Crickets Chirping….

Been awful quiet around here lately.  Oh, but I guess since I maintain this blog, that would be my fault.  Sorry ’bout that.

Christmas Season is in full swing here.  I think in the last week I singlehandedly kept the dairy farmers in business with all the butter I’ve purchased for baking.  I’ve also managed to kill off my sweet tooth so feel free to FedEx me a salt lick for Christmas. 

Sooo, let’s get the not so cool news outta the way.  Put my cat to sleep right after Thanksgiving.  That sucked.  I miss him.  Blane contends that he’s going to grow up to be Iron Man, rocket into Heaven, and steal Isaac away from God.  I guess he misses him too. 

New chemo isn’t much fun.  But I complained to my oncologist and he will be giving me even more souped up drugs to counter nausea.  Also, I think I had a weird reaction last time (my mouth felt like it was filled with marbles), so I’ll get doped with Benadryl tomorrow.  Bring a dolly ’round and wheel her home, folks.

Ok, now the good stuff.  I had this really cool experience this week – a lot of people would chalk it up to a coincidence, but I know better.  Last year the church identified some  families at a local school that were in need for the Christmas Season.  I volunteered to help Tina, a recently divorced mother of three who was unemployed and living with a friend until she could afford housing on her own.  I got gifts for her children and something for her, supplemented it with food collected from the church, and delivered it to her right before Christmas.  It was then I learned her ex was an aggressive man who was violent with her.  She left him, but there was a fear that he may be hostile towards the kids when they were with him.  I advised her to contact CPS and consult with them for an investigation.  And then I walked out of her life.  Over the last year, I’ve felt such guilt over that.  I should’ve done more.  I should’ve checked in on her, provided some support.  In the last month, I’ve been praying a lot about her, and also asking for guidance.  I asked God to help me find her again, and then help me do the right thing. 

I went to a client’s office the other day for a Christmas lunch.  SHE WAS THERE.  She knew she remembered me from somewhere and when I told her, it was like this flood between us.  What a wonderful connection!  I asked God to help me find her, and He put her there right in front of me!!  I’m happy to say that things are MUCH better in her life, on all fronts.  She told me God stayed with her the whole time and has provided for her.  We exchanged info and we’ll be going to dinner soon to catch up.  I’m still in a state of awe.  Coincidence, schmoincidence.

Also of note, I want to introduce a new member of our “family.”  Recently, I decided that with all the good in our life, it was the right time to share our resources and love with someone in need.  So Amner is now my family’s sponsored child, through Compassion International.  Amner is 7 years old and lives in Guatamala; I’m so looking forward to getting to know him and his family as he progresses through the program.  Compassion will be providing educational, spiritual and medical support to Amner as he attends a Student Center in his town.  It’s a wonderful way to help a child and family in need in such a poor area of the world.  I hope we can make a difference in his life.

So that’s the goods!  I’m off to wrap the last of the Christmas gifts and then enjoy the rest of this blessed season.  How the Grinch Stole Christmas, anyone??

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Happy Anniversary

I’m not sure what to call the upcoming week.  I guess the most appropriate term would be “Hell Week.”  One year ago this week a giant bulldozer came and knocked over my whole world.  I felt pain on the 13th, went to the doctor the very next day, and by that night I received the dreaded phone call.  Everything happened so fast – I believe that while it was a ton of information to absorb in such a short period of time, so many times it takes much longer for people to be diagnosed, and truth be told – I really didn’t have that kind of time.  If things hadn’t moved so quickly, I probably wouldn’t be here today – my cancer grows fast

While I’ve never ever asked the requisite question:  “How long do I have,” my doctor told me a while back that he had a patient only a few years older than me present with my cancer at approximately the same stage – he was dead in a month.  One year later, I’m still here.  I’m thankful for every day, every moment.  While I have no idea what my life would be like today if I didn’t have this disease, I do know that way back then, I didn’t appreciate life the way I do now. 

What really stinks is that on September 16th, I had my biopsy.  It was also my mom’s birthday.  Sorry mom – I hate thinking the two events will be forever tied.  Truth be told, I really don’t know how I feel about this upcoming anniversary.  Celebrating the fact that I’m still here and focusing on this milestone sometimes makes me remember just how scary cancer can be, and I hate the feeling of being scared by cancer.  I don’t want my mindset to be “this is the disease that will one day kill me.”  I want my mindset to be, “I have a disease that is managed, and I just go on living my life.”  There are so many lifelong diseases that can and do kill people:  diabetes, MS, parkinsons, etc.  Why does mine have to be any different?  My sister has lived with type 1 diabetes since she was a young teen.  She’ll never get rid of it.  She lives around it. 

There are so many promising developments on the horizon in cancer research.  Maybe one will benefit me at some point.  I plan to be around to find out.  So, let’s not focus on what this week means so much.  Yeah, I’m here – why wouldn’t I be?

Instead – HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!  That’s what we should be celebrating!!!

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.

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.

I’m a fighter, not a coward

I passed the halfway mark of my current chemo regime this week.  I had my 46 hour pump disconnected today and learned that my tumor markers went up again, by about 20 points.  It’s not an astronomical increase, but not the news I wanted.  I’ve been trying not to freak out over this development.  On the one hand, right after I began this particular chemo combo my markers went up and then steadily decreased, so this could be another fluke.  On the other hand, my markers began going up when my original chemo regime stopped working.  And then all the cancer we worked so hard to kill came back.

So, when I go back for my next treatment (8/9), we’ll test again.  If the markers rise instead of decline, we do a switcheroo and pick a new chemo to kill what we have left.  The great news is that if this chemo has now failed, we have caught it early and we can hit the cancer hard with something new. 

I took a long, warm bath and prayed.  I asked for a continued healing from God, but most of all, I asked for Him to give me peace, to take away my fear.  I hate fear.  It’s counterproductive and it makes me feel weak and helpless.  I’m not.  I’m bigger than this cancer, I have way more friends, and I have God and medicine at my back.  I’ve fought way too hard to give up to fear.  God, if you’re listening, thanks for the boost.  When I was baptised recently, I was given 2 lives, not just 1.  He gave me a new life here on earth, and I feel that difference.  I’m nicer to people, I notice more things about the world, and I appreciate what I have.  As I was laying there in the bathtub, alone with my tears and God, I noticed that the gray tile in my brand spanking new bathroom reminds me of the clouds I envision in Heaven.  The beautiful light green glass tile that accents the shower and bath reminds me of sea glass.  It’s just so peaceful. 

So, I got some peace and then I got my fight on.  I will fight this piece of crap cancer until I can’t physically fight anymore.  And I’m far, far from that.  You’ve got another week and a half until I know for sure if my chemo stopped working.  And then you’re gonna get hit, pal.  I don’t mess around….

Wow, what a perspective…

So I just read an article that Glen Beck (I guess he’s a conservative pundit; forgive me mother for not knowing) has an ocular condition that may blind him.  His thought on the subject:  “Lord, if you need my eyes, they’re yours. They’ve been yours the whole time, anyway.  Thank you for letting me see as far as I have.”

I’m pretty awed by that sentiment.  It’s not easy to think that way.  Usually, when I’m praying, I slip in something along the lines of, “maybe you can hold off a little without me,” or “can you hire a temp until you absolutely need me??”