Monday, November 30, 2009

What has been, and what's to come

It has been entirely too long since I've written anything on here, and for that, I apologize.  I was supposed to be writing a 50,000 word novel during the month of November, but I got stuck around 3400 words.  I intend to get unstuck, but since I have just entered the final hour of November, I am pretty sure it's not happening this month.  There's always December, right???

Since my last post, I learned I am cancer-free!  I got the all-clear on October 27th, and it was an amazing day.  I know those words seem feeble, but I'm really trying to settle into this new ordinary of not being sick.  Who knew it would be a struggle?  I also had that bothersome port removed since I last posted.  Turns out the bugger had just come right apart inside of my abdominal cavity.  My doc performed a simple surgery on November 16th, and out it came.  Yeehaw!  I spent a week recovering from that surgery, then spent a week on the road visiting family for this exceptional Thanksgiving.  Like in many years past, I spent Thanksgiving wondering how I manage to take so much for granted in my life.  There will be no more of that, thank you very much.  The Lord has blessed me in amazing ways, and even through the past 7 months of struggle, I still know it is Him who carries me--always.  

I started back to work today.  I'm doing partial days this week to ease back into things.  I think it will be good to have some normalcy again.  Instead of working in Killeen, where I was back in May, I am being moved to help w/two centers, one in Waco, and one in Temple.  It's very appropriate, considering the rest of my life is split between those two places.  :)

My next post will be an unusual one.  It is the text I intended to use for a testimony I gave at church at the end of October.  (I say intended because, as is usual when I give a testimony, I think I know what I want to say but don't ever get it quite the way I write it.  This time was no exception.  I veered into a lot of places I didn't expect to go, and I cried the. whole. time. I. spoke.  Seriously.)  The women had a brunch, and our theme was "Light in the Darkness:  Testimonies of God's Faithfulness."  When I had Debby read what I'd written, she commented that "it sure seems like an awful lot of dark and not a lot of light."  My response was something like, "It was dark."  Something to indicate that I hadn't seen a lot of light for a while.  Well, as I was writing, I forgot to mention some things that were light to me through the cancer ordeal, so I'll mention them here, just so no one thinks I completely missed those brief moments of light in all of this.  

1-Anytime I got to go to MY church on a Sunday, there was light, delivered in the preaching, the praying, and the love I received.  2-God working by finding me that apartment in clearly was done by His hand, and His perfect timing.  3-I sang a lot of hymns during these months.  I struggled to read Scripture, I could hardly pray, but I could sing.  My favorite was "Before the Throne of God Above."  I still have the lyrics on my dresser and I sing bits and pieces of it most mornings.  4-Though I couldn't see it at the time, all of this helped me to identify idols.  You know that first commandment that says, "you shall have no other gods before Me"???  Well, I found that I loved some things, at some times, more than I loved God.  How is that light, you ask?  In revealing what I treasured more than God, I was reminded that He still pours out His grace and mercy on me, more and more every day.  As that truth sunk in, I learned (or am learning??) to put God where He belongs in my heart and in my life.  5--Finally, I learned the power of prayer.  Not my own prayer, certainly.  There were days my darkness was so deep and distressing that I didn't know how I'd make it through the day.  Each time I'd hit that place, there was something outside of me that moved to make things manageable.  There were literally hundreds, and possibly thousands, of people praying for me, and those prayers moved to keep me....was it calm?  sane?  or just moving through the days?  Those prayers kept me from being hopeless, and for that I am grateful.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I have an issue with my thoughts not being very clear when I have many of them.  It's kind of like fast forwarding through a song, and though parts of it are recognizable, mostly it's just a jumble of stuff you can't quite place.  That's how my mind has felt lately.  I think it's starting to clear, though.

I go back to Houston in one week for imaging and the all clear from my doctor.  I am really hopeful about these appointments, but there is also a lingering trepidation there.  Is it possible to be hopeful and skeptical at the same time?  

My sweet friend, DeeDee, came down for a visit from St. Louis last week.  I got to see her last for about a day in April, so having here here for 5 days was really nice.  We explored some of central Texas, including a winery that had been on my list for a while.  Becker Vineyards near Fredericksburg is definitely worth a visit, just in case you're considering it :)  DeeDee is one of those rare people I feel completely comfortable with, even if we're not talking at all.  We drove quite a bit during her visit, and there were stretches of absolute quiet then, and it never got uncomfortable.  There was also lots of talking...mostly from me.  God love her, DeeDee is able to put up with my insanity as much as she is able to deal with silence.  I am so thankful for her love and friendship.  

After dropping DeeDee off at the airport last week, I had time to come home and work out.  After working out, I stuck around my gym for a Zumba class...basically an aerobics class with more Latin rhythms.  It was a blast!  I think I should NOT work out before the next one, maybe I'd be able to keep up a little better.  

I am trying to get more disciplined before going back to work.  I am working on a budget, so I can pay off medical bills without breaking the bank.  I am also trying to get my food & exercise on a more realistic and reasonable schedule.  My goal is to go to Curves 5 times a week, and to walk at least 2 miles per day 6 times a week.  I think if I do that, I will want to have more healthy choices in my diet.  Any suggestions for healthy foods that will fit a tight budget and taste good?  I'm looking for any and all ideas.  Last time I was really health-conscious, I hardly cooked anything at all.  I ate a lot of salads, fruits, and yogurt, with the occasional egg white mixed in there for protein.  I'd like to learn how to cook for a healthy diet...I miss cooking (and I think if you asked Debby's kids, they'd tell you I've lost my touch, at least some days).  

