Sunday, January 31, 2010

Successful Shopping (and other things)

Well it was a successful shopping expedition. I was able to purchase various items which I didn’t not set out to buy, that I did not need, and I simply could not live without. We were able to find a perfect rug for in front of the fireplace (an intentional find) as well as a supply of neon pink duct tape (obviously an unintentional purchase). Did you know that they even made pink duct tape? I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. I mean everyone needs duct tape, it is one of the most essential tools known to man, but it has always been in that horrid silver-grey color. Finally, someone got a clue, PINK (and green, blue, yellow). Apparently, this isn’t a new thing. My daughter was totally unimpressed as this has been around for awhile. But to me it was new and I was completely excited. I was also able to find refills for my good Kadlecmed gel pen (I love this pen, thanks Angela) and a copy of “The Going to Bed Book” by Sandra Boynton for Jessie. Apparently this is his favorite book and is quite useful during his potty training. He likes to sit on the potty and read it over and over and over and over. It is also Peyton’s favorite book, so he is in good company. Victory was attained as I was able to purchase the items which I set out for, and a few that I did not. All in all a great morning ending with a crescendo at Desserts by Kelly to pick up cookies and scones. Ah yes. Perfection.

I had an appointment to go see my son at 2:30 so Peyton and I decided to hit Red Robin on our way and grab a few burgers. Betrayed by my taste buds, that’s all I can say about that expedition. Let me back up a little bit here and explain a common side effect of chemo. Chemo has a funny way of affecting the way things taste. Sometimes its mild and sometimes its severe. I would have to add this alteration to the “severe” category. Things have been tasting funny for a few days, not bad, just a little off and a little flat. Lacking flavor is the best way to describe it. You bite into something expecting a rich, juicy explosion on flavor in your mouth, and you are met with a cool, wet, slump of food.

So on to my story. We go to Red Robin thinking we could get in and out of there in under an hour and it was obvious that there was no way that was going to happen. There was a 15-20 minute wait, so we ordered our food to go and brought it home. I was so excited. I was hungry, having only a cookie all day (the scone was for breakfast today) and having ordered my favorite A1 Peppercorn Burger. My nausea is finally under control, so I was ready for my first real food in over a week. I unwrap the burger, the smell assaults me, pure beef, peppersauce, fried onions…my mouth waters. And I bite. My taste buds are under attack, I can’t believe what I am tasting, it can’t be true, it is so unfair…salt. That’s all I can taste is salt. It is like biting into a giant salt lick with undertones of a fabulous burger. The iniquitous of it, I wanted to cry. This couldn’t be happening, so I tried another bite. Ack! The same angry blast of salt batters my mouth. I am done. This is no way to eat a burger. Ruined. Betrayed by my taste buds that I count on so much. So I shared the rest of my burger with my dogs, and I asked them, “do you think its too salty?” I was met with disinterested stares. I guess that was a “no.”

Peyton and I went to see Houston at 2:30. What little of the burger I did eat certainly did not sit well with me. Perhaps my nausea is not as well under control as I thought and I missed the first part of the visit in the bathroom. Relieved and revived, I joined the visit with him and Peyton and we had a nice discussion. We talked about his latest book “Centennial” by James Michener and the problem of reoffending amongst criminals. There are just not the tools out there to help them back into society. Most of the programs designed to help felons find housing and jobs, essential things they need to reintegrate into society, are seriously lacking due to budget and funding cuts. He has been accepted into a housing program, unfortunately their funding ends in June. But jobs are much harder to come by when you are a felon and how can you pay your fines, stay out of jail and become a contributing member of society if you can’t find a job? We are lucky that a friend of the family has agreed to give him work, if they have work. They build pole buildings, so it all depends on their workload. But at least it is a start. Houston is lucky, he is young and he has a family who loves him, he has a chance of making it. I am hopeful.

The rest of my day was spent resting and relaxing on the couch as I was exhausted from my exploits during the day. It is nice that I am feeling well enough to do so much, but I do still tire easily, as evidenced by the 12+ hours I slept last night.

Today I am going to go to lunch with the family and then we are going to go see “In The Mood” at Richland High Auditorium. Should be a great time.

Love to all.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Better Every Day

Well I am enjoying the ambiance in front of my bedroom fireplace on this wet and dreary morning. Peyton had a friend over and they ambushed the couches in the living room where they are still slumbering. I want to let them sleep for awhile longer before I wake them and Peyton has to get up and ready for work. The severe side effects of this round of chemo are slowly subsiding. They will rear their ugly head at the most inopportune moments, such as acute nausea right during dinner or horrible leg pains in the middle of a deep sleep, but they are becoming fewer and farther between, which is certainly a blessing. My chemo nurse did indicate that next time we could actually split the dose in two and do a dose on day one and a dose on day seven, but then I’ll be sick twice, so I think I’d rather just be really sick once and get it over with. Next time I’ll have the added Xeloda, so it’s not going to be a party anyway, that is for sure.

I think my counts are starting to fall, but not too bad, I get short of breathe pretty easily, which could be fatigue or a low red count. Its hard to tell when the white count is falling, other that you are more susceptible to getting sick and I have a chronic sore throat, so I would be surprised if they are not starting to drop. I get my blood tested on Monday, so I’ll know more then. My plan is to go back to work next week. I’ll go in every day around mid-morning, so I don’t have to wake up too early and leave around 2pm. That gets in about 4-5 hours which shouldn’t overdo it too much. And that is all subject to, of course, me not bottoming out on my counts or getting neutropenic or anything. I am looking forward to a little normalcy in my life again.

Mom and I are going to do some shopping this morning. We haven’t done that in a while so I am really looking forward to it. Running a few errands, looking at rugs and whatnot. Just spending some time together. She does so much for me everyday, it will be nice to spend some quality shopping time with her. I miss the shared time with my mom that doesn’t involve anything medical or time taking care of me, just time shared. That is a precious thing, time between a daughter and her mom and I realize how fortunate I am to not only have such an exceptional mother, but to still have the gift of her solidly in my life at my age. I have a lot of friends who would give anything for just one more day of shopping with their mothers. I am grateful I have her. She is a woman I aspire to be like.

A lot of you probably don’t realize how much my parents do for me everyday. Everyday they walk my dogs with their dog Lucy. And I mean everyday. They never skip a day unless the weather is just too rotten, which is rare. That is a level of commitment that I admire. My father keeps my yard free of dog debris, he is my own personal pooper scooper, as well as making sure my trash gets put out every week and my recycling is always at the curb. My mom keeps my house clean, which is no small task with two dogs, plus their dog over visiting every day. I have hard wood floors, which clean easily, but also show the dirt. And my mom keeps them clean, and the fridge full of whatever I might be able to eat or drink that week, and my stairs vacuumed and my bathroom clean. How can I ever repay that kind of loyalty, that kind of kindness? The only way I can think of is to live long enough to do it for them someday. I will get well so that when they get old(er) I can take care of them. My parents are amazing people. I can only hope to be just like them. I can’t believe they are in their 70’s. Truly astounding individuals.

