Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I want a new drug...Take 2

                  So it has been a really long time since I have done the blogging thing.  I heard so many encouraging words from so many of you, and then, I stopped.  What is wrong with me?  It was and is such a release and the best therapy.  So I will start again, today!
                Where to start?  How about right where I left off-
  Radiation- I finished my 32 days of radiation and a week later was said to be cancer free.  It did take me longer than expected to physically heal from radiation but, my body cooperated well with me and I did heal.  What is quite amazing is that evidence of that radiation is still very visible.  I have a nice rectangular 14”X16” mark on my left chest to show for it.  Think of it this way-  the places you want to make sure don’t see the light of day, is the exact place I have a nice olive skin tone.
                I asked for a pressure washer for my birthday and I got one.  And I went to town, driveway, deck, house, windows.  You name it, it got cleaned. 
I watched a lot of baseball, and then football, the boys won their division championship.  I am a very proud mom.  Both boys traveled during Christmas break.  Steven enjoyed Europe while Johnathan enjoyed a mission trip to Costa Rica. All was good once again.
                Almost one year to the day since my beginning diagnosis, I went in for a normal CT scan that turned into an MRI.  It all happened very quickly and for all of you who have been around scans- you know that if they are fine you may not hear anything for weeks, but if something is not right, you will almost immediately know.  That was my case.  I had the MRI done on a Friday afternoon and Monday morning at 8:30 my oncologist called to give me the somber news.  IT is BACK.
First I was mad- really mad.  What the heck.  I tackled this breast cancer thing full on.  The most aggressive surgery, the most aggressive chemo therapy and the most aggressive radiation all for you to say- Sorry it’s back.   Then I was mad at God.  Seriously God?  I depended on you and I was depending on you to take it all away.  I fought a good fight- and I am tired now.  Why do I have to fight another round?  Then I moved to sad because the realization that my stage 2B cancer had move to stage 4 at what seemed to be overnight.  With that realization my mortality became evident.  Not in an “everyone has to die” way but in a slap to the face “YoU ArE DyInG “way.  The way that says- you probably will not live long enough to see your youngest graduate from high school.   All of those emotions lead me to where I am now.
                I am at peace.  You may find that strange but, trust me when I say. It is quite peaceful.  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t like the idea of knowing that I could be living out my last moments but as I look back God has been faithful, so faithful to me in the past- he is not going to stop now.  See, death is just the step I have to take to get into heaven.  Everything else is in His sweet and loving hands.
SO that is where I will leave it today.  I have started a new round.  I have been through 10 sessions of radiation to the bone metasis (I don’t know the correct term) on my spine and I am starting a brand new, fresh off the FDA approval list chemo called Kadsyla.  It has been a tougher, harder fight than the last one.  I have been sicker, and much more frail yet, God  hand is all on this and I am amazed everyday how  He is my provider and meets my every need before I know I need something.

Bumps:  The fear of missing- missing weddings, graduations, baseball games, the years I was supposed to share with my husband once the kids were gone.

Battles:  strength to keep working.  I need those kids at school.  Their encouragement is such a blessing to me.  I know I need them much more than they need me.

Blessings:  My family.  My husband who is a rock! My son’s who despite their forgetfulness – they get what is happening and remain strong.  I pray they are finding their strength in Christ. My parents:  who came down to take care of me- and I needed them.  I only hate that they have to do this all again.  My co workers- meals, house cleaning, hugs, notes of encouragement, notes for my children- I could not do without it.  The psalms of confidence!

Verse and song of the day:

God bless you all!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Do your insides really make you who you are?

