Thursday, February 6, 2014

Goodbye and Thanks!!

I've decided it's time to end my "cancer" blog.  I have been following blogs of people with cancer that just... stop.  There is never another post - never an ending.  You don't know if they are sick, or worse yet, passed away or if they have just gone on with life and stopped writing. 

I love to read - books have endings. So, as I am approaching my one year of NED (no evidence of disease) I felt it's time to end. I still have my port which I'm hoping to get removed in the next few months. I'll be having some type of IV to help my bones for the next few years as chemo messed them up. I still need to decide about the tattoos for the FOOBs - though I am still leaning towards the daisies. I am still seeing the oncologist every 6 weeks. I still panic when I feel some new bump/lump. I have gained WAY too much weight (25 lbs) - while enjoying lots of "comfort" food the past 18 months. My knee is doing so much better so I'm ready to start back on yoga and seriously get healthy again. Right now cancer seems to be either on the run or hiding from me. It if again shows it's ugly face, I'll be back writing but for now my life is slowly getting back on track. Or at least moving to a new track. For the record during January and first few days of February:

I celebrated another birthday - Wahoooo!!

Nothing wrong in getting older!

I went to see P!NK in concert - another Wahooo!!  

Nothing wrong in having FUN!!

Or acting younger!!

I celebrated Rick's and Hanks' birthday as well as wished Collette a long distance happy day!!   

Handsome son!

Can't believe he's 9! Good looking kid~

Before I shut down this blog... I do have ONE MORE cancer story. It's really more a chemo story.  CHEMO BRAIN.  This really exists....

Rick and Anna came to Utah to celebrate Rick's 30th birthday.  The day before his birthday I called the bakery I always order cake from - Kohler's in Lehi.  I ordered a delicious cake!!  That afternoon Scott, Rick, Anna and I went to the cabin - stayed the night and came back Saturday afternoon.  Plans were for all the adults to meet for a birthday dinner that evening and birthday cake with the kids on Sunday.  I quickly ran to Kohler's to pick up Rick's cake.  The gal there could not find my cake!  I told her what I had ordered, I even told her that I had mentioned, when ordering, how much I loved their cakes and have been ordering from them for years.  The gal was embarrassed and called the baker.  He didn't remember the order.  So she pulled out a cake that had been on display but just made that morning.  She wrote "Happy 30th Birthday Rick" on it and sold it to me for half the cost.  All was well... things worked out fine so I was good.  I'm walking to my car and my cell rings.  "Hi Jeri. This is Lehi Bakery. We are closing in 20 minutes and your cake is still here". 

 S E R I O U S L Y!!!  

I had ordered the BIRTHDAY CAKE from another bakery!!  So, needless to say.... Rick had TWO birthday cakes.  This is a funny story in and of itself but combine it with all the memory issues I'm having and it became the perfect storm.  I think I cried for an hour about how I am turning into a crazy lady.  Chemo brain is REAL!!  Ohhh... btw - we had no trouble devouring two cakes and they were both delicious!

I am so grateful that I wrote my experiences in this blog.  This truly helped me put words to what I was feeling and going through.  A side benefit for me was seeing all the many people that read and supported me through my diagnosis, surgeries and chemo.  I have so many amazing people that I am thankful for.  Many I know - many I do not.  To whomever reads my blog.. Thank YOU.  Thank You for your support, prayers, good thoughts and wishes.  Thank you for validating my feelings by reading my words.  I wish everyone good health and joy in  your life.




Goodbye and Thanks!!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

This Club Sucks!

A few days ago a good friend of mine called to tell me that her daughter had just been diagnosed with Breast Cancer - she's 44.  Today she had surgery.  I have been an emotional mess today - crying, praying and worrying about her.  I have never met her but sadly she is now part of a "club" that no one wants to join.  I remember all too clearly the day before and the day of my surgery.  I remember the tears. I remember I couldn't eat.  I couldn't sleep.  I remember taking pictures with my family that was around.  I remember breaking into tears at the hospital (which was a little weird) when I saw a close relative. I remember being scared of the unknown.  I remember the prayers.  I remember the feeling of disbelief that this was happening to me.  I even told the doctor to check the results again as I thought he made a mistake.  I remember being in quite a bit of pain for a few days - then things started to get better.  I remember the tears when I first saw what I looked like.  And OH... I remember those horrible drains....

