We welcomed summer time with a fun trip to the river bank!!! The chemo didn't hit me nearly as hard this time around. I was only in bed for about a day and a half instead of the usual almost full week! We took advantage of a beautiful weekend day to visit the riverbank! Ashlyn has been dying to use her new bathing suits!!! She loves riding on Daddy's boat and swimming in the river, not to mention the endless fun with sand!
Ashlyn's preschool set up fun-themed summer days for this month! The first day was "Hat Day". Ashlyn used to HATE hats and that word is not an overstatement. She is coming around on hats and will occasionally wear them, but we don't have a ton of hats laying around the house for her. We did have this cute little matching hat and dress outfit and I was so glad she had an opportunity to wear it!
They had Swim Day/Disney Day another day. After she went swimming, she was all "Tinkerbelled Out"! She even had Tink underpants!
They've had several other days...but my favorite was "Duck Dynasty Day"!
I had a coupon for the Heart of Dixie Train Museum - so we headed out to Calera, Alabama to check out the museum and ride a REAL train! Ashlyn is loving some Choo Choo's right now. A train runs behind T-town Cafe, so every time she hears the horn, she grabs the first available adult hand and proceeds to drag them with all her might outside to watch the train pass! We really had a great family day in Calera!
I had been given the first dose of chemo with strict instructions to watch the area and call the oncologist if I did not see drastic improvement quickly. I called after about a week and a half later because I felt like the area was actually growing. My doctor agreed and we arranged to begin radiation within the next week. I was pretty disappointed because I had high hopes of keeping the hair that had grown back already, but unfortunately that was not to be. :( Lost all my hair and the bone, muscle and joint pain came right back. It's manageable though and I know they will go away eventually.
The weekend before we began the radiation, we were able to take a nice, relaxing weekend trip to Orange Beach with some friends!
We had Father's Day dinner at Olive Garden. :) Ashlyn decided she was a big enough girl to dole out the salad. She actually did a pretty good job, but she was quite generous in her portions and the second our plate was empty she was "Johnny on the spot" to refill our bowl with salad. She is growing up so fast and it is blowing my mind how quickly she learns new stuff!
Several people were aware that we considered making the trip to Houston, Texas to visit the only IBC clinic in the nation. It is part of MD Anderson. We prayed very hard and had several friends and family members praying that God would show us His guidance. In several ways, I believe He showed us that He did not want us to go to MD Anderson. I feel very confident in the care I'm receiving and am glad that I'm underway with the last type of treatment for this awful disease! My radiation oncologist is amazing!!! The staff is so sweet and caring! Dr. Salter is my radiation oncologist. I had what they call a "simulation" done the Wednesday before last. They take x-rays and overlay them on your pet scan (I believe...if I understood everything correctly) to identify exactly what angles, etc. to shoot the radiation beams. They make marks all over you and make the cushiony form that you lay in that helps make sure you are positioned exactly the same during each treatment. The doc was available to answer any question or discuss any concerns. I began radiation last Monday and then saw my doctor. She was very concerned (as was I) that the cancer was growing SO RAPIDLY! I saw change daily!!! We discussed possible twice a day radiation, but after she discussed the option with her group of doctors, they came up with a new plan to attempt to escalate the rate at which my body would be absorbing the radiation. We decided to up the dosage to almost double and use what they call a bolus every day for the rest of the week. The bolus is essentially a moistened material that focuses the radiation near the skin instead of deeper inside the area. Today they re-evaluated and are happy with the results. I feel like the cancer has stopped growing. It doesn't feel much smaller yet, but it's definitely not bigger! I was able to drop back down to the normal dosage of radiation today! The doctor felt that is was not the best decision for me to travel back and forth from Tuscaloosa (even if I'm not driving) so she is arranging for me to stay at the Hope Lodge. The Hope Lodge is kind of like a Ronald McDonald house for cancer patients and a caregiver. I will check in this coming Monday and stay Monday through Friday and be able to come home for the weekends until the end of my treatments. I'm not happy about not being with my family for that time, but I know it's best. I am very lucky that my Mom is going to be able to come back down to Alabama again to take care of me!!! I'm excited to be able to see her again, but I wish they were more fun circumstances. So far I'm still feeling pretty good, just a little tired, and any pain I experience is the result of the chemo. Hopefully the aches will be gone soon! :)