So I’m off to doctor the sores on my back and prepare for my shopping expedition. Mike is participating in the Polar Bear Plunge today, which I don’t really get, but hey, it’s for a good cause. However for a good cause I would pay NOT to jump in the river. If the weather isn’t too crummy, I figure I’ll head down there around noon and watch him jump into a 20 degree river in a speedo.

Sorry if I just gave you a frightening image that is permanently burned into your retinas…

Have a happy day!

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Fatigue Sets In

I sit here in front of the fireplace enjoying my first cup of coffee in over a week. It tastes good on the lips, but the jury is still out on how the stomach is going to react.

In looking down the list of common side effects associated with Ixempra, it appears that I have hit most of them except for the hair loss (which is probably coming in a week or so) and the mouth sores (which could just stay away as far as I’m concerned!). Most of the chemos I have been on have had a side effect of mouth sores and “knock on wood” I have yet to experience serious sores. I had a few minor ones with the previous chemo, but nothing to write home about. What I feel now is the fatigue setting in. While I have been tired all week, it has been a tiredness associated with being sick. When one is as sick as I was, it would only be natural to be worn out. This is a different feeling of tired. I got plenty of sleep last night, yet I am still exhausted. My body feels heavy, small tasks seem out of my reach. And this is only the beginning, I can feel it settling deep into the fiber of my being and making itself home there. For the next week or two I will struggle to accomplish the slightest tasks, yet I will persevere on through. The only answer to fatigue is to keep on moving. If left to its own devices, it will take over completely.

The aches and the pains are still very evident but I find I am able to go six hours without pain medication at night, rather than waking up and taking it every four. I am still at every four hours during the day. The nausea medication I take on schedule every 6 and 8 hours. I am certainly not ready to give in to that yet.

So…What’s on my agenda for today you ask?

Well, Mike is going to be over later to take the dressings off my back so I can shower and then he’ll put them back on. I need to run a few errands, Target (new car for Jessie for tonight), drug store (pick up prescriptions), grocery store (duh, food). And that should be all that my little body can handle. I thought about working today, but decided I will take one more day at home resting and go back for a few hours on Monday.

I’ll be picking Jessie up from day care at 4pm and we will get to spend a few hours with him before his mommy comes and picks him up. She came over after the gym last night because I texted her and asked her to, I miss her and Jessie so much. I put that little guy in my arms and the world is perfect. Just perfect. I love hearing how her life is progressing and how well her job is going. She is such a lovely lady, I am so proud she is in my life and the mother of my beautiful grandbaby.

I realize quickly when I gaze around what is truly important to me, and it’s the people and the pets and my faith. If the rest of it fell away and I could do nothing but pet my animals as my friends and family came by to visit, my God here by my side, I could live contently. The simple things. Truly the simple things in life make life worthwhile.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Muddling on Through

Well it’s been a difficult week, but thanks to the love and prayers and incredible support of my friends, family and co-workers, I don’t know I would make it through another day. I was surprised last night with two big laminated poster boards with well wishes from my friends at work and an envelope of personal donations from my friends on Medical Executive Committee. I cried. People are so loving and so kind, I just hope that someday I will get to repay all this kindness and I will get to be the one doing acts of kindness for everyone else.

The days are all starting to run together. I missed seeing my son yesterday (Wednesday is my visitation day) but there was no way I had the strength to go and visit. I could barely make it out of bed. I could hardly keeping the nausea under control and am so tired most of the time that I could happily just sleep the entire day away. I try to make myself get up everyday and at least sit vertical for awhile watching TV, doing email, something. I also make sure to eat a little bit everyday. I eat a lot of jello and toast, both of which seem to settle in my stomach okay.

The worst of this round of chemo has passed, at least I hope so. The burns on my back have developed into a very red and itchy rash which, when coherent, drive me nuts, so I popped on over to the cancer center to have them take a look at it. It appears that the side effects from the Gemzar just continue to raise their ugly head and this is a reaction to the Gemzar combined with the radiation. The two apparently don’t go too well together. So they have covered them with these gel packs that can be worn for three days at a time. When they come off, I’ll use some super strength hydrocortisone cream and the burn cream that I have already been using. Hopefully it will clear itself up within the next few weeks.

I got some great news on my trip to the coast. They are going to put my chemo off for one week to allow me to take the trip. I was going to have to cancel/postpone since there was no way I was going to take a dose of this awful chemo and then head out on vacation. So I will get an extra week off from this treatment. That is incredible news.

I am muddling my way through. It’s been a rough road, but I’m making it. One day at a time. Thanks for sending me your prayers.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Another Rough Day

Day six of this new chemo and I am not seeing a remarkable improvement. This chemo simply makes me so sick. It is 3:30 in the afternoon and I just got out of bed. I have been unable to bring myself to get up all day. My stomach is so upset, the aches and pains are overwhelming, the chills come and go, keeping me firmly ensconced under that electric blanket. When I try to get up and get around, the chills set in and send me rushing back to the warmth of the blanket.

I spoke with Michelle today and this reaction is to be expected. She’s unsure how much of it is the chemo versus the Zomeda and the Neulasta. Together, they all have the potential for some pretty awful side effects. She said to expect another 3-4 days of feeling this way. We are trying me on another anti-nausea med, which so far seems promising. I just had a piece of bread and some jello, and so far so good. That is a good sign.

Wendy has been amazing. Today is not a great day to have my job. There are three board meetings followed by a big dinner tonight for 110 people. I have everything ready for the dinner, she just has to go and set up, but still, its just one more thing. In all my years doing this, I have never missed this dinner. It is an important evening designed to honor the board members and members of MEC and to let them know how much we appreciate all they do to serve Kadlec. I sure wish I was there. I know...there is always next year.

Keep the prayers coming and I hope to be back to normal by sometime this weekend. Thanks for all your positive energy and thoughts; it means the world to me. Special thanks to Chipper Kay for the lovely flowers in my yard and the writings of love on my windows. They really brightened me up!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Misery

Well I have successfully made it through another night. I slept for about 13 hours getting up regularly to take pain medication and anti-nausea pills. To say I feel miserable would be an understatement. I am beyond miserable. However, I do think that today will be an upturn; I am actually out of bed and sitting in front of the fireplace, and its not even 10am. That must be some sort of accomplishment. I figure if I can stay up for a few hours, then I’m getting over the hump and will hopefully be able to go to work tomorrow. That is my plan. Be at work by 6:30am. I might have to leave right after the meeting, but hey, at least I made it, right? I figure I can feel miserable here or miserable there, and its not like I’m contagious or anything. This is just a very nasty chemo.

