And So it began

"ONCE UPON A TIME"....there came along this little lump...insignificant really when you compare it to the entire world of lumps. That is, right up to the point that it wasn't...insignificant I mean............... and so began my journey.

A NEWER SHADE OF I more then SURVIVE...I am learning to THRIVE...

OF COURSE... we all know things are bound to get a little crazy with a surprise around most every corner...not to mention an assortment of bumps and bruises along the way...but I am ever thankful for them all...they have all made me who I am. So buckle up, hold on tight and enjoy the ride thru what I lovingly refer to as LIFE

Monday, December 31, 2012

(-my team-)
-None of this last year would have been possible without each one of YOU-


I can't let this year end without including some wonderful things that happened in our little world during the end of this eventful Year ....

and especially the last  5 days.....
Pragmatically Speaking and NuMo added a beautiful little "Hop" to the family. She had a rough start but is pulling out all her Amazon spirit and should be going home to her parental units by Thurs if not sooner.  Where once again we see the healing hand of the Lord and are truly humbled and blessed by His ever watchful care and loving arms of support and strength. Thank you for all your prayers on Hop's behalf.

Random Wisdom and "BmF" (boy/man/fiance) have officially got the rock on the appropriate finger and "she's so in love with the boy"... ( that song). They are so totally in love which is followed closely by all that cute and gooeyness  you would expect.  We are thrilled for them.
Empress of Awesomeness continues to be just that.....and with the loving heart and hands of Doc to support her and little "Beb" (a chip off the mother ship for sure) they are the cutest little rock solid unit.  There is hardly a minute goes by that there isn't a smile on my face from something we have talked about or that Beb has done.....Truly an Empress in training.
 Thank you all for your prayers, thoughts, calls and emails that have lifted me and carried me thru this journey. I have been cared for and loved beyond words by my rock and very own VoR who has not uttered one complaint or shirked at anything I have asked or need and not asked of him over these months....he quietly and lovingly walks beside me (at my pace) with peace and compassion... letting me see that I am still me....his love reflected back as I look into his gentle eyes and feel the strength in those great (but softly gentle) hugs.  As I look back at all these decades together....It is so wonderful to see how that first goeey gushy love morphes into something way better and grows stronger with each step we take together.  He is such an amazing example to me in so many ways.... his words and deeds and his compassion and treatment of others.  His strength and testimony of the Savior never wavers...he truly know from where his strength comes. 
 I have been blessed from above from a loving Heavenly Father and Savior that have lifted and carried me every single day of the journey for I KNOW I could not have done this alone.

THE LAST CHEMO.....(January 11th)

ROCK ON 2013!!!!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

In the words of a couple great old guys
I am kinda fond of...
Bing and Danny...
     Wow did we ever get dumped on yesterday...white Christmas for us...about 30cm along with rain so was it heavy...but it is Great for an awesome SNOWMAN.  It took forever for VoR to get it shoveled in the morning before work...then the snow plows cleared the street and the end of the driveway looked like the top of the the poor guy had to do it all over again!!  Now add a 4hr power outage and it was a great day.  I turned my chair to face the burning log in the fireplace and just relaxed and enjoyed the peacefulness...okay I may have slept a smidge too.
     As I sat here for the past few weeks (being on VoR-enforced house arrest...for my own protection) with out any of the trappings and hoopla of the Christmas Season (6wks of madness) taking over my mind and wallet successfully turning me into one of those "Crazy"/"Stressed out and grumpy" women (trust me I worked retail for a few decades and saw some doozies).  I have had a good chance to REALLY think about what it all it CHRISTmas, christMAS or Xmas?
     Vor and I have been having some debates on this subject for a while and with agreeing on the REAL reason for the season...we agree.  What gets a little hazy is our different views on exactly what the "commercial trappings" are.  As I have sat on the sidelines this year (not baking, shopping or decorating) it is easy to see just how bad it really has gotten and how it has been turned from the birth of Christ to a 6wk marathon of doing/buying everything in sight to see just how burned out we can get ourselves. (Is my tree perfect? How many am I guilting myself into buying a gift for...those people I barely know outside of work or class? Is my house the best lit on the street? How many pounds of treats do I have to make to have on hand...just in case cause we all know we can only bake "special" stuff for these 6 weeks? Is my house clean enough? How many parties do I get pressured to attend or host?  Is my new dress gonna fit and be nice enough? etc, etc, etc!) Now don't get me wrong....I have jumped head first onto this crazy train too.
     My first pet peeve - is all the BIG Media FLASH and "you are awesome" Ceremony companies and groups do to try and out do each other to prove who is the most generous, charitable and consumed by the "Spirit of Christmas"....I mean seriously people.
     Second Pet Peeve - Why do we only open our minds, hearts and wallets becoming Christlike for these 6 weeks? We all feel those warm fuzzies. Why do those quiet acts of love, service and kindness abandon us (or we push them away) for the other 46 weeks of the year? The fact that we lose our minds trying to be kind, generous and charitable for only these few weeks and dismiss each other is so screwed up...not to mention that we give all the credit and responsibility of the success of our Christmas day to that tubby little man in the red suit.
     Christ's Birth changed the world and us forever...He is the Greatest Gift we have ever received.  The miracle of His birth ISN'T just a 6wk deal but a 365/24-7 example for us to live our lives show the best of ourselves. Why do we insist on short changing ourselves and those we could be serving. Yes...we get stressed but if we take a second to stop and re-focus our compass then we are able to open our eyes and hearts to the suffering of others...we will find the best in Ebenezer, George Bailey and the Grinch... to just name a few. 
     Are we blind part-time in keepers of Bethlehem or the meek shepherds that watched patiently for the birth of our Savior rejoicing because they understood that this small baby was the greatest gift and blessing from a loving Heavenly Father.  That He would change mankind forever...not just 6 weeks in December.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