I am proud to say that after 24 weeks- chemo is over.  I am a rare breed.  I gained weight not lost.  My hair is already coming back (completely gray).  I did not have to take too many days of from work.  I really think I only slept through maybe 10 of those due to illness.  It really is a God thing.  now, on to the next steps and they are coming soon.
On Thursday, I will undergo a salpingoophorectomy- now that is quite the word for ovary and tube removal.  how bout that for hormone therapy- let's just not have any of the hormone that is killing you.  This is kind- of scary I am now loosing all things female.  Much like chemo- there are benefits- girls think about it.  I am not scared of the surgery, but I am the results.  Will it change the delicate balance inside?  I guess we will know in a few days.  Are you ready for a funny story-
Today, I had to go in to have my radiation fitting, get tattooed (to bad I could not have some nice work some covered by insurance) and set up my schedule.  While having the laser lining up (looks like a cat scan) I had a hot flash, not a little oh I am a little warm hot flash.   It is more like, a steam room in the middle of the desert and it happens in 3 seconds.  Never mind you that I am lying motionless on a steel table in the radiation department of the hospital, where the temperature is never more that a cool 65 degrees. So sweat is dripping down my face and the small amount of hair I have is completely soaked, when the doctor and tech walked back in the room, they were clearly taken back.  The doctor quickly asked if I was ok to which I responded that my inner child was playing with matches (thank you Carol Smith), your air conditioning system is making her long for summer.  He did not know what to do- the tech however broke out in the biggest laugh.  She took the towel that was on my stomach and started fanning me, still laughing.  The doc, finally got it and giggled a little.
Well, even though I can laugh I am a little nervous for this one, because it makes everything so final.  I can have new tatas constructed or added but I can't get new ovaries and it clearly marks the end of well- childbearing.  Is nurturing going to disappear too?  Still, I trust all my doctors and they really do know what's best.
Bumps:  nerves, nerves and anxiousness and people who gossip in the name of "I am concerned for you"

battles:  Trying to balance work, family and healing myself.

blessings:  pink shirt Wednesday, pink flamingos, all who were part of the winter park flamingo and donated in my name, white bean chili, parents showing up to their shifts for football and those who do more, baseball oh how I miss you, really good class chemistry in every class, rain, prayers, letters of prayer and friendship in the mail.  Heather I absolutely love you!

No verse or song tonight- going to bed- sorry

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

new day, new drugs

     I am sitting on my front porch watching my dog and cat act like they don't like each other.  The frogs are croaking, birds are singing their last good-nights and crickets are ..well crickets are just annoying.  I really don't care that in some cultures they are good luck.  They are just another nuisance to those of us with insomnia.  The temperature is really nice but, it is eerily very still. The fact that my pets are staying close to the door makes me think a big storm is on the way.  My senses are really on tonight, I am listening to the drum core at the local high school (about 1/2 mile away) practicing.  The sound is disturbed by a motorcycle going by at top speed. You know the ones, little man big fast bike, speeding past you at 100 miles an hour in a residential zone, thinking that death surely could not catch him.  Funny thing I have noticed.  You always seem to be behind them at the next red light.  I always wonder- is that really worth it or even necessary?  I will take the deep thunder rolls of a Harley anytime. I digress, I can smell honeysuckle and gardenia (two of my favorites), and it has rained so much here that everything is deep green.  It is peaceful on my front porch.  While I live in the city- I don't ...very weird.  If you have been to my house- you understand.
     Oh my goodness, I was getting ready to get into a really deep tie to how this is how our relationship with God is on many times and a hawk, a REALLY BIG ONE, landed 15 feet from me on the walkway (rope beside it).  Impressive!  We have a family of hawks I guess that patrol our yard, between the cat and the hawks, very little rodent activity. phew...
Alright, let's go back to the serene setting I had discussed prior to being startled by my flying friend.  So, I always think it interesting that while we say we like things to be peaceful and non dramatic we surround ourselves with drama.  And then we carry on in a way that would suggest things are 'fine".   We get distracted, we look for the nuisances, we point fingers and we make ourselves busy doing things that have little value.  Maybe I am on hyper, super think, over analyze mode but, the learning curve of valuable life lessons has been magnified by 1000 because of breast cancer.  So let me give you the same first paragragh in human form
    I walk through my day pretty lonely, just doing the things that you do.  Others around me, are doing the same thing, just rote, mundane activity, except for that person that I believe earnestly that God put them on the earth just to remind me to be kind..patient (no matter how annoying they are).  I am comfortable but something inexplicably is unsettling.  I am breathing probably a little faster than I should.  I have to remind myself to breath deeper and more slowly.  Then something jolting happens to get my attention and remind me that I have been created for more than "mundane" .  I am pretty darn special and to say that is not prideful or boastful.  I am made in the image of God, indwelled by the Holy spirit, and alive in Christ. That is special, just need the jolt to remind me.

Bumps:  I got my feeling hurt this week a couple of times, and my self- esteem was (is) shaky.  I know that part of this is little journey and it is compounded by some of the drugs I have to take. So the two don't mix.