My body aches, my head hurts, my hair follicles hurt. To get up and walk across the room takes major effort. I simply have no strength, no energy. Thank God for good medication, otherwise, I’d be in big trouble. I’d be throwing up and in excruciating pain, but I stay on my meds and it is all tolerable. My goal today is to take a shower. That’s it. It’s a small goal, but a goal nonetheless. In the real world, I know that sounds absolutely crazy, but in chemo world, the most minute task can seem monumental. When you feel this wretched, your perspective on things change. The smallest task becomes pretty significant, the significant tasks become insurmountable.

Just this small amount of writing has left me tired, my hands and shoulders aching. So, I’m signing off for now, knowing this too shall pass.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Rotten 24 Hours

I have just had about the worst 24 hours since starting this cancer treatment. Even when I was in the hospital last month I wasn’t sick like I was last night. I was soooooo sick. It started in the afternoon with a little achiness and chills and then grew into full blown flu-like symptoms. All three drugs I was given cause flu-like symptoms, so to put all three of them together, it is just awful. I ached and shivered and prayed it would all pass. The chills finally broke about 6am.

I feel a small modicum better today, at least I am not shivering so bad that I am going to shake out of the bed, I only have the occasional bout of chills, but I ache terrible. There is not a muscle or bone or hair follicle on me that is not hurting. And on top of it all I am so tired. I spent most of the day in bed and then got up just long enough to watch a few episodes of Gilmore Girls. I figure if I can make it to 8pm, I’ve stayed up long enough. That is staying up late enough.

I am hoping that this will pass by Monday, I want to be able to go to work. I have a busy week and I have no idea how long this will last. The nadir (peak) of this chemo is 10 days, so I pray that I will not feel this awful for the next 10 days.

I am trying to buck up and just deal with it the best I can. Maybe tomorrow will be better. For now, I think I’ll take some more painkillers and go to bed. Ack. I hate chemo.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Modified Plan

I want to start out by thanking by mysterious benefactors. There are people out there leaving me gift cards for restaurants and grocery stores anonymously and I want to say a huge “THANK YOU”. I try to always send thank you cards to recognize the nice things that people are doing for me every day, every week. I know during the course of this treatment, I have probably missed writing a few thank you cards, but please know that I appreciate everything that everyone is doing to help in this battle. From the tangible items like gift cards, meals, cards, emails, to the esoteric kind words, conversation, good energy, prayers; I thank you. Each gesture of kindness has not passed without being noticed and appreciated. I can’t imagine how I could have made it through these last seven months without my far-reaching support system. You are amazing. You fill my heart.

So, on to the new treatment. I am glad that I acquired kick-ass shoes yesterday, because I didn’t know it at first, but I was definitely going to need them. I arrived promptly at 9am to have my blood drawn and tested to make sure that my counts were adequate to receive treatment. As I have related before, the plan was to start the new chemo, Ixempra (that’s the easier brand name) and we were supposed to keep one of the previous chemos, either the Carbo or the Gemzar. The nurse who was taking care of me, Suzie, said that the order was only for the Ixempra, she saw nothing about any other drug. Confusion ensured. Finally, my primary chemo nurse, Michelle, came and lined out the situation for me. I cannot have Ixempra with Carbo or Gemzar. The pairing of those drugs have not been clinically tried and the insurance company will not allow payment if they are paired together. The reason Dr. Rado wanted to keep one of the previous drugs is because my lungs were clearing up so well, in fact amazingly well, that he wanted to keep one of them to work on my lungs and the new drug to start working on the bone lesions. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I murmured a few expletives regarding insurance companies and asked what we were going to do. Can I appeal this decision? Why hadn’t anyone told me before so I could start the appeal process? It was explained to us that Dr. Rado put in the order for the chemo on Wednesday and it was immediately kicked back because it wasn’t an FDA approved combination of drugs, by the time they found out, there was really no use calling me, as I was going to be here in the morning anyway. The only drug that is approved for use with Ixempra is Xeloda. So the plan had changed and instead of Ixempra and Carbo, I will take one round of Ixempra, see how well I tolerate it, and if I do okay, we will add the Xeloda next round.

It was all I could do to keep from crying. How could my insurance company do this to me, how could they dictate to MY doctor what drugs he can use to save MY life?? I was incensed, at the injustice of it. Because of insurance requirements, the drug that is clearing up the cancer in my lungs is being taken away. Mike was beyond furious. I don’t know if I have ever seen him so angry, the fury just bumbling under the surface of his calm fa├žade. I know he didn’t want to upset me, but I could see it peering through in every work and action. How dare they do this to the one he loves?

I promptly called my benefits contact at work to get the number to file an appeal. An appeal will take time, so in the interim, we move forward with the modified plan.

My lab work came back and most of my counts were in the normal range, except for my platelets, which were still only up to 111 after almost two months of being off chemo. (Normal is 150) Amazing. Maybe it was divine intervention because of the way that Carbo hammers the platelet levels, perhaps if I had received it yesterday; I wouldn’t have been able to tolerate it. Maybe I would have landed in the hospital again. Only God knows. But suffice it to say that I was surprised at the lack of rebounding. But all I can do is put my faith in God and my trust in my doctors and move forward with treatment.

This is a much longer chemo treatment. The Ixempra requires 45 minutes of pre-meds which include 3 anti-nausea medications and a high dose off Benadryl to stave off any allergic reaction. I’m going to throw this out there…I hate Benadryl. I have to take IV Benadryl (which is a much higher dosage than over the counter) when I get my platelet transfusions, and it turns me into a zombie. I can’t hardly talk or think straight. It basically makes for an entire wasted day. But, it’s better than having an allergic reaction. The infusion of Ixempra is over three hours. Then I get my bisphosphonate drug, Zometa, which takes about 30 minutes. So, I was at the Cancer Center until almost 3pm. Long day.

Once I began to sober up after the Benadryl started to wear off, I had a conversation with Michelle asking her to talk to Dr. Rado and ask him if he wants me to go through the appeal process for the Carbo. There are potentially many battles ahead with insurance, is this the hill we want to die on, so to speak. Before I left, she related to me, that Dr. Rado wants me to hold off on the appeal. He wants to try the Ixempra, add the Xeloda next round and after three rounds, we will do another CT scan. We can always add the Carbo and/or the Gemzar back in if we need to.

So I keep the faith that this will work. The Carbo and the Gemzar have done their job beating this back in my lungs, and now the Ixempra and the Xeloda will finish the job and also beat it back in my bones, helped along by the Zometa.

