February, 2016

Increasing Afinitor?

In a monthly check up, the oncologist asked me how I was.

“Mouth sores are gone by the mouth wash. But recently I have bloody nose many times a day. I am concerned with the platelet counts decreasing, too. “

As I answered so, looking at my blood test chart, she said, “ it is still in the normal ( > 130K) range. Do you think it’s OK to take 7.5 mg (as of now it’s 5mg)? —The full does is 10mg. We should go close to it as much as possible.”

She is always aggressive. I thought I need it, so I had changed the doctor to her. Yet, while the platelet count is decreasing, I am uncomfortable to increase the dose.

“ I read online that even if you increase the dose more than 5mg, the result is the same. “ I tried to defend.
Then she said that it is true for kidney cancer, but not for breast cancer. I know Afinitor was originally for kidney cancer and it was adapted for breast cancer a few years ago. It is reasonable even if there is no evidence that the increasing dose doesn’t change the effect.

“ When I was on T-DM1, the platelet counts went down, and it took more than a month to recover. If the same thing happens, I have to be off Afinitor, but one month seems so long that I don’t know if that is a good idea. Actually in the next lab, the platelet counts could be less than 100K. Can we decide after we see the next lab result?”

She nodded and we decided to hold the decision until the next lab, which is this Monday.

Since Afinitor is an oral drug, I can adjust the dose anytime though, if I think I am taking only a half of the full dose, I get nervous as much as the thought of increasing the dose.

Cancer treatments are always like this way: We have to put the effect on one side and the side-effects on the other side of a scale, and find the right point which keeps the balance.

“If God is small, a problem is big, but God is big, a problem is small,” says George often. Imagining behind of the scale there is a big God, I pray that He will lead me to the right decision.

Platelet Count Improved

On a day of the infusion, I asked about the platelet count as soon as a nurse opened my medical record in the computer. The platelet count, which has been declining straight since I started Afinitor, went down to 136K mg, (the bottom number of the standard is 130K), two weeks ago.

Then the surprise answer came back: “it is 265k mg.”

“265? Are you sure? The last time it was 136.” I asked again.

“Yes. It is 265. So now the doctor wants you to increase Afinitor to 7.5mg.”

Wow! I can’t believe it!

As the mouth sores are gone, I thought my body was getting used to Afinitor, but the platelet count has improved, too? I had noticed that the blood sugar and cholesterol levels improved, as well. What has happened to me? I don’t think I did anything different. This must be God’s intervention. The prayers were granted!

I am still cautious about the side effects getting worse once I increase the dose, but from tonight, I will increase the Afinitor dose from 5mg to 7.5mg. This is a good move.
Thank you, God!

God Never Gives Up On Us

“The Almighty has made life very bitter for me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty. Why call me Naomi when the Lord has cause me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me?”

Naomi, who lived around 1000 B.C. lost her husband and two sons one after another in a foreign land, returned to her home country, Judah, being defeated with her foreign daughter-in-law Ruth, who insisted to be with her for the rest of her life.

Women had to depend on men 100% to live life during those days. Naomi was too old to be remarried, and even though she had Ruth, as a foreign woman, what Ruth could do was only to pick up the left over grains after others harvested, and sell them in order to make a little money.

When life makes a turn to an unexpected direction, or afflictions happens one after another, we become hopeless like Naomi. Her resentment towards God is very understandable.

However, the story of Ruth in the Old Testament starts from there.

Ruth, who worked hard for Naomi all day, everyday, drew attention from Boaz, a wealthy relative of Naomi, and eventually she married him. Naomi was blessed again as a mother-in-law being provided for financially, having her family name carried on, and becoming an ancestor of King David and even Jesus, who was born about one thousand years later.

When we feel like our lives are pitch dark, we become so devastated that we are easily tempted to choose something distractive, harmful or even fatal. We become blind with the blessings God provided us. Yet God is watching us continually.

The story of Ruth first spoke to me that even if I feel like life is over, or there is no more hope, I have to stay in the faith because He will never give up on us. Then secondly my focus moved to the romance between Ruth and Boaz…(will continue in the next post.)

Romance God Gives Us

“Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!”

