Monthly Archives: September 2008

Ramblings….

I haven’t been all that great about writing.  Everything is going pretty well so I guess there isn’t much news.  No news is good new as they say….lol.  I’ve been busy,  So busy that I’m not sure if its radiation that is making me tired or just being mom to three kids.  I have invested in large boxes of whole wheat pop tarts for breakfast because I just don’t have very much energy in the mornings.  I try to justify them because they are organic whole wheat, but junk food is junk food regardless of organic.  But I’ve decided that eggs and french toast are for weekends right now and my kids will get by. 

I’ve also been dealing with some eye problems.  My eyes have been bloodshot and iritated for a month or so.  At first I figured it was allergies but then last week I started thinking “Jen….when you put something off and tried to diagnose yourself last time….look what it got you….cancer!”  So then I started to let my mind wander which is never a good thing.  I saw my family doctor who thought it was dry eye and gave me some ideas to try.  Today, when I was in for my dose of herceptin at the cancer center I talked to the nurse, who called my oncologist.  She said to see my optometrist.  Duh.  Sheesh…..why do I only think optomitrists prescribe glasses?  Anyway.  I have a new optomitrist who I like very much so I went back to him and he was incredibly helpful.  Basically the cells in my eyes are turning over due to the chemo and I have really dry patches.  I’m sure I don’t have it exactly right…..but basically it feels better to wear my contacts because when I blink the contacts keep me from scratching the eye ball.  So he loaded me up with new solutions and eye wetness remedies and I’m set for a week or so to see if it gets better.

So between tiredness and having issues being able to see well enough to read and type….I apologize for my lack of blogging.  I will try to do better.

On a very sad note….Mitch Thomas passed away last week.  He had battled lukemia for quite sometime and gave a good fight.  He touched many lives in the process.  Pray for his new wife, parents and family as they grieve and process his passing at such a young age.  You can leave messages at his blog listed to the left.

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Picture Day

I always dreaded picture day in school.  Waiting to see how the picture actually turned out and if you’re smiling with your eyes open.  And then all the other girls gathertogether to analize each others pictures while there you are with a “half-drugged” look.  Oh yeah…..and then you get to cut them up and write cute little messages on the back…..

I still dread picture day…..only now I get it every five days with radiation.  Every five days my radiation takes three times as long and I can’t move while they align me, take pictures and then treat.  The reason they do the pictures is because by law it is required just in case your body changes drastically in five days.  Weight gain, loss, etc.  This was my third time and It was almost unbearable.  My left arm has decided it does not want to stretch above my head and immediately looses circulation when raised. 

Today the techs did not want me to put my arms down, but I finally had to.  I just did it.  Then we had to re-align……ugh….radiation is no fun.

I will not be reordering extra copies of these pictures…..

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Dignity

One day Ruth, the Moabite foreigner, said to Naomi, “I’m going to work; I’m going out to glean among the sheaves, following after some harvester who will treat me kindly.” Naomi said, “Go ahead, dear daughter.” (Ruth 2:2)

Cancer is certainly the challenge of my life so far.  Early on in my diagnosis and treatment I decided one thing.  I wasn’t going to live like I was dying.  I wanted to live and I wanted to go about life as usual as possible.  I needed to do this for my kids too.  I decided I wasn’t going to write them letters as if I was dying.  Instead….if per chance I did die of cancer….I decided I would live in such a way that they would always remember their mother in high regards.  So I set out on this cancer journey determined that I would live a life of dignity and honor.  That if something did happen to me they would always have a great respect for their mother for making tough choices and fully living until I couldn’t any longer.  I just wanted that for my kids.

I want to hope I have achieved that at this point in the journey.  I have decided that this is how I need to live from here on out.  It looks pretty good for me now in terms of the cancer.  I can honestly say I think I will get to see my kids graduate and get married.  What a great feeling! But now I have the chance to extend this challenge of living in such a way that they will find respect in how I have lived for years to come.

Sometimes it’s really hard to make tough choices.  We’d rather take the easy way out.  My husband emulated dignity and honor shortly after he graduated from college and had a wife and young baby and was having difficulty landing a job.  For about a month Jeremy served up hamburgers at McDonald’s while he waited for the green light in a management position.  My brother-n-law who is now a vice-president at a major packaging business was also a morning manager at Hardee’s to pay his way through college.

Sometimes I want to just lay in bed and not accept that I have to get up and get Charis ready for school.  There are some days I started attempting the morning routine and then had to call for help.  Along the journey I have at times questioned if I should really do the treatment.  I would have much rather skipped this radiation and taken my chances.  But the truth is….there are three little ones who are looking to me to make the tough choices.

