Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Three Little Cowboys.
Anyway, A has been walking this cancer road way longer than I have and she is a wise soul. When I had the opportunity to visit with her last month she told me something that has really stuck with me. I kept asking her if she was sure she was up to seeing me and that I didn't want to intrude, etc. She told me, "I am very selective about who I spend my time with these days." Now in her case, that meant she wanted to see me. Thank God.
Lately I've been thinking about that a lot. Life is too darn short. Whether I live for four more months or forty more years, I want to make the most of every single day. Normal life has its ups and downs, I realize that. Will I always be happy and never again have a bad day? No. But I don't want to surround myself with negativity. I don't want to give anyone the power to bring me down. Having cancer and all that entails will bring you down enough. I live every day knowing I had cancer. I live every day with the fear that there are cancer cells still lurking somewhere, or that it could come back at any time. I've been through one of the roughest chemo regimens out there for breast cancer. I've had the most extensive surgery a breast cancer patient can have. I'm currently halfway through thirty-three radiation treatments. There have been a lot of days since August 1st that have brought me down, but going through tough times physically and emotionally makes me really appreciate the good times.
All that being said...I've always been a glass half full person, but I plan to be even more so now. I wouldn't say I'm focusing on my own mortality.... just that I, too, am going to be more selective about who I spend my time with and what I spend my time doing.
Another one of my friends (two-time cancer survivor) has often said,
"Every day that my feet hit the floor in the morning and I'm breathing it's a great day!"
How right she is.
I have very wise friends.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Monday, April 28, 2014
Sunday, April 27, 2014
We've spent the weekend trying to recover from our Friday night Relay antics. Yesterday I slept well into the afternoon and didn't even get out of my pjs. Today I slept in but had tickets to the Children's Performing Arts Series presentation of The Wizard of Oz, so no pj lounging for me. The show was pretty cute and both kids enjoyed it, so it's all good.
Even though sitting through a play was the most strenuous thing I've done since 6am yesterday, I'm already dreading having to get up for work tomorrow morning. Where did the weekend go?
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Amazing night, amazing friends.
I'm truly blessed.
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Let me explain. If you've seen me around lately, you've probably noticed I've switched from my little knit hats and bandanas to baseball caps or even "topless" (ha ha...meaning no hat, dirty-minded people). I hate, hate, hate my super short hair and don't feel good about how I look at all.... but I hate my wigs even more. I've been wearing something on my head every single day since September. If you've never been bald from chemo, you have no idea how OLD that gets - day after day, week after week, month after freaking month! Finally I said enough! I have hair, not a lot, but it's hair, so maybe I should stop hiding it.
So the other day I went shopping and saw someone I know. Not a friend, but an acquaintance I've known for years. She smiled and gave me a "Hi" like you would to someone you don't know. Then she looked at me more closely, and I could tell she was either trying to figure out who I was or why I don't look like I used to. <sigh> Cancer sucks. I know I can't hide the fact that I had cancer.... believe me, I look in the mirror every day. But getting "the look" where someone knows you've been through something awful just by looking at you, and it's the elephant in the room, just plain sucks.
I'll be glad when my hair grows enough that it can be considered a cute "hairstyle" instead of so obviously being hair growing back after being bald.
On the plus side, when I went in for radiation today, one of the lab techs from the chemo side saw me and gave my hair a thumbs up. I guess it's all in the perspective.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
There is a balancing act that cancer patients must learn.... how to be vigilant and careful without obsessing over it and letting the fear get the best of you. Stress and worry can take over even if you try not to let them, and that can bleed over onto the people around you. I need to try harder to take care with the feelings of those close to me and not just my own. The world doesn't stop because I had cancer, and having cancer doesn't give me a free pass on being there for other people.
Today, as I was walking back to the house from the mailbox, I felt the sun shining on my face and saw the beautiful blue sky and I said aloud "Thank you God for allowing me to enjoy another day on this earth." I need to focus more on the beauty in my life and less on the things that bring me down, because if I'm down, then I'm bringing others down. I'd much rather spread joy.
Monday, April 21, 2014
The theme for this event is a Superhero theme, but that didn't seem to fit with me. My team name is "A Beacon of Hope for Michelle", so we'll be doing lighthouses and lights and lots of pink. For our boxcar, we're going to make a box boat (to go along with the lighthouse theme). I'm not sure how all of this is going to play out, but it sure sounds good, right??
I feel so lost never having done this before, but maybe next year we'll be more equipped with some experience under our belt (and more time to fundraise and create!).
