Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Round 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 27, 2010


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

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

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

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Winter has settled in

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Plugging Along

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My Lovable Dogs

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 12, 2010


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Walking the Dog

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 8, 2010

Finding a Life

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

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

Thursday, November 4, 2010

When Cancer Strikes

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

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

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Another Round In

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

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

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

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

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