Battles:  a new family of drugs has been added to my regimen. I have lost sensation in my fingertips and toes (not the big one- so bizarre), so bring on more steroids and some type or nero-something, bring the total to 15 pills 2X's a day.  I am experiencing Pavlov's response to them,  my body knows that while they solve one problem, they create another and it is difficult to swallow two of them in particular.

We are back at school and I so needed the energy that my students give me.  They are fantastically awesome---all of them!
My own personal nurse at MD Anderson.  I seriously have my nurses home telephone number and she has mine.
I got Steven's senior pictures- Richmond Gibbs did a fantastic job.
John and I thoroughly enjoyed Sunday's sermon and spent lunch discussing it- brilliant young man he is.
I am 40 plus years old and I am finally learning how to apply make-up (no  lower-eyelashes and a very thin left eyebrow will do that to you).
Mint ice cream and cherries but never together.
Football sesason- kind-off happy Steven decided to play- it will be a nice change of pace.
Baseball Season- again for John- loving his development
Godly coaches- one can never express how awesome it is to have Godly men invest in your boys!

I am blessed.

Song of the day:

Verse that helped me through today:
Jeremiah 29:12 (i always liked this one better)
When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen. 


Tuesday, August 14, 2012


It occurs to me that this year is going to go down as one of those "big moment" years.  Over the past few days I have been intent on just getting through the days which is good since the things that are changing are big and I mean BIG things.

School has started.  I really love my job and I love all my students (even though they think that sometimes I don't); I really can't think of a better job.  The problem is- I am beat.  Chemo has taken everything out of me.  I really did not realize how weak I am until now.  All of those side effects that I have been able to ignore all summer, I can't avoid now.  I really don't like not being 100% energy- all the time in the classroom.  The other issues are passing right before me and I am just watching them pass.  I have called these things a problem twice and let's be real- they are not.

All my kids, they know I love them- I will give them 100 percent of me, even if it is less of my 100% before cancer.  It is not any less of me.  The other thing is I have a senior and all that goes along with that.  The pictures, the transcripts, the colleges, the scholarship and my boy is "grown".  Again, not a problem, I have raised him, I am proud of him (really proud of him) and he is ready.  I am really kind of excited to see where God will take him.

So now I am going to let you in on a secret.  I am a little compulsive and I like to know that I have some control in situations.  I prayed last year that God would show me that He is ultimately in control.  And boy did he ever.  He took everything.  He made me see that He is in control of my health.  He picked the right doctors and treatment, He is in control of my job, I struggled to finish last year and He rewarded me by giving me probably the best schedule I have had in years.  He is in control of my strength, always providing me with just enough but never more.  He is charge of my emotions, which lets be honest; with the removal of hormones- those can be tricky.  And even in the midst of having nothing I have everything.  The rat race of "college aplication", everyone trying to out do everyone else to get to the biggest and best college seems very insignificant.  The right door at the right time, God is in the midst waiting for our complete dependance on Him.  So for today-  I will be faithful to show my own children as well as all of those who have been intrusted to me that  God is in charge!  My life is a reflection of that for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and His works are wonderful.

Here is to God being in charge till the end of this season.

Bumps:  1 more chemo session and 6 weeks of radiation
Battles:  cumalitave chemo- it is now wearing this poor girl down
Blessings:  The number of parents who pray for their teachers!  The number of students who pray for their teachers!  The number of smiles I have seen in the last two days of kids who are earnestly happy to see you.  Teachers who invest.   Administrators who are compassionate.  Praying people move me!

I love you all
Now go read  Psalms 139-  and claim who you are in Christ!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Little achievements

