Monday, April 26, 2010


What a great day to be alive! I was able to work almost half the day, what a treat that is! I am feeling really well; the achiness is beginning to subside. It’s the worst in the morning when I first get up, and doesn’t bother me as much during the day anymore. The lymphedema continues to be my nemesis and wish I could find a way to get that under control right away. I see my physical therapist on Thursday and hopefully she will have some good suggestions. Until then, I continue to wrap my arm at night and wear the compression sleeve during the day.

Peyton made it home from Canada safely about 1:15 this morning. They made really great time back from Vancouver after the Tri-Cities Americans successfully beat the Vancouver Giants to win the WHS Western Conference title. Dad has decided that Peyton and Katie must be good luck, since the Ams win every away game that they attend, and figures he must find a way to send them to Calgary for the next round of games. If they win against Calgary, they go to the Memorial Cup. A pretty exciting time for our local sports team!

I had a little bit of excitement tonight. I was scratching my back and felt a rough spot in the center of my back. I looked in the mirror and could see a round black spot, which really freaked me out. All I could think of was some sort of melanoma or skin metastasize. I was so scared. I thought I would wait until Peyton to got home to look at it, but checked the time and figured that my chemo nurse, Michelle, would probably still be at the cancer center. So I took my chances and ran on over there. Michelle wasn’t around, but my previous chemo nurse Gloria, was available. I asked her to look at my back. You are not going to believe what it was. I had a tick embedded in my back! Gross. Disgusting. Creepy. A TICK! I am sure I can thank my dogs for this nice gift. They run through the brush, bring home ticks and sweetly deposit them on my bed. Gloria went and got Mitra and she swiftly removed the little predator from my skin. She saved it in a specimen jar so she could share the story with the rest of the staff. Glad I could be a source of amusement!

So, I have an early day tomorrow and I look forward to seeing my board members and continuing to share the triumphant news of survival! I love life, ticks and all.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Lymphedema Experiment

I can still sleep for incredibly long periods of time. It’s amazing to me when I will wake up and look at the clock and realize I’ve been asleep for 10 or more hours. I keep thinking that the desire, the need to sleep that long will eventually subside, but I am not sure when! During the week I get up by 7am to take Peyton to school, but that will be ending on May 3rd when she turns 18 and gets her license back. So just one more week of getting up early! However, I have work to consider, and I need to start getting to the office at about 8 or 9, unless I have an early or late evening meeting, so I will need to continue to rise earlier on the weekdays. I am not a morning person. Never have been. Before the cancer I went to work most days at 6am. Mike and I would meet for coffee at 5:30 at Barracudas, then off to work from there. Because of that I got the reputation that I must be a morning person if I voluntarily go to work that early, but the truth be told, I went in that early for a few reasons. First, I got to start my day by seeing Mike and I got a great cup of coffee. Second, I could always get a great parking spot at work and third, I could get a lot of work done before everyone else starts showing up and the phones start ringing. My job is dictated by meeting schedules so there is no set schedule that works for me everyday, but the early shift seemed to work best for me in my life “before.”

The good part of working the early shift is that technically, if you leave after 8 hours, you get to go home mid-afternoon. That is awesome. When you get home by 3 in the afternoon, you still have a whole day ahead of you to spend however you like. Getting tasks done at home, fiddling around in the yard, spending time with your family or friends. There is a lot to be said about working that early shift. The disadvantage is if you don’t leave after 8 hours and you stay and just keeping working and working, you end up at the office for 10-12 hours a day…which is actually what I used to do most of the time. However, I am committed to finding balance in my life this time around and discovering a place where there is a 40 hour workweek and time to enjoy my life outside of work. Maybe that will end up being an early shift again, and maybe not. As I slide back into my job, I will know and will work it out with my boss. He has been one of my biggest supporters and has my best interests in mind. I know I can trust him to guide me back into a sane working schedule.

