Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

It's been a weird weekend. I had a lot of anticipation for this weekend... Memorial Day, the *unofficial kickoff to summer*. Traditionally, I love it. Here in Ohio we tend to finally have good weather, the pools open, there are cookouts and parades and tons of fun stuff to do.

This year, chemo has clouded my holiday weekend. People told me that the cumulative effect of chemo would make it harder to bounce back. I have seen that become true, but not as I would have expected. It's become emotionally harder each time; wondering longer each time if I can make it.

And then on Friday it hit me, the realization that it was the one year anniversary that my mom was admitted to Hospice. She ended up staying there for the final two weeks of her life. The first week was nearly hopeful... perhaps she would thrive under the care and freedom of Hospice? Quickly, it became evident that she would not.

For me, the anticipation of hard things is typically harder and more emotional than the actual hard thing. For example, my mom died on June 11th, but I'm finding that the days leading up to June 11th (and re-living what those days were like last year) will probably be harder than when June 11th actually arrives. It's hard for me to know if my rough weekend was chemo induced (probably some) or grief induced.

Starting on Friday, after I identified that as being the one year Hospice anniversary (I drove there to spend the day with her, then drove back home and loaded the family up the next day to spend several days with her all together), I immediately became nauseous and started to have diarrhea. (Yep, too much info... sorry.) I threw up twice and was a physical mess. It could have been both things - the grief and the chemo-, but I'm pretty good at working myself up.

One thing that has bothered me is that it's only been a year and I can't clearly remember the events of last year. I had trouble coming up with when I went to see her and when I came back home to get my family. When my aunt and uncle arrived, what night we brought her dinner and she smiled at her favorite Indian food. Memories fading so quickly. Going back and forth between being so thankful that she didn't have to live through these past 5 1/2 months (my cancer would have killed her!) and being desperately sad that I can't call her up and get a pep talk on my rough days.

My grief process has basically taken a 4 1/2 month *break* as all I can do is deal with my cancer and not my emotions of having lost my best friend. The dam is high and it feels like it will break soon. I fear for my emotional stability. I was right about to start a grief share small group Bible study the week that I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Needless to say, that took a back seat. Now I am wondering what life would be like if I had been able to go and participate in releasing my grief. Now I also grieve a portion of my life lost to chemo therapy. I like to think I'm not a mopy grief stricken cancer patient, but some days I feel like that.

Thankfully, this blog helps me put some of my feelings into words. If for no one else, for me.

Today I woke up for the first time in a week feeling like *Okay, I can do this. I can do another treatment tomorrow and my final round in 2 weeks.* The chemo fog is lifting and hope is on the horizon. I know my mom would not want me to be sad about her, but she would also understand that I can't help it. She would cheer me on and party with me when it's all done. She would eat Indian food with me and buy me a cute new outfit. She would be so excited for the end of chemo! And so am I.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Now what?

I've got 2/3 of round five behind me. As far as my *treasure hunt* goes, it's been a pretty good week. It helped that the American Idol finale was last night. Crazy storms swept through Dayton and happily for me, we were on the north side of the storms. We had a bit of rain and thunder but that was about it. Sadly, two of my fun friends who text with me through the show lost power. Can you even imagine? Hmph.

Back in January when the season started, I didn't know if I would be able to watch the season with out my mom. And then cancer struck. And then the judges disappointed me, as did all of the inappropriateness on the results nights. But I'm nothing if not faithful. And in the end, I have to say that I'm happy to call Scotty my new American Idol. I hope he has a better career than my past three Idols. In fact, I'm not sure we even heard from Lee this season on the show (can anyone confirm that for me?) It's weird how being the Idol doesn't mean much.

But I did appreciate how gracious of a winner he was last night. I hope *fame* doesn't turn his path. Time will tell.

I'm not much of a sport fan. But I think this is what it must feel like the Monday after the Super Bowl. Now what to do? What to watch? What to talk about? (Because a girl can not live on cancer posts alone!) I am ashamed to say I did tune in to the Bachelorette on Monday. I said I wouldn't. Ashley isn't too interesting to me, but some friends watch... so I will too. (Oh the peer pressure.) Last summer I got into Big Brother (can you even believe I admit to this trash?) Does anyone else have another show that I can get into? In summers past I've tried "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Outta Here" and "Japanese Game Show." So, as you can see, I'm willing to try anything. Except a dance show. I just can't seem to get into the dance shows.

