Treatment Update

So today, I met with my oncologist, Dr. Stone.

I have to say, I am truly thankful for Dr. Stone. I feel like he’s honest, but sincere. I am comfortable and I trust him.

With that being said, I didn’t love everything he told me today. I knew I was going in for the details about treatment for next week. According to the bone marrow doctor, I would be in the hospital for 4 days at a time…I can handle that.

However, I learned today that I will be in the hospital for 5-6 days every three weeks…and that’s assuming everything goes well while I’m in there. I will be at the Medical Center of Plano–another thing I wasn’t thrilled about. I was hoping to be at Plano Presby, but in order for Dr. Stone to be my doctor giving the orders for chemo, etc., I need to be at Medical Center of Plano. Bummer. The location isn’t ideal…but then again, neither is our current situation…so we will deal with it and move on.

I will check in early Monday morning and then receive treatment continuously through Friday morning. If I am feeling well and have responded well to the treatment, I will potentially be able to be discharged late Friday night. He made it seem like it would most likely be Saturday morning. In case you’re aware of a few important dates coming up, Saturday is Christmas Eve.

He did warn me that there was a chance I will remain in the hospital on Christmas. He said he hopes that’s not the case, but that there is a chance. He didn’t want me to blindsided if I happen to stay through the weekend.

If you know me, you may know that Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the year…it would really be fabulous if I could not be in the hospital on my favorite day. So, if you could, will you pray that things go well and I get released on Friday? We have a routine for Christmas Eve and I would love to keep it going strong.

Once we discussed the details of treatment, he mentioned the intrathecal (mentioned in a prior post). This procedure is where I would have chemo injected into my spinal fluid in order to protect my brain from future cancer cells that could potentially come the new drug in my treatment regimen. Dr. Stone was very blunt and said that if he was treating someone in his family, he would not do this procedure. He said that there is barely any proof that the benefit of it outweighs the risks. There is risk of infection, as there is with any procedure, but at the same time, there is very little research that it does, in fact, prevent cancer cells from growing in the brain.

Long story short, it’s completely up to us if we want to have this done. This is something that has to be done on a weekday because radiologists will not perform it on the weekends. this means that I would have to come back to the hospital the following Monday to have it done. For future rounds of treatment, he said I could start later in the week, stay over the weekend and then have the intrathecal procedure done early the next week, which would be the end of that round of treatment.

We’re not going to have that procedure done with this round of treatment. He said that if we decide to have it done in future rounds, we could move forward with that.

I’m very torn. On one hand, it’s one more thing right now when there are a whole lot of little things going on…on the other hand, I’m terrified that five years from now, cancer in my brain will show up and we will look back and wished we would have taken this precaution. We may decide to have this done with the next round…please pray for clarity. It would be lovely to have a more definite opinion on what we should do.

On a lighter note…Dr. Stone said that I could have as many visitors as I’d like while I’m in the hospital next week. With that being said, come visit me! I know it’s not the most convenient hospital, but I would love to see you and hug you…just don’t come if you’re sick. You will not be welcomed. 🙂

Dr. Stone immediately noticed that I had cut my hair…and then he asked if it had started to fall out yet. It’s funny you should ask…about ten minutes prior to meeting with him, while I was in the waiting room with my mom, I ran my fingers through my hair and out came about 40 strands of hair. I’ve always shed like a dog, but this was different. This is what I’ve been warned about. This is what I’ve read about. And this, is what I’ve been dreading. Absolutely dreading. There wasn’t anything that could prepare you for handfuls of hair coming out at once.

Dr. Stone had said to expect my hair to begin falling out two weeks from the second day of treatment. Today marked exactly two weeks. He’s a smart man. And chemo is a bad, bad dude. We’re not friends.

After the appointment, I dropped my mom back off and work and went to run a few Christmas errands. Side note: All of my Christmas stuff has to be done by this Friday. But why? Christmas isn’t until the following weekend! Ah, you forgot. I check in next Monday and will not be allowed to go last-minute Christmas shopping, wrap any presents, or frantically run around wishing I had done things sooner. Saturday morning we are heading to San Marcos for my sister’s graduation (Eat ‘Em Up Cats!) from Texas State. We will head back on Sunday…and I will prepare for Monday. I have a few more small things to get together before Friday. Cross your fingers I get everything done. I’m stubborn and I love wrapping, so I’m determined to get it all done myself. But don’t you worry, if I need help, I will ask. I am blessed and have about 3,408 people willing to help me at the drop of a hat. If you are one of those 3,408 people, I appreciate you.

Back on track…I dropped mom off and went to run a few errands. While I was driving, reality hit me smack in the face. I’ve been doing well. Really, really well. I’ve been strong. I’ve been feeling good. And then BAM. Punched in the face. During the appointment, Dr. Stone had mentioned that we have a long, bumpy road ahead of us. Have people been cured from the “double hit”? Absolutely. Have people relapsed? You bet. He’s hopeful in this new treatment…but no one really knows the outcome. It’s going to be a hard fight…but we’re going to fight. We’ll fight hard.

