Sunday, December 18, 2011

December 18, 2011

I apologize for being , shall I say, lax in updating this blog.  Honestly, I feel like I am being repetitive as I record my journey.  Let me just say that I had Treatment #9 on December 13-15 and I am just now getting my energy back.  Although I should be accustomed to the side effects that control my life for a few days AND although I should be extremely thankful that I don't feel any worse than I do, I still want to complain and have a pity party sometimes.

As my family will affirm, I am a "glass half full", positive kind of person.  According to them, I can be a little too "positive" sometimes.  HOWEVER, I'll admit that it is a little more difficult when I try to encourage myself.  I am pleased to report that I only have three more chemo treatments and should be through by the end of January.  I'm glad that I never asked at the beginning how many treatments or long it would take, I would have been overwhelmed if the doctor had said, "Six months!!" 

I am so grateful that the treatments are scheduled so that I will be feeling good for Christmas.  I won't have another treatment until December 28-30.  New Year's Eve should be yucky, but that's okay.

One blessing I would like to report before I close.  Thanks to several of my wonderful co-workers/friends at Calhoun 8 weeks of sick leave have been donated to me!!!  How great is that!!!!  That should, hopefully, be more than enough to get me through the rest of my treatments, etc.  One less thing to worry about.

I managed, with the help of my patient, personal driver Son, to finish my Christmas shopping today.  Hope to finish decorating the house tomorrow. Then I must wrap the presents.  I should be able to accomplish those tasks this week. If I don't, it will be rather pointless after Christmas Day;

Wishing all who read this blog a joyous Christmas and a New Year full of good health and encouraging friends!!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

December 6, 2011

Forgive me for using this blog for a different reason today.  I am trying to work through a problem and I thought, if I wrote about it, it might be helpful.  So here goes.

This morning I had to go to the Clinic for blood work.  No big deal.  In and out in a few minutes.  HOWEVER, this morning, as soon as I drove into the parking lot, I started feeling sick. My doctor and nurses had said that this could happen.  Just the sights and smells of the location, even without the actual chemo, can make a person feel sick.

BUMMER!!!!  I get so anxious about next week and treatment #9.  My head knows that there are only four left and SURELY I can do that!!  But my SELF is dreading it so much.  I try to talk to myself and calm myself down, but I apparently don't want to listen to me.  I have felt sick ever since I left there this morning.  I usually can talk myself through anything, but this one has been stumped!

I have some medicine that the doctor gave me that I could take the night before so I can sleep.  But I really hate to do that.  Dana could tell you about the last time I took a Xanax [after minor tear duct surgery] and how badly I scared the kids.  Apparently, me and drugs don't always get along.

Hopefully, by Tuesday, I will have worked through this craziness.  It's not like I don't want to be through with the chemo.  Only four more.  SURELY I can do this!!!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

November 21-December 4, 2011

Oh, my!  Where has the time gone?  Please forgive my neglect of this blog, but life keeps getting in the way!!!

Just so everyone is caught up . . . I was able to work some the week of Thanksgiving and really enjoyed being with my Calhoun cohorts!!  They always are so supportive and positive in their comments.  I truly miss them when I am not able to work.

Thanksgiving day was wonderful!!  We spent the day at Dana's with family and new friends.  There was enough food to have fed the entire neighborhood!  And it was all delicious.  It was a great day!!  After returning home that night my mission was to bake two apple cakes to take to Tuscaloosa the next day.  Nothing smells better than a house with something good baking in the oven!!

Friday, we traveled to Tuscaloosa to see my Mom, my brother and his family.  It was so good to be together!!  We usually see each other once a year [my brother, not my mother] so it was imperative not to miss going.  We had wall-to-wall family and IT WAS GREAT.  Mother enjoyed having all of her great-grandchildren together at once.  The two oldest [girls] are 13 and 11 and the four boys are 6, 4, 3, and 11 months.  We enjoyed eating, talking, watching football, eating, talking, playing cards, etc.  The biggest attraction for the boys were the trains that travel near Mother's backyard.  Thanks to the April 27 tornado, you can not just hear them, but you can see them amazingly well.  The boys were beside themselves every time they heard the whistle.  They would yell for everyone to "COME SEE THE TRAIN!!!"  And we would all rush out the back door onto the patio to cheer on the train.  Noting, of course, if it was passenger or freight and if it had a caboose.  What fun!!

Saturday morning the last piece of the puzzle was in place when my nephew, his wife, daughter [2 yrs old] and son [expected the end of January], arrived in T-town. .  Ain't family great?!?!?!?!

Traveled back to North Alabama in time to watch the BIG GAME at Dana and Steve's.  Roll Tide Roll!!!  Enough said.

I worked again on Monday, November 28.  Then Tuesday-Thursday [Nov. 29-Dec.1] had treatment #8.  Only 4 more to go [not that I am counting].  I am just now starting to feel okay from this treatment.  I feel guilty when I complain, when so many others feel much worse than I do.  It's the same old problems - weakness, tiredness, no appetite, awful taste in my mouth that won't go away!!! 

My current quest is to decorate the house for  Christmas.  I need a huge surge of energy to accomplish that.  Maybe if I just do a little each day, then ,hopefully, it will be done in time.  Also this week I will attend K's choral concert and B's band concert and go to the Christmas Festival.   This will truly be a musical week!

Hoping that each of you is enjoying this wonderful season of JOY, PEACE and LOVE,


Sunday, November 20, 2011

November 14-20, 2011

Dana, forgive me, but I'm too lazy to keep counting days!!

This is an update post, but a little [actually hugely] different from the usual updates.  I will pick up where the last post left off . . .  We arrived at the oral surgeon only to discover that Dan's heart rate was too low [33] for them to put him to sleep.  We were told to see a cardiologist as soon as possible.  Well that turned out to be Wednesday morning [16th] at 10:15.  After the mandatory questions and an EKG, the cardiologist entered the room with a rather panicked look on his face.  He said, and I quote, "Mr. Romberg, I don't know why you are still alive.  I have ordered an ambulance to pick you up and take you immediately to Huntsville Hospital!"

