Thursday, December 30, 2010

Almost New Years!

Well the new year is just around the corner. Are you ready? I can't believe that 2010 is finally almost over and a new year is about to begin. Thank Goodness! This year has been tough for the Taylor family and I am looking forward to turning that clock over to 2011 and starting the year fresh and new. My retreat to Park City, Utah for Metastatic Breast Cancer survivors will be a positive way to start the year and I looking forward to getting to know other women in my situation and hearing their point of view, how they keep their attitude positive, handle the side effects, keep their friendships alive, stay in charge of their households and their families. I am excited to learn about someone elses perspective on this chronic disease and how they deal with the unique challenges it presents.

The week after I get back Peyton will get her wisdom teeth out, which will not be a pleasant experience, but necessary. I am not going to watch thousands of dollars worth of orthodontic work go down the drain because she doesn't have room for any more teeth! I am sure they have modernized the procedure and it won't be near as bad as it was almost 30 years ago when I had it done. I hear from her friends that they were up and around in a day or so. So I don't think it will be near the experience that I remember. I hope its a piece of cake for her. I hate the thought of her in any pain or discomfort.

My next doctors appointment and chemo is scheduled for January 10th. I won't know until then if I am going to keep going with chemo or not. It will depend on the outcome of my scans and the status of my medications. As long as I stay on Avastin I can keep getting it, but if I take a break, I don't know if I can get approved to go back on. That makes a difference too. If I can't get back on it after taking a break I would say no break, keep going and taking the medicine that is saving my life. I am tolerating it okay. I have my tough days, but they are not unbearable and I want this gone, GONE. I don't want to risk it sneaking back up on me.

I hope you have wonderful plans for New Years and that you ring in 2011 with a heart full of love surrounded by people who bring you joy. God bless you in the upcoming year. Its going to be a year worth living, so grab it with gusto!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Round 6 is done

The final dose of round 6 is in and I received some good news regarding my ability to continue to get Avastin even though the FDA has rescinded its approval. Those of us who are already on the drug will continue to receive it. What we don't know is if I take a break from the drug, can I get back on it. That is the question that I will ask at my next appointment with Dr. Rado on January 10th. I don't want to take a break from chemo and then not be able to get back on it. So I don't know much right now as far as further treatment. Alot will depend on the outcome of the scans on January 7th. But even if they show clearing, there is always the concern of little pieces of cancer roaming about my body just awaiting the chance to take hold again. My tendency is to keep going, the chemo isn't fun, but its not so bad, I can still live my life, albeit a little differently than before, and there is some comfort in knowing that I am actively fighting the disease. I will have more answers when I see Dr. Rado and am looking forward to the discussion and exploring my options for the future of my disease.

The Zomeda may be affecting my jaw. That is a possible side effect, it eats away at your jawbone. Crazy, eh? My jaw has been sore and I attributed it to the dental work I had a few months ago, but its not getting better so I need to talk to Dr. Rado about that too. There may be alternatives to taking Zomeda, and there have been questions from the FDA about the efficacy of Zomeda, although they did say it worked better in post-menopausal women, which I am. Chemo pushed me through early menopause 5 years ago. So, Zomeda may continue to be the best option to keep the cancer out of my bones.

Insurance continues to concern me, but I know somehow it will work out and I'll find a carrier when my Cobra runs out. The cost will probably be outrageous, but it is a necessity no matter what the cost. Right now I am waiting until March to do further exploration since my Cobra doesn't run out until May and I have to exhaust my Cobra in order to get private insurance without enduring pre-existing condition clauses.

The week has been quiet. Peyton is home from school and work, so we are just hanging out together. Mason came back from Canada Sunday night, so I know she is glad to have him home again. He spends quite a bit of time over here and with Peyton's new wall mounted flat screen high definition TV they watch alot of TV. He left for a game today but I think is back tomorrow to play here. Then there is, of course, the big New Years match up with Spokane, always a sell-out high energy crowd. I hope they win.

I hope you are settling back into the post holiday week and things are quiet and calm. New Years is just around the corner, but I doubt we will do anything. I am usually in bed between 9 and 10 and I can't imagine making it to midnight the first week of chemo. Mike and I will probably get together to have dinner, play some cards and celebrate New York New Year. I hope your New Years is a wonderful time and that 2011 ushers in a new light and life. I pray you are blessed beyond belief and that the year finds you healthy and happy and your days are full of joy. Of course, joy is a state of mind. You can be joyful in the midst of strife if you choose to; so choose joy. Its always the better place to be.

Monday, December 27, 2010


I hope you had a joyous holiday. I know that mine was wonderful, one to remember. If God does not allow me another Christmas, I can die with a smile in my heart over Christmas 2010. We went to church on Christmas Eve at "The Living Room" and they had the Ashante Childrens Choir from Rwanda performing. They were awesome. We then all came to my house for pizza. My traditional Christmas eve present is new pj's and I was a little worried that Jessie would be bummed that the gift he opened wasn't a toy, how wrong I was! He loved opening the present, that was the gift. He hugged the box and said "I love my box" and I had to tell him, "look, there is something in the box." "Really?" he tore open the box. "I got a blanket, I love my blanket!" "No sweetie, its not a blanket, its pajamas." "REALLY! I LOVE MY PAJAMAS! Do YOU have pajamas?" Whereupon he took the time to open everyone's pajamas. It was precious. He then tried on his pajamas and wore them the rest of the night.

After everyone was gone and it was just Peyton and I, we engaged on our tradition, reading The Night Before Christmas and Grinch and then watching the old Grinch cartoon narrated by Boris Karloff. As we read to each other, sitting close on the couch, I could barely keep the tears away. During the movie, my big grownup daughter became my little girl again, curling up under my arm, letting me hold her as we sang along with the Whos. I hope I get to do this for many years to come. It is our tradition and it makes our holiday complete. But if somehow my life comes to an end, I hope she always remembers me holding her singing the Who Christmas song. I know its forever etched in my mind and on my heart.

Christmas morning began at my house about 8am and there was no chaos that would normally be associated with having a three year old in the house, he was so excited about everything. Didn't matter what it was, he was thrilled with it! I was a beautiful lesson in gratitude. We should all be so grateful for the smallest of things. After all the presents were done, I made my traditional biscuits and gravy, and then we enjoyed playing games for the afternoon. Peyton had me buy the family "Pictionary Man" and "Mad Gab" and we had a blast. We laughed until tears were running down our faces. What a perfect day.

Then it was off to mom's for a great dinner of ham and all the fixins. Elena and Jessie had to head out to her parents house for part of the day so it was just the immediate family (Gma, Gpa, me, Mike, Peyton and Houston) and we must have sat at the table for at least an hour after dinner talking and laughing and enjoying each others company. Finally, my energy was waning and I headed home. Peyton stayed and helped clean up and move food from the inside fridge to the one in the garage because the compressor went out in their fridge on Christmas eve. God bless her for staying and helping. What a great gift to give my parents, her help.

It was a beautiful day. It was not about what we got, it was about what we did. It was about our laughter and our giving of ourselves. It was about sharing time with each other and being a family. A family who loves and gives to each other no matter the challenges that have befallen us or the transgressions we have beset against each other. We forgive. We forget the bad and hold on to the good. And we hold on to each others hearts, the most precious gift of all. May this New Year bring us many more moments of laughter and tears of joy. It won't be perfect but as long as we are all together, it will be full of pleasure and delight.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

Are you ready? This is the last day to wrap, buy, clean, cook... Hopefully you have been able to get most everything done so that you can enjoy your Christmas eve. I am done, of course I don't work so I have an advantage on all you people with full time jobs and kids. I need to clean my house today, but I don't go overboard since its just my family, kids and pets who make a mess the minute I'm done cleaning anyway!

Mom and I are going to church tonight at "The Living Room", I love their music and Monte does a wonderful sermon. We are going to pick up a couple of pizzas from Papa Murphys to cook when we get back. Everyone is coming over here since I have Christmas eve traditional presents...pajamas. My kids always get pj's on Christmas eve. Back in the old days Peyton and I would get matching pj's and she used to get so excited to be dressed just like mom. Those days are gone, her style is definately different than mine. So we all get our own style, but we have new pj's when we open our presents on Christmas morning. Its tradition.