I tried an experiment yesterday with using compression on my arm. The sleeve and the wrapping at night just didn’t seem to be making a difference in the lymphedema. I felt the swelling wasn’t getting any better with the compression sleeve and glove during the day and the wrapping at night; and that stuff is all really uncomfortable. So I decided to take it all off for a day and see what happens. By last night when I went to bed I saw no remarkable difference between wearing the sleeve and glove and not; my arm was not any more swollen at the end of the day than it usually is, so I don’t know if the daytime compression is really effective. However, this morning when I woke up my fingers and hand were so swollen they were almost numb. You know how your arm and hand feel when you lay on them and they fall asleep? That is close to how this felt. My arm and hand tingled with pins and needles. The swelling in my hand was obvious by just looking at it. Normally the veins and bones stick out of the back of my hand. Right now, it’s a nice smooth raised surface. Fingers plump like little Vienna sausages, wrist bones covered in puffiness. Although I am sure I will receive some grief from my physical therapist for my little experiment, I think I learned that the daytime compression is not as critical as the nighttime compression. As much of a hassle as it is, I need to take that time before I go to bed to wrap my arm. For whatever reason, I swell at night. Go figure. Most lymphedema patients swell during the day. I just gotta be different.

Peyton and Katie went off to Canada again yesterday to watch our Tri-City American’s play Vancouver in Game 6 of the WHL playoffs. If they win this game, the series is done and they play Calgary for the right to go to the Memorial Cup. Crazy and fun girls. We were shopping yesterday afternoon and they started talking about going to Canada, and I told them if they could, they should. They are young, why not take advantage of it. We found them a cheap hotel and off they went. They are driving back tonight after the game, so they’ll be tired for work and school tomorrow, but they are young and can handle it. Go Ams!!

Mike and I enjoyed an evening of ballet last night presented by Mid-Columbia Ballet. It was absolutely beautiful. We are so lucky to have such a quality amateur ballet company here in this town. The show had everything from the youngest kids in the Junior Company to the incredible talent and artistry of the Senior Company’s principal ballerinas. I am proud to be a part of that organization (I serve on their board) and think the community is very lucky to have that kind of excellence in the arts.

The sun is shining out there and I have yard work calling my name. I overdid it last week when I worked in the yard, so I am going to go much easier today. Mike knows I did too much last week also, so he will probably be watching me closer and gently but firmly shutting me down when it becomes evident that I am getting tired. And when that happens, well I’ll take my perch on my chair on the porch which oversees the backyard domain and I’ll become part of management and just tell everyone what to do!

Wow. What a great day to be alive!

Saturday, April 24, 2010


How can an arm filled with fluid be so darn uncomfortable? Where does the fluid even come from and how the heck do I get rid of it? My lymphedema is truly driving me nuts. I keep thinking I will wake up in the morning, remove the layers and layers of bandages and the swelling will just be gone. It’s not happening like that. My hand hurts, my arm aches and it is just downright bothersome. I have tried massage and the power of gravity to pull the fluid down, to no avail. The dogs just look at me like I’m nuts with my arm up in the air for no apparent reason, when it could be scratching their little ears. They really just can’t understand it. So I lay there, with my arm in the air while Sophie and Kyra keep edging closer and closer until they are literally laying on top of me, clueless as to why the attention is not focused on them. I might as well pet them, the gravity isn’t working. So I give up and put my sleeve and glove on for the day and hope maybe today is the day that the swelling goes away. I can hope.

But I guess I have to have something to complain about. Compared to how I would be feeling if I had received a dose of Ixempra on Thursday, I am feeling stellar. The Zomeda has left me feeling slightly puny, or maybe that is just a leftover from the chemo. But puny now compared to the awful sickness I experienced over the last few months is something I can handle. However, I am still not satisfied; I want to feel good again. I almost don’t remember what it is like to get up in the morning and not feel sick. When was the last time that I just rolled out of bed without assessing which medication is needed to get me going? I look forward to that day. I know its coming. It has to be just around the corner. I must be patient and persevere; wellness and health are coming soon.

It is such a beautiful day and I am enjoying this spring weather. Peyton and I ran up to Sunnyside when she got out of school yesterday to get her prom dress fitted and I can’t even express how incredible she looks in that dress. It fits her like a glove, the only alteration was to shorter the strap. She tried it on again last night to show her grandparents, and all I could think was wow, that’s my daughter. She is so beautiful…how did I create such beauty, inside and out. But I can only take a little credit, she is her own person and I am so proud of the young woman she is becoming. Her 18th birthday and graduation are almost here, and I am so grateful to God for allowing me to live to be a part of it. To watch her come in to her own in this world is such a gift and I am eternally thankful to be alive.

