Saturday, April 30, 2011

Thank you, Kate & Will

I'm in a bit of a post chemo funk today and have been low on energy most of the week. I usually snap out around today and I guess each round I forget how long it takes. I always think by today I'm back at it. Selective memory, I guess.

One thing going for me this week was the Royal Wedding. Honestly, I didn't think I'd get too into it. I do remember getting up practically in the middle of the night 30 years ago to watch Diana and Charles get married, but NO WAY was I doing that this time around. Thankfully, we have cable and I was able to catch everything in it's entirety at a human hour yesterday. I was fully mesmerized.

The dress, the uniforms, the hats, the crazies, the romance, cutie patootie Prince Harry, the Beckhams. (I'd elaborate more on the awesomeness of David Beckham, but Steve does read the blog and I'm afraid I'll get in trouble.) All of it. Many times on my *rough week*, Friday is the worst. It feels like I should be snapping out of it and I'm not and it can be a really long day. But thanks to all the coverage and follow up shows etc. I was entertained for the whole day. Mmm... dreamy.

One thing that helped this week was a little pre-planning. Last round when my aunt was in town from Arizona, I realized it really helped to have someone around in the evenings to talk to, share the load with and just get my mind off of how long the days are. So, this round, I enlisted some of my best friends to come and sit with me on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evening. It was really great. Good friends who don't need to be entertained or apologized to. Ones who pitch in and do what you need. Ones you know would do anything for you. I think I'm on to something here for the final push.

Speaking of the final push, this is a day where I'm feeling like I just don't know if I'm going to make it through 2 more rounds. This chemo comes with some depression and it can wreak havoc on my mind and emotions. I know the thoughts aren't true and you don't need to worry about me. But thoughts of *I can't do one more round* or *what if this doesn't work" creep in. Prayers would be appreciated. I know that this too shall pass. In a week from now I'll be flitting around like old times, but today is hard.

Now if only I could get my hands on a piece of that wedding cake, uh, yum!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Never a dull moment

Steve and I rolled into the chemo room and ran into a little snag this morning. My nurse, Gretchen, who is the cutest little thing, told me I needed to have some labs drawn to make sure my white blood cell count was back up since it was down last week. Um... hello, news to me. She said it like I already knew this (apparently someone was suppose to call me on that one.) But I am SO THANKFUL that no one did. Had I known, I would have spent the weekend worrying, avoiding crowds and worrying some more. All for something that is out of my control.

They drew my blood and we were delayed about 45 minutes until we found out that my numbers were back up and we were a go. Several things about that situation...

First, I didn't freak out. No panic attacks. No what ifs. I actually rolled with the punches. That folks, is Growth, with a capital G! I am thankful. I even sat there and read a book.

Second, I've never been so thankful to get chemo. What? Yep, when there is a threat of delay, all you want is chemo. Hello, weirdo.

One funny chemo room story (you didn't know they existed, did you?) There is an older couple who happen to be there pretty much every day we are there. Because today's chemo goes into my chest port AND I get Benedryl (which now makes me sleepy since I've stopped fighting it) tends to be a bit less of a *walking * day. Tomorrow... I walk... today I relaxed. Well, the sweet husband pulled Gretchen aside and asked her, "Isn't that the lady who walks?" Gretchen said yes and he asked, "Is she alright? She's not walking today." She laughed and told him today is a Benedryl day. That's pretty much all you need to say to someone around there and they get it! (As his wife was snoring away.) I knew it was a matter of time before I became known as *the lady who walks.* I guess I'd rather be known for that than as the lady who snores!

Tomorrow is an abdominal day, so please pray for a thankful heart and endurance. God's using it to blast the cancer so there is LOTS to be thankful for. It's also the yucky drug day, so if you don't hear from me for a few days, trust me, I'll be back. I just may need to get past the chemo funk. Thanks for praying.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Weekend

What a weekend!

We've really had some fun the past few days and I'm sad to see it end. The kids are at such a fun age for so many things (and at the age that can frustrate me to no end.) But the past several days have been pure family fun.

Saturday we went to the Y, colored eggs and went to church.
It has rained cats and dogs for pretty much a month now, but it has rained so much the past three days, there have been flash flood warnings all over town.

We woke up this morning to the Easter bunny having hid some eggs and filling our family basket with candy and toys.