Mike and I drove around last night and looked at Christmas lights. There are quite a few beautiful displays out there (my house included!) but I have to say that the Senske lights are nothing short of spectacular. If you haven't gone over and sat in your car to watch the dancing lights, make sure to drive over, I believe they are up through the new year. You tune your radio station to 100.1 and just watch the lights dance in unison to the music. It is wonderful. I plan on going back over again to watch some more. I don't think I could tire of watching, it is so fabulous. So, if you haven't gone yet, load up the family in the car and get on over there! Its worth the drive.

I am so excited for this holiday. When you are facing a life threatening illness like I am I can't be sure if this is going to be the last time I get to enjoy this holiday with my family. Of course, none of us know if we will be here next year. Life is so unpredictable. We never know what might happen to any of us. So bite into the holiday with gusto, let the juices drip down your chin and spill on the floor around you. Don't bother to clean it up, revel in its mess and the beauty of its joy. Gaze around the room, look at the faces of those around you, love them, appreciate their presence in your life and give thanks to God for the gift of family and most of all for the gift of Christ. Remember that is why we are celebrating. Amidst all the bows and ribbons is the birth of a tiny little baby who came to redeem us all. Every one of us. Not just a select few, but everyone. He was born and died for you, for me, even for that person you might not like. God sent him for all of us. So somewhere in your holiday sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. When the kids were little we would do a birthday cake every Christmas and sing to Him. So take time to remember the reason for the season. If there weren't one present under the tree, Christmas would still be Christmas. Take a lesson from the Whos. Even when the Grinch took everything, they still joined hands and sang...heart to heart and hand to hand.

So sing your joy. Raise your voices. Praise God. Give thanks. Happy Birthday Jesus!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas is almost here!

Well we are only a few days away from Christmas. I am done shopping, as long as I stay out of the stores and don't see that "one more thing that I HAVE to get for...." Everything is wrapped and Santas stocking stuffers are all separated and ready to go in their places on Christmas eve. Peyton still has some wrapping to do, and I'll probably help her wrap, I love to wrap presents. I love decorating them best, making them all shiny and pretty. The cat likes all the sparkly pretty trimmings too! I keep having to shoo her out from under the tree and quite a few presents have lost their bows thanks to her playfulness. The dogs have been great about leaving the tree and its presents alone. Kyra I had no doubt would leave stuff alone, she is old and doesn't chew stuff up, but Sophie, we weren't sure what she would do with all those pretty wrappings enticing her, but she is really improving her behavior and the only problem I have is her getting paper and kleenex out of the trash. I can handle that, its annoying, but better than shoes!

I am feeling pretty good this week. I still get tired easy but am able to get up and around and do household tasks, then I'll rest in the afternoon. I am not able to walk the dogs, I can't handle being out in the cold. The Avastin has left my sinuses raw and bloody and the cold causes alot of pain. I saw Dr. Schwartz and he has me on a gel to moisturize the tissue and it seems to be helping a little. They don't hurt as much and the pain doesn't last as long when it does occur. I am going to go back and see him again in January and see how I'm doing. It may fix itself if I lose access to Avastin! If it looks like its going to be pulled off the market soon I'm going to try to get as many doses in as I can before the FDA intrudes into my healing. Avastin is working for me. The little tumor is completely gone, so I hope we can fight and keep me on this drug until the other one is completely gone too.

I am so excited for Christmas. Having my family here together. We will start here with presents and Cinnabons at about 8am. Should be crazy with a 3 year old who is fully aware how to open presents! Every time he comes over he wants to start opening everything under the tree! Then I'll make my trademark biscuits and gravy for breakfast. We'll relax for the day and then go to my parents house for dinner. We are still debating over the menu, Peyton wants ham (she always wants ham) and dad and I want prime rib. Maybe both??

I hope you are not so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season that you don't have the time to sit back and enjoy the little moments that you come across everyday. Feel the joy of the season. Slow down, look at the lights on the houses, listen to the music, enjoy the season. Its a wonderful time to be alive.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Drug Controversy

There was a little tidbit on the news this morning that the FDA is going to revoke its approval for the drug Avastin. They indicated that the side effects of the drug do not outweight the benefits and that the clinical trails indicate that this drug "failed to show it prolonged life among brest cancer patients." This is contrary to the study that I read when I was first put on this drug and where the studies showed remarkable results. If FDA revokes its approval, it would no longer be covered by insurance and would cost thousands of dollars out of pocket if the patient and their physician want to continue on the drug. All is not lost though, the drug company has 15 days to appeal the decision. This drug is my only hope. It is the only drug which crosses the blood-brain barrier and has a chance at fighting this tumor in my brain. It has showed results in my case, my small tumor is all but gone and I planned on using Avastin to fight the rest of this tumor back. This is not good news for me, so hopefully the drug company can get an appeal through so that for us patients where this is a last chance drug can continue to use it. Say your prayers, this is a real setback for cancer patients.

There has also been some controvery on the effectiveness of Zometa, the bone strengthening drug that I am on, but initial reports indicate that current users may not be affected. There are other drugs that work like Zometa, so there are other options, but with Avastin, there is no other option. Avastin is a unique drug that actually gets into the brain where other drugs cannot go.

So this has me concerned about my current treatment, a treatment I believed in my heart would work against this current spread. Alot is also going on in my life with my health insurance which is got me reeling, praying I can find coverage to bridge the gap between when my Cobra ends and when my Medicare kicks in. I cannot go without insurance and there is going to be a gap in coverage later in Spring. I am planning on meeting with an insurance agent in March to start looking at my options. I was going to appeal the social security disability date to close the gap in coverage, but it will take 18 months to appeal. Hell, in 18 months I won't need the appeal, I'll be without my Cobra and not eligible for Medicare yet. What a mess. So I just put my faith in God that what will be will be and that somehow this will all work out for the best. But to say all these issues aren't causing me a bit of stress would be a lie. I am going to do the best I can to try to just ride it out and keep the faith.

We recheduled Peyton's wisdom tooth extraction. She really doesn't want to miss New Years Eve, and I can't really blame her. Mason plays that night and it is always a big game. I don't blame her for wanting to be a part of it. So she is now scheduled for Jan. 20th after I get back from my breast cancer retreat. I didn't want to miss that either but I have to be here to take care of my daughter after this surgery. I am sure this procedure has come a long way since I was 18 so hopefully it will be a tolerable experience.

So challenges await. We'll know more next time we meet with Rado, but I will go under the assumption that I will continue on this drug as long as I can. I don't see any options out there that work with my stage and type of cancer, so this is my hope. I will keep on as long as I can. Say your prayers that this controvery gets worked out and that those of us who are on it and it is working will continue to be able to take the drug. That's the best we can do.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas is Coming!

I received the coolest present last night. One of my friends got me a fluffy robe and had it embroidered with a pink ribbon on the front that says "find the cure" and a pink pair of boxing gloves on the back with the words "I'm a Fighter". It touched my heart and brought a huge smile to my face. I love it, not only is is comfy but so appropriate. So thank you thank you Angela. I will treasure this always and wear it proud, as a fighter.

I've been feeling pretty puny this week and am on a new medication that is supposed to stimulate my appetite. Its oral and tastes horrible, but if it works, I guess it will be worth it. I lost more weight again and they are really worried about me getting enough nutrition to keep up the fight. I bought some protein shakes to take as a supplement when I can't eat so maybe that will help too. I weigh myself every day and keep seeing the number go down, so I hope to have it start going up again. Goodness knows I don't want to get fat again, but I do need to stabilize my weight. I'm trying!

I wrote mom and dad an email last night, but I haven't heard back. They get to use the computers for free because of their platinum status on Princess Cruises so I figure I'll hear back today or tomorrow. I assured them that their puppy was doing fine, had given up her hunger strike and is eating again. Peyton is doing good staying there, I know she misses her home, her own bed, but only two more nights.

