Well, I can't believe it's been more than a year since I began cancer treatment. A year ago today my hair was falling out in clumps and I was trying to keep as much of it as I could for one more day until my hair appointment. I've had a lot of little "anniversaries" lately. More than anything I can't believe it has only been a year. In many ways it feels like five.
Sorry I haven't written much lately. I got to a point where I didn't know what to write, then was battling depression and really didn't know what to write. We started this blog to keep friends and family informed on what was new with diagnosis and treatment. I had so many of you tell me how positive I was through such a trying journey that at a point I felt like I needed to be only positive. Like there was no room for negative. Because of all of you and your incredible support, that we still are in awe of, it was easy to smile and be cheerful. As you might imagine, not every day has been on the up.
Since I learned that I was cancer free I have had the most difficulty with depression. You may think that sounds crazy, but the fight finally seemed to come to a close and I let my guard down. I stopped focusing on surviving and began to focus on the thought of not being able to have children. I was still chemically imbalanced and struggling to put my life back together. I think that I'm doing much better now- finally. Poor Nick had a crazy woman on his hands for a while.
I opted out of meds for the depression because I was so tired of taking medication and I didn't want to do anything to make it more difficult to get pregnant. I needed to do something, so I started a Praise Journal. I began to write down the wonderful people and things that God has put in mine and Nick's lives, and that includes all of you. What a turn-around. It really works to count your blessings. Thank you!
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Well, I can't believe it's been more than a year since I began cancer treatment. A year ago today my hair was falling out in clumps and I was trying to keep as much of it as I could for one more day until my hair appointment. I've had a lot of little "anniversaries" lately. More than anything I can't believe it has only been a year. In many ways it feels like five.
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 3:20 PM
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
We wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving. We have a lot to be thankful for this year. In reality, we always have a lot to be thankful for, but this year I'm cancer free and we're finally on vacation in Mexico. Nick and I are spending Thanksgiving in Tulum, Mexico. He got a free trip to photograph a wedding and his parents wanted to send me along with him for our Christmas present. Yesterday we saw some Mayan ruins and the beach. Today we swam in a lava tube full of water and swam in the gorgeous caribbean. We'll post more later.
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 7:13 PM
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty I'm free at last! I had my most recent PET Scan yesterday. We were very anxious for this one since the scan in June had to be thrown out. Nick and I met with Dr Bernstein this afternoon and he gave us the news we've been waiting and praying for. My cancer is officially GONE and my PET looked really good.
Thank you all so very much for your prayers and help through this difficult journey. Please pray that the cancer will not come back. We love you all. Thank-you again!
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 8:43 PM
Friday, August 29, 2008
Well, yesterday was my 30th birthday. It was a great day- low key and fun. I went to breakfast with Nick at Noah's Bagels. I love that place. A couple of girl friends took me to lunch, my parents and grandparents came over to celebrate and Nick and I ended the night at Newport Seafood Grill for happy hour. Yum.
I thought I'd be freaked out about turning 30, but it was more exciting than anything else. I didn't know if I'd be here for my big 3-0. And since I was, I was able to embrace it.
I FINALLY heard back from the dermatologist. Apparently they don't understand that having a very rare disease makes me worry more than the average person when it takes them twice as long to get my results as they say. It was supposed to take a week. They needed to send my slide out for a second opinion. It was supposed to take another 7- 10 days to get my results. It took a month total. They determined that it is a condition called dishhydrotic dermatitis and I was most likely born with it. It will come and go from time to time and it's nothing to worry about. There's a little more to the story but it took a long time to let me know what was going on even after they told me they had my results. I won't be going back to that office. Thank the LORD it's nothing to be concerned about. I was really beginning to wonder.
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 9:50 PM
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
I finally got a phone call from the dermatology office. They said the punch biopsy they took from my hand week before last came back inconclusive. They will be sending it to OHSU for a second opinion. It's not a big deal and I'm sure it'll all turn out alright, but it bothers me when specialists need a second opinion on something they thought looked fairly run-of-the-mill. Oh well, it's kind of par for the course. At least the dermatologist was confident that the lumpy mole I was concerned about was nothing to be concerned about. I'll let you know what I find out. They said they'd get back to me in 7 to 10 days.
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 10:26 PM
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Well, my throat is all better from my weird strain of strep. It has been for a couple of weeks now. About the same time it was feeling better, my upper left wisdom tooth decided it would be fun to be cheeky- literally. It turned sideways and chewed up my cheek quite nicely. I was going camping so I used sugarless Trident gum as a gum tooth cap to keep the tooth from enlarging the hole it had already made in my cheek. It was very painful and made me not want to eat... again, like the strep. I don't currently have a dentist, so my mother-in-law set up an appointment for me with hers the day after we got back from camping. She also went with me for moral support, because I'm terrified of the dentist. Due to my compromised immune system, he referred me to an oral surgeon who happened to have a cancellation for the next day, so I went- again with Connie- and had my last wisdom tooth extracted. That was a week ago yesterday. My extraction site feels pretty good, however, I have a cut in my upper gums and I keep biting my cheek and neither site is healing well or quickly. Again it hurts to eat.
