Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Where Have I Been?

It has been right at 30 days or so since my last post....and so much has happened. I had four rounds of chemo and I knew my stomach was looking a little larger. I was worried about fluid buildup (ascites) so I asked Dr. Dy in Effingham if we could do a CT scan. I also gained 6 pounds which is another sign of fluid. BUT....the scan came back that I had no ascites. (That's the good news.......).
The bad news is MD Anderson had been watching some nodules in the lining of my stomach. You have the outside of your stomach...then fluid...then a saran wrap type of lining that hold the fluid that keeps the fluid intact. Those pesky nodules had grown in the two months on my chemo. Everything else is stable but we need to stomp on these nodules.
Before we do anything, I already had appointments in two weeks for a scan, bloodwork, a biopsy of the nodules on the stomach lining, and a visit with the great Dr. Javle.  We want to know if there are new genetic mutations that we might have more treatment options for. Those biopsies are no picnic with a large gauge needle piecing your skin and getting to the nodule. THEN, comes the chomping of a staple gun sound as it bites a piece of the nodule. Last time, I heard it chomp three times as I opened my eyes wide open after each chomp! BUT. if it helps....I'm in...if we don't find any useful information, atleast we know we have left no stone unturned.
After the biopsy, I will return home and start a different chemo regimin until the biopsy results come back. I believe I will be on Gemcitabine and Abraxane (chemo drugs) and they are supposedly no picnic. So, we shall see. 

This news isn't the best news but it is not the worst. We have known for quite some time that I am just darned hard headed and am not giving up. We will treat this cancer as things pop up and pray for the best!

In February, it will be 6 years of fighting this devil called intra-hepatic cholangiocarcinoma. I have been so blessed with WAAAAAY more good days...months...years than bad ones. No doctor has ever promised me a long life....but Dr. Javle has promised to use every tool in the tool box until we are out of options. He has given me hope when other doctors could not.

So, as I close tonight, know that I am calm.I cannot worry what is going to happen next.....I have to live while I can. I cannot think about the nodes that could be growing in my stomach lining until I get on a chemo regimin. No....God is with me every step of every day! No matter what happens to this fat lady.....I HAVE LIVED!!

May Christ be in your Christmas!

I promise to blog after returning from Houston in a couple weeks!

Love & hugs,
Patty

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Oh boy! OH BOY!

