Saturday, April 16, 2016

Moments that count the most...

Well, my car has been repaired from the now deceased deer that hit our car on the way home from Houston. Rental cars are a lifesaver but man was I glad to get my Buick Lacrosse back! Drives like a dream....atleast to me.
Life is moving so fast...or so it seems. Between taking family to dr appointments, picking up grandkids from school, having playdates with grandchildren, selling my children's book, selling luminaria's for our Relay for Life, getting the 5K/1 mile walk lined up with volunteers, not to mention helping get all the supplies for our own team on the day of the Relay. It just seems like I want time to S.L.O.W.   D.O.W.N.!

By the way we have just about 100 Irene books left....so if we have not got one to you and you want one, I would suggest making contact with one of us.  We have books that have been shipped to Canada, Washington, Hawaii, Iowa, Arkansas, Texas, New York, Tennessee, and maybe some places I am forgetting. So....in about 3 weeks, we have sold 300 books. Whew! 

I saw my local oncologist this week. Just a checkup since I hadn't saw him for approximately 6 months. Radiation plays havoc on a few of the labs but they are slowly going in the right direction. When I left MD Anderson, my CA 19-9 (cancer marker) was 11.1,  the bloodwork I had drawn last week  shows my CA 19-9 at 4. Dr. Dy thinks that is a pretty good indicator that the radiation is working. He is so happy with the stability of my disease. I told him there were so few left that started the journey when I did. I told him I could only think of one in Pennsylvania.  He said 99% do not live as long as I with just chemo/radiation/and clinical trials. I am in the 1 percentile with my type of cancer meaning my cholangiocarcinoma is the slowest growing he has ever seen in a patient with this cancer.  So does that make me lucky? Mmm...I'm not sure what you would call it but I thank God that I am still here making memories with friends, family and inspiring others to never give up!

Pat and I have been cleaning the flower beds one by one. WHY did I think I needed them all over our yard?  I worked three hours outside this morning and it was pretty hard physical labor.....then I was done for the day!  I showered and rested. The effects of radiation is just taking it's time leaving my body and it kinda stinks!  Little by little....time here and there...the flower beds will be cleaned.

So, this is my life. I am living it as best that I can. I am so very blessed. I hope to get a GREAT report in Houston May 9 & 10th. I pray for a break from any treatments. The longer I can stall, the better chance of a treatment for my mutations to come along. So, I will not be in a hurry to jump into immunotherapy or any other trial until it is a do or die situation. Each day I can feel my body returning to normal. I am getting ready to dust off my bike if only time would slow down a bit!

May you all have a wonderful day....and be thankful for your minutes in your life. They are so very, very precious....don't let them pass you by without stopping to give thanks. You never know when a curveball is going to be thrown into YOUR life.

God Bless~~
Patty Corcoran


Monday, March 28, 2016

Time For a Short Rest....