Peyton's wisdom teeth have started coming in...ack! They are really bothering her and I made an appointment with the oral surgeon but the earliest appointment is Dec. 28th with surgery on Dec. 31st. So she won't have a very good New Years Eve, but we need it as soon as possible so she doesn't have to miss too much school or work. She is on the cancellation list to get in earlier, if possible, next week would be ideal, then she'd have plenty of time to heal before school starts. So, I told Mike I will probably be taking care of a post-op patient for New Years Eve. Too much fun! She doesn't handle pain medicine well, they can make her real nauseas, so we are going to have a good talk with the oral surgeon on what he is prescribing so we can keep her as comfortable as possible. I hate that she has to go through this, getting your wisdom teeth out are miserable, but necessary.

I have few more small things to buy and Santa needs to work on stockings. I need more little stuff to put in their stockings but not spend too much, and I can spend alot on stockings! So I'm going to write a good list and stick to it, hoping I can keep the cost down.

Hope your holiday season is joyous and calm and not full of stress and tension. Calm down and enjoy, enjoy the treats, the company of your friends and family, and the sheer joy of the season. Take the time to visit and share with your friends and family and don't forget to tell them how much you love them and what they mean to you.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Round 6

Well round 6 dose 1 is in. This is my last scheduled dose. I have dose 2 on Dec. 27 and then my CT and MRI on Jan. 7 and then another dose of chemo tentatively scheduled for Jan. 10th. I'll see Dr. Rado, see how my scans are and make the decision whether to continue chemo or take a break. Alot will depend on the status of the brain tumor, has it grown, has it shrunk, has it remained the same. I really have no sense as to what the tumor is doing. I still have problems with headaches and numbness and balance on my right side. To me, that means the tumor is still there. I have not gotten worse, so that feels good. I feel like if it had grown, my symptoms would be worsening, not staying the same. Of course there is the rest of my body we have to check too, hopefully it has not spread anywhere else in my body. I am praying that the rest of my body continues to stay clear of disease. So keep the prayers coming.

I felt pretty crummy yesterday. All I wanted was the day to be over so I could go to bed and wake up today and feel better. So far today, I'm okay. I have a PT appointment this morning to work on the swelling in my arm which will be nice. I always feel better when my swelling is down. But then I'll get my shot of neupogen which always knock me on my butt.

Mom and dad are still on their cruise, hopefully having a great time and not worrying too much about me or their dog. Or maybe I should put Lucy first. They worry about her terribly when they are gone! But Peyton is taking great care of her, walking her and the other puppies everyday. I miss having Peyton here, its quiet with her gone, she'll be home on Saturday night and things will get back to normal. I miss my parents when they are gone. They are such an integral part of every day so when they are gone there is an emptiness to my days, something is just missing. My house is quiet without my family around.

Almost done with Christmas. I have a few cards left to do and a few small presents left to buy, but most is done and I have even wrapped a good portion of them. I just have to decorate the presents and get them under the tree. The tree is beautiful, its just missing presents! I am hoping to feel good enough today to get something done, I wasn't able to do much of anything yesterday. I am trying a new drug to help my appetite. I lost another 6 pounds and I really need to stop losing weight. Its a liquid that I drink every day and tastes nasty, but if it works, its worth it.

All for now, off to PT. Have a wonderful day enjoying the glimpses of sunshine out there!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Party was Great

I was honored to attend the Kadlec Christmas party last night and I had to say it was awesome. I felt good since I'm two days from my next chemo and got to hug and visit with so many of my friends, tell them how much they mean to me and how much I love them. I hope I took every chance to let my friends know they are loved and that they are an important part of my life. Because they are so important to me. I hope that things go well with my treatment and within the next year I am an integral part of that family again. Kadlec, not only a higher level of care, but a higher level of employer, one I hope to be a part of for many years to come. Thank you to Kristen for inviting me to join her, it was an honor to sit with the folks from HR, what a great group you are. We were right next to the admin table so I got to spend some time with them too and hear a bit of chatter about what is going on in my former department.

I am going to the Nutcracker this afternoon. My friend, Sherri, her little boy, Noah, is in the party scene and I promised I would go see him perform. I am looking forward to seeing the show, I didn't get to go last year, that darn hospital stay last Christmas season took away alot of my holiday activities. I am bringing kleenex, because I know I will cry. I always do, remembering Peyton up there dancing so beautifully, before her injury forced her to give up her dream of dancing. She was going to go too, but she got sick this morning, and has been throwing up today. She doesn't feel like going nor does she want to expose me to the stomach flu, especially with chemo tomorrow. That would be the last thing I need! I am just sorry that she is sick. But she is at the gparents taking care of Lucy and she and puppy can just lay together on the couch today and rest. I miss having her here. The house just seems empty without her energy.

I am enjoying my new recliner more than I can say. I had no idea a Lazyboy would be so comfortable. I just sink down into it and relax, enjoying my holiday decorations, the lights of the tree, surrounded by the beauty of the season.

Chemo tomorrow, dose 6. We will get the CT and MRI scheduled and will know a little bit more about the path forward. I am praying it is clear so I can start getting my health back and get moving back into my regular life. Its there, waiting for me, I'm ready to dive in!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Preparation

Well mom and dad are off on their cruise to Mexico for the next seven days. Mom called from Los Angeles last night and they will set sail at 4pm today. Their first port of call is Puerto Vallarta so for the next few days they will sit on their penthouse patio, yes, they got upgraded to a penthouse, and enjoy the vista of the beautiful pacific ocean going by them. How wonderful will that be! They have been on so many cruises that they enjoy the relaxation of it all, the service, the food. I am glad they get to do this to celebrate their 52 anniversary. What an accomplishment that is in this society. Not only have they been married for more than half a century, but they continue to enjoy each others company and spend most all their time together. We could all be so lucky to be so in love after 50 years. I am so proud of them. I know I'll never have that kind of relationship approaching my 50's but I pray for it for my children, that they will find a soul mate to marry, are able to make it through all the trials of marriage and growing old together. Its such a beautiful thing.

Peyton is taking care of Lucy who has a very hard time when her parents leave town, especially her mommy. She cries when she leaves and then mopes around the house, not playing, not eating, just waiting for them to come back. My parents have a hard time leaving her but I'm glad they have Peyton to trust to take care of Lucy. She does a great job loving her and taking care of her, staying at my parents house so she can have a familiar environment while she mourns the departure of her parents. Our dogs are just so spoiled.

We got the Christmas tree up on Thursday night before my parents left and had the whole family together putting up the ornaments and enjoying the company of each other and the memories that each ornament brings. I love how my grandson grouped ornaments, all the M&Ms and Energizer Bunnies hanging together, and the majority of ornaments on the bottom 2/3 of the tree because thats where he could reach. Now I sit in my new comfortable Lazyboy and turn off all the lights except for the tree and just rest and think. Beautiful memories of Christmas past come rushing behind my eyes, some bringing smiles, some moving me to tears, but all warming my heart with a special joy. This is the best part, the prep for the holiday, the spending the time together, the music and movies, the decorations that each tell a story of their own.

My favorite movie is "Its a Wonderful Life" and I could watch it every night. The story of hope beyond great loss is an important moral. We could lose everything, but if we have each other, we have all we need. So as you are rushing around this holiday season, remember the people that you love and give thanks to God that they are in your life. Treasure the moments you spend with them and let them know how important they are to you and don't forget to tell them you love them. We can never say those words enough. So to all of you...thanks for being in my life; I love you.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tough Day

I am ending the year with a bang. I backed into a van in a parking lot yesterday. I don't know where she came from, I am always scared to back into something or someone, so I try to be real careful, but all of the sudden I hear the crush of metal. What an awful sound. I look over and I am against the rear panel of a 70's era econovan. I got out and although I couldn't see any damage to her vehicle (that good ole 70's solid steel construction), mine had definately seen better days. So we pull back into the parking spots to exchange information and I just lost it. The tears started streaming down my face. It was just one more thing on my already overflowing plate that just set me over the edge. I felt sorry for the lady, it was my fault, and she is rubbing my arm asking me if I am oky. I was honest, no, I wasn't okay, I just want to get out of 2011. She was so kind, hugged me and told me she would pray for me. I tried to pull it together unsuccessfully and tears streamed down my face as I wrote down all my information and thought about an insurance claim and what if they cancel me? I can't afford for my insurance rates to go up.