WEll.... I learned a valuable this week......
(and a reminder me and meds)

     They don't lie when they (doctors) call it a  "medical practise". They give their best shot, hoping for the best result, but can change things totally cause we just aren't a statistic....we are human beings and no 2 DNAs react the same so they tweek, and tweek, until they find the best for you.

     So what does all this have to do with my past week.....ummmmm....everything!!  Let me start with Chemo (last Friday). After having that mild reaction the chemo before....they tweeked my cocktail this time to give me all the "anti-allergy" meds before we started this 2nd treatment.  I was feeling great....they did notice my blood pressure was elevated and my temp jump to 37.7 (.3 under the 38. degree that results in a mandatory hospital stay....whewww...dodged that bullet. and when they checked after the cocktail everything was back to normal (temp and BP)

    The next morning (okay....noonish really).  I got up and walked into the kitchen and had to grab the stove to stay up.  Right out of left field...both my arms were numb and tingling, really light headed with headache and the biggest herd of elephants stomping the middle of my chest. (yup...kinda freaky...first time for everything)  It only lasted less then 2 minutes and then I was fine except for feeling "OFF" and random thick sensation up the side of my neck and then a shooting headache. I pretty much sat and did less then normal until the home care nurse came to change the dressing on my PICC line.  I told her what had happened and so she took my BP and pulse only to see that the BP was WAY high and that I had a irregular heart beat.  So was told (in no uncertain terms) to pack and get the ER.  So off we jaunted for yet another 3 hrs stint.

    The ER doctor was great....ordered ECG, chest x-rays and full blood work.  It all came back clear no indication of it being a heart issue (HUGE sigh of relief!!!!)  But he wasn't ready to totally rule out that it my have been Pulmonary Edema that had broken up and filter out with no damage...but if ANYTHING like that happened again "GET YOUR BUTT BACK HERE FAST"

    So I have been really tired this week and spent most of it sleeping (except at night..great!!).  I had phoned my oncologist to let her know what had happened and so Thursday she called me and told me that it had indeed been a drug reaction and the magnitude of reaction between the first time of this cocktail to this was so HUGELY escalated that she can't give me more or it might kill me next time....dying is not in my plans so.... we had to come up with options...

1) just stop chemo now....not really an option because it really felt cheat.  They have a great tradition at the chemo unit I didn't really miss out a rite of passage..."Ringing the Bell" at the chemo unit to celebrate that I had made it thru and won.or....

2) go back to the original cocktail to finish


     Sooo we are gonna do the next 2 with the old stuff.....YIPPEEE...back to the nausea cocktail again!!!!  Now the effect of going back to cocktail 1 (having done 6)  could boost my chances of heart failure or permanent damage. So I asked my oncologist point blank, what would she do if it was her in my shoes.  Lucky for me we were on the same page.  She said they will give me everything they have to protect the heart.