Dignity in the dictionary says this: the quality or state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed

When Naomi and Ruth showed up in Judah they had no money, food or family.  To survive, Ruth had to go and pick stray wheat from behind the harvesters.  She got the leftovers so they could eat.  Boaz found favor in her and eventually ended up marrying her.  Was it her beauty or her dignity that appealed to him.  

Cancer is quite a journey.  We often loose our hair, our breasts, and we are more often tired. But even in our tiredness we can fully live.  Do your best, make tough choices…..that is true beauty….that is living with dignity and honor.

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My Sis is Turning 40!

I’ve been running non-stop this week but today I’m relaxing here in Georgia.  I flew to Atlanta yesterday to surprise my sister for her 40th birthday tomorrow.  I’ll be heading home on Monday.  

I’m sorry that I haven’t posted in a while.  I haven’t had anything really profound to say other than I’m tired and can’t wait for radiation to be over and to feel like I can move on from this a bit.  When my brain can think a bit more clearly I’ll write more.

Juggling Life With Radiation

So far my only side effect from radiation is nausea.  Not as much as last week but its still there. 

This radiation schedule is kicking my butt though!  I can’t keep up!  I have to go in every day.  Then I go to physical therapy twice a week and last week I had to go get a dose of Herceptin.  Then I have to shuttle Meleah to preschool now and get Charis to and from school.  I knew it would catch up to me and last Friday it did. 

I had a great physical therapy session and for some reason I thought it was 3 pm when really it was 4 pm.  You can guess what happened.  I had missed the girls pick-up at 3:30 and 3:40!  Both my girls were waiting for me!  Not only that but I had invited Charis’ friend over for the evening!  I called Charis’ school and someone had taken her and her friend home.  And then I raced to pick Meleah up.  I was sobbing when I got there and thankfully the school is very understanding.  I was 45 minutes late!

I am happy to say Meleah is no worse for wear and still wanted to go back to preschool.  She adores her teacher!

I had such a great therapy session too….when I left I could lift my arms fully over my head without my ribs hurting.

Oh well….such is life and thank God it was Friday:)

1 Down, 5 To Go

1 week down, 5 more to go.  I like to count in weeks since it sounds better than saying 28 days.  I’m enjoying having a few days off from radiation.  I can’t say I’m all that fond of my new treatment.  The cancer center has had some computer issues and I’ve done a lot of waiting.  I’ve also had this unheard of symptom all week long of nausea.  Wierd.  Especially since all the radiation tech’s tell me they don’t radiate near my stomach.  That seems odd to me because if they say they can nick my lungs couldn’t they also be nicking my stomach with those lovely beams?  Anyway…..I finally asked to see the doc about it on Friday and she said yes….that might be a possibility.  My theory is that IBC patients have a much wider range to radiate and it’s somehow hitting my stomach.   Anyway….we agreed to try some anti-anxiety meds and see if it helped.  I will admit I am offly anxious about this whole “burn my skin treatment.  If only it was irrigating therapy rather than radiating therapy.  I would much rather be hosed down than burned with lasers…..sigh.

I am still nauseated today.  but heh….at least I’m relaxed.

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27 Jennifers

This has nothing to do with cancer but I get a kick out of this song.  If you are in your late 30’s you might also find it funny regardless of whether your name is Jennifer.  BTW….how many Jennifer’s did you go to school with?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nN_5kkYR6k

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Day 2 of Radiation

I am happy to report that today went better with radiation.  I had physical therapy this morning and my therapist worked extra hard to loosen me up so it wouldn’t hurt so bad when I had to hold my arms over my head.  She also told me to concentrate on relaxing the muscles as much as I could.  So I returned determined to do better and it went fine.  It actually went way quicker than yesterday and I was able to hold the position without as much pain.

They did my first dose and I can report feelings of a slight sunburn already…..but maybe because I’m dwelling on it too much. 

Just thought I’d touch base so you’all would no I’m feeling better today….thanks for the prayers.  I’m off to bed:)

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I Just Wanna Be OK

The only time I have ever cried during treatment was in the seconds before my mastectomies.  As they wheeled me into the operating room I shed a few last minute tears in fear and anticipation. 

Today was the second time.

I arrived at my radiation appointment at 2 pm today.  They had shown me where I needed to go and change and the waiting room where I wait.  When they showed me before, the room was empty.  This time it was full of women.  As I walked in you could hear the conversation pause.  All eyes were on the newbie.  And I was getting those sad looks as if to say….she is way to young for this.

Because I was the youthful one in the bunch and there were limited chairs I decided to sit on the floor.  One of the ladies was called in and came back quickly.  She was extremely happy because she only has three more treatments….which is great.  As the ladies peppered her with questions about her treatment she proceeded to show us the siren red rectangles on her chest from radiation.

