Sunday, July 30, 2006

Is that a puppy in your shirt, or are you just happy to see me?

Sedona and Ciara in Auntie Pam's shirt.

Aunt Deb and Aunt Kathy

Somewhere near Chicago, Il and Corpus Christi, Tx meet in Waxahachie, Tx for a quickie reunion.

Puppies, Puppies, Everywhere!

This is Petey, Daisy and Ciara.

Cousin Liz and baby Josie

My sister would like to believe that this little angel was named after her, but her full name is Josannah. Hello beautiful!

Great Aunt Jackie (Grandpa T's sister) me and mom

I love her turquiose leather couch. While we were visiting a cat commercial came on the t.v. and Aunt Jackie's dogs went nuts barking and jumping at the television.

Bonnie, Pam, Jenny & Kathy

Bonnie, Pam, Jenny & Kathy
Originally uploaded by nate23.
Mom and some of her beautiful, strong, sisters.

Cameron & Chase

Cameron & Chase
Originally uploaded by nate23.
Handsome angels that make me miss my own children. We have had a ton of fun playing, my ds and his cousins could do a lot of damage if they ever got together.

Brownies or Death? Tough Decision!!!

Um, I found the chocolate brownies my auntie was hiding for Sunday's picnic.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Callie getting puppy kisses

Callie getting puppy kisses
Originally uploaded by nate23.
We are living in puppyville this weekend.


Just listened to my voicemail and dh won tonight, moving into what I think is the final round of the tourney. Watch out state, here we come.....

Chatting Cousins

Originally uploaded by nate23.
It's so great to see each other after way too long. (I am wearing a shirt, I promise, it's a halter top.) This should happen much more often and we would be less emotional. I love you.

Tales of a Texas Trip Day 3 Family, Food and Fun

Late night, early morning makes for a house full of tired and crabby relatives who are only too kind to not mention they are irritable, even though it is extremely obvious. No time for a shower, coffee and frosted mini-wheats provide the nutrition needed for the morning commute to Walmart in a 2006 Ford Mustang Convertible with the top down and going from 0-80 in 5.2. Someone needs new tires on the van and the wait is 3 hours which is just long enough to find $40 of things I want but do not need. Precious time is spent with long lost cousins and one once removed in the McDonalds waiting for the van to be done. Back at the ranch things are quiet, but the energy is therapeutic. Sharing stories of times old and new and showing the scars off fills the early afternoon hours. After naptime comes water fights with little cousins, a new taste of Tequiza, and comfy lawn chairs. Hugs, heat and happiness drifts us into the evening. Tummies are full of hometown beef burgers grilled to perfection on toasted buns (my first red meat in days), mom's potato salad and homegrown tomatoes and onions. Five sisters share an afternoon of well deserved reminiscing and prayers for Grandma. Homemade brownies and fresh brewed coffee end the evening with a little movie time. Hot shower and a little blogging and we all fall asleep.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Tales of Texas Trip Day 2, Even the Walmarts are BIG!

Today we were up early. We left to visit my great aunt in Bennbrook. Her daughter was also there. We visited for a bit and then went to an Indian restaurant for lunch. I think it was called Maharaja. It was a buffet. I didn't recognize anything. It was tasty and very interesting for my palate. I enjoyed this tomato soup and the flat bread called nan. The cucumber dill sauce on a salad was also good. I am not sure about the rest of the flavors. This is probably not the best time in the world for me to try new foods. Lately, I either don't have a taste for anything or I am hungry for everything. The best part about the whole meal was the conversation. My baby niece slept through the whole meal. It was so great to see family. We spent the rest of the day reminiscing about the past and fighting about whether we are 2nd cousins and how our children and our cousins children are related. We discussed it for awhile until we just decided on saying what my great aunt's mom used to say, "We're 52nd cousins." I like that. Does it really matter what we are called? We're family. That's the truth.
On the way home from my great aunt's we stopped (you guessed it) at Super Walmart. We needed to get some groceries for the BBQ. We spent at least an hour in there. It was well after 8 before we made it home and unpacked and sat down for a turkey sandwich. We are back in Waxahachie and my aunt is here and my other aunt and more cousins are due to arrive any moment. I just called my dh and he said my daughter JUMPED OFF THE BOARD tonight. I missed it. She has been a fish lately and I knew she was close to doing it. I can't believe she did it. I guess my son tried it, too. I wish I could have been there, but they will continue to grow and learn new things every day and I can't possibly be there for every single thing. I am feeling well, tired, but good. I know we will be up late into the night visiting for the next few days, so I am going to try and get some rest now.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Tales of a Texas trip, Day One Busy as a Bee

Don't know if it was excitement or nerves or what last night, but I did not sleep much. I went to bed around 1030 and was up a little after 1. My dh was a dear and stayed up with me so we could talk and watch the boob tube together. It was nice. I wish we stayed up all night together more often. Anyway we left a little after 4 for the airport and I was starving by then so my dear mother had to stop at the Flying J for toast and jelly before we got to the airport. After security where I had to remove my shoes and walk barefoot on filthy carpet, I was armed with medication and a full belly as we boarded the plane at 6 am. It was a puddle jumper and we were crammed in like sardines. We sat right next to the restroom and it was stinky. My mom bought me some masks to wear on the plane so I was glad I had them. My baby niece was a little jumpy when the plane took off, but it only distracted her for a second from her graham cracker snacks. We arrived on time at Chicago and had to climb down the steps outside and walk a short distance to the terminal where we encountered more steps. We fumbled slightly with the luggage when a pilot who rode with us offered to carry a bag up the steps for us, "My mom always told me to help beautiful women." he whispered to my adorable mother as he handed her the suitcase. We had a little wait (almost 3 hours) at Ohare so we took our time and walked the distance. We thought about getting a wheelchair, but opted to hoof it for the exercise. It was a nice mediocre walk to the gate where we grabbed a breakfast sandwich on a pretzel roll, YUM. We sat and waited while the world passed us by; a group of school age kids on a field trip, some men and women in military uniforms ranging from army to navy, backpackers, business men and women, older couples heading on a cruise, young families with children, and just plain ordinary people like us. Airports are like the melting pots of the country. It is so interesting to see and hear the people. I could have waited there all day and still not have been bored. I met a neat lady in the line for breakfast and an interesting gentlemen in the waiting area before we boarded the plane. Even the lady at the cash register was a person I felt like I could have sat down for coffee with. But, that's me, I have never been at a loss for words. I have been born with the gift (or hex) of gab. I took some medicine to help any sudden come on of pain and got ready to board plane number two. This was a bigger one. We bought our seats sort of last minute, so they weren't all together, but a kind stranger traded seats so we could all sit together. Due to some minor mechanical difficulties, the flight was more than 45 minutes late taking off. We had ear phones that we could listen to the traffic tower chatter and I tried to for a few minutes, but all of the numbers made my head spin. I deciphered, with the captain's help that we were plane 7 in a line trying to be cleared for take off and each plane took off every few minutes. Those tower guys talk so fast and the dialect is in a category of its' own. This ride was more comfortable than the last, but my energy level had faded and the decent into Dallas gave me quite a queasy feeling that I would have rather done without. My ears were not agreeing with the change in pressure either and it created this sick, nausea, headache for quite some time. We were able to get our luggage and find our way to the shuttle and to the car rental place where we rented a 2006 Outback. It looks sharp and has just enough room for us 4 girls and all our luggage.

Texas is BIG. Uncle Larry just tonight told me that he heard that if you took the state of TX and pinned the top of it in the exact middle of the U.S. and spun it around 360 degrees, the very tip would touch every state in the country. I believe him. Everything is big here. The plane that brought us here, the airport, the downtown buildings, the cars, the houses and even the glass they brought my ice tea in at supper tonight, it must have been a quart, at least. We got settled into the Outback and I called my dh to tell him we made it here safe and sound.

The navigators, my mother and sister, amazingly found our way out of the BIG city and into the BIG suburbia where my aunt and uncle live. The house is gorgeous brick on 10 flat acres of Texas grassland. It is breathtaking. Larry took us on a short tour tonight and showed us the dried up pond and large back acreage with trees and rock benches. Upon arriving at the house we were greeted by seven dogs. It was a bit overwhelming. I knew they were dog people, but my goodness. It was very clear who was in charge here and most of the bosses have 4 legs, excellent sense of smell and very wet noses and tongues. After the initial shock wore off from realizing who our roomies were going to be, we all started warming up to the dogs, even my little niece, who at first was frightened to death of them. There are 2 pugs, 2 Yorkie, 2 white fluffy small dogs with a litter of puppies and a large boxer. I have been told their names several times already, but (I love this excuse) chemo kills memory cells and I am the only one awake right now so I can't include them in this post.

