” for a week after that. I will probably spend everyday until then in my doctor’s office getting fluids and other IV anti-nausea drugs to help. They say that I am on a really tough regimen of 3 chemo drugs while most stomach cancer patients only get 2 drugs.
The hardest part is missing my kids functions like the last day of school, end of the year parties and Rachel’s dance recital on Saturday night. That is the saddest part for me to not be able to be there for my kids. Fortunately, I was able to attend the 4th grade talent show on Tuesday to see Rachel sing. She was terrific! It was nice to see some parents and teachers and I owe you all a hug when I am feeling better. It was also nice to go to school that day to see so many kids wearing jeans for the jeans day fundraiser for Trekking for Debbie. In case you aren’t aware, my sister-in-law Jill is climbing
Again, thank you all for your postings and emails! They always being a smile to my face!
(note: I appreciate my Debbie's kind words about my upcoming trip, but I just want to point out that I am not actually climbing Mount Everest. I will be trekking through Nepal to Mount Everest base camp. Basecamp (on the Nepal side) is 17,600 feet while the peak is 29,029 feet. Basecamp is where summit climbs begin, it is a very special place!)
Dear Friends and Family,
I have some good news and some better news! I am feeling stronger and stronger every day that I get farther away from when the last chemo started. On Saturday I was feeling well enough to attend a B’nai Mitzvah. I lasted for 3 hours and I had a great time. On Sunday, I attended a Marlins game. It was exhausting but really fun. On Monday, I went to my in-laws’ house for brunch, shopping with my sister and to my parents’ house for a BBQ. I got exhausted in the afternoon and had to nap at my parents’ house but I had a wonderful weekend!
Now for the better news - I had a whole body bone scan and a CT scan of my liver today. The bone scan came back completely clear! They didn’t think that the CT scan would show much at this point but instead the CT scan came back very encouraging. The tumors on my liver are responding to the chemo and have started to shrink! We are very excited by this news and when I meet with my doctor on Friday I will hopefully find out what this means. For now, I am just happy that there is some good news to share with you all. I think that all of your emails, postings, cards, prayers, delicious food, positive thoughts and words of inspiration are working so keep them coming!
It is Thursday and I have finished 3 days of intensive chemotherapy of 3 chemo drugs. I still have the continuous infusion of 1 of the drugs until Saturday at noon (can you tell that I am counting down the hours until I am finished?) Of course, I am tired and weak but I am feeling surprising well. I go to my doctor's office in a little while in case they think that I need fluids. I don't know if I will be feeling well enough to attend Rachel's performance tonight in the University School SunPipers but I am going to try my hardest to be there.
Yes, Rachel is feeling better and she went back to school on Tuesday. Sarah is also doing much better and she went back to school on Wednesday.
I really look forward to all of your postings and emails. You are now my connection to the outside world so keep them coming!
Wow - has it really been since Wednesday since I posted an update?! I have been feeling so good that I guess I didn't feel like being inside the house typing. Instead, I spent time with my kids, I was out and about taking care of things, and I had lunch out a few times. I actualy felt like a real person again. I also was taking care of more things to shut down my law office (which still isn't done). Its amazing how much work goes into shutting down a 10 year old law practice. I have been very lucky though to have understanding clients, devoted office staff and terrific attorney (and non-attorney) friends who are helping or who have offered to help. You know who you are and I will definitely need more help in the weeks to come when I am stronger from this 2nd chemo cycle.
I have also been busy taking care of my 3 year old daughter Sarah who has had strep throat since last Monday and possibly now has a stomach virus on top of that. My 10 year old Rachel is now also sick with fever. It never seems to end! My white counts are still good so at least I am still taking an active part in caring for them and being Mommy. We all know that we want our mommies when we are sick!
More good news - I actually went out on Saturday night to a comedy club and saw John Pinette. He was hysterical. I laughed the whole time. It really did me good to get out of the house, especially since Saturday was not a good day for me, physically or mentally. I have always been told that laughter is good medicine. Guess what - its true!
Mother's Day was a much better day. Brunch was chaotic with 22 people but nice. My husband and kids made the rest of the day wonderful. They were all so thoughtful and caring and I got such thoughtful and sweet gifts from everyone. I told Andy that we need to have Mother's Day every Sunday. Sound good girls?
Andy continues to be my major source of love and strength. It helps that my husband is my best friend and that he has been even more than that. I count myself very lucky to have his unlimited love and support!
