Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Life Is Good

The birds rise early. At 5am I hear their beautiful song and a smile crosses my lips. I have awakened in time to hear the lovely wakeup call of my neighborhood, back and forth, across the fence, through the trees, lightly washing in the window and landing gently on my ears. I love their sweet melody. It’s the perfect way to start the day.

So I ended up stopping by and seeing the nurse and then the ARNP yesterday. My throat just kept keeping worse and it has steadily declined since the first hoarseness during radiation, so I figure, I’d rather be safe than sorry. Glad I went. They did a strep culture, which they anticipate will be negative, but I do have some “white spots on my uvula” which sounds sort of nasty, no matter how you say it! Also, Jessie was over yesterday and will be over today and is also getting a little green snotty nose, so the threat of infection is already there. So they put me on a Z-pack, only I take twice the dose as normal, Sudafed and all my regular meds to stave off any potential worsening of the infection. Other than the sore throat, I’m exhausted. I feel asleep on the couch yesterday afternoon and felt like I could have slept all night! My body feels weak and heavy and moves slowly. But, I’m still moving, and that’s what counts! I sit here on my beautiful patio, enjoying the sounds of the world around me and I can move, which is a far cry from a few months ago. I am slowly working on those thank you cards for all the amazing people that worked or donated, but please please be patient with me. I can only do a few at a time before I am just too tired to make my brain and hand work together anymore, so it’s a slow process. And when you DO get a thank you, please excuse any errors. With typing like this, on the computer, it’s fixable, once it’s put to paper…well… all I can do is start over or cross out!!

Also, I wanted to thank everyone who has been bringing meals! They are awesome! If you have dishes over here, please let me know! I have lost track of whose is whose in the pile in the basement, so if you are missing a dish, and it might be here…let me know! Really really, you can have it back!

So I think, what words of wisdom can I impart on you today? I wear a lot of “Life is Good” shirts. In fact, they are my favorite shirts. I wish we had a Life is Good store here, or maybe not, because I would buy them out. I would have shirts, mugs, hats, you name it. I love Life is Good because of the truth it carries. A lot of the shirts say “Do what you like; Like what you do” and isn’t that the truth? We need to enjoy what we are doing with our lives. If we are not, then there needs to be some reevaluating done. Do you look forward to your day? Are you where you want to be in your life? If you aren’t, what’s it gonna take to get there? Life is too short to go through it miserable or unhappy. It just is. It’s the blink of an eye, the flash of a camera, the twinkle of a lens. It goes by fast. So enjoy it why its here. No one can enjoy every moment, but look to the seconds that you CAN enjoy. This day, today, is the only today you are going to get. You can’t get it back tomorrow, it’s gone. So cherish it, don’t let the day slip by unnoticed. Take the time to talk to you co-worker about their upcoming holiday plans, or find a moment to chat with someone about their life. It’s amazing what people think and do and will share. We want to share our lives, we want to be a part of something else bigger than us, we are human and we want to be part of the human experience.

So go make it a Life is Good day. I am wearing a pink (big surprise) Life is Good shirt with a Red Heart. Nurse Kay – This one’s for you.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Lucky Girl

The birds are quiet this morning. Maybe that’s an indication of how hot it’s going to be today, or maybe I just woke up too late, but it sort of made me sad. I count on them so much to start my day! So I lay back in my bed, my dogs to happy to have me home again, and talked to God and assessed where the treatment was going, where my body is headed, how I feel about things.

I’ll start with a quick update on the family. The parentals (or grandparentals, depending on perspective) are doing quite well. Mom is starting physical therapy for her leg and dad’s neck is finally starting to feel better. As far as my kids; my son’s infection on his scalp went away, thank goodness, and Peyton’s feet, although troubling her, seem to not be completely incapacitating. We were trying to get her into physical therapy for some exercises before she leaves town next week for Canada, but no luck there, she is just going to have to wing it. She is taking ibuphrophen, staying off them when she can, stretching her Achilles, the stuff she knows she is supposed to do, but we are just going to have to see how they are when she gets back from her trip. My aunt starts chemotherapy tomorrow and they are going to see how she tolerates it, which is hopeful! They do NOT think the cancer has spread into the stomach and pancreas, which is excellent news. While we all know that Patrick Swayze lived with pancreatic cancer for 18 months, we also all are realistic enough to know that was not the norm. So we celebrate the small miracle that her cancer is treatable and take it one day at a time. The family really wants to get down to San Diego to see her, but doesn’t want to cause her any undue stress, and treatment is a very stressful time. We are gauging to see when it would be a beneficial trip for her, when would most help her recovery. Time will tell, we wait and see. So, all in all, the immediate family seems to be finally coming out of the health crisis, even me. Yes, even me.

This chemo is not too bad. Nope, not too bad at all. Do you remember that scene in Steel Magnolias where Julia Roberts is getting ready for her wedding and has the diabetic attack and her mom Sally Field tells her “that was not too bad, that was not too bad at all”… That’s what I feel like. I know it’s not great. It stinks, but on a relative scale, it’s not too bad. The nausea has been minimal, the pain tolerable. I was hoping that a good night’s sleep would keep me from being incredibly exhausted, but no luck there, my body feels weak and heavy and I find it hard to move easily. The other most troubling side effect is that my throat is continually sore and the congestion in my chest feels is overwhelming at times. But, compared to Ixempra…this is a walk in the park!!!!!

So, back to my discussion with God this morning. We were chatting and I was thinking that maybe that’s why the disease took the course it did, so that when I got to the homeward stretch like I’m in now I could have a better perspective about what its going to take to make it. We just don’t know how long this portion of the journey is going to last. We are starting with three rounds of this chemo. Then we are going to see where the disease has taken me. Then maybe another we’ll do another two or three for good measure…we just don’t know where the treatment will be at that point. But knowing what I know; and enduring what I have; has allowed me a point of view that enables me to believe that I can get to the end, no matter what it takes. I can walk, crawl or be carried through anything, no matter how debilitating. If I can still laugh and smile and cry and hug and kiss…well, then anything is possible. I still have my heart, my soul, my emotions, my friends, my family, the beautiful blue sky, the bright shining sun. God walks with me and talks with me. My friends email and write letters and cards and stop by to see me. My family dotes on me. My grandson adores me. It seems to me, that I have all the best life has to offer.

Sometimes, I think I have even more than most. I wouldn’t trade this cancer to anyone for anything, because I could never thrust this burden on another soul. It’s a hard burden to carry, but for me, it was the burden I was chosen to carry and with it has come a great cost. I have learned how incredibly lucky and loved I am. And that, selfishly, I could never trade with anyone either. So somedays, I think, I must be the luckiest girl alive. I am loved. And that is a feeling that will never be lost no matter how long this journey takes. The love. I take it with me, everywhere!

Monday, June 28, 2010


It was a wonderful experience. Both men finished. I have two Ironmen in my family!

This is different than any sporting event I have ever attended. Most sporting events are about the excitement, but this is about the anticipation. As you watch the competitors, you are sending them all the positive energy you have, trying to do all you can to help them continue with the race. You see the exhaustion on their faces, the need to continue, the desire to continue. And you want so much for them to be able to continue. It is grueling, demanding, arduous and thrilling. At the same time you are watching for the face of your competitor, your loved one. Wanting so much to see their face, to see them making it, hitting the turnaround times. And when you do, your heart soars…they are still in the race, they are going to make it…at least until the next turnaround…

I never had any doubt that Mike could complete the race in 17 hours. The tricky part is hitting the set in stone turnaround times; if you aren’t out of the water at 2.5 hours, that’s its; your done. Even if you know that you could make the time up on the bike or the run, it doesn’t matter. Then there are set turnaround times during each leg of the race. We watched the internet, waiting with great anticipation for them to clock in at those mandatory times, each time breathing a huge sigh of relief, yes, yes yes, they are doing it!!

So the final tally is Mike finishing at 16:33:22 and Jason at an amazing time of 14:40:22. We are incredibly proud of our Ironmen!!

I overdid it a bit, I have to admit that. I am beyond exhausted today, hoarse, sore throat, which I already had that has gone to the upper extreme limits. I feel like I have an anvil sitting on my chest. But, I got to live the experience and that is what life is about, the experience, the journey. The chemo is here, it is in me, it is doing its job. Now I rest. I rest and let it work, and I let that cocktail do the job it was designed to do, to kill those cancer cells back to nothingness. And I watch the symptoms, take my pills, drink my tea to soothe my throat and let my family and friends take care of me.

So, off to rest on the couch, become a slug and will let you know tomorrow how I’m feeling. Every day is a new experience with arrival of fresh symptoms and cures. I sit back, relax and let this chemo win. I've seen it, witnessed it, am inspired, and now I’m in my own version of the Ironman, and I plan on crossing the finish line!

Sunday, June 27, 2010


I made it to Couer d’Alene with Ruth. Yea!! I am so honored and excited to be a part of this big event in the lives of my family!!

Well, the competitors are off to the races!! They had a good night settled in with the family eating pasta, chicken, stretching and generally relaxing before the big day. There was a sense of excitement and energy surrounding them, a giddiness like no other as they prepare for the big day. An Ironman. Do you realize HOW FAR that is? Do you realize what their human bodies will have to endure during this day to finish this competition? They will start with two 1.2 miles laps in lake CDA. After that, they will transition to their bike gear and do two laps around the scene CDA mountains totaling 112.4 miles. Then its off to run a full marathon. 26.2 miles. And all this must be accomplished between 7am and midnight. 17 hours. Makes my journey the last year seem easy, I mean, who can do this!! I know Jason and Mike can, that is for sure! While I write this, they are marked and waiting for the swim along with about 2600 other competitors. There are about 400 “professionals” who also compete and start earlier, but the bulk of the race are regular people, like Mike and Jason, who just want to do something extraordinary in their lives. I am so proud of them.

The wind is blowing a little, which will be hard on the water portion. I heard it was pretty choppy out on the lake yesterday, but if there is one thing we cannot control is the weather!

