Grateful — to you — in the slide

Nov 27

This morning when I awoke, I could feel that “the slide” had started.  The odd taste that had permeated my mouth since Monday’s Red Chemo was gone.  I woke relatively energetic after a too-short night’s sleep, thanks to the steroids I’m taking.  After calling the oncology nurse, I started antibiotics for a toenail infection (hangnail) that is hurting–a sign that my body isn’t in strong fighting form.  My appetite is odd and continues to change daily; I crave really good steak, Dewey’s Pizza’s Harvest Salad, Spaghetti-Os, baked potatoes, and apples dipped in peanut butter.  I feel woozy, but not alarmingly so.  My voice is weak; when I speak I feel it takes a lot of effort to create words that project at an appropriate volume.  It’s the combination of these little things that I call my Chemo Haze.  I’m up, and doing a smaller — yet still important — version of my day, but things are just a little hazy.  Physically, it’s totally tolerable.  Mentally, I love chemo; chemo is on the team of the Good Guys.  Spiritually, I breathe in and out my request to God for a miracle: 48-1/2 years.  Emotionally, this has been a hard month.  Legitimately hard, to be sure.  But, yes, hard.  I can admit that; I can show my weakness there. People, you people, have been reaching out to do some really nice things for us, and I find it has been my emotional salve.  It tempers the one area that is raw and ragged by this month’s developments.  It is these things that really shatter my haze and perspective and heart.  I believe the good is winning.  Love wins. I got an email today from a twenty-seven year-old canSURVIVOR who has a big scan coming.  I was able to connect over our shared craptacular cancers and we, I hope, bring peace and strength for each other across an ocean as strangers.  The specifics of being a cancer patient create a reverential connection. A couple, whom I’ve met thrice, I believe, arranged for Nutcracker Ballet tickets for our little foursome.  Going to a special Christmas performance was on my list, but I’d crossed it off as an unnecessary expense.  I think God answered...

Read More

My Hallowed Ground

Nov 26

Red Chemo: done!  Here’s what “chemo” looks like for those of you who don’t know: Day 0:  I take 2 steroid pills the day before chemo. Day 1:  I go to the oncology office.  I drop off my goodies to share in the Chemo Room and say hello to all my friends before heading back to the waiting room to check in.  One of the nurses calls me back to get my temperature, blood pressure, weight and pulse oxygenation.  She then leads me to an exam room, where I meet with either Dr. Wonderful or his nurse practitioner Rockstar.  Yesterday, it was Rockstar; she examined my incisions, refilled some of my prescriptions, and, of course, we chatted about Thanksgiving plans.  Rockstar is a little bit younger than me, and I consider her to be a good friend.  Whenever I have exams/tests that are pending, she always stalks the results screen and calls me as soon as they pop up.  She, like Dr. Wonderful and the rest of my team, always goes above and beyond.  Once I high-five Rockstar, I head out to the Chemo Room and find one of the open recliners.  The nurses are busy and treat everyone first-come, first-served, so the there is usually a bit of a wait where I can get a snack, a warm blanket, and say hello to my neighbors-for-the-day.  Soon, a nurse comes to access my port and the good times begin to roll.  Once my port is accessed, they start a bag of saline that runs from the IV pole through tubing and into the port.  The bags of drugs are subsequently changed out as they empty. The nurse draws two vials of blood.  Since I was chemo-free at this time yesterday, we expected my counts to be good.  As the treatment progresses, my blood counts will get worse.  They watch my white blood cell count and my platelets especially closely.  Yesterday, as expected, my counts were good, so treatment commenced.  Bag 1:  Premeds, 45 minute drip time:  This is an IV bag that has Pepcid (help cushion the blow for my GI tract), Benadryl (help prevent allergic reactions), steroids, and, my favorite, the anti-nausea medications.  These “premeds” have only been...