The real reason I wanted to write tonight was because of what happened at supper. My uncle wanted to take us out to this local cafe/bar/pool house where the Mexican food is sublime and the atmosphere is cozy. After he came home from work we took the scenic route from his home to a little tiny town called Maypearl. The outside of the building looked more like a barn or a shed, which I am actually pretty used to. But, once we got inside you could really feel the ambiance of a real home-town place. It was actually 3 places in one, the front was a cafe type, the middle part sort of overflow and the back was the bar and pool area. It was called the Busy Bee Cafe and I was in love. The food was delicious, the atmosphere was comfortable and the company was superb. My uncle's buddy and his 7th grade son showed up to eat with us and we had a great BIG conversation. It was real. It was fun. It was emotional. His wife passed away from breast cancer and he is struggling with health problems of his own. He is taking care of three children, running a ranch, holding down a job and still had the energy and compassion to share his story with me and tell me to "stay positive and I'll get through it". It was too much, I broke down and cried. I couldn't hold it in any longer. It's everywhere. These people that are on my side, they are with me wherever I go. I was shocked and moved by his testimonial and his pure, raw courage. He makes me want to be brave for the wife and mother that his family lost. My sister commemorated our visit by purchasing me a t-shirt that says Busy Bee Cafe, Maypearl, Texas. I will wear it proudly, with my head held high and courage in my heart for all of the people in this huge world who are touched by cancer.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I hate packing!

I hate packing. I like to wear a different pair of shoes every day, but I am NOT packing 5 pairs of shoes, so that means I have to wear a coordinating outfit everyday, will my relatives think I am nuts for wearing the same colored shirt all weekend? Oh well. I threw a bunch of comfy things in the bag (for the record I packed 3 pairs of shoes). Gently packed a great pair of earrings for each day and I'm done. Got my book, my camera and my ipod shuffle, what else does a girl need besides earrings? Oh yeah, my medication.

We drove around tonight and hand delivered some thank you notes. It is amazing how many lives can cross each others paths every day. I am so blessed, I feel like I am actually a better person, with a nicer life now that I have cancer. How can that be?

Have a good weekend. I will try to post again when I get a chance to get online. It's gonna be hot down there. My husband play ball this weekend, I hope he stays hydrated...........with water.

What Cancer Cannot Do

Cancer is so limited . . .
It cannot cripple Love.
It cannot shatter Hope.
It cannot corrode Faith.
It cannot destroy Peace.
It cannot kill Friendship.
It cannot suppress Memories.
It cannot silence Courage.
It cannot invade the Soul.
It cannot steal eternal Life.
It cannot conquer the Spirit.

I received this from a dear friend just this morning and had to share.....thanks clm!

You should have married a GORDON, if you hurry there are still a few left!

Truth time. This is it, for real. Are you ready? I got the best guy in the world, the UNIVERSE. He is really something. I knew that before this disease grabbed a hold of me, but it has really been hitting home lately. Not only is he the cream of the crop, it gets better.....he comes with family, a HUGE one and they are all like him in a very special way. (Hence the title, there are still 4 single Gordon's 3 boys and one girl, get them while they are young, people)
I just know that nobody else can have it this good. This family is stuck like glue, I mean it is "all for one and one for all." They have been through more than their share of tough times and now that I think about it, maybe that is the reason why they are so precious.

I knew I wanted to marry him at my first family dinner. I can't even remember what holiday it was. But, I remember the table. It was longer than one of those banquet tables in the church fellowship halls - this; in their REGULAR dining room. There were so many of them, you could get lost. It was like a small village and it was so inviting. I think that was the first time I learned about how big your heart is and how it can love so many unconditionally. I only have two kids and when I was pregnant with ds I kept thinking, "how am I going to love this one as much as I love my baby girl?". Dh's mom has nine children. NINE. That is pretty average for my community. There are families here that have children in numbers that break 14. (most of the town is Catholic and I am Lutheran so I always joke that Catholics don't use birth control...forgive me Lord.) Not only did they have all these kids, but they were content, it was chaos, but not the kind that would drive you to drink, it was a comfortable hum. It was a drug and I was hooked. There were times in our relationship that I seriously thought, "I can't break up with him, I would miss his family too much."

After we were married and I was a full-fledged Gordon, the support increased. It wasn't necessarily money or even anything physical you could wrap your fingers around. It was better. It was this shield of protection that practically no one could penetrate. We had crap to wade through, and in those times when it was the toughest, dh's father would hoist us up onto his back and carry us out. It isn't perfect. Sometimes having a large family hurts. It hurts real bad. But, then forgiveness bubbles up out of the cold, hard places and everything is good again.

BONUS. He comes with more family. There are aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews and we keep growing and becoming stronger each year. My kids see their great aunt and uncle at least once a week. It is a community chock full of family. (this is where I usually joke that dh had to marry me because I was the only person he was not related to) Whenever I need someone to talk to; a place to get away; someone to take the kids; to make supper; to give me a break; I can always find that person. I know that my kids will always be watched over, even when I can't be around to do it myself.

Speaking of leaving, my dh and I were talking about me going on this trip and I think he will miss me (sniff, sniff). I will miss him, too. I want him to be with me when the first hair falls out of my head, when I am so tired he has to carry me to bed, when I need someone to hold my hair(while it is still here) while I spit into the toilet. But, he needs a break, too. He deserves a few days off from caring for me and I am sure he would enjoy sleeping in and not watching me mope around the basement. God knows he has earned at least that.

I was at the game last night wondering why I was so calm about leaving, when my sil came and reminded me that she is available if we need her for anything. My beautiful niece said her or her mother are available, too. This along with many of my friends who also offerred to help. I knew it would work out, that is why I am not getting all worked up about it. It's like magic...Only it's not, it's real life. My life, and I love it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

T O W N = tons of wonderful neighbors

I had a lab appointment today. I was really nervous, for nothing really. It was less than 10 minutes total that I was even in the oncology building. Anyway my hemoglobin is a little low (10.2 instead of 11 or more) but that is it, everything else is in the normal range, which means my body is tolerating the medicine (poison) that will eventually save my life. YEAH!

I had a few errands to run today so I made an early appointment so I could be home before too late. Who knew the mall and Sam's club didn't open until 10? I am such a moron. But, I got to spend an hour with a dear friend waiting it out at her office and we had a great visit. The people around me are my strength, they are the force that drives me to want to be BRAVE and beat this disease. I can't make it without them. It is so important to have friends and family and neighbors and people who care. My community or TOWN is amazing and so supportive. I am blessed.

I was on a mission to get my ring cleaned and I was walking swiftly (well as swiftly as you can with a thoracotomy and a port a cath and a huge purse and cheap sandals), when a kiosk salesman gently touched my arm and asked for a moment of my time. I tried to get away, but I have never been very good at saying "no" so he sat me down in front of a giant mirror and started combing my hair and using a steam straightener on it. His mouth was moving, but I didn't hear him, I just stared into the mirror looking at my long hair. I couldn't tell you what he said, but he was three-quarters the way around my head before I finally said, "I am sorry, I have to stop you, I am not a potential customer, I am losing my hair." He kept on working, only now his eyes were soft and his ears were listening to me as I told him how I was recently diagnosed and would probably lose all my hair. He calmly stated that his mother, too, had cancer and the chemo did not take her hair, and nowadays, with modern medicine, I have a good chance of keeping my hair AND beating the cancer. We had a very nice talk and I apologized 15 minutes later about wasting his time and excused myself. It was odd, how nice it felt to just tell someone, to admit it out loud. It was nice the way I got to hear his story, how we had something in common, this salesman with a harsh accent and little old plain me.

My mom and my sister and I are leaving very early Thursday morning to catch the red eye to Chicago and then two hours later we take another flight to Dallas, TX. I can't wait to see my cousins that I haven't seen in years and my aunts that I haven't seen since my Grandpa Toffel passed away. It will be a nice reunion of sorts. I wish my kids and my dh could come, too. Tomorrow I will spend the day packing, today my sister is here sewing me some boob tubes to wear under my shirts... I figured I should probably wear a bra if I am leaving the state.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Not for the weak stomached....

