Friday, February 22, 2013

Finally Over

I can finally sit back and relax, because the first round is finally over.  That was by far the toughest round of chemo that I have ever been on.  I guess that I did myself no favors by not eating a small breakfast before leaving for chemo Wed. morning.  I had a bagel about an hour into treatment and had another bagel when I got to my house, but that was about it for solid food for me.  Over the two days I had a combo of apple sauce, vanilla pudding, and smoothies.  Usually in the past I have been able to eat a little bit but I think the shock of getting back into this was just a bit too much for me to handle.

This morning I woke and Jenny took me over to the cancer center where I received an entire bag of fluids along with another anti-nausea medicine.  I got home and took a small nap, and then before I knew it Steven, Haley, Lillian, and Harlan stopped by.  I tried to eat a slice of pizza and it went down pretty easy and from then on I have felt halfway decent.  Jenny was harping on me over the two days that I needed to eat something solid or I wouldn't feel well.  (I guess every blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes)  I was planning on taking a short ride tomorrow with Jenny to see our beautiful cousin Emma win the Rambler Pageant in Lancaster, but we have decided that after these past two days I should just chill out a bit. I'm scheduled to get more fluids and meds at the hospital tomorrow and Sunday but we'll see how I feel if that happens.

I hope that everyone has a great week.  And I really appreciate everyone that texted, emailed, sent a card or called this past week.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

We're Just Going to Call This Week a Disaster

Last night was pretty rough, I thought that I had finally gotten Tim drugged up enough to sleep but that lasted only about 30 minutes before he was up and getting sick. He's been nauseous before during treatment but has only thrown up during treatment twice, both times being when he got a little too aggressive with his tooth brushing. This time he got sick, a few times, and it actually had nothing to do with brushing his teeth. Neither of us got too much sleep last night.

Today he hasn't gotten sick and has actually been able to sleep a decent amount (which has given me the time to get work done) but he also is still really nauseous and isn't eating anything solid. So far he has been subsiding on applesauce, smoothies I make, Gatorade and apple juice. The plan is to make it through tonight & get him to the cancer center tomorrow for some IV nausea meds and some fluids and hopefully start feeling a lot better.

Ultimately these past few days have been a big disaster, between the chemo going bad, Tim catching a cold that coincided with the chemo, my car having some big issues (which are getting straightened back out), the construction starting today on the lot next to us (literally the grading began 30 minutes after Tim finally fell asleep), the construction work next door cutting our internet line (we are excited to have neighbors finally, this all just began at the wrong time) and when I went for my acupuncture today I thought I broke the table (luckily it was just a panel for pregnant women's bellys to fit on the table that was loose). I'm beyond ready to call it a week and just start over fresh next week.

There have been a few bright spots, our parents have been a huge help to us over the past two days and we've received so many kind messages via facebook, text and email that have kept us going. We've also received an influx of the nicest cards from members of our Sunday School class over the past two days. Some neighbors have generously stopped by to keep an eye on Tim while I've run out to get new scripts for him and to take a short break and pick up some lunch to-go from Upcountry Provisions, one of my favorite TR restaurants. My cousin Miller also came and sat with Tim today which allowed me to go to my much needed acupuncture. My acupuncturist, Katherine, helped me out by giving me some ideas to get Tim decongested without adding even more drugs to the mix so we've got a humidifier that will now be his best friend for the next few days filled with a mix of water and eucalyptus oil, it seems to be helping out a bit already in the short time it has been running.

We are literally counting down the hours that remain until Tim is finally finished with this round of treatment, we're already planning to just forget about this and start over fresh in two weeks. Thanks to all of you for following along and even more for all of your support!

Jenny (& Tim through his drug-induced haze)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

In a Word...Today has sucked.

Apologies to anyone who takes offense to the title, I honestly just couldn't think of a better word to describe today. Tim's numbers went back up yet again so he started treatment again today with full-blown chemo as well as an anti-angiogenic called Zaltrap. Its really similar to another one he was previously on called Avastin but targets more pathways to the cancer cells. We're really hoping that this is the miracle we've been waiting so long for.

The plan was for me to drop Tim off this morning then for his mom to sit with him during treatment before bringing him by his office or home depending upon how he felt. Obviously it really hard for him going back on chemo again not only mentally but really hard to get back into it yet again physically. I know I just want to crawl into bed for a few days after a round and I'm not even the patient. I knew today would be tough for both of us no matter how well he did as I haven't been away from Tim during treatment in almost 2 1/2 years. Unfortunately that was not the case at all for Tim this time around. It always takes a bit of tweaking to get the meds just right whenever Tim starts a new plan of treatment, usually we're pretty close, this time we couldn't have been further from the mark.