Whew. Long story. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

So I took my fabulous red shoes and went home to await the side effects. What will they be? How will I feel? So far, I’m taking a lot more anti-nausea medicine than I did with the other chemos. My back was really hurting last night, and I don’t know if that was the chemo or the Zometa. The fatigue hasn’t set in yet, so mostly I’m battling a sick stomach. Mike has to give me a shot of Neulasta today to bump up the white count, since Ixempra is really hard on the white cells. Neulasta will make my muscles and joints hurt. And I mean hurt. Lots and lots of pain meds for me tonight. My hair will probably start to fall out in about 14 days; the odds are pretty high that I will be bald by the beginning of the next cycle. This is a three week cycle. Day one chemo, then start again on day 21. Nothing but blood tests in-between. The Xeloda I get every 28 days.

I’m feeling okay so I’m going to head to the office for a few hours and I still plan on picking Jessie up from day care as I do every Friday night. He won’t be spending the night, but at least I’ll get to spend a few hours with him.

Thanks for your prayers and all the good energy you send me. Keep it coming. I’m going to need it!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Another Pair of Fabulous Shoes!

I almost jinxed the whole damn thing.

I realized when I got home from my meeting late last night that I had not acquired any new shoes for the big day starting this next round of chemo. How could I have missed that? How could I have had such a serious lapse in memory to neglect the all essential shoe?! It was too late to go to the mall, so I had a serious dilemma. Its not like I don’t have shoes to wear, I have a closet full of amazing shoes. That wasn’t the point. I didn’t have new shoes. The excitement of slipping your feet in between those virgin leather uppers, the cushion of new soles underneath your toes…ahhh….the pure pleasure of it all. And I was going to miss it. I was so focused on the merriment I was experiencing from not being in chemo, that I totally forgot the basic rules of chemo. Rule one…new shoes.

I awoke this morning with still no answer to my dreadful quandary. I had to meet the vice principal at Peyton’s school to work out some schedule changes and I had to be at chemo by 9am. The mall opens at 10am - - so the mall was definitely out. There were going to be no new Naughty Monkeys for this all important day. It was time for Plan B. Life is all about how you handle Plan B, right? So I did the next best thing I could do…I went to Fred Meyer.

While not the shopping experience I enjoy at The Buckle when I purchase fabulous brands like Naughty Monkeys and BKE’s, they do have a decent selection of basic heeled footwear. So I began the search. Row after row, rack after rack. The first ones that caught my eye were Madden Girl and there were these magnificent zebra print with purple heels, but they were adorned with the most hideous purple flower on the top toe of the shoe! How could Steve Madden destroy a potentially awesome shoe with such a decoration faux pas. Undeterred, I continued my search, knowing the shoe was there, just waiting for me to rest my gaze upon it.

Then I saw them, simple, yet bold and full of class. A classic pump in shiny candle apple red. The same red of my car, the red that cries out “look at me”, that perfect red that embodies courage and confidence with its power and passion. Yes. Red shoes. Perfect to start the new segment of this journey. A color that clearly states “I will kick your ass if given a chance…don’t mess with me.” Those are the shoes I need; those are the shoes that I take my first steps with on this expedition up the mountain, those are the shoes that will carry me fearlessly up the path. I had accomplished my mission. I had acquired a new pair of fabulous shoes.

The thing is, I don’t wear a lot of red. So, the color of red is seriously lacking in my clothing racks. So the shoes required a new shirt. I had already determined that I would wear my new dark jeans, I just needed a shirt that perfectly coordinated with my kick ass shoes. I perused the aisles, scrutinized numerous racks and inspected piles until I amassed an appropriate mound to take to the dressing room. After trying on several pieces, I found the one that fitted perfect and coordinated ideally with the shoes. Purple and red, with sparkles on it. I love sparkles.

So I was ready. My journey was beginning and I had what I needed to take those first steps. Watch out cancer, here I come. This round is mine.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Contemplate.

Well I am coming to the end of the party and the battle begins in earnest again tomorrow. I didn’t realize how awful I was feeling until I started feeling good again. I am still no where near 100%, but I remember what it was like to be 100% and I wonder if I’ll ever be like that again. The effects of chemo creep up on you. That first dose, you feel crummy, but take your medication to fight the side effects and you persevere on through. But each dose it becomes harder and harder to feel “normal” and the cumulative effects begin to take their toll. Even when the chemo is over and you are awaiting the next round, the body still doesn’t rebound back to where it was before. The energy level doesn’t increase and the fatigue continues to haunt your days. The memory of the chemo never leaves, the fear of the diagnoses plagues you and each ache and pain become another cause for alarm. Does life ever become normal again?

There is a school of thought that says we should contemplate our death everyday. I believe that is good advice. There is a difference between contemplating and obsessing. Even with cancer or other life threatening disease, one should never obsess over the prospect of an early death. If you are obsessing over your death, you will forget that in the meantime you need to live. However, contemplating ones death can put life into a realistic perspective and enhance one’s ability to identify what is important. If I were to die today, what memories would I want to leave behind? At the end of the day did I touch someone’s life? Did my family and friends hear the words “I love you” from my lips? Did my actions glorify God? Take a moment and contemplate your death, then step forward and live your life with that knowledge rich in your mind.

So, I’m off to get ready for work and to enjoy this day. My prayer is that I make a positive impact on every person that I come in contact with, be it with a word or a smile. At the end of this day, I hope I have made this world a little better place to be.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Perfect Weekend

It was a perfect weekend. The bulk of the weekend was spent in the company of my beautiful grandson and then ended with some quiet time with Mike. Although I still tire easier than I used to, there is no comparison to a month ago. I try to go to bed between 9-10 every night to ensure that I am getting adequate sleep to keep going during the day.

Jessie and I had a wonderful time together on Saturday night. We went to Target to get some NEW cars to add to his car collection and while there we acquired a Piston Cup Racetrack. While it seemed like a good idea at the time, implementation was a little more difficult. The instructions were a mess of some vague pictures that were near impossible for me to decipher. So I called in the big guns…I called Mike. He swooped in on his white horse and again, rescued me. In no time at all he had the racetrack spinning and flipping its cars. Jessie and I had a grand time playing cars, watching movies and eating pizza and blueberries (his favorite fruit).

Jessie sleeps with me when he stays the night and he is a little snuggle bug first thing in the morning. So as I lay there with my grandson in my arms I sent a prayer up to God that I be allowed to watch him grow up. How I ache to live a long life that includes watching that beautiful little boy become a young adult. So rather than mourn a loss that has not happened, I add this desire to that ever growing list of things that I continue to live for, things that keep me pushing through the darkness, the sadness and the pain of this disease.

