Green Chemo Eve

Jan 26

Green Chemo Eve

Today I started my steroid regimen for Green Chemo and tomorrow (Monday) I’ll be in the Chemo Room for most of the day while the drugs drip in.  It’s the official halfway point through my six rounds of chemotherapy.  Blue is on February 17, and Purple is on March 10. As with so many elements in life, it goes both so very quickly, and so very slowly at the same time. There is a contentment in the chemotherapy, a soothing salve to my anxious human self: we are treating, we are doing, we are cancer-killing.  I find odd comfort in watching the poison run from the IV bag through the tubing and into my port because I can see it.  It is a tangible weapon. What I keep coming back to, though, is that any hope — real hope — that I have comes from my faith in God.  I believe God is good.  I believe he loves me.  I choose to live in the hope of heaven on earth rather than the dismay of the world. The world says I am dying. God says life here is just the beginning. Phew.  Thank goodness for my faith.  The root of my joy starts there. Tonight I pray for life as God designed it.  His world has no cancer, no ugly, no hate, no evil.  Tomorrow I’ll rise and rage against cancer, specifically.  I’ll love the people; I’ll seek goodness; I’ll be joyful.  I choose love. As a green-eyed redhead, I have lots of green choices in my wardrobe.  (Red, Orange, and Yellow were slim pickings in my closet.)  Tomorrow I’ll be wearing a designer shirt I got from my aunt’s boutique in Australia.  I’m wearing some handmade bracelets made my favorite short stacks.  I’m wearing fuzzy, warm green happy socks.  I’m wearing items that were gifted and have happy mojo attached to them.  I’ll be covered in love from head to toe.  So yes, that makes me one lucky girl.  The love is so sustaining. I’ll be thinking happy thoughts too.  Seventeen Monday’s ago, this is what I was doing: That’s me.  I’m kayaking in the ocean off Mooloolaba Beach.  (Happy Australia Day, Aussies!)  Shall we say, a slight...

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A cold

Jan 24

Last Friday, Brad, Maren and Greta all showed the beginning signs of a cold. I thought, “Uh oh.” And sure enough, I started symptoms on Sunday and have had a tough week.  It’s just your average winter cold, but my weakened immune system is taking it’s time fighting it off.  My energy level is ridiculously low, and my “catch up week” has been laughably unproductive.  Oh well, the piles and lists and emails and phone calls can wait (thanks for the grace, folks). It’s both good news and bad news that the cold struck on my “good week” relative to my chemotherapy.  Had it struck closer to treatment day, Dr. Wonderful might have decided to delay my treatment (never a good thing: optimal treatment schedule = optimal cancer-killing).  Had it struck while I was already in the slide–feeling weak and crummy from the chemo, I might have ended up in the hospital because my immune system couldn’t handle it. So really, having a cold this week was great timing.  Fantastic, even. I say that somewhat sarcastically, but it really was good timing.  One of my uncles from Australia is in town, so Greta has spent the past 48+ hours hanging out with him and NanaRoz.  Before that Phenom and Chief Sister were on duty.  Greta thinks she is hot stuff having slumber parties and playing Go Fish (as long as you play by Greta’s rules).  Maren and Brad are sticking to their school and work schedules and all of us visit in the evenings.  I’ve been able to parent for 3 hours a day and use the rest of the day to recharge and rest.  A lot of moms can relate to how long and hard the days can be when we feel crummy, so I am thankful that I’m not having to try to be Mommy on these sick-y days.  Family to the rescue, yet again! This particular chemo has a cumulative effect, so the further down the rainbow I get, the harder it is for me to bounce back–even without a cold in the picture.  I probably won’t feel like Normal Jen until several weeks after my last treatment.  Which, by the way, will be April.  Bring...