I finally saw a dermatologist about a mole that appeared on my shoulder post-chemo. He said it's nothing to worry about. Yea, good news. I asked him about some bumps on my hands that have come and gone for the past couple of months and are sometimes very painful. He decided to take a punch biopsy of them. Basically, he numbed my hand with a shot (yes, another shot), and took a punch of skin from the side of my hand between my thumb and index finger. He wasn't too concerned about them, which is great. Within a week I had a tooth and a punch of skin taken from my hand. At least it wasn't anything major, and I'd like to keep it that way.
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 10:47 PM
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
I saw Dr Bernstein today and he was much less serious and more laid back than the last appointment, which was a good sign. He said we're throwing out the most recent PET. Because of my Strep infection it lit up many false positives and is inaccurate information. He presented my PET at Conference last Monday and several colleagues felt that the scan lit up falsely due to the infection, which was great to hear since he was skeptical that it was just the infection and was thinking that the disease was probably back.
I see him again at the end of August for another PET and we'll go from there, but he hopes the disease is gone. Us too. We'll also talk about getting my port out at that time.
My hair is coming in nicely. I'm trying to get used to the short style, but I'm so glad to have hair again.
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 9:44 PM
Sunday, June 29, 2008
After I saw the ENT Dr on Friday and he lanced my throat-OUCH-it has been feeling much better. Yesterday evening I began to cough bits of the mass up and have gotten rid of most of it by now. Every bit that goes makes my throat feel better so it's feeling pretty good right now. In fact, today I feel the best I have in weeks, months, maybe longer. But then the combination of meds I'm taking will do that. I'm feeling good and today is Nick's birthday so we have a lot of celebrating to do!
Thanks again for your continued prayers. Unfortunately, this still isn't over so please continue to keep us in your prayers. Thanks. We love and appreciate you all!
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 2:46 PM
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Nick and I saw the ENT on Thursday morning. I was hoping he'd look into my mouth and say, "Oh yeah, I know exactly what that is." That's pretty much how it went down. Though it hurt badly to open my mouth so he could see my throat, I knew it needed to be done so I did it. He said I did quite well and told me I looked good for what was going on on the inside. YIKES! So, basically it looked really bad. He said that most people who have this problem cannot even open their mouth far enough to get a finger in because it's so painful. I was fortunate to get in to see him so quickly so I could get it cleared up. Fortunately, I already saw a Dr, then had an appointment with Dr B two days later and he asked the ENT to squeeze me in the following day. This was the third doctor I'd seen in four days and still had no medication so he wrote me up a couple of prescriptions. His diagnosis: it looks like the earlier stages of tonsil abscesses. It's a bacterial infection.
Wednesday and Thursday my fever never went away and Thursday night it got much worse. I woke up and it was at 103.4. I started to fall back asleep and about ten minutes later it had gone up to 103.7. I was home alone so I called Nick, but he was at worship team practice and I couldn't reach him. I took a cool bath... blah, blah, blah... eventually it came down. Nick called the ENT's office yesterday morning to let him know that my fever had gotten worse and he wanted me to come back in. I saw him again yesterday afternoon and he decided to lance the back of my throat. It had swollen a bit more. WOW! Talk about painful! Like he originally thought, it was not yet an abscess, so he didn't get any puss, just blood. So it hurt much worse for about an hour and a half, then began to feel better. Today it feels better, partly because I'm on antibiotics, pain meds and steroids and I can see it's beginning to heal. I'll see the Dr again on Monday.
Thanks again for all of your prayers. This week has been quite discouraging but things are looking up for sure.
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 11:36 AM
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Well, here we are faced with another, hopefully minor set-back on the way to remission and good health. For the past couple of months I've been coughing again. This time I'm told it was probably pneumonitis- inflammation from the radiation in my lungs. I've had a couple of random fevers and been a bit "sick" over the past couple of weeks, but got a sore throat last Wed. It has gotten a little worse every day and I began getting a fever along with it. Monday I had my long awaited PET Scan to determine whether my body was cancer free or not. My throat was hurting so badly that I went to the Dr immediately afterward. She did a rapid strep test. It was negative. It's strange to hope that your strep test comes back positive, to hope that you have a mutated strain of pneumonia, to wish that all that's wrong with you is that you have a fungal infection. The alternative is sometimes so much worse that I hope for the more easily curable illnesses.
Tuesday morning, my throat was exponentially worse. I slept almost all day. I forgot to mention, my ear has been aching along with my throat. It feels like someone is stabbing me with a white-hot knife in the ear. Wednesday it was so much worse that I was unable to speak and again slept all day. Nick and I saw Dr B yesterday to discuss my PET and he came in very serious. Not a great sign. He told me that the PET lit up all around my throat. Nick told him all about my ear and throat since I was unable to speak all day. He took a look and I have huge white masses in my throat, obviously since Monday. He's sending me to an ENT Dr today. I hope he can get me better because it's very painful and I'm not eating or drinking much of anything.
Anyway, Dr B said I obviously have an infection in my throat, but he's skeptical that's all it is. He thinks it's the same disease returning to my throat this time and didn't bother us with treatment options until we get this infection healed up.
