Thursday, March 18, 2010

Update From Kathy After Dr. Visit

Dear Family and Friends:

Well, once again, I get the opportunity of updating you all on life in the EDH Ricks' household. Never a dull moment--though I often wish that weren't true.

I went to see my oncologist today (Dr. Helen Chew @ UCD Cancer Center). Due to some recent tumor activity she has recommended that, as of this week, I change my chemotherapy treatment.

For the last nine months I have had the luxury of taking my chemotherapy in pill form at home (Xeloda). The side-effects have been mild and manageable--my hair is back in, my blood counts are stable, the biggest problem has been rawness of the hands and feet.

Starting next Wednesday, I get to return to my old routine of having my chemotherapy administered in weekly infusions (three weeks on, one week off) at UCDMC. The new drug is called Ixempra. The side effects are more similar to what one expects with chemotherapy--neuropathy of hands and feet, fatigue, unstable blood counts, and the ever popular hair loss (yes, I get to wear my scarves and wigs again this summer). Bummer.
Honestly, the hair loss, even the third time around, is the most difficult to face. No more cuts and colors (sorry, Tammy).

Will I be able to keep up with a normal lifestyle? I hope so. My option with this chemo was to have it weekly (as we chose), or once every three weeks at a higher dose. This every three week option would have basically wiped me out for 10 days after the infusion. Having the smaller doses administered more often should even out the side-effects and allow me a better quality and consistency of life.

Ray, Matt and I are taking off for a few days during Matt's spring break in a few weeks. I am going to Idaho to get Mike from BYU-I, I am coming to Provo for Dan's BYU graduation, I am coming to the Hardy reunion in July. I will continue to work at the temple and teach Relief Society and do my Visiting Teaching. I will continue to be a mother. I may just need to take a few more naps and fit in these darned doctor's appointments around my life. That's my goal!

As for the rest of the family, here is a quick update:

David finally passed his translator's test with the FBI and is now a full linguist. He is busier at work already and sees signs of soon being the primary breadwinner for his family. In the meantime, Kathryn continues to work at ClearBags (Benny Wilkin's company) and loves her opportunities there. We (Ray, Grandpa and I) went to their home for a fun St. Patrick's Day dinner last night. We love having them close.

Dan has successfully defended his thesis and will graduate with his Masters in Mechanical Engineering from BYU on April 22nd and 23rd. We are very proud of him. The job hunt is on in earnest. He will continue his job hunt from here in EDH after his graduation. Any leads are welcome.

Josh still has one more year at BYU in Secondary Ed. He is dating a sweet girl, Tara Jackman, is working as a T.A. on campus, and is all around happy.

Jacob's mission has been extended for about three weeks so he will return from Mexico sometime around July 24th (we still don't have the exact date). He loves serving in the mission office as an Assistant to the President and is busy helping with the additional work of preparing his mission boundaries to be realigned on July 1. He will return to BYU in September.

Michael is about to complete his first year of college at BYU-I. I will be going to get him and bring him home on April 10th. He still doesn't have a job lined up for the summer, but I know he is working on that. His future plans are a bit uncertain, but we'll keep you all informed as he figures it all out.

Matt is still home and keeping Ray and I feeling young (or old, depending on the day). He is playing the piano a lot under the instruction of his older brother, David, and we enjoy hearing him practice and seeing the progress he's making.

Ray is able to ride his bike more now that we have more sunlight. He did, however, buy some really cool lights for his bike and he's almost disappointed that he can't use them more--next winter will come all too soon! Work has been really busy this winter with no let-up in sight. Keeping the company afloat is time consuming for the employees that have not been laid off. We are grateful he still has a good job.

Life is still good. We take our knocks, we have our slumps and our "I hate cancer days", but overall, we are happy.

Love to all--Kathy