Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Plan.

I just finished an amazing book entitled “Still Alice.” It chronicles an intellectually gifted 51 year old women’s descent into early onset Alzheimer’s disease. I highly recommend this book; it is poignant and eloquently written and made me very grateful that I have breast cancer. At least if this disease takes my life I will know who I am and recognize those I love until the very end. Never will I lose myself in this disease. My name is Patty and I have cancer, but cancer is not who I am. I will never be my cancer. I will not let it embody my soul or rob my spirit. I may be in the fight for my life, but I still have the ability to enjoy every moment of every day and am fully cognizant of the blessings in my life and the adversary I face. For that, I am grateful.

I had an extremely long day at the cancer center today. I started with a visit to see Dr. Rado where he informed me that I am good a candidate for radiation. He sent me to visit with Dr. Rege (radiation oncologist) to discuss my options for radiation and then back to Dr. Rado to discuss when to start my chemotherapy again.

Dr. Sheila Rege is a brilliant physician. She was my doctor four years ago and I am thrilled to have her on my care team again. She is kind, compassionate and extremely knowledgeable; as evidenced by her continued tenure as a faculty member at UCLA medical school. She reviewed my scans with me identifying the seven lesions currently on my posterior (back) ribs. Perfectly symmetrical on the 9th and 10th ribs on both the right and left sides and then the ladder of three additional lesions on the 6th, 7th and 8th left ribs, which could be considered vertically symmetrical. Very unusual. I am only experiencing pain in the 9th and 10th ribs, and those are three of the original lesions and are currently the biggest and most defined lesions. So these lesions will be our main area of focus. Radiation is used mostly to alleviate pain. In addition to easing the pain, it will kill the cancer in those spots (we hope) which will strengthen the bone, mitigating the chance of a fracture due to the metastases. I will have 10 radiation treatments, hopefully starting next week. They will use electrons to minimize the impact on the peripheral tissue and focus the beam on the bones. There may be some minimal damage to the lower lobes of my lungs, but the risk is worth the potential benefits. They also want to radiate as little bone as possible to reduce the amount of bone marrow which will be lost. I need all the bone marrow I have to keep my blood levels up during the next rounds of chemo.

My physicians discussed with me the path forward, and felt that the best course of action would be to focus on the radiation for a few weeks, giving my body a little more time to strengthen and prepare for the next chemotherapy onslaught. So I will start the chemo to kill the rest of the cancer and bisphosphonates to strengthen my bones once the radiation is complete. We haven’t finalized the number of chemo treatments, but preliminarily we had discussed three rounds (six doses) and then perform another CT. I am not sure if we would do another bone scan at that time, but it would make sense to make sure it has not spread further into my bones.

So that is the plan as of today. Mike and I have discussed it at length and reviewed our concerns and questions with Dr. Rado and feel confident that this is the best course of treatment. I will go tomorrow to have additional imagining done at the cancer center so that the physicist can work with the physician to pinpoint the areas of radiation. Then I get to party for the weekend and ring in 2010 with the people I love!

Happy New Year! Cheers to a happy and healthy new year!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Lazy Days.

I love the lazy days following Christmas. When there is no work and no school and all the chaos and preparations are over. The wrapping paper has been tossed and the opened toys sit under the tree. I’ve been enjoying the time with my daughter, eating junk food and watching The Gilmore Girls. I got the entire series for Christmas, we are halfway through season one. I wish I was witty and quick like Lorelei Gilmore, I just love that character. Peyton and I enjoy the interaction between the Lorelei and Rory, it reminds us of us.

Its bitterly cold outside, only in the 20’s, so its been great here in front of the fireplace. I was hoping for snow on Christmas, but we just got the cold instead. Mike got me one of those one-cup coffee makers for Christmas, so I can enjoy a fresh cuppa coffee in front of the fire every morning. I am one of those people who only likes my coffee fresh. Once it has sat on the burner, yuk. So a one cupper is perfect for me. Mike also arranged for us to go back to our favorite B&B on the coast over Valentines day, in the same room we stayed in last valentines day. I can’t wait. Last year was the most perfect Valentines weekend ever, and we hope to recreate that again this year. We stayed in Arch Cape and spent time in Cannon Beach and Manzanita. As you all know, I love the coast. I wish I could live there and just watch the tides go in and out, the waves crashing on the sand, the fog rolling in every morning, the crisp air, it is the best place in the world. Now, I haven’t traveled the world, but even if I did, I cannot imagine a more perfect place.

Today is another day of rest and relaxation. Peyton’s boyfriend is back in town tomorrow, so today will be my last day to have her undivided attention. I love this time together, its days like these that make a life. Days spent with someone you love so much it brings tears to your eyes to just think about them. Maybe we will watch more Gilmore Girls as we look once again at her special gift, a photo album of her life up to now. She wants to add a few more pages and put together a legend of the people and places so 20-30-40 years from now when she forgets who and where, she’ll have a cheat sheet. Makes good sense to me!

This has been a perfect holiday, except for the one person who is missing from it all, my son. My heart breaks having him so close, yet so far away. When I go see him he is right there on the screen, and I can reach out, but I cannot touch him. I cannot hug him and tell him Merry Christmas, I can only tell him how much we miss him and how incomplete our holiday felt without him. I’ve been going to see him twice a week, if my health allows, and we have wonderful conversations about current events and the books he reads. He is apprehensive about the day when he gets out, February 14th, and what happens to him then. I am helping him to explore the options. There are a few halfway houses that help people who are just out of jail and there is a friend of the family who has offered to help. I want what is best for him and for him to be somewhere where he can have access to the tools he will need to succeed. It is hard for a felon to get a job, and he has to have a job to pay his fines to stay out of jail. I think he has learned his lesson, but he is in the midst of a deep dark hole, and I know it is overwhelming thinking about climbing out. I have encouraged him that only he can traverse his way out and it is going to take a lot of perseverance and determination, but I believe in him that he can succeed and will be a better person because of it. This type of thing is hard for this “instant gratification” generation. They are used to getting what they want NOW, so to have a challenge like this stretching before them that takes years and years to complete, it will be a test of his character and his strength. I truly believe he will be a better person when he finds his way out of the darkness and back into the light.

We are certainly facing our challenges here in the Taylor household. Peyton and I have discussed that we would like the black cloud that is hanging over our little family to move on out. I hope that the winds will pick up and blow away the storm and leave us with the refreshing post tempest brightness. We just have to make it through and there is brilliance waiting for us on the other side. Walk with us, a journey awaits.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Love is the answer. What was the question?

What matters in this life? What is truly important? What heals us and takes away our pain? What brings us together? What carries us when we cannot take another step? What fills our cup? What is the only thing we can take with us when we pass to the next life?

Love. As I sat here on Christmas day, and looked into the faces of my family, of those people I love, I realized that they are what truly matters. Being with them, enjoying their company, laughing, sharing, caring, loving. If all the presents went away, the lights, the trees, the stockings and bows, as long as my family remained, then my day, my life, would be complete. Love is what carries us through each day. And I realized, as I face this illness which may very well take my life, that it is the love that I will take with me, it is the love that I will leave behind. My eulogy will not be filled with my accomplishments or my work ethic, I will be remembered for my acts of kindness, for sharing my deepest love with my family, with my friends and for showing that love to all those I come in contact with. It is the love that will fill me up and carry me to the other side, and it is the love that will I leave behind as my memory.

I say this not to be maudlin, or to fill your heart with heaviness, but to give you insight as you live your life into what is truly important and where your focus should rest. I am no giver of great wisdom, nor am I a philosopher, but I am in unique position that I would not wish upon any of you; while still very young I am facing my own mortality. When I look at my life and see my possible demise on the not so distant horizon, it makes me begin to really think about what matters in this life, and what I want to leave behind in this world when I travel to the next. The word that keeps coming back to me over and over again is love.

Love is the answer to all of your questions. Take it with you wherever you go. Leave it behind everywhere you pass through. For love is the one truth that cannot be denied.

My love I give to you, my love I leave with you. Take it with you through all your days and in all your travels. It will serve you well.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Not the Christmas Wish I'd Hoped For

Well I didn’t get the Christmas present I was praying for, health. I had my bone scan on Tuesday and saw Dr. Rado today and the results of the scan were not what we were hoping. There are additional spots on my ribs, but some of them continue to be symmetrical. So I find that very Pattyesque, only I would have symmetrical cancer lesions on my ribs. This is a disturbing development, the cancer in my lungs is rapidly improving, but in the meantime, it is also spreading. So the chemo is working, but not enough from keeping it from developing elsewhere. Dr. Rado feels that this is just such a nasty cancer it is just going to rear its ugly head every chance it gets. So my future is filled with beating this back and continuing to give me the best life we can.

We don’t have a plan of action quite yet. Dr. Rado wants to consult with Dr. Geiver, a radiation oncologist, to see if I am a good candidate for radiation. If I am, then I will get radiation while continuing to get chemo and he will switch out one of my chemo drugs for a different drug that might work better of the bone metastases. I will also start on a 28 day regimen of a type of drug called bisphosphonates, which help to strengthen the bones and help prevent additional lesions. I will meet with Dr. Rado next Wednesday and start chemo and the bisphosphonates next Thursday. Radiation will be started shortly thereafter if it turns out that I am a good candidate. I hope so since that is just another weapon in the arsenal to beat this disease.

Until then, I enjoy the holidays with my family and give thanks for the incredible blessings that I have in my life. I may not have my health, but I can still enjoy everyday activities and the time with my family and friends. I am grateful that I can spend this time with them and look forward to many more Christmas days.