After a leisurely morning we went to Mimi's Cafe for lunch. We were suppose to meet our friends Matt and Sally and their kids for lunch, but Sally woke up with a sore throat and they couldn't make it. Boo.

Call me lazy, but I decided I didn't want to cook a big holiday meal the day before another round of chemo. So I let Mimi do it for me.

I just love Easter weekend. I love the focus of what Jesus did for me on the cross. Although, I have to say, since January, there's been a lot of focus of that in my life. And for that, I am thankful for cancer. In some ways, Easter was just a continuation of what I've been experiencing. OBVIOUSLY I don't have that down... but things have come into focus. (unlike this picture.)

Steve and I sat down and prayed together tonight after the kids went to bed. I realized that I don't have the panic that I usually have on a Sunday before my rough week. I'm not looking forward to it, but I am experiencing God's peace. I have hope. I have joy.

What I don't have is much hair left. I thought I'd leave you with an Easter present and give you a glimpse of what I look like under that scarf.

Prayers would be appreciated. Pray that God would continue to kick cancer's butt through round 4 of chemo. Pray for minimal nausea and little fatigue. Pray that my depression that seems to accompany chemo would lift quickly. It is good to know that I have friends praying in my corner.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Give it a squeeze

I feel like I really squeezed the life out of this week. It's been fabulous. Tuesday night, Steve and I and our friends, Ed and Amy, headed to a town about 45 minutes away for the Crystal Bowersox concert.
I have to admit, when Steve told me he got tickets a month or so ago, I got nervous. Mostly because of the *what ifs* I'm now famous for. What if I get a migraine? What if I get tired? What if I don't feel good that night? Blah Blah Blah.

I'm really glad I didn't let the what ifs stop me. Because our night ended up being so much more fun than I expected. Lot's of laughs with Ed and Amy, great seats and a really good show from Crystal. The crowd was a *wee bit* older than I would have guessed (other than a hand full of teen aged girls, our foursome was the youngest group by far; weird, huh?)

Ed and Amy are our American Idol buddies. They may disown me for letting you know this, but they are our friends who have attended the actual American Idol concert with us (in which case we were the only ones NOT chaperoning a group of 12 year old girls). They also are our Diana Krall concert escorts.

I guess you could say concerts are our specialty. They are also some of our best friends. The kind that you just do life with. And being out with them this week did just that. When we left, I felt exhilarated. Not just because of the good music, but because this felt "normal" and good.

Why Ed and Steve were basically wearing the same shirt, we have no idea. But it was rather funny. At least no one else in our group was wearing a scarf; although it appears Ed and I now go to the same barber!

The rest of the week has been equally as life giving. This morning I went to my first Zumba class since surgery. I was a little nervous and wasn't sure I'd be up for it. Let me tell you, I LOVED every minute of it! I may have over done it for the first few songs and decided to pace myself a bit better for the rest of class, but I made it through the whole hour and am contemplating going back tomorrow morning. Because, friends, Monday is coming!

This afternoon Steve and I took the kids to see Rio. It's the first time all five of us have been to the movie theatre together. And the first movie I've been to since my surgery. It was a blast. The kids enjoyed it and we enjoyed watching them enjoy it.

Even though Monday is coming, I'm hoping to tuck some of the joy of this week away and pull it out in the middle of my rough week. If nothing else, as a reminder, that life WILL get back to normal. I just have to endure the pain to get to the good stuff. And when I can't do it, Jesus will do it for me! Have a great Easter weekend.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My precious

I got good news again today. I talked with my doctor's office and found out that those *cancer* numbers have gone down from 24 to 15. I'm not sure how low to expect them to go or how much they fluctuate or if just being below the normal number is good enough. I have an appointment on Thursday and will have some questions to ask. But to know that the chemo is still working and bringing the numbers down helps me gear up for round 4, which we all know from yesterday's post, means I'm *almost done* :)

In other good news, I found my engagement ring. Yep, you didn't even know I lost it, did ya? Which is surprising, because I'm pretty sure you could've heard the screams all the way from where you are. Well, yesterday afternoon on our way to swim lessons, I looked down and realized my diamond ring was gone. I had this crazy sinking feeling. Kind of like the feeling you get when they tell you you have cancer, but maybe not quite so bad. I had done a million things yesterday and figured it was a total goner. Because, really, how in the WORLD would I ever find it? Steve and I looked in every obvious place in the house and car and in between. But the fact is, I was at the mall yesterday morning and it could literally be ANYWHERE. To say I woke up A LOT in the middle of the night last night thinking about where it could be would not be an exaggeration.