Have you ever seen Robert Deniro in "Awakenings"? That is how I felt this morning. I had a good amount of energy, after my meds kicked in and I was ready to go. Until; the kids woke up at 6 am (which they haven't done since last September), the satellite tuner went out (no cartoons=chaos), I realized we were out of milk and half and half, and my husband called to wish me good morning....(he immediately regretted calling). I needed a game plan and FAST. Okay dvd in upstairs. downstairs. I got out the board games with dust and watered down the little bit of juice we had left for the sippee cup. After I moaned and groaned to my dh on the phone, I felt terrible so I had to make up for it. I did the dishes downstairs, straightened up the kitchen upstairs, received a couple of phone calls. I was playing a game of connect four with ds (well, he is only 2 so we just made patterns with the red and black checkers) when I noticed him get kind of squirmy. "Do you have to go potty?" I asked, for the millionth time not expecting anything to actually happen. I mean, we had done this many times before and I was NOT in the mood for a drop down drag out to the toilet where he could accidnentally kick my side or hurt me in some other way. "Yep" he simply stated. I froze. What do I do now? Okay think fast.....his pull up is full so he must be talking about number 2. THINK FAST. "Do you want a book or a paper to read like daddy and your uncles?" "I neeeeeeed my airplane book!" he shouted as he was walking to the toilet. I was still not sure anything would actually come of this event as we had played it out so many times before. He put the stool up to the toilet and got himself situated and first he peed and then he became engrossed in the land of the airplanes. Soon I heard him say, "Mom, the poop is starting to come out!" I was so excited I started singing and clapping and doing the poopy dance (which, in my defense, worked really well with dd). "Mom, I can't read when you are so loud." ds told me. I immediately stopped doing the dance and clap and sing thing and was at a loss. "Well, if you need something, let me know." I walked out of the bathroom and stood waiting outside the door." A few minutes passed, I heard the pages of the book turning and was starting to give up when I heard, "Mom, it looks Sadie's (our dog) poop." What? I didn't get it until, yes and here is the part that is not for the weak stomached, I looked into the toilet and saw the long line of poop. I suppose he had never seen when it was not smooshed by his bottom in a diaper. We made the call to dad and ds tried to weasel out a BIG treat and then to Grandma who also said big rewards were on the way. Anyway in the land of potty training, it's a good day. I am tired and we may need a family nap after all this excitement.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

A role shift opens my EYES again

For those of you who are following the life of Rani, there was NO camping this weekend. It would have been a disaster had it happened. My dh has been sick since last night, I guess it started in the third inning....he frequently gets the pre-game *^its, but last night it was really bad, after the game he was hungry and he learned the hard way how many pukes it takes to get rid of a cheeseburger value meal, 3 to be exact. I learned of his sickness first when he called me from the restroom after the game and said he wasn't feeling good, then again when he arrived home hours later(after making the driver stop at every rest stop between here and Chamberlain including a few gas stations). He said, "I can't come near you honey, I just have to go to bed without a kiss tonight, I love you." Today he is dehydrated and looks awful. I, on the other hand have a tiny bit of energy and am happy to have a role shift for the moment. I am the one getting fresh water and making sure he is tucked in. My super MOM, the heaven sent answer to many of my prayers, took the kids so dh and I can rest. So, you know, I am typing..... The point of this post is, it could be worse. No matter how bad it is presently, I can always think of something much worse and sometimes hanging on to that thread of hope will give me the courage to get through. I could live in Lebanon, I could be in St. Louis without air or power. But, I don't, I live here among family, friends and the "village". I am so blessed, even with my cancer.
"Surely, goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Psalm 23:6

Friday, July 21, 2006


I can barely fathom how tired my body is. I sleep for an hour, get up, pee. Then I am so tired I am nodding off again. All I did all day was sleep, eat and pee. I feel like I have regressed back into an infant or a toddler. I am worthless, I can barely muster the strength to make it upstairs to eat. The meals have been fabulous. Between my husband, who makes better breakfasts than Denny's, and the "village" whose meals are a days worth of food, I have been keeping up what little strength I have. That's about all the energy I have for today. Hopefully, I can get a second wind tomorrow.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Is the Sting worth the Bling?

Today has probably been my worst day yet. I am exhausted. I am so tired that I can't lie down anymore. My back hurts from not moving, my thoracotomy is sore, I think it hates being neglected. The incision where my portacath is stings so badly, I want to scratch it out. I gave in at about 2:40 and had to shower. One can only take so much of the sticky iodine substance all over ones' body before one goes crazy. It is mostly off now, I couldn't reach all of it. I am in a real dilemma now, I want a bra for my right side, because the weight of my breast pulls on the incision and I can't wear anything on my left because my ribs are still sore. I think I will invent the one boob brassiere for women who have had a thoracotomy and a portacath surgery in three weeks. I wonder how many of us are out there suffering right now? I can only imagine.

I have been showered with wonderful prayers and gifts front the "village" again. The day we came home from surgery and chemo there was a box full of huge earrings at my door. Those of you who know me well, know I love the jewelry. The earrings are so cool and big right now. I have been telling people that when I go I want to be in the casket with a pair so heavy you have to put two coffee mugs upside down under my ear lobes to hold them up. Really, though, I am going to wear them to chemo and use them as warfare. I will wear beautiful things to hide my ugliness. I may be hairless, nailless and thin and bruised, but people will be asking me where I got my big earrings.

The real BLING for me will be beating this thing head on. I cannot and will not let days like today get me down. Today I will fight the cancer by resting my body. Tomorrow I will fight, too. Until it's gone. ALL GONE. This tiny sting will not beat me.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Explanation of Chemo, warning this may bore you...

For all of you who haven't had chemo (and believe me, I pray that that is the majority of you), here is what it is like. It started with an appetizer of zofran (anti-emetic) and decedron (a steroid). After the zofran and decedron was in, she started with the mean and nasties. The first m&n (no, not m&m) was a test dose of adriamycin. This is the drug that makes you lose your hair. She injected a small amount first to ensure that I didn't have an allergic reaction to it. I didn't. Then she got out this syringe that looked like one of those in a comic book. She needed two hands to carry it. It contained adriamycin. It sort of looked like cherry koolaid. Next came two smaller pushes of velban and bleomycin. Finally, the main course was DTIC. Some initials that lay people aren't supposed to know. The main course lasted 45 minutes.

The tumor shrinkage due to chemo treatment follows the same logarithmic curve that they would if they were growing. Left alone tumors have a doubling time specific to the tumor. One interesting thing that I just found out about cancer is that, unlike normal cells that only proliferate during their embryionic stage and stay quiet for the rest of their lives, tumor cells enter into an unregulated reproduction stage and mitosis (cell division) occurs continuously. For tumors to grow, the cell has to be in a growth cycle and only a certain percent of the total number of tumor cells are actively growing (dividing). Let's say it the doubling time is 2 months and suppose that there were 100,000 cells on July 1. This means that there would be about 200,000 cells on September 1 and 400,000 cells on November 1. Another issue that separates cancer cells from normal cells is that cancer cells loss of the cell's ability to undergo "apoptosis." Apoptosis is basically cell suicide. So, not only has the cancer cells' gone reproductively crazy, it never dies.Likewise, for chemo to work, the cells have to be in their doubling mode and only a certain percentage of the cancer cells are actively doubling. So, the cells would be killed in the same cycle time and they will decrease exponentially, too. Let's say that there are 1,000,000 on the first week of treatment and the chemo kills 90% because that is how many of the cells are in play the tumor will shrink to 100,000 cells. Then, the next treatment 2 weeks later kills 90% and the tumor shrinks to 10,000 cells. Then on the next treatment 2 weeks later (or 4 weeks after the start) the tumor is down to 1,000 cells. If you put this on a chart paper the tumor cell count will go down following a specific type of curve called 'logarithmic decay'.Taking all this mathematical mumbo jumbo basically means that the largest tumor depletion should occur early in the treatment. Another interesting thing that I learned was that this tumor kill liberates lots of bad stuff that you have to get rid of. For example, people with gout have problems with metabolism of some body chemicals (proteins / DNA) and they build up uric acid. Imagine a flood gate opening of uric acid from these tumors. It clogs up the blood and you have to get rid of it. There are two ways to do so. One is to take allopurinal or a medicine to beat the uric acid. Another way (if you have good kidneys) is to drink lots and lots of water.

Chemotherapy, Round 1 (eleven more to go)

Well, I made it through. I was more nervous for chemo than I was for surgery and I probably should have switched that around. The surgery was a bit more invasive than I had thought and it knocked me silly. I had such a darn headache before surgery (caffeine withdrawal from no coffee, I think) and afterwards I was nauseas. We had to be in for surgery at 9 and things moved pretty quickly I was in recovery shortly after 11. But I was ill and needed a rest so I hung there till almost 2, then they took the IV out and I got dressed as best I could and went across the street to the oncology clinic. We were educated a little on the drugs ABVD and then we got started. It was odd, all these chairs lined up in a row hooked to IV stands. I was lucky to get a room with a bed since I came from surgery. The nurse seemed to think that next time I would be in the big room. The side effects from 3 of the drugs cause hair loss, she figured that would happen to me, hair cells are the fastest growing cells and that is what chemo does, kills the fast growing cancer cells along with all the other fast growing cells in your body. I may lose my nails, too, and get bruises. She asked me if I was nauseas with my pregnancies, I told her no, so she initially thought I would be okay with nausea. I had to get up and pee a couple of times and the second time, my dh was whisper yelling at me to slow down, I was running so fast he couldn't keep up with me with the IV. I really had to go. My nurse pushed the drugs this time, but next time they drip, so it may take longer. I was starving and exhausted so we ate at Subway and came home. I slept till 7 and then felt awful. My dh filled a script for Zofran, even though we thought we probably would not need it. Can you believe without our insurance 6 pills would have cost us almost $300.00 YIKES? So I was sick to my stomach and spitting in the toilet, but nothing came up, then I took a $50 pill and a pain pill and went to sleep. I was up again feeling sick two times before 7 am. I drank juice and water and ate saltines to get through. I am not sure if it is from chemo or surgery. But I am keeping a log of everything so I can maybe get a handle on it. Every other Tuesday for the next 6 months, I am on the ABVD Day 1 and Day15 Agressive Chemotherapy regimen. We have a lab appt. next Tues. and Round 2 scheduled for Aug. 1st. Prayers graciously accepted.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Hillbilly Checkup

Today we got the official okay from the surgeon. Everything is okey dokey, so we go in tomorrow for same day surgery at 9. After I wake up from that and recover a bit I start chemo. We probably won't leave the clinic till 5 or 6 pm. It will be a long day.