So off we go, I’ll keep you posted…

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day Three, going good!!

So far so good. Yesterday was a great day. I felt fine, got a little queasy in the afternoon, but overall excellent energy level, low pain level and minor nausea. I’d say a good day in the world of cancer treatment. I am fully aware that it is still only the first 24 hours, and the first 24 are generally okay, except as my daughter reminded me, on Ixempra, so already, its better. Ixempra I was sick out of the gate for 18 days. So, it IS going to be better than the last chemo! I continue to be plagued by a really sore throat and congestion in my chest, but that is certainly livable. I can deal with just about anything after Ixempra.

I got to see Jessie yesterday, which is always a treat. My son got called into work and they needed someone to watch Jessie for an hour because Elena works late on Friday’s and that honor fell to me! Yea. I picked him up about 4:30 and we ran by GG and Papa’s (my parents) and got my doggies and said hi, my friend Carol delivered a pepperoni pizza about 5:45, which Jessie was SO happy about and his mama picked him up about 6:45, so a short but perfect visit. I felt like the best grandma in the world when I said he couldn’t have ice cream for dinner, we had to have pepperoni pizza first. Is that great or what?? Super grandma! Pizza and ice cream! Just so you know that I DO balance the plate, he had an apple and big starbucks glass of water on his way home from daycare. So I did do a nod to healthy eating inside the entire food pyramid for my grandson.

I am leaving for CDA today for the Ironman. I talked to Mike for quite a while last night and he was so thrilled with the day he spent with his son. Jason is so excited to be doing this; I know I have shared that before. And my heart just soars when I think of that father/son unit experiencing what must be the most grueling and exhilarating physical fitness event in their lifetimes, together. The energy, the people, the entire event. They had a banquet for the athletes last night which Mike said was a great time and they were both interviewed by ESPN! We hope they make a news clip, and believe me, if they do, it will be posted so you all can see our little stars! The race starts for the non-pros at 7am Sunday and they have to be off the course by midnight. Mike said he is figuring on about 16 hours, so its gonna be a long day! We are going to be there to watch the turnarounds, cheer during the transitions, give them all the encouragement and energy and love and hollers we can! I promise to rest if I need to and I will come home if required. I promise. BUT I’M NOT PLANNING ON IT!! There will be Ruth and a whole Jansky family looking out for me. To all my “mom’s” out there…I’ll be fine.

I think sometimes I’m afraid to go to sleep. Its weird, but I don’t’ want to go to bed at night. I hate to give up the day. It’s a weird phenomenon that I have been experiencing over the last week. I just don’t want to go to sleep at night. I want to stay up at late as possible. I want to read, or clean, or watch TV or whatever, but I want to be awake. I was trying to psychoanalyze myself this morning, wondering if other cancer patients also go through this, and I think they probably do. I mean, none of us know if we are going to be gifted with another day on earth. None of us. But when you have cancer, that reality is shoved down your throat everyday. You are acutely aware of your mortality. And I think that is what I am experiencing. Deep down in the far reaches of my brain I am afraid if I sleep, I might miss something. I might not wake up. This might be my last day, and I am not ready yet. I know it is completely and totally irrational. I am NOT going to die in my sleep, but there is that little voice down there, wee and tiny, reminding me, this could be my last. Do I want to leave that pile for my daughter to have to go through? I certainly don’t want to leave the dishes in the sink or the garbage full. Like I said, completely and totally irrational. But real. So I am working through it and making myself go to bed, and once I’m there, I sleep fine. The alarms go off and various hours of the morning and remind me to take my meds, and lo and behold, my eyes do open in the morning and there is beautiful sunshine outside my window, just as expected. The birds are singing, the dogs are snoring next to me. All is well in the world, I made it through the night. Of course I did. I am going to make it through thousands more nights.

So, I’m off for my adventure. Actually, I’m off for Mike and Jason’s adventure. I just get to grab onto the coattails and go for a ride.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Day Two - A-Ok

I sometimes wonder if I should “put everything out here” like I do. I pretty well share my entire life story, no matter how uninviting or unpleasant or average or boring or wonderful. This started as a way to keep people updated and in the last year has morphed over into my way of communicating with not only my friends, but my family, my co-workers, my caretakers, my fellow patients, prayer groups, people all over the world. Its crazy, but amazing how things like this spread. I always wanted to write, I was a voracious reader as a child, so writing was always the next logical step. I wrote tragic poetry and prose in high school and into college, keeping a journal on the side with my deepest and darkest secrets. So when the age of blogging came about, and cancer came in, this just seemed to fit.

So, I’ll keep writing and sharing, and people can read it, or not, but at the core of it all is that I feel compelled to share this experience with you. I hope you never have to experience a life threatening illness yourself, but maybe you can know what it is like, and you can glean some nugget of wisdom that I have been fortunate enough to gain through this journey and it can enhance your life. I truly feel that I am going through this to help others, if I cannot help someone else, what’s the point? So, if you choose, take my hand and we’ll walk together.

I have chosen to call this new regimen a “cocktail”. I like Sherri’s facebook comment that we could add a little tequila, and I would like to add some lime, please. Cocktail, well, that just sounds better, doesn’t it? So, my new and improved cocktail started yesterday with a little fanfare; insurance didn’t approve it. I have to say, there have only been some minimal insurance issues during this treatment, for the most part the company has been responsive and fair. I am not sure what was behind this denial, maybe because the doctor ordered it and wanted it through in two days, maybe because it is a relatively new protocol, but whatever the reason, insurance wanted to do some more review, doctor consultation, yada yada. Not happening. Yesterday was the day, and I didn’t care if I had to fight the insurance company from here to Texas…it had to start yesterday. All the stars had aligned and the date was right and I was ready. So, we started on the Zomeda (which was already approved) and the incredible people at Dr. Rado’s office called the insurance company every 15 minutes until they received the approval. It took about 90 minutes. But we were ready. Let’s rock and roll.

Chemo is pretty uneventful. One simply sits in the chair and receives bag after bag of various medication, each one carefully mixed, checked and double checked, then checked again by me and Mike, just to be safe. The worse part is when they give me the Benadryl to stave off any potential allergic reaction, I turn into a stoned zombie for about an hour, and I really hate it. Other than that, we just wait and with a new cocktail, watch carefully for any side affects that weren’t anticipated. There were none. Due to the tardiness of the start time, Mike needed to leave and get ready for his trip, so when Peyton was done with school she came and joined me for a few hours and kept me company during the final stages of the Abraxane and Avastin. The nurse and I carefully reviewed the anti-nausea and pain regimen that we were going to follow, which required another trip to the pharmacy to receive narcotics which is always a challenge. I am all okay with controlling narcotics. I don’t want a bunch of drug seekers roaming the streets and halls, I get it. But, when you are a legitimate patient, and you are sick, the laws make it hard for you to get your medication. The doctor wanted to increase the dosage on the pain medication, and it has to be an original prescription, it has to be dropped off at the pharmacy (no fax or phone calls) it cannot have refills; they no longer make generics…get the picture? Anyway, it’s just a hassle, especially when one is already feeling poorly. But we got it taken care of, thanks to Peyton and Elena and I am on my new pain regimen, which Thank You God, got me through the night with minimal joint pain. Peyton set alarms on my phone for when I take all my various pills, and it worked like a charm.

Elena and Houston brought Jessie by to see me last night for an hour or so, so he could eat all our raspberries, sit on my lap and read books (we discovered the Hungry Caterpillar last night!!) and generally cheer my weary soul like no other. Uneventful and beautiful and the highlight of my day. That boy never ceases to make me smile with complete uninhibited abandon!

So today I take my medication, and take care of me. I sit on my incredible patio which every day just sinks deeper and deeper into my heart and soul, refreshing me, giving me hope and solace and beauty in the middle of all this sickness. I am working on my thank you cards so I can recognize all you fantastic people who worked and donated to give me such a place of healing. I work on crossword puzzles and word searches to keep my brain synapses working. I read emails and facebook, I write in my journal. And I pray the cancer is being decimated. Once and for all.

I am hopeful that I will make it to Couer d’Alene tomorrow. Ruth and I plan on heading out about noonish, so we are there in time to have dinner with the family and watch them with their start at 7am. I want so much to watch the man I love and his son start this race together, make this memory. It is something that they will treasure for the rest of their lives. Jason is so excited to be doing this anyway, and to participate with his father is the icing on the cake. I personally think they are nuts, but I am one who eschews exercise, so I’m probably not the one to ask! They enjoy it, and that is what matters. LaNinya (Jason’s wife) made the COOLEST Iron Mansky shirts for us to wear, and even added some bling to mine. She left it here, just in case I couldn’t make it, but I plan on being there, wearing my shirt at the start line, at the finish line, eyes glued to the man I love.

I’ll keep you posted. The prayers are working, I feel okay, and this is the right cocktail, I feel that in my soul. I’m certainly not running anywhere today, but I am moving, I’m vertical, and for now, that’s the best I could hope to can ask for!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Good Omens for a New Day

Only his mama and I thought he could do it. Sit through a movie. But I knew he was a good boy and he could follow the rules, he could sit there and watch a movie on the giant movie screen. Of course, his Mama and Nana were right. We are always right.

