Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chaos, Clutter and Cancer? Oh My! Received the Versatile Blogger Award!

Thank to Ask Away I received the Versatile Blogger Award!

This award is to recognize and appreciate fellow bloggers and let your readers know about blogs they might not have known about.
Now it's time to pass it on.  Here are the rules:

*Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post.

*Share seven things about yourself.

*Award 15 bloggers you recently discovered.
*Contact these bloggers and let them know they have received this award.

Here are seven things about myself:
1. I have 6 gorgeous children and am proud of each and every one for being an individual.
2. I am the baby of  6 children, and I love my sister to death!
3. I get really mad if I get interrupted while watching a "good" movie.
4. I don't really wear makeup unless I am going out.  Natural beauty is the best.
5. I am going through chemo to kick cancer's ass! :D
6. I am a proud cat mommy.
7. I love Kevin Smith and Simon Pegg movies!

I am awarding the following Bloggers with this Award!

0 - 60 in .... 5 days!!

Wow, I woke up this morning energized!   So now I know to give it at least 5 days before I start feeling like my old self again, at least as far as the energy level is concerned.  They said 2-3, but they also said chemo treats everybody different. 

  I feel like taking a walk today, looking at the green grass, but not feeling it... Florida grass is horrible compared to the lush Michigan grass I grew up in.  During my trip to NYC in September I sat down and felt the grass, there was heaven!  It brought back all the memories I had of rolling around as a child on that beautiful, kelly green carpet of nature.  I miss "real" grass, Florida's is just too picky and itchy.   I also want to take the time to notice the flowers, maybe bring my camera with me to catch what is blooming.  I loves taking stills of flowers.  I get to keep their beauty with me always, and they get to stay alive and thrive.  No picking flowers for me!  I am of an unusual sort, I know women LOVE to get flowers, but I prefer a potted plant of flowers.  A bouquet of flowers just says, "enjoy my beauty, for I will die on you very soon" and that saddens me.  I feel like finding a canal near here and sit on the bank of it and watch the water birds.  I have some great shots of our water fowl here.  I thank my mother for all of this.  She is the one that taught me to appreciate all of nature and it's creatures.   I think this is going to be a very good day today! 

Come on sunrise!  It's a brand new day!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Written by my dear friend, Kat... total inspiration for me!

Readers, I did not write this piece, I am merely sharing (with Kat's permission, of course) a wonderful story of love, inspiration, cancer and family.  Please enjoy the journey as much as I did and remember to say " I love you" as much as possible to those that matter.   As Kat's story shows, you never know when you are called up to Heaven.....

Written by Kat Roessler:

I want to share my grandmother’s story with you. At 69, she was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. She was given 3-6 months to live if she was lucky. But my Grandmother was a fighter, survivor and a real hoot, if you knew her.
I was only 13 when she was diagnosed but I became a grown up that minute. I went to every chemo session with her. They were usually 6 hour infusions in a room with other patients. My grandmother was the house entertainer! She would chat-up and cheer-up every single person in the room, they were mostly older men and women but we also had two 12 year olds. They had a TV but on the days my grandmother and I were there? It was a Part-ay! She sang, I sang with her… I journaled furiously while she entertained. I was writing her story while she lived it. I have a closet full of journals. I have kept them since I was 9 years old (that’s also when I started writing poetry).

My grandmother was my mother, father, everything. She took care of my mother, my sister and me. I always felt like my mother was just my out-of-control older sister. She is a smiling dragon of barbed innuendos. But that’s another story. Anything I know about being a good wife or mother or person came from my grandma.

When my grandmother lost her hair (she loved her hair and even when it was old and gray she kept it long and wore it in carefully arranged bun), I wept for her. She didn’t cry or complain; she laughed and said, “Well that’s a relief! One less thing I have to fuss over and deal with! Let’s go find a classy wig!”

That was my grandma’s spirit. She handled the grit, and pain and every ugly, grueling aspect of cancer and chemo and sickness with grace and humor. I sobbed crying for the greatest role model, friend, mother, teacher, counselor, and priestess that my grandmother embodied. She looked at my sister, my mom and me and said, Mark my words: I will fight, love, laugh and LIVE through this for years to come. I will prove the doctors wrong; I’m going to live a heck of a lot longer than 3-6 months. They will NOT put a timeline on me, my life, or my vitality!

And she did just that. She (we) lived through a full hysterectomy, almost weekly grueling chemo sessions, treatments, appointments, and 2 more surgeries. I was 13 when she was diagnosed and given 3-6months to live. She eventually passed away a month before my 16th birthday.

