Sputter, Sputter, Back to Life

13 09 2011

Theo and Don giving summer one last hurrah! Photo by Amy Rauch Neilson.

It’s been a rough week or two. I haven’t blogged in a while. And you noticed.

I’m glad.

It’s nice to know that when I don’t blog, there are people out there who notice. Lots of them.

So, what was the hang-up? I’ve thought a lot about it and it really wasn’t any one thing. It was a lot of things.

I was scheduled for chemo last week, but when I got to the infusion center, my white blood counts were still too low from my bout in the hospital, so they had to send me home.

My CT Scan results came in from two weeks ago and they were very good. My condition remains stable to slight improvement. The tumors in my lungs — two on each side that started out the size of blueberries — continue to shrink.

I should be thrilled. I AM thrilled. But I also get scared.

Sometimes, the CT only captures my lungs. This one was more comprehensive, taking a snapshot of my lungs, abdomen and pelvic regions. So, this one showed my liver.

Months ago, a CT report showed spots on my liver. But, because there has never been a baseline of my liver prior to my January diagnosis, no one knows for sure what those spots are. Are they cancer? Could they simply be hemangiomas — harmless clusters of blood vessels that my family is quite prone to?

There’s no way to know without a biopsy. And a biopsy doesn’t make sense. Because, whatever those spots are — cancer or not — my treatment wouldn’t change. A biopsy presents risks. It’s surgery. And there’s always the chance that when the surgeon goes in to take a piece of the suspicious growth, a cell or two could escape in the process — something that’s known as “seeding.” In essence, it’s taking a chance cf spreading cancer as a big downside when the additional information — whatever it is — doesn’t offer an upside.

The CT Scan results showed that the spots on my liver had shrunk considerably since they were first noted in the spring. But no one knows whether that means they are cancer — and the chemotherapy shrunk them — or, that they are something else, and they shrunk for some other, unknown reason.

Regardless, they DID shrink. Everything has. I’m doing really well. That’s the rational interpretation.

The not so rational reaction is the emotions, the fear I feel when I get test results back, wondering about these strange, rogue, uncooperative cells that are in my body. How many and where? And my incessant prayers and continuing journey to annihilate them. When? I wonder. When will this part of my life’s journey be over? When will life return to

So, there was the letdown of not being able to get my “medicine,” followed by the scan results which should have had me leaping for joy, and did, in many ways, while also causing me to question and to fear.

Yet, I feel from the depths of my soul that I am not only moving in the right direction, but that I am going to be on this planet for a long time to come.

My doctors have also been slowly weaning me off one of my three chemo drugs — Gemzar. That is the drug that so ravages my bone marrow and causes my counts to plummet — landing me in the hospital two weekends ago. There are two sides to this news: One, my chemo treatments will be shorter and less toxic. I’m at chemo this very moment with my bff Kristi Lynn Kahl, going through my first “test round” of what it will be like with one less chemo drug entering my body. Will it make a big difference? Will I be a lot less sick as a result? That’s my hope.

It’s also scary. Though I was unable to get chemo from the end of June til mid-August due to low blood counts and hospitalization, and during that time, nothing grew — it actually continued to shrink — there’s always concern when a drug goes away that the cancer could regain its foothold. So, that was on my mind last week.

Thank God I was blessed with a strong spirit that rebounds quickly. This week is a whole new week and I’m feeling quite fine.

Sunday, Don, Theo and I wandered the Toledo Zoo with close friends and had a blast. Monday, I watched dockside (I’m still not allowed in the water) as Don took Theo on a jet ski ride — what a beautiful, big grin on Theo’s face! And today, my counts were in line and I am able to get my chemo treatment.

In short, I’m back. But thank you for noticing my absence. It’s so very uplifting to know there are people out there thinking about you and praying for you, even on the days when it’s hard to offer anything in return.

I may have sputtered, but I am back to life and loving it.

Copyright 2011, Amy Rauch Neilson



23 responses

13 09 2011
Sheri Torch

Keep up the good attitude Amy……….makes all the difference in the world.
Love and Hugs,

13 09 2011
Mark Robertson

“It’s not possible to frown on a jet ski.” — Tosh.0

13 09 2011
Sharon L-S

Glad to hear you’ve cleared the summer hurdles and are back to the routine. I will be thinking of you while at the Better Investing Convention on the Ohio River near Cincinnati this weekend.

13 09 2011

You are always missed! and keep going you are doing great and will be on this planet for a long time… 🙂

13 09 2011
Kristi Kahl

Happy to be here with you and happy ur back!

13 09 2011
brian Murphy

Me too!–that is: glad you’re back! Love, Brian

13 09 2011

Yes, I was getting worried about the internet “silence”. Glad to hear that you were cleared for chemo take-off today. The treatment IS working and you ARE doing great! It would be near impossible not to be shell-shocked from all that you have had to go through over the years and that may make it difficult sometimes to celebrate the wins…you probably feel hesitant to celebrate when you feel like the other shoe could drop again. But remember that there is much that is good, beautiful and trustworthy in this world and you deserve it all. So throw off BOTH your sneakers and dance with your guys! You are doing great!!