Elena and I took Jessie to his first ever movie yesterday. That might not seem like a big deal in your world, I mean it’s just a movie, but in my world, it was one of the most precious moments that I will cherish always. It’s some of the little things in life that I treasure the most these days, those moments that you realize if you leave this world will slip by relatively unnoticed. Like a movie. He walked around a little at first, down the stairs to see the “big screen”, not running, not hollering, just exploring and was told that when the previews started he would have to sit down. So when the previews started he came to sit in his chair and that was when the first problem arrived, how can a 3 year old sit in one of those theatre chairs? At 30 pounds, they aren’t big enough to keep the chair from popping back up! So Elena and I are holding his chair down, and he is not comfortable, we can see it, so we try a booster, and that is even worse, this hard plastic piece of crap that he is supposed to sit on which looks really uncomfortable, so I ask him if he wants to sit on Nana’s lap. He enthusiastically obliges me, which as you can imagine, fills my heart to overflowing. But I feel bad, this is him Mama’s moment too, its her first movie with him and I want her to have that special experience too, so I check to see if she is okay and she moves over one seat so she is next to us. I take her hand. And in that moment it is just us, the three of us, experiencing a first, a silly Pixar cartoon, and loving it. Jessie sat in my lap the entire movie, I held him, I smelled his hair, kissed his cheek. We shared popcorn, icees, M&Ms and fruit snacks, most of it on my clothes. I didn’t care, it’ll wash. We watched the scary bear terrorize Buzz and then Woody save the day. We shared the bittersweet ending which brought tears to my eyes, partially because the ending truly touched my heart, and partly because I had got to live to be a part of that moment, that first in my grandson’s life. That little life that I love so very very much and want to be a part of for an extremely long time. As far as days and experiences go, this one is way up there on the list. I love that child, with more than words can say.

As I drove home, I cried and thanked God for giving me that first, that piece of hope in my life. And I asked for more. No hurt in asking.

Earlier in the day, crisis was narrowly averted at the mall. As you read previously, I almost jinxed the whole good omen thing by simply not following my own protocols! I had no new chemo shoes!! Don’t worry, serious shoppers like me and my daughter are foes to be reckoned with, and we found a perfect pair of bling sandals at Macy’s. I know, not the Buckle, they had some rockin' high heels, but there is NO way I can walk in heels right now, I need BLING! So BLING I got. What ya think? Blow this popsicle stand right out of the water with these babies…Yup. I’m ready.

So, today is the day. And its more than just the day I start chemo again, it is one year from the day that this cancer returned. Yup, believe it, one ago year today I went to the Emergency Room with chest pain. One year ago today that dear sweet Dr. Ethan Bachrach held my hand with so much compassion in that cold emergency room and told me that my lungs were covered with cancer metastases. One year ago today, my life changed forever.

A lot has happened since then. Not all good, but certainly not all bad either. If you look at that CT from one year ago today, you will see a very grim picture. Lungs, both lungs, covered completely in tumors. I am sure that the doctors did not think they would see me still here, one year later, enjoying a movie with my grandson. But here I am, still walking talking laughing crying hoping and trying. The cancer in my lungs mostly gone, the bone mets gone, the lymph sites clear. So we have the brain we are dealing with and we know that it is in my body in small amounts scoping out the next attack pod…but I am still here. Against the odds, I am still here. And no one can take that away from me. I defied the odds and survived and I plan on defying them again. My intention is to be here next June 24th, 2011, still winning the race against cancer, still surviving all the skirmishes and battles of this war.

I realized the significance of the date last night, and thought, good omen, bad omen…could go either way, but I choose to see it as good. I mean, one year ago today if you had asked a scientist with strictly statistical knowledge of my cancer and my case if they thought I’d still be around in a year, I would bet dollars to donuts that the answer would have been no. My prognosis was and continues to be, very very poor, but, that’s where the bad news ends. It’s a prognosis and they are statistics. Me, I am not prognosis or statistics, I am me. I am Patty Sue Taylor aka Patricia Suzanne Ryder. And I have beat this cancer where other patients, God rest their beautiful and weary souls, have fallen. And I will continue to walk for them, and for me, and for my family and friends. I will keep walking and fighting and trying and living and making every effort to create moments that count. I will treasure the simple things like no other. The cadence of my grandson’s voice, the rise and fall of his chest as he breathes, the scent of all boy mixed with popcorn and even the feel of cold sugary sweet sticky icee slipping down my leg, all moments to be treasured. Forever. For the icee will wash off, the moment, well, that is mine eternally.

So I choose to find this a good omen. Because I’m still here. And that is good. Easy ‘nough choice for me.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pink Combat Boots.

I need new shoes.

The thought was thrust mightily into my mind last night as I was getting ready for bed. Holy guacamole, I could jinx the entire good fortune that has been given with this new treatment simply by not following my own protocols! New chemotherapy calls for new shoes. No exceptions. I woke my daughter up, and she sleepily replied that she agreed, new shoes were definitely in order. (Of course, when wouldn’t she agree to new shoes?) She has class at CBC this morning and is done at 11:30, we are on dog walking duty today, so hopefully the weather is cool, we can walk the puppies at the park and then it’s off to the mall for some serious shoe shopping.

They will have to be perfect. They will have to sing out to me, with a voice so beautiful and clear on pitch. They MUST be superlative chemo shoes. No heels this time, sandals, ideal summer fun shoes, sassy and impertinent, brazen and bold. I’ll know them when I see them and when they slip onto my feet, with my perfectly manicured toes (thanks to my daughter) I’ll know that everything is going to be okay. This chemo is going to work, the stars are aligned, we have found the key to the secret door that cures my cancer!

Okay, so maybe YOU can’t get all that from a perfect pair of sandals, but I can. I am a shoe girl.

Aside from the shoes, it’s going to be a perfect day anyway. Elena invited me to take Jessie to his first movie ever! We are so excited! Jessie, Elena and I are going to go see Toy Story 3 this afternoon at 4:30 when she gets off work, and I have to say I am beyond jazzed. Jessie and I have talked about the theatre, and what we can do (sit and watch the movie and whisper if needed) and what we can’t do (talk and runaround) and what we are going to eat (popcorn and icees and chocolate, yeah, I’m the healthy nana at movies…NOT) and the GIANT screen and the sound. Anyway, he is completely thrilled, and so am I to be a part of this tiny little “first” in my grandson’s life. It is a little thing, I know, but it is mine, and I will cherish it.

Jessie was visiting last night, and we have such a special relationship. He always says that he make nana feel better, which of course he does. He never ceases to bring a smile to my face, or warmth into my heart. When he walks into the room, my world lights up like no other. He is pure and brilliant sunshine. I was reflecting on the relationship that my kids have with their grandparents, and I hope and pray that I get to see my grandson graduate from high school in 15 years like my parents did with all their grandchildren. I want to be here to watch him walk down that aisle and get that diploma and be a part of all that goes into that milestone in his life. And I plan on fighting to be there, but life doesn’t always give us what we want, does it? It throws a straight, when we are expecting a curve, or vice versa. Jessie is so young, if he lost me, would he remember me? Would he remember those kisses, those definitive statements that he makes - “I MAKE MY NANA FEEL BETTER.” Probably not. So I decided that I want to help solidify those memories for him and I am going to write regularly to my grandson. Put in writing the times we are together, what happened, how we made each other feel. Capture that laughter, that joy, so that if I am gone, he can read and remember and know how much he was loved, how much he was treasured, how much he meant to me and that yes, he ALWAYS made me feel better. Luckily, so far, this cancer has not taken away my ability to write, so write I will. I will pour my heart and my emotions out on the computer and it will last beyond me, beyond this life, and hopefully enrich the lives of those I love so much.

So, it’s a bittersweet kinda day. I am so not ready to do chemo again, but I am prepared to rock and roll. I am equipped (almost, once I have my shoes) and reporting for combat. I know it’s not going to be easy, but I am all set, physically and mentally. I’ll find my own version of pink combat boots and together, we are going to tear it up. This cancer, those little cells in there wanting to march all over me, well they don’t stand a chance. Because they haven’t met Patty, and they are about to. And SHE is a woman to be reckoned with.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

More Chemo.

Well its one of those days. Those days when I wish I could just rewind the clock and go back a year to before. Before my life was a cancer commercial, before my life become consumed by this disease. When my worries were what was for dinner and if my daughter was going to make her curfew. When my pressures were work, friends, family and all the joy and heartache that entails. When my life was normal.

Whatever normal was, normal is no more.

As you know, my MRI revealed “partial” response to therapy, which is what they expected and it will be awhile before we truly know if the radiation worked to its full potential. Until then, it is a wait and see attitude, as I work through the side effects and aftermath of the destruction the cancer and the cure caused in my brain. I have related before the cognitive challenges that I have been experiencing, and I struggle with that every day. It is true, of all the things I miss, I miss my mind the most. That used to be a joke about getting old, now it’s just true of cancer in the brain! I really want the use of my fully functioning brain back, even if it wasn’t perfect, at least it worked, most of the time, anyway.

So, I had a CT last Friday and the results actually were fairly positive. Most everything is clear except for one little tumor in my lung which has grown a little. Not a lot, just a little. But a little can turn into a lot if left unchecked. With that, added to the fact that this cancer just stampeded into my brain barerly over a month ago with no warning or notice, a new chemotherapy protocol is warranted. If it was just the little spot in my lungs, we might wait, but we know with almost certainty that there is cancer still lurking in my body, we just can’t see those damn little cockroaches stomping around yet, and Dr. Rado wants to get them before they get me.

So there were a few different protocols that we were looking at; Avastin, which was approved in 2008 and has been found to cross the blood/brain barrier and a PARP Inhibitor, which just finished clinical trials and is current undergoing FDA approval but is specifically for triple negative breast cancer treatment and I might be eligible for compassionate care since I don’t have a lot of options. Then there was a third protocol that, weirdly enough, my brother found on the internet and sent to me a few weeks ago. He thought it was still in clinical trials, but further investigation revealed that it was actually done with trials, is FDA approved and was exactly what Dr. Rado was also investigating for me. How bizzaro is that? My brother finds it a few weeks ago, Mike and I look at it and agree it is probably the best treatment for me and then Dr. Rado recommends it. Okay, that sounds like a good divine intervention for a change! Maybe we are finally on the right track.

So what this means, is that I start chemotherapy again on Thursday. I am not happy about it, I knew eventually I was probably going to have to do more chemo, I was just hoping it was 6 months, a year or longer out. But, the time to fight is now, while the foe is already on the run, so fight I will. With all my heart and soul, with all I am, with every fiber of my being. Because, God, I want to live and I have A LOT to live for.

