Michelle Hastings: Mission::Remission - Medical Expenses Fundraiser

For: Michelle Hastings
Organizer: Jennifer Buck
$4,520
of $10,000 goal.
Raised by 74 donors
45% Complete
This fundraiser is closed. Thank you for your support!

The Story

mission:remission Wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and colon cancer ass-kicker. Pretty cool titles, all in all. We are creating this fundraiser to help Michelle and her family with the medical expenses that will be incurred during her second battle with Colon Cancer. We would love your support, as every dollar counts and will help ease the financial burden of the Hastings family. Michelle used to create magic for thousands when she worked at Walt Disney World, Now it's time to create some magic for Michelle. Please join our campaign and donate today! Join Us on our Facebook Page - Search "Mission:Remission" Read Michelle's Inspirational Blog: www.michellewillwin.blogspot.com From Michelle: "I survive for so many reasons. Among other reasons, I survive to prove a point. I am NOT going to be a just a number or just a statistic. I want to let the medical community, society, and other survivors out there know that this DOES happen to people my age, with no family history, with no REASON. I survive because I have a voice. I am a survivor, one of many, and proud of it. We will be heard, and we will make a difference." Michelle Hastings Mom, Wife, Daughter, Sister, Friend, Colon Cancer Ass-Kicker!!!

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on May 13, 2012

Posted on May 13, 2012

TUESDAY, MARCH 27, 2012

Round Two: Cycle 1, Day 1

So, day one is down.  Well, sort of.  It's about 3:45 local time.  Right now, I'm not feeling great.  I was nauseous this morning almost from the moment I woke up.  I imagine that is part anticipation, part left-over meds from yesterday, and legitimate nausea from the chemo. 

Rambling from here on out:
I know that my own memories are tainting this round.  I'm remembering (consciously and non-consciously) things from last time.  Every sound, touch, taste, smell, experience is a reminder.  Walking across the threshold from the waiting room into the chemo room was, exactly as I expected, horrific.  I felt like I was walking through a really long hallway - it couldn't have been more than 15 feet.  I felt like it was the beginning of the end - it's not; it's the beginning of the end of this cancer.  Walking into the room itself was the hardest.  Just seeing the purple chairs lined up, empty, as if they were waiting for me. 

My parents and Lisa, the AMAZING chemo nurse, got me through accessing the port.  I can tell you that the whole process is pretty much a blur, like pieces of a puzzle sitting on a table, waiting to tell a story.  My story. 
I remember picking a chair, at the end of the row along the wall.  I don't know why I picked that one.   Anyways, I sat down and just blanked out.  I wasn't sure what to do - it was very surreal being there.  I was worried about the port being accessed.  I was worried about being sick, since I still felt nauseous.  I was worried about how I would feel.  The smell of the office wasn't helping.  It's a smell that sticks with you. 
Okay, so they access port, and pull cbc's (complete blood counts), to make sure I can get chemo.  They didn't need to do it, since they did the same thing yesterday for the port placement.  I think that it was a matter of giving me the time and space to come to grips with everything. 

Accessing the port didn't hurt.  Lisa numbed me up good, and I didn't feel the needle go in.  I can tell you, I tasted the saline.  Blech - dirty sweaty sock taste.  Very fun.  Thank God for mints.

First bag of drugs were pre-meds - aloxidecadronAtivan, andEmend.  All good things.  I had her only give me half a dose of Ativan, and the other half just before I left.  After we got those in, the Leucovorinand Camptosar.  Then, once those were done, the chemo nurse administered a push of 5-FU (into my port), then sent me home with my chemo pump.  All in all, it took about 3 hours.  By the time we headed home, stopped at Walgreen's to pick up the meds, and grabbed a sandwich, we made it back to our house and I rested up.  Mom and Dad left shortly thereafter, and I rested.  I'm feeling - ok.  Not great.  Still a bit nauseous, but I just took a Compazine, which should help.  I also have Ativan to take if I need it - trying to hold off, even though that works, b/c I'm waiting for the kids to get here.  Ativan makes me tired.  :)

The good news is that I don't have to go into the office tomorrow.  Last time, each cycle was three days in the  office.  This time, first day is about 3 hours in the office.  Then I go home with my iPump (still need a better name - any suggestions?) until Thursday.  Thursday's appointment will start at 8:30am, and should be less than 2 hours.  My first round of Avastin is 90 minutes, then I'm disconnected and FREE for two weeks.  Next cycle, the Avastin is an hour, then subsequent appointments are 35 minutes.  Not too bad at all, in the overall scheme of things. 

