Lynda's "Happy Cancer" Updates
Lynda Tries To Gross Us Out By Talking About Tubes and Catheters, Sutures,
Bowels and Gas Passing, Scars, Transplants and Belly Dancing
August 4, 2002
August 7, 2002
August 15, 2002
August 17, 2002
August 22, 2002
August 27, 2002
August 29, 2002
August 30, 2002
September 23, 2002
October 3, 2002
October 19, 2002
November 25, 2002
December 18, 2002
December 19, 2002
December 27, 2002
See Lynda's scar
(Must be over the age of 18 and not at all squeamish)
Lynda's page at
the McDonald Family Website
August 4, 2002
morning and i'm still in the hospital. the surgery started around 2
pm. it lasted 4 hours. i met the anathesiologist, and the
on-call oncologist. he was called in shortly after the operation
started since ovarian tumors were found on several organs.
i remember my parents saying goodnight to me in the recovery
room and the oncologist telling me what they found a little
later in my room. the scar is impressive! from my pelvic
bone to by sternum. they promised they would try to
save the belly button piercing if they had to cut above the
belly button. i heard it was actually a discussion in the
o.r. they had to take the plastic tubing out that i had
bought just for the surgery and replaced it w/ a
suture. they made me sit in a chair sat. and walk sun. tubes
are gradually coming out. they took out the n.g. tube and
the folley catheter. i hear i will be here for 1 week
and then d/c'ed to home. my dad is in touch w/ a dr. in
s.c. to see if i can get excellent care there. graeme comes here
fri. i still haven't told him or john about the surgery. if
the dr's here feel that the dr's there can do as good a job i
will consider moving. it will put graeme in his new school and in
the new house. mom and dad can go to and from there home.
love ya all,
i feel SO much better
today and unfortuately for you i have to share! i was so tired
of EVERYONE asking me if i had passed gas yet. then the gas
came and hung around for almost 2 days before passing. sharp,
shooting, awful pain. my dr. said we have the technology to handle
many problems and complications w/ the body, but bowel function
is 1 area where there is no quick fix. he had to manipulate
all of my organs to make sure he had removed all of the cancer causing
bowel and stomach distension. the morphine and other drugs also made
my system distended, sluggish and dydfunctional and only time would
heal and get it working again. i remember working contract at a few
hospitals where every patient discussed their bowel program. i remember
telling everyone that i can handle talking about dating, marriage, babies,
divorce... but somebody shoot me when i get to the stage where all i
talk about is my bowels. i got to hear all the nurses stories about their
bouts w/ the same problem and how long it took and how they walked and
walked and walked. they said gas is a big topic on this post-surgery
floor. i tried walking, but it was way too painful. Marion, a Physical
Therapist friend came by in the evening for a visit. she couldn't
stand seeing me in pain. the main problem at the time was left shoulder
pain from the gas compressing everything upward. she jumped into
her PT mode and started ranging my arm and trying myofacial release.
it helped! as she left i stated i was going to go sit on the toilet
and wait since sitting in bed was painful. she pointed out a pelvic
thrust i should try. so, i sit down on the toilet and remember some
of the moves i practiced when i took belly dancing classes. i can't
walk around the floor but maybe i can try belly dancing. so i stand
up a make pathetic swivels, swerves and undulations to the 1st song
that pops into my head "working in the coal mines going down, down,
down..." and voila! it worked!! i had to share the story w/ my dr. he
said he loves gas stories. he got a kick out of it and said he would
share it (i was afraid to ask w/ whom and if he would use names). then
he told me i could go home tomorrow! we're planning to move on the 15th
to charleston. but, that date is still up in the air.
August 15, 2002
i can once again go thru metal detectors at the airport!
the staples (40 for those wondering) were removed today. i
also met w/ the bone marrow transplant dr (donato). she suggested
an extremely agressive treatment for me since i am young
and in good shape (thank you very much). it involves 6
std. chemo doses, and 2 heavy duty w/ stem cells being removed
from my blood, frozen and put back into my body. i think my dad
figured the whole thing will take 6 months. i should be able
to do the 6 treatments in charleston and then come back to houston
for 2 months for the transplant and transfusions. they said i
can work, but not around sick people. the packing has been going
almost non-stop. my parents have been incredible work machines!
