Nov 032014
 

Cancer “I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar!  (Katy Perry)

And cancer did hear me roar!   When I checked in with my surgeon, I found out that the chemo-radiation treatments reduced my tumor to invisibility!  I was pretty excited!   Although they can’t see the tumor, they still have to remove that area so the cancer won’t come back.   What’s that mean?  I have surgery coming up on November 12.   The surgery I am having is a low interior resection and I will be hospitalized in Des Moines at Methodist Hospital for 7 days.  The surgery itself will take about 3 hours and I will need to be off work for 3-4 weeks.  I will have a loop ileostomy to allow everything to heal.  Then, depending on the results of the biopsy, I will start chemo 4 weeks after the surgery.  After chemo is complete, I will wait 4 weeks and then hopefully have the ileostomy removed and everything put back together.

I can’t say enough in gratitude for all my supporters for the prayers, the meals, books, a cuddly quilt and a “Be Brave” bracelet that I wear often, especially on the rougher days.  I know I have withdrawn from many of you and I miss you, but I am gathering strength and facing fatigue.  Thank you so very much for your understanding and support!  Let’s keep roaring on!

“1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
  91 Psalm 1-2 New International Version (NIV).

Beating cancer

Joy beats cancer!

Sep 262014
 
Oops

Ooops- lost it

Treatment was tough, but at least it was the last week of combined chemotherapy and radiation treatment.  I had so much I wanted to blog about-but I was just too run down to get to it.  Between chemotherapy fog and radiation fatigue, I ran out of antidepressants for a few days, creating a perfect storm of emotional crisis just waiting to happen.  The odd thing is there are probably 100 people or more that would have been happy to pick up that script for me, but I didn’t think to ask.  I am getting a little better about asking for help.  I have had a couple excellent meals supplied by the local United Methodist congregation and they will be helping out with some meals over the next week or two as I try to transition back to my normal work schedule.

Up until Thursday or so of last week, I thought I had this treatment thing down.  Yeah, of course, it stank and it wasn’t much fun.  But I was going to stay positive, no matter what, with only occasional backsliding.   Until Thursday.   That was the day that I blew up at my imaginary best  friend over some minor billing foo-foo.   I yelled, I screamed, I used some very nasty language.   I think I scared the dogs.   I apologized to my imaginary friend.  If he were a real friend, I would have begged forgiveness.  Fortunately, that wasn’t necessary since I can always imagine a more tolerant friend if needed.  The dogs forgave me, as they always do.

Then it was Monday, and I was driving home from my penultimate treatment.  I had praise music going in the car.  I had noticed that the “211 highway deaths so far this year” had been increased to 217.    I mused that, if all us Christians drove like Christians all the time, there would probably be fewer deaths.  I’m prone to musing on these drives.  Traffic slowed to a crawl for road construction ahead.   I shut off the AC and opened the front windows.  I reminded myself that I should drive like a Christian, especially since my Christian music was now floating out the windows and onto the highway air waves.  I passed a sign saying “Right lane closed 4 miles ahead.”  Most of us were already in the left lane, proceeding in a slow but orderly fashion down the highway.   A number of people started to pass on the right, one of my pet peeves.   The semi behind me pulled up close, so close I could only see his grill in my rear view mirror.  Another pet peeve.   On top of that, his brakes were squeaking because he needed new brake pads.  I took a couple deep breaths.   I tried to concentrate on my inspirational Christian music.  “Right lane closed 2 miles ahead.”  More people passing on the right.  We are now in stop and go traffic.   Mostly stop.   The semi seems to be getting closer and closer to riding up my tail pipe.  I start singing my Christian music, somewhat mumbling under my breath.  I feel the urge to brake check the semi, but I don’t.   Then he pulls up a bit too close and I snap.   I yell some very un-Christian things and gesticulate wildly.   No….not that gesture.  One of those “Do you not see the cars ahead of me and where do you think you are going to get by crowding my rear bumper?” gestures.  I imagine he missed the whole show, since he could probably only see the roof of my vehicle.   OK, this whole Christian driving idea-it was so not working at that moment.  I took the coward’s way out-rolled up the windows, turned the station to some pumping rock music that better fit my mood and sang at the top of my lungs.   I resisted the urge to flag down all the people passing on the right and tell them how stupid they were.  I did not explain that a big part of the reason traffic is stop and go instead of slow steady is because of them crowding their way into the left lane at the last possible moment.  I resist the urge to brake check the semi, mostly because his vehicle is so much bigger than mine.  I get home in one piece and declare it a victory! I take my antidepressants.

Things are looking better now as the effects of treatment are wearing off.  I will be meeting with my surgeon in early October and I expect that the surgery will take place by mid-November.  I will share more details as I have them.

Sep 162014
 

Cancer is a long, long, long race.   But the first lap is almost over, so it was bittersweet news when I got the call that the radiation machine was down today.   Yes; it is great not to have to trek to Des Moines for radiation and a blood check.  But I have only 5 treatments to go!  So, I feel like a kid with a snow day.   Awesome, I have an unanticipated day off.  Unfortunately, I still have to make that day up.   My last day of treatment is now expected to be Tuesday next week.   The doc says that it will take 3-5 days for my energy to come back up.  I am looking forward to that!  The hardest thing for me so far has been the fatigue.   There is so much I want to do, and it seems my body just wants to rest, sleep, couch potato-ize.  Do I dare play hooky from the blood check?   My blood work has been so good ….. I am so sick of being stuck with needles!