I'll probably start getting my Neulastashot next cycle.  They expect my white blood counts to go down pretty quickly, so I'll need to watch who I'm around and what I expose myself too.  But, for now, I'm okay. 

As I'm sitting there, the sound of my pump pushing the 5-FU to me makes me nauseous.  The Compazine seems to be helping, as did Mom and Dad arriving with the kids.  Stories about drama at 4th grade recess are the best medicine against nausea. 

Smells are bothering me right now.  All of my senses are heightened, but I'm definitely more sensitive to smells.  My son is sitting next to me right now, and all I can smell is kindergarten boy.  I don't mind that too much.  Means he's having fun.  :)

I think that's about it, especially now that the kids are here.  Thanks for your help in getting me through this first, emotionally difficult day.  Together, and only together, can we beat this thing.

4 COMMENTS:

Tinasaid...

Reading what you went through today, I can smell it and I can taste it. I always plug my nose when they flush my port. This keeps me from tasting it--the taste makes me nauseous! Other people smell tea bags or something, but plugging my nose has always worked for me. 
Glad you are done with your first day. Kids definitely help! I remember thinking I was too sick, or too tired to visit with my girls--but then they'd all come plop on my bed and I ended up feeling so much better. What a blessing our children are! 
Hope the steroids don't keep you awake all night!

MARCH 27, 2012 6:51 PM
chaoticfamilysaid...

Hope the first round goes well.

Erinne

MARCH 27, 2012 7:44 PM
I'm Nic.said...

You got it right - the beginning of the end of this cancer. Now you got me thinking of another name for the Ipump (we call it "Mom's waterbottle" cuz it kinda looks like one). But we need something catchier. Hmmmm. Wishing you heaps of rest and calm

MARCH 28, 2012 5:15 AM
Carol Pack Urbansaid...

I can't believe that I forgot about the fanny pack! You may not need the Neulasta. My blood counts never went down on Folfiri like it did with Folfox. I never had any of the side effects they expected me to except for hair loss. It came out in clumps and was extremely thin but never lost all of it. I was so happy not to have nausea like with Oxaliplatin!

MARCH 28, 2012 8:08 AM

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Posted on May 13, 2012

Posted on May 13, 2012


Posted on May 13, 2012

Posted on May 13, 2012

SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 2012

Saturday Morning Update, and Hope

Ah - Saturday.  Woke up this morning with minimal nausea, so I consider that a mark in the win column.  LOL! 

As you saw, Wednesday didn't go quite as planned.  Once I got home from the second trip to the onco, I was exhausted.  A short nap and nausea meds, for sure.  My dear friend Karena brought over dinner (chili and cornbread - YUM!), which was amazingly helpful.  I will definitely be asking for more help with meals - having that taken care of made all the difference.  I was able to function normally with the kids that night, which helped us all. 

Thursday was an early morning back to the onco office, after we dropped the kids off at school.  We got called into the financial office and were hit with the numbers.  Don't let anyone ever tell you that chemotherapy is cheap - my one drug is around $400 each time.  Another drug is well over a grand per use, and the Neulasta shot will be around $600 per use.  Needless to say, hitting my $8000 max out-of-pocket isn't an issue.  *sigh*  We got that figured out, and we went into the chemo room. 

I hate the chemo room.  I know I shouldn't, since it helps me and it will give me my life back, but I hate it.  I hate the smell of the office.  It makes me nauseous.  I hate the chairs we have to sit in, the IV poles, the fact that everyone in there is older than me.  I hate that people look at me with pity when I'm in there, especially when they hear it's my second go-round with cancer.  I don't want pity.  I want to smile and laugh and LIVE. I don't feel like I can do that in there. 

Anyways, we got to chemo and got hooked up with the Avastin.  I had a conversation with the nurse about my concerns - everyone keeps assuming that, since we went through chemo almost four years ago, that we know what's going to happen.  I had to stop her and explain that I have willingly and purposefully forgotten everything I learned during that time frame.  That doesn't even take into account what's leaked out of my brain as a result of chemo brain.  :)  So, we had a discussion about side effects, the differences between Folfox (previous chemo) and Folfiri (this chemo), etc.  I was glad we had the discussion, but upset that we had to initiate it. 