When she gets off work today we are going to scour the city for the perfect jewelry to go with her perfect dress. While we are at it, we thought we would peruse the racks for the perfect graduation dress too. And Shoes. Can’t graduate without a new dress and shoes!! I am excited to get to spend this time with her.

I can’t say it or think it enough. It is a great day to be alive.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Slowly Healing!

The days continue to improve. Last week I could barely work two hours at a stretch and this week I can pretty easily work 3-4 hours at a time. I am improving much faster than I anticipated, but I still have to make sure to rest when I come home from work. My nature is to just keep pushing and get more done when I get home, but I committed to myself to rest and heal and allow by body time to regenerate so I can work again the next day. I realized again how much I love my job, love the work that I do, and am excited to get back to my regular life. I know I need to have patience, and give my body time to heal, so I am taking my own advice and working, then resting, eating right, exercising and going to sleep at a decent hour. At this rate, I’ll be back at work full time before I know it.

I can’t even express what it means to have my boss let me come back to my job at Kadlec. They are like my family and being at work this week was like going home. It has meant so much to me to not have to worry about my job while I have been off trying to heal from this awful disease. Wendy has done such an outstanding job keeping everything together; she has made it easy for me to slip back into my work. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to express my gratitude to her and Rand and the part that they have played in my healing process. Would I have been able to succeed in my battle if I was worrying about where I was going to work when it was all over or fretting about who was taking care of my board members? It is another factor in this miracle of miracles; such an awe-inspiring wonder to be a survivor. I’m alive, and plan on being alive for countless more years.

I received my first dose of Zomeda yesterday. That is the drug that I will be taking by infusion every month for the next two years to keep my bones strong and hopefully prevent me from developing any more bone metastases. It only takes about 20 minutes, so I was in and out of the cancer center in under an hour. This also alleviates the need to get my port flushed every six weeks. My mediport will be staying in indefinitely, so to keep it flowing smoothly, they have to flush it every six weeks if it is not used. But taking Zomeda every month takes care of the flushing. The side effects of the Zomeda are mild to moderate flu like symptoms for 2-3 days. I have to confess that it’s hard to tell the affect that it is having on me since my body is still pretty achy from the chemo. I think this month will be the hardest dose, after this it will get much easier. I think in future months I will have my infusion and then take Tylenol for a few days to chase the achys away. I can handle that.

Slowly my body feels like it is healing. The lymphedema is pretty bad in my right arm and hand, and I am having to wrap it every night with multiple layers to keep the swelling down, plus wear a sleeve and a glove during the day. I have had some mild swelling in my right arm, and even my feet swell. This has typically happened the third week following the Ixempra. I think that this drug is just so toxic that my lymph system just gets overloaded trying to flush it out of my body. I am hoping the longer I am off the Ixempra, the more the lymphedema will improve. It can be fairly painful to have that much fluid in your arm and hand. It is sore to the touch and sometimes will just throb with the force of the fluid. I am doing physical therapy once per week to try to keep it under control. I am hoping a few more weeks and the swelling will come down by itself. Other than that, my limbs still ache, but nothing like they did even a week ago. Each day is an improvement and I am gradually coming off the pain medicine. I am looking forward to the day when it doesn’t take a fistful of pills to get me through the day, and the only think I am taking is my prilosec and a handful of vitamins!

I know I have been remiss in my blogging, I have heard from many of you, and it made me realize how much you are all still pulling for me, still praying and sending me positive energy. That energy will be as much a part of my healing in the coming months as it has been in my survival of the last 10 months. I can’t thank you enough for keeping me in your thoughts and know that you will be instrumental in my return to work and a normal life. I promise to do better keeping you posted on my progress and my thoughts as we going through this beautiful spring season. I look outside and see the sunshine and I think…What a perfect day to be alive!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Better Every Day!

Every day is an improvement over the last. I really have to watch myself, to try not to overdo it with my newfound health. When I wake up in the morning my limbs still ache and I have to take medication to chase the terrible pain away, but once I’m up and around, have my breakfast, I feel better. I make a mental list of all the things I’d like to accomplish that day and might be lucky if I make it through two items before I have to lay down exhausted on the couch, my body aching, unable to do anything more the rest of the day. It is so frustrating. I want so much to be well, to be healthy again, to feel good. To spend all day outside working in the sunshine, to be at my office working an eight hour day followed by cooking dinner for me and my family. To be able to walk my dogs as far as I want, watching them run in the sun and play in the water. I know I just have to be patient; it will take time for me to be able to handle more that a few to-dos per day. But gradually I will regain my strength and work my way back to my old self. Patience is not one of my virtues, but I guess I am going to learn it intimately.