I was asking the doctor about eating and drinking and I mentioned that I would like a glass of wine or a beer every now and then. He shook his head and said, "doctor's orders..." A few minutes later, he asked "do you like reds?" I replied, "Yes, I love tomato beer." As we left the hospital, my husband turned to me and said, "I think he was talking about wine." I am truly a hick. I thought for sure he was referring to red beer, wouldn't you have?

I think I should have a large can of tomato juice and a six pack delivered to his home with a thank you note, "Thanx fer kutin me open and findin it cancers in me's chest, doc, yer de best!"


It's a good thing I am a person of faith. If I wasn't, the world would seem to be ending. The fighting in the Middle East, the earthquake, the fires, the heat. In my state, it was 117 degrees in the capital city on Saturday. That is too hot. I get up early these days, I always was a morning person, I remember tiptoeing around the dorm room in college so as to not wake my later waking roommates. Now, I just can't lie down for that long on my back, it hurts. Even with a hospital bed, I just need to get up and move around after 6 hours or so. I have been taking ibuprofen because I am out of meds. I have saved a couple of diazepam for a "rainy" day, get it? I am funny in the morning.

Yesterday, I finally got to enjoy a bit of a ballgame. I HATE to admit it, but I was going through withdrawal from not attending 2-3 games a week. Every summer for the past 15 years of my life has involved baseball in some way and I have come to accept it as the real summer. Yesterday, against my husband's wishes, I drove the van down to the ball bark and sat (with it running) and watched the last half of the game. This was a biggie. Two teams pretty much tied for the lead in our district, I just couldn't miss it. Even in the cool I was sweating and I couldn't help but think of those boys, ahem, men out on the ball field in the hot sun wearing polyester. We came out on top. It was a good game, I am glad I went. Go Muckdogs!

Mom and my sister and I are planning an impromptu visit to Texas next weekend. Hopefully if there are not any changes in my treatment schedule, it will be my GAP week and I will be feeling at the top of my game. It will be really great to see my aunties and cousins, some of whom I have not seen in many years. I may have to take a sabbatical from blogging, unless I can convice mother dearest to bring her laptop....

I was very hungry yesterday, this is something sort of new and I hope it is a sign of wellness. Many of the books I am reading talk about the importance of nutrition in cancer therapy and I really want to eat what is good for me, but who can resist chocolate frosted brownies? But really, I am going to concentrate on taking vitamins and eating good foods so that I can kick this cancer in the behind. I read earlier this morning that over half of all cancer patients are supplementing their chemo with nutritional or other therapies, like acupuncture, or massage, or my hot house that I mentioned in an earlier post. I figure, the more the merrier, and if it helps me relax or get better or even be cured faster than WHO HOO! Really the goal here is to survive. I am up for anything that will help me achieve that. Today's lesson = Positivity!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The light is much closer than at the end of the tunnel after all.

It's amazing and slightly scary to me that at the very moment when you think you cannot get any lower, when life's burdens are almost too heavy to carry an inch further and you feel like giving up, something happens that lifts you up again. In that moment, as you experience the 'upper', whatever form it comes in, the world seems clear and bright again. Hope is again found and your heart is open again and the tears cleanse all those icky dark thoughts from your brain.

My upper came in the mailbox this morning (after of course an intense cry out on the phone to the strongest women in the world, my mother). I haven't checked it in a couple of days and it had started to pile up, bills, more bills, credit card offers, and (happy dance) cards galore.

I am back to driving now, it came about in a not-so-conventional way, but nevertheless it is one more step closer to normalcy that I have taken. So I elected to return a dish and give a thank you note and check my mail. I was headed out to my mom's and the pile of handwritten letters silently beckoned me to open them. I gave in around the last quarter mile stretch and ripped into a couple envelopes. Lots of get well wishes and prayers and again lots of offers for help. But, the most intriguing had a return address of Bloomington and a last name that was, for the moment unrecognizable. The letter was a life saving vest for chemo, a note of things that the writer had experienced and learned. Specific suggestions for caring for myself and my treatment side effects including the names of products she used to keep her symptoms at bay (no lie, at the time I was reading this my ipod shuffle was playing that song..."I will not give up the fight, I will not lay down and die...."I am so terrible at song names and artists, but it was ironic no, it was terrifying(I got goose bumps) how I was reading the words and listening to the words about staying strong and not giving up the fight at the same time, it IS all a part of God's plan, me coming to the "awakening" at that exact moment) were documented in the note. She wasn't specific about her cancer or the drugs she was using, but she was specific about how she 'survives' this illness comparing it to being as manageable as someone who has heart problems or diabetes.

Two very important things I know I will take away from her simple act of kindness. I will know that I can and will stay positive about this whole ordeal. I will also know that I can help others in my future by sending the same kind of note. It is such a simple act that can really change a person's attitude and give her the hope that she needs to make it through just one more minute, hour, day, week, month, year, who am I kidding, LIFETIME!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Ready, Set, CHEMO

I have been feeling really good during the day and really tired in the evenings the past couple of days. I am getting more strength and doing more things and it wears me out. Yesterday and today I got a lot of cleaning done (with the gracious help of my dh and sil). I am very tired and very happy tonight.

The nurse called yesterday and we are a GO for chemo on Tues. So, on Monday we go in to check the incision and on Tuesday we go into same day surgery for the porta cath to be put in on my chest, then straight to chemo. I am anxious to see how the week turns out. I don't know if I will be sick or tired or both....

Had a wonderful meal again tonight, thanks again to all you amazing angel chefs. For the first time in a while I got a few hours of peace while a friend took the kids. It was wonderful, I took a long hot shower and had a nice visit. I wanted very badly to go to dh's game tonight, but I am afraid of the heat and very exhausted so I elected to stay home. Had more wonderful friends who took the kids to the game for a couple of hours, but now we are home and getting ready for bed. I am planning on a nice relaxing weekend, in the air conditioning...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Chemo is my Kleenex.

If you know me, you know that I am rarely ever at a lack for words. I ALWAYS have something to say. At night, the thoughts in my head scream to be typed and sometimes I give in and get up and sometimes I just try to ignore the voices (with valuum). This is the second post I have tried this am and I just feel like I have nothing to say. I am finally coming to terms with the fact that, yes, I have cancer. I am getting more comfortable thinking about shooting my veins full of scary medicine, because I have learned that without it, I will die. I choose LIFE. I am gaining strength every day. Sometimes I need a pain pill to get me through, sometimes I can make it on my own.

Last night was our second night of meals. The hostess called us at 4:30 and let us know when she would be delivering our supper. As she arrived and presented us with a feast, I felt overcome with emotion(and hunger). How can these women have time to prepare a meal for us as well as their own family? Monday evening we were presented with a delicious meal as well. She worked all day and then came home and made us supper. I hope that in a few months I can return the favor. No, I know that I will.

This morning, after another feast at breakfast, I just can't pass up bacon...(at this rate I will be obese before chemo starts..) dd and ds were playing outside as they so often do. Dd came running in and relayed a very long story about her brother which ended like this, "and I just wanted to make him UN-sad, but it didn't work." I had been trying to listen to her rant but, as I sometimes do, I sort of drifted off in the middle, but the UN-sad part caught me. I think I can sum my whole being up into that phrase, 'make UN-sad'. It's a sickness I have. I want everyone to be happy, and I think my dd has caught it. I think it's human nature to want everything to be good and well.

Yet, as I grow older, I am realizing that sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes we can't all be happy and full of cheer. Sometimes we just need to cry and maybe even yell a little. All the chocolate in the world wouldn't make a difference, you know what I mean? The hard, cold, truth is staring you in the face and you just want to smack it silly. I am not sure what the right thing to do is all the time. I just know that sometimes, I put a fake smile on my face and trudge through the sea of confusion. Then there are those moments when I don't have enough strength to muster up a smile, the tears well up and, for the moment, it's easier to cry. My ds saw a bug this morning that he did not want near his toys and was very sad about it. My dd tried her best to make him Un-sad and cheer him up, but she failed. Ds had to cry it out until dh destroyed the bug with a Kleenex and threw it in the trash, even then ds was leary of going near the trash cans. My Kleenex right now is chemo and let's hope it takes my cancer to the trash.

I hope there are no English majors out there reading this. In college, my professor said I was"comma happy." Nah.......(Don't think I don't KNOW you are going to go back and count them, cuz I do! And I like the period a lot, too. So there!)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

It really does take a village

I read this in someone else's blog, he obviously wrote it for me....