Apparently having a heart rate in the 30's for several days is not a good thing!  After 4 hours in the ER Dan was admitted to the cardiac area.  Verdict: he would need a pacemaker.  So, Thursday at about 1:00 p.m. he had a pacemaker "installed" and his heart has been beating perfectly ever since!!  He was released Friday and has done well.  The worst requirement is that he must wear an "immobilizer" on his left shoulder/arm for six weeks.   That is to protect the "leads" to his heart from coming out when he might raise his arm or pull his shoulder back.

I am pleased to report that even though it was not the restful week I had anticipated, I managed to do everything I needed to do.  Thanks to the Herwig Hotel for putting me up for two nights, which decreased the driving time I would have had.

Today I was able to go to church and Sunday School to worship with my church family and thank them for their continued love, prayers and encouragement.  I plan to work Monday-Wednesday and then enjoy the Thanksgiving holidays with our family.  I wish for each of you a Thanksgiving day full of family fellowship, fabulous food, and fantastic football!!  What more could anyone ask for??


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Days 94-98

Not sure why I am posting.  Not much new to add.  Although, I can report that I am feeling better since treatment #7 is starting to wear off.  I was able to drive to the drug store yesterday.  Then today I made a very necessary trip to WalMart for supplies.  Tomorrow morning I will drive my husband to Huntsville to the oral surgeon so he can get his bottom dentures.  I realize this is NOT good timing for Thanksgiving eating, but he should be in great shape for Christmas!

I am so thankful for friends who continue to send cards, for friends who surprise us with food, and for friends who continue to call to check on me.  Life is GOOD!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 93

Oh how I love to share not just GOOD...but GREAT news!!

Today I went with mom to get the results of her PETscan, and Dr B came in and immediately said: Well, I have some great news.


Here it is...the BEST news:

The lesions in mom's lungs aren't sparkly anymore. Apparently, they look sparkly when they are active. Well, they weren't fooling anyone with that sparkly nonsense. They were bad news and they are most definitely losing the fight! Take that!
The "main" lesion/nodule in her lungs has shrunk from 13mm to 9mm.
That's right...get out of here, stupid cancer!

Now for the BEST of the BEST news:

The tumor that is the point of origin has SHRUNK!
That is right, my friends. SHRUNK SHRUNK SHRUNK!!!
Not only has it shrunk, but it has decreased by MORE than HALF!
Bye bye, stupid cancer.

Mom will have 6 more chemo cycles...because it's WORKING!
After that, she will have more tests. Dr B's thoughts are that mom will be able to stop chemo at that point and begin radiation. Zapping it the rest of the way of out her body.

Still a long road, but the potholes are being filled in and the clouds have decided to clear for this leg of the journey. Gratitude overwhelms me. I cannot begin to put into words my emotions right now, so I'll just embrace the giddiness of GREAT news and try to process my own emotional state another day.

Thank you, so incredibly much, for your prayers and love. Please keep 'em coming.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Days 86-92

Here I sit at the computer yet again, attempting to put my thoughts and feelings into words, phrases and paragraphs to be read.  I have decided that this "journal" is probably more for me and Dana than for anyone else.  It will be a record of both fact and feeling during this unexpected and unwanted journey.

Tomorrow morning is the day I have both looked forward to and dreaded.  I will hear from my oncologist the results of my PETScan.  Dana and Daniel will be with me to hear the words.  I am trying to prepare myself for not hearing the exact words that I long to hear.  I thought that I would be really nervous tonight - unable to sleep.  BUT . . . I am relatively calm.  I will listen to what the doctor says and then we will move forward.  Whatever we learn tomorrow, I know that I can handle it.  God has given me both a peace and a fighting spirit.  So, CANCER, deal with that!!

Now, to end on a lighter note, let me tell you about the past six days.  I have had a ball!!  I began to feel better last Wednesday afternoon.  It is hard to describe, but it was as though energy was gradually filling my body.  And then at some point, I was all me again.  I was able to work most of Thursday and Friday.  I bought groceries Friday afternoon and "cased the joint" at Belk in preparation for the big Saturday sale.  Since Sunday was my birthday, I was looking for a gift for Dan to give me.  I had decided on a pair of boots, since I had never had any.  I am "branching out" in this new phase of my life!  Believe it or not, I found the perfect pair of black boots and bought them for myself!

Saturday was Charity Sale day at Belk and gift cards would be given to the first 100 shoppers.  Should I? . . . Could I? Would I?  Oh, yes, I did.  I lined up at 5:30 a.m.and enjoyed talking to the other crazy people lined up in 40 degree weather!  It was great fun to be one of the 100.  Even though my gift card was only for $5, it was worth it.  I had birthday money burning a hole in my pocket and I spent it all that day!!  I loved it!

Then I stopped at Starbucks for coffee and a scone.  What a special treat!   Thanks to whoever gave me the Starbucks gift card.  Following that, I went home and took a nap.  The rest of the day was spent preparing myself for the BIG GAME that night.  As usual, I was attired appropriately in my Alabama shirt, my Alabama earrings, necklace & bracelet, and my Alabama socks.  The final score was not what I wanted, but it was a great game and I am so proud of our team.  ROLL TIDE ROLL.

Sunday was my birthday.  The only sad aspect was that since the grandkids had been sick, I could not see them.  Germs and chemo do not mix well.  But I was entertained throughout the day with phone calls and "Happy Birthday to You's" from the most wonderful grandkids ever.  I asked Carter if he had been practicing since he sounded so good.  I heard him pause as he said, "No, I just know that song."  My sister-in-law Linda came from Oneonta for lunch and a visit.  We had a great time.