My son and grandson came over to visit yesterday. It was so wonderful to watch Jessie play and to see him with his dad, so happy to be spending time with daddy. Houston is really working hard to turn his life around. He has a big hole that he is trudging his way out of, and there is a long road ahead of him. A lot of people might just give up seeing an obstacle that big, but he is genuinely giving it all he can. I can see him, one step at a time, improving his life. He is working two jobs, supporting his son, paying his astronomical fines and trying to find an affordable place to live where he can make a home for him and Jessie. He is an ex-felon, but he has paid his debt to society, it would be nice if people would recognize that his debt has been paid. Acknowledge that he is trying to improve his life and is making strides towards creating a positive future. It is frustrating that some people cannot let it go, cannot forgive him his trespasses, cannot believe that he might have changed. It’s easy for people to persecute him and think they are giving him what he deserves, but they should look inside themselves and like Jesus, if they are without sin, cast the first stone. I wonder how long he will be branded with this scarlet letter. It is no wonder that so many criminals go back to a life of crime; since society will not accept them back, what options are they given? Houston is determined to never go back to his old life, he is committed to creating a new life for his family, maybe everyone should just give him that chance. I know that me and my family will not give up on him. We will continue to support him, continue to cheer him on. Someone has to be his cheerleader.

Its another gorgeous spring day and I am going to try my hand at yard work again. My list of things to do is longer than I could have done even if I was in great health, so I will do what I can. Mike and my parents are coming over to help me, hopefully dad and Mike can get the sprinklers going – that is the top priority. It’s starting to look pretty dry out there! I will work when I can, rest when I have to, knowing I have my family hovering over me to make sure I don’t do too much. For now I am happy to be able to enjoy the sunshine on a perfect spring day. It is great to be alive.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I Am Alive!

I woke up this morning about an hour or so after my pain medication had worn off. Usually I wake up in the middle of the night just when the pain is starting and pop another pain pill which gets me through till the morning, but for some reason last night, I just slept on through. So when I awoke as the dim light of morning was seeping around the curtains, the pain had thoroughly taken control. So I took my pill and as I lay there in bed waiting for the medication to kick in I listened to the sounds of the world coming awake around me. I heard the heater click on to take the morning chill off the house. I have never reset the thermostat since I got sick, so the heater still comes on early in the morning; just like when I was getting up early for work. It made me feel a little melancholy to think of back to when I was working every day. I had to remind myself that those days were coming again, and in no time at all, my day will be starting with getting ready for work rather than waiting for pain medication to take the pain away enough to get out of bed. The birds started singing outside my window and a silly smile crossed my face and I thought to myself…I am alive. When I first was diagnosed with this recurrence 10 months ago and I was reading the survival statistics, it wasn’t certain that I would even make it this far. I never talked about it, about the fact that I could be gone inside of a year, but I knew the threat was there, we all did. We all just kept it secret and hidden, hoping against hope that it wouldn’t come true. And here I am, the world waking up around me, still alive with no discernable cancer left.

I am under no illusions; I know full well the chance of recurrence, which makes these moments even more precious and sweet. Surrounded by the animals I love so much, the light brightening outside, I breathe in all that is around me and bask in the moment. I am alive. I say it over and over again in my head; almost crying out with giddy laughter. I made it, I am alive. I prayed over and over to make it to my daughter’s graduation, and that day is looming on the horizon, I am really going to be there. It’s starting to become real to me, beginning to sink in. I made it.

The pain still evident and obviously out of control, I take a different pain medication and lay back again, the covers tightly wound about me and think of what has brought me to this place and wonder why I was chosen to walk this path. I do not blame anyone, not even myself, nor do I think of the unfairness of it all, for there are many that have it far worse than I, many who have not been given the treasures in life that have been bestowed upon me. I have many gifts, so much to be thankful for, this cancer just happened to me. I wish I could take it all back, rewind the tape and pretend it never occurred, but it did, and there is no going back. I will take the knowledge of this journey every day with me as I venture into my future. Not a day will pass when I will not think about it. Hopefully, I will be given the opportunity to grow old, and the memory of all this will dim with time, but it will never be forgotten, its trials and lessons permanently imprinted forever on my mind and in my heart.