13 09 2011
Sarah Zowada

You were missed! Welcome back.So glad for the good report! I think it would be unususal if you were not scared……you are dealing with lots of stuff. Praise God you know you can trust Him!!! No matter what!!!

13 09 2011

I am so glad to hear the good news. I missed your blogs everyday and hoped that everything was okay with you. I didn’t want to email you or contact you in any way, because then you might feel pressured to blog again. Stay strong girl. xoxo

13 09 2011
Susan Ager

Bravo! Bravo to all three of you.


13 09 2011
Rita O'Connor

Hi Amy…I left a reply but I think it disappeared. A ‘puter pro I’m Not.
Just want to tell you that one great thing that you have done is get so many people down on their knees who otherwise would not be there. What a wonderful thing it is to have people talking to God who otherwise never would. We all are pulling for you and you will make it. Keep your faith strong and your confidence UP. Its FANTASTIC how many people care about you. With your intention I always include Don and Theo, as they
need the prayers too. Love always, Mom Reet

13 09 2011

Really missed your posts, sweetie. You are doing so, so well. I can’t even imagine what you are going through. You are dealing with an awful situation with so much grace and strength.


13 09 2011
Linda Stanislawski

Happy to hear your good reports. I understand those doubts and fears that creep into your mind. Keep trusting and keeping your eyes on the prize. Long healthy life. God bless you . I’m keeping you in my prayers

13 09 2011
Karen J. H.

Indeed I noticed! You received an additional dose of prayer this past weekend from my corner. Bless you! May all your reports continue to be “good news”.

13 09 2011

Woo-Hoo!!! She’s baaaaaack!!

14 09 2011

Always thinking about you {worrying about you} and praying you’re experiencing the magicalness that whirls around you and is you… Even when things are quiet, love beams are always coming from Chicago lady. You make sure Chicago is on the blood donner list too now… I haven’t heard a peep about that in a while… Don’t make me come up there and smack your ***. You may have to spell check this…per usual. That makes me laugh. Love you lady. Glad your Phoenix is such a formidable Goddess warrior, that won’t settle for anything less than a brilliant FIRE of recreation in the face of what would bring most to their knees. You are that strong. I have never belived it more. (Don is too btw – not that you don’t already know that…) Shine on you crazy diamonds! Shine on! (do you even like that song? I need a favorites play list for you…)

14 09 2011

Hi Amy,
I was wondering why it was so quiet. I looked every day to see your blogs, but was afraid to write. So glad to hear the good news. Sure wish I had your strength. Keep plugging and remember you are always in my thoughts and prayers. Hang in there girl.
Hugs and prayers to you.
Cookie from Fla

14 09 2011

Thrilled you’re back on……..love to hear your family news and so happy to hear that the `spots’ are shrinking.

14 09 2011
Maija Kibens

Yay, Amy! Missed you indeed and so glad to hear from you!

14 09 2011

Shrink is good! Coincidentally I was wondering yesterday if I had missed an email with your post in it and wondered why. Glad to know the spots are headed in the right direction – gone! I hope you outlive all of us!!!

14 09 2011

Glad you’ve resurfaced. And more glad to hear that all spots identified or otherwise are shrinking. I found a cup the other day that made me think of you. It read ” good friends are like bras: supportive, never leave you hanging, make you look good, and are always close to your heart” Thinking of you and still praying.

14 09 2011
Ken and Gay

Happy to hear the good news that spots are becoming polka dots and will one day disappear!!! We know your Guardian Angel is on your shoulder and has everything under control, even when you have a bump along the road! September is flying by – hard to believe it’s half over tomorrow ( 30 days hath Sept…..). Think our Summer beach days are over but will look forward to next Summer and beach dates with you and Theo!!
Amongst all you deal with day to day, you made time for a “hoppingly” cute and personal birthday thank you from Theo’s party! We truly appreciate it and glad he could use his $$ at the museum in Chicago for something he enjoyed with Dad!
Why do folks say “Amy’s such an inspiration” ???, you wonder? Well I will tell you!!!! Because (I know, never start a sentence with BECAUSE) despite dealing with health issues which would have many Moms hiding under the covers, you continue as if none of those issues make a bit of difference. Host a fabulous and fun filled B. Day party for your son, family and friends, provide super cakes not only for Theo but for 2 other B.Day guests and thoughtfully send out probably a billion personal thank yous!!! You inspire those with nothing in particular to slow down their lives to grab the baton from Amy!!
We love you and look forward to a long and colorfully glowing Fall!! XXX000

15 09 2011
Evelyn Leonard

Amy, please know that whether or not I post a reply, you and your family are in my DAILY prayers.;, often more than once each day.

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