Cynthia Hanevy

Lady in Waiting

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Jun 082015
 
Lady with coffee cup and water waiting for something to happen

Waiting

I am waiting.   I am not good at waiting.  I know that patience is a virtue, but it probably isn’t one of mine.  I used to pray for patience a lot, but I found out that it comes wrapped in packages that I am not too fond of!  God would send me trials to develop my patience, which wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.

Today I am waiting for the soreness around my port to heal.  It has healed quite a bit, but it is still pretty red and sore.   I am waiting for my surgery on Wednesday.  I am both excited and scared about the surgery.   They will be reconnecting my intestines, and I understand that it can take a while before everything starts working correctly again.  The surgeon said that in two years or less, I should reach a new normal.   I think God is still answering those prayers for patience, although I stopped them years and years ago!

Please pray that I will wait patiently, uhm no….scratch that!   Please pray that the time will pass quickly, the surgeon will be alert and capable, and my healing will go better than expected.   Thank you for all the support I have had from family, church and friends.   I know I have been a recluse lately, but I am waiting to regain my energy and health and get back out in the real world.  I am ready to leave Candy Crush, Scrabble, and Blitz, behind.   Well, maybe not Scrabble, that’s kind of fun!

Psalm 107:28-30 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.
Read more: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/10-awesome-bible-verses-about-the-power-of-prayer/#ixzz3cUbLnfO9

I am believing in still storms, quiet waters, and my desired haven!

Waiting,

CJH

A strange trip to gratitude

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Apr 272015
 

“Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me,
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it’s been.”
The Grateful Dead

 

It’s been a long, strange trip indeed, but I’ve arrived at a position of gratitude, at least for the time being.

I was feeling VERY sorry for myself last night.  I haven’t been feeling very good as the chemo effects build up in my system.  I admit I am sick of being sick and I am so ready to move on.   And then I realized some of the many blessings I have and found that I truly felt gratitude.   Here’s a quick list:

1) I have a good prognosis for five-year survival.  This is what I hold on to when I wonder if all the hassle, the neuropathy, the other side effects are worth it.  Of course it is worth it, I am going to make it.  I had an 85-90% statistical chance of surviving when I started treatment.  I have been fully compliant with everything the doctors recommended, and my treatment results have been all any one could expect.  I’m not a doctor, but I figure that has to give me even better odds.

2) I have so much support from family, friends, church family, coworkers, and even people I wouldn’t have recognized before I got sick.   I appreciate this support so much and I can feel it holding me up on some of my down days.  Did you know that single people are less likely to comply fully with therapy due to not having the support of a spouse?  So many have stepped in to fill this void in my life, and you have my gratitude.   God seems so far away some days, and these people remind me that He is still very close.  Thank you so very much.  I am so grateful for this gracious support network.

3)  I have moved into my new home.   I am no longer in my old, noisy neighborhood, and I don’t live in an apartment next to “that couple” that swore at and fought with each other almost daily.  I have HUGE gratitude for my peaceful neighbors and the pleasant, beautiful neighborhood.   The former owners did such a nice job on the house and yard.  I am the beneficiary of a well put-together house that just works for my life style and a yard that lifts my spirits due to their well-planned plantings.  Much gratitude goes to them!   I could not have planned the yard as well as they did and it is so beautiful and peaceful.

4)  I have replaced my beloved Miko with two black labs.   Miko was so beautiful and intelligent, but she seemed to have a screw loose and would attack with little or no warning.   That is just more dog than I can handle going through cancer.   I am comforted, though, that I did work with different trainers and the breeder before giving up on that dog.  I hated to let her go because she was so intelligent and our family loved her.   But, it’s good to know I won’t be that person on the news saying “I can’t believe my Fluffy hurt the poor mailman….”

5) 2 more injections to keep my WBC up, 1 more chemo treatment, 1 inpatient surgery and 1 outpatient surgery to go.  In other words, I AM ALMOST DONE WITH THIS!!! 🙂

So those are my thoughts on gratitude for the day.   If you’ve read this far, I am grateful for you, because you are part of my therapy!   I also hope that people in situations to me will find some comfort and inspiration to help them through their dark days.  I truly, really wish I could take them away.  I can’t do that, but perhaps I can offer a little bit of hope and light at the end of the tunnel.