   As Pat and I closed in on our trip back from Houston, the odometer said we'd driven 971 miles when out of the corner of my eye I saw a big  BIG dear dart into my side of the front headlight. One leg flew past as the rest of the dear thugged, clunked, kerplammed against my side of the car. So.....Pat stops to see if there is any damage that makes the car undrivable (I am saying "No! Don't stop. It's drivable...we're 10 minutes from my bed....the bed I hadn't seen for 6 weeks. KEEP DRIVING!").  No...we have to stop. OF COARSE we do, officer!  It was drivable and I called in the report to the sheriff's office....telling them I'd be in the next morning to finish up paperwork. It was past 11 p.m. and Pat and I were both exhausted.  We ended up being so high on adrenaline that we unpacked the whole car that night, then we were in bed by  midnight.
   So, the six weeks of radiation wasn't too bad. I rested about 4-5 days if even for a couple hours. The last 5 days of radiation seemed to be the most taxing on me. I would a lot of those 5 days, have treatment at 8:20 and I was back to our nest and I was back in bed by 9:30 am. I usually slept a couple hours and was good for the rest of the day.  After I rang the bell on day 28 of radiation, we left for Illinois and I made it about an hour before I fell asleep for two hours. Since being home, I haven't napped much but today (Monday after Easter) I was up at 6:00 and back to bed at 9 a.m. and slept until 11:37 a.m.  I have felt pretty good the rest of the day. The radiation oncologist said it would take about a month for my body to start feeling better. I just need to take it easy and rest, eat well, and rest SOME MORE! 
   I had a book signing on Saturday and sold several books and lots of kids who wanted to see the lady that "makes" the Irene book. There are books to buy at Wild Imaginations on Rt. 130 or from any of my girls or me. Our Relay is April 30th this year so we really need to get serious about selling lots of books!
   What's next? I go back on May 9 & 10 for a couple of scans. One is a bone density scan to check for osteoporosis (since I have had 3 separate radiation treatment to areas of my body) and we want to take as good a care of this  body as we can with everything else going on. I will also have bloodwork and a CT scan of my chest and also one of the abdomen to thigh area. Time to see if the zapping that aortocaval lymph node is a success. I truly believe it did and I hopefully can rest easy for a bit. There is something about cholangiocarcinoma that some people never understand. You can get rid of the cancer...have it all removed, and it's back in a year. OR, you can have a transplant and struggle, get better, then the cancer comes back. ME? My doctor says I am chronic at this point. I just refuse to give up. It's not in me. So, we conquer one battle only to see something else come up 6, 9, or 15 months later. My dr always has a plan and it has worked for me. New treatments are coming so fast if, IF I can just hold on.
   In a few weeks, when it warms up just a bit more here in southern Illinois, I plan to walk with my grandchildren down our Suntone driveway. Point out the signs of life. The signs of new hope. That even though God died for all of our sins, He is RISEN and alive in all of us. The "little's" understand way more than you think. We stop at the creek and look for signs of little fish, little frogs, flowers, trees flowering. L.I.F.E.  Don't ever...e.v.e.r. take it for granted. That is what I guess I am trying to instill in these small grandchildren of mine. Appreciate the most simple things in life....sometimes they are the things that cost nothing but opening up the heart and the mind to let the love shine in!
   As I have stated before, life is all about TIME. A time to heal and a time to pray. I pray everyday that it is a time to heal for not only me but for so many family members and friends who are struggling with life right now. I pray daily for the homeless, the poor, the unemployed, the mentally ill, the list is sometimes so long I fall asleep before I say Amen. Sometimes on those oh so very tired nights....I just pray "Lord, please help our entire country!"
   So, as I end this post, I am recovering just fine. I have a new grandson (this blesses me with 7 grandchildren total!) that I would love to cuddle with every day. Until I go back to Houston in 6 weeks, I will rest, play, sleep, and LIVE.

Always Thankful~~
Patty Corcoran

Saturday, March 12, 2016

TICK....TICK....TICK....

   


