On the Cancer Front

Here’s the back story to this post. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2016. I was treated. It moved to my lungs in 2021. Again I was treated. Now it has moved to my spine.

I had a busy week. I worked Monday through Wednesday. I called Mayo Clinic early on Thursday morning hoping to move my MRI appointment for my back from next Wednesday to something Thursday or Friday of this week. No luck. I am a little pushy when it comes to advocating for myself. I guess I feel some urgency with all of this as in January there was no cancer in my spine and now here we are a few months later and it’s raging, actively eating my bones.

I was told there were no appointments. I decided I would call back in the afternoon and then again Friday morning. I really wanted to get the process of being treated rolling. My back pretty much hurts all the time now so the pain gives me a sense of urgency.

In the meantime, I got a call from the local clinic that was setting up Zometta infusions for me. Apparently, Zometta is a drug that is used with osteoporosis patients and helps beef up the bones. I was told that the infusion takes the calcium from your blood and moves it to your bones. The person calling said I could come immediately and they would do the infusion.

I was told that people often end up with flu-like symptoms, sore, achy and tired, the next day but I followed the hydration rules and was okay.

I treated myself to some thrift store shopping after the infusion…I’ll talk about my finds in another post.

Later on Thursday at about 4 pm, I called again to Mayo Clinic again to see if there was an MRI cancellation. There was!! They could fit me in on Friday at 10 am. Whew. That’s an awesome time of day because then I don’t have to get up SUPER early to make the 2 hour drive. Traffic has been bad lately…well not really traffic, parking. Parking has been bad lately.

I was up and out the door at 7:45 on Friday morning.

I got lucky with parking and was able to stitch for 10 minutes in the waiting room before they called me back.

This MRI was with contrast so I got hooked up again. This time it was in my elbow joint so there was no stitching for me. I waited a long time in my room. I’m guessing a half hour as nurses came and checked on me twice apologizing for the delay. It was A-okay with me. I was getting this done.

I have to say I’m totally impressed with the gown improvements. No more underwear sneak peeks with these 3 arm-hole gowns. I’d love to write a personal thank you card to whoever came up with the idea. Your backside is completely covered with these.

I’ve had an MRI done on my shoulder before. It was in a mobile semi-truck. That sounded like a loud airplane at tack off. This was an annoying series of constant beeps and buzzes. It wasn’t at all what I expected. It was do-able but I’m guessing it would be really hard for some people.

And then the wait was on…when would the results be read and put into my online portal so I could read them? I drove home making a few stops along the way. I had roasted tomatoes for yard sauce the night before and had left them in the oven overnight to cool. I ended up processing those and then I made several pans of eggplant parmesan. I made a 9 x 9 pan that I cooked up and will eat for the next few days. I did two small pie tins and one 9 x 13 pan. Those all were made for the freezer. I can pop them out, unthaw them, and have them anytime. I’d really like to make a few more for the freezer before the season is through.

I was starting to clean up with my phone dinged. My results were in.

The news is not great.
I have a 3 x 2.6 x 2.1 cm lesion on L5. It sounds like the other issues are on L2, not L1 as we originally thought. Looks like there is involvement with S1 as well. There are lots of words that are hard to understand.

If you think about your vertebrae and think a portion that is 3 x 2.6 x 2.1 cm is compromised, that’s a little scary. Vertebrae aren’t that big.

I called Kalissa. I told her and admittedly, I was a little upset and so confused. Here it is the Friday of a holiday weekend and there is no guidance from anyone. The results were just dumped on me. Kalissa was upset and she immediately called Mayo and got to the desk of Radiology Oblation who I’ll be seeing next but no appointment was scheduled with them. I had to have the MRI before they would schedule an appointment.

They did give me an appointment…Next Friday the 8th. Kalissa will go to the appointment with me.

There is more to the MRI report but it’s terribly hard for me to understand…bulging discs, and more.

