Thursday, September 28, 2017

Snot Rockets

While I'm the Captain of this blog, I should rename it to "Long Time No See", "Sorry for the Delay", or "I Promise I'll Write More."  I'm the worst and writing consistently, I know.  I'll try to do better.  It's not you, it's me.

Nin just completed chemo treatment #9 of 12!  Three weeks left and she is D.O.N.E!  We're getting pretty excited about it.  As long as there aren't any setbacks (fingers crossed) Nin's last chemo will be the day before Jude's first birthday, October 17th!  It'll make for quite the birthday/post-chemo celebration.  T-Swift will probably even show up.  NBD.

During this whole process we've tried to have things to look forward to.  Nin is turning 30 AND beating cancer, it's a big year.  To celebrate these big accomplishments, we are taking a trip to Paris and Switzerland in November!  We, Nin especially, have always wanted to go to Paris.  We're going to spend five days in Paris then head over to Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland to spend a few days with our friends, the Brinkerhoff's, who moved there for two full months.  Because they're awesome.  If these pictures don't make you want to go to Switzerland, we can't be friends anymore.

I haven't felt the urge to post a lot of updates lately because not much is happening.  Nin is just crushing it, per usual.  Her treatments have been uneventful and have gone smoothly.  I've missed the last two treatments.  One because I was traveling for work and the other because we couldn't find babysitters for our snot-nosed kids.

Over the past week or so our little family has been sick.  Penny got it first, then promptly gave it to everybody else, including Nin.  Amazingly, this is the first time Nin has been sick since she started chemo.  We didn't know what to expect.  We'd heard the horror stories about common colds turning into ER visits but luckily it didn't hit her very hard.  It was a very minor cold and even with a compromised immune system, she got over it quickly.  I would say the worst part about it was that her nose ran a lot.  Normally that's not a big deal but when you don't have nose hair, the snot has no resistance and escapes with great force.  Just imagine that these two Russian dudes are snot and the slide is Nin's nasal passage.  It's a shockingly accurate depiction of her snot life these past few days:

Overall, Nin is still doing great.  It seems like the chemo treatments are compounding slightly and taking just a little more toll on her each time.  She gets a little more tired but nothing too crazy.  This cycle is still very mild compared to the first four doses of the DDAC.  We feel very blessed that she's done this well.  We have no doubt that the countless prayers her positive attitude has made a huge difference in how well she is doing.  Stay positive people and keep praying.  Everyday.

I know this blog is about Nin but I'm going to digress for a good cause.

For the past six months, there has been an ever present "heaviness" in our lives.  These past few weeks have been extra heavy.  Nin is doing great but one of my best friends, Jesse Johnson, recently found out he has an advanced form of testicular cancer.

A few weeks ago he had such severe back pain that he checked himself into the ER only to find that tumors on his lungs, pancreas, and other areas in his body were causing the pain.  Turns out it is an agressive form of testicular cancer called Testicular Choriocarcinoma.  They started a light form of chemotherapy almost immediately.  After a few days of chemo he went home for the weekend.  Due to the tumors in his lungs and the toll his body had taken from the chemo, he had to be admitted to the ICU where he was placed in a medically induced coma.  I know, heavy.

He has been steadily improving and isn't completely sedated anymore.  He's doing well enough that they removed his ECMO tubes (life support oxygenation tubes).  It's an uphill battle but Jesse's a fighter and will pull through.  Through the past few months with Nin's diagnosis and treatment, we know now more than ever that the power of prayer is real.  We're asking that everybody add Jesse and his family to their prayers.

To end this post on a lighter note, here is one of my favorite pre-Youtube videos that always makes me laugh.  Words that Jesse and I lived by.  You know, something to take they breff away.

You got this Jesse.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Feel it on the First

As a quick update, Nin is doing very well.  She gets a little wrecked a couple days after chemo but overall she is handling everything like a champ.  Today her nurses told her that they concluded "she was the most beautiful bald person they had every seen."  Quite the compliment considering they see bald people all day every day.  She just completed her 6th of 12 chemo doses.  HALF WAY DONE with this final chemo round!

Thanks for the balloons and gift Tori!

The rest of this post is going to be dedicated to breast exams.  I know I did one back in April but I felt it appropriate to post another.  We've been blown away by the number of people close to us that have recently done breast self-exams, only to find tumors.  Most of these lumps weren't cancerous but a few were.  A few too many.

There is a great movement promoting monthly self breast exams called "Feel it on the first."  It simply suggests that you do a self breast exam on the 1st of every month.  I know what you're thinking.  "Well Derrik you done messed up because it's not even the 1st, it's the 7th."  Lucky for us all, your boobs can't tell time.

Take this opportunity to get to know your boobs.  You can even let your significant other pitch in.  As they say "Many hands make light work."  If you aren't comfortable doing a breast self-exam call me, I'll lend you my hands for the greater good.  

A bold strategy, I know.  But in all seriousness I'm no breast exam expert.  For that reason I have copied and pasted some of the key tips from Nalie Agustin's Website below.  Take the time to read them over.

If you're wondering where to start, I'd suggest taking some pointers from my feline friend below.  He looks like he knows the proper techniques.

And yes, I had to Google "cats giving breast exams" to find this gif.  

Here are the tips from Nalie's website.  Happy groping:

Here’s the secret to examining your breast:
It’s not about doing it right, it’s about doing it REGULARLY!
So on the first day of every month, I want you to feel yourself! Yeah girl. Both literally, and figuratively.
Get to know your breasts and remember what they normally look and feel like! Look out for any changes.
Here’s what to look out for:
Breast Changes:
  • Size or shape
  • Deformation
  • Lumps in the breast, upper chest or armpits
  • Swelling of the breast or arm
Skin Changes:
  • Redness
  • Orange peel skin
  • Thickening
  • Discoloration
  • Dimpling, pitting or puckering
  • Localized feeling of warmth
  • Ulceration or wound
  • Visible vein
  • Skin shrinkage
Nipple Changes:
  • Appearance
  • Spontaneous Discharge
  • Inversion
  • Deviation
  • Eczema or ulceration of the nipple
If you find anything, visit your doctor immediately! And from experience, if you find a lump demand an ultrasound! If you’re under 40, remember… an ultrasound, not a mammogram! A clinical examination just won’t suffice!
Keep in mind, that not all changes are breast cancer! In fact, it’s quite normal for our breast to change due to the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, lactation or aging. But it’s better to be safe than sorry!