Leaving for Surgery

Waiting to Get Wheeled Into the OR

I Should Have Been Dancing for YouTube

But I also remember all the family and friends that came to the hospital or my house.  Those (so many) that brought meals, treats or just dropped in to see how I was doing.  I received  calls, texts and emails not to mention all the wonderful love and support on Facebook and my blog.  I had people praying for me that I had never met.  I had friends from work send or bring me thoughtful items to uplift and make me happy.  Neighbors and friends sent flowers and all types of wonderful things.  Relatives traveled long distances to be with us.  My kids called and visited daily.  And Scott handled my drains and took care of everything.

Today, while thinking so much about my friend's daughter, I had to go into my oncologist's office to have my port flushed.  (yes, I still have that darn thing)  A gal I had never seen before walked into the chemo room and stood looking around at the chairs.  I was pretty sure this was her first day of chemo.  We started talking and yes, it was her first day.  She was nervous.  I asked if she minded if I told her what I wished I had known going into chemo.  She really wanted to hear.  I told her some of my experiences and what I think could have been done to avoid those outcomes.  I, once again, got a little emotional while talking to her.  In a flash - I could remember and feel how HARD it was to go through chemo.  

Chemo.... what a voyage into the unknown.  Each treatment had the same and also a different outcome from the previous treatment.  Chemo/cancer takes away your feeling of control over your life. Cancer is never very far from your thoughts.  You might be distracted for a few minutes but that doesn't last long.  Chemo changes your body - the way you look and the way you feel.  Your skin changes, your hair falls out, you lose your eyelashes and eyebrows.  One minute you are flushed red and the next you are white as a ghost.  Your lips crack, your mouth is dry and your skin peels.  You gain weight even though your nauseated and dealing with diarrhea.  AND you get zits! Seriously... nothing pretty about that stuff.  

On Our Way to My First Chemo Treatment

The morning of my 4th treatment (and each treatment after)  - I told Scott that I wasn't going.  I quit!  I knew what was coming and expected each time to get worse (and I wasn't disappointed).  I didn't feel I could do it anymore.  Of course I went but believe me when I say - it takes a lot of courage and strength to do chemo. 

This is the "club" that these two wonderful women have now joined.  This club is filled with the most amazing men, women and children.  People that probably would never have met, become friends - have a special bond.  Kindness and empathy is a common trait. When you meet another person in this "club" whether or not the cancer is/was the same as yours, you instantly understand each other on some level.

People tell me that in time the memories and feelings become easier to manage and I won't be as emotional.  As in all things I'm sure this is true.  But I will never forgot the changes cancer has created in my life. Nor will I ever forget the amazing love and support that was shown me. I was overwhelmed that so many people cared. 

I am heartbroken for anyone that joins this "club".  I hate to see another person and family go through any cancer experience.  It is a difficult road.  However, the understanding, balance and insight I have gained from my membership in this "club" is priceless.

Right After the News - Before it Really Began


Sunday, January 5, 2014

My Mom Said There Would Be Days Like This...

Happy New Year!

Our New Year started out how 2013 was ending... with Scott sick and my knee the size of a beach ball.  I got up (didn't really sleep) to Scott looking like he had seriously been run over by something BIG.  Dark circles under his eyes, pale skin, fever, bloodshot eyes, cold chills - you name and he either had it or looked like it!

I told him to get dressed as I was taking him to Urgent Care.  You know a man is sick when their reply is "ok".  The doctor we saw has been in practice for 30 years so he has seen his share of illness.  He checked Scott out, looked at me and said that Scott was a fraction away from being admitted to the hospital.  He has a good case of pneumonia. He told me if I had waited a few more hours I most likely would have been calling an ambulance.  His oxygen level was low - 85 but while there they were able to get it up to 88/89.  The doc gave us a boat load of prescriptions and then off to bed he goes.  Where he has stayed since.

Not Looking Well.... my poor, sick honey

If anyone knows Scott at all they know he does not like to sit still.  I tell him he has adult ADHD.  He always has to be doing something - craving, wood building, making a sword (yes, this is true), tinkering with a number of appliances/gadgets, working on his Firebird, etc.  So the fact that he has not ventured too far away from the bed or the chair in 5 days is pretty telling.

Sometimes the chair is just more comfortable

He thinks he's feeling somewhat better today - which is good OR he will be visiting the doctor again tomorrow.  

