Tuesday, October 23, 2012

God has certainly showed me who's in control.  And it is not me!  Not that I really ever thought that I was, but I am strong-willed (not stubborn) and it has taken awhile for it to sink in that I need to take some time off from work.  The past two weeks have really solidified that decision with stresses hitting our family from all different angles.

My cancer treatments are going well - the oncologist said today that he has never encountered anyone doing as well as I have been doing throughout chemo.  My blood work both last week and this week have held steady - thanks to three shots in the rear from James each week.  My liver numbers are elevated, however not so much to change the chemo treatment and the oncologist said that he really doesn't want to do that.  Besides the fatigue, the only new side effects I've noticed are a tremendous amount of spider veins on my legs, which the doctor said is probably due the Paclitaxel - it is hard on the veins, and fuzzy hair on my face.  Did I mention that before?  Sometimes I substitute words and forget things easily.  Another little side effect that I don't attribute to age.

The treatment plan at this point is to finish the final three rounds of chemo over the next three weeks.  The oncologist thought that I could jump right in and start radiation immediately following chemo.  I have an appointment to meet with the radiologist on 11/9, a day after my last chemo.  That should last six and a half weeks and then I'll meet with the oncologist again to discuss follow up treatment which may include Tamoxifen for five years with Lupron shots every three months for two years.  We'll talk with him more about that after radiation.

Not being at school, I don't have as many great kid stories to share, but I do have one that deeply touched me.  Alba and Jessica Brice's son goes to Sand Lake.  Zak insisted that his mom get some pink hockey tape so that he could tape his stick for a game that night.  When his mom did not come home with the right color of pink, she had to call his dad to get pink tape.  Not only did he tape his stick pink, but he wrote Lisa on the blade.  My hope was that he would play well and he did - even though he was playing Caleb's team.  What an inspiration Zak is to all of us.

School Picture
One final update...I emailed the Las Vegas Wranglers hockey team after the ceremonial puck drop.  This was the general manager/coach's reply.  It was a pleasant surprise.

First off let start by saying I have you in my thoughts as you battle..I remember you dropping the puck and you cant believe how disappointed I am in Adams behavior.
Being a Principal I can only imagine the thrill of hearing one of your students doing well and the disappointment in hearing one of your students not doing the right thing. That being said my players are a reflection of me,  I cant begin to tell you how deflated I felt reading that this morning.
I can ensure you Adam will be dealt with this morning as I m a huge believer in protecting the culture in our room and our community. I apologigize for Adam making the wrong choice. He is a I kid who is always on the edge and is a constant example of me trying to have patience, again its no excuse and I will deal with Adam 's behavior.
Lisa , please don't hesitate to fire me a line if there is anything I can do, even though you are Alaska Aces fans, I would love to see the boys donning a Wrangler hat next time we are up there...well maybe for there protection not a good idea.
My thoughts are with you and your family...

I am so appreciative and thankful for all of the prayers and support.  James and I could not manage without it, and these mere words can't really express how much it has meant to us.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

We had an exciting evening Tuesday, October 9.  I was asked to do the ceremonial puck drop for the Alaska Aces Paint the Rink Pink game against the Las Vegas Wranglers.  There were so many things about the night that made it remarkable.  One of them was the behind the scenes work by James to get many family and friends to attend the event.  Even though I'm the one with Cancer, he is truly the one carrying the majority of the stress:  caring for me and worrying about me; taking care for the kids and getting them to school and hockey; and taking care of all of the routine chores around the house, not to mention the stress of his work.  I have many dear friends who remind me how important family is and to put the stress of life and work on the back burner.  I'm fortunate that my staff understand that and have been supportive.  Next week I plan on working half days Monday - Wednesday and then take Thursday and Friday off.