The love, support and prayers of family and friends lifts you up. You can feel it. You really can. But when people who you don't really think know much about you offer kind, compassionate words and support, you feel humanity at its finest.I think there is one thing that I would share with another cancer patient or facing another potentially deadly disease. The community is likely to do its thing and support you anyway. That is what communities do, starting from Cro-magnon to now. That's why we have villages. They take care of their own. The therapy in it for the cancer patient is to experience it, live it, feel it. Be lifted up by it. It's humbling but so enabling. It's like 'you have a job to do - get better. Our job is to support you.'

Sleep is over-rated, so I stayed up all night and this is what I learned.

Ryan's first night back to work and I, of course, couldn't sleep. Spent the early morning hours learning a lot about Hodgkins. Information can be scary. But mostly I think being informed is a good thing. And, it's high time I figure out what the heck has happened to my body.

Hodgkins Disease was first recognized, surprisingly, by Dr. Thomas Hodgkin in 1832. It is a lymphoma along with the other, more common non-Hodgkins lymphoma (nHL). Lymphomas are cancers of the lymphatic system - the body's blood-filtering tissues that help to fight infection and disease. Like other cancers, lymphomas occur when cells divide too much and too fast. Growth control is lost, and the lymphatic cells may overcrowd, invade, and destroy lymphoid tissues and metastasize (spread) to other organs.HD, unlike nHL, is hallmarked by the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells (named after Dorothy Reed (1874-1964) and Carl von Sternberg or George M. Sternberg (1838-1915)). Reed-Sternberg cells are also present in mono-nucleosis (kissing cousin's disease) and in Epstein-Barr infections. The lymph system includes the lymph nodes and other organs that make up the immune and blood-forming elements of the body.The lymph nodes are organs about the size of a pea and are found beneath along the route of large blood vessels. They are grouped in areas such as the neck, underarms, groin, abdomen, and hips and are linked by narrow tubes known as lymphatic vessels. These vessels carry the liquids lymph and chyle which in turn transport the lymphocytes (specialized disease-fighting white blood cells) and other blood cells. Other organs containing lymphatic tissue (and that may be affected by lymphoma) include the: spleen - the "ductless gland" that makes lymphocytes and other infection-fighting cells, stores healthy blood cells, and filters the blood); thymus gland - the gland that produces immature T-cells that eventually participate in immune responses; bone marrow - that makes stem cells and many blood precurser cells; adenoids - the lymphatic tissue behind the nasal cavity; and tonsils, the rounded mass of lymphatic tissue at the back of the throat (of course, I got my tonsils and adenoids out at age 16. Neener neener neener, Hodgkin's. You can't get my tonsils or my adeniods. Tough luck.)

Chemotherapy is a general term that is used to describe cancer-killing drugs but they can be used in other situations, too. Chemo is usually given intravenously (or if you are really lucky, through a port like I will get that is a portal right into the superior vena cava. Some forms may also be given orally. There are also other less common administration routes, such as under the skin, in the muscle or injected into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).Chemotherapy for lymphoma varies with the disease. Most forms of chemotherapy destroy cancer cells by preventing them from growing and dividing rapidly. Other cells in the body - other than cancer - also divide rapidly and are affected by chemo. These include hair follicles (cells) and blood cells including the white and red cells and platelets. When your white count is low, you are prone to infections. When your red count goes down, you get tired easily. Platelets are also harmed by chemo, but like the red count, my platelet count is fine. Finally, the cells that line the gastrointestinal system may be damaged or destroyed, causing side effects known as the 'hurl factor' (hf, for short). The chemo regimen that I will use is ABVD. The four drugs in ABVD are an abbreviation for doxorubicin (Adriamycin®), bleomycin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine (DTIC-Dome). All four of these drugs will be given via my port on days 1 and 15. Now for the fine print. The side effects may include: Doxorubicin - heart damage; Bleomycin - lung disease (pulmonary fibrosis); Vinblastine hair loss, low white cell count and nervous system effects; Dacarbazine - nausea, vomiting (aka HF).

Previous Post Edits (Pictures Added)

For all of you faithful readers. I just received some photos of the hospital visit and such and wanted to add them to some previous posts in June. Hope you enjoy.

May have missed this by a couple of minutes, but the 11th was my Grandpa Arved's Birthday, Happy Birthday Grandpa T., hope Heaven is all you hoped it would be and more......
P.s. Did you hear us sing you Happy Birthday today?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

da da da da..da..da SUPER SISTER!

I think my wonderful, smart, sewing goddess sister has found a solution to my "can't wear an undergarment" issue. She found a pattern for an infinity dress on one of her forums. We went to and bought some olive green material that will match my new old navy's the link. If if works, you may see me in the dress every day until I am healed.

Monday, July 10, 2006

What do the houses in heaven look like anyway?

After prayers tonight my dd asked me, "Is God invisible?" Again, as I always am, I was blindsided by a four-year olds curiosity. "Um....Kind of," I answered her. "But Pastor is not invisible," she stated matter of factly,"because we need to talk to him and listen to him." I wanted to explain so much, but how do I not confuse her or scare her? "Well, we can talk to God just like we talk to Pastor and he listens to us, too." She looked at me hard for a moment and said, "But we can't see him or hear him answer." I sighed. "I think He answers us in different ways than words." I was really trying to end this conversation. "I think he will talk to us in heaven," she said. "I really don't want to go to heaven right now, but I think when I die I will like it." I was holding back the tears now. What was going through that tiny little head of hers? "We will love heaven when we go, whenever that is," I choked the words out. "I want to see the houses in heaven." she whispered,"but I will have to wait until I die. Mommy, when you are better and not so tired anymore can we give some of my toys to my friends? I have too many. I am too big for some of my clothes, too. I love you mommy, Goodnight." Just like that she was done. She changed gears and ran out of gas before I had time to dry my eyes.

"we don't quite believe it"

The combination of too much sun, too many steps, a bra, and not enough medicine did me in. I thought I was doing fine, really. I felt okay. I was drinking lots of water(enough that I had to pee almost hourly). I wore a hat and lots of sunscreen. I even got to sit in an airconditioned room for most of the game, but my body just could not hack it. I think it's amazing how our minds can 'trick' us into things. I really wanted to be there, and I think I convinced myself that I would be okay. I know now it was probably not a good decision, especially since this is only my second hour out of bed today and it's 4 o'clock in the afternoon. I wanted to visit with my friends and watch my husband hit and just 'be normal', it just wasn't in the cards.

Today has been a recovery from that outing and I hope to take it a little more slowly next time. Thank goodness for cards and books to read, a bowl of chocolate ice cream(yes, again!) and dvr. I have been using this device called a hot house to help me recover from surgery and today I really needed it. It just warms you a bit, sort of like a heating pad but with better technology. When I awoke this morning I could hardly move but after a "treatment" for an hour I felt a little better. I wish I could find something to take away my headache that efficiently.

I got a letter today from one of the girls that I taught at the colony..."I heard something about you just this morning", she writes in a letter dated July 8th at 10:48 am. (Can you remember being a teenager and putting the time at the top of your letters?) "they said you had cancer!, I'm asking you what kind it is and if it's true. We don't want to believe it yet. Everybody is in a shock especially me. We don't quite believe it if it is true. By the way if it's true we are all very sorry and we'll be praying for you." from the mouths of babes....

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Time for Bed.

Why is it that no matter how early they got up, how busy they were, how long the day was, they ALWAYS wake up when you pull into the garage and turn the car off?
Today was a long day. It didn't help that it was really hot and I tried to go to a ball game with no shade and lots of steps. Oh, and I took my last pain pill.
We left the game in the 5th inning, I couldn't hack it even though I got to sit in an air conditioned booth. The kids were asleep before we left the parking lot and I struggled to stay awake while listening to the end of the ballgame on the radio.
Of course the kids had their second wind when we got home and I was tuckered out. I helped myself to the most delicious chocolate ice cream and put in a movie.
Tomorrow is another day.


Rani, Maleah, Ryan and Gavin
Originally uploaded by nate23.
This is the best we could do after a long few hours of playing with cousins. I'm not sure it's Christmas card material, but it's all we have for now.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

My kids

Maleah and Gavin
Originally uploaded by nate23.
This one is my brother-in-laws favorite.

My Sister, My Friend

Rani and Josie.
Originally uploaded by nate23.
at Falls Park

My sister's youngest

Originally uploaded by nate23.
Wearing MY hat today at the park. Isn't she precious?

Me and My Dh

Rani and Ryan. Priceless.
Originally uploaded by nate23.
I love you.

Dd and Ds

Maleah and Gavin
Originally uploaded by nate23.
Today at Falls Park

The grass is always greener after a cancer diagnosis.