     I have honestly felt this time of treatment to be just flying by.  It never got as bad as I had thought it would so I haven't been bed ridden the whole time.  I didn't get much of what I had "planned to do" thru this down time....that didn't happen either.  I expected to read (all those you never have time to do), study scriptures and gospel lessons (couldn't get my mind to even concentrate...kept reading the same thing over and just not getting it....argg...chemo brain) and watch old movies...ya...couldn't hold my attention either.  So here I sit 3 WEEKS to my last treatment and feel like I have accomplished nothing.  I did what I needed to and focus on healing not the "to do " will be waiting for me when this is all finished.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

FRIDAY - DECEMBER 14/12 - 10:00 AM
So here we are this morning going into round 2 of my last know what that means....
2 LEFT!!!!!
     I can't say I have been feeling "bottom of the barrel" awful this past week (since the last treatment actually) and can see the major shift from the last cocktail.  The "drive me nuts" part is that I can be sitting in my chair or resting in bed and think "I am actually feeling pretty good".....Then reality hits...I get up and BAM hits me like a brick wall....."Nope...I think I will just sit back down"  energy zapped in an instant.  Then there is the taking 5 or 6 steps and being so winded and heart just pounding like I just ran a full marathon...and I am POOPED!!!
     I have made the same changes in my sleep routine that I did at the beginning with eating....schedule out the window!!!  When I am hungry...I eat...regardless of the time and now I just shut my eyes and rest/sleep whenever the urge hits...ZZZZs follow quickly. I don't look at the clock anymore and (see if it's too late in the day).  I have found that if I put it off and push myself thru I end up nauseated and dizzy.  So when this is all over I will get back on a schedule....for now...whatever.  One hurdle at a time.
     I have to admit I headed into this one with a little trepidation....not knowing if I would have another reaction like last one...or if they really have the drugs figured out so I will fly thru ... The truth is really...when you have this much toxic slug running free in you system for 12 just seems to put your entire system into a state of flux, nothing really is the same as the last one so you just don't know what you would expect . I do realize it really is a Krap shoot... with every new treatment just compounding on the others.  VoR had an all day training meeting so I called on a dear old (old only cause I have known her over 25yrs) to come with me.  She has gone thru this twice before and has been there every step with insight and what to expect and validation for what I have felt on this journey.  She has steadfastly been at my side with prayer, phone calls and friendship.  She sat with me for my 5 hour chemo session and then stayed and visited when we got home....the day just FLEW by.  We had a great day just visiting and spending time together something we never were able to before while we had our hands full raising kids.  She is true treasure in my life and I love her dearly.
Thank you!!!
     This week I took advantage of one of the free workshops they have here for cancer patients...this one was how to care for you skin, draw on "believable" eyebrows and liner to hide the no eyelashes.  Since we still have not lost either of really was fun to have "my own beauty consultant for the 2 hours.They talked a lot about how to cover/conceal your lousy skin and coloring and hide those huge black circles under you eyes and how to conceal them and she kept looking at me saying "and you don't have that...what great skin and coloring you have" and was baffled when I told her I was at end of my journey not just starting out.....THANK YOU LUSH for great skin lotion!!!! Since I don't really wear a ton of makeup normally...never foundation and powders  and all that krap (maybe that's why my skin looks good now..hmmm) so it really wasn't for me but I enjoyed other info and the SWAG BAG!!!  Major cosmetic companies donate to this program so you leave with $600 of stuff..SWEET!!!!  My other sister-friend (that's just how we have always felt...sister beyond the confines of just friends) came with me. (FYI...we discovered that she and my oldest sister actually knew each other when they were young girls.....SMALL WORLD!!)  She is another one of those trusted kind of friends that we share a no holes barred devotion to each other " fluff"  so I know I can trust her to tell me  if you look bad (or the wig looks like a growth on your head) or if I am being silly about something"........keeps you out of trouble (looks, word and deeds) or if I just need a good cry...she is right there crying with me. (trust me...we spend WAY more time laughing than tears) She will tell me...complete honesty....I LOVE  that about her....but really...I just love her more then words can even say....when someone has been in your corner... at your back for 30 yrs....what more is there really to say.
Thank you
     I must give a HUGE shout out to my oldest (again time not age) friend for the service she is doing for me.  We all know just how squeamish I am when it comes to needles...(ok, that word doesn't even come close to how terrified I am about them) I can't even watch one on TV. home care company won't administer my mandatory super shot I need 24 hours after chemo and she comes across the city every day after chemo and gives me my shot.  This is SOOOO above and beyond to me...she has a really busy life and works full she schedules this in so I get shot and we get some great girl time in....bonus!!!
Thank you
     I have been blessed with an amazing group of "long time low maintenance" kind of friends.  You know who you are and what I feel about and for you.  Most certainly tender mercies who have loved me, supported, prayed for me, held me up, laughed til we couldn't breath, partners in crime....and every time we meet (even with years/decades apart) it is as if time has stood still and we pick up right where we left off.



Monday, December 10, 2012

First my apologies for being off the grid for a  few days...This wasn't one of my better weeks...but still no puking so LIFE IS STILL GRAND!!!

     This new cocktail is supposed to be totally different in a good way from the last one with a new list of "what to expect" attached to it..
            1) it isn't supposed to make me nauseated ---WRONG...3 of my worst days yet!!!
            2) your hair will fall out ---WRONG!!
            3) make your bones ache like a bad flu ---GOT THAT ONE RIGHT
            4) totally change your taste buds again -- YUP...this one too!!