But for today, for this moment, I wallow in the glory of being alive. I let the feeling envelope every fiber of my being. It is like a brilliant white light filling me from the inside out, shining brightly, the room aglow with its warmth. It is life. I get to live it.

I know there are many more days before I will feel good again, and many months of recovery ahead of me once I do; but the reality of the triumph is finally starting to hit me. I made it. I really did!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Waiting for the Sickness to Pass

It still hasn’t sunk in yet that I’m clear. I lie in bed sometimes and just ponder the crazy miracle of beating a cancer in 10 months that less than 10% of people survive. I can only believe that it is the miracle of prayer and the circle of positive energy and prayer that has been created by this blog and the word of mouth of my friends sharing my status with other friends. I know that I have been prayed for as far away as Australia and in most church denominations from Christian to Jewish to Mormon to Buddhist. Every single prayer has circled around the universe creating positive healing energy towards my cancer. I have no other explanation. I am living proof of the power of prayer.

I don’t think I’ll realize that I’m clear until this round of chemo is past. It’s hard to believe that this nightmare might be over when I am struggling through the ravages of chemo, every activity a monumental effort which leaves me flat on my back just waiting for the sickness to pass. This round has been very difficult; I guess I thought since it was the last one it might be easier or over quicker; but the truth is it’s the fourth dose of Ixempra and my body is tired.

So I rest and wait, hoping that this day and the next will pass, and I will find healing and health. Maybe by next week, the glory of the truth of this miraculous recovery will begin to hit me and I’ll be able to bask in its reality. Until then, I’ll take it one moment at a time, eventually, the sickness will pass. I have faith.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Recovering, slowly

I feel like I’m finally coming back into the land of the living, albeit slowly and cautiously. I have been very sick all week, like I said before, just surviving, waiting for the day to pass and hoping the next day will be better. The better finally came yesterday and I was able to sit up for awhile and do a little email. I even got out of the house for a few minutes to run to Applebee’s to get us dinner, of which I was able to eat a few bites. This activity was all followed by a lot more time horizontal on the couch, but I figure any time up and any outings at all to be considered a success. I am back up today, feeling very weak and slightly achy, but so far so good. Houston is going to come by for awhile today with Jessie, so I am looking forward to seeing my grandson and am saving all the energy I can for his arrival. I know I won’t be able to handle him all day, but for a few hours would be nice. Those hours will be followed by quite a few more hours horizontal on the couch recovering. I am under no illusions on how well I am and I know this chemo all too well and set backs can come on rapidly. If I trick myself into thinking I can do more than I should, I am swiftly reminded that this chemo is in charge of my body for right now and I am flat on my back again. So I tread carefully.

For now I am enjoying the sun shining through my windows, the fire in the fireplace taking the chill off the house and the sweet dog curled at my feet. I was spending some quality time with my old dog Kyra just yesterday thinking about how we have successfully beat this disease twice. With my faithful companion never leaving my side. She was there in the wee hours of the morning with me when I paced the floors or went for a walk trying in vain to get my legs to stop hurting. When I was curled up in bed shivering with fever and crying in pain, she was coiled closely by my side giving me her comfort and her warmth. When I sobbed tears of desperation, she was there listening, her big brown eyes intent on mine, reaching out in silence and love. My dog was there when no one else was. She was there during the terrible aloneness, during the darkest of times. There is no more faithful creature on this planet than a dog. I think of all the times I have spent alone in this house the last 10 months sick from this disease, and realize I have never been truly alone. I have had my Kyra faithfully with me every moment of my day. And when I did leave, and came home sicker than when I left, she met me where I was ready to serve me in any way she could, be it with an understanding head on my shoulder or a warm body by my side, whatever I needed she was there. I am indebted to this small creature of God and so grateful that in His infinite wisdom He gave me such a wonderful companion to fill the gap where no human can tread.

And so we will continue, Kyra and me, as we have for all these years. I will walk into healing with my faithful companion loyal at my side. I cannot thank God enough for giving me Kyra to help me through this long and rugged path.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


You all have probably wondered if I have fallen off the face of the earth, but really, I’ve just been surviving. This chemo is just so hard on me that all I want to do is sleep and lay on the couch, so I listen to my body and just rest. My body is exhausted and I have absolutely no energy to do anything. The slightest little task leaves me completely wiped out; just my morning shower will require me to rest on the couch for a while before I can get my breakfast together.

