Monday, March 11, 2013

For My Sweet Friend...

I have a dear friend who is struggling in ICU as I am writing this. I know without a doubt that she is ready to meet her precious Jesus face to face anytime He is ready to receive her. But I'm not ready for her to leave us. My heart is breaking and my prayers are that it's not time. This is for her...

Would you stay a little longer?
I want to sit and talk with you a while
Such an awesome, lovely lady
I need to see your sweet, sweet smile.

I know you're tired and weary --
You've toiled so many years
You've mended broken hearts
And dried so many tears.

You're the one who's always been there,
Always meeting every need.
I don't know how you've done it
I want to listen and take heed.

You have so much to teach us
So much love and wisdom to share
You've been the hands and feet of Jesus
You've showed us how to care.

You love our Lord and Savior
Spread His love to all you see.
We need for you to teach us more
We need you -- please don't leave!

Would you stay a little longer?
I want to sit and talk with you a while.
Such an awesome, lovely lady
I need to see your sweet, sweet smile! you, Mrs. C. I love you, my sweet sister and friend.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Just Keep Swimming, Swimming, Swimming

Did you see the movie, Finding Nemo? If you've read some of my previous posts you will remember that I have made reference to Dory. I am convinced at some point in Dory's life, she had chemo, because she sure shows signs of chemo brain. I identify with Dory. I love Dory. She has a great philosophy -- "...Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming."

Today was an eventful day at the cancer clinic. I went there fully expecting to hear, "Congratulations, you have no evidence of disease," (or NED in the world of cancer survivors -- NED is our favorite dancing partner). I was also expecting my amazing doctor and his amazing nurse to happily inform me that I was free for another three months and that chemo today wouldn't be necessary. Yep, that's what I expected, all the while telling myself not to get my hopes up. After all Amazing Doctor is quite the tenacious one and lives up to the clinic's motto, "No Stone Unturned". I knew even if I was going to be dancing with NED, Doc might want to do, well, one more round.

We arrived right on time (I was accompanied by my beautiful firstborn daughter), went straight to the lab, had my blood drawn and then drank the contrast disguising itself as Dasani water. Mmmm, refreshing. Then I waited a bit so the contrast could invade every part of my body. After about 30 minutes my name was called and I proceeded to have a CT scan of my head, neck, chest, abdomen and pelvis. Guess I don't have to worry about anything in my feet and legs, arms and hands, because that's all they didn't scan. Note to some of you doubters out there, they DID verify that there is a BRAIN in my head. Yes, I know what you're thinking...oh, just hush!

After enjoying the contrast cocktail and having my scan, I proceeded upstairs to the gyn/oncology unit where I waited to see Amazing Doctor. On my way out of the CT area, I peeked in on the doc who was perusing my scans to see if I could read his facial expression. Of course, I could not. What did I expect? I don't know. I just know I'm impatient and I want to know what I want to know NOW!

Anyhoo, I was called in to see Amazing Doc and his Amazing Nurse, and he came in with my scan and blood work results in hand. He wasn't as happy looking as he was the last time I saw him. He sat down beside me and told me that my CT's looked really good, and they showed no evidence of disease...there it was NED...just what I wanted to hear, right? Well in the ovarian cancer world we know that there are little microscopic devils in there that don't show up on a CT, but we like to pretend that NED means it's all gone. We really know better. Doc then went on to explain that even though my CA-125 (tumor marker) has risen just a little bit, albeit it still in the normal range, that he was very concerned that we are still dealing with some of those microscopic devils (my words, not his) and we need to continue to try to wipe them out. He suggested three more cycles of chemo -- really not what I wanted to hear -- but he left the decision up to me. I asked him if by cycles he meant three more sets of three (three more months), and he said yes. He also said the choice was mine. I didn't hesitate. I said "Let's go get 'em, once and for all!" What in the world was I thinking?

Well, I then went into the chemo suite and found my best chemo buddy and sat in a chair across from her. We both like to make the best of a bad situation and laugh and talk a lot. It really passes the time.

