Thursday, May 26, 2016

Six months

I read something from a fellow stage 4 sister that echos my own thoughts.

Do I feel crappy for a healthy person, or amazing for a cancer patient?

Personally I am so tired of feeling crappy. I've had the same aches, pains, and complaints for the past six months and I can't say that any of them have gone away. Some of the symptoms have lessened due to chemo and radiation, but my body isn't as strong as it once was and those symptoms hit me harder than before.

I've lost 40 pounds in the last year and a half. Thirty of those within the last 8 months. Great, huh? I was a little excited when I started shedding those pounds and putting on clothes that hadn't fit in years. But most of those 40 pounds have been muscle. My poor little legs look scrawny and very, very old. My skin is hanging off me and looks like crepe paper. Not at all pretty.

I had an appointment with another oncologist this week for a second opinion. She is from a well respected medical facility, and came very highly recommended.  I feel so defeated thinking that I've given my all during the last six months and it's all been for nothing. Going into the appointment I had a list in my mind of things that I was and was not willing to do. Knowing this facility's reputation, I was expecting to pick and choose what treatments I wanted to try next. Imagine my disappointment when I heard that they had nothing new to offer, that my current team was doing exactly what needed to be done, and that was that.

My cancer continues to grow. That's the terrifying thing about being stage 4. The cancer never, ever gives up. Patients and doctors just need to keep plugging along, trying to stay two steps ahead of it. I've tried chemotherapy and hormonal therapy and both failed me. Now we just bounce between different chemicals trying to find one that works the best.

And those flight of stairs that used to knock the wind out of me six months ago? They are still just as challenging, only I am weaker and very, very tired.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Is this thing still on....

Happy New Year!

I've been pondering updating my blog again.  On one hand it's a bit of a chore but on the other it was always therapeutic to get my words out.

Regardless, a quick update is in order.  Last month, nearly 8 years to the day of being diagnosed with cancer, I learned the dreaded beast is back and this time with a vengeance.

I am now Stage IV, aka advanced stage breast cancer, Metastatic breast cancer, terminal, or the bad kind.  The cancer spread to my lungs, lymph nodes, and bone.

I began chemotherapy four weeks ago today and am now losing my hair, dealing with nausea and vomiting, and terrible bone pain. The worst of it is the coughing, which is maddening. But in a way I guess it is also a blessing as the cough is what led to a string of tests that found the cancer before it had a chance to spread even further.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Tonight I am thinking about Forgiveness.  It was one of my 2013 New Year's Goals. 

Ask Forgiveness / Accept Forgiveness

I started 2013 off by sending an email to an old friend.   We hadn't talked in years and I knew it was due to something I had said and ways I had acted.  It was nothing criminal or morally corrupt, just sheer bad manners and being an awful friend.

I think about her when I'm doing dishes.  It makes no sense, as there was nothing about our friendship or breakup that had anything to do with dishes.  But when I get my soapy hands on a dish I start to think about her and where it all went wrong.   

I emailed her once years back and it bounced.   In 2013 I decided to cyber-stalk her.  I found her professional page and sent her a note.   I apologized, stated my wrongdoings, took complete responsibility and begged for forgiveness.  Then I never heard from her.  But it's okay.  I knew that it was never about reconnecting with her or picking up where we left off.  It was important to me that I acknowledged the hurt I had caused and said that I was sorry.

Today I got a note from another old friend.  

"I am deeply sorry for how things went down years ago and wanted to apologize"

That brought me peace.  More than she knows.

Now while I am scrubbing a greasy pan I can think about peace. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

in the beginning....

The first post of this blog was actually a late night email I sent to my parents.   They were random thoughts about my daughter, their granddaughter, because I wanted them to know how incredible she was.   Little did I know that this blog would be taken over by cancer, suicide, and depression.

It's now been six and a half years and times have changed.  The cancer days are a distant memory, tho I am still reminded of the surgeries every day in the shower when I see and feel the numerous scars.   My December 5th cancerversary also permanently stuck in my mind.  The other night at a PTO meeting we discussed next year's calendar.   We planned an event for Friday December 5th and my mind immediately went back to that day when Dr. K. first told me that 'It's cancer'.   It wasn't a flashback in a sense that I became anxious and sad, instead it was a moment of 'Wow, that was forever ago!'  In my mind, that's a good thing.

I spend my days now working, volunteering, playing with my multitude of animals, juggling my child's activities, both social and academic, enjoying time with dear friends, and loving my husband (and not necessarily in that order).  I still struggle with depression and anxiety but nowhere near to the extent of how I suffered five years ago.

