CA -125 Ovarian cancer blood test

Last week, was my OFF chemo week. I felt somewhat like I was playing ‘hookie’. I felt pretty darn good, well except for the bum leg but even that one is improving. For the first time, in many months (nearly a year) I walked 25 min. I had my old camino poles and set out for a few blocks because I was ‘lazy’ and then I rememberd how, only a short few weeks ago I had to lay on that couch, not being able to walk at all and I pushed myself onward. Ended up going longer. I was pretty proud of myself.

I visited friends and did some ‘normal’ stuff. I went to second hand shops to find a lamp and night stand for Cameron. I cooked and baked. A friend of mine had a yard sale and I put some things in it but hardly anyone came. I think, she sold a few of my books. Not enough to help with costs.

A lovely surprise was the visit of my long time friends Garwen and Garci. Have not seen them in several years. Had a nice few hours. Always too short but better than nothing.

Also trying to stay cool as temps are up in the 90’s and the daily hot, strong  winds are a great fire danger. Very low humidity makes a tough job for forefighters in Eastern Colorado and trying to contain the “Black Forest Fire.”

As the day to another cycle of chemo came closer, I also became more anxious as I also had a CA -125 scheduled. This is a tumor marker and stands for : Cancer Antigen, which is measuring the protein in a cancer cell to determine how much is floating around. This test is NOT an exact science and it has its faults but it’s the only one we have. Different cancers have different numbers. Beast cancer has CA-138.

My whole system had just returned to normal. Everything was working well. But… I had to go back on Tuesday. Cameron came from Telluride, Monday eve and we took off at 8:00 A.M for that 1.5 hr drive. At 9:00 A.M it was already 90F. Another hot, dry day.

I had baked a dozen Muffin shaped, little white-chocolate-raspberry cheese cakes for Oncologist and nursing staff. They said, it was more than delicious.

I put the Lidocaine cream on about 1 hr before we got there so it can really numb my port entry. Most cancer people are not that worried about chemo, since it does not hurt going in (side effects later) but the needles going into port causes anxiety. My blood pressure, which is a nice 120/78 most of the time, went to 147/94. Anticipation. Even though outwardly, not even I can tell.

I requested that they would call me as soon as they had the result as last time it took several days of nail biting worry and phone calls before I found out it was 116. Not as bad as some but not as great.

As I sat in the Lazy boy lounger attached to the IV’s, the nurse came and handed me the result. (Oncologist had rushed it through). She also came by my station with a big grin. We had made a little bet. She had said, it’s probably around 50 and I had said 45 (well, a little more hope.)It was a LOVELY, lovely 59. Normal range is 0-35. Next time, next month there will be another one and GOD, let it be 30! or, lower. There is an end in sight. Later on we will also have a CT scan (racking up those test costs) to see what the tumor is doing. I am envisioning that it’s dried up, shriveled and useless, even to the ’emperor’, hanging by a tiny thread.

I also asked Dr. M. to check on CT scan picture to see if there’s anythting left of the small lung tumors, which I had called ‘seedlings’. None there as far as she could determine. Ohh, a pocket full of miracles.

So. This morning, I have to go for a little finger prick to check on slow moving blood. Professionally, it’s known under: prothrombin time test, PIT for short. It is reported as an International Normalized Ration (INR).  Hopefully, this too has improved and the blood clot is disappearing.

I have also ordered a ‘Cumadin cook book’. It’s annoying having to consult the Internet each time I want to prepare food, to see how much ‘K’ Vitamin is in stuff. All these numbers, what a crap shoot.

I am not complaining at all. This gives me renewed energy and hope and strength to think, that this is NEARLY over. Only a few more months before I want to go to Europe. Use up my frequent flyer miles and staying with relatives and friends. I could not afford this any other way. I will have to go to a medical facility to have my port ‘flushed’. It’ll have to be in there for several more month, just to be sure. I am not sure if I’ll have it removed, which would be another invasive surgery and then the worry, “What if IT comes back?” Then I would have to go through all that again. I would have to have it flushed once a month though. I’ve had 10 years of remission ( very rare with ovarian cnacer) but also know that each time there is a recurrance, time is getting shorter in between. But, I’m not thinking about that. I’ll have at least another 10 years.

I am very grateful again. Not getting caught up with superficial stuff. Thanking my friends, who go through the hard stuff with me, as well as Cameron. Never complaining as he drives 6 hrs round trip.

Also, my support group ‘Teal Warriors.’ A fine group of ladies with some bad, crappy cancers and side effects, many far worse than mine. We lost a dear ‘sister’ a couple of weeks ago. They are there when I want to whine and complain because I KNOW they understand. That’s one place we can unload, ask questions, get great, joyful Hurrah’s when tests go better and each tiny improvement is celebrated. Thank you, dear sisters.




The other day, my friend Bonnie came for her weekly visit and to either take me out to dinner, or picking up something. 

This time, I felt well enough to go out. After ordering our dinner, we talked about ‘everything’. She asked me why I had not posted anything. I looked at her, a bit puzzled and replied ‘because nothing is happening and I don’t want to just whine what I can’t do, or used to do, etc. Well, she said, people don’t know that and they are worried when they don’t hear from you. When you suddenly stop.