Read More

Red Chemo Day

Nov 25

In case you missed it, my mom has been writing, and her last couple of blogs are about me. Once Upon A Time (11/14/13) Rainbow Hope (11/22/13) Now that the clock has struck midnight, it is Chemo Day for me.  It is surreal that I’ll be going back to my Chemo Room to get hooked up to the hard stuff.  I need strength to Do It Well–please pray for me that I would continue to feel God’s anointing over me.  My family and friends, in rippling circles, also need strength to help me do this.  In some ways, my family has the harder task: Brad is going to work, Maren is going to school.  They must be responsible, and kind, and strong with so much bubbling unseen below the surface.  Please pray that they too would have peace and strength. Truth:  It’s going to be hard. Truth:  The Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.  –Psalm 100:5 This verse speaks to all of my worries.  God is good and His faithfulness extends to my children and my children’s children.  That is a rock I can stand on.  That is a solid foundation. Here are the specific prayer requests for tomorrow; I’m wearing red for this first chemo: Blood counts/Exam: I need to have strong counts and pass my oncologist’s assessment that I am ready for chemo.  Game face is on! No allergic reaction: I’ve seen 20 or more allergic reactions in the Chemo Room, and Taxotere (chemo drug I’m getting) caused most of them. Poison would target the cancer cells and spare the healthy cells. Appointment is at 12:20; the chemo will probably drip from 2-5pm(ish).  (Eastern). Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. –Psalm...

Read More

Shouldering the weight

Nov 20

Today I went to Maren’s Thanksgiving Feast at her school.  It is so great to be able to attend events like this.  She loves it, I love it.  The principal and the school secretary were in the cafeteria serving on the line, and the assistant principal was walking around taking pictures and joking with the kids about how they are going to be on dish duty (first graders are so gullible!)  The school’s Thanksgiving Feast is a lovely display of service, community spirit, and, well, thanksgiving. While I was there, another mom came up to me and introduced herself as a friend-of-a-friend, a fellow former gymnastics mom, and a blog reader.  She wanted me to know that she and her family have been praying for me, that they would continue to pray for me, and she asked if there was anything she could do.  I profusely thanked her for coming to say hello, because I love it when that happens.  Real connection in the school cafeteria?  Yes please!  I wish everyone would blog so that I could experience the other side of this.  She referenced the letter I wrote to my daughters, and tears sprang up in her eyes.   It surprises me every time… I am shocked and awed that my words on this little blog have power.  Upon seeing her tears, my own eyes immediately welled up.  To get to see my impact in the eyes of a Stranger Friend is so powerful for me.  As we are talking, I’m thinking, “I like this lady; we should be friends.  Shoot, she’s praying for me, I want to be praying for her.”  I love that the blog does what I’d originally hoped it would: it makes the facts and the logistics known so that we can get directly to the matters of the heart.  The reason I began writing was so that I could process what was happening, but the reason I went public was for that cut-to-the-good-stuff short cut for my Real Life relationships.  I scratch my head though, at you Stranger Friends who have linked arms with me. I love it, don’t get me wrong, I just don’t have perspective for it.   My Real Life friend...

Read More

Healing

Nov 19

Healing

Updates: I’ve been off of all painkillers/narcotics for over forty-eight hours.  I’m feeling physically strong. Dr. Wizard gave me clearance to drive (yay!  freedom!) today.  He also says I can carefully hold Greta starting Thanksgiving day (happy Thanksgiving to me and G!).  And, should I feel inclined, I can go for a run the week after Thanksgiving.  (However, given #3, I may not feel inclined.) Red Chemo* starts in six days. Dr. Knockout and Dr. Wonderful chatted on the phone about me today, and then Dr. Knockout called me at 6:42pm to update me on their conversation.  Yes, my doctors are ridiculously dedicated to me.  My oophorectomy is scheduled for December 13, and then Orange Chemo* is on December 16. *Last time I had chemo, I had sixteen treatments over twenty weeks.  I numbered them Chemo #1-16.  I don’t want to name these chemos the same as last time because this is a New Protocol for New Cancer with New Results.  Since there are six treatments in this eighteen week protocol, I’m going with the rainbow: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Purple Chemos are coming soon this winter.  And, boy, am I looking forward to the end of *that* rainbow.  Pot o’ gold?  Yes please! Today after I finished my medical appointments, I went to Maren’s school and surprised her by picking her up for a surprise Mommy-Maren date.  Her school has a Giving Tree in their lobby, so we picked up a couple of ornaments for some needy kids in our community and headed off to make some other family’s Christmas a little brighter.  Maren and I had fun choosing the very best items for the very best Christmas experience for some other little girls.  Maren was totally into it, and I was tickled at her selections.  Our next stop was going to one of my doctor’s appointments together.  I try to keep the veil off of my medical circus for her; she can better understand it if she experiences small pieces of it.  Familiarity replaces fear, ya know?  Finally, we stopped for a fancy dinner.  (Truth be told, I wasn’t feel the love for a fast and cheap restaurant; healthy was the order of the day.)...

Read More