The last random thing I have swirling around in my brain is an event I went to last Saturday.  It was the Waco Relay for Life.  I have been a part of several other relay events in the past, mostly through Starbucks.  The last one I went to was two years ago.  I cannot remember thinking, at any of the events I've been to in the past, "gosh, I hope I can be a survivor at a relay some day."  I cannot say I ever wanted to be associated with cancer in any way, much less look in the mirror and think, "I'm a cancer survivor."  That may explain why, when I got the invitation to this year's Relay for Life events, I did not respond.  I wasn't even sure I was going to go to the walk.  I KNEW with certainty I wasn't going to walk all night.  Saturday arrived, and it was a gorgeous day.  I asked John and Lori if they wanted to come to Waco with me that night, so we headed off together.  We arrived just prior to the walk's start, which is one lap around the track with just cancer survivors, and the 2nd lap is with survivors and their families.  Thank goodness for my friend Mandi...she volunteers with the American Cancer Society, and was looking for me to arrive.  When we got to the track, she stayed with Lori and John while I took the first lap with other survivors.  I've gotta say, I still don't want to think of myself as someone with cancer, but since I can't do anything about it now, I'd much rather be a cancer survivor than the alternative.  We only walked for about an hour and a half, but I am clearer now than before that I want to be a part of things like this...things that celebrate that people triumph over cancer rather than the other way around.  

That's my brain dump for today.  October 26th is when I go to Houston for imaging, then I get results from my doctor on the 27th.  Please pray for me between now and then.  I think the last thing I need is anxiety about those days and the results they'll bring.  I go back to something Dr. Wolf said before I even started was something to the effect of the best way to have success in chemo (?) and to prevent recurrence is to rid myself of stress.  The best way I know to rid myself of stress is to I'm doing it and asking you to as well.  I'll let you know when I have results!

Monday, October 5, 2009


I tend to get a little off my rhythm after chemo. It is nearing 1a.m. and I cannot even fathom the idea of sleep. I look forward to the days I am motivated throughout the day, and ready to go to bed at a decent hour. Today I went to the grocery store, and you would have thought I was on a 10-mile hike. I had to convince myself I could leave the house and survive the "trek." I did, but it was the longest hour of my life. I did go to Debby's this afternoon, but didn't even manage to do anything useful while I was there. I think it was another accomplishment just to leave the house. Here's praying I get back into my normal rhythm soon.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Round Six is over!

Yahoo! My last round of chemo is over!!! After talking to my doctor yesterday, she agreed that though the issues I am having are related to cancer they are more likely side effects rather than signs of new badness going on. I had heard that side effects are typically cumulative, I have just been feeling so good that I had forgotten that. Dr. Wolf also said something that I was neglecting to take into account. She said that even though I mentally felt strong (can you imagine me ever saying that about myself??) that my body is still fighting a disease. So, I should keep working out, keep eating healthy, but not to expect the results I was getting before until this is all over. That made me feel much better.

In a few weeks, I come back to Houston for more imaging. Basically, any tools they can use to look at my body to determine that the cancer is gone, they'll use. After that, I come back every 3 months for a couple of years, then it goes to every six months after that. I am feeling hopeful that the new I will hear is good. I guess I can continue saying, "Look out world, I am feeling good!"

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


It has been quite some time since I've had anything of note to write here. My days have been pretty much the same....some exercise, some housework, then off to Debby's in the evenings. It has been great to feel useful for at least part of the day.

Tonight Debby and I are off to Houston for what I hope is my final round of chemo. I have two issues I need to let my doctor know about, and one or both could affect my treatment plan, but I am optimistic that this is my last round. If you would pray with me that my two issues are minor and unrelated to the cancer, I would really appreciate it.

I lost a friend to cancer today. Jason, who had been battling liver cancer for over a year, died today. He was about my age, was married to Sarah, and they have a 10 year old son, Max. Words are hard here. Yes, I know he is in a better place, but the days ahead will be hard on Sarah & Max. Then, there is the reality for me...people die from cancer every day. Reality is hard, and it's real.

I hope your week is full of blessings, and that you love on your family & friends a little extra this week!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

This & That

Mental note for future not, I repeat, DO NOT, attempt multiple workouts per day in the days just after chemo. If you could help me remember that, that would be great.

Over the weekend we had perfect weather for just lying around & being lazy. The days were gray and rainy, and the nights were cool. I think our warmest temperature was less than 85 degrees, so we even turned off the a/c...a real feat in September here in Texas!

Although the weather was inviting me to be lazy, I tried to fight it. After Curves and ballroom dancing on Friday, I attempted Curves and walking on Saturday. Boy, did I pay for it. My body hurt...not just in the joints or muscles where I'd expect it, but it hurt all over. You know it's bad when you lay down and your skin hurts from just touching the couch or the pillow--it makes sleeping pretty tough. I know it's not from the exercise that I hurt, but from the chemo. One of the meds I get is made from platinum, and its primary side effect is muscle and joint stiffness. I guess I thought if I ignored it or battled it, it wouldn't affect me. Ha. Ha.

Sunday, I gave in a little bit. I made it to church, had lunch with some sweet friends, then maxed myself out by watching some NFL and napping. In case you didn't know, NFL games are the perfect background noise for a nap, especially if one of 'your' teams isn't playing :) Later in the evening I walked the dogs...not a workout type walk, but a leisurely, 'let's go appreciate the neighborhood park' type walk. A good sabbath day, for sure!

So far this week has been fairly routine. Home & workouts during the mornings/early afternoons, to Debby's in the evenings. Last night I spent the later part of the evening at my friends' house, working on a book we started months ago. I won't tell you all about it here, but I should note that you will LOVE this book. We've been working on outline & plot for a while, but last night we actually started writing the pages of the book, and it is lovely. The book is designed for kids, but I think adults will enjoy it, too. I know I do!

All right, I'm off to do something productive. I hope your day goes well!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Round 5-Check

Round 5 of chemo is now over! I think I took two photos to commemorate the event, I will try to post them soon. I am thankful for Debby taking the time to come with me to Houston & sitting with me through the hours of chemo. We did a few other fun things to pass the time. Between appointments on Thursday, we walked back & forth from the clinic to the hospital a few times. Rumor has it that it's about a quarter of a mile each way (on their fancy, air-conditioned catwalk) so I think we got a least a mile of walking in. The trips back & forth were to get a wig (dark brown, longer hair than I have had in quite a few years, but the most "normal" looking I tried on) and to go to a scarf-tying seminar I had wanted to visit on each trip, but had somehow missed until this week. It was worth going to, I learned the primary reason I couldn't get scarves to stay on my head was because I was folding them wrong...who knew?

