But it’s a dry heat…..

Time to get in the pool!

Time to get in the pool!

In case you haven’t been keeping up with the weather forecast in Arizona (not to rub it in to our friends and family back East), we hit 95 today, the first ninety degree temperatures of 2014. And it will last through Friday. It may even flirt with 100 degrees. But, as they like to say here, it’s a dry heat.

We just happen to be heading north to Las Vegas on Wednesday where it is forecasted to be much cooler–the low nineties. As I recall from my one and only visit to Las Vegas (granted, it was August), that is one hot city. And it just feels more like the desert than Chandler, Arizona does.

We are flying up for the night to see Elton John perform at Caesars Palace. A short one hour five-minute flight. Granted, we’ll miss the Hoover Dam experience by not driving up but the flight is free. (Thanks to my Southwest VISA card!)

I am so excited to show Steve Las Vegas. Not that we are gamblers or drinkers. OK–I could get addicted to the slots but I can depend on Steve to drag me away.

To prepare him for the trip, we watched “Last Vegas” via our Apple TV. Definitely worthy of an Academy award. NOT! But it was entertaining. It probably helps to be our age to appreciate the movie. The other day we actually “argued” about what day of the week it was–forgetting to check either our watches or our iPhones! I imagine our children are wondering if it is time to check out nursing homes but I can assure them it is way too early for that! (They all have guest rooms, don’t they?)

Have to admit we are enjoying retirement. I especially like playing Candy Crush (93 million people a day play it) and Words with Friends and reading as late as I want (Steve doesn’t even complain), which means sleeping as late as I want (again, no complaints), drinking a leisurely cup or two of coffee, going to lunch (Sunday it was San Tan Brewing Company–jalapeno bratwurst hash for brunch–almost as hot as the weather) and then heading out to wherever we want (after brunch it was WestWorld in Scottsdale celebrating Arizona Bike Week). Steve is painting and enjoying the weather.

We leave for Virginia next week, stopping in Albuquerque, Nashville, and Ashville along the way. Looking forward to spending time with Jennifer and family in Williamsburg, meeting up with the ladies from my writing group at Malice Domestic in Bethesda, MD, and visiting Joy and family in CT. And then HOME (after almost five months away) just in time for my CT scan at DHMC. Eighteen months to the day from my surgery for adrenal cancer. Fingers crossed!

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6 thoughts on “But it’s a dry heat…..

  1. Judy April 9, 2014 at 5:54 am Reply

    And I am so looking forward to seeing you again! Yippee!

  2. Heidi April 9, 2014 at 6:45 am Reply

    But when are you writing?!!

  3. donna palmieri April 9, 2014 at 8:04 am Reply

    Karen, you look wonderful and I am grateful for your update. I have not been able to find anyone else with this Diagnosis who actually has a post with such hope and living a full quality life. I don’t know how you keep up with your “retirement” schedule!

    I am 8 months out of surgery from Adrenal Cortical Cancer. Finished the prescribed 6 months on Mitotane at Memorial Sloan Kettering. 2 CAT scans over last 8 months are negative. Next scan in July and I have days that fear takes my breadth away of what the next scan will show. My 81 year old active healthy mom and 86 year old dad continue to give me encouragement and hope. I have kept my medical issue pretty close to the immediate family and my closest girlfriends – since I am still working and best not to have health be an issue when I need to perform at a high level.

    My issue is the right adrenal is either “dormant or died” from the Mitotane and I am taking 40 mg of Hydrocortisone and 50mg of Thyroid tablet a day. Is your remaining adrenal working? How do you keep control over your mind so you don’t have days of fear? How did you make the decision to retire? I am working (VP at a major non profit for almost 30 years.) It was really tough working while on the Mitotane, going toxic and feeling like death was around the corner. But now off Mitotane I am starting to “come back.” Last night I actually had a bag of pop corn and watched TV – something I never do! That was my BIG night for me!

    My 3 children are in different States with 3 grandchildren. I feel guilty that I am not visiting them more and then when I am ready to visit I get a terrible cold which takes weeks to get rid, a megadose of antibiotics and double up on Hydrocortisone, per MSK. … or the grandchild gets sick and my immune system is practically non existent, so I end up not seeing them. I am just starting to get back my energy and hopefulness that I will be ok. I am just starting to eat to gain back the 10 pounds I lost when this all started in August. I hope to have a good summer. I visit my daughter (turns 40!) in Florida in April and then my children (2 sons 34 and 36 and grandchildren (2, 3, 5 years) will spend a week together in Naples Florida. I can’t wait to be with them in a beautiful rental on the beach!