So we finished our business, she had my information, I had hers and although I could see no visible damage on her vehicle, there was definite damage to mine. So I headed over to State Farm to file a claim. Still crying I entered the door of the agency. She handed over the box of kleenex and asked if I was okay. I nodded my assent and began the diatribe of details related to the incident as she entered it into the computer. I told her I doubted there was damage to the van, but just in case, she seemed like the type that would turn it in. She wanted the call the cops, but with it being private parking and all, the cops wouldn't come anyway. Thank God. I really don't need a ticket on top of everything else.

So I left the agency and went straight to my parents. When the going gets tough, the tough go cry on their mother's shoulder and ask their dad to fix their car. Just by serendipity, Mike showed up and while I sobbed in my mothers arms he and my dad they fixed most of the damage, and determined the rest could probably be done relatively cheaply. So, if there was no damage to the van, and I don't turn in my car, no claim, no increase in rates, no worry about cancellation. So I calmed down and finally headed home to drop whatever residual tears were left. Once home I called the lady with the van and asked if she looked further and noticed any damage. She said no, but wanted her husband to look at it. I asked her if there was damage, if I could pay for it rather than go through insurance. She was more than amenable to keeping insurance out of it. I was so relieved. So I called State Farm and again serendipity interrupted and the claim didn't transmit, it errored out when she sent it. So there was no claim. So from the initial shock to a few hours later, the outlook was much better. I had cried all the tears I needed, it was time for a nap.

So I dozed on the couch, Mike was scheduled to come over a 3pm so we could go select a tree for my tree trimming family get together tonight. The next thing I know my mother is coming in the front door with a big balloon and my dad and Mike behind her with a large recliner! They had bought me a Lazyboy for Christmas and it just so happened it was delivered yesterday, when I needed a cheering up the most. We set it up where my old rocker was and I sank into its delicious fabric, leaned back and felt the relaxation take over my body. It was awesome. So I got my present early, since there was no where to really hide it, not to mention, I really needed a boost.

So while it could have been much worse, it turned out okay even though I still have a dent in my rear bumper. I haven't heard from the other driver, she said she'd let me know if they found any damage, so maybe I'm going to get lucky. In the meantime, I'll relax in my new recliner and pray January 1st comes soon and 2011 turns into a better year. Next year just has to be better than this year! (Knock on wood!)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Loss of a Brave Woman

Elizabeth Edwards lost her battle with breast cancer last night. I don't even know her, but for some reason this news was like a blow to the heart. How could she lose this battle? She was an idol for people fighting this disease. Her strength and fortitude, her grace in the heat of battle. I was certain she would outlive me and suddenly, she is gone, leaving such a young family. It is so very sad. She wished to be remembered for her life, not her death, so to honor her wishes I will remember the words I heard from her in interviews and public appearances; words of wisdom and encouragement for those with and without cancer. She was a beautiful and honorable woman, and for that she will be remembered.

I don't know why this hit me this hard, maybe its because our battle has lasted about the same amount of time. We were diagnosed around the same time and both went into remission and then it came back. They could never get it under control again, and that feels like me, like we can't get mine under control. We keep treating but it doesn't go away, it lingers on continuing to make its presence known in my life. Its vengeance never far from my mind, constantly reminding me to stay on my toes, keep fighting, but most of all to keep living. Because when my time comes, I want to be remembered for the joy and the laughter not for the cancer. I want to leave behind a positive legacy and a knowledge and love can conquer any foe because love lingers on long after our body is released from this place.

So focus on the good and don't dwell on the bad. Look at challenges as opportunities to overcome, as ways to make a difference in this world. And I pray that through this challenge I will be a beacon of light and a model of love and hope in this sometimes dreary world.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Holiday Joy

Well I have been pretty sick all week. My stomach just can't seem to balance itself with this mixture of chemotherapy. I have lost a lot of weight and now weigh less than I did when this whole thing started. They did give me some pills that take away the nausea and give me an appetite but I the side effects leave me unable to function. I am totally wiped out and don't do anything but just lay and doze or watch TV. So, although I can eat, I can't function and I can't accept that side effect. When I see the doctor next week I'm going to ask if there is anything else we can try. I want to keep my wits about me during this treatment. I am tired enough, I don't need drugs that wipe me out too.

I am moving into feeling better this week and should be able to really enjoy the party this weekend. I bought new dress, which is fabulous and I am so excited to see my Kadlec family. I hope to be able to stay up a little later than normal to allow me to stay and visit and maybe dance for a little while! That would be so fun! I plan on being there right at 6 so I can spend as much time as I can visiting with my friends. Mike has taken his suit out of its dust cover and will be as handsome as a movie star! What a pair we will be. Both bald and dressed to the hilt.

Mike got my lights up this week and the house looks great. I am so excited! I love seeing the glow of the lights turning my home into a gingerbread house perfect for the holidays. I have almost completed my Christmas shopping and spent a few hours yesterday wrapping presents. We are putting up the tree on Thursday. My parents are leaving for a 7-day Mexican cruise on Friday so we want to get it up before they leave. Putting up the tree is a big deal for me. I have ornaments that go back to my childhood. I don't have the trendy matching "pretty" tree; I have an eclectic tree with decorations made by my children over the years and special treats from friends and family. Each one has a story and as we hang them up those memories come rushing back, bringing a smile to my face and a warmth to my heart that is unmatched.

Peyton and I are going to hit the mall today and finish up some last few items. I'm sending my packages out today and picking up my cards from Costco. Those should go out in a few days. Not working gives alot more time to prepare for the holidays! I am never this far ahead. Truth be told...I'd still rather be working, but take advantage of the time I have. I am going to enjoy every moment of this holiday season, who knows when it might be my last, I want to make it as perfect as possible.

Happy holidays. Slow down and enjoy every moment, this is a special time of year, a time for forgiveness and redemption, a time for family and friends, and time to laugh and smile, a time to be joyous and enjoy all the little things in life. Our savior is born, born to redeem us all!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Round 5

Another dose in, I think its dose one of round five. I am currently scheduled for six doses. So three to go and then we'll run tests and see where that darn tumor is at, if its shrinking or, heaven forbid, growing. I feel okay and won't really go downhill until after my shot this afternoon. The neupogen shots really take their toll on my body, but my immune system is seriously compromised and I have to take the shots to build the system back up or I could end up very very sick. Especially with the cold weather which further compromises my immune systems ability to fight off colds and infections. I also use an essential oil everyday called "on-guard" which is also supposed to boost your immune system. All together, it has been working and despite it all I have stayed relatively healthy.

I am excited when I look at the chemo calendar and realized that the Kadlec Christmas Party is the Saturday before my next treatment so I should be feeling pretty good. I was so happy because I really want to be present and enjoy everyones company and hopefully have the energy to stay and boogie for awhile on the dance floor! I am going out dress shopping, I can't think of a better reason to buy a new dress. I am going to have my makeup professionally done and no wig. Yup, I'm coming bald as a bowling ball. Wigs are hot and itchy, and this is my family, they won't mind my bald little head. I am so excited to be going! I can't wait!!

I have been invited to a stage 4 metastatic breast cancer retreat in Park City, Utah, called Image Reborn. All I have to do is get to SLC and everything else is paid for. Plus they will reimburse $100 towards my airfare. It is a small group, limited to about 10 patients and starts at 5pm on Friday and ends at 11:30am on Sunday. So short but sweet and I am excited to spend a weekend with other women battling this same disease. I am sure it will put alot of things into perspective and improve my attitude. It is good to be with other people going through the same trial. They have nurses, massage therapists, nutritionists, counselors all on staff volunteering their time for our benefit. I tried to go this summer but the retreat was full, so I was excited to get into this one. Its the second weekend of January. I am not sure if I will be continuing treatment or if I am going to take a break, so I don't know how I'll feel, but I'm going no matter what. Unless weather keeps me away...

