Week 3 — Halfway

Halfway…boy it seems like we have a lot further to go than that some days, but today is halfway through this first run of chemo and radiation for Kerry. He has just finished 14 of 28 radiation treatments and week 3 of 6 on his chemo pump.

He is definitely starting to feel the effects of radiation this week. He’s wears out much more easily and takes a lot of naps. We are thankful he is still able to work5-6 hours a day before he goes to radiation. He’s had what was billed as “GI discomfort” in the list of side effects. I’ll let you fill in the blank about what all that entails, but it is certainly unpleasant. The chemo makes him nauseous and ruins his appetite.

So, I feed him what he will eat and ask him every day if anything sounds good for supper. He has been able to stomach pizza and ice cream lately so I’ve let Papa John cook more than I usually would and I keep the freezer stocked. I’ve said before this chemo is like morning sickness. All the yuck feelings and cravings for absolute junk. On the weekends when the chemo effects wane a bit, I try to shove in as many fruits and veggies as I can.

For now…we are thankful he’s made it halfway. Specific ways you can pray this week:

  • Continue to pray for limited side effects. Right now he is controlling them with over the counter meds. We are hopeful it won’t get much worse.
  • Moments of rest. He is able to nap and sleep well at night. We are thankful for that.
  • Kerry’s white blood cell count was a little low this last week. While the chemo he takes isn’t supposed to wipe out his immune system, it can lower his ability to fight infection. With 8 kids our home is a germ factory. So pray that he stays well.
  • Pray too for some friends of ours in Pueblo. They lost their sweet baby, August, through miscarriage earlier this month. We know the hurt and sadness they are feeling. Pray for her as she recovers physically and pray for their hearts as they grieve. They have been heavy on my mind.

I want to share a song that has been on my playlist this week. It’s a powerful reminder that God has a purpose for it all.

Awareness

I never thought I’d be advocating for “Awareness” for a disease. But here were are. It’s March. It’s colorectal cancer awareness month.

Kerry doesn’t fit the demographic for someone with colorectal cancer. We’ve been told more than once “You’re not the kind of guy we usually see coming in for treatment like this.” He has no family history of cancer…of any kind…at all. He doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink, is relatively active and overall healthy. So what gives? Honestly, we don’t spend a lot of time wondering why . We know that all things work out according to God’s perfect will so we take this as an opportunity. One that isn’t granted to everyone and one we pray we are faithful in.

Kerry never would have been diagnosed had he ignored the vague GI symptoms. He would have never been diagnosed if I wasn’t the naggy nurse I am. He would have never been diagnosed if his physician hadn’t listened to him. Huge shout out to Dr. Holdeman here. I can’t tell you how thankful I am that his doc didn’t just pass it off as something else without fully investigating. More than 65% of the people diagnosed under the age of 50 have to see more than one doctor before they’re taken seriously and screened. He never would have been diagnosed if fear or embarrassment of bowel prep and having a colonoscopy would have kept him from being screened.

I’ve learned a lot over the last couple of months about colorectal cancer. It’s the third most diagnosed cancer in the US and the second most deadly cancer in men and women combined. Survival rates are good when caught and treated early. 10% of the new onset cases are going to be in patients under the age of 50. That’s about 9,500 people each year.

So here I am jumping on the awareness band wagon. Don’t be ignore your symptoms, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor and be screened. Don’t assume you’re too young. And if you’re part of the over 50 crowd where screening is recommended…please do it. I can promise the bowel prep is way easier than treatment.

Week 2

Kerry just finished week 2 of chemo and radiation. Overall, it was a good week. The chemo really seems to affect his appetite and taste of food. Our biggest battle this week was finding something that sounded good to eat and getting him to eat it before it started sounding not so good. It’s tough to fight off nausea and keep food in your stomach when you don’t really want to eat anything at all.

We did find a couple of winners in the food category. Pizza always seems to sound good. Banana peppers…we also learned our boys also enjoy these. We’ve gone through more than a couple jars this week already! I made a vegan cauliflower/broccoli soup this last week that he was able to eat for more than one meal.

When Kerry was initially diagnosed we went to a mostly plant based diet without processed carbs or sugars. With his lack of appetite, there have been some days he’s just eaten whatever he could tolerate…plant based or not.

Radiation has gone well. Fatigue has been the biggest side effect there. The radiation oncologist said week 3 tends to be the week that things catch up with you. So we’re going into next week with a little trepidation, but also with the prayer that Kerry will continue to be minimally effected by the treatment and that he will continue to be able to work.

So prayer requests for this week:

  • That Kerry’s appetite would return.
  • Rest when he needs it and the wisdom to know when it’s time to take a break. Sometimes he pushes himself and then just drops at the end of the day.
  • Minimal side effects as we go through week 3 radiation.
  • Strength and stamina for the weeks ahead.

Week 1 Done

Kerry started his routine of chemo and radiation this week. Monday morning he had lab drawn and then we went to the infusion center. There he received steroids and anti-nausea meds before they started his chemo pump. He will be receiving the drug 5-FU. He then goes to radiation every afternoon at 2:30 in Wichita. His radiation takes around 15 minutes and then he’s on the way home.

This is the pump Kerry is connected to Monday-Friday. It delivers small amounts of medication over the course of the week.

So…how’d he do? Overall, ok. For the first time in his life he struggled with having an appetite. If he didn’t have food in his stomach he got nauseous but he didn’t want to eat anything. I told him “Sounds like morning sickness”. 🙂 The rest of the week we called it chemo morning sickness. After radiation he was mostly tired, but he was able to work every day this week from 6am to 1pm, then home and then to radiation at 2:30. They tell us the side effects of radiation really start to kick in around week 3 so we enjoy the good weeks while we can.

The biggest adjustment this week was being tethered to the pump. It’s amazing how short that 5ft tubing feels when you have to roll over in bed or shower with the pump hanging outside the curtain. Kerry does a lot of lifting and forklift/parts picker (please don’t ask me what that is) work at his job. Some of it requires him to wear a safety harness and lift above his head which was made more difficult this week. He said he wasn’t as fast as he usually is…and that was frustrating to him I think. We know that there may be a time in the coming weeks he won’t be able to work so for now, he is thankful he feels good enough to go.

Excited to be tether free this weekend!

He was looking forward to today though. This afternoon he got his pump off for the weekend. I think he was most excited about being able to hold the kids on his lap. When he is connected we have to be cognizant of the tubing, pump and port so snuggles have been limited this week. I wish I would have taken a picture with all the younger boys and Lily on his lap this evening. They were all happy (and crowded).

Today was also “Dress in Blue” day for colorectal cancer awareness month. I just have to say my work family and friends rocked it today! I loved seeing my Facebook feed full of pictures of you all wearing blue. I means so much to know that we have such a huge support system. We are ever grateful for the prayers and love we’ve been shown. If you missed it today, you can wear blue any time this month, post on social media with the #dressinblueday.

We are very blessed.