Monday, April 26, 2010

April 2010

Last long one ... promise! 

April 1st, 2010
I received a phone call from Dr. Alam's office stating that the pathology report came back from Mt. Sinai and they were also confirming mesothelioma.  Can't breathe .... lung filling up with water or just a panic attack?  My best friend Valentina was with me during the call as we were supposed to be going to Whole Foods in Detroit for groceries.  Of course I had my moment and broke down but it was nice to have someone there.  We decided to head to the states anyways and chatted along the way .. as time went on I was having a harder time breathing.  Valentina had asked a couple times what I wanted to do, still get groceries, try and find a walk in clinic open with Easter weekend approaching, or go shopping at Michael Kors.  For those of you who know me really well, I would have picked the later but I was really having a hard time breathing. 

So..... the shenanigans of Valentina and Sasha begin.  We decided not to go to the states and drive around town trying to find a walk in clinic.  First one, just closed .... second, closed .... next call a friend and Dr. Wilson to see what the best thing to do was aside from going to emerg but of course theirs answers were head to emerg.  I checked in, same routine .... previous history of ovarian and breast cancer, either have a recurrence but under investigation for mesothelioma, having a hard time breathing, pain in the centre of my chest, currently undergoing treatments and I do not want to wait  in a room with ill people.  After all the paper we were escorted to the silent room where we had a chance to chill, chat, have some food and tea and watch TV .... kinda nice.  Then the room was needed so we got switched to the kids play room but it was all to ourselves ... again for chatting and we watched Private Practice. 

Finally to make an even longer story shorter after a male nurse who was not giving us too much information and who Val did not have a good feeling about tracked down another nurse and within minutes the nurse appeared and the doctor after waiting 5hrs.  By this time I was back to breathing normal, chatted with the doctor and explained that it was more likely a panic attack due to the phone call I received earlier.  My chest x-ray was clear (yes.... no more fluid build up) and they wanted to rule out a pulmonary embolism so I had to come back the following day for a CT scan. 

April 2nd, 2010
10:00 am ~ back in emerg ... waited an hour, had CT scan performed ..... 3 hrs later still waiting for my report to be read.  I got lost .... they figured out the problem and realized I was admitted as an outpatient vs. and emergency patient so the outpatient files do not get read because the emergency ones are priority!  Now ..... the next three hours consisted of .... the nurse coming in to read my CT scan stating that I did not have an embolism .... but she could not read the last part of the report (didn't understand the jargon) therefore, needed to speak with the doctor ..... nurse returned and the doctor didn't know what the jargon meant either .... therefore, they have contacted the respirologist and waiting for his call.  Respirologist calls back but wants to look at my files from HDGH ..... finally calls back and will not discharge me until they know I am being followed.  I forgot to mention that when I met with the nurse I explained my whole story and that Tuesday Dr. Alam was bringing my case to the Lung board to come to an agreement as to what they are going to continue doing for my treatments.  I mentioned this again to the nurse stating there is nothing that you are going to diagnosis or tell me ... I know what is going on.  Finally the respirologist called back just as I was about to discharge myself and stated that my case was being presented to the lung board and he sits on it and is aware that I am being followed so I can be discharged.   Were they not just trying to rule out an embolism which they did after the first 4 hrs!  Time of discharge  ~ 5:00 PM!  

The good things that came out of my 12 hr visit to emerg was the I had the x-ray that showed my lung was not filling up with water and my CT scan showed no pulmonary embolism and that the current treatments I am receiving are working.  

April 6th, 2010
Today I had my port inserted ... you know the usual :) Report to admitting 7:00 am, procedure 9:00 am but were behind a bit.  Wheeled into room at 10:00 am, mild sedation given as Dr. Speirs walking in, froze the area, more sedation given and then ... all done!!  Off to recover for a bit and then home, nice and easy and now it will save my arms and veins from being picked so much.

