Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Countdown to Chemo

I always start to feel a twinge of panic as it grows closer to the next round of chemo.  I feel like I need to get all the laundry done, the house cleaned, and grocery shopping done.  The only problem is, I am completely out of energy.  Sometimes I feel like my arms are painted on.  I want to move them, but I am just too tired.  My arms are just decorations hanging from my shoulders.

I almost feel like I have a "nesting" instinct (like you feel when you are about to have a baby).  I know that I will be spending the next 10 days or more in my pajamas, pumped full of medicine.  Speaking of medicine, after having 3 rounds of chemo, I am starting to know what days I will need more medicine and what days I am starting to feel a little better.  I have been taking Oxycodone to help with the achy pain.  Sometimes I take half of the pill and other times the whole pill.  The last round of chemo I was taking the whole pill for about 2 days.  I remember laying in bed feeling extremely "happy".  I remember saying to myself, "I am so happy!"  I just felt like I was on cloud 9 and I didn't have a care in the world.  It was ALL medicine.  I was high as a kite.  Don't get me wrong it was nice to feel happy during such a down time, but that is a little scary.  My mom is worried that I am going to get hooked on my medicine.  I tell her not to worry because I can't stand the way it makes me feel (except for the one day that I was feeling very happy--tee hee).

Thursday is my 4th round of chemo.  I will officially be on the downward slope to finishing.  Sometimes I get nervous even saying that---don't want to jinx myself.  A friend of mine thought she was done with chemo (she has had cancer reoccur several times), and her recent scan showed more signs of cancer.  She is right back at it.  I'm not even sure how many rounds of chemo she has done.  What a brave fighter!  After my 6th round, I will jump right into radiation.  6 long weeks of driving across town in the snow and on slick roads.  I'm already hating it and it hasn't even started.  After radiation I take a pill for 10 years.

My left armpit has been completely numb for the last 3 1/2 months since the surgery (when they removed 18 lymph nodes).  It just now feels like it is starting to "wake up" a little bit.  It is very tender to the touch.  I also haven't been able to completely straighten my left arm out all the way without feeling pain.  I don't know if it is scar tissue, or a tendon pulling.  Either way, I need to start working on it.  I had a friend (who is an occupational therapist) show me things to do to work on it.

We recently had a Halloween party at my mom's house.  I wasn't feeling very great, but went anyway.  All the adults and kids dressed up for the party.  I didn't have a lot of energy to put into a costume.  I decided to go dressed as my dad.  My dad was a handsome man, and I just didn't quite pull it off.  I found his mission badge and slapped on some church clothes.  It's painful to look at the pictures from the party, but I am determined to keep some kind of a sense of humor through this piece of crap cancer.

I was recently reading through a letter my dad sent his kids before he died.  In it he said,
 "As I have pondered the atonement, I have learned that the Savior suffered emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  I had never thought much about the emotional side till I went through the procedure and found that not only was my hair lost, my weight drastically changed, but my identity was not the same.  I had people pass me in stores that didn't recognize me.  This caused me to go through periods of emotional struggles and I pondered the Savior's life and those closest to Him rejecting Him and turning from Him." 
He then went on to talk more in depth about the atonement.  I am learning about and appreciating the atonement in a totally different way then I ever have before.

I too have not been recognized by many people.  People pass me by in the store all the time and don't even recognize me.  I recently saw a lady that I lived by for 20 years.  I went up to her and said hello and gave her a hug.  She didn't have a clue who I was...her face gave it all away.  I have kind of quit saying hello to people when I see them, unless they say hello first, and know who I am.  It's a little discouraging. 
Just SOME of the darling grandkids---(there are 62 total with 2 on the way!)
All my sisters except Lisa.  They are the greatest!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Keep Buggering On