My knee from my scope is really a pain.  At PT on Friday the therapist spent a good 30 minutes trying to move the swelling around.  It's been 3 weeks since my silly scope.  I should be better by now.  I mean seriously, I had my boobs chopped off - this is nothing, right?!  Apparently I have underestimated the trauma my body is willing to deal with right now.  HA.

PT on the knee
My mom warned me there would be days like this!

I've decided that I'm not counting any of this as 2014 issues.  They both started in 2013 - so it's leftovers.  Once we get past all this... we will be great!!!  I'm ready for some trips, friends, family and sunshine! I've got a list of things I want to do this year!! 

Speaking of lists....  I started a "happy moments" jar.  Each day I am writing something that made me smile or made me feel good during the day. A memory I want to keep. I then put that little memory in the jar.  At the end of the year I can read back on the wonderful things that I experienced each day in 2014. My memory is getting a little fuzzy (I'm blaming chemo) and I don't want to lose some of these precious memories.  

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Change is Good

What a difference a year makes!  

Christmas 2012

Last year at this time I was bald... all my fingernails and two of my toenails were black, infected and lifting.  My eyes were watering like a garden hose and my nose was always running.  It hurt to bend my fingers from the neuropathy and my ankles and feet were swollen.  BUT I had finished my "nasty, very difficult" chemo and was on the way back to who I was.  OR at least that is what I thought....  silly me - I can never be that same person.  Mostly the same - but this cancer experience did change me.

It's amazing that with each change or challenge we go through, we change.  Sometimes it's very subtle - so very slight - but it's there. No matter how much we would like it to happen - we can never return to the person we once were before we experienced a change/challenge.  Most people don't like change. The unknown is generally a bit scary.

I live in a fairly young neighborhood.  I watch these young, wonderful families and remember the time in my life when I was young and had my life mapped out to include "happily ever-after".  Then unpredictable change and heartbreak happened. My father died. I felt I was too young not to have my father. I still had children living at home.  Shortly after that, I went through an emotional and painful divorce from the man I thought was my prince. I didn't know how I would survive. I wanted my old life back. I wanted my old self back - the person who looked through those rose colored glasses following her map.  But it wasn't to be. It couldn't be. I now had a new perspective of life and people and I couldn't go back to the way I saw things before. I had to learn what to do with the "new" me.  I needed to understand how to make these changes a positive thing for myself.

I wrote in an earlier blog that I do not believe that God gives us horrible challenges to go through.  God gave us life.  HE gave us the resources necessary for us to deal with changes in our lives.  How and what we do with those experiences is up to us.

I read a blog tonight by one of my friends.  She's been dealing with a difficult cancer for several years.  She wrote about gratitude.  I understood completely what she was writing about.  When you go through any difficult change - whether it's cancer, a divorce, dealing with an aging parent, new job, lost of job - or anything - you change.  Some people choose to be bitter and grumpy because of their changes and what they have lost.  Others - and it seems those dealing with a life threatening and/or terminal disease do this a lot - seem to look for the marvelous and wonderful things that life has left them.  For me, I am lucky to have found my knight in shining armor - the love of my life.  A man who loves me and thinks about me first. I have four amazing adult children along with their spouses who are kind and generous people.  They are very tolerant of many things (and people) that others can not deal with.  I am so lucky to have 7 grandchildren. They bring such joy and laughter into my life. Even though I have a dorky knee right now and my neuropathy in my feet is getting worse I am so grateful to wake up every morning.... even on cold, snowy days.  There is nothing more beautiful! 

Change might not always be easy but anytime we can learn more about ourselves, become more appreciative of what we have and move forward 
 - it's a good thing. 

Life IS Good! November 2013


Sunday, December 8, 2013

A New Arena

I have been hobbling around since September.  Sometimes in so much pain I could hardly walk. I finally went to my primary doctor who requested an xray of my knee and a MRI of my knee and leg.  He wanted to make sure I wasn't messing with a blood clot.  He could see fluid in the back portion of my leg/knee area but no clot.  So I was referred to an orthopedic surgeon. Well, he took one look at my MRI and told me that I had a torn meniscus! WHAT THE HECK?  HOW would I have done that??  He asked when I noticed the pain.  It was the week following my grandson's JDFR walk  in early September. So, the doctor figured I tore it W A L K I N G.  hmmmm

I have surgery, which is basically a scope surgery, scheduled for December 12th.  Surgery has been so far off in the distance, now that it is almost here I have too much to do to have surgery! I'm hoping to be up and moving around 'just fine' in a few days but really.... this will be FOUR surgeries in 17 months.  That averages one surgery almost every four months. I need to make a rule - NO MORE SURGERIES!!!  One bonus is the Temporary HANDICAP parking pass I have!!  When I use it at the store though, Jenni tells me I need to limp more.....