I got hooked up to my Decadron (steroid) along with a liter of fluids to prevent dehydration. Then when the prescription was ready, Awesome Chemo Nurse, hooked me up to my Abraxane. All was well with the world, and I was visualizing a Lord of the Rings battle scene going on in my body with those demon cells (Orcs, I imagined) on the run. I finished my Abraxane and then came the Carboplatin. I have had a lot of Carboplatin, and being the student of OC and its chemo drugs, I knew that after several admins of carbo, an allergic reaction is iminent, at least for most. I must confess, have been a little haughty, I suppose, because I've had SO much carbo that I guess I thought that rule wouldn't apply to me. You know Wonder Woman!!! Well, I was wrong. The LOTR battle was going to have to last a while longer, because all the ugly guys hadn't been destroyed.

I was sitting in the recliner, chatting away with my best bud and a new bud I met this morning, when I sneezed a strange sneeze, like out of nowhere and for no reason, and it felt weird. Then, before I knew it, my nasal passages and my throat were closing up. Breathing was getting really difficult, and I started turning red and swelling all over and became very nauseous. I quietly called one of the nurses that was closest, and she as well as all the other nurses came quickly over to me. I don't know how they did it without discussing it, but they each started doing their own thing -- one shutting off my once-friend-now-enemy carbo, and hooking me up to oxygen and coaching me to take deep breaths; one pushing shots into my IV line; one hanging more steroids along with Benadryl and Zantac, and I don't know what all. They called Amazing Doctor and his Amazing Nurse and they dropped what they were doing and came in, too. Within ten or fifteen minutes (it seemed much longer), I was back to normal except for a few tremors and a lot of itching. They told me (as if they had to) that there would be no more Carbo for me. It's scary, because that's one of the big guns, but they said they have quite an arsenal into which we haven't yet tapped and seemed optimistic. Be proud of me, will you? It was probably the scariest situation in my life and I didn't panic. I owe that to some of the wonderful ladies I have met who have gone before me on this journey and told their story -- i.e. that they lived through the anaphylactic-like reactions to Carboplatin and other horrors, and most of all to the many, many prayers that are continually going up on my behalf.

I can't end without praising my Heavenly Father for sending His angels to watch over me and for directing the nurses to act quickly to get things under control. It is my prayer that I will still praise Him if and when things don't work out well. He is worthy of our praise all the time. It's my heart's desire that I can praise Him in the valley just as much as I praise Him on the mountaintop because, you know, it's really all about Him. If you have a few minutes, listen to a couple of songs on YouTube -- Praise You in This Storm (Casting Crowns) and Let the Waters Rise (Mike's Chair). (I'd link them if I knew how.)

My prayer from the beginning of this cancer journey has been, in my life, Lord, be glorified. And, yes, in my illness, Lord, be glorified.

So I guess to wrap it up, I'll show up at the clinic in a couple of weeks and just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. Look out Orcs, here we come! (How about that for two completely different movie references!)

Love you all, and I hope and pray for healing whatever hurts you are going through. Thanks for visiting.

P.S. Would really love your comments, too!

Friday, September 23, 2011

If I Quit Putting Quarters in the Merry-Go-Round Will It Just Stop?

Okay, well the beginning of this was my thought process when there was a possibility the ovarian cancer was recurring. I started writing this in June, and those of you who know me know the rest of the story which appears after my rant about the possible recurrence.

Previously on "What's Going on in My Head"

(June, 2011) Well, this just sucks! (Yes, I know my sweet daughters, I told you all your lives not use that expression.) But this REALLY does suck!

Will I have to get back on the chemo merry-go-round and if I do, do I have any more quarters? That's a tough one. You see, original symptoms are almost all back, CA-125 is up. A lot. And the doc says he feels something. Wouldn't worry about the something he feels if the CA-125 wasn't up and wouldn't worry about the CA-125 if he hadn't felt something. Oh, yes, and there are the symptoms, that if you check are all pretty common for my age, weight, etc. (Ladies, please go to my "Fight Like a Girl Page" and memorize those symptoms and get to the doctor pronto if you have any of them for more than two weeks!)

Okay, back to my rant... did I mention that research now shows that worry and stress contribute to the growth of the beast commonly known as ovarian cancer? Hmmm. Now let's see, can I really choose not to worry and stress out? I try. I really do. And I think I've done a pretty dang good job, too. I think I've had a really good attitude. I have turned it over to the Lord as I know to do and as many are quick to remind me to do.  But enough already. I don't want back on that ride. I don't want to do that again. And CAN  I even do it again? ...and so went the rant.

Fast Forward...Is It Really September Already?