April 7th, 2010
Blood work and appointment with Dr. Alam.  The previous day they had the lung board review my case and none of the doctors believe still that it is mesothelioma.  They had the reports from emerg and everyone was shocked and happy to see that all my lymph nodes had decreased in size, the granules (looked like sand) that were on the base of my lungs they can not see but could also be due to the pleurodesis but the granules along the side of my lung they can't even see.  As for the nodules in my lung they are still there but have also decreased and some may be due to radiation scarring as it is hard to tell because my previous CT scan was grey due to all the water accumulation.  Therefore, they do not want to change my treatment and will have the pathologist in Windsor run some more tests comparing my breast slides from '07 to my lung slides now.  In the meantime Dr. Alam stated that I am being referred to Mt. Sinai for a second opinion, Karmanos for a second opinion, and Dr. Coughlin wants me to go to London for an opinion on taking out my lung. OK!

April 8th, 2010
9:00 am - chemo #3, half way there already.  Exact same treatment and usual sleeping pattern .... I normally pass out after the benedryl and sleep most of the day.  3:30 pm - time to go home!

April 9th, 2010
Don't have to go back for my Neulasta shot as Dr. Alam agreed to let me see what my counts were on my own.  Thank goodness as I explained to her my experience from my 2nd treatment and I stated that it is due to the Neulasta shot.  The agreement was that I did my blood work every week and if I started to drop then I would come back for individual shots of Neupogen.  Agree!

April 9th - 12th, 2010
Over the weekend is when I normally become incapable of functioning.  Don't get me wrong I was still feeling yukky but I could function and make my own breakfast and clean up the dishes without feeling like I just ran a marathon.  This was awesome .... I truly believe it was my shot so lets see if my counts hold up.

April 13th, 2010
Second consult with Dr. Marier Naturopathic Doctor ... I didn't write anything in the previous post as my first consult was exactly that - a consult.  We chatted about my diagnosis, past history, any other illness, how I ate, what I did for exercise, what supplements I was on and some suggestions he had re: intravenous Vit. C therapy and Helixor. 

I will explain and expand more as this is the day I started to integrate eastern and western medicine to help heal my body not just physically but emotionally, spiritually, mentally.

To be continued .......

Thursday, April 22, 2010

March 2010

another long and crazy one ......

March 1st, 2010
Not off to a good start!  Spent the majority of the day in bed because I was having an even more difficult time breathing.  By mid afternoon Dr. Wilson advised me that I not wait any longer and head to emerg where they will be expecting me.  My wait was minimal .... 15 mins, they were all in a tizzy because they wanted to get me into a secluded area because I was undergoing treatments.  At this point I was not even able to talk because I was so short of breath .... not a good sign.  After yet another chest x-ray the emerg doctor told me my lung had filled up again .... do you want another thoracentesis?  Sure .... I needed something to relieve the discomfort as I could only hunch over to get some relief.  

Thoracentesis #5!!!  What sucked about it all is that so much scare tissue had built up from the previous procedures that after sticking the needle into my back in two different areas he was not able to find a pocket .... therefore no fluid was removed.  He explained that originally the fluid was moving freely, now because of the scare tissue it is in pockets.  The emerg doctors suggestions were ..... admit myself for pain control, have an ultrasound guided procedure tomorrow and lastly to have the pleuradesis performed.  After Dr. Wilson and I chatted he asked me where I was at ... mentally/physically and I just stated I wanted to fluid gone permanently.  Therefore, I agreed to have the surgery and I would be put on the emerg list.

Off to my room with some good ole' morphine to get in food before midnight because my surgery would be late Tuesday.  Now this is another ordeal that I won't go into too much details but Tuesday night came around and finally at 10:00 pm I found out from the anesthesiologist that the surgery had been cancelled awhile ago!  Now we couldn' get in contact with the doctor to see if I could eat or drink anything (since it had been almost 24 hrs since I seen food or water) .... finally at 10:45 pm the nurse said eat.  Let's try this again .... stopped eating at midnight, surgery was rescheduled for 7:00 pm Wednesday night.  This time I asked "if I don't hear anything by a certain time should I assume that the surgery is cancelled again?"  The response "they won't do anything in the OR if it is not done by 11:00pm!  That didn't really help me out any so I stated that if I didn't hear anything by 9:30 pm that I was going to start eating again!!  I forgot to mention that throughout the past 48 hrs I had been on morphine every 3hrs to help with the pain ... I just wanted my lung fixed!  7:00 ish off to the OR!