We got back home Friday around 3. Since being home, I have worked out twice, had dinner with friends, and gone ballroom dancing. I am attempting to not take any of my post-chemo meds to see how I do without them, and so far so good. I am thinking about taking a nap now, but that may be because we have a beautiful gray day outside that I want to take advantage of. Ahhh, how I love the rain! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

You Asked for It...

I have had a couple of people ask why I haven't posted anything here lately, and I guess I'd have to say it's because things feel so normal that I don't think I have a lot to say. What follows are the highlights of my life since I last posted, in no particular order.

I started the "Couch to 5k" training program. The last time I started this, I was in much better shape. I am now in week 3 (out of 9 weeks), and though it is not hard yet, it is getting harder. I plan to run a 5k in DC with some of my sisters on November 8th, to celebrate the fact that my cancer is gone (which is what I am expecting to hear from my doctor before then). Ooh, and I hate that I just called it "my cancer." Can it be THE cancer instead? I'd like that...then no one has to own it and it can just go away. Anyhow, back to how I was in better shape...For two years (prior to May '09) I had really focused on getting healthy by exercising and eating right. Sometime in the last year, I got this wild hair that I should be able to run a 5k. For as long as I can remember, I have hated running/jogging--anything faster than a walk was just detestable. However, I told myself that since I was 50 pounds lighter than I used to be, it wouldn't be so bad. And it wasn't. I was strong and healthy, with the muscles to prove it, and jogging wasn't my favorite thing, but it wasn't horrible either. This time around it is different, I haven't really been exercising since May, and the jogging seems much more daunting...but I'm doing it. Yay!

I have been baking. Nice choice to go along with the jogging, right? I don't have to be healthy all of the time. I have tried out some family favorites, as well as some new recipes with potential. Thank God I have not been eating all of these baked goods myself. I have been sharing with Debby's family. If you'd like to get in on the action of free baked treats, all you have to do is show up at Debby's house in the evenings and try it out. For family--Mom's Gooey Butter Cake recipe from the family cookbook was a HUGE hit! The biggest hit, though, were brownies I wanted to make, but didn't have all the ingredients I modified, and modified a little more, and then I frosted the brownies just in case they didn't taste quite right, and everyone who had them loved them. I have tried to recreate the recipe, but I guess I lost the touch, because I haven't been able to get them quite like that again.

I have seen lots of friends. I got up to Greenville to see my friends, the Fields. I have had a couple of lunches and dinners with friends (mostly after church on Sundays) to keep up with their goings-on. I am walking later today with my friend, Jennifer, for the 2nd time. I spend weekday evenings still with Debby and her kiddos, helping with homework and making supper. I love having someone who is counting on me, and to feel at the end of the day I have contributed something.

What else???? I have been walking the dogs several days a week, and I may have learned the way to keep those giant chocolate labs from pulling my arms off when we walk. I organized my guest room closet/storage area, I re-organized a few of my kitchen cabinets, I cleared the storage shelf in my garage so I can find stuff when I need it, and I've been playing tennis a couple nights a week with Jimmy. I have been to church two Sundays in a row, and feel blessed to be able to be there and hear the Word preached and to have fellowship with my church family. Plus, this past Sunday I even made it to Bible study here in my little neighborhood. I am glad to see our little church plant growing into something more....who knows what God has in store for us????

My apologies to you who did NOT ask what I've been up to. Sorry you had to read this far just to learn that the past few weeks have been very regular & non-eventful. I am thankful for that, most of the time. I occasionally feel tired (or lazy?), but mostly I feel good. I head down to Houston tonight with Debby. We'll stop in College Station to see Angie & have dinner, then we're staying a couple of nights in a hotel the American Cancer Society found for us, for FREE--praise God! I will try to keep you more updated so you don't have to ask to hear my ramblings.

Have a great day!

Friday, August 28, 2009

A confession and a genius

So, I have a confession to make. It's not bad, and probably not surprising, but I thought I'd better come clean. When I was home last, and in pain from the complications with my port, I got really depressed. I didn't feel like I could exercise, and I didn't have a schedule to keep, so I just sat around at home and sunk into myself. Now, this would be understandable (in my mind) if I was depressed about having cancer. But, I wasn't depressed about that, I was depressed about not feeling productive, about feeling like I had nothing to offer.

Through my years of working, I have often daydreamed about NOT working, about being able to be at home and be really productive, spending my days doing what I love. As it turns out, I don't do that. What I do when I don't work is nap and watch TV. Not much for productivity, huh? I am lazy by nature, and when you add that to the fact that I am in pain, I do NOTHING. (This is not an exaggeration.)

When I saw my oncologist last week, I got the news that the pain at my port site should reduce over time, in addition to the fact that she was switching me over to strictly IV, outpatient chemo. The change in my mental state has been great, not to mention that the side effects after only IV chemo were much less than with the combination I was having before. Mom helped move me out of the Houston apartment on Sunday, and we were home fairly early in the afternoon. My worst day for side effects was Monday, when I felt tired during the morning. Mom ran some errands then, and I rested, and I felt better when she got home. That evening, we went to Debby's for dinner, and to find out how the kids' first day of school had gone. While we were there, I helped with homework and filling out paperwork that the school had sent home.
I know it seems minor, but doing that helped me to feel like my day had served some purpose.

Let me mention here that in addition to being the world's best Mom, my mom is also a genius. She told Debby that I'd been feeling less than productive, and that maybe I could spend a few hours each evening helping out with the kiddos. Debby and I both thought that was a good idea, so this week, that is what I did.

I spent my mornings taking care of things at my house, then spent the afternoons helping with homework and dinner at Debby's. You have no idea how it has changed my week. Instead of sitting around my house feeling sorry for myself, I have exercised, organized, and kept up with my house, not to mention what I'm doing at Debby's. In college I noticed that I used my time more effectively when I was busy, and this just proves it again. I have made a list each morning, and most days, I have crossed everything off my list.

So, thanks, Mom, for giving us the genius idea that my time and Debby's family might benefit from one another. You're the best!