I was horrified.  The newbie almost got up and walked out.  I had a few moments of “how can I sneak out of this room without detection” thoughts racing through my head.  Not only that but I would have two of those siren red rectangles on my chest.  I love to know what is ahead of me on this journey….but I don’t know why, but I wanted to cry right there on the spot.

When I got into the radiation room I had to lay on a hard board with my hands above my head for what seemed like forever while they took pictures to know exactly where they beams would hit.  Th painful problem was that I had my mastectomies only a month ago and my muscles do not stretch over my head that well.  Within minutes I had no blood circulation to my arms.  When I asked if I could take a break they told me they would have to start all over again.  After a while they did give me a break but as I started the next time it felt worse.  This time I could tell these extremely nice ladies were getting very frustrated with me.  They wanted to get this process over.  The computers had crashed in the cancer center earlier in the day and they were running behind. 

When they told me I had to hold that position and not move the flood burst.  I laid there with tears streaming down my face.  I could sense them hurrying around me but it still took forever.  AND they didn’t even finish.  I still have to go in tomorrow and finish the picture on the other side. 

As I drove home in tears I realized that the marks on my chest they drew on me come to the middle of my upper chest.  Which means the final shred of dignity is lost.  I was just warming up to my new figure and feeling OK with my new look and now I realize that any remotely v neck shirts will show my siren red sunburn.  Great.

So as I near my house this song comes on the radio.

http://su2c.standup2cancer.org/sutv/lift.php  (click on the picture of Ingred Michaelson)

And I am reminded that I made it through chemo.  I made it through the removal of both breast.  I made it through a cancer diagnosis.  I will always be broken.  But I am never alone.  I have a wonderful community of people around me.

Then I got home and I came in the door and three little munchkins yelled “mommy’s home” and raced to the door to greet me.

I just might go back to radiation tomorrow.

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Strong One

“But she said, “Don’t call me Naomi; call me Bitter. The Strong One has dealt me a bitter blow. I left here full of life, and God has brought me back with nothing but the clothes on my back. Why would you call me Naomi? God certainly doesn’t. The Strong One ruined me.”  (Ruth 1:20-21)

 

The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you are probably somewhere between denial and acceptance or you have past through this journey.  I went through them.  I’m still going through them.

 

Tomorrow I start radiation.  Six weeks, everyday.  I am left to wonder how I might fair through all of this.  I have heard that some people fair better than others.  The biggest complaints are a sunburn feeling, including some as bad as blisters and fatigue.  Considering that I am fair skinned and grew up having allergic reactions to the sun called a sun rash at the beginning of every summer….I am a little fearful.

 

I am also a little angry.  I am just healing from the mastectomies.  I have worked diligently over the past two weeks to stretch and massage my scar as much as possible in hopes that I might fair better through radiation, but I still wake up every morning tight and I have to stretch again.  Sometimes in the mornings I wonder if all my work to gain flexibility is in vain.  But the truth is that I feel better than I did a few weeks ago even if I am sore every morning.

 

Every step of this process has forced me through these stages.  Obviously the early days were worse than they are today as I start radiation, but I have gone through denial at each step.  Last week I emailed my oncologist just to double check that I REALLY needed to do radiation. 

 

So I can identify with Naomi here.  Maybe you can too.  Maybe you have breast cancer, or maybe you have lost someone you love or maybe you’re being forced to trek through new territories. 

 

I am tempted at times to think that the Strong One has dealt me a bitter blow, but the truth is…..I think he’s angry for me today too.  Let me explain….

 

I view God in so many different ways.  I love the way the Message Bible translates Naomi’s description of God here as “Strong One.”  Without a doubt I believe He was strong enough to take away my cancer.  But He was also strong enough to allow me to have it as well.  AND he is also my friend and I have a personal relationship with Him and I believe He mourns with me and is angry with me and rejoices with me just as my best friend would.

 

When I was in college ministries I had a student who was angry with God.  There was just a lot of junk in her life and it just wasn’t a good idea to defend God at that present moment.  I just reminded her that Jesus cried out on the cross “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”  I can’t know exactly what Jesus was thinking at that moment, but I think He felt forsaken and maybe even a bit angry hanging on that cross in humiliation and unimaginable agony.  He had a genuine relationship with the Father, He could be real.  You can be real with someone when you have built a relationship with them.

 

So be angry with God.  He is a big God.  I have shed a tear or two with Him over these past months and I probably will again tonight as I brave this unknown territory.  But He has been my rock so far.  He has gotten me through days I never thought would end.

 

He is the Strong One.  He is your Friend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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