On a whim this afternoon I realized one of the things I had done yesterday was sort through some of the boys' old clothes to give away to some friends. I put one pile in a box to go to one friend and the other pile in a bag for another. I tore through the box this morning but ran out of time before we headed out to the Y. When I got back this afternoon and finished reading to the kids before their rest time, I remembered I needed to look through that bag still. And there, at the very bottom of a Baby Gap bag, was my ring.

Seriously, between finding my ring and falling cancer numbers, this may as well have been Christmas morning! All that and did I mention we are going to the Crystal Bowersox concert tonight? You know I'm a huge American Idol fan and last year my mom and I had a hard time deciding if we should vote for Lee or Crystal. Crystal being from Toledo was a favorite of ours for sure. So when Steve heard she was coming near us, he got four tickets (hoping I could find three other girls to go with.) Unfortunately, I couldn't. So he, my friend and the other husband are being dragged along. But I think it will be fun. And normal. I'll let you know how it goes. But I think I might leave my ring at home.

Monday, April 18, 2011

You never knew I was a gymnast

It's spring break at my house. Although all that really spells for me is more work. Thank goodness for the nanny! Because spring break lands on my *good week* I have more energy and am actually looking forward to squeezing as much as I can out of this week before I head into round 4 next Monday. Speaking of round four, I thought I'd let you in to my psycho little world of mental gymnastics and how I've managed to come up with a formula to make it through the home stretch of chemo. I'm actually a little embarrassed to say that this works for me and if you find some holes to punch in my little scheme, please don't tell me... this is what it keeping me sane until June 13th (the date, that if all continues to go as planned and my immune system holds up, of my final *big* treatment.) Here it goes: So, I have three treatments left. Of those treatments only two more *count* (because I don't really count the last one since... it's the last one. Even if it's really rough, in some ways who cares, 'cuz it's the last one.) So, that means there are really only two left. And since I'm almost to the next one, and that will be done and gone before you know it, I really only have one left. Make sense? Not to mention, I have been blessed that out of my three week cycle, I really only have one rough week. I've been saying I have one *good week* but really, I've ended up each round so far with two actual good weeks because the second Monday of chemo hasn't been too bad. So, if I only end up with one bad week every cycle, then I only have 3 rough weeks out of 11. That's not too bad. I can DO this! I know that all might sound crazy, but let me tell you, it helps a girl out. And at this point, I take what I can get. I have noticed a distinct shift in my thinking. Like even acknowledging that I actually have 2 good weeks. This is the first round I didn't sit around that second week waiting for something bad to happen. Instead, I took life head on and lived it. Now, I've ended up with two very full and fun weeks. I also have begun to embrace the fact that *I don't have cancer.* Since my numbers are back down to NORMAL, I've tried to stop acting like I'm sick. Sure, I might have a slow week because of the chemo in my body, but it's not because of cancer. Thank you, Jesus! Friday I had to go for blood work. I pulled into the hospital parking lot and for the first time didn't want to throw up. I even had the thought, "This is the place I come to to get healed, it's not a place to dread." Let me tell you, that was a thought from God, not my own self. And it felt like freedom. So, there you have it. A peak into my crazy head. Please pray for my immune system to stay strong so that my chemo plan will stay on track and therefore my mental plan to stay on track too. Also pray that this spring break week/Easter week would be a great one for my family.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Soaking it up

I'm taking a cancer break today. No health updates. No deep thoughts or insights into what I've been learning. Today was a 100% *normal* day. Which is why I've included this slightly un-nerving picture of my boys looking all too comfortable holding guns at a restaurant arcade the other day. It made me laugh. Perhaps it should have made me nervous. Whatever. Today was a great day. The weather was in the mid 60's, the sun was shining, I felt great and accomplished much.
Including multiple grocery runs (once upon a time that would have sent me grumbling... now it makes me thankful to be able to do that for myself), lunch with a good friend at an adorable local restaurant called Butter Cafe... need I say more?