Friday, August 21, 2009

To do list

Yesterday's chemo finished without a hitch.  Mom and I were back at the apartment by 9pm and we were both able to get a good night's rest.  So far today, we've had breakfast and coffee, and we're going to go out and run a few errands.

Also on the list today is to call the church I am renting the apartment from and let them know it will be free again after this weekend.  I just hope it as much a blessing to the next family that uses it as it has been for us.  Now I will have to start thinking ahead when we come down for treatments and get a hotel, plan for food, etc.  

I feel better today than I have on any other day after chemo.  It is nice to not feel like my belly is full of several gallons of liquid, and that I can walk upright.  I may get tired today, but right now I am so thankful to feel as well as I do that I can't think of anything else.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

This Treatment

I did see my oncologist today, and she said that I can do the remaining part of my chemo on a strictly outpatient basis!  Yay!  No more waiting for admission to the hospital, no more treatments in the middle of the night, and no more paying for an apartment...what blessings!  Thanks so much to those of you praying with me about this.

I am receiving my IV chemo now.  Though I don't have a TV on in my room, I can hear two shows.  I am also overhearing one man's conversation with someone at his work, and apparently something is not going well, because he sounds upset.  It must be difficult to try to manage your own health needs, work, and try to figure out how still to provide for your family.  I am so thankful, in this moment, for my own stresses and concerns, because I don't think I would cope well with anyone else's.

During the visit with my doctor, she told me that unless the pain in my port area gets worse, she plans to leave it in until after my treatments are over, then pull it.  I am hoping it doesn't get worse, because I am not having any fun with it right now.  I miss feeling like I can exercise and get a really good workout.  I am gaining weight, and not that that is everything, but I certainly don't like it!  I thought chemo was supposed to cause you to lose weight.  So much for that!  I am trying not to worry over little things, but often it feels like the little things are the only things I can control.  Having the discipline TO control them, now there's my problem...  

I'm off, for now.  Have a great day!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I just got off the phone with the Nurse Practitioner in my oncologist's office. We have been talking this week about the complications with my port, and there is a possibility it may no longer be useful. If that is the case, I would no longer need to be admitted to the hospital for treatments and I could do my remaining treatments as an outpatient.

For me, that means more time at home, and potentially giving up the apartment in Houston. That would ease a great financial burden. Not that finances are a primary concern, but they are a concern nonetheless. I would appreciate prayer as this could change a lot of things for me.

My primary goal is still to rid my body of this cancer and have it never return. If that can be done with easing financial pressure, that would be ideal. Pray that the doctor is wise in her treatments, and that I would rest in what God has for me, even now.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

This week

It has been a quiet week here at home. I did go to church last Sunday, and it was refreshing to visit with friends. Throughout the week I've seen a few friends, but mostly stayed close to home. The pain around the messed-up port remains, but today, finally, it wasn't as bad. Honestly, I am looking forward to seeing the doctor on Thursday to find out what exactly this problem is and how to resolve it. The most fun part of my week was having Angie & John come over 3 nights (and Deann once) to play tennis. We would go to the local courts after the sun went down and just hit the balls around. None of us is very good, but it was still fun to get out and do something normal. I am hoping they'll come again before I go back to Houston.

For a couple of days I have had a swollen gland in my neck, and a little bit of a sore throat. I have been keeping an eye on my temperature, and I haven't run a fever, so I've been laying low at home since early Friday. I considered going to the local emergency room to have someone take a look at me, but after my last ER experience (7 hours of waiting in various rooms, then being sent home with no answer to why I'd had fever in the 1st place), I opted to self-monitor. Part of that decision was also being aware of how many "more sick" people I would encounter while waiting in an ER than just hydrating and resting at home. After ten hours of sleep last night, I have felt much better today, and even made something new for lunch and baked brownies just so I'd have something to do.

I have done a lot of reading this week, and am starting a new book tonight. I've also been watching DVDs of "Boston Legal," (thanks Dad for loaning them to me). Though I had only seen one episode of the show before this week, I see why people like it and may actually try to figure out when it's on...any ideas?

I hope you have had a good week and would love to know what fun things you have been doing while I have been laying low.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I love Sundays!

Have I ever mentioned how I love Sundays? In the 11 months since I left Starbucks, Sunday has certainly become my favorite day. It was always close to my favorite day before leaving Starbucks, but since staff liked to "be sick" on many Sundays, I would often spend the day in dread of having to do some sort of work most Sundays. Even if I didn't end up having to work, the dread of it was just as bad as actually working.

Anyway, for the last 11 months, Sunday has developed a nice, relaxing routine. It starts with going to bed on Saturday night, which can be anytime I want. If that means 9pm, so be it, but it can also mean 3am, it just depends on how I feel. You see, the routine of Sunday is that I can sleep until nearly 9am if I need to, so I can do whatever I want on Saturday is great. Sundays I set my alarm for about 845, shower, have breakfast & coffee, and drive to Waco for church, which starts at 10.

After church, I'll either have lunch with friends in Waco, or go see Debby and crew for the afternoon. Sometime in the late afternoon, I usually have a nap, then cook something fun for dinner. Since I have had so much leisurely sleeping in and napping, Sunday dinners can be quite late, which is just fine. I usually splurge and have something delicious for dessert on Sunday night, too. Just the feather in my cap I need on Sunday night.

So, you see, I love Sundays. I am in the middle of one right now and I am so content. I just thought you should know.

Friday, August 7, 2009


I am home. And it feels so good. I'm not unpacked yet, must save something for tomorrow! Sweet dreams!

Plan B

So, it's Friday.  Normally Fridays after treatments I feel pretty gross.  Not so today.  It could have something to do with the fact they could only infuse half of my chemo yesterday because again there was an issue with my port.  After sitting for 6 hours in the infusion suite, getting chemo pumped in (we thought), I asked the nurse how much longer it would take.  She took a look at the site, and saw that there was some swelling around the port and chemo was done for the day. Normally something like that would totally bum me out because it off-sets the value of the time (all this time and chemo is not done!) and affects the total number of treatments for me (I only got 17 1/2 and not 18 doses!).  Instead of being bummed about it, I've decided to look at this as something God has planned for me.  

