March 23, 2016

I am back from Germany

It is so good to be home! It was quite the journey up to the very last moment. Curtis and I arrived home Monday morning at 4:00 am, we were exhausted from our journey as you will quickly learn of our unexpected adventures.

Friday after treatment Mr. B. drove me straight from Infusio to the Couva boarding house, to pick-up Curtis, and all our luggage. I did not desire to do a double check of the flat to insure I packed everything the night before, I just wanted to leave. I was done with treatment and ready to move onto the next chapter. Curtis and I had booked a room at a hotel attached to the Frankfurt airport, this would be our drop point for Mr. B. It was the craziest drop-off ever. There were absolutely no signs leading to the hotel; we could see the hotel but couldn't figure out how to get there! Through a series of events we found ourselves in a parking garage, lost. Our bags were on a luggage cart and the three of us were wondering around, clearly lost. After asking a few people for directions, this kind man began escorting us through a series of hallways, elevators, more hallways, and elevators; at times I was running to keep up with his fast walking pace, until we finally found the entrance to the hotel! As I was checking us in, the nice man was asking Curtis for money - a finders fee of sorts. Curtis was a bit pissed but I was more than happy to pay the guy. With a final squeeze of Mr. B and a friendly wave goodbye, he left us and we were on our own. We settled into our hotel room had a few minor issues, but the hotel was extremely accommodating. YES, finally, American regular sheets - so delightful. Above are a couple photos of the airport from our hotel.

Departure day was here, Sunday - time to travel back to Oregon. A gentleman from the hotel loaded our luggage on a cart and took us directly to the Condor gate; as the woman checked our bags, she asked how long we were in Germany and if we enjoyed ourselves. As she was reviewing our passports I shared that I was getting cancer treatment - she exclaimed "oh shit!" in her British accent, it was quite funny. Bags were checked, no problems and the nice woman offered to get us a cart to scoot through the airport as it is huge. We loaded into the cart and were escorted in style to the front of the line. Security double checked my computer and then went completely through my carry-on bag. At the other side of the security was another cart waiting to deliver us to a travel lounge by the departure gate. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and then headed to the gate when boarding was scheduled. We stood in the crowd when all of a sudden we were surrounded by police and security. That's when I thought "oh shit". We were escorted to a secondary security site searched, scanned, and questioned. We were let go - thankfully. Shortly after that we boarded the 12 hour flight from Frankfurt to Vegas. The flight was uneventful. Curtis slept for a few hours - I was wide awake; it was the middle of the day. By the time we landed in Vegas, I was pooped and ready to go to sleep, it was 11:30 pm Frankfurt time, well past my bedtime. 

We knew we had a four hour layover and thought that was okay because we had to go through customs, pick-up our luggage, re-check the luggage, and then head to security. Rounding the corner to go through customs we were shocked by the lines of people. We quickly scanned and figured out that we did not have to wait in the "visiting" line, we promptly went the the US Citizen line, there was only one person in front of me. The man questioned me, why I was wearing a mask "so you are wearing it because of germs or what?" Matching his tone, I stated "well kind of, I have terminal cancer". The questions stopped. We then headed to claim our baggage - which took forever to come out. One more potential hurdle with the baggage, getting out of the customs area. I quickly removed my mask as to not draw additional attention. The woman smiled and said that she liked my hair. We then rechecked our bags without incident and headed to security. The cattle line was amazingly long; that created an incredible illusion, just when you think you have arrived, you have not. When we got to a point in the line where I could flag down a TSA agent, I explained I could no longer stand in the line so we were able to jump the line! Cancer Benefits! By our measurement people were in the line for about 30 minutes. 

We grabbed a bite to eat and found a spot where I could lay down on the ground and maybe go to sleep. By then the flight was scheduled to leave in an hour. I laid out my blanket and laid down, closed my eyes, and then heard Curtis say - the flight is delayed. The flight continued to be delayed. We were originally scheduled to arrive in Oregon around 10:00 pm, we did not land in Portland until 2:00 am, we both slept during the 1.5 hour flight. By the time we arrived home it was 4:00 am. We were met by beautiful potted flowers outside our front door compliments of Elaine. When we opened the door Junior met us - he was so happy to see us and seemed a bit pissed that we had been gone for so long. Jackson and Cole had made a welcome home sign along with some flowers; there too was a card with flowers and a balloon from Elaine. I gave both my sleeping kiddos a squeeze and Curtis and I headed to bed. Surprisingly, Curtis and I both awoke at 9:00 am and started our day. It took me all day to unpack and I did not finish the laundry until the next day. 