Go away snow! Has the gulf stream forgotten that we live in the desert? Where are the tumbleweeds and skeet grass? Buried under the ice and snow I suppose. I am glad we didn't get the sleet last night and Peyton was able to go to school today. There are flurries out there and they are saying we might get sleet this afternoon, but I hope not. I'll take snow over sleet anyday.

Well, thats an update on me. I am working on buying Christmas presents and participated in Black Friday for a few hours and was one of those Cyber Monday buyers. I am getting close to done and will be doing Christmas cards here before too long. I have alot of time on my hands, so I have no excuse to not do cards this year.

Stay warm and safe through this wintry mix out there. I want you to be in my life for a very very long time!

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Snow, snow and more snow! Where am I living? What happened to the moderate climate of our beautiful Tri-cities? I awoke this morning to the soft flurry of snowflakes drifting through the air and adding to the already piled up drifts in my yard. I have to admit that it is quite beautiful and being a child of Colorado and before that Michigan, I enjoy the palate created by the snow blanket even though I don't enjoy the cold anymore. I remember as a child burying myself in the snow, making tunnels and igloos, spending all day playing in the cold and ending the play in the tiny warm kitchen in Michigan with hot chocolate and cookies. Once I got older, spending the day of the slopes of Colorado skiing the day away, snow or shine, it didn't matter. What mattered was the mountain, the moguls, the speed of skis underneath my feet. Memories that make me smile. So although I am tired of the slippery streets and the bitter cold, the memories that it generates warms through the cold and makes my heart shine.

I had a wonderful thanksgiving and was able to eat pretty well, enjoying the turkey and all its delicious sides, but reveling most in the company of my family around the table passing the trays, laughing and eating, talking and sharing. It is a time to etch permanently in my heart to keep me going when all seems lost.

So I plug along. One day at a time, feeling better this weekend preparing to endure another treatment on Monday. Its so frustrating to finally start to feel better knowing it will all come to an end in a few days. So I enjoy the day, the moments of feeling good and pray that the treatment will work and I will start to feel good more than just a few days at a time, that I start to feel good for the long term and begin to retain my life, one day at a time.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

It is a day to sit back, relax, watch the parade and give thanks. I have so much to be thankful for, despite the challenges I have faced in the last 18 months. My family comes to mind first and foremost. How blessed I am to have such incredible parents, wonderful children, an amazing grandson and loving and dedicated partner. They all make my life worth living and make my fight worth fighting. It is because of them that I keep on living each day with all the gusto I can muster. I wish I could do more, but every moment that I spend with them is a second which enhances my existence.

Then there are my beautiful friends. They are amazing. The support I have received from near and far is nothing short of remarkable. I looked at my yard, now completely covered with a foot of snow, and marvel in the work that was put in by friends and volunteers who didn't even know me. The meals, the housecleaning, the cards, texts, emails, letters...every one has kept me going through this battle, kept me persevering beyond what I would believe capable. Were it not for my support system, I would have given up long before now, I would never have found the strength to keep on going. I give thanks for my friends, for each prayer that has been sent up on my behalf, for each loving word that has been sent my way.

I am loved by my four legged friends who never leave me alone, are always by my side, adoring me. They are there when I laugh and when I cry, when I am sick and in pain. Their eyes implore me, willing me to be well again. They lay by my side, at my feet, cuddled up next to me giving me their warmth and their energy, their devotion is complete.

I am thankful for my home, my yard, the sun and, yes, even the snow. The pure white snow blankets my yard creating a winter wonderland. I can't wait to get my lights up for the holiday season. Although, I don't think its going to be this weekend like it usually is. Normally the Friday after Thanksgiving is decorating day, but looking at the weather forecast...I don't think sleet and snow are going to be conducive to hanging lights. I'll be grateful for whenever I do get them up and its just another thing that I appreciate Mike for. He has been there every year helping me hang those thousands of twinkling lights turning my average house into a sparkling gingerbread house, lighting up my home and my neighborhood.

I am thankful for so much, thankful for my life, however long it lasts, thankful for each moment that God allows me to be here on this earth with all those I love so much. Its a privilege to be alive. Enjoy your day, give thanks for all the blessings in your own life.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Winter has settled in

I am enjoying my fireplace with the onset of this winter wonderland! What happened to fall? We shot right into winter! The leaves are almost off the trees and the wind piled them up nicely in the corner of my yard so they won't be hard to gather and dispose of, once the snow melts and they dry off, of course. My parents have been great cleaning up the yard for me, I can't ever thank them enough for all they do for me. I am a lucky woman to have such great parents who take care of me in my old age!

I have been feeling pretty rotten the last few days and spent the better part of the day under my electic blanket fighting severe nausea. Its finally starting to subside. I have to state I am sure sick of sitting and laying down all the time. My neck is sore and I know it is a result of such a sedentary lifestyle and not getting enough exercise. But I have no energy to exercise. I am lucky take the dogs for a short walk and still be able to stay awake all afternoon.

The weather has made for good stay at home in front of the fireplace time. We sure did get hit with a heck of a storm for our area. If this is any indication of the severity of the winter, its gonna be a long one. Settle in, batten down the hatches and enjoy the first taste of winter.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Plugging Along

Another round is in. I think its round 4 of this current regimen. They are concerned about my continued weight loss so they are going to try to put me on another new medication to help ease nausea and stimulate my appetite. I don't want to gain any weight, that is for sure, but I am probably not getting enough nutrition to adequately fight this disease and I want to fight this hard. So, I'll take the new meds. I don't get it until Thursday, apparently it has to be ordered. I am on so much medication its hard to keep track anymore. I just watch my schedule.

I ran out of one of my heavy nausea medications this weekend and I didn't have any refills and I'll make sure that doesn't happen again. I was so sick for two days, throwing up, diarrhea, chills. Like I had the stomach flu. It was awful. I knew I was running out, but I figured I was at the end of the cycle, and I take so many anti-nausea meds, how bad could it be to skip the Zofran for the weekend. Bad bad bad. I won't wait again, I'll call even if I have an appointment the next day.

I think I told you I was approved for Social Security Disability and I got some good news today. I may be eligible for an extension on my Cobra benefits which may bridge the gap between my Cobra and my Medicare. I need to talk to Sandy and discuss further, but it really gives me hope that I might be able to keep my insurance. The premium is going to probably triple, but no matter the cost, I'll pay it to keep insurance. This is a necessity for me.

I was also excited to get a call today inviting me to the Kadlec Christmas Banquet. I really wanted to go, but since I'm not an employee I figure I wasn't invited. But I have been invited to be a guest at the HR table and I can't wait to call Kristen tomorrow and say YES, I would love to go! I couldn't go last year because I was in the hospital with low platelets, so I really was looking forward to this year.

I'm feeling okay. The first few days are probably the best since I still have all the IV meds still in me. They will wear off tomorrow, so the struggle begins. I still get shots every day this week and a double dose on Friday, so its going to be rough going. But I endeavor to do something everyday, and my laundry is piling up, so tomorrow may be laundry day. I also have some paperwork that needs to be done, so I have a few tasks ahead of me to keep me busy. Its so hard to not just lay around and do nothing. I have to fight that desire. My body is tired and overstressed so I have to make myself keep going.

