Archive | May 2009

The Point Of Grace

If you, like me, have been brought to the depths, and if you have, then you know what I mean…a place where you can cry no more, and have no strength left within your being.  It is a dark place, a hard place and a place you never want to stay long.  If you have been there or are there now, then you are at The Point of Grace – the place where only God can lift you out.  I found myself there six months ago when a plan for treatment was not yet in place, and I find myself there now as I try to navigate a road to recovery that isn’t clear.  It’s as if I was placed in a blender and then poured out on the pavement and left to wander, trying to find myself again.  Where is my femininity? What is my purpose in all of this mess? How do I come to a point of acceptance when I am still so angry? Even my fingernails are peeling off now and are painful!

If you feel that way in your life, then you’ll hear these words to this song and know that there is hope and peace waiting for you.  You just have to let God find you there. No hiding from your reality. I heard this song while I was in California visiting my parents. I felt the tears flowing down my cheeks and they streamed like a cleansing river to my soul. Just when I thought I couldn’t cry any more…

California Here I Come!

001 (3)It’s been more than a week since I last posted.  I’ve been getting ready for my trip out to visit my family in California, and the day has arrived!  I will be gone today through the 20th of May.

For over a week now I have resumed most of my daily activities of running a house to include the grocery shopping, cooking, laundry and upkeep, even though I am still anemic.   They checked my blood levels last week and my white cell counts are normal, so not as susceptible to infection, but the red cell count is still low, causing anemia.  I was also catching up on all the back-ordered jewelry orders that had stacked up and then I put my shop on vacation mode – I plan to resume after June 1st.  That has taken a lot of pressure off of me and freed up some time.

I began my “maintenence” Herceptin dose infusions last week, three times the levels I had been receiving, since they are every 3 weeks now instead of every week.  Tomorrow is the first Wednesday since New Years that I have not had to be at the hospital!  That, in itself,  feels amazing!  The only side effect I have noticed is one my doctor warned me of,  and that is a constant drippy nose accompanied by scabs lining the nostrils.  Hopefully those will subside with time as my body adjusts and I get back some nose hairs.  I don’t go anywhere without my Kleenex!

My oncologist denied my request for a manicure, since one of the nails started lifting from the finger and was oozing.  The bleeding under the nails has continued, but I went ahead and painted over them for my trip since they look pretty ugly.  I just can’t have the soaking and cuticle treatment that a typical manicure includes.  I am keeping them short so they don’t get caught and then pull right off – they are tender and still a little numb.

I shaved my legs for the first time in 6 months too!  California is HOT already and shorts and skirts mean no covering up the stubble that is beginning to return.  🙂 Hair is starting to fill in the bald spots on my head, though just grayish colored (ugh) chickadee “fuzz” right now.  I am still sporting a wig when I leave the house, and a scarf or bandanna while staying at home.  I don’t think there will be much swimming pool or beach activity for me this summer!

I signed on to be a “chemo-angel”  to a cancer patient just beginning her chemo treatments….a source of encouragement to someone else and a real place to help me begin recovery as I reach out to  another woman affected by breast cancer.  Channeling my time and energies into helping others will help me from holding my own pity party now that I am going through the post chemo “fall out”.  Nobody warned me of the feelings I would have as I begin to process the emotional after effects of treatment.  And in some respects I feel like I am still IN treatment until the new year, as I go once or twice a month to the chemo room for infusions.  A ‘new normal’, they call it.  All I can say is I just want my ‘old’ normal back, and that is a loss I must grieve over time.  I appreciate your prayers to that end.

‘Til next week!


A Long, Long Day

Today started with a drive in the steady rain and rush hour traffic to the E.R. to have my arm looked at.  My left arm, where my port is installed,  has been hurting for 4 days now, a throbbing dull ache and slight swelling…time to check for a blood clot again.  My oncologist suggested I go through th E.R. for fastest service.  Well, after an over 2 hour drive just to get there, then 2 3/4 hours later finding that there is no clot that they can find on ultrasound (but doesn’t mean that there isn’t one, as the doctor said), I then drove 2 1/2 more hours to Charlottesville to pick up Curtis who has just completed his freshman year of college and bring him home for the summer

The day we dropped Curtis off at college 10 months ago!

.  I let him drive the 2 hours home. I was beat!  Thankfully the rain let up.

The day we dropped Curtis off at college 10 months ago!

If the arm doesn’t stop hurting we will re-evaluate when I am there for my infusion two days from now.  Good news is that now I can take Ib013uprofen for the pain.  Before, while on chemo, I wasn’t able to take it due to a low platelet count.  So we’ll see how that works.  I could opt to have the port removed and have them start a fresh IV for each infusion over the next 8 months.  I’d rather not have to do that,  so you can pray that the pain subsides!

