Monday, June 30, 2008

Meet the Family

This past weekend I went to my dad's house. I was really glad my Uncle Manuel had a get-together, because it got me out for the weekend. Luckily Sebastian had both Sat & Sun off (very rare) so he came too. On Saturday we dropped off Reanna at work and then drove up to my dad's house. Nice, long, hot drive. Luckily when we got to his house it was nice & cool. We were all tired, so we all took naps on his comfy couch (me, Sab, dad & Barbara). It was so funny, because we were all tired and my dad had too much coffee earlier ~ shocker, and kept talking. I didn't want to say anything, but luckily Barbara told him to shut up. So he quieted up and we all slept for a bit. Then not too long later, Wilma (my dad's cousin) & Pascual came over and we all went out for dinner. It was really nice. Then we got home and Wilma & I went for a swim. It felt so good to get in a pool. Plus my dad has flippers and it makes swimming so much easier, esp. with my leg. The only bummer was that shortly after we got into the pool, we saw a frog in the rocks, and we were to scared to get to close, so we were stuck on the shallow side. Nonetheless, it was a nice swim. This is some lizard type of thing, maybe a chameleon, that was in my dad's pool. Notice the blue tail! We had him take it out before we went swimming.

Saturday morning I went over to my long-time friend Amy's house. She has been in the area for about 6 years, and I have never visited her. She is only 10 minutes from my dad. So I figured better late than never. It was so good to spend time with her. Her family been going through a tough time also this past month. She really helped me to realize that I'm not the only one dealing with tough situations. And I think I helped her realize the same. Life goes on around us whether we want it to or not. It's how we deal with what we get that makes us who we are. I like who I am with her, because I know it's real.

I left Amy's house to go to my Uncle Manuels house. It was really nice to see my family that I haven't seen in such a long time. The last time I saw a few of my cousin's was in 2002. It's crazy how we are all so grown, with our own families. How did we go from young kids to the thirty-something crowd with our own kids? Life has just past us by. Too fast. Here's a pic of my cousins & I - Kenny, Michael, me, Vickie & Chrissy. I wish I had a pic from when we were kids, but I don't think I do.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Riverside Here I Come

I got a phone call from Robin at Dr. Galani's office. My appointment in Riverside will be July 10th. I'll be admitted that day and should be able to leave July 15th, if all goes well. Both my dad and Sebastian will be coming down to Riverside with me. Guess when we are leaving ~ right after Sebastians sergeant testing! YEAH! He'll be in town for that, I'm sooo glad. I really do hope he makes sergeant. I have a lot of faith in my husband. He's such a good man, how can he not get it. He deserves it.

Last night I went with Reanna and my co-worker Jordan to Valley Med Center. Another co-worker of ours, Carolyn, has been in the hospital since Monday. She has been having severe back pain. She had a surgery 19 years ago, and it's problems have come back. Right now she's not sure what's going to happen, but I really feel for her. I know how hard it can be. Physically & emotionally. Now I know what it's like when people came to visit me in the hospital. It's different being on the other side. I just want to help her and take away her pain, and make her laugh, but laughing just brings her pain. I hope she gets better soon.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

MRI & Lab Work Done

I sent Dr Kwong an email this morning because I really wanted to do my lab work @ Stanford, and my MRI was scheduled for today. He never got a message that he was to order my lab work, so of course he didn't do it. Well, he made it so I can just do it at Kaiser, and they sent it over. It should be on it's way there! I did it right after my MRI. It wasn't bad at all, just a lot louder than the PET scan! Luckier it was a lot faster too. My appt was scheduled for 5:45, but I was out of there by 5:45. Then to come home and get a message that Kaiser forgot to do some blood work! So now I gotta go back. I'm so busy, I don't even have time for that. But I guess I'm gonna have to get up extra early tomorrow and go before work... which is really early. I can't complain, Kaiser has been really good to me. When I find out the results of everything, I'll post here.

After my appointment I went to Linda1's house and hung out with Latina's y Amigas... a group of Latinas (plus Chris, hence the name) that hang out on Thursday nights. Linda1 invited me a while ago and I have been going and having a great time. The women are all so so nice and supportive. Plus it's just nice to get out and have a good time, good drinks, with good food, good drinks and good people. Did I mention drinks? JK. Guess that since I shouldn't be drinking because of my liver, it makes me want to drink, but obviously I don't. I just love the women and the conversations, friendships and everything else. So thanks to all of them: Linda1, Margie, Helen (there are 2 Helen's also, but I don't think we've named them Helen1 & Helen2 yet, have we?) Lucy, Chris, Natalie, Maryann & Carolyn. There are a few others, but I don't remember? Please forgive me and refer to my post mentioning memory loss! HA HA.. got out of that one.