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 8:08 AM
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
While I'm on the path to full recovery (thank the LORD), my grandma Norma found out today that she has cancer. She's taking it very well- about as well as you can take this sort of news. My parents were at her house when she got the call and were able to offer up some support. I feel bad for my poor mother. Here I am, her daughter, on the cusp of getting my "clean bill" from my oncologist and her mother is just starting the whole process. Mom finished the school year yesterday and what a way to kick off summer vacation. At least my family feels different about cancer now than we did even a year ago. As far as I know, I'm the only person in my extended families to beat cancer. We used to look at it as a death sentence, but not anymore. Treatment has come a long way and we're looking up.
My parents are concerned also for two of my three brothers. One has had a cough for six months and when he saw the Dr the other day, it mysteriously went away temporarily. A few days before my wedding (almost 6 yrs ago) he was in the hospital with pneumonia and his lungs were damaged from a series of misdiagnoses and the time it took to get answers. Mom and I both told him to insist upon a chest x-ray. The other brother was bit by a couple of ticks and immediately began having flu-like symptoms, exhaustion, etc. He thinks he may have lime disease and his Dr doesn't want to test him for it. I believe he's seeking a second opinion.
Please keep my family in your prayers for obvious reasons. Thank-you!
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 11:16 AM
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
I'm eagerly getting back to normal parts of life. My hair is growing in thick and fast, I've started working from home, my energy level is coming back, I'm going to the gym again and I was able to teach recently. Okay, I only taught a couple of lessons, but it was great to be back in a classroom with young students. One of the little boys told me I looked like a boy. I told him and the rest of the kids (it was during story time and I was teaching them a song), that I got sick and lost my hair but it was growing back.
I began my first round of post-treatment testing last Friday with an x-ray of my chest. In a couple of weeks I'll have a CT and PET Scan. I saw Dr Bernstein last week and he said it was nice to see me doing so well and with hair. I now have more than he does.
Nick has been busy with photo shoots and finishing up his portfolio. He graduates from college June 13. He's almost there! And his portfolio looks great. Thanks to all of you who have modeled for him. We appreciate it greatly.
As if things aren't crazy enough, Alex and Chris (Nick's Brothers) had their final band concert last night and Alex has had Senior Award nights and Senior Spotlight leading up to his high school graduation, also June 13. There's nothing like old-fashioned busy times to remind us to take it one day at a time.
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 8:50 PM
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
It's official. I finished my radiation treatment last Thursday, May 15. I will begin my first round of tests in about a month or so to see if any cancer cells can be detected. Hopefully they're all gone.
More fantastic news- my hot flashes are finally gone and my body seems to be getting back to normal. My body temperature had been much warmer through treatment, but I'm back to wearing sweaters and jackets on rainy days. That's a good thing!
I've already had several unique opportunities to share my story with people. The latest was this past Sunday. My friend, Lori, asked me to speak to her Sunday School class of 3rd-5th graders. The subject was "hard times" and Lori asked me to tell them a bit about my journey. It's been tough not stepping foot in a classroom all year and being there with the kids was great.
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 10:10 PM
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
That's right. I have two more radiation treatments left counting today. Yesterday was my last day with Steve (he's been with me from day 1) and today is my last day with Stephanie (she's been with me almost from the beginning). Nancy had to leave to go to the new cancer center a couple of weeks ago. She came back yesterday for photos. Of course I needed photos of my crew. And since they're all larger than life, a serious photo wouldn't do. They've all been great and I'm really going to miss seeing them every day. I won't, however, miss the radiation or its effects on me.
Radiation ends on Thursday and Friday I get to start a new job. It is part time and temporary, but something to get me back in the grove. I'm very much looking forward to it. Today I'm going to the gym for the first time in a long, long time. I'm super happy about that, although my ankle has really been hurting from when I rolled it-twice. So, I'll take it easy.
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 10:21 AM
Monday, May 5, 2008
I don't know what's gotten into me all of a sudden, but I've become quite a klutz. I've rolled the same ankle twice in the past week. I don't know what I did to my hip, but between it and my ankle I'm having a difficult time getting around today. Rusty whipped me in the eyeball with his strong tail three days ago and it's feeling better. The list of ailments goes on and on, but it's a lot of little things- nothing big.
My cancer treatment, on the other hand, is going very well. After my appointment today, I'll have eight radiation treatments left. It has me wiped out and I'm beginning to have a hard time eating. Everything I eat is painful. So, in about three weeks I should be more energetic and be able to eat whatever I want. It's almost finished!
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 10:56 AM
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Well, today I begin week four of radiation. I'm almost half way through it. The side effects have begun to hit me, so I'm dealing with fatigue, sore throat, heartburn every time I eat and coughing. On the flip side, my hot flashes are finally getting less frequent which has me sleeping better at night. Also, my hair is growing back fast and getting thicker every day.
Thank-you for your continued prayer and support. We're getting close, but this battle isn't over yet.
