Ruth's musings

I have been dealing with breast cancer for a while, and have been sharing my journey with friends, family, and prayer partners. This blog brings all my updates together in one place, and leaves me free to muse on other parts of my life. Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

One last post

Ruth's long battle with breast cancer ended at 8:15 p.m., Nov. 19, 2008. She is survived by her husband, Paul, her sons, Matt and Tim, and two brothers, Tony and Andrew.

The funeral will be at 2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 24, at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Falls Church, Virginia. ( There will be a viewing from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 23, at Murphy Funeral Homes, 1102 West Broad Street, Falls Church, Virginia (

Memorial donations may be made to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ruth Update November 11, 2008

I am in hospice care, though I haven't actually met with the hospice people. It looks like my time is running out faster than we had hoped.

Our new computer is not working well, so please see this blog for updates until further notice.

Also, my typing is not very good. I will try to get out updates as I can, but please check this blog for the latest news until further notice. You will not be getting the regular e-mails, but it is not because I don't love you

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Ruth Update November 4, 2008

We have had computer problems, so am sorry that I have been unable to to put out my updates via e-email as I usually do. I hope to have that fixed some time this week.

Also, my typing is shot. Combine that with my usual inability to get to work, and I have resigned my job. I will try to keep up with my blog and prayer partners list

I had a medical procedure due yesterday, but it was canceled when my liver function when sky-high. So I had a couple of more liver function tests and an ultrasound. I hope to get more information tomorrow, and hope to get some chemotherapy going.

Please check the blog here, until the e-mail list gets up and going.

Love, Ruth
get your mammograms. Do your self-exams

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ruth Update, October 14, 2008

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer partners,
I have been home since about 6:00 AM on Saturday.  The best part of the weekend was that my brother and his friend came to visit on Saturday and fixed dinner for us, with lots of leftovers.  Other than that, this was not a weekend I would care to repeat.
I was supposed to have chemotherapy today, but my white blood cell counts are still too low, so we will check again next week.  Personally, I think we may have to try some different chemotherapy.
Thanks to all of your for your prayers and good thoughts.
Get mammograms.  Do self-exams.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ruth Update, October 10, 2008

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,
I will be having a short stay in the hospital for a platelet transfusion.  I am sitting at home waiting to hear when a short-stay bed opens up on the oncology floor at the hospital.  They could call any time today, do don't rush over to the hospital looking for me.  I have asked Paul to come home, and he is on the way.
The thing is, I had an appointment for medication management with my psychiatrist today, and my nose started to bleed before I left the house.  After I spoke with the psychiatrist, while holding a tissue to my nose, I went up to the oncology clinic to see the advice nurse.  A nosebleed was one of the things on my list of symptoms to call immediately, and I figured that since I was there anyway . . .   At any rate, she ordered a blood count and I flunked.  Now, I sit and wait for the phone call from the hospital. 
My plans for the weekend are shot, darn it.  I was going to a reunion of the people with whom I worked for seven years at the hospital social work department.  The reunion is in Easton, Maryland, and this would have been my first trip over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  I would let Paul drive, thank you very much.  Now, it doesn't sound like a good idea.  I was so looking forward to seeing all those people, too.  Dang it. 
Get mammograms.  Do self-exams.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Ruth Update, October 8, 2008

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,
I went in to take my second dose of Gemzar on Monday, and found out that I was neutropenic, so that was delayed until next week.  I still had my monthly Aredia, though.
The next day, I had an appointment with my oncologist.  She had to make some phone calls and get a fax, but she got the results of my biopsy.  My cancer does not have the receptors that would take up the Herceptin.  This means the drug would do me no good, so it is off the team and out of the dugout.  We will continue with the Gemzar, Carboplatin, and Avastin.  I haven't actually started the Avastin yet.  I imagine I will end up taking Neupogen or something like it to keep my counts up.  I have managed to get my own immune system up and going on its own in the past.  I think I will be having chemo of some kind every week for a while.
I covered some other stuff with my oncologist while I was there.  I asked "Can I have a beer now and then?"  "NO!!!"  I had a feeling that would be the case.  With my liver in the shape it is in, drinking alcoholic beverages is not a good idea.  Ah, well, it is not a part of my daily routine.  Still, a glass of wine or beer is nice when we go out to dinner.  Paul took me to a "pub" called Elephant and Castle before we went to see Romeo and Juliet a few weeks ago, and I had a beer.  When it was in front of me, I thought it might not be a good idea.  I drank most of it, anyway.  We got great service there, too, and the price was not bad.  When we told them we were going to the theater, they kicked it into overdrive.  I ordered the dessert, bread pudding, at the same time as our entrees, and all worked out well.  They let us split the dessert.  I told Paul to leave a big tip, and he did.  Much to my surprise, he left a bigger one than I would have.  Maybe he didn't want to wait around for change.
Another thing I can't do is take acetaminophen, or Tylenol.  The liver doesn't handle it well under the best of circumstances.  The trouble is, I have been taking Vicodin, which is acetaminophen and a narcotic, hydrocodone.  Percocet is the same thing, only the narcotic is oxycodone.  So, now I am taking oxycodone by itself.  This is one of those drugs the doctor actually has to sign an actual paper to prescribe, and I have to show ID and also sign my life away. 
I have been going to work in the mornings, getting some stuff done, and them coming home and crashing.  I do have some pain in the liver and ribs.  The doctor could feel the liver was enlarged when she palpated my abdomen.  She assures me we will shrink it.
I'll take the medicine and follow orders.  All I ask from you is prayers.
Oh, and get mammograms.  Do self-exams.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Ruth Update, October 1, 2008

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,
The chemotherapy on Monday went pretty well.  I was glad to see that the two meds I got then are only half-hour infusions.  I didn't get the Avastin, as one of the possible side effects of that one is bleeding problems, and since I had a liver biopsy scheduled for the next day, that did not sound like a good idea.  The biopsy went well, though I have no results yet.
I managed to make it to work today, but left an hour early.  I try to let my body tell me when to go home, rather than the clock.  I am sort of achy and have a teeny fever.  I think I will go back to bed.
Get mammograms.  Do self-exams.