Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Surprise Visitor

Hi Everyone...I just got through SKYPING with Brenda and Vic. That is so much fun to do. If you don't have a computer with a should get one. Brenda looks great and I can see that the tumors in her neck have even gone down more since I've been gone. Maybe it's me leaving!!!! NAW!!!

Brenda and Vic had a wonderful surprise visit from Jackie (part of the infamous Tahiti Pod) this evening. She brought a goodie package full of wonderful things. Thank you soooo much Jackie and Helene. Check out the photos.

Doc Vic wrote another medical update on todays visit with the Rad/Onc Dr. Here's the bullet.

Not too much news today but no kicks in the gut either (thank God for that).  Yesterday was tough.  Today was a little shopping excursion (Brenda picked out shoes for me to wear to my niece's wedding next month) followed by lunch out. Then we went to the medical center for a blood draw and an appointment with the radiation oncologist.  There were no major plans made there because she needs to finish round three of chemo (that starts tomorrow for three days).  After that she will most likely be scheduled for the neurosurgery in a few weeks (if the PET scan tomorrow is good).  We got a lot of questions answered by the rad/onc nurse.  The radiation won't start until she's healed from any surgery and that takes about four weeks.  Surgery won't occur until a few weeks after round three of chemo.  Then radiation will be five days a week for six to seven weeks.  Head and neck radiation is tough because your throat gets so sore and it hurts to swallow. Staying hydrated and not losing weight are very important.  We're looking at an all summer proposition here folks. Brenda is very strong but the enormity of it all is wearing on her.  Keep your thoughts and prayers flowing.  Keep the cards coming, she gets a big smile on her face when she gets them in the mail.  Please post comments on the blog.  It is very uplifting when she reads them.


  1. Hey Sista :)
    You look great! Your neck does look really thin...Yeah! I love that scarf, what a hoot!! Wow all those dr. appt's would make anyone's head swim...good lord girl! Good thing you have all these attending docs with you :) Thinking of you, loving you and wishing for good outcomes in all your test etc. Hope next chemo round goes good. Keep the strength!!! I'm so proud of you!!!
    Love ya Sis,
    Rhonda oxoxox

  2. Oh that is a nice do-rag, "Quiet hair growing". Hysterical. It looks like Jackie brought some good cheer your way and I love the matching blue caps - pretty snappy.
    Kim and Wendy will you still be able to make the distinction between Jackie and Chemo sabe if they are wearing the same color caps? I know color coding is an OZ must so I am just trying to help out. If not, Wendy perhaps you can craft a few name tags with your teeny, tiny note book and pencil :) Dee between you and me, Skyping might be a few centuries off for dear friend Wendy ;)
    I know you are aware that Helene and I are the "Original Pole Dancers" on Olivia trips, but did you also know that Jackie is the original and I might add best break dancer an Olivia cruise ship dance floor has ever seen? Karen typically serves two roles, keeping me in some sort of order (a losing battle, but she also has a part in the action as she is the most determined spinner any break dancer has ever met. The last part is a bit hard to explain but you do have to realize that 'bad knees' permeate this whole pod. Being able to do all that spinning and gyrating takes a toll. Every now and then a girl needs some help. Karen serves that role, until we wear her out and she abandons us. The entire ensemble is just something you have to see.
    Chemo sabe - as soon as you get well I promise a pole dance just for you. Keeping my fingers crossed that happens as soon as Puerto Vallarta. Crikey (OZ for oh crap!), now I will have to pack a pole. I may need McGuyvers help on that one. Who knows maybe the entire Olivia dance troupe will offer a performance. While you focus on getting well, I'll think of a name for our ensemble - deal?
    VPs, I may need some help with the naming so I'll search for some photos or I might have to ask Jill for some of the evidence she has. Maybe we can have a dance troupe naming contest after the big Texas theme concludes. I'm thinking "IV Pole dance", "chin strap chicken dance" or how about "pole dancing above the artic circle" as some entires? Give me some time and who knows where this mind will go. Better yet, give the VPs some time and who knows........
    Back to being serious now. Tee hee, that even made me laugh. Anyway........
    I have a medical question and of course Karen is already sleeping. So here goes maybe Dr. Vic can help:
    Why is it when a person goes through chemo they lose the hair on their head but not anywhere else? Wait, wait,wait do not answer yet. Let me be a bit more specific as I know this blog and want to tread lightly here. To be clear, I am talking eyebrows and only eyebrows!!! That amazes me - why is that?
    Oh and Chemo sabe, I am happy to say with your shrinking neck size, you are NOT winning the "Everything is Bigger in Texas" contest. As Martha Stewart would say - "that's is a good thing". Martha and I are like this - you cannot see it but she is smiling affectionately at me as I type.
    For now I'll go with Martha's review, but when you are well and life is getting back to normal I WILL call you a loser!!!! Sorry I know you are very competitive but I want to win this contest.
    Vic and Callie, thank you for all your are both doing for our friends. It must be priceless for Dee and Brenda to have their own personal medical ambassadors. Truly a sacrifice from both of you - Brava!!
    Chemo sabe and Dee I know chemo starts again tomorrow so I wanted to hop on the blog and send you both hugs and well wishes to get you through this round and more importantly this disease. I am hugging you both tightly so I hope you can feel it all the way in Houston.
    Love you all.