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 11:43 AM
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Well, I've finished my first week of radiation. Six treatments down, twenty-seven to go. Some of you may wonder why I'm going through radiation therapy when I'm virtually cancer free. The doctors think that I most likely have microscopic cancer cells left on my lung stump (where my left lobe was removed in Nov.) and they want to make sure they don't give me any more trouble.
I had my post-op visit with my gyn-onc today. I did not enjoy it. He did tell me that my incision is healing perfectly. He also told me that he and his colleague, a fertility expert, think that my ovaries are dead. That's really not what I wanted to hear, but he didn't know for sure. I told him that I was going to cling to the hope that they will work. I left his office with a smile on my face and the determination that my dream of having my own children is far from over. I feel that if God did not want me to have my own children, He would have had the surgeon remove both of my ovaries. He chose to leave parts of both of them disease-free, which was better news than we had even hoped for.
Even with a smile on my face, I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest. My friend reminded me to find strength in the LORD through this hurdle (and always). Nothing is impossible for Him and He knows my heart's desire. Thanks, Lori, for the reality check. I pray that the LORD grants our heart's desire.
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 10:37 PM
Monday, March 31, 2008
I'm healing well from my last surgery and am moving on to my next challenge. Tomorrow I begin my radiation therapy. I'll go Monday through Friday for almost seven weeks to have my lung stump radiated. I'm nervous about the treatment but Dr. B says I should do well with it. I'm told to expect a very sore, painful throat after the first two weeks and fatigue. Hopefully that's it. I know it has to be easier than chemotherapy. Radiation, here I come.
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 11:48 PM
WOW! Thank-you so much to all of you who came out on Saturday to support me and Nick. Nick's best friend, Bobby, put together a benefit show for us to help with bills and medical expenses. The show had a great turnout. We were so excited to see who all came together to help make it a success. Thank-you to all the people who donated their time, energy and talents for us. A special thanks to Bobby, Connie, Amanda, Aaron O., Kim, Erich, Aaron S., Jason, Jaqui, Mari, Jay, Sandi, Diego, Josh, Elaine, Tyler, Sheree, Bobby's Grandma Betty, the Heinson family, the bands who donated their time and anyone else who helped. It really meant a lot to us and we appreciate you and your gifts.
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 11:33 PM
Monday, March 10, 2008
We are so excited about the show on March 29th. For those of you who don't know, our friend Bobby Heinson has put together a benefit show for Meredith and I at the Artistery in Portland. I haven't heard all of the details, but I am looking forward to the bands that have completely donated their time. In addition Bobby is putting together a silent auction for items that people have donated. Honestly, it seems a little weird talking about a benefit show for us, but we are so grateful I had to mention it. I have to mention Aaron at the Artistery who, when Bobby pitched the idea, donated any prime weekend night of Bobby's choosing. Here is the link to the show's web page:
Posted by Nick Curteman at 10:14 AM
Friday, March 7, 2008
Did I mention that we have good news?
Meredith's dad Gary, and I, just met with the surgeon who informed us that everything went well. They were able to keep part of BOTH of her ovaries. We knew going into surgery that one would come out for sure and maybe both. Since imaging can't tell the doctor's exactly what is going on there was a lot of uncertainty going into the operating room. It turns out that they were able to remove only the infected part of the left ovary and the part of the right that used to be infected. God raised the bar of the "best case scenario, " and I'm not going to complain.
Just when you thought the good news was over...
IT JUST KEEPS COMING!
Last night we got a call from Dr. Bernstein and got the results of Meredith's PET (full body) scan. Other than the tumor on her ovary, which they just took out, there is NO MORE CANCER. This scan isn't 100% accurate and she may still have to go through some more light chemo or radiation, but there are no more new hot spots.
Praise God ...Yee-ha!
Posted by Nick Curteman at 4:01 PM
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Well, the ultrasound was hopeful. Thank-you to those who were praying for me! The technician said that my right ovary was large, but still within parameters for normal size and she saw no signs of a tumor on that side. GREAT! On the left side, however, the ovary is enlarged and the tumor is still about 5.6cm long. That's a lot better than where we started at 10.
When my surgeon called, he said that the amount of one of my chemo drugs I received (the one I was concerned about) basically destroyed my ovaries. The right one that I thought to be good looks aged- like it should be in a forty or fifty year old's body. But women are having babies older nowadays, so it's still possible. The surgeon didn't sound hopeful, but I still am.
As of now, I am scheduled for the surgery I've been dreading this Friday at noon. I check in at 10. We're hoping and praying that my surgeon, Dr. Kucera, doesn't have to remove both ovaries.
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 9:18 AM
Monday, March 3, 2008
Okay Prayer Army, I need you. If you read this before 11:15 tomorrow morning, especially, please pray for good news. Nick and I met my surgeon today. From the MRI, CT scan, etc. it looks as though my ovaries are the pelvic tumors. So I guess the tumors are in my ovaries. It's difficult to be sure because at the time of the images, the tumors were so large the ovaries are tough to find. Tomorrow morning at 11:15 I go in for an ultrasound which will determine whether I have surgery on Friday or not. Yes, this Friday. If the tumors are small enough, or (the LORD willing) gone, I won't need this surgery. If they are still there and large enough, I will go in on Friday. The surgeon doesn't know until he gets in there if he'll need to remove one or both ovaries. This really scares me, as Nick and I have been wanting to start a family- months ago, but this cancer got in the way. Please pray for the good news we've been praying for. Thank-you!