the new painter actually showed up 2 days in a row and got the painting
knocked out. friends have helped by bringing food, and boxes and packing
boxes and helped dad take furniture apart. (bad sentence but i'm
too tired to work thru it). the place is a wreck. the movers come
tomorrow. i'm dog tired and hitting the hay. i wonder the the s.c.
equivalent of that expression will be. i hope i get to buy a stash of
my favorite salsa before i leave town.
good night all,
mike had a blast taking moving
day pictures. martha, my neighbor lent me a "hotel package" (sheets,
blanket and towels for the last night in the house). mayra came
by to take the fish tank, chris ligi came by to relieve mike and
emmalee's shift w/ me, but it had been raining so hard mike's rehersal
was cancelled, marion came by w/ her 2 boys to say good bye. they
all stayed and jean, mike's wife, showed up w/ beer, wine, salad and
lasagne for all. what a moving party! the guys stringing stuff to the
back of the stuffed truck, the kids running wild thru the empty house,
and my friends hanging w/ me. graeme went to sleep w/ a tear in his eye
saying he felt so poor because he didn't have a tv or nintendo to wake
i'm at momanddad's. the truck should be here
tomorrow at 9 a.m. i am going to relax today - the 1st time since
i was d/c'ed from the hospital a week ago thurs. i have a suit on
ready to go look for shark's teeth on the beach.
i want to thank everyone again and again for everything: calls,
cards, visits thoughts, prayers, info, suggestions, help w/ packing...
it all helps me keep my spirits up and kicking the cancer.
See pictures from the moving day
so, i finally go to the
charleston dr. today, thursday - not a day that dr. kolar
usually sees patients. i had called mon. and tues. and the
schedulers said they didn't have a request to schedule me
yet. his secretary assured me the dr. would get in touch w/ me,
but he had surgery all wed. a.m. and they had not rec. my
reports. i found my fax machine, unpacked it and faxed them to
her immediately. i started wed. w/ a nervous breakdown. i called
the office again to see if she had rec. the reports. by the time
the secretary answered the phone i was sobbing uncontrollably.
she checked and said they had rec. my fax and sweetly reminded
me that he was in surgery all morning, but IF he came down between
surgeries she would have him call me. i swear she hung up and went
and yanked dr. kohler out of surgery since he called 10 minutes later.
and his gog nurse called me that evening.
mom, dad and i met w/ him today. he was very approachable, detailed,
concerned, knowledgeable... his nurse was excellent too. they
need some more houston records, but he thinks the chemo can
start next week. they are connected w/ nat'l cancer institute
and i have a choice of treatments. i can either have the
std chemo treatment that anyone anywhere would rec. OR i can
go into the gog (gyn. oncol. group) study where i would be placed
into 1 of 5 treatment protocals. he said he felt confident
enough w/ the study (it's a level III study for you researchers
out there) that he would put his family in it. (now. as if
i don't have enough to do, i have to research to see if he is from
a highly dysfunctional family.) arm 1 is the trad. 8 treatments.
2-5 have different drugs added to the 2 trad. ones. no placebo
arm. i can think about it over the weekend! he does not believe in
the md anderson stem cell transplant. he says it is wholly
experimental and there is no data proving the high dose chemo
is more effective. neither does he do the 2nd look operation.
i was lead to believe it was no big deal, but kohler says
it's another major cut on my trunk - i'd look like i have rail
road tracks! so, that's where things stand. i love 2 very dedicated,
knowledgeable, competent,.. groups of professionals convincingly
tell me 2 different stories.
graeme likes his new school. the neighborhood has kids all
around. IF he ever gets his homework done on time he may
get to play w/ them. unpacking is slowly getting done.
my energy level cratered for a few days, but i felt better
keep in touch,
i've decided to enter
into the gog phase 3 trial. i start chemo fri. it can take
6 hours, or i may be in the hospital for a few days depending
on which arm i am randomly assigned to. i am not sure when they
will tell me. they are still waiting for the path slides. a dr.
