Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ending the Story


This will be the last entry on this blog. I never thought it would end, but it has! Krista's cancer blog is finished. I have started a new blog, called Krista's Recovery, that I hope to write over the course of the summer as I recover from the last year. The address is:


My plan for the new blog is to post pictures (as long as I can remember my brother's technical training on using the camera with the computer!) and write about the first three months after completing cancer treatment. I hope to start it off with pictures of my upcoming trip to Vancouver, BC with the girls. I'm excited to be getting my old self back! I'm at about 60% normal energy level. So, we'll still be taking it easy, but also having some fun.

My medical stuff is like my in box at work- never quite empty. I had a visit with Dr. T on Monday and the mole is not cancerous (yeah!) I had blood drawn to check my vitamin D level, and I had a chest xray and a bone density scan scheduled. The chest xray will happen every 6 months (not sure if it's for the rest of my life or what) and the bone density yearly (I think) to see if the arimidex is wiping out my bones. I see Dr. T again in September, and then every 3 months for the next few years. The good part of all this is that I'll be watched very closely and hopefully have early detection of any problems. The bad part is that I'll be watched very closely and it will be a constant reminder that the cancer could be lurking in some corner of my body. I'm tied in to the cancer medical system for life.

I'm hoping over the course of the next few months (or perhaps for the rest of my life) to start identifying some of the things I've learned from the cancer experience. The big lesson I believe I got was that I don't need to do anything too different with my life to be happy- I don't need to wait for anything to happen or change. Instead, I am practicing BEING in my life more and I am becoming aware of all the little wonderful things that I never noticed before. Like today I went for a long bike ride and I had such gratitude for having the energy to do it. The bike ride was a pure joy- just a simple thing, but I got great pleasure out of it. And tonight I was reading the paper and Karina was telling me something about school and I put the paper down so I could give her my full attention and as I looked at her, I realized what beautiful eyes she has, in a way I never noticed before. I feel kind of like I'm waking up from a long, long sleep and experiencing my life with a heightened sense of awareness. It's pretty cool and I hope I get to hang on to it!

So, thanks to all who have read this blog and who have cheered me and supported me along the way. I hope that my next blog will be filled with joy and fun!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

More Fab 40!

All the best pictures from my unforgettable 40th birthday party this week with friends and family in Eugene, Oregon -- taken by my brother Steve and good friend Deanna.

- Click the little speaker icon at the top of the slideshow to hear a cool song play while watching.

- Double click on the slideshow and select "Full Screen" to see the pictures nice and big.


Friday, June 12, 2009

I'm Done and I'm 40!


I'm done and I'm 40. Last radiation was today. I did cartwheels (in my head) on the way out. The doctor tells me that for today I am cancer free.

I didn't get a call this week about my mole, so that means that it is not cancerous (they would have called if it was).

I'm off to do some more celebrating, more later.

An ending and a beginning.

Fabulous Party With Fabulous Friends & Family!

Pictures from my fabulous birthday party with fabulous friends and family in my backyard yesterday. In the slideshow below, if you want to see the pictures bigger, just click here!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

ONE MORE TO GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I got two radiations done today, so I only have one more!  It didn't really register with me until I was leaving the cancer center and the therapist said, "See you Friday for your last one!"  I have no idea how I have gotten this far, but here I am!  

My car is still in the shop, so I biked with the girls to school, then biked to radiation.  I had that wonderful free feeling again and it felt really, really good to be biking to the cancer center.  On the bike I notice little things that I miss in the car, and today it left me feeling so alive.  I usually walk into that center feeling half dead.  I guess I should have been biking all along!  I had the grand idea that I would use the bike all day, but a few minutes after leaving radiation, I realized that I was too tired to make it home.  Luckily my back up plan was to borrow a car and I was able to quickly ride to where it was and get myself home.  I had a hot bath and rested on the couch for awhile, tired but happy.  

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

30 Down, 3 To Go


Wow, I couldn't imagine making it to radiation 30 times when I first began.  30 times.  That's a lot.  I am so ready to be done!  I go in twice tomorrow, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, take the next day off, and finish up on Friday.  Then I'm free of doctors until my 3 month check up (aside from waiting to hear  back about the mole and getting those stitches removed next week).  I will have a check up every 3 months for the next few years, then it will go down to every 6 months.  The end is in sight.  Thank God.  It's getting increasingly difficult to keep going in there.  I am so excited to be done and to begin the recovery process and to get my strength and stamina back.  

My car is in the shop today so after I dropped it off, I rode my bike around town a bit then back home.  It was so fun!  I got a little too enthusiastic with the freedom and fun of it all and ended up getting over tired.  I will be on the bike again tomorrow as the car is still not finished.  I'm thinking of using the bike for exercise until my breast gets less painful.  Biking didn't bother it much today, and there is something so fun and exhilarating about being on the bike.  

Ok.  I can do this.  Only 3 more.

Monday, June 8, 2009

29 Down, 4 To Go


It's interesting the deeply personal conversations that can take place in the waiting room of a cancer doctor's office.  I was once again in Dr. T's office, waiting for my mole to be removed.  I was getting anxious, thinking about more needles and cutting into my breast, when a youngish man across from me struck up a conversation.  I noticed him right away because he's one of the few young people I've seen during this time.  During the 10 minute wait I learned that he had been in the army and at 21 got diagnosed with colon cancer and had his colon removed.  He wasn't able to stay in the military and wasn't able to celebrate his 21st birthday in the usual way. He was in the office today for a check up after a "suspicious" test.  This conversation put things into perspective for me and I went in to have the mole removed feeling not too anxious after all.  I thought about what I was doing for my 21st birthday and I felt very grateful for all the years of good health I've had.  

There was a quote on the wall I read while being sliced into today.  It was by Emerson and said, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”  

Got my first day of boost radiation today, then went home and got stung by a bee- much more painful than a needle!  I sat in my lounge chair on my back porch for lunch and didn't get up for 2 hours.  I didn't exactly fall asleep, but I was able to get very relaxed.  I'm hoping for a good night's sleep tonight.

Friday, June 5, 2009

28 Down, 5 To Go


Today was the last day of regular radiation.  Thank God.  It's been a hard morning.  Still having breast pain and feeling very tired.  It was hard getting my arm up over my head for radiation today- the pain has spread to my arm and shoulder.  I thought I'd feel better if I got out for a walk afterwards, so I got the walking clothes on and headed to the river.  Started walking but couldn't do it- not even a slow walk.  Any movement at all increases my breast pain.  I've taken some pain killers and am waiting for them to kick in.  Back home now resting.  

It's like the amount of radiation is just enough to bring me to my knees, then it'll be done.  Kind of like with chemo.  I know I'm almost there, but enough already!  

Thursday, June 4, 2009

27 Down, 6 To Go


So close to the end and it's getting hard.  Lot's of breast pain today and my skin is starting to peel a bit, like with a sun burn.  Only ONE more day of regular radiation, so it will be ok.  Never really had much energy today, so I'm trying to rest a lot.

I had a check up today at a doctor's office located at the hospital.  His waiting room had the same view that I had from my hospital bed the night I stayed there.  I don't know what happened, but my pulse started racing and I got a horrible sick feeling in my stomach.  By the time I finished and made it back to my car, I felt light headed and like I was going to pass out.  I think I was having fear flash backs or something.  

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

26 Down, 7 To Go


What a hot day- I sweated and sweated and the bright blue circle on my breast is fuzzy and faded now, but still there.  Only 2 more days of regular radiation, then 5 days of the boost, then done!  I've been riding my bike and it's been the best exercise for me- gentle and fun and I'm not exhausted afterwards, just regular tired.   Still not sleeping too well at night, but having some fun dreams.  I dreamt that I was eating smores in a beautiful back yard in Rome...I did not want to wake up from that one!  The nice thing about being off work is that when I run out of energy, around 1 or 2 or so, I don't have to keep going.  I can lay down and rest for a few hours, then get up and continue on with my day.  Rest is good.

25 Down, 8 to Go


Got drawn on yesterday with a bright blue paint pen and told to stay out of water for the next 2 weeks.  It marks the spot for the "boost" radiation.  Also was told that I'd be wearing eye shields as this radiation can "scatter".  Can't wait for this to be over with.

Monday, June 1, 2009

24 Down, 9 To Go


I'm in the single digits!  Yeah!  I am so very happy to be so close to the end.  My first day off of work was today and I spent it at appointments- 3 different offices and 3 different gowns.  Oh how I hate those gowns!  Dr. T looked at my "suspicious mole" and said he could remove it next week.  He didn't seem too concerned and he'll have it checked for cancer.  He said my skin is holding up good and it was a good check up- short and sweet.  PT continues to go well.  Thank God I'm getting strength and range of motion back.  I had to swim this weekend for the first time since my operation, and I had the strength I needed.  Of course, most of it was adrenaline and God I believe.  I'm still freaked out about it, so not ready to write about it much.  I ended up jumping into a very cold, very deep swimming hole, with a strong current, to get to Kaycee, who was floating away down river.  I had a struggle getting us both back to shore.  My arm came through for me and although it was very sore afterwards, it's ok now.  

