Archive | November 2008

The clock is ticking…

th_portable-time-clockChristmas Day is less than a month away, and chemo is coming in even less time!  18 days left!  I feel like I’m being crunched into a time machine, with much to do in too little time!  People in the stores are running around like maniacs, shopping for THINGS and stressing about things that are really and truly meaningless.  (If they only knew).  I don’t want to be like that.  My list is short this year, both in things to do and and in things to want.  Keep it simple.  That’s what I want. 

 I am already trying to think ahead to the week of chemo and what I might feel like, trying to plan to already have all of Christmas DONE (decorating, baking, cards, entertaining) and out of the way.  I also want to be proactive about my hair loss, and schedule a get together with my girlfriends to be by my side as I rope it all off, cut it, then shave the rest.  If I don’t do this, I could wake up one morning and find it all over my pillow, or falling out down the shower drain and that would be very traumatic for me.  This is one way I can take back some control. I am donating it to an organization that makes real hair wigs for children <—click .  I’m sure some little girl would be thrilled to have a long hair wig!  It is 15 inches at its longest places!  It will take me at least 5 years to get all of that length back.  It took me 3 years to grow my bangs from their 4 inches to the  12 inches they are now!  I try not to think about it.  It’s all about becomming a new “me”, inside and out. 

This week I go back to the plastic surgeon and also expect to finally have my drain removed.  I dread it hurting, since it has been in there for 5 weeks.  I also meet the following day with the surgical clinic that will be installing the port under the skin, mainly for an informational consultation. 

Today is our 22nd wedding anniversary! We have a lot to celebrate! Four wonderful kids, and a full and blessed life, and much to look forward to!

Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving and that all your Christmas lights that you pull from the attic, plug in and turn on with no burned out bulbs! 🙂    th_thanimatedchristmastree

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This entry was posted on November 29, 2008. 2 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving

Our son Curtis belongs to a Christian acapella group at University of Virginia, called ChoosE (Christian HOOS Exalt). “Hoos” is the school mascot name.  They just released their first CD this year, where Curtis sings backup vocals.  The CD title is Infinity.  This song by Nichole Nordeman, GRATITUDE, is my favorite. I hope you will be blessed by it! Curtis’  group hasn’t yet put their version on YouTube, but this is very, very close to their sound! The words have pretty deep meaning for me, personally, right now. Click the arrow to listen.  The lyrics are written below. Then, say a prayer of Thanksgiving all your own! 

Gratitude (a prayer)

Send some rain

Would you send some rain?

‘Cause the earth is dry

And needs to drink again

And the sun is high

And we are sinking in the shade

Would you send a cloud

Thunder long and loud

Let the sky grow black

And send some mercy down

Surely you can see

That we are sinking

In the shade

Or maybe not

Not today

Maybe you’ll provide in others ways

And if that’s the case…

We’ll give thanks to you

With gratitude

For lessons learned

In how to thirst for you

How to bless the very sun

That warms our face

If you never send us rain

Daily Bread, Give us daily bread

Bless our bodies, keep our children fed

Fill our cups, then fill them up again

Tonight

Oh wrap us up

And warm us through

Tucked away

Beneath our sturdy roofs

Let us slumber safe

From dangers

Through this time

Or maybe not

Not today

Maybe you’ll provide in other ways

And if that’s the case…

We’ll give thanks to you

With gratitude

A lesson learned

To hunger after you

Let a starry sky

Offer a better view

If no roof is overhead

And if we never taste that bread

Oh the differences that are often between

Everything we want and what we really need

So grant us peace

Jesus grant us peace

Move our hearts to hear a single beat

Between our alibis & enemies tonight

Or maybe not

Not today

Peace might be another world away

And if that’s the case…

We’ll give thanks to you

With gratitude

For lessons learned

In how to trust in you

And we are blessed beyond

What we could ever dream of

In abundance or in need

And if you never grant us peace,

But Jesus, Would you , please

If you would like to order a copy of CHoosE’s new CD, just contact me. Their web site is: http://www.student.virginia.edu/~choose/ To listen to snippettes of their sound, click SOUNDS, then click a title next to the record player (remember what those look like?) 🙂 .

