Friday, February 26, 2010

About Brivanib..

I've had the pleasure of talking with a few people who stumbled across the blog looking for information about Brivanib so this entry is a repeat for many as I wanted to post an update on this drug trial.

I started the trial on Jan 14, 2009. My official diagnosis is Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor, low to intermediate grade with mets to the lung. MPNST is a form of Sarcoma. I'm in the Phase 2 trial at U of C. For 12 weeks, I was guaranteed to be on the drug for 12 weeks and then was randomized to either the placebo or the actual drug. Initially, the side effects I experienced were light headedness within 15 minutes after taking the drug, thirst (I craved water), fatigue, and weight gain. I gained weigh rapidly, at least 20 pounds in 2 months but, if given the choice between a growing butt and a growing tumor, there really is no contest. The first 12 weeks, I saw initial tumor shrinkage and growth to one of the nodules. After randomization, I was put on the placebo. No, I don't know this for a fact but I experience no side effects on the pills I am taking. I have been stable since March of last year with nothing new and no growth which is wonderful!!! I can't vouch for what anyone else experienced regarding side effects. I've heard of some nausea, some extreme tiredness, some shortness of breath, some increased blood pressure, and some liver enzyme increases but none of those were things I experienced personally. Nutritionally, I follow a modified version of the Budwig protocol and add Vitamin D3 and DHA as supplements. I had been reading that Omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA, are great cancer fighters and may act on my tumor. I don't eat anything with sunflower, safflower, vegetable or partially hydrogenated oils and spend more time than I have looking over ingredients before I buy or eat something. I like to think the combination of both my lifestyle changes and medications helped me. I don't mind being tapped for questions on anything and purposefully left my email and facebook available. Please use them if you want. One of the pluses to this cancer journey, is meeting all the cancer warriors out there embroiled in the battle.
This concludes this Brivanib update :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

I PASSED MY CNA EXAM!!! The first little leg of the journey to Nursing school is complete. I feel a little sense of accomplishment as the class I took jammed a semester worth of information into 8 weeks and I passed! Congratulations to the rest of my classmates as they all did as well! We were the Super class! I have an Anatomy Test tonight that I am now stressing over. After four class periods of bones and bones and more bones oh...and a few joints, I'm being tested on all that tonight. Can I remember Symphoses and how they differ from Synchondroses, Synarthrosis and Synovial? Can I remember which bone the greater and lesser tubercle resides on and what bones make up the pectoral girdle? We'll see!
Registration for the Summer session is coming up very quickly and I'm debating something. My intent was to take Physiology and take the NLN sometime in September. My original goal was to apply for the Spring 2011 start of Nursing school. Now, I'm rethinking this. Whereas I do intend on taking a Summer class, I don't know if it's a good idea to rush Physiology. My application to Nursing school will be based on how I do in Anatomy, Physiology and the NLN exam. Do I really want to race through Physiology in the Summer with backyard BBQ's, nice weather, distractions upon distractions or should I wait until the Fall? Right now, I'm leaning towards "wait until Fall" and take Chem 101 over the Summer which like Bio 101 will serve as a refresher to score higher on the NLN. This would bump the Nursing start date to Fall of 2011, a full 8 months later than planned which isn't horrible. The down side to that plan however, is AT&T. Last week, one of my friends notified me that his AT&T center located in Mesa, AZ, is closing. What this may mean for me moving forward, is unknown. But Ma Bell has not finished her cuts yet. I have two weeks to make a decision and will take any suggestions.

I need a babysitter for a smarty pants 16 year old and a snotty 15 year old who proved over the weekend that they are not fit to be home by themselves. As I study, I am digging out of the wreckage after the wars that occurred here over the weekend. MOM is not happy with her ducklings. My kids are like our current deadlocked Congress. Neither of them will budge and inch on anything and nothing got done. I have no clean clothes and neither do any of the kids. When I asked why it did not get done as I asked my son looked at me square in the eye and said, "Laziness!" At least he was honest. That's good, right? When I asked my daughter why there was a sink of dirty dishes, I was told that the dishwasher did not get done washing dishes until 3pm. Bold faced LIE! I started the dishwasher before I left for work at 9am. Called them on that and the stammering and hems and haws abounded which only fueled the ire. SIGH! I just have no words for all this. On their Spring Break, they will do all this and oh so much more under my supervision or they will be giving up FUN for Lent and beyond! It's not so much the cleaning that is so tiresome. It's just disappointing that with all that is going on, my kids have not been part of the solution. Well... I guess I'll just have to live with the smeared jelly on the couch, living out of the laundry basket, and deal with the no clean towel problem for a little bit longer. This deadlocked congress isn't going to undeadlock any time soon.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sarcoma, a rare cancer of the Connective tissues and bone of which FEW treatment options exist. Let's try to generate some awareness for this cancer. Please tell 10 people about it.

I'm still swimming down deep in the abyss and have not quite come up for air. I've been busy memorizing bones of the skeleton and learning about invertebrates, shoveling snow, dealing with upset stomachs and colds and work, lots and lots of work.

Last week, was my yearly performance review. I was a little nervous but expected that the review would be negative or lackluster. It was not quite negative and it was not quite positive. My boss simply said "You're heart isn't in your work." No, I guess it isn't. She and I had a very good discussion about my goals, what I hope to accomplish and left the discussion with a few things dangling. My future with AT&T is a wait and see though my heart is right now, trying to get through these classes and start nursing school. In the meantime, I've got a 1500 site deal to work on. Last week could also be described as "PUKE." I was up to my armpits in it. Emily threw up for two days. Kris threw up for two days and yesterday, Cassie threw up. She's feeling better. Nothing like a nice introduction to the Nursing world than a good dose of vomit but what can we do? It's flu season in Chicago. Last week can also be described as SNOW.. more snow... Believe me Vancouver, I'd send it to you if I could. We are so sick and tired of snow shoveling and falling on the old gluteus maximus (See I did learn something in Anatomy) on the ice on the driveway. Though we keep sending it Eastward, the States Westward keep sending us more. Please stop!

