Thursday, May 29, 2008

Greetings From Chemo Watch...

Howdy Friends,

It has been two full days since my first Chemo. Today I had the chance to really lay low which was clearly needed. The Neulasta injection I received yesterday to promote white blood cell growth came with the warning of bone pain -- which I have been feeling but thankfully subsides with Tylenol. It's really reminiscent of growing pain that I had as an early teenager so as long as the Tylenol does the trick it's all good.

So far the nausea is minimal. Just a bit of a queasiness that comes and goes. Thank goodness for the combination of anti-emetic drugs I am continuing to take. For those curious my appetite continues to be good and eating small amounts several times throughout the day helps.

I had a nice nap today. Hit that point where I was on my computer and said aloud "I need to close my eyes now." Talk about listening to your bodies cues.

Tomorrow is a new day -- the sun will be shining and I will be sure to load up on SPF 50 and a big hat before venturing out to Physical Therapy.

Have a great night.
Ancora Imparo

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

1 Down 3 to Go!

Howdy Everyone,

Just letting you know that Chemo #1 is done, done, done. I am off to bed to get some rest so feel free to take a moment to insert your own captions. To help you all I am holding up my own snack -- cut up apples and peanut butter and some other healthy treats that I brought from home.


Ancora Imparo

P.S. We loved all of your responses to last night's posting.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Twas The Night Before Chemo...

Twas the night before Chemo, and all through the home,
Not a creature was we now write this poem.

The first doses of dexamethasone have been taken with care,
to help relieve the side effects -- but yes, I'll lose my hair.

Since I like to have all of my ducks in a row,
I've purchased some turbans to get on with this show.

I've been told that the barfing is a thing of the past,
with Emend and Aloxi and Kytril on task.

Fatigue is a thing with which I will cope,
but I MUST avoid crowds, friends with colds (please don't mope).

Tomorrow will be here, the sun it will shine,
the IV will administer my *TC just fine.

My nerves are at bay with support from my Mike,
We continue to laugh and tell fear "take a hike."

The treatments will pass, our hearts they will sing,
As we grow old and stay happy and retire in Palm Springs.

So to all who are reading, sending blessings and light,
We feel your love and say thank you... goodnight.

Ancora Imparo

Marla (& Mike on "poem punch up")

* TC: Taxotere/Cytoxin -- my chemo protocol

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Little R & R...

Hello All,

Here we sit online on our respective computers. Mike is downloading music for his MP3 player and giving me assorted clues to help me guess the instrumental tunes he is finding. Which is making me chuckle as his game of charades is pretty funny and is keeping me sharp before "chemo brain" sets in.

We are enjoying a nice quiet weekend bundled up in our winter clothes.

Yesterday we took a road trip with Sully. We drove 42 miles to get our Chick-Fil-A fix and it was absolutely worth it. We Zacks love our CFA and if we had one closer we would be mighty happy. The option was to drive 24 miles to Torrance or 42 miles to Upland -- since the traffic in this crazy town is well, crazy, we thought it would take less time to drive to Upland and since we were there we were able to enjoy historic old town Upland where we window shopped and took in the local museum. The docent was great and wouldn't you know it she grew up in beautiful downtown Burbank. She was planning her next trip to Burbank to go to the local Hungarian market. For those wondering what that market is... It's Otto's.

Prior to our road trip I took some time in the morning to re-read some of the chemo literature I was given. I am thankful I did. I need to begin taking one of the anti-emetic meds in the morning (I had the prescription filled earlier in the week.) In my reading I noticed that the medication breakdown on my label differed greatly from the breakdown in the pamphlet. Since I am beginning to take this medication on a "holiday" when the doctors office is closed I called the pharmacist and the on call oncologist. I can share with you all that the medication has now been re-labeled and I will be taking the correct dosage -- lest you think I was going to be over medicated -- I wasn't. The typo would have had me under medicated and my understanding with this drug (dexamethasone [decadron]) is you have to take it as correctly prescribed and on time for the next 3 days. It was a "simple" mix up. Nice to know that everyone can make a mistake. Yes a little sarcasm.