God blessings on you during this holiday. Give thanks for all you have. Each day, each moment, each person in your life is a very special gift.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Christmas is quickly approaching and my daughter and I have entered the baking mode. She announced to me yesterday that she wants to make cookies and dipped pretzels. So we embarked on a successful shopping expedition to acquire all the necessary ingredients. In order to ensure that we had adequate energy to accomplish such a monumental task, immediately following our shopping expedition, we took nice long naps. Then we spent our Saturday night dipping pretzels and making cut out cookie dough. I ran out of energy prior to cutting out the cookies, and we left that task for today.

So today we are going to cut out and lavishly decorate sugar cookies, make some fabulous melt in your mouth meltaways and, if we have time, whip up some powdered sugar tea cakes. This is quite a treat. I don’t think my daughter has made cookies with me since she was in middle school! I enjoy her company so much!!

So, if you are in the neighborhood this week, stop by and have a cookie. I make a first rate cookie, and who doesn’t like a pretzel dipped in chocolate and more chocolate!!

I am slowly starting to feel better. I had my last neupogen shot yesterday, so hopefully in the next few days I’ll start getting my energy back again and feeling more like myself. I don’t know if my white count is going to hold this time, but will get my blood checked again on Christmas Eve when I see Dr. Rado. My shopping is just about done, a few more small things to buy and I still have all that wrapping to do! Wrapping to me is not a routine affair, I believe in decorating the packages and making them gorgeous and sparkling. I don’t have the decorating talent like my grandmother did; who decorated packages so pretty you didn’t want to open them, but I have my own little way of making them sparkle and shine.

I went to see my son yesterday and we had a very nice visit. It is so hard to see him in jail, but I think he is starting to learn his lesson. The hard part is going to be when he is released. He will be a felon with thousands of dollars in fines, no place to live and no job. He has definite challenges ahead of him and there are no programs or organizations out there to help prisoners reintegrate into society. And we wonder why there is such a high recidivism rate. It is not about rehabilitation it’s about retribution. Don’t even get me started on the shortcomings of our system of incarceration. It’s a majorly screwed up system designed to keep people in it, not turn them into productive members of society.

So…on to lighter, and happier, subjects. Enjoy these few days remaining before Christmas. I love this time as we build up with great anticipation to the big day. All the preparation and expectations. A time of love and forgiveness, of giving and receiving. A time of hope and redemption. Enjoy the season.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Reprimanded to Home, Again (sort of)

Well it’s another beautiful day in front of my fireplace with a cup of my Doma free-trade coffee, a homemade pumpkin scone (thanks to Angela) and a dog on my feet. Yes, I said ON not AT. Sophie sits on my feet. Gotta love that little 60 pound puppy. She keeps my feet warm.

I started to get out and about a little this week and have almost finished my Christmas shopping. I didn’t have that much to do anyway, so it was pretty minor trips to the store, mostly stocking stuffers. I found that yesterday I was starting to get my energy back and was beginning to feel like my old self again. It was a great feeling. We (mom, Mike and I) went and got our trees from Farmer’s Exchange, and I selected a beautiful tree. The family came over and we decorated it last night and now, it truly feels like Christmas.

Unfortunately, I had my blood work done yesterday and my white cells are still not coming back and I am neutropenic again. So I am back on neupogen shots daily and we’ll check again next Thursday to see if the white count holds. I should be completely reprimanded to my home again, but I just can’t live like that all the time. I am being smart and staying away from crowds, but I had my family over last night, including my grandson (the germ monster) and basically said to heck with worrying about getting sick. I am so glad I did, it was wonderful to see that little guy again and to spend time with my family and decorate the tree. What a fantastic evening.

I did get really tired last night. I don’t know if it is because I just did too much yesterday or if it is a side effect of the neupogen shot, but I slept soundly except when I woke up at 3am with my bones aching and again at 6:30 to make sure my daughter was getting ready for school. I slept in to 9:30, so almost 12 hours. I certainly can sleep! I cannot blame my poor blood counts on a lack of sleep. I get more than my share of sleep every night these days!

So today I focus on finishing my daughter’s present. I have a physical therapy appointment at 3pm (to work on the lymphedema in my arm) and then I’m picking Jessie up from day care and Peyton and I will hang out with him for a few hours until his mommy gets off work. I have no major plans for the weekend except to wrap presents and enjoy the company of my daughter. Her boyfriend is gone for the holidays, so I really have her undivided attention for Christmas!! I have cards for my friends at the office, but since there are a few people there who are sick, I will probably have Mike deliver them for me and I’ll try to get in to see everyone after the holidays. I really miss my friends at the office.

I’m going to see my son tomorrow, even though the jail is certainly not the best place for me to be. I’m going to take Lysol wipes and wipe down the phone and counter where I sit. You don’t actually see the person face to face, it is all via video monitors. It is almost Christmas and I don’t know if they have visitation next week on his regular visitation day because of the holidays, so I want to make sure he sees a friendly face, the face of someone who loves him, for Christmas. There is not a lot I can do for him, I got him a subscription to the newspaper, which was something he really wanted, and I have ordered him a few books. Other than that, all I can do is tell him that I love him and keep praying for him.

So for Christmas I want my bone marrow to start working again. If you are praying for me, pray for healthy bone marrow. I see Dr. Rado next week and we will decide when I start chemo again. Given the difficulties I have had this round, I don’t know if I’ll be starting up the week after Christmas or if we are going to have to wait a few more weeks. Part of me wants to get started and get it over with and part of me wants to wait and give my body a little more time to regenerate. I guess I’ll leave that decision up to the wisdom of my doctor. I know he has my best interests in his heart.

So, as you prepare for the holidays, think of the intangible things that are in your life that you should be thankful for. When I start thinking of all the beautiful things that grace my life, I realize that my cup is not just full, it overflows, spilling down the side and running off the table. I am so blessed it is without measure. And so, I believe, are you. Just take a moment to realize it.

God bless.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Still Resting!

I was allowed out for a little while yesterday, as long as I was “smart” about it, staying away from big crowds and sick people. I spent most off the day working on a special present I am doing for my daughter, which I won’t discuss here just in case she decides to read my blog. I took a trip to the bank and stopped by Target late in the afternoon, and I am definitely going to have to ease back into activity. Just those few errands left me feeling totally exhausted and ready for a nap. Wow. I am really a wimpy weenie!!

I am just amazed at the toll that this round of chemo has taken on me. Thank goodness it was right before a break; I don’t think I could take another round right now, no matter how many transfusions they gave me. There is a cumulative affect of chemo and there were six rounds preceding this one, and each one did get progressively more difficult culminating in this final awful round that has left me lying in the dirt. I wonder if I’ll ever be the same again.

It has opened my eyes that I need to really focus on my health and let go of everything else in my life that is not a priority. If I don’t survive this battle, nothing will matter anyway, so focusing on my health certainly makes sense. I’m sleeping a lot and not worrying about cleaning or laundry or anything. I told my daughter she can do the laundry when she gets out of school on Friday and Davidson and Susan Wood have hired Merry Maids to come and clean my house over the holidays, so I can just sit back and enjoy this time in front of my fireplace. My only worry is running out of propane.

Christmas will come whether or not presents are purchased or stockings are filled. I watched that great classic “The Grinch That Stole Christmas” the other night and it reminded me that it’s not about the presents anyway. It’s about the birth of Christ. It’s about celebrating our redemption. It’s about spending time with the ones we love and holding tight to those people. It’s about standing heart to heart and hand to hand.

Those Whos are sure smart little critters!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Why is it that everyone wants me to rest, and then when I stay in bed until noon, my family wants to know why I’m still in bed? Isn’t that what I’m supposed to be doing?

I am resting and wondering when I’m going to have the energy to do anything again. It’s a real catch 22. Am I tired because by body and blood counts are totally wiped out or am I tired because I haven’t done anything for the last few weeks? Or maybe a combination of both? I have to say, I sure am sleeping well. I could sleep and sleep and sleep. No problemo. I’m asleep for 10-12 hours at a time and could still take a nap during the day. So, resting is not an issue. But getting back to doing something is a challenge. I’m going to give myself another day of doing nothing, an easy Sunday in front of the fireplace, and then check in with my nurse tomorrow and get moving again. Just a little bit at first. A nice short walk with the dogs. Not enough to get short of breath but enough to get the blood moving. I feel like I need some activity to get my body healthy.

Every day is a challenge. I have one more day of neupogen, so hopefully by tomorrow I’ll start feeling better. The neupogen really makes me feel crummy and makes my bones ache. I am not sure if I get to get out and about this week or if I am still confined to my home until they run my blood levels again, which isn’t until Thursday. If I’m confined to my home, that’s okay. It’s not been that bad. In fact it is sort of liberating to not have to go anywhere and not have to do anything. I don’t think I’ve ever been in that position in my adult life. I have always had responsibilities to do something everyday, whether it be groceries, laundry, cleaning…there is always something. I don’t have to do anything. I sorta like it. I can’t say I could get used to it, because I know that I’m not a sit around forever type of girl, but for now, its okay. I’m learning how to be happy without constant activity.

So for now, I rest. My goal is to get my body healthy enough to start chemo again, which is crazy. I want to get healthy so I can do all this again? Am I nuts? Sometimes, I think I must be, because why would I want to put myself through this three more times, but if that is the way I am going to get rid of the cancer, than I am all for it. Lets rock n roll. If all goes well, I’ll be done by March. It will be a spring worth celebrating!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Reprimanded to my Home

If you remember, I was supposed to have 6 rounds (12 doses) of chemo and then we would do Round 7 for “good measure.” Well, this “one more round for good measure” is not working out so well for me. It has landed me in the hospital and has now confined me to my home. If my oncologist ever wants to do “one more round for good measure” I’m just going to have to say no.