I'll write about our trip tomorrow, but we had a great time.
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 8:49 PM
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Sorry it's been such a long time between blog posts. I've been feeling pretty crummy and haven't felt like even sitting at the computer. I'm feeling better, but I'm a week out from the hospital and still vomiting- even with a heavier dose of meds. We leave in a couple of hours for the airport and then we're off to Palm Springs. We've really been looking forward to this- sun, relaxation, fun, time together, swimming, etc. I think as soon as I step off the plane I'll feel a million times better. I hope.
I checked into the hospital for my final round of chemo on Valentine's Day. It wasn't the way I would have chosen to spend the day, but I was happy to get the chemo over with. I don't wish that treatment on anyone. It was rough and I'm happy to say, it's behind me and I can concentrate on a full recovery now. We did not get to meet with the gynecological oncologist like we were told, so hopefully we'll meet him as soon as we get back from our trip.
We didn't have Internet access in the hospital, so we couldn't post the latest plan. Here goes: We leave for a week. When we return, I'll have an MRI of my pelvis to check on the tumors and another PET Scan to check my whole body for metabolic activity. Hopefully it will show that there are no other tumors in my body. With the MRI and PET information, I will meet with the gyn-oncologist and get a surgery date within the next week or two. That's all we know for now.
Please continue to pray for us and this journey that we're on. My hope and prayer is that the MRI will show no tumors-that they've been destroyed- and that the gyn-oncologist will go in for exploratory laparascopic surgery to make sure they are gone. Oh yeah, and we pray that my female reproductive organs are alright too and won't affect us having children.
Thank-you for the cards and words of encouragement you continue to send. I very much enjoy and appreciate them. Have a wonderful week and we'll catch you on the flip side. Peace Out.
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 8:17 AM
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Nothing says Valentines like being dropped off for a round of chemotherapy. I'm at work today, and Meredith is on her first day of the last round of VIP Chemo. This round we get to meet the gynecological oncologist (say that 3 times fast). Dr. Bernstein has set us up with someone who will come meet with us and talk about removing what is left of her pelvic tumors.
Only 1 week until my grandparents take us to Palm Springs. Yeah, sun in sight!
Posted by Nick Curteman at 3:43 PM
Friday, February 8, 2008
Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I was a great blood giver. People would make comments like: "Oh, you've got good veins" or "Wow, it's really easy to get blood out of you." Chemotherapy, however, has damaged my veins. Now I get comments like: "You have tough skin," "I'm having a hard time finding any of your veins" and the worst, "Your blood just doesn't seem to want to come out." It's bad enough that when I get blood draws from my Power Port, the nurses usually need to me lie down and take many deep breaths just to get the blood to start coming.
Even though I have a Power Port in my right chest to administer my chemo drugs and for blood draws, every time I go in for chemo, I need a peripheral IV site too. This is because two of my drugs are not known to be compatible and are administered simultaneously. I hate getting IVs- they hurt. This time, I had four IV attempts in 4 days, partly because I had a trainee try one of them. I was not happy.
The other major issue, of course, in dealing with chemotherapy is my nausea. Since I was nauseated this last time constantly (just in varying degrees) from check-in to five days after I arrived back home, I needed constant meds. At one point in the hospital I told my nurse my nausea was getting worse again and asked for another dose of medication. A common request.
Well, she came back a while later with a syringe filled with the medication. I questioned her because every other time I had gotten the med, it was in pill form and it seemed to work well for me. She insisted this would be better because it would work faster. She put it in my IV site on my left forearm and it STUNG! She left and I rolled from side to side on my bed in pain, telling my mom that I thought I was going to pass out from the pain. She made me call the nurse. I was trying to deal with the pain so I wouldn't have to have another IV put in, but she was right. This was too much and I was beginning to black out.
Ten minutes after I asked for the nurse to come back in due to a burning IV, someone came. Not my nurse, but a different one who flushed my IV and told me that sometimes that particular medication burns the veins. Great, thanks for that bit of information. Especially after I questioned the nurse in the first place.
The next day, I had an unusable IV site and the nurses decided I'd been poked enough, so they called in the big guns and had a PICC Line put in. Basically, I have a small hole in my arm about 4in. under my left armpit into a major vein. A small, wire-guided plastic tube is inserted into the hole. It is guided up under my armpit, halfway across my chest and down toward the top of my heart. It's guided by ultrasound, then they X-rayed me to make sure it was far enough above my heart that it wouldn't complicate things. When in place, the wire is pulled out and I'm left with 42cm. of tubing in my arm and chest. Then I have two "pigtails" that hang on my arm that medicine is administered through.
That is how my PICC Line came to be. I am told I'll have it for the next three to four weeks. But maybe less time for good behavior.
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 12:58 PM
Thursday, February 7, 2008
It has been a few days since either of us has posted anything on the blog. We know that you read our entries because you care how we are doing and we appreciate that more than you will every know. That makes it very easy to talk about the good times and very hard to share the tough ones.