Psalms 118:24 This is the day which the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Apr 222015
 

There truly is a light at the end of the tunnel.  One more chemo treatment to go!  My penultimate treatment started Monday and will end tomorrow!  Yay!  Then I have will have 7 days of shots and one more treatment.   I’ve been putting off writing this because it does not really seem like the end with the shots ongoing.   Also, as you are probably aware, the symptoms do drag on a bit.  I know deep inside I am feeling more optimistic though, because I have been sleeping less and getting out a bit more.  Except for Sunday.  I got up about 7:30 for about an hour and went to take a quick nap before church because I thought I felt well enough, finally, to go again.   I woke up a little after noon!  I am so looking forward to trading the neuropathy tingling in my fingers for the energy I used to have!  I am lucky that seem to be my main symptom, but it makes it hard to type and sometimes hard to drive.  I won’t need the shots after my last treatment-I promised my oncologist to stay away from sick people instead-so don’t cough on me 🙂

Mar 242015
 

Thrive at the Seashore

Thrive, isn’t that we all want to do? I am more than a survivor-I am a thriver.   I found this website and it looks like a great resource:  http://www.cancerfightersthrive.com/ Love that title!  They also publish a free quarterly magazine that you can receive via snail mail or email by signing up on their website.  Check it out!  They have inspiration and information in generous servings.  I am still checking all the section of the website, looking for helpful hints.  I have a feeling it will take a while to absorb everything.  By the way, that is not an affiliate link.  I am very impressed and I have signed up for a quarterly ezine.  Please pass it on to anyone who may find it helpful.So, yes, I am writing this at work, but I am working.  I am trying to call up a letter on Word and it is taking forever.  We are having some computer issues here this morning.  I hope soon the blasted servers will start to survive and thrive.  I want to get stuff done!To the left is a picture of the seashore.  I’ve included this because it reminds me that I always feel better when I get out in nature and take the tiem to appreciate the beauty of the world we live in.   It’s a great way to get away from the problems that nag at me at home, ditch the to do list and meditate on the joy of life.  It helps me thrive!So, you can get the good advice on the thrive website :-). Or you can take a look a my less wise actions.  Here is what I’ve tried to deal with the discomfort that sometimes keeps me up at night:  It wasn’t exactly a thrive solution, but it helped.

 

1)Mix 2-200 mg ibuprofen with

2 coconut rum and whatevers/if mixed strong you only need one.  Obviously not recommended if you have issues with alcohol abuse.

warm bath

hot packs

1 over the counter sleeping aid.   Check to make sure that it is one that can be mixed with alcohol.

2)  Get uncomfortable about using alcohol to sleep evernight.   Consult doctor for help.

This is not a medical recommendation.  It’s more like the last act of a patient who has been up every 1/2 hour all night long for a couple weeks.  If you need help sleeping due to cancer pain/discomfort, please see your doctor! That’s what I did yesterday and from last night on I am ditching the alcohol and taking Ambien.  It is working well for me.  Certain sources have also advised that marijuana oil from Colorado also works well.  I would stay away from illegal solutions if you can, but sometimes when you are rolling on the floor in pain, and your doctor has to see you before he can write a script for your pain killer, and he is 60 miles away and doesn’t know when he can fit you in. . . well, make the best decision you can.   I found out that our local pain specialist can follow me for my cancer pain.  Yes, it’s one more doctor, but it is something I am considering if things get bad again.

Keep fighting, surviving and thriving!

Joy is coming back

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Mar 122015
 
Fotolia_1932082_XS

Meditation, peace, joy

Here it comes….wait for it…JOY!   As my most recent chemo treatment recedes into distant memory, it becomes easier and easier to feel that peace and joy within.   My friends and family help, my dogs help, my faith helps.  I like to take time each day to give thanks.  Now, on my grouchy days that time goes pretty fast!   But as things get better, I realize that I really do have a lot to be grateful for, and the more I meditate on the things that are good about my life, the easier it is to let that little seed of joy take root and grow inside my heart.The weather the last few days has been a big help.  I wish I had the energy for long walks outside, horseback riding, and other outdoor activities.  But, for now, a picnic with my daughter, granddaughter, and two puppies feels pretty good.  I love the gentle breeze, the sun on my face, and the songs of the birds announcing that Spring is coming.Spring is, of course, the season of new life.  As that season approaches along with the final stages of my treatment plan, I look forward to the renewal of my spirit and the joy of life to come.  I wish you a Spring, and a life, full of peace and joy.

Claiming this promise for myself:

Therefore my heart is glad and my glory [my inner self] rejoices; my body too shall rest and confidently dwell in safety. Psalm 16:9

More about joy:

Cancer is tough

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Mar 092015
 
1/2 through rectal cancer treatment

At the 1/2 way point

I try to stay current with my updates, honest and positive.  Most of the time that is not too hard, especially with the support of friends and family.  But the last four weeks have been just plain nasty and I have been waiting to be in a more positive mood before posting.   I am grateful for an excellent prognosis and all the wonderful support I receive.  I am grateful for an understanding employer and an awesome to work with supervisor.   I am grateful to be halfway through the chemo.