I had my blood levels checked this morning and the GOOD news is that my platelets are up to 44. While that isn’t exactly a stellar number and is a far cry from a normal count of 150, it is a heck of a lot better than 8 where I was at risk to bleed to death! I’m still at risk for bleeding at 44, but I’ll clot eventually, so as long as I don’t get in a car accident or have a major head trauma, I should be fine. I need to be cautious, but not live in a bubble. Also, the fact that I have 44 means that my body is finally starting to produce its own platelets and I don’t have to depend on the kindness of donor platelets. That is great news. Hopefully by next week’s blood checks I’ll be up over 100.

The BAD news is that my white count has bottomed out again and I am severely neutropenic. That means I’m at risk for infection and I’m back in that bubble. I cannot be in public, so any activities that I had planned for the weekend that involved being in the general public are out. I don’t have to be hospitalized, but I do have to stay home and away from people.

I had a busy weekend planned too. I was scheduled to do the curtain speech at the Nutcracker this weekend as a member of the Mid-Columbia Ballet Board of Directors. I had already worked on memorizing the speech, because I always do it sans script because I think it is more personal that way. It is tough to hold a microphone in one hand, a script in the other and still have personal contact with your audience. Luckily, I was figuring this might happen, so I had given the producers a head’s up to have a back up ready for me. So Joel Rogo (owner of the dance studio) has dusted off his tie and will be handling the curtain speech this weekend. I also won’t be able to attend the Nutcracker as planned, and will be missing the performance for the first time in more than seven years. The Kadlec Holiday party was scheduled for tomorrow night, so I’ll be missing my company holiday party. Then there is the shopping. I have Christmas shopping to do. Christmas isn’t going to be happening if I can’t go shopping!! So my bone marrow better get back on track. I have things to do!!

Looking at the bright side, I get to stay home and catch up on movies, read books and rest, rest, rest. I am still pretty tired and the shots to improve my white count make my bones hurt. So I will embrace this coveted rest time. How many people wish they could take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday chaos and do nothing for a few weeks? So eat your heart out all of you crazily going from one activity to another, caught up in the holiday madness, I’m going to go take a nap.

Besides. There is always online shopping. :-)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Keeping the Faith

I had a dear friend in Wyoming send me an email sharing how angry she was that all this is happening to me. It made me sit back and think…am I angry? And if I am angry…who am I angry at?

So I searched my heart and soul and realized that anger is not an emotion that I harbor anymore. Not at anyone. I’d be lying if I told you that I have not had my moments of anger as I screamed “why me” at God for this injustice. But somewhere during these months of sickness and these times of despair I faced the anger and released it to the winds to carry to the four corners of the earth. I surrendered it to God. Anger eats me up inside and I realized that it is an emotion that was more harmful to me than the cancer. And as I looked at why I was angry it became apparent, what am I angry about? There are millions of people that have it worse off than me, who are starving, living in poverty, who couldn’t even begin to get treatment for the most basic of medical needs, much less cancer. I live in a place and in an era that allows me access to the highest standard of medical care available. If there is a way to beat this disease, I have been given the tools to beat it.

It’s hard to look at the “bright side” when battling a life threatening illness, but there is always something to be gained, if one is willing to take the time to open their minds to the possibilities. I have gained a knowledge and awareness of my place in this world and my impact on the people around me. I have been given the opportunity to reach people that I don’t even know through this blog and to share my story. I have been allowed the honor to encourage others and to instill hope into their lives. Cancer has given me the gift of immeasurable love. I don’t think I ever realized how many people love and care about me until this crisis struck. Then I looked around and there were so many friends reaching their hands out to lift me up. I truly had no idea. How could I even begin to entertain anger in my soul with all the love in my life? Sure, I could be angry. But I’m not. I’m tired of the battle and sometimes I get sad and my heart fills with despair, but I am comforted by the treasure of friends who continually overwhelm me with their kindness and their compassion.

God has a plan. We just don’t see the big picture. How can we? We are just one little cog in the wheel of the universe and it is beyond our comprehension to understand how our lives, our strife, can affect the whole. But with faith, lemons can create lemonade and joy can be found in the midst of the sadness. Faith can carry us through a myriad of crisis; we just need to look upward, not inward.

So it is in my life as I keep the faith and I move through my day with the hope of being cured. I worked for a few hours yesterday turning everything over to Wendy and allowing myself to take the remainder of the week to stay home and rest. And rest I do! I am so tired and I just want to sleep and sleep and I have allowed myself to do just that. When my platelets were checked yesterday they had dropped down to 23, so they are still going the wrong direction. The only thing I can do is rest and hope that my bone marrow starts working again producing platelets. We are going to check my blood levels again on Friday and I am praying that the numbers come up. If not, then there are more transfusions in my future.

This latest issue has made me sit back and think about my treatment and my need to focus on my health. I need to take the time to get well and put my health as the number one priority in my life. I have decided to only go to work for a few hours next week to see what else needs to be done and then to take the rest of the month off to strengthen my body and prepare for the next rounds of chemo. When I go back to work it will probably be for only two days a week. The next rounds are going to be important; I want them to be my last.

I am on the mend. I just need to get these darn platelets up. In the meantime I rest. And rest. And rest. And rest.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bak in Front of the Fireplace.

It’s a bitterly cold morning outside, only 10 degrees, but it is warm in front of the fireplace. It is so nice to be back in front of my fireplace, now richly decorated with its festive stockings. I’d like to say that I’m feeling all better and everything is just hunky dory, but I’d be lying. I am very tired and my body feels weak, but my spirits are good. Being in the hospital was not the greatest experience of my life, but I learned a lot about the affects of chemo on my body and how to treat those side effects. I thought I’d explain some of this medical jargon, so maybe it will make more sense to you when you read about it.

Platelets are what make your blood clot. Without platelets you would bleed to death. Did you know that transfused platelets only last in your body for a few days and the ones that are transfused are used up really fast when you are as low as I was. That is why it took me so long to go to the ER on Saturday. I had received two units of platelets on Friday, so why would I need to go to the ER? In my mind I thought I just needed to wait it out and the platelets would eventually “kick in” and the bleeding would stop. Well, that isn’t how it works, and now I know. When platelets are falling as fast as mine were the transfused ones are used up really quickly and my body isn’t making any to replace them, so even after a transfusion, the platelets can get even lower. Transfused platelets just don’t stay in your body that long, maybe a few days, and then your body has to start making its own. I ended up getting six units of platelets, two on Friday, two on Saturday and two on Monday. For some reason, when I get platelets I react with fever and chills, so a platelet transfusion isn’t very fun, but I’m sure glad when the bleeding stops, and my counts come up so I don’t have to worry about bleeding to death.

Red cells aren’t used up quite as quickly. My red count was low, but not as dangerously low as my platelets, and even they continued to fall after the transfusion. The red cells carry oxygen. So when my red cells are low, I am weak and short of breath, my heart rate is high because it has to work so hard with less oxygen. I ended up getting five units of packed red blood cells, which is high concentration red cells. Its nice when the red cells kick in because the energy comes back and I can walk up with stairs without my heard pounding out of my chest and feeling like a ran a marathon. I still get a little short of breath on the stairs, but its getting better, so I know my counts are coming up.

I have spent the last week neutropenic, which means I don’t have the white cells that fight off infection. When you are neutropenic, they don’t recommend that you get out and about at all since you are susceptible to just about anything. They have been giving me shots called neupogen to increase my white cell production. I have one more shot today, and hopefully that will be it. The neupogen makes my bones ache since it is stimulating cell production, so the neupogen is pretty miserable, but necessary.

I am not sure when they are going to check my blood levels again. When I go in today to get my neupogen shot I’m going to talk to Michelle, my chemo nurse, and ask her when we are checking blood levels and when I can resume normal activity. I have realized that I need to find a way to get my work wrapped up and take some time off. I am not sure how to strengthen my body and get my bone marrow back to normal producing platelets and blood cells, but I am sure that rest has a lot to do with it, and that is not something that I am very good at doing. I have realized that I probably need to take some significant time to rest and recover. Otherwise, I’m never going to make it through the next round when we start up again at the end of the month.

The only good news is that if I’m this sick, the chemo is working. Its killing all the cells and hopefully, the tumors and cancer cells are dying even quicker than all my good cells. It is certainly a balancing act. Only kill enough to keep me alive. What a crazy dose of medicine!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Home Sweet Home

My nose stopped bleeding. Thank God. I never realized how much I appreciated breathing through my nose until I couldn’t anymore! I had a restful night last night, at least as restful as one can have when they are in the hospital, and my nurse was nice enough to wait until 4:30am to take my vitals this morning and the phlebotomist didn’t come in until 5am to take my blood. So I really got to sleep in, at least by hospital standards.

I was blessed by Angela Ball coming by this morning with a cup of Starbucks and a pumpkin scone on her way to work at 6am. Wonderful way to start my day with a visit from a dear friend and some much needed caffeine. The coffee here at the hospital leaves a lot to be desired. I was graced with a steady stream of visitors throughout the morning. I am humbled by the number of friends I have and how many people care for me and are praying for me. It the reason I keep persevering and am able to make it through this treatment as well as I have and with as good of an attitude as I have, because of the people supporting me. They keep me going and going and going, just like the energizer bunny. My friends energize me.