Clearly, if this was something God was going to throw up as a roadblock, it just means I need to wait and pray and trust in Him to solve whatever this is.  I can do that.

Plus, two of my sisters and my niece are here, so we are going to go to a movie & have fun today, which doesn't leave me any time to worry or fret.  After the movie, we are going to have an apartment-cleaning extravaganza so that when I head back to my "home-home" this evening, my "home away from home" will be clean and crisp and ready to welcome back when the time comes.  


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tough Night

I had a tough night in the hospital last night.  About 1 a.m., I noticed my port was leaking where they were putting in chemo.  (Any leaking around a needle is bad news, this I have learned.)  So, I called my nurse, she shut off my chemo, and started calling other people into the room.  I think the fullest I got was 4 nurses and one doctor, conferring over what was to be done.  Did I mention this started at 1 in the morning???

By 315 or so, it was decided that no damage had been done by chemo poison leaking into tissue it didn't belong, so IV team nurses were called to re-stick me and start all over.  By 4 this morning, chemo was running again, but no one was content to let me rest while it pumped, so I was checked on every 30 minutes or so by either a doctor or a nurse.  Disastrous sleep (more like no sleep) ensued until 8 or so, when I finally gave up and decided to be awake for the day.  

I believe there were visits by 2 more teams of doctors before breakfast or coffee could be consumed.  Notice here that coffee is considered a separate meal, more by necessity than anything else.  Debby came down to the hospital (she was in town with her family to see the new baby and take her two youngest to camp) to help me understand any special instructions because I was afraid I wouldn't retain anything in my sleep-deprived mind.  What a gift!  She got me home around 230 this afternoon, and I showered and slept blissfully for 3 hours.  Mom is here now, making sure I am taken care of until Judy comes for the later part of the week and my last dose of chemo this round.  

Pray for me that I don't have any lasting side effects from the leaking port going forward.  If there are complications, it could cause infection, which could lead to needing to replace the port, which would mean another surgery.  I am hopeful that will not be the case, but I would appreciate your prayers for this as well.  Thanks!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Go out, be blessed!

"Only the mysterious is eternal.  I prefer to feel this life rather than to grow foolish enough to believe I own it. "--Marlena De Blasi

"But to the other realm, alas, what can be taken?  Not the power of seeing, learned here so slowly, and nothing that's happened here.  Nothing."--Rainer Maria Rilke

"Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.  For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly." 1 Peter 2:18-19

"To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing." 1 Peter 3:8-9

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation." 1 Peter 4:12-13

I woke early this morning, and reading seemed to be a good way to start the day.  It was a difficult decision--reading or coffee first--but reading won this morning.

One of my friends noticed the other day that though hair started falling out of my head, I still had eyebrows & eyelashes, hair on my arms, etc.  It got me to thinking about why.  That thinking got me a little anxious about the effectiveness of chemotherapy.  Maybe in some weird way, my body is resistant to chemo.  Maybe the fact that this poison is not killing hair follicles indicates that it also is not killing the cancerous cells in my body.  I bet you can see where this leads.  For a couple of days, there has been silly fear rolling around in my head, which has made me less able to focus on other things.

This morning, I woke up in my hospital room with the realization that somehow that fear was gone.  How silly of me to think my body would respond in a typical manner.  Very little about me is typical, why would I expect my reaction to chemo be "by the book"?  

So, the passages above spoke to me this morning.  I still want to live my life, to feel things, to savor and enjoy what comes my way.  I sometimes see cancer as an unjust master, a fiery ordeal, and 1 Peter was a good reminder that though we are not promised life will be easy, it can be made easier through trusting in the Lord's care for us.  Also, it reminded me that I am called to bless others, because I know God is caring for each and every situation, good or bad, and that blessing is constantly to be shared.

It's not easy, but I am so thankful I was reminded of all of this as I start my day.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Great Week

Again, I spent the past weekend at home, and managed to write very little.  I'd apologize for that, but I had too much fun to really be sorry!

I got to spend several days with Debby and her family, went ballroom dancing, had 3 different meals  at friends' homes, and a whole slew of other fun things.  I didn't even mention how relaxing it was to see my dogs, take them walking, and visit with my neighbors.  

I feel so blessed to have felt so good when I was at home.  I had energy every day, didn't need naps, and I got to see lots of my friends.  The only downside was that I didn't sleep very well at night, but it was well worth the trade off for all the fun I had.  

Now I'm back in Houston, ready to start round 3.  It's hard for me to believe that in 9 days I'll be halfway through chemo.  I can only hope the 2nd half goes as well as this first half has gone so far.  

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Feeling the Love

What a great day today has been. Do I say that every day? I am not apologizing if I do, just wondering.

I realized today, perhaps for the first time, what amazing support I have from my family and friends. I have it all the time, I'm sure, but I certainly notice it more now than ever.

One book I've been reading, Crazy, Sexy Cancer Tips, has a whole section on support groups. There are groups whose volunteers will write you little notes, another place where you can connect with people with the same type of cancer you have, and the list goes on and on. I have done a little bit of web research, and none of these groups appeal to me. For a while, I wondered if I was just in denial, as if being affiliated with others who have cancer would make it too real for me. Now, I just think those groups don't appeal to me because I have so much support around me already.

I have had, among other things, people come clean my house, bring me meals and snacks, send countless letters, cards, and prayers, in addition to the family who've been flying or driving in to take care of me on each step of this journey. When people ask how I am, I am honestly able to tell them that I am doing well. It's not a false optimism, I am not trying to protect the people who love's that I am truly as good as I could hope for.

Tonight I took both dogs for a short walk and stopped to see some friends a few blocks over. Lisa kept telling me she couldn't believe how good I look. I think she was probably just referring to how amazing I look with no hair, but I am taking it as an overall "looking good." When I feel good enough to exercise every day (well, for 3 days in a row, anyway), I must be doing well!

This is my way of saying thank you. I know I am being lifted up in prayer. I know I am loved, from near and far. It is a great thing, to have so much support that I don't think I need more. Thanks!