I am grateful, but I struggle to be joyful.   Weird stuff is going on with my body, I get sick at the drop of the hat, and really a year is a much longer time than it sounded like at the beginning of this journey.   Don’t worry, I am sure my mood will pick up again.   But right now, I sometimes just want to melt down and run to the nearest padded room, letting out a long and powerful scream.   I’ll just have to make it a scream of victory instead of a scream of frustration!  I am so glad that I only have about 3-4 months to go.  It has been a long year and I think what is really wearing on me is there is just not a true day off now that I have started the chemo.  The joy of the Lord is my strength, so please if you pray for me please pray for that joy to be restored; I miss it.  🙂

Well, that is my pout for the month!   I am starting to plan and look forward to things that I want to do when my treatment is completed, and that is a good sign I think.  I want to take some horseback riding lessons, look into coaching for Dave Ramsey Financial University, and get back down to my ideal weight.  Should be an awesome year to come!

Jan 302015
 
Young women at work overwhelmed

Young woman at work

Ahhh, it is good to be back to work.  I am not able to maintain my regular schedule yet, but just to go to work, accomplish something, see my coworkers, and, last but not least, earn my paycheck, feels really good.   Of course, by this summer I may have a desk like the gal on the left, but right now it is looking good.  A great chance to develop some new habits that will help me stay on top of things at work.Work this Wednesday-Friday has been in the emergency facility in Newton for my co-workers and I.   We have been treated pretty well with blue jean days, snacks, cold drinks on tap and a pizza lunch yesterday.  Today some of us will be going to a local restaurant for lunch.   Does this sound like hard work yet 🙂

I go back for chemo number 3 on Monday and I am hoping that it doesn’t drag down my ability to work too much.  It really feels good to be back on the job.

Jan 202015
 
3 blue work binders piled on each other and locked together with lock

Work binders

Work.  Yup, I go back to work tomorrow.  I am very excited to see my coworkers again!  I work with a great bunch of people and I miss them.  I imagine they are looking forward to seeing me come back too so I can work my desk 🙂  I am feeling a little bit nervous.   I am having some side effects from the chemo including occasional vision disturbances and dizziness.   This mostly happens when I stand up from a sitting or lying position.  My plan is to try to work the whole day, but to be aware of how I am feeling and leave early if I have too.  I have quite a bit more energy than I have had for a long time, but I am still lacking in stamina.  I took a mile hike on hilly, snowy ground and that was enough to wear me out.  It is time to get moving and start building my strength up again.  It will be nice to have the social contact at work, even if they do actually expect me to some work *sigh* while I am there.   So mean…

Round 2 went a bit better than round 1.  They changed my “push” to a slower rate on that last medicine and I didn’t have the hot flashes and very sick feeling that I had last time.  I guess chemo is pretty much a find your way as you go process.   They start you out with the max doses, but there is a lot of room to reduce the medication and still get the same results.  So, by the time this is over, they should have the perfect mix figured out for me.   That doesn’t mean I’m going back for extra treatments, though :-}

Two down, six to go.  I got this thing!  “I am more than a conqueror.”  paraphrase of Romans 8:37

Ostomy oopses: For ostomates only.

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Jan 142015
 
Ostomy oops

Ostomy oops

Ostomy oopses-yuk!  Why for ostomates only?  If you don’t need this information, you may want to skip over this blog because it is on the TMI side and a bit gross.  When a ostomy has an oops, it isn’t pretty!  I wasn’t sure about posting it, but a quick Google search showed I am not the only one experiencing issues, so I decided to go ahead and share in hopes of helping someone or getting some tips myself.

I remember when the ileostomy surgery was explained to me.   I was told I was would have an ostomy bag.  I would just have to attach it, clip it properly, and all would be well.   You know, I could jump in the swimming pool, go rock climbing, ride my horse off into the sunset.  Since the surgery was a life-saving one for me, I accepted this pretty readily.  Maybe I missed it, but I don’t remember any discussion of the things that can go wrong.  It didn’t seem like any big deal.   It didn’t even sound like it would change my lifestyle, except for a few minutes here and there for care.

I read somewhere that if your ostomy bag is properly “attached” and clipped no odor or “output,” as my medical care providers so delicately refer to the bag contents would leak.   In reality, I am sure that becomes true for long-term ostomates as they learn the little tricks that help keep things in order.  But, in the meantime, that quick Google search shows there are a lot of us that struggle, at least at first.

In this post, I plan to share a bit about what I have tried, what I plan to try, and what I have found on the net.  The products I have used can all be found on Amazon and linked to from this page. I hope it helps somebody, and if you have tips of your own to share, I hope that you will share them below.

First, the obvious:  Pay attention.  Watch out for conditions that may cause problems and try to figure what caused any leak you experience so you can correct the situation.  I monitor my bag and dressing often.  I check to be sure the seal is firm and there are no signs of leakage.   I double-check my clip and I am careful not to disturb it when I change positions since I had it slide open on me once.  My supplies say to change the bag every 3 to 5 days.  I noticed I rarely have problems on days 1 and 2, they usually start on day 3.   So, I plan to change every other day.   Just simple things like that.

