Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Pinktober -- NO!

It appears that my reader(s) -- they ever DID exist, have dwindled. Might be because I have not posted since July of 2013...

Anyway, if you stumble across the current posting, please, PLEASE read this woman's blog. And you might be suddenly aware of why MANY of us (cancer warriors) do NOT support this blatant commercialization of breast cancer awareness.

Heather's blog on Pinktober

She states (correctly) that all kinds of companies use this as an opportunity to SELL stuff, by putting pink ribbons on their products.

Heather, by the way, is dealing with breast cancer. She objects (as do most of us) to the companies who say they will give X-amount of dollars to cancer research. Once that amount is reached, they do NOT give any of the additional funds to research. And SOME companies do not even SAY they are donating funds to research - they just slap that ol' pink ribbon on the products.

The cancer that I am dealing with, uterine/endometrial cancer, uses a peach ribbon. I refuse to wear this, because it assumed to be PINK. More recently the teal ribbon, originally used for ovarian cancer, has been adapted/adopted for ALL gyno (gynecological) cancers. There is NO confusion with the dreaded pink ribbon.

Okay, that's it, folks. Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Things to say / NOT to say -- to cancer patients!

Just caught this on Facebook and wanted to share it with as many as are willing to view it. A wonderful pastor gives a few tips on things NOT to say to cancer patients, along with things TO say. Concise phrases, and as one who is/has gone thru treatment (and now follow-up check-ups), these resonated with me.


Length of this video, including the requisite commercial, is about 4 minutes long.

And, btw, my last check-up on July 22nd was ok! Had a CT scan in mid-May which showed NO changes from the one I had back in October of 2012. Woo hoooooo!!!!

And posting a couple of pix of me -- completely bald (winter/spring 2012 - ugh!) and with hair (in May 2013).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wow, has it really been all these months since my last post?

Just a very quick update. I am doing well, just fine, growing some hair, even. What a novel turn of eventsQ

Will TRY to publish some old and some current photos. Seems like there is never enough time for that.

I added a new blog to my list along the right side of this page. It's called MY LIFE, DISTILLED. Written by a married woman with young kids, undergoing breast cancer treatment: surgery, chemo and all the attendant side effects that can go with those processes. Frankly written, and told with some humor (yes, it's true, we can and NEED a sense of humor to go through this shit).

Check her out, even if you are NOT going through this stuff.

Later, friends.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Not even a month has gone by....

Well, guess I should at - at a minimum - let you know what happened on my last visit/checkup in Minneapolis. That was June 27th. Prior to that visit, I had to have another CT scan, which I had in Duluth. That was a Tuesday, and my checkup was Friday. The gist of that summary is that nothing really suspicious has shown up - BUT - in good, tightly-monitored cases as mine (stage 3C), they don't go too long between checkups. So they want another CT scan preceding my next checkup, late in October.

So I have my life back, sorta. I do NOT dwell on what might be going on inside my body. I just hope for the best and keep busy. That helps.

I am on a couple of Facebook sites for cancer patients/families. One is called It Ain't Chemo, and another is technically NOT for me (my age group, that is), called Stupid Cancer. A third one is Choose Hope. If you are on Facebook, you can view (or even "like" them, if you want to see their posts). Stupid Cancer is mainly aimed at the 20 - to - 40-yr-old group, one that they felt was UNDERserved (a lot of attention is focused on pediatric cancer), so they formed their own group. I may order a t-shirt or two from Stupid Cancer. I particularly like the one that states, "STUPID CANCER - get busy LIVING" (the caps are MY choice), because that says it all to me. They also have web sites: ItAintChemo.com and StupidCancer.org and ChooseHope.com. All of these sell merchandise on their sites (goes to cancer research and/or support of patients and their families), and some of them accept outright donations.

Injured my back pretty badly, about 6 weeks ago. I first strained it on the lower right side while we were moving three (yes, you read that correctly) SETS of box springs/mattresses. The oldest one was given to his son, the next oldest moved into the spare bedroom, and the newest into the master. I pulled it while we were toting the first set, and at that point, I still had to "play injured" (football term) and do the other two sets. Then it was getting a bit better, and I re-strained it (same side) by moving furniture. And this went on and on for weeks, until my LEFT side was so bad that I could barely move. My guy INSISTED that I go to his chiropractor, who, after 3 visits, has actually got me moving again. Who knew that the human back could be so painful? This is, by the way, my first go-round with back problems and my first experience with a chiropractor. The doc really knew his stuff, so I am a convert to using a chiro in these circumstances. I am also grateful that I have gone over 60 years with no trouble like this before.

I have some photos that I need to post and will probably put them in a single post - me with/without hair, on the table for radiation, in the U for infusion (chemo drugs), etc. BTW, my hair is (once again) s-l-o-o-w-w-ly starting its regrowth. Half an inch a month... will be a long process and I will be wearing this wig for what will see forever. I do NOT look good in short hair, so the wig will be my camouflage for a year or better, I am thinking.