My 100th Post

There is nothing exciting to note, but you are reading anyway. Thank you. I realized in a message sent earlier that I am now one of "those people" who overuse exclamation points. In a five sentence email, I used exclamation points on four of them. I must be really excited most of the time. When did that happen?

It is great to be home. I took a 30 minute walk last night (and even sprinkled in a bit of jogging), and on the way stopped to say hi to neighbors I had met a couple of months ago. It felt awesome to actually recognize people on my street, unlike in Houston where everyone I meet is a stranger. The only people who know me in Houston are my brother's family and the medical staff at MD Anderson. When I finished my radiation treatments yesterday, the receptionist seemed a little sad that I wouldn't be back. The folks at the clinic are friendly, but I cannot honestly say I am sad that I won't be seeing them again. I am ready to be phasing out whatever treatments I can.

Today I am off to have someone look at the rear bumper of Debby's car that has to be replaced because of a fender bender in a parking lot, and I think if I don't go do it now, it won't get done today. My drive home last night was uneventful. I got to talk to Tracey for about 40 minutes, and it sure made the drive seem way shorter than it normally does. Before my last treatment yesterday, I got to pick up Missy and Frannie at the hospital and deliver them home for the first time. It was so sweet to watch the older sisters' faces light up to see their Mom, and again to see Frannie. The oldest sister, Lucy, is only two years old, but she is totally in love with her baby sister. She holds her, touches her face, and pats her hand. I think if she were big enough she would take charge of that new baby and no one else would ever have a chance to love on her. It is so sweet to watch.

One of my sweet friends came and cleaned my house for me. When I walked in the door last night, it smelled so clean and looked so nice I could hardly believe it was my house. She had even washed my sheets and folded some clean clothes for me. What a blessing! Thanks, Sandy!

Have a great day, I know I will!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I feel good!

For the first time in ages, I am tired from exercise and not because of a side effect.  Praise God! I went out for a walk tonight and it felt great.  Now I am just waiting for laundry to dry so I can make the bed and crawl into it for the night.  This kind of tired feels so much better than the other.

I think I am going to go back to training for a 5k.  As long as I can walk/jog 3 times a week, I should be ready to jog a 5k in 9 weeks.  My goal is November 8th in DC for the "inaugural" conference of the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation.  The conference itself does not interest me, but running a 5k as a survivor really does.  I think Mary & I are going to run it together.  I am very excited!  I know November is way further away than 9 weeks, but this gives me a little bit of cushion time to duplicate training weeks if I need to.  The thought of exercising at this point releases about as many endorphins as an actual workout...that's got to be a good sign.  

All right, time to check the laundry, sleep is calling....

Sunday, July 19, 2009

2 Months

I was thinking this week it has been about 2 months since I was diagnosed with cancer.  How can time seem to move so fast and stand still at the same time?  It's weird.

Since my diagnosis, I have learned a couple of helpful things about myself.  I do not do well with lots of time on my hands.  So, when my treatment is done, I either need to get back to work in a serious way, or adopt several children and pray the Lord provides for all of them (since I'll be too busy raising kids to work outside the home).  Really, since I'm not married, I'm thinking the "get back to work" scenario works for me.  I have also learned that I am a sucker for anything that doesn't require a lot of brain power.  When I was a kid, I really thought I was pretty smart, but now I see myself for what I really am--given to what rewards me the most.  As a kid, that was getting good grades in school.  Today, that motivation is gone, so now I spend my time with the Food Network, easy fiction, and puzzles...not the stuff great minds are made of, I'm sure.  The last thing I've realized in the past week is that I really need to get over myself.  I'm not all that special, not all that unusual, not that extraordinary--people are not required to sit up and take notice just because I walk into a room.  I love that you, the people who love me, have made me feel that way, but it's not actually true.  

I would like to spend the next couple of months seeing past myself.  I know there will be times of feeling really yucky, where all I can do is sleep and recover.  Beyond those times, I want to be able to reach beyond myself, stretch my natural inclinations, become more of who the Lord is planning for me (and frankly, expecting me) to be.  It seems like a lot to ask that of myself now.  But if I'm not going to do it now, when will I?  

I told Janice last week that I really think my cancer is gone.  Every time I get blood drawn before chemo, the numbers are all moving in the right direction.  I haven't struggled with infection, or with inordinate side effects.  All of you who have prayed for God's healing for me, let me tell you, I think He has heard you.  I think I am going to finish the next 4 rounds of chemo and after that I expect to be cancer free for the rest of my life.  Period.  God can do that.  I want to be the person who trusts that and celebrates that every. single. day.  

Oh, yes, the two month perspective.  I'd say it's long enough to know what to expect, but too long to sit around and keep waiting for something different to happen.  I don't want to be reckless or foolish.  I still want someone here to make sure I'm okay after chemo, but I don't want to be helpless, either.  If this is what 2 months feels like, what will 6 months feel like?  I guess we will all just have to wait and see.  

PS-Hi!  I'm glad you're reading!  You know who you are :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Be Still...

I woke up this morning thinking about 2 things.  First, I wondered what it would take to get an ice maker in my home in Temple.  I seriously love good ice.  Second, I thought about the phrase, "Be still."  Fortunately for you, dear reader, the "be still" won the battle of the brain.

Be still can be deceptive.  It sounds almost like passivity, doing nothing.  I don't think of it that way.  I think of being still as being in the best state to hear what I should be doing, praying, considering, or contemplating next.  Being still allows me to hear something besides, "You have cancer" when I feel lousy.  Being still reminds me that I am not the only fighter in this battle--I have God, my family, my friends, and my very well-trained doctors and nurses in this battle--all of whom are battling it in their own mighty ways.  Being still reminds me there is still blessing in quiet fellowship, in early mornings, and getting the chance to know others I would have never met.  

So many people I read about are just ticked off when they hear they have cancer.  I can't say I was thrilled, but I don't remember anger being my first response.  I think I was shocked first, then a little scared.  Fortunately, being still after my first surgery really helped me to hear the wisdom of all the people who love me, which got me to MD Anderson to start my treatment.  Thank God I didn't stay scared.  It's amazing to me how much being still can still move me.  

