Monday, November 17, 2008

Excuse my lapse

And again, I have fallen off the blogging wagon.

Since my last entry, here's the latest. I'm making it short and sweet and I will go back and fill in the details later.

Aug 20 - last entry
Aug 28 - next chemo cycle under the new insurance
Sep 10 - CT scan as a baseline to watch if the fluid in the lungs come back (remember I had it extracted in July)
Sep 16 - CT results - I have fluid again (more than before) that needs extraction ASAP
OCT 20 - extract fluid from lung (yes, that's what ASAP means)
OCT 21 - PET scan
OCT 22 - another chemo cycle ends (no results yet from the scan). What my doc told me was reassuring though, "Whatever the result of the scan, you are doing really well and you are feeling good. We will try to keep that going for as long as possible. If the result is good, we will continue as is. If not, we'll do something else. Don't worry too much about it." I really took that to heart.
OCT 29 - another chemo cycle starts. PET scan results are bad. Tumor grew and spread.
OCT 31 - talked to lung doctor who prescribes pleurodesis (seal the space between lung and chest wall to avoid fluid collecting)
Nov 1 - My cousin refers me to a friend of hers who is a lung cancer researcher for Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. Start researching on an interesting clinical trial.
Nov 17 - first visit to Johns Hopkins.
Nov 20 - Pleurodesis

I've skipped a lot of detail and I'll go back to fill it in.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Insurance - SURE it is!

Our company decided to switch insurance providers this year (first time in 3 years). That took effect on the first of this month. That first week, I had chemo scheduled. While the doctor was hooking me up, I chatted with him and told him about the insurance switch.

Good thing he hadn't hooked me up yet (He was about to. The needle was ready - all he had to do was pierce) or I would have had to pay for it out of pocket since you need pre-authorization for chemo.

We tried to call everyone. HR in our company had not yet submitted our papers since the decision was made close to the switch date. I knew I could not get authorization until at least 2 days after we were in the system. I finally got my insurance card on the 15th. Unfortunately, my doctor was gone this week and I had a conference to attend out of town.

I faxed my doctor's office my new card so they can get the authorization done. Best case scenario, I'll get treatment next week.

I was off treatment for 3 whole weeks. I'm happy and grateful for the break but I'm starting to get nervous. I notice every single ache and pain. I'm doing all my energy healing just to calm me down but I want to be back in treatment. (Never thought I'd say that.) But I know that it's keeping me alive and in good shape.

The title is whiney about insurance, I know I would never afford the treatments on my own. (Who can?) It's just really darned inconvenient when all medical procedures have to stop and wait for paperwork. I work for a software company. Information is supposed to pass faster than 3 weeks (OK, 2 weeks - the third week was separate conferences that were scheduled in advanced for me and my doc). Good thing it's not a matter of life and death. Oh, wait a minute...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Moving in

I thought we had it planned so well. We got the house one whole month before we had to get out of our apartment. We were slowly bringing stuff over every night and weekend. By the time we actually had to move out, we still had a LOT of stuff. Where did this stuff come from? When Kel and I moved here in 2001, we just had 2 suitcases each. Now, we had to hire movers???

The first couple of days, I couldn't even find my shoes. I was going to work in my slippers. At least, Kel had his sandals. He dressed them up with socks hoping no one would notice. Well, it is summer. And for the next couple of weeks, it was a mad hunt for the little things. We couldn't find the rice cooker - take note: it had cooked rice in it. It took two days of opening boxes and life-size Tetris to find it. It wasn't edible when we did, but at least it didn't stink - yet - too much. I couldn't find our pool passess either. (Found them the Monday after the pools closed for the summer. Bummer!)

Little by little, we got things organized. I lost about 10 pounds just hauling stuff up and down those stairs. Don't worry, I gained them back. (sigh).

For a litte while, we didn't have TV. The cable guy came and hooked us up only to find that he only hooked up the basement. Kel had to figure out how the wiring went up to the living room. Now, we're truly hooked up.

I miss the days that we didn't have TV. I thought Burke would drive us bonkers but she found ways to entertain herself. We played board games or her toys (we love Magnetix - it's something we all play). I actually got things done around the house (Well, I don't think I could have lasted so long going to work in my slippers). More on this in a later article...