November was a crazy, busy month!  Scott turned 59 (big 6-0 next year!!) on the 22nd.  
We almost had a house fire with all those candles!
My kids all had things going on but Scott's nephews Nick and Cameron along with Cameron's wife, Tiffany and daughter MeKennah, came to the house to sing and eat cake. It was so enjoyable to have them there!!

Cameron, Tiffany, McKennah, Scott, Me, Owen, Nick
Owen came to the birthday party as well.  He LOVED McKennah!!

Owen's new girlfriend McKennah and her mom Tiffany 
Then Thanksgiving! It was AWESOME!  One of the best, ever!!  All my kids were here. Rusty, Collette and Owen came from Wisconsin and stayed 10 days!!  Rick and Anna came from Portland and were here for 4 1/2 days.

Randy and Rusty went duck hunting at 6 am earlier in the week
 Getting ready for the big feast is part of the fun!  I had a kitchen full of people making things.  It was a blast!!

Collette, Owen, Rick, Rusty, Anna

Rick and Rusty
Dinner was delicious.  We had Thanksgiving day specials from the Georgia south (compliments of Anna) and some Midwest zing (compliments of Collette). BUT the best part of the day (after eating, of course) was to sit around and laugh and visit. Of course there was a little football playing on the tv as well.  

Definitely a full table
It is so incredible to look at your children and see what amazing adults they are.  It was a PROUD MOTHER MOMENT (day) for me!!  

I can't believe I didn't get a family picture with all of us!!  WHAT was I thinking!  Anyway, on Saturday morning we all went to breakfast to celebrate Colby's birthday.  Then Rusty, Collette and Owen headed for the airport.

Randy and his family came to say goodbye

One good shot of us!
Anna and Rick flew out on Sunday.  November was such a wonderful month!! I am one lucky person!!  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

It's a Halloween PAR - TY !!

On October Thirty One
 when the sun goes to rest~
It's the night of Halloween
 when FUN is at it's best

YEP!  It's that awesome time of year again.  Witches, pumpkins, ghosts and candy!  I'm not really sure WHY I like Halloween so much.  I don't like zombies and I don't like evil-looking hatchet-cropping goons.  But I like the fun of dressing as something you're not and wearing crazy makeup.  I like wigs and flashy accessories.

This year I had my 3rd annual Grandma's Halloween party.  I was actually pretty excited when my 15 year old grandson asked if I was going to have my party and then came!!  The other kids were excited as well and dressed in their finery.  My guests included: Mike, from Monsters, Inc. (aka Sam), Little Red Riding Hood (aka Lennon), a Teenager (aka Dyson), the Mystery Man (aka Colby), a Ninja Zombie (aka Max) and a Zombie Football Player (aka Hank).  Annie, Randy, Jenni and Scott were lurking around as well.  

The games were awesome as always.  The kids have LOTS of enthusiasm when in heated competition.

On game was to guess the number of Candy Corns in the pumpkin jar.  Hank - my cute little DIABETIC grandson - won!!  He knows his candy!!

Hank, Randy, Sam and candy corn jar
The big hit in the prize area was a toy called the "giggle tube".....  let your imagination run with that one!
Lennon playing with her "giggle tube"
The kids couldn't get enough of "Monster Twister".  Even when the party was done they kept playing.  They even challenged Randy to a game.

Max twisting away

Colby playing it safe

Hank calling out the moves 

Randy gave up and went back to walking the World Series while the kids kept playing.  Is he getting old??

Who is winning? The Twister game or the World Series?

 Mike (aka Sam) is enjoying watching the boys play....

Next year Sam... maybe
The following night Jenni dressed up as ........ something scary.... to take Dyson and two of his friends on a Halloween adventure .... visiting haunted sites in American Fork. The boys didn't know who was driving them around at first.