Ruth declared this to her mother-in-law, Naomi, who told her to go back to her mother’s house as Naomi would go back to Judah, her own country. They must have had to live together tightly after they lost their bread providers. Yet, also, Naomi must have been a great mother-in-law, and more importantly Ruth must have been a very loving, faithful woman. I imagine she was beautiful nice looking, too.

Boaz quickly noticed Ruth, who was picking up the left-over grains following after harvesters in his field.
“Who is that young woman over there?” He asked his foreman.

” She is the young woman from Moab who came back with Naomi…She has been hard at work except for a few minutes’ rest in the shelter.”

Learning that Ruth was the daughter-in-law of Naomi, his relative, Boaz went over and said to Ruth,
“Stay right here with us when you gather grain; don’t go to any other fields. I have warned the young men not to treat you roughly. And when you are thirsty, help yourself to the water they have drawn from the well.”

For Ruth, who was a poor vulnerable foreign woman, the kind words of Boaz must have touched deeply. She thanked him for his kindness kneeling down. ( i imagine that she looked so beautiful for Boaz.)

Then Boaz invited her for lunch with plenty of food and wine, and gave her souvenirs to take them to Naomi.

She said to Boaz,” I hope I continue to please you, sir.” And Boaz treated her very special making sure to let her pick up plenty of rich grains.

I see the romance was growing between the humble respectful woman and the caring gentleman, but the first person who noticed it was Naomi.

She suggested Ruth to take a bath, put on perfume, dress up, and go to the threshing floor, where Boaz would be, but not to be seen until he finishes eating and drinking; after he sleeps, lie down at his feet “to let him know that she is available to him for marriage.”–(Hmm, I see her mature wisdom here.)

Following Naomi’s instruction, Ruth spent a night with Boaz…

The Bible tells beautifully about God’s love (Agape) parents’ love towards kids (Storge), Love between friends (Philia), and also love between a man and a woman (Eros).

Ruth was humble, obedient, sacrificial, and passionate: Boaz was dependable, strong, protective, generous, and kind – Perhaps all of them are the ingredients of love God gave us.

In the public with witnesses, Boaz announced his becoming a redeemer of Naomi, and as a condition of the redeemer, he married Ruth.

Ruth is like Cinderella–so romantic!

Today is Valentine’s Day. I am so thankful that I can enjoy this romantic day again this year, with George. May the love never be beaten by cancer!

The House Was Broken Into

Last night around 7:30, while George and I were at the Bible study at the church, our house was broken into.
The first person who noticed the abnormality was a daughter of our next-door neighbors. She called 911 and us. As we got home, where the neighbors were watching our house standing on the street, two police cars were already in front of our house.

With two police officers , George and I went into the house from the back yard. The family room, kitchen, and living room seemed fine. But George’s study, my study, and our bedroom were messes. The burglar stole our safety box, in which were George’s passport, birth certificate, car pink slips, etc., George’s watches, tie pins cuff buttons, tax related documents, an old broken laptop, and my backpack.

I was worried the cash and the checkbooks, but Surprisingly they were not touched, and so were jewelries. He tried to steal our son’s Mercedes in the garage and my Corolla on the driveway, but they didn’t find the Mercedes’ key and as the neighbor noticed, he dropped the spare key of the Corolla in the sideway, being in a hurry to run away.

Our next door and across the street have video cameras for the protection, and those cameras caught two young guys watching on the street while one more guy was knocking on the front door. Knowing nobody answered the door, this guy got into house breaking a window of one of the bedrooms.

Tuesday is my chemo day as well. Sometimes I get too sick to go to the Bible study and stay in bed not answering the door or phone. If I had been home alone last night, what would’ve happened to me?–It is frightening!
Besides two videos, which caught the burglars, the next-door daughter chased one of the guys, who was running to their car, and saw his face. Another neighbor took a picture of the car also. Today the police will come again to take the pictures and fingerprints. All seem helpful to track down the burglars.

The loss could’ve been much worse, and I am so thankful for our neighbors, who watched our house and acted so promptly, our Bible study folks, who prayed for us, and our God, who prevented our house from a much more serious harm.