I'm looking forward to Memorial Day weekend. Maybe a cookout? Maybe the outdoor pool? I love the *unofficial kickoff to summer.* Chemo is delayed until Tuesday because of the holiday. After Tuesday there's ONE MORE ROUND. Thanks for praying me to this end. It's so close I can almost taste it! One day at a time, kids, one day at a time.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Going on a treasure hunt

Well, I had plans of uploading some pictures from last weekend. Olivia's field day, the date Steve and I went on, the new dress from Banana Republic I bought. It was a great weekend and I've erred too far on the side of words only on this blog. But once again, the queen of good intentions strikes again. I'll get around to those pics one of these days.

I wanted to post a quick one here to let you know that I made it through my next to last rough Tuesday. Tuesday is my killer chemo day. And I usually call this my *rough week.* I've been reading a cool devotional since November called Jesus Calling. On our way to chemo on Monday I read some verses about God placing hidden treasures in your life. I decided rather than focusing on the rough of this week, I'm going to look for the hidden treasures that the Lord places throughout the days. True, it's still rough. I had bad bloating last night and have been nauseous. But Grandma is here and the weather is beautiful. This is my next to last round of chemo. My numbers are great. My prognosis is excellent. They have decided to give me a certain shot after this round and the next that will boost my white blood cell count so I don't have to worry about that from here on out. (Apparently the shots will make my bones hurt, but that's part of the rough.)

This shift in thinking does not come naturally for me. As you know, I tend to focus on the negatives and what if's. But it is true that He has gems hidden in my day. Like a treasure hunt. I have to lift the stones and find them. I have to say, it's really helped my mind set. And I am thankful.

Rough is still rough. But a treasure hunt is more fun!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Round 5

After having as near perfect of a weekend I could have, Monday has rolled around and here I go. My white blood cell counts came back good on Friday so (as far as I know) I'll be starting round 5 this morning. It's funny how not being able to have chemo when you're suppose to changes your perspective. I feel a bit like Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde. On the one hand, I couldn't be more thankful to get this round going. I'm not exactly excited, but I'm ready to get this show on the road. One step closer to being done with this intensive chemo. On the other hand... it's chemo. This is my *rough* week. But I'm believing God's grace is sufficient for my day, my week, this round. I'm thankful that last week's *bonus week* showed me that one day soon, this will be over and I'll be getting back to normal. I felt good and full of energy. I did lots of fun stuff and enjoyed the weather.

I'll post some pics from the weekend, hopefully soon. I just wanted to update you and let you know that I'm moving forward today. Thank you for your prayers. I know God's timing is perfect and I'm working on trying not to boss Him around and just be fine when His timing doesn't match mine. That, my friends, is a tough one!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Enough to drive a girl crazy

It has been one crazy week. I pretty much cried myself to sleep Monday night. From the outside looking in you may not have been able to tell the difference between me and one of my three year olds. Let's just say I had a hard time letting go of June 13th as my end date (and by a hard time I mean I was in a funk until Tuesday night when I finally came to my senses and snapped out of it.) It raised several *issues* including missing my mom like crazy, being reminded that my life is totally out of my control and once again poked holes in my whole trusting God stuff. All in all, things that probably are good things to get exposed, but not pretty as they ooze out.

Once I finally put my big girl panties on, I scheduled some fun things into my week and moved on. Tomorrow night I'm doing dinner and a movie with some girl friends (after I attend Olivia's field day at school) and Saturday Steve and I are going to go on a special date.

During lunch today I glanced over at Turner and realized his eye was bloodshot and a little crusty. If you have kids, you KNOW a crusty eye is never a good thing. Especially when you've been instructed to *stay away from germs and sick people.* Yikers. So I called up the pediatrician's office and scheduled an appointment at a time that Steve could take him (since I could play the "I need to stay away from germs and sick people" card - and I can't think of a worse place to go than the pediatrician's office if you're holding that card.)

