Chronicle of a Stem Cell Transplant (and on through to the other side)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Hey, Big Spender...

Well, this week I accidentally managed to sign myself and three friends up to do a half marathon. Not only that, but, Rishel was so excited, she signed herself up for the Honolulu Triathlon! We're not actually "running" until May, but I'm going to need that much time to recondition this beat-up body.

We are doing it as part of Team in Training (TNT) which is organized by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada. The Society was also behind the "Light the Night" walk that my colleagues participated in this past October and has raised over 650 million dollars toward blood cancer research.

In exchange for fundraising a certain dollar amount, we are provided with training, race entry, accomodation etc. As we are a little uncertain of our fundraising abilities, we have committed to doing the Vancouver race; however, if people start throwing money at us (hint hint), we're thinking of switching to the San Diego Marathon in June. I will post a link to my fundraising page as soon as it is ready.

It was really quite funny (well, to me anyway), because by the end of the TNT information meeting, we had collectively spent $300 and committed to raising over $11,000. Oops. I didn't guilt them into it, I swear. Anyway, if you are interested in running with us (c'mon prairie girls), check out:

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Happy Tuesday

My good friend Tara sent me this and it made me smile (though I can't actually do know, germs and all) :)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Poddy People in the House

Rock on, Starbuck...

Today I went to the Cancer Agency to have my radiation mask moulded. This involved lying on an examining table while a wet, mesh plastic frame was put over my head and shoulders, stuck to my face and set to dry for ten minutes. Ten minutes might not sound like a long time, but it is when that frame starts to get increasingly stuck to your head. It didn't help that I hadn't quite decided what to do with my eyes before they laid it on me, so they were kind of smushed half open.

What made it that much more, um, fun, was the fact that, not only was it stuck to my head, it was BOLTED to the friggin' table. Tightly. As in, I could barely swallow, tightly. Ten minutes later, lucky Ian got to watch as I was "released" and reborn from my intergalactic pod. I think he actually shuttered. I guess I shouldn't have got off the table demanding that he take me to his leader.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Shiny, Happy, Radioactive People

I had my PET (positron emission tomography) scan yesterday at UBC and am feeling pretty good. Not that the scan produces any ill effects, but I had been feeling kind of crappy earlier in the week. Anyway, I am always kind of in awe when I get this procedure done a) because of how expensive the donut I'm sliding in and out of is and the fact that we are lucky enough to have two in our city and b) how simple yet effective the science is. I was so awestruck, in fact, that I fell asleep on the table with my arms strapped together.

Actually, it really is quite neat, if you are a geek...the scanner works by using radiation to develop the images (just call me Nuclear Nelly)...You are given a "minute" amount of a radioactive substance through an injection, fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), which is similar to a naturally occurring sugar in the body, with the addition of a radioactive fluorine atom. Gamma radiation produced from the fluorine is detected by the PET scanner and shows in detail the metabolism of glucose in the body. Basically, colour will show up wherever there are cancer cells in your body, similar to, but not the same as those pink fluoride tablets you used to get in elementary school that showed how much plaque you had on your teeth. Only, the goal here is to have less, not more colour (I wasn't a high achiever).

When you are finished the scan, they give you a disc with your results to take to your doctor, but tell you not to look at it. Hmm. It is tempting in a let's-play-doctor kind of way, but I'm thinking not. My highly-communicative oncologist will undoubtedly look at it for 3 seconds and mutter something unintelligible under his breath that I will have to spend the rest of the day trying to figure out. Actually, he has been much better lately as I have become much more adept at deciphering the grunts.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Flood Pants, Anyone?

So, we are just loading up the animals two by two here...(which you may not have heard because I'm a bad, bad blogger) as our heating vents have, for some unknown reason, been filling up with WATER. Thus, the fact that it is supposed to rain from now until the new year is not a good sign. Fortunately, no flooding so far, and Ian is doing something noisy but productive with a wet vac. Here's hoping I don't have to travel around the house in a row boat (although, I could name it Suzy Spitfire...)

Speaking of the effects of global warming, my dad is out of the hospital and OK. He was in having what were suspected tumors in his lungs removed...thankfully, they turned out not to be malignant but, instead, Cryptococcus (the mysterious Vancouver Island/Parksville infection that came from south of the equator about four years ago). God knows how he picked that up. Anyway, it was successfully removed and he is recovering at home.

In terms of my own health, I had my post-transplant scan last week and, while there is still matter showing up in mass area, this is to be expected. So, this week and next, I am having other various scans to see exactly what is going on in there (including the monster $3000 PET-Scan again at UBC) and then I will be starting radiation a week or two afterward for four weeks.

I feel like I've had a salad bar of treatment - I get to try a little bit of everything. Oh joy. To get set-up for the radiation, I will have a "mapping" of my body done and be fitted for a MASK that I have to wear during the treatment. A mask...a full face and shoulder mask. I just keep getting cooler, I tell you.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Post 'Ween

Sweet November. After my blood work on Monday and dropping off my you're-never-gonna-check-out-anything-from-the-library-again-with-that-hefty-fine books, we headed down to Point Roberts for a well-needed change of scenery. We enjoyed lattes, strolls on the beach and candlelight dinners, or something like that...

Cormorants at the usual hangout

Nothing like sporting a nun's habit...

I do this a lot. I obviously have a Daedalus complex.

Sun on sand