I realize now that I am one-third of the way through my treatments (can I get a hallelujah!), I may have a lot more feeling icky, tired, and cranky to go.  I probably will cry more.  I will occasionally be less than sunshine-cheerful about what's ahead.  I will definitely, though, spend some time being still.  I know I will feel the Lord's hand guiding me in that stillness.  I know I will hear your voices of love and concern and cherish them.  I will probably still wake up thinking about having an ice maker in my home, because I still love some good ice!  God Bless you today...spend some time being still.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

So Sleepy...

Just a quick update...I apparently cannot get enough rest.  I get up in the morning, watch an episode of Gilmore Girls, drink some coffee & have some breakfast, then I'm done and need a nap.  I get a wild hair, need a shower, then need a nap again.  The shower is just too taxing apparently. Then radiation, where I lay down and read for a few minutes, then over to Greg & Missy's, where, you can guess, I take a nap while Janice & Lori go shopping.  I wake up for snacks & meals in there, but mostly, I sleep.  Crazy.  I hope it's not like this for long.  I am ready to feel normal.  I am all for a good mid afternoon siesta, but this is getting truly nuts!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Busy, busy

The last couple of days have been busy, probably not by most people's standards, but definitely by mine.  I finished chemo in the middle of the night on Saturday (so technically Sunday morning), and at the end of it I felt pretty tired and yucky.  There is a lot to be skipped in talking about pumping fun chemo poison straight into my belly.  Let's just say it isn't bad until it's over.  I finished w/chemo about 5am, but didn't get discharged until after 1pm.  For whatever reason, writing up the right prescriptions and getting me out was low on the priority list.  Ah, well...

Janice took me home after 1, and we stopped for Mediterranean food on the way home.  The bonus with the icky belly chemo is that my appetite is way smaller.  We were able to share a meal for one, and still had food leftover.  I napped after lunch, and almost got caught up with what I missed in the night.  I was able to sleep through the night last night, which was a blessing.

Today, we were optimistic that Missy would have her baby, so Janice and I arranged to have Janice here so Greg and Missy could go to her appointment.  We just found out that Missy will be coming home tonight, no labor, no baby.  I ended up going to my first radiation appointment on my own.  I am still unbelievably tired, but survived the bulk of the day.  The appointment with the radiation oncologist went fine, but slow.  I was able to read more than 100 pages of my new library book in the down time.  It's a good thing I brought it with me, otherwise you would have gotten an update about things that you probably don't really want to know about!  I had an xray, some radiation therapy, so fun.  Tomorrow is my only "non-appointment" day all week, so I am praying it will be restful and relaxing.  It is also Janice's birthday, so we may do a fun Mexican fiesta for dinner.

I hope that you are having a great day!

Saturday, July 11, 2009


In my last post, I optimistically mentioned that I would start treatment tomorrow (which is now yesterday).  I think I will eternally be optimistic, which is not a bad thing in itself, but I am wondering how to inject more reality into these chemo rounds.  To be fair, I DID get admitted to the hospital yesterday, but it was once again after midnight (but before 2 am) when the chemo started.  I didn't fight the Benadryl so hard this time, and I think I was asleep before my nurse started the 24 hour drip.  I woke up a few times in the night, but overall, I slept well--certainly better than my last stay in the hospital.  

Instead of wasting the day waiting for "the call" from admissions, Janice and I decided to go out and do fun things until it was time to "come on down."  And fun things we did...We went shopping, had coffee & lunch, got turned around trying to find Rice Village (aka more shopping), had dinner, and then finally found out I had a room around 6pm.  We got here, checked in with the lovely folks in admissions, and now, just 13 short hours later, I'm talking to you.  

The staff here has been gracious and accommodating, as usual.  My nurse even made a pot of coffee before 6 this morning because (gasp!) none of the cafes in the hospital are open on weekends.  Shocking!  And, if you know me at all, you know that I can function about an hour after waking without coffee, but after that, I get uglier than normal (and meaner, too).  I had a visit from a new oncology Fellow this morning.  Can you say "cute doctor"?  Don't worry, Chad's married, I won't try to make the moves on him.  It wouldn't really be fair, after all, who can resist this bald head?  Well, nearly bald, anyway :)

All right, my lovelies, I am signing off for now.  It is nearly time for breakfast and I want to be ready.  Leave me some love with your comments.  I love knowing who's reading.  Have a great day, I know I will!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Round 2...almost

Well, it's Thursday night.  I should be in the hospital, getting some good poison chemo pumped into my system.  But, I'm not.  There were no beds available today at the hospital, so instead of getting in early and getting things rolling with the chemo, Janice and I did a whole lot of nothing today.  To be fair, I was the one who did a whole lot of nothing, Janice was actually productive.

I watched Food Network, napped, and ate.  After waking up from my 2nd nap (yes, you read that right, I took two naps!), I got a call from the admissions folks at the hospital letting me know that there would not be a bed available for me today, but I would be "first on the list" for tomorrow.  Instead of being cranky and annoyed by that, we decided we had time to see a movie and do something fun.  Off we went, to see "The Proposal" and get groceries to make a Paula Deen recipe.  You know breakfast is going to be good when it involves Paula Deen.  How can you go wrong when a recipe includes heavy cream, butter, and croissants?

So, tomorrow I should have more of an update.  It sounds like I will be in the same unit as before, which means I'll be able to see the nurses I liked from the last time around, which makes me happy.  I will keep you posted about this round when treatment starts tomorrow.  

Thursday, July 2, 2009


I thought I was going to escape it, but it turns out that I'm not. My hair officially started falling out today. I'm not going to do anything drastic about it yet, but I did ask Angie if she'd like to have some fun cutting it off. Maybe we could practice re-styling the mullet, or maybe the mohawk, or both! Then, after all the practicing is done, we're going to take it all off. Keep an eye out for photos.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


It has been a gorgeous day. Breakfast and lunch outside. Talked to Tim. Read some, watched a movie, had dinner with Jimmy, caught up with an old friend who's in town for the summer. Quiet day.