I figured I was being an over-reacting cancer patient with a needy immune system by sending my kid to the doctors with a blood shot eye. But then I got THE call. Yep, pink eye! With a side of strep throat for good measure. Oh dear Lord, do you really want to test my trust muscle or what?!? I immediately called my doctor's office and they put me on three days of antibiotics *just in case.* I guess that's good. At least it gives me peace of mind.

Sheesh. Once I get through chemo, they are going to need to book me a room at the funny farm. All this obsessing is turning me into a true nut job. Tomorrow morning I go early for a blood test that will hopefully show my immune system back on track. Please pray that chemo will go on as scheduled for Monday. Not to mention, I got a big weekend ahead of me- I can't be bothered being sick!

Monday, May 16, 2011

It finally happened

I got to the chemo room this morning, they did a blood test... stat (that's hospital talk for fast). Hospital fast and my fast must be different. It took over an hour to find out that I couldn't get my treatment today. There were two numbers we were waiting on. One number was fine. The second needed to be at a 1, it was at a .99. Close but no cigar, or chemo as it were. And because I'm on the study, I can't get chemo until next Monday (they want to keep me on the Mon/Tues schedule.) So, I'll go back in for blood work on Friday. I'm assuming since I'm so close that it should be up by then. But I guess you never know.

I cried. I was disappointed. That pushes everything back by a week. My new ending date (hopefully) will be June 20th instead of June 13th. To you that may seem like no big deal, but to me, it's rather deflating.

Some good things about this... I get a bonus good week this round. I feel good in spite of a low immune system. Another good thing? My last rough week and the anniversary of my mom's death will no longer fall at the same time. Leaving me some emotional resources to deal. Thanks, God!

Honestly, I feel like a failure. I know that is not logical at all. There is nothing I could have done to change my situation. Yet, I feel like a failure. I'm young. I'm strong. I'm healthy. I should be able to do this. Dumb, I know!

Steve's mom was just about to be on the road from Cleveland to join us for the week. Thankfully, we called her right before she hit the road. But the kids are disappointed that Grandma's not coming today. The good thing is, she'll be here next week.

It's hard to be so out of control. I have been so looking forward to getting round 5 rough week in the rear view mirror. I know it will still happen. Just a week later. It's not the end of the world. I know God's plan has not been affected. But mine has; and that is hard.

So, I'll try to do my best and enjoy my week. Do some fun stuff and kick it in the butt next week. Pray for me to keep a good attitude and trust that the Lord was not surprised by this even though we were.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

'Twas the night before Chemo

I was going to attempt to change the words to the whole poem and then I thought better. Let's face it, I'm just not that creative. Nor do I want to spend precious time on my Sunday before Chemo wasting brain cells. But it would have been a good idea, maybe some other time.

This weekend has been fabulous. And sometimes a fabulous weekend right before my tough week can be counter productive. You know, the kind of thing where life has finally gotten back into the normal groove, I'm feeling good, having fun and then BAM, here we go again.

But I've been thankful for some really great prayer times and and some great verses from the Bible; reminding me that God goes with me every step of the way this week. Because, remember, there is still a chance that I could walk into the chemo room tomorrow and they send me right back home because my immunity is low. But I've come to grips with the fact that God is controlling the timing of this thing. I will be thankful, either way. (However, I'm still trusting that He is booting my counts as we speak.)

I've also gotten pretty excited about thinking that after this round there is only ONE MORE rough week. Only one more treatment of each day. In four weeks, all the rough parts will be history. I'll tell you what, there's going to be a party around here... that's for sure!

One of my sweet nurses, Amy, is getting married June 9th in Florida. She will be gone for all of my last treatment. I found out where she is registered and went out and bought her a wedding gift. I'm excited to surprise her tomorrow. I got her a card and as I was writing her a note, thanking her for the amazing and tender care she's given me, I started to cry. It's weird how attached I've gotten to these people. Now, I don't have to get THAT sad, since I'll be seeing them once every three weeks for the next year for my follow up treatment, but still. As this big part wraps up and I think about the basket case that I started out as and where I sit today, I'm so thankful for where the Lord has brought me. I know this thing is not over (in reality, I still have one more round after this, even though I keep telling myself this is my last one that *counts*) I have begun to see the very bright light at the end of the tunnel.