I had them give me a full dose of Ativan before they started the Avastin - the Ativan is an anti-anxiety medicine that also has anti-nausea properties.  I was super-nauseous before we walked in there, so I knew that this was a necessity.  Needless to say, I fell asleep (one of the great things about Ativan), and actually woke myself up snoring in the chemo room.  Embarrassing, but at least I wasn't nauseous.  :) 

We were out of there by 10:30 or so, and headed home.  My dad dropped me off at my house so I could sleep some more, and he went back to his place to greet my brother Bob, my SIL Ashley, and my niece Bella.  Yeah for family visitors!  I went over there a bit later, before I grabbed the kids from daycare for their parent/teacher conferences.  Those went well (of course - my kids are amazing...), and off we went back to Mom and Dad's house for dinner with (some of the) whole family.

Yesterday brought with it more nausea in the morning, but some iced coffee (so odd) and toast helped.  We took the kids to the Wildlife World Zoohere in West Valley.  It was fun - tiring, but fun!  While there, I started to notice some sores in my mouth.  So much for no side effects from this chemo.  When we got home from the zoo, I called the oncologists office to try to get a script for the mouthwash that helps with mouth sores.  What a debacle that was. 

Getting in touch with a chemo nurse is a treat.  Leave a message and wait for a call back.  Then, they called in script.  Perfect - except, when I got to Walgreens, the pharmacist told me that one of the ingredients of the compound is no longer made.  Really?  After much discussion between the pharmacist and the nurses (and some bitchiness on both sides), we finally got the ingredients settled.  Basically, the nurses kept saying that the pharmacy could just use my script from four years ago (really?), which they couldn't because a) they only keep records for 18 months, and b) one of the ingredients is no longer made.  I can't be the only person in this four year time frame to have asked for this "miracle mouthwash".  How have they not run across this issue before?  Luckily, the pharmacist was willing to stick up for me, and fought to make sure I got what I needed.  He said that the nurses at chemo were bitchy and mean, and he decided that he would be a jerk back to make sure I got this ASAP.  Thankfully, he was able to compound the mouthwash and I was on my way. 

I think what bothers me most is that I have to fight to get answers and to get my script.  If I call the drs office, I shouldn't have to go through a bodyguard (aka, pharmacist) to get what I need.  And, even though I went through this four years ago, I still need help with this.  This is all still new to me.  I know it's not new to them, but to me, this is all new territory.  And, to have someone keep acting like it's a pain in the ass to them to give me answers makes me feel like I should start looking elsewhere. 

And, that brings me to the next piece of news.  With the help of my amazing friends, I have started the process of changing doctors.  Nothing is complete yet, but we are in the process of getting the new facility the medical paperwork.  The new place is called Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), and is one of the foremost leaders in treating advanced cancers.  Thelocal facilityis in Goodyear, which is closer to our house than the current doctor's office.  I'll go into their facility more in detail in a future posting (especially once we get more information from them).  Right now, I'll say that I have had personal experience with this facility (it's where my friend Kimwas treated), and I know of several other colon cancer patients that have been/are being treated there.  It's where I told my family that I wanted to be if my cancer ever came back.  My friend Amy did some research for me, and got me enough information that it was worth pursuing this facility.  Long story short, the financial impact is the same whether we stay at the current facility or go to CTCA.  I firmly believe that the treatment I'm going to get at CTCA is going to be much more complete and personalized, and right now, that's what I need. 

We have meetings with them next week - they will be going back to my original diagnosis to look at all of the tests, including a potential rediagnosis if needed.  They are going to look at my case completely and totally, and we will be working with not only an oncology team, but a nutritionist, naturopath, mind/body therapist, and others to give me a complete, whole body treatment plan, rather than just dealing with the cancer.  I am so excited about this!  I'm especially excited about the nutritionist, b/c I've forgotten to eat in the past couple of days, and that had a big impact on how I felt.  My eating habits have changed just in the past couple of days (my tastes are completely different), and I know it's not good for me. 

Anyways, now that this post is way longer than I intended, I'll say that I have more hope today than I did a week ago.  I'm excited about this new possibility for treatment, and I'm so glad that I have this opportunity.  Don't get me wrong - cancer still sucks, and I wish I wasn't dealing with this.  But, with the help of my friends and family, I'm going to absolutely and completely beat this.  I WILL be one of the stage 4 survivors! 

Boo-yah!

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