In the meantime, Kalissa asked “Since there is so much damage, do I need to not lift?” The nurse said she is not a doctor but would recommend that I take it easy. I still need to move so my back doesn’t freeze up. Limit lifting, bending, twisting. If I do something and it hurts, I shouldn’t do it. UGH. My back hurts all the time now and has for the last couple of weeks.

With that news, I called into work and told them I can’t come in. I lift dogs all the time to put them in their kennels. I carry dog food. I do all sorts of bending, lifting, and twisting. UGH.

I really love my job and this is hard. Plus I just started. I don’t want anyone to think I’m a slacker.

BUT…for now, living the life of a slacker is what I’m going to have to do. THANKFULLY, THANKFULLY, THANKFULLY, I have hobbies that allow slacking.

Kalissa put something together for at least a month or two to arrange for someone to come clean the house once a month so I’m not vacuuming and worrying about the floors. That was super sweet.

I’ve already started to make some modifications. I used my main floor shower for the first time. My upstairs shower is in a claw foot tub that curves on the bottom and is slippery. This will be much better.

I’m going to do my best to still live a happy life but make smart choices about my back. The last thing I want to do is break it…and honestly, if I fell or did something, that’s a real possibility. The hardest thing for me is that I can’t care for any grandkids that I’d need to pick up or change diapers on. UGH.

I am told that treatment from here will likely involve thermo oblation and then after, a process that puts cement in my back where the cancer has eaten the bone away. Who knows how long that will take and how sturdy that will make me. We’ll know more by the time the month of October rolls around.

In the meantime…I got a pass to craft!! I can sew. I can stitch. That’s not at all a bad prognosis!! I’m looking for the good in all of this and stitching and sewing are definitely the good!!

Many thanks to those of you who have sent cards and words of encouragement. A big shout-out to Annie!! Your card and gift had me crying. It was a good crying though. I can’t thank you enough.

56 thoughts on “On the Cancer Front”

  1. Jo, there is always a silver lining to every cloud. Yours is that you can have lots of time to stitch. Not a bad thing! Listen to those books on tape too! You deserve to have a rest even though this wasn’t a planned one. Praying for you.

  2. I hurt my back with a baby that was just walking. She would go get a diaper and crawl up on a changing pad on the couch. I sat on a stool and changed her diaper. I wrapped the disposables up and she threw them away. It was a big deal and she liked helping. You can do the things you have to do. I was lucky that she could walk and climb on the couch but Master seems up to that challenge.

  3. I am a regular reader of your blog, but not very good at commenting. I am praying for you and so inspired by your upbeat attitude. God’s blessings to you.

  4. It’s so good to hear you are staying positive through this process. I admire you for that. I know you will do what you need to do to take care of yourself. Know I’m praying for continued strength and courage for the road ahead. You have a strong support system and they will guide you through this. Love, peace and prayers for you on this journey. Hugs!!!

  5. You are so brave and see the bright side. I have scans to check for recurring cancer every 6 months and know you have the right frame of mind. I hope karma for all the great things you do will come to you. God bless !!

  6. I am so praying for you. Your upbeat attitude is an inspiration for many. I hope you are journaling your path…for yourself and others. God’s blessing on you!

  7. Jo, I’m so very sad to hear of the struggles that you are facing. I hope that the future brings better news. I am so happy that you are blessed with a loving and supportive family. You will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. ❤️ from California

  8. Oh, Jo, so sorry for the pain you have in your back and that you must lay low from your job. You give so much inspiration to others with your positive attitude. I am so glad Kalissa will be going with you on Friday next week for your appointment. I guess we will be seeing lots of finished projects – just hoping. You continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. I am praying that you will stay strong and that the cancer will be killed and not just sent to a different part of your body.

  9. So glad you are hooked up into the Mayo system, have a nurse to help advocate, and have learned the lesson that is often lost to many….advocate for yourself in the medical system. I’m praying for you from afar and wishing you all the best!