So I will get ready for work and work today, tomorrow and Wednesday and then Thursday the chemo begins again. I am trying to not dread that day too much so that I don’t have a huge let down when the chemo day arrives. I just need to keep my attitude good and thank God for these last few perfect weeks. There are many more perfect days to come. They are waiting for me, right there on the horizon.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Feeling Better Everyday!

I apologize that I have been remiss in keeping up my blog. I just keep feeling better and better, which means less time relaxing here in front of the fireplace.

These last few weeks have been such a gift. I have been able to go to work everyday, which has been awesome. There is so much catching up to do! I had forgotten how much I love my job, love the people I work with, love being there in my office. I love feeling useful and at the end of the day knowing that I have achieved something meaningful, something important. While my actions may not save lives, I support the decision makers who make that hospital the place of caring and healing that it is. There is a genuine feeling of accomplishment to my work. I love seeing everybody again; so many people have stopped by to say “hi”, hearing that I was back in the saddle again for awhile. Their concern and caring is so beautiful to me. I had no idea that so many people were praying for me, pulling for me, sending their healing thoughts my way.

I missed being at work during the holidays. I pace slows and people stand around and talk more, sharing snacks and stories of their personal lives. You get to know everyone a little better, sharing a small glimpse into who they are outside of work, a peek into the life they lead at home. I have tried to carry that relaxed attitude into my work days, dropping what I am doing and making sure I am not too busy to share with that person who came through my door to visit with me. While the work I am doing is important, the human connection that we all share is the most essential component of my day. These people, all of you, give me the energy to keep on going, keep on fighting, keep on smiling and laughing.

The radiation is complete, all 10 episodes. It was fairly uneventful except for the fact that I burned so early on in the treatment. We started the burn cream right away which kept the burns down enough to stay on schedule for the treatments. I will continue to burn as the weeks go on, so I have to be vigilant in continuing to use the burn cream twice a day. That is hard to do when I have to rely on others to put the cream on for me. It’s difficult to ask someone to do this for me twice a day, every day. I know Peyton hates it, but she does it without grumbling too much. If Mike is around, I know he doesn’t mind at all, but he is not around very much, he is very busy with his work and basketball refereeing. But I will get it done when I can, its not like my skin is going to fall off without it, they are just burns. The pain has subsided significantly. It is not gone completely, but certainly reduced more than I would have imagined. I hope that is a good indicator that the cancer has been killed in those areas, never to return again.

I continue to struggle with lymphedema in my arm, wrapping it at night and keeping a sleeve on during the day. I go to physical therapy weekly to monitor and reduce the swelling. Sara reminds me of the importance of self-care, of not only my swollen arm, but of all of me. No one can care for me like I can care for myself. I am the first defense against this disease and I am the number one caretaker of me.

So it is with all of us. We are the best caretakers of ourselves. We can ask for help from our doctors, therapists, family, friends…but when it comes down to it, we are responsible for ourselves. They can give us all the advice and treatment in the world, but if self-care is not practiced, it is all for naught. We have to be our own best cheerleader, our own best physician, our own best caretaker. Love yourself. It’s the only self you are ever going to have.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Getting Better Every Day!

Every day I feel like I might be getting back to my old self. I have more energy; I don’t tire quite as easily. I was hoping that the weight I have gained would come off a lot quicker than it has, but I have lost about 10 pounds, which is a start. I just keep praying that I don’t have to go back on steroids when I start chemo again. I hate those steroids. Hate the way they make me feel and I despise the way they make me gain weight. We will have to wait and see if the new chemo drug I’m going to be taking, Ixabepilone, causes an allergic reaction and to see which drug I’ll be keeping from before. If I keep the Gemzar, then I think I have to stay on the steroids, but I’m not positive. I guess we’ll wait and see!

I’ve been feeling so much better which has allowed me to spend more time with my grandson. What an incredible joy. I just can’t say it enough and there are no words to describe the feeling in my heart when he is around. He spent the night Friday night and we stayed up way too late, playing, watching movies and reading books. He slept with me and when he woke up in the morning he came over and cuddled up; I tell you it was pure nirvana. I can’t imagine a more perfect moment than that little boy dozing all snuggled up in my arms. As soon as I asked if he wanted to get up, it was like a little jumping bean, up and out the door, ready for another round of play. I am going to have him over again on Saturday night, one more time before that chemo starts and I don’t have the energy to keep him for the night.

I plug along at work; Wendy is carrying most of the weight now and is doing a great job keeping everything in line. She is a gift from heaven. I can’t imagine someone more competent or more gracious and kind handling my job for me while I fight the fight. She never makes me feel like I’m no longer wanted or needed, or that I won’t be able to come back to my job someday. She has a heart of service, which is much needed in this job, and it shines through everyday.

Off to conquer the day. I’ll keep my chin up the best I can!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A History Lesson

My pain is reducing, it is more of an ache than a pain (except if I twist or turn too sharply) and I am down to taking only a few medicines a day. I feel good, like I should be healed and wonder why this must continue? I wish we could just stop now and call it cured and I could get back to my life. But I know that this fight must continue, its not over yet.

The first time I asked my daughter to put burn cream on my back she asked me if I was sure she couldn’t “catch” breast cancer this way. While that may seem like a ridiculous question, it made me think of how this all must be in her adolescent mind. How incredibly overwhelming and immensely frightening. People tell her all the time that she looks just like me and I am sure she wonders, how much like me is she…is she going to follow in my footsteps and get cancer too? I pray not, my cancer does not have a genetic link, but it is certainly a valid concern.

I have been doing some research on the history of this loathsome disease and have uncovered some eye opening statistics. Worldwide, it is the most common cancer in women after skin cancer and annually claims more than 500,000 lives worldwide, over 40,000 of those in the United States. The US has the highest incidence of breast cancer, which we can attribute to our modern westernized lifestyle of high fat, low exercise. As third world countries develop and become more westernized, then so increases their incidence of breast cancer. Currently in the US, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, so even without any family risk, my daughter certainly has cause for concern. If she were to follow in my footsteps and not only get breast cancer, but get my type of breast cancer (Triple Negative) then her odds of survival drop due to the aggressiveness and high recurrence rate of Triple Negative breast cancer. To quote Dr. Rado, this is a particularly nasty cancer. They have only been doing in depth studies of Triple Negative for about four years now, so hopefully they will discover some successful treatments as the years progress. There are some drugs in clinical trials that have shown promise in combating this despicable disease, I just hope they find them and get them approved before it is too late for me.