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hair Debut


Another beautiful, warm, sunny Saturday today.  Hard to remember all the Oregon rain when the weekend is so beautiful.  The girls and I went on our first official bike ride of the season.  We rode through the West Eugene Wetlands for a special day they were having- we got to stop at different stations and entered a drawing to win passes to Amazon pool and free car repairs, both of which we DESPERATELY need right now.  I'm using positive visualization to win these things- acting as if I've already got them....

My hair is coming back!  I've got maybe an inch all around.  It seems to be grey- I guess I earned my grey hair this past year!  I went out with just the bike helmet on, and we stopped off at a little coffee shop on the way back for cold drinks.  I was SO hot and when I went in, I considered just keeping the helmet on, since I haven't gone out in public yet without a head covering.  But, I looked around and realized that I was totally anonymous there so it felt safe to go bare headed.  I took the helmet off and the girls and I relaxed and played tic tac toe for awhile.  There was a bald guy sitting in the corner and I noticed that he kept looking at me.  He caught my eye a couple of times and smiled, almost like he was flirting.  I was a little freaked out because I really didn't want to be noticed by anyone.  As we left, he stopped me and told me that I had a great shaped head and that I carried "The Look" well.  It was an interesting experience.  I've never thought of my head as being a "Look", but I suppose it is my look now.  The guy's comments gave me enough courage to try one more public place without a head covering.  We went to the library, where it's impossible to stand out because there are so many "interesting" characters out front.  The girls didn't even notice that I wasn't wearing a hat.  I felt myself getting "looks" once I got inside the library, but I just tried not to make eye contact with anyone.  After awhile, I did start making eye contact, and to my surprise, several bald guys smiled at me!  What's up with that?  Do bald guys think it's cool to see a bald girl?  Anyway, I thought I'd wait till my birthday in a few weeks to uncover, but it's so hot I may just start now.  I had the thought that it'd be fun to get a picture right now with me and my 4 brothers- all of us bald at once.  Although technically, I'm no longer bald, I just have ultra short hair.  

I played soccer tonight and I believe I'm ready to rest now.  I've been paying close attention to my fatigue level and so far it's ok, but I'm not going to over do it.  Tomorrow will be more of a day of rest.  Last night I slept pretty well- these new sleeping pills are keeping me asleep for about 4-5 hours a stretch.  It makes a huge difference to not be sleep deprived!

Friday, May 29, 2009

23 Down, 10 To Go


So lethargic again today, but then I saw that it was 87 degrees!  The girls are lethargic too- it's hot.  I figured out a quick, cold dinner and we hung out in the hammocks in the shade.  It feels so good to just lay gently rocking and look up at tree leaves.  Had a check up today at the VA clinic and it was strongly recommended that I see my dermatologist to have a "suspicious" mole looked at.  Just what I don't want to think about right now.  Today was my last official day of work for a while.  I was thinking about all my rest time I'll have next week, but then I looked at my planner and I have so many doctor visits scheduled.  Oh well, it will be good to get them over with.  Next week is "boost week", which means I get re-measured and marked for the boost portion of radiation.  This is the last 5 days and it is less radiation in a smaller area.  I don't really understand it, but I remember at the beginning the doc talking about it and I just registered that boost equals almost done.  I'm almost done!!  

Thursday, May 28, 2009

22 Down, 11 To Go


Well, I've finally made it up after a 3 hour rest.  I hit a big fatigue wall today and got home and just couldn't do anything but lay down and stare out the window.  I kept thinking I should get up and get dinner going, but couldn't do it.  I finally told the kids it was a "fend for yourself night".  They went foraging for food in the kitchen and actually didn't do too bad.  Karina surprisingly got herself some fruits and veggies to go with her dinner.  Kaycee had a can of mandarine oranges, a yogurt, and a roll with cheese.  I always feel so guilty when they eat like that.  It's so far removed from what I imagine dinner is supposed to be.  But, they seem to enjoy getting whatever they want and really, who says we all have to eat traditional dinner foods anyway.  They made me a pb and honey sandwich and a glass of milk, and I feel a bit better now that I've eaten.  After dinner we all hung out in the back yard on the hammocks and just chatted about nothing in particular.  There is something so soothing and relaxing about swinging gently under the trees.  It's so cool there after such a hot day.  

I've been feeling so overwhelmed lately over any small thing that happens.  I remember the story, "Flowers for Algernon" about the mentally retarded man who scientists worked with and improved his intelligence to the point that he was a genius.  Then, slowly, he began to go backwards and lose his intelligence.  It was so hard for him because all the while he remembered that he used to know and understand things that he could no longer grasp.  That's what it's been like for me.  I used to be able to handle several different challenges at once, either at home or at work.  It was kind of fun and stimulating to problem solve and use creative thinking around different challenges.  Lately, though, problems come up and I know I used to be able solve them, but now my brain can't handle them- it's kind of like walking through the day drunk and trying to function like a sober person.  People tell me this is fatigue, and I know it is.  I'm going to take some time off work to just rest and get through the remaining radiation.  I think I need some days of doing nothing but taking care of myself.  

I had good news at radiation today.  The doc said my skin looks really good and it's much better than most people at my stage of radiation.  She said typically at this point the skin is burned and has open blister areas.  I've been using the spray from the naturopath and so far the skin on my breast just looks like it has a dark tan.  The throbbing pain hasn't been there in awhile.  I have some herbs that I take when it begins to throb, and so far they help.  Also, more good news- I slept pretty well last night- I don't recall any hot flashes and I only woke up twice.  I woke up tired, though, so I think I need a few more nights of good sleep.  Actually, right now I feel like crawling into bed and hibernating for a week.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

21 Down, 12 To Go


It would have been a better day today, but I went back to work and ended up driving 60 MILES doing home visits.  Way, way too much driving for me.  It was hard to stay awake and my arm aches when I hold the steering wheel that much.  But, another great PT visit with ever improving range of motion and strength in my arm.

Tried the new sleeping pill last night.  I still woke up just as often with the hot flashes, but I was able to go back to sleep pretty quickly, so I ended up feeling more rested this morning.  Didn't have the courage to try the hot flash medicine, so I tried some herbs instead.  I'll give it another week or so.

Only 12 more to go.  12 more.  Almost done!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

20 Down, 13 To Go

Incredibly tired today.  I woke up groggy after a restless night- woke every two hours with hot flashes.  Saw my regular doc today and he recommended a blood pressure medicine that is supposed to reduce night time hot flashes, but he warned me to be careful if I need to get up in the middle of the night as I could pass out from my blood pressure being too low.  He also gave me a different kind of sleeping pill.  More drugs...fun, fun, fun.  I stayed home today and tried to sleep, but it never happened, so I just rested for most of the day.  I did go for a walk- a very slow, very short walk by the river.  My leg muscles ache today- must be the arimidex.  I felt like I was walking through mud and finally gave it up.  Good news at PT today.  The swelling in my arm has gone way down and my range of motion is getting better.  It wasn't expected to show improvement until after radiation.  I needed good news today.  13 more to go.  I guess this is the final-two-week-radiation-fatigue that I was told about.  Can't wait for it to be over.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Mood Swings


A beautiful, awesome, fun weekend.  I had 2 days of normal energy.  I've had pictures of kayaking up in my room all winter, dreaming of when I could take mine out again.  I finally got to go out this weekend kayaking at a lake and it was so much fun.  Karina took one out on her own and was completely competent and independent with it.  This is the first Memorial Day weekend I can remember in Oregon where the weather was perfect- sunny and not too hot.  And, I got to spend some time in the woods around a camp fire.  All in all, the perfect weekend.

Somehow my mood crashed today.  I may have over done the activities this weekend, and I didn't sleep well last night.  My appetite has been weird- I get hungry but can't think of anything that I'd like to eat.  So I don't eat, then I get cranky and starving and I just grab whatever I can find in the fridge.  I wonder if that's a side effect of radiation?  I'll have to remember to ask.  The hot flashes have been happening all throughout the day.   All in all I'd have to say menopause sucks so far.  I think it's steadily been getting better, but right now I'm tired and cranky and menopause sucks.  If I can just get a good night's sleep tonight I hope it will set the tone for a good work week.  

I'm trying to remember too that the doc said that as I get farther along with radiation, it builds up in my body and I can experience more fatigue toward the end.  Just like with chemo.  I remember too that she said while radiation is easier than chemo, it's still very hard on the body.  I keep reminding myself that it'll be over soon- in less than three weeks.  

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009

18 Down, 15 To Go


Having a hard day today.  Not sure why.  Hormones?  Grief?  Exhaustion? Maybe all three and then some.  Still not sleeping well.  The hot flashes were gone for awhile, but seem to be back again at night.  Feeling some deep muscle aches- the arimidex?  Had planned on playing soccer tonight, but couldn't do it.  It just wasn't a soccer night for me.  I seem to be missing the last 7 months of my life.  Right now I only believe they happened because I wrote about them on this blog.  It's a freaky feeling- I can remember bits and pieces, but it is all fading away so quickly.  It almost feels like I left my body last fall and just came back to find it's spring.  It's an unsettling feeling and I'm feeling off balance. I don't quite know what to do with myself.  It's almost like I need to get to know myself again.  I've been so focused on medical stuff, and just getting through each day and now that focus is quickly fading away and I'm left trying to remember what used to occupy my brain space and what I used to do with my free time.   