Keep Buggering On   --Winston Churchill
I'm sorry.  I'm blogging about breast cancer again.  It's my new life.  I'm sorry if you are tired of reading about it, (that is, if anyone out there even reads this blog).  I don't blog about it to be a "Debbie Downer".  It is a great journaling outlet for me, and some day my kids may care about what I record in my journal.  It also helps me keep everything straight.  My new chemo brain doesn't always remember things.  I hope my brain will be back to normal after chemo.  Because I do did have a great memory.  Also, a lot of times I can't quite say what I am trying to say.  It's like I know what I want to say, I just can't get it to come out.  Dummer....er, I mean Bummer.
I had my 3rd round of chemo on October 10th.  It was like a nice round house kick to the face.  It put me out of commission for a good 10 days this time.  I spent the majority of those 10-bed-sore-days in bed.  Good grief!  There are usually lots of tears shed during those days.  This time it was no different. 
My mom took me to chemo this round.  It's nice to have her there when John can't be there.  John was out of town for a few days, starting the day before chemo.  Luckily, he was only gone a few days and my mom took good care of me.  The day of chemo, my mom took me to lunch.  We went to Sizzler (one of her favorite places).  We got up to the counter and the young kid took my mom's order.  He then looked at me and said, "What can I get for you SIR?"  Hello punch in the face.  My mom looked at him and said, "She is a ma'am not a sir."  I then whipped off my hat and said, "I don't have any hair."  Not sure why I did that.  I think it was my polite way of flipping him the bird.  I knew it would happen one of these days, just wasn't quite ready for it.  It has added to my "I feel so ugly lately" phase.  It is hard to feel pretty and feminine when you are bald, chubby, and being pumped full of crap.  I feel like my looks have changed a lot and it is not a fun feeling.  I don't like feeling self conscious.  I just have to say to myself, "Well, it is what it is, so get over it Nancy."  (Nancy is what Frank Barone would call Raymond on "Everybody Loves Raymond" when he was acting like a baby.) 

I was recently asked by a sweet friend---What has been the worst thing I have had to go through or deal with, with the cancer?  There is absolutely NO WAY to pick one.  It all just plain sucks.  I told her that I could start at the top of my head and go to the tips of my toes with something wrong.  Let me give a few examples-- No hair (just lovely), my mind doesn't always think clearly, sometimes my vision is blurry, ear infections, loss of nose hairs, currently losing eyebrows and eyelashes, mouth sores, thrush, sore throat, my boobs still look a little mangled with scars, loss of appetite, nausea, left armpit still completely numb, leg soreness like you would not believe, achy body, and neuropathy in fingers and feet.  To top it all off, I have regular sleepless nights, and absolutely NO energy. I go from chair to chair after doing small tasks.  Somebody call the waaaambulance!  But seriously, I could go on and on.  I DO have on my XL-big-girl-panties and I have them pulled up, and am dealing with all of this.  I just wish I had a guarantee that this would all be a memory one day.  I hope that there will not be any of these symptoms that decide to set up residency in it's double wide trailer.  I simply refuse to let that happen.
Last Friday, I received a text from friend offering me 2 tickets to a concert for that night.  I was excited to go, as I had not been out of the house for over a week and had been rather weepy that day.  Cabin fever and not feeling well were over taking me.  I called my sister Pauline and we went to the concert meeting some awesome friends, Sara and Jill, there.  Thank you for saving me Sara!  It was just what the doctor ordered!  We listened to Scott Shepard and Mindy Gledhill and they were accompanied with an orchestra.  It was so good and so fun.  It just so happened to be a breast cancer awareness night.  My friend Amy, who also has breast cancer, spoke briefly about breast cancer and importance of screenings.  During the concert, they called Amy and I up on the stage and gave us each a bouquet of roses.  Amy told me just before the concert that they were going to have us come up.  It was a sweet surprise and a fun night!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Live Bravely

It seems like it has been one thing after the next since my second round of chemotherapy.  I went into the doctor the week after chemo feeling very lousy.  I was all stuffed up and run down.  My mom drove me there, because I was feeling so crappy.  I had to laugh out loud at myself as I was walking in to the building.  I was a fashion disaster!  A little description of my ensemble... Brown hat, black jacket, blue sweats, and brown boots.  Oh MY!  I was too sick to care.  I was not dressed to impress!  I had a good laugh with the nurse, making fun of myself.

I was put on an antibiotic, and the day I finished the last pill I developed an ear infection and thrush.  I went back in and was put back on the antibiotic.  The thrush medicine is just terrible.  It takes me about 10 minutes to convince myself to take it, and when I do I gag so hard I almost pee my pants.  Pure entertainment......for others. 

I've also been having an allergic reaction for the last 4 mornings.  I cannot figure out what in the heck is causing it!  It's a killer!
Tomorrow is Round 3 of chemo!  It makes me nervous to start the next round of chemo because I'm not feeling that great.  I also know what I am in for!  OHHHH, chemotherapy is not for wimps!  It is a little torcher treatment.  Tomorrow I will be HALF WAY DONE with chemo! 

My brother sent me a picture on Sunday.  He is showing his support.  Before...
and After...  We are twins!  