It is hard to believe that so much has happened since my last blogpost and I have not kept people updated. Yes, I received a TITANIUM BARD (brand name) port placed on my upper right side of my chest. The biggest pain with it is carrying the chemo and infusion pump around and not forgetting to grab it or down it goes!  I have received not one but two infusions of chemotherapy. The second infusion was on Monday, October 12. I received the Irinotecan and pre meds at Crossroads Cancer Center in Effingham. My white count was 4 at my first infusion and at my bloodwork on Monday, it was 2. My dr asked me to wait before sending me home as they were checking the leukocytes and although he doubted they were over 1,000....IF they were, he would ok me to get chemo. Well, to his surprise, they were over 1,200 so we proceeded. Next Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I will go to RMH (local hospital) to get the Neupogen shots. This will boost my white count and hopefully I will have minimal side effects from those shots. I had severe bone pain the last time I shot up these pretty puppies!! AND, last time I had to take these shots, they were either sent home with me or I got them at my local pharmacy....but things have changed and I have to go to outpatient surgery to get the shots.
     I will probably stay very close to home until I start the Neupogen shots as Dr. Dy said I could get pneumonia very easily over the next 5-7 days if I came into contact with cold like germs. My first round of chemo was a piece of cake until Friday evening (my infusions are always on Wednesday) and I could start to feel my body go into low gear. I went to bed at 8 pm-ish and woke up at 6:30 am...had my hot green tea, then back to bed at 7:30 am and I SLEPT soundly until 1:30 pm. WOW!  I rested the rest of Saturday just watching tv. I struggled to get presentable for my second grandchild's 5th birthday party on Sunday, then back home into my jammies. It took a few more days before I was ready to be "normal" (somewhat anyway).
     So, tonight I went to a visitation of a cancer patient and even more importantly, a very beautiful friend with an amazing family. My heart just hurts for them. It was the second death of a cancer friend that has passed this last week. Patti Means and I met up in Houston and both had the same cancer. We went to supper with our husbands and she brought souvenirs from Seattle, Washington. She was a true gem and I will miss our visits.
     I have been so very blessed to have friends and family bring in food on the days I didn't even get dressed. Pat can fix the easy stuff but not homemade chicken and noodle soup or homemade chicken and stars.....my mom came out and fixed red potatoes, pork steak, homemade gravy, and green beans. It was a meal my mom used to fix when we were little and it reminded me of us all sitting around the table....it was always a good meal!! Tonight, we had corn chowder at my daughter Amy's and her husband Rylan and it was awesome....better than I was expecting!! ;-)  Jennifer (my oldest daughter)has had friends call to bring a meal on those "bad days" and has started a calendar if you are interested in bringing a meal. They are such a help. I cannot have nuts, popcorn, or things that are harder for me to process. My friend Debbie Weiler brought a cold salad with fruit, Cool Whip, and cream cheese and it just tasted good of an evening.
     So....I am slowly marching...and it will get a little slower before I climb back out of the hole I feel like I will be in by Saturday. Over this past weekend, I cleaned and washed some windows, washed linens, put out fall decorations, I even pulled some weeds in the main flower garden...so I DO have several good days before it is time for chemo again.
Tomorrow (Friday), I go back to Crossroads to get my chemo pump removed. YES! 
     I had a fellow cholangiocarcinoma patient who is NED (no evidence of disease for those of you who do not know the cancer technology). Julie Tupker and her husband "Tup" came in on Tuesday afternoon and we had the best supper in town at Olde Tyme Steakhouse before coming back to our house where they spent the night with us! Julie and I talked past 11 pm and I knew I had chemo the next day or I KNOW we could have talked all night!!  What a joy to visit with a fellow CC survivor....and they are from Iowa but on their way to Nashville so we were a nice little pit stop on their mini vacation. 
     In closing, I just want to thank my friends and family for prayers, thoughts, messages, texts, and hugs. Nothing tugs at my heart more than seeing another family grieving for a family member. Life...and death are a part of our life cycle....but I do believe both ladies I know that recently passed had angels waiting on them. NO DOUBT IN MY MIND!
     I will try and keep you all updated a little sooner. It just depends on how I feel.

Hugs and God Bless you!!
Patty

Oh boy! OH BOY!