Today I was able to go to work.  My friends/co-workers had planned a wonderful birthday lunch and we enjoyed good food and fellowship.  Don't tell Dana, but one of the gifts I got today was a cute white kitchen towel with red lettering that reads "Crimson Kitchen."  She'll definitely want one just like it!!

I am so grateful for the past few GOOD DAYS.  My "batteries" have been recharged and I am ready for Treatment #7.  Bring it on..


Monday, October 31, 2011

Days 81-85

Can I be honest?  I have had a disappointing few days.  Haven't bounced back from treatment #6 as I did from treatment #5.  This time two weeks ago I was feeling really good.  Today I still feel "yucky" and tired.  Sometimes being the eternal optimist isn't all it's cracked up to be.  Now I need to get a grip and remind myself how very blessed I am to be doing as well as I am.  I could always be feeling worse.  I need to remind myself that even gradual improvement each day is GOOD.  And just because I don't feel as good as I think I should, that does not mean that I am not doing well.

Tomorrow is a BIG DAY!!  At 8:00 I will have a PETScan that will tell my oncologist how much progress we have made in fighting this cancer.  I "feel" like the chemo has been fighting the good fight, but the scan will confirm it.  I am offering a "twofer" for this event.  You can pray a two-pronged prayer:  one - that I remain calm . . .  and two - that the test results will be AMAZING!!  Even though I won't learn the results until next week, I will be so happy to just have the test done.  Can you believe that in preparation for the scan, I could not have carbs or sugars this afternoon and night????  What???  On Halloween???  You can be assured that I will make up for that tomorrow.  I have some Reese"s Peanut Butter Cups stashed!!!

I hope that everyone has had a safe Halloween and I wish you all a Happy November!!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Days 78-80

UPDATE:  Monday I was able to work six hours and felt really good.  Two of my friends/co-workers brought be a gift of a comfortable outfit that I can wear at home.  It was such a thoughtful gift.  The only problem was I apparently look smaller than I am.  They got XS and that was a little too tight.  So now they have exchanged for the more accurate size.  What great friends.

BEST UPDATE:  As many of you know I have avoided asking my doctor how many treatments I might have.  He told me yesterday that he would tell me.  I said "Oh, no.  Because if you tell me I have to have 40 treatments, I'll just have to lie on the floor and cry!"  He said, "Sandra, what if I told you that you are half way through treatments?"  I was so excited.  I am on #6 this week and I only have six more to go!  I am thrilled.  And then he said that after I complete the next six treatments I might have radiation for a while.  That means I won't have to have chemo AND radiation at the same time, which is what they had first thought.  YEAH!!!!!  Actually, he said, depending on how things go, I might not have to have radiation at. all.  DOUBLE YEAH!!!!!

They made a couple of changes in my meds - a different anti-nausea [which has really worked] and added some "calming" meds to help keep me calm during the 3+ hours I am receiving chemo.  I think we have come up with the perfect combo.  I was able to drive myself to my "refill" today, which I have not been able to do since my first week of chemo the first of August.  AMAZING!!!!

Let me thank you all again for your wonderful prayers and encouragement.  Not only for me, but also for Dana.  And . . . since she asked, I am posting a picture of my purse/pump holder.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Days 74-77

May I say that I have had a GREAT week?!?!?!  After my treatment [Oct. 11-13], I felt awful, as I usually do.  But . . . I began to feel better sooner than usual!  I was able to drive my husband to a doctor's appointment on the following Tuesday and drop by to see the grandkids.  I was able to work the mornings of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  It has been months since I was able to work three days in a row.  It felt so good to be able to be at work and to see all my friends/co-workers.  And, since my next treatment isn't until Tuesday [25th], I will be able to work tomorrow!!

Now let me tell you about the past three days.  It was amazing to be able to spread my wings and fly a little this weekend.  Friday: worked 8:00-10:00; drove to Kayla and Carter's school to "Have Lunch with Someone You Love"; drove home to rest and then buy groceries; and, last but not least, drove to a craft party!  Had a great time at the craft party - enjoyed great fun, made some cute Halloween crafts, and was uplifted by amazing fellowship with new friends [and my daughter].  Saturday: cleaned house in preparation for special visitors [better known as the best grandkids in the world]; had a great time entertaining and being entertained by said grandkids for several hours; and then finished the day by watching Alabama win again!  Then today I was blessed to go to church and Sunday school where I was surrounded with love from my church family.  So after these past few days I am ready for treatment #6.

I want to try to explain a purchase I made this weekend.  It has a great deal to do with my mental health.  I bought a small, denim purse that I can wear on my shoulder.  And you're asking at this point, "So . . . .?"  Let me explain.  When I have treatments I am "hooked" to a pump from noon on Tuesday until noon on Thursday.  The pump is about 4"x6", is pretty heavy and is worn in a black pouch/fanny pack.  I don't mean to fuss or complain, but it is awkward to wear and makes me feel "odd."  I realize that this pump is an amazing upgrade and much better than other alternatives.  But just the thought of having to wear it was becoming a huge dread for me.  I know that is unreasonable.  But so be it.  So, I got the idea that if I could put it in something else that I could carry with me, then I would feel better.  I have a friend who had shared with me that when she was going through the same treatments she found a bag she liked that she could wear over her shoulder.  I went looking for something that would work for me and let me feel better about my life as it is today.  I found a cute denim purse that will be perfect!!!  I can't wait to try it Tuesday.

I continue to learn as I travel this new path.  I am continually blessed with the love of those around me.  I am encouraged and cared for by my wonderful oncologist and nurses at Clearview.  I am reminded each day of God's love for me and am supported by his strong arms as I make my way on this unexpected journey.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Days 66-73

Quick update:

Mom had her chemo last week and it IMMEDIATELY made her sick. :(
She tried some new anti-nausea meds. She was determined to not have them put her on fluids again.