But, I am surviving. And this is the last time that I have to survive this awful chemo. It makes it a little easier to get through knowing that it’s the last time. The darkness has lifted and all I see on the horizon is a beautiful rainbow of light. Light that is just waiting for me to step out and into it, light that is waiting to engulf me in its warm glow. The darkness has fled, can you believe it!? It has been chased away, hopefully never to return!

So, I just wanted to check in and let you know I am making it though, this first week is the hardest, next week will be a little better, the following week better still. By the end of the month, I should be ready to throw a party to celebrate, and I hope that you will all plan on stopping by. It will be very informal, just come when you can, but will be our time to celebrate our lives, and the joy that abounds in all of us.

Keep praying for me to make it through, and for me to stay clear. Mostly, pray for a cure for this awful disease that affects so many of us. May cancer be forever stricken from our lives.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Plan

Its been almost 24 hours since I was given my “all clear” and I have been assessing how I feel, how I move forward from this point, what lies ahead for me.

First let me fill you in a little more on the technicalities. I had my final round of chemo yesterday, which included a dose of Zomeda, which is the bisphosphonate drug which helps to strengthen my bones and keep me from getting additional bone lesions. I will continue on the Zomeda for 2 years. Zomeda is usually a every 4 week drug, but they had altered the dose to allow me to have it every 3 weeks when I had my chemo. So my dose yesterday was a 3 week dose. So in another 3 weeks I will go in and get a 20 minute infusion of Zomeda, but it will be a 4 week dose. I will continue to go in every 4 weeks for the next two years and receive Zomeda. The side effects include some mild flu like symptoms for a few days, but nothing compared to chemotherapy. It should not have a huge impact on my life.

In two months I will go in for a checkup with Marlene to see how I am feeling. It is exciting because for the first time in 10 months I won’t have all this poison in my system and I’ll be able to truly tell how I am feeling. These days when I go to the doctor we go through a laundry list of symptoms and assess where I am at on each one on a scale from 1-10. Pain, yep, nausea, of course, etc. etc. The two month appointment is just a check-in. In four months I will get a CT scan and go back in to see Dr. Rado. To me, that is the most important appointment I have coming up. If that CT is all clear, then I feel like I am truly stepping forward into a cancer free future. I have one clear CT under my belt…now if I could have TWO clear CT’s under my belt…that would be an accomplishment. Given the current timing, the next CT will be around July 1st. It could potentially be a very nice 4th of July! Fireworks – oh yeah!!!

Unfortunately my cancer does not have what is called “tumor markers”. These are particular substances, usually proteins, found in the blood that are an indicator of cancer cells. My cancer has never shown tumor markers which means that the only way to know if my cancer is back is to actually see the cancer, ie, a CT scan. Unfortunately, CT scans do give a nice dose of radiation, so you don’t want to be doing them every month. That is why we are going to be doing CT’s every four months for at least the first two years. As Dr. Rado indicated to us, I will be on very close surveillance; unfortunately the odds of this cancer recurring is extremely high. But I have beat the odds already, why not continue to beat them?

How do I step into the future? This isn’t like the first time. Five years ago I walked away from my treatment and never looked back. I had Dr. Rado take my port out 30 days after my final visit because I was so certain that it was never coming back again. I was DONE, finito. No more cancer. I did not spend the 4 years leading up to this diagnosis looking over my shoulder because it truly never occurred to me that it would come back. I didn’t fret over aches and pains as potential recurrences, in my mind I was the quintessential survivor. I did it once, and I wasn’t going to have to do it again. Unfortunately, I can’t walk into tomorrow with that same attitude. The knowledge of a serious recurrence has become a reality. Truth be told, its amazing I have beat this recurrence. It was BAD, my lungs were covered with cancer. I still have a hard time believing that they are clear. I don’t want to have to do this again, the last 10 months have been hell.