Next stop- Chemotherapy-ville

forest

Yesterday’s nuclear heart scan came back very good (gee, must be all that working out I THINK about doing! ) , and my chemo therapy treatments are scheduled to begin Wednesday, December 17th.  They will install a medi-port under the skin first thing that morning, just on the underside of my left upper arm, in minor surgery , then proceed to infusion treatment.  The medi-port will be the place where all infusion injections take place so that my veins don’t get over abused. Treatment  lasts a couple of hours, and then we get to go home until round # 2 , three weeks later, with blood tests at my local doctor’s office in between, to be sure I am tollerating the effects okay.  Christmas day will be a week after my first treatment, by which time my doctor seems to think I will feel fairly ‘normal’and enjoy the time with the kids and Tim.  Treatment will consist of 6 total cycles, each three weeks apart, ending sometime near the beginning of April, a total of 18 weeks.  The least common of the  worst side effects with this particular regimine are numbness and tingling of fingers and toes, and ringing in and loss of hearing in the ears….but usually temporary.  More common side effects are nausea, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, compromised immunity,  and hair loss.  Kidney and liver function tests are given regularly due to possible side effects there, but they monitor chemo patients carefully.  Contact with people who are sick can be very dangerous for me during this time.  I got my flu shot yesterday, and the rest of the family gets theirs this week. Lucky for me, this will be wintertime, so I don’t plan on traveling, but rather, staying home a lot, crafting at my jewelry & card making businesses,  and being extra cautious about hand washing, cleanliness around the house, keeping Clorox™ wipes  everywhere, etc.  I will be prepared with my wig(s), and plan to cut and donate my long hair to locks of love  before it falls out on its own, so as to take personal control over a somewhat traumatic event for me. It will make me feel so good to know that some little girl will get herself  a long hair wig 🙂 .  My longest lengths right now are 15 inches long! (Locks of love makes wigs using human hair for children only.) 

Thanksgiving Day is this week.  We have both boys home from school now (to include a pet hedgehog of Kyle’s, who is in a cage in his basement bedroom – his name is  Dow Jones) Isn’t he cute!!! 019-1-1 We have a a fridge and freezer full of yummy food and soups made by loving friends, muffins, breads, all of the things I would be busy whipping up in my own kitchen, if only I had the energy.  I feel so blessed! Thank you everyone who is chipping in to help our family through this. I hope that you will be blessed with a Happy Thanksgiving!

Preparing for my new “role”

This week Tim and I met with my oncologist, and learned all about the chemo therapy regimines & clinical trials available to me.  His name is Dr. Patel, and we both really like him.  All of the nurses we met, from the research ladies in clinical trials, to the nurses in the infusion rooms, were very kind and put us at ease.  wonderwoman2They always make me feel like I am their only patient and would take all day with me if I needed more time with them.  Dr. Patel sent us home with a boat load of information to read this weekend, because so many of these drugs have side effects and benefits  that are different.  I’m hoping that with all of Tim’s science backgrounds, from 25 years ago, he can make sense of it all!  It’s very detailed and overwhelming.  Bottom line is this…I have to have a few tests before we get started.  I am having a heart scan Monday morning.  Then comes blood work, like liver and kidney functions, etc.  to make sure I am healthy enough to be “poisoned”.  Ha!  Ha!  (Well, that’s how I look at it ).  His guess was that chemo would begin in the next 3- 6 weeks.  Tuesday I have another appointment to discuss scheduling a minor surgical procedure where they install a port under the skin where I receive all of my injections for the next 12 months or so.  My particular cancer requires a year of one the types of drugs we know I’ll need for that length of time.  I also go back to my plastic surgeon Tuesday for some tissue expansion.  Then comes Thanksgiving and the boys will be home from college and we can take a few days’ break from doctor’s visits.  Looking at Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman) in this photo makes me think of wearing a long dark wig, and all I need now is the headband and I’m set! See her in action HERE

imgp51961My wonderful neighbor, who also loves dogs, took Colby for a walk yesterday and returned exhausted and out of breath.  Colby took HER for a walk, I suspect!  She is a gem, and went and got me a “Halty” restraining device at Petsmart to keep him from pulling.  If I can get it to work, I may be able to walk him without his constant pulling.  I could use the exercise and fresh air about now, although it has gotten quite cold here this week!  In case you were wondering, Christmas is in just  33 days! :0

This entry was posted on November 22, 2008. 2 Comments

An uplifting project!

Okay, so this project began with just a few teen girls in our church and has grown beyond belief!  hpim2290-fullinit_It has nothing to do with breast cancer, but with another type of suffering in the world, and there are many.  It sometimes helps just to take the focus off my own suffering or trial, and look to someone else in need.  If you get the chance, click to see what some very special girls are up to in their spare time! And if you find yourself struggling with something in your own life, remember there is always someone else worse off, or who needs your prayers, and sometimes focusing your energies there helps you heal too!

