Journal

Journal entry by Cara McElhaney

Well the roller coaster ride has been crazy this last 6 weeks.  Since my May treatment showed signs of my Thyroid levels being "out of whack", I've discovered the side effects of the Levothyroxine has caused some other issues.  The worst have been the leg cramps & lower back aches.  So, I asked Dr. Patel about these and she said I could go off it for 2-3 days, but no longer.  That has proved to help give me some relief.  After my labs on Wednesday when I had my treatment, the hormone levels have gone down from 77 to 43, and now Dr. Patel is increasing my dosage.  Ugh!
I'm anxious to see what effects only having a double dose of Keytruda (Immunotherapy) every 6 weeks will have. It's only been 2 days, but so far, so good! It took a few days previously before the effects usually set in, so we'll see.  I'm thinking it's not going to happen & I'm going to sail through these treatments with no problems!  Please pray that the treatments don't do damage to affect me in other ways!!
Thank all of you that continue to pray, send cards, text and call to say "hello"!  Rick has been my ROCK and is developing his cooking skills by getting an Instapot!  We've had some great meals lately!  I've slacked off the desserts since he's making great dinners!  Besides the fact that we were gaining weight!!
This journey is going to be long and I'm going to need all the encouragment and support I can get to help me through.  When I can visit my family and grandkids, that will be like therapy to my heart!  It's going to be a while before I feel comfortable traveling anywhere!!  
I love y'all and appreciate every one of you! (Especially Rick, who loves me unconditionally)
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Journal entry by Cara McElhaney

After my visit with  the Endocrinologist,  Dr. Patel, she informed me that the hypothyroidism is caused from my chemo treatments & I'll need to stay on meds to help my thyroid produce the hormones my body needs.  It's unlikely that it will heal itself & go back to normal.
My toothache is much better thanks to the nerve pain meds, gabapentin! I'm waiting for the Oncologist & Endocrinologist to talk & get the approval to extract the tooth if necessary. 
Just thought I'd give you some happier news after my frustrating post.
Life is good I'm fighting through this bump in the road & will be good as new soon!  Thank all of you for your love, prayers & support! It keeps me going!

Journal entry by Cara McElhaney

It's been three weeks on Wednesday since my last chemo/Immunotherapy treatment. Of course, since I'm feeling great,  I've got a horrible toothache in my back molar & can't chew on it & it is giving me constant pain. I contacted my Oncologist & my dentist today.  The Oncologist gave me something for "nerve pain". (Gabapentin) The dentist thinks I have a root fracture on the tooth but I have to see an Endodontist to get the special xray to confirm & extract the tooth. Ugh!!
My thyroid level was higher, so I had lab work yesterday & the Endocrinologist called to put me on meds today because my levels were extremely high.  I have an appointment with her on Tuesday.  I was excited to finish my Metformin for my high glucose caused by steroids from chemo. So, I get rid of one med & I get 2 more.
I really was hoping my elevated levels would go back to normal after a few weeks from both the glucose & thyroid levels.
Please pray me through this. I probably have hyperthyroidism.  My next treatment isn't until June 17th & I really was praying to feel good for 3 more weeks! I guess I've been blessed to get this far & not have any significant side effects.  I can get though this with strength & my faith that God is in control!
My Aunt sent me a card that I taped to my bathroom mirror that says "You would never have known God's strength  had His strength not been needed to carry you through" Charles Spurgeon
Thank you for your love & prayers!

Journal entry by Cara McElhaney

It's been a blessed week!  I had my 6th treatment on Wednesday, along with seeing the Oncologist.  He said I was "exceeding his expectations with my treatment"!  What positive affirmation that it's working!  I also had my last combination treatment that included Chemo!  I will continue Immunotherapy indefinitely, but it will be every 6 weeks now!  I'm so grateful to be done with Chemo, and pray that I will have less side effects from the Keytruda (Immunotherapy) since it doesn't have the aggressiveness of chemo, but is the "kick butt" of therapy!  The nurses in the Treatment Center at St. Luke's East gave me a certificate and I got to ring the cowbell!!  What a nice celebration and surprise!  They are all wonderful & caring individuals who certainly make these treatments more pleasant!
It's also Mother's Day tomorrow, and I'm so blessed to have four great kids that I am so proud of!  I'm disappointed that the pandemic is preventing me from being with my Mom, or my kids, but I know that their love and prayers are with me.  I'm so proud of the amazing Mothers that my daughters and my daughter-in-law have become!  I'm ever so grateful for the Mother that gave me life and raised me with her example of faith, courage, kindness, and encouragement and most of all, taught me the meaning of unconditional love.  Thanks, Mom!
My wonderful neighbor, Randi, bought my flowers for my pots this week since I'm not allowed out to shop for them myself!  I'm so grateful for her help because it really is "theraputic" to look out and see the beautiful colors of the flowers in those bare pots!  Thank you!!
I was blessed to be able to go to my church this week and record a song with Donna Jones, Steve Price, & Mike Winburn.  We were "social distancing" as we sang and each of us were videoed individually as we sang the song together.  The recording will be played for one of our online services on a Sunday sometime soon.  It filled my heart to be singing with them and see Beth Files, who helped us.  Joy recorded our accompanyment so we had music to sing to!  The wonders of modern technology help our lives stay connected in so many ways right now!
Thank each of you for your love, prayers, cards, calls and support!  My "army" will get me through this journey and come out better on the other side!  I love each of you!!