My proudest achievement was painting Burke's room. (Now I know why they call it painting - it's such a PAIN!) Early on, I asked her what color she wanted. "Rainbow!!!" was the enthusiastic answer. After thinking about it for some time, I knew I didn't want to sign up to do a mural in her room. I negotiated with rainbow polka-dots. It was truly worth the effort. (That is staying up there until she can paint over it herself.)

We're still settling in. The basement is still a mess. (That's one of the reasons why I can't host my house-warming yet since that's the only way to the backyard.) The couch isn't here yet. We have yet to figure out our daily routines and just how to live in our house. We've got time.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Our house

It's officially our house now. We just came back from the settlement where we signed our lives away (at least the next 30 years). It was smooth and we did it during lunch.

Can't thank everyone enough!!!
Everyone for the love and support
Freddie and Diday (plus the Aromins) for helping out with the paperwork.
Most especially MOM!!! We could not have done this without you.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Another Cycle - 06/25/2008

This cycle wasn't too bad. On the day itself, I was still able to eat. Even dinner. Usually, by that time my tastebuds had gone and left me but this time, they stayed a little longer.

The next day, they'd left. I was barely able to drink my medication in the morning. The water already bothered me. So I forced my self to drink as much as I could since I didn't know when I'd be able to drink next.

Lunch time, I tried to eat Shaking Beef (one of my favorite dishes from our local Vietnamese restaurant). No can do. I had one bite, and it just didn't settle well.

I did get to go to the office. I worked all day. So, I was a little fatigued but not too much. I was thirsty but just could not drink. The worst part was having to barf in my trashcan at my desk. The first episode, I was on the phone. Good thing that was a quick one. The second episode later in the afternoon was bad. Couple it with the fact that I could not drink water. Cough drops had to do.

It's late now. I had just had some watered down milk and Milo. My stomach seems to be taking it well.

Can I just say something about the Milo here? It's not instant. You have to mix it in a hot liquid. I tried just putting it in cold milk and it came out lumpy. I had to nuke it a bit. That's shocking to me since in Manila, Milo is instant. Meaning it dissolves in cold liquid. What's up with that, Nestle?

Enough ranting. I'm still thankful for the Milo. It's the first liquid in my system that my body didn't reject. I'm so dehydrated, it's not funny anymore. If only I could take water intravenously without having to go to the doctor.

Didn't have headaches this time. Whoopie!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

James Taylor LIVE

Kel and I just got to see James Taylor LIVE! It was awesome! First of all, we're not concert going folk but we love good live music. That was great music. He sounds just like he did on Mellow Touch.

The venue was just fabulous as well. It was held in WolfTrap's Filene center. It's an open theater made of wood. It was open-air. Good thing it was a beautiful night. Not too muggy or steamy. It had just rained. There was a nice cool breeze.

It was one of the most fun dates we've had in years. I have to thank my friend, Gayle, for the wonderful tickets.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

PET Scan results (6/16/2008)

I had a PET scan done yesterday and my doctor got a preliminary report today.
Bottom line: It's stable. It's almost the same as the last scan. She's very happy which makes me happy.

I'm not changing my medications in any way. I'll still be taking my Alimta/Avastin combo.

The scan did show that I might have some fluid in my right lung. I'm seeing my lung doctor next week to have it drained. (Does not sound fun but I'll handle it.)

Don't get me wrong, I'm fine with these results. I'm living a normal life and this means I'll keep my lifestyle despite the cancer. Whenever I get scanned, I always try to envision the best case scenario. I let it play in my head willing it to come true. I envision my doctor telling me that it's gone and I don't have to do chemo anymore.

But it's not time yet. It'll come though. I believe it.
Please keep praying for me and believing in my recovery.
For those who keep the faith, Thanks! It really helps to have the spirit of many behind me.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Feng shui-ed

While waiting to actually buy the new home, I've been thinking of how to decorate it. Then I came across this book a friend of mine gave me a while back. Practical Feng Shui.

It's interesting. They suggest orientation of things in your home for balance of energy in your life. It doesn't all make sense but it's fun. I'm taking it all with a grain of salt.

One of the first things you need to know about yourself is your Chinese astrological sign. I'm a Wood Rabbit. I started to research about my sign and here's what I've found.