Purses With A Purpose  <—click

Battles lost and battles won

tristetraifeliciToday was my first day driving in more than 3 weeks.   I finally decided to try going without narcotics for a few hours, so that I could get myself to my dental appointment and do some grocery shopping.  I took some 800mg Motrin and off I went. No problems.  After my check up at the dentist, I went to the military base commissary (grocery store for you non-military follks).  When you first walk in, there is a counter where you have to display your ID card to get in.  There’s been a woman there checkin ID cards for 3 years named LeeAnn.  She lost her hair a couple of years ago, I assumed to cancer, and she always had a pink ribbon pin on, and a head scarf, or nothing covering her head at all, but I never actually talked to her.  When her hair grew back last year, I thought, hurray for her!  She’s beat cancer!  I saw her there every week for the past 3 years.  I haven’t been to the commissary in probably 6 weeks or more.  I wanted to tell LeeAnn my story today, in short form of course, to just let her know she’s been an inspiration to me since she continued to work her job throughout her ordeal.  Well,  that chance was never to happen.  Unknown to me, LeeAnn had a reccurance 3 months ago , this time in her brain, and she lost her battle with cancer last Friday.  She was 46 and has left behind 2 small children.  I managed to fight back tears the whole hour I was shopping.  By the time I got to the check out, I asked for some help from a clerk with the heavy items I had, as well as a second cart (I have two college sons coming home next week and Thanksgiving dinner to think about!)  so she gladly helped me, and we got to talking.  She asked if I knew Lee Ann, and I said no and asked if she did.  She said, no, that she had started working there just recently.  When I told her I was fighting breast cancer too, she asked if I would lose my hair, I said yes, and she said she doesn’t even have cancer and wears wigs because she just loves ’em!  I couldn’t believe she was wearing a wig!  She looked great.  I thanked her for her help and then it was time to pay the cashier.  I asked her if she knew Lee Ann and she said ‘yes’ ,  with a very sad face.  I leaned forward and showed her my pendant necklace that says “Fight Like A Girl” , and I said, “I’m fightin it myself”.  She took my hand in hers and said to me, “I’m an 8 year survivor, and you will be too!”  So that was my day from beginnning to end.  Battles lost, battles won, and hope for the future promised to me by an angel I don’t even know, but who knows that it’s possible, and promised a prayer for me.  And I believed it!

Tomorrow (Thursday) is my first consultation with oncology hematology where we discuss my chemo therapy plan.  I have a second opinion consult at the Naval hospital in 2 weeks for the same therapy.  I also see my surgeon tomorrow about the drain problem…the output is still too high for them to remove it, but they normally come out after just 2 weeks and here I am past 3 weeks!  I don’t know what he’s going to do but last week he mentioned possibly having to install another drain tomorrow….that doesn’t sound too fun.  It would have to be a semi-surgical procedure.  I have a friend taking me again, Tim coming along as well from work. I’m ready for that part to be over…it’s just in the way of everything like getting dressed, etc.  The worst part is, though the area where there is no drain and fluid build up causing pain.  I’m really ready to get that problem resolved.  So I should have news of some sort to report after tomorrow.  A big thanks for your prayers and help with everything.  Stopping by to walk the dog, checking in with a quick “howdy” on e-mails, cards in the mail…..they all lift me up and carry me through! ♥

Finding myself

Today was the big day. The day to go shopping in a place for that person that looks most like myself. A wig shop. My friend Vicki picked me up for the ride up to Fairfax/ Vienna, and being the oldest (I mean the longest 🙂 ) friend I have here, she would be an honest onlooker, making sure I didn’t make any poor decisions! First stop was 004-1-1-2The American Cancer Society, where their inventory was very low, and they had only one wig in my hair color and absolutely none without bangs or in long styles. So I took what I could get, after all, it was free, and I was happy to have something fun and youthful and spunky. 002-1-1-2-3(<—here at left.  It’s pulled back in this picture but it doesn’t have to be worn that way) Below is me 3 1/2 weeks ago, here at right is , well,  a new longer style wig I found

imgp50603at the “Cadilac” of wig shops, only I wasn’t going to buy the Cadilac! I settled for this , mmmm, Honda of sorts, reliable, conservative, reasosnable,  and attractive enough.  A wonderful gentleman helped us out, a man in his 50s, very fatherly – like, and

003knowledgeable and really low-key he was, helpful, not pushy, just really genuinely wanting to hep me find the best choice for my style, and also knew how to file for reimbursement with my insurance company.  In the end, I found the one here at the above right, where I need to work a bit more on the front hairline, part thingy, –> which I found can be worn several different ways with headbands, barrettes, down, parted on the side, whatever.  It takes some working at, which I haven’t had time time yet to experiment with. SOlon stylists can help me do that too. It looked most like my current style, of all we looked at.  It’s actually pretty  long in back too!  Cool!  Instant extensions! I came home to dinner waiting for me on the counter, brought by a woman from our church whom I don’t even know .  What a great day!  One step closer…feeling more prepared for upcoming chemo hair loss, just a sense of peace.  Alles gut!

Please say a prayer for my friend, Lisa, whose breast cancer surgery is Wednesday (today) at UCLA Medical, Center.  She has an extensive 12 hour surgery, so really needs a lot of  people lifting her up to the Ultimate Physician (God)  today! Our paths crossed unexpectedly, and I feel God has a special plan for her life and for our new friendship across the miles.   Thanks for saying a quick prayer as you think of this young mother of 2 today, and her husband David and children Lauren and Andrew.