There is a lot of interesting history to breast cancer and I must be grateful that I did not live hundreds or thousands of years ago and develop breast cancer. It is one of the oldest known forms of cancerous tumors in humans and is documented back to ancient Egypt in 1600BC. An Egyptian physician wrote of the disease; there is no treatment. There are recorded cases of the excising of the tumor and the entire breast back to ancient times and I shudder thinking of enduring that kind of surgery over 1000 years ago. It wasn’t until the 1700’s that they started to link the breast tissue to the lymph nodes and in 1882 they began performing radical mastectomies on breast cancer patients to halt the progression of the disease. Unfortunately, this surgery often led to long term pain and debilitation for the rest of the patient’s life. However, if done before the cancer metastasized, it was the only cure.

It is estimated that throughout history, breast cancer has claimed more than 25,000,000 lives. That is a lot of lives.

Thanks to continued research, radiation treatments began over 100 years ago and chemotherapy started in the 1940s and both have made incredible strides. Coupled with surgery, they can eradicate this disease in most and stave off death for numerous years in others. I hope that the research continues unfettered and eventually, a cure is discovered. I’d like to have that hope alive for me; and for my daughter as she grows to adulthood. I tremble just thinking of her “catching” this disease. I wish it was as easy as not touching my back which has the cancer. I do wish it was that simple. In the meantime, we support research efforts and pray fervently for a cure.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Radiation Continues!

Just when I think I might not have the strength to make it through one more day, something will happen to inspire and encourage me. Suddenly, the day just doesn’t seem quite as difficult, the journey not quite as long, the mountaintop becomes attainable. I think it is the hand of God working through us, the mere mortals; those are wise enough to listen and do His bidding. My friends, my family, they continue to carry me forward when my strength is waning. Where would I be without you?

My radiation treatments are moving forward. The pain in my right seems to be subsiding; unfortunately my skin is already starting to burn. Dr. Rege never expected me to burn so quickly and I hope and pray that we can keep the burns under control so that I can continue treatment. My poor daughter now has the duty to put cream on my back in the morning and night. So far she is pretty good natured about it, but its only been one day, I wonder how she is going to feel about it in a week! I use aloe in the morning and after treatment I put on a prescription burn cream and then again at before bed. It helps that I am going into the weekend, which will give me a couple of days to get the burns under control so that I can have all five treatments next week. Say a prayer that these burns go away!

I’m finally starting to get some of my energy back and I’m not sick from chemo all the time so Jessie has been coming over in the evenings while his mommy works out at the gym. Tonight he is going to spend the night with Nana! It has been a long time since we had a sleep over and I am so excited! I’m going to take a little nap this afternoon after work to reenergize and be ready to keep up with him after daycare. That little boy is such a joy in my life; it warms me just to be near him, to watch him play, to hear his little voice. There is no love like a grandparent for their grandchild; it is a love beyond measure. I thank God that I have this time with my little guy; he holds my heart in his small hands. What a treasure I have in Jessie.

Off to get ready for work. I am working Monday, Wednesday and Friday going in after radiation and leaving by 2pm. So far, that is working okay. My chemo got moved to Thursday, January 21st because Thursdays work better with Mike’s schedule. He has a standing meeting on Wednesday mornings that he really can’t miss every week. So we are back to the old schedule. I don’t know yet if we are going to do three week cycles with two weeks on and one off or if we are going to move to a two week on and two week off cycle. I like the two on and two off cycle because it gives me more time to recover between treatments, and will put me on the second week off for my trip to the coast. I like the sound of that!

Enjoy your day. Make a difference in someone’s life with a small act of kindness, words of compassion and turn a gentle heart towards your fellow human beings. You never know whose life you might change.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Meet my Pets

As I sat here with all my pets surrounding me the other day I commented that perhaps I should invest in a ferret and a pot bellied pig to better round out the menagerie. Mike laughed, but I am not sure he found it particularly amusing since he wouldn’t put it past me to do so. I am an animal lover. I love my pets; they make my world a more enjoyable place to be. Let me introduce them to you.

Jahuda is my oldest and most reclusive cat. A calico that my son picked out back in 1998; she was quite a mouser and hunter in her day. Not only did she kill more than her share of mice, she also would bring us an assortment of birds and even a small rabbit and a snake. She has slowed down considerably in her advancing years and mostly she just eats and sleeps, hiding out to try to stay out of the sights of the puppy and the kitty who drive her nuts. She doesn’t want to play or be a role model to the younger generation. She just wants to be left alone. I try to respect her wishes giving her attention when she asks for it; plenty of her favorite cat treats and never disclose her location to the other animals in the house.

Kyra is my seven year old Rottweiler/black lab mix. My daughter begged me to get her back on her 10th birthday, and even gave up a pair of new shoes in order to pay the costs of the adoption. She was a rescue puppy from pet over population and was abused by her former owner. As soon as we adopted her we quickly ascertained that she had been left for long periods of time in a car and was deathly afraid of being in a vehicle, especially being left alone in a vehicle. In the ensuing years she has learned that vehicles are wonderful modes of transportation that take her to her grandparents house to see her best friend Lucy or to one of her many favorite places to walk. She still has a lot of neurotic tendencies, but has become fairly well adjusted, and completely spoiled, in her years in the Taylor household. She has a few medical problems, low thyroid, which requires me to give her medication twice a day as well as regular blood work and checkups and she has arthritis in her front shoulder (maybe elsewhere too). I used to have her on a daily arthritis complex, but we have found that walking her every day is the best medicine. Although she was Peyton’s dog, she really became my dog when I was diagnosed with cancer in 2005. She never left my side and spent her days and nights watching over me. If you tell her to “go get on mommy’s bed” she will run and jump in my bed. She tolerates the new puppy and even plays with her occasionally, but can get her nose very bent out of shape if I acknowledge the puppy before her when I come home or she feels that I am giving the puppy too much attention. I have made a special effort to say hello to her first when I come home and in the morning when they are both vying for my attention. I love all my pets, but this is the one with the most special place in my heart. I absolutely love this dog, she is my sweetheart.

Betsey is our 8 month old black and white kitten. We adopted her to replace the greatest cat in the world, Tweek, that we had to put to sleep back in March because of advanced feline leukemia. If you are a cat owner, vaccinate your cat against this disease. It is a killer; I didn’t know that and felt very responsible for the loss of Tweek. Betsey is a joy whose full name is Betsey Johnson, named after the fabulous fashion designer. She tried in vain to make friends with Jahuda when she first came to our house, but had to settle for Kyra, who is a gentle and loving mother and then when we brought Sophie, the puppy, home, she met her soul mate. Being raised by dogs has made her identity somewhat confusing and she frequently acts more like a dog than a cat. When my parents come over to walk the dogs if you don’t watch closely, she will jump in the car in an effort to join the dogs on their walk. If we walk here in the neighborhood, she walks right along with us. She is a loving and affectionate kitten with an adorable personality. Although no cat can ever replace Tweek, Betsey has taken up residence in our hearts.