Haven't donated yet? Just go to this link and click "Donate": A Beacon of Hope for Michelle
Sunday, April 20, 2014
I'm so grateful for my family. Happy Easter!
I'd like to send out heartfelt thanks to the grandparents who took care of our kids today so Hubby and I could enjoy some adults-only time with our friends. I'm pleasantly exhausted and still have to hide Easter eggs. <yawn>
Friday, April 18, 2014
One of the most difficult things for me as a cancer patient is trying to balance being healthy with being economical and living a "normal" life. Let's face it, it's expensive trying to be healthy. "Green" products and organic food are expensive! I know to avoid deodorant with aluminum and have been slathering special lotion on my radiated skin three times a day. I take a bunch of pills every day, most of which are supplements recommended for people with cancer. I try to eat healthy and still haven't regained my taste for diet coke. But I don't want to feel guilty for eating a cheeseburger or for not using the correct kind of make-up. There are certainly choices I can make that will help keep me healthy, but there are also choices I make in order to keep being me, and the fine line between those two is where I find myself walking these days.
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
I had an epiphany last night about this, though. I think one of my prescriptions actually helps me with something other than what it is supposed to do. Tamoxifen, the drug that blocks estrogen production (and therefore eliminates the "food" my cancer liked) also seems to help my restless legs syndrome. For the last few days, about thirty minutes after I take my nighttime pills, my restless legs syndrome has been kicking in. For the month or so before that, the RLS hadn't been bad at all. What changed? I had to stop taking Tamoxifen when I started radiation last week.
I will start it back up after radiation therapy is over, but does that mean six more weeks of restless legs?????
Like I said....the gift that keeps on giving.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Monday, April 14, 2014
On the flip side, I have an appointment with my oncologist tomorrow and that will not be the shortest doctor appointment ever. Dr. H is not known for his punctuality and he takes a long, long time with each patient. That's not always a bad thing, but sometimes he goes off on tangents and being there for two hours for a simple follow-up to see how I'm doing is a little annoying. (I'm not lying - a relative worked for him and her husband would not see Dr. H when he needed an oncologist because she said he would never put up with the wait!)
One other thing that's slightly annoying. Not only do I have to be at the cancer center at 9:45am for radiation and then back at 2:40 for my Dr. H appointment, but I will probably have blood drawn again for labs, even though I just had that done for Dr. Au on Friday. <sigh> I asked today if they would need to do it again and I was told the labs for radiation might be different than the labs for my oncologist. Of course. Because why should anything be easy?
On a happier note, Friday night K had a sleepover with her BFF. This is how they slept:
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Today I want to write about something personal. Not that any part of this ISN'T personal, but somehow it's easier to write about drains and scars and feeling sick than it is to open up about something you've done wrong. Nobody is perfect, especially me, but over the last week I've realized something. When you are diagnosed with cancer, you almost immediately turn your focus inward: on your feelings, your strength, your sickness. Everyone tells you that it's ok to be "selfish" and concentrate on taking care of yourself. That's all well and good, and probably great advice, until you take it too far.
I think I owe some people in my life an apology, most especially Hubby. I won't lay it all out, but let's just say we never (really, never!) fight, and last weekend....we fought. Can I just say that I am very much NOT a fan of Hubby not speaking to me?? Anyway, after eventually talking some things out, I realized how UN-focused I've been on him. Aside from me, this whole thing has been hardest on him and he's done nothing but stand by my side every single day - no complaints, no argument, nothing. It makes me incredibly sad to realize how one-sided our marriage has been. Yes, I have had many, many physical and emotional needs since d-day, but that doesn't give me an excuse to stop nurturing the relationships with the people closest to me.
Hubby - you are my rock. I could not have done one single day of this fight without you by my side and I'm so sorry that I've been more of a cancer patient than a wife. I love you more and appreciate you more now than I ever have. I know you aren't a "let's talk about our feelings" kind of guy, but please talk to me when I need a wake up call, ok?
The same goes to my kids, my family and my friends. Cancer is overwhelming and inconvenient and devastating to the patient, but it's also all of those things to the people who love that patient, and I'm sorry that some days I don't remember that. Needing people doesn't give me an excuse to not be there for those who need me, and I promise to do my best to nurture instead of neglect.
I am surrounded by the most amazing people who love me and help me in ways big and small. I will never be able to properly show how much your support means to me every day, through every step of this journey, but I will say thank you.