Then it was off to the park with the fam. Usually I would stay home and leave park duty to daddy, but these days the park is refreshing. Especially when your kid looks like this adorable wearing his bike helmet!

We eventually had to leave because Turner was "too sweaty", I guess that's what happens when your mom still has you wearing long sleeve shirts and sweat pants because she has not dug the shorts and t shirts out yet. Oops.

Then it was off on a date with Steve. We did a bit of shopping (I'm in desperate need of some clothes that fit now that the weather is getting warmer) and some long over due Indian food.

Pretty much for just about every date over the last 5 years, we've gone out for Indian food on our dates. Since my surgery in January, spicy food hasn't exactly *agreed* with me. And I'm pretty much of the opinion that it is sacrilegious to order non-spicy Indian food. But tonight common sense won out and we decided to venture back to our favorite Indian spot. I embarrassingly ordered my favorite dish in a mild, but was glad to be back.

All in all, it was a great day to embrace life and relish the fact that, today, I feel good! I hope you did the same.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The tides are turning

I'm officially half way done. Yesterday went well. Today I feel great. In fact, I got up and went to the Y and did some walking on the treadmill. I went to dinner with some girls tonight. The past two rounds I've kind of sat around this week afraid that side effects would come and that I would be in the middle of something and feel bad. So, I didn't do much. But this round I decided to trust the Lord. In the back of my mind it was a little scary to move forward in faith, but I decided it's worse to wait around for nothing to happen. Today... I embraced life. I was in the shower and for the first time I actually had an optimistic thought. It went something like this, "Ok. I'm half way through. I typically have had one rough week. That means I have three rough weeks left. I have 11 weeks and three will be rough. I can do this!" I can't tell you what a victory that was. The little evil voice in my mind wanted to creep in with things like, "Yeah, but maybe it will get harder and it will be more than three weeks." Or "Yeah, but the rough is pretty rough." But my new optimistic self said, "Shut up. The good weeks are really good. And really there are only TWO rough weeks left, because the third is the last... we can deal with bad when it's the last." So, I do believe I am being changed. I am being thankful. I woke up at 4:45 this morning and couldn't get back to sleep for about an hour because I was thanking God for all that He has done. Finally, when I had poured my heart out, I fell back asleep. Umm... let's just say... that beats the heck out of waking up and not sleeping because of worry, fear and panic. I'd say your prayers are working. Not just for my health, but for my mind as well. Keep 'em coming, because I'm not done yet. But I sure am thankful to be where I am. God is so faithful.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hating goodbye

Here I am. It's been a few days for several reasons. Not the least of which is that I was thoroughly enjoying my Aunt Sherry's visit. We dropped her off at the airport this morning and I'd be lying if I said there weren't a few tears shed. Since my mom has been gone, there has been an obvious hole in my life. My aunt has stepped in and although she and I both know the hole will never be filled (nor should it be) her involvement in my life has been essential. For both of us. This week solidified that. There were times this week that, when I closed my eyes, I could hear my mom's voice. A hug felt like her. A play time with my kids felt eerily the same. And I'm pretty sure Jesus arranged this visit to soothe an aching place in my heart. So as I put her on a plane this morning, I immediately panicked. The distraction this week was so sweet. And although the week was typically rough, having her around made it so much more tolerable. Now, I look ahead to this week. Tomorrow, the third day of my third round of chemo. Tomorrow marks the half way point. The panic came when I realized I'm back to *normal.* For pretty much this whole time I've marked chemo by when my aunt would be with me. I guess I didn't realize how hard it is to not have family around. Don't get me wrong, friends have been stepping in as only family would. Steve's parents re-arranged their spring trip south around my chemo. It's been fantastic. But there is something different about YOUR own family. The good news is that Aunt Sherry and Uncle Tom are headed east from Arizona at the end of May. They will be driving through. I will see her one more time before this thing wraps up. And I know God will provide other *distractions*. He will deliver just what I need, just when I need it. But it's that whole walk of faith thing that I'm just having a hard time with. I'd rather know what He's planning and when it's arriving. Pray for me. I've had diarrhea all day as I've felt sad about saying goodbye, wondering how in the WORLD I'm going to make it through three more treatments and looking ahead to my week. I'm overwhelmed. Which, in God's economy, is a good place to be. In my economy, it stinks. Pray for tomorrow to be as least uncomfortable as it can be (it's an abdominal chemo day), that this diarrhea stops and that I'll trust the Lord to provide what I need, when I need it. Oh, yeah, and that this chemo kills that stupid cancer once and for all!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Run for cover