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

17 Down, 16 To Go...FLIP DAY!!!!!

Today is the day!  I've passed the half way mark.  It was such a beautiful, peaceful day today.  An easy day at work, and I got to have a long lunch outside by the river with  friends.  No stomach ache, stable mood, and I roller bladed 20 minutes.  Karina is gone for the next 2 nights on a camp out, so no kid squabbles!  I couldn't ask for a more peaceful day.

I worked today on finding things to be grateful for about the cancer center while I was waiting.  I had a long wait today as they were running behind.  I found that I was able to remain calm and peaceful and to not hate the place so much when I did my gratitude list.  I am grateful that the place is so close- about 10 minutes from work.  There are plenty of people who have to drive an hour or more to get radiation.  I'm grateful that my insurance is covering this, as it's quite expensive.  I'm grateful it's so close to the river so that I can be on a path by the river within 5 minutes of completing a radiation session.  

Ok, Kaycee and I are CELEBRATING flip day.  Not sure how just yet, but I know it'll be fun!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

16 Down, 17 To Go

I'm excited because tomorrow is flip day, the day when I've completed more days of radiation than I have left!  The end is really, really near!  

I've decided to keep lots of different types of exercise equipment in the trunk.  That way I can just check in with my body each day after radiation and decide what's best for me to do based on my energy level.  I've got roller blades, running gear, walking shoes, and a bathing suit in case I just want to sit in the sauna.  Today was a moderate walk day and I went for 25 minutes.  Today was the first day in a long time where I wasn't exhausted when I got home.  I'm proud to say that I've been making dinner for weeks now, and we've been eating simply but well.  My garden is producing tons of salad material.

I've removed the polish from my nails to see what they look like.  I've lost a total of 4 and the other ones are still hanging on, but they are definitely dead and white looking.  For some reason it isn't bothering me so much. 

 I've also slowly been introducing the world to my bare head.  This weekend I went to a lake (Fall Creek Reservoir) to go swimming.  I was really hot and I just didn't want to wear anything on my head.  Plus, many of the other people at the lake were bald, pierced (in all sorts of weird places!) and tattooed and I didn't feel so out of place or self-conscious.  So, I went without any covering and I didn't notice any unusual looks at all.  I've started riding around in the car without any covering on.  I figure in the car no one will have the chance to stare for too long and no one will have the opportunity to make comments.  I've started noticing more and more bald or semi-bald (as I now think of myself) people around town- tons of men and several young women.  I'm half way considering getting some leather, denim, chains, and combat boots so I can carry off the bald look.  I have a goal for myself of going without a hat beginning on my birthday.  I'm imagining that once I'm 40 I will have so much self-confidence and wisdom that I can carry off any look I like!

I am so very amazed at how much the girls have grown up and gained self-confidence this school year.  Karina can now run the washing machine, the dryer, and the dish washer by herself.  She can also make a few simple dinners.  Kaycee is not having melt-downs and she is managing her emotions better than some adults I know.  I am so proud of them and I feel like all the hard work I put into them over the years has been worth it.

All in all, a pretty good day today- stable mood, no stomach ache, not too tired.  Yeah!

Monday, May 18, 2009

15 Down, 18 To Go


I'm almost at the half way point.  More PT today and the therapist I have is awesome- young and smart and she has taught me that the scar on my underarm is causing my range of motion to be restricted.  She showed me how to loosen up the scar tissue.  It hurts, but it feels good knowing I'm getting my arm back.

I went roller blading for the first time in a long time today.  30 minutes.  It was so nice.  I got in a good night's sleep last night.  I  googled "sleep meditation" and a bunch of stuff on Youtube popped up.  I watched a few videos of nature scenes with music playing and I finally got to a crazy looking guy who started off in that calm, go to sleep voice.  The counter said it was supposed to last 10 minutes.  Next thing I knew it was 7 hours later and morning time!  I've tried to find the video again, but have lost it.  I've got a few other ones I'll try tonight.  It's amazing at how much better I feel when I've had some sleep.  The girls and I went for a walk this evening- it turned into 30 minutes when we took a wrong turn.  It was nice, though, because we got to see a new part of the neighborhood.  I got home so tired and am ready for a bath and bed now.  No stomach ache today!  I had some Reiki this morning and it was so relaxing.  Maybe I just need to start every morning off that way...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

14 Down, 19 To Go


Well, I'm almost at the half way point and I have less than a month to go.  It feels good to be nearing the end.  Yesterday was a weird day- parts were hard and parts were fun.  I have been having a stomach ache for about a month now, not sure why.  It may be the arimidex.  It's frustrating because I have 4 different western medicine doctors and 2 different eastern medicine practitioners, and they all say something different about my stomach.  It feels like my 4 western medicine doctors only see the part of my body that is their specialty, and they do not approve of the eastern medicine things I'm doing.  I'd like to be seen as a whole person when I see each of my doctors.  My stomach got bad at work yesterday so I left early and went to the river and rested on a blanket under a tree before radiation.  My emotions took over and I was so exhausted and my stomach hurt and I just cried for awhile.  It was very hard to get up and go to radiation.  I had D come with me and it was nice to have a friend there.  I ended up having a very bad experience while there and I left feeling upset and angry.  D and I went back to the river and talked for awhile and I got to feeling better.  I ended the day at Sweet Life with some great friends and yummy food and I spent an hour just laughing and laughing.  By the time I got home, I was exhausted but feeling better.  I am excited about my hair.  I now have some hair growing back on my legs!  I'm hoping that by next month I can go without my hat.  In fact, I'd like to burn my hat I'm so sick of it!

It's a beautiful day out and even though I didn't sleep enough last night, I'm hoping to get out and enjoy today!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

13 Down, 20 To Go!

Too tired to say much tonight.  Outdoor soccer tonight- felt good, but tired.  Started PT today with the goal of being able to kayak by summer.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

12 Down, 21 To Go


It rained and rained and rained today, and it's still raining.  I was having muscle aches in my legs today, like I used to on chemo (how cool that I can now say, "used to" about chemo!) so I took a break from exercising after radiation.  Instead I went to the Y and sat in the hot tub and the sauna.  I had the thought that I would do a little weight lifting, and I even brought work out clothes.  But, once I got there I couldn't do it.  I couldn't face going into the weight room with a head scarf on.  It's been a long time since I've been in the weight room, but I well remember how everyone checks everyone else out, and I just didn't feel like being checked out in my head scarf.  It's hard enough being in the changing room and having little kids stare at me when I take it off.  

I think Kaycee is more excited about my hair growing back than I am (if that's possible- I'm pretty excited!)  She comments on it every morning and she likes to rub it and she's making plans for when she can put it into pony tails.  She's excited that it seems to be the same color as hers.  It still looks tri-colored to me- black in the back, blond on top, and white on the sides.  I am thrilled that it's growing back, but sad that it will take a while before I'm comfortable going without a hat in public.  

I was very tired again today, but I'm going to try my new trick for getting to sleep.  I am going to listen to an Eckhart Tolle talk.  He's a spiritual teacher with a great german accent and a soothing, hypnotic voice.  I listened to him a few nights ago and was asleep within about 10 minutes.  I couldn't follow what he was saying, but the next day, bits of it came back to me.

I had a bit of a wait in the cancer center today.  There were 3 couples in the waiting area.  At first I was annoyed because I could over hear bits of their conversations and it was all about cancer this and cancer that.  I'm already annoyed when I go in there because there are bulletin boards and signs all over advertising different stuff about cancer.  I'm surrounded by cancer in there.  I wish it was different- I wish there were people's vision boards all over the walls, with pictures of health and life.  But, once I stopped being annoyed by what the people were saying, I just watched them and I saw so much love it cheered me up.  There was one couple sitting across from each other, the woman in the tell-tale chemo hat.  They were talking quietly and at one point the woman began to cry and the man got up, sat next to her, and gently and lovingly held her in his arms.  The other two couples were elderly and seemed to have gotten to know each other during the course of treatments.  When the women went off for treatment, the two men talked to each other about their wives' conditions.  It was so clear that they both dearly loved and cared for their wives.  It was sweet, too, to see two men sharing their feelings with each other.  I know cancer sucks and all, and I've heard that it can tear couples apart, but it also has the power to bring out the best in people, and to encourage people to express the deep love they have for each other.  

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Better Today

11 DOWN, 22 TO GO

I saw the acupuncturist today.  It was nice to have a chance to lay quiet on the table for 45 minutes after work and before picking up the girls.  I got home feeling much better and was able to make dinner and clean up before needing to go lay down.  I also got in a 25 minute walk, but felt pretty tired and had sore muscles during it.  I'm still being told that I should be taking it easy with the exercise as my body is still doing lots of internal healing work.  

I read something today that said something about when you're feeling worn down, look at something not made by human hands and you will feel better.  I arrived at radiation about 10 minutes early, so I sat in the sun by the river and made a point to look at only non-human made things- the water, the trees, a huge nutria, and a bunch of wild flowers.  Even though I only had 10 minutes, it worked!  I felt peaceful and calm going into radiation today.  I even had what should have been a big upset happen, but it didn't get to me through my nature shield!