I started reading this book from Judy called Crazy, Sexy Cancer Tips. I'm just a few pages into it, and I can already tell it's going to be a tough one to read. It's positive and uplifting, but it will require me to think about the fact that I do, in reality, have cancer. The author is chronicling the days just after her diagnosis. My reality is that I haven't really thought about MY cancer all that much. I've thought about treatment, about details, but not so much about how this can affect the rest of my life.

I do know that I intend my life to last quite a bit longer. Good news for me, not so sure about the rest of you who are going to have to put up with me.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June wrap-up

I thought I'd close June with one more post. I didn't realize until today how much more I write when I am not at home. I guess at home I have so much to distract myself with that I don't spend a lot of time thinking about what is going on or how I am feeling. I do know that I have felt pretty darned good here at home. With Mom here, I have wanted for nothing, and even got a few welcome surprises along the way.

One of those surprises was a new breakfast area at my house. Mom moved my furniture off the back patio, cleaned out my garage, and set things up so that if I want to eat breakfast outside, I can do it without fighting the dogs for my food. We ate out there this morning, the first day in nearly two weeks where it was still a bearable temperature at breakfast time. It was so pleasant! The sky was overcast and there was a nice breeze while we ate and watched the neighborhood wake up. Today's weather has been such a change from the white, flat, dry heat we have been having that it made this morning's breakfast even more special.

After breakfast, we had to get Mom to the airport and ready to head home. It was bittersweet for me. Obviously I want to feel well enough that I don't need someone here looking after me, but it means that Mom is gone. I feel great, and I've already talked to Mom once tonight, but my house is an odd kind of quiet...lonely. After dropping Mom off, I had a checkup with the doctor who did my first surgery, and she says I look healthy & well. I'll take that! This evening, my friend Jennifer drove down from Waco for dinner. It was so nice to see her, and even though the evening was pretty low key, I daresay we'd do it again.

Now, I am wondering what to do with myself for the rest of the week. I have a couple of library books to read, and one DVD to watch that is also on loan from the library. I am planning a small get together for Independence Day on Saturday evening, but other than that, I don't have a lot going on. Since my last treatment I have felt pretty well overall, but on Sunday I think I was asleep longer than I was awake. I didn't think I would be able to sleep on Sunday night because I slept so much during the day, but I rested without any problems. I guess what I hear about fatigue being a side effect of chemo is true after all. I fully expected to have lost my hair already by now, but so far I haven't. I tried on my new hat for Jennifer tonight, and we agreed (again) that it was cute enough to wear even if I keep all of my hair.

I have had lots of great mail and phone calls this week--reminders that so many people are loving me and praying for me from a distance. I feel that love every single day. Judy & her kiddos sent me a package with treats, books, and other fun things. I am still smiling as I sit here thinking about it. I am so loved!

Have a great day!

Friday, June 26, 2009


Home feels so good. Unpacking, opening mail (even bills), and simply eating a meal at home are so comforting. When the mail includes so many prayers and well-wishes, it is a whole new level of comfort.

I am so blessed. Thanks for being part of that blessing.

I promise

I promise (hand over heart) I do know how to write a short, focused post.  I will try to do better (and to not start posts when I'm being medicated!).

Thursday, June 25, 2009

End of round 1

I'm hanging out at MD Anderson for the evening.  I know, you should all be jealous!

Mom and I got here for my final treatment of my first round this afternoon, and we're just relaxing in an infusion suite.  Mom is working Sudoku, I am catching up on Facebook, and we're both listening to the TV from the next suite.  Very calm.  

This week has been mellow and I have felt better each day, what a blessing!  I didn't realize it, but Sunday and Monday I was fatigued.  When I felt so much better on Tuesday and Wednesday, I had a kind of "duh" moment when I realized how I'd felt wasn't a new normal, but instead side effects from the chemo.  I am so blessed to know that the days of feeling icky definitely have an end date.  I won't indefinitely feel nauseous and exhausted.  Nice!

Here are a few high points from the week.  We have visited Greg, Missy, and the girls a couple of times.  I love it that Lucy knows me by name now, and Maggie wants to kiss me when she sees me.  Mom and I are planning to cook lunch with/for that crew tomorrow.  "That crew" has grown!  Kelly and three of her kids came for a visit to Houston and are staying w/Greg & Missy.  It was so great to see Kelly and the girls that I didn't even care if they got me wet when they hugged me.  Kelly & family will stay here until Saturday then go stay w/her sister in law who lives further northwest in Houston.  Mom has been getting to know her way around my neighborhood, as well as back & forth to Greg's.  It is so nice to have someone else to do all the stressful Houston driving.  Gotta love Mom!  We have done some shopping, some cooking, and a lot of great visiting.  I am amazed that I love Mom more and more every day, and that each day I feel like I learn some part of her life before I was a part of it.  It's awesome!  

I felt so good yesterday that Mom suggested we go out to dinner to celebrate.  I perused some online menus and had to choose between Cafe Express and a Mexican place called Escalante's Mexican Grill.  We ended up at the Mexican place and it was FANTASTIC!  I think I know where I get my tasted for carbs and guacamole--I inherited those rightly from Mom!  One recommendation--get an appetizer, then share an entree.  They plated our entree on two plates so we didn't have to scrape or split anything on our own.  Oh-and the tortillas are amazing.  Mom and I are now determined to make delicious homemade flour tortillas--do you have a recipe we can use?  

Today I had to have blood drawn pretty early, so after that was done we headed out to Greg's.  I actually got into the pool and got some sun.  We had yummy croissant sandwiches for lunch and I could have taken a nap, but just couldn't resist visiting with everyone else while they were swimming.  

Now, I'm waiting to get my next dose of chemo.  Right now I'm getting Benadryl in an IV, so if I haven't stopped making sense yet, I will soon.  This is the last item on our list for tonight, and we're planning to make lunch at Greg's house tomorrow, and then HEAD HOME!  I pray I will feel well enough to go to MY church on Sunday.  Will you pray with me for that?  Thanks for all your love & support!