WOOD RABBIT Astrology Feb 14, 1915 to Feb 2, 1916 Feb 11, 1975 to Jan 30, 1976
Wood rabbit people are very quite and warm people. Power and solitude pull them on two sides. Luck always walks along with them but they never take rash decisions or unwisely steps. They are generally cautious, conservative and bright people. Wood rabbits always earn deep respect and admiration from others. They have a philosophical bend of mind and love to read and indulge in music and art. But as far as their finances go, they have to keep a very strict check on it. Wood rabbits are big spenders and hardly have anything saved for tougher days. As far as their love lives are concerned, they are very romantic and flatter their sweetheart with all types of gifts and surprises.

(2) (something is lost in translation here)
There is no particular big favorable star in your constellation except Taiyin star (good star) in 2008. Taiyin has one meaning of female, which means that you can get supports from female. So you will be beneficial from the help of nice female in your work. However, the Chi of this auspicious star is too insignificant to develop very well because it does not have any sustaining stars around it. Besides, Rabbit people have tortures from Taisui, which will bring you villain and cause troubles and entanglements on your relationship. Insomnia, anxiety and bad temper happen to you from time to time. Relax yourself and learn how to get rid of pressure. Carrying along a jade kuan yin pendant prevents you from tension and troublemakers around you.

Monday, June 09, 2008

New House

Just bought a new house. It's our first house. Yes, I'm very excited.

Everything has been smooth so far. Hopefully, this continues until we get settled in. As soon as the finances were in order, I told my realtor I wanted to buy a house the first day we went out looking. We scoped out some houses that looked good on paper. Reality can shine a harsh light sometimes. Good thing we came across this newly renovated, move-in ready townhome that had just got listed that morning. I insisted we write the contract immediately. We were the first one to give an offer on the house (but not the only ones).

We've had the house inspected and it was alright. Nothing major.

We close at the end of the month. June seems to be crawling by at a snail's pace.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Elementally out of tune...

The character in the latest book I'm reading is so used to working outdoors. The author noted that he did not need a watch to know it was the end of the workday. They just knew by the angle of the sun and how the surroundings looked. He is in tune with the elements.

I remember being like that back where I grew up. Just by the way the sun shines, you can sort of tell the time. I might be off by an hour or so, but it was always close enough. It was not an uncommon skill. We were in the tropics. The days were relatively uniform. The sun would rise just before 6 am in the summer and just before 7 am in December. Less than an hour difference. Same with the sunset.

Now, I am higher in latitude and in the opposite side of the world. Here there are 4 seasons. There is such a difference in the length of the day in the summer vs. the winter. The sun looks so different in every season. If you're from the Philippines, I would describe the sunshine always looking like the morning rays. It never has that intense afternoon rays even as it sets. It may be the latitude. It's the same in the west coast.

That's why I can't tell time by the rays of the sun anymore. There is no distiction between morning and afternoon rays. I need to see the position of the sun. And since the length of days are so varied throughout the year, position is not necessarily the same. I really need a watch or some other time piece.

So, why is it that I don't wear a watch?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

That's why they call it CYCLE.

I had another cycle last week. Yes, it was worse than usual. But what does that mean exactly? Well, I was able to work Wed to Fri. Then I got this terrible headache around Friday afternoon. I spent most of Saturday sleeping it off.

My friend did energy healing on me. She warned me that a lot of bad energy is flowing out. That's good for me in the long run but it was going to be rough for a little while. That little while lasted about 5 or 6 more hours. It was just a bad headache and aches and pains in different places. When I woke up the next day, I felt that the worst was over. I took Monday and Tuesday off to recover from my weekend.

Since then, I was just burried in work. As usual...

I'm alright, until my next cycle.

Monday, April 21, 2008

My skin is clearing

Today, I had someone compliment my skin. She actually said that my pimples are clearing up. I was actually surprised. I've been noticing that for a couple of months now. But I would notice it after my shower. I thought the bath would refresh my skin and give it a nice glow. That's after almost one whole year of being off Tarceva. (Feb - May 07 --> check out my articles during that time for more gory details.)