So keep going. One foot in front of the other, one step at a time. I can persevere on to the end of the battle with the best of them. Cancer has met its match.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My Lovable Dogs

Well I am a few days away from another treatment. I'm starting to feel better, still sick to my stomach and plagued by headaches, but not as bad as last week. I have been able to walk my dogs most days this week. Its been cold but refreshing. It is so fun to watch them run and play. We try to take them to places where they can be off their leash and just run and just be dogs. Sophie can run like no dog I have ever seen. She is so strong and fast; has so much energy. The running is good for her, wears her down a bit so she is not quite so edgy at home. If she doesn't get her run everyday she paces and talks, obviously wanting some attention and a walk! I have never had a dog that talks so much. She looks you straight in the eye and talks and woofs clearly relaying her desire! I understand this is a feature unique to boxers, they are talkers. Peyton and I both try to keep her quiet in the morning when the other one is sleeping, she can wake the entire house! A distinctive and endearing animal. I am so glad I took a chance and adopted her, I felt that God wanted her in our house, and I believe I was right. She is a good companion and challenges Kyra to not age so quickly, getting her to play and run when I am sure she would rather just lay on the couch or walk slowly instead of chase squirrels and rabbits.

Kyra is aging, I can see it in the gray hair around her muzzle and in the slowness of her gait. She has low thyroid and arthritis and is on all sorts of medication, but they seem to be helping. I adore Kyra, she has been with me through thick and thin, my constant and loving companion. Our vet, Dr. Menks, takes great care of her and really has improved the way she feels in the time she has been taking care of her. If you are looking for a reasonably priced vet, who doesn't guilt you into running unnecessary tests, understanding that this is a pet, not a person, we love them, but can't spend thousands of dollars caring for them. She also will come to you, she is a mobile vet service, which is nice when you have multiple animals that you need to have seen. All seen for one house call fee. And if I go to her, there is no office fee. She obviously cares deeply for animals, donating her time and energy to POPP spaying and neutering animals for free, which also makes me happy to support her business. So if you need a great vet, Dr. Tania Menks, she is your doctor.

Mike and I are going to try to go to a movie today. I don't do well going to evening activities, I am just too tired by early evening and Mike is usually busy with games until late each evening, and he is done early today so we are going to a matinee so I can still make my early bedtime. There are alot of good movies out there so the choices are great. I'll peruse the listings and see what looks good.

Enjoy the weekend, stay warm. Take in the beautiful fall colors and breath in the crisp cool fall air. The season is full of joy, take it all in.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Nothing much new is happening but I can't remember if I told you I was approved for social security disability and Medicare. This is the crazy part...Once approved, which was a random date in May, I have to wait five months before I get a check (which will reduced the amount I get from my disability insurance carrier, Sun Life, it doesn't increase my monthly income amount) so thank God that I had disability insurance. How is a person without it going to live for five months after approval, not to mention the months it takes to get approved? The craziest part is that I am approved for Medicare, but not for TWO YEARS. What am I supposed to do for two years when cobra is only 18 months? Why do I have to wait two years anyway? Our government program makes absolutely no sense. No wonder people lose everything when they get sick. If I didn't have disability insurance and cobra, I would have lost everything by now. I have been very lucky. But I have alot of unknowns coming up so I am starting to check now to see what is available to me as far as private or state insurance. I cannot go without insurance and I cannot have my cancer excluded from any plan I purchase. So I have my work cut out for me over the next few months finding insurance to bridge the gap between Cobra and Medicare. How about get well, go back to work and get back on regular insurance? Sound good? To me that would be ideal, but the schedule isn't really working out that way. The soonest I'd be back is next summer... pray for clear... soon.

My face is healing well. Its still tender when I touch it, but the discoloration is going away quickly. I am much more careful when I walk Sophie and am more aware of her ability to take her off my feet. She is one very very strong dog!

I am feeling better. Battling the same side effects, they are just not as bad at the end of week two. They don't ever go away completely, but they do minimize so the days are better. I still get tired very easy and go to bed early, but I'm not sleeping as late, which is good. I hate sleeping my day away. I still take a nap most afternoons for a few hours which breaks up my day and give me the energy to make it through the evening.

Nothing exciting planned for the weekend. Maybe kick back and enjoy a good book. Enjoy your weekend too!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Walking the Dog

Its sure feeling like winter is just around the corner. The cold, wind and rain. I'm waiting for the first snowstorm! Peyton is nervous driving back and forth to CBC over the Blue Bridge early in the morning when we have ice and snow. She has very little experience driving in bad weather so it will be a learning experience and I will pray she stays safe!

Mom and I walked the dogs yesterday and Sophie put me on my face. Literally. I was walking her and she saw something and took off and the next thing I know the leash is ripped out of my hand and my face is hitting the ground. Thank goodness I didn't break my glasses, although I have no idea how they didn't break. I racked my knee and my cheek/eye socket. I was sure that it was going to be terribly bruised and swollen, but when I got home I got ice on it right away so I ended up with a little soreness and slight discoloration. My knee has a bruise on the kneecap, definately bearable. It came out way better than I anticipated and I learned a valuable lesson. When I walk Sophie she is on a short leash and a choke chain. She did real good today. One tug, and she was done. She learns quickly. I know she didn't mean to hurt me, its just in her nature to chase squirrels and such and it is my responsibility to teach her not to pull. So that's what we are doing. We'll be back on a regular leash in no time at all.

I've been slowly recovering this week and was able to eat dinner every night. I take alot of anti-nausea and anti-acids, but they are working and I am enjoying eating. Hopefully I won't have lost any more weight when I go in Monday to see the doctor. They really don't want me to lose anymore weight.

Tomorrow is veterans day. We are going to honor my dad and take him out to breakfast as a former navy veteran from the Korean War. Nice way to start the day honoring a priceless veteran, who luckily is my dad.

Take the time to honor the vets in your life today. They keep us safe everyday and have enabled us to keep America free. God Bless our armed forces.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Finding a Life

I know its been quite a few days since I've written and I've not died or fallen off the face of the earth. I have not felt well all weekend and I spent most of the time horizontal on the couch, taking my meds, wishing the sickness would pass. It finally did today, at least mostly. I am still sick to my stomach, but not as bad, its manageable. I was lucky enough to have dinner with my good friend Julie tonight, and although I didn't eat much and gobbled tums as soon as I got home, the food tasted great and the company was even better. I miss being with my friends, I miss feeling well enough to be with my friends even more. The first week after chemo I'm just not up to going anywhere or visiting with anyone, so I've become very solitary, which is against my personality. I am an extrovert and I share energy with the people I'm around so its a real change to my life. I need people, I need their life force around me, energizing me. I just think that underneath it all I am weary of this battle and somewhat depressed. I need to snap out of it, that's all. Its just so hard to watch your life slip away from you piece by piece. It was a great life too. Not that I don't have so much to live for now, I do, and I am not minimizing my current life, its just not what I envisioned for me at this time. My plan was to be working, making a living, supporting my family, hanging out with my friends, being with my lover, spending time with my my life. Now I am busy fighting for my life and trying to build a new life out of the ravages of the old. I am not trying to be melodramatic here, but that is how I feel. I feel lost, like I've misplaced my compass and I don't know which direction I should go.

So I try to make a plan for my future, with an outlook that is so uncertain, so unknown, and I can't do it, I can't make plans when I don't know where I'll be in six months. So all I can do is take it one step at a time, one day at a time. I plan my days around my chemotherapy; on when it might be a good day and hope it turns out to BE a good day. For now that's the best I can do. Long term; well we will just have to wait and see.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

When Cancer Strikes

Cancer strikes when you least expect it. Blindsided, you are swept off your very feet and left in a puddle on the floor wondering what hit you, where did it come from and how do you get up again with this villain attacking you. You lay there, quivering and sobbing trying to gain your bearings back, which way is up and if I get up how do I move forward? Slowly, somehow, you pull your feet under you and shakily rise and think, okay, I have made it vertical, how do I take a step? How do I move forward with this terrible foe against me, how do I fight, how do I live? Dazed and confused you muddle through the mist, stumble through the fog trying to find the path that will take you forward.