I was properly chagrined. So, I apologize. But, I do have ‘sort of an excuse’. Chemo is messing with my brain. My memory is faulty. I have a hard time thinking of the word of the moment. In one sentence in can happen that I’m searching, or my brain searches for several words. I feel like we’re playing charades. (Just  a moment ago I had to look up ‘apologize’. Couldn’t remember if it’s one ‘p’ or two. I have learned to be patient (most of the time) with myself. I was wondering aloud, to Bonnie, if there would be someone to invent ‘eye brow wigs’?  We have false lashes and mustaches and hair but nothing for brows. Mine are all gone. I try to pencil them in but am not good at it. Oh, let me tell you what had happend 11 years ago, when I had now brows either, (from chemo.) After I had had my last chemo, a couple of weeks later I visited Cameron in Portland, (OR). 

I was still bald as well. Put on my hair and my make up. The bathroom lighting was not the best, so I did most of it by memory.

Then, cheerfully went shopping. I noticed that people were really looking at me. After awhile, when this kept on happening, I worried that I may have something on my nose, teeth, etc. So, I went to the rest room and looked into the mirror. Ahhh! I had grabbed the wrong color pencil and instead of brown, a bright blue. Really noticeable.

My birthday was absolutely wonderful. I’ve received so many (paper) cards and flowers, books and chocolates and a French coffee press. Then phone calls from Hungary, Switzerland, Germany and a few states in U.S. Lots of Facebook birthday comments and pictures. I felt truly special.

My friend Peggie and husband took me to a Puerto Rican restaurant for lunch where I had a great ‘fish ceviche’.

Cameron’s aunt Jayne came from Rangely and we packed up food and other important stuff to take to Telluride and visit Cameron and be spectators for the grand balloon festival. Cameron had asked us to bring his bike, which had wintered in my cellar. Jayne has a big pick up and we could haul just about anything. I went to the cellar and saw the he had chained and locked the bike around some pipes. I texted and asked for the combination. He send three. None of them worked. Jayne tried, the neighbor tried. Nothing. Could not unlock that bike. I saw in my minds eye, the bike would be there, still in 150 years, chained to the furnace.

Jayne remembered that she had bolt cutters. So, this was brought down. It totally cut through the rubbery part and exposed 4 shiny, thin cables. I tried, she tried and the neighbor tried. Nothing. That is one good lock! Wondered how they steal bikes so easily when we couldn’t get one milimeter out of it.

I researched ‘how to unlock cable chains.’ Most of the websites  suggested to go to a bike shop.

Meanwhile we took off and drove to Telluride. A most beautiful day. The majestic views of the mountains, still capped with snow, the blue, blue sky, then the greening trees and meadows. Never gets boring.

I cooked lunch, which I had prepared ahead of time and only needed to reheat. Then, out on the town. Gosh, Mercy! That altitude had me huffing and puffing. ( It’s over 8000 feet)My leg hurt but I wasn’t about to stay inside.  We went to see the beautiful library. Since we had time before the balloons, I asked if we could go to ‘La Marmot’. A long established Restaurant. A bit pricey (like so many things in Telluride) but I had always wanted to go. Cameron said, sure, let’s do that, since it was my birthday present.

I had ordered French Onion soup and a Goat cheese and caramelized onion Tart. Cameron had the Squash soup. The tables had white linen, beautifully folded napkins, sparkling glasses, flowers and the ambiance was nice. The waiter gracious and polite.

When the soup came, in a small bowl ($12.00) I didn’t recognize it. I got the waiters attention and asked ‘Is this a classic French onion soup?’ He pointed out that it had stated Creamed’ on the menu. Well, I guess my eyes just ran over that word without recognizing it. In the middle of the ‘cream ‘ soup was a small ball of melted cheese.

Cameron asked me to try his soup. It was bland. Oh! I said, how disappointing. He asked me what I would put in to perk it up. I said, well, a bit of nutmeg, cinnamon and Sea salt. (Starting with a good stock). My soup was bland as well with just a ‘hint’ of caramelized onions. Every seasoning had galloped past the Goat cheese tart. I have no idea how much Cameron paid for the whole thing. We don’t mind paying for food that is GOOD. I don’t have to have that again, any time soon. (I’ll cook it at home.)

After we came home and Jayne went on, I went to the bike shop. I told the owner our problem and he offered to bring his bolt cutters. I told him, we already tried that but he said, HIS bolt cutters were the best. Asked me to come back the next day. I did. He forgot to bring them. He said he would go home at noon and get them and call me. He never did and I was tired seeing his face. 

After Peggie and husband brought me back home, he had brought his bolt cutters. Down we went. The first couple of trying did not produce results. Then, oh, brilliant idea!!! He cut through the ‘plastic’ tumbler part and VOILA!! The bike was liberated.

Last week was my ‘chemo OFF week.’ I was treating my immune system especially well with juicing and eating spinach, etc. Well, the spinach was not a good ida. It has too much vitamin ‘K’ and slowed blood flow more. I MISS my greens but can’t have them right now. Not going to whine about other side effect of chemo. Next week, back for more. (My 4th cycle) Each cycle is 3 chemo’s. (That’s $15.000 each month for only that.) On June 25th, thorough check, lab and CA 125. That’s the one I am really curious about. The ‘cancer marker’ blood test. Asking for good thoughts and a couple of prayers that the numbers have gone down. I am soooo ready to stop chemo.

My hair, inspite of the toxins, wants to grow. I look like I have baby-chick-down. This had better not be permanent.

O.K. Enough rambling. Just so my friends know that I am still kicking.