Well, yep. The beast is back. With a vengeance. CA-125 shot up from my steady 12-14 to 300+ faster than a speeding bullet. Glad I listened to my body and not my former doc's nurse. She said back in late May or early June when I asked for another CA-125 before my next appointment which was scheduled in AUGUST, that "we" just couldn't justify another CA-125 at that time. I changed doctors. And I'm sure glad I did. The new doc (same clinic) got me in right away and found out that, sure enough, my CA-125 was rapidly increasing. It got to 300+ (it was only 135 when I was diagnosed in 2009). Pretty scary, huh? Glad I got a new doc and didn't wait until August!

New doc, bless his heart, said that we're racing against time and started chemo immediately (well, as immediately as I would let him -- you, see, I needed a couple of weeks to take this all in.) The best treatment, he said, would have been a combination of Doxil and Carboplatin; however when it came time for my first treatment, there was a shortage of Doxil (that's a rant for another day). I started on the two drugs that I had before, Taxol (the best hair remover on the market) and Carboplatin.

I've had three treatments so far, and so far, they appear to be working. The plan has been to see if this works and if it doesn't we're going to take a little "vacation" to Houston, Texas, and see what those docs know. Road trip, yay! (NOT!) There are no mountains in Houston. I need mountains. Mountains speak to me.

So I guess I have concluded that I have a few more quarters and I'm back on the merry-go-round. Life is still good. Every day is precious.

Thanks for sharing my journey.

Philippians 4:13 - I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. -- You can, too. Just talk to Him about it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Life I Love You, All is Groovy...Well Mostly

Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobble stones
Looking for fun and feelin' groovy
Feelin' groovy

Hello lamppost what you knowing?
I've come to watch your flowers growing
Ain't you got no rhymes for me?
Doot-in' do-do feelin' groovy
Feelin' groovy

Got no deeds to do, no promises to keep
I'm dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me
Life, I love you all is groovy

Okay, so I'm old enough to remember a 1966 Simon and Garfunkel song,  and you know what? I even had an 8-track with that song on it. Played it in my Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. Best. Car. Ever. But I digress. 

I've had this song on my mind all day. I don't really know why unless it's the fact that I've thought a lot lately about how fast time flies. And because today has been a Dory day (you know Dory, the absent minded fish on Finding Nemo?). "Follow me...Why are you following me?" Okay, sorry, there I go again.

(Have I mentioned that I now have the attention span of a three year old?)

Anyway, back to the song. I'm trying to adapt to this new lifestyle of mine. No, it's not always fun and groovy, but it is slower and different. Lots to do, but no real demands on me to get anything done by a deadline most of the time. (Hero is very patient with me and my Doryness.) I have slowed down a lot. And I start a lot of projects but never get them finished. (I can hear my daughters now..."Ha! What else is new?" I've always been a starter and not a finisher, it's just gotten worse. Like way worse. I don't just abandon my projects anymore, I completely forget about them.

I started several things today. Since insomnia is now my nightly companion, I end up sleeping too late in the morning. Then I have to have some coffee to kick-start my brain, and then I start a project, get around to some breakfast, start another project, because I forgot the first one I started, then it's lunch time, another project and...well, you see what I mean? And I take lots of breaks because the old energy level she ain't what she used to be. 

Today among other things I had some medical bills/insurance things to tend to; get to the CPA's and get our taxes finalized; cleaned out a bathroom closet (not a small task); and helped Hero plant some blueberry bushes. But I still had piles of dishes, piles of papers, piles of laundry, piles of this and piles of that (Okay, no off color humor about piles here, okay?)

Every day I wake up and say I'm going to get it all done and every day I go off on a Dory trip. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. Shoot, tomorrow, I just may find me a lamp-post and strike up a conversation and go and watch it's flowers growing! Or go kicking down the cobble stones. Who knows? But that's okay, cause "Life I Love You, All is Groovy!"

DORY ALERT: Forgot to mention that this whole post started with the song and how I've been thinking about how summer seems to be coming upon us so fast. BECAUSE...just today a hummingbird came to my front door, no doubt to remind me that it is once again time to put the feeders out -- what was he holding...a tiny tin cup???? Okay, it's very late. And I saw a lightning bug last night! Yeah, already!!! Slow down -- we're moving too fast!!!!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ordinary Days

My perspective has changed. I don't know if it's because of age, empty nest, or cancer -- or maybe all of the above -- but things are different now. There's just something very extraordinary about ordinary days.