Sophie, our 7 month old boxer/gladiator mastiff, rounds out the group. I think I have related the story of her adoption before, but I’ll quickly go over it again. A good friend at work, Joey Willis, had puppies and Peyton and I went over to see them when they were only a week old. Peyton bonded right away with Sophie, named her, and we talked about possibly getting her when she was old enough. Then I was diagnosed with cancer and we decided that a puppy and fighting cancer were just a bit too much to handle all at once. So we declined adopting her. We went and saw the puppies one more time before they were adopted out, and again, Sophie spent all her time with Peyton. They had quite a bond. A few weeks later Joey and I were talking about the puppies and their new homes and she reluctantly related to me that Sophie still had not found a good home, that she sits at the gate like she is waiting for someone to come and get her. Joey said she had never seen a puppy behave like this, like she has a family, she is just patiently waiting for them to come and take her. That tugged at my heart strings and I thought, maybe I am supposed to have this dog, maybe this is just what we need. So I asked Joey if I could bring her home for “a test drive” to see how she integrated in with the other pets in our lives. She fit right in, Peyton was totally in love, and I knew then that she would become a member of our household. I have never regretted this decision (okay, maybe when she chewed up that Christmas decoration…I might have) and she is an energetic and loving addition to our lives. She adores her people and has to be with them all the time. If we are home, she is right there, on our feet, next to us on the couch or bed, wherever, as long as she is next to the people she loves. She is personality plus and is a wonderful puppy. I don’t regret the decision to get her, and I can’t imagine I ever will. I think it has also been somewhat cathartic for Peyton to be able to have a puppy to love, to talk to and to focus her energy on while I am battling this disease. Sophie and Betsey are the best of friends and they chase each other around the house, wrestling and chewing on each other. It has become a little more disturbing as Sophie has grown, and I worry about this 60 pound puppy with this little 6 pound kittens head inside her mouth. But, they seem to have some sort of accord, and neither has been seriously injured in the melee.

So these are a part of me, a part of my family. They bring me so much genuine joy and pleasure to my life; I can’t imagine my world without them. Like my new Christmas ornament clearly states, Love me, Love my dog. I think that says it all.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Radiation Begins

I started my radiation yesterday. It was pretty uneventful. I might get some burns, but it won’t be until after the radiation is done and I’m into chemo. It felt sort of unscientific, they are targeting the areas of pain and I just hope that my pain corresponds correctly with my cancer! I would think that they would do some really in depth imaging and target the specific spots, but they are focusing on the general areas of pain. I don’t want to make it sound like they are not following protocols, it just seems to me that it should be more exacting; pain can be very deceptive. But the pain in my back does correspond with the location of metastases from the bone scan, so hopefully we are hitting the right areas. They are using electrons which don’t penetrate the body as much so to minimize the damage which is done to the internal tissue. I don’t know anything about radiation – gamma, beta, whatever – so it’s all Greek to me anyway. The depth of the radiation is different on each side too; the ribs on my left side are deeper than the ribs on my right side. Apparently that is fairly normal. So I will have radiation every day this week and again every day next week, at 10am. It only takes about 10 minutes tops, the actual dosage is about 30 seconds each side. Dr. Rege wants to keep checking every few days to make sure they continue to target the areas of pain. The whole thing feels sort of space age, you enter this “high radiation area” and lay on this table underneath this huge machine. There are laser lights coming in from both sides as well as from the machine that they line up with little tattoos that they have put on your body. The table and machine both move and tilt and readjust until everything is lined up just perfectly. The technician adjusts the patient, a little to the left, up slightly, until he has achieved the precise alignment between the patient and the machine. He leaves the room, and the patient hears a buzz which lasts about 30 seconds. Then it is all over. The other side is done the same way and the treatment is complete. Pretty anticlimactic as far as medical procedures go!

I received a call from my oncology nurse yesterday and my chemo is scheduled to start again on Jan. 20th at 9am. We are moving to a Wednesday at 9am rather than Thursday, which is fine with me. I have the trip to the coast coming up over valentine’s weekend and this would put my regular blood testing earlier in the week so if I need any transfusions or shots I would have them easily done before I leave for the coast. This trip to the coast means so much to me. Mike and I had such an incredible time last year; I can’t wait to do it again. I just hope I can be as good of company as Mike deserves. I want it to be a special time for both of us. I know this cancer has been so hard on him, and he has been such an incredible support, I want this weekend to be a renewal for both of us.

I worked about half a day yesterday, my first day back. I was surprised at how quickly I tired. I was only there for a few hours when I realized that I was ready to lay down and take a nap! But, I persevered and made it until 2:00. I think that working every other day is a good idea, then I can rest in between. There is still so much to do, and Wendy is doing such a great job. It’s unbelievably difficult to have someone else doing my job, but I am so appreciative that I have her to fill in. I don’t know how I would be able to work through all this treatment. There is another board retreat coming up in March to San Diego, and it pained me to decline the trip, but I told Rand I just didn’t think I’d be able to do it this time. This is the first time I have missed a retreat. It just makes me sad, I love these trips; they are fun and educational and I get to really spend time with my board members and their spouses and get to know them a little bit better. It just strengthens the relationship. But I will still be in chemo at that time, and given the impact of the last two business trips I took, I felt it was better to decline this one. I know this chemo is going to be harder than the chemos that came before, so I need to step back and focus on my health and healing.

God I hate cancer.

I will stop here rather than regale you with an unrelenting diatribe about how much I hate cancer. Suffice it to say that the words “I hate cancer” don’t come close to how I really feel about cancer. I loathe it, I despise it, I abhor this insufferable misery it causes…

Okay…stopping now…but I really DO hate cancer.

Off to get ready for my daily radiation treatment and then I have physical therapy this afternoon to try to deal with this damn lymphedema…also caused by the cancer that I hate. But in between, I vow to make it a wonderful and relaxing rainy day. The fireplace is just perfect. Despite it all, life is still good.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Dreary Day

It’s a dreary day to match my dreary mood. The Christmas decorations are all stacked in the basement waiting to be put away, the tree is wrapped and ready for recycling and the lights no longer illuminate leaving the house dark and indescript in the night. I always feel a sense of let down after the holiday season, but this year it feels worse, maybe because my son wasn’t here or maybe because I wonder how many holidays I have left. I want a lifetime of holidays, but life is a crap shoot, and we never know how many rolls we get before we are forced to fold. I don’t feel as if I am dying and I don’t think I am going to leave this world any time soon, but I am also realistic enough to know that I am only one organ away from the end. This cancer of mine is a sneaky and devious disease; it could rear its ugly head anywhere, anytime. This time it is in the bones and the doctors say its good that it has stayed in one area of the bones, rather than jumping to another set of bones, say the hips or legs. So, if we can stop it in its tracks now, the hope is it never makes it to another location. Can we stop it? At times I worry about my liver, sitting right there, minding its own business, safely under the diaphragm. The liver is usually the other organ that breast cancer likes to invade. An organ that I cannot live without. Why can’t this cancer just stay where it started? Why does it have to move to other places where it is certainly not welcome? Who gave it an invitation? Why does this awful cancer think it has the right to run amok wherever it pleases, eating up perfectly good tissue and ruining a perfectly good life? Can anyone answer me that?