Finally I could breath again .... hopefully as it's alittle hard to tell when you are in pain.  I was hooked up to a morphine drip and had a beautiful tube the size of your thumb inserted into my side through my ribs and into my lung.  It needed to be recorded everyday how much fluid was accumulating and I had a chest x-ray done every day in the hospital.  The staff were great plus they knew they were under the watchful eye's of some of my protector doctors ... Dr. Wilson, Dr. Speirs & Dr. Annisette it was the joke of the floor that the nurses better take good care of me, they were amazing!

March 8th, 2010
After a week I was able to be discharged .... Dr. Coughlin came in early and stated it was time for me to go home and the tube needed to be removed.  NOTHING, could prepare you for having a hard tube ripped out of your side that was inserted about 6 inches in.  He stated it would hurt and feel like someone set you on fire.  OK, "deep breath in, blow out hard, now hold" ...... "OH MY GOODNESS, HOLY CRAP!!!!!".  My mom could hear me yell from down the hall, yes it felt like someone set me on fire but from the inside out and that doesn't even come close to explaining the pain it was.  I referenced it to the horror movies when someone reaches into your chest and pulls out an organ ... if you could imagine that I think it would come pretty close.  

March 15th, 2010
It have been recovering for a week and now off to Dr. Couglin's for an x-ray and suture removal which all went well and it appeared that the procedure had worked.  Dr. Couglin asked it had received my path reports yet, no not yet.  "Well, the path reports are stating mesothelioma" ..... "isn't that related to asbestos exposure?"  "Yes, that's why we don't believe it and therefore have sent it away for another opinion." 

March 16th, 2010
Dr. Alam reiterated what Dr. Coughlin stated about the path reports and she truly believes with all her other colleagues that it is a breast cancer recurrence.  If I could go back in time I would leave a note for myself to NOT go home and read up on mesothelioma!  The whole day was spent crying!

March 18th, 2010
8:45 am - Chemo #2 ..... wish it went as easy as before.  Since my treatments started ASAP and we didn't know exactly how many I would be receiving I figured it would be OK to just use my veins.  Well .... each nurse is allowed to try and start a line 3x.  After the 8th try and the 3rd nurse I informed them that I will not be going home today without my treatment and that you will be giving it me someway, somehow and to use my vein on the inside of my elbow.  I know they don't like to use it because this is where the lab draws their blood work and chemo can mess up your veins.  "Just put it there today because I am not going home and I will have a port put in ASAP".  So, 9th try inside of elbow bam!!!  No the only problem is I couldn't move my arm for 7 hrs and my kidney's were working overtime to get this crap out of my body that I had to get up every hour sometimes more to use the washroom, but I got my treatment!

March 19th, 2010
Back to the clinic for my Neulasta shot .... yesterday and today, feeling OK.

March 20th - 26th, 2010
Not too much to write ..... I was unconscious most of the time.  It took all of my energy just to eat, I couldn't function.  Damn, I didn't think it would hit me this hard already!  Every possible sick feeling from bone pain, nausea, fatigue, exhaustion, overall feeling of yukkines and blah.  It was too much exertion to even talk .... I just slept or lied there starting at the ceiling. 

March 26th, 2010
Time for my next Zoladex shot, freeze skin, insert seed.

March 30th, 2010
Met with the dietitian, found out the proper type of Calcium I should be taking and she questioned me as to why I was making different changes to my diet?  The tears started to come and I stated after everything I have been through I need to try and remove as much as possible from my diet that could be causing any harm.  I need to do everything and anything to help myself because obviously I am at a high risk.  The dietitian's only complaint .... low protein intake.  I will reasses and do some thinking about it and go with what my instincts are telling me.