When they said it was ‘her time,’ they moved her to a hospice suite (her hospital room with a room attached with a cot and a couch and a reclining chair for my mom, sister and me to sleep in). The doctors told us she would be passing that night or the next day. She hung on for two WEEKS. Every bit the proudest of the proud Fighting Irish/from Queens, NY hanging onto to each moment left on Earth. Those 14 days in the hospice suite were the hardest. All of the nurses, night security, cafeteria staff, orderlies, basically every hospital employee knew that the term “visiting hours” did not apply to my mom, sister or me. I was on summer vacation between my sophomore and junior year in high school so I was there almost 24/7 with her.

We were granted a small miracle from heaven one of those days in the hospice fortnight. One night, my grandmother woke up! She had been heavily sedated with morphine to keep her comfortable, was fed through IV, and the doctor’s said that, theoretically, it was impossible for her to be conscious or coherent enough to sit up and talk the way she was. It was truly a miracle. It lasted about an hour, but in that time she talked to my mom, sister and me each in turn and alone. This, of course, what after she sang, “Let Me Entertain You,” to the room.

I don’t know what she said to my mom or my sister, but I will never forget what she said to me. “Kathy, you are quirky and brilliant. You have a strength in you that is special that your mother and sister don‘t have. Take care of them, I worry about them but I know you will be fine, we are survivors. Always stay close to your sister and mother and be strong.”

With that, I told her I loved more than anything in the world and would be fine. That if she saw grandpa (her long-since-passed husband), hitch a ride to heaven with him. We’ll be ok, you can go now.

I, of course, was not ok and many, many mistakes in the years that followed.. I don’t regret any of them because they have made me who I am today: a strong, quirky, brilliant, survivor. She passed away shortly thereafter. I stayed awake for the next few days straight to give her the only departing gift I had to offer, an eloquent eulogy worthy of what she meant to me.

The day of the funeral, in a big Catholic Church, I thought I would pass out as I walked to the lectern to read my eulogy. I was certain I would falter, and cry and just as I was about to turn away from the microphone and crumble, I felt HER holding me up at that podium. I was embraced by a warm strength that I know came from her… I read every word clearly and from heart. I wish I had not lost that eulogy, I wish I had made a copy and not left it on the lectern to be thrown out… but I do remember two quotes I began and ended it with:

“Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so:
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
DIE NOT, poor Death; not yet canst thou kill me!”

-John Donne (intro poem to John Gunther’s “Death Be Not Proud”)

…and I finished it with a verse from Longfellow’s Psalm of Life:

“Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate -
Still achieving, still pursuing!
As we learn to labor and to wait.”

Cancer: It's Not for Wussies!

  Today is the first day I noticed the treatment room is the color of the center of a Milky Way bar.  I was bored out of my mind, so I took time to notice all the little things I had missed out on when I first started there.  Outside of the color of the walls, the very next thing I noticed were the patients.  All ages, although  I do seem to be the youngest I have seen, all colors and both sexes.  My eyes went to this particularly frail older lady, her silver hair barely noticeable it was so thin.  Her delicate skin seemed to appear see-through yet her eyes showed a determination unlike I had ever seen.  It was amazing to watch her the few minutes I did, feeding off of her inspiration.  She held herself with grace and dignity, which is difficult to do I have found, when you are going for treatments.  It was after her that I noticed the other faces.  I didn't pay attention before, but these are people!  They are our grandparents, our mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters.  They aren't just "cancer" patients, they each have their own story to tell, lives they live and families that love and support them.  It was a very enlightening moment. 

Now, let me back up a bit earlier today, to what led me down there today when I was not due in....

  I awoke at 5am feeling like it was 200 degrees in my room.  I felt shaky, queasy, weak and both ends of the spectrum were expelling fluids at a fast pace.  I asked my son to get my magnet off of the refrigerator (it's a list of what to watch out for and when you should call the doctor).  Crap! I had like 7 symptoms that said I need to call the office immediately.  Okay, let me hit that bathroom one more time and I will call my doctor.  I did, I woke the poor guy up at 6:30 am to tell him what was going on.  He ordered me in at 9am for fluids and anti-nausea meds.  Wow, that was a long way off for the way I felt but I trust him to know what he is doing, he's been doing it for over 10 years.  I kept sipping on my sports drink, praying it was just dehydration and not infection.  Now I am a germaphobe! 