Monday, May 11, 2009


10 DOWN, 23 TO GO

Just plain tired today.  Hard to make it through the work day.  Even so, I got in a nice long walk- 35 minutes.  Got home and had a bath and an early dinner.  Wanted to crawl into bed but the blankets were a tangled mess from a restless night's sleep.  Sweet Kaycee volunteered to make it for me and she made it very pretty with lots of pillows.  Said she'd make it for me any time I wanted (this one was free, 25 cents after this- well worth it).  Throbbing, painful breast again tonight.  Got something from my acupuncturist/herbalist to take for it.  We'll see if it helps.  

Very hard to walk into radiation today.  I held my emotions in check for the work day, but was exhausted and crying by the time I pulled into the cancer center.  The darlings weren't there today, just the rapster and a new guy- sweet but looked like a gangster.  Not fun having a rapster and a gangster messing with my breast, I don't care how professional and well trained they are.  I hope the darlings are back tomorrow.  

Another long, busy day at work tomorrow.  Hoping I get some sleep tonight.  Feeling cheated, like I got some of myself back for a small window of time, and now that's slipping away and fatigue is trying to gain a foothold again.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mothers' Day Weekend


I'm very, very tired right now, but happy.  I got to play indoor soccer on Saturday night.  I was very tired on Saturday and didn't feel like going.   But, with indoor, I know I can always play for just a few minutes then sit out the rest of the game.  Once I got there I felt great and I played for quite a bit.  I think my adrenalin gets going and allows me the strength to play.  Afterwards I was tired and sore, but happy.  Today (Sunday) I was hoping to sleep in, but got woken up at 6:00 am for my Mother's Day Breakfast In Bed.  It began with my sweet daughter delivering milk and a sandwich to me in bed, but spilling the milk all over the bed and night stand, then my other sweet daughter entering and the two getting into a fight over what I was supposed to be having for breakfast.  I sent them both away with strict orders not to return until at least 8:00.  They came back with more food (yogurt and ice cream, french toast, a sandwich cut in the shape of an "M", a cheese and turkey quesadilla, and home made lemonade) and a bag full of gifts- some that they made at school and some that they bought.  It was all very, very sweet and I just LOVE the ages that they're at right now- young enough to still do sweet things for mother's day and old enough to be able to be independent enough to plan the sweet things all on their own.  Afterwards they let me go back to sleep and I slept till 10:00.  I had the hardest time getting up this morning- I was very tired and fatigued feeling.  I got up and went to a drive through place for a coffee as my treat to myself.  Just as I went to get my money out of my wallet another chemo casualty struck- I lost my thumb nail.  I could feel the tears starting, but then the coffee guy told me that the drink was free today for all mothers.  Hard to stay sad after getting a free coffee!  Yes, I take great joy in small pleasures these days.  We went to Mt. Pisgah for the afternoon and again I was so tired and sore that we did a slow walk on the flat part rather than a hike up the mountain.  It was so beautiful there today- warm weather and amazing wild flowers all over.  We spent a lot of time at the river just soaking in the beauty of the place.  

I'm feeling some stress right now about the upcoming week.  It's a full, busy week of work and I'm not rested after the weekend.  I'm tired and wishing for a few more days rest.  My breast started hurting last week, a side effect of the radiation.  It is starting to hurt when I run, and it wakes me at night sometimes.  I'm thinking of switching to roller blading and leaving running till after radiation.  Actually, what I'm really thinking is instead of exercising after radiation, I would love to just lay out a blanket next to the river and sleep for a few hours.  Right now I feel like just sleeping for a week.

Friday, May 8, 2009

9 down, 24 to go


9 DOWN, 24 TO GO!

Thursday, May 7, 2009



8 Down, 25 To Go

The good news is, I'm a soccer player again!  There was a short period of time after the last surgery where I thought maybe I'd never be able to play again.  But, I played tonight.   I didn't get my old soccer endorphin rush- too sore and sluggish I think.  But, I am happy to say that I can play again.  I'm super tired right now, but in a good way.  

Radiation was hard today.  Not sure why.  I just didn't want to go in.  There was a waiting room full of elderly people, 4 of them in wheel chairs.  Something about it just freaked me out.  It was like I thought I should be there visiting a relative, not getting medical care for myself.

I didn't sleep well last night, but hope to tonight!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Another Good Day


Another good day of feeling NORMAL!  I went for a 30 minute walk today and felt great, but by the time I got home, I was pretty tired.  I just realized that I'm pretty sore too.  I've got a soccer game and a babysitter tomorrow, so I'm going to give it a try.  I hope I can hang onto my gratitude for normalcy.  I remember in the Gulf War we didn't have showers.  In order to bathe, I would stand in an outside, make-shift shelter, strip down, and use cold bottled water to wash with.  This went on for 9 months and in the winter months it was terribly cold and miserable.  Once I got back to the U.S.  I had such gratitude for hot showers.  I would stand in the shower and just be filled with joy.  That was so many years ago, but I've held onto that hot-shower-gratitude.  Every morning I spend a few minutes in the shower bathed in gratitude.  

My hope is that I will come out of this period of sickness bathed in gratitude for all the things I never thought about before.  I can imagine how rich and full and happy my life could be if I lived in gratitude every day.  

7 Down, 26 To Go!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Casualty of the Chemo War and Running


A big high and a low today.  First the high.  I went running again today after radiation.  It rained and rained again, but I went anyway.  This time I ran for a full 30 minutes!  I felt so good- no cramping, no muscle aches.  I ran slow and steady and felt like I could have gone faster, but I'm still taking it easy.  I had a sense today that I'm not starting as low as I thought with my fitness level.  I think it will come back to me fairly quickly.  I had such gratitude today for being able to run, for feeling healthy, and for feeling normal.  I'd like to hold onto that- gratitude for being able to exercise.  This is way different than I used to feel about exercise- I did it mostly for the feeling I'd get afterwards, and for the results.  It feels great to be enjoying exercise when I'm right in the middle of it.

I was so happy again today.  I had an acupuncture appointment and had hardly anything wrong with me to report.  Mostly just sleep stuff and hot flashes.  This is way different than when I used to go in with 4 or 5 complaints.

Ok, here's the casualty of the chemo war- I lost a nail today.  My feelings about it have caught me by surprise.  I noticed it had split today at work, way down low where the dead part attaches to the new, live part.  I thought I could just go buy some nail glue and glue it back together.  But by the time I finished work and got to the store, it was just hanging on by a thread.  I looked at the store and didn't find any nail glue.  I sat down for a bit and thought about what I wanted to do.  I was still on my running high and feeling great and I decided I didn't care about losing a nail, especially since I can see the new nail growing back.  I pulled it all the way off.  Looking at it on the way out of the store I started crying.  I can't figure out why I started crying.  It really doesn't look too terrible.  I think it has something to do with trying so hard to keep my nails, and losing it this long after the end of chemo makes me feel like a hand from the grave reached out and goosed me.  But really, the truth of chemo is that it got my hair, and it got a nail, but it didn't get me!  And, hopefully, it got any remaining cancer cells.  I guess I can afford to grieve the loss of a nail.

Radiation was not so quick today.  It was x-ray day, which they do every 5 or 6 days.  In addition to the regular radiation, I get several x-rays taken to check my position and make sure the radiation is going where it's supposed to be going.  I'm growing to like the darlings (these are the two young lady assistants who get me positioned on the table and who call me "darling".  It makes me smile inside because they are so much younger than me).  The rapster tech didn't come out of the control room today.  Which is just as well.  The darlings are much sweeter.  They have started heating up a heating pad for me to have on my stomach each time.  I had told them how I didn't like being cold in the cold room, so they said they'd do a heating pad for me.  They also showed me where to get a prettier gown- a pink one with an easier opening.  I think it's so nice of them to take the time to try to make me more comfortable.

6 Down, 27 To Go!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Running Again!


I went for a run today!  I told myself last week that I wanted to start running today.  It rained and rained and rained non-stop all day, but I went anyway.  I brought my running clothes to radiation and went right after, by the river.  I set a goal of moving for 30 minutes, running when I could and walking when I got tired.  I was able to run for 10 minutes without stopping.  I ran very slow, but it felt great!  Well, it felt mentally great.  My poor leg muscles started hurting and it felt as if I'd never run before.  It was especially sweet to run today as I ran on the same course that the Eugene marathon runners ran on yesterday- the markings were still on the pavement.  I was so inspired and I thought about how hard it must be to run a marathon, but they do it by just putting one foot in front of the other.  I realize that I am starting way, way below where I used to be with fitness, but it felt so great to start that I don't even care where I'm at right now.  I didn't make it the whole 30 minutes- I went for about 25, then started cramping and had to hobble back to the car.  The funny thing is that it hurt just as bad as yesterday in the mall.  But I was so happy that I didn't care about the pain- it just felt like intense exercise pain.  At the mall when it started hurting, I started crying.  Partly from the pain and partly because it was so discouraging to be unable to walk the length of a stupid shopping mall.  Today I got home and was pretty sore- my leg muscles and my surgery area, but I am feeling very happy!  Same pain, different reactions.

