I miss you….

Thursday will mark a sad day for me.  My grandmother passed away on September 2, 2008.  I was with her the weekend before her death, and I knew then it would be the last time I would see her, at least on this earthly plane. 

Maw Maw, I miss you so much.  I miss the smell of your house, your cross stitched projects hanging on the walls, the wood paneled hallway which held all the family pictures.  I miss your gumbo.  I miss your Aqua Net hairspray, and I miss coming over when I traveled back to Louisiana and cooking with you.  I canned homemade preserves earlier this summer, because I remember so fondly all the things you used to can.  Do you bake your heavenly buttermilk biscuits for God?  Has He tasted your famous pralines and divinity?  It hurt me so much to see you in pain, and then evacuating you from your home because the hurricane was coming.  I wish I were there to hold your hand as you passed and tell you how much I love you, and that I’ll see you again.  Sometimes it’s so hard to believe that I really can’t call you up and just talk to you.  I know you’re looking down at me now, wishing it didn’t hurt, that all I need is patience because you’ll be waiting for me one day with open arms, fresh corn off the cob, a praline, and a biscuit with your strawberry fig jam. 

I love you so much Maw Maw.  I hope I make you proud.

When life hands you lemons, eat a pop tart…

That’s pretty much the best I could come up with for this one.  Today was my rescheduled chemo day.  Doc said my platelets were even lower than last week.  Again, “prohibitively low.”  I say, live dangerously.  Ok, that might not be completely true.  The truth is that I’m obsessed with the idea of my chemo not working if I take more than a week off.  I’ve been burned that way before, and I had to start at square one again.  So, I convinced my doc to gimme the juice anyway.  I’ll get a shot of Neulasta (a white blood cell boost) on Wednesday and then if my platelets are still shot on Friday, I may have a platelet transfusion.  Worth it to get the goods, especially since my tumor numbers continue to go down.  That means that I have to be ultra careful not to injure myself in the next few weeks.  Tough for me sometimes because I’m super accident prone.  Gee, I can’t use a knife this week – the man will be cooking dinner I guess!  Sweet….

I’m eating a pop tart during chemo today because another patient I met weeks ago told me that there’s this theory going around about consuming sugar during chemo.  Cancer loves sugar.  Cancer cells absorb sugar faster than regular cells, so a lot of people with cancer cut sugar out of their diets in an effort to reduce cancer growth.  So the idea is that if cancer loves sugar so much, eat some during chemo days and when the cells go nuts absorbing the sugar, they end up absorbing more chemo, too.  I have no idea whatsoever if this works or not, but it sure is a nice excuse to eat a pop tart, something I just don’t keep in the house.  Fiber One makes a yummy brown sugar/cinnamon, and since it has tons of fiber, I don’t feel quite as guilty eating it. 

Ok, done talking about crappy cancer.  Cleaned out the garage from moving weekend, and donated a ton of stuff that had been in storage for the last year.  If it wasn’t used in a year, we probably don’t need it, so to the thrift store with you!  Here’s a great tax tip:  if you donate, you’ll get a blank receipt because the thrift store or Goodwill can’t assign a value to what you donated.  Instead of itemizing everything, take a few pictures of the whole lot and save it.  Then, when you file your taxes, you can list the used value of the lot that you donated and you’ll have those pictures as backup in the off-chance you ever get audited.  It’ll save a ton of time in the long run and you have photographic evidence of your donation to back up your deduction.

Playing “Where’s Waldo” with music and getting off the rollercoaster

I loved in High School reading all kinds of literature and trying to decipher its meanings, both obvious and hidden.  Shakespeare was so fun for me.  Who knows if some of my guesses are what the author intended the reader to absorb from the work; it was kind of like playing Where’s Waldo with each novel or play.  I still do that sometimes with music.  Today’s a good example – I was of course listening to the 80’s station on the radio and Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” came on.  Seriously, I doubt she was thinking of God when she wrote this song, but for me, I can see a parallel there:

“If you’re lost you can look and you will find me, time after time

If you fall I will catch you I’ll be waiting, time after time.”