  3. All,
    It was great to see Brenda and what am amazing hug I got that you see in the picture! Michelle, I would like to point out that, as I am a person of few words (well, sober at least) I also am a person of few pictures. The picture of Brenda and me in the SD hats covers two categories - blue bonnets and Texas (we were in Houston after all). If I had only included a pole....Jackie

  4. Jackie - the caps, great hug, the do-rag,and the huge smiles seem to indicate that your surprise visit was just what the doctor ordered. Who needs a pole anyway. Well done!!

    Chemo Sabe and Dr. Vic,
    I know today was a long day and the start of a new round of chemo. I hope you are leaning on your VPs to help you through this round and the hurdles yet to come. We are here for you.

    I know you cannot see them but a bunch of hugs and well wishes are coming your way.
    Talk soon

  5. Good Morning fellow village people! Yesterday was a very long day but our Chemo Sabe held up well. We got to MD Anderson at 8:15 AM for a PET scan, had lunch, an audiology appointment,waited for a supply order and then had almost 8 hours in the chemo infusion area. We left the hospital at 11:15 PM and we were both asleep by midnight. Brenda slept until 8:30 and looks tired but otherwise well. The audiology appointment went well. She only has what he called "microscopic" hearing loss. It was 4 % high pitch loss last time and was better this time. She won't be missing any of your one liners Michele. The PET scan is pending.

    The last two hours last night was spent in a rousing game of scrabble (she always beats me----she plays electronic scrabble for hours on end). I thought I had her last night. I was up a few points and we each had only a couple letters left.....I could taste victory!! Then she plays,
    "kea" (it's a parrot) and beats me at the last second. Chemo brain beats menopause mush brain once again (hormones are evil!)

    Today chemo starts at 6 PM and there are no early appointments anywhere else. Unfortunately, she won't finish until midnight again.
    The good news today is that during chemo I will go to the airport and pick up Dee (who arrives at about 8PM.) The nurses union break is over and I fly home tomorrow.

    You all know what an incredible woman Brenda is and this week here with her has certainly reinforced that to me. Please keep the cards and thoughts and prayers coming. As you go through your busy days and thoughts of Brenda pop into your head (as I know they do), please comment on the blog. It gives her such a lift.

    Dr. Vic

  6. Hi sweetie... I just knew you couldn't keep that brilliant brain down... still beating the pants off of us with scrabble... I love your new do-rag... because you have got a lot of doing to do! Welcome back Dee... we were thinking maybe we could do a Skype on Sunday to see how you are all doing! The Healing Angels are always there with you and all around you!

    Thinking about you always and sending lots of Love & Blessings
    CAthie & Evelyn

  7. GOOD NEWS !!!!! We just got a call from Mary (From Dr. Hong's office). The PET scan is clear. Nothing lights up anywhere except the neck. No activity in the chest or diaphram area as was the worry on the recent CT scan. Today is a very good day!

    Dr. Vic

  8. Good news indeed.
    Vic on behalf of all the folks 'virtually' standing in Chemo Sabe's corner, thank you for going on site.
    You have clearly articulated that this is a journey and the path (not a train, but truly a path) will be both long and windy with some potholes and detours. Count on Karen and I to take a few shifts, as well as using the blog to entertain our gals.
    Day 2 of chemo. Go kick some tumor butt!!!!