After-Effects of Robbery

It has been about 20 years since we have lived in this house. Next door is an adult school, where people are in and out until around 9pm. As the street in front of our house is a short-cutting to two major streets, the traffic is quite busy. In other words, there are always some eyes around our house.

When Pepper (our beloved beagle) was alive, the glass door to the backyard was always open, during summer all windows were open day and night even when we were out. Sometimes I forgot to close the garage door or lock the front door. In spite of that, we were never broken into.

Yet, it has been three years since Pepper is gone. The incidence of the robbery was the painful lesson to remind me never to take advantage of the good past; pay more attention for the security.

The man dropped the spare key of my car, but we found out later that he took the spare key of George’s car. George was so worked up that night worrying the group of the robbery might come back, that he put a BB gun and a knife near him. I was too scared and nervous to go to the bedroom, where the stranger made a big mess. We decided to sleep on the couches, but didn’t sleep until even after 3am.

Next morning, a female police, who was in black pants and a black jacket, came to collect fingerprints and take pictures. It appeared that the man tried different windows to break into, and the police said that she could get good footprint on a lid of a BBQ grill and fingerprints on the front gate.

Watching the police dusting for the fingerprints, George gave her his book, “Dusting for God’s Fingerprints”. It was an unexpected co-incidence.

I thought it was a miracle that the real valuables such as the cash, credit cards, check books, jewelries, etc were not stolen, but probably he didn’t have enough time to steal them because the neighbors noticed them. In the video of a neighbor across the street recorded about 30 minutes from when the young men arrived at our house till they ran away.

Though the loss was minimum, yesterday and today George and I were busy making numerous phone calls to inform the crime, and going to banks to change the accounts. We are talking about fixing the outdoor lights, buying the security system, or even a dog again. We are now hiding everything as we go out even for a short time.

Maybe because of the stress, or because I didn’t have enough sleep, I was laying on a couch almost a half day feeling sick yesterday, and today although a headache and chill were gone, peripheral neuropathy hurt my fingers.

Though after-effects are pretty heavy, friends are reaching out to us offering many kinds of help. This is another God’s fingerprints! GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME!

theft

The things the robbery dropped on the side way. A glue, book tabs, pens, etc–This man may be a student!

Will Reduce Afinitor

” So how are you doing with 7.5mg?”

The oncologist asked me at a monthly check up, which came up last week because her schedule was full in March.

I complained about seven new changes:

1. Bleeding from the nose is now all the time without stopping from the time I get up till the time I go to bed.
2. Mouth sores are appearing again.
3. The both legs are swelling and I am taking diuretic.
4. Muscle cramps are more often
5. Peripheral neuropathy is getting worse and sometimes my fingers get red and painful even with a small pressure.
6. Hands are drier.
7. After I was stressed, or when I stay up late at night, I have shortness of breath.

After listening to me, the oncologist said unexpectedly, “Then we should go back to 5mg,” though the platelet counts were slightly better than last week. I hate the side-effects get aggravated, but don’t want to see cancer growing, either.
” Is it OK?” I asked.
” Well, what else can we do? You have many things wrong,” said she.
“Finish what you have. Then go back to 5mg. ”
I chose to trust her decision.

Regarding #7, as I told her that I experienced a difficulty of breathing at the night when the robbery happened and I didn’t sleep until after 3:30am, she was surprised with the robbery.
” Yes. I thought I had more than enough with cancer, my husband’s Parkinson’s, unemployment, etc. Then now a robbery. I wonder what’s next. ” As I said that with a smile, she laughed, too, and said the shortness of breath might be a panic attack. If it is because of cancer or a side-effect, the symptom is consistent and gets worse–she said.
She asked if I wanted to see a psychiatrist, but as I didn’t want to add more drugs, I declined.

At the end of the clinic, she said, ” I hope I will hear some good news next time (4/28).”
Well, in April before the next appointment, I will have a CT scan to see if Afinitor is working or not. This can be bad news, again, but at the end of March, George and I have a plan to go to Dana Point to celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary. If I reduce the dosage of Afinitor, perhaps I can enjoy the trip. Then I can bring good news!