  Great... just what I needed.  Ever since I learned that my white cell count will be low and I have to pay particular attention to the public and germs, I have gone to the extreme.  I won't let my daughter drink from my cup, she's 2 she has GERMS!   Oh, you kids just got home from school and want a kiss and a hug?   GO WASH FIRST!   Hey guys, how you doing?  STAY 5 FEET AWAY AT ALL TIMES!   I even have masks here and am awaiting getting gloves.  I have NEVER been the mom that worries about germs.  We all get sick, get used to it!  I love sticky kisses from toddlers and sweaty hugs from my just home school-age children.  Now, I look at them as though they are the enemy.  Get back you evil-doers, the power of Christ compels you!  It's crazy, but infection is what does a chemo patient the most harm.  Knowledge is not only a powerful tool, it can also turn you into a germ-busting kid-o-phobe (yeah, I know that is NOT a word, but it's true!).
  Now that everyone understand my worry this morning (it was just dehydration, by the way... my white cell count is great) I can continue with my observations of the day.  Here I was watching these older people, worrying about my white cell count when it hit me.  CHILDREN!  Children have to go through this!  Yes, to answer you, I have heard of children having cancer before, duh!  They have gone through the pain, the nausea, the vomiting, the fear of infection all before me and they will long after me.  That is a fact that I do not find fair!  It is the roughest thing I have ever had to deal with and I am an adult.  For a child to have to deal with all of this and not enjoy just being a child is sickening and disheartening.  I would never want to imagine any of my children feeling what I am feeling, nor would I wish it on ANY child.  This is where today's lesson comes in...

  Children are resilient.  They are happy, free, innocent souls with enough joy to fill mankind.  They love unconditionally, something that we lose as we grow, sadly.  They are the true fighters, the soft-spoken brave ones, that battle courageously while giggling and laughing.  They are MY inspiration.  Little voices that go unheard around the world because they are not in our family, therefore, we forget they exist.  I ask each and everyone of you to say a prayer for a cancer-stricken child, it doesn't matter if you know of one or not.  God knows of every single one and He hears. 

  To all of you brave and wonderful children out there, I wish I could hug each and every one of you to thank you for showing me that cancer is not for wussies. Cancer is only for the strong in spirit, those that are willing to fight through laughter and tears and rise above.   Bless you all~ my thoughts will always be with you.

  Adults can learn so much from children, if we would take the time to pay attention.  It's time we really start to behave like them, and less like grown-ups!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

2 + Chemo = Sadness

Today we celebrated my youngest child's second birthday.  The party was held at Barb and Damon's (which has become traditional, they do have more room) and the food was delish.  The house was all decked out, decorated in a Dora theme (Reni loves her) and she wore the party dress I got for her 6 months prior.  Yes, I just KNOW a party dress when I see it, so.... I buy large... she will fit it eventually.  I loved watching her open her presents, but I was already tired after the meal, so I couldn't get down and play with her and enjoy them with here.  HEARTBREAK!   I even had to miss out on the whole birthday cake tradition, being too exhausted for all the hullabaloo that was going on.  It was a house full of teens and adults gathered in harmony for my precious girl's special day. 

  Now I sit here, in my bed, typing my thoughts as I cry for my daughter.  She is still at her Aunt's house, continuing the celebration without her mommy.  She is probably bouncing around in the Dora bounce house, blowing out her 2 candles, playing with her new toys and having a blast.  Meanwhile, mommy sits and sheds tears, for I can never get back her 2nd birthday.  I can never get back a memory of her blowing out her cake, because I didn't have it to begin with.  I will never be able to sit back and remember playing with her and her little vanity set, because I couldn't, I was too tired. 

  I can vow this, it won't happen again.  She is the reason I fight so hard.  When I am without her, my reason for fighting can't be found, but when she is right next to me I remember why I am allowing myself to feel so crappy, why I am okay with being exhausted.  Serenity, you make all the trouble that mommy is going through so worthwhile.  All 6 of you kids do, but remember my beautiful children, Reni is only 2 and needs me so much more right now, just as much as I need her.  I will fight this exhaustion, fight the nausea, fight the confusion all to have her right by my side, it's where she belongs. 

So now you understand my equation... 2 + Chemo = Sadness.  

Friday, April 22, 2011

Round 6: Chemo Schmeemo part 2

I have decided to break up my cycles (chemo treatments) into parts.  These first two treatments are considered one cycle.  So, cycle 1 is called Chemo Schmeemo for a reason... it was a breeze, not as scary as I always thought it would be.  So friends, on to today's experience....

