Tuesday, December 03, 2013
I've been away far too long.
I'm ready to start again if you all will let me. I miss the whole SPARK community.
Sunday, June 09, 2013
I just wanted to share some photos of my garden ... What's in bloom ...
My life is certainly no bed of roses... I start 4 sessions of chemo on 6/21. I was supposed to start last Friday but I got to thinking ... I have a garden that needs my attention, tickets to Sting on Saturday, Indigo Girls/Joan Baez on Sunday, a garden party next Friday evening ... A d I have my work to do at work. Putting it off a bit isn't going to change my outcome but it will let me live my life on my terms ... At least for now!
Back to my life being no bed of roses ... So what. It's peonies that are the attention seekers this week! And the lilacs, and the weigelas ... Everything is at it should be! I believe God has my back! My I know how the story ends, it's those pesky little chapters that I keep trying to read before I get there that cause me any and all fear and worry that I have. It would be crazy to jump all over a book and read chapters out if order ... Why do I try to do that with life?
Life is good exactly where I'm at right. I have a great garden ... People in the neighborhood wander thru it like they own it ... That's exactly what I was hoping for when I planned it!. The funny thing is that if I hadn't had cancer, I'd have a nice garden but not this garden. This garden took time and thought.
Cancer made me SLOW down. Cancer brought the gift of making time special. Cancer brought me closer to God. God, as I experience God, not how I'm told to experience God. I feel grateful and happy .... And liberated!
Cancer did not give me patience. Maybe pulling weeds will? Somehow, I think that's a big character flaw that's just part of who I am ;)
I'm doing good ... I can still work, garden, travel ... I'm just a lot slower at all of it ....
Oh yeah, and I get to keep my hair this time ... And I should be able to keep riding the trails on my bike!
This last picture is not my garden. I took it a week or so ago at the Chicago Botanical Garden. We missed 'peak', which got me to thinking, 'what is peak, anyway?'
Life is good!
Sunday, November 04, 2012
My husband has always been a eat and drink anything you want kind of guy.
Never had a weight problem. Never had a health issue.
A few years ago his doctor put him on Lipitor - not because his cholesterol was high, or even borderline, but just because he believed all men by husband's age should be on it.
So for the last few years, when Charlie has wanted to eat total crap, he'll say it's a two Lipitor kind of day
Sometimes I wonder about the medical profession. Sure, it takes less time to hand out a drug instead of talking about lifestyle changes ...
Anyway, I kind of got hooked on juicing a while back, then forgot about it (it was kind of a hassle to make) then hopped back on the bandwagon.
My go-to juice is kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, celery, cucumbers, beets, carrots, green apples, parsley, green peppers, and ginger.
It takes about an hour to make - about 7 16 oz glasses . I use canning jars and fill them to the top. I buy enough stuff to do it twice a week.
If it's there, I will drink it. I actually like the taste. I spend about $40 a week on the mostly organic vegetables but I look at it this way ... At about $2.50 a drink (think bag of chips and Coke, which I never complained about spending money on), I'm getting this incredible boost of nutrients.
I 'feel' different when I drink it up.
I drink my green juice first thing in the morning. I believe it sets me on the right track to start the day. I'm more likely to stick to salads, smoothies, and or mostly vegetables for lunch when I start my day off with green juice.
I've been consistent now for over 2 weeks
I've been making an effort to eat less meat over the last year ... Actually, it didn't take much effort ... Saw so many news stories about pink slime, etc and it just kind of makes me sick to think about it - except ribs, I still LOVE ribs ...
So anyway, Charlie was never gung ho on my juicing. It takes time and planning. He sort of kept sabotaging my efforts. And I gave in way too easy last time.
This time, I'm doing it for me. I see the difference in the way I feel. My body feels different, less inflammation. I told Charlie, don't worry, I'll drink them all - he doesn't have to hold his nose and get it down. And I mean it.
I'm done with overseeing his eating habits. If he wants to eat salami for lunch everyday, he's a big boy ... I'll just make sure that life insurance is paid up!
Last week we get a call ... One of his best friends growing up died ... Heart attack. He was 4 years younger than Charlie. Though they were not really close anymore, I could see that the death impacted him. We don't get to live forever. We can make some choices that will improve our odds ;)
He asked me last night if we were going to make juice. We did.
He got the juice out this morning ... And drank it ... On his own.
He said 'not bad'!
One green juice at a time ... Maybe he'll ask me if I want to go to the gym today instead of me asking him.
Anything is possible ... He may even become as addicted to green juice as he is to salami.
It could happen!
Saturday, November 03, 2012
Life is good!
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
I remember the first time I visited my oncologist ... Dr Baby Blue Eyes ...
When the appointment was made, I didn't know what an oncologist was. I knew something was seriously wrong. The ER doctor wouldn't tell us anything, but that's another story.
No one in my family had ever had cancer so the thought never occurred to me. I was 48 ...
Dr Baby Blue Eyes told me on my first visit that he suspected cancer. It took another month ... a long, painful month before the diagnosis was official. I was poked, prodded, scanned, re-scanned, had multiple biopsies ... I 'forgot' to eat for a couple of weeks ... Pain can do that to you - hard to believe if you know how much I love food!
When I read my medical records about a year ago, I was surprised to find my doctor was worried that I was going to become permanently paralyzed if they didn't finalize the diagnosis soon so that treatment could begin - a spine can only take so much pressure and I had one tumor in particular sitting directly on my spine ... Lots of others but too but the one on my spine was special ...
So let me get to the point ....