Dr. Rado also came to see me this morning, what a treat to see MY doctor, not some random physician that gets assigned to you at the hospital. I was scolded for not calling him on his cell phone this weekend when I started having problems, and I was firmly reminded that I am not only his patient, but I am also his friend, and I should be calling him if I need him. Duly noted. Hopefully, I won’t be in this position again! I don’t really want to go through this another time, it was miserable. Dr. Rado agreed to let me go home after I received another two units of platelets and doses of neupogen today and tomorrow.

It is so nice to be home. I got excellent care at the hospital, the nurses were amazing, but I was so ready to be in my own home with my puppies and my kitty and my daughter and my own bed. I got home about 1:30 and went straight to bed for the afternoon. I am so tired and weak and will be back to bed early this evening. My puppies were very happy to see me and were more than willing to snuggle up and take a nap with me today.

Thanks for all your prayers while I was in the hospital, without your prayers; I’d probably still be there.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Now I wait.

Anyone who has been in a hospital knows that it is no place for sick people and certainly no place to get rest!

I got to the Kadlec ER at about 12:30 on Saturday. There are definite advantages to being a neutropenic cancer patient and one of them is you get taken to a room right away. When I arrived, I told the nurse “I am a patient of Dr. Rado’s and I am neutropenic.” This allowed me to bypass all the sick people in the waiting room. I went straight to a room…no triage…no waiting…no muss…no fuss. I spent the next five hours in the ED getting blood work done, receiving platelets and having my nose packed, which was an absolutely lovely experience. Having a “nose tampon” shoved up your nose is an experience everyone should have at least once. Makes one appreciate breathing.

Originally, they had said I was going to the CDU for my platelets, which meant I would be here for a little while, but not actually admitted. Imagine my surprise when I found out that I was not going to CDU, but was being admitted until “at least tomorrow.” ‘At least tomorrow’, what the heck does that mean?! I just needed platelets and then go home, right? Well, I guess not. I was informed that I was in the hospital until my platelets came up and my bleeding stopped. This is when another advantage to begin neutropenic came in. I had to have a private room, so I ended up on the surgical floor, which are nice big private rooms, with individual baths and showers, so much better than the medical floor, which desperately needs to be redone.

Still, not a place to rest. I finally got to my room about 6pm and ordered something to eat, I hadn’t eaten all day. I found it very hard to consume food while my nose was bleeding, so I really hadn’t eaten much for three days. Just about the time I was getting my food, it was time to go get a chest x-ray. So I was transported to x-ray, got back to my room, started eating and it was time for IV antibiotics and a blood draw. Finally, I got to eat. And tasty soup it was!! Maybe being so hungry helped.

I was getting blood transfused until about 11pm and my last blood draw was at midnight. At that time my platelets had finally come up to 42, but my hemoglobin had not increased at all. Finally I got to sleep a little bit, in short one hour bursts. The bed is terribly uncomfortable and the pillow, awful, and the hallway noise, not to mention the incredibly bright red clock on the wall that counts out not only the minutes, but the seconds. So you can see second by second all the minutes you are not sleeping! Very handy.

After only four short hours, it was time for my vitals. Then at 6am another blood draw and IV antibiotics. At 8am another blood draw…are you getting the picture here? No rest. Rest is not allowed in hospitals.

Now I wait. I wait to see if the doctor is going to release me. My latest levels shows platelets down just a little to 39 but my hemoglobin is finally starting to come up. I think my nose has finally stopped bleeding and I hope the doctor will yank this dang nose tampon out soon! It makes for difficult breathing, and it looks funny.

I’m ready to go home. I promise to keep resting if they would just let me go home!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Need your prayers!!

Well, it’s been a hell of a week. I’m in the hospital, trying to get my platelets up above an 8. Normal is 150-400. On Thursday morning I knew there was something wrong when I wasn’t able to get my nose to stop bleeding. So I headed over to the cancer center to have my blood drawn and about 2 hours later got a call that my platelets were critical low, only 15. I was also anemic and neutropenic (no white cells). So I needed a transfusion of platelets and packed red blood cells. We talked about doing the transfusion on Thursday night, but the only way to do it would have been to be admitted to the medical floor, and I wasn’t too keen on that, so I promised I would stay home, be careful and do my transfusion first thing on Friday morning.

In retrospect, that wasn’t the wisest decision. My nose started bleeding again Thursday night about 10pm and bleed for the next 10 hours. It was a very very long night. The blood just would not coagulate. So on Friday morning I felt horrible, absolutely horrible. But I dragged myself up, stuffed my nose with tissue, armed myself with a box of Kleenex and headed over to the hospital. After two bags of platelets, the nose bleeding minimized and almost completely stopped. I thought I was in the clear.

Then the fever started. My fever started creeping up and by the time I left the hospital my temperature was 100.3. At 100.5 I have to call the doctor. So I went home and was feeling really crummy and went to bed. I woke up about an hour later and checked my temp, up to 101.8. So definitely going the wrong direction. I called the cancer center. They wanted me to go get a chest x-ray, blood and urine tests to see if I had a neutropenic infection. (blood infection). The chest and urine came out fine, so they sent me home and let me know that they would contact me on the blood cultures, which take 24-48 hours. So I went home and slept and slept. My fever finally broke about 3am and by the time I woke up at 7am I was weak and tired, but feeling much better. Then my nose started bleeding again. And it bleed and bleed and bleed. No matter what I did I couldn’t get it to stop. So by noon I called the doctor and asked him what to do. He said, “head to the emergency room”, so I did. At the ED they ran blood test and found that instead of my platelets going up, they have gone down, and now are at 8. My hemoglobin has also gone down from 9.1 to 8.9, so not a lot, but they are headed the wrong direction! So, unfortunately they admitted me to the hospital until I can 1) get my nose to stop bleeding and 2) get my platelets headed in the right direction – UP. I am in for at least 24 hours, maybe longer.

At least I was admitted to the surgical floor, 4th floor, which is a really nice private room. My nurses are so nice, in fact everyone has been super nice, caring and helpful. I know they only want me to be safe and healthy; I just hate being here at the hospital. They have these things on my legs to keep my circulation going so I can’t get up and around without the nurses help, which stinks, really takes away my independence.

So, my faithful prayer warriors, I am asking for your prayers. Pray that my platelets come up and that I get to go home tomorrow. I want to go home. I don’t like being here in the hospital. I want to get healthy and start my recovery.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Finding the Lost Woman

I have the most amazing friends. That really struck me the other day when I received another remarkable card of support. When I needed it the most, this card was there, encouraging me, cheering me on, helping to lift my head up out of the darkness. And the darkness is where I feel I have been.

Cancer takes me into this terrible dismal place where there is no joy, no laughter, no sound at all. It is not only the silence that surrounds me, but it is the total absence of light. Not even a pinprick in the distance. Absolute utter darkness. All that is good and right and joyful has been sucked out of the room leaving me in a place I no longer recognize as home with a person I no longer recognize as me. I looked at myself and realized that I don’t know that person looking back at me in the mirror. The person that I know is loud and gregarious and loves to talk and visit with her friends for hours on end. The woman that stares back at me is solemn and serious, preferring to remain alone in a solitary existence. She is tired and irritable, short tempered and sad, and yet her friends still loved her and support her, lifting her up, knowing that person that they love is still inside there somewhere, trapped in the bleak underpinnings of cancer.

My friends remember the person that I was before the cancer took it toll on not only my body, but my mind, my life, my essence as a woman, and they love me in spite of the person that I have become. They are kind enough to not ask where she is, or when she’ll be back, but soldier on with me secure in the knowledge that she is in there somewhere, lost and lonely, screaming to come back to her life. I realize how much I miss that woman, that girl, that smiling, laughing, loud mouthed, talk-incessantly without stopping person. I realize how much I want her back. And I look into the eyes of my friends, and I see her reflected back at me and know that she is still here; she is just trapped in the shadows of the disease and imprisoned in a jail of hopelessness and despair.

So I reach deep inside, beyond the darkness, the silence, the desolation and isolation and I see her. She is not lost, she is there, simply waiting to be set free again. Waiting for the opportunity to step forth and become the lead actor in this play called my life. My friends, the salt of the earth and the keepers of my smile, knew all along that she was still there, and yet they patiently await her return.

I am committed to return her to me and to you. I realize that I have not been the person that I want to be, and I desperately want that woman back. Only I can coax her back into existence. So, I am putting a smile on my face, laughter in my heart and words of joy on my lips. She is coming back, hold on to your hats!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Lights and a Major Award!

It’s the day of the Christmas lights. The Big Day. Normally, it is the day after thanksgiving, but with my family here this weekend, I didn’t get to the lights like I normally would, so its today. Christmas Light Day.

I love Christmas lights. Absolutely love them. Clark Griswold has nothing on me when it comes to putting up Christmas lights. I want my house to shine. I want the next county to be able to see the glow of the season illuminating from my home. The local power company sees a spike in the grid when the switch is blow and the darkness is chased away; replaced by the radiance of a thousand lights. The season has truly begun for me.

I hung my Christmas lights myself for years. Even when I was married, I was the one out there hanging those Christmas lights while the kids in the neighborhood looked on in awe, “your MOM does that?” It has always been important to me to have lights on my house. Some years there were more than others, but there have always been lights. Since Mike came into my life, he has helped me with lights every year, and this year is no different. Only this year, even his son Jason is coming to help and I get to be management during the process. I doubt I can stay away from helping, but I’ll do the best I can. The plan is to have colored icicle lights lining the entire house. That’s what I did last year and it looks like a gingerbread house. A lot of people have icicle lights, but mine are multi-colored icicle lights. I ordered them off the internet. I want all the major windows also outlined in lights, my bushes covered with the bush lights and a star on the eve. I also purchased on the internet last year some hanging lights balls and stars to put in the trees. And, of course, there are my lawn lights and penguins. Can’t live without the penguins. Maybe I’ll name one Sid Crosby.