Today, I started my 2nd round of chemo. I was a little nervous that I would need medicine through my port and through an IV but, to my relief, they were able to put all of the medicine through my port. It was also quicker this time and with much less anxiety since I already knew what to expect. I slept less today during the chemo and instead ate alot. Then I started repeating lots of John Pinette jokes to my parents, the nursing staff and all of the other chemo patients. Needless to say, it was much more lively chemo sesion today.
Except for being tired, I am not feeling that badly this afternoon. I go back to my doctor's office on Tuesday and Wednesday for more chemo and then on Thursday to be checked out for possibly more fluids to hopefully avoid the dehydration I experienced last time.
Thank you to all of the people who have brought dinners and other goodies to help feed me and my family! Not only is the food delicious, but your thoughtfulness is greatly appreciated. It is so helpful to have meals waiting in the refrigerator or freezer.
I again want to mention how awesome all of the emails and postings have been for me. Even having been out and about this week, I still love going to my computer to check my email and this website. All of your words of love, encouragement, prayer and strength are giving me such positive thoughts and energy that I need to help me fight this disease everyday. Please keep them coming. You are absolutely NOT bothering me! Quite the opposite - I love them and I love all of you!
My hair started falling out in earnest on Saturday. Boy it is so sad. We women spend so much time on our hair - cutting, blow drying, washing, conditioning, coloring -yes I had some grey hairs. Now I would take a whole head of grey hair! To face reality, I had a 10 inch ponytail cut off yesterday that I will either use to have a fake ponytail made for me to wear under a hat or that I will donate to locks of love. My hair is now up to my chin. I think I will only have a few more days before it is all gone. I had been hoping that it would last until Mother's Day. Oh well. I bought a wig yesterday and some cute hats.
Another complication, little Sarah has strep throat. Its a good thing that my white count is really good otherwise I wouldn't be able to go near her. Now, at least, I can take care of her. I am actually typing this update from the rocking chair in her room while she is trying to doze off to sleep. She is pretty miserable. The challenges never end!
Some good news, I have been feeling much better this week. I am actually driving and getting out of the house. Unfortunately, I am using a lot of my time to prepare for starting chemo next week and for shutting down my law practice but at least I have this time.
I am so grateful to all of you who are calling, posting on this website, emailing, bringing meals, etc. I am so isolated but your caring really matters and cheers me up! Thank you!
Good news! I am feeling better today! I actually had 2 good meals today and helped cook them and clean up the kitchen. Now I need a break so I am typing this update.
More good news. My white count on Thursday was really good. They will re-check it again on Monday because they said that it can change quickly. I had an MRI of my brain on Wednesday and (as I have been telling everyone) that they didn't find any cancer but they didn't find my brain either! :)
I also had a pet scan on Friday of my entire body and they didn't find any more cancer. Thank goodness!
I wanted to tell you all that I really apreciate all of the cards, messages, postings, etc. Even though I may not be able to respond to each one, I love them! I feel more connected to you all!
Anyway, I hope that you all have a nice weekend! It is a beautiful day! Enjoy it!
Sorry that it has been a few days since I wrote last but I had a tough time with the end of my chemo. My chemo ended on Sunday late afternoon and then I had become very dehydrated. I spent the entire day at my doctor's office today getting IV fluids. I am feeling much better tonight. I actually ate a really good dinner (delivered by a wonderful friend) and drank a lot of fruit punch made lovingly by my son. (Speaking of Zachary, I was not able to attend the Broward County Math Competition but I heard that he did a great job. We are still waiting on the results though).
It feels good to be awake again and spend some time with my family. Unfortunately, my white counts have dropped so I don't know when I can receive visitors. I will let you all know. For now, I am taking much solace from all of your kind words, emails, cards, flowers, dinners, etc. I am so blessed to have such wonderful family and friends!
I started chemo on Tuesday with a 2 drug protocol. However, since I tolerated the 2 drugs so well, they added a third drug yesterday in a continuous infusion until Sunday. I am exhausted but doing reasonably well. I want everyone to know that I have received your telephone messages, emails, notes, fruit baskets, presents, food, flowers, cookies, carpool offers, playdate offers, etc and they are ALL very much appreciated. I am sure that we will need all of the help and support we can get in the next months to come. The outpouring of love and support is tremendous! Thank you very much!