Just now I have my window open and a cool night breeze is blowing in. I can hear the coyotes just starting to run in the woods behind the house, and oddly enough the neighborhood dogs all sit silently as the intruders pass through. I wonder...why are the dogs that normally bark at moon shadows suddenly silent? What's up with that? I wish I knew. It doesn't really matter, now does it? It is what it is, and yet it's one of those ordinary things that I never really paid any attention to before....well before whatever...but now I wonder.

Sunsets are more beautiful than they've ever been. (I'm sure the sunrises are nicer, too, but alas I've become an insomniac and do my best sleeping when I should be getting up.) Rain is fresher. Everything seems greener this spring than ever. Ordinary days.

We've been entertained by a very territorial pair of bluebirds this spring. While busying themselves with nestbuilding in the cute little bluebird house we provided for them, they discovered their reflections in our car side-view mirrors and our car windows, and have wreaked havoc with our automobiles. How two tiny little birds can make such a mess on a car I'll never know. Mind you, we've had bluebirds lo these 20-plus years we've lived here on Mockingbird Hill, yet never have had them declare war with their reflections in our cars and trucks. Maybe it's a revenge thing. Maybe they wanted this land to be called Bluebird Hill. Who knows? Someday I'll post a video that Hero took one afternoon of one of the silly birds doing battle with the Camry. It's a hoot.

We have a few stranger-than-strange critter stories from the Hill -- crazy cardinals, Carolina wrens, fly-days (oh, don't get me started on that one), a black lab who thinks it's her lot in life to retrieve turtles, Charlottes and their webs, oh, and killdeers (we say kildees here in the south) and ....I could go on, but I'll save those for another time. And we have families of squirrels now that the oak trees are producing bumper crops of acorns. I guess there's not much hope for pecans when the trees we planted mature. Oh, well, I love watching the squirrels. I can buy pecans.

Time spent with family and friends is more precious than it's ever been. We don't have to do anything "entertaining" -- just hanging out is enough. Ordinary stuff.

Who knew that just sitting out on the patio with Hero, even when we don't have much to say, could be so, well, extraordinary?

I never realized what a restless and I guess discontented person I was until now. Looking back it seems like I always lived very tentatively. Maybe everybody does to an extent. You know, if I can accomplish that...overcome this hurdle...whatever...everything will be better. I am now living in the moment, realizing that I don't have to have anything else, do anything else, or be anyone else to be content. God has blessed me with my husband who is really and truly my hero, two wonderful daughters, funny and loving sisters, nieces and nephews galore, each with his or her own unique "thing" I love about them, and better friends than a person could ever ask for. Most of all my loving Heavenly Father has allowed me to be adopted into His family by way of His Son. I am blessed, and life is good.

I hope you, too, will take the time to see the extraordinary in ordinary days.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. -- Matthew 6:34 

P.S. While you're taking the time to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, ponder on these lyrics from one of my all-time favorite songs "Cool, An' Green, An' Shady" by John Denver. Or better yet, look it up on YouTube and listen to it.
(Yes, I said John Denver...don't judge have your oldie faves, too!) 

Saturdays, holidays, easy afternoons,
lazy days, sunny days, nothing much to do.
Rainy days are better days for hanging out inside.
Grainy days and city ways make me want to hide
someplace cool and green and shady.

Find yourself a piece of grassy ground, lay down close your eyes.
Find yourself and maybe lose yourself while your free spirit flies.

August skies, and lullabies, promises to keep,
dandelions and twisting vines, clover at your feet.
Memories of aspen leaves trembling on the wind,
honey bees and fantasies, where to start again,
someplace cool and green and shady. Cool and green and shady.
Cool and green and shady. Cool and green and shady.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sista Time

Well, I got some much needed "Sista" time today. It's been a while since we've taken the time to get together. This was one of those unplanned get-togethers, and we were minus one sista. First, I went to #3 sister, JJ's, to go with her to find a lamp for her desk. Remember...lamp. While I was on my way to JJ's, #2 sister, JR (who I fondly refer to as the dominant mare...every herd has one--teehee) called JJ and, well, the trip north ended up being a trip south, and the hunt for the lamp turned into first a stroll through Mama's yard looking at all the flowers she planted and treasured for so many years. Then on to fine dining at the local Mexican restaurant, a trip to a nursery to get some yellow jasmine plants (they have a name, but I can't remember what they are now), some shallots, and then a drive down memory lane off South Third Street where we lived when we were kids. (Shhhh, JR doesn't want her son to know we actually went to that part of town--you know a part of town the police avoid...yeah.) It's just not the same neighborhood it was back in the day -- but that sort of thing really doesn't deter the Sistas when we want to go somewhere.