After a round of chemotherapy your white blood cell count falls to almost zero. This is called your neutropenic period and it last for 5-7 days. This leaves you wide open to any infection and if you are lucky enough to catch anything it will land you in the hospital. To help with this Dr. Bernstein's office gives you a Neulasta shot. This stimulates the marrow in your bones to produce white blood cells very fast and limits your neutropenic period to about 2 days. The downside is that your bones hurt.
Meredith started hurting during the Superbowl so we left early to go soak in Nathan's hot-tub. It helped temporarily, but when we got home she was in tears with pain. After a call to the on-call doctor, 3 doses of morphine, 4 doses of Ibuprofen, and 2 of Tylenol Meredith was still in pain. Wow. Nothing reminds you of how human you are than holding someone that you love and not be able to take away their pain. She finally fell asleep and the pain has been going away since then. Yesterday and today she has felt great and has had a great amount of energy (and spunk).
A few happy notes...
We spent Saturday morning in Molalla with my grandparents. When we left we stopped by Big Burger and got Meredith a giant soft-serve cone which she thoroughly enjoyed.AND
Meredith started packing today for a sunny get away to Palm Springs. The further into the medical process we get the more Meredith has wanted to get away from it all for a few days. So we are going to spend a week down south with the party crew (G&G Hall, Uncle Carl and Aunt Jean) ...and the blessings keep coming.
Posted by Nick Curteman at 10:24 PM
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Hey all! Sorry I haven't bogged in a while. I have been feeling terrible. I've been almost constantly nauseated, even with my acupressure trick and my medication. The last couple of days I've been vomiting a lot and haven't felt like doing much of anything. Even most of today I was feeling queasy and toted my tub around with me in case I needed it. I haven't needed it thus far and I'm going to bed soon. I feel much better at the moment than I have since I checked into the hospital this last time. I checked in, vomited, and the nausea rarely let up until today.
You may have seen that Nick, his brother, Chris, Rusty and me all played in the snow. That was on MLK Day and we had a great time. Rusty was so cute in the snow. It was nice to get away and play for a little while, even though I spent most of the time in the car. I did hit the run a couple of times.
As is tradition, we went to Nick's parents' house tonight and watched "Groundhog Day." Oh, what fun we had. We know the movie like the back of our hands, but it seemed better this time. Here and there someone would say, "I've never noticed that before." We didn't see anything new, but it was the same old movie Nick and I have grown to love. By the way, I believe we have about six more weeks of winter. Sorry, Josh.
Enjoy the Superbowl tomorrow. Take the time to watch the game at least for a while. And while you're at it, give a holler to the underdogs, because we'll be screamin' for the Giants too.
GO GIANTS!! GO GIANTS!! GO GIANTS!! GO GIANTS!!
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 10:43 PM
Monday, January 28, 2008
I got the privilege of taking Meredith home today. I haven't been able to take her home since her chest surgery and I loved it. I'm sorry that we haven't been blogging as much but all of you are constantly on our hearts and minds.
There was not very much to report on this round of chemotherapy until yesterday. Meredith has been having problems with her veins (shocking since they spend five days at a time poisoning her). She has a semi-permanent port surgically placed in her chest that they can give most of her chemo through, but since she is on a VIP treatment not everything mixes well. That means that they also need a peripheral IV in her arm. During this stay the IV would work for a day or less. Poor vein condition + 1 IV trainee = 5 pokes in 4 days. After that Dr. Bernstein and the nurses decided to place a PICC line. For those of you not in the know, a PICC line is a glorified IV. It is an IV site that starts in her tricep deep in a large vein. The line that goes in her arm extends down the vein 42cm to a location just above her heart. Now they will not have to poke her arms again during the last round of chemo. It sounds terrible, but she said that it hurt less than any of the previous IV sites. It was, however, one more surgical procedure to add the list of "Meredith Firsts."
On an awesome note. We went on a trek to play in the snow before we went to the hospital this last time. We took my bother Chris and Rusty and headed out to Colton. Rusty went crazy, it was his first time in deep snow. Meredith stayed in the car most of the time, but got to hit the slopes for a few awesome runs. It was so much fun.
Posted by Nick Curteman at 9:53 PM
Friday, January 25, 2008
Well, I'm back at the hospital- my home away from home. Tuesday I had my first acupuncture treatment. I went to bed on Monday with a horrible tummy ache. In fact it kept me awake for a couple of hours. I woke up with it on Tuesday and decided that it was alright because my naturopath thought the acupuncture would help with my nausea and I was definitely nauseated. She only put five needles in me this time. Next time she'll use more. I had one in each knee, one in each wrist and one in the top of my scalp. When I left her office, I felt so much better. Not wonderful, but pretty good. I'll go back after I go home and am feeling better. I've been in the hospital for two days now and it seems to have helped with my nausea here too. I've felt much better than my last cycle of chemo. Hallelujah!