Its gonna be great.

Once we are done outside, if I have any energy left, I’ll start on the inside. I don’t go as elaborate on the inside as a lot of people I know; I am more about the lights. Plus I have dogs and a grandson that can destroy anything I put up inside, so I have to be a little more careful what goes where inside. But I still have my standby favorites and the inside will also be aglow in the season.

To top off the weekend, we had a wonderful time as a family last night. Today is my dad’s 77th birthday so Rhonda and I made him a leg lamp cake. Yes. We did. Believe it. He is a huge fan of “A Christmas Story” so we used directions from the daughter of a friend at work who had made one and we were successful in making a hideous leg lamp cake! It took hours of grueling labor, love, laughter and fun and my kitchen floor was covered in butter cream frosting and God knows what else, but we did it! We wrapped it all up in a FRAGILE box from Italy and gave it to him at dinner last night. He wants to save it and we haven’t figured out how to allow him to do that yet, but it is still sitting on my kitchen table. Waiting to be transported to his home for him to figure out what to do with it. The “lampshade” is a 5-layer cake with over 3 pounds of butter cream frosting. Does that tell you how much this sucker weighs? The leg is made out of rice krispie treats. It is truly a Major Award.

Well off to illuminate the season. Cheers!

Saturday, November 28, 2009


So, I engaged in the American Commercialism Ritual of Black Friday at 4am. Yes. I did it. I really didn’t want to…but Peyton found this comforter on ad at Target that she wanted as the Numero Uno thing on her Christmas list. So, we were up at 4am, at Starbucks at 4:30am and at Target by 4:50am. The line, we thought, went down the side of the store. We waited until 5am, since I didn’t want to stand in the rain and figured we would just catch the crowd while everyone was going in...Unbeknownst to us, the line went all the way around the back of the store, so we it ended up taking us 20 minutes just to get in the store. Luckily, they had two comforters left, so the trip was successful! We hit a few other stores, and were home by 7:30am, exhausted and ready to go back to bed.

But my day wasn’t even stared yet. I spent the day with Jessie, my grandson, since his mama had to work and day care was closed. He was a very busy boy all day, but as always, a joy to be around. We played outside and put up some Christmas lights and Grandpa took him for a walk. Uncle Bill was a great source of entertainment in the afternoon as they ran around the house and scared each other, e-bonking down the stairs and jumping out of closets.

Its been so much fun having my brother and sister-in-law in town and we hit the hockey game last night, unfortunately, not one of the better games for tri-cities. They got their butts kicked by Spokane, but at least got one goal so it wasn’t a complete shut out. My sister-in-law Rhonda is quite the hockey fan and I had as much fun watching her as I did enjoying the game. After we hit Bone Fish Grill for cheap appetizers and post game commentary and conversation.

Needless to say I was exhausted when I got home last night.

Back and up at it after a 10 hour sleep and ready to conquer the day. We are just sort of hanging out today and then tonight the parentals are going to the hockey game (hopefully they play better!), while us “kids” go to Bookwalter for some wine and music. They fly out early early tomorrow morning. But its been a wonderful visit. It is always such a joy to have family around. It makes life more complete.

I haven’t really done an update on my treatment this week, so here is what is going on. I talked to Marlene, ARNP, on Monday about my back. Dr. Rado finally got the time to look at my scans and he consulted with the radiologist and a visiting oncologist from Seattle that happened to be in the office that day. Apparently, my scans are quite peculiar. They are all in agreement that the spot on the left and one of the spots on the right appear to be healing rib fractures. They are not sure what the other spot on the right is; it has characteristics of either a metastatic lesion, or it could be another broken rib. They do agree that it would be very unusual to have a metastatic lesion in such a pattern on my back with the broken ribs. It looks like I had some sort of trauma to my back and broke three ribs. However…they are not sure. There is still the question as to how I broke my ribs to begin with, since I have no memory of a trauma to my back. I did have a DEXA scan this week to check my bone density, and it came out completely normal. That would have made it a bit easier if it hadn’t come out normal. I mean if my density was poor, it would explain the broken ribs better. But the density is fine…so again…how did I break my ribs? Right now the doctors are suggesting that I wait and rescan in 5-6 weeks and see if the spots have changed. If the one is cancer, they would expect to see more, if they are not, they would be the same, still healing rib fractures. The only way to know for sure is to do an open rib biopsy, which is a surgical procedure that I don’t think I am ready to do just yet. It is pretty invasive given the lack of evidence of cancer at this point. I have a check up with Marlene this week, and I want to talk to her more about it, and will decide if I want to wait, or maybe go to Seattle for a second opinion. This is my life, and I am not ready to give it up yet and I want to do everything I can to survive. Do I want to take a chance that it is not cancer and wait another 5-6 weeks or do I go start talking to other doctors? Of course, by the time I get an appointment and all my records sent to Seattle, it would probable take a month anyway, especially with the holidays. So, it might just be time to sit back and wait. Its hard to wait when it is the uncertainty of your life.

I had my last chemo for awhile this week. I see Dr. Rado again on the 24th, Christmas Eve, to get ready to start it all up again. So I will end up off for the next five weeks. Sounds like heaven. I can’t wait to get through this last dose and start feeling like myself again. I have four months of abuse to heal up from, so I have a lot of resting to do in the month of December. I am contemplating taking a few weeks off work to just rest and spend time with my daughter, parents and friends and prepare for the next onslaught starting after Christmas. My body sure has a hard time rebounding from the chemo anymore; it has a lot of recuperating to do.

Blessings to you, my friends, as we enter this holiday season. Enjoy the sights and sounds and immerse yourself in the love and the joy that these days are meant to behold. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year, the time of our Saviours birth.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

My direct ancestors were there for the first Thanksgiving. I am a descendant of William Brewster, who was known as Elder Brewster that sailed on the Mayflower and was known in Plymouth as a leader and “a source of indomitable” strength. His picture hangs proudly today in the Rotunda of the Capital Building in Washington DC.

That first Thanksgiving was nothing like what we celebrate today, except that it was centered around a feast of food. The first winter of the Pilgrim settlement was a filled with hardship, disease and death. In fact, the Pilgrim’s lost almost half of their residents the first winter they lived in the New World. Their existence was precarious, at best, but they were forming allegiances with the Indians and the men that remained healthy were building homes and buildings and learning about the various food sources. They remained true to their faith in God that they would survive as a colony, and wisely, rather than stand on their own individual Puritanism, reached out to the Indians as sources of wisdom and to form allegiances to protect them from other warring factions of Indians for even in the earliest of times, the New World was not without its politics.

Thanksgiving marked the end of a remarkable year. The pilgrims had arrived 11 months earlier in Cape Cod completely unaware of what they would encounter. Most historians agree that they should not have emerged from that first winter alive. They started out disagreeing with the Indians and were lucky they were not all taken captive like the French who had arrived before them. But they learned to reach out and understand that these “savages” were human beings, not much different from them and according to Edward Winslow, one of the men who documented those early days, they were “trustworthy, quick of apprehension, ripe witted and just.”

And so should we return to that era of tolerance of others. As we enter this holiday season I am struck by what should be, not what is. Reading the ads for the sales on Black Friday remind me of our great love for commercialism, rather than our love for the simple things that grace our lives everyday. When I read of people getting trampled or pushed aside for a doorbuster sale, it saddens me for what our people have become and makes me embarrassed for our country. Do they trample people in other countries for a great sale on a TV? I went shopping on Black Friday once, and people are so rude and the holiday spirit is no where to be found. It is a sorry and sad state of affairs.

Perhaps we could take a moment to return to the Old World. That first Thanksgiving was filled with tolerance, love and hope for a better year ahead. Everyone brought what they could and shared what they had. The whites in their puritan pilgrim attire, squatted side by side with the naked savages and partook in a meal and engaged in conversation. I don’t see it documented, but I am sure there was much laughter and joy.

So what are you joyful about today? What makes you grateful to be alive? What is your hope for the future? Find the time to love your family today, your friends, and laugh with abundant joy for all that your world has to offer. We have so much abundance, and yet we long for more. Let’s stand back for a moment and survey all the wondrous bounty that beholds us every day, and let’s be thankful.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Its a Blustery Day

The Blustery Day – By Pooh
Oh the wind is lashing lustily
And the trees are thrashing thrustily
And the leaves are rustling gustily
So it's rather safe to say
That it seems that it may turn out to be
It feels that it will undoubtedly
It looks like a rather blustery day, today
It sounds that it may turn out to be
Feels that it will undoubtedly
Looks like a rather blustery day today

Batten down the hatches, latch the windows and doors. It’s a tri-cities wind storm. In Pooh’s words, a blustery, very blustery, day.

I like Pooh. I always have. I like the permanent smile on his little bear face and his enduring optimism. The way he always treats his friends with kindness and love and tries to lift Eeyores spirits. And Eeyores spirits are forever needing lifting. He always has a good attitude about the weather and will even sing when the day turns stormy. We should all sing when our days turns stormy. Instead, we lock ourselves in our homes and wait out the storm, knowing it will go away eventually.