Sunday was General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  The night before General Conference I was feeling beaten down and overwhelmed.  Sometimes this breast cancer tries to get the best of me.  That night, I prayed that something would be said during conference to boost me and help me get back my positive attitude.  President Monson's talk was JUST FOR ME.  I really needed to hear his positive message.  I couldn't stop the tears as I listened to him and it was as if he was speaking right to me.  What a blessing!  If you missed it, you need to hear it or read it.  Go HERE!  He read a poem in his talk that I just loved!
Yesterday morning my sister Monica came over and helped me clean my house and make dinner.  She also called all my sisters and had them pick a day to bring dinner over.  What a saint!  I don't know what I would do without my wonderful sisters!  They are such a blessing in my life!
Yesterday afternoon my cousin sent me this picture...
The Timpanogos girls soccer team played another game and dedicated the game to me and another person named Owen that is battling cancer.  The won the game 6-0.  It was so nice of them!!  More about the team HERE!

Last night I had John "Bic" my head.  It feels so much better.  Last night, I was able to put my head on my pillow with no little sharp prickly hairs.  That was getting so uncomfortable.  I am now officially Kojak.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Sometimes it's hard to be optimistic

For some reason I feel a little depressed or frustrated today.  I think it's probably a combination of lots of different things.  For starters, the weather is dark and dreary.  It's just chilly, chilly, chilly and grey outside.  So much for fall!  I think we are going to jump from summer to winter.  Bugger.

I went this morning to do labs.  My blood work looks a little better then it did last week, which is a good thing.  But, I am COMPLETELY out of energy, and still very achy.  I just feel like I want to sit.  I think the only thing I have accomplished at home today is load the dishwasher, wash my sheets, and make my bed.  It isn't much, but that is about all the energy I can muster today.  I recently told John that I don't know if I could manage to run for any reason right now.  I might be able to run, if my house was on fire.  I watch people jogging outside and I am just in awe.  I can't wait until I have that kind of energy again.

I went to the mall after labs because I had a return to make, and my doctor's office is right by the mall.  I recently ordered some jeans and shoes.  I've been too sick/tired to shop, so I ordered a couple of items online.  Of course neither one fit.  So, I had to haul my tired rear into Macy's to return them.  I looked around for a bit, and tried a couple of items on my tired old body.  It's hard to shop when you look in the mirror and see a tired person wearing a hat.  Take off the hat and you are shopping for a tired old man.  Oh sheesh, maybe I will have to wait a little while longer to get some jeans.  I really don't have much hair left on my head.  Just some stubble and lots of bald patches.

My sisters and mom are going to the temple tonight to do some sealings.  I think I better crawl out of my tired old clothes and get myself there.  I'm sure it will change my entire outlook on this day.  I always have a good feeling when I go to the temple.  Another thing to be excited about---General Conference is this weekend!  Can I just say how much I love Conference!  Look at me changing my bad attitude.  I think I'll go out for a jog.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

All the pretty little ponies

I am feeling so much better this week.  I love good days when I feel good enough to get out of the house.  I am also loving this fall weather!  My favorite time of year!

I keep thinking about something that happened last week, to my sister, and I just have to laugh.

My younger sister, Pauline, has 11 children.  YES 11!  She is a saint I tell ya!  I don't know how she does it!  NINE of them are girls.  That is a lot of hormones under one roof.  It is a good thing that they are all so well behaved!

Pauline called me last week to check on me.  It was on a day that I felt like crap.  I was in bed when she called.  We had only been chatting for a few minutes when she told me that a couple of her horses got out, and she needed to call me back.  About an hour later, she called me back and shared with me this story.

When she discovered the 2 horses were out, she threw on some clothes and running shoes, knowing that flip flops and a bathrobe were not going to cut it.  They are, after all, living on something like 15 acres.

The horses were still in the yard, and were being stopped from heading out of the main driveway area by some helpful neighbors.  Pauline ran outside and grabbed a large bucket of oats and began to chase after the horses.  The horses were running full speed around the yard.  Due to the recent moisture, the grass was being torn up by their hooves.  Pauline soon realized that the 2 horses were now being joined by 3 more horses.  All five were out, and now she was trying to catch 5 horses.

She knew that there was no way she was going to be able to stop these 5 crazy horses and convince them to join her back in the fenced area.  She called her husband Dan at work and enlisted his help.  A few minutes later, Dan was home.  He took the bucket of oats, and in no time had slowed the horses down.  Pauline said that Dan had said something to one of the horses, and shortly after they all followed him back to the fenced area.  Pauline just stood there shaking her head, and she joked with the neighbors about how Dan was a horse whisperer.  My guess is that he whispered, "You will be tonight's dinner if you do not get back in the pasture."

Later, when Dan had returned to work, Pauline texted him and said, "The horses mind me about as well as the kids do."

Somehow, lying in bed didn't sound so bad anymore. 

Life.  Never a dull moment.