5 Down, 28 To Go!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back


I didn't make it to soccer today.  I did have an ok day, overall.  I got up the energy to clean my back porch.  It has been a mess for months now.  I struggled a bit this weekend trying to remember what I used to do on weekends before I was always resting.  I finally had the girls and I write down fun weekend things to do on slips of paper (a great suggestion from D).   We put the slips into two containers- one for nice day things to do and one for rainy day things to do.  The idea is that when we are stuck, unable to remember what we used to do for fun, we can just pick something from a container.  Today we picked going to a movie.  My stomach ache was gone and I was feeling pretty good.  I planned on walking around the mall a bit after the movie.  We got to the other side of the mall when I started cramping.  Sometimes I get what feels like two really bad side aches.  This happened today and I had to hobble my way through the mall and back to the car for some pain killers.  It hurt worse and worse as I walked and I got so very discouraged.  It is so frustrating to have the motivation to start being more active again, but lack the physical ability.  I guess my brain is more ready than my body is.  I realized today that I've been doing the cancer thing for six months now.  No wonder I'm worn down.  I'm going to work on having more compassion and understanding for myself.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Getting My Life Back


I got to go out tonight, on a Saturday night.  This is a BIG DEAL because for a long time now I've been too tired and too sick to go out in the evening.  It was fun to get a babysitter, get dressed up and go out with friends. What a normal thing to do.  I looked at myself in the mirror in the bathroom and I even looked normal.  Maybe soon I'll start to FEEL normal again.  I ended up getting super tired and came home early, but it was fun anyway.  I even got to drink a margarita.  What a thrill!  I haven't drank alcohol in months, aside from the toast I had to celebrate the end of chemo.

My stomach still hurts.  I'm beginning to think maybe it's a side effect of the arimidex.  Another good night's sleep last night!  And no nightmares.  I think I may be getting my normal life back.  I never thought I'd be so grateful for NORMALCY!

Friday, May 1, 2009

4 down, 29 more


I got the stomach thing.  Drat!  Just when I was feeling better too.  It's so nice, though, because this just feels like a regular sickness, nothing like chemo sickness.  I had a couple of interesting insights today.  I got to radiation early and went for a short walk.  I walked past a fertility clinic, which is next door.  I had a sudden wave of gratitude for the two good ovaries that served me well when I needed them to.  I got two amazing, beautiful kids out of them with no trouble at all.  I felt so blessed and lucky to have had my children before I lost my ovaries.  The sadness I've felt at having them gone left me on my walk.

Inside, I heard a woman on her cell phone in the waiting room.  She was talking to someone about wanting to have a celebration that night because she had just finished her 5 year check up and didn't have to take her arimidex any more.  It occurred to me that I won't have to take it for my whole life, and that in 5 years I'll be the one having a celebration.  So, whoever wants to come, put it on your calendar for Apr 27, 20014 to come celebrate with me!

And finally, I was feeling bad for once again having to go into a place with so many, many elderly people.  I haven't seen anyone anywhere close to my age in the cancer center.  I've been thinking for a while now how unfair it is that I got cancer at my age.  In the waiting area I spoke with an older woman there for treatment too.  I realized while speaking to her that her life is just as precious to her as my life is to me.  It doesn't matter how old a person is, cancer SUCKS at any age, and life is precious at any age.  It left me feeling like maybe in a way I'm lucky.  I will have more time to experience the new, deep appreciation I have for life.  

3 Down, 30 More!

May 1st, 2009

I'm home again today with two sick kids.  The killer Chavez stomach bug (109 of about 400 kids were out of school- Chavez Elementary- yesterday) struck here.  I think I have a touch of it too, so I'm taking it easy today.  We got to sleep in till 10:00 this morning, and it felt SO GOOD to finally catch up on my sleep. 

I'm happy to say my sleep has been better the past few nights, and my hot flashes have been down to 1 a night.  I'm thinking the acupuncture must be helping!  I actually had a good dream for a change.  I was traveling on a cool trip to Australia.  

I found out yesterday (not a dream) that I have the opportunity to take a trip to Vancouver, Canada in June (thanks to my nice friend R).  I'm so excited! The apartment the girls and I can stay in is right down town and close to beaches and swimming pools.  I had the thought that by then I'll have about 1 1/2 inches of hair and no one will know me there, so I can go hatless and wigless and enjoy some freedom!  

I'm also happy to say that my mood has been pretty stable and I haven't felt like a crazy person in a few days at least!  I'm hoping that I'll have energy to play with the girls some this weekend. I've got a soccer game on Sunday that I'd love to go to.  I'll wait and see how I'm feeling.  The great thing is that I'm realizing that I will be able to play soccer again, and run again.  Last week I felt like I'd never be able be active again.  I'm so glad I'm past that!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

6 breaths


Today was my first regular day of radiation.  It was so quick!  It took about 3 minutes to get into the right position on the table, then the radiation began.  I had time to breathe in and out 6 times, repeating my phrase, "I'm loved, I'm healed, I'm protected" only twice, then I was done!  

I picked up a bottle of something from my naturopath to spray on my breast each time after radiation.  It's made of aloe vera, calendula, lavender, and a few other things.  It's supposed to help prevent burning.  I'm also using emu oil.  My breast hurts again on the inside- sort of a deep throbbing.  But so far the skin is ok.

I cut my nails today and pulled chunks of dead skin out from underneath them.  Pretty gross, but they don't stink anymore and I can feel the healthy nail growing and pushing the dead nail out.

My chemo cough is gone!  And my tongue is no longer numb (it was numb after my surgery, probably because I bit it).

I'm exhausted and on the couch, but my mood is way better than it was this morning.  I had acupuncture yesterday and she did something for the hot flashes, but said it could take a few days to work.  I'm hopeful that tonight will be a better sleeping night for me.

2 down, 31 to go.



I woke up Hungry/Angry/Lonely/Tired today.  Not a great way to start the day after feeling so good yesterday and last night.  The hot flashes continue to wake me several times a night and I have trouble getting back to sleep.  More disturbing dreams.  It was very hard to get out of bed this morning.  I was hungry, but still have a stomach ache, so couldn't eat.  Lonely from waking up all night long and not wanting to call anyone at 2, 4, 6 in the morning.  Angry/frustrated at my out of control emotions.  It took a huge effort to get dressed and I couldn't stop crying.  Karina was so incredibly sweet- she's been so cheerful lately and she came in and gave me a hug.  Who knows, maybe all this that I'm going through will help her understand herself better when her hormones kick in and get all out of whack.

It took another great effort, but I made it in to work.  I had to call several people first to talk.  I am so grateful that I have such wise people to call.  I took some time to walk along the river and although I was sore, it was good to move and to be outside.  I just finished a nice meal in a cute little cafe in Junction City, and I've been sipping tea and watching small town life go by on the main street out the window.  I am so very tired, but much calmer and peaceful now.  I know this hard stuff won't last forever.  It just sucks when I'm right in the middle of it!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

32 Left


1 down, 32 more radiation treatments to go!  Today was not nearly as bad as I had imagined.  Parts of it were creepy, but I found ways to cope.  I went in, got into a gown, walked to a back waiting room, and waited for my therapist to call me back.  Went into a cold room with a big machine.  This room was decorated with Christmas lights and pretty pictures all over the ceiling and the machine.  The therapist is a youngish rapster looking dude and he has two nice, young female assistants.  They will be the ones I see most of the time.  On the machine they did some more drawing on me with a black pen- I ended up with a big square around my breast and a bunch of x's and dots on other areas of my chest.  They took more digital pictures with a camera (just what I want- pictures of myself taken when I'm exposed and marked on)  And they took a bunch of xrays to mark my position, then I got radiated, then more xrays.  The actual radiation part goes twice and lasts about 30 seconds.  At the end I got my tattoos- three little dots.  The needle really hurt!  Made me re-think getting a real tattoo.  The room was cold and the people kept speaking in codes- calling out different numbers.  It was all very clinical and not at all warm and cozy like in Dr. T's office.  So, I'm not going to get my nurturing from the place or the staff.  I decided to close my eyes and meditate.  I repeated these words with each breath:  "I am loved, I am healed, I am protected".  Not sure why I picked those, but that's what came to me.  I was on the machine for maybe 25 minutes today and by the end I was very relaxed.  As I was laying there I thought about how I've been wanting to start meditating, but haven't started yet because I never take the time.  I think I'll use my 10 minutes a day on the machine to meditate.  Tomorrow I pick up an herbal spray from the naturopath that is supposed to help prevent burning.  I saw the acupuncturist today and she said she can help with my night sweats and my digestion problems (my tummy has been upset for the last week or so). 

All in all, I feel like I'll be ok.  I've got people to help me with side effects and I think the remaining 32 days will go by fast.  I've decided to do extra self-care for myself for the next 6 weeks.  I'm going to reward myself each Friday- maybe with Sweet Life, maybe with coffee- whatever I feel like.  And, I'm planning on trying to begin running next week.  I walked again today and felt great.  Today was my first day with no pain killers.  I'm tired now, but not in pain!  I plan to walk the rest of the week, then on Monday I thought I could bring my running clothes to radiation, put them on when I'm changing out of the gown, and go straight to Alton Baker Park.  Even if I can't actually run yet, I think I'll feel more motivated wearing the clothes.  Maybe I'll just start mostly walking, and add running in for a few minutes at a time.  Today I feel hopeful, like I can get back in shape and like I can get strong again.  Today I feel happy!