Tim started feeling sick before he even left treatment today, they gave him more nausea medication (or as you'll typically hear us refer to them, pre-meds) but he couldn't get ahead of it before he left the cancer center. I came home to help him out this afternoon and he was able to eat a bagel, egg & cheese sandwich but that's about where we've left off today. Currently I'm having to apply some tough love in the attempt to get something on his stomach. So far we've been through two different soups, toast & applesauce and I think I've listed just about every type of food I can think of but he still can't find anything that sounds good to him or that doesn't turn his stomach after two bites. I did end up calling the doctor on call who gave us the go-ahead to double dose him on the nausea meds which he took about 20 minutes ago. I'm really hoping that these do the trick because I know he is so miserable right now and would do anything just to be able to sleep. So if you get this tonight please say a quick prayer that the rest of this treatment will go a little easier on him, he could really use a break today!

Monday, February 11, 2013

What We've Been Up To

The past two weeks have had some highs and some lows but the lows so far have ended up being humorous later. Tim had a meltdown about this new way of living but ultimately made the decision he was still going to give it a shot. I think my favorite quote from him during the meltdown was "Jenny, people don't not eat meat and survive. You can't do it." He also recently asked me how I could eat coconuts if I was allergic to tree nuts...just let it sink in for a minute. I was rendered speechless by him with that one. :)

The biggest news to hit the Bright household happened today when Diana Watson of Fox Carolina came to our house to interview Tim for a segment they will show on Friday night (Feb. 15) at 10PM. Make sure to set a reminder for yourself to catch it live or make sure you DVR it. For anyone who isn't local we will be sure to post a link to the video for you guys to check out! They even got a shot of our messy fridge (currently has 2 shelves occupied by carrots) and even messier freezer (that still has some forbidden items in it including cookie dough...I promise that it isn't for us). I even got to make some awkward cameos for "B roll" footage where Tim & I make our green juice and check out some pictures. Essentially any time a camera is focused on me, my brain is cycling the same thoughts over and over..."where do I look, what do I do, this is so awkward, omg this is going on TV." For that reason I like to stay in the safety zone behind the lens and let the master (Tim) work. :) Everyone that was around got to try our green juice though and agreed (if hesitantly) that it was better than they thought it would be/not too bad.

Tim has eaten 2 types of fish in the last week, Ahi & Salmon, we had a little chat with the fishmonger at Whole Foods the other day who gave some great suggestions for additional types of fish Tim can try. One of these days he will love it! Last night was some salmon and asparagus (we've been drenching everything in some Palmetto Olive Oil Balsamic Vinegar...we are officially hooked on the stuff).

We also found some baby bananas at Whole Foods which we got for Tim to eat. Basically our only reasoning for the purchase was that they were mini-sized and the last bunch left....

Once again Tim's eyelashes have grown incredibly long & curly, we can't find our mini-scissors for me to trim them yet so here is a shot of them from yesterday. It looks like we glued extensions on there but they are 100% real, supermodels everywhere want to know his secret...

I've finally found a few things to snack on since I cannot eat the cashews & almonds that Tim frequently snacks on, one being ranch flavored peas, the other being ranch flavored Kale chips. They taste slightly like off-brand Cool Ranch Doritos...slightly is the key word.

We bought sashimi grade Ahi last week and seared it for a salad topper along with reduced balsamic vinegar. Tim couldn't handle the spice but loved it otherwise. He discovered his love of ahi after we went to dinner at Breakwater for a friend's birthday. I ordered onion soup (and after removing the bread and cheese discovered there wasn't much to it) as well as tuna tartare, Tim got salmon. After eating half of his salmon and half of my tuna tartare I called it a wash, gave him my tuna and took his salmon.

This tea has become my nightly ritual, I just brew it up, add the tiniest bit of honey and sip it before going to bed. It's nice and sweet on it's own so I save it as my nightly treat.

We moved onto a different kind of's not our favorite to say the least. It's called "Lively Liver" and includes carrots, beets, spinach and apples. We ran out of carrots & spinach the other day so I substituted raspberries & blueberries along with apples. It tasted pretty good but our juicer made some apples start flying everywhere, including into the juice which was a disaster. It stained all of the fingers on one of my hands, my wrist on the other, got on my shoes and one of my shirts as well as all over the kitchen. The color made it look as though some horrible accident had happened in our kitchen turning it into a crime scene.

My beets & berries stained shirt.

My favorite dish so far out of all of this was made last week. You make some quinoa (which Tim now loves) and mix it with roasted butternut squash, scallions and cranberries before making a lemon vinaigrette to cover it with. It was amazing enough that we're making it again next week when we have company coming for dinner for the first time.

I also made two soups last week (although I only took pictures of one). Both were given to my by my super healthy neighbors Liz & Jess. They are the ones I've been asking all of my questions to lately :).