How about that Phoenix landing on Mars?! Pretty exciting stuff. I liked seeing the live control room footage. Sully was so excited about this. He still wants to be an astronaut when he grows up.

Have a great day off tomorrow.

Ancora Imparo


Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Big News Folks --

I am officially drain free! Which is great as after close to 5 weeks I was beginning to feel like a human tether ball.

So what does this really mean?

It means that on Tuesday, May 27th the adventure will continue as I begin Chemo.

Okay, back to the matters at hand. Is it going to be David A. or David C.

Ancora Imparo

Monday, May 19, 2008

Keeping you in the loop...

Howdy Folks,

Happy Monday!

Just letting you all know that I am still draining! Yep, the drain and I get to spend a little more time together which means that Chemo will not begin this week.

We'll keep you posted!

Ancora Imparo


Friday, May 16, 2008

Touched and Inspired...

Hi All,
This past Saturday was the EIF Revlon Run/Walk in Los Angeles at the Coliseum. 60,000 people walked together with the common goal of finding a cure for women's cancers.

An old friend (G) heard my news recently when she was fundraising for the walk. She reached out and asked if she could use my name and picture on her bib. I was so truly touched and honored to be included as part of her walk.

One of my goals for next year is to do the walk.

G's team included her daughter as well as her dear friend (NC) who has breast cancer. I was truly touched to be included on the team bib along with NC. G sent me a couple articles about NC and her family that were in the press recently. I have attached the links so you all can learn about this amazing lady. Talk about inspiration!,0,7475889.column

As the week winds down there are a few things we now know:
  1. The drain is still in and draining.
  2. It's really hot in Burbank.
  3. I started physical therapy.
  4. It's really really hot in Burbank.
  5. Guided Imagery is sometimes a great place to take a nap.
  6. I still have an accumulation of fluid on the right side.
  7. Mike and I continue to find humor in all of this.
  8. Jamba Juice moved into the neighborhood and it is a nice walk from home!
So next week we will see if we are closer to getting the drain out and beginning the next part of my breast cancer adventure. Since I will have Chemo -- my plan is to not allow Chemo to have me. Meaning that while there are several known side effects -- I have discovered two new mantras: everyone reacts differently & take one day at a time and my tried and true mantra still rings true during all of this and that is: celebrate the temporary.

By the way when I talk about side effects I know that I will be losing my hair and am now embracing that fact. Who knows maybe I will start a trend of of super cool people who prefer to be bald... Humor me. It could happen!

Enjoy today!

Ancora Imparo

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Week Ahead...

Before I talk about the week ahead we want to wish all of you a very Happy Mother's Day.

Tomorrow we go back to the surgeon's office to see how the right side has progressed in the last 10 days. We are really not sure if the surgeon will think that the remaining drain will be ready to be removed -- we will be sure to keep you posted.

Tuesday we will go for my first physical therapy appointment. I am looking forward to getting the mobility back in my right arm and shoulder.

Friday we go to my oncologists office for our weekly check-up -- following this appointment we will know when Chemo is scheduled to begin.

Wishing you all a good week -- a week of peace.

Ancora Imparo

Friday, May 9, 2008

Talk About a Boost...

It is such a boost to us to read your comments that you have been posting. Thanks for jumping in and embracing our blog, for keeping us in your hearts and for continuing to send your thoughts and prayers.

Ancora Imparo
M, M and S

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Visit with Grandma...

Howdy Folks,

I went to visit my Grandma today. It was important to me to show her that I am recovering well 3 weeks post surgery. I caught her napping (not all that unusual) so I shouted "Hi Grandma" to awaken her and was greeted with "Who's here?" (again not all that unusual.) I said "It's Marla" and then was greeted with "Marla, my darling Marla, thank g-d. I lived to see you" (that was actually quite unusual.)

Grandma is now 88 and sadly spends most of her time sleeping. It's a choice she has made and she has been through a lot in her life to bring her to where she is now. Thanks to the folks at GAPB for taking such excellent care of her.