And it does. The storm. It goes away. Eventually. But by locking ourselves inside, what are we missing during the storm? Are we missing some incredible friendship time with Christopher Robin or a song with Piglet? Perhaps some bouncing with Tigger or gardening with Rabbit? There is nothing we can do about the storm raging around us. It’s going to rage. We have no control over the weather, but we can control our attitude towards the weather and what we do when it is storming.

Like Pooh, we can put a grin on our faces and meet the storm and let it blow us where it may. Wait and see where the storm leads us and enjoy the adventure it takes along the way. We can try to fight the storm, but the blustery wind will usually win out against our defenses.

So blow wind blow. Blustery day abound. Take me where you will. Pooh and I are ready for an adventure.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cancer, a vile and sneaky disease.

Cancer eats away at many things other that your body. It blithely consumes tiny pieces of your spirit in a way where you don’t even notice that it is happening. One day you wake up and realize that a portion of your spirit, your drive, your zest for life has been devoured by this vile disease. It is devious in its methods, it takes the pieces of you so slowly, like a lobster being put to boil in the cold water, that you don’t even notice you are being systematically killed. Piece by priceless piece it gnaws away, and if you aren’t careful, it will take away everything that makes you who you are. Everything that makes you – you. I began to notice it a few weeks ago, the tiredness sets in. And I accepted it. Who wouldn’t be absolutely exhausted after all the things they are throwing into my body. But from the exhaustion comes something else, the apathy, the depression, the indifference to what is going on around me, the lack of hope for a future. I begin to wonder if I’ll ever survive this onslaught and if I do survive this round, how will I survive the next? How will I live with this for the rest of my life? How does someone just go on after facing a crisis like this?

Four years ago it was different. Stage two cancer, they got it all on the first surgery, the rest was just insurance. Eight weeks of chemo, six weeks of radiation. Done. No big deal, never coming back. At least that is what I believed with all my heart. I never though I would ever have to deal with breast cancer again. I was done. Finito. Then, here it is, my five year checkup clearly within my sights, and it is back. With a vengeance. And I wonder how I missed it? How did I not see it coming? Was I living in a fantasy world where I couldn’t be touched by this blackness? Or was I just being ignorant thinking that I was invincible, like a reckless teenage driver?

So, how do I move on from here? How do I ensure my vigilance to stay healthy and positive in a world overflowing with exhaustion and apathy? How do I stave off the uncertainty for my future? How do I garner the strength and the wisdom to soldier on? Where do I find that wellspring of energy deep within me and how do I tap into it and bring if flowing forth?

These are the questions that I am plagued with today and tomorrow and every day. I see where my mind is headed and I don’t like it. I don’t want to fashion the tracks of the tears down my face into permanent imprints. I don’t want the curve of my mouth to be an enduring frown; I don’t want my mind consumed with ennui, with listlessness, with a lack of motivation for my future. I want that fountain of hope that resides deep within me to come bursting forth and consume me with its holy fire. To lift me up; back into the light towards optimism and away from the despair. For the strength of cancer is the despair. Once it gets its teeth in, it’s hard to pry them out. But one by one, I will pry out the fangs of the beast and find within me all that I need to carry on.

To move forward. Towards the glow of a brighter tomorrow.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Just need to buck up, cowgirl.

I have been having a hard time getting out of bed lately. I can’t seem to kick the exhaustion and the general feeling of listlessness. I still know nothing more about my back. I talked to Marlene yesterday, one of Dr. Rado’s ARNP’s, and she said it was very curious, but wanted Dr. Rado (my oncologist) to talk to Dr. Jones (the radiologist) and then Dr. Rado would call me and let me know what they think. What I want to know is 1) is that one spot cancer and 2) why did my ribs break. I don’t think I am asking too much as a patient here, I think it is reasonable to want to know what the hell is going on. My take is that Dr. Rado thinks they are broken ribs so its no big deal. Maybe its not to him, but it is to me. I have never broken a bone in my life, and I certainly want to know how I fractured three ribs without knowing. How do I keep from doing this again? Do I need to be careful, do I need to build up my bone density, take extra calcium? What? But no one is answering me. I am so frustrated. And more than a little scared. If the one spot is cancer, we are doing nothing about it, just letting it grow. That certainly doesn’t make sense to me. Its probably not cancer, probably just a broken bone, but my cancer has not taken any normal turns, why should it act “normal” now?

I’m tired and will be so glad when this round is done and I am off for a month. I don’t know how I would do it much longer. I mean, I would if I had to, but I am certainly ready for some rebounding time. I didn’t feel good going into this round of chemo and I feel even worse now that its started. I could just lay around and do nothing all day and that is just not me. I am not the lay around and do nothing type of person, so that depresses me to have no energy, no drive. I just don’t care. I want to care if my house is clean or my laundry is done, but it just doesn’t matter. I don’t care if the bills get paid or the checkbook gets balanced. I don’t want to go anywhere and I don’t want to do anything. I just want to go to sleep and sleep until this is all over when I can get back up and go back to my life. I worry if my life will still be there when this is all done. Will I still have a job, a relationship, a house? Will I ever wear my regular clothes again or will I be fat forever? Will this cancer ever go away so I can have my life back or is this my new reality now, my new life. Family leave will only protect my job for so long and then what happens? Will I lose my job? My boss has told me he will hold it as long as needed, but there will come a time when they will have to move on too, and will I be well by then or will they have to move on without me? I can’t expect him to hold my job forever and my replacement is doing a terrific job. Hiring her would certainly be easier, and less expensive, then continuing to let me work a few days per week. My family leave will protect me until the Spring, maybe by then this will be all over and this worrying is for nothing. I know it doesn’t do any good to worry, I blogged about that before, but its hard not to when your livelihood is on the line. I need my job. I like my job. I want to keep doing my job.

I am sorry if I have totally depressed you too, that is certainly not my intention to share my melancholy. I'll snap out of it, I always do! I'll get up, get moving, go for a walk, and then I'll feel better.

I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support. I asked for meals again because I am just too tired to cook, and its been incredible. I have so many thank you notes to write and if you have done something for me and haven’t received a thank you, I apologize. I am behind on writing them, but its not because I don’t appreciate it, its simply because I am tired and haven’t found the energy to do it. But please know that I thank you with all my heart. The food and desserts have been amazing. Thank you thank you thank you. And my daughter thanks you, she was getting sick of macaroni and cheese.

So I will keep my chin up and make it through these next two weeks. I’ll let you know when I know anything about my back. I’m not hopeful that it will be anytime soon. I have an appointment with Marlene on Dec. 3rd and I will push then to know something. In the meantime I am lost in the medical treatment abyss that so many patients get lost in. Since there are way sicker patients out there, I get shoved to the bottom and put in the “this is curious but not serious” pile and just wait. What makes it even more troubling is that I thought my oncologist was also my friend and co-worker. I would do anything for him, I wish he’d take a few minutes for me on this one. I guess I feel like I’m being blown off, and I don’t like it. Welcome to the wonderful world of medical. I think that’s probably how most patients feel. Maybe that’s why there are call patients, because they need a lot of patience to make it through this labyrinth called medical care.

I promise to you to keep my attitude good and positive and that I will make it through. I won’t let any of you down, I am the poster child for positivity, and I just have to buck up, cowgirl. Ride the horse I have drawn, and ride it proud. I'll make it around the barrels, one at a time.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Saga of the Ribs

The bones seem to be a never ending saga. I talked to Dr. Jones on Monday and he is not convinced that they are fractured ribs. If you remember, I have three spots, two on the right and one on the left. None appear in my previous CT scans, so this had to have occurred within the last few months. Dr. Lewis, who read the scan, signed off on the report that they were all fractures, but Dr. Jones, is not so sure. He said that the one on the left looks like a healing fracture, but the spots on the 9th and 10th right posterior ribs have “decreased bone in the area of uptake.” In other words, the bone is slightly less dense where the dye was absorbed. That may indicate metastatic disease. He wanted to talk to my oncologist and then…well that is what I don’t know yet. The “what do we do now” is my big question. I have chemo tomorrow, so I am hoping that either Dr. Rado or one of his ARNP’s, Marlene or Mitra, are prepared to talk to me and give me a path forward. I felt like Dr. Lewis didn’t take me seriously and basically blew off my concerns, whereas Dr. Jones took my concerns seriously. He felt I deserved an answer to my questions and given the aggressiveness of my disease, he didn’t want to take any chances. I am totally cool if it is not cancer, in fact, I am wildly ecstatic if it is not cancer! Woo hoo, let’s celebrate! But I don’t want to take any chances either. If it is cancer, I want to get moving on the treatment ASAP and if it isn’t, then I want to know how to keep from fracturing additional bones and what caused my bones to break in the first place.

So I am in a wait and see pattern. Meanwhile, my back continues to hurt, but I think it is getting better. That would be consistence with fractured ribs. Either way, fractured ribs or cancer, they really hurt! I was picking up Jessie this weekend and thinking, I probably shouldn’t do that, if my ribs are fractured, I should probably let them heal. But I love having that little guy in my arms; it is the best feeling ever.

I have been really tired this last week and hope that my platelets have rebounded. I think that they finally have in the last few days, I’m starting to get a little of my energy back. But this was sure a tough go ‘round. My blood counts tanked and I just couldn’t get them back up. That is consistent with what happened when I went to San Francisco. I think that traveling (other than to the Oregon Coast) is just too hard on me. I have no trips scheduled until March, so I’m home for now. Unless anyone has a place on the coast for me to go, then I’m SO there. My counts do really well on the coast!