  10. Sending prayers for you and your family. I wish you could stay with your job, but I understand lifting is an issue. I am glad you have hobbies to work on. Take care and wish you good results with the treatment. Our guild posted pictures today of the quilt tops I got from you and where they are headed.

  11. nothing to say that others haven’t said and much more eloquently. Prayers for this part of your journey on the cancer road.

  12. Jo: I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Praying that your pain isn’t too bad, treatment is successful and you’ll have all this behind you as soon as possible.

  13. Dear Jo, I am listening to all you write and I thank you for the inspiration.
    Get well soon. Keep those Mayo people hoping.

  14. Praying you get direction and treatment quickly and for your back pain too go away. That gown is AWESOME!!! Kudos to the inventor!

  15. Jo so sorry to hear about your cancer coming back.
    Your family is so supportive, you’ve raised wonderful kids.
    You are in my prayers

  16. Take care of yourself and make yourself the priority for now. My prayers for you and your family. You are such a wonderful person. Hugs,

  17. Dear Jo, I am so glad you were able to get in earlier for the MRI, what a blessing. When I have low back pain, especially riding in a car, I use an Icy/Hot large patch in the center of my back so it is on the nerve root from the spine. Also, your doctor may prescribe Lidocaine patches which are used the same way. The only problem I have is that after a few days of wearing the patches, my skin develops blisters which heal rapidly. I hope you get some relief. Call your doctor for other suggestions. A heating pad on your back may also help. Stay active with your walking. Helen Hewell

  18. Dear Jo, you are such an inspiration to all, and so thankful that you share your talents with us. I am a long time quilter, and started cross stitching when you started the Blessed SAL. I am not sure if my stitching even passes muster but I am enjoying. I do know that God is with you as many of us will be praying for you.

  19. I’m praying for divine healing for you Jo, and thanking God for all His blessings to you, even the new improved hospital gown. Bless you and all your family!

  20. Jeanine from Iowa

    From an Iowa quilter, I just want you to know that I have been praying for you every day since this whole cancer problem started. Stay positive, and keep us posted on your journey. God is still on the throne.

  21. Jo, I too am fighting a cancer battle, malignant melanoma. Using My Chart is a blessing and a curse. It’s great getting to see everything in real time but a curse knowing it will be some time before I get a call from my doctor. I had a brain MRI two weeks ago and I couldn’t bear to look at My Chart. If it was bad news I wanted to hear it from my doctor. You are in my thoughts and prayers as you battle this cancer. How sweet of Kalissa to get someone to help with your cleaning duties. You are Blessed by wonderful children, especially daughters in the healthcare field!

  22. Among the many things I admire about you when I’m reading your blog posts is you are always looking for the bright side & trying to do things the right way. I’m so glad you have the cross stitching and quilting to keep you busy & the loveliest family to help you out where it’s needed. Most of all, God is there, watching over you, your family & will be looking over the shoulders of the doctors and nurses re: treatment as it happens. So glad that your appt has been moved up and your daughter will go with you to advocate for you & answer questions that you’ll have after. I will be continuing to pray for you & your family. Thank you for letting us all know how its going — you mean a lot to all of us! Deb E

  23. Forgot to tell you….as you were describing the gown improvements I was laughing hysterically remembering Jack Nicholson in that movie with Diane Keaton, with his backside exposed to the world as he was be-bopping all over the floor in the ER….thanks for the laugh! Can you get a message to your GP or to Mayo direct to ask for pain meds until you are seen next week? You shouldn’t have to suffer until then without meds…..

  24. Oh my Jo, Life just keeps pouring it on you. I had mri done – No fun- I have lesions on my brain and spine from MS- and bulging disc. It’s quite scary when you’re left hanging- the neurologist did that to me also. The advice I was given was to read and research my “ illness” but only believe part of it. Everyone is affected differently. I’m praying your treatments will improve your daily task. It’s hard but just keep your mind and hands doing the things you love. You’ll never be alone with this cheering squad you have in your home and blog. Stay Kramer Strong – sending a hug and many prayers.

