Riley and Davis at Silver Dollar City

Riley and Davis at Silver Dollar City

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Alicia went home yesterday afternoon.  She is more rested and better medicated than a few days ago,so she is doing pretty well. As she said yesterday, "You don't get a badge for going through treatments without pain meds".

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts, prayers, offers of help and caring.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

She'll probably be mad that I posted this...

Alicia is working through some issues right now. While her throat is not swollen, her mouth is (from some wickedly bad thrush) and that has her in pain. Trying to balance her need for nutrition, pain management and comfort has become a priority this week. She is in the hospital, as that is the best place for the doctors to work out all the kinks of her meds and such. She is still leaving the hospital to do radiation and that will stay on schedule. I tell you that, so that no one starts envisioning her curled up on a hospital bed unable to function. She has trouble talking (dry mouth, thrush, and a swollen tongue) but she looks great. A week from today she will be more than halfway through with the radiation which will be a nice milestone. Her days at the hospital look a lot like her days at home, lots of sleep and trashy TV. And keep your Facebook posts interesting, ‘cause she reads that a lot too.

So, once she feels well rested and the docs feel like her med combinations are all correct, she’ll head home.

And a minor victory for her: her hair is growing back!

Friday, August 10, 2012

It's Elementary

Next week I have a big deadline coming up. It’s something I’ve been planning for years, something that I have known about and been looking forward to, and next week it will be here. I have always told myself that by that time my kids started elementary school I would be organized. Well, in 6 days Riley starts Kindergarten. So that means I have 6 days to get organized. To know where things are in my home. To remember makeup everyday (yes, I often forget to put makeup on). To know how to get pesky stains out of the laundry (full disclosure: I don’t do any of the laundry in the house). To have a menu plan and with well-rounded nutritious options for everyday of the week. To know how to make adorable crafts for every holiday that will delight the kiddies and teachers alike. To have a household calendar with all of the family’s comings and goings posted for all to see so that no detail is overlooked. To notice the stain on my shirt before I leave the house. To notice that the kids have on mismatched socks before bedtime. To start feeding the kids breakfast. To have a process for sorting the mail, paying the bills and those other office-type tasks. To have a system for the kids to be able to match their own outfits. To get organized.

I have 6 days. Shouldn’t be too hard, right? I mean, just because I am 30, and have been a mother for 6 years, and I have never been capable of any of the above tasks doesn’t mean I’m not going to be able to overcome all of those obstacles in 6 days, does it?

If you see me crying next Thursday, it isn’t because my daughter started kindergarten. No, it’s probably because I don’t have makeup on, wearing a stained shirt, unable to find my keys on the day I was supposed to start being organized.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Well, the next phase of treatment is here. Alicia will begin radiation tomorrow, along with the new chemo treatment. Her radiation will be 35 treatments and the chemo will be once weekly during those seven weeks.

All of the biopsy samples from a couple weeks ago were negative.

The feeding tube, while a bit uncomfortable and somewhat unpleasant, is in good shape.

While chemo was certainly difficult, that was honestly the easier part of the treatment plan. I don’t want to put words in Alicia’s mouth, and I mostly try to stick to the facts in this blog, but the radiation will be quite hellish.

I’ll attempt to explain what they are doing: First, radiation is the standard of care for any cancer of the neck or throat, so this isn’t something that most doctors would consider optional. The type of radiation they are using is external-beam radiation (which means they are literally pointing a beam of radiation at the target area). Radiation works by damaging the DNA of the abnormal or unhealthy cells. Sometimes this action occurs because of the radiation itself altering the cell, and sometimes a free radical forms and creates the damage to the DNA in that way. One of the reasons that side-effects occur is because while the radiation is creating a change to the “bad” cells it can also damage the “good” cells. This is a calculated risk and is done within the parameters of how much radiation any one part of the body can tolerate. To insure that the correct area is targeted each treatment, a mold is made. This mold can also protect the neighboring tissue areas that they do not want to be affected. Each treatment the radiation machine (called LINAC) will aim the stream of particles at the precise area and angle where it has been determined to be most effective. This type of radiation does not make her radioactive (there are some radiation therapies where they inject or ingest the radioactive materials and those are the ones that make the patient radioactive). There are a long (I mean really long) list of side effects for radiation therapy. The big ones are moderate to severe burning (somewhere between the worst sunburn you have ever seen and a chemical burn), nausea, loss of salivary gland function, and extreme fatigue. The burn becomes progressively worse over the course of treatment. Obviously of great concern is the fact that most people become unable to eat or drink during this time. That is why Alicia had the feeding tube placed. It is more likely than not, that before the radiation is over she will be taking all fluids and nutrition via tube as oral consumption will be physically impossible.

By my calculations the final treatment will be around September 26.

If you have questions about any of the process or procedures please ask me. I will be glad to explain. I hope that I didn’t make all of this more confusing.

Thank you all for you continued support and prayers for Alicia!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Feeding Tube

Yesterday Alicia had her feeding tube placed. The surgery went really well and she is feeling pretty good. She did have to stay overnight at the hospital but that was expected.

The feeding tube will only be used if/when her throat becomes too irritated from radiation to eat by mouth. Until that point she is able to eat normally. Once she is to the point of needing to tube feed it is a fairly simple matter of using a syringe to put formula directly into her stomach.

As of now radiation is set to start next week, while that will be difficult, it is also short term. Seven weeks, 35 treatments...

If anyone has any questions, post them in the comments...Thanks!