For you medical people out there who want to know exactly what I am doing; here are the drugs/protocols. Zomeda, every three weeks. That is the bisphosphonate drug I had such a hard time with during radiation. Hopefully, this next dose goes better! The chemo is going to be split in half and I will get the first half on day 1 and second half on day 15 and then the cycle will start all over again 15 days later with day 1. I will be doing Avastin (bevacizumab) and Abraxane (nab-paclitaxel). This combo was presented at the American Association for Cancer Research on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 (the day of my brother’s 50th birthday, which I think is an incredibly awesome good omen) and was found to have extremely successful results in triple negative patients. I am feeling pretty good about this right now.

I admit, I am terrified to start chemo again. I was devastated, I cried, I HATE chemo, I hate being sick and I have just about had it with this cancer crap…but…all that said, now is the time I fight. I know it, and so do you. So fight we will, together, all of you and me. Let’s do it.

Mike and Jason are doing the Ironman Triathlon in Coeur d’Alene this weekend. I was planning on going; a whole family weekend in a house Mike rented with Jason, his family and children, Mike’s sister and me. Now, my part of that trip is on hold. There is no way I can have chemo on Thursday morning and then leave town. So, I will wait and see how I feel on Saturday and I am hoping I’ll feel good enough to join them, and I have a friend who has agreed to drive me up there, but again, it’s a wait and see game. See how I feel and hopefully I’ll be there to watch them start and finish a major accomplishment in their lives, together, father and son. What a special special thing to be a part of, and I hate that this cancer might take that away from me.

So, that’s the plan. We fight. We fight the good fight, all the way to the death. The death of this cancer.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Life Happens.

Life is what happens when we are making other plans.

Or so that’s how the saying goes, and I tend to agree. Plans go awry. They go south when we least expect them, and things change. Some people hold on white knuckled and some people are the types that just go with the flow, me…I think I’m somewhere in-between. I don’t mind changes in my life, and I can be an adrenaline junkie sometimes, but there are those big changes that cause me to hold on tight because I really don’t know what is beyond the bend. That’s how I handle the cancer change in my life; I hold on tight to hope and try to get through, and go with the flow when I can, knowing I am only capable of doing my part, so much is just out of my hands. Call it fate, destiny, chance, divine providence or whatever, there are just things for which we have no control. And major illness is one of them. I was SO healthy when I got sick. That is what is so crazy. I did everything “right”, ate right, exercised, meditated, stress reduction techniques, the whole ball of wax, but nothing kept it from coming back. So, I just hold on for the ride and hope that I am going to get off this roller coaster soon. And if not, well, then I just keep holding on and taking it one day at a time.

Yesterday threw a curve ball at me too. I had plans for the day with the dads in my life and things just did not work out the way I had planned. Mom ended up very very sick on Saturday night, and I am going to have to rant about that for just a moment because her physician, Dr. Higgs, and his practice, Tri-City Orthopedic, are making me extremely upset because of their lackadaisical treatment of her. She may not want me to share this, but you know me, I just put everything out there and let the chips fall where they may.

You know the basic story; Mom fell about three weeks ago. Hard fall. Her leg below her knee hurt, but it kept getting progressively worse and she finally went to the doctor on June 9th when she was in extreme, uncontrollable pain. They did an x-ray that day and determined with 90% certainty that she had cracked the bone in her leg below her knee replacement, had done no damage to the replacement itself, she should stay off it, take pain medication, and follow up with Dr. Higgs on June 23rd. They gave her Dilautid, which is a good narcotic, fights pain and doesn’t make her sick to her stomach. Pain medication mostly just makes her throw up. So, she takes her pain medication, on schedule, and it works ok, takes the edge off, and she isn’t puking. Good thing, right? So she calls a week later to get a refill and is told that “they only give this pain medication to surgical patients and they never give refills. They would give her a lower dose drug, Lortab.” So, she gets the lortabs and they make her sick. Really sick. So I called Dr. Higgs office and after over 7 minutes of holding and phone trees finally get the nurses voice mail. And I express my frustration that they are not treating my elderly mother (I hate the world “elderly” but it sounds good in this situation) with compassion or providing adequate pain control. There is no reason that they cannot and will not refill the other type of pain medication that works better for her. She is not a drug seeker, she is a woman in pain, and she can’t see the doctor until this Wednesday and until then she is supposed to just throw up and be in pain? I was nice, I swear, but never received a call back…nor did my mother. So by Saturday night, she was puking all night, which seriously nixed our green chili plans for yesterday on father’s day, which I know is beside the point, but then she is sick and doesn’t get her day either!! But what makes me so ANGRY is that the doctor's office is not treating my mother with compassion and like an individual patient. I have to confess, I gave her some of my anti-nausea medication (I do have a few of those) and they seem to be helping, but the point is, I shouldn’t have to. Dr. Higg's office should be helping her. So, I’ll see how she is doing today, and I may call the office again, I know they can’t talk to me about her case (HIPPA and whatnot) and I don’t care if they do, I know the case, I just want them to take care of my mother. Like I said, she sees Higgs on Wednesday, but the problem is, she isn’t getting any better and she isn’t so sure it’s a cracked bone, and you know what, Higgs isn’t sure either. So, let’s frickin find out. And in the words of Forrest Gump…that’s all I have to say about that.

Then Houston and Elena got in a fight yesterday. It was over disciplining Jessie, which is always a tough thing. As most of you know, they have not really been together for the last year, so they have not been raising him together… Anyway, I tried to do the best I could to make it a teaching, coming together as a parent moment, but my son behaved like a child and stormed off, leaving Elena and Jessie with me. During the argument, her car had broken down and was dead at the gas station, so she had no vehicle, no car seat. So, as usual, mom stepped in for the rescue and gave her my car, Peyton went and got gma and gpas car seat and she was able to spend a few hours with us and then take Jessie home. My understanding is that she is getting the car fixed today and I get my car back this afternoon. I am so glad I could help, I never mind helping Jessie or Elena, it was that my son didn’t and I was so disappointed in him. So as much as we take 10 steps forward, I guess we have to take those few steps back. Life happens. Our experiences in the past dictate how we behave today and sometimes it takes a while to break old patterns. So, I will take the time to talk to my son, give him my opinion, he can take it or leave it at this point, and will tell him the same things I told Elena…this is a perfect moment to set out guidelines and come together as a united parental unit and decide together how to discipline Jessie and how to be consistent at both houses. We’ll see. Sounds good in theory at least.

So at 5pm yesterday, Peyton and I threw a few steaks on the grill, a few potatoes in the microwave, some leftover salad from dinner Friday and had a lovely dinner together. It was too cool and rainy to eat on the patio, so we sat formal at the dining room table with cloth napkins and everything and made it a special dinner, mom and daughter style. She hates father’s day anyway, so moms day was okay.

So life just comes at you the way it comes. And mostly, we can’t control it. It just happens around us and we swirl and spin and try to keep up. I am struggling with cognition and the ability of my mind to think and react clearly in any given situation. And it’s frustrating, but I am working through it. I’m writing and reading, and doing everything I can to keep my mind active. And I am taking life as it comes. One day, sometimes one moment, at a time. And one moment is sometimes, the best we can do.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father’s Day. To all you great dad’s out there, thanks. I am grateful to have a wonderful father in my life who has been with me through thick and thin and I have known with absolute certainty my entire life that he would never abandon me, no matter what I did, no matter how much trouble I got in, no matter how crappy I was, because he loves me unconditionally. That’s what a dad does. They love without bounds, without limits. And my dad is a jokester, he is rarely serious, I got him a funny card and a case of beer… not very original… but in his heart of hearts he has a tender soul for his children, grand-children and great grandchild. He loves his wife, his country. He was in the Navy. He is a patriot and a hard working family man. He is a decent and caring American. I am so proud to call him my dad. Ok, dad, I’ll get off my “dad of the year” soap box and you can go back to being an ornery old fart!!

My son is turning into a fine father too. He has struggled with his age and life choices, but at the core of it all is his desire to be a good father, a better father than he was certainly given. He plays with his son and is trying to learn how to be a disciplinarian to a 3-year old, which is always a challenge, especially when you have not been around the entire 3 years and don’t live with your child, but are trying to do all you can to put that family relationship back together. Let’s just say I am proud of the effort he is making. I see him trying, with all his heart, and that makes me proud. He is going to turn out just fine. I know it in the core of my being. He may have lost his way for awhile, but the path is becoming clear to him and he is stumbling along it to the best of his abilities. That’s all anyone can ask of anybody.

My daughter hates today. I hate it with her for the same reasons. She acknowledges her grandfather as the only father in her life, which he is, but it is so difficult to not have her “real” father around and he has never taken part in her life. Not since she was two years old. Not by a lack of trying by her either. When she could, she has always kept the lines of communication open, she has always been the one to call or text, but he has never been able to consistently reciprocate or even keep the simplest of promises, such as, I’ll call you back or I’ll be there when I say I will. He gets on the phone and tells her he loves her and he thinks of her always, then lies and breaks all his promises. It is heartbreaking to watch, painful to see her bear this burden, but it is her cross to bear, and I hope maybe someday the experience, all she has learned, she will be able to use to share with others, to help someone else. Going into the social work field, as is her plan, her life experiences will only help to enhance her capacity for empathy, for compassion. It will make her a better person…she just has to get through the day! And I’ll be here to walk with her, hold her hand, wipe her tears when she cries them tonight, as I know she will.

The weather is certainly not conducive to a father’s day BBQ so mom has agreed to prepare a pot of green chili for burritos for the day, which is something that I would certainly never turn down! She is getting around better, or maybe just faking the pain better, but I still worry about her being up on her leg too much. Houston, Elena and Jessie are going to come over this morning to walk the dogs with Papa, which is one of Jessie’s favorite things in the world to do. He is Papa’s parrot. Whatever Papa (Great-grand-pa) says, Jessie says. Papa is the king, the great hero. I love watching them together, it is such an incredibly beautiful thing to watch a great grandchild with their Papa. Hero worship is not necessarily a negative thing when you are looking up to someone as awesome as Jessie’s Papa.