So, I’ve been so busy this week that I haven’t had a chance to post the results of my CT scan on Friday.  I saw my oncologist on Monday morning, and the first thing he said to me was, “Let’s just cut to the chase; your scans look great.”  The bottom line is that while the CT doesn’t show quantity of disease, it does show size and apparently it appears that if the cancer in my liver isn’t already dead, it’s certainly dying.  My diseased lymph nodes look “significantly” better.  The embolizing agent that was injected back in May is surprisingly still in place, which is another thing along with my chemo that kills the liver cancer.  All good news, if you ask me.

Slightly disappointing was that I got ejected from chemo on Monday because my platelet count is too low.  Not surprising, and the only thing I can do to counter it is to take this week off from chemo to allow my body to make some more, just so they can get demolished again during next week’s chemo.  No worries.  So, about that rollercoaster:  I spent the last week telling myself that no matter what the scan revealed, this was just another day in the cancer fight.  Since this will likely be a lifelong battle for me, I have to keep in mind that whether it was good news or bad news, I need to avoid the emotional peaks and valleys.  Having those huge swings aren’t good for me or my immune system.  That being said, I took Monday’s news in stride and then was surprised at the end of the day how blase I felt about the whole thing.  So, I’m off the rollercoaster for now – I’ve decided that I’ll just go play on the nice even go-kart track, and enjoy the fun turns instead!!

Whew, what a week!

Busy goings on here at Casa Rogers.  We’re still getting the new digs situated, organized and decorated.  I’m trying to be selective in our accessorizing since the look is really clean and modern.  I’ll probably try some DIY ideas that I’ve ripped off shows on the HGTV channel.  I’m not a really creative or artsy person, so this is a bit challenging.  I’m also like Lee, who says he couldn’t draw a stick figure with a ruler and a compass.  We’ll see how it goes.

Traded in the 4Runner on Friday for a new Toyota Venza.  So far, I love it.  She’s a speedy thing, and just high enough off the ground to make me not feel like I’m in a car.  Plus, I’m frankly addicted to the XM that came with the car…it has an AWESOME 80’s station that I listen to all the time, along with some pretty good Christian stations.  This morning I was totally rockin out with Toto on the way to work.

Speaking of work, I’m back!  My 2 month sabbatical ended and I started back to work on Monday.  I so love and missed my clients, so I couldn’t be happier.  I’ve been busy since I rolled in Monday morning, and that’s how I love it.  Some people I talked to couldn’t understand why I missed being at work so much, but my career is a part of who I am, and what defines my personality.  When I die, cremate me with my printing calculator and an amortization/depreciation schedule.

Big B starts official pre-k on Monday, and the little booger has to wear a uniform!  Part of me feels rebellious of this, like the system is assimilating all the little kids, turning them into identical robots.  The other part of me is happy that he won’t be able to ask to wear a batman or lizard costume to school.  I guess I shouldn’t be complaining – Primrose has been such a great school for Blane to attend; as a mom, I gotta brag:  my kid can write his name at the age of 4.

Most importantly, I’ve got a CT scheduled for tomorrow morning, and I’ll get the results at chemo on Monday.  Haven’t had one of those since April, and it’ll tell us how well the chemoembolization from May and my current chemo regime worked.  What we’re hoping for is that the cancer in my liver is completely demolished and my infected lymph nodes are being ridded of the yucky stuff.  That would be some pretty great news.  Part of me is scared to be hopeful and optimistic, because the letdown (and I’ve been there, sister) is devastating.  This is one of the hardest parts of my fight – I’m a control freak, and I have to accept that I am not in control on this one.  I have to give up the illusion and belief that I have control over any of this.  I can’t make my chemo work if my cancer becomes resistant to it.  I’ve always felt that hard work will get you what you want, and it doesn’t necessarily happen that way with cancer.  I’ve tried lots of experimental things to try and increase the efficacy of my chemo:  ingesting turmeric daily for its anti-inflammatory properties, drinking this wretched papaya leaf tea in large quantities, drinking Kombucha daily (that’s one thing I’d love to keep doing, it’s just so darn good), cutting out all white flour and sugar from my diet.  None of those things worked, and I was really bummed when I realized that there wasn’t a whole lot I could do on my end to affect change. 

Such is the struggle with faith as well.  It’s all about giving up control, trusting that someone is going to take care of you, ultimately.  Babies do it…why can’t we?  Our kids, at least till 2 or so, trust us to take care of them.  They know they’re not in control.  After that, all bets are off, and the only thing you’ll hear outta them is, “I can do it myself!!!!”  So, surprise, surprise, I’ll be praying tonight for positive results…..right after I drink my barium.