March 31st, 2010
Canadian Clinic for Innovative Medicine - met with Dr. Marier, Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine .......

to be continued ......

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

February 2010

Sorry this is a long and crazy one!

February 4th, 2010
In the mix of all of this I was scheduled for my yearly routine check-ups .... bone scan, abdominal ultrasound and another chest x-ray, all came back normal though there was something showing on my 7th rib. They have chalked this up to being a possible rib fracture since it was on my right side where all my work and radiation have been and also from all the coughing fits I have been having after each thoracentesis.

February 8th, 2010
Sasha: "Atti I can't breath again" .... Atti: "Do we need to go to emerg" .... Sasha: "Yes, I believe so".  Sure enough my lung filled with water again and I had another thoracentesis performed producing 1500 ml from my right lung. Coughing fit .... not as bad ...... pain meds ...... just as great! I was very pleased that each time I ended up in emerg at WRH Dr. Nesbitt was my doctor. He was very kind, sensitive, and tried his best to not make the procedure hurt as best you can when you have a long ass needle and tube going through your rib cage into your lung. I wanted him to perform it every time I needed it but that wasn't the case.

February 12th, 2010
In the meantime after having 3 thoracentesis performed I was referred to a thoracic surgeon and also needed a CT scan.

February 16th, 2010
Off to London for a follow-up appointment re: my '06 ovarian cancer diagnosis. My oncologist stated that they are more than positive that my pleural effusions are not linked in anyway to my ovarian diagnosis and that from their side everything was good.

February 17th, 2010
Sitting at Dr. Caughlin's office waiting for him to open ..... 30 mins later called and received his paging service which stated they were closed and that I should be at the outpatient clinic at HDGH (why did no one tell me this?). Anyways ..... he had my CT but it hadn't been read therefore, he asked me if I wanted to know what it said. Sure ..... "well, the cancer has come back and it is on and in your lung." Awwhaaawwahhh aaaawwhahhhhhwwwwaaahh! That is all I heard and boom, there went the waterfalls! Everyone in the room just stood there and looked like statues, Dr. Couglin, his nurse and Atti. I didn't know what to say, what to do, where to look or what to think, everything was a blur. Then .... Dr. Wilson knocked on the door. For those of you who do not know Dr. Wilson, he is like Atti's dad here and Atti, the son he never had and was our best man at our wedding, so he is like another papa to me too! He has been helping us out tremendously throughout all of this with appointments, helping understand test results better, giving us support and the 411. As soon as I saw him I started crying even more ..... he knew of the appointment and wanted to be their to support us.

After all of this settled Dr. Coughlin performed my 4th thoracentesis and after two attempts was able to drain another 1000ml. He gave me my options at this time which were .... come in every week for a thoracentesis, or have a pleurodesis performed to glue the lining of my lung to my lung. At that point I was so overwhelmed that I chose to come in every week to have a damn needle and tube shoved into my back to have it drained.

February 19th, 2010
Met with Dr. Alam who stated that her and the board are 95% positive that the cancer has come back. Sasha - "Ok .... when do I start chemo?"

February 22nd, 2010
Met with Dr. Alam again to go over my chemo regimen which will consist of X amount of treatments but probably 4-6 of carbo/taxol. Dr. Alam also stated that the chemo should solve the problem of the pleural effusion.

February 24th, 2010
Thoracentesis #5? NOPE! ..... there was not enough fluid build up as it had only been a week. I stated to him that of course there will not be enough as it has always taken 1 1/2wks - 2wks to build up. Dr. Couglin "Ok ... see you in two more weeks! In the meantime if it starts to build up call or go to emerg. Since you have made your decision to have chemo then we are not going to perform the pleurodesis". Therefore, that would mean that I am not getting a biopsy done either. My head was all mixed up because I had my oncologist saying the chemo would work and my thoracic surgeon saying it wouldn’t and only a pleurodesis would work. What now???