As it turns out our old home wasn't there anymore and the gi-normous yard somehow shrunk. At least it's a lot smaller than I remembered it being when I was four years old. How does that happen, anyway? Time not only heals all wounds, but it shrinks all yards and houses, too. No. Really.

Some fond memories were resurrected, like my older sibs in a fight with a can of whipped cream, watching them play ping-pong at our dining room table, clover necklaces and catching lightning bugs (fireflies to you non-southerners.) Oh, and how we would get our feet wet with dew and walk around after Daddy had cut the grass and get "grass shoes" -- good times. Oh, and I'll never forget the time when JJ beat the tar out of our cousin, Billy, one time when she got totally fed up with his bullying. Kind of an Annie Oakley moment for JJ. Way to go, girl! Oh, great, now I have "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better" stuck in my head. Hehe, you do too, huh? Well, you're welcome. :D

Well, when we found our way back to D-County, we finally went shopping for the lamp -- remember the day started out as an outing to find JJ a desk lamp. Well, I found a salad spinner to replace my broken one, and JJ found some really pretty pictures for her bathroom. We did a lot of looking and wishing and walking and walking and walking. I decided I probably need to just register at Bed, Bath and Beyond so Hero can do one-stop shopping for Christmas and birthdays and anniversaries for me. I'm like a kid in a candy store in that place. I want everything I see. Well, almost. But you get the picture.

It was a good day. The only thing that would have made it better would have been to have #1 sister with us. And my daughters.  But that's the problem with the impromptu get-togethers. We're just all too far apart. We need not to be so far apart. We need to get together more. 
Life is good.

Oh, remember the lamp? We never got a lamp. :D

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Oh, I wish I hadn't found this recipe...

Okay, so I'm completely switching gears here. I can do that. I do that a lot. If you don't think so, go to my "Fight Like a Girl Page" and you'll see a lot of gear-switchin'.


So, we finished our supper last night, Hero and me, and settled in to watch our Tuesday night TV programs. (It seems like almost everything we watch regularly comes on on Tuesday nights -- thank you DVR inventor.) I've been trying very hard to stay away from sweets, chocolate in particular, but last night--oh, last night--I had a craving. Nothing sweet was in the house and I was trying to think of something to satisfy this evil craving. SO I got the bright idea to get out the old Mac and look up some quick and easy recipes. Well, I found one...really quick...really easy...and just a few ingredients that are most always on hand. It was 2-Minute Microwave Fudge. No, not the wimpy kind that you melt a few chocolate chips and throw in some marshmallow creme and chill it and then have to still spoon it out. You might as well just eat the chocolate chips and be done with it. Uh-uh -- this was the real deal, tastes just like the kind you slave over and beat forever in an iron skillet only you don't. That never worked well for me anyway.

I had my doubts, but I made it anyway, and I was very surprised. It is delicious. It hit the spot. (Probably more spots than I wanted it to hit, but anyway...)

Because I love all y'all and because I want to share, here is the recipe. The time may have to be adjusted for your microwave.

2-Minute Microwave Fudge
3 2/3 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup butter (yes butter -- not margarine)
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or I suppose walnuts would be good)

Combine and cook confectioners sugar, cocoa, milk and butter on high power until butter is melted (about 2 to 3 minutes -- 2 minutes in my microwave). Stir until smoothish -- it'll have nuts in it so no one will know if it's lumpy. Blend in vanilla and pecans. Spread into a buttered pan or platter (8"). Cool for about 15 or 20 minutes in the fridge, if you can wait. Enjoy

WARNING: May be hazardous to your hips. :D

Go ahead...make this know you want to! Then, you can say you wish you hadn't found this recipe!

Okay, my sweets craving is satisfied...back to the healthy stuff. I think I'll go juice some veggies now.....