By the weekend she was feeling better. I know she thoroughly enjoyed the Alabama game! (I got a GO TRENT!! text.) :)

Sunday, mom felt well enough to get out and about. She and Daddy stopped by and visited for a few minutes, took B to see where the new high school is being built, and took lil man to see the new Paradise Donuts. Tuesday afternoon, they stopped by again and surprised us with dinner...Whitt's BarBQue...YUM!

More awesome news:
Mom is at work today! She is working tomorrow!
She is also going in Friday morning for a couple of hours before she goes to have lunch with K and lil man at school!

Then...and yes, there is more:
Mom and Dad are watching the kids while Steve and I go to the temple on Saturday.

I am SO HAPPY that mom feels well enough to do all of these things!!
I will never take for granted fun mom/Goppie times...or even just the everyday things.
They are far too precious not to savor and lovingly treasure each and every time.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Days 63-65

It's me again.
Mom got hooked up today and is feeling sick so I offered to update. Mom should probably be the one to write this post because I can guarantee you she has a better attitude than I do.
However, I started this blog to chronicle the journey...the goods and the here I am with my bad attitude. Feel free to chastise me later, but for now...I vent.

Mom received the results of her CAT scan this morning.
I was so anxious I thought I would vomit.
After sitting here for a few minutes, I realize I have absolutely no energy to develop a clever and witty sentence structure for your reading pleasure, so I'll just begin. (Sorry. I told you I have a stinky attitude.)

Good news and disappointing news. (I won't say "bad" because that's not in mom's vocabulary.)
The good news: blood counts are improved...seemingly a lot. Yay!
Other good news: no new growths, enlargements, or lesions. Double YAY!
The disappointing news: no shrinkage. Boo.

Big fat ginormous stinky BOO! (That's my opinion. I can't speak for mom...the eternal optimist.)
I say BOO because I want progress. BIG progress. I want this crap gone from my mom's body. And I want it gone yesterday! I want her to feel good. All the time. I clearly should want to have a better attitude, because frankly...mine is super stinky bad today. And I know why. Because I am being a baby and I want things to go my way and I want my way NOW. I know things could be TONS worse and I am SO COMPLETELY grateful for the good news. I guess I just want it all to be good news. And I want it all NOW.

(Sorry to subject you to my temper tantrum.)

Here's the deal:
Mom will have her chemo this week. Take next week off. Have her sixth round of chemo the week after that. Then she will have a PET scan. This will show in larger detail exactly what that stupid old cancer is doing. We will know what's active and what's not...if there has been any microscopic shrinkage or not. The results of this scan will be what her oncologist use to re-evaluate her treatment.

Please continue to pray for mom. Please specifically pray for her body to not only respond to the chemo, but to be able to tolerate it well. Thank you from the depth of my heart for your concern, care, and prayers. Some days I just want to pretend all is "normal". Other days I just want to hit something. And then there are many days I am filled with such enriching love and peace...and I know that Heavenly Father is aware of my mom. He's aware of me. And He is aware of each of you.

I think my bad attitude is subsiding for now. I truly am grateful for the good news. I'll try to continue and learn patience. I'm just really REALLY impatient with my progress. *sigh*

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Days 61-62

Had a great time yesterday when Dana and I took the grandkids to see their great-grandmother in Tuscaloosa.  It was a beautiful day to travel and we had an ALMOST uneventful trip.  More about that in a minute.  It had been months since Mother had seen the kids and she was so excited.  I can now announce that two of them are taller than she is.  I'm thinking it will be awhile for Carter.  It was, as usual, a noisy reunion.  There were many stories to be shared and fun to be had.  Hopefully, if all goes well, we will return for Thanksgiving and the BIG annual reunion.  That is when my brother and sister-in-law, my niece and her husband and three boys, and my nephew and his wife and their daughter converge on Tuscaloosa from points west [Kansas and Texas].  Also, Dan and I, Dana & Steve & kids, and Daniel will converge from North Alabama.  This is the one time a year that our family is together.  We always have such a great time.  Plenty of delicious food, lots of talking, much playing with the little ones, and the required card playing [a family tradition!].

About that ALMOST uneventful trip.  We were about 20 minutes out of Tuscaloosa on I-59 South when an 18-wheeler to our right lost a LARGE amount of tread off of a tire.  It came flying across the lanes so quickly that there wasn't much time to react.  I saw it coming, but there was no place to go.  I swerved a little to the left to try to avoid it, but it hit on Dana's side at the front tire/bumper area.  There was a loud sound and we rode over it.  I slowed down to assess if the van would drive okay.  It seemed to drive fine so we continued on to Mother's house.  We piled out and went in to share hugs.  Dana decided to check out the van.  It drove so well, I never even thought about damage.  May I tell you that Heavenly Father was watching over us in a BIG WAY.  There was:  damage to the bumper, the little light under the headlight was missing, the panel that should be behind the tire was missing and the panel along the whole side of the van was barely attached!!  Dana took care of the necessary calls to Steve and the insurance agent.  So good news is we survived and the van will be repaired. 

Today has been a good day.  I felt good enough to buy groceries this morning and do the laundry when I got home!  It is so nice to be able to do common chores!  Looking forward to seeing my church family tomorrow.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Days 59-60

I'm feeling soooo much better!  Each day I have gotten stronger and I believe the anti-acid medicine I am now taking is finally "kicking in."  Had a good day yesterday, but today was an extra-special day.  Our grandson's 6th birthday was today and we had a great time with him.  We watched him open presents - he was so excited about each one; enjoyed playing with the games he received; ate pizza and breadsticks; and watched him blow out candles on his birthday pie.  It was a great time.

Tomorrow our little group will head to Tuscaloosa to see my Mom [their Grandmom].  It has been several months since she has seen the kids and she will be amazed at how much they have grown!  I see them almost weekly and I am amazed at how quickly they are growing!

Thanks, again, to everyone for your continued prayers and well wishes. 