So, I will muddle through my day. I struggle between being so exhausted I cannot move with being unable to sleep because of the steroids, no matter what medications I take. This is coupled with being easily confused and quickly overwhelmed. This multi-tasker from Kadlec can only do one thing at a time now, and even that is questionable sometimes. That has been challenging and frustrating for me. I go go go, I do 20 things at once and ask for more, and now I am lucky if I can focus and complete one task at a time. It’s a scary place to be, and I pray my cognitive abilities will come back soon. I miss my mind. I know it wasn’t that great to begin with, but when you don’t have the little you did have, your realize all you lost!!!

Give some love to the dad’s in your life. And give the greatest love of all to God the Father, the Dad of all Dads. The one that we would all aspire to be like, the one we should be emulating in our everyday life. Be the light of God to all around you. Light the world with His love and it will shine right back at you, lighting your day too.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Exhausted, But Hanging In There

I just can’t seem to get past total exhaustion. It’s crazy. Normally the steroids keep the energy level higher and then all the other meds (pain, anti-seizure, anti-nausea) take the edge off the steroids, but they all seem to be working in concert together to throw my body into bed. I know people have called and texted and want to stop by, and all I want to do is sleep. So, if you have been trying to get a hold of me, I’m really not ignoring you, I’m just too tired to respond.

Ok, so there is also this new phone. It was time, my old phone was dying in the middle of calls, cutting out, all that stuff cell phones do when they are dying, so my daughter got the new Sprint HTC EVO, a droid type phone, so I ordered one too. What the heck, I got time to learn a new phone, right? Well, I’m trying. I have to say, it has some of the coolest stuff on it ever. Mike and I caught up on the World Cup watching Sprint TV on my phone on the way home from the hospital yesterday (ok, he watched the road, I watched the phone). But, I certainly am not proficient on this new little piece of technology, however I think someday when I learn it, I’ll really like it. But that is probably another reason I might not be as adept at responding to texts as normal…I have a harder time typing since it’s a touch screen. I’m figuring it out though and since I have nothing but time on my hands. Why not learn new technology?

Speaking of the hospital, I did have my CT with contrast yesterday. Yummy. Makes for such a wonderful day drinking all that stuff and then dealing with the after effects. I was pretty wiped out last night physically as my body tried to process not only the liquid contrast but get out the iodine contrast that they also used. I’m going to call Monday and get the results, they should be done by then, and see Dr. Rado on Tuesday. So I am praying for GREAT news from this CT. CLEAR CLEAR CLEAR. I do not want this cancer crap back in my body. I am preparing myself for any news at this point, but praying for clear. I just can’t imagine that this stuff could come back after 18 rounds of chemo, but this cancer is not known for behaving nicely. So we wait, and we pray, and we hope.

I came to sit on my loverly patio this morning and was surprised to see it covered in puddles, apparently its going to be a rainy day! Maybe it will clear up later, but for now I just moved my chair under the eaves and wiped the table off and am sitting out here anyway. Jessie is going to stop by later with Houston; I can’t wait to see my little man. He knows Nana is not feeling well, and he never fails to cheer me up. When he comes over he puts his precious little dirty hands on both sides of my face and looks me straight in the eye and asks me “You okay Nana? I feel okay.” I tell him Nana feels fine and am glad he feels good too, and we go about our visit. It is the most tender and sweet moment in my day. I love that little boy with a heart about to burst. He is tender and kind, rambunctious and rowdy. He misbehaves and then breaks my heart with his drama king tears. He is my perfect little grandson. I can’t remember if I have told you, but Houston and Elena are going to the Oregon Coast July 10-13 to celebrate Elena’s birthday and they have invited me to tag along. I am so excited! Tina and I were talking just when we were at the coast last month about how enjoyable it is to see your grandchild fighting the mighty ocean waves, and now I get the treasure of being able to see it first hand. Jessie and I have been talking about it, and the shells we are going to get, and the waves, and the water, and the sand… We are stoked. On the way home we are going to stay a day in Portland and go to the zoo. Now, I am not really a zoo person, I feel bad for all those animals in enclosures, but I know that Jessie is going to love it and will learn so much. I am just so grateful to be included in their little family outing, and hope that I don’t drag anyone down with my low energy level. I am going to rest a lot between now and then!

So, that’s my day, that’s my life. Thank you for sharing in it. God and I were chatting this morning and I’m feeling more hopeful, my outlook feels brighter. I don’t know how much time I have left, I really don’t, none of us do, but I know what I have is going to be wonderful, filled with love and laughter and joy and tears and sorrow and all the riches that life has to offer.

Sink your teeth in and enjoy the day. With gusto!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Keep Saving Me.

The birds in my neighborhood have to be the happiest birds on the planet. Every single day I wake up and they are singing at the top of their little lungs. Now, I don’t know if it is strictly for my benefit, but I certainly do enjoy it. They are loud! They sing from one side, then respond from the other. It is a beautiful melody to start the day.

I know you will find this hard to believe, but I am spending the first few hours of my morning on my most delightful patio with a cup of Doma coffee. I have an 8:30 curfew for food and beverage, so I am making the best of it before its time to start fasting and start drinking contrast liquid for my upcoming CT scan. I was enjoying the leisurely pace in which my day was starting in bed, listing to those birds sing, but I knew if I didn’t get up, I wouldn’t get toast and coffee, and my stomach won out over my pillow!

I am still feeling rather weak and puny. I wish I knew why, perhaps it is just too much too soon and my body needs some time to recover. Sara, my PT and dear friend, says that this next month needs to be brain recovery month. My mind needs rest, relaxation, simple sounds, lots of sleep. I need to give my brain the time to recover from the trauma it has received, from the tumors to the cure. Radiation is a dangerous and awful thing to subject the body to, and I just bombarded my entire brain with radiation for 15 days. That’s a lot to subject the most important organ of our body to, so the brain deserves some TCL in return. I’m not good at the recovery thing, I seem to think when treatment is done, my body should just rebound and overcome. I forget that the recovery is just as important as the treatment. My friends have given me a most picturesque place to recover this summer, in this backyard I love so much, and I will take full advantage of the healing environment it provides.

I was listening to the radio this morning, 93.3, and this song came on. Its lyrics were so apropos for what I have been feeling in the last 48 hours that it seemed to come straight from God to my ears. I hope you will find its message as comforting as I have. Fix your gaze on faith, hope and love. Hold tight to your God. When things seem the darkest, that is when He seems to shine the brightest. The lesson to us is that we need to learn to shine His light on us all the time, not just in the misty gloom and shadows but in the brightest of days. Imagine the hottest, brightest, summer weekend sunshine further intensified by the radiance of God’s light. It’s beyond your comprehension, isn’t it? But imagine, try to imagine. Hold that image in your heart, in your soul. Feel its love and power. That’s the God of the universe holding you.

Savior, Please. By Josh Wilson

Savior, please take my hand,
I work so hard, I live so fast
This life begins, and then it ends,
And I do the best that I can, but I don't know how long I'll last

I try to be so tough
But I'm just not strong enough
I can't do this alone, God I need You to hold on to me
I try to be good enough
But I'm nothing without Your love
Savior, please keep saving me

Savior, please help me stand
I fall so hard, I fade so fast
Will You begin right where I end
And be the God of all I am because You're all I have

Everything You are to me
Is everything I'll ever need
And I am learning to believe
That I don't have to prove a thing
'Cause You're the one who's saving me.

Go out and make it the most wonderful of days. Shine your light on another life, bring hope into the world. That is the best gift we can share with others. Hope.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I know you all have been waiting for an update on my MRI and I apologize for the delay in getting this posted! It’s been a long day and I have been very tired and spent most of the afternoon sleeping.

I received a message this morning from Dr. Giever that the MRI results showed that there is still a lot of swelling in the brain, but it is reduced from the previous MRI. The conclusion shows that there “Areas of cortical and leptomeningeal enhancement in the posterior left frontal, left parietal and right occipital lobe persist but are slightly decreased in degree of enhancement in comparison to previous study. There is also been a significant interval reduction in the amount of surrounding vasogenic edema. This suggests partial response to therapy. No new areas of metastatic involvement are demonstrated."

So, I guess that is a good news/bad news thing. I mean, that is great there is no new areas of tumors but I was sure hoping to hear a GREAT or IMPROVED response to treatment. I guess I wasn’t expecting “slightly decreased”. Discussion with the physician indicates that it is hard to tell if it is dead or live tumor until the next scan, and what is left could just be dead tumor that will stay there as scar tissue or eventually slough off. The good news is that there has been no spreadage. So, I have been put on fairly high dose steroids to get the swelling down and the taper schedule is over the next 6 weeks rather than the 3 weeks that I was on before. He feels it is unlikely that any significant cancer survived the amount of radiation that was given, so the likelihood of increased tumor at my next scan on July 26th is doubtful. I’ll have to say I’ll feel better when it is definitive. For now, we wait.

So, God listened, and He didn’t say yes and He didn’t say no, He said maybe. Maybe it will get better, maybe it will not. But for today, I just have to have faith. So, faith is what I will have. I will take my meds and hope and pray that the cancer is just lying dormant and dead in my brain.

In the meantime, we will do a CT scan tomorrow and I’ll see Dr. Rado next week and I’ll know if there has been any spread in the rest of my body. I have to confess that I have had a little cough as of late, but that could be related to the radiation, not necessarily any cancer in my lungs. But that question will be cleared up next Tuesday and I will also have a little more information regarding my path forward as far as medical oncological treatment. Do I do Avistin or the PARP Inhibitor (just finished with clinical trials). There are a lot of unanswered questions, cancer is a lot of waiting, wondering, worrying and hoping.