  Two weeks!!  I will only have my hair for two more weeks then BAM... gone.  It's only hair and I am NOT vain at all, so it's really not bothering me.  I am excited almost.  Oh the cool things I can do, be imaginative- because let's face it, a 41 yr old woman should NOT sport a Mohawk... but I will!  Well, until it falls out, then comes the head painting, wigs, funky hats, etc.  I will get away with things I shouldn't at my age, and it's going to be a blast!  My freak flag is going to wave loud and proud!  Daily photos will be posted for people to laugh at, to smile at and hopefully find the courage to do the same if they are going through the same thing.  This blog is not just about me, but about anyone who reads it, especially other cancer patients.  I write for them, and I write for me.  It's a catharsis for me, I have always been able to write my feelings better than speaking them and I hope my words wind up healing some one's pain. 

  I do have to say, I hate the water pills!!!  I can't stop peeing!  I am supposed to drink 8oz of liquid every hour that I am awake to keep my kidneys and bladder healthy.  Ok, fine... I can accept that.  That will make me pee a lot as it is, but adding water pills to help flush the chemo out?  Come on!  I feel like I need roller skates to help me make it to the bathroom faster and it's only like 10 steps away!   Maybe now is the time to invest in depends, for God help me if someone tells a funny joke! 

  I brought my new DVD player today, it did help pass the time, but Barb was with me and she helped pass it better.  This is the last time someone can sit in the room with me.  It stinks, but I'll get over it.  They only allow someone to stay with you for the first cycle due to patient confidentiality and to protect out dwindling white cell counts.  So, my DVD player will come in handy while poor Barb gets stuck in the lobby waiting for me.

  Barb came prepared today!!  We didn't know what we were facing yesterday, so we were minus some lunch, but nibbled on chips.  Today, we had sandwiches, grapes, chips and coffee!  She brought me a Pepsi, but I can tell the chemo is already affecting my taste buds... my fave soda tasted like crap and she dumped it out.  It's ok though, I can live without carbonation, just bring on the milkshakes.  Oh yeah, I didn't tell you!  I am SUPPOSED to have milkshakes, ice cream, Popsicles, smoothies, loads of cheese, hard boiled eggs, basically anything with calcium and protein.  I am really going to love this diet!

Ok, my energy is gone for now, so I will write more tomorrow or the next day.  Monday is an echocardiogram to check my heart as well as a shot to boost my white cells.  I hope everyone enjoys their Easter weekend.  Please remember, Christ arose from the dead to prove to us He is the son of God, who died for our sins.  It's not about the bunnies, eggs and chocolate.  I am living proof of this, for without my faith, I would not have such good spirits through what should be dark times.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Round 6: Chemo, schmeemo!

After a trip to the ER last night (due to dehydration) I hopped into bed about 2am knowing my 1st chemo session was at 8:15am.  Unfortunately, my body was so nervous about receiving these chemicals that it decided it wanted to be up at 6!!  I forced myself to lay down again until 7:45, when it was time to get ready to go. 

  My mind was racing and I was expecting this glowing green goo to be flowing through my veins.  I expected to vomit profusely, possibly even hallucinate (which I didn't do dammit) and sit in a nice quiet room.  HA HA HA HA!  I wasn't even sick, just tired!  I fell asleep a couple of times, but no nausea.  I didn't see any purple frogs climbing the walls or unicorns dancing on the heads of the nurses, and it certainly wasn't a quiet room.  Can you say "Chemo Cattle Call"?   Yes, there were approximately 20 other chemo patients in there with me.  The nurses were fantastic with great personalities.  It took 5 hours to get all my meds pushed through my port! 

  Again, not knowing what to expect, Barb and I only brought a book and she also brought her needlepoint.  We found out that laptops, DVD players (the portable ones), iPod etc. could be used as long as they had headphones.  Dammit again!  Barb escaped to call Damon to bring our laptops to us and thus he did.  Dammit again!  Even though they had wi-fi, they had ALL of our favorite spots blocked, even my BLOG!!  I was looking forward to blogging live as everything happened.  NO DICE!  So, we won't be bringing the laptops anymore, I will just have to suffer and do it the old-fashioned way... pen and paper.  Oh yeah, we were also told to bring whatever we wanted to eat and it was Damon to the rescue again (same trip as the laptops) and did he supply us!  It was a smorgasbord of goodies and they were yummy, alas, he left us thirsty.  Now it was Barb's dad to the rescue, bless his heart!  He brought her the thermos of coffee (if you know Barb, you know she can't last 1/2 hour without her coffee!) and brought me 2 diet Pepsis (what is the plural for Pepsi??)  Shucks, I can't drink that diet crap... so I drank out of the lid of the thermos.  After mixing my coffee, I had nothing to stir with, so Barb pulled a MacGyver and opened a pack of her insulin needles... PRESTO... instant coffee stir stick that can be re-used! :D