Monday, April 27, 2009



I started arimidex today- the little pill that will block the rest of my estrogen and that I'll take for 5 years.  And, most importantly, that can block the return of breast cancer.  I can stop on April 26, 2014.  Dr. T asked today if I had started it and when I said no, he asked why.  I told him I was afraid of the side effects.  He promised me that the return of breast cancer would be way worse than any of the side effects from this drug.  That was enough to prompt me to get my prescription filled.  Here is a bit of what the drug info says are common side effects:  constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, upset stomach, loss of appetite, body aches and pains, breast swelling/tenderness/pain, headache, dry mouth, cough, dizziness (take care when engaging in activities requiring alertness such as driving.....for 5 years?!), trouble sleeping, weakness, hot flashes, hair thinning, weight change (up or down I wonder?)  I won't even list the serious side effects. I'm not too thrilled about beginning this.  I'm hopeful, of course, that I won't get the side effects.  I'm seriously considering hypnosis.  I read somewhere that it can help with post-surgical recovery.  I wonder if it could help with my fears around radiation?  Right when Dr. W (my new doc) started talking about the side effect of breast pain, my breast started throbbing.  It's hurt ever since.  That's got to be my mind.  I'd be willing to try hypnosis- anyone ever try it for anything like this before?  What do people think?

I got the call today that I'll start radiation tomorrow at 10:15.  I thought I was ok, but after the call I got scared (my normal pre-procedure anxiety).  I saw Dr. T this afternoon and everything was ok with my stomach xray and he recommended that I get back to playing soccer next week.  Gotta love a doctor like that.  As I was leaving his office, I got one of those calls from a time share offering me a couple of very cheap vacations in exchange for listening to their sales pitch.  I've done it twice before with this company and gone to Seaside and Newport and had a great time with the girls (the key is to ask no questions during the sales pitch and to repeat the phrase "that won't work for me, but thank you for your presentation" at the end when they really put the pressure on).  I am so badly in need of a vacation that I agreed immediately to the one they offered over the phone.  I was probably the easiest sell they've ever had.  They sure did pick the right time to call- right when I needed something to look forward to!  So, hopefully sometime in June the girls and I will go to Sunriver and we're still hoping for Mexico in Aug- staying in a friend's house (thanks B!) and maybe now adding on a few nights at a resort as part of the thing I got today.

So even though I went through a rough patch today, I'm feeling better now.  Although very sore and tired- from what I'm not sure.  I think I'll hold the image of swimming with dolphins each time I have to be in the radiation machine.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Getting Myself Back


Another of Karina's soccer games today at a field where my team plays.  I got there feeling exhausted, having spent the morning helping the girls rearrange their rooms and set up bunk beds (with lots of help from friends).  When we arrived at the game there was a woman running around the track.  She kind of reminded me of myself- similar in age, appearance, and running style.  She was still running at half time and I was so envious of her and feeling sorry for myself.  Then something fired up in me and I decided to be inspired by her instead of envious.  I got up and walked around the track 3 times.  It's my first walk since the surgery. The first lap felt great, the second one I slowed down, and the third one I just sort of hobbled along.  I figured that if I'm ever going to get back in shape, I need to stop moping about and get up and start at the beginning with slow walking.  It was SO good for my mental health today to walk, and I had a strong sense of believing that I will get my self back.  About an hour after the walk, I was in a lot of pain.  I ended the evening on the couch, taking another vicadin.  I feel like I did a couple hundred sit ups.  I can hardly hold my body up straight when I stand up.  But, I feel so very happy! 

 When I was having such sadness this morning I went to the garden and thinned out the peas for about 20 minutes.  Something about being in the quiet with my hands in the dirt really calmed me.  

My house is a wreck at the moment- it looks like a tornado came through- a result of the room rearranging.  But, I've told myself that the girls and I will just do a little bit each day this week and it will be ok.  No one really cares what my house looks like.  Best of all, I managed to make another meal.  It was simple, just soup in bread bowls, but the girls were really grateful.  Kaycee told me she's so happy that I'm starting to make meals again.  Yeah!  I'm happy too.  Only for some reason my oven decided to stop working, just when I was ready to start cooking again!  Oh well, that's a problem for another day.

I am so very exhausted right now and I am hoping to sleep peacefully and deeply.



Feeling so blah today.  My stupid mind won't leave me alone.  Two nights now of nightmares.  The first night was full of me in machines and loud noises and cold rooms and me naked on a table with people all around poking at my body.  Won't 33 days of that be fun?  During the day I'm fine with radiation- a bit nervous, but looking forward to starting so I can be done.  At night, all my fears get me while I try to sleep.

Sleep is still weird- I can fall asleep ok, but start waking around 2 and don't really sleep well after that.  My stomach feels better.  Now it feels like I've got a side ache on both sides.  It keeps me walking slow still, but it's better than straight out pain.  I actually had energy to make oatmeal for breakfast- the kind you cook on the stove and add cinnamon and sugar to.  But the kids are in shock at non-packaged food and won't eat it.  Last night I was out of energy and we ate chips, cheese, lunch meat, hummus,  salsa, and grapes for dinner in front of the fire place.  The girls asked me several times, "Is this dinner?"  Hey, I covered most of the food groups, why not call it dinner?  

My plan for next week, or I should say my hope, is to do radiation at the end of the day, then go over to Alton Baker Park each time and walk a bit along the river.  I really, really want to start exercising again.  I saw a woman running the hurdles yesterday at Karina's soccer game and I was filled with envy.  There is no way I could run right now.  It makes me sad.  I asked the doc how long until I'll feel back to my normal self after radiation.  She said that people who just have radiation return to their normal energy level in a few months.  People that have chemo and radiation take about a year.  I blocked that answer out of my mind because it seemed too cruel.  Plus, maybe it will be different for me.  I'll stick to my plan of a good diet, exercise, and whatever the naturopath and acupuncturist can do for me.  I'm trying to talk myself into feeling better, but it's not working so far.

Friday, April 24, 2009


I just now realized that my eyes stopped watering!  They ran and watered and gooped non-stop for weeks and I just now realized that it stopped!  Wow, I've been so miserable this week that I didn't even notice!  Wonder when they stopped.  GRATITUDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



What a day.  I had my appointment with my new doctor, a radiation oncologist.  She was very nice, very smart, and had GREAT people skills- gotta love doctors who've got it all.  I also got a CT scan and got some points marked on my body so the radiation will only go to one certain spot.  They'll tattoo those spots next week.   I spent most of the afternoon there and realized that this is the first day since the surgery that I've started feeling better.  By the end, though, I was ready for a rest and as I type this I'm laying down and my tummy muscles are hurting again.  But, I have more energy and although I'm tired, the chemo fatigue is mostly gone.  

When the doc started talking about side effects, I cringed, remembering all the potential side effects of chemo.  But there were really only three main ones- fatigue, swelling/pain/tenderness in my breast, and red, dry, itchy skin on my breast.  No nausea, no bone aches, no muscle aches, none of the horrid ones from chemo.  She said that most people feel that radiation is much easier than chemo, but that it is still hard.  

Here's the weird part of the visit- I was telling her about how this cancer stuff keeps happening on holidays- 

Wait, I've just been interrupted by Kaycee.  Here's what she had to say, "Whoa, your hair's growing back!  It's soft and it's black and white!"  I guess if Kaycee noticed it, it's really true, it's really growing back!!!!  I don't even care about the "white", I'm just happy to be getting it back.

Ok, so I explained to the doc about the biopsy on Halloween and the first chemo on Christmas Eve and the last chemo on April Fool's Day and I said that radiation would probably end on my birthday just to keep the pattern going.  She said I'll have 33 days of radiation and I'll probably start next week on Tuesday.  My friend who was with me went to a calendar on the wall and counted out 33 weekdays and guess what............the last day is June 12th, my 40th birthday.  Weird, weird, weird.  She also said that she could do two radiations on June 11th if I wanted to not come in on my birthday.  And, she said that there are various reasons why I might miss a day and have to add it onto the end.  So, no guarantees that it'll be on my birthday, but I am celebrating big time anyway.  I never thought I'd be so excited and so looking forward to my 40th birthday!

What feels the best about this is that I have an end date.  I now know when I'll be finished with cancer treatment and ready to mend and rejuvenate my body.  THE END IS REALLY, REALLY IN SIGHT!  I went into the appointment full of dread, for many reasons.  One of which was because I felt like I was starting over- new doctor, new nurses, new treatment.  Now I don't feel like I'm starting over- I feel kind of excited, like I can't wait to begin because the sooner I begin, the sooner I'm done.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009



I am impatient with the slow speed of my recovery from surgery.  I was expecting it to go faster.  Yesterday was hard, I got hit with a huge emotional uncontrollable sobbing thing, right in the middle of picking out cheese at Albertsons.  I had thought that I'd drop the kids at school and go into work for a bit, but I headed back home instead.  The crying was weird- it felt so out of my control and it wasn't related to any specific sadness.  I called the naturopath and she said it was most likely one of my menopause symptoms related to seratonin levels and she gave me something with St. John's Wart and Triptophan (no idea how to spell this- I think it's the stuff in turkey).  I took it and sat in the sun for a while and got to feeling somewhat better.  I had an afternoon of appointments with my counselor and acupuncture, so it was an easy afternoon of laying down and relaxing.  But, by 4:00 I was in a lot of pain and it dawned on me that something might be wrong if I'm getting worse each day rather than better.  I called the doc's office and they started me on anti-biotics.  When I went into Albertsons yesterday evening to get the prescription, the lady told me they were behind and it'd be about 10 minutes.  I embarrassingly started sobbing again!  She looked alarmed and I tried to tell her I was just in pain.  She got my stuff ready in about 2 minutes.  It's interesting how uncomfortable tears in public make people (myself included).  