     I have spent a ton of time just resting and trying to find food that doesn't gag me from the first bite.  VoR was cooking dinner last Sunday and the smell of the cooking rice was my undoing...good thing I had an open window close by...fresh air is for sure my saving grace.  I have managed to get outside for a short walk to the mailbox everyday.  I have to honest....some days....that 10 houses down seems miles longer then it was the day before...but I still did it....followed by a well deserved nap.

     I have been battling with a new side effect this week to.....since my allergic reaction to the skin around my PICC line isn't holding up real well.  I have been dealing with a severe rash on that arm and my hands along with running nose and eye issues.  Hopefully this won't change anything but we will have to see what the oncologist has to say on the next home care nurses are sure keeping their eye on it though.  It only has to last for 5 weeks...CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE IT!!!!!!  I will still deal with side effects longer then that but the PICC can come out as soon as my last chemo is they say. 

     This has not been what I expected at the beginning....not even close!!  I hoped and prayed for the best but still expected to be feeling the worst.  At this point everyone tells me I look great...I have color, energy, cheerful and bald...I choose to believe them however....they could be fibbing I guess...HMMMM!!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sometimes you go along on a journey and get caught up in the "stuff" and forget to acknowledge what really matters. 

      Along this past month of welcomed visitors....I blogged about them all but the most important one....RANDOM WISDOM.  She came at the end of that busy time and left just before my "new" without meaning to....her visit (along with her BOY/MAN  friend) just got skipped over.  We had a great time "shopping" and going out for a really nice dinner, doing all the touristy stuff and just hanging out spending time together.  It was especially great getting to know the boy/man friend and to see them together....just too darn cute for their own good....brings to mind that quote from Princess Bride.."Wuv...." 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Chemo #5 done...but what an adventure!!!)
     I have to start by saying how eternally grateful I am for the Chemo Unit I am blessed to be in. There are a ton of benefits to being in the smaller unit in the city...besides the 10 minutes from my house...I am surrounded by the same core of nurses every time I go to treatment.  There are 4 that I have gotten to know quite well over the last 4 treatments we know each other by name and know stuff about each other and each of our quirks and personalities....which I must say made a big difference today. 
     I have come to the conclusion that when it comes to new drugs and my's always a krap shoot.  There were a few surprises this last cocktail took about 2 hours from start to finish...this one was supposed be just over 5 hours (2 pre-drugs 15 mins apart then 15 min wait then the chemo for 3 hours)...except for yesterday when we took over 6+ hours thanks to a lovely mess of side effect/reactions right in the middle of infusion. My nurse/friend told me IF I felt anything unusual. no matter how small or seemingly insignificant to let her know.  She reinforced it with me  a couple of times because she said "I know never whine or complain about anything but this is important to let me know"  So I knew she was serious and I needed to pay attention. About 90 minutes into the chemo drug part I started getting heaviness in my chest, a miserable headache and a real sore I told her...WELL...they moved like lightening!!!  The curtains were drawn, the pharmacist suddenly appeared, the doctor was called and another nurse came flying over.  (She was one of my friend/regulars too) She took one look at me and said "Where did your rosy cheeks go girl, you have no color?  And she grabbed my arm noticing that I was really clammy .  They started shooting me full of anti-reaction drugs and at this point stopped chemo ...then they made me sit for 45 mins until I was completely back to normal.  Then we restarted the chemo with the "slow boat" infusion of half speed for 45 mins to be sure I wouldn't react again then finished up at full speed.  So the next one they will add all these anti-reaction measures before we start the chemo bag and so it should run smoother.It is an interesting feeling sitting  watching the entire Chemo unit fill up with people and empty out during my stay.  I always felt sorry for the patients that were there before I came and I left behind during my last sessions... know I was the LAST one to leave....weird. 
     I met some great women today and was able to help one who was there for her first treatment who was really nervous so that was really nice...and I met a woman married 68 years...she was way cool.
LESSON LEARNED TODAY:....step outside yourself and engage with others around never know when or what you have to offer will calm their fears and who can brighten your day with a smile.   We are all in there together going thru the same icky mess of drugs for different kinds of this lousy disease....we need to be there for each other....we are kind of a "cancer made" community and we need to remember that sometimes it takes a village to help/lift/heal each other. Just because you don't look like the old you....doesn't mean that YOU aren't still inside and you need to be ready to reach out to others...let the Lord work thru just may be the answer to their prayer for comfort, friendship, a smile to let them know they aren't alone in this.  Listen for those promptings and then be brave and act on them...step outside you own little chemo world and look are there for more then just yourself.