Monday, September 26, 2011


So I seem to have fared better on chemo round six than five!  Six down - two more to go!  Yes, I am counting down the next 4 weeks until life can begin to start on the path to much more normalcy for me.

 Because my blood counts were so high on Thursday, I was able to opt out of the Neulasta shot on Friday.  I also was prepared with medicine from the Dr. to help get on top of the pain before it started. So I haven't done much the past 3 days except sleep but it has definitely been a better situation than 2 weeks ago.  I think I even lost a couple of pounds from hibernating so much :).  This would be a welcome blessing in the midst of so much warfare on my physical appearance.  My cute nieces and nephews are a bit puzzled by my hair loss and it is hard to explain to a 3 year old that it fell out because I got sick :).  But they have fun touching my head and it makes my day to see them and hug them.  I'm looking forward to some fun times with all 14 of them when we head to the Happiest Place On Earth in a few weeks :).

Although I feel reasonably well, my body is a bit unpredictable and so it's hard for me to make too many big plans or push myself too much right now.  I got up Sunday, with the idea of making it to at least part of church - but when I started getting ready, the stomach issues hit.  So I got back in bed and got caught up on the news and politics instead :).  

This wise counsel from  Ecclesiastes 3 came to mind as I laid in bed most today:
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:  
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;" . . .

I'm looking forward to my time to dance again, to live and move the way I want to.  For now, it is time to heal and to learn in a way that only firsthand, personal experience can teach.

I haven't been too social lately.  I don't feel very attractive and it's hard to forge new friendships when my body is going through so much.  I'm thankful to you who are so willing to reach out to me and help me through this, to love and serve me, and in the words of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "forget me not".  I thank you and am forever indebted to you for your kindess!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Chemo Round VI

Tomorrow is my 6th out of 8 Chemo treatments – so this means I will be 75% done by tomorrow night – yeah!  One month from today is going to be my last treatment.  They do a little celebration song in the infusion room when you finish your last treatment, so I am looking forward to that on Friday, October 21st :).
So, I haven’t written lately but I’m still here, just unmotivated :).  I have been sleeping a lot (10-12 hours a night) and so it seems that half of my day is gone by the time I get going.  I have been working part time (20 hours a week) and this has been good but challenging.  I went back to work because at the beginning of Chemo I felt so much better than what I had heard it would be like.  Now, 3 months into it, I think it is catching up to me a little more.  But I still think it could be a lot worse than it is, so I am thankful for this.
For those who have asked, I will share some of the challenges – the fatigue and just general lack of energy and motivation are the biggest.  I also have some digestive issues and get random stomach aches and bloating for no apparent reason.  The extreme body aches have stopped but I have pain where my incisions are off and on throughout the day.  My skin seems to be hyper sensitive and itchy too.  Oh, and did I mention that I miss my hair and sadly my eyelashes that are on their way out?  I thought about using Latisse to help them grow back and then decided my body is sensitive enough right now, I don’t need any added issues :).  I do however, still have some eyebrows and chin hair – LOL.
As I deal with all these crazy side effects, sometimes it is very hard to feel His spirit as I go about my day – since the body, mind and spirit are so connected.  When I don’t feel great – which is pretty much every day right now, it is easy to wonder if I am still in tune spiritually and if I am really being watched over.  The past week has been filled with some small miracles that have helped me understand that God is truly aware of me and what I need.  I am grateful that even when I feel alone I am not.  I am so thankful to know He is there as well as so many of you who care.  The quote on my chemo countdown chain seems appropriate:
“Even if you cannot always see that silver lining on your clouds, God can, for He is the very source of the light you seek.  He does love you and He knows your fears.  He hears your prayers.  He is your Heavenly Father, and surely He matches with His own the tears His children shed.” - Jeffery R. Holland

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bouncing Back

I am feeling a little better today after a few days of pain.  I still have a few weird sensitivities and issues going on and am a lot more tired than usual but I actually made it to work today, which is always helpful when you have a JOB :).   I’m so glad chemo hasn’t been like this the whole time or it would totally be on my bad list – LOL, I guess it’s not really on the top 10 list of favorites anyway :). 
So, Sunday and Monday I virtually did nothing except lay in bed + eat and other necessary life functions.  Some amazing people have been blessing my life, making meals and driving me to Dr. appointments, cleaning and doing laundry.  I am so thankful to you all – hopefully you are reading this! 
I was talking to a friend about how I feel disconnected with so many things right now because I am less involved with church, community, and even family activities.  She was kind of laughing at me, thinking I was crazy to be so hard on myself – that I was only going through a process that was trying to kill part of me (the cancer cells) – LOL.  And so my body is trying to figure out how to keep the rest of me living.  I guess she has a point, but it still bugs me :).  I’m not real good at being unproductive and really miss the energy I used to have - being more social,  playing with my nieces and nephews, and even working a long day and feeling like I accomplished a ton. 
P.S.  I miss my hair too – I was looking at some pictures yesterday and so wish to have it back.  My whole body is under construction and I know I need to have the patience to see it through to the end.  We are on the home stretch!  Only 38 days and I am done with chemo!   
I am drifting off to sleep, so that's all I have to say for now - except that tonight you get 2 quotes for the price of one ;):
“In the pain, the agony and the heroic endeavors of life, we pass through a refiner’s fire and the insignificant and the unimportant in our lives can melt away like dross and make our faith bright, intact, and strong."  – James E. Faust
“There are times when you simply have to righteously hang on and outlast the Devil until his depressive spirit leaves you.” – Ezra Taft Benson

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Pain Now is Part of the Happiness . . .