My complimentary co-worker just started a few months back so she does not know of my lung cancer. It's just been awkward to talk about it - since it isn't so obvious. I know I ought to be spreading the word but... (ah, yes, guilt, an old friend).

I guess that's what's this blog is about. I'm not sure who else reads it though. Maybe I should just publish my blog e-mail so I'll get more feedback. No one seems to be commenting lately (that' s not a hint).

What is this blog about? It's about my normal life. Well, it's very close to normal. If you don't count chemotherapy. That's the only aberration.

But if I'm not spreading the word around people I know, what's the point, right? I'm not in the least a pushy person. (I'm not a pushy?)

That's what this blog is for. So I can say what I won't in real life. Wow, that does NOT sound like me at all. Back in high school and college, I would say whatever I wanted to. Now, I can't talk about my illness or even my sex life. But, I guess, I felt that people back home are more accepting. (Sounds like a good topic for the future.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tales from the International Aisle

We were wandering in our favorite Asian Grocery when we stumbled upon many interesting items.

On sale up front was some chocolate flavored biscuits.
Brand name: OH, YES!!! Imagine over the loud speaker, "Price check on OH, YES!!!"

I was looking for a Filipino sweet made from coconuts (macapuno).
On the label: "Mutant Coconut". Sounds really appetizing!

My favorite: A latino brand of broth labeled -- Soup: Cock flavored.
Now that's marketing.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

poetry... shmoetry

I dislike poetry. I try to avoid it, if possible. I'm more of a prose kind of girl. Not just the hot and steamy kind, just prose in general. Why? Because poetry leads to war.

Think about it. Poetry is extremely subjective. A line of poetry may by interpreted in many different ways. That can only lead to misunderstanding. And we all know that war could possibly be brought about by misunderstanding / miscommunication.

If you're gonna say something, say it straight. Say it in prose! That's why they don't make laws in poetry. Or the news...

Every single day, he brought us the mail
Letters, Bills, Fliers and Sales
We did not realize he was so resentful
Today, he just decided to go postal

Yes, my poetry is atrocious! It's direct. No hidden meanings. And it rhymes (which is the worst part). Maybe that's why I dislike it so. How many times (especially in high school) has someone had you read their poetry? And it was bad? I mean, I make bad poetry, but I've read much worse. It's very difficult to critique poetry. Since it means so much to the writer. It just would be rare that I would connect to a poem. Maybe it's not poetry... Maybe it's me... (I seriously doubt that but I'll leave the possibility open.)

Ever read Lord of the Rings? Did you read through all that poetry? Honestly.

blog.. blog.. blog... (blah... blah.. blah..)

I'm not feeling particularly funny today. Work was blah... I mean, typical of work, it was extremely hectic... I've got tons of stuff on my plate. So I've decided not to ever write about work again since it's just blah...

Now, about my co-workers... Just kidding...

I've been exploring other blogs to see what makes a good blog. They advise you to talk about a specific topic. You should have a target audience. I saw this blogger who had 3 blogs: One about food, another on her workout routine and a thrid one that was her "personal" blog.

I tried doing a strictly cancer one. That didn't turn out so well. Notice there's no entries between July 07 and Feb 08. I can't dwell on my illness. It's depressing. I can't keep researching about it either -- same reason.

I am trying out alternative therapies. I'm doing Reiki and other energy healing. It's just weird though. I shouldn't say that. It's really had a profound effect on my life as a whole so it's hard to put into words. (Who's eloquent now?) Maybe I'm not ready to talk about it yet.

I have decided to take formal Reiki classes after 2 years of being on the receiving end of it. I'm just curious to see how it is on the giving side.

I had treatment today (More details on my treatment in A truly happy birthday). I had Avastin so it's a light day. I was in the doc's office in the morning and at work by 11am. No side effects. The heavy treatment will be coming up next Tue. But I expect to work even that afternoon and just work through the discomfort. It's not too bad. I'd feel worse if I took the day off and get an enormous amount of e-mail and tasks... (That's about work so ...)

Back to the blog... One blog is good. Every other day seems to be a good rate. I can't guarantee to be always funny but I surely will try.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

wax profane

Last night or very early this morning, like 2 a.m., I was working (note it is Sunday). I was furiously sending an e-mail. I was extremely frustrated about the whole situation so I just caved in. (Much more about this situation that I'm not willing to divulge to the public.) The last sentence on the e-mail read,

"If the package is acceptable, kindly ask ... to make this package available for deployment, else, please detail the deficiencies of the package back to me and I shall aim to resolve the matter expeditiously."