Our conversation was brief today. She asked several questions. Sadly they were all the same. I try to find creative ways to answer her so I am not spending the entire visit repeating myself. I think it is my way to cope with her diminishing memory.

Following my visit with Grandma I had a doctors appointment with my oncologist. I have gained another 1/2 pound so I am now back up to my pre-surgery check-in weight. My healing is progressing and it looks like Chemo will start in 2 weeks. I was given a referral for physical therapy -- to get the mobility back in my right arm and shoulder.

All in all it was a great day.

Ancora Imparo

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Time to Read...

There is nothing like a good book.
A compelling story.
Characters or Situations that you can identify with.
And that sense of loss when you reach the last page and realize that the story has been told and you have to now say goodbye to the new people that you have met.

All of these things were the case as I dove into Pretty Is What Changes by Jessica Queller. Thanks to Deb H. for lending this to me. My pals know that I have several books in my currently reading queue but this title jumped up front and I read it in a couple of days. This is an important book. I would prefer to not give away the story. So I have included the link to the website in this posting so you all can check it out for yourselves.

It's a nice change to read a personal story in between the breast cancer books, chemotherapy pamphlets and numerous cancer related websites that have become the reading material lately.

Have a great night and whatever you are reading I hope you are enjoying it.

Ancora Imparo

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Special Indeed...

The week ahead will allow time for more healing. I have a brief reprieve from doctor appointments until the end of the week.

Today, thanks to my sis Rebecca, I had the opportunity to go to a bridal shower. The common thread amongst all the guests was the love they all share for the bride-to-be (guest of honor.) At her request there was a talent show where we guests had to take center stage and shower the GOH with a song, dance, poem or anything else they thought appropriate.

I walked away from today feeling honored to have been included at this shower and loving the fact that the GOH is my soon to be step Mom.

One of the guests shared the following poem as her talent. Once I heard it I knew I had to share it. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I.

Maya Angelou's Best Poem Ever

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ....Enough money within her control to move out And rent a place of her own even if she never wants to or needs to...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ....Something perfect to wear if the employer or date of her dreams wants to See Her in an hour...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ...A youth she's content to leave behind....

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ....A past juicy enough that she's looking forward to retelling it in her Old Age....

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE .A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ....One friend who always makes her laugh...And one Who lets her cry...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ....A good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in her Family...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ....Eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems, And a recipe for a meal that will make her guests feel Honored...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ....A feeling of control over her destiny...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...How to fall in love without losing herself..



EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW... That she can't change the length of her calves, The width of her hips, or the nature of her parents..

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...That her childhood may not have been perfect...But it's over...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...What she would and wouldn't do for love or more...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...How to live alone...Even if she doesn't like it...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...Whom she can trust, Whom she can't, And why she shouldn't take it personally...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...Where to go...Be it to her best friend's kitchen table...Or a charming inn in the woods...When her soul needs soothing...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...What she can and can't accomplish in a day...A month...And a year...

Ancora Imparo

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Slow and Steady...

Hi All,

Happy May!
I hope the flowers are blooming and the birds are chirping in your neck of the woods.

It is amazing to think my surgery was 2 weeks ago today. I am continuing to heal post surgery and get back to a sense of normalcy.

It has been a busy week thus far with many trips to various doctors. Thanks to my amazing husband, Mike, for taking such great care of me and not just being my personal valet. We have found our silliest time together seems to be in the exam room prior to the doctor coming in.

I am happy to report that my left bulb drain was removed earlier in the week which means I can now go back to sleeping on my side. Yeah!

Speaking of sides:
The left side of my body is healing beautifully.
The right side is taking its time to process all that has gone on. One of the factors that is affecting my physical healing is my bleeding disorder (von Willebrand's Type 1). While it is certainly not life threatening it is of importance and has had a direct result on my progress. Until this side heals more and I am able to get the bulb drain removed I am not able to begin Chemo (which is okay) as the risk of infection is too great. So better to be cautious and allow my body the time to heal properly.