   As I sit here in the computer room of the "mobile home rustic" campground (Pat's words for our Lakeside RV Resort), it is silent. The only thing I hear is the tick...tick...tick of the clock on the wall. Pat's computer blew up about a week ago, hence...no post in over a week. I have my tablet but for some reason I am unable to post with it.
   The last two weeks have just flown by and mostly with good days. I had two days where I had some symptoms/pain but it was minimal at best. But then again....as my husband jokes..."I'm pretty hard to kill".  I have surprised the dr's with my lack of "bad side effects" with high doses of radiation and the only answer I have is "I guess I really am hard to kill!  And I have an awesome God who directs me on this journey....THAT is  HUGE in the war on cancer and LIFE!  I believe it helps that they are just radiating an aortocaval lymph node.....not like the big mass that they radiated the very first time (although this last bout of radiation has more GY's cooking the lymph node than what I got for the original tumor).  8 days of radiation left plus the weekends.
   We went to the famous Houston Rodeo last night with Linda Burgener and had a good time. You know your old when you leave the concert at 11 because you're all worn out! And then it takes half an hour to find your car because you can't remember where you parked it......a mile or so away. It was humorous....or we made it that way. Sometimes...all you can do is laugh!
   I met a man in the radiation area this week who had been a chef his entire life (probably close to 50+) and he had contracted the HPV virus as a teenager from some girl and it laid dormant in his body for 30+ years and then caused cancer to activate on his tonsil. He had the tonsil removed and was cancer free for awhile before the he came home from work early one day because the whole side of his throat/neck was swollen up the size of a softball. Yip....cancer in all the lymph nodes in his neck. So he was getting his last dose of radiation in hopes to kill it off (I think he must of had surgery, then the radiation). I had no idea that men could get the HPV virus....so I want to put this out there for awareness. All you families with boys....it is just as important for you to inform your sons about this (just as much as it is for the girls but to also get the shot). I am not sure if boys/young men should get the vaccine but definitely worth checking into.
   I saw Dr. Javle this week and before I saw him, another dr following him around commented on how healthy I looked. Dr. Link was his name and he said I needed to be on the healthy side of the clinic according to my labs. Maybe someday........but for now...I keep marching, fighting, and praying to God to guide me on this journey.
   I want to thank all the people who have sent cards/packages of goodies/money to help us with our time down here in Houston. Every single card is like a ray of sunshine!
   I am super excited my third children's book is back from the printers. If you would like one, please try to come to my book signing the Saturday before Easter from 9-1 at Roll With It Bakery. The front cover does NOT do it justice as the inside pics are way better! The book is hardback just like last year's. The cost is $25 (same as last year) and it is tax deductible if you make the check out to The American Cancer Society or The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation. Message Jennifer Cummins Zuber, Amy Rusk, or I if you would like to pick one up in Olney.....
   So...to sum things up, I am feeling pretty good for a cancer patient!  I thank God every day and I thank Him for all of you!
   I promise to post next weekend and I hope to see many of you at the book signing. We do have a few books left over from last year if you need to grab one.
God Bless~~
Patty Corcoran

Sunday, February 28, 2016

And I Will March!

   Tomorrow at 10:30....I will start my third week of treatment of IMRT. By the end of this week, I will physically have a clue probably how my body is going to react. Being "cooked" is hard on your body. And although they are aiming for one lymph node, it is somewhat close to the duodenum and could cause some nausea or diarrhea. People sometimes start to get fatigued. But, until those symptoms rear their ugly head like a dragon....I will march on!
   I have to tell you about our weekend. We went down to Harlingen to visit Ron Hancock at his new home. We went to a flea market......we went to Padre Island although it was a little cloudy and breezy. Walking up and down the beach never gets old to me. That evening, we all went to a senior fundraiser at the gated community Ron's house is in.  These people might be 55 and older but let me tell you, they are sharp as a tack! I was excited as they had raffles, casino games (no money gambling but you got chips and then turned them in for raffle tickets and prizes were drawn at the end of the night). I was so excited ALL DAY about the BINGO (I have no life)......so at lunch, we were sitting in George Jones' (used to live in Olney) favorite place to sit and eat in Texas (according to Ron Hancock) and I just yelled "BINGO!"   Yip.....LOUD.   We got some stares and I just smiled like I didn't know who just yelled that!
   That evening, when we started playing BINGO, I got a Bingo on the second game. I won $1,000 in chips!  So....as the evening progressed, some elderly ladies came in and they claimed...."It's been so long since we've played Bingo...I might have forgot" I said......."it's easy!"    And all of a sudden I yelled "BINGO!"   L.O.U.D.!!! and proceeded to tell the lady that's what you do!     The lady next to me had to go change her pants I think. I thought it was super funny.....her.....not so much!  Let's just say I might be dying but I still have a little spunk in this body!  HMPH~~
   I have a lot of spunk actually and am feeling pretty good. As I sit here listening to 60 Minutes in the background.....and Pat snoring in the bedroom, I smile.  I smile because I am happy. I feel loved. I might not have a lot of money but I have God, family, friends, and LOVE.
   I am going to keep this post short...as I just wanted to update that I am still doing well. I saw my oncologist, my radiation oncologist, my nutritionist, ummmm did I leave anyone out?  I am so grateful for my health team. I'll be adding an endocrinologist dr soon as Dr. Javle would like to do a bone density scan. I have had lower back pain (which I have had since about 7th or 8th grade) and some right hip pain occasionally. I, of course, made sure he wasn't suspecting cancer and he assured me it was because I have had three separate cookings of radiation and we just need to make sure I am not getting the onset of osteoporosis. If I am, I will pop a new pill probably.  It's too early for the what if's, but if my bones ARE becoming brittle, I am thankful my doctor is on top of it!!