The night held some surprises as well.  As we were waiting, we were able to get a family picture with Scott Gomez prior to the game.  James had a conversation with him regarding the lockout.  He is so kind to his fans.  We're hoping the NHL lockout ends soon so we can watch him play.  After our picture with Scott, the boys and I headed out on the ice for the National Anthem and then the red carpet.  Things on our end went off without a hitch, however #17 from the Wranglers had other things in mind.  He refused to back up when the photographer gave him several motions to do so because he was blocking me and Jared, and then he said, "I dont' take orders very f____ well."  The Aces player looked at him like, you've got to be kidding me dude - have some class.  He did not.  I wish I would have had the nerve to throw him out of the face off circle!
Family photo with Scott Gomez!

After the ceremonial puck drop, we headed up to watch the game and received a warm welcome and surprise from Caleb's hockey team.  When the doors to the elevator opened, there they were - the Mighty Moose Squirt B team and coaches each holding a rose which was then given to me.  I was overwhelmed.  They are an amazing group of kids, parents, and coaches and we are blessed that Caleb is skating with them this year.  Jared's team is another amazing group of kids and families.  They are skating with special hockey jerseys for the month of October.  Each jersey has the name of a family member or friend on the back - Jared is wearing Lisa Huffman.  Like the pink hair?

With all of the support, it makes it easy to forget how tired I am and all of the other horrible aspects of cancer.  A few I forgot to mention last week, I have a continual bloody nose that fortunately doesn't run, my mind is fuzzy, and with my hair coming back - I've got peach fuzz hair for side burns!  Now doesn't that just make you laugh.  I did Google it and it is one of the side effects of chemo.  Some women suggest shaving, others using cream hair removal, others say it will go away with time and some use electrolysis.  I'm going to give it some time.  I'll keep you posted.  

One final video clip...Port access:  http://youtu.be/-NAdJWh1myU

And a final note.  I received this note from a student this week.  With all of the challenges with my job and life, there are also many blessings.  Kids, family, and friends are definitely at the top!  I thank God every day for each and every one of you.  Much love, Lisa

Saturday, October 6, 2012

This past week was a bit challenging, but I was thankful that James was off and able to take care of me and everything else around the house.  I experienced some intense hip pain last weekend and was hoping it wasn't due to the Nuprogen shots.  It lasted for an evening and was gone by mid morning Monday.  I haven't experienced any further joint pains and the doctor said that it usually occurs in the smaller joints so I am optimistic that I just tweaked something and all is well.  I still have some annoying nasal congestion, but at least it is out of my lungs.  

With the continual rain and wind, we had a bit of excitement when our trampoline took flight - James tried to stop it but ended up having to run.  I spotted him through the kitchen window running across the lawn.  The boys and I quickly joined him and we ended up disassembling the final pieces without getting too drenched.  

Chemo went well on Thursday, however I was much more tired than usual.  I went to bed at 8:00 Wednesday night, slept after chemo on Thursday, and went to bed early Thursday night as well.  I've been trying to drink lots of fluids, but can't seem to drink enough.  Tell tale signs - dry skin and lips, although it is that time of year.  My counts were stable this week with my white count at 4.2, red at 12.4, and neutrophils at 2.8.  The number which measures my liver function was elevated, so no alcohol.  I don't drink much, but will miss a glass of red wine with dinner.  With the elevated number, the doctor will watch my blood work closely to see if my chemo medications need to be altered.  

Thursday evening my heart was beating irregularly and it continued into Friday.  James contacted our nurse which resulted in an EKG Friday afternoon after acupuncture.  It was a short snapshot which showed that everything was fine with my heart.  I was told that it was probably due to stress, to slow down and take some time off work. I'm going to work Monday and then take the rest of this coming week off.  At least I won't go in to school - I'll still work a few hours from home each day.  

I love kids - while in the lunch room at school this past week, a fourth grader named James said, "Mrs. Huffman, your hair is growing!"  I asked him what color he thought it was.  He replied that he thought it was the same color it was before.  The boy next to him interjected that no, he thought it was gray.  James looked a bit saddened by the boy's comment.  The next morning I came into my office and found the following note and three 4-leaf clovers.  I don't know that they are helping my hair grow, but they sure made me smile.