The diagnosis was an aggressive form of lymphoma. My doctor tells that it's a good thing that it's an aggressive form because while that kind kills very fast, it's also treatable - and curable. If I was going to get cancer, I picked the right one. Whew ... Who knew? He said I was so lucky NOT to get the other kind ... Slow to grow, slow to kill, but incurable.
I was one lucky lady! I picked the right kind of cancer.
I never asked what my odds were ... I didn't really want to know. I mean, what are you really going to do if your chances are not favorable?
The way I dealt with it was to face the fact that I didn't have a clue how it would turn out. I told God that I would like to live but prayed that God would give me the strength to get through it as He willed ...
Obviously, I'm still here so you know how it turned out ....
After treatment, I was told another 'good' thing about that pesky aggressive type of cancer that i had was that if it comes back it would do it within 2-3 years tops .... If I made it that far, I was home free! I was going to be scanned for the next few years. I never asked how many ... The things you forget to ask ...
6 months later - scan is good
12 months - good
18 months - good
24 months - good
I didn't work for the first couple of years because I thought that if it does come back I will have spent my time living and will be ready to die ... I wanted to seize every moment!
30 months - so good that they won't scan me for another year.
I am home free! I am so good at scans. I am the scan queen!
I don't even get nervous anymore before a scan .... And if you have had cancer you know that just doesn't happen. I'm feeling like it's all in the past. I'm scarred, more internally than externally. Physically, I'll never be the same but I'm alive.
I'm feeling tired ... But I don't make a big issue out of it because I'm grateful to be alive and don't want to be a bother to my doctors. For some reason I'm thinking that if I push the issue and insist that my fatigue be taken seriously I will be perceived as one ungrateful survivor - shouldn't I just be content to be alive?
It's not that I don't say anything, I do - I just don't push. There's more to it ... I don't want to accept that I'm not getting better after a certain point. I'm not ready to settle ... And the truth is I don't want to face the fact that I may not get better ... or worse ... It's back.
Somewhere between 30 and 36 month's my regular doctor feels a lump on my thyroid. I'm not concerned. They do bloodwork and tell me I have hypothyroidism. Thank you! There is a reason I'm so tired! They are going to monitor and adjust medication, and while it sucks to be on medication for life, I'm going to be fine.
They have me do some kind of scan - I don't even remember what. The tech can't find a lump on my thyroid but say they can see a couple of enlarged lymph nodes in my neck. Not to worry ... I have enlarged lymph nodes all over my body - kind of like scar tissue. I know this and I'm not worried. No one is worried. My internist is fine, my oncologist is fine ... Everyone is fine - even the radiologist.
The only way to tell if something is going on is to do another biopsy. Even though everyone tells me not to worry I do it - because I have already maxed out on co-pays for the year - so why not? It will ease any fears ... And I'm a cheapskate - if it doesn't cost me anything why not?
So I do it.
And I wait ... Patiently.
And the test comes back - inconclusive.
My lymphoma might be back - but no one knows for sure. If it is back, my next line of treatment is a stem cell transplant.
I can sit and do nothing ... Or have a lymph node surgically removed.
I'm scared ... Do I want to know now or wait? No one knows how to guide me. The decision is mine alone.
What to do - if I do the surgery it will be in the next year ... And I'll have to pay a huge chunk .... Grrrr ... Remember, I'm cheap!
I decide to get all my medical records and forward to Northwestern (that's when I read about my oncologists concern about my spine). I decide after a consultation to have surgery ... Even though it will cost me ... It will set my mind at ease.
I'm home free - this is just added insurance! Once this is over, I will never have another issue like this again ... Ever!
I do it!
I wait some more ... This time I even go on vacation .... I'm so sure that I'm fine.
So in February, I hear those infamous words for a second time ...
You have cancer ...
The diagnosis was an indolent (slow growing) form of lymphoma. My doctor tells that it's a good thing because it's an slow form of cancer. Not curable, but it may not kill me for a long time, if ever. The other kind, the aggressive one, kills fast. If I was going to get cancer, I picked the right one. He said I was so lucky NOT to get the other kind ... Really?
Did I hear that right?
So that's where I'm at ... Lucky?
How the heck could I possibly have gotten both kinds ... Why am I so special? Did I inhale when I should have held my breath?
Fyi ... I haven't had to have treatment for the second diagnosis. My plan is watch and wait. It's not as unusual as you might think. A body can only take so much treatment so the theory is this - treat only as needed because it is incurable and you don't want to run out of treatments before you run out of life ....
A few months ago I had a close call. I had to go to the ER for pain in my side. They assumed my cancer was actively growing - it wasn't (I spent 12 hours in the ER having every test redone before they came to that conclusion - my husband was even called in from work) .
So the reason I had to write this down is because I learned something valuable with each diagnosis. Each time I was told I had the good cancer ... The one that there was hope for.
Each time I believed I was lucky. And I was right.
I am lucky.
Even though sometimes I forget.
Sometimes I whine ... A lot!
Sometimes I am ungrateful.
Sometimes I stick my head in the sand ... Or something like that ...
Sometimes I only see the darkness.
I believe I am one of those people that needs time to reflect ...
And while life is always good, it's not always easy.
Darkness has lessons to teach too!
During treatment the first time .... It was the darkest time of my life but oddly I have the most remarkable joyful memories of my life during that time .... I felt loved and was loving. I felt content. Happy.
I think my lesson is this .... Let life be as it is.
Face the truth of the moment.
I just know something good is going to come out of this moment ... I don't have a clue what ... But I'm hopeful.
And because I'm impatient to say the least ... I've read the last page of my book ...
It ends well.
It's another chapter in a life lived with uncertainty but abundant trust in that there is a reason and a lesson to be learned.
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