On to happier matters. Was that a wonderful article or what?? Is that the coolest thing in the world the recognition that was given to the incredible people who did my backyard. I am so humbled, grateful and heart warmed. And I have to say it came on a week when I needed it the absolute most. Thanks to my friends for getting me through what has ended up being a very difficult week. I was able to sit on the patio this morning and enjoy an hour with my mother while Peyton and Dad walked the dogs. It was awesome.

So for now I rest, I wait and I hope and I pray. And I know you join me. I feel your prayers, they keep me going.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Long Story.

This is a long one, if you want to take today’s journey with me, grab a cool beverage, or a nice cuppa coffee and settle in for my story of breaking. Because I think there comes a time during treatment when you finally just loose it. You go on complete overload, you can’t handle one more thing and you find your breaking point. I found mine today.

I lost it. Completely. I yelled and cussed and screamed. Unfortunately, I did it at my daughter. She didn’t deserve it, she may have had a small part in it, but it was all me. I lost it. Then I lost it again at the doctor, I couldn’t stop crying. Poor guy. Doctors have to hate crying patients. But given the last few days, the recurrence of so many symptoms, the degradation of my general sense of well being, he wanted to do a stat MRI with contrast and that freaked me out even more, and I did all I could do to keep it together. I hate crying patients too.

So Lindsay, my dear sweet Lindsay (my friend and scheduler), got on the phone and Kadlec seemed to think that STAT meant Tuesday…needless to say I was scheduled at 4:45 by the time Lindsay was done talking to them. I love that girl. She was ready to take on United Airlines on my behalf if she had to earlier this week. She is a pit-bull in fabulous clothes and a rockin haircut. Gorgeous girl and an amazing ally.

In the midst of all of this, my dad has hurt his neck (recurring injury), my mom’s leg you all know about, my son has some sort of infection on his head and is having horrible headaches, my daughter’s feet are acting up and it appears that her SVT (supra ventricular tachycardia) is also misbehaving. The only good thing is that they are not certain how far my aunt’s cancer has spread, they know for sure it is in her ovaries but are not convinced it is in her pancreas, so are doing a PET scan to see how far and where it is spread. We aren’t even sure what kind of cancer it is yet. Which is crazy, but I know that really, that is how the medical system wheels turn, especially if you are on Medicare, the wheels turn very very slowly, when they should be moving at Mach 5.

So, back to my afternoon. Durashine showed up unannounced today. I am SO happy that they came, but I wasn’t expecting them, and threw a little monkey wrench in my day. They offered to come back at 1:30, which was great, and I planned on just locking the dogs out in their nice new dog run. In the meantime, the Tri-City Herald asked to do a story on the backyard transformation, which I was more than happy to accommodate. I want to shine that light on my beautiful extended Kadlec family and friends and give the biggest positive light I can on Kadlec, the community and the beauty that can come out of such a horrible disease. I talked to the reporter and then a photographer showed up around 1:30. Mike picked me up at 1:45 and we locked the dogs out amidst my temper tantrum with my daughter. Then I melted down at the doctor, came outside and it was pouring rain, so then I was worried about those dumb but lovable dogs, so I wanted to run home and get them and take them to my parents, so we squeezed them in Mike’s little truck and they are shedding something terrible and I hated to do that to him, since he is really not a dog lover like me, but what do you do? So I run to my parents and see my dad and he is hurting and doped up (which I know he HATES) and my mom is traversing better, but she doesn’t feel well either, and I know she hates not being useful, and I know my daughter is so mad at me, and I am scared about this stupid MRI, and I just can’t deal with one more thing. So I get out of my parents house before I lose it completely and they have to deal with a crying daughter, which is an awful thing to have to do, believe me, I know. I have dealt with a crying daughter a lot.

So I cry, and I cry, and I cry. Mike drops me off and I cry some more. He has to leave, the poor guy does have to keep a job amidst all this strife, so I cry some more. And alone I yell some more and I tell GOD that I CANNOT HANDLE ONE MORE THING!! I CANNOT! YOU HAVE TO GIVE ME SOMETHING GOOD, SOMETHING TO HOLD ON TO!! Not one more piece of bad news, not one. This has to be good news. There has to be a statute of limitations for crap in your life, and I have reached mine. NO MORE I bawl at God NO MORE!

I need a ride to my MRI so I call Peyton, I have to have a ride and she is going to have to forgive me sometime, so she comes home about 3:30, walks right past me and goes to her room without a word, so I cry some more. I lose it completely, she hates me, I am sure. I am the drama queen, a complete babbling idiot. I can’t imagine the hell I have already put my children through in the last year and now I have completely lost my mother of the year award for 2010, that is for sure. I can’t handle it, I am sobbing, I am a puddle of tears. I can’t do this anymore. I am beyond my breaking point.

I pull myself up the stairs to get ready for my MRI, no metal ya know, so I have to de-bling myself. I stick my head in her room, she is on chat with Mason, so I quickly close the door. She hears me sobbing, I mean, how the can she not, and follows me to the bathroom, where she makes me sit down on the commode and tells me it is okay. She is not mad at me; she loves me, which makes me cry even more. I am pathetic.

So she takes me to Kadlec and gets me to registration and I send her home. I mean who would want to sit there for an hour and just wait for and an MRI to be done. So I get registered and get the paperwork and it asks all these stupid questions about headaches and sudden onset and brain trauma and crap, and I can’t decide how to answer them, I don’t know what to say, so I call Mike at work (I am sure he really needed me to interrupt his meeting) so I can cry and tell him I don’t know how to answer the questions. I can’t figure it out. He helps me answer and God bless him, does all he can to calm me down. I am crying, trying to fill out this dumb one page form, and I look up and there is my dear friend Joey, who wraps me in her arms and tells me it is gonna be okay. I actually believe her.

The tech comes to get me. I can’t keep up. I have my little pink cane now, which I find even more pathetic, and I think…I used to stride through these halls in my 4 inch heels and killer suits and I owned the place. It was my hospital, my home, my stomping grounds, my place to help people heal. Now I can’t keep up with the technician taking me to the MRI that helps to determine if I live or die. I was upset he didn’t bring me a wheelchair. I feel humiliated because I can’t keep up. I feel useless.

The tears stream down my face through the entire MRI. I can’t help it. I am listening to the Christian music station, hearing about how God will not leave me or forsake me, and I keep saying over and over, give me good news, give me good news, please God, please God, I can’t take anymore bad news. I can’t take it.

I am beyond my breaking point. I am completely broken.

I finish the MRI; I try to pretend it is all okay. I make small talk with the nurse. I look to the door and there is my hero, My Mike, waiting for me. Coming to save me from myself and slay the dragons in my path. He has the new Sarah MacLaughlin CD in his car. Her voice is like an angel singing to me on the way home. I cry some more and wonder if I’ll ever stop crying. I know I will. I just have to get through this. And I will. Somehow I will. I know it. I have to.

I send an email to Dr. Iuliano asking him to look at my MRI tomorrow. He is the best neuro-radiologist in the business in this region, and he is also a friend who I trust with my life. Hopefully, I’ll hear something tomorrow. Hopefully it will be good news. Hopefully it is just some residual swelling from the radiation or some fluid from the cancer cells that have been butchered that need to be drained or some other benign or obscure disorder that can be fixed. Hopefully, it’s not the worse, which would be for this insipid cancer to behave badly as it has in so many ways before, and attack again without warning. God, I hate cancer. I hope You hate it too.

So, I think we all have a breaking point, we just don’t always see it coming. And that's okay. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to yell at God, He can handle it. His answer may be no, but if I can dish it out, He can take it. And He hasn’t given up on me yet, of that I am sure. I am just SO not ready to die yet. I want to keep living. I have things left to do, my backyard to enjoy, my daughter to make peace with, my son to be happy and healthy. I have to outlive my parents, that is just what good children do. And it’s okay to break. Because then, those who love you, well, they just put you back together again. And it may be superhero band aids and masking tape holding you together, but it’s the best we can do for now. And for now. That’s okay, because sometimes super-hero band-aids really can fix anything.

The Backyard Transformation

I am sitting on the most beautiful patio ever, gazing at the most amazing back yard. It is lovely and low maintenance, and meant to be enjoyed. I was brought to tears last night when I drove up to the house and saw the changes that were made. The parking place for the trash can is fabulous, the sitting area in the front yard, the flower pots. Walking through the gate, the new rock, the cleaning and planting, the deck attractively redone with the long term duration in mind. The basalt rock which follows the new contours of my low maintenance lawn laced with beautiful pots of overflowing flowers. The dog run, complete with gates on both ends and easy access to my roses, my garden (if my grandson Jessie gets his way!) and my strawberries, which he will be picking his next trip here. The blueberries moved to a better, easier access location, again, so I can enjoy them with my grandson and all his enthusiasm over fresh picked berries.

Words escape me. It is fabulous, gorgeous, heart-warming. I am overwhelmed with the response, with the kindness of my extended family, and of people I don’t even know. And not only were there the workers who donated so much time, I know there were countless people who donated money, watched grandkids while their kids worked, gave up time with their family members, prayed for good weather, and generally supported the project. Thank yous just don’t come close. Your kindness has touched the heart of not only me, but my entire family, my pets and everyone who knows me. Kindness like this reaches out like a giant spider web and captures everyone in it, there is no getting out, you are forever stuck in the image of its shimmering beauty (and I don’t particularly like spiders but this is a good analogy).