Talk to your physician, surgeon, wound nurse, somebody that knows about this stuff and works with it all the time.  I was having trouble with output that was so watery it was going right through the clip.  When I had surgery, the surgeon said to use Metamucil to thicken the output and Imodium to get less output.  The Metamucil was not working.  He said to try the Imodium and that helped a lot.  Such a simple solution!  I was very glad that I asked.

I also have trouble with “blow-outs” along the side of the flange.  I don’t recall this ever happening to me on day 1 or day 2.  Perhaps there is something different about my skin and the adhesive just doesn’t hold quite as long as expected?  I’m not sure, but will continue to change on day 2 from now on.  This usually happens when something crimps the bag and the output can’t flow down to the bottom.   It’s helpful to watch your sitting position and make sure that your clothes aren’t too tight over the stoma.  I think the latest may have been caused by my seat belt resting below the stoma, so I will watch that next time I drive.

I have ordered this ostomy pouch cover. I am hoping that it will make the pouch a little more comfortable to wear, help absorb any little bit of moisture left after bathing and drying, and muffle some of my intestinal noises. I’ll update this post and let you know how I like it.

I definitely felt that there was an odor to my ostomy bag, especially after the first day of use. I use deodorant drops and I really like this product. It takes care of any smell and is easy to use. One somewhat silly thing, it has a cap that has a nozzle to squirt the deodorant into the bag, but the recommended “dose” is one cap full. Kind of hard to measure while the cap is still on the bottle.

I was using the cheapest one piece ostomy bag that I could find. Since I have had some issues and I wanted to try a pre-cut version, I am trying a different one.  Once again, I ‘ll swing back and let you know how it works out.

UPDATE:   I am very happy with this product.  It has a wider “tail” for emptying.  It is much easier to clean after emptying due to the design of the pouch and tail.   The tail folds over twice and is fastened with Velcro.  You can then tuck it up into a pocket if you like.  I really don’t miss a clip banging against my leg and I felt really strange stuffing that thing down my pants leg!  Due to the design of the closure, it is not possible to have the leaking problem I had with the cheaper bag.   This system also does a better job containing the odor.  Not quite perfect, but much better.  The adhesive system seems stronger, it is reinforced with a plastic ring.  The stoma hole is a perfect fit at 1″- no more cutting!  I am happy, happy, happy, that I made the change!  It is worth the extra money for the increased comfort and confidence.

Here are some other websites that you may find helpful:

I like that this one is for nurses, always good to have a medical point of view.   Check this article if you are having severe issues:   http://allnurses.com/wound-ostomy-continence/leaking-ileostomy-any-145898.html

This one is full of great tips:  http://www.ostomyguide.com/managing-ostomy-accidents-leaks-sleeping-odors-blowouts/

A personal story of how one ostomate solved her leakage problem: http://ostomyoutdoors.com/2012/10/30/ring-around-the-stoma-my-best-defense-against-leaks/

Disclaimer 1:  I am not a medical professional.   You should always follow the advice of your medical professional regarding any medical condition.

Disclaimer 2:  This page contains affiliate product links.

Jan 062015
 
Tired woman drinking coffee

Chemotherapy makes me tired!

Chemotherapy round 1 is now complete-only 7  more to go!  I am so lucky, I think the most common treatment for people with this condition is 12 rounds.   I am hoping to miss the worst of the side effects given since they are cumulative and I have fewer rounds scheduled.

My chemotherapy takes place locally in the Grinnell Regional Medical Center.  I have been working with Alisha.  She is a blessing-very nice with a soothing personality, professional, organized, and unruffled no matter how busy she gets.

My chemotherapy sessions will be two weeks apart and I will finish in April.  I go in in the morning for labs, visit with my doctor and then return to the Chemotherapy Suite.  It is a really pleasant place.   There are cubbies for your outdoor items, reading material, and reclining heated chairs (ah!)  I have pre-meds to help with the nausea that can be a side-effect of chemotherapy, then the chemotherapy drugs.  After those drugs are infused, I get a “push” of another drug and I am sent home with a pump to infuse that last drug into my system for 46 hours.   It takes about 3 hours on Monday and I go back on Wednesday to have the pump removed.

That’s how it goes in theory, anyway.   The pump did not work so well this week.  My port (what’s that?) is deeper than most, possibly due to inflammation at the site.  The needle worked loose and they will need to order longer needles to effectively utilize my port.

Yesterday I was pretty tired from the chemo.  I am feeling a bit better today, but still not at 100%.  I hate to wish my life away, but I am really looking forward to finishing the chemotherapy treatments.