Here's a picture Reanna took a few days ago. We were driving down the street and I saw something on my window out of the corner of my eye. I thought it was bird droppings, then I looked closer and saw it was a yellow jacket. I was going around 45 mph and it was still there, hanging on for dear life. I told Reanna to take a picture with my camera, so she did (and a mighty fine pic that is, in motion and all). Sony. Back to my point - As I thought of the yellow jacket clinging on to my window for life, I thought of the analogy I had to it. That's how I feel, like I'm clinging onto the world for my life. I'm not ready to leave.

Oh yeah, my sis Maria is always asking for a pic of my Mercedes, here's a pic of the drivers door window, interior view, you like? ha ha ha Maybe one day I'll take a picture and post it here for you, ok big sis!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sergeant Testing

Last year there was a posting for a Sergeant position at Sebastians work. I told him about it before they even announced it at work. I told him to put in his application, which he did. He has been a Corrections Officer (CO) for about 6+ years now. He has done his time. I really want for him to go to the next step and be a Sergeant. He has talked about this for a while, and always said he wanted to do his time at both facilities before he puts in his application. Well, the time came and he put it in. Just yesterday he got a letter that the testing is on July 9th. That is two Wednesday's from today. I'm hoping to be in Riverside around that time. He has decided to come to Riverside with my dad & I. But now this totally conflicts. So now I need to talk to him to make sure he is here to take the test. He does not care about it now. But I do. So if you see him or talk to him, make sure you tell him how important this is. I don't care if he just flies home to take the test then flies back to Riverside to be with me. It would be so worth it. Please Sebastian, take the test.

Happy Birthday Emiliano

On Saturday there was a surprise birthday party for my cousin Emiliano. Rachel (his girlfriend) sent me a message a few months ago to let me know. I had always intended on going, but since last week was not so good I was thinking I was gonna skip it. After I thought about it, I really needed to get out and have some fun. So that I did. Lori called me right as I was gonna get ready, so I told her to come along and bring Bernie too. So we all went and had a good time. I hadn't seen Emiliano since Thanksgiving, so it was nice to get to see him again. Here's a pic of him, me, Bernie & Lori. Oh yeah, and his friends in the back who wanted to be in the pic! I know there were some pics taken of me & Rachel, but I guess they weren't on my camera.. lol.. So Rachel if you read this, send them to me. Happy Birthday cuz, I luv U.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Overwhelming Responses

I have had an overwhelming amount of emails from friends and family. I don't have time to personally respond to everyone, but I will as time goes by. Right now work is hectic also. I should be part time, but with tons of stuff going on there, I'm putting in 8 hour days and it's not what I had planned. Well, since you put it that way, my life right now is not what I had planned. But whose is? Last year did you ever think that you would have a friend or family member with Stage IV cancer? I know that was the furthest thing from my mind. But now that is reality. Last year I knew nothing about cancer. I knew no one with cancer. And a year later, I know more about cancer than I ever wanted to know. I have learned a about myself also. I am stronger than I imagined I could be. I'm also weaker than I thought. I love more than I thought I could. I work harder than I ever had before. And I forget more. My short term memory is worse than it has ever been. I don't know if its stress, cancer, or mom-nesia. But whatever it is, I hate it. I have to ask 3x, and I still forget the answer! I am also not the only one I know now with cancer. My dad has prostate cancer, as does Linda1's dad, and even my neighbor Carl. Vanessa has brain cancer. I don't normally talk to Vanessa, but it was nice to see her at Reanna's graduation party. I didn't post pics because of course my camera battery was dead. What a good mother I am! Back to Vanessa. She is such an inspiration. I think I have had a hard time, but she has endured so much more than I have. She has been doing chemo for almost a year. She also has gone through radiation. It was good talking to her because we have a lot of the same symptoms, and some we didn't realize were treatment/cancer related. I think of her often. I hope that she is doing good and pray for her daily.

Friday, June 20, 2008

MRI Scheduled

Yep, I now have an appointment for an MRI. June 26 is the lucky day. Now I just gotta get my blood work @ Stanford. Hopefully I can get that done soon.

Let the Calls Begin

We have had a few days to get acclimated to the news we heard on Tuesday. We are in much better spirits. I know many of you are concerned and have sent me e-mails. Some I have replied to, and many I haven't had time to. I feel we are equipped to start taking phone calls if you would like to call. Please keep in mind we may not be able to answer or return every call. Just keep trying (with a considerable amount of time in between).