This year we learned that my not-so-little Cha is a Brainy McBrainerson.   She was evaluated and placed in the gifted program and I am constantly blown away by her school projects and how easily she learns.  Last month we traveled to DC with a few girlfriends and attended the Science and Engineering Festival at the DC Convention Center.    The whole event was one big WOW.   I will say that I was only more excited than she was because I had the joy of watching how excited she was.   There was so much to see and do and there was a LOT of walking, so my girl begged many times to just sit down and rest.   However, the moment she took a break she'd get excited about one more thing that she wanted to see and then we were off and running again.  There are no words to say how proud and in awe I am of her.

Favorite picture from the weekend?
This gorgeous cheerleader is getting her PhD in microbiology.
Smart girls RULE!

So much more to ramble about but I think I'll cut it short here.   I gotta get back into my blogging habit.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas

October, November and December are tough months for me.  Too many troubling anniversaries. Too many to list, and quite frankly I don't have the emotional energy to do so.

I am learning to keep my thoughts to myself.  As much as I feel that sharing is good for the soul, I also know that my thoughts and beliefs are precious to me and sharing with the 'wrong people' kinda ruins things.

I spent the Thanksgiving holiday with family and it was priceless.  My father had a stroke and I was able to stay with him longer than expected and take care of things.  What a gift that was.

I am home now rushing to get Christmas ready for my 8 year old.  Putting up the tree, picking out this year's ornament and snow globe helped put me in the mood.

Soon enough it will be January and then February and the sad anniversaries will be behind me.  Until then I am taking it moment by moment.

Merry Christmas.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

hearing but not listening

That was the title of the last string of emails my brother sent out.  It was nine months before he took his life.

He did not have a history of being stable in his life.  He did have a history of sending middle of the night emails to the family, lashing out for one thing or another.  There were mornings I would wake up to one of his rants and just delete the message without reading.   Other times I would move them to the 'Keith' folder and just let them sit.

I have read the 'Keith' folder many times over the last nearly four years.  I would like to say that I examined his messages again and again, looking for some kind of hint that he would take his life.  Truth be told, it wasn't too much of a surprise.  The hints screamed at us with bitter rage.  I knew he was troubled.  The whole family knew.  Sadly, there isn't much you can do to help someone who refuses to accept help.

My brother has been on my mind quite a bit this last week, as have all my siblings.  I dove into some of Keith's old emails and actually managed to look at them with new eyes.   I saw something different in the words he had written.  There wasn't so much anger and rage as pain and desperation.   How had I never noticed that before?

I am certain that there is nothing I could have said or done to prevent his actions on his final painful day on Earth.  I will admit that I was guilty of hearing but not listening, but in my defense I'm not sure listening would have made a difference.

Lost in the string of messages containing foul language and awkward accusations I found a note he had written on December 10, 2007, shortly after my cancer diagnosis.  I must have read it before but today I was 'listening'.    May this be the Keith I remember for years to come.

Dad forwarded your blog to me tonight, some of which I did read, and the rest I will have to get back to since I worked 10 hours today and am just getting home and have to be up for work by 8:00.
    I am sorry that you and I have lost touch and don't talk to each other that much anymore, I hope that it's nothing that I have said or done.
    Well, I hope that everything turns out well and that you come through this 100%.
    Please tell Matt and Cha that I said hello, and have a good holiday.
    Love, Keith  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I'm Good

Today, I am good.  Things are good and (knock wood) they have been for a while.

I had my regular morning call with the hubby an hour ago and we agreed, things are good.  He leaves for work very early so he calls in the morning to say hello and check in.  Today's check in was, well 'good'.  We have worries, complaints, and pains but they are tiny compared to the amount of good in our house, lives and selves.  We had a wonderful summer filled with friends, family and memories that will last forever.

My little Cha is more than good.   She is back in school and so far every day has been 'awesome!'.   She loves her teacher, her school work, her classmates and even her bus.   Yes, she's riding the bus again this year.   Last year I drove her myself because the bus was such an issue.   It wasn't until last week that I agreed to let her back on the bus.  I was nervous for her but she said she wanted to try.   And, it's going smoothly.  She has matured so much in the last 12 months.   I am incredibly proud of the person she is and tell her all the time how well she is handling things.  

Sadly, she got the worry gene from me so overcoming bad thoughts is a daily obstacle.  But she's doing so well (which helps with my bad thoughts).

I'm good.