It’s a little cool out this morning, so I have my warm robe and a hat over my partially bald head. Sophie doesn’t understand why she has to say off part of the lawn, and why won’t that darn sprinkler turn off!! But she is enjoying her time on the patio with me, and I am loving being out here with my pets. This is one of the things I enjoy most in my life and one of the reasons I love my house, the yard. And it has been seriously neglected in the last year due to my illness. It has been mowed and trimmed, but the tender loving care given to a yard by a loving owner is always different. And now, I feel like the love has been infused back into it, a new lease on its loverly life.
I just got off the phone with Jim Hall and he has asked if we can do a media story about the yard. I am happy to do so. I would be so honored to showcase the kindness of my friends, you are amazing people, and if I can share what you have done and inspire others…well that is just a great thing to do! So expect some stories coming up in the local media about the awesome generosity of Kadlec and Garrett Electric and their families. AWESOME!!! I’ll make sure to tell all the wonderful stories about YOU!
I see the doctor today. I have been back on the steroids since Monday morning and have seen a remarkable improvement. My right side still remains weaker than it was last week, but the throbbing in my brain is gone, replaced with the simpler headaches, which are controlled again by pain medication. I want to know why I still need the steroids. Dr. Giever said that he is fairly certain that the radiation got 99% of the tumor cells, so is this just residual swelling from the radiation or is this something else? Is this the 1% they might not have gotten? I am okay staying on the steroids if they help. I hate the swelling (I am beginning to look like an ooompa loompa again, and why didn’t someone – Peyton – tell me that I looked awful in that dress on graduation!! ACK!!!) But the important part is that I am still alive and I was there, but geeze, I wish I’d looked better. I know, vanity is an awful thing, and in 20 years no one is going to care if I looked fat, only that I was there…but let me whine just a moment, okay?? Whining done. I’ll keep you posted on my progress and what the doctor says today.
My mom continues to improve. She feels like she finally turned the corner yesterday and started feeling better. I have yet to talk to her about her sister, but I anticipate a trip to San Diego sooner rather than later, I fear the news is not good. But will keep you informed as I know, and ask for your fervent prayers on their behalf. Mom lost her brother in 1972, mother in 1988, father in 1994 and her sister is all that is left of her direct family. Pray her heart is comforted, and her sister is surrounded with the peace of God’s enduring love. For with thoughts of Him, we can endure any trial, cross any bridge, travel to anyplace, even cross over out of this world, His hand reaching out to help us over. Only God can comfort the heart in times like this, only He knows now to bring us safely to the other side.

So, my dear friends, my warriors, my calvary…thank you…you are my life line in this world, and I don’t think I could make it without you. I am truly blessed beyond belief.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Traveling Home

Today I’m moderately better. My head is back to just hurting, not throbbing. I would dare say that perhaps the swelling is decreasing, at least from my perspective. The right side weakness is still more pronounced than it was over the weekend, but not as bad at the beginning (thank God). My lungs still hurt a little, but that is more than likely just the altitude. Its funny, I remember when my grandparents would come to visit us in Colorado when we were kids and I couldn’t understand why they would get so short of breathe! Now that I’m the one that lives barely above sea level, I can feel the mile high thin air. Never thought I’d see that day! I’m hoping when I get back to a normal altitude, my lungs will also go back to normal. Whatever normal is!

I am so glad I made the trip. Being here to see my brothers face was awesome; but I’m glad to be going home. I should have thought it through more, staying for the week, but I really didn’t know that I would relapse so quickly without the steroids, or how exhausting the traveling would be. This is a good lesson. For some reason I think that once treatment is over, I bounce back to normal right away and I need to learn that the recovery will take some time. I need to be more patient with me, with all that my body has been through. My body has survived devastating cancer; I need to give it a little break, eh? Its going to take time. And patience is a virtue that I am still working on.

So I’m going to have lunch with my bro and sis-in-law then Bill will take me to the airport. I talked to the airlines and Bill basically just kicks me to the curb with an airline representative and they have assured me that they will provide handicap access all the way to the gate. Bill did say he would slow down before he throws me out of the car, so no worries there, I’ll make it to the curb safely. :-) I can probably make it through the Paso airport…but through Denver International…I don’t think so. Considering I flew in to gate 99, the odds are good that I will fly out at an equally long away gate, not to mention the travel on the underground train; I know that assistance is required. Another thing I never thought I would experience…me in a wheelchair being transported through the airport. I know that it is a service that they provide, people do it everyday, but to be the one receiving the assistance; well that is another humbling experience. This has given me some empathy, some perspective to those who have traveled this way before me. Yeah, its cool you get to ride on the spiffy little transportation cart, and its pretty handy to be the first one on the plane so you get to the overhead compartment first and get to stake out the armrests ahead of everyone else, but truth be told, I’d rather be walking on to the plane under my own volition, just like everyone else. However for now, its not an option and I will be the happiest and easiest to handle handicapped person they transport. I will make their day, make them smile, make them glad that they received me as their assignment. I will bring some sunshine into the life of a United Airline employee or two!

I can’t wait to see my backyard tonight! I am so excited! I wanted to acknowledge the volunteers that spent their precious time to transform my backyard. And this is only the people that worked; this doesn’t even count all the people who also donated money! I am humbled and grateful for what’s been done. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, to be the recipient of so much love, it is an incredible experience. Below is an email from Jason Rose, the Project Manager, and my skydiving buddy. He is a remarkable person and I am forever indebted to him for his kindness. His collaboration with Janet Brinkerhoff just make my heart smile. Look at the list, there are people on this list who not only don’t know me, they don’t even work for Kadlec. God bless you!! The kindness just extends way beyond our family, we never know where our sphere of influence reaches. So everyday when you smile at the grocery store at that overworked clerk, or give a break to the parent behind you with the screaming child, or let that person cut you off in traffic without thinking the worse thing about them, or a myriad of other things that you face everyday and you choose to face with a smile and a bit of human kindness, you make a little change to this world. Each one of those small and random acts of kindness extend out, changing our world for the better.

From: Jason Rose:
What started out with Janet Brinkerhoff asking for a little help to pull a few weeds at Patty Taylor’s house turned into a wonderful transformation of her yard. After two days of hard work, dedication, sweat, sore muscles and few sun burns, we were successfully able to turn Patty’s back yard into something beautiful which we hope she will be able to sit back and enjoy. I would personally like to thank all the people who contributed their time and money to this wonderful project.
JASON ROSE (He didn’t put himself in!!)
Janet Brinkerhoff (Plant Operations)
Don Thornton (Plant Operations)
Jean Schalasky (Plant Operations)
Dave Schalasky
Keith Berry (Plant Operations)
Jason Rose (Plant Operations)
Jerry Calvert (IS)
Joey Willis (IS)
Kevin Willis
Zach Willis
Vincent Magallon (IS)
Matt Wells (IS)
Tim Harper (IS)
D.J. Harper
Chase Walther (Education)
Carla May (Emergency Department)
Nick Naccarato (Garrett Electric)
Annie Naccarato (Garrett Electric)
Brook Wiser (Garrett Electric)
Mary Rosen (Garrett Electric)
Amy Rosen (Garrett Electric)
Jack Lockridge (Garrett Electric)
Shannen Free (Garrett Electric)
Deena Shaw (Garrett Electric)
Chris Fox (Garrett Electric)
Wendy Gehrig (Admin)
Dave Gerhig
Pam Knutson (KRMC Board)
Amy Nixon (Cath Lab)
Rich Nixon

Thank you. From the bottom of my heart. You are my hero, my Calvary. Words fall short, but they are all I have. Thank you. You changed my life for the better.

God Bless you. Safe travels today. I will post pictures tonight!!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Heading Home

I knew last night that something was “off”. My head felt heavy like there was an extreme amount of pressure beneath my skull. My balance is wrong. When I go to reach for something it feels like my hand is not my own, it doesn’t follow commands properly. My head was pounding all night long, pain medication didn’t touch it; it was a weird and awful sensation. Something is wrong, and I don’t know what it is, I just know something is wrong.

Mike left for the airport at 4:45am and I stayed in bed, not moving, hoping that the throbbing would pass and my balance would restore itself. I slept. When I awoke at 10:30 (9:30 back in Tri-Cities) I called the doctor. Dr. Giever and I discussed last week that coming off the steroids might cause some issues, and if I felt I needed to take them, I should call and discuss it with him. So I talked to the nurse and let her know what was going on...the pain medication wasn’t touching the pain, my balance is off on my right side, my head is throbbing. She talked to Dr. Giever and he agreed that I should take a steroid this morning and tonight and if I don’t see an improvement by tomorrow, a trip to the ER is in order.

I don’t want a trip to the ER. I want to feel okay. Mike is concerned that I am just exhausted from the travel and the weekend; and he is probably not far off base. So I took my steroids, and have been lying on the couch all day. The throbbing is getting better, but my head still feels heavy and foggy, and my balance is still off. I am very careful walking. I am scared that the symptoms are back, and what that means. I was pretty confident that the tumors were gone, but now, I’m not quite so sure. My mouth is tender and I have sores on the sides of my tongue and the inside of my cheeks. My brain feels like it is in a thick fog. As I look at this writing, I have to correct words that I have typed incorrectly, where my brain and my fingers didn’t communicate properly. So I rest and I wait. I pray for the symptoms to clear. I pray that everything will clear up.

I changed my flight to tomorrow afternoon and made an appointment with Dr. Giever on Wednesday. I’d rather be safe than sorry and if I get worse, I’d rather be home than 1000 miles away. I’m sorry that I’m leaving and cutting the trip short; I was looking forward to spending the time relaxing with my brother and sister-in-law but I want to have my care by my local physician, not a physician who doesn’t know my history.

I’ll keep you posted on my status, pray for the symptoms to clear up sooner rather than later. I hope I wasted the change fee and feel right as rain in no time at all!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Suprise Party!!

A wonderful time was had by all. This has been such a fun secret to keep, and challenging. Let me share with you the story.

A couple of weeks ago my mother mentioned that she was going to Denver. Curious, I inquired as to the reason for the trip. She reluctantly shared with me that my sister in law had been working to plan a surprise party for my brother for his 50th birthday which actually occurred back in April. Rhonda had not yet shared the plans with me for a few reasons…1) the plans had not been finalized and 2) she was worried I would not be able to make the trip with my current medical challenges. Let me tell you, I had every intention of making the trip, sick or not, I was going. I was NOT missing my brothers surprise birthday party!! So, we quickly assessed the dates and prices and determined that YES, Mike and I were definitely going to Denver!! The party was on the 12th and my radiation ended on the 11th, so there was no medical reason not to go, and the flight costs were reasonable out of Spokane…so….reservations were made and lips were sealed. As my brother came to Washington state last weekend for Peyton’s graduation those who knew we were going were sworn to secrecy, they took their burden seriously and nothing was said about the trip. We effectively kept the secret from my brother!