My sister called last night and wanted to get together since both her and her husband had the day off. We made plans to meet at Falls Park around 10 am this morning. I woke up early and called mom to invite her and she, in turn invited her friend, my brothers and their families. My family was the last to arrive, the kids didn't even wake up until after 9. I showered all by myself (I feel like my two year old when I write that, but it was an accomplishment) and got ready. I must have tried on 6 shirts before I realized I didn't have one that I could wear in public with out a bra. I started to panic and think that I would have to be sitting in the 90 degree weather with a sweatshirt on when I remembered this sundress I had that was an empire waist and maybe just maybe I could get by without.....YES! It fit and no one would ever know. We had the perfect spot in the shade with my two brothers and my sister and their families. It was a pleasant temperature with a little wind. I have always thought of my family as small, my dad died when I was young and he was sick and not living with us for years before that, so it has always been my sister, my mom and the boys. Now, here we are with all our kids, my sister has four, my brothers have two and one, with my two that makes NINE! We went from quiet gathering where we would visit, play cards and eat and then nap the afternoon away to pure chaos. The oldest will be 8 in October and the youngest will be two months in week or so. I am having deja vu, I think I wrote about this before. Anyway, I kept wondering what my dad would have thought of all these kids....It was beautiful and the kids played frisbee and catch and we all had a picnic. I wish we did things like that more often. We can hardly get everybody together for holidays anymore.

Got home and there was fresh baked goodies on the table. We tore into them before we even had our shoes off. I love sweet rolls and chocolate chip cookies! Thanks again to everyone who has so generously shared food or treats with us. They are so greatly appreciated!

Tried to nap a little but church was at 5 and I really wanted to go, haven't been in 2 weeks and that is where I do my best thinking. Our church is tiny, and everybody has their own 'reserved pew', you know when there is a visitor because someone is sitting in a different spot. We have a new young pastor and I love his sermons. I can really relate to them. My church is like my extended family. These are the people who came and knocked on my mom's door 20 years ago and offered to take us to Sunday school. They know me as well as my brother's and sister's. I got about 6 hugs and a lot of "praying for you's". This from people that I know are fighting their own battles right now; illness or money or relationships. It was comforting and I will continue to pray for them as they pray for me.

My husband is out in the tree in our backyard right now, he has an extension ladder that scares the heck out of me so I am in here distracting myself. I love him to death, but sometimes he is just not smart. Why do those branches have to be cut tonight? He has been so helpful lately and I am so thankful even though he did put my favorite pampered chef stoneware in a sink of hot soapy water to soak overnight. I love the way he thinks he is cleaning as he just piles things up in corners and on shelves. I can't complain though, my kids are clean and my laundry is kept up and he even vacuums. He is a keeper.

I barely had time to remember to take a pain pill today. I am so glad that I am healing fast and gaining strength back every day. I know it sounds weird, but I think I am actually going to be a better person because of this. I mean, before this diagnosis, I would have complained about the flies and the heat and the loud motorcycles at Falls Park. I would have been annoyed that my kids were not sharing with their cousins. I would have wanted to leave an hour before we left today and would not have seen the point of a gathering for no reason. Instead, I watched my baby brother tenderly help his wife hide herself while she nursed their newborn for the first time in public. I watched my nieces and nephews solve their problem of taking turns all by themselves. I witnessed my daughter actually get down and help her brother climb on a rock instead of leaving him crying. I giggled as my other brother chased his two toddlers around the park, they thought it was a game, he was trying to keep them close and safe. The kids played hide and seek behind big trees and Grandma brought beautiful kites to fly high in the sky. My son and I reviewed our colors as the hundreds of motorcycles roared by our little shady corner of the park. I swatted at the bugs while I held my husbands chapped hands and my brother in law shot photos of all of us. It was a great day, this day that the Lord has made and believe me I did REJOICE and be glad in it. I really did.

Tomorrow is the real test. Dh plays at Canaries Stadium at 2:30 p.m. I am bringing my lawn chair and a pillow and a big hat to block the sun. Wish me luck! Go Muckdogs!

Friday, July 07, 2006

almost forgot...oops

Happy Birthday Marty! Your mom brought over bars this morning and I ate almost all of them and my tummy hurts....Hope you had a wonderful day!

Does God's plan include gummy worms?

Another day, another post office box full of get well cards. It is so nice to hear an encouraging word from someone in person, but reading it in a note or on a card is really special. It's almost a forgotten practice, what we emailers refer to as 'snail mail'. I hardly use it myself, why should I when I can email instantly and it costs nothing? I am Mrs. Frugal recently and the economics of email just makes more sense. But, when it comes down to the heart of things, the real gut feelings just ring truer in handwriting on a card or a piece of paper stamped from the post office. Some people make their own cards, some write on stationary, some purchase a card from the store, but the real part, the words from their heart are always the best part of getting mail.
Of course there is always those terrible pieces of junk mail to toss and a couple of catalogs (Chadwicks has sandals for $5.99, I had to hide the credit card from myself, I want one in every color) and lets not forget the bills. Got the ct scan bill yesterday and the surgery bill today. I about fell over when I opened the envelope. My dh hardly makes that in a year. We have to sit down and look at our insurance policy and see what the end is going to look like. It is really scary. The worst part is, I cancelled my AFLAC three years ago when I started working in town. At the time it seemed like the right thing to do, save us a payment each month. Wish I would have known....

Today was the first day that someone said the "C" word to me, and I heard it loud and clear. I was apologizing for having to break a commitment for late August and as I was trying to explain myself, the woman just said, "Why are you sorry?, you are the one with cancer....." It was hard to catch my breath after that and I was a bit dumbfounded. Those of you who know me know that I am hardly ever at a loss for words, but I didn't have anything to say. It hit me. Yeah, I guess that's it, I have cancer. I don't know what the future will bring right now. I can't make plans for anything. I have to wait and see and wait and see and wait and see.

My college roommate was here today and she did a good job distracting me all day. According to my reading distraction is EXCELLENT therapy for people who have cancer. According to my research it is also a very good technique for raising toddlers, but that's another story. Anyway, we took apart my half dead flower arrangement's and pressed them in my dh's old college text books. It was crazy, though, the first page we opened was CANCER OF THE LUNG. My roommate said, "oh, we'll just turn the page". But I thought it was kind of ironic. I don't think I believe in karma, or destiny, I believe in God's plan. I gotta believe He knows what he is doing.
I am going to have these pressed flowers put into a frame so that someday, years down the road, I can say, "those flowers were from people who supported me when I had Hodgkins." It will be a good memory. We pressed a lot of them and then pretended we were florists and made our own bouquets out of the leftovers. She also brought me a one of kind bracelet that says 'brave' and (can you believe this?) an ipod (which I have no idea how to use, but I guarantee I will learn before chemo). Friends are so important. Had another visitor tonight and she was talking about the power that girlfriends have. I can't agree more. When I am with my friends, I feel like I can do anything. I am brave, strong, and funny. I love my friends. I need them and I hope that they need me.

Funny story.....last night the kids went to the ballgame. They were beat when they got home and we pretty much dumped them in bed and washed them (while they were sleeping) with a washcloth. My husband's aunt mentioned to me that my dd (dear daughter) gained a boyfriend at the ballgame. I laughed and forgot about it until morning when dd slumbered into the kitchen and said, "mom, I have to tell you something, a boy asked me to be his girlfriend, is it okay?" Wow, good morning to me! I had to think fast, this is a four-year old here and she is pretty impressionable and I don't want her to be scared of boys, but I don't want her dating yet. "Um, well, is he nice?" I asked. "He gave me 5 gummy worms." she replied still rubbing sleep from her eyes. All I could think about was what she was dreaming about all night. "Well, I think it's okay to be friends with a boy. Boys make good friends just like girls do." That should do it, I was pretty proud of myself for not having to consult the parenting website before answering her this time. "Well, I think it's icky!" she said and opened the cabinet for her krispy rice cereal. She got busy getting breakfast and I sat and pondered what it would be like the day that boys aren't icky anymore. I should have thought this parenting thing through a little more...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Dr. Keppen

Almost too tired to post today. The morning went well, I showered myself and got dressed, only needed dh to zip my pants for me. First day since surgery in real clothes and a bra. The bra came off shortly after the appt., just couldn't hack it. I think I know how the women in the 70's felt when they burned their's.

The Doctor said what we anticipated. All Hodgkins, stage 3b. Chemo is the 1st choice of treatment. We will start asap, as early as July 18th. Will be taking treatment once every 2 weeks for 24 weeks. There will be lots of scans and bloodwork to be sure it is working and 8 weeks in another PET scan. He said he believes that with chemo my disease is 80% treatable. Side effects include; thinning of the hair, fatigue, nausea, infertility, and I will be susceptible to illness. Right before the doctor came in I had to use the restroom and I had to walk across the hallway with my pants unzipped so dh could zip them for me, of course the doctor chose that exact moment to introduce himself. I tried to hold up my pants and shake his hand, but finally gave up and said, "I haven't the strength to do this myself" and let my dh do it. Oddly enough it wasn't that embarrassing. I did shed a few tears when it was all said and done, just the finality of the whole thing hitting home I think.

Dh took me to Perkins for breakfast and we ate like we hadn't eaten in days. I had three cups of coffee. Then we went to Target and shopped, it was good therapy. But I was beat. I slept in the car on the way home and for almost 3 hours after that in my bed.

