Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Quick Update

I'm going to make this a quick little message as I'm having a hard time keeping my eyes open. Rick's scans came back great. The tumors in his liver are all smaller and all the other tumors (lungs, lymph nodes) remained stable. The doctor is really happy with the results of today.

As for me. Chemo went great, but I tested positive for RSV again so I walked around in my mask all day. They are going to do a nasal wash and a swab of my throat each week until I test negative. Apparently this isn't something to play with. I'm actually feeling better but they aren't taking any chances.

Now, I need to grab a little bite to eat (some leftover Shepard's Pie from last night....it was delicious) then head off to bed. I'm pooped.

Thanks for all the prayers and well wishes,
Dreaming Big~

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring is really here

Except for the rainy part (which is often), I really love springtime. Flowers, fresh air, sunshine, newly cut grass....does it get much better?

It's been another uneventful weekend. Just working on getting better. This coming week is a big one. I start my chemo treatments again and Rick has his first scan since we started this new chemo regime. Tuesday will be a long, but very important day. He has his scan in the morning and the results late in the day. My chemo doesn't start until 10:00ish so I hope I'm still awake when we meet with his doctor. Angie is going with us (it's her spring break) so she can be our other set of ears and the official note taker. It's so nice to have someone else at our appointments on days like this. Having one of the kids is always extra special.

I'm now hooked up to Facebook and I've become a little addicted to it. I talk to people I haven't seen or heard from in years. I also have a virtual pet that I feed, and bathe, and walk. It's pretty fun when you have the time to spare.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm starting to get "basketballed out". I usually love March Madness....but I'm having a little March Madness of my own. The sound of the squeaky shoes on the gym floor, the cheerleaders chanting, the refs whistles....Ugh, I need to watch a movie or something with a little humor in it!

Don't forget that March is Colon Cancer Awareness month so "GET YOUR BUTT TO THE DOCTOR". Early detection saves lives.

I need to go now and work on my Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation "webisode". I'll tell you all about it once the project is finished. It's going to be exciting.

One last thing, I know the economy is tight this year but Relay for Life is only 2 months away and we are way below our goal. If you're interested in participating or donating (any amount counts) go to the link http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFLFY09GW?team_id=373324&pg=team&fr_id=14556 and show your support. Thanks in advance for your generosity.

Dreaming Big,

Friday, March 27, 2009

Cleaning Fairies are Here!

Today I was blessed by 2 cleaning fairies. At 8:00am my door bell rang and my sister in law, Dawn was at the door with 2 friends who have a cleaning company. For Dawn's birthday this year, she asked her friends and family to just give money so she could hire some help for me. I was honored, but I felt overwhelmed by her graciousness. I clean my house regularly but having a crew come in to really deep clean is such a blessing. When I bend over I always have a coughing spell, so cleaning toilets, bathtubs, behind things is a much bigger chore than it used to be.

So here I am, at the computer while the busy bees are making my house sparkle. I should have a party....No, then you guys would just dirty it up. :)

Nothing major planned again this weekend. We are still working on recuperating. I've found that by 3pm each day, I'm ready for a nap. For the past 3 days....I've slept from 3 to 7ish. Amy said she likes it when I take a nap because I'm a lot more fun after 7 o'clock. Usually, I doze off while we're having a conversation if I haven't taken a nap. Then she'll ask me about something the next day and I have no idea what she's talking about. That could just be because of old age...

Have a fabulous weekend.

Dream Big,

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Chemo is back on!

I got a call from Seattle Cancer Care today and here's the game plan. I guess I've not missed too many treatments, so beginning next Tuesday, I'll start IPI-504 again. I was thrilled by the news.

This morning I had a wonderful massage, then Megan met me in Stanwood when my massage was over. We shopped around Stanwood, went to lunch, then she collected on the massage she got for her birthday in February. I came home, visited my dad, Jake and Theresa Haugstad (who brought dinner), then fell asleep on the couch for a couple of hours. I'm now full and rested :) and ready to watch Survivor.

Rick is starting to feel a little better, as am I.