So I have been doing a little thinking lately.  It has been 5 months since my first surgery, 3 months (roughly) since the second emergency surgery, 4 chemo sessions, too many doctors appointments to count and I am not half way done yet.  Surgery, well that is hard on the body. Having a constant open incision is not fun and chemo, well it sucks but I am not discouraged.  Everyday God gives me the exact amount of strength that I need to get just the things that need to get done.  I can feel, my body get weaker and it is OK because He has not failed me. Today, I got up and tried a new recipe (which I will not be replicating but I will be changing), cooked dinner (chili on spaghetti squash), went to church and heard a great message, lunch out provided by the Johnston family, mowed, went to Sam's and my day is complete.  I would call that a full day.  See, it would be easy to just crawl into bed and be miserable but, God gives me just enough to get the "normal" stuff to get done. 
I want things to remain as constant as I can for my boys.  Heck, who am I kidding, I want things to remain as normal as possible for me.  And that is exactly, what I get from God everyday.  It is so comforting to know that He is constant. 
Well, this may be disjointed today but the sermon was really good today. Not, over preachy.  You know the deep theological "why God let's bad things happen" that we have heard after tragedies happen.  Nope, today's sermon was so incredibly simple.  Did it address that- absolutely. It came down to this.  God, does not need for evil disappear to be glorified.  He will use the tragedies to be glorified through us.  We may not be able to change the big picture but we can change the big picture for the person next to us.  Essentially, do what you can for one and plant the seed.  That is what I am resting on at this point.  I don't have a lot to give but I can still do something for someone.  Right now, it is a season for planting.  Digging in, studying and doing only what I can.  I may never see the fruit of my growth but, I know that seeds will be sown and He will be glorified.
 I have read that last paragraph over and over again and I can't seem to get the wording right.  But, I hope the sentiment has come across.  Be Christ to the person next to you.  Whether you are young, old, sick or healthy- don't go out to change the world- change the person next to you by showing them Christ in you.

Bumps:  Well the nasty metal mouth and constant nausea is no fun.  My nails are pealing off like onions and the hot flashes.  Having my own personal summers is kind of funny.  I am constantly asking my family, am I hot or is it hot.

Battles:  I ready for my incision to be healed.  It is almost there but everything slows down due to chemo.  Even bug bits take three times as long to heal but having the constant reminder of an open chest is just frustrating.

Blessings: The precise amount of energy for the task that need to be done. A fighting spirit, it is in my nature to fight, to not give up and to be resolved.  I have witnessed many in my chemo pods that have given up, it is sad, but that is not in my nature. SEEDS- black and pink anime hair seeds.  The realization that seeds are my job and joy right now.  Friends that continue to pray.  Students who continue to pray. My boys-I could not do this with out them.  As corny as it sounds- the food network.  It has become my little haven.  Doug,  I can't say enough about his silent strength.  Over the last week he has driven over 1000 miles to make sure family comes first.  I love that about him.  He sacrifices so much for all of us.    We had a very special family give Steven something we could not have given him.  SO BLESSED!  

Song of the day:

This is the story of Esther.  For all my non Spanish speaking friends.  It speaks of knowing your purpose in Christ.  

I am a part of His eternal plan.

Verse of the day" 
10 Each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So use your gift well.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Not a moment spent

As I sit in my sterile chair, I watch.
     Today I get to be in a pod room.  I like them much better.  There are four people in my pod, along with a nurse (Stephanie), a tech that comes by every few minutes or so to make sure we are all comfortable, and of course the extras (spouses and friend who come to be companions) and I love pods.  They are busy.  Much like an ant farm. Everyone moves quickly with purpose.  Those of us being infused- are like the queen.  We just sit and based on our needs everyone scrambles.  Stephanie, is constantly, checking, changing medications (I alone have 9 that must be changed in one infusion), running to get those, imputing into the computer, calling our physicians and answering our questions.  The techs, bring us drinks, snacks, blankets, pillows,chat and run errands for Stephanie because she can't do it all.  Today, Yolanda, was helping me with creole phrases- I am feeling a need to go to Haiti when this is over.  And the extras, love us and their presence alone (for some) is soothing. I particularly like to watch the ones that bicker at each other.  Even though most of them just watch us nap.  At about 10 O'clock the chaplains and counselors start to come by and at 10:30 the cookie lady makes her stops.  She gets here at 6AM makes the cookies and comes up to deliver.  She is a volunteer (actually there are 5 of them), but they are all retired survivors that want to make this day easier for us.  Impressive right, I know.  They have local artist that come in an do the same thing- something to make the time go by and I can attest that is relieves stress (in my case due to boredom).  Then I look through the glass window and see this exact thing happening in 8 different pods and 20 private rooms.  So incredibly effective.  It is amazing how incredible it is to see how efficiently things run when everyone knows their role and does them.
     I am aware of the fact the behind the picture may not be so rosy.  The scheduling nurse needs to make sure shifts are covered and that can't be easy and no not everyone can have the 4th of July off, but not once, have I seen any visible evidence of that on the floor.  In my book, that is efficient management.  Everyone has a role.  Wouldn't it be nice if life played out like that, in our homes, in our jobs and especially in our churches?
     Three of my friends commented today of facebook about joyfulness.  Whether it be the lack of or the presence of, that sense of joyfulness  is something we all strive to have. This is when I am reminded the being joyful does not necessarily mean happy and smiley all the time.  It is the feeling of contentment. It is half full instead of half empty.  I personally can only find this when my relationship with Christ is where it should be.  I find it when I check my "engine light" (see previous post) and know that I am walking rightly with God.  It is that relationship that says TRUST ME- I am faithful, I am true, I am with you always and you are important to me.  Life is hard, sometimes for a long time but knowing that my mechanic feels that way gives me contentment.  The joy of the Lord is my strength. 