With that being said, prayers for this week are greatly appreciated! First, that I would be able to go ahead with chemo this round as scheduled (next round too for that matter). Also, that when the chemo funk hits, I would be able to run to God for the strength and courage to make it through. And of course, as always, that the cancer is gone... forever!

Thanks friends. You are greatly appreciated, see you on the *other side*.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

For what it's worth

As promised, here are my thoughts on American Idol. Hmm, where do I begin? I have to say, this season has not been my favorite. It's not really because of the new judges, although I desperately miss Simon. Although he was a bit too tough on contestants at times, overall I generally agreed with and appreciated his honest assessment of the contestants. I thought he was funny and added an edge to the show that I feel the audience came to expect. Every show has to have someone you love to hate. Or love to love.. whatever the case may be. I think his presence and his opinion were actually good for the kids on stage, it toughened them up. (But then again, what do I know? I've never been on stage a day in my life.)

This season, Randy has come the closest to being tough, and that is nearly a joke. In fact this week he spoke some truth to Haley and the crowd booed (I'm okay with that) but Haley sassed back! What the??? Since when do contestants sass back to constructive criticism? Especially when your performance was NOT GOOD? Oh my, Simon would have never taken it.

That is my 2 cents on the judges. Toughen up Stephen, Jennifer and Randy, that's what we pay you for!

Here is my big rant... I have an issue with the Thursday night results show. Generally, I'm not one to get too bunged up about stuff on tv. If it doesn't mesh with my values, I don't watch. We didn't have cable for our whole marriage (until cancer hit) because I don't like a lot of what it has to offer and it's been my choice to not pay for smut. But American Idol touts itself as a family show. Lots of pre-teens in the audience and now they let 15 year olds try out. I like that it's been a show that my friends with older kids could watch together. But hello results show, you are no longer family friendly.

Stephen Tyler is a loose canon. There are so many bleep outs, I'd be really disappointed if I was a parent with a young child in the live audience.

The musical guests and music videos they show are just not always appropriate. Lady Gaga? What were they thinking? J Lo has had two videos where she was practically naked. And did you see the Stephen Tyler video this week? The two girls who were the *love interests* in the video were younger than his two daughters. Nasty. And he did a pat-a-cake thing on the one girl's butt. So inappropriate. I don't really consider myself a prude, but I do think if they want to continue to market to a family crowd, they'd better clean it up.

Not to mention the 16 year old female contestants in their low cut tops and high cut skirts and crazy make-up. I fear for the pressure Olivia will feel when she gets that age to not dress and look her age. If those are the role models, whoah buddy. Rant over.

With all that said, every other season that I have watched the show I have had an early favorite. This year, not so much. I liked Paul. He was voted off early. I was sad but not devastated (I figured he wouldn't make it too far.) Then I was liking Casey. He was weird but good. He too was voted off early. Now we are down to the bottom three. Haley, the sassy pants, should NOT be the idol. At this point, if I were voting (which I'm not, so I might as well shut my face) Scotty, the sweet little 17 year old county singer, would have my vote. I like him. I like his voice. I like what he stands for. I might move South just because of him (oh, and the weather).

Really, this season, I'm just kind of, meh, whatever. That makes me sad.

Good thing there's always next year.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Grab a beverage and settle in... it's a long one!

This whole not having a computer thing is throwing me off my bloggy game. Sorry about that. So much has happened that I'm not sure where to even begin the update. Brief (or not so brief) overview: Mother's Day around here was great. We decided to spend our gorgeous spring day (temp in the 70's with a partly cloudy day) at the Cincinnati Zoo. It was perfect. Although, I did forget how tiring the zoo is. We spent about three and a half hours there and saw just about everything, which included a lot of lifting little kids so they could get a good look. On the drive home I realized my body was screaming at me. At times I forget that I'm not 100% yet operate like I am. And then I took a pain pill.

The visit to my dad's was great. We had a wonderful over night. I even had the best sleep I've had in months. I kind of wonder if it was also a bit of a *vacation from my problems* (bonus points if you can name that movie!).