So, that's pretty much what has been happening in my life, folks. Gotta end this and make the drive to see my mom for a few hours. That's about a half-hour drive from "work" (L's shop), and an hour from the house. So tootaloo...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Another year older and ....

So, even tho' it's nearly two weeks past the Fourth, here I am, writing about it.

It was a truly fun several days. Starting on the Fourth, when L's "kids" came to spend some time with him and I at the lake. Six adults (three kids + three significant others), three grandkids, three step-grandkids, a few add-ons (other adults and kids), and two grand-dogs. Plenty of food, enough to drink, a sunny day and cooperative weather. Made for some good times, and so nice to see that many of his family all together!

The following evening - the 5th - my Duluth-area cousins gathered at a West Duluth watering hole, to meet the new guy in my cousin's life. She abides in Texas - previously in the Dallas area, and more recently in the Houston area - and a big part of my heart still lives there. Anyway, so good to see so many cousins at one time. And this was a karoke night at that bar (I can hear your groans, you know!), and the "new guy" has a very good voice... as does the (female) significant other of another cousin. If only I had the courage to face even a handful of folks, and sing publicly...

On Friday, as is our frequent habit, we went to the local Elks Club. And were surprised by his youngest son and his significant other, plus two of her kids. They brought me (surprise again!) a birthday cake plus a balloon. The element of surprise was SO nice and I felt quite special. Plus I had some added attention from others who were dining/drinking at the club. Truly, my birthday was the following day... but the celebration was just so unexpected and wonderful!

The following day (Saturday) we were invited to a private party being given by two Elks members, celebrating the fella's 65 birthday, and the couple's 40 wedding anniversary. More fun, more food, another great evening.

And the topper of it all was on Sunday, when we took our maiden 'cycle ride of 2012. I am very self-conscious on a bike now. I don't want to remove my helmet in public, being so damned-ably bald (hmm, got a spelling error on that word, but I'm leavin' it anyway). On the way back to L's place, we stopped at Porky's, near Island Lake, for an ice cream treat. And ran into his son and his honey plus the two kids (again). Of course, I am sitting there, eating the ice cream WITH my helmet on... Maybe someday I will have hair again.

Another woman who works in the same building where L leases space for his business, has been very supportive. She herself went thru uterine cancer plus the attendent chemo treatment, over 20 years ago. And then was TWICE "blessed" with bouts of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, as if the original cancer diagnosis and so on was not enough. Then she recently was diagnosed with another round of non-Hodgkins and began a combination this week of lower-dosed chemo (oral) and a once-a-week IV infusion. I knew that she had had biopsies for diagnosis last week. Dammit... again, can't the good Lord find someone else to bother? Why do those who have already faced down these damn diseases, have to be RE-visited with it over and over?

Okay... ranting doesn't help anything. And those of you who have not faced this "challenges" think that I am just being bitter. Can you REALLY blame me? What you should REALLY be astonished with, is that I have retained ANY sense of humor. Plus the fact that I can and DO sleep at night. I do not toss and turn and wonder if I will be around tomorrow. And I guess that says something about me, about my strength and character. Sigh...

Monday, June 18, 2012

Too long between posts!

Sorry, readers. Sometimes Real Life gets in the way...

Had a very VERY good weekend. My sister's "kids" (now I know how my parents' generation always thought of us, no matter our actual chronological ages) were all together this weekend. One son drove cross-country with his significant other and their two dogs (whippets), from the West Coast. Another drove up from the Twin Cities with his wife, two sons, and a dog (lab). And her daughter and son-in-law live only about 20 minutes away and were there, too. All were housed in either my sister's residence or the camper that they have on their property. Talk about a full house!

It was so great to see them all. The "kids" have not been all together for 2 years, when the daughter got married. Which was another fun day, with an off-beat reception at the Duluth Aquarium, complete with a carnival theme. Lots of finger food, including popcorn, wings, cotton candy, cupcakes (in lieu of wedding cake)... just a clever concept, so perfect for my niece and her artsy ways. But back to this past weekend...

On Saturday, three of my sis's family members - both sons and the daughter-in-law - were scheduled to do tandem skydives in Superior, in celebration of the oldest son's 40th birthday, which was in early April. The weather on late Saturday morning, was rather iffy and a front was moving thru as they performed their jumps. Very exciting to witness the jump! I am trying to screw up enough courage to do a later jump when sis's daughter jumps, probably in September. Since I want to limit my odds of an early expiration, I did not choose to jump while I am still undergoing chemo. Somehow, the idea of exposing my naked head in front of a large group of strangers, does NOT hold much attraction for me. So, if I have completed this current round of treatments by then, and IF I have some hair regrowth in September, I will jump. All three of the family jumpers did NOT think they would EVER do this more than one time -- and each one of them said that they would do it again! And one of the sons has quite a fear of heights, and the other has a lesser feeling along those same lines. So... something I can check off my bucket list!