  I have three different chemotherapy drugs that I am being treated with, along with anti-nausea medication, magnesium and potassium twice in one session, normal saline and a water pill.  Tomorrow will be easier, it will only be 3 hours long.  One chemo drug plus the 2 magnesium and potassium (this particular med strips you of your mag and potassium, so they up it to try to maintain a normal level).   Thanks to this heavy dose of chemo, I can say bye-bye to my hair in 2 weeks, so it's time for the purple mohawk!

  So that is it in a nutshell... Oh and Lisa, the nurse that gave me the water pill... I owe you BIG TIME... I can't stop peeing!

A special thanks to my monthly friend for showing up on such a wonderful day!  Grrrrr!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Round 5: The Port in the Storm

Today was the procedure for the port... and I was terrified.  Surgery doesn't bother me, but a hole in my chest, the permanent IV freaks me out!!  The day started out absolutely horrible, knowing I didn't have to report to the hospital until 11am and could have nothing to eat or drink after midnight.  Those of you that know me, knows Wendy without caffeine = BITCH!  I woke up at 7:45 and said "OH HELL NO!"  and went back to bed.  There was no way I was going to function without anything to eat or drink for 3 hours.
I woke back up at 10am feeling like crap! I always do when I force myself to go back to bed.  At least I was kept busy with getting ready and getting Serenity ready for the trip.

  We arrived at the hospital and walked the long corridors to the ACC (out patient department) and the whole time I felt like a dead man walking!  I hate IVs with a passion, like you would not believe... blood drawing?  no problem.  Getting a shot?  No problem.   IV.. get the hell away from me!   I changed into the sexy hospital gown I was provided and hopped into my temporary bed.  Time flew by so fast!  Before I knew it I was in the ready room, getting my first dose of anesthesia to relax me.  I had some really great nurses with awesome personalities, so we laughed and joked around which eased the tension.

  Time for the OR!!  My anesthesiologist was awesome, he was so funny!  I started to have a panic attack and he said "Oh, we will take care of that", panicky me was like "No you won't, you...."   and I was out.  My last memory was arguing that they couldn't help me.  Typical!!

  I woke up at some point just gabbing away, telling people to shut me up if I was talking to much but they didn't seem to mind.  I was freaking flying!!  I have NEVER felt that high before, and I just had surgery less than a month ago!  I don't remember what I was saying, but I remember talking a lot and I noticed a nurse with platinum blond short, spiked hair.  I loved her hair, I tried to talk to her.. but I kept getting dirty looks... hmmmmmmm.  I found out why later.  I finally was moved back into my room where it all began to get dress and have my IV removed.   At this point, I felt rational for the first time since I woke up (OK, since last night... I am NEVER rational without my coffee in the am).  Time to go and pick up my prescriptions, grab a mocha frap from McDs and a little something to munch on (I wanted fries).  They gave me apple juice and a blueberry muffin in my old room afterwards, but it's not the same as the sweet nectar known as a frap!!

  Now.... the REST of the story...

  According to Barb who was in the waiting room (from check-in to check out was like 3 hrs) I was a hit in the recovery room!  My anesthetized self sang the theme from "Spongebob Squarepants, counted to 10 on my fingers and again in Spanish, and that blond nurse with spiked hair?   I guess I insulted her.  I asked her where she got her hair done, she must have answered because I then said "I don't want to go there!"  Wow, no wonder I got dirty looks!  I gentleman came in the recovery room to see his wife and reported all this to Barb when he got back to the waiting room.  I know that she and Damon had a great laugh.  They had a bigger laugh when I couldn't buckle my seat belt and Damon had to do it... I yelled at him for touching my ass! 

  I am so glad she didn't remember that I had two forms of video recording in my purse: my camera and my phone.  The blackmail would have cost me an arm and a leg! 

The moral of the story:  It's imPORTant to have great friends, it's ok for them to laugh at you when you are at your lowest, because you will get even one day :D 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The One that Got Away

OK, so it's not a cancer post... so what?  It's called Chaos, Clutter AND Cancer... not just cancer!  The Chaos and Clutter represents my mind and everyday, normal life.  Any post titled "Round ___"  is a cancer post, the rest are just thoughts on life, reflections, poetry and short stories.  You never know what you will get when this mind starts thinking (or not thinking, as in this post). 