What a day. My aunt, my mom's sister, arrived yesterday afternoon. We got dinner and headed home to put the kids to bed. We chatted for a few hours and hit the hay so we could leave bright and early for day one of round three. This morning I experienced minimal anxiety, thank you, Lord. Before they give me the actual chemo they give me this crazy cocktail of other *pre-meds*. One of which is Benadryl. Because they do it through the IV, it hits like a ton of bricks. It is the craziest rush. Ever. I'm pretty sure a hit of this would go for a high price on the streets. As for me... I pretty much hate it. (Figures. Why can't I be a normal person?) It feels so out of control. Have I mentioned before that I hate being out of control? Oh, once or twice? Right. I usually panic for a few minutes before the rush turns into more of this nice calm and I can kind of relax. But those first 10 minutes are a doozy. I have to say having Sherry there this morning really helped. Once I was in the more relaxed state, Steve, Sherry and I laughed. And talked. And laughed. In fact, we were kind of the rowdie corner. I kind of felt bad for the other people. But I kind of like to think we were fun to be around. (Do I now need to repent of pride? oops) While there, a CRAZY storm moved through. It may have been the blackest I've ever seen the sky. I'm not going to lie, it's not the most comforting thing when the doctor passes through and mentions out loud the word tornado. Great bedside manner, doc as I'm tied up with a bit of poison in my veins. Today was my *easy* day. If all three days were like today, I wouldn't mind chemo at all. Or maybe just a little. Tomorrow is my belly port day. I'm hoping we can keep on laughing and that I'll have a good attitude. Also praying that with my aunt around, the fatigue days will be less worrisome as there are an extra set of hands to help. I'm so thankful for her to make the long trip from Arizona. She is such a blessing. Most of all, I'm thankful to God, knowing He's using this chemo to blast that stupid cancer. If you don't hear from me for the next few days, know I'm here but sometimes don't have the umph to post. Pray that I'll have a thankful heart in the midst. I really do feel thankful. Almost half way there. I'm really thankful for that!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Defeating defeat

The past two days have been pretty good. I'm still flying pretty high from the good news on Thursday. I've been feeling great and doing my normal routine. That always feels good. But now it's Saturday and Monday looms near. I'm trying real hard to focus on today and let Monday be Monday. But it's hard. Here's a weird thing. Over the past 8 weeks or so I've suffered from a high number of migraines. I've had migraines on and off over the past 15 years. But it would be like two or three a year. I'll admit, I used to think migraines were for lazy people who just wanted to go lay down. And then I got one. I changed my tune real quick. Mine start with weird spotty vision. Then my face or hands go numb. And then I have this strange memory loss. I can't complete a sentence and I forget words. The first time all of this happened I thought I was having a stroke. In the *old days* all of that would be followed by a crazy bad headache. The past several weeks (perhaps this is God's mercy on my life) I have not had the crazy bad headache. It just seems to resolve itself. But all the other symptoms are odd and distracting enough (not to mention the fear that the blinding headache is coming) to put me out for a few hours. I had one last night when we were out with some friends. So today I've had to battle worrying about *what if* I get another one. I'm praying that I stop from going down the crazy road of "What if I have these weekly for the rest of my life?" or "What if they get worse?" You see, it's always something with me. Steve asked me a good question. He said, "Well, what if you do get one?" Umm... it stinks. But I guess its not the end of the world. He's right. I need to stop worrying about all the ailments that may be around the corner and do this minute when I feel good. Please pray for me. I'm already projecting into the week. The fatigue, the nausea, the depression. But it's not here TODAY. Plus, my Aunt Sherry is coming tomorrow from Arizona to be with us for the week. It is a bright spot in my week. An extra set of hands. Someone just to be with me. It is something to be thankful for and to look forward to. Not to mention the good news that God is choosing to use chemo to eliminate cancer from my body. Lots and Lots to be thankful for. Pray that I will look to those things and not already be defeated before I even begin. I swear, one of these days I'm gonna get it! Why is it not that easy???