Bumps:  The trip back for Fort Myers was difficult.  Let's just say that my car was very cold and I had lots of coffee.  Then the unfairness of it- Doug gets to see the good games with beautiful sunny days while I sat for two days in the rain, and rain delays.  I must say though that the rain delay against the team from Michigan was very entertaining.  We had human jousting, hunting, bowling, rowing and project runway walks. 

Battles:  The length of treatment  is wearing on me.  And I am feeling a little anxious about starting school.  Not because I have academic stuff to do, but because the first three weeks of the school year are always hectic and I will have my last two treatments in those weeks.  It makes me nervous.  One day at a time right?

Blessings:  More students visits.  I got to finally see Steven play and he was so very kind to ride out to the beach with me one afternoon, just to see the sunset.  I know he was tired and did not really want to go but, he did with a great attitude.  I am blessed to have great kids.  I have friends that pray.  And, I am so blessed to know that I am content! 

For those of you following and praying to ask you to add a few to your list.  A student of mine is having some extensive testing today to try to figure out why she is having seizures.  And Master's Academy has a mission trip heading to Costa Rica today.

Thank you all for reading to my banter

bon dieu beni


Monday, July 16, 2012

Well, I am at a baseball tournament. I am grateful that it is early because it is going to be a hot one today. We have two games today and we also get to see Nolan Gannon today play some rookie ball. It is going to be a good day. but, let's talk about yesterday. we had a three hour drive with maybe 100 words spoken. we had. A brief conversation about a huge confederate flag that was waving. I will refrain from anything negative. if I want to put up a huge cross in my yard, that means you have the right to put up your confederate flag. the baseball game was in the sun, hot, humid raining weather. Yeah! I am still realizing that really nothing changes in baseball. the boys just get older, the equipment gets more expensive,the mamas in the stands [generally complaining], and the dad are generally antisocial pacing. I think it is kind of funny. it is elite travelball. Our opinions don't matter nor do stas sometimes. most kids play one game sit the next, regardless. No it is not fair, not even good coaching in my eyes, but it is what it is. you guys know me- if there is a W and an L column I am aiming for the W colum. i am competitive but we all know that these organizations are not about that- somehow the almighty dollar has taken over. The necessary evil's of today's sport. I feel quilty sometimes. I feel like I(like many other parents) are doing nothing more than pimping their kids talent out to the highest bidder. The sad part is that because ther is so much pressure, the love of the game gets lost. Alright, that was my "complaint session since my kid is on the bench with a .417 batting average,an OBP of .600+ and top 5 on the team in RBI's. On to the cancer thing. Wigs are hot, stinking hot. So are scarves and bandanas. this afternoon I may be bald. Men have it easy. Perhaps, I will spot the bald look for women this afternoon. In the OMGosh category, High heat and chemo- not a good mix. I really do like to soak up the sun, but like a lizard. once I get my vitamin D supply, air conditioners are good, very good. So on the way to the game today, I was listening the the radio and they were joking about how many of us drive around town with our check engine light on. it made me think about how many of us walk through life with our "check yourself" light on. Meaning, we know there are things we need to address, but we are OK so we keep going without seeing a mechanic. as a Christian, I am blessed that my mechanic works 24/7 and sent me a specialist to live in me to remind me to "check myself" regularly. I know I have ignored that check engine signal in my car and it has been an something as insignificant as a gas cap off or as serious a oil issues. that is what the Holy Spirit does for us, He reminds us to pay attention. Bumps: The smell of bacon sent my nausea sensor of. god does have a sense of humor. first coffee now bacon, really. Battles: heat and hot flashes Blessings: I GET TO WATCH SOME BASEBALL. See you soon