Originally, my parents also had reservations to come, but with mom’s fractured leg, she was unable to make the trip, which was disappointing. It would have been perfect to have them here, but we made do, and they were definitely here in spirit.

It was fun to see everyone. Bill had friends from high school show up, as did I! My best friend starting when I was 8 years old…Loveable Luscious Laura the Lily of Louisiana lives in Lafayette (another “L”) came by, which was amazing!! Back then my name was Pretty Precious Patty the Pride of the Prairie. We were “named” by one of the neighbors almost 40 years ago, and the monikers stick to this day. It was incredible to catch up, to see the faces which have not changed that much, at least not from my perspective. The hearts are the same, the stories we share, life that has unfolded together and apart. It’s a beautiful thing.

I am feeling pretty puny this morning. I may have overdid it a bit last night, Friday night I got very little sleep with the drive to Spokane and the early flight, then with everyone over last night I stayed up way too late, had a bit too much activity and the effects of the radiation are taking its toll, but it is worth every discomfort. To see the look on my brother’s face when he walked in the door, to share this time with my family and friends, its moments like this that make a lifetime. And this was a moment of a lifetime.

Mike is flying home Monday morning and I am going to go ahead and stay until Thursday. I am done with radiation and have no obligations until my CT scan on Friday, so I will be a lady of leisure this week, relaxing at the house in the country. While Bill and Rhonda work I'll be reading, blogging, sleeping, relaxing.

Capture those moments in your life. Each and every one of them. Seize them. If you get a chance, take it. It’s those memories, those moments that make a life, creating a lifetime of memories worth sharing forever.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Radiation is DONE!!

I finished radiation Friday at 1pm. This is the third time I have received my “certificate of completion” for radiation therapy, so I am hoping that the third time truly is the charm. I got to bring home my mask, and I plan on doing something really cool to it and then to mount it on the wall as my personal version of modern art. The mask reminds me of the scene in The Abyss where the wall of water follow them and creates a face that communicates with Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. My mask face is coming out at you, only it’s a wall of white mesh, reaching out, communicating, saving my life. Okay, weird, I know, but that’s what it reminds me of!!

I walked the survivor lap at Relay for Life at Southridge last night. Dr. Rado was one of the speakers opening the ceremonies and his words warmed my heart and gave me so much hope for the future. He believes in his specialty, in his calling to heal. I remember doing the Relay before I ever even thought that I would someday be the patient, be the one starting the Relay, walking that survivor lap. But this is my fifth year walking as a survivor, and I’m still here, still making it around that track, albeit a little slower this year. Kadlec served dinner, as always, and it is such a comfort to sit there and have my friends around me, sharing a meal, feeling the love and generosity that is provided along with the food. It fills me with hope to be with all the survivors, all those who have walked ahead of me and those who are walking with me. Someone has to be in the survivor group, someone has to be that 2%, why not me? I feel in my heart, in the very core of my soul that we reached this cancer. Did we get it all? Probably not. I think there are still those little cockroaches lurking there, just waiting to burst from their cocoons and threaten my life. Did we get most of it? Yes, I believe we did. And I believe at the core of my being that I have many years left. Do I have 20? Don’t know. Do I have at least a few? Definitely, I have at least a few birthdays left in me. Of that, I believe it’s true; I have more than a few birthdays left and I can’t wait to celebrate each and every one of them!

I stopped by to see mom and she is still in significant pain, but I think the hardest part is the sitting. Anyone who knows my mother (and I certainly take after her) knows that sitting and doing nothing is akin to being sentenced to prison cell. She is a doer, a helper, a mover. To sit and just let her leg heal is going to be supremely difficult. I think we may have to sedate her…

I was so excited as the backyard stuff started showing up in my driveway yesterday. I am so humbled, so grateful, so excited to see the transformation. I find it remarkable that not only is my Kadlec family doing this, there are people outside of Kadlec, people who don’t even know me, who are participating and helping. The wife of a Garrett Electric employee came and picked up all my empty pots on Thursday; you know the ones that I plant with tons of annuals every year, the pots that have remained dark and empty this year…anyway, she took them to fill them with a cacophony of color, complete them with overflowing flowers to return them to my deck for me to enjoy. A lovely gentleman from Garrett Electric mowed and trimmed my lawn Friday in prep for the weekend. Jason and Carla were over Friday before the Relay, doing the spray paint where the beds will be, checking the supplies, going over the final details. I am beyond words, beyond humbled, beyond grateful. Words fail me, and words are my thing. It’s just amazing. I can’t wait to see the final product. I plan on enjoying a lot of time on my patio. Weather, don’t fail me now!

Off to take a nap, the radiation has left me tired and lazy. I’ll get pictures of the backyard posted this weekend as soon as I can!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Family. Not the ordinary kind.

Every morning when I wake up, I evaluate my surroundings; listen for the sounds of the house, the neighborhood, my waking family. I take an assessment of my body, how it feels, what symptoms are still there, what might be gone, what might be new. Certainly a far cry from a year ago, where the alarm would cry out, I’d hit that snooze a few times until arising became a critical task, finally roll out of bed with a slight grumble and get ready for the day in a whirlwind.

This morning for some reason, I grabbed my blackberry to check my work email. I don’t do that everyday, usually at some portion during the day I’ll check my email, but I normally stay away from it first thing in the morning, it just hurts too much to see all I am missing. I began to read the emails; my heart was lifted as it was breaking. Oh, my friends, my Kadlec family, you touch me in ways that I cannot even articulate. I read about “Operation Patty’s Backyard” and the plans to redo my yard this weekend. I am nothing short of humbled by the generosity, the kind words, the support I see you giving me every day. You all know how much I love my yard, love sitting out on my patio and I have to say it has been seriously neglected in the last year. So many things didn’t get done last year, and it isn’t looking good for this summer either. I know at the end of this weekend, I am going to sit on my patio and it will be the most joyous tears that I will cry. God Bless You. God Bless You. I just don’t know what to say.

I read another email from a dear co-worker who misses me, and another one from a co-worker friend who wants to put me in touch with a board member who wants to provide some “off week” cleaning services. Wow. So much love, so much support, so many words and the feelings that reach out with those words make my soul soar at the same time that it is breaking. It’s so hard to explain! I am inspired, I am humbled, I am grateful, I am hopeful. I was lying there thinking this morning, if I could have anything, do anything, I would get out of bed, and get ready for work. I would join my friends and I would participate in Operation Back Yard for someone else. I would help someone else clean their house; I would help plant the Kadlec garden. I would join my friends at Kadlec and make a living and make a life. Because I have built a life around my Kadlec family, and I miss that life so much. I miss that simple task of coming to work everyday, seeing your smiling faces, sharing in your lives, being involved in your days. It is more than a job; it is a calling, a vocation. Basically, I am "just" a secretary, an Executive Assistant if you want the official term. Yeah, that’s what I do, but it is so much more than that…I help people. I try to make peoples lives easier, whatever that may be. It might be supporting their meeting; it might be listening about their trip, hearing about their kids, grandkids, family, talking about upcoming travel or education. But at the bottom of it all, I shared my life with the people around me. And I miss that. I miss that time together; I can’t wait to have it back someday. Although I know in my heart I will never be able to do my job in my old capacity again, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to find that kind of strength or energy, I know that someday I will come back, I will share my life with that beautiful family that I call Kadlec. Someday, I will be able to come home again. And I know that you will all be there with outstretched arms and open hearts.

Until then, you are there for me. I read your emails, I see you when you stop by, I receive your cards. You keep me in the loop, in “the know” everyday, and that makes my days a little bit easier to bear. My dear sweet friends, you are not only my armor and my sword, you are my shelter in the storm. You are my comfort when I’m sad and my courage when I’m scared.

Quickly, an update on my health and family situation. I am feeling better, my right side seems to be strengthening and I only have two radiation treatments left. I will be having another CT June 21st and I see Dr. Rado on June 22nd. At that time, we will discuss the path forward and the best medications to treat this long term. I will have another Brain MRI July 26th to see the tumor status. Until then, we wait, and I work to regain my strength. My mom fractured her leg. I have to say, she has to be the toughest woman I know. She has been walking around with a fractured leg for three weeks! Talk about superhero!! She fell a few weeks ago, fractured the bone below her knee replacement, and it has been getting progressively worse. So, now she is in a split, has good pain meds, and should be back up and around in 4-6 weeks. My mom is not a sit around and do nothing type of gal…so this is going to be a hard experience for her! I’m starting to feel better, so this is my chance to take care of her. That is going to be a good feeling after all she has done for me. I hate that she is hurt, but am glad that my radiation is almost over, I should be feeling better, and I can help her now. She has done so much for me; anything I can do for her would be such a blessing. We continue to receive information about her twin sister. Further tests reveal that she may have pancreatic cancer. They are running more tests, but whatever blood levels are elevated when pancreatic cancer is present are really high, so that is the latest school of thought. She is waiting to see the surgeon and the oncologist, but we already know that if its pancreatic cancer, the time is limited. I worry that we need to get mom down there to spend time with her sister, so we have to get her feeling well enough to travel. It is heartbreaking; I wish I could do more than pray. But that is all I have to give, my prayers, my hope, my support, my love. We do not know where this path will lead; we just have to have the faith to keep on walking.

So, my dear friends, my prayer warriors, pray for my family. Spread that prayer past me and rain it down on my mom, dad, aunt and her family. I know their hearts are breaking, aching, tearing apart. They need you now, and I know I can count of you to be there. You have so much love; it just pours down around and fills the world. Thank you for letting us bask in it.