   As I close, I will leave you with a piece of scripture that a friend sent to me a few weeks back.
"In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."


God is HERE all the time......ALL the time, God is HERE! HE is all around us~~


Keep you posted in a week on my health status.


God Bless~~


Patty Corcoran...........#BINGO!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Starting my sixth year......

   Mid February of 2011 is when my world split into a million pieces....or did it?   I was diagnosed with Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma mid February. After being told I had 9-12 months to live with chemo, I walk away from that dr without knowing where I was even going. I feel God was guiding me.....as I believe He still is to this day.
   To say my world was split into a million pieces is an overstatement.....YES, I said overstatement. I didn't ask for cancer, never dreamed it would be knocking at my door soon after I turned 46....but it did. There are so...so...SO many things and people who have came into my life that have changed me as a person. I believe they are changes for the better.
     The BIGGEST person to come into my life was GOD. He was always in my life...I have stated before, I was like a soldier. I went to Mass, gave when I could afford in my younger single parent years, and prayed when something was wrong with one of my parents or when my children were in distress. It wasn't until I was diagnosed with cancer that I REALLY asked God to help me. I cried for Him to lift me up when I couldn't stand. I asked Him to carry me when I couldn't walk.....and HE HAS!  He has given me more faith and has made me realize that HE is always with me! Something that I lacked in my life prior to cancer.
   Cancer has brought so many, many, many, MANY people across my path in the world of cancer. People who maybe find my blog and I get a phone call from countries far away....one of my first questions to them is..."Do you believe in God?"   ANYONE with cholangiocarcinoma can tell you life with God when going through such a tough battle is like seeing a light at the end of the tunnel instead of just.....darkness. 
   I just ask each of you to stop in your busy "I don't have time for____" thoughts and ask yourself what you can do to make the world a brighter place. What can you do as a sacrifice just as God made for us.  I am not going to push God down your throat, that is a personal decision you have to make...just as I did. But you never know when your last day will be.  Do you?
   So....fast forward five years, 6 grandchildren with one due in just a few short weeks.....life is great for me. I am so thankful for my life. I have never known when my last day would be.....I have had a cerebral hemorrhage, blood clots throughout my upper body, many chemo cocktails that had my tail dragging for months, I am on my third separate plan of radiation. God has been there....I have leaned on Him....and I know He carried me when I couldn't stand.  But...I am here, and I am thankful!
   So, with that said, I will give a brief update on my stay in Houston while getting IMRT to a lymph node that we have been watching for some time, but Dr. J decided it was time to act.  I am 5 days into my IMRT with 23 treatments to go (I get the weekends off for good behavior ;-).  I also take Xeloda (a chemo pill- 6 a day) to also knock that lymph node into space. Week one has been pretty good. A little fatigue but Pat and I did walk on Thursday and Friday. I even lifted a few weights!  So, I shall march on into the radiation as long as labwork and my body hold up. I feel pretty good. Pat and I attended 10 am Mass at Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Houston and then met Clyde and Cindy (Bateman) Leuchtag for a wonderful lunch!  Then back to our donated camper which is quite nice!! There are approximately 350 campers here and everyone seems friendly. Thank you Ted and Jackie (Muhs) Ley!!
   Tomorrow, I start week two of radiation. The nutritionist has already stopped in to visit me during my visit with my radiation oncologist, Dr. Das. She knows I get to a point and can't hardly eat and start to lose weight. I am armed and ready with Ensure high protein shakes, protein powder, and high protein bars......I pray I skip right thru this so I can go home to roost with a new grandbaby!!
   If I would have died as the first opinion doctor stated, I would never have saw my first grandchild. I am so very thankful for time. I have learned that LOVE is the most important thing....and everything else kind of falls in place after that. I can't worry about when or where I will die. I just can't. I feel like I would be disappointing God if I just worried all the time....cried...or just plain gave up. No, God wants me to use this time to live, love, make a difference, and be the best person I can be because there was a time that I didn't care who I stomped on in life. I am not that person anymore. I strive to be a better person but I am not perfect. There have been so so SO many wonderful people who have passed before me. I cannot ask God why.....I can only thank Him for giving me this "extra" time to give thanks and praise to His name!   This is not meant to be of ANY disrespect who have had loved ones pass before me with this dreaded disease. I grieve with each family as I know many CC patients do. You see....through networking, Facebook, and more importantly, the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation, who has woven hundreds of us CC patients together into a tight family that is there emotionally for each other. The resources, clinical trial info, patient networking, doctors who specialize in CC all over the world, drug info....the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation is #1 for CC patients.
   I thank each and every one of you for your prayers. Life is good....