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 8:10 PM
Okay, apparently there has been a bit of confusion about the connection between me and the Tualatin PD. My brother, Nathan, is a police officer at Tualatin PD. So the guys know him, but they don't yet know me. They were so kind to give us a financial gift and to shave their heads in support of me and as a sign of solidarity to one another. They ROCK! We were really touched by them. I hope that clears some things up.
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 8:00 PM
Saturday, January 19, 2008
but so are courage and hope...
and they are the stronger,
the more enduring.
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 10:55 PM
Thursday, January 17, 2008
I met Nathan, Meredith's brother, at work this morning because he had a CD of pictures to give to us. The pictures you see are the result of awesome, caring, selfless people who shaved their heads in support of a woman they have never met. It all started when Meredith's brothers decided to shave their heads to support their sister. The officers in Tualatin were in search of a way to unite their department during a year of personal hard times. As a result they picked a day to unite together and support my wife. Milo, one of the officer's sons even got in on the shaving action. In addition Nathan gave us a wonderful card from the PD with a financial gift, and God continues to provide. I can't say thank you enough for being so generous.
On another awesome note, Meredith is feeling great today. As I am trying to write this she is singing Brazilian kids songs at the top of her lungs. She has been very tired, but the nausea seems to have subsided for now. It seems as though after chemo she is nauseas for a week, feels good but tired for a week and then spends the third week getting more chemo. I love seeing her upbeat and enjoying food. Thank you again Tualatin Police Department!
Posted by Nick Curteman at 8:18 PM
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
I went to a naturopathic doctor yesterday to supplement my treatment. She wants me to up my fiber, protein and wants me to get good sleep. Since I've lost about 25 lbs in the past two months, she's trying to bulk me up a little so that my body can fight my cancer better. She also had me purchase some l-glutamine powder to help support my gut to help with nausea and vomiting. Since chemo targets rapid-growth cells, it kills the cells that line my gut, hence my problems with nausea. She gave me some other helpful tidbits and some yummy looking smoothie recipes that I can't wait to try. Next Tuesday, I'm going back to her for my first ever acupuncture. She thinks it will help with my digestion and right before chemo, will help me to be less nauseated during my treatment. Next week I'll let you know how the acupuncture went. That's all for now.
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 7:22 PM
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
I feel great today! No vomit for two days now. (Thanks, Mel for the prayer and for all of your help while you were here.) I've felt pretty crummy since I came home from the hospital this last time. I have been battling nausea and have vomited a lot, plus I had a fever Friday through Sunday. The fever was almost bad enough to land me in the hospital, but I really kept tabs on it and did everything in my power to keep it down. At 100.5 degrees, I automatically have to report to the hospital- or so I've been told. Saturday, I woke up with it at 100.4 and immediately put a cold compress on my head and started drinking cold liquids. I got it down and by Sunday evening I was back to my normal temperature, but was still vomiting.
So, I came home on Monday feeling terrible. Tuesday Nick called the paramedics for me and I had to go to the ER. Wednesday was okay. Thursday was wonderful, even though I didn't feel the greatest, because Melanie came. Friday through Sunday I had a head cold and fever. My first week home wasn't the best. I hope it's all out of my system and the next week and a half are much better. I think they will be.
As I type these words, I feel like such a complainer. I'm reminded of a passage I read the other night with Melanie. I was flipping through the Bible and landed on Habakkuk. Even though times were tough and everything seemed to go wrong, Habakkuk still praised God. Even though I had a trying week, God has been good to me too. I know that chemo is working and God continues to provide for us and bless us every single day.
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 10:53 PM
Saturday, January 12, 2008
As you know, I'm bald. I shaved my head on New Year's Eve day, because I had too many bald patches to get a regular short haircut. You may or may not know how hard it was for me to lose my hair. I cried-a lot, until the hairdresser shaved it. Then I was okay. At that point it was gone and there was nothing I could do about it. It will grow back. It may take a while, but it will.
As a sweet, supportive gesture, my brother, Matt, sent out an email to my husband, brothers and some of our friends asking them to shave their heads in honor of me and to show their support. The head shaving is now complete! Nate shaved his the day before I shaved mine. Matt and our life-long friend, Dirk, shaved theirs New Year's Eve. Matt's friend, Nick was already bald, but shaved his massive facial hair. Thanks, Nick for the progression of photos from beginning to end. A bunch of guys from Nate's precinct got together yesterday and shaved their heads in support and also as a sign of solidarity to one another. Today, Andrew shaved his. You guys all rock! Thanks so much for the gesture. I really appreciate it. Enjoy the photos.
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 7:32 PM
Our friends Melanie and Scott Creps moved to Utah last year and we have really missed them. Just before they moved we found out that they are expecting and could not be happier. They put their heads together and worked out a way for Melanie to come visit, and help Meredith while I am at work. We are so amazed by all of our friends, family, friend's family, family's friends, co-workers of friends/family and everyone I am forgetting who read our blog and want to know how we are doing. Meredith took Melanie to a surprise baby shower tonight and had a lot of fun hanging out with all of the ladies. Even though it was Melanie's party we seemed to pull away with a few hats for Meredith and a t-shirt for me. I know most of my posts include a thank you to all of you, and it may be getting old and repetitive, but everyday I am encouraged by someone in one way or another. So once again. Thank you.