I actually meant, "F*** you!" Or at least, that's what I was thinking as I furiously tapped the keyboard.

The beauty of wrapping profanity in eloquent jargon is that I have total deniability. And, believe me, if you're from the office and that line seems familiar, I will deny it.

For some weird reason, it actually feels good. The anger is realeased. Feels like slapping a "Kick me" sign on their back. I got back at them without their knowing it. Man, am I a nerd, or what?

Plus, come Monday morning, or whenever the the issue finally gets off my plate, the frustration goes with it and I'm left with a decent e-mail I know won't get fired for.

Anyway, I don't think I can actually seriouly curse at someone like that. Not just because I've cleansed my vocabulary so as to not accidentaly spew profanily in front of my 5 year old. I just feel that it is such an attack on a person. Although I must say, I'm not the overly sensitive type who is shocked when some obscenity ensues. Just ask my cublicle neighbor who gets colorful in his language at times. I just don't spew it. Because it is like sneezing while lying down. All that spit comes back down and sprays you in the face.

If I really think about it, I know they're not really attacking me by giving me more work. They just want to get the job done. It could have been handled in a better way though.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Truly Twisted

I found one of my favorite writers through Google. She's a funny and snarky commentator I used to follow in Manila during my days in university. I loved her writing because she's extremely smart and so very eloquent. I'd buy the newspaper on whichever day her column would come out. I'd listen to the radio on days her show was on. I clung to her every word.

Then I stopped. I migrated and just didn't think about her until a couple of days ago when I googled her and found her website. She had tons of stuff on there. And again, I basked in her snark.

Then I remembered why I stopped reading her. She was and still is very angry. She admits it. She was very angry in high school and that fueled her writings. When she's not funny, her anger comes through quite strong. I'm the type of person who absorbs negative energy and I try to correct it. But I internalize it. And I'm not always successful at correcting the energy. I get stuck with it.

Plus, she lives in Manila where there is much social ills (well, there ain't no utopia). She had an article about this young boy who is just disturbed. He had a difficult life, true. But she can't really do anything about it. I certainly can't do anything about it. I'm left with such frustration. I could not get the point why she wrote about him.

I won't stop reading her. I'll comb through her site to find her snarky treasures. Just maybe avoid the potholes of anger.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

EWWW!!! I've got a streak!!!

Yes, I seem to be in a blogging streak. A friend of mine reacted to a recent article and commended me on my writing. (Actually, I got a lot of compliments. Thanks! Keep sending the love!) But what really got me was that a really close relative (alright, it was my brother) was really surprised on how good I was. (I was shocked that he was shocked. How can he not know?!?!) I guess, I developed my writing style and found my eloquence in high school since I was reading so much. My brothers had left the house by then. My parents knew. I had them edit my writing projects. I shared their passion for the written word.

My last couple of articles were very personal. I even had second thoughts about publishing them. "Go with the flow" I felt I had to publish. The point being - I got the flow even through chemotherapy. But who wants to read about menstruation? So I published another article so that "Go with the flow" would not be the first article. (I had sent out a e-mail announcement to everyone for the birthday article just the week before.)

But then "hard pound" came out to be a little risque. It was funny, but I was not about to send out my newsletter announcing to all that I had updated my blog. (Ok, I sent out a link to a smaller audience who I'd think would enjoy it.) I couldn't imagine sending it to my mom or uncles or aunts. I'd be too embarrassed to have them read it. It would just be weird. I know they'll eventually stumble upon the article. I'm just delaying the inevitable.

I remember being in a room with my mom, aunt and uncle. My mom made a joke -- she said the reason my husband was not at the party was because I tired him out the night before. *wink* *wink* *snicker* *snicker* I really had to leave the room. I smiled my big smile and walked out. It was too awkward. (Mom, I don't care if you joke or talk about my sex life. I just don't wanna hear it. It's just too weird.)