Blessing to you all!!
Patty Corcoran
    

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

My Houston address

Friends, family, and friends of family :-)


While in Houston, my address will be:
Patty Corcoran
11991S. Main Street
Houston, TX 77035


I had someone ask for it....so here it is.


Patty

Monday, February 8, 2016

Where Will I End Up Next ?!

Boy, it seems like I have not posted in a very long time. Since getting home from Texas, Pat and I were home for a week, then headed to Salt Lake City for the 10th Annual Cholangiocarcinoma Conference. WOW! Just....WOW!  It was not only a beautiful city surrounded by mountains but it is just a beautiful city. I knew a lot of the cholangiocarcinoma patients from Facebook and a PRIVATE Warriors Facebook page so it was like a big family reunion ....only you had to put the faces with the names. Each day passed too quickly and my mind hurt from all the super intense sessions that included doctors, researchers, patients, and caregivers. I have an even deeper appreciation for the CC Foundation and the people who keep it running not to mention finding doctors and researchers who are looking for cutting edge treatments and hopefully a cure someday sooner than later!!
I enjoyed each day...Tuesday, the first evening started with pizza at a nearby pizza restaurant and then back to the hotel to talk some more. On Wednesday, I got up and met Danny VanBrenk from the Netherlands for a walk around a small part of the city. There was about an inch of new fallen snow and it was just beyond beautiful with the mountains surrounding the entire city.  Our first sessions of the day started at 12.  We had doctors who answered questions, talked about new treatments, we networked with our experiences, heard success stories from people who are cancer free. It was a great day! Thursday started at 8 a.m. and it was so informative....I am so thankful Pat and I were able to attend. It was an honor to be there. The day didn't end until approximately 7 and Pat and I were wiped out! Friday started early again and it was also so very full of information. That evening, 9 of us went for supper at The New Yorker. It was a pleasure to have Dr. Javle join us and it was 11:15 before we left to go back to the hotel. Along with Pat and I were two ladies from Houston, two from Ohio, one from Oregon, and one from the Netherlands. We landed ourselves in a private dining room with one round table....we could all have a discussion and everyone felt a part of it. It was one of the nicest times I have endured just discussing cancer but also just talking about life.
Saturday came too soon and it was to the airport we go by 10. As we were going through security, I saw one of the men at the conference. He wasn't a patient and I just figured he was a doctor. Close....more of a researcher. We spoke briefly as I waited for Pat to get through security. He asked us to join him for lunch and we gladly accepted. His name was Patrick Foley from Wyoming. What a nice lunch before realizing it was time to get to our gate......they were loading and it worked out perfectly!
Pat and I returned home late Saturday night around 10:30 p.m. This is the last week we will be in Illinois for awhile. I spent Sunday with my sister, Sarah. I ask for prayers for her as she continues to heal from a criminal assault which has landed her in the Carle Hospital in Champaign for a couple of weeks, plus surgery, and now intense therapy at Helia Healthcare in Olney. I am praying really, really hard for myself and the bad thoughts I have against the crazy girl who did this to Sarah. I have always had a hard time understanding crazy....but I pray no one else is harmed from this demonic person.


I have a pretty busy week ahead of me. Today was spent cleaning, painting a bit, and picking up a grandchild from preschool. Not to mention the security cameras we had installed to alert the police if there is a break-in.