Thanks for the delicious cookies, Bill and Jane. If they are as healthy as you said they are, we should be healed by tomorrow. :)

Dream Big,

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Here's the scoop

I'm sitting here at Seattle Cancer Care waiting for Rick to head in for his treatment. We've both been to our doctor's appointments. We're still working on a game plan for me, but Rick's counts are great so he'll be having his infusion around 10:00am. His CEA count is down to 12.7 - Yahoo!

We were hoping to be back in time to attend our friends father's funeral this afternoon. I'm not sure how that will work out, but I'm sure they know we've been thinking about them.

I'd better get back upstairs with Rick, but I thought you might like to know how things are going.

Keep dreaming big,

Saturday, March 21, 2009

It's gonna get better around here...

Over the past 3 weeks, I've tried my best to keep life as normal as I knew how. It hasn't worked. I haven't done much of anything, yet I'm exhausted, emotional and tired most of the time. I thought it was all because of the "virus" but I don't think that's entirely the problem. My life (which is normally quite boring) has been in constant disarray. Though I've been coughing for the past 3 years, this cough is different. I actually feel a little bit "crazy" from it. Not only have I felt crummy, but I missed an entire cycle of chemotherapy. I've not been to my doctor's office for my general appointments in almost a month. The clinical trial coordinator is looking into the criteria to make sure I can even continue to do this trial because of how many infusions I've missed. Food doesn't interest me. I don't sleep well. Writing on the blog has become a chore because my words don't seem to make sense anymore. It's easy to understand how any one of these things can knock you off your feet, but when you put them all together and add a sick husband I guess it's understandable that I'm struggling with sanity issues.

I appreciate all your love and concern and want to assure you that one of these days the "old Doreen" will be back. I'm not sure how long this recovery process will take but please be patient with me. If I haven't blogged and you're worried, then just send me an e-mail at dreambig@wavecable.com I promise to write back.

I love you more than all the flower bulbs sticking their little heads through the dirt. (I need to get well soon since spring is one of my favorite times of the year)

Dreaming Restless in Stanwood,

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sickness Sucks

I went to Stanwood to see my parents after I finished teaching today. I only went up to see my parents once this week and have been doing my best to avoid their germs at all cost. Today, however, was an exception. I missed them... not to mention Shannon and I thought it sounded like more fun watching the NCAA March Madness games on my parents big screen TV rather than on ours.

To be very honest with you, my mom is frustrated and tired of being sick. I know that she has been "sick" for nearly 3 years with Cancer but it is this recent battle with RSV that has pushed her to a whole new level. She is tired of having to call the Cancer Care Alliance to see what they have planned next, or how her scan results came back, or if she is allowed to be in the same room as my dad since she is not 100% sure that her virus is gone. She just wants them to be the ones making contact with her and keeping her in the loop rather than the other way around. After a tearful conversation with her oncologist this evening she seems to be more hopeful that he will help her through this rocky road that she is currently traveling. I think it helped her to be re-assured that he is always a phone call or email away.

When we left my parents house tonight my dad was asleep on the couch with a bad headache and my mom was getting ready to throw some dinner in the oven (thanks to the donated dinner from a Stanwood School District employee. Thanks!) We are hoping that some rest and relaxation over the weekend will help them feel a little bit better.

Dreaming of Cough-less nights,

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Happy belated St. Patty's Day

It had been so long since I wrote a blog that once I got started last night, I couldn't stop. I also forgot to say Happy St. Patty's Day, thanks Ginger for dinner, thanks Cathy for my morning cream of wheat and cup of tea.

I forgot to mention that the rest of my family is also on the mend. Rick s going back to work today, Jake still sounds congested (Megan caught whatever Jake had), Amy is still coughing but says she thinks she's getting better also. Luckily, Angie has taken really good care of herself (which is a hard thing to do at an elementary school) and she is feeling good. Just too much time on her hands to worry about us.

I'm on my way to my much needed massage....
Talk to you later.