Oh, and I can't forget more good news. Meredith had a brain scan (MRI) yesterday. Dr. Bernstein was a little concerned that she blacked-out since the tumors in her pelvis had grown so fast. The MRI cam back normal and the doctors concluded that she was just dehydrated.
Posted by Nick Curteman at 12:07 AM
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Meredith and I feel bad that we haven't blogged since she has been home from the hospital. She came home on Monday and didn't vomit once...until last night. She was going to the bathroom about 8pm and I was called in because she was vomiting. She said that she had hit her head on the bathtub and thought that she had blacked out. Just then she slumped and lost consciousness. Her eyes stayed open, but she had a blank stare and was not responding. I ran into the other room, grabbed my phone and called 911. I laid her down, per the 911 operator, and the ambulance arrived about 5 minutes after she had initially passed out. By the time I let the paramedics in she was waking up but still very disoriented. Rusty had come home to us that night and was very confused as to why he was being shut in the kitchen. Her blood pressure was 85/45, but the paramedics said that she was fine. I got a hold of our oncologist, Dr. Bernstein, who said that as a precaution we should go to the hospital. I called Bobby and he drove us to the Portland Providence Emergency Room. As we were checking in Meredith passed out again for a minute or two, but the nurse wasn't too worried.
Praise God that her blood work came back great and it turns out that she was probably dehydrated. They accessed her power port and gave her a liter of fluid. Aaron and Amanda came and brought me some dinner and took us home about 2am this morning.
Today she is tired and a little nauseas, but otherwise doing just fine. She has, however, been drinking more fluids as we do not want to repeat our little excursion last night.
Tomorrow morning the sealant on the bathtub will have completed curing and Meredith can take a bath. Hopefully tomorrow's entry will only contain pictures of our new bathroom and not another entry in my "Scariest Night Ever" diary.
Thank you all for your continued support. We feel more loved than we could ever know.
Posted by Nick Curteman at 8:46 PM
Friday, January 4, 2008
I had a follow up appointment with Dr B on Tuesday to see how things were going after the first round of chemotherapy, and nausea at home, etc. Normally Dr B would wait until after my second round of chemo to have my pelvis imaged to see how things are shrinking, however, I told him I was having abdominal pain. He decided we needed to image immediately just to be sure the tumors weren't growing. He had to contact a gynecological surgeon to see which kind of image they prefer. We were thinking Ultrasound,but late in the afternoon the word was MRI. Either way it's an image that does not expose me to radiation, and I appreciate that. If the results of the MRI was that the tumors were shrinking, we'd go with the plan and check into the hospital the next day for Round 2 of chemo. If they were not shrinking, and even worse, if they had grown, I would go in for emergency surgery to try to remove them. This really scared me.
I got the call at 4:30pm to go to an imaging place as soon as possible- they were the only ones in town who could fit me in for an MRI that night. I was a little irritated because we had dinner plans at 6. Dr B said that we would probably just image at the hospital the next morning before we began chemo. We arrived at the imaging place at about 5:15 and left 2 hours later. Two hours later. We salvaged dinner plans. They were with Aaron and Amanda, so they were cool with pushing it back. We ran home, I changed into a fancy outfit, because we had decided to dress up. My hair would have taken me a little while to fix after laying on the MRI table for so long. Fortunately my hair took no time at all.
As we were running out the door Dr Bernstein called with the results-ALREADY! The MRI showed that the tumors ARE SHRINKING and are at least 2cm smaller each!! The outside edges are consistent with tumors that are shrinking. Well, I was much more excited about dinner now. We had something to celebrate. And we did. Dinner was a laugh fest and we had a really great time. Again, Prayer Army, thank you all for your prayers and please keep it up.
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 7:55 AM
Thursday, January 3, 2008
We had an awesome time at our friend's (Aaron and Amanda) house on Tuesday night. Amanda and my mom organized this for Meredith. Our friends and family got together and bought Meredith a plethera of hats scarves and bandanas. Since we are at the hospital tonight I can't post any pictures, but they will come soon. Thank you to everyone that came, I know Meredith really enjoyed it. In addition to hanging out with everyone she got a lot of cool head coverings that she has already begun to take advantage of. Meredith will be here at Portland Providence until Monday. While she is here I will be spending most of my time at home ripping out our bathroom to put in a new tub that Meredith can soak in. Demo starts tomorrow night. There is NOTHING that a 20lb. sledge can't fix.
Posted by Nick Curteman at 8:51 PM
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Happy 2008 everyone. I rang in the new year a little different than most years, bald. I began losing my hair on Thursday. Saturday night I washed my hair and it came out in HUGE handfuls. I had an appointment this coming Wednesday (Jan. 2) to get a short haircut so my hair loss wouldn't be so dramatic. I had to reschedule it for Monday (Dec. 31) because I already had bald spots by Saturday. Due to my patchy bald spots, I went for the gold and had my head shaved. There was really no alternative. My friend, Lori, took me to her hairdresser to get a pedicure, then get my hair cut. My mom and best friend, Amanda, also came to offer their support. So, here I am in all my bald glory.
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 10:14 PM