I sat down at my computer last night with good intentions... I even had a topic in mind for my blog. Somehow I got sidetracked and not only did I forget to post, now I forget what I was even going to write about! Oh the joys of chemo brain.
I honestly even forgot all about writing a post until Hubby sent me a text this morning saying "no Friday blog?". Oops.
I told him the other day that it's hard to think of something to write about every day. He said that's a good thing, and I guess that's true. During chemo and after my surgery there was always something to report or something to complain about or something I needed help with. Since my weekly trips to Dallas ended a month ago, life has been somewhat uneventful (at least on the cancer front) so I haven't had much to say. Even now that I started radiation, life is moving along normally with me just a little (ok, a lot) more tired.
I want to send a huge shout out to my people who have joined the Beacon of Hope for Michelle Relay for Life team and to those who have donated. In just a few short days we have exceeded my fundraising goal of $1000!!! (That doesn't mean you're excused if you haven't donated - ha ha. Every dollar counts in the fight against cancer!). If you haven't yet donated or wish to join my team and walk with us, please sign up! Your support means more than you'll ever know!
Thursday, April 10, 2014
I honestly have no idea if I'm just exhausted overall or if this is fatigue from the radiation. I really wouldn't have thought that it would hit me so quickly.... I've only had three treatments. I'm not sure what the deal is, but all I know is I am so tired! I left work this morning to go to radiation and on the way back to work I had to close my eyes at every red light, I was *that* tired. Crazy, huh?
Tomorrow will be #4 of 33 and then I get a two day break.
My Relay for Life fundraising amount is over $800 - not bad for two days! If you haven't donated but want to, please visit my team's page: A Beacon of Hope for Michelle. There you can join my team if you want to walk or just donate if you can't walk with us. Thank you so much for your support!
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
It was quick and painless. I have to lay with my arms up over my head, though, and they fell asleep after being in that position for only fifteen minutes. Obviously I have to work on my range of motion!
In case you're curious, this is what the radiation machine looks like (I know my mom is curious and I couldn't think of how to describe it..... I told her it looked like a table with ear muffs!):
Monday, April 7, 2014
Sunday, April 6, 2014
Friday it was sunny and warm. In fact, when I got in my car at Walmart that afternoon the thermometer said 102 degrees. Now obviously the air temperature wasn't that hot, but in the sun it was very, very warm.
Saturday it was cloudy all day, extremely windy and very chilly. Our softball fields are right next to a lake so it's always windier and about ten degrees colder (or hotter in the summer) out there than in town, so even though the temperature was in the 60s, it wasn't comfortable.
Today (Sunday) I woke up to 46 degrees and rain. Thankfully the wind isn't quite as bad as it was yesterday, but it is a miserable day to wrap up a softball tournament. I want to send out props to my Hubby who came out to relieve me this afternoon. After being out there for four hours this morning, my shoes, socks and pants were wet and my feet were like blocks of ice.
Since I'm talking softball (and weather) this weekend, check out this amazing photo my friend (a fellow softball parent and photographer) took of our game the other night (and yes, that's my #22 front and center!):
K made several outs at home this weekend (four in one game!!) and caught every inning for all six games.
I'm a tired but proud softball mom and I love these Lady Diamonds (they wear pink socks in honor of me!).
Friday, April 4, 2014
I have a love/hate relationship with softball season. I love watching my girl play softball, but it is SO time-consuming.
However, after a long night at the fields (first night of a tournament we are hosting), I have to brag a little.
K had an amazing game at catcher. She caught two fly balls and also tagged two runners out at home. She was beaming from ear to ear in the dugout. It is moments like that that make all the stress and hours worthwhile.
I love the Lady Diamonds and I am so proud of #22!!
Thursday, April 3, 2014
While we're on the subject of radiation, remember the sticker-covered sharpie marks I'm sporting instead of tattoos? One of them is coming off! Already! And I haven't even started rads yet. Yikes! I thought maybe I could just cover up the mark with something else, but when I started to move the sticker I discovered that the mark is on the STICKER, not me anymore! Crapola. Looks like I'll be calling the doctor tomorrow to see what they want to do.
I feel a little unprepared for radiation. With chemo and my surgery, I researched things to death. With radiation, all I'm going by is what Dr. Au has told me and what my friends who have gone through this before me have said. I do have Aloe gel, Aloe spray, Vitamin E oil and a highly recommended product called Miaderm all ready to go in hopes of keeping my skin from burning. I haven't been very anxious about this whole process.... we'll see what happens when I go in Tuesday for my first session!