There's the crux of the matter. I wear different personalities depending on my audience. I will put on the mask that will put me in the best light. But on my blog, I open myself up to the world. People who I know and don't know. People who know me and don't know me. Know what really scares me? The people who already know me to be a certain way. When I write, different facets of my personality show. Yes, I'm a tough cancer fighter who is running on spirit and positive attitude to survive. I am also a proud mother to a very smart and sassy daughter that I love watching cartoons and kid shows with. I'm a very loving wife to my husband who I'd do a striptease for in the bedroom for MY enjoyment. I wear orange underwear. I've read the Harry Potter series. I find it difficult to criticize a person so I usually soften the blow with some sort of compliment.

So, I'm laying it all out here. I'm letting go of the fear of what I think others will think of me from my writing. I'm releasing my true self. Hear my true voice.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

hard pound

I love to read. My husband and I love books. Got that from my parents. When I was younger, I'd always have a book with me wherever I went. Even at parties, I'd have my face burried in its pages.

My favorite genres are Science Fiction, Fantasy (Harry Potter, Forgotten Realms - yea, the nerdy stuff) and Intelectual Porn (did I say that aloud? I actually meant --) Romance.

I started reading Romance early in high school. I mean, after a couple of years of teen romance, there's really no other way to go. And it's not the only thing I read. At the time, I read Tom Clancy, James Clavell, even some classics (Leo Tolstoy). But I would always go back to my hard pound books (as my husband lovingly calls them).

I only read one romance author -- Johanna Lindsey. She had the best balance of plot, sex and the most amazing characters. I tried reading others but they just were not as good. It's actually just this year that I found 2 authors that I really enjoy.

So, a couple of weeks ago, after having found 2 new great authors, a box comes from an online bookstore containing about 8 new books. My husband watched as I stacked them on my bedside table in order (2 different series). I was taking my time and reading the back and just deciding which to read first. After an hour, I started reading one. I was very much engaged.

"Why don't you just go to the sex?", he asked.

"Well, it would be out of context. That would spoil the story." Then we had this discussion on porn. We concluded that guys just need a picture to get off and girls need 400 pages of prose.

So, last week, while I was enjoying one of my new books, I was getting to the good part. Things were heating up... Then suddenly... My eyes just started to skip over the lines and my brain was like "blah... blah... blah... ok... let's get on with the story..." I had to stop. Put down the book and asked myself, "What just happened?"

Honestly, how many iterations of "his hard pulsating arousal was so close to my hot, burning need...." can you read? We got it. They did it. Let's move on.

We used to really enjoy this stuff.

True. But we never had easy access to the real thing before we got married.

And since we're well satisfied, we've become cynical?

It's like sports. Participating is better than watching. What's more boring than a swimming meet? What's nicer than the feeling of moving through the water in long strokes pushing your muscles until they're at their limit? You'd rather swim in the pool than watch others do laps.

Are we getting old?

Who isn't? Get over it. We're better off. Life's good. Let's move on. Let's go do the honey.

Not tonight - it's a school night.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Go with the flow

Let me start off with a disclaimer. Warning: Too much information to come.

I just got my period. The time of the month. The menstrual flow.

I'll let you click away now. I did warn you that I was going to spew TMI. This blather is just to allow you to click away before I continue. If you are still reading, you do so at your own peril.

This is the first time in about 2 years that I got my period that had a real flow. I thought, "Oh, what an inconvenience!" And as I was grudgingly setting up the equipage to deal with the situation, I thought of the bright side: My reproductive parts still work. There's still hope that my daughter will get that sibling she asked for.

She's been asking for a little brother the last couple of months. Sometimes little brother, sometimes little baby. We keep diverting her and say what if we get a little doggie? She really insists on a baby. In fact, she even tells me to eat more so that my tummy will get bigger and I can have another baby.

I had to explain to her that I was sick. We'll talk about it again when she's 10 years old. Hopefully by then, I'll be better. And if I'm better, we'll try for that baby. She seemed to understand.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A truly happy birthday

Just turned 33. This birthday was much better than the last one (Birthday Sigh). Last year, I was going through Tarceva and the havoc it wrought to my skin (On the pill. My new regimen). Plus the fact that that was a failed attempt.
May 2007 - my scan showed that the tumor increased in size. (Hard Blow)
June 2007 - changed to the Alimta/Avastin therapy.