Sunday, Pat and I will make the trip to Houston with a gypsy looking car packed full of clothes and things we will need while in Houston for almost 6 weeks. I will receive IMRT for 28 treatments to the aortocaval lymph node that is lighting up and now approximately 3 1/2 cm.  Dr. Javle has been keeping a close eye on it and it has just increased little by little over the past nine months or so. So....its time to cook it. Pray for good aiming, good results, and few to no side effects.  Pat and I are staying in a 30 foot camper that has been donated for us to use for the six weeks we are in Houston. Jackie (Muhs) Ley and her husband will take it down to the Lakeview R.V. Resort and park it for us. WOW, just WOW!  How giving of her to do this for me as it has probably been my high school days since I have actually saw Jackie. Just one more family put in our path on this journey called cancer. This RV park has a pool, a hot tub, walking path, pond, exercise room, etc. This is the same campground we stayed in a couple years ago when I received radiation. It's about a 15 minute drive on a good traffic day....and my radiation appointments seem to be around 2, so if we can get in and out pretty quick, we can beat the crazy Houstonians and their reckless driving. (Please remember, I am from a town of appr. 10, 000). We have driving manners where I come from......most of the time!


I am a little apprehensive about radiation this time. I am mapped up like a road map. My grandson, Madden, looks at it and says "OWEE".  The other night, he kept lifting my shirt up to see my stomach where all the marking are and three new dot tattoos. He said "OWEE" every time he lifted my shirt....it became a game to him although he was very serious about it. Maybe he is trying to warn me???  I pray for a smooth ride on this journey with radiation. That we zap that lymph node and I get to take another break from treatments. I ask God that he holds me up if the radiation makes me weak. When I received my first bout of radiation in 2012, it left me almost limp. It was everything I could do to get dressed by week 3 of the radiation. Then after going home to Illinois, it was another month before I started feeling somewhat normal. My second bout of radiation was 15 days but I received radiation twice a day. It was way less taxing on me and I enjoyed the time in Texas. Since this bout of radiation sounds more like the first round of radiation, I am telling myself I will eat one way or another. My first bout left me with no appetite and they threatened a feeding tube if I lost any more weight. So, I choked down food every day to keep from getting that tube. My mom, my sister Sarah, and several of my daughters came down to help cook and be with me.   This time, everyone has health problems or is having a baby....so Pat is going to have to be a healthy master chef and keep on me to eat IF I would have some bad effects from the radiation.  At this point, it is a wait and see, day by day type of plan.
Once in Houston, I will try to update as long as I feel up to it. If you remember the first time I received radiation, I waited each day for the mail and walked up to the "main office" where the mail was kept to see if I had any mail. It was the only exercise I did. It was my link to home.....so feel free to send a card or picture.
I am expecting grandbaby #7 to arrive while I am in Houston, and if it is at all possible, I will make a quick flight home to see that precious little baby!!
Pat and I will most likely attend Holy Ghost Catholic Church while in Texas. I ask you to keep my entire family in your prayers. From my mom, to my sister, to Pat, my daughter Samantha and Chris as they prepare to become parents very soon, Leslie's husband, Rhett who has ripped/tore his knee up pretty bad (and will have surgery next Tuesday after the swelling goes down), and last but not least ME! 
Life is good!  I will take this radiation like a champ! I have a new grandbaby that will be waiting on me when I get home! I have my family who I want to be with....and even a few friends to have coffee or lunch with. The RMH Chemo Food Program is going smoothly and we are booked into May. If you or your business, church, or your friends would like to sponsor a lunch for the chemo patients, message me on Facebook or feel free to call me at 618-843-5367. The cost for lunch for ALL the chemo patients is just $30. It has been reduced but the quality/quantity of the food has not! Dr. Timothy and Darlene Garrett donate breakfast on Wednesdays so you are just sponsoring lunch. Be sure if you are donating to "LIKE" the RMH Facebook page to see your day of food donation with a thank you sign. You may also add In memory of____ or In Honor of___ to the sign. 
Pay It Forward!! 


I feel I have rattled on long enough. Not to mention my blue Siamese is looking at me right now and purring. He is just waiting to be woobered. Steely Dan is his name and he is so patient to sit and wait this entire post so I will turn my attention to him!!


I have thanked God so many times this past week for the beautiful scenery, the beautiful souls I have met, and the good physical health I am in to experience life every second of every day!!


If I have quoted this once, I have quoted it a thousand times. But it never gets old.....
God is good ALL the time!  ALL the time, God is good!!


God Bless~~


Patty Corcoran