February 25th, 2010
8:00 am chemo #1 - consisted of the following: saline flush, benedryl, saline flush, dexamethasone (steroids), saline flush, taxol administered over 3-4 hrs, saline flush, carboplatinum administered over 30-40 mins, saline flush ..... 4:00 pm - home!

February 26th, 2010
2:00 pm - back to the clinic for my shots. First shot - Neulasta to increase my white blood cell counts, second shot - Zoladex to suppress my ovary.

February 28th, 2010


to be continued .....

Monday, April 12, 2010

January 2010

Monday January 11th, 2010
First day back to work after our trip to Tampa and my first priority is to get on the phone to my oncologist who you guessed it is on vacation. Therefore, next option ... family MD and since I work in the hospital lets get a quick chest x-ray. I am able to get into my family MD late that night and she thinks that it is possibly an pneumonia. OK, take some antibiotics and contact the office in a couple days, easy enough!

Tuesday January 12th, 2010
Informed by family MD that I have fluid accumulation between my lung and the lining aka pleural effusion. It is decided that a thoracentesis will be booked in a week to drain the fluid.

Thursday January 14th, 2010
Booked for a V/Q scan of my lungs to rule out a possible pulmonary embolism ..... no PE! Also, decided to do another chest x-ray to see how the fluid was doing. Driving home praying that everything is ok, my family MD phones and states that the fluid has doubled and that I should not wait till Monday to be drained as by then I am going to have an even harder time breathing as I was already very short of breath. We decided to head home, drop our belongings off and head back to the hospital to emerg where long story short ...... they stuck a needle and tube into my back through my rib cage and proceeded to drain 1800ml of fluid from my right lung which then lead to a massive coughing attack lasting 1hr, which then lead to some really good drugs for the pain and an amazing nights sleep!

Monday January 18th, 2010
Happy 33rd b-day to me!!

Thursday January 21st, 2010
Had another chest x-ray showing that the fluid has come back and they need to drain it properly by ultrasound to make sure they get as much as possible.

Friday January 29th, 2010
Ultrasound guided thoracentesis in diagnostic imaging resulting in 1500 ml drained from my right lung and another coughing fit (this is normal as the lung tries to expand and work again) that I tried to cut short as it seemed that I was annoying people in the area.

Though we were able to put January behind ..... I was still not able to breath!

What was going on??

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"Return of the Mac" aka Sasha

Following the summer months came the return of Sasha! Everything was rebuilding, my energy and strength, my spark, my love, my life, you name it ..... I was feeling healthier than ever, walking 10km and lifting weights 5-6x/wk ... I was me again! This was the healthiest I had felt since '05 just before I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer - immature teratoma of the germ cell.

I was ready to get my life back into control and back to "normal". With this came returning to work! It was such a great feeling to return, to be with my co-workers, my patients but most of all returning to a job that I love and what I truly believe I was meant to do. Things started off slow, modified work plan for 5 weeks and then I was back into the swing of things full-time come end of November 2009.

We skip ahead to .......

December 2009
The third week of December brought with it a little chest cough that I couldn't shake nothing big but noticable. I assumed with all the celebrations and the holidays that I just picked something up.

This continued till the end of December and the cough started to get worse at night, and with it came uncontrollable coughing fits and night sweats .... to the point of soaking through my sheets! Your mind starts to wonder ...... dry cough, night sweats, previous cancer history ..... no it just a chest cold!

Skip ahead to .......

January 2010
We figured we needed a vacation and had planned to visit family in Tampa. It was nice to get away and get some rest and relaxation .... but things were not getting any better. The night sweats continued, the cough worsened at night time, and now I couldn't even walk through the mall without becoming extremely short of breath! I promised myself upon our return on Sunday January 10th that Monday January 11th I would be in my doctors office.

January 11th 2010
...... my journey begins again........

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Knocked Down!