Journal entry by Cara McElhaney

Great news today!  The malignant lymph nodes are shrinking & are not active any more!  I will have one more treaatment on May 6th with Chemo and Immunotherapy and then I will be on Immunotherapy (Keytruda) every three weeks indefinitely.  There is going to need to be a miracle to get to remission, but I'm wearing a bracelet that says, "Expect Miracles" , and I'm going with that!!  My immune system has held up well, and after the quarantine is over, I'll be able to see my family & friends again! Hallelujah!!!!  I miss all of you so very much, but Rick and I are staying faithful to not exposing ourselves to any outside germs except to get food!
Speaking of food........we are eating our way through this quarantine!  I've actually lost 5-7 lbs. since I started treatment!  That's hard to believe since I've turned into "Betty Crocker" baking cookies, banana nut bread, and brownies!!  Of course, I'm encouraging Rick by doing this, but we'll get throught this with a little comfort food!  We treat ourselves to "carry out' once or twice a week. 
I can't tell you how much your cards, calls, emails, and prayers have helped me.  I get emotional with each one because I'm so blessed to read or hear your words of encouragement!  Since I'm furloughed from work, it's been a blessing not to have to worry about it on days I just need a nap!  I have another blessing by getting Unemployment Benefits!!  Every little bit helps!
Please stay safe and know I'm praying us through this battle and the added quarantine.
Blessings and love to each of you!
Cara

Journal entry by Cara McElhaney

Today is Palm Sunday.  As I worshiped online, I realized just how everything that is going on in the world right now has affected me and the situation I have with my health.  As we enter Holy Week, I am missing the blessings I have gotten all these years from singing in the choir during this special week in our church.  I'm truly grateful for the online services to support and uplift me, but it's not the same as being there to worship together.
I am thankful that the one constant thing in my life is my treatments every 3 weeks.  Even though I know they will go on indefinitely, it's still comforting to know that I will continue to battle this no matter what else is going on.  There are so many things outside my control, and I'm thankful knowing that I am not "in charge".  Remembering that, is difficult, especially when I have this wonderful husband, who loves me and takes such good care of me, wanting to plan out what to do in cases one of us contracts the virus and we have to quarantine from each other.  Yes, I'm proactive too, but I prefer to deal with the present situation of how we get groceries and keep him out of situations for him to contract the virus.  I'm grateful for my faith that gives me peace, knowing that He is in control and I can only do so much.  I pray that peace for Rick, that he would have faith in a higher power to watch over us and get us through this pandemic.  I don't tell him enough how much I appreciate him and the unconditional love he has for me, as he cares for me and our home.
My prayers are constant for our family scattered across the nation, especially our children and grandchildren.  Our friends and family have been so supportive and you all are in my prayers.  I especially am grateful and pray for Sara, JW, brother, Scott, and my SIL, Kelly, who watch over my 90 year old Mother and are there for her in Texas.
Your love and support are what keeps me strong in this battle!  Thank you for the caring ways you remind me of the army I have with me in this fight!  
Bless each of you to stay safe and well,
Cara