Pastor's wife brought a feast for supper. It was delicious, and I was hungry since I had not eaten since my brunch. The kids went to dh's ballgame tonight so I had some time to myself. Actually I was not alone, I had a few phone calls and visitors. It was nice. I finished the evening with a short movie and now I am waiting for the kids to come home, oh there's the door, pajama time...

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Oncology Dr.Visit

Tomorrow is our first official cancer doctor visit. My sister is bringing her 4 children to my house at 7 am so that I can leave in time for the appointment. We are nervous, anxious and excited to hear something, anything that may give us a glimpse into what the treatment will be like.

Today was a very good day. I felt strong and happy. We even went for a drive. It reminds me of that verse from, I can't remember where, This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. Isaiah, I think?!?! I will have to look it up later. I went to see Joel Olsteen earlier this year with my in-laws. He talked about how important it is to get up each morning and start the day NEW with that thought. The mind is a powerful thing. It can make you believe the worst possible or the best imaginable. I am going to try and keep positive throughout this ordeal. Maybe all these good thoughts will help me heal faster. Right?

Happy Thoughts

I slept like a baby. Went to bed before 10 and did not get up till almost 4 then went right back to bed until 8. GOD IS GOOD! (drugs really help, too.)

Dh's family left yesterday afternoon and we are back to a somewhat normal family again. The kids are so out of routine (like we had one anyway). It will be nice to have a sort of normal rest of the week. Actually the kids are still sleeping. Dh slept upstairs last night, and I thought I would be lonely, but I did just fine here in my hospital bed in the toy room. Awhile back I had the strange notion to use sticky tac and put up the kids' paintings on the walls so they could see them while they were playing. I am so glad I did it. It is so nice to wake up to orange and pink blobs that have no shape or substance but mean more to me than most of my possessions.

I almost felt like we couldn't do it, though. When my mother in law left, I felt scared and alone. She had made our meals and cleaned and took care of the kids. She even used my cherries to make a homemade cobbler. I kept thinking, how are we going to do it without her? She hugged me before she left and just matter of factly said, "you've got things under control here." I didn't believe her. But she was right, and the only way for us to get back to normal is to do it. So here we are.

Today I have a list of things to do. YES, I am one of those people. I LOVE lists. It feels to good to get it down on paper and then later cross it off. I have a terrible memory lately and writing things down just sort of make them cement, you know, unless I lose the paper, which I have done...

One of the things on my to do list is make a will. I have been researching it for a week or two now and I think I know exactly how I am going to do it. I want my dh to do it, too. Even if I wasn't sick, it would be a good idea. In my state, if my husband and I both died, our children would be wards of the state. That is NOT going to happen. So anyway, I am going to do it, just a simple one. I have nothing of value except my children and I want them to be cared for by a family member.

Had some nice phone calls and visitors last night. It really helps keep my spirits high.
I am drinking some fancy chocolate coffee that one of my friends brought and there is a pile of magazines and books that I am anxious to read this week. I am wearing new pajamas and I smell so good from this awesome lotion that I got. I have beautiful angels and flowers to look at and cards to read and reread. I have a home. I have two beautiful children. I have a too awesome for words to describe husband. I have tons of friends and family. Life is good, GOD IS GOOD!

"...He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Two Steps Forward, 10 Steps Back

Knowing how many people are reading this is sort of affecting how I am writing. I wish it wasn't. I wish I could say that I don't proof and censor some of the thoughts, because that is what a real diary is for, but I can't say that. It's okay though, it makes me want to write better and positive things. It keeps my spirits high.

The naked truth about last night and this morning is; I AM A WRECK. Yesterday was weird anyway. I was trying to put a smile on my face and think optimistically and it just wasn't working. I really didn't have any reason to be grumpy or sad, but I was. I was bored, angry, lonely, pissed off and just plain unpleasant to be around. I moped around the house and tried to busy myself, I even finished a book. Yet, I couldn't shake that feeling. I know what some of you are thinking, she has a reason to be mad blah, blah, blah. But it just wasn't the fact that I was sick, it was something else. I don't know how to explain it. My side hurt more than it did the day before and NOTHING would take the pain away, I took medicine, tried to walk, sit, stand, eat, drink, read, watch t.v. It was just not going to go away. As the day progressed I tried to be 'normal', but ended up getting angry last night about something stupid and pouting all night. I went to bed crying and woke up the same way.

I thought maybe a shower would help, my dh helped me and I even shaved! Well most of it, anyway, I couldn't get under my left arm, so if you visit today, stand to the right of me. The shower was exhausting, it took over an hour and I don't feel any better. Not even lotion on my legs and arms could help me. I was bawling the whole time my dh was so gently trying to put it on my skin. I just can't shake that icky feeling. But, I am clean and I smell nice and I am wearing new pajamas that one of my thoughtful friends gave me yesterday. My husband mumbled something as he helped me get dressed. I couldn't hear him so I asked him to repeat himself. "I am glad I am not a woman," he said, "it's too much damn work....."

Happy Independence Day! I am completely dependent upon others and don't feel too much like celebrating, but I hope you all have a nice day.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Full circle, if you know what I mean

Well, if you read this everyday, you will be anxious to know that it happened last night about 6ish or so, after my dh had left for the ballgame. My mom was here and my baby brother and his wife came with their newborn. I thought after "it" happening, I would be better. Then it happened again, and again and just for good measure, again. After the first time I screamed to my mom through the bathroom door, "Woo Hoo" and my wonderful loving mother and brother and I think even his wife screamed back, "Woo Hoo". It was done. I felt good, then my mother had to go and ask the question, "was it big?" I thought about whether or not I should answer that question since it was really sort of embarrassing and what's the difference anyway, right? But, I did answer her. Just so you know. After my four visits to the bathroom I was feeling like a superwoman, I had energy and no more tummy ache. My brother and I celebrated with homemade chocolate chip cookies from my sister in law, I am not lying when I say this, they taste JUST like softbatch cookies from the store. My brother says, "how can she keep them so soft?", I reply, " I asked her once, I guess it's a family secret and if she told me, she would have to kill me." This morning I am regretting the cookies, if you know what I mean......

Yesterday was good, I got to see one of my email sisters. It was like a long lost reunion, she came down the steps to hug me and I was crying before she got her arms around me. It was good, she brought me PEACE, literally. I love her. I had the best conversation with her and then I was fading fast and she left. I slept well and woke up to her homemade brownies. They are the best brownies ever. They never last longer than a couple of hours in the pan. It was really good to see her.

I have been meaning to address the issue of visitors. So many people have said, I don't want to bug you, you need your rest. But, I have to be honest with you. I LOVE company. It keeps me positive. When I am alone the dark thoughts consume me and I get really down, but everytime someone is here, they say things like you are going to beat this, and I really feel like I can. I may be tired and even dozing off a little but please understand your company is very important to me; be it a phone call, a visit, or an email. Thanks so much.

My dh played ball last night. He pitched and they won! He is such a stud muffin. Go MUCKDOGS! After the game there were fireworks and the kids came home chanting..."more fireworks, more fireworks". I wish I could have seen them. Last year the kids were still a little frightened when they went off.

The kids both slept here last night for the first time since last Monday, almost a week. I think they will sleep in because they missed their beds. I am hoping for a good day without pain.......

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Normalness; for a few hours at least

It has been so wonderful to be around my kids again. I missed them so much this last week or so. My son has asked me every day, "mom, are your owies better yet?' He is so thoughtful and considerate for a two year old.

Last night my inlaws came and we had an amazing supper with corn on the cob and chicken and potatoes and melon. YUMMY! I felt like I hadn't eaten in days. My son loves corn so much, he stood in his chair the whole time, he never even sat down to eat. He just stood and gobbled it up. It is so good to see him eat well, he has been such a picky eater lately.

After the meal we all retired to the backyard where my son and husband started a game of t-ball. The laughter was good medicine. He would hit the ball and run the bases, screaming "catch me daddy.." he was giggling so hard he could barley run, it was more of a toddle and he kept wiping out right before second base. He must have hit 20 home runs out of our yard. He probably ran a mile, he just wouldn't quit. He was having so much fun, I imagine he wanted it to last forever. We finally bribed him to slow down enough to eat an orange popsicle, but he was right back to it after his "snack".

It was humid so we came in and watched a bit of the discovery channel. There was a show about squids on and they showed over and over how the squid would use it's tentacle to catch fish. My son was pretty intrigued with the show and kept saying, "look, he got another one" every time a fish was snatched up by the squid. He was opening and closing bottles of lotion at the same time and smelling the scents and sharing the smell with his great aunt, so I didn't think he was really paying any attention to the t.v. But, later on, after I went to medication sleep land, my husband and his parent were out on the deck with my son and they were talking and playing when my ds (dear son) went to follow my dh to the garage and make a quick 360 back to the deck, he was pretty frightened and started mumbling something about the thing in the grass that was gonna get him. It took him a while to calm down. Upon further investigation, my dh saw a small pile of some long leaves from my hostas that he had removed earlier (they were damaged from our deck wash last week) and together in the dark, they did sort of look like a squid lying in the grass....
My dh is sharing this story with me as I am taking more meds at 3 am and we are both laughing and crying at the same time wondering why we even let the poor child watch such a scary t.v. show anyway.