I talked to my sister Maria today. For 2 hours. (So keep in mind it can be emotionally draining and I can't take too many calls in one day, especially if I give you that much undivided attention, I still have my family & dogs to deal with at home). I miss her so much. I know I write that all the time. But I truly mean it. I got the sweetest email from her daughter the other evening. She told me how she always looked up to me. Why? I don't know. And after talking to Maria, I realized how much I have always looked up to her. She is so special. And she doesn't even know it, or believe it. But she is. She is embarrassed for me to go to her house. Because it probably won't be as nice as mine. But I don't look at those things. Well, I do.. lol.. but I don't care about those things. She has never had the material things that so many others do. But that does not make her who she is. You don't need the material things to have love in your heart. And her heart is so abundant, and she is so giving and self-less. I remember way back when I had Reanna, 3 weeks early. I hadn't had my baby shower yet, and we had nothing at home. Her & Jerry went shopping before we got home from the hospital and bought me everything Reanna needed, and then some. She was more excited than I was. And she is the same with Tai. She loves that little girl more than life itself. I could go on & on about my sister Maria, and maybe a little later on I will! But I have some things to do. As soon as I hear from Dr. G and get any updates, I'll post it here.

Oh yes, several have mentioned that they have forwarded this. Please feel free to forward this website as you wish. I don't have a lot of peoples e-mails, so I missed a lot of people.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thank You Everyone

I just want to say thanks to all my friends and family for all of your support. I really appreciate all of your well wishes and love. Please, please give us some time to get through this. It is very difficult. We are coping, grieving, loving, and still trying to do our normal day to day activities. It's not easy when you are in a good mood and your mind is totally focused on something else (which can be hard to do) and then you are interrupted by a concerning phone call. Please use email or leave a message here, and I will get back to you. In my time. We do appreciate it, but just give us a little bit of time. When we are ready to talk, I will post it here. Then you can call and bug us all you want!!

I know more people are reading here, and I know I have not acknowledged everyone here. I blog when I can, and what's on my mind at the time. That does not mean that I have forgotten you or take my relationships for granted. So here goes a few shout outs: Kathie, thanks for letting me spill everything out to you and you graciously replying with nothing but kindness & love, even when you were busy with your own obstacles. Amy D-S, I know you have taken me to appts too, and had lunch with me many times. I do appreciate you coming out to see me and help me out. Petra, you are such an inspiration. Keep the faith. You are in an uphill battle, and I'll be here whenever you need help climbing. I was touched to see that you were touched by my story. Lori, you are the best friend anyone could ever ask for. Thanks for hanging out with me last night. I enjoyed it, as usual. Anna, when I told you my prognosis, the first words out of your mouth were "I'll be right there." Although you got lost, because you've only been to my house about 20-30 times, you were there. Thanks for your love & support. I'll post about more friends/family as I can.

I spoke with Dr. Godfrey last night. He thinks the best route right now will be to go down to Riverside and meet with Dr. Galani. He is the best he knows. I have full trust in Dr. Godfrey, and if he trusts Dr. Galani, then so do I. Before I go I need to do some blood work at Stanford & an MRI. I will be in Riverside for 5-7 days, up to 10. My dad, who is my Rock, will be going with me. Sebastian also wants to go, and Lori wants to go visit (she can't stay as long). While in Riverside, I'll be getting Bio-Chemotherapy. I forgot what that consists of, I have the notes at home. But I know it's Chemotherapy & InterluekinII (I don't know the spelling, but it's a cancer drug). I'll correct this info later when I read my notes or remember what it was!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Several have asked the severity of Stage IV. I have read a lot about melanoma in the past year, so I'm pretty familar with the stages, but obviously not everyone has to read about it! There are only 4 stages to cancer, there is no Stage 5. For skin cancer, Stage IV is when it spreads to the internal organs. Since last year I have been Stage IIIC. I have been praying that it does not go to Stage IV, and unfortunately it has. To read more about staging, you can go here:

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Stage IV

So Sebastian & I went to see Dr. Fisch today. The cancer has spread to another lymph node which is much deeper than the original lymph nodes that were removed. It has also spread to my liver. I am now considered Stage IV melanoma. I was sad & crying when he told me, and I knew in the back of my head it was stage IV, but I just had to clarify. So I asked him, and as soon as he said "Yes" I lost it. I could no longer hold it in. Sebastian was there with me and he was also visibly upset. Right when we got out of the building I let out one big wail. Then contained myself again. I'm sad.

No Phone Results

So first thing when I woke up I called Dr. Fisch. He left a message last night that he's in @ 6:30 am, so I called him around 7:15 am. He told me he has the results of my PET scan and he won't tell me over the phone. I have an appt to see him @ 11:00 today. Wish me luck.