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Days 53-58

Sorry for not updating sooner.  Wish I could claim that I have been "too busy," but that would be a lie. Simply put . . . I have just not felt good.  I know that I could have felt much worse.  The 25% reduction in chemo and the extra week to recover and gain strength before my 4th treatment really made a difference.  I am most grateful.  No mouth sores this time!  Yeah!!!!!  The weakness and periodic waves of nausea just drive me crazy!!  Also, today I began a new medicine - prilosec.  It should help with the acid reflux that burns my stomach and throat.  It's just like the doctor said "If you tell us everything - tell us what is wrong - we will fix it!"

Tomorrow morning is BIG!!  I will have a CTScan at 9:45 a.m. that will let the doctor know what, if any, progress the chemotherapy has made in my body.  All decisions for further treatment will rest upon those results.  See what I mean?  It's BIG.  I probably won't know the results until next Tuesday when I  meet with my doctor again.  I would appreciate your prayers that we will receive good results.

Also would appreciate your prayers that I will feel like going with Dana and the grandkids to see Mom in Tuscaloosa Friday.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Days 49-52

Just to catch you up to date:  I was able to go to Church and Sunday School AND go visit with our favorite grandchildren that evening.  On Monday, I was able to go to the office and work until noon.  Tuesday I met with my doctor and began treatment #4.  Today I'll get a "refill" on my chemo pump at noon.  I'm feeling okay; not spectacular, but not crappy yet.  Then this afternoon I'll get a hair shape/trim.. At this point, I have not lost all my hair, but it is thinning.  So I'll get it shaped up a bit.  That should make me feel better.

I am determined to focus on the good and positive and not so much on the negative each day.  I wish the same to you.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Days 46-48

I have come to realize over the past few days how much we take for granted when our health is good.  Just the routine, simple errands and chores that are so common most of the time take on great significance when you haven't felt like doing them for a while.  And what am I talking about, you ask?  Well . . . after being able to work for a few hours Wednesday, I was able to stop at the Post Office to buy stamps and drop by the bank to get some money!!  It was so GOOD to be out and about. 

Then Thursday my son and I drove to Tuscaloosa to see my Mom for the first time since June.  I was determined to start out driving, but took Daniel along to ride shotgun and to take over for me when I got too tired.  HOWEVER . . . I was not only able to drive all the way there, but I drove back home also.  How amazing is that???  And I wish you could have seen my Mom's face when we arrived.  I had called an hour before we got there to give her a warning, because I didn't want to give her a heart attack when she came to the door.  To say that she was happy to see me would be an understatement.  As a Mom [or Dad] you can imagine what it would be like to not be able to see your child [even if she is almost 65] when you know she is sick and having a rough time.  So even though we talk on the phone every day, she just needed to see that I am really okay.  Mission accomplished!

I have been able to buy groceries!  I have enjoyed a totally awesome Alabama win over Arkansas!  I even enjoyed doing a little housework.  Now I am looking forward to going to Sunday School and church in the morning.  I have really missed my church family for the past two weeks!  Then to "put the cherry on top" we will travel to Madison tomorrow evening to get some hugs from my wonderful grandkids!!  It doesn't get any better than that.

My 4th treatment will be Tuesday, but for now I'm just enjoying one day at a time and appreciating being able to do the simple things in life.  Hope you are too.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Days 43-45

I am happy to report that I am ME again.  It began Monday and continues today!!  Tuesday, when I met with my wonderful and caring doctor, he and I agreed that I could have an "extra" week to let my body recover to some sort of normalcy.  Yeah!!!  He said that my counts were really good and that it would not be detrimental to take an extra week.

On Monday I received a phone call from a friend/co-worker saying that she would drop by our house that evening.  I was excited to have company - especially since I actually felt like having company.  Anyway . . . she and another of my friend/co-workers arrived at 6:00 with a beautiful box FULL of cards full of humor, good wishes, encouragement, and some gift cards.  It was an unexpected, but greatly appreciated surprise.  Now whenever I feel "down in the dumps" I'll open my box of cards and be lifted and encouraged!!  What a wonderful gift!!

Yesterday, I got a wonderful UPS surprise.  Friends from Tuscaloosa sent me me a great BAMA gift bag!!  I red tote with my initials embroidered on it full of a Roll Tide t-shirt, Bama earrings, two shakers and two houndstooth can holders.  Now I am ready for Saturday!!

So . . . today I went to work for 2.5 hours.  It was so good to see everyone and to get caught up on a few things at the office.  I miss my friends and my job, but everything is being taken care of by the best friends/co-workers anyone could ever have.

And tomorrow . . . my son and I are headed to see my mother in Tuscaloosa.  I haven't seen here since June!!  I'm not telling her ahead of time though, just in case something happens at the last minute.  I'll call her once we are on our way so I won't give her a heart attack when we show up at her front door.  I'm really looking forward to letting her see me and see that I am doing okay.

I can't express how happy I am right now to have a few good days before having the 4th treatment.  This is a scary and "uncomfortable" adventure that I am on, but I am so blessed to have my family, my church family and my Calhoun family.  They keep me enveloped in love and encouragement.  I couldn't ask for more.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Day 39-42

Here I sit at the computer.  Which means I am not in church.  Again.  That's two weeks in a row I have not felt like getting ready to go to church.  I feel like a limp dish rag [a very old analogy/saying].  Using hindsight, I should have rested more yesterday so I could have energy for today.  Who knew that getting groceries in the morning and cheering for Bama last night could deplete my energy??  Guess I'll know better next time.  At least Bama won.

Over the past few days I have gotten some better.  My mouth is almost completely healed, which means that I can eat a better variety of foods!  Now if the food would just taste as good as I want it to that would be great!!  The worst part now is the weakness.  I would compare it to being on a roller coaster.  One minute I feel pretty good, then the bottom drops out and I barely can function.  It's just crazy!!!!

Thanks to those of you who left comments last time.  I enjoy your encouraging words.  A special thanks to a friend of Dana's who sent me some amazing cookies that were created especially for people on chemo.  How cool is that!!!