Last night was good, I felt great actually from about 415 to 9ish, in between my medicated sleeping times. It was nice to relax and feel kind of normal for a few hours. My brother-in-law (I have 8 of them, so you never know who I am referring to-hehehe) brought over a hospital bed for me to sleep in (well, I guess that kind of narrows it down, doesn't it). It really helped me to relax, I slept for 4 hours straight and then after more meds another 3 or so. I can't believe how much a bed can make a difference. I can lower and raise the head and feet until I am perfectly comfortable.

My mom is researching something called a CHI- machine. I am not completely sure what it is. I do know that it uses heat and light and massage to "heal". She has used one before and is interested in finding out the benefits of using one while I am in chemo. I am all for something that would help me feel more relaxed and calm.

My dd (dear daughter) spent the night at Grandma's again. She told me matter of factly last night, "I just have to be with Grandma for a little longer, mom, then I will come live at home again, don't miss me too much, I will pray for you again!" She has been praying a lot lately. My mom taught her the 5 finger prayer. The thumb reminds us to pray for family; the pointer finger reminds us to pray for people who point like teachers and pastors and policemen; the tallest (middle) finger is to remind us to pray for leaders like the president, the mayor and the governor of our nation, state, communities and committees (when teaching this to my in-laws, my dd just raises one finger at a time and when she got to this one and said, "this finger is for the president" my mother in law snorted and said something like " I agree with you on that one", we all just about fainted from laughing); the ring finger is your weakest finger and should remind you to pray for the weak and the sick and the people who need God's help and forgiveness; last is your pinky finger, the smallest to remind you to pray for yourself.

Breakfast was another feast and I think I must lay down for a bit and digest. I am fearful for the time when all of this eating comes full circle, that hasn't happened yet. Sorry if that is a little too much information. You don't have to read this, you know.....

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Need Washing?

Pretty tired and want to go to bed here shortly but I wanted to share this email with you. I got it today and it just hit the spot. I sometimes read these and sometimes I skip over them, because I am so busy. I think we should all slow down and take time to read inspirational stories, they open our minds and our hearts and I think we "grow" each time we read one. I hope it rains again tonight, I may just go take a walk in it.....

A little girl had been shopping with her Mom in Target. She must have been 6 years old, this beautiful red haired, freckle faced image of innocence. It was pouring outside. The kind of rain that gushes over the top of rain gutters, so much in a hurry to hit the earth it has no time to flow down the spout. We all stood there under the awning and just inside the door of the Target. We waited, some patiently, others irritated because nature messed up their hurried day. I am always mesmerized by rainfall. I got lost in the sound and sight of the heavens washing away the dirt and dust of the world. Memories of running, splashing so carefree as a child came pouring in as a welcome reprieve from the worries of my day. The little voice was so sweet as it broke the hypnotic trance we were all caught in "Mom let's run through the rain," she said. "What?" Mom asked. "Lets run through the rain!" She repeated. "No, honey. We'll wait until it slows down a bit," Mom replied. This young child waited about another minute and repeated: "Mom, let's run through the rain," "We'll get soaked if we do," Mom said. "No, we won't, Mom. That's not what you said this morning," the young girl said as she tugged at her Mom's arm. This morning? When did I say we could run through the rain and not get wet? "Don't you remember? When you were talking to Daddy about his cancer, you said, 'If God can get us through this, he can get us through anything!" The entire crowd stopped dead silent. I swear you couldn't hear anything but the rain. We all stood silently. No one came or left in the next few minutes. Mom paused and thought for a moment about what she would say. Now some would laugh it off and scold her for being silly. Some might even ignore what was said. But this was a moment of affirmation in a young child's life. A time when innocent trust can be nurtured so that it will bloom into faith. "Honey, you are absolutely right. Let's run through the rain. If GOD let's us get wet, well maybe we just needed washing," Mom said. Then off they ran. We all stood watching, smiling and laughing as they darted past the cars and yes, through the puddles. They held their shopping bags over their heads just in case. They got soaked. But they were followed by a few who screamed and laughed like children all the way to their cars. And yes, I did. I ran. I got wet I needed washing. Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they can take away your health. But no one can ever take away your precious memories..So, don't forget to make time and take the opportunities to make memories everyday. To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven. I HOPE YOU STILL TAKE THE TIME TO RUN THROUGH THE RAIN. They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them, but then an entire life to forget them. Take the time to live!!! Keep in touch with your friends, you never know when you'll need each other -- and don't forget to run in the rain!
Hope you enjoy-

Honey, I'm Home!

Yesterday took it all out of me. For the first time in a long time I did not even have the energy to check my blog or messages last night. I just needed some rest and it was nice that the house was empty except for my nurse, I mean husband. He slept on the hideabed and took care of me like a trooper again. I don't know how he does it, I couldn't put up with someone like me.

A couple of housekeeping things this morning. I was UNABLE to check email while in the hospital, so those of you who have been faithfully emailing, THANK YOU and I will get back to you shortly. I intend to post at least once a day to this blog, but I have to tell you my old faithful computer chair is not as comfortable as it used to be. I am not sure how often I will be emailing, but I will try to get back to you all. It wasn't that bad, only 33 messages!

Okay, well the 'pain management' didn't go well yesterday. At least that's what I thought. We were told by the doctor who operated on me that I could go HOME! We got excited, but I really wanted to make sure I could handle the pain so we tried some new drugs, valum - diazepem, I thought it would make me very happy, but it did not have the effect I expected. I still felt a lot of pain, it just kinds of clouds my brain and tries to trick my body into thinking there is none. It is supposed to be a muscle relaxer, too. I didn't feel relaxed and still don't. I think my problem is I have a lot of anxiety and all these thoughts swim around in my head and I can't shut it off. I could rest more if my brain would just shut off. I must have complained a lot because all of a sudden we had lot of visitors, the nurse case manager, the surgeon's partner and then finally the surgeon. My dh and I were asking all these questions about staging and next steps and it just became overwhelming. I was shown a copy of the pathology report and there it was in black and white diagnosis HODGKINS LYMPHOMA. Wow, to see it on paper was real. My surgeon sat down next to me and held my hand and said, " I know this may not comfort you, but 20 years ago in my residency I was in the same exact place you are, with little ones at home and everything, and I want you to know, you will see them graduate and get married, you will." And that was it, the tears came hard and fast and I started sobbing and snotting like a child. It hurt my incision so hard to cry hard, but by this time the whole room was in the same boat and I couldn't stop even if I tried. Hugs got passed around, nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, nurses aides, custodial helpers, and then slowly they all left the room until it was just me and my dh and one nurse. She shared her story of cancer, both her and her husband have survived different cancers and she assured me that I will be well taken care of by the same doctor who cared for her. She hugged me and her bright red hair tickled my face. She was older, probably in her early sixties and I loved her red hair. I think I will get a red wig when I lose my hair. She was a fighter, and she survived and so will I .

So we, I mean my dh, packed up the whole room and we made 2 or three trips, I mean he made 2 or 3 trips to the car and then we were wheeling me out and I was gone. My brain was spinning, I had no idea how this ride home was going to feel, have you ever driven with my husband? We went to Walgreens to fill the script and oh get this, THEY COULDN'T READ THE SURGEON'S WRITING, so they had to call the hospital. You always hear about doctors and their scrawl, yet their hands are amazing enough to operate and make very important cuts and slices that will determine how people will live the rest of their lives. I think the guy should get a medal.

So we snuck home (the ride was awful, which is normal with my dh). He made 18 trips into the house and then spent all night trying to make me comfortable... I think he deserves two medals. I love him.

We both slept better than we did in the hospital, but I am in a lot of pain, breathing hurts, talking hurts and coughing, well I don't know how I am still in one piece after it happens. But I am. It will take a couple of days or two for me to catch my breath I think, but I will.

For those of you, pretty much everyone, who have offered help, Thank you. I think we need just a day or two to get into this new routine, I cannot lift anything or drive for awhile. I am completely dependent upon my dh. He has the harder job. We will probably take visitors after the weekend, and maybe even need something else by then. But we could use those prayers, I know I can feel them and I know their awesome power. I want to be calm enough to breath slowly and I want to be strong enough to reach out and hug and kiss my kids. Right now I can barely reach their foreheads. I am really going to work hard to bring up my strength so they can see me move around and be normal. My son keeps asking, "mom, when are you going to be better?" It just makes me cry, because I don't know the answer, I just keep saying, "soon, buddy, soon"

Mom has the kids now and will probably bring them in for a quick visit today, but it is really hard to be around them, they have so much energy, I get kinda of sad and down and I want to be positive. So we will take it slowly.

I am getting pretty tired now and I am not sure if I have made any sense out of this post or not, it's pretty much my sporadic thoughts and I know they are messy so I will sign off for today. My dh is insisting I eat something and breathe, who has the harder job again?