It is hard to believe that so much has happened since my last blogpost and I have not kept people updated. Yes, I received a TITANIUM BARD (brand name) port placed on my upper right side of my chest. The biggest pain with it is carrying the chemo and infusion pump around and not forgetting to grab it or down it goes!  I have received not one but two infusions of chemotherapy. The second infusion was on Monday, October 12. I received the Irinotecan and pre meds at Crossroads Cancer Center in Effingham. My white count was 4 at my first infusion and at my bloodwork on Monday, it was 2. My dr asked me to wait before sending me home as they were checking the leukocytes and although he doubted they were over 1,000....IF they were, he would ok me to get chemo. Well, to his surprise, they were over 1,200 so we proceeded. Next Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I will go to RMH (local hospital) to get the Neupogen shots. This will boost my white count and hopefully I will have minimal side effects from those shots. I had severe bone pain the last time I shot up these pretty puppies!! AND, last time I had to take these shots, they were either sent home with me or I got them at my local pharmacy....but things have changed and I have to go to outpatient surgery to get the shots.
     I will probably stay very close to home until I start the Neupogen shots as Dr. Dy said I could get pneumonia very easily over the next 5-7 days if I came into contact with cold like germs. My first round of chemo was a piece of cake until Friday evening (my infusions are always on Wednesday) and I could start to feel my body go into low gear. I went to bed at 8 pm-ish and woke up at 6:30 am...had my hot green tea, then back to bed at 7:30 am and I SLEPT soundly until 1:30 pm. WOW!  I rested the rest of Saturday just watching tv. I struggled to get presentable for my second grandchild's 5th birthday party on Sunday, then back home into my jammies. It took a few more days before I was ready to be "normal" (somewhat anyway).
     So, tonight I went to a visitation of a cancer patient and even more importantly, a very beautiful friend with an amazing family. My heart just hurts for them. It was the second death of a cancer friend that has passed this last week. Patti Means and I met up in Houston and both had the same cancer. We went to supper with our husbands and she brought souvenirs from Seattle, Washington. She was a true gem and I will miss our visits.
     I have been so very blessed to have friends and family bring in food on the days I didn't even get dressed. Pat can fix the easy stuff but not homemade chicken and noodle soup or homemade chicken and stars.....my mom came out and fixed red potatoes, pork steak, homemade gravy, and green beans. It was a meal my mom used to fix when we were little and it reminded me of us all sitting around the table....it was always a good meal!! Tonight, we had corn chowder at my daughter, Amy's and it was awesome....better than I was expecting!! ;-)  Jennifer has had friends call to bring a meal on those "bad days" and has started a calendar if you are interested in bringing a meal. They are such a help. I cannot have nuts, popcorn, or things that are harder for me to process. My friend Debbie Weiler brought a cold salad with fruit, Cool Whip, and cream cheese and it just tasted good of an evening.
     So....I am slowly marching...and it will get a little slower before I climb back out of the hole I feel like I will be in by Saturday. Over this past weekend, I cleaned and washed some windows, washed linens, put out fall decorations, I even pulled some weeds in the main flower garden...so I DO have several good days before it is time for chemo again.
Tomorrow (Friday), I go back to Crossroads to get my chemo pump removed. YES! 
     I had a fellow cholangiocarcinoma patient who is NED (no evidence of disease for those of you who do not know the cancer technology). Julie Tupker and her husband "Tup" came in on Tuesday afternoon and we had the best supper in town at Olde Tyme Steakhouse before coming back to our house where they spent the night with us! Julie and I talked past 11 pm and I knew I had chemo the next day or I KNOW we could have talked all night!!  What a joy to visit with a fellow CC survivor....and they are from Iowa but on their way to Nashville so we were a nice little pit stop on their mini vacation. 
     In closing, I just want to thank my friends and family for prayers, thoughts, messages, texts, and hugs. Nothing tugs at my heart more than seeing another family grieving for a family member. Life...and death are a part of our life cycle....but I do believe both ladies I know that has recently passed had angels waiting on them. NO DOUBT IN MY MIND!
     I will try and keep you all updated a little sooner. It just depends on how I feel.

Hugs and God Bless you!!
Patty

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

HERE WE GO AGAIN!!!

September 22nd, I will have a new port placed in my upper chest. It took some doing to even get a surgeon to perform the procedure since the last port was maybe part of the blood clot problem I had and landed me in Prairie Heart in Springfield, Il for about 12 days. I am on blood thinners so we will stop them now and restart them a few days after the port is in. Then, we will check my ANTI X-A (a test to check the consistency of my blood). I can't remember if I am put all the way under for the port procedure but I know it was pretty quick. I will be sore for a few days and may have some restrictions....I will know more the day of surgery.
THEN.......next Wednesday, I will have my first dose of chemotherapy attached to my port and I will wear the pretty fanny pack that carries the chemo. It is like a 48 hour release of the chemo meds (Irinotecan, Leukovoran, and Xeloda). I will get this done every two weeks until I get another scan in December and I pray to our Father that the cancer is halted!  I get some pretty ugly side effects from the chemo (or most people do).  I have had the Irinotecan and Xeloda before but received it all in one day instead of spreading it over 48 hours. It knocked me off my can for several days before I could barely walk to the fridge for a glass of juice. But you steadily come out of it and feel great for a few days....and then, it is time to do it all again.
BUT, I am living. I will know when it is time to stop taking chemo when and IF it comes to the quality vs quantity of life. My dr in Houston says I am not going anywhere....to get that out of my head!  So....LETS MARCH!  Hup two...three...four!!!
Thank you for the cards, messages, and most of all...prayers! 
Love & Hugs;
Patty Corcoran

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

At a Loss For Words........

As I sit here at home, staring at this computer, I would like to whine and do the "sing and dance" about how I wish I could crawl under a rock and die. But I won't... yet.