Journal entry by Cara McElhaney

As I sit here during my 4th treatment, I thought I'd bring you up to date on what I found out with my appointment with the Oncologist.  My thyroid levels are at .09, so they're referring me to Endocrinologist at SLE. He has ordered a PET Scan for 4/14/20, to see what results the treatments have had on my affected lymph nodes.  I will also continue on maintenance treatments of Immunothetapy indefinitely every 3 weeks until I cannot tolerate it or more cancer shows up. I will have a PET Scan every 3-4 months to see what's going on.
He reminded me that since it's Stage 4 & Metastatic, we have to stay on this to hopefully kill it, contain it or prevent it from spreading if possible!  I guess I'm going to have to send videos to the twin grandbabies so they'll know who I am? It's so hard to stay away from my 10 grandkids & all of my family! I was so grateful to have my S-I-LOVE & her daughter-in-love come to see us before the lock down. We also enjoyed our daughter, Heather,  for a week before we got seriously quarantined. Ascentist Ear. Nose, & Throat where I work, has furloughed 75% of their staff without pay. Of course, I'm included. It's probably a blessing in disguise with my health issues. Of course,  we're going to miss the pay, since Rick is retired.
I guess I'm going to need lots of your prayers & support for a lot longer than I anticipated & for lots of different reasons. So, hang tight & pray this COVID-19 is extinguished over the world. I pray for you & your safety.
Thank you for your constant love & prayers,
Cara

Journal entry by Cara McElhaney

As I stay quarantined in some fashion, I am blessed to have had my youngest daughter, Heather, here last week to love & pamper me. She didn't realize how much it helped me to stay away from places that were potentially germy that I would haven't thought twice about going. It was therapeutic for both of us. I'm fortunate to be able to work from home, so I didn't mind having her just hang out while I worked. She left my grandsons home with their Dad so she could "just be a daughter"❣
Sometimes we don't know what we need until it's shared with us. Rick's love & support has been amazingly comforting. My sons have shown me their love & concern, which isn't always easy for guys. They don't realize how much it means to me. My oldest daughter texts or calls almost every day to check to see how I'm feeling. She questions every new symptom & makes me ask questions to my Oncologist that I wouldn't think about. The love, prayers & support I've been getting from all over the nation just fills my heart until my eyes overflow❤
This Coronavirus will not stop me from healing. I am stronger than any of this💪💥💣

Journal entry by Cara McElhaney

It's been a week tomorrow since my 3rd treatment. I'm having headaches almost daily that get pretty painful by the end of the day. Other aches & pains that move around my body on a daily basis. It's all tolerable enough for me to be working. My body is feeling the halfway mark of treatment.  I'm trying to be conscious about the events I attend & even the public places I'm going to.  I have to be careful going to our offices & not frequent them often to avoid sick folks in our doctor's offices.
Your love, prayers & support are getting me through this!  I love you❣

Journal entry by Cara McElhaney

Today was my 3rd treatment of 6. Getting there at 8am & leaving at 4:30pm makes for an exhausting day.😘  I forgot to take my steroids last night, so they gave me a big dose of benadryl in my IV. That really slowed me down today. Thanks to Lynn Schwenn for lunch & teaching me how to play Frakel. That really helped the day pass by quicker❣ Thank you, God, for wonderful friends who gather around me & Rick to love, support, feed & pray for us❣❤  I'm hoping the side effects are minimal & with the addition of Immunotherapy, it helps to do just that.  They also give me an anti-nausea drug before they start my treatment.
My 4th treatment is March 25th.  I'm halfway through💪🤺👑 with my treatments. 
Your cards, blankets, & messages are getting me through. They encourage me & even give me a good cry sometimes.
Love each one of you & especially Rick, the most committed partner, who loves me unconditionally.  Dear God, please ease his anxiety & give him peace knowing it's all in your hands.
Love & prayers to each of you❣

Journal entry by Cara McElhaney

Since my chemo on Thursday, I've been doing rather well. So far, I'm experiencing a sore throat & some muscle aches & pains. I've been lucky enough to not be nauseated & sick. I'm a little "shakey", but I try not to overdo it so not to make things worse.
The love & prayers you are sending mean the world to me & will help me battle this! 
Cara’s Story

Site created on January 21, 2020

Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.
I have been diagnosed with Metastatic Squamous Cell Carcinoma that was found in a groin lymph node while trying to find out why my right leg has been swollen for 6 months.  All the testing has not been able to reveal the source, but it is in a few more lymph glands.  The Oncologist tells us that it is a "good" stage 4 and that it's treatable!  They are doing Molecular testing to see if chemo or Immunotherapy would be the best treatment.  First indications are Immunotherapy will be the best, but all the testing is not complete.  In the meantime, I will have chemo treatments every 3 weeks for 6 treatments.
I will keep you posted as to how I'm doing and what the effects are.  Hopefully, I will skate through this and this bad dream will be over!!
Your love and prayers will get me through!  Feel free to text and email, and phone calls are always appreciated!
Love and blessings,
Cara

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