I am supposed to have my 4th treatment Tuesday.  I am going to ask the doctor if I could postpone it for one more week so my body could heal a little more and I could feel "good" for a few days.  Also, I would love to be able to visit my mother.  She is 86, lives by herself in Tuscaloosa, and is quite concerned about me.  I haven't been able to go visit in a few months so I think it would do us both good to have a face-to-face.  Hopefully, that will work out.

Wishing each of you a wonderful week!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Days 37-38

Today is Wednesday, Day 38 since this journey began.  At CCI yesterday, the doctor said that he is worried about me.  I seem to have lost my positive spirit.  I agree!!  I am worried about me, but I am trying to hold on to my positive spirit.  It is very difficult.  By this time [the week after treatment], I usually feel pretty good.  Not 100%, but good.  I would be driving a little and managing to run some errands.  Not this time.  Apparently three chemo treatments cause quite a toll on a person's body.  I am still weak and my mouth is better, but I am still not able to eat much.  If this sounds like a pity party, I don't mean for it to be.  I am just being honest about  how I feel.  When I go next week for treatment 4, the doctor said he might give me an extra week off so my body can recoup.  That's sounds really good to me.

I am trying to remain positive and am counting my blessings today.  Thanks to each of you who reads this for your prayers and encouragement.  I know some of you check the blog, but don't leave a comment.  I would really like to see some comments this time.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Day 31-36

I'm back!  I promised Dana that I would keep the blog updated for a couple of weeks, because her schedule is a little overwhelming.  So we'll see how well I do.

I'm going to be honest.  This has been a crappy week!  I have felt worse than ever, no energy, no appetite, mouth sores, and low blood pressure.  When the doctor said he was going to make me feel lousy - he meant it.  It has been difficult to be very positive these past few days and I actually had a panic attack the other night just thinking about having to go back for the 4th treatment!  I am praying for some "good" days when I feel like ME and can eat whatever sounds good.  I don't mean to sound so negative, but that IS how I feel.  And that makes me mad because I am the "glass half full" person in our family.  I am the encourager.  I am the one who says "It could always be worse!"   I am the one who cheers everyone on when they fall down.  Apparently, it is more difficult when you try to do it for yourself.

I do know that I could feel worse.  I do know that I will make it through.  I do know that my days will get better.  I just want to feel good NOW!!!!!

The one bright spot in the past few days was when Dana and Bradleigh came Saturday night and stayed until Sunday afternoon.  My daughter, as you all know, is quite an amazing care giver.  I texted her Saturday morning and asked if she could come buy our groceries, because I just was not going to be able to.  Not only did she buy our groceries, but she put everything up, cleaned my kitchen, told me that everything would be okay, listened to me complain, and then spent the night.  Miss Bradleigh was an added blessing.  She is such a joy to me and her Poppa!

Tomorrow I go for lab work.  I will tell them how I have felt and they will try to "make it better."  Stay tuned for further updates.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Day 30

Today was a hook up day for mom.
Fun times.

Last week when mom scared everyone to death at the cancer center by almost passing out and needing to be rehydrated...again, her oncologist told her that he might give her a week off so her body could catch up.

Today was the day to decide...and the decision was to stick with the original time line but to reduce the chemo by 15%. Mom's already feeling not so great, but she's being a good girl and taking her meds. Hopefully she'll rest well tonight.

We're also really REALLY hoping she doesn't get any more mouth sores.
They are not fun. Trust me. I know.
I've been there and even though I was only 8, it is not something I'll ever EVER forget. I could barely open my mouth wide enough to fit a baby spoon. I ate a lot of pudding during those times. And having to rinse my mouth out...*shudder*...just horrible.
Knowing that Mom has had a mouth sore makes me want to weep. I just keep praying that this dose of chemo will be kinder to the healthy parts of her body. Kick the cancer's butt...leave the good part alone.

Wonder when someone will invent smarter chemo...?

Days 24-29

Hi, it's me again.
I'm just picking up right where Mom left off...

This most recent off week wasn't as kind to Mom as the first one.
She never really felt great, or strong enough to get back to work like she had hoped. She did go in for a couple of hours last Friday, but that was about it.
She did seem to start feeling better over the weekend. The kids and I were invited over to their place for a Labor Day cookout. (Steve is away on So off we went to grandmother's house!

We had a really great visit. Mom seemed a little tired, but pretty much back to normal.
She grilled, made dessert, played puzzles and bingo with the kids, sang silly songs if the mood struck her, laughed at my really really lame joke, made sure I took a nap...she was mom.

And it was awesome!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tag Team Blogging

Hi, everyone.  I've been tagged!  This is Dana's Mom, also known as Sandra.  My daughter, who began this endeavor, envisioned this as a joint project that both of us would keep updated.  So, since she is being her usual busy self, she suggested that it is my turn to update.

I'm too lazy to number the days, so I will simply update for the week of August 21-27.  That was the week of my second round of chemo.  After working all day Monday, the 22nd, I was eager [maybe that's a little strong] . . . I was ready to get the second round over with.  Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday was about the same as the first time; but this time I knew what to expect and that seemed to make it easier.  I still felt like a truck had run over me, backed up, and ran over me again, but it was okay. 

The week of August 28-September 2 has brought a new "side effect" - a sore mouth, which I did not have before.  It brought back memories of when Dana was having chemo [30 years ago] and she would have ulcers all in her mouth and down her throat.  She was miserable and so were we.  It is so difficult to see your child suffer and not be able to "make it all better."  At Children's Hospital, she was given something called "Magic Mouth Wash" which would numb her mouth and throat so that she could eat a little.  Want to guess what I was given?  You're right!  Magic Mouth Wash.  By the time I got it, my mouth was so much better that I haven't had to use it yet.  But at least I have it for when I do.