I went into work this morning for a few hours.  I just couldn't bear the thought of laying in bed all day again today.  I took vicadin, but it doesn't seem to be helping much any more.  It hurt to sit in my chair at my desk, but it felt so good to be out in the world, doing something productive.  And it was so nice to see my lovely co-workers.  I work with the nicest people.  I got caught up a bit, then couldn't stand the pain any more, so I'm back home in bed.  I don't feel too bad, though, because I feel like I at least did a little something today.  I am SO impatient to be able to MOVE again.  Karina had a soccer game last night at the same field where I played all last summer.  It was really hard to sit and watch and to know that there is no way I can play soccer right now.  I know that this is temporary, but I sort of told myself that I'd be better once the weather got better.  At least I love my house and my yard- my own private retreat.  I'm in bed right now, but the window is open and there's a nice breeze blowing and I can smell my pear and plum blossoms.  I woke up at 3:00 this morning to what sounded like a big, heavy person walking around my back yard outside my window.  I looked, and there were 4 lady deer eating the pear blossoms, drinking water, walking through the sand box, and exploring the rose bushes under my window (the deer fence held- they didn't go near the garden!)  They were so pretty and magical to watch.  I'm planning on getting a comfy chaise lounge for the back yard so I can lay back there and relax in the sun.  Ok, I think I'll try for a nap.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009



I spent most of the day in bed yesterday.  I believe I'll need more than 4 days to heal from this surgery.  I may have over done it over the weekend (but it was worth it).  I feel fine as long as I'm laying down, but sitting up and walking is tough.  I did get up and move about some because I believe that speeds recovery.  The girls are getting their own breakfasts and lunches again and seem to be doing ok.  They are capable of getting themselves ready in the morning, they just prefer it if I help more.

My fingernail polish was getting chipped so I removed it last night, thinking I would just leave it off.  I was shocked at the condition of my nails! Some of them are yellow, some are black/blue, and some are white and dead looking.  On all of them, I can see a line toward the bottom where new growth is happening, and a little bit of healthy nail coming back.  I cut them as short as I could and I know that the healthy part will keep pushing the sick part up and I'll keep cutting the sick stuff away.  Right now, they are really gross looking.  I'm so glad I've kept polish on them- it would have been devastating to watch them while going through chemo.  It was hard enough seeing it last night.  But, I"VE STILL GOT MY NAILS, and I can just keep them covered in polish till they grow back.  They're hot pink at the moment.

Best news of all is that MY HAIR HAS STARTED TO GROW BACK!!!  It's pretty funny looking-fuzzy and my scalp still shows through and it's black, white, and blond in different patches.  But I don't care- any hair growth at all makes me happy.  I had a dream last night that I was at work and got so hot with my hat on that I just took it off and went without.  I did really get very hot yesterday and went around the house with no head covering.  Not brave enough to do it in public yet, but soon it won't matter!  I'll have a cool, very short, multi-colored new hair do soon enough.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Beautifully Overwhelmed

Where to even begin? What a beautiful weekend, in every sense of the word. I am so emotional right now I feel like a crazy person- I keep going from crying to laughing and both hurt my stomach and make me cry more. I am really, really, peaceful and so amazingly happy right now, although to look at my emotions I'm sure I look just plain crazy. What is going on?! The best I can describe it is like one of those Texas rainstorms I remember from when I lived there. One minute all would be still, the next huge thunderclouds would roll in and then the lightning would start and the winds would pick up and the rain would come pelting down. I had a friend who had a car with a sun roof and we used to like to sit in the car and tilt the seats way back and watch the lightning and the rain from the sun roof. Afterwards I would feel bathed in God's awesome power and beauty and be filled with immense joy at being alive. That's what happened for me this weekend, but the storm came from the amazing people in my life.

First, It was a beautiful, warm, sunny, perfect weekend- very rare and wonderful for an Oregon weekend in April. The weather made the perfect back-drop to the weekend. On Friday I left town for an Alanon retreat at a monastery right on the Mckenzie River. My bed was the bottom bunk next to a window that looked right out over the river. At night I slept with the window open and could hear the rushing river and smell the clean smell of the water. I was nervous about going so soon after surgery, but was feeling not too bad with all the pain killers. Friday evening was nice- there was a great speaker, a great meeting, and a HUGE fire place with a couch right in front that I sat on. I met a bunch of amazing, wise, strong, kind women. I got to talk to several women who have been through similar medical stuff as me, and it gave me such hope.

Saturday morning I woke up after sleeping very well- even in a room full of other women and on a tiny, not soft bunk bed. The river outside my window was the best sleeping pill ever. I had a great breakfast in the company of great women, heard the speaker again, then headed back to Eugene for the afternoon. My writing won't be able to do this next bit justice, but I'm going to try anyway. There was a fundraiser for me that afternoon at Cosmic Pizza. I walked in and was overjoyed to see almost all of my favorite people in the whole world, all in the same place at the same time. There was an amazing, loving, vibrating energy in that place that I absorbed the entire time I was there. The ride into town had left me tired and with very sore, painful tummy muscles, so I thought I'd take it easy while there. And I mostly did, but my pain began to lessen a bunch while I was there and although I was tired, I felt great. Even though I couldn't dance, my spirit was on the dance floor (great music!) I couldn't help but cry from happiness and awe.

I think God was guiding me and protecting me when I decided to move back to Eugene 4 1/2 years ago. I have lived in many, many different cities, and this is the most amazing community I've ever lived in. The people I am surrounded with are so kind, wise, loving, and giving. It inspires me and has left me with this big, neon, blazing message, that actually woke me up from a sound sleep Saturday night- LIFE IS GOOD AND I'M OK. Simple, but profound for me. I actually woke up Saturday night with that blazing thought in my head. I've wondered for a while now if I was going to be ok and what the heck was happening to my out of control life. After being filled with the COSMIC PIZZA EUGENE ENERGY, I feel ok now. The event raised a tremendous amount of money, which hasn't really sunk in for me yet, but which I am so grateful for. It also raised my level of hope higher than it's ever been before.

, I feel like I'm rambling on here and not really expressing myself well- I feel a little self-conscious here, but it's important to me to keep trying to express myself. I went back to the retreat Saturday evening and I would just start to cry when people spoke to me. I wasn't able to explain why, and I think they all just thought I was emotional. I was, but I was also speechless. I got to hear more great things from the speaker and got to attend more amazing meetings with strong women. The speaker had such a hopeful story- she was a tall, beautiful, self-confident woman who had come to the states from Mexico years ago as a teenager by illegally jumping the border fence. She told a story of how she worked on a chicken farm and would hide in the part of the coup that held the chicken crap when immigration officials would come. This woman had literally been through crap so she could make a better life for herself. Her story really inspired me- it is possible to go through really crappy times and come out the other side strong, wise, and self-confident.

Today (Sunday) I ended the retreat by walking a labyrinth with 2 friends. It was in a sunny meadow, surrounded by tall trees and even taller mountains with snow on top. All three of us have been through some crappy times, and yet here we were, walking the labyrinth, filled with hope.

I was riding high on the vibrations of love and hope and thought I could be done with the pain killers. I SO want to be done with all the medication I've been taking. Big mistake. I started feeling a LOT of pain on the drive home and just started sobbing. I quickly took some vicadin (ah vicadin, my old friend) but it takes a while to kick in. D was driving and she just talked me through it. I settled down and we got home and I immediately noticed something different in my back yard. I have been dreaming of having a little table and a chair in my garden so I can sit there on nice mornings with a cup of tea and the sun and meditate on all the growing things. I looked in my garden, and there was a table and a chair! I looked closer and saw that my lawn was all mowed and the third garden bed was put in and filled with dirt, and raspberry plants had been planted, and the peas all popped up over the weekend. I was so tired and in so much pain and had planned on laying down in bed, but instead I hobbled out to my garden and sat in the chair and just cried and cried. It's always hard to go away for the weekend and have a good time and then come back to the old routine of home, and this little surprise made me feel like I left one retreat and came home to another one. Thank you sweet F (the best boyfriend ever) for my sweet garden retreat.

Off to bed now. Good night!

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Surgery


The surgery is over and I'm home recovering.  It went fine and I was much less anxious than during the previous two.  I threw up afterwards, and again on the drive home on the side of the road, and that was the worst of it so far.  My tummy muscles aren't working too well, so sitting up and getting out of bed is tricky.  But, I feel like I'm going to heal quickly.  Funny, I never threw up all during the chemo, but I sure did yesterday.  I HATE throwing up!  Especially on the side of the road.  Ah, well, at least it's over.  I'm home resting now, hanging out with the cats and watching the rain fall and waiting to go to my acupuncture appointment.  More later.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Here Goes!


It's the eve of surgery number three for me.  I'm nervous, but not as much as the last two times.  I did all my pre-op stuff at the hospital today and it was all familiar and boring.  I just hope the whole hospital experience tomorrow goes fast.  I'm looking forward to getting home and getting into my own bed and watching a cool soccer movie I have.  