So while I was driving, the tears came. And they came fast. The ugly cry happened. I caught a glimpse of myself in the rear view mirror. It wasn’t pretty. The ugly cry doesn’t look good on me. I’ve been strong and I’ve been doing well…but for those few minutes, I was hurting. I was scared. Sad. Nervous. Upset. All of the above. I got over it (after a quick trip to Hobby Lobby)…and I know I’ll have many more moments of weakness…and that’s okay.

Another reason I think that I crumbled in the car…Wednesday afternoon has been looming. My stomach has been in knots all day. I’ve felt a lot of anxiety today because I know what’s coming.

Tomorrow, I’m shaving my head. Instead of torturing myself day after day while my hair falls out in clumps and my heart breaks a little more each time…I’m biting the bullet and shaving my head on Wednesday. I’m not doing it at home because I’m convinced that I would collapse into a big puddle of tears and feel sorry for myself.

Instead, I’m going to a place called Survivor Gals. Here’s the description of how this place got started:

Kathy (a breast cancer survivor) and Jennifer worked together for three years at a cancer recovery boutique, but they had a vision of something better. A place with large, private rooms for trying on wigs where friends and family can participate. A place that carries specialty products that women recovering from cancer treatments really need. A bright, sunny, happy shop where women feel special and pampered.

 

Pretty amazing, huh? I thought so too. So much so, that tomorrow, 15 of my closest friends/family/neighbors/co-workers/angels in disguise will go to lunch and then we will head to Survivor Gals to have my head shaved. Just typing that gives me goosebumps. I’m having a hard time coming to grips with the fact that tomorrow, I will be bald. I keep telling myself, for now, it’s just a means to an end. It will grow back. Ugh.

We’ve been talking to Harper every day about the fact that mommy is sick. And that the doctor gave her medicine that is going to make her hair fall out. She doesn’t completely understand, but she knows something is going on. When we talk about me losing my hair, she gets sad. Not moved to tears, but I can tell the little wheels are turning in her head. She said she’s scared…sweet girl, Mama is scared too. We have showed her some of the hats that I have…but it just isn’t real year. Tonight I held her and tried to explain that tomorrow, I would look a little different when I saw her after school. She buried her face and made it clear that she didn’t want to keep talking about it. I’m hoping that when she does have questions, she will ask. It breaks my heart that her sweet little four year old heart has to experience this. Please pray for her. Pray that she finds comfort during all of this.

For now, I’ll head to bed and dream of the day that I have a flowing mane again. 🙂 Tomorrow morning, I’ll wash a dry my hair for the last time for a while. Not because it’s dirty, but because tomorrow morning, I will actually have hair to wash and dry.

If you think about it, send some positive thoughts or say a prayer on Wednesday at 2:30. I’m acting brave, but I’m actually scared out of my mind. I’m not so sure I can pull off a bald head…but I’m sure as heck going to try.

Sweet dreams and bald heads. Good night, my friends. Thank you for your prayers.

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8 thoughts on “Treatment Update

  1. Sweet Ashley,
    I am so sorry you are on this journey, but the words you pour into your blog posts inspire me and communicate more strength than you give yourself credit for. What a strong and fierce woman you are! I pray you continue to be steadfast in your faith and that you feel His presence even at the darkest of times. You have many prayer warriors living you and asking for mercy, including me! Bless you!!!

  2. Praying over you sweet Ashley. In honor of you and as a reminder to pray all day for you, I’m busting out the Asley Cook 2003-2004 soccer shirt! “Priceless”! Much much love sent your way.
    Karol

  3. Ashley,

    Laura Bersoza ( my daughter) told me about your cancer. I am lifting you and your family up in prayer. Will continue to do so throughout your treatments.

  4. Ashley, I know you are facing a scary, long journey. I also know you have a wonderful, strong support group praying for you constantly, daily and always. God brings us to it and through it and will always be there on the other side of this horribly difficult time, and will be faithful to give you peace and strength. Sending you hugs, love and peace….

  5. Ashley- your words are to be read. You spoke of doctors/hospitals, worries and the season.

    And then you wrote this…”So while I was driving, the tears came. And they came fast. The ugly cry happened.” Tears need to happen – I’m just so sorry I couldn’t take your place

  6. Ashley,
    You do not know me, but I have known your sweet mama and step dad for many years!! I want you to know how amazing, beautiful and strong you are, each and every day, as you go through this journey. I am praying for you and your family during this difficult time.
    Allow that support group to help you and get you through this one day at a time! Stay tough darlin and kick cancers butt!!!! You got this!!!
    Misty King Hays

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