  I had a very meaningful dream last night, meaningful as in I understood the message my brain was sending me.  Most of my dreams are bizarre and way out there, so when I have a dream that is odd, but logical, I contemplate.  There was no need to do that this time, my message was loud and clear as if it was being screamed from the top of a 10 story building!!  An old love of mine was standing on top of a hill with roses waiting for me.  No matter how hard I tried to climb up that grassy, steep hill I kept sliding back down.  I couldn't make any progress beyond half-way.  I woke up before I reached the peak where he was standing.  Now before YOU diagnose this dream, here is exactly what it means...  my goal is unattainable... meaning HIM. 

  Why must the people we leave behind (or those who left us behind) constantly haunt us?  It could be a song, a movie, an entire city that strikes that place in our heart and brings them back for a moment.  Why must we cling to that moment for an hour, a day or a month?  When someone is no longer a part of our life, why do we continue to torture ourselves with the shared memories?  It's just a painful process that no one need go through.  I don't know about you, but I seem to do it time and time again with this person.  We kept in touch until recently and then POOF , he disappears with the skill of a master magician.  Yes, there is another girl now, hence the sudden wizarding powers.  Even after the break-up (to which he gave up on us, not me) we stayed very close.  We were in constant support of each other's endeavors, applauding and criticizing where need be. 

  I am sure I am only missing him now because I am in a dark hour of my life and need my friend.  We would talk for hours and he always found a way to make me smile.  I have had a few rough days in a row and his kind words and smart-alec comments would definitely ease the load.  Alas, I know I shall never reach that peak.  Not only does an ocean divide us now, but so does his new love.  I think that is the most exasperating portion of it all... that because we are of opposite sex, we are not allowed to keep these people in our lives.  How many times have you had to give up a friend for a mate because the were the opposite sex?  I am sure several times over, for I know I have had to in the past.  I learned from my mistakes though and decided friendship was more important than a love.  Friendships, when nurtured and tended to often last longer than relationships.  We seem to cherish our friends more than a loved one in the long run.  I know my friends have stood by my side and stayed longer than any one man. 

Jealousy is evil.  Jealousy destroys the beauty in the world.  Jealousy prevent us from reaching the peak.....

Round 4: Utter Frustration

I have come to realize something, (and I don't mean to belittle breast cancer at all... trust me, I lost my sister-in-law to that horrible beast) but what I have noticed while doing research for financial aid is that MOST funding is available to breast cancer patients and their families.  There are so many programs dedicated to breast cancer and not enough for all the other patients that have a different form of cancer. 

  Not being able to work right now has me more depressed than my actual disease.  I have no idea where rent is going to come from in two weeks, how electric is going to get paid and the stress of these is unreal.  I keep hearing time and time again that I need a "stress-free" life right now to beat this, that all thoughts should be "happy happy joy joy"... yeah, sure.   Go ahead, try to raise children on little to no money while dealing with the diagnosis of cancer and juggle bills like a professional in a circus and have no stress.  I am really sorry, but that is not possible.

  I fight every day of my new existence to remain upbeat, positive and confident.  I am not magical, I cannot snap my fingers and make all things possible.  I really need to live it one day at a time (yes, it's cliche, but true!).  I know God will somehow provide, He always has.  When your life is your children, you tend to fear for what you can't provide for them.  I wish I could say my fears were not giving them an Xbox 360 or the iPod touch, but they are not... they are for the mere basics we need to survive, and since I don't have breast cancer, it looks like I am out of luck.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Round 3: The Decision

  My worst fears have come true.... CHEMO!!  I know, I am weird ok?  Cancer should be the worst fear, but I know this is a curable cancer, so I know I will overcome this hurdle.  Seriously, chemo?  I just had this fabulous haircut and color job and now I am going to be resorting to mohawks and the like until my hair completely falls out.  POSITIVE NOTE:   No more Brazilians for a while :D

  Ok, back to the reason for the blog....
It is to keep my family informed that are not local, reach out to other cancer fighters/survivors for encouragement, hope and the like as well as letting me vent the only way I can: through writing! 

I must have sat and cried for an hour today after hearing the news.  I know that most of you would freak over having your chest split open to remove the tumor, but not me.  I freak over the idea of chemo.  I know it's a tough road, but I am willing to walk it for my children.  There is no other reason in the world that makes more sense than to suffer for the little children.  I can't imagine not being around for graduations, weddings and grandchildren.  I hate the thought that my youngest, the 2 year old would grow up, never to know me.  It's a pain that is intolerable for my father passed from cancer when I was 2 1/2.  I don't remember him at all, I know him through pictures and stories from my siblings, mother and their old friends.  But that is really not knowing who he was as a person, a father.  I wouldn't wish that feeling on my worst enemy, let alone my precious little princess.