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The positive legacy

Jan 18

The positive legacy

Whilst I was out Christmas shopping this year, I bought two warm/soft/fuzzy/happy hats at Old Navy.  This is somewhat embarassing to admit, as I have an extensive hat collection.  However in my defense, my 2012 chemo was in the spring/summer, and this one is in the winter, so it generates completely different head coverage needs.  I wear hats both indoors and out.  I find on below-freezing days, I need a hat that covers my ears and as much of the nape of my neck as I can tug it down to cover.  I wear vests/jackets/sweaters with stand up fuzzy/warm/fleecy/soft collars to cover where the hat leaves off.  I wear hats as I make dinner, do bath time, fold laundry, and write.  I wash my hats with the same frequency I wash the clothes I wear; they are woven into me during this season. The above makes me realize a few things. Gosh, these are the days where I miss my long thick hair. How are bald men not freezing all the time? My fashion sensibilities are forever harangued by my functional needs.  Oh well, nothing new there. Anyway, I bought two fuzzy hats, one purple and one gray.  Maren, who has inherited my passion for soft textures, began borrowing the purple hat often.  It is in her regular rotation for school.  She likes to mix it up with her headwear (as do I) because, “Not every day is a polka dot day, Mom.”  So very true, right?  Meanwhile, the gray matches everything, so it is one that I have in heavy rotation.  Maren always high-fives me when we have on our “matching” hats because, well, when you are six matching is brilliant. One night this week, I finished tucking Greta into bed and came to say good night to Maren.  She grinned as I came in the room, and said, “Hi Mama.”  She was snuggled in her top bunk, happily reading to herself, wearing the fuzzy purple hat.  It was the first time that she had worn the purple hat inside. Like me. I tell you, it was an memorable moment for me.  Here’s my girl, and she’s decided to take the most cliche cancer talisman: the hat, and...

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The slow bounce back

Jan 14

I’m feeling the end of the slide today.  I hope that for the next almost-tw0-weeks I’ll be able to operate as Almost Normal Mommy/Wife/Jen.  The slide is rough.  It’s hard to have the flu for a week every three weeks for months.  I’m now halfway through the Chemo Rainbow, though, so I’m making excellent progress.  I’ll embrace my almost-two-weeks of relative strength and energy and make the most of it.  Let the frolicking commence! I went to the oncology office yesterday for blood work.  The nurses access my port (ie, stick a needle into my port) so they can draw blood.  They run the blood right there in the office and a whole spew of numbers come back.  They tell me science-y things about my hemoglobin, my white blood cell count, my platelets, and my red blood cell count.  They say, yes, my counts are low enough that I should feel tired (I do), I should feel achey (I do), I should feel worn down (I do).  I decide it is nice having a piece of paper validating all of my symptoms.  Right?  They also reiterate that my body, while running low, is on the mend and things should start to improve.  Good news. As I left the oncology office I caught the eye of the woman nearest the door and we started to catch up, “How are you?/Fine.  You?/Fine.  Good counts.  Cute hat./You too.”  As I glanced up I see that the entire Yellow Posse was all there in the waiting room.  Last Monday, Chemo Day, there were five of us who all wore yellow.  For now, we’re all on the same treatment schedule: we get “hit” every third week.  We’re in those chairs together for 4-6 hours; we trade side effect secrets, where to get cute/soft/warm hats, cancer perk stories.  Seeing those ladies in the waiting room, all of us “in the know” enough to get appointment early in the day to avoid long wait times, all of us in our warm hats, reminded me that We Can Do Hard Things.  That Chemo Room, I’ll tell you, it gets me every time.  It is a sacred space. Below I’ve answered a random assortment of your questions.  (More...

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Goodness in the slide

Jan 09

I’ve just woken up from a nap, which means that for the past hour or so, I have been a really good cancer patient.  Managing the slide, I’ve learned, has everything to do with staying ahead of the symptoms: don’t let the fatigue, nausea, dehydration, or pain get ahead of me.  I pre-medicate, and pre-plan, and prepare for most of the things I do during the slide.  I nap, I lounge, I rest, I pray.  And, it works pretty well most of the time.  Brad, Phenom, and my friends and family are lined up to take care of the girls so that, during the few hours I am with them each day of the slide, I am “on.”  I pick one or two small things to do per day: help a friend, share a coffee, organize a space, and limit myself to those small, yet important, activities.  Fairy God Mother (aka, my beloved cleaning lady) came yesterday, so today I am napping in a clean house which makes me feel significantly more relax-y and rest-y and, well, happy.  Hello, cancer perk!  And–a big thank you to those of you who help with our cleaning fund. During the slide, I give myself grace.  I redefine and relabel: I’m not lazy, I’m healing. I’m not selfish, I’m saving energy so that I can be Really Fun Jen when I’m called upon. I’m not weak, I’m fighting cancer. I haven’t always been good at giving myself grace and framing things in a positive light, but I am oh-so-glad I’ve made the change.  I deserve it, right?  You deserve it too, you know.   On Monday when I got home from chemo, it was late-ish.  The drugs take 4-6 hours to drip in, so I got home after Brad had already picked up the girls from Phenom’s house and started the dinner routine.  They were all sitting around the dinner table when I came in.  Both girls jumped up to greet me–I got a glimpse of how joyful Brad’s nightly homecoming is for him. Maren gave me her characteristic hug at the waist with her face buried in my ribs, and her soft and sweet “Hi Mama.”  As she breathes me in, I...

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