Love, Dor

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

On the mend

After 10 days of feeling drained, wiped out, sicker than a dog....today I think I may have rounded the corner into a healthier life. I found that the past couple of weeks have been filled with fear, not just being sick. I guess I realized that what was happening to my body might be the beginning to the end of beating the odds. For nearly 3 years, I was a cancer patient who didn't look or act the part. I learned that RSV is not just a dyslexic class on RV'S. Now, I know that even sick people get "sick". I'm not sure how much longer I'll be under the weather but I do know that I'm making forward progress and this viral infection is nothing more than a bump in the road.

When you enter our house we have a basket filled with gloves, masks, bacterial cleaner but today we realized that there were no instructions once you entered. Pam, took it upon herself to make us a sign to help all of you out. I've attached of the poster on our door. Humor is still the best kind of medicine.

I'm sure there are times when you guys get sick of listening to me talk about my wonderful friends and family, but their love and kindness were a testament over these past couple of weeks. Without their strength and selflessness I'm not sure how I would have survived

Over the next couple of weeks I'm looking forward to working with Carol Lin and TulahHealth on webisodes for the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation. Expect a lot of change in the world we once knew as Lung Cancer.

Tomorrow I'm finally going to make it in to the Wellness Center for a much needed massage. I'm sure by tomorrow I will be as good as new.

Rick and I have just crawled into bed with the hopes of getting a good night's sleep. Hope to talk to you again tomorrow.

Stay Healthy and Happy,

Big Dreamer Dor

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Saturday Night Update

I spent over an hour last night with Amy, giving you a huge update of what's been happening. I'm not sure where that entry went but it was mostly to thank Cathy Huntington, Kim Boyer and the kids for taking care of business. Angie had Rick to the doctor yesterday afternoon at the onset of a sore throat. We're not sure if he has strept throat yet, but we do know he 's been cleared of RSV.. As of this morning, Rick has a deep cough in his chest, Jake is still feeling the reprocutions of his first illness of the school years. Amy too woke up with a sinus infection and a terrible headache.

I plan on going home tomorrow, I promise to be on my best behavior, and keep my family safe from my germs.

I'll write more tomorrow and I'm sorry for the mix up from yesterday. Keep us in your prayers...we've got an epidemic going around the Schmitt house.

Love you more,

Friday, March 13, 2009


The past few days my body has been unable to decide if it wants to get better or continue to be sick. My mornings usually bring a high temperature and lots of coughing. As the day progresses, my temperature usually drops from the 102 range to around 99. The problem is that it tends to do the 102 to 99 jump at least twice a day. My days are ok but my nights aren't very good. Kim, Cathy, and Amy have all taken a turn at a "night shift" with me and I feel horrible for their lack of sleep. Not only do I cough throughout the night, I also have spells where I can't breathe and start to hyper-ventilate. It's not fun for me, or my night-time helpers.

A lot of people have called and emailed about wanting to come to Seattle to "take a shift" with me but as much as I would love to see everyone, I don't want anyone else to be exposed to these germs. The doctors have told us that my chance of contaminating others lessens as my temperature goes down so I want to take a few more days to recover before I go home. I had an appointment today with the infectious disease team at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. I was feeling pretty cruddy at the time, so they had a chance to see me like I've been feeling everyday since Monday. During my appointment the doctors ran a new kind of chest x ray to see if they could find anything new bacteria growing. No answers yet. They put me on a nebulizer that seems to be doing some good.

Tonight I'm actually feeling pretty good.Rick woke up this morning with a sore throat. Angie jumped right on that and made him an appointment to make sure he didn't have RSV. We got a call tonight and he's safe. Now we just need to make sure he starts feeling better too.Cathy spent the day and night with me last night and today, now Kim Boyer tag teamed her out and will be spending the night, then Pam will be in Seattle to take over tomorrow. Ok, enough talk about sickness. Let's get back to having fun...I can't stay focused long enough to write any more so I'll have to say goodbye until tomorrow.