  I am strong, determined yet scared all at the same time. 

  I really can't wait to found out what chemo does to the body, from a scientific, medical standpoint only ( I am not some sicko, just sick!)  I have heard stories that gave me chills, but every person's body reacts differently to all things environmental or chemical. 

Today's emotions:  Fear, Anger, Curiosity, Sadness, Determination and Hope

Sorry the humor isn't really abundant in this post, but it is still soaking in.  Perhaps tomorrow I will find something funny in all this and make you laugh til your hair falls out!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Round 2: The Consultation

Originally written March 31, 2011.

 You could tell this wasn't going to be an ordinary day from the moment I opened my eyes.  After getting very little sleep last night, I awoke to the sound of Scottie's voice waking me up.  I purposely shoved my phone under my pillows to ignore the alarms that ususally wake me up, I guess Barb had been calling repeatedly to make sure I was up and ready to venture to Moffitt.  No, in fact I was ready to say f* it, I need more sleep!!!  Instead, I threw on some clothes, dragged my butt out of bed to take my regimen of medications (yes, in THAT order... my clothes were on my bed, so there :P) and griped for the lack of coffee or mochas in the house.

Damon and Barb showed up, and we headed out... stopping at a gas station to fuel up, not only the car but myself and Damon as well (Barb had her coffee with her).  Alas, Damon did not hear my request for a mocha and I didn't want to be a pest, so I remained quiet, cursing under my breath for lack of caffeine.  I-75 was horrible!  It took twice as long to get to Tampa as it normally did, so I was an hour late for my appointment.  Damon called it "Lollygag Thursday" as it seemed more like a rainy Sunday drive on the interstate rather than the high pulse of traffic that was usual.  Trying to find Moffitt was an adventure in itself!  USF buildings were everywhere and Moffitt was scattered among them.  Finally finding where we were to go, we stepped out into the cold, drizzling rain.  I went inside to check in, while Barb waited for Damon to park the car and join us.
  Free coffee, YAY!   Nope, not for me, I was told... I might have to have a CAT scan.  Ok, so add more points to an already crappy day, thank you.  There it was, that beautiful, hot ,caramel-colored beverage within an arms length and yet I had to let it sit on the doctor's desk.  Oh it was most definitely taunting me.  Dr. Robinson was very informative, friendly and I found myself to be very comfortable in what should have been a most uncomfortable situation.  I mean, who really wants to hear for the third time that you have cancer.  I guess the more you hear it, the more you get used to the idea.  He showed me my PET scan and the tumor and explained exactly what we were looking at: bones, blood vessels, organs... very interesting.  He said he does about 10 of these surgeries a year and the patients have a high success rate (good news for me). 
  What's next you ask?   I need to have a CT scan with contrast (iodine dye) done so that the blood vessels show a different color than the tumor on the scan.  Once he sees exactly where this tumor is and what other organs it is affecting takes us to our next step.  He said, from the sounds of it, it sounds like an invasive tumor to which chemotherapy would be the next step before surgery, then the surgery and possibly radiation afterwards depending how much they were able to take out.  All in all, I am very satisfied with what I heard today.  He knows his business and I trust him already.  I informed my oncologist (he gave me his cell number to call him after the consultation) of what happened and he said let's get it going.  So tomorrow I am to make my appointment for the scan, and once the scan is done, to call my doctor on his cell, so he can make sure the images are over-nighted on CD to Dr. Robinson.
  Hmmmm... doctors that give you their cell nuimbers, doctors that make sure your films are over-nighted, doctor's that educate their patients, doctors that make you feel at ease, doctors that waive their fees for you.... Please don't ever let me hear any of you complain about money-hungry, could-care-less doctors anymore, for it seems I have been blessed with the the ones that care and are the best!!!
Oh and that cup of coffee?   I did get to taste it, but I didn't drink it.   I couldn't do a CT today because my hives were popping out again, unfortunately Barb drank MY coffee (the one with sugar) and left the one with Splenda for me (YUCK!).   It's ok though, I got a mocha for being a good girl on the ride home :D