A little update on my son. He is still in jail and it just breaks my heart, but I know he is where he needs to be right now. I went and saw him and he was pretty rude to me, so I haven’t been back. I am sure that he blames me for all his woes, that is pretty typical. Gotta blame someone, so blame mom. Good thing us moms have big shoulders, we have a lot of burdens to carry. I sent him a letter telling him how much I loved him but that I needed to let him be with the consequences of his actions right now, and then I sent him a Life Recovery Bible and a Narcotics Anonymous big book. I hope that he takes them to heart and uses them in his recovery. It is going to be sad to not have him around for the holidays, but he did this to himself. I just keep praying that he will turn his life around. The attorney said he will probably be in jail for about 4 months.

Since I am giving updates, the puppy is getting huge! Sophie is about 50 pounds now and is less than 6 months old. She is a joy. We should have named her Marmaduke. Any of you old enough to remember Marmaduke, that is Sophie. Big long gangly legs, beautiful beggar face. She is such a people dog. She doesn’t lay AT your feet; she lays ON your feet. I love having her around; makes me feel so loved and adored. Dogs are the best when it comes to brightening someone’s day. They love you completely and unconditionally. When I come home, my dogs are overjoyed to see me, like I am the most important person in their world, and just maybe I am.

I should get chemo tomorrow and then again next Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving) and then be off from Thanksgiving to Christmas! My brother and his wife are coming up for the Thanksgiving holiday, so that is going to be great. I am so excited to see them.

I’ll keep you posted as the saga of the ribs continues…

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bone scan results, sort of.

Okay, so I had my bone scan but the results are very weird. I have three spots on my back (posterior) ribs. They are symmetrical, two on one side and one on the other. Cancer does not generally spread symmetrically, so what the radiologist thinks is that I fractured three of my ribs. So, at first glance, that is good news. Broken ribs are sure a lot better than the cancer spreading to my ribs, however, it raises another question and causes me to pause…how did I break three ribs without knowing it? The only thing I have done is paint my room. And if I broke three ribs painting…again, that concerns me …how do I break three ribs without knowing it? I didn’t fall, get in a car accident, cough hard…but I fractured three ribs. To me, that is very weird. I didn’t get a chance to really explore this with the radiologist. He said he was cautiously optimistic, but wanted the scan to be reviewed by another radiologist. So we wait until it is reviewed by the radiologist who has more expertise in bone scans.

I asked the radiologist if they biopsy bones and he said that if they biopsy bones that have been broken and are healing it looks very much like cancer because the cells are regenerating. So, he believes it is a game of sit and wait. If the pain doesn’t go away or gets worse or there is additional pain, then we will do another scan. If the pain starts to go away, then we will figure it is probably fractures. Regardless, there will be another scan in February or so and we can see where the spots are then, hopefully they will be gone.

But I am still wondering…how the heck does someone break three posterior ribs without even knowing it?

I guess it will be awhile before I know the answer to that question and it seems to me that it is easier on everyone if this whole thing is pawned off to broken bones and we all say “yea its not cancer!” I agree with the “yea its not cancer” wholeheartedly, but still want answers to my questions, and I don’t think that is an unrealistic expectation.

But for now, I just wait.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Carpe Minutam

No chemo for me yesterday, not even with fabulous Betseys. I figured that my platelets didn’t rebound when I was traveling and I was right. I called Mike from the San Diego airport and told him that I doubted I would get chemo because my counts were too low. I can feel it when my counts are low. I get weepy and tired and my body feels incredibly heavy. I was tired the entire time I was in San Diego, I just pushed through the tiredness the best I could, but by Tuesday night I knew that I had overdone it and by Wednesday morning when we were at the airport I was certain. But, I certainly wouldn’t trade the trip for a dose of chemo. It was priceless to have that time with my mom and my daughter. We didn’t do that much, but we were together, and that is what matters. We laughed and ate and shopped and spent time with family. My daughter and I acted like we were at a slumber party while grandma told us to be quiet or we’d wake the neighbors. Priceless. We hunted for ghosts and investigated that old hotel. We actually ran into a security guard who showed us a haunted room and told us the story of the maid who hung herself. Cool. We walked along the beach, watched the sunset, saw the navy seals running, saw the F-16’s and helicopters flying maneuvers, drank coffee while the sun rose and talked about everything and nothing at all. I got to spend time with the two most important women in my life and for that I am grateful. For I do not know when I’ll ever get to do that again. I don’t know what the future holds for me, so I take these moments and treasure them always. Always.

Its moments like these that life is made up of. Is not the big things that make up my life, it’s the things that happen in the flash of the eye of time. It’s not the days or even the hours, it’s the minutes within that time that make up the beauty of my existence. Think about what happens everyday, those interactions with people we love and care about, the sunset, the whiff of a flower, watching the leaf spiral down from the tree, dinner with our families, walking the dogs, a hug, a kiss, a prayer, a catch of the eye, some of these take mere seconds, some only minutes, but none take much time. But these are the things that make our lives worth living, that give our years on this earth meaning and purpose. I think sometimes we are looking for the big things that make our lives worthwhile, when the splendor is in the details, those modest moments that might pass us by if we don’t stop and enjoy them. Treasure the moment it all its glory.

I have my bone scan today and I am scared. No other way to say it. I want to know what it has to say and I don’t want to know what it has to say. I will go see the radiologist after to see if he is in and has time to review the scan with me, but if not, I’m okay with waiting until next week for the report. Part of me just doesn’t want to know. I know if it is cancer, I’ll deal with it and fight it with all I have but a few days of not knowing would be okay with me. I have enough to deal with right now, why add any fuel to this fire that is already burning? I know that Mike will want to find out and he’ll wait until he can hunt down someone to look at it. He has learned how to manipulate the health system as well as I have and has gotten to know the radiologists…so he is very adept at finding what he wants! I am just praying it was an anomaly on the scan and it is nothing and I can go on as I am just fighting the cancer in my lungs. Pray with me, will you?

I get to see Jessie today! Yea! I am picking him up from day care and he is going to spend a few hours with me tonight and then I get to watch him tomorrow morning while Elena is at work. I miss my little guy and he just brightens up my life, I can’t wait to see him! I haven’t seen him since I left last week, which is way too long to go without seeing the best little man in my life!

Off to prepare for my day. Think good thoughts. Carpe minutam – seize the minute. Every one of them.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Home sweet home! I was so happy to be back in my chair in front of the fireplace and sleep in my own bed with my sweet doggie at my side and my kitty by my head. The animal menagerie was awful happy to see their masters last night. The dogs stayed at my dads for the whole time we were gone. He brought them home during the day so they could hang out in their own house for a few hours and keep the kitty company and then brought them back to his house in the evening. (They aren’t spoiled or anything.) Betsy (kitty) had a very hard time being alone. She is a people puppy-cat and doesn’t like to be without her people and her puppy friends. Apparently, she got stuck on the roof when we were gone and dad had to get the ladder out to get her down. Poor baby, up there in the rain stuck on the roof! He said she was soaking wet and so sad! He thought about taking her over to his house too, but worried about her getting outside and getting eaten by a coyote. They have coyotes in the canyon behind their house.

I’m feeling okay for chemo today. I was so weak and tired yesterday morning, I thought for sure that my blood counts had completely cratered and there was no way I was getting chemo, but maybe I was just tired from the trip and the pressure of making it to all the sessions and everything going smoothly at the dinners and board meetings, everyone’s travel and hotel reservations made correctly…I was in charge of travel for 45 people, it’s a little nerve-racking making sure that everyone travels effortlessly and nothing gets booked incorrectly. I did have a two guests decide to change their flights and come in a day early without telling me, so luckily the hotel had room! It’s those types off things that really stress me out. But it is all done and over, the last few guests traveling home today. Then I get to reconcile the bill, that is always fun too. Not.

My chemo is at 9am and I’m planning on wearing the cutest little purple and black Betsey Johnson flats. Yes, flats. I’m turning over a new leaf and trying to wear comfortable shoes. I have found that with my energy level so low, that it takes more oomph to wear high heels so I am in search of the cutest flats available. Never fear, I’m not wearing those boring plain colored flats, I’m wearing fabulous flats with color and style! I figure by the time this is all done I will have the most expansive shoe collection around! I have fabulous heels in all colors and designs and now I’m moving to flats and plan on collecting them in the same manner, with taste and enthusiasm! I love shoes; they never let you down. Shoes glorious shoes! Lest you be disappointed thinking I only scored one pair of shoes in San Diego…I want to inform you that I acquired 4, yes 4 pairs of shoes in San Diego. The Betsey Johnson’s are the crowning glory of the new collection, but I was able to obtain at Charlotte Russe a pair of black flats, suede with a bow, and grey with rhinestones for a ridiculously low price and a pair of diamond encrusted pewter at Reflections, also for a great price. So I am well on my way to stocking my flat collection. Watch out world, I’m on a mission!

My bone scan is tomorrow, and like I said before, Dr. Rado is not convinced that the spot in my back is cancer and if there was no pain, he wouldn’t even be worried, but we would both rather be safe than sorry. The pain has minimized, not gone away completely and still has those moments when it can be over the top, like yesterday traveling all day really made the pain worse. I find that when I’m really tired or overworked, it hurts more, so that sounds more like a muscle strain or tear than a bone thing. So, that’s what I’m hoping for! Muscles will heal and hell of a lot faster than cancer in the bones! I have to get the radioactive dye injection at 9:30 and then go back a 1pm for the scan. I am sure when it is done we will go find a radiologist to look at the results. So say your prayers for a good outcome!