  9. No gut lights. Awesome! The Village energy will turn future challenges into only good results. Jackie

  10. Dee and Chemo Sabe,
    HI ladies - Well Kim and I have some news to report. I feel a little awkward using the blog to report this as it represents making this type of change for the first time in over 20 years. Wendy and especially Karen, are not adapting to the news very well, so I will try to tread lightly. First a little background.
    Cate and Amanda spent this past weekend in NYC. The Jersey girls, Kim, Wendy, Karen and I hooked up with them for a fun filled weekend. That was the plan anyway - nothing major just go with the flow and have fun.
    That pretty much sums up how things were going. We had dinner on Friday talked about friends, life, family and the benefits and challenges with all of those topics. Very deep discussions peppered with a little bit of laughter.
    Those conversations continued as we toured Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty on Saturday. In fact, Amanda made some very compelling points about the pitfall of staying in the same place, doing the same thing whilst expecting different results. I think she said it was the definition of psychotic. She was such a facilitator of change that she immediately got us an appointment with an expert to help us work out the finer points of any transition being contemplated. After all there are a lot of things to think about since people, finances and home arrangements are all considerations
    The result, I really am not happy with the status quo and in fact less happy with what were supposed to be positive changes. I made the decision, I need to make a change and need to do it soon. Needless to say Saturday was a relatively sleepless night.
    Our house guests, Cate and Amanda were very supportive of my decision. Who knew, when we called Kim and Wendy in the morning, they were having the same conversations and needed to make a change as well. We met for brunch to see Cate and Amanda off as they traveled back home and Kim and I were left to sort out how we would individually and collectively manage the transition.
    This past weekend, KIM and I made a decision that I never thought I would make - EVER!
    Not sure what you all were thinking but the news I have to share is that we each (individually) purchased iMACS.;-)
    The struggle for Karen and Wendy is the move from PC based Microsoft Windows to the MAC OS. That shift has Karen very worried. I understand Wendy has adapted a bit better. Perhaps it is the result of her "CEO job" (tee hee) being less demanding than Karen's nursing responsibilities. Or maybe Kim allows her time to use the MAC. Regardless, we have moved to the enlightened side and I am sure once we get through the differences we will all be fine. That's where the self help books are coming in handy.
    My MAC buddy, Kim, keeps asking why she has not made this move before. I'm speechless. I thought Vista would be the solution MicroSoft promised, instead it turned out to be worse than any other piece of software I have ever purchased. An additional bonus is I have a lot more real estate on and under my home office desk in spite of the fact the monitor is MUCH larger than my PC based desk top. No tower and one cord, period; that is a beautiful thing and the one benefit that already has Karen thinking positively. She HATES clutter. Best of all, within one half hour of taking the computer home, it was up and running, with all my PC based files transferred - seamlessly!!! Amanda and Cate thank you for opening our eyes to a better way.
    Kim, my MAC buddy, next lesson with Nurse Dee - "skyping" - are you ready???

  11. Yeah for Brenda!!! Good job sista on the good news :) That's what we want to hear!! So glad they didn't find any "PETS" in your scan either, like a missing weiner dog or something. HA HA Hope day 2 of chemo goes well. What have you been doing to entertain yourself there???? Those are long hours...we used to play alot of card games with Amy, and yes the cancer patient usually wins!

    Vic, let me tell you about the "GREAT" scrabble player you are dealing with. Believe me we have played many a game and I can beat her a few times and we get neck n neck at the end but she always comes up with a biggin with those last few letters I swear and kicks your butt as she is grinning from ear to ear. She is a competative one for sure. So one night she beat me 4 games in a row-very frustrating. So I go to bed and she makes a poster that said something about kickin' my butt 4 games to NONE (with that grin) and then stole my camera and took a picture of her holding up the poster. I'm sure Dee had her hand in that one as well. I didn't find it until I developed my film (pre digital of course) and about peed my pants. We laughed at that one for years. So just a warning hide your camera while visiting and playing scrabble with the QUEEN! Remember Sis....Costco trail mix and berry juice while competing ???? That goes back alot of years, at the cabin as well right ?!!LOL

    Vic, have a safe trip back and thanks from us as well. Dee Welcome back to home #2. Sis-hugs to you today!! Love you guys!!