Here are some photos from the trip that I did not have a chance to share yet. 
Whole new meaning to peeing cheek to cheek!


Pictured above are my new friends Sonya (L) and Jeannie & Joel (R)

The big question now is - was the treatment successful. This is going to be a wait and see kind of thing. While in Frankfurt, I did monitor my tumor cell markers; at first they continued to increase but at a slower rate then prior to treatment. By the end of treatment, one tumor marker continued to decrease while the other one was within points of when I first arrived. While this may sound discouraging, it is just the opposite. The treatment clearly slowed tumor activity. I expect this will continue as the months progress. I am giving myself shots every four days for 16 times. I have done a lot of research on this treatment and I am super excited about the possibilities; the injection increases the macrophage, cancer cell eating army, in the body. This medicine is not available in the US and is said to cost $1000 a vial, for 8 shots. If this injection proves to be successful in my body, I will be finding a way to obtain more so I can continue treating this cancer until it is gone. There is a large tumor that continues to grow under my arm; its pretty uncomfortable. I am using an infrared light at least one hour a day on the tumor area site - at home hyperthermia along with using an infrared sauna every other day for as long as possible; I am going to have to work my way up to 60 minutes - I am at 17 minutes right now. Of course I am doing a whole host of other things with my diet and supplements.

Today, Curtis and I went to see my oncologist. The appointment was quite devastating and I was not prepared for what I learned. We went there with two action items, first to follow-up on the death with dignity process and obtaining the prescription and the second,  to see the PET/CT scans taken after chemotherapy back in December 2015. Although I had received the written report, I wanted to see the images. When the doctor pulled up the scans, I was pretty sure he clicked on the wrong date, but he had not. I was shocked to see the images. I then asked to see the pre-chemotherapy images. When he presented those, I started to cry. Although I had read the reports, the images were much more telling - the amount of black areas, noting cancer, was marked. It literally took my breath away. He then went back to the post chemotherapy images and asked what do you think when you see these images. My response "oh shit". What I didn't tell him was the rest of the sentence, I am going to die. He asked if I wanted to discuss treatment options, I told he there is no way my body can take chemotherapy again - it nearly killed me last time. He shifted the conversation to my Germany treatment. Curtis and I both left a bit stunned. I couldn't contain myself. We had planned to eat at Kylo's but I said no. We continued down the coast line traveling back home, I stared out the window looking at the ocean, tears flowing uncontrollably. I asked Curtis to pull over, I had to get out of the car. I walked to the edge of the cliff and stood on a rock overlooking the ocean. I cried. I wanted to scream, but I couldn't. I breathed in the cold, fresh, ocean air. I felt the wind whisper, it is going to be okay. I felt a peace cover my body. It was very cold and windy. Curtis joined me on the rock, I was shivering so he took me back to the car. I turned up the heat, rolled my window down, opened the sun roof, and watched the waves. I don't know how long we were there. I had just experienced feeling desperate and hopeless, something I never wanted to feel and when I did - I had to get out of the car. The ocean air calmed my mind, soul, and body. I was able to refocus and find that peaceful place. I was still crying, but the tears were not of desperation and hopelessness. As I type this, the tears are flowing - how can they not. I am reminding myself that I just underwent an intensive month long treatment and the next 60 days are critical to healing and ridding my body of this cancer. Patient, be patient. 

Bottom line, I feel pretty good, much better than when I left. My energy is increasing which is awesome. I am just going to keep looking forward while remaining hopeful. Please keep me in your prayers and sending positive healing energy my direction. Thank you to everyone that is rooting for me and who continue to be a part of my journey. I am so fortunate to have many around me that love and support me - I am a lucky girl, I am choosing to live in gratitude.

Today, I am hopeful~