My bloodwork was given to me by the radiology department during my scan, and I thought everything looked really good except one and it was one I don't remember seeing it before. It was grossly out of range. But, I remained optimistic that night and was ready for my scan results the next day. The clinical trial coordinator wouldn't give me any clues what my results were and said I would have to wait for the physician's assistant that was coming in next. SHE would not give me any clues and said Dr. Meric wanted to go over the scan results with me. I knew at this point, it wasn't good.

Dr. Meric said although the liver was stable, I had some new nodes in the lining of the stomach. I also had a few 2 cm nodes by my ovary that they had been watching and in two months they are 4 cm. It is enough growth to take me off the trial. She had another trial but I would have to travel to Texas every week. NOT.  Then, Dr. Javle wanted to see me so we met with him. He wants to do Irinotecan along with Leukovoren and Xeloda. He wants to put a port in, and I would have a pump for two days while all three drugs are slowly released. Then, I would travel back to Effingham and have the fanny pack that holds the chemo removed. I would do this every two weeks. My family is concerned with a port as that is what caused all the blood clots over 5 years ago. Jenn has a call in to Dr. Goswami (my dr at St. Johns/Prairie Heart Institute in Springfield, Illinois who removed all the hundreds of clots last time) to see what he thinks. Dr. Dy believes we will be fine as long as we keep a close eye on the consistency of my blood.
I do not look forward to chemo but these chemotherapy agents have worked in the past so I feel better than entering a trial again. Along with the chemo, can come low white counts which would add the Neulasta shot. Kim, the nurse at Crossroads said the side effects are not quite as bad since it is slowly released over 48 hours instead of pushing the drugs into my system in a few hours.
I am not going to lie, when you get nodules (that they are pretty sure are cancerous) in the peritoneal region, it is time to get out the gloves and give it my best shot.

I know this is a pretty serious post, but it is pretty serious right now. I've been in tight spots before and have came out on top, I am not about to throw in the towel now!! 

A huge thanks to David and Lynda Rands whom we stayed with in O'Fallon after a delayed flight and a midnight arrival to their house. They are great hosts and even better friends!!

Thank you all for your prayers and God is with me. ALWAYS!  I am still here.....there's a sharp curve ahead but I have taken a few of those in the past and survived. So....stay tuned for the next step in this land of Cancer at the Corcoran's!

Hugs,
Patty


Friday, September 9, 2016

Am I ready for this?

First off, I have to tell you a quick story that happened as Pat and I were at the Atlanta, Georgia Airport as we were traveling to St. Lucia. I noticed this man looking at me and he kind of looked familiar but I blew it off....after all, no one knows me this far from home.  After about 20 minutes, This man stands up and starts walking my way.....I'm thinking ......well, I won't even tell you what I was thinking. He came up to me and said, "Are you Patty?" I paused.......and then said "yes" very slowly wondering who this man truly was. He stated his name was Lanny Andrews (and at THAT MOMENT) I knew exactly who he was. His wife had cholangiocarcinoma and sadly passed about 3 1/2 years ago. Cindy Andrews was a caring, sweet, and kind friend that I met due to this terrible disease called cholangiocarcinoma. But to think about this....sitting in an airport that he could recognize me...was crazy!  Lanny still reads my blog....still keeps up on me...and that is how he recognized me. So, Thanks Lanny! Thanks for having the courage for coming over to see if it was me. Hope you had a great trip in Jamaica!! Here is a pic of Lanny & I at the airport . We had a red eye flight...so sorry about the "just got out of bed look."
Pat and I finally planted our feet on St. Lucia and was swiftly driven about an hour away to the Sandals Resort. It was the most amazing resort I have ever stayed at. Absolutely pristine from the rooms....to the pool...to the beach...to the food...to the never letting your glass get empty...they were always there. I was a pretty cheap date drinking glasses of ice, ice water, and virgin strawberry daiquiri's,  and virgin pina colada's. Pat snorkeled every day and I snorkeled one....We also kayaked hard and fast around the large cove we were in. This was probably my second favorite trip so far that we have taken by ourselves. I picked out a few pics to share before ending with an update on my trial.