Love you more,

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Time to Rest and Recover

Hi guys...it's Dor. I'm out of the hospital now, but I'm not going home for a few days because I am still contagious. Melana opened her condo for me to stay in through the weekend. It is only a mile or two from the hospital and it will give my body a chance to heal. If my temperature goes up again, or if I have any complications, I can be at the hospital in 5 minutes or less. Rick is trying to recover from chemo and he certainly doesn't need my germs around him. I have an appointment on Friday at the infectious disease clinic at the hospital. They are going to do some blood work and talk about our upcoming plans. We discussed performing a broncoscopy (biopsy) to check for any new bacteria or fungus that may be trying to make a new home in my lungs. Taking a chunk out of my lungs is certainly not our first option, so we'll do everything we can to prevent the broncoscopy. I'm hoping I just continue to get better and skip that process.

It has been a tough couple of days for all of us. All three of the kids spent a lot of time with me in the hospital on Monday and Tuesday so by the time we found out I had a contagious virus, it was too late to keep them out of harms way. Jake woke up this morning really sick. With him being a teacher and around germs all the time, it's hard to tell exactly where he got it, but I also can't rule out that he got it from me and I hate that. Jake is feeling a little better tonight so we are all hoping it was just a 24 hour flu bug.

I'm so thankful for my friends and family and all they've done for me these past few days. We have decided that we better "pick teams" for the next few days so we don't share this virus with Rick (or anyone else for that matter). The options are "Team Rick" and Team Dor" but nothing in between. It's silly for my germs to leave this condo. I'll learn more from the doctors on Friday about how long I should stay away from home. I just know that I'm already missing my Ricky's face and little bald head, and it's only Wednesday.

I love you more than all the times I've coughed over the past 4 days...boy, are you loved!

Dreaming Big,

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dor's HAZMAT team

What a roller coaster the last 24 hours has been. Mom was taken to the University of Washington Medical Center last night and is still there . After almost six hours in the Emergency Room, she was admitted and taken to her room in the cancer ward a little after midnight. Her friend Cathy volunteered to sleep in her room so the family could get a little bit of rest at home. My dad stayed at a hotel near the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance so he would be close to the hospital for his chemo this morning. Prior to all of the family leaving the hospital last night we were already notified that my mom would not be allowed to participate in her clinical trial today. Her temperature was hovering around 102 for most of the evening and her coughing was causing a lot of pain thru her ribs. She was having a tough time breathing so they put her on oxygen and that seemed to help.

Mom called me this morning around 6:30 and she sounded great. I felt much more optimistic after the call. While mom continued to rest at UW with Cathy, I joined my dad at SCCA for his medical appointment and chemo. When his chemo started, he immediately fell asleep. I went over to the other hospital to check on my mom and I was shocked to see her looking so bad again. Her temperature was back up around 102 and she was struggling with her coughing.

The doctors seemed a little bit surprised by her symptoms because her blood work was within the normal range and her chest X-ray looked fine, but her coughing and fever were both unusual. After being in the room with mom all day the doctor's came in with the results of her blood work. They were in masks, rubber gloves, and protective gowns. They told us mom had a contagious virus called RSV. They made us put on the suits which we like to refer to as our "hazmat suits". Her virus is rare and usually only effects infants, elderly people, and people with compromised immune systems. As long as a person has a normally functioning immune system, they are unlikely to be effected by the RSV virus. We put on the suits like they told us to, but after cuddling with her for 6 or more hours in the ER last night and sitting next to her bed all day today, we have obviously been exposed to it.

Cathy drove my dad home after his chemo because they both needed a good night of rest and he certainly didn't need to be around a contagious virus more than he already had been. Kim Boyer drove to Seattle this evening so she can stay at the hospital with mom tonight. Sleeping in a hospital chair is not pleasant (you can ask Cathy if you don't believe me) but for Kim to sleep in a hospital chair tonight... in a hazmat suit... she deserves a gold star.

If mom continues to be stable over night she will be released in the morning. She will need to rest at home and beat this virus on her own, without medicine. Like most other viruses, there is not a "medicine" to cure this so she will need to rest and get lots of fluids.

Obviously Dor will want to see people, but please be prepared to wear a mask if you stop by their house. Also, I think it goes without saying that there shouldn't be any children at their house for a week or two. If you have a cold, or don't feel well for any reason, please pick up the phone to say hello instead of stopping by the house.