On Sunday (Father's Day) we were invited to L's son and daughter-in-law's place for tacos and socializing. L met his son at one of the local country clubs for 18 holes of golf, along with his son's father-in-law and another guy. Weather was wonderful. At the son's house, it was again a dog-filled day: two more labs, and a small toy dachsund. Fun day of chatting with that part of the family - and the guys were planted in front of tv, watching a golf tournament.

I was able to have chemo #5 on June 4th. That was originally supposed to be my last (#6) date, but I had to wait 3 additional weeks until my platelet counts were in the proper range, before proceeding. My hair QUIT falling out, during the additional non-treatment weeks. So I have an even sparser smattering of hair, and since it is now two weeks after #5, it is fixin' to bail out, again. My hair follicles actually HURT during this process and the scalp becomes tender.

And I have another side effect to add: neuropathy. That's nerve damage, which manifests itself (in my situation) as a deep burning sensation, plus a loss to the gripping capability of that same hand - my left one. Since I am right-handed, this is NOT as limiting as it could have been. Still, the unexpected burning pain catches me unawares. And I am extremely careful when picking things up with my left hand, particularly wet plates, cups and glassware while washing dishes. This may or may not resolve itself, following the end of treatments. And it can linger for months or years, I am told.

Have been reading about newscaster Robin Roberts and her newest "cancer" diagnosis, myelodysplastic syndrome. This is actually a medical condition - not truly classified as a cancer - which means the bone marrow is not producing effective blood cells, leaving the patient with lowered blood cell counts and/or poorly-formed blood cells. There are several versions of MDS. My sister's husband died of MDS in 2002, while being prepared for a bone marrow transplant. So this obviously is holding my attention. Maybe a little-known fact is that cancer treatments - both chemo and radiation - can actually be the cause(s) of secondary cancers. Yup. Might cure you, might kill you. Huh. Not a lot of options.

Well, that's kind of the catch-up for me. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A setback

Well, today WAS supposed to be my next-to-last chemo. I have been anticipating these last two rounds, so that my life will (sorta) belong to me again. No medical folks micro-managing my life, no tests or treatments. Just me and whatever the day deals me (or that I deal myself). You know: a "normal" life.

[I don't think I have led a normal life since Greg died. And, ironically, that was 4 years ago TODAY. The weeks and months after that seemed to drag, at times appearing to go into reverse. Widows and widowers will know just what I mean by that. The rest of you are fortunate enough to not have faced that.]

Continuing on that aborted chemo: we have a routine now. We drive to my nephew and his wife's home in the Twin Cities area (Minneapolis/St. Paul and its suburbs, for those of you who don't know where that is), where they graciously allow us to stay overnight, free of charge. Then we arise the following morning, grab a cup of coffee at their home, and drive to the University of Minnesota campus area. We have a small breakfast at a local cafe' - okay, it's the Purple Onion - then motor over to the parking ramp which serves many, MANY patients and their families/friends on a daily basis. We must, by nature of the process, first see a nurse/practitioner (or sometimes an M.D.) who goes over previous data. In my case, there's not too much to review, as I have been MOST fortunate to have little-to-no side effects. Then we trudge over the Masonic Clinic, where I must have a blood test at their lab, and then onward to the 5- or 6-hour infusion process of chemo. But. Not. Today. I did have my lab work done, and then we sat, as usual, waiting for our "buzzer" to alert us to proceed to the chemo area. The buzzer is like those devices they hand you in restaurants, so you are summoned when your table is ready. We had been waiting about 40 or 45 minutes, when a young woman appeared in the waiting room and called out, "Jessica?" Of course, I wasn't sure that she was looking for ME. But unfortunately, that was the case. It seems that my platelet count was low, so low that they would not allow the chemo to be administered. I was pissed - just pissed. I had so, SO wanted to have these last two sessions out of the way, to be on my way to having HAIR again. If you have your hair, and have never lost it, you just CANNOT relate to what hair means to a bald woman (or possibly a bald man, either). It makes a woman feminine, gives us a way of presenting ourselves the way WE want to appear. NOT the way that fate has dictated that we appear.

So... of COURSE they could not reschedule me on Tuesday of next week. OF COURSE NOT. Now, instead of May 15th, my next scheduled chemo is May 24th. That's OVER a month after the previous one. And that pushes my next (last?) chemo date to possibly June 14th. Just three weeks before my birthday. Happy friggin' birthday to me...

BTW, they now tell me that they can have my blood test done up here in the Duluth area, so we will NOT have to waste another trip to the Cities with the same damned results. Whooppee... not much consolation for me today.

Sorry, readers. I am just so down and the only way to get this out of my system is to blog about it. Deep down, I know this is just a little setback. But why now, why me? I think these are questions I have been asking ever since May 15, 2008. I am ready for a little "normal".