(i don't know which one) at md anderson wanted to look at them and
wouldn't return them to st. lukes for them to be shipped. i am trying
to decide if i want to track down the dirty doc and let him/her have
a piece of my mind! i am so furious that someone would hold up my treatment
to look at slides.
well, the randonization
has taken place - which in my mind is really a joke since
i knew that from THE moment i agreed to participate in the
study i would be assigned to #............4. yes! the only arm
that is not done on an out-patient basis. the only one that requires
3 days in the hospital for the 1st 4 out of 8 treatments 21 days
apart. and guess what - the hospital is full and i have to share a
twin bed w/ a hip replacement that will talk about her bowel program
all day. ok, i am stretching the last part. they may allow fri's treatment
to be done in a day hospital bed and then check in sat. when they have
a bed - if there isn't one fri. i called the nurse and told her that
if there isn't a bed i'm opting out of the trial and immediately starting
the std protocal tomorrow a.m. tomorrow marks 4 weeks since the operation...
she understood and, i think, wants me in the study so, will set a
bed up in the kitchen or smoking lounge to get me started. mom and
dad are here to take me to the hospital in the a.m. graeme goes to john's
for the weekend. here goes.....
well, that was not totally
uneventful. it has been raining heavily non-stop for way too long
here. many of the roads between my house and the med. center
are flooded. sounds like a story i'd tell if living in houston.
pam (my gog nurse) called this a.m. and said come on in. turnd
out i can do all 3 days in the day treatment room because the
weekend nurse is qualified to administer chemo! luckily, i own
a trooper and i learned how to drive in houston's flooded conditions.
unfortuately, this morning we took off w/ dad driving his sable
on the flooded roads. a little hair raising (i can still say
that) but we got there ok.
the treatment was anti-climatic. i sat in an lazyboy chair for
2.5 hours w/ an iv running 5 bags of fluids in me. 2 of the bags
were meds for nausea. then we went home and ate lunch. i go
back sat. and sun. a.m. for the other 2 treatments 2-1/2 to 3 hours
long. then wait 18 days for the 2nd cycle. i feel fine. they gave
me prescriptions for nausea. one to take religiously the other
one to take as needed. the hair will probable start falling out
in a week or 2. i will probably lose the eyelashes and eyebrows -
thus eliminating land marks for eye shadow. laura sent me pics. of
tammy faye as a role model.
i hope everyone has a good labor day weekend!
well, the last 3 weeks have been
good. laura and gail surprised me w/ a visit followed w/ a visit
from austin. he helped me hang stuff on the walls and swap a few
rooms around. mom thinks i have 4 pieces of furniture that i have
not changed rooms since moving in here.
there are 2 numbers i pay close attention to: my white blood
cell count-ANC norm-2200-4000 which has to be at least 1500 to
start chemo; and my CA125 (cancer marker number) norm-0-35.
The CA125 was a whopping 3500 prior to surgery and 239 prior to
i couldn't attend my high school reunion last fri. in augusta
because on the way i found out my white blood count was way low
739. chemo not only wipes out cancer cells, but everything else
in it's path. instead austin and i had a delicious dinner w/ jennie.
today i was supposed to start my 2nd round of chemo. but,
my ANC on fri. was only at 839. the good news is today it jumped
to 1389 and the CA125 is all the way down to 38. chemo round # 2 here
i come - fri, sat, & sun.
please keep in touch, lynda
man, this round was
not as easy as the 1st! i am WAY more nauseous. and, worst of all,
coffee tastes like turpentine. (i have not tasted turpentine,
but coffee now has an extremely bitter and metalic flavor.) the doosey
of a headache i had today was probably due to a combo of no coffee
and side effects of drugs. i called pam (my wonderful gog nurse) to ask
what i can take and if the chemo would keep getting worse. i can take
my favorite pain killer and yes, the effects are cumulative. now i know
why people throw up just anticipating their next round of chemo. but,
i am young (i love the way they keep emphasizing that fact - or do
i keep imagining it?) and they are going to blast he hell out of
at my appt. fri. dr. kohler beamed at my CA125 number like
it was his 1st born. dad took a photo of me getting chemo (hopefully
attached, if i can work my scanner that has been in the box for
2 years). i still have hair, but it's thinning. if i'm not bald before
the end of the month i'll have to dye and trim it - again! i can't
wait to show you the hat jennie gave me in augusta (just think jolly
the 1st 4 chemo treatments take about 2 hours. the next 4 will
take 5-6 hours. but, they'll give me benedryl to decrease the allergic
reaction and it will knock me out. i'll have dad video tape me snoring
and drooling in my chair. that should be good for a laugh.
now for the section where you'll think i'm at the oscars: i
am hanging in there - i owe a huge thanks to my parents for their constant,
selfless, help, and support. graeme has been so good, sweet
and helpful. and, of course, thank you family and friends for the
calls, cards, and emails.
love ya and keep in touch, lynda
p.s. today is thurs. and i'm feeling much better.