I'm feeling better about the whole ovary thing.  Chances are I'll have some of the side effects, but not all of them.  I'm committed to having an excellent diet and regular exercise after all this- I think it'll be key to feeling good and handling side effects.  My garden is doing well and is full of yummy greens just waiting to make me healthy.  Two deer were in the back yard yesterday morning grazing on the lawn- they didn't breech the garden fence!  They were so beautiful and peaceful to watch.

My one concern is that I've had a sore throat for the past couple of days, and right now it's really sore.  During anesthesia, a tube is put down my throat and the last times I remember waking up with a sore throat from the tube.  I'm concerned that my throat will be really sore this time.  Isn't it great that this is my biggest concern!

Ok, more after the surgery.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Rested At Last!


I went to sleep AGAIN last night with no sleeping pill!  And, I woke up this morning feeling RESTED and HAPPY!  I can't remember the last time I woke up feeling rested.  It was such a delicious feeling- like I'm getting myself back when I've been away somewhere for a long, long time.  I walked for half and hour this morning and I walked pretty fast for the first 15 minutes and felt like I had some energy.  The last 15 minutes I was tired, but didn't have the muscle aches like before.  I'm getting better, I can feel it!  Just in time for surgery day after tomorrow.  I called the doc today to ask more about my recovery and was told that I shouldn't drive for 4 days because I'll be on pain killers.  I was also told that I'd go into instant menopause and that I might be irritable and have mood swings and night sweats.  I already knew this, but it strikes me as weird that on Wednesday I'll be pre-menopausal and Thursday I'll be post-menopausal.  Talk about instant!  I apologized to my body today for the shock it's about to go through.  I still think it really, really sucks to be losing my ovaries.  I know it's totally unrealistic, but I have this though that on Wed I'll be a young, vibrant woman and on Thur I'll be an old, tired woman. I know it's not true, but that's the thought rattling around in my brain right now.  I'm trying to think of all the woman I know who have gone through menopause.  The women I'm thinking of all have some things in common- wisdom and incredible self-confidence.  Maybe I'll get some of that.  My self-esteem has taken a nose-dive these past few months.  Luckily I had enough to begin with that I could afford to lose a little.  I haven't talked much about my hair lately, but it gets harder and harder to look at myself in the mirror.  I'm bald, my eyes are tired and puffy looking, and I've lost my muscle tone.  Sometimes I just have to look myself in the eye and remind myself that this is all temporary.  I'm checking my head every day to see if there's any new hair growth- it's supposed to start growing back in the next few weeks.  The fuzz I do have seems to be getting a bit longer.  I'm not looking forward to wearing something on my head when the weather gets warm, so it better grow back fast!  I bought myself a pretty sun dress last week just to cheer myself up.  I tried it on in the dressing room and my scars show in it and I looked ridiculous in it bald, but I bought it anyway.  I'm both embarrassed and not by my scars.  It's weird- they look bad, but they tell me how strong and resilient my body is.
I have tried really hard not to google certain things, but I'm just going to google "instant menopause" and see what comes up.

-So much for my happy mood.  I just googled "surgical menopause" and read the first thing I came across-how depressing and scary.  Now I know why I don't google.  

Monday, April 13, 2009

Full Speed Ahead!


I started back to a more normal work schedule last week.  When I started chemo, I was able to change my work duties a bit so that instead of doing home visits with kids and families, I was doing phone screenings.  This was to protect my immune system as much as possible and so that I didn't have to do so much driving while on medication that causes drowsiness.  Last week, I started transitioning back into doing home visits again. I found myself driving to a home visit today, eating a veggie burger from Burger King in the car on the way.  It struck me that this was my old life style- race as fast as possible through the day, eating in the car to save time.  I really, really don't want to start doing that again.  I haven't been as careful about what I've been eating lately- too tired and too busy with work to plan meals.  On a positive note, I was able to cook a meal this past week, rather than just heating up Trader Joe's ready meals.

In spite of work being busy, it feels really, really good to be doing home visits again.  I really love working directly with little kids and parents, on the floor, with the toys and the slobber and the snot and even the family dog.  It's crazy, but fun.  Even though I'm so tired, it feels really good to be doing work that I love and that I'm good at.  And, it's totally absorbing- for the hour that I'm at a home visit, I have an hour that I don't think about cancer.  

Today was one of those Mondays where I woke up and didn't want to get out of bed.  My legs ached and I woke exhausted.  As the day progressed, though, I felt better and now that it's the end of the day, I find that I'm not as achy and tired as I was last week.  The best news of all is that I've had two night's sleep with NO sleeping pills!  I take my herbs and my opium and it seems to be helping- I've been able to fall asleep within an hour.  I wake up a lot, and I am having lots of weird, vivid dreams, but they're not nightmares.  I'm confident that my body will readjust and pretty soon I'll be a normal sleeper again.

My surgery is coming up this week and I'm focusing on the positive- the port-a-cath is coming out!  I haven't much idea of what it'll feel like to have no ovaries.  I know my estrogen level will go way down and the naturopath says that my body could respond in a variety of ways, from little changes to lots of changes.  I've been talking to different women about menopause and I'm not too freaked out about it at this point.  I feel like I'm surrounded by enough wise women that there will be help with any discomfort menopause brings my way.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Back on the Couch


It's 7:00 and I'm back on the couch again for the evening, as I've been every night this week.  The good news is that each day I am a little less fatigued!  It's happening slowly, but I can tell my energy is going to come back.  I hit such a bottom earlier in the week.  I haven't been sleeping well and I wake up exhausted.  I found myself awake still at midnight on Tuesday and just started sobbing out of sheer frustration.  Then I found I couldn't stop.  I was hit full force by the hell cancer has put me through, and the fear of that washed over me.  I think I've been holding the fear at bay, just getting through one day and one chemo at a time.  Now that the chemo is over, the fear found a place to settle.  It was ok to feel it, and it was ok to let it go.  I know it will always be in my mind- will the cancer come back, will each check up be clear, for the rest of my life.  But, I'm not going to let it take me over.  

On Wed I went in for my blood draw and it was fine.  No more shots!!!  But, the nurses took one look at me and said I looked like crap and needed some fluids.  Well, they didn't actually say "crap" but I knew that's what they meant.  My eyes have been running for a few weeks now- a side effect of the chemo (although around here it could also be allergies).  On Wed they were all swollen and red and I did look pretty awful.  I have been drinking a lot of fluids, but still feel like my body is all dried out- another side effect.  I sat in the chemo chair yet again getting fluids.  I was there for an hour and it was pretty relaxing since I was so tired.  I put an ice pack on my eyes and took a little rest.  Afterwards I had a visit with the naturopath.  I explained my level of fatigue to her and she said it sounded like my adrenal gland and my hormones where out of whack, and also that I probably wasn't absorbing certain vitamins.  She gave me some different things to take, along with a sleep remedy.  It is made from poppies, among other things, so I call it my little bottle of opium.  I also have some herbs to take in the evening to calm my racing thoughts.  And, she recommended soaking my nails in vinegar, then dipping them in rubbing alcohol and blowing them dry.  She said the smell is from water getting underneath them and causing organisms to grow.  So, I've been doing the naturopath stuff for a few days now and my nails don't smell as bad and my sleep is better.  Well, when I say better that means that when I finally fall asleep, I stay asleep the whole night and don't have nightmares.  It still takes me hours to fall asleep.  I'm trying so hard to get off the sleeping pills, but ended up taking one when I found myself still awake at 2:00 this morning.  The stuff she gave me for energy seemed to work the first day.  Instead of crashing at 2:00, I've been crashing around 5:00.  After a few hours on the couch, I've got the energy to get up, clean up a bit, and get the girls off to bed.

I have given up soccer for awhile.  There is no way I can be running around a soccer field right now without the steroid boost.  I have decided to start walking and I've walked every day this week, first for 20 minutes and now for 30 minutes.  It feels great to be out walking, but it is exhausting.  My muscle aches make a 20 minute walk feel more like a 10 mile run.  My goal for the next few weeks is to rest as much as possible, but get in one walk a day.

I have an appointment with a radiology cancer doctor on the 24th, a week after my surgery.  She will get me set up for radiation.  I learned that I will be getting that tattoo I've always wanted.  They tattoo little marks on the breast so that they can get the radiation machine lined up correctly each time.  So much for my winding rose vine around my scar tattoo.  I'll have little dots instead, forever.

I was given a book this week, called Cancer Vixen.  It's hilarious.  It's written by a New York woman who is a cartoonist who got breast cancer.  The whole book is her experiences, written in cartoon.  Her life style is WAY different from mine, but I found my self relating to certain experiences.  Like when she goes in with her mom for her first chemo and she gets scared and she draws herself shrinking all the way back down to being a little girl crawling into her mama's lap and she says she wishes she could go back into the womb.  And when she first got the diagnosis she draws herself getting sucked off the planet earth and hurled into a black hole.  She also has a romance going the whole time she's in treatment, and a bunch of friends helping her out, and fun things happen for her, along with the crappy stuff.  Reading this book made me feel more normal than I have in a long time.

Hope to see you there!

Just click on the flyer below to see it bigger and read the details easier.