  25. The sentence that stands out for me is this one: “I’m going to do my best to still live a happy life but make smart choices about my back.” That is a great plan. The first part will not be hard for you because you are surrounded by so many people and activities that give you joy. The second part—being proactive about avoiding or preventing activities that could cause pain—will take more work, especially because you are so used to doing anything and everything without worry, but since it is now a stated objective, you can focus on it. That makes it easier to ask for help or accommodations. Your positive attitude is inspiring.

  26. I have bulging discs in my lumbar region. So far nothing is recommended for them. A sister in law gets mud in her spine every so often and it has helped tremendously. You have the Mayo Clinic helping you. Stay Kramer Strong during this time. All of us are sending good wishes your way.

  27. My DIL’s Dad had the cement put in his back in the early summer. He has done very well and healed fast. He’s not yet able to ride a lawn mower or lift heavy things but he’s very mobile, is driving and pretty much living a good life.
    Wishing it lets you do the same.

  28. Jo…I sympathize with the lower back issues and I am hoping that a new treatment plan is both effective and timely. You are a great teacher of cross stitching and I love your projects! Julie

  29. I’m praying for you as you continue thru this journey with your cancer. You have a fabulous family that loves you and supports you. So glad you have that support.

  30. You are such an inspiration to all of us who read your blog and, I’m sure to all your family and friends. I look forward to hearing about all your quilting and cross-stitch projects and am keeping you in my prayers.

  31. I’m so sorry for all the troubles you’re going through.
    I’m very thankful that you have such a supportive family around you. Continuing prayers for wisdom for the doctors and you.

  32. Jo, you have many family and friends to support you and share the load. I love your positive spin on the latest cancer news about having more stitching and quilting time :) Also, help with the cleaning would definitely be a positive in my book! Take care Jo, and know that you are loved and in our thoughts.

  33. Jo, I’m so sorry you are going through this cancer journey once again. I’m glad that Kalissa will go with you on Friday for your next visit to Mayo. You are surrounded by love and all of us on your blog who are praying to lift you up with spirit and healing. You are Kramer Strong!

  34. Your positive attitude will make a huge impact on your prognosis. Wishing you the best. You are in my thoughts frequently, Hugs.

  35. Praying for wisdom for all the doctors, staff and anyone else who takes care of you.
    Would you like me to send the gowns to someone else? If so, send me an address.
    Thinking of you and yours.

    1. No Carolyn…You can still send them to me. I got a big box here and just contacted the church ladies and they are coming to get them. My kids are always SUPER helpful with any of this as well.

  36. It seems to be the norm these days, that you have to push for medical attention and be a strong advocate for yourself. I am glad you are not shy about doing that. You have many, many people offering up prayers for your quick and safe procedures and recovery. We love you and your family. You are blessed to have them to help! God bless yall and stay strong!! With love!

  37. Jo, so sorry to hear this news. We’re dealing with it in our family as well, so I do understand some of the ups and downs. It sounds as though you’re making sensible decisions and taking care of yourself. And you’ve got a great support system in your family. Bless you, sweet lady!!

  38. Jo, I am very concerned about you. You must avoid lifting as they have told you, not even a little bit, and you must rest as much as possible. I can tell from your blog that you are doing your very best to not tell us you are scared and upset. Please know we are praying for you; you are such a good person and you have helped your family out, helped animals out, and done for others. Now others must do for you, and please let them. We all love you even if we haven’t met you. God bless you and keep you.

  39. Beryl in Owatonna

    Let others do for you right now, Don’t push it, you will pay. Thanks to your wonderful, caring family. Let the little ones help too…they will love to do for you. It is good to know there are some remedies for your back…the cement for your bones, WOW!
    Know you are loved by many, Jo. So many are praying for you and your family and medical team.

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