Which brings me to my plan. I am a fighter, I am a doer. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t passively sit on the sidelines watching life go by singing que sera sera. While that’s a great song, and there is some real truth to it, I am a woman of action. So it is action I will take. The next three weeks are survival and planning. Once the effects of this round are over, then I move into recovery and returning to my life. The healthier I am the better my chances are of keeping this cancer away or of being able to fight if it returns. I am not minimizing the effects of how healthy I was when this cancer hit and the affect my health had on being able to win the battle. When I was diagnosed, I was doing everything right, eating right, exercising, meditating, and that is the path I am continuing on. It would be easy to say, hey, look, I got super healthy and got cancer anyway, so let’s just drink beer and party since it doesn’t make a difference. I believe it DOES make a difference. My good health put me in a better position to fight and win and made me able to be where I am today, a survivor. And better health will allow me give this cancer the finger and thrive in my life. Living it better and fuller.

So, that is my plan. To take an active involvment in getting better, so that in four months I will breeze through this CT with another all clear and continue on a path that leads to dreams fulfilled and old age. Me and Mike. We’re gonna get to grow old together afterall. And dad, when you are ready for me to set you free in the belly boat one last time, it would be my honor.

Praise God.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

All Clear. No foolin!

Well my faithful friends and prayer warriors, I received those two words that I have been longing to hear…All Clear. I couldn’t believe it, my breath caught in my lungs and my heart jumped into my throat…I had to ask again. The answer was the same; the scans all look beautiful, there is no evidence of cancer still present in body. Hallelujah! Praise God! This is incredible, amazing news, especially considering the degree of advancement of my disease and the grim prognosis I was given. I have not only survived, I have triumphed. The words haven’t sunk it yet, I can’t believe its true.

I had chemo today, as scheduled, and this is the “one more round for good measure” that Dr. Rado always prescribes. I just hope this one goes better than my last “one more round for good measure” that landed me in the hospital for four days in December. I have faith that this one will go better, my body is not quite as fragile as it was back in December when I was on my 14th dose of Carbo/Gemzar. This is only my fourth round of Ixempra, and each round I have tolerated a little bit better, so there is no reason to believe that this one won’t be even easier still. Three weeks from now, I should be feeling remarkably better. Ready to plant that garden. What a perfect spring present.

So I have to ask, why do I find myself choking back the tears, not even sure what the tears are from. Are they tears of relief? Joy? Fear? Trepidation? Maybe all and more. I have a myriad of emotions floating around inside of me and I can’t identify all of them. I am so relieved that the treatment is almost over, survive this round of chemo, and I’m done. Wow, I can’t even wrap my head around that thought. Done. Really? I’m done? Please don’t tell me this is an April fools joke. I don’t think my heart could bear it. I have prayed over and over to be well. My prayers have finally been answered, and the answer was “yes”. Thank you God. Thank you.

The emotion I am struggling the most with is the one that I have avoided feeling all these months and months of treatment…fear. Trepidation. I have to tell you with all honesty, I am scared.

I have tried to approach this disease fearlessly, staring my attacker in the eye and daring it to fight me, “bring it on, baby, I’m ready for you” has been my war cry each time they have dumped this poison into my body. But my attacker is no more, it has fled. Elvis has officially left the building. So the foe I have been fighting all these months is gone. Really? Is it really really gone, or has it just gone into hiding, and is lying there in wait, ready to pounce on me again when I least expect it?

Ending treatment is an experience that is hard to explain if you have never been through it. When I am in treatment, I am in the fight; I am actively doing something to fend off this disease. Treatment has been the central focus of my life for the last 10 months and its challenging to move that focus from fight to recovery. How do I move into the next phase of my life with my eyes looking forward, and not waste my time with my gaze continually glancing over my shoulder, waiting for another attack?

That, my friends, is where faith comes in. I just have to believe in myself and my ability to win this fight. Trust in the awesome supremacy of God in my life, the power of prayers and I must be strong in the knowledge that I can and will move forward with my life, closing this chapter but retaining the lessons it has given. Knowing that I will continue the fight, every day of my life, by living my life to the fullest. Exacting the ultimate revenge on this despicable disease by not only surviving, but thriving as a result of all it has put me through.

I will not live in fear. I have vanquished the foe, but it shall not be forgotten. I will live with the intimate knowledge of the beauty of this existence; knowing the awesome fragility of life, but with faith in the strength of the human spirit. For the human spirit can triumph over any adversary, no matter how strong, no matter how powerful. God made us with the ability to triumph over all.

So, come with me now as I take my closet full of shoes and walk boldly into my future, with a radiant smile on my face, and a selection of kick ass shoes on my feet. Bring it on life, I’m ready. Let’s dance.