My fingers still hurt and are numb on the tips. Here’s what they look like now- owie!  A chemo-manicure of sorts!  They feel like I smashed them in a door.  I will ask on Wednesday if I am able to have a real manicure – my friend has plans to take me next week,  before my trip to California.  I have never had one in all my 45 years so I guess it’s time to treat myself to some pampering, but my doctor may say ‘no’  so that he can monitor what it happening under the nails.   I am anxiously looking forward to some time away next week when I go to visit my family – some time away to not think about doctors and cancer, and a time to visit friends and celebrate my parent’s 50th anniversary and new niece’s 1st birthday…a much needed escape for me!

This entry was posted on May 5, 2009. 1 Comment

The Battle For My Mind

014-2The fight has just begun.

During the  7 months fighting my physical fight with breast cancer, pressing forward with treatment was the foremost thing on my mind.  Getting through the next chemo cycle, healing, re-gaining strength…these were the things I HAD to deal with. Emotions of  fear, anger, sadness, loss, despair, were placed on my back burner to be dealt with later.

Well, my “later” has come.  Others are expecting me to be jumping for joy that  my chemo therapy  is over, yet I feel more down than up.  Ending chemo therapy means they are finished doing all they can do with the heaviest of drugs…and now we wait.  Wait for what?  Wait and hope that cancer doesn’t come back, basically, is what my doctor told me.  When I wake up each day, the image in the mirror reminds me what cancer has done to me, and that I am not who I use to be.  I do not like what I see.  Losing my hair has saddened me more than anyone could imagine, even myself, and I knew it would the hardest part for me.  I just didn’t know how hard and how   l-o-n-g    it would go on. The thought that in 6 months from now I might be lucky enough to have as much hair as my husband makes me want to cry. Hearing I look pretty doesn’t make it go away.  I know what I look like with no make up and no wig and I have to live with that person.

I begin my “maintenance” chemo regimen next week, both intravenously every 21 days and orally (daily) through hormone blockers for 5 years.  My doctor tells me this will induce menopause as my ovaries are shut down for the next 5 years to prevent any cancer cells from being fed.  He assures me I will notice irritability and mood swings. Great.  Just what I need on top of my already fragile emotional state. I asked for a prescription of happy pills along with that.

And of course there’s the ever present questions my mind battles “will my cancer come back?” and “how can they be sure chemo was effective?”  “Is this pain on my side cancer in my liver?”  I am told every cancer patient becomes a hypochondriac, worried about every ache and pain, bruise, headache, or ailment being a form of cancer returned.  I have my first mammogram since last summer coming up on Friday next week.  I’ll never go into those again without absolute fear. That said, I have to now learn to manage my fears with a dose of acceptance and resolve that they can’t hold me back from living.

Being just 15 days away from my last chemo treatment, I still feel tired and a little weak. Every day gets better, but I suspect it will be another month before I feel 100%…yet others tell me that they’ve never returned to 100% of what they use to be, and some of their side effects are still there 2 years later.  I guess 4 months of being poisoned can do that to a person’s body. Every body is different, also. Nobody can place an expectation on themselves because there’s no predicting what your body will  do in this healing process.  Patience becomes your best friend.

Something said at my group Bible study this week spoke to me directly and that was WE DO NOT SERVE A HOPELESS GOD!  I am trying to hold onto that and remember that He is all about restoring my body and my spirit, and that He has only good things in store for my future.  Claiming that, in spite of this very dark place,  is the struggle I am in.  A struggle over my thoughts….a battle for my mind.

I Will Walk Through The Fire If You Want Me To -Ginny Owens scroll down for video

The pathway is broken
And The signs are unclear
And I don’t know the reason why You brought me here
But just because You love me the way that You do
I’m gonna walk through the valley
If You want me to

Cause I’m not who I was
When I took my first step
And I’m clinging to the promise You’re not through with me yet
so if all of these trials bring me closer to you
Then I will walk through the fire
If You want me to

It may not be the way I would have chosen
When you lead me through a world that’s not my home
But You never said it would be easy
You only said I’d never go alone

So when the whole world turns against me
And I’m all by myself
And I can’t hear You answer my cries for help
I’ll remember the suffering that Your love put You through
And I will walk through the darkness
If You want me to

Cuz when I cross over Jordan
Gonna sing, gonna shout,
Gonna look into Your eyes and see You never let me down
So take me on the pathway that leads me home to You
And I will walk though the valley
If You want me to

Yes, I will walk through the valley
If You want me to