Then you see the light shining up ahead, and though you don't know what it is, it is bright and you move jerkily towards it on unsteady feet reaching out, trying to grab something, anything, to steady your gait. And then you feel it, strong hands, capable arms reaching out and seizing your ravaged body, steadying you and giving you hope. Helping you move onward towards an uncertain and unsure future. Suddenly you realize it is the hand of God on you, guiding you ahead, giving you the crutch you need to keep moving. Then He brings in your friends, your family and surrounds you with them to give you the foundation you need to keep going here on this earth while you fight this battle. And you wearily put one foot in front of the other, not sure of where it will lead but certain that there is a future worth fighting for just around the next bend. For in that moment your children share their day, your grandchild takes your hand, your parents stop by to visit, your lover kisses your cheek and you know that although it isn't the life you had envisioned, it is a life worth living and a life worth fighting for. So you rely on your steady support to help keep you going and give thanks to God for providing so much light in the midst of the darkness.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Another Round In

I can't remember which round it is anymore. But another round is in and I am suffering the side effects of its dose. I am taking my shots of neupogen everyday thanks to Nurse Mike who has become an expert at giving me my daily shots. I could probably do them myself, I have had so many, but its an excuse to see his smiling face everyday. That is always a plus with his very busy schedule. At least I only have to take them for the first four days after chemo, the last dose being the largest so the effects are usually gone by Sunday, so the first week is definitely the toughest. The docs are worried about my weight loss, I'm not, but I'm trying to be a good patient and eat more and I am going to look at supplementing with protein shakes for all the meals that I skip. I eat maybe once or twice a day, a very small amount. I can only take a few bites and I'm full. So I do the best I can and I try to make my meals count and eat healthy.

Fall is settling in and the leaves are quickly accumulating in my yard. I don't have that many trees, but my neighbors do and they all seem to end up in my yard. The way my house is situated the wind brings all the neighbors leaves into my driveway where they swirl and collect in front of my garage door where they stain my brand new driveway because they get wet and never dry out. So I have this black spot marring my beautiful new driveway and we have checked the internet to see how to rid ourselves of it and apparently a bleach mixture will take it off, which we'll tackle after all the leaves are gone. My parent are awesome trying to keep the leaves off the driveway daily, it seems to be an effort in futility but God bless them for trying!

We have gotten most of the yard work done in prep for the upcoming winter. Only a few tasks left. I want to put a cover on the pond, so if anyone is handy at making a nice round cover (its a very small pond) to keep it cleaned out until the spring. Its probably three feet round, so it should be easy to cover. So any handy man out there...I'm at your mercy. Its mostly emptied out, I am sure our rain has put quite a bit of water in there again that will need to be bailed out.

I am feeling okay. As good as can be expected. I just need to remember the side effects of Ixempra and this is a cakewalk. Its just getting tiring, this walk, I want to feel better again. I know I say that alot, but it is always pressing in my mind, when do I get well? When is this over? I see the path stretching before me and it is a very long path with no end in sight. It winds and twists and turns and I know somewhere far up head it will end and a new journey will start, one based on health instead of sickness and the battle of cancer.

Thank you to all who email, text and send me cards to stay in contact and keep my spirits up. You are my lifeline to the real world out there, the one I long to be a part of again, sooner rather than later! Watch out world, I will be back. I won't fade into the distance or go down easily, this is a fight I'm going to win.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween. Brrrr. Its sure a cold day out there. Mike and his son are running the Tri-Cities Marathon today and I hope they are able to stay warm enough and beat the wind. Mike runs without a shirt (go figure) so he is very exposed to the elements. He never runs a race with a shirt (unless required), never has, never will. He has been running shirtless for more than 30 years and let me tell you, this guy doesn't take change well. He is set in his ways. So if you see a shirtless guy out there, honk you horn and whistle. Give him a thrill!

I am making Sunday dinner for my family this afternoon which I love to do. I enjoy so much having my family around my table, enjoying a meal together. Then I hope to be able to take Jessie around the neighborhood for a few trick or treats. He is Buzz Lightyear this year and is going to look SO cute. I can't wait. I am not dressing up, my dad used to dress up every year as the headless horseman (complete with a shrunken head) and would scare the trick or treaters so bad that they would run off without candy. Sure saved on the candy bill. I am sure when Jessie gets older he will revisit the costume for a good scare tactic.

Its cold and windy, I think I will stay in and enjoy my warm house with my family. My most favorite people around me. Maybe we'll all sit down and watch Psycho!

Friday, October 29, 2010

An Chapter Closes

I remember all the times that I thought I would work at Kadlec until I retired or died, whichever came first. I can’t believe my journey with this amazing organization is over. It just can’t be true.

I met with Rand yesterday and I know this was hard on him too. I know he shared with me the hope and the desire that I would come back to Kadlec, come back to my job. But the fates have conspired against me and this is just not to be. I am at least 6-9 months from being able to work, so all I can do is hope when I can come back there is still a place for me at Kadlec. I know the job that I birthed will change and go on, but I feel like a toddler has been left behind to be raised by Wendy. I know she is up to the task, but my plan was to bring this job into maturity and I know that dream is gone. There is a new dream. There is a new and better job out there for me. Once I can really sink my teeth into and make into my own. So this is not an end, but the beginning of a new era in my life.

I was approved for Social Security Disability Income but it’s such a wreck. It’s a minor amount and thank goodness I have disability through work or I don’t know how I would make it. The other major problem is that once approved (I was approved effective May 10th) it is 5 months before I get the disability and 24 months before I am eligible for Medicare and my cobra runs out 18 months from the time I went on cobra, which was March. So there is almost a year where I will need to find insurance, which really scares me. I cannot be without insurance and it’s going to take at least half my monthly income to keep my cobra the last few months and then who knows how much it will cost for private coverage, if I can even get it. It is my one huge worry right now. I am living as frugally as I can to put away as much money as possible so I have a nest egg to pay the insurance. I don’t know how people without disability insurance and good cobra get through something like this. No wonder people lose everything; it takes everything to keep going. I just need to get well and get back to work and these problems become solved. So pray I go back to work and just get my insurance back!

Halloween is this weekend and I love to see those little neighborhood kids at my door. It’s so much fun! I usually turn my light out about 8:30 because by then I am getting the teenagers, and truly, they just aren’t cute. I think once you are in high school you should not be trick or treating. I already have my candy, my decorations are up and Mason and Peyton carved pumpkins, so I am set!

Happy Halloween weekend. Enjoy the little ghosts and ghouls!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


It’s been a few days, I had a pretty rough weekend physically. I felt awful from the chemo and the shots of neupogen and I had a hard time bouncing back. I rested a lot because I wanted to be able to attend the Women Helping Women Luncheon yesterday with my Kadlec friends. I was able to go, although it left me exhausted and I came home and slept most of the afternoon. But it was so nice to see a little group of my Kadlec family and hear the wonderful speaker who spoke on philanthropy and how it changes our communities. Little groups like WHW who come together to help their communities. How a small amount added to another small amount can make such a difference in the lives of the people in our community. So I added my small check to others at the luncheon and together we funded worthy organizations that help women and children. What a great feeling. Not only to see my friends but to be a part of something bigger than myself. So when that little elementary school student comes to your door asking for a donation, you may only give them $5 or $10, but that amount added to all the other neighbors’ donations will make their event successful. Give what you can, when you can and make a difference. I know my little fundraiser was a success because of all the generous friends I have who opened their hearts and their pocketbooks.

I feel like I’m coming down with a cold today. I woke up all congested and coughing. By 6am I woke up having a hard time breathing and blew my nose over and over and over again and coughed and coughed. Now that I’m up and around I am feeling a little better but I think I will stay out of the weather. I like walking the dogs with my parents but I think it’s better to say out of the cold right now. This chemo is hard on my immune system, and I want to stay healthy so I can stay on track for my next dose.

I only have a few days to get my computer cleaned up and ready to turn back in. I meet with Rand on Thursday and turn in my Kadlec equipment and become an official long term disability former employee. I pray there is something there for me in a year or so when my health comes back. It will be nice to see Rand and the girls in administration but it is sad that I will no longer be part of the administration team. I have vowed not to cry (at least not while I’m there, when I get in the car to go home all bets are off!). So I will rest today and stay out of the cold and the wind and work on my computer so I’m all ready for Thursday. It will be a sad day, but one I knew was coming. I will survive this like I have all the other challenges I have faced in the last year.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Scary Movie!