For those that are saying "bleeding disorder" I found the following which explains it better than I could.

What Is von Willebrand Disease?

Von Willebrand disease, or vWD, is an inherited disorder - meaning it's passed from parent to child through genes - that affects the blood's ability to clot properly. It takes its name from Dr. Erik von Willebrand, who first described the condition in 1926. As a group, bleeding disorders (including one you may have heard about - hemophilia) are rare. Von Willebrand disease is the most common inherited bleeding disorder, affecting about 1% to 2% of people. Unlike hemophilia, which usually affects only guys, vWD affects both guys and girls.

Normally, bleeding usually occurs when a blood vessel is cut or torn. Platelets (small cells that float in the blood) plug the hole in the blood vessel to stop blood from leaking out. With the help of calcium, vitamin K, and a protein called fibrinogen, the platelets create a mesh to hold the plug in place and close the wound. As this mesh dries, it hardens and forms a scab to protect the wound as it heals.

A substance in the blood known as von Willebrand factor helps platelets stick to damaged blood vessels. Special proteins known as clotting factors are also needed to help blood clot. Von Willebrand factor carries one of these clotting factors, called factor VIII, in the blood.

People with von Willebrand disease have bleeding problems because the levels or function of these blood components needed for clotting are abnormal. The Types of von Willebrand Disease

As with many conditions, there are various forms of vWD:

In type 1, a person has less von Willebrand factor in the blood than normal. Although the condition can be made worse by taking aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (these drugs can block blood from clotting), the symptoms might be so mild that the person isn't ever diagnosed. People with type 1 vWD usually don't bleed spontaneously, but they can have significant bleeding with injuries, surgery, or when they have a tooth pulled. Type 1 is the most common and the mildest form of vWD.

What Causes It?

vWD is a genetic disorder that is passed from parent to child. The child of a man or a woman with vWD has a 50% chance of getting the gene for the condition. In types 1 and 2, a child has inherited the gene from one parent. In type 3, the child has inherited genes for the disease from both parents.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of von Willebrand disease may include:

* bruising easily
* unusually heavy periods or other abnormal menstrual bleeding in girls
* bleeding from the gums, nose, and lining of the intestines
* prolonged oozing of blood from cuts or bleeding too much or for too long after a tooth is pulled or tonsils are removed

Diagnosis and Treatment

Because its symptoms can be mild, vWD can be difficult to diagnose. In addition to doing a physical examination, the doctor will ask you about any concerns and symptoms you have, your past health, your family's health, any medications you're taking, any allergies you may have, and other issues, such as bleeding problems in other family members. This is called the medical history.

A number of lab tests may be done to diagnose the condition and to determine the specific type of von Willebrand disease the person has. These may include blood-clotting tests, such as bleeding time, and measurements of levels or function of von Willebrand factor, factor VIII, or platelets. Sometimes tests need to be done more than once because a person's levels may change over time.

For many teens with vWD, the condition doesn't require big lifestyle changes. Teens with more severe vWD should avoid unnecessary trauma, including contact sports like football and hockey, but other sports and activities are usually OK. If bleeding does occur, applying pressure to the area may be all that's needed. If the person gets a nosebleed, he or she should put pressure on the bridge of the nose to help stop the bleeding. Girls with vWD who have started their periods might want to carry extra pads or even a change of clothes in case of accidents. Sometimes, the doctor may prescribe birth control pills to help control heavy menstrual bleeding.

If these measures aren't enough to prevent or control bleeding problems, additional types of treatment may be needed. The most common treatment used for type 1 von Willebrand disease is a drug known as desmopressin. This medication causes a temporary increase in the von Willebrand factor level in the person's blood. It can be given by injection or intranasally (into the nose). Desmopressin may or may not be helpful for treating people with type 2 von Willebrand disease.

Patients with type 1 may also need this medication in certain situations, such as after major trauma or major surgery, although they can generally be treated with desmopressin.

Thanks for continuing to keep us all in your thoughts and prayers.

Ancora Imparo