Next lap:  surgery, starting off with a visit to the surgeon on October 6.  I will keep you updated as soon as I know more.  I found out that I may not need an ostomy bag after all.   It will be a while before I know for sure, but it gives me something to hope for.

I lost most of this blog, but I am trying to rebuild it using Google cache and whatever other resources I can find.   I will date the redone blogs with their original dates.

Thank you to all my family and friends — you have been an awesome source of support and I appreciate each and every one of you.  <3

Jul 222014
 

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-woman-mountains-image15818207It would be easy to complain about having cancer right after I fought through depression. But helpful? Probably not. I don’t want to get back down in the depths of depression, so I am focusing as much as possible on the positive things, like the three things listed below. If you are facing a fight with cancer or another chronic and serious disease, I encourage you to do what you can to look on the bright side. Are we always going to be happy little Pollyanna’s as we battle our condition? No, that’s not realistic. But as long as I am alive, I will get the most enjoyment out of my life that I can.

1. I am rethinking my priorities. All of a sudden, being caught up at work does not seem like such a big deal and I could care less about pleasing people that don’t matter to me. I am spending more time with the people and things that open the door to joy: Family, friends, and my dogs. I am getting out in nature and basking in the serenity of the natural world. I am making time for joy and I find that joy is making time for me!

2. I am learning to let go. I don’t just pray the serenity pray, I live it. There are things life that I cannot change, including my cancer diagnosis. There are things in life I can change, my attitude, my diet and my activity level. This blessing goes hand in hand with rethinking priorities. I am realizing what a blessing physical activity is and how sad it would be to lose the ability to move.

3. I am finding peace and support in my faith and my community of friends and family. what a blessing people can be! This diagnosis has been a wake up call for my whole family and we are appreciating each other more and spending more time together. I am amazed to see what responsible, loving adults my children can be when the chips are down. I am so proud of them!

And, here is a freebie-I will add a number 4. In addition to the important blessing above, I have gained the comparatively trivial benefit of increasing my Scrabble vocabulary. Now, if I could just get the right letters to put some of these fancy words I am learning to good use!

Jul 162014
 
Woman lying on grass with bright blue sky and fluffy white clouds

Ahh…

Cancer comes with some blessings!

I go through my second colonoscopy in 8 days.   It goes better than the first, they are able to see more of the colon.  I find out the cancer has not gotten into my bladder or other nearby organs-more good news.  The doc removes a polyp.  There are two more polyps by the tumor, but they will stay where they are for now.

I listen to my healing meditations and practice deep breathing.  I read Joel Olsteen, especially I Declare: 31 Promises to Speak Over Your Life I work hard to be positive.

I am amazed at the support I receive from friends and family.  I am very blessed to have these people in my life and in many ways I have taken them for granted.  I treasure the moments that I am able to spend with loved ones and cut down on outside responsibilities.  Yes, I am tired a lot, but I was fatigued before they found the cancer.   Nothing has really changed, but now I understand that there is a physical reason for the fatigue and I forgive myself and rest as needed.

I think a lot about the blessings I have in my life, all the reasons I have to beat this damn cancer.   I am ready to put on my boxing gloves, but I don’t have a specific battle plan yet.   Waiting is frustrating.  I have another doctor’s appointment in 8 days and I am hoping we will get our plan finalized then.  I know that I will need radiation and chemo, followed by rest and surgery, followed by just chemo.   It sounds like I will be able to do that final chemo at home!  YAY!  I am so thankful for the new cancer drugs, which I understand have fewer side effects.   I’ve got my eye on a rainbow hair wig, just in case.  I was wanting to dye my hair in the colors of the rainbow when I went all the way grey, anyway.

So, this is a wake up call for me.  For the next few months, I will fight the battle I need to fight.   When I win, I am going to start doing the things that really matter to me and stop putting them off for another day.  I have a feeling that will involve less work, more family time, and more active fun outdoors!  I am so looking forward to the coming victory!

Jul 122014
 

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-woman-prisoner-image15186215Cancer sucks.

“We have to talk.”  Does anything good ever follow those words?  Not when they are uttered by a doctor after colonoscopy.  What followed for me was a diagnosis of colorectal cancer.   This wasn’t supposed to happen to me at 55. It  wasn’t supposed to happen to me, ever.  It was not in my plan.  I am still a little woozy from the sedatives when I hear this.   I am a little in denial. I am more concerned about going through another damn colonscopy than I am about the cancer.   Then I wake up.

I am told the prognosis is good.   I am told this is a very treatable cancer. I try to feel lucky, but it doesn’t work.  We meet with the doctor the next day.   I find out the cancer hasn’t spread to my liver or my abdominal lining-good news.  They will call with an appointment for the next colonoscopy, which will be done with ultrasound to stage the cancer.

I believe that attitude matters. I believe that we can speak healing or sickness into our lives. I decide to speak healing over this cancer. I decide to listen to healing meditations daily. I decide to start this diary. These things I can control.

This diary is part of my therapy, part of my healing, part of my kicking this cancer out of my body. So I am going to be selfish. If you chose to read this diary, you will be exposed to my snarky sense of humor. Maybe you’ll like it!  You may “hear” some language you don’t like.  You will be exposed to my struggles. You will be exposed to my efforts to be positive in the face of cancer, but remember that there are things that I refuse to say because I don’t want to speak them into being. I am as strong as I need to be, and not a bit stronger. I have fears and I have dark nights. I hope reading my words will help someone else; writing them will help me even if nobody else ever sees them.