Also, when I went for lab work on Tuesday, the 30th, I almost passed out.  I scared them so bad we bypassed the doctor and they took me by wheelchair straight to the infusion room for fluids.  Seems as though I was dehydrated again.  At first they weren't going to give me the iron they said I needed, but once I started to feel better after the fluids, they agreed to go ahead with the iron.  I was at CCI {Clearview Cancer Center} from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.  I was disappointed to find out that the iron wouldn't work instantly, but I was assured that in a few days I would feel soooooo much better. 

I was hoping that I would be able to work some this week, but so far I haven't quite felt like it.  The doctor told me to be my own judge about that aspect.  So, I am being optimistic that I can go in for at least a couple of hours in the morning.  I really need to do that for my own mental health.  As my children will confirm, I am not a good "stay at home mom."  I love my family, but I love my job too. 

I didn't mean for this to be a lengthy epistle, but I wanted to tell everyone who reads this what an amazing adventure [or journey, as Dana calls it] this continues to be.  I have been overwhelmed by the prayers, words of encouragement, cards, and offers of help that I have received.  I am very blessed.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Days 13-14

Sunday was a good day for mom. :)
She went to church and felt good pretty much all day.

Isn't "good" just the loveliest word?

Today, she went in to work bright and early. I mean, by 7:15am, bright and early. *yawn*
Mom works at Calhoun College and today was the first day of classes. She was determined to be there.
Well, not only was she "there"...but she lasted the ENTIRE DAY! What??
But why not? She felt GOOD.

As if that wasn't enough, Mom's co-workers surprised her with a little party and SCADS of gifts/food/$...just the kindest and most thoughtful things ever! No wonder Mom misses her work when she's not there...they are like family after all these years. I don't think it's possible for these wonderful people to be more supportive and loving towards Mom. They are GEMS.

Side story...Mom's first partial day back at work last week found everyone, of course, excited to see her. This one lady heard Mom's voice and came out of a meeting to latch on to Mom with the biggest hug you can imagine. Mom said this friend just squeezed her and cried...she said she could literally feel the strength coming from this friend into her body.
I cannot stress enough how grateful I am to this "family" mom has created over the years. What a support system she has! It literally brings me to tears.

Two things to take away for today...?
~ Hugs are powerful things. Don't be stingy with them. Show love and show it often.
~ I still really like the word GOOD! It makes me quite happy. :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Days 9-12

Anyone familiar with the song "Popular" from Wicked?
Imagine Kristin Chenoweth singing...

Laaaaa Laaaaa La-a-a-Laaaaa!

That's exactly how I've felt these past four days about Mom. :)

She found out she is deficient in iron...better than deficient in other things, but still important to rectify. Not that this was necessarily good news, but it did explain why she kept having such intense weak spells. I think just knowing WHAT the cause was made a huge impact on her state of mind. She'll have a whomping 3-hour iron infusion on Tuesday when she goes in for the next big fill-up, but until then guess what's been happening??

Mom has felt GOOD! (insert La-La's here)
She drove Daddy to a doctor's appointment and then...drum roll please...made it in to work for TWO days for a FEW hours each day!! Gloryoski! (as my Granddad always said)
She was, of course, tired after each excursion...but not weak or sick. Awesome!

It gets better.

Mom and I had a date this morning. She brought Daddy over to hang out with the kids so she and I could enjoy a movie at the Monaco. Glee in good!
Now she can enjoy another Sunday at church and a good solid Monday of feeling good before the truck comes barrelling down the road again.

Not much in life is better than spending time with your mom.
Especially when she's feeling GOOD!

I really like that word.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Days 7-8

Yesterday and today found mom in pretty much the same shape:
She feels good...then she feels not so good.
Today she visited her oncologist, Dr. B, and he gave her the good news that all of this is completely "normal". He seems pleased with how she is holding up and reminded her that she will feel pretty good just in time to be "hit by the truck again".
Mom mentioned how the chemo must be still working its way through her system because she is having lots of hot and cold flashes. Dr B then shares an interesting bit of info...once the pump is stopped, the chemo is done. The side effects she's noticing is how the chemo has affected her healthy cells. A delayed reaction, if you will.
Huh. Who knew?

Mom is hoping to make it in to work tomorrow, if only to see everyone and "check in on some things". I can't imagine how stir-crazy she must be now that her good moments are outweighing her not so good moments. I know she'll take it easy and not push it.

One thing I am falling in love with right now:
B texts her Goppie (that's what my kids call mom...long story...ask me later) everyday to check on her and share about her day.
My heart just SOARS.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Day 6

No, I didn't post last night and I am so sorry. Geez. :)
I didn't realize I would be so thoroughly harassed this morning by those wondering how mom did yesterday; but I love that there are so many who love my mom and are following her journey.
What a great team we're forming!
I think we might need t-shirts. Hmmm...

Back to yesterday:
Mom woke up feeling great!
She even made it to church. Double YAY!!
Then she kinda nosedived after church. She wasn't expecting for her one excursion to zap all her energy, but it did...and that just may be the norm now. As long as she knows what to expect, it all seems easier. Mom said last night: It could always be worse.

She did take some medicine last night to help her sleep, and wouldn't you know it...good ol' doc was right again! ;) The meds totally helped...she slept well and woke up feeling rested and stronger.

She's a little disappointed that she's not feeling 100% today, but maybe this IS her 100% for now. I think as time progresses, she will learn to measure her "norms" more accurately. But no matter which norm scale we are using today, she is feeling better.

And better is better. Period.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Day 5

Yay! Mom felt better today!
She found out she doesn't need one of her at-home meds since she fortunately isn't having a certain side effect from the chemo. Good news...good news. :)
Her blood pressure is still a little low, but she's feeling stronger.
AND she sounded more like herself...which brings me more happiness than I really ever thought it could.
We're even planning a movie night for this next weekend before her next "fill-up".