Valentine's Day... my take.. BAH HUMBUG! I'm like ol' Charlie Brown who peeks into the mailbox and says "HELLOOOOOO in there! there! there! there!" RATS! I worked at Big Box Mart on V-Day and nothing remotely romantic crossed my belt that day. Plenty of somewhat romantic things crossed my belt on Friday night. KY jelly, his and hers, red undies, Vagi-ring (whatever the blazes that is), vibrating condoms, and briefs with big old hearts were sold to the young and um to the very old. Believe me, sometimes, I would look at some of the people buying these things and the pictures in my mind were terrifying! and in about 6 weeks, I'll be selling lots of pregnancy tests and then in November, lots of diapers. Happens every year. Moving on..

Clinic today. Nothing exciting. Another blood test. BP is fine. I ruined another tree by peeing in a plastic cup, oh wait...nevermind. Scans are in March. I am feeling a bit on edge about these scans but then again, I haven't really looked forward to any of them. In Sarcoma land today, I got wind of 4 relapses, all kids. It takes the wind out of my sails a little. It's hard enough to be an adult and live with the uncertainty, it's another for the kids and even worse for their moms who hope for the best but fear the worst. Children are like Adam and Eve before the apple. Innocently, they keep moving forward, somewhat unaware of the gravity of the situation and parents eyes are opened and they know they are naked and they are afraid. I pray for them all and hope someday I can do more.

CNA exam was last Thursday. Some of it went well. Some questions were so .....STUPID that they could only have been written by the state of IL. For example: You are helping a nurse with intake duty. What would you do to acclamate a new resident to his new environment
a) show him the call button
b) tell him the names of all the CNA's and nurses.
c) tell all your coworkers about the new resident
d) let him take a walk around the grounds by himself.

Is it my imagination or do all these choices SUCK!? These are old people who may not be able to walk or have CRS (can't remember sh--). Our book mentioned we should escort them and give them a tour..but oh well. Everyone I talked to had a different opinion of what the answer was. I'll find out in a few weeks if I passed.

Finally, I'm saying a very huge public thank you to Nonalee. It moved me to tears...and I hate crying in public. Thanks for being such a good friend to me for the past 25 years.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Odds and ends

The days are blurs. Anatomy is in full force. Biology is in full force. The children are arguing and of course only minimally helpful and life is cruising along. My first Anatomy test was this past Wednesday. As the grade I get in Anatomy and Physiology is a huge determining factor of whether or not I am accepted into Harper's nursing program, there was absolutely not one shred of pressure to do well on the test. As it was the first test, I didn't have a clue what I should study and my teachers study guide pretty much indicated every chart, diagram, clinical view and sentence as important. I spent 3 days immersed in the text book, memorizing charts, processes, diagrams, and terminology. One of my biggest fears as I read was that all this work that I was doing would lead to mediocre results. I experienced that this year with my full time job when I spent 12, 13, 14 hours doing work and received a less than stellar review. I don't like to waste time anymore. My tummy was in knots when I entered the auditorium. My classmates were cramming last minute facts into their head. I opted not to. I pulled out my pencil with a nice eraser and sat there and waited. I reminded myself I studied hard. I reminded myself to read every question thoroughly and think things through as I was queen of the stupid mistake in CNA class. I gave myself a little..."you can do this" pep talk. 50 questions, all multiple choice. After I answered the first 10 I thought to myself "Hmmm" this isn't too hard. When I turned in the test, I was fairly confidant that I did fairly well. There were a few questions that I had to think about and as usual got "sternum" and "scapula" mixed up in my brain. I do not know why I do that. But don't worry. If I ever have to give anyone CPR, I won't be pumping on their shoulder blade. Since all of the tests are graded via Scantron, my teacher had everything graded by the time I had Lab and informed everyone the average grade was a 68%. EEEEKKK... He called each of us up individually to get our test grades. I got a 94%. WOOHOO!!! But my work is hardly done. I am immersed in the book studying the bones of the Axial skeleton and HOLY MOSES is it a LOT OF BONES!

On each of our tables in Wednesdays lab, was a box of skulls. No, they weren't the plastic kind. They were real human skulls. I had often wondered how I would handle working with a former human in a classroom setting. My job was to find the bones listed on my lab sheet on the real human skull which I did without spending much time wondering who these 5 human skulls belonged to and what kind of life they led. If I did that, I might not have gotten through the lab.

Kris and Cass brought their grades home. Cass did fairly well for her first Semester in high school. I remember completely bombing out my first semester in high school. New atmosphere. Harder material. More drama. Didn't really know how to study. Despite that, Cass pulled a 3.0. Kris, well, his lack of motivation once again shined through in his grades. He received C's on all his finals after studying maybe 30 minutes. Imagine what he could have done if he had actually studied longer or actually cared enough to try and get higher than the bare minimum. Kris is a bare minimum kid. He does just enough to get by and thinks that is all it's going to take for success. In April, my number one son will take his ACT. I bought software so that he can learn words, practice Math, practice reading and downloaded it to his computer. In April of last year, he took an ACT practice test and got a 25. Because of this, he decided that he does not have to study because DePaul University, where he would like to finish his undergraduate, requires a 22 minimum score on the ACT. Since he scored a 25 on a practice test, he feels that satisfies the requirement. Now he spends his days playing Cake Mania on WII. OH MY LORD..WHAT DID I DO WRONG???

Back to the books. Maybe if they see me study, they'll be motivated to study. RIGHT!!