See Lynda getting chemo
October 19, 2002
greetings friends and family,
are you up for the next installment of my happy cancer series?
once again my low ANC (white blood cell count) has postponed my chemo
scheduled for today (fri.). monday it was 208 (norm 2200-7600).
that was too scary for my doc and nurse. frustrations of no immune
system: i would love friends and family visit or help out, but i
need to know they are not contagious - a temp. of 100 degrees and
i have to go immediately to the emergency room; i can't eat my cherished
salads or fresh fruit because there might be bacteria on the food;
i can't go anywhere - and the few places i do go to i have to wear
a mask covering 3/4 of my face.
last fri. mom (a well known and respected lead-foot) raced
me from charleston to edisto (50 mi.) to make it to the bank before
closing. i threw on my mask, jumped out of the car and ran into
the little bank at 5 till 5. 5 minutes later i sensed that the people
in the bank would feel more comfortable if i took my big, dark, mirrored
sun glasses off so they could at least see my eyes. i bet the tellers
had their finger on that alarm button at their booth and vodeo
cameras were zooming in on me. luckily, one of the tellers knew me
and asked how i was so i could explain the reason for the mask. we
all had a big laugh about the sun glasses.
today my ANC jumped to 795 and they seem to think i will
start my 3rd chemo round on mon. mind you, it has to jump to 1500
by then. they will decrease the topotecan dose since it was so
toxic to my system. BUT, the CA125 that they beamed about last
time at 38 has gone down to 24.4 (they want it between 0-35). my
doc said i make this look easy... and the next oscar goes to...
my hair is hanging in there. it is thinning fast, but no
bald patches yet. i guess i will have to color it again. it has been
suggested i go wild w/ the color since i can. why not?
last week dad and i tore my back yard fence down (the posts
are cemented down into the inner core of the earth and are coming
out more slowly). he bought some corn and we fed the ducks in the
pond. now they come up into my back yard 2 times a day and sing for
their food. i attached a photo of dad feeding them in my back yard.
graeme turned 11 on wed. he had a week full of birthday
fun and is camping w/ the cub scouts w/ john this weekend. this
past week my dad and i worked w/ him every evening to get his
project on mt. st. helens volcano done. he is only in 5th grade,
but get this - it required index cards, an outline, bibliography,
poster board and oral presentation - in addition to the research
paper. i don't think i touched an index card until my high school
senoir year's english term paper.
as i write this i am on my way to edisto w/ my parents.
i hope everyone has a good weekend and, as always, PLEASE keep
See Lynda's breakfast guests
November 25, 2002
it seems as if it has been forever since i sent out an update.
i hope this one finds everyone well and ready for a holiday. i'm hanging
in there as usual and half way thru my 8 chemo treatments! i had the
last of the topotecan and carboplatin. now i switch to taxol and carboplatin.
the dr. promises the rest of my hair will fall out w/ the next 4 treatments.
it has thinned, but still looks ok - sorta - but it's not my hair
i have had more company. mom and dad take turns helping out
most of the time; lenore was here helping me during my 3rd round; laura
visited again w/ lorella (who left wonderful home made lazagna in
my freezer). they met up here with teresa (friend from augusta days)
and her husband john from long island. zita flew down from baltimore
for a week to help and stocked my freezer w/ good food. i guess i didn't
realize how many people had come and gone until the mom of a kid down
the street rang the door to see if her daughter was here. the 1st questions
she asked was "how many people live here?" followed by the fact that
she had never even seen me...
as i said, round 3 came and went under the caring ways of
lenore. my anc still dropped too low for too long even tho the dose
of topotecan was reduced. so, this round i have to give myself a shot
a day for 10 days of neupogen - a growth hormone that will increase white
cell growth. i hear it will make my skeleton ache (add that to my nausea...).
today i gave myself the 4th shot. as i pulled the needle out the medicine
squirted out of my leg like old faithful. during the days that i could
not move due to nausea i watched lenore's dvd's of "sex and the city"
(3 seasons of it!). i loved the show, but was so jealous of the 4 friends
eating brunch and drinking cosmopolitans in clubs as i hugged my pillow.