That was a rhetorical question, obviously, since there is no answer. Cancer, like many other diseases, have no manners, no restraint, no rules in which they are forced to live by. They simply take what they want leaving devastation behind in their wake. I look at other dreadful diseases such as Parkinsons, Lou Gehrigs or Alzheimers who invade the host like an alien on a quest to destroy. I don’t wish these diseases on anyone, yet they permeate our society. It seems like more and more people are hit with the curse of cancer or other murdering maladies, which can’t be treated by a simple pill or change of diet. There are a lot of things that I can do to fight this disease, but ultimately it has its own agenda, its own course of destruction that it is determined to follow.

So what is my defense strategy? I take it one day at a time. Fighting what is currently threatening my life and leaving the rest for another day. I can only do what I can do, and the rest is left up to chance and the destiny which is my life. Only God knows the course that this disease is determined to take, I have no control over my fate, but I do have control over the attitude by which I will face my future. I am determined to face it with optimism and courage, never losing hope for a brighter tomorrow, no matter what the roll of the dice.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The End of the Season

The warm Chinook winds came in and the Christmas snow has melted away. It makes me feel like the season is truly over. All I have left is my Christmas tree and outside lights, the tree comes down this morning and the lights get turned off today, not sure when I’ll get the lights taken down. I’ll need to find out when Mike and Jason can come and help me. I should make this clear…I am perfectly capable of taking down those lights all by myself. I have been putting up and taking down Christmas lights on my own since my children were small. However, given my current medical condition some people think that I should not be handling tasks such as climbing around on the roof of my house in the cold. While I might dispute that assumption, the thought of actually climbing around on the roof in the cold doesn’t inspire me to fight this battle. I mean hey, if the guys want to take down my lights for me, far be it from me to take away that little nugget of satisfaction they will get by helping their fellow woman. I’m sounding pretty altruistic here aren’t I? Okay, seriously, although I am capable of taking down my lights, my strength and balance aren’t what they used to be six months ago. I would not want to risk falling off the roof, because that would create a whole new set of medical issues. So I will gratefully accept the help that is offered and my lights will come down when Mike and Jason deem it so.

Knowing my tree would be down today, I sat in my dark living room last night and looked at my tree all lit up one last time. What a beautiful tree. It made me think of my son and how much I wish he was here to see it. There is only one other year when my son was not with us for Christmas and that was his junior year in high school when he decided to try living at his dad’s in Nebraska for a semester. It was hard to have him gone then, but didn’t seem quite as difficult as it has been this time. Knowing he is just down the street, less than a mile away from me, yet he cannot be a part of our celebration, just breaks my heart. There was a hole in the fabric of my Christmas festivities this year, created by the absence of my son. I wish he could have seen the tree, it was a lovely tree.

But enough of my melancholy. I happily regained my title as Yahtzee champion again last night. It was a hard fought victory, but a victory none the less. And Mike retained his undisputed title in Scrabble, so the world is right again. The planets have aligned and all is good. We were going to go see Avatar in 3D last night, but it was sold out, so we decided to stay home and play games instead. It made for an enjoyable evening. I tried to get the kids to join in, but they could see that they were clearly out of their league with two champions sitting at the table.

It’s my last weekend before I step back into the working world, and I have to stay I am both excited and sad. I have enjoyed this time home with my daughter, sleeping as late as I want, sitting in my pajamas until the afternoon, having absolutely no schedule to adhere to, its been very refreshing. My goal was to rest, and I have rested and rested. I don’t think there was a night with less than 8 hours of sleep; most nights were closer to 10 hours. So my body has received the rest it so desperately needed. I am ready for the next round, let’s step into the ring, bring it on!! So, despite the fact I am giving up my lazy freedom, I am looking forward to seeing my co-workers again, and doing something meaningful with my day. I feel like what I do at the hospital is important, and I miss that sense of serving others and accomplishment that I feel at the end of my day. My job is very service oriented and all day long I get to serve my co-workers and board members, I love feeling that I am helping them, making their lives a little easier because of what I do. I am stepping in slowly, only a few days a week, but I look forward to what I can do in those few days. I know once I sit at that desk, I will find out how much more I missed it than I realized. I thank God I am still able to work and that I have such an amazing boss who is holding my job open for me and helping my replacement muddle her way through the days. It’s been amazing the compassion and support I have received. I am truly humbled.

Off to dismantle the tree. Enjoy the weekend; revel in the beauty of the day. There is truly no gift like the present!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

Its 2010. A new year, a new decade. Thinking of 2009, it was a year full of challenges and heartbreak, but it was not without its many moments of overwhelming joy. I look back and there is a miasma of sickness which covers so many memories, but shining through that haze is laughter and love, joy and tenderness, hope and faith for a better tomorrow.

I spent my new years eve in the arms and company of the man I love most in this world, laughing and talking and enjoying those last seconds of 2009 together. We prayed for a better 2010 and for me to regain my health. However, just before the end of the year, fate had to give me one last reminder of the dark cloud that has covered my world for so many months and I lost in the best of seven games at Yahtzee. Mike never beats me at Yahtzee. I am the undisputed champion in our long running Yahtzee competition. Scrabble champion, definitely Mike, but Yahtzee, that’s my game, my success. But I was humbled by a crushing defeat and I had to walk away from the Yahtzee table with my tail between my legs congratulating the new champion.

I plan on regaining the title of champion in 2010.

So we walk into the New Year, the new decade, with a bundle of hope on our shoulders and our eyes scanning the horizon for the better things which will befall us during this year. We keep the faith that tomorrow will come and with it will enter all our hopes and dreams. Even with all that optimism, I am a realist, and know that fate can play some wicked tricks on even the most faithful. This year that stands before me may not unfold as I desire; but I remain steadfast in the knowledge that life will not give me anything that I am not prepared to handle and that the plan that is MY life will roll towards the future as it is destined.

My life will be as it shall be, not as I want it to be.

I will continue to hold fast to my hope for my future, and rely on the love and support of those around me to help me through the challenges that await. We don’t always get what we want, but what we need to make it through is there for the taking. We just have to reach out our hands and accept the help that is there for us. I am dreaming of a wonderful 2010. It may not be perfect, but value is a matter of perspective, and I’m looking for great things this year.

Keep a watch out, the horizon is full of beauty.