This birthday was much better since the new therapy showed progress.
Dec 2007 - positive scan. YAY!!! (Two years later... )

Plus, we've been tweaking the regimen so that it's easier on me.
1) I only take half dose of steroids (Dexamethozone). That was a BIG help. My appetite is good. I eat better. Still having issues with drinking water but it's still an improvement.
2) I get Alimta on Day 1 and Avastin on Day 14. (This is on a 21 day cycle.) It was more difficult for me to recover when I got them on the same day. Used to get them all on Day 1.

It's really working. I'm not miserable during my treatment days anymore. That makes me happy.


What did I do during my birthday?
The night before, we all went out for a Sushi dinner. YUM!!!
The day of my birthday, I spent with my family at my daughter's Spring Fiesta school event. Lots of fun and games. Just the fact that I got to spend my birthday with my family made it very special.

Monday, February 04, 2008

What's in a name?

My real name is Xenia. It's the X in xyz, which are my real initials, by the way. My mother is very creative. I thank her for such a unique name. It's saved me quite a few times. My mother's favorite story is when I was interviewed for Kindergarden, the principal asked me my name and I mentioned that my inintials are xyz. He told us that I would be accepted in the school but come the first day, we could not find my name. We went back to the principal and yes, he remembers xyz. So in school, I was always known as Xenia. From Kindergarden to High School.

But at home, I'm referred to as Cheng. This is the name I grew up with. It's Xenia mispronounced. It was I who mispronounced it as a little kid. Why my family let me rename myself, I don't know. (I must have been 2 years old. I had no business renaming anything, let alone, myself.) But it stuck. If you call me Cheng, I know that you've known me since I was a kid or you were introduced to me by someone who did.

Cheng is actually short for Cheng-Cheng. I used to sign notes to my friends as Cheng2 (Cheng squared). I was REALLY little when I named myself that. I have no other defense. But it's common back home to have a name that repeats. A cousin of mine got married and the maid of honor and brides maids were (nick)named: Au-au, Cheng-Cheng, Deng-Deng and Tel-Tel. The bride didn't have a repeating nickname but her husband does --> Jojo.

Then in college, I decided to rename myself once again. I thought that Xenia was a little too adult and stuck up. Plus, it was a name that was difficult to recall. Cheng was out of the question. I wanted to be known as XYZ. You can't really pronounce XYZ. It's 3 of the weirdest letters put together. So I started to introduce myself as XY (2 letters called out). Then I signed everything XYZ. I thought that it would be cool to have such an unforgettable name. Actually, not so much. Everyone remembered my name. And I forgot all of theirs.

I met my husband in college. So he knew me as XY. When he introduced me to some of his friends, he was mis-heard and thought that I was his "ex-wife".

Another friend of mine commented that XY sounds too much like a screen name for a porn star.

Now, it's back to Xenia as my formal name. That's how I'm known at work. Then Cheng for the house/family.

I think I've grown into Xenia. It's a Greek name meaning hospitable. (Yes, I have boundary issues which I'm working on.) It's also very unique. I've decided that I like being unique.

I rag on Cheng as my name. But despite it's humble origins (straight from a babe's mouth), it's a huge part of who I am. Cheng calls to my inner child. Maybe that's why in so many ways I have not grown up. Yes, I still watch cartoons. I don't even mind watching kid shows with my daughter now. We're stuck on the Disney Channel. Funny thing is that I put that on even when my daughter is not around.

I conciously try to keep child-like wonder in my life. People say I'm always happy and excited. Well, I appreciate the smallest things. And I try not to cling to objects or circumstances. Then change is easier to take since it's always new and exciting.

Cheng has actually morphed. I was renamed by my neice - Lyka (Formal name: Angelica). She - and the rest of my family (my brothers and their families) now call me TaTweng. That's taken from Tita (Aunt; Tia) Cheng. Mish-Mashed together. Cheng grew up into the silly aunt.

Sunday, February 03, 2008


This was forwarded to me by e-mail. Quite proud of myself (I'm a great Googler).