Round 1: The News

Originally writtten March 26, 2011
 I told you I wouldn't keep quiet.  Today I got the news I had been dreading.  Cancer.   On the upside, according to my research, it has an 89%  survival rate.  Now, that is MY research.  I will found out more facts after visiting my onconologist tomorrow.  The downside, chemo and radiation are the treatments.  My visit tomrrow is for a game plan to beat this thing.
  I have gone through every single negative emotion today that you can experience:  anger, sadness, desperation, depression, bitterness, envy, fear and shock.  I remained strong thoughout the day and finally broke down late this evening, letting tears stain my face for nearly an hour.  I was reminded that I wasn't just fighting for myself, but I was fighting for my children as well.  So while I may still have my weak moments, I will find the strength for my children.
The outpouring of love and support from my friends and family amazed me.  You never really know who your friends are until you are faced with the darkest hour of your life.  I can go to sleep with ease knowing that I am not in this war alone, not only is God at my side, but so are all of you.
Thank you for all the kind words spoken this day.  Alone, I cannot win... it's impossible.  My warriors that are standing up and using their voices will help me defeat this dreaded disease, and I thank you for that.  God is good and I truly believe that.  He will not let my children down, leave them motherless and broken-hearted.
Let the battle begin!

Me? Quiet? Ha!

 Some people like to keep their lives private, allowing only a small circle of people in to the deepest part of their brain.  I am not one of them, nor will I ever be.  If/when I get the diagnosis that I have cancer, this girl is going to be LOUD!  I am not going to take this lying down, keeping my voice to myself and a few close friends.  I am going to scream it to the world, shout it from the rooftops and let the entire planet hear my cries!
  Why should I be quiet?  Cancer is real, very frightening and it affects every man, woman and child in different ways.   It's not some horrible secret that should be shoved away in a closet like some long-lost horrific present your aunt bought you when you were young, it should be standing right there in your face so it can not be denied.  I know for a fact that some people STILL refuse to say the word cancer for fear of it striking a loved-one, so they whisper it, like it has ears or something...other people say the "C" word, which confuses me completely because the "C" word to me is the foulest word you could say to describe a woman's body part.  Imagine how THAT conversation would go:  "Oh, John found out he has the "C" word". "Oh, John just discovered he is a hermaphrodite?  Intriguing!"   Now do you see how I get so confused over the letter C?  Stop being afraid to say the word!!  It's only a word and yes, some words do hurt but with them they also bring knowledge.

  Caner runs in my family, so we all knew we would have a higher than normal chance of getting it.  You always think "not me, someone else will, but not me",  I hope I am right, but it's very doubtful.  This mass is changing and growing everytime we look at it since February, so I am not hopeful.  I am hopeful I will beat it though.  I am afraid of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.  I do not want to lose my hair or vomit constantly.  I feel crappy enough without those treatments adding to my already failing body.   I have panic disorder, so I forsee a lot of panic attacks in my future with every single treatment I face.
  I guess what I am trying to tell all of you is I AM SCARED.   I am scared for me, for my children and for my family and friends.  I want to watch Serenity grow, I want to see the other children accomplish the goals they have set for themselves, I want to live to see grandchildren and I want to be around until a ripe old age!  I don't want to be cheated out of any of these things.  I don't want to cheat my children out of having a mother, especially Serenity.  I know what it's like to lose a parent at such a young age.  She would NOT remember me as I do not remember my own father.  I was a few months shy of turning 3 when I lost him and she is just about to turn 2 in April.  I am going to do all I can to preserve my memory for her "just in case".  Serenity isn't the only one I worry about either, so don't even think that.  I am worried about my other 5 as well.  I won't go into details about their psyches at the moment, but let's just say that they are at an age where it can make or break them as adults, or change their perception of the world.
  Therefore, should I be diagnosed with cancer (yes, we can say it... we are big people), I will be blogging about my treatments, my aches and pains, my vomiting and all the beautiful things that go hand in hand with treatment.  I am doing this for my children, for me and for others out there who are suffering themselves or know of someone.  It may not be pretty, it may be downright gross, so you just may want to delete me now, or block my posts once I get the news.
  I do not intend on hiding anything.  This is my legacy.   Writing is all I have ever had to hold on to when life got rough.  It's been the one constant in my life and I will not turn my back on it.  You will find spelling errors, run-on sentences and really bad punctuation, but that's who I am.  Who knows, maybe one day my journal will put my children through college (one can dream, right? ) or even buy us a home of our own.  In the meantime, take my journey with me and see what it's like to be me for just one day, and be thankful for what you have.  Life is funny that way, one minute you are on top of the world and the next, you are at the bottom of the pile, wiping shit off of your face from the last joker that climbed back up.  If this journal does nothing more than make you appreciate your life, then that is satisfactory to me.