Sunday, October 13, 2013

Making Strides 2013

Let's make BIGGER strides and END Cancer - All kinds
Let's research treatments that work against Stage IV cancers

SATURDAY OCTOBER 12, 2013 - American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. Once again I had amazing support with so many family and friends that showed up at Liberty Park.  I also had support from numerous family and friends that could not be there.  Believe me, every single person's support means SO much!!  THANK YOU, truly, from the bottom of my heart.  I love you all so much!!

But I'm getting a little ahead of myself.  For several weeks I have experienced a bad pain in the back of my leg, behind my knee.  Once you've had cancer these things make you a little nervous.  I felt around (many times) for anything that resembled a lump.  FINALLY on Monday I called the doctor's office. The nurse was concerned that it might be a blood clot so I went in for an x-ray and ultimately an ultra sound.  It turned out to be a "bakers cyst" which is fluid collecting.  I was given 800 mg Ibuprofen and told that sometimes exercise will help.  Ok - hard to exercise when you can't walk but.....  Anyway, Friday night it was very very painful and I could hardly walk by the time I went to bed.  MY walk (that I had been planning on for months) was the next morning!!!  I was awake most of the night elevating my leg and doing the ice pack thing.  

Saturday morning - Wahoooo - it felt better!  I could walk without too much of a limp.  Scott and I donned our Walkers For Knockers shirts and headed up to Salt Lake City to meet our team!! 

Walkers For Knockers 2013

I had some great supports again this year!!  I can always count on Scott.  He was the official photographer for me.  Plus my "crutch" after the walk.

Scott and I leaving for the walk

I appreciate and am grateful that Jenni, Lynn and kids and Randy, Annie and kids live close and that they have been so supportive of me this past year.  They are all so busy with their own lives.  

Jenni, Dyson, Colby, Lennon and I

Randy, Annie, Hank, Max, Sam and I

From Scott's family - Nick, Cameron, Tiffany and McKennah came to walk with us.  Nick has actually worn a 'pink' bracelet in support of finding a cure for Breast Cancer for over one year.

Cameron, Tiffany and McKennah

Nick, me, Hank, Janell

I was fortunate to have some good friends show up as well.  Helen and I reconnected via Facebook.  Helen is actually my former (step) daughter in-law. She and her brother, Andrew,  came. They actually ran the walk but it was great to see them.

Andrew, Helen, me, Colby, Hank
My amazing friends Janell and Angie both came.  Angie's husband Chad and their daughter came with her.  Jenni's friends (and mine!) Meisha (she came last year) and Kelly came as well as their daughters.

me, Angie, Chad, Mattie, Janell
Meisha, Jenni, Kelly

AND there was MORE support from those who couldn't make the walk.  Rusty, Collette and Owen back in Wisconsin.  Rick and Anna in Portland.  My sister Sheryl in Arizona and my brother Alan, his wife Pam and daughter Nicki in Las Vegas.  My nephew Daniel attending dental school, Scott's brother Bruce in St George and his ENTIRE family.  My amazing and special friends Jill and Charlotte (aka Charly).  

My sweet Wisconsin family
Rusty, Collette and Owen

My cute Portland couple
Rick and Anna

My sister Sheryl in Arizona
She even wore her shirt to the  doctor's office

My brother Alan, his wife Pam and daughter Nicki
Las Vegas

Nephew Daniel - dental school
Las Vegas

Bruce and Margie Boyle and their family
St George

Amazing friend Jill
(she's waiting for knee surgery so couldn't walk)

SUPER HERO friend Charly (aka Charlotte)
My cancer/chemo buddy! 

So many other family and friends supported me in my walk with well wishes and thoughts AS WELL AS supported me throughout this past year!  I am so grateful and love you all!

More random pictures from the walk~

Max and Hank had pink hair 

Starting out

And we're off!!

Jenni, Kelly, Meisha and kids

Coming in at the end

Annie and Sam

We made it!!
 That evening Scott and I went up to Sugar House Park for Charly's 'LIGHT the Night Walk' for Leukemia to support her and her family.  That was another great event!  We received a lantern (light for the walk).  Yellow was In Remembrance,  White was Survivor and Red was Supporter.  They gave me a White as I'm a cancer-y person too.  It really was an amazing site to watch all those colors walk around Sugar House park in the dark.  

Team Charly's Angels

Grateful that I could 'Light the Night' for Charly!

It was an amazing day!