One more scan and I’m going to start glowing in the dark.

For Rebecca….

I’ve been thinking of you lately and first off, I’d give you a big ‘ol hug if you were in front of me.  The stress and anxiety we sometimes feel can be simply indescribable.  That’s why I’m so in awe of you, and beyond happy that we discovered one another.  I’m less than 1 year into this mess, and there are so many times I think to myself, “Ok, I’m done with this ride.  Can someone turn off this rollercoaster and let me get out??”  And here you are, kicking cancer to the curb for the last 4.5 years.  Your strength, your courage, your tenacity are something that most of us just don’t have.  You and I know why you’ve fought so hard, and let me tell you, it’s working.  Kylynn is so lucky to have a mother that refuses to give up, no matter how hard it is, no matter how much it hurts, no matter how scared you are sometimes.

YOU ARE MY INSPIRATION.  When I worry, I think of you, and the amazing job you’ve done.  You have no idea how much hope you’ve inspired in me.  If it weren’t for you, I certainly wouldn’t be as optimistic.  Keep fighting, sister.  We’re in this together.

Miscellaneous stuff…

I get my pump disconnected (which means I reward myself by going swimming tonight and I get a nice bath later) today!  Sounds irrational, but I’m rewarding the medical back office of my oncologist for my good news yesterday by baking a big batch of oatmeal raisin cookies (shhh, don’t tell ’em I baked them with whole wheat flour).  I know they aren’t the ones that make my chemo work, but they love me, so they call me when there’s good news to hear.  Seriously, those people are angels, from the nurses to the docs, to the infusion staff.  I had the worst pain of my life (yep, worse than natural childbirth – I’d go thru labor again to avoid that kind of pain) from a procedure in May.  I went to the oncologist and they could just look at me and know how much it hurt.  Two shots of morphine later and I was a new woman, with a yummy chocolate milkshake.  I love them. 

After pump disconnect, I get to go test drive a new Highlander and a Murano.  Time to trade in the 4Runner – and I’m thinking something with a bit more comfort, something less rugged. Personally, I’ve even checked out the new Nissan Leaf (electric car), and I’m so tempted, but I think it’s just a wee bit small for us.  Then, off to the store for some Kombucha.  Really, the stuff is great.  It’s an acquired taste, but it’s chock full of antioxidants, probiotics, and is supposed to be great for liver detox. 

Anyone have a kid that goes to bed with a toy?  Big B takes a toy to bed at night, and there never seems to be a rhyme or reason to why he picked that specific toy.  Last night was Woody from Toy Story 3 and a nickel.  So, come 1:30 this morning, I can hear Blane crying in his room.  Sure enough, he woke up and the “penny” (no son, that’s actually a nickel) was not in his hand and nowhere to be found.  So mom and dad had to search his bed and find said nickel so he’d go back to sleep.  Which then lead to 2 hours of insomnia for me after the nickel recovery mission.  Thanks, kiddo.  4 year olds, they defy logic sometimes….

Last but not least, I must say, tea tree essential oil is a miracle product.  Great to put on wounds, makes an excellent natural mouthwash, and last but not least, cures thrush.  Yep, yet another side effect of my current chemo.  I’d rather use something natural than have to take drugs constantly for the next several months.  Plus, it’s cheap.  I can get a bottle of that stuff for less than $10, and it’ll last me till the end of time, just about.

Praise God….

Just got the call from my oncologist.  My blood draw from yesterday’s chemo came back.  My tumor markers went down by half.  It’s astronomical, amazing, and it’s got me crying.  Even though my birthday was Sunday, I still got a great belated birthday gift – God and my oncologist chipped in on this one.

My chemo right now is FOLFOX.  It’s a combination of Oxaliplatin (a platinum based chemo), lucavorin (high dose of folic acid to increase the absorption), and 5-FU (which I still believe is the worlds most awesome name for chemo).  My nutso neuropathy is SO WORTH IT for this.  Added good news, on my off week (I get chemo every other week), I’m allowed a beer, a glass of wine, a margarita, whatever. 

God, you rule.  Cancer, suck it.

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