Well, back home and on schedule. I love traveling, but there is no place like home!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Waiting for the plane in San Diego...

I had a wonderful trip to San Diego. What a beautiful city. The weather was gorgeous, everyday sunshine and blue skies. We did some serious shopping and yes, I broke down and purchased some shoes. But instead of fabulous heels, I got some rockin’ flats. One pair from Betsey Johnson! Yeah, I’m wearing them to chemo tomorrow!

While I was in meetings yesterday mom and Peyton took the ferry over to the San Diego waterfront to see the big ships and the monuments honoring the WW II vets. Peyton got lots of pictures, it looked really cool. I am glad that she got to see something other than the inside of a mall during her trip! I know it is very hard for her to believe but there is more to San Diego than great shopping!

One of my best buds from high school, Tonya, her daughter Kami is in the marines and is stationed in San Diego. She came over last night with her absolutely beautiful little boy, Dakota, and we got to visit with them after my meeting last night. It was so awesome to catch up and see that little boy.

Today we travel. All day. We have an awful layover in Seattle and leave San Diego at 10:30 but don’t get home until 5pm. I am feeling extremely fatigued, like my blood counts have plummeted, and have such a long day ahead of me. I can feel the achiness, tightness in my chest, general malaise that I feel when my counts get low. I have tried to work, play and rest adequately on this trip, but I think that it has just taken its toll on me to travel for so many days. I am ready to be home and be in my own bed tonight. I wish I had a Star Trek transporter and could just be home now.

So pray my counts stay up so that I can get my chemo tomorrow. I am supposed to have chemo at 9am tomorrow; this is my “one more round for good measure” before my one month break. I can’t wait to take a break from chemo. Its gonna be so awesome to be off this for awhile! I will rest and start to feel better again! Yea! I have my bone scan on Friday so we’ll know more about the spot on my back that showed up in the last CT. Hopefully it will be nothing. My back hasn’t been hurting as bad, so maybe it’s just a spot on the CT coinciding with a sore muscle or something. That’s what I am hoping for! Pray for a clear bone scan!

So, signing off for now. Maybe I’ll blog again from Seattle.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday on the Beach

I dreamt about cancer last night. I dreamt about having it in my lungs and bones, about telling the people that I love that I have cancer, about the looks in their faces when they realize that I have this disease. I dreamt about being sick, about tests, about fear. All night long with the sounds of the surf crashing against the shore I dreamt about cancer. I don’t know why it was there, haunting my dreams. It’s bad enough that I have to deal with this disease when I am awake, but to have it invade my dreams seems unfair. It’s the one place it hasn’t really been able to touch me. My dreams have remained blissfully unaware of the cancer. Maybe it’s the test coming up later this week, maybe it was because we were talking about it at dinner last night, but hopefully it goes away and leaves my dreams alone. I want to dream about bunnies and sunshine, not sickness and disease.

I am sitting here on the balcony watching the surfers battle the waves. The surf is breaking pretty good this morning and they are spending most of their time tumbling in the waves. Maybe it’s not as easy as it looks. And it looks cold…perhaps I don’t want to go surfing after all. Watching it from here seems good enough today.

The shopping excursion was successful. I was exhausted by the end of the day. I think we hit every designer store in Fashion Valley and Peyton purchased various fabulous items including new jeans and a pea coat. I picked up a nice pair of olive colored suede boots and a few shirts but the focus was really on Peyton. It was her shopping spree. She even has money left over to spend when we hit the shops here in Coronado. It defies reasonable sense and sensibility, but I went to Nordstroms Rack and didn’t buy any shoes. It is truly unbelievable. I have been trying to switch to more conservative shoes lately because my energy level is so low and it takes so much more energy to wear heels. So I found fabulous heels, but didn’t want to buy them, and saw some cute flats…but that’s all they were - cute…not fabulous. I just couldn’t bring myself to buy them. It’s a mind shift that I haven’t made yet. I am a high heel girl, not a flat girl. Learning to wear sensible shoes is going to take some time. But I realize how important it is to conserve my energy and I get out of breath easier in heels…but still…I am a off the charts heels to die for girl! I guess I’ll just have to find the most fabulous flats in the world!

Today is brunch in the Crown Room. It is ridiculously expensive, but is the most expansive spread of brunch delicacies that I have ever seen. There is everything from fruit to crab legs. We will not need to eat again until tomorrow! The conference starts today at 4pm, so after brunch I’ll spend a few hours with my family and then get busy on work stuff, getting ready for the conference. At 6:30 there is a reception and at 7:45 is dinner. I have arranged for all 45 guests of Kadlec to eat at a restaurant across the street from the hotel called the Brigandine, which is supposed to be excellent. I hope so!

My health and my energy are holding up. I am sure glad that I got a transfusion before I left town or I would probably be in bed completely exhausted. I have also been taking vitamins and airborne twice per day to make sure that I don’t catch anything while I am here.

This is a beautiful place to rest and regenerate. Even once I get busy with work, working in a place like this is still so incredible. With the beach and ocean before me, it makes everything just a little bit easier.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Let's Shop!

I slept with the sound of the ocean pounding against the sand. The waves rolling in and the breakers crashing down. I don’t know why, but the ocean is renewing for me. It soothes my spirit and renews my soul. The vastness of the water, as far as the eye can see, stretching out, teeming with life. I have a healthy respect for the ocean, for its awesome power. There are surfers out there this morning and I watch them ride the waves and I wish I could be there with them, they seem so free, gliding across the surface of the water, riding the waves. This is different surfing than I have seen before; they stand on the boards with a long paddle and float on the surface of the ocean, waiting for the perfect wave. While they are not surfing they are standing on the boards and paddling around. It reminds me of skiing. Maybe I’ll look into doing this; it looks like a lot of fun.

We had a wonderful dinner last night in Old Town San Diego with the family. Always nice to reconnect with the cousins and my aunt and hear how their lives are going. Today is power shopping, I hope I have the strength to keep up with my daughter. She has money and she is motivated; that is a tough shopping combination! We are meeting my aunt at Fashion Valley at 10am to begin the expedition to find the perfect clothes, the trek for the ideal shoes. It will be an auspicious journey. One to be remembered. Send me lots good shopping energy.

I could sit here on the balcony all day and watch the surf, but my daughter is ready to rock n roll, we need to get some breakfast, some starbucks, get fortified for the day.

Let’s shop!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Do Not Worry.

Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Jesus said that. I think it is good advice to live by. We, as a society, have a tendency to worry about everything. Is the traffic going to make me late, was I exposed to the flu, do I have all I need to make dinner, is that person mad at me, is my flight going to be late, what are my test results? The list goes on and on. Really, when it comes down to it, does worrying help anything? Who, by worrying, will add one minute to their lives or change the outcome of any given situation? Worry is one of those fruitless activities. Absolutely nothing positive comes out of it.

When I find myself starting to worry, I stop and think, how, by worrying, am I going to change this situation? And then I realize…I’m not. I’m only borrowing tomorrow’s trouble. I am not immune to worry, in fact, I come across it naturally from a long line of worriers. My mother, who has a crown when it comes to worry since she is the queen, has spent many a sleepless night thinking about the outcome of things she cannot change. She knows as well as I do that the worry does not change anything, but for some reason, she is powerless to stop it, as am I. I have found myself awake more times than I care to admit at 4am worrying. And when dawn came, guess what…nothing had changed except I was tired and stressed.

So, how do we let go of worry? I think the only way to relinquish the worry is to continue to surrender our lives to God, fate, destiny, whatever your belief and by acknowledging that the worry has no positive outcome. So the next time that you begin to fret, tell yourself that nothing good is going to come of this anxiety and release it all to God. Realize that He is in control, so your worry, while warranted, is not going to change anything. Also realize that there is worry and then there is prayer. Prayer does change things. So take that worry and turn it into words of prayer on your lips. Cast your cares upon God, He has big shoulders, He can handle it.

We made it to San Diego! With my counts the way they were this week there was some question as to whether or not I’d be able to make this trip, so I am supremely happy to be here. I found myself worrying last night about if I had everything, what if I got exposed to the flu on the plane, how would I fight it off? Or would we make our connection in Seattle since it was so tight? Did I need a swimsuit? Would the dogs be okay without me? Will grandpa remember to give them their pills, water my plants, pick up the mail? Will my mom and daughter like the room we got? And on and on and on…and then I realized how silly it was that I was losing sleep over things I had no control over. If I forget something, oh well I’ll buy it there, if I get exposed to something there is nothing I can do and God knows, I shouldn’t be in public in a swimsuit. If we miss our connection…well…can I change that by worrying about it? No, no, no. Nothing could be changed by my laying in bed worrying about it. So I got up, had a glass of wine and then went back to bed, finally to sleep soundly. Today came and guess what, so far so good, everything has gone smoothly.

We are having dinner with my family tonight in Old Town San Diego. Tomorrow my daughter wants to shop shop shop, so we are going to Fashion Valley Mall which has all the designer stores with things that we can’t afford. But you never know when you are going to find a fabulous deal. Sunday we are having a brunch to die for at the hotel and my conference starts Sunday afternoon.

I am feeling pretty good, my transfusion is kicking in and I am not so short of breath as I was yesterday and my energy level is coming back. I should be right as rain for power shopping tomorrow.

So, let go of the worry, the anxiety, the concerns, let it all go and focus on the the here and now. Right now is what matters, and it’s the only time you are going to have this moment, so drink it in! Quit borrowing tomorrow’s trouble today and focus on the present. Like they say, it’s a gift, that’s why it’s called the present. Open it and revel in its glory!