Monday, June 16, 2008

I'm a Gold Member

I went for my PET scan today. Sebastian picked me up from work and took me. I was sooo hungry. The last time I ate was the night before, and I couldn't eat/drink before my appointment. But I managed. Anywho - as the man nurse took me back, he saw on my chart that I had just been in March (I thought it was more recent, but I guess he would know) and asked if this was my second PET scan. I informed him it was my 3rd, not 2nd. So he said "So you're a Gold Member then. Next time you'll be Platinum, and after that you just stay Platinum." Just a little something I thought I'd share. Anyway, I had to do the normal. They checked my blood sugar level (84), injected the radioactive dye and then made me rest for 45 minutes. Then I had to unload my bladder and do the PET scan. That was about another 45 minutes. When we were leaving we ran into Dr. Fisch, and he said he'd call me today. Which he did, but I wasn't home. So I gotta call him in the morning. Right after we ran into him Sab took me to grab a quick sandwich @ Quizno's then I went back to work. I hope I don't have to have another surgery yet!

Happy Father's Day

So I wanted to post this yesterday, but I was too tired. Yesterday was fathers day and I got tickets to see the Giants vs. A's ~ Battle of the Bay. It was great (although Giants lost 3 - 5). Reanna wanted to spend time with her brothers & sisters, so she didn't come with us. As always, Serenity was more than happy to join us! It was Sab, me, Paige & Serenity. I wanted to surprise Sebastian on Father's day of the tickets, but dummy me put his card on the microwave Friday night. I didn't want to forget where I put it, so I thought I'd put it where I knew he would find it. So he comes home from work Friday night, and I'm thinking he's making his dinner. He comes in the living room with this huge grin and says "Thank you." Great, he opened his card with the tickets inside. Oh well, what can I do. At least he's happy we're going to the game. So on Sunday morning we packed up and went to the game. We had club level seats, so it was great, and of course I made sure they were in the shade. Gotta think of those things now. After the game I called my dad to wish him a Happy Father's Day. Over all, it was a really nice day!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

More Not So Good News

I stayed home on Wednesday because my dad came down for Reanna's graduation. I got a call from Dr Fisch, my radiologist, to come in for the next appointment, Thursday morning. Then about 2 hours later I got a call from Dr Kwong about the Temador. He was asking if I was interested as right now there are not very many cases where it's used for skin cancer. I'm in. It can't hurt, can it? So I made an appointment to go in on Thursday afternoon.
Thursday morning I went to see Dr Fisch. They went over a few items I'll need (aloe vera, lotions, cleansers, etc) and some of the side effects. Then they had to make a stabilizer so that I'm in the same position all the time. They used the CT scan for that also, to make sure I was lined up properly. I left with my next appointment, which is Tuesday June 17, 1:30pm. I think I start radiation that day.
After my appt, my dad & I went to breakfast at Bill of Fare. I love that place. They are so fast! I had banana pancakes and my dad had a waffle. I don't really care for pancakes, that was the first time in my life that I ordered them for breakfast. But my daughter loves to make them, so I have been eating them when she makes them, now they are growing on me.
So I get home, and my dad leaves to go back home. Right after he leaves, I get a call from Dr. Fisch that the CT scan has some suspicious stuff and that he wants me to have a PET scan before I start radiation. Great. One more obstacle.
So I go to my appt with Dr Kwong. I'll be taking 140 mgs of Temador while I do radiation. But he doesn't prescribe them just yet because he is waiting too to see my PET scan.
Right when I think things are coming around finally, there is another set back. CANCER SUCKS.

Reanna Graduates

Reanna & Me

Reanna, grandpa & Me

Sab, Paige, Reanna & Me

Reanna with her Tia Roxanna & Tia Reyna

My baby girl graduated! I'm sooooo proud of her. She looked so beautiful. It was at the Rose Garden. Me, Sebastian, Paige & my dad went. Reanna's aunt's Reyna & Roxanna went, and so did her grandmother & her uncle Raul. I will post pics as soon as I download them to my computer!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Radiation and Chemo

Dr. Godfrey and I have been playing phone tag all week. I finally got ahold of him Friday evening. We arranged a meeting at his Fremont office Saturday morning. I met with him so that he can see me before his vacation. He looked at the melanoma on my leg once again, and even took a few more pictures. He did a lot of thinking about what the next step will be. For now it's going to be radiation as planned, but while I'm doing radiation I will be taking chemo pills called Thermador. (don't know if that's the correct spelling). In the midst of it all I forgot to ask what the side effects to the Thermador are. I'll have to remember to ask that next time. He was considering having me go to UCSF to get hyper-thermia, but he said he is going to hold off on that for now, but it's still possible he may send me there in the future. Hyper-thermia is a warming of the area. I don't know how, etc. but that's how he explained it. So now, I'm in Dr. Fisch's hands for radiation. I really like Dr. Godfrey, he is soooo kind and he is always willing to meet with his patients, even on his days off! Who takes time on Saturday to meet his patients? This is the second time he has come in on his day off to meet with me. I like to know that I'm being taken care of by doctors who really care for their patients.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Brag Time

So my baby is growing up. May 31 was her prom. She looked so beautiful. She had a good time and stayed safe! I just have to post pictures of her and her boyfriend Ben. Enjoy.