Hello new gloves. Bye-bye blues.

My brother just sent me the coolest pair of black gloves from the folks at Agloves.  Great improvement to my quality of life.  Thanks, bro.

The gloves were created so that folks can use their touchscreens (like iPhones, iPads) in cold weather.  Slightly different application for me:  I like wearing gloves now since my hands are always freezing from the nasty chemo-related neuropathy.  I can now type away and make calls with less pain since my fingers are protected from directly touching the cool screen.

How do these crazy gloves work?

The gloves’ secret is that they are woven with silver-coated nylon fibers, which maintains the electrical conductivity needed to use the touchscreen.  Touchscreens on the iPad and iPhone do not work because of finger pressure or heat.   Instead, the screen reacts to the tiny electrical conductivity that naturally occurs in your skin from the moisture, salts, and oils on your fingertips.  So if someone tries to type wearing ordinary gloves, it’s a no-go: the conductivity is lost.  For folks like me who need to type but find it painful, the Agloves are perfect: my hands stay warm, stay off the cool screen and I can keep up my Angry Birds score.  Now you know that Silver (Ag) is the most electrically conductive element. Copper and Gold are next.

Really messed-up nerves (RMUN).

chemo trashes your nerves

My six months of chemo earlier this year left me with tingling, pain, numbness and cold sensitivity in my fingers and feet.  Yes, you can have all of these sensations simultaneously.  It kind of feels like that cold, burning sensation you get if you hold a snowball for too long.  The technical name is “Chemo-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy” (CIPN).  I call it “Really Messed-Up Nerves” (RMUN, my new acronym).  The platinum-based drug, oxaliplatin, in one of my chemo cocktails, FOLFOX, really did a number on the myelin sheathing (fatty covering) of  the peripheral sensory nerves in my hands and feet.  When this sheathing is damaged, it causes the nerves to sort of “short-circuit.”  The scrambled signals from the nerves are interpreted as numbness, cold-sensitivity, tingling, pain and other weird feelings in my hands and feet.

I often wear gloves at home to lessen the painful sensations caused by touching anything cool.  And my hiking socks insulate and cushion my feet from the cool hardwood floor and help avoid things brushing against my feet.

The good news: my RMUNs should repair themselves to some degree. Hopefully, they will be back to normal in six months to a year.

Just-in-case chemo

I had my follow-up visit yesterday with my surgical oncologist, Dr. Mansfield. Everything is going smoothly with my recovery but I did learn one new thing. When I thought about my surgery, I imagined this half-alive, half-dead tumor being taken out of my body. But no, the tumor was dead as a doornail. I had a COMPLETE response to chemo!! Unbelievable! I get the impression that this sort of thing doesn’t happen very often with my type of cancer. I thought my pathology report was amazing but this new tidbit has me floating again.

There is still a little more work to be done. Unlike the mucinous type of appendiceal adenocarcinoma, the non-mucinous type that I have tends to more easily metastasize outside the peritoneal cavity (the place that holds all your guts). Just in case any rogue cells might have escaped via my bloodstream for a tour, I will need about three more months of just-in-case chemo. I will meet with my doctors again in mid-January to find out the details. About the extra chemo, I say bring it on!

I almost forgot to mention that I’m home again after almost 3 weeks in Houston! Details, details. It was so wonderful for Doug and I to walk in the front door last night and be greeted by our girls, my mom, our dog and a yummy dinner. I kinda felt like a medieval knight coming home after battle.

Whoever you pray to, whatever you believe – thank you for all the prayers and good thoughts sent on my behalf.


I’m sitting here in Houston in our rented apartment trying to hurry the healing process so I can get back to feeling like myself. Another thing that I can only do so much about. It is so amazing how our bodies work so well everyday. Something I will not be taking for granted again!

Two weeks out from surgery and am slowly graduating out of the soft food stage. (Doug makes a mean bowl of mashed potatoes.) As a food person, it’s crazy to see all this yummy food and not be able to eat it yet!

Had the staples removed from my eleven inch incision. Nice. Hurts to laugh so, please, no crazy jokes quite yet if you can help it! Don’t get me started about coughing. Ouch.

Also thinking about this new stage of cancer survivorship. For the past eleven months, I’ve had one focused goal – kill the cancer. Now that I’m not in immediate danger, my plans seem a little fuzzier. I’m just trying to catch my breath and soak it all in, reflecting on how this experience has impacted me so far. How to to stay clear about the lessons learned and yet not let this experience define me.

After my doctor’s appointment at MD Anderson this Thursday, I plan on stopping in to see my new friend Val who had HIPEC surgery while I was in the hospital. She was wheeled onto my recovery wing just as I was being discharged. Another tough cookie.

Can’t wait to stop by and see my friend Marisol at home — a super tough cookie and an inspiration even before the Big C adventure. Here’s to drinking good coffee and eating yummy chocolate truffles! (Well, maybe we’ll have to wait on the coffee/truffle part.)

One of the best outcomes of this ordeal is that I am forming new friendships with incredible people who have been through similar experiences.

OK, enough for now. As a good friend told me today, get some rest!!!


Negative, negative, negative.

I usually don’t like that word but as of last night I do. That word was used all over my official pathology report. Negative for malignant cancer cells in my peritoneal cavity after removal of the wicked tumor, right ovary and fallopian tube, a small piece of my small intestine as well as a small section of ureter (which has been re-attached to my bladder). One 7-hr surgery and a few missing parts and I am CANCER-FREE!!!!

Let’s not forget the Feb. surgery, a laparascopic surgery and 23 chemo treatments that helped get me to this point.

Besides my doctors being thrilled with the pathology report, too, there are some decisions to be made. I may have another round of a different chemo to make sure the rogue cells have a very difficult time coming back. Or we may play the “wait and see” game and check things out via CT scan in 3 months. I’m fine with either route.

All I can say is that I’m still stunned. I am one of the lucky ones. I walk the halls with my dance partner (IV pole) and I see all of us fighting for our lives. I pray that the others will heal, too.

I’ve got to thank my doctors – Dr. Paul Mansfield and Dr. Michael Overman and all the staff here at MD Anderson Cancer Center for their incredible plan of action and care. Thanks to my local oncologist, Dr. Richard Helmer and his staff for keeping me feeling good during chemo. Thanks to Dr. Aravind Sankar for taking the first tumor out. But most of all, thanks to great family and friends.

Of course, cancer-free is for today, tomorrow, a week, a month, a year, forever – who knows how long. All of us only have one day at a time. But you bet we”ll be celebrating this GREAT news for a very long time!!! Just in time for my birthday.

Day 6 post-op update

Things are trucking along in Houston here at MD Anderson, with a steady stream of pain-killers, sleep, walking and “soft foods” (yum).  Still don’t know how that soft-food-thing is working out.  I do like the Carnation Instant Breakfast.

My epidural was removed yesterday which was replaced with oral painkillers. Ouch!  The transition was tough, but it looks like we’ve finally struck a good balance with the pain meds. Continue reading