    When you get a free moment, can you let me know how you progressed to where you are now? Did your energy come back in stages? Is your blood work trending ok? How did you put this all into the background and focus on living what appears to be a wonderful full life of travel and relaxation after all your years of working? Each day I question how I should be spending my life. When I speak with the doc team, they all tell me it is way too soon to stop working and do a bucket list but at the same time they tell me Stage III and no real encouragement for a life expectancy. We all high 5 when the CAT scan comes negative and then I am out the door until the next 3 months. What a way to live – hugh?

    My liver function tests from March were way off the charts, they tell me due to Mitotane. Do you have days of sadness and how do you manage? Can you tell me the rationale for your Stage II? I only had the left adrenal removed with the ACC and all margins showed clear, B U T the pathology report showed “vascular invasion” so they Staged me at a III, with a 6.2cm tumor. No other organs were removed or showed any signs of metastasis per the PET scan. I am at MSK and I did go to MD Anderson for 2nd opinion. They only thing MD Anderson had to say was a plan of Mitotane for over 2 years, which I believe is what you are doing? B U T, no one really knows if the 2 years vs 6 months is the way to go and my docs at MSK were not favoring more than 6 months. I agreed with MSK, since I was wasting away on the Mitotane, could not think, cried all the time, could not focus, fell over and hit the toxic level every 3 weeks, and then went off for a week and then back on. And, it seems that I can feel the “surgical clips” and my left side still seems weak. Did you have same at 8 months out of surgery? They tell me it is all normal, but at times, I still feel like I need to hold my side and get up and move around after sitting for over an hour since the ribs on the lift side start to ache and push into these “surgical clips” — did you have anything like this?

    You seem to have tons of energy to manage all the travel, packing, cleaning, feeding and care for yourself. You are an inspiration and I am so very grateful for your updates. I do keep you in my prayers and I look forward to your updates. I travel a great deal for my work and if at anytime you would be open to a face to face over a cup of coffee I would be happy to meet you anywhere. I live in Montgomery County, PA just outside of Philadelphia, however, I am in many States for work and can easily make a stop to you. I actually have a 91 year old Aunt in Tucson Arizona! In addition, if you are ever in my area, please let me know and we could have a chew and chat? I have a large home and can easily host you and your husband.

    Take care and God Bless you. ~ Donna

    • kwhalen November 12, 2014 at 6:26 pm Reply

      Donna: Gosh, I guess I should pay more attention to the comments on my blog. You are so kind and forthcoming–I feel badly that I never responded to this. You are correct, I could not be working while taking mitotane, not at my former position as CFO at the bank. My mitotane levels also fluctuate and when I get close to the top of the therapeutic level I feel poisoned. I did have issues with my incision for months and actually continue to though less frequently to this day if I have been sitting for very long. Not certain why I am classified Stage 2 when I had to have my inferior vena cava resected–sounds like vascular invasion to me. I will ask my onco at my next appointment what the distinction is. How do I cope? I have always had the ability to not dwell on things and that is how I have dealt with this–by not focusing on it. I basically leave the worrying up to my husband!! Our children are close in age to yours–our eldest daughter, the one in AZ, just turned 40 in September. I know what you mean about the grandkids and germs….I do not take anything for my thyroid though I do have a cyst on it, which was discovered not that long ago by my endo. I certainly hope your right adrenal gland wakes up soon! Maybe it has already. They say it takes time or may never. Ugh. The decision to retire was definitely made out of fear–at that time I assumed there was a 50/50 chance that I had only five years to live but now I am more optimistic as there are so many different treatments available for recurring ACC. But I am content with my decision to retire, especially since I still have contact with so many of my friends from work. Financially it’s a gamble but my husband can always go to work if necessary! It would be wonderful to meet up with you. Maybe on our trip out to AZ or when we are in AZ? I promise to keep in touch. Karen

  4. Regis Marie Roy April 9, 2014 at 8:01 pm Reply

    So happy to see you having a great time!

  5. donna January 16, 2015 at 8:35 am Reply

    Karen, i just saw your response this morning – January 18, 2015! So glad to hear from you. My last 5 scans are clear. Next scan in March. I spent the holiday in the hospital due to adrenal crises, due to the adrenal insufficiency. Back on my feet and still working which is the way I keep my brain focused on living and all of the blessings in my life. My focus is to figure out how to get the right adrenal to come back. So I am searching for a world expert in this area. I would be good to meet you. Again, much thanks for the response.

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