My fireplace is blaring, as usual. I’m going to get a little umbrella drink to give to Peyton when she gets up and starts complaining and tell her we have been transported to the Bahamas. She went to see Paranormal Activity 2 last night at the midnight showing and came in and woke me up at 2am because she was so scared she couldn’t go downstairs and get her pajamas! Is that too funny or what! I told her she could sleep with me but she took Sophie and slept in her own bed. I haven’t heard from her yet this morning, so she’ll probably sleep until noon. It will be interesting to hear about this show. I remember seeing the Exorcist as a kid and it scared me so bad I couldn’t sleep for weeks. I am not big on horror shows, they leave me jumpy for too long!

The neupogen is making me terribly achy and I am glad that today is my last dose. It’s a double dose so I’ll be really sore tonight. But by tomorrow afternoon I should be feeling better and on the upward swing. I am meeting with Rand next week so I need to spend some time cleaning up my computer and getting all my contacts moved over to my personal email. Like when I moved out of my office, it is amazing how much stuff one accumulates over many years of working. I am sure I’m going to miss stuff, but I’ll get all I can.

I plan on walking the dogs today. I’ve been able to walk most days this week and it’s good for them and it’s good for me. The weather is cooling but we are going about 10:30 or 11:00 so hopefully it will still be calm and cool with no rain or wind. When Sophie doesn’t get her walk, she can really drive you nuts by the evening, all that energy that she can’t get rid of. She needs her walk everyday. We try to go to places where she can just run and run and that dog is so FAST. It’s amazing. So she is good for me, it makes me take a walk most days which is good for my healing. Exercise, eating right, resting, those are the best things for me.

So I’m hanging in there. One day at a time. As of the end of the week next week I won’t have Kadlec email anymore so make sure to put my gmail in your contact list. I received a note from a website called “being cancer” that has posted a link to my blog on their site so I have expanded my readership, which is cool. I think its time to work on a book. Maybe that should be my focus over the next few months, a book. Think it would sell? Maybe it would, maybe it wouldn’t, but it would probably be wonderfully cathartic and give me a focus of something meaningful to work on during my days. I’ll think about it, you never know, it might be my next career!

Love you all. Go out and share that love with all those you encounter.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Just an Update

I am sleeping pretty well other than getting up a lot to go to the bathroom. The Avastin is really hard on my kidneys so the first few days I’m pretty busy, if you know what I mean. I still can’t get Kadlec off my mind, but I am starting to settle in with what will be will be. I have had quite a few of you contact me via my gmail and it really warms my heart that my Kadlec family is still thinking of me.

The fall is settling in boldly and I am so glad I had my fireplace serviced and my propane tank filled. I am cold a lot, so I have my fireplace blasting, much to the chagrin of my daughter. She comes home from school and is just exasperated because it’s so HOT in the house. So what is wrong with 80? I just tell her I’m trying to relive our Bahamas experience and she quickly turns the fireplace off. As soon as she leaves…well its back on!

I saw Dr. Geiver this week too and he said basically the same thing as Dr. Rado and I won’t see him again unless I have a need for radiation, which I hope to God I don’t. He agrees that the remaining tumor in my brain is troublesome and it would be very good for my prognosis if the tumor would shrink down. It could be dead, but with it not getting smaller, it’s hard to tell. So I will continue to take my chemo and hope that the Avastin does cross that blood-brain barrier and blast the crap out of that tumor. One left, let’s get rid of it.

Mike was nice enough to come over and help me get my Halloween decorations up. So my eyeballs fearlessly line the house, scaring the neighborhood kids. I love to watch the little ones dare each other to come up and touch the bloodshot eyes. My pumpkins are lit, my candy is bought and I’m looking forward to seeing my little trick or treaters at the end of the month. I love decorating the house and Halloween is a piece of cake compared to what I do for Christmas. Wait until you see my house at Christmas, the Griswolds have nothing on me! God bless Mike, he has helped me with these decorations every year he has known me and it sure makes the job easier. I bought a bunch of new lights online a few years ago and they are so cool. We are in the decorating season, yea!

I am feeling okay. My counts weren’t great on Monday and my immune system is compromised so I have to have shots of neupogen everyday which make me feel like I’m coming down with the flu. So I ache and shiver and sleep a lot. I have to take the shots every day this week with a double dose on Friday, so it’s going to be a tough week. This derailed my trip to the coast, not only do I need the shots but with my immune system so weak traveling wouldn’t be the best idea for my health. So I’m staying home this week, hovering by the fireplace. Hopefully I’ll feel better next week, but this will probably be the routine for the next few months. I can do it. Better living through chemistry. I’ll just keep taking my meds.

I have lost a lot of weight, which I am happy about, but the doctors really don’t want me to lose anymore, so I’m trying to eat a little more than I was although my appetite isn’t there and food just doesn’t sound good to me these days. I like that I have lost the weight, but it’s a heck of a way to do it! I’ll eat, mom, I promise.

All for now. Will be in touch soon.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Both Sad and Wonderful News

It was a sad and wonderful day. I am overwhelmed with emotions. Let’s start with the good news.

My lungs are considered clear so there is no cancer remaining in my body, except for small unseen particles which may be there just waiting to take hold again. But there are no discernable tumors. Dr. Rado said it’s nothing short of amazing that I have gone from lungs covered with cancer to no tumors at all. Maybe I will make the 5% that survival rate after all. He is still concerned about the tumor in my brain. It is shrinking but not fast enough and if he sees any growth at all, he will send me to Seattle for Gammaknife to get rid of it. He cannot tell if it is a dead or alive tumor so to be safe he wants to go ahead and do chemo through the end of the year and check again in January with a full CT and MRI to see the status. I would hope that I would improve so much I’ll be able to stop chemo and wait 3-4 months before testing again and see if it comes back without the chemo. We can only hope and pray.

I heard from my boss while I was receiving my chemo and is where my heart-wrenching sad news comes. We had a nice visit, he has had some health challenges also and I was so glad to hear he is doing well. However, with my status change at Kadlec to full disability the time has come to sever the relationship further and turn in my blackberry, laptop, badge and disconnect my kadlecmed email. It breaks my heart. Those things have been my lifeline to my previous life, checking email a few times a week, hearing what is going on, that we had a successful DOH survey, or we are having a jewelry sale, a flag raising, a fundraiser, or the other employee’s planetree experiences. I hear from my fellow employees regularly who think of me and shoot me an email to check in on my status. I have personal email, but I know it’s easier for people to just send it to that work address that they already have. So that lifeline is going away. The length of this disability is becoming more and more real as my former life slips away and I settle into the world of cancer. I knew this was going to happen, it was inevitable, the job could only wait so long, and the reality is I was never going to be able to handle the job again anyway. But this makes it so real. This disease has taken away my job that I love so much, the people that I work with, the things that I do best. Cancer is a taker, it takes and takes and takes until it takes your life or you kill the beast. There is no in-between. My heart breaks, the tears flow freely and I mourn the passing of an era in my life. I will pray with all my heart and soul that once I beat this disease there will still be a place for me somewhere at Kadlec, my home away from home, with my family, my friends. So if you are reading this and you want to stay connected with me, my email is Feel free to share, I love to hear from my friends. I am also on facebook, but not very religiously, maybe once a week or so.

So I am sad and I will mourn, and in time; it will pass. But the reality of the job I did will continue in my heart. The 58 board members that I took on as my own and loved each and every one of them remains connected to my soul. The faces of my managers and co-workers are permanently etched into the window panes of my memories. The events, the hours, the camaraderie, the love we all shared, that will remain with me always. I will never forget those who I loved at a place I called home. You are my heroes, my friends, safely ensconced in the confines of my heart where you memory will remain safe.

Just another challenge that I knew was coming, but was hoping it was somewhere out there in the future. Far away. That I could hold on status quo for a while longer and pretend there is a connection continuing, when I know it has to be broken. I will keep my chin up and my attitude good, moving forward with faith that what will be will be and that someday, I’ll go home. No matter where home may be.