 Pat and I before entering the Japanese Restaurant.
A Sandals Sailboat

 No....this isn't Pat and I! :-)
 This wall separated Sandals from the beach. We had plenty of openings to go to the beach but the pool was right behind where this picture was taken.
 The "other" side of the cove our resort is in. I think there were some hotels and Bed and Breakfasts along here.
 The building sticking out is a Japanese Restaurant that we ate at on the Sandals Resort. It was fantastic!!
 These colorful houses are part of the Sandal's Resort. Again, this is where Pat and I snorkeled.
 They say there are NO sharks because the water is too warm. How about THAT!  :-)
 Pat and Pat-ty
This was taken from our balcony. We snorkeled along the left side of the picture clear out to the edge of rock.

 This beautiful tree is like a gigantic Mimosa tree.....There were the pink blooms all over although you might not be able to see them in this picture.

I have been taking the clinical trial pills every day and still the worst side effects are abdominal cramps that usually happen right before "a big explosion" is about to happen. Needless to say I am a anti diarrheal junkie on an almost daily basis.

I travel back to MD Anderson in Houston on Sunday evening with bloodwork starting at 6:30 on Monday morning. I have the CT scan prep starting later that morning.  Tuesday morning, I meet with a specialist of some kind to look at all the meds I take and if I am taking two together that should not be taken together. I have never had this done before but with all the "scoots"....it can't be a bad idea.  Then.......I will get the CT scan and bloodwork results when I see Dr. Meric at noon. If all is well, we will wait the dreaded three hours for new drugs and fly out that evening.

What do I think the scan will show...good or bad. I don't have a clue. I know I am living life to the fullest. I babysit my youngest grandson two days a week, I am always on a journey each day. I have been painting some ocean animals and have a few more to finish before handing them over to a friend named Sam.  WHATEVER the scan shows, we will take it in stride. I am in no pain, I feel mostly energetic, and I am just not sure what it will show. Stability would be wonderful....shrinkage is an added bonus. I prayed last night for God to take control of my life. I asked Him to do what He believes is the right thing to happen in my life...and to guide me on this journey.
Sometimes, you really do not realize how many people are dying from cancer until you are closely related to someone or have cancer yourself.  Why is that?  Why is it that most Relay for Life teams have members with cancer patients on them?

As the air starts to get cool and crisp, the hickory nuts and acorns start to fall, campfires start to happen more often this time of year, enjoy this special time of year. Enjoy the fall foliage as it will be on the ground in no time!  Enjoy every day and give thanks to our amazing God for the view He gives us every day.

I will post maybe Tuesday with a report from the dr...maybe not until Wednesday evening. It all depends on when I have access to the internet.

Happy Fall Y'all!!

Hugs!
Patty Corcoran



Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Onward Marching Soldier!

It was a fly in spend the night and back to the airport type of visit to Houston. We stayed at the Holiday Inn on Kirby and the Texan Football team was there. They came in late the night before. I wanted a picture so stinking bad with a sign about "Tackling Cholangiocarcinoma" or something like that. We were in the elevator with one and man....H.E. W.A.S. B.I.G!    Moh picked us up and we figured the cost compared to SuperShuttle and you only save $2!!  So, you can ride in a van with a bunch of people or in a Lincoln MKX and get served bottled water on the trip to the hotel!!  Moh is the BEST and he picked us up the very first trip to MD Anderson 5 1/2 years ago!

My bloodwork looks pretty good. All in normal limits except the Alk Phoshatase BUT the other two enzymes are in the 30's which is perfect so Dr. Meric is not too concerned for now. My platelets are at 114,000 so they are a little low but nothing to lose sleep over. Normal limits start at 140,000 at MD Anderson. I have found each lab/hospital is a little different but pretty close in comparison.

So, we are on to month 4 of the Match trial. So far, every person on this trial is still on it....for whatever type of cancer they are being treated for. Dr. Meric already has some options up her sleeve if something goes awry with this trial.  I told her "Don't let me die, Dr. Meric" and she just put her hand on my arm and nodded......I know she cannot promise me life.  I am ok with that....just fight for me to the best of her ability. Isn't that all we can ask....the rest is in God's hands. AND....I am ok with that, too.  I am at peace. That is the "win"....the "score" ....the prayer we all want answered in life.

May PEACE be with each and every one of you!!  And to ALL cancer fighters, patients, and ones who have passed......May The Force Be With You!

Hugs!!
Patty Corcoran