This is a reverse quote from my favorite movie Shadowlands about the life of C.S. Lewis.  Through suffering and pain now we will recognize and appreciate the great happiness that is to come in the future.  Today has been one of the most painful days since I started chemotherapy. I am so tired but having a hard time sleeping.  Right now I wish I could go to bed and wake up to find this was all just a bad dream :).

My whole body aches like I have the flu and I keep feeling random sore spots everywhere. I contacted the Dr. on call and he hypothesized that my high blood count levels may have some part in how I feel.  Amazingly my red and white blood counts are holding up so well that they almost didn't give me the Neulasta shot on Friday that boosts them.  So here I am, wishing I hadn't received it and looking forward to a new day without pain. 

As I am laying here I thought of these 3 great clips from the show that encompass these truths:

Dear God, thank you for loving me!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Getting ready to pump me up :)

I am getting ready to take my huge dose of steroids in preparation for Chemo Round V tomorrow.  I am taking a very high dose compared to the steroids they have prescribed in the past, so it makes me a little nervous.  It is going to be a different drug this time called Taxol. A low percentage of patients have an allergic reaction - so in preparation they have you take steroids.

Assuming I make it through ok, Taxol may end up being a much better experience than Adromiocin/Cytoxin. I won’t have to take the steroids post chemo, so may feel less wired after, the nausea is less AND may hair may even start to grow back :).  So we are charting new territory tomorrow.  I read these words tonight and they seemed fitting:

“On that very night, the night of the greatest suffering that has ever taken place in the world or that ever will take place, the Savior said:  ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you . . . let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid’.  I submit to you, that may be one of the Savior’s commandments that is . . . almost universally disobeyed; and yet I wonder whether our resistance to this invitation could be any more grievous to the Lord’s merciful heart.  – Jeffrey R. Holland
I hope we can all take this beautiful reminder to heart as we face each challenge that lies ahead of us, no matter what they may be.  We are in this journey of life together friends –  and the bumps in the road are all part of a greater plan than we can comprehend.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Chemo Brain

Last weekend was hard and I wrote about it but this week has been challenging in a different way.    Chemo brain is a very real side effect of chemotherapy and it has chosen me as its latest victim. Basically it is a temporary mental cloudiness that causes forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, multi-tasking, etc.  I have done some stupid things in life and had plenty of forgetful moments, but now I am taking things to new heights ;).  There are times – usually the first 5-6 days after a treatment when I feel like I can’t even think.  It has been very hard to feel like I am incapable of doing simple things and sometimes I feel like I am going crazy - at least temporarily :).  My head hurts and I just don't feel like myself.  But I guess that's what happens when you put poison in your body?   
Luckily I have a mother who is very patient with me - she was helping me with my laundry this week and asked if some shirts went in the dryer . . . I just stared at them - as if the question was too difficult to answer.  Yes, I have shed a few tears at the frustration of not being able to process information and the feelings I have of being overwhelmed by life right now.  Monday and Tuesday I felt so unable to do basic things that I cleared my schedule and decided that on Wednesday I would only do 3 things: get up, work from home for a few hours, and go to my acupuncture appointment.  I was grateful that by the end of the day I was feeling a lot better.
So while I have hit some true bumps in the road, I have learned yet again that there are always  brighter days ahead.  The beginning of the week I felt completely hopeless and frustrated but today I feel optimistic and much more capable of facing the challenges.  I am once again grateful for so many of you who are helping me through this and are patient with my roller coaster of emotions.

I know that there are many reading this who are struggling with various challenges and have people they know who are going through great trials.  Here is some unsolicited advice from my own experience: if you who are watching someone you love go through something hard - just love them and make sure they know it's ok to be frustrated and upset sometimes. They need to feel validated and loved before the can move past the negative.  Help them by loving them and not trying to force the positive too much if they're not ready for it yet.  It’s not an easy role you play but your love and support mean more than what they have the capacity to verbalize.  I hope and pray they will move through the grief cycle quickly – it’s no fun to stay there but I know that pain is all part of the plan for us to evolve into who we capable of becoming.  On that note, I’ll share a well- known verse:
Pain stayed so long
I said to him today,
"I will not have you with me anymore
And paused there startled at the look he wore.
"I who have been your friend,"
he said to me, "I who have been your teacher
--all that you know of understanding love,
of sympathy and patience,
I have taught you.
Shall I go?"
He spoke the truth,
this strange unwelcome guest;
I watched him leave and knew that he was wise.
He left a heart grown tender in my breast.
He left a far, clear vision in my eyes.
I dried my tears, and lifted up a song
Even for one who'd tortured me so long.

-Author Unknown