some day... i also read lance armstrong's biography, "it's not about the
bike." it was a good book. the major difference between him and me (besides
income) was when he felt good he rode his bike, when i feel good i try
to scrub the bathrooms.
graeme started piano lessons again and submitted his first
composition to a school/nation wide competition. his piano teacher
seemed as pleased w/ it as i was.
i hope everyone has a great thanksgiving. my dad and i are
roasting a butterflied turkey. i can't wait to do the part that says
pound the turkey w/ a rubber mallet!
please keep in touch,
December 17, 2002
graeme has been taking piano lessons
about 2 miles from our home. he had started a composition and ms. diana,
the teacher, asked that he bring it to the 1st lesson. during the lesson
she encouraged graeme to finish it and submit it for a nation wide competition.
he did and she recorded it the next week. tonight we found out that he
was the only 5th grader that submitted a composition so he won district!
he has to "practice, practice, practice" now since he gets to play his
piece at some high school jan.18th. so, i've gone from a soccer mom to
a stage mom. i'm putting away my whistle, and coach's outfits, dying my
hair platinum, and buying some cheap furs and stilettos because this is
after all, all about me! happy holidays everyone! lynda
December 18, 2002
this is most likely a mixture
of old and new news for you. skim the parts you know but,
PLEASE READ THIS NEXT PART ALL
THE WAY THRU AND CAREFULLY AND SHARE IT ONLY W/ THOSE YOU LIKE!!
CHEMO HEADS AND CLAIROL DON'T MIX
(i am trying to sound like all
those emails i get about undocumented scary things that happen)
the hair situation is the same
- thinning but still covering my head. my nurse promises me that 3weeks
into this past treatment, the new drug, taxol, WILL cause the hair to
fall out. i am 1 week into it and we will have company for christmas.
i have to dye it - again! this time i decide on clairol blue black. the
whole time the dye was on my head i was scrubbing my eyebrows and forehead
trying to remove spots of black dye. i think it settled permenantly in
the folicle shafts where hair has fallen out. finally, in desperation, after
showering, soaping, lotioning up and still unable to remove the black
spots on my face i pull out my foot pumice and scrub the top layers of
skin off. it sorta worked. IF my hair decides to fall out in the near
future, i will have that "man's 8 hour shadow" look tatooed on my scalp.
but, the black hair is fun and, i think, looks cool. when it falls out
(and probably even before) i have 4 totally cool, and each very different,
hats that austin made and sent me.
as i mentioned, a new drug was administered this round. i had
a bad reaction to it and had trouble breathing for a few minutes. my
dr. was in surgery and sent his resident over to gather info. i could tell
she was clueless. finally, an oncologist cleared up the problem by ordering
2 bags of benadryl dripped into my system and slowly restarting the drugs.
i am sure i was snoring louder than a garbage disposal, but the other
patients in the room were very nice. they didn't once shove me and ask
me to roll over. it took over 6 hours to infuse. my poor/wonder mom sat
there the whole time. ok, that's about all i have to share this go round.
if you want to be removed from my update list, please check here ( ) and
return it to me. i will understand.
i really hope everyone has a wonderful, fun, and memorable holiday
again, this will be old news to some, sorry. i forgot to mention the
results of my self-inflicted neupogen shots needed to increase the white
blood cells. (histology review: the normal count is 2200-7700.) off the medicine
my counts are scary low, low, low (in the 200's). on the medicine i am a
white cell manufacturing machine. after 6 shots my nurse told me to stop,
my count was 38,000. i wish i could donate them like people donate blood.
December 19, 2002
here is a self portrait and a photo
graeme took of me sportin' my new mop. the cap was made by
austin and his friend Marie.
See Lynda's new mop and cap
December 27, 2002
Email sent out by Laura
lynda said she would be bald for christmas but she needed a bit of help.
after driving 9-10 hours from SC to DC we visited joe's barber around the
corner from where i live. lettie talked lynda into getting her cut really
short instead of shaved. She looks a bit like Sinead O'Connor in her early
talented irish-punk phase (before her trying-to-get-attention-tearing-up-pictures-of-the-pope
phase). See Lynda's buzz cut
Send a message to Lynda at LMcRock@knology.net