SCATTERGORIES- it's harder than it looks! Copy and paste into a new email. When you have answered all the Scattegories, send it on to friends but DON'T FORGET to return it to the person who sent it to you. Use the first letter of your first name to answer each of the following. They have to be real places, names, things - nothing made up. Try to use different answers if the person in front of you had the same first initial - which by the way is hard if you already have read their answers! You cannot use your own name for the boy/girl names.

1. What is your name? Xenia

2. A 4 letter word: X-ray

3. A vehicle: xebec --> small three-masted pirate ship

4. A city: Xenia, Ohio

5. A boy's name: Xavier

6. A girl's name: Xena

7. Alcoholic drink: Xanthia Cocktail --> (

8. An occupation: xenagogue --> guide; someone who conducts strangers

9. Something you wear: Xhiliration (brand)

11. A food: xiphias --> swordfish

12. Something found in a bathroom: x-rated magazines

13. Reason for being late: eXcuse? (get it?)

15. Something you shout: Xtreme!

16. An animal: xeme --> fork tailed gull

17. A body part: xanthochroia --> (yellowness of skin)

18. Word to describe yourself: xenial --> adj. hospitable

Friday, February 01, 2008

Two years later...

After another long hiatus, I'm back. Yes, for a while there I forgot my password but miraculously remembered it today.

Early in December, I was scanned again and I actually got really good news. The tumor had shrunk in size and the metabolic activity diminished. That sounds good all around and my doctor was very happy. So I was just ecstatic. It was a great Christmas present. I called most of my close family and friends.

It's been two years this month that I was diagnosed. Honestly, I don't know what of all I'm doing is keeping me feeling as great as I do. But, for whatever reason, I know I'm blessed and just darned lucky - and I'm very grateful.

My life is as normal as can be. I have a great career! I'm working my tail off and I'm getting accolades and promotions. I just came back from conducting training in the opposite side of the country. And tomorrow, I'm off to chemo. And the next day, I'll be at work doing a job I really like.

I have such a rich family life. I watch my daughter grow every day... that's enough material right there for another blog. She's awesome to behold. She really is the best of me and her father. My mom used to say that about me (having the best qualities of her and my dad) but I did not fully understand it until I saw myself through my daughter. (Yes, I see her father in her to -- but this is about me.) I saw such strength in this girl. That was something I had to consciously work on over the years. Last month, I just saw my 5 year old daughter go through a root canal without flinching. Her dentist was so impressed. She told Burke that she had much bigger kids who were not even half as brave. So, Burke got extra prizes. Of course, I demanded for my own prize. Hey! I feel like I derserved it. I mean, I had to watch my daughter go through it!!! Burke peeled a princess sticker and stuck it on my sweater. (She's strong AND generous. What more can a parent ask for?) I proudly wore my princess sticker to work.

I can't even fathom missing that.

Then there's Michael, my husband, who is my best friend and the love of my life. We laugh everyday. And even deeper than our everyday life together, we share such a connection that makes us one. A friend of mine told me once that he'd want to die before his wife since he did not want to emotionally deal with losing her. (He was young and single then.) I was gone for three days last week. When I got back, Michael took me in his arms and I felt just how much he missed me. He didn't even need to say it. I would to everything I can to stay alive if only to save him from devastating hurt. Thank God, it's been working.

I'll leave it at that for now. I hope this serves as an inspiration for people. There is hope even after a cancer diagnosis. I'll put in the medical details in the next entry. From here on out, I'll be blogging more about my life which may or may not relate to cancer. At one point, that was what was stopping me from blogging. My life is so normal, there's no cancer news.

For those with cancer, good luck, keep your hopes up with faith or whatever you can cling to. I chose faith since I was raised Catholic. My whole life was training until the point that I was diagnosed. When I needed it, it just kicked in. When I needed Him, God carried me.

I also have to mention my family and friends who pray for me or send me positive vibes. So much love coming my way from all directions. I smile whenever I think of that.

Feeling blue? Meditate on this -- you really have to believe it -- say from the depths of your soul, "I am loved, I am love." Visualize the people who love you. Feel how much you love them back. Then take it down to the depths of the earth. Mother Earth. She loves you and nurtures you since you are of her. Then take it to the heavens. Feel the love of God (or the energy of the universe) fill you up.

That pulled me out of one of the worst chemo funks I've ever had. It took a few days and some help from my friends (who are energy healers). But it worked. I am very grateful.