Take that, stupid cancer.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Day 4

Today was a day of highs and lows.
Mom woke up feeling okay this morning...borderline good.
Throughout the morning, she started feeling weak and her blood pressure was really low.
By 11:30, mom was at the cancer center being spoiled rotten while she was being REhydrated. Apparently she didn't drink enough over the last couple of days and was totally DEhydrated.
Good grief.

After a healthy intake of fluids, she floated on over to a hair appointment and got the cutest little pixie cut ever! Last word from mom is that she is feeling good and eating good. Yay!

She looks great and feels better.
Sounds like a winning combination to me!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Day 3

I think I might understand something a little better now...

When I was 7, I was diagnosed with ALL (acute lymphocytic leukemia). My mom and dad watched over, protected, defended, loved, supported, etc through 3 years of chemo and subsequent years of follow-ups and blood work and worry.
I clearly remember my dad asking me, usually on a daily basis how I was feeling. He told me to tell him EXACTLY how I was not ignore anything. I became very aware of my body and all the aches and pains associated with not only chemo, but also of just growing up. Even as a teenager, very much finished with the "cancer years", mom and dad would still check on me...see how I was feeling...make sure I went to doctor appointments...telling them and the doctors EVERYTHING.

Fast forward to me being an adult...even  now with 3 kids under my belt, my mom and dad STILL check on me. Usually on a daily basis. If I mention I have a headache, they want to know what kind and how long I've had it and did I take anything for it or do I need to go see the doctor. Then they recheck me later to make sure I'm feeling better.

Don't get me wrong. I have never seen this as nagging or annoying. I honestly think I would be annoyed if they STOPPED asking. I just felt loved. Completely and unconditionally. I knew without any doubt that every piece of me mattered to my parents. That I mattered.
I still matter.
Through their diligence, I learned of true compassion, how to truly support someone, how just the right kind and caring word or smile really has the power to heal.
I pray I can now put these lessons into action.
I think I'm getting a crash course.

Today, mom has felt "lousy", "rough", "not so good", "like I've been hit by a truck". She's been weak and blah. I told her to try and see this as a gift. When she's feeling lousy to remember that that means all the chemo is doing it's job. If she's got to feel lousy to get healthy...that's part of the gift. We want this chemo to hit the cancer HARD. We want this chemo to be BRUTAL with this stupid cancer.

So this is what I think I may understand a little better now...
How much mom and dad HAD to know how I was feeling at any given time. I can barely imagine how that must have consumed their days and nights. I say I can barely imagine it because I'm getting a glimpse into that mentality. If I don't know how mom's feeling before I go to bed, I worry. I think about her all night and it invades my dreams. I wake up feeling on edge. Then, I don't want to wake her so I wait until I think it's a good time to call and check on her. Drives me crazy.
Because I need to know how she's feeling.
I need to.

So I've asked (or rather commanded) her to text me before she goes to bed and when she wakes up. Just to get an update. And you know? If this starts to annoy her, I'll just shamelessly remind her of the 30 years of interrogation I've endured.
I'm sure she understands, though. Our roles have just now been reversed. And what a blessing to have had such an example for the role that is now mine.

Today, mom was "disconnected". (her new wordplay for the day) We are hoping this weekend will be a time to regain some strength and appetite so she can enjoy her "week off". I'm sure she'll be back in action soon. 'Cause she's "got things to do"!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Day 2

Mom learned a valuable lesson yesterday:
If your oncologist gives you medicine to take home.
For any reason.
Take it.

After mom's first infusion yesterday, she slowly started feeling like yuck. Instead of taking the anti-nausea meds she had in hand, she decided she could just tough it out.
Silly mom.

After unnecessarily suffering for a few hours, she realized that maybe dear ol' doc had a point. :) She took her meds like a good girl and...lo and behold!...she felt better, she slept well, and even woke up feeling "good". Of course today's "refill" as she calls it took its toll before the afternoon was out, but she took her meds. I don't think she went to bed feeling great, but tomorrow she gets "off the hook" and can enjoy almost 12 days of no chemo before they need to "fill her tank" as my grandmom says.

My family delights in wordplay. Just in case you didn't notice.

So today mom got a refill AND took her meds. She still felt lousy, but she's doing all she can do. And who can ever ask for more than your all??

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Beginning...

My mom has cancer.
Four words I have never wanted to say, think, or imagine. But...
four words that are true.

Friday, August 5th, Steve and I met my mom and my brother at her cancer center. (Wow, how I do NOT like calling that building HER cancer center.) But it is.
We met with her oncologist. (No, I don't like that she has to have her own oncologist either.) But she does.

Our new friend (and believe me, if you have to have an want him to be your very dearest friend and staunchest ally!), shared with us the life-altering news that my mom really and truly does have cancer.

A moment of complete nausea. A brave, yet pointless attempt to keep my eyes dry. Every cell of my being wanting to shake him and make him tell us he was wrong. But I didn't. Because he couldn't.
Because she does.



Mom started chemo today. Her "adventure" she calls it. I call it the journey. Either way...there is a long road ahead and the road map isn't fully drawn. However...we can see the endpoint. And it is complete remission. So however many bumps, detours, or crappy asphalt there is in between now and then...we'll still get there.

How did mom describe her day?
She was basically spoiled rotten: comfy recliner, good book, DVDs, warm snuggly blanket.
No doubt she'll be treated like a queen every time she goes for chemo. And as well she should! Only royalty such as my mom can lay siege to this hideous enemy with the attitude and spirit she has always possessed.

From day one, mom has been ready to get started. She knows what's she's ready to fix it. Like she says...I've got things to do!
I've never known anyone or anything to hold my mother down. I pity the cancer that's trying now. Stupid cancer. Don't you know who you're messing with??

This adventure...this journey is just beginning. The first leg is 8 weeks long. Four weeks of being on chemo and each alternating week of being off. The week she is "on", she will go T/W/Th. The week she is "off" will hopefully allow her body time to recoup and regroup.

Tomorrow is Day 2. What will it hold? Guess we'll have to wait and see. But one thing I do know...