Liz gave me some of her broccoli & spinach soup the other day so I replicated it (minus the blending up as our blender is currently being replaced). I did make sure to pulverize the beans with a potato masher before adding them so they were harder for Tim to take out.

Jess has never liked the taste/texture of meat so she's been a HUGE help with vegetarian options. She made some sweet potato chili last week that she gave us a sample of and it was fantastic so I made it too, except without the tomatos she used. It was great and Tim enjoyed it as well, his only complaint was that the skins were still on the sweet potato.

Some girls came over so we could finish the planning for another friend's baby shower and Tim got to "babysit" Henry who came over in his Thomas pjs and Spiderman slippers. They watched Diego and, as you can see, were equally entranced by the storyline. This is the night that my friend Liz got me hooked on San Pellegrino sparkling water. It's pretty much amazing.

Other than that we had a few instances of temptation where we mostly came out on top. I brought some dinner from Stax's (one of my favorites) to a friend and her husband who recently had a baby and didn't even make their meat & three become a meat & two on my way to their house. Although Tim has been cheating with wheat, dairy, pork and tomatoes, he is doing great about not eating any sugar and has actually given up coffee. I have not given up coffee (and have no plans to) and I had a weak moment while walking through Whole Foods the other day. I couldn't resist these pretty little cookies with chocolate in the middle. It was just as good as I thought it would be. I've actually been worse than Tim about wanting to cheat, being "good" is incredibly hard, expensive & time consuming so I often miss the ease of just throwing something together without having to check the recipe 15 times to make sure I'm doing it right. Remembering (& taking the time) to pack a lunch every night for the next day gets tough too when you are using so many different containers. We've also spent about $800 on groceries since we began our little adventure which is shocking but I'm trying to keep in mind that we aren't spending money on Restaurant food (or Starbucks) or alcohol (or Starbucks) anymore so it does even out. I'm also trying to keep it in perspective that we are still having to buy staples so once everything in the kitchen has been replaced the costs will be going down.

Overall we're adjusting and Tim has been really great about trying different things, we've both lost about 10 pounds in the past two weeks and it is inspiring to watch those numbers finally go in the right direction (p.s. stress eating is very bad). We bought a frozen pizza this week to try that is gluten-free so that should be an adventure. Life also may be turned upside down a bit as we find out if Tim's numbers have gone down so that he can stay on Vectibix or if he will be returning to traditional chemo with a new drug called Zaltrap added to it. We're both pretty apprehensive about the switch and getting back into that schedule of not knowing what Wed-Sat will bring us every other week. The chemo weeks are pretty tough on Tim as well, we've estimated that he has probably been through around 75-100 rounds of chemo over the past 3 years (and that number is by no way scientific so we could be completely off base either way). We should find out Wednesday what the results are of the blood test he had today. We're praying that all of our hard work in changing our diets is reflected in those numbers but my expectations on that are pretty low as I just think it would take more time for this to really become effective so I'm praying they went up minimally and really praying that the Zaltrap is the miracle we've been searching so hard for. 

It's an exhausting process for the both of us mentally, physically but most of all emotionally, the ups & downs of all of this really take their toll after awhile. From my perspective I've completely had to readjust the way I approach life. To be perfectly honest I was diagnosed with ADHD in high school, the reason it went undiagnosed for so long was that I compensated (& kept it hidden) with my extreme case of OCD. As anyone who has lived with me can attest (apologies to my family, Tim, Amanda, Bailey, Jessica & Megan) I can be incredibly messy but it all falls to the fact that I'm extremely particular about where things go. This carries over to my day-to-day life in that I like everything to be packaged with a neat little bow on it so I can get a grip on what is happening without dropping the ball on anything because I've become distracted by some other bright & shiny object. Cancer takes away all of that ability to plan and put everything into place as I can't tell you what Tim's treatment/treatment schedule will be like in a week from now, much less in two months or two years. Life continues to cycle by but I constantly feel like we're stuck holding our breath while hoping & praying that we get to two months from now unscathed by this process. In a way this has been good as I've become much more relaxed & laid back than I ever have been before (this is not to say that I'm the least bit laid-back or relaxed, I'm just better in the grand scheme :)). Ultimately we've both learned that this process is exactly that, a process, and at times it promotes a lot of growth within us but to getting to that growth is extremely hard and sometimes pretty painful. I use the picture below that I got from the blog Wellness Warrior as my computer's background as telling myself to slow down and breathe when I start to feel too panicked has helped immensely. 

In other news, our friend Fallon, alerted us to a friend of her family's that has gone missing from the Greenville area named Marcus James Hall. This hasn't gotten on the news yet so they are trying to spread the word on social media/email as much as possible. If anyone has seen him or his car they are asking that you contact the Sheriff's Dept but in the meantime you can help by spreading the flyer below so word gets out & media picks up on the story.