I am attaching a few photos from this evening at the hospital. As you can see, Dor had a very supportive "Hazmat" team.

Thanks to everyone for the nice phone calls and emails today. A special thanks to Cathy and Kim for dropping everything and sleeping with Dor at the hospital so the rest of the family could go home and rest. You guys are life-savers.

Dreaming Big-

Monday, March 09, 2009

Quick Update...

Yesterday afternoon some guests came into town to film a special story on our family. We got together last night for some of mom's good lasagna and to share our stories with the film crew. Even though there were ten of us we still had leftovers (as you probably know, mom doesn't know how to cook for a small number of people). We laughed, shared childhood memories, and shed plenty of tears. Before we knew it, it was 10pm and we were all exhausted.

After a late night, mom woke up this moring feeling horrible. She spent all day in bed with Kathy by her side. As the day progressed she began feeling worse and worse, but since she's supposed to be having chemo tomorrow we were hoping she'd be able to make it through the day and wait until tomorrow to see the doctor. By about 5:30pm her fever hit 102 degrees and we all decided that mom couldn't wait anymore. Angie and Shannon are taking mom down to UW Medical Center and the film crew is shortly behind. I'm sure they had no clue what they were getting themselves in to when they called and said they wanted to do a story on our family. We always seem to be on a rollercoaster of emotions.

We'll fill you all in as we know more, but for now Dad and I are headed to be with mom at UW.

Praying for the best,

Friday, March 06, 2009

How sweet it's been

These past few days filled with basketball are (as usual) one of my yearly highlights.  I see people that I generally only see once a year down here in Tacoma.  Excitement fills the air.  You get to witness athletes and their parents crying together (sometimes they are tears of joy, other times they're tears of sorrow) but either way it's a memory that I have never forgotten during those times when it was my family in those shoes.

Besides watching basketball games, I told you that I was also watching Angie officiate games at the highest level she can go with High School sports.  Tonight, not only did she get her cake and eat it too, but it had a frosting she'll never forget.  Angie and 2 other officials will be officiating the championship game tomorrow night at 7:00pm on Fox Sports.  She was evaluated all week on her ability and today it paid off.  We are so proud of her hard work.  More than anything, we're happy to be alive to see her in action.

It's late now and I've been crying for the past half hour, so I'd better sign off and call it a day.

Rick and I are both feeling fine.  A little cough and shingle pain are very tolerable when you've got a giant smile on your face.

Dreams Do Come True,

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

State Basketball

You all know me well enough to know that I'm having a fabulous time watching hours and hours of high school basketball.  Only this time...it's different.  Since Angie started officiating and Rick and I got sick, she has so badly wanted to be on the court as a referee at the State Tournament and for us to be around to see it.  This morning as I sat in the stands watching my beautiful daughter with a whistle hanging out of her mouth, I got a little tear in my eye knowing that another dream came true.  I'm not sure which of us was happier.  She did an amazing job and we are so proud.   She has another game tonight at 8:30 so I'd better get my game face on and head back over to the Tacoma Dome.

Until later ~ Keep dreaming big,

Monday, March 02, 2009

Happy Monday

It's the Bachelor Finale tonight (except for little piece they left out where there will be another finale tomorrow because he changes his mind). For those of you who don't watch it. Good for you. For those of us crazy lovenuts who do....thank goodness it's almost over. What did we do with our Monday nights before this started?

Yesterday was a fabulous day. We celebrated Amy, Angie and Megan's birthday with a nice dinner, lots of laughter, we played beauty shop (Angie needs to be "smokin' hot" for her state referee debut), and we finished the evening with cheesecake topped with fresh strawberries.

I'm so happy that we both have the week off from chemo. My body is aching more than usual from a build up from the drugs. I'm hoping to feel better in the next couple of days. I have lots of basketball to watch this week and I don't want to be whining about my knee the whole time.

I have some exciting news to share with you regarding "our story" that's being produced in the coming months. I don't have all the details, but you'll be the first to know as soon as I do.

I'd better go check on the soup I'm making for dinner.

Keep dreaming big,