This week we were right back at 'em. Even though it was my "week off" I was over at the hospital twice. Tuesday was a CT scan and Thursday was blood work and a visit with the doctor. I found Wednesday night I got a little cranky as the results of the CT scan loomed ahead of me. Thankfully, I found out that my *cancer numbers* have fallen once again. From 15 to 12 this time. And the CT scan was all clear. Lots to be thankful for.

As is the weather this week. Oh, I hope that you have had the same weather we have had. We've busted out the shorts and flip flops and have spent HOURS outside. It's been such a gift on my *good week.*

Last night I got a call from the Dr's office telling me that my white blood cell count is low and this means that my immunity is low. I will need to stear clear of sick people (good luck when you live with three snotty nosed little kids) and crowds. We also need to see the numbers rise in order for me to be able to receive treatment on Monday. They don't want me taking any chances getting sick. That put a damper on my Zumba plans for the morning, which put me in a bit of a funk.

I was able to pull out my Bible and read some verses about trusting God. I had lost sight of the big picture. His plans vs. my plans. His healing vs. my controlling. His sovereignty vs. my worry. It was very helpful. I'm still a bit dreading round 5 on Monday, but with the threat of not being able to carry on as planned, I find myself asking God to allow me to be able to press on. A good perspective changer, I guess.

So... thanks for hanging in there with me for this super long post. I'm thinking about giving my American Idol two cents tomorrow. I actually have about a dime's worth after this week. Tune in and find out! And feel free to throw up a prayer or two on behalf of my stingy immune system.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Step by Step

If you've wondered what it looks like to get chemo... here's a picture for you. They try and make it as comfortable as they can. Pillows, warm blankets, tv's etc. Smoke and mirrors my friends, smoke and mirrors.

Truth be told, the getting of the chemo isn't all that bad (except the days I get it in my abdomen... that isn't my favorite.) It's the days following. The emotional state has been much more grueling than the physical state. I had no idea. And this week (as I ended my fourth round) I have really struggled emotionally.

First, our computer bit the dust (that is why it's taken me so long to do a post... I'm using Steve's work computer.) That has been a big bummer. Blogging really helps me get my thoughts and feelings out and without my blogging release, I find I've got some things bottled up.

With Mother's Day coming up soon, I've been a little sad as I re-live last Mother's Day. It was the last real visit I had with my mom. We had a great time, went out for a drive and for ice cream and laughed a lot. The following Tuesday she went to the hospital and never came back home.

Since starting chemo, I've mostly been relieved that she was not here to worry and fret about my situation. I've been so focused on my own stuff that I just haven't *gone there* about my mom's death too often. But I feel like in the face of these next few weeks that lead up to the anniversary of her death, June 11th, I can't help but feel deeply about the passing of my mom. I miss her so much and when I'm swimming in the raw emotion and fear of the last two chemo treatments (that seem utterly overwhelming and not do-able), I wish she were here to process with, cheer me on and snuggle me. The anniversary of her death will coincide with my final *rough week* of treatment and I fear I won't have the emotional resources to deal with all of it.

We celebrated 8 years of marriage on Tuesday, May 3rd. As we did, it was good to reflect on some fun memories. It was also good to process on the past year of our marriage, and what could have sunk many couples, has brought us closer together and strengthened our bond.

But it also made me sad. Sad that as we went out for a celebratory dinner, I have no hair (I did wear a scarf to dinner, but Steve wanted a picture of the two of us, me w/ no scarf, to document this point in our journey.) Honestly, up until now, having no hair has not really bothered me. But this week, even baldness caught up with me.

I feel like a weary traveller. I hate to complain. There are so many others who do not have the great prognosis that I have. Or they have a disease that has no cure. I have much to be thankful for, and I am. It's just that I've reached this part of the race where I fear I can't take one more step. The finish line is in sight but I'm losing momentum. I know, in actuality, I can make it. It is one foot in front of the other, right? But my feet are cramping up. I want to lay down and quit. And the reality is, I still have nearly a year of chemo to follow. This race, the really hard and brutal part is nearly over, but the full race continues. As does the faith journey. It's 5 years out until I'm considered cured. Can I REALLY trust for that long? I guess I don't have another choice.

Forgive me, friends, if I am a whiner today. I just needed to get it out so that I can take that next step. Pray that I will!