Monday, December 29, 2008

Guest Blog

Good can come from the bad. We have so enjoyed our trips to the Grand Canyon and to Linda's house. The scenery is beautiful, the people are so nice, and spending time with Linda and Madison has been special. The preventive treatments are hard to endure for Linda, and for us to watch, but the good news was that the no cancer was found outside the tumor. The hard part is wondering what might show up in the future and when, or if. Many of us live with this fear but we trust in God and live our lives the best we can for the years we have left. Linda's grandfather went through a difficult time with cancer 28 years ago and is still doing well. We look forward to our trip to Linda's today and to the last trip for cancer treatment next week. We have so enjoyed the area and all that it has to offer. We will be back often!
Linda's Dad

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The End is Tantalizingly Close

Only six more radiation treatments left. Six. 1,2,3,4,5,SIX! That seems like nothing compared to thirty-three. In November, thirty-three just seemed to be so insurmountable. I couldn’t even imagine making it to the end of thirty-three. Six seems so doable. When I reach out to six, it is right there at the end of my finger tips. Tantalizingly close. But as much as I stretch for it, still out of reach. Six should feel like a number I could do in my sleep with both hands and a foot tied behind my back. But when I start to think that this adventure might be over, six seems huge. Huge mentally. I want to be excited to be finished but I almost don’t want to jinx it. I don’t want to assume that I can finally go back to being Linda and then find out she’s not at all able to come back yet or not at all. I want “normal" not a “new normal”. I wish I could write all sorts of triumphant blogs; “what I learned from cancer”, "what’s next for Linda - a vacation!”, “I didn’t get an A but at least I didn’t fail cancer”, “I am grateful to all my friends and family for being there with me”, etc. I should be able to spend the next month writing happy future facing blogs. But instead every time I think about finishing my cancer treatment I mentally freeze up and physically start holding my breath. I’d like to say that I don’t start to wonder if maybe I’m not done forever or that I don’t worry that maybe I didn’t make the best treatment decisions. But I do. Not much but I do worry. I worry about all sorts of things but mostly I worry about my health in the future. If I have a recurrence and have to go through this again it is a whole new ballgame. Will I have the strength to do it all again? No idea. Seriously – none. I still can’t believe I walked back into that chemo room three more times after I knew what was going to happen. Yeah – just now took my breath away just thinking about it. I just so want this done – wholly totally utterly outright entirely finally absolutely forever done. So, I’ll be sitting here holding my breath for the next week and a half. Six. Such a little number.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from the Grand Canyon

It was cold, windy, snowy, and cloudy this morning at the canyon. We stopped to look over the edge not really expecting to see much. Instead we got the perfect Christmas morning present - a sight I will not forget. The clouds had opened up just enough to let through the light of the sunrise into the depths of the canyon. The eastern facing walls all covered in snow were lit up beautifully through the waves of snow clouds moving through. I've seen a lot of fantastic scenery in my life but this was as magical as anything I have ever seen. We stood there with the wind at our backs and just enjoyed the feeling of the moment until the clouds moved back across the sun and the light started to fade.
I hope that you and yours were also able to feel the magic of Christmas this fine day.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Only 8 Treaments Left

I have two more this week, four the week of New Years, and the final two the first week of January. I'm starting to get burns and even some blisters. It hurts but it is no chemo. They had me buy some aquaphor to put on it as much as I can. I've also started to get nauseous. I'm not sure what is causing it. I'll have to look up radiation side affects again. Not that it matters. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now so there's nothing I can't handle.
I'm back home at the canyon. The snow continues but so far we have missed it by going early for treatment today and hopefully going later will work tomorrow. Then I just have to worry about Wednesday morning then it's three days of radiation free joyness.
My hair is starting to come back. It's really short and very dark right now. The top is thicker than the sides. And I have a big swirling vortex all across the back of my head. My favorite niece has asked that I post a picture of my new hair so I'll try to get one in the next few days. I'm just excited that in the next month or so I'll go from looking sickly to just looking like I made a poor hair style choice.
I had a great weekend exploring the area more and taking pictures on Saturday. I would have a great story but apparently what happens at Black Bart's RV Park and Dinner Musical Revue stays at Black Bart's RV Park and Dinner Musical Revue! Sunday I had radiation in the morning and then an afternoon of sledding. We were the oldest people there but the youngest at heart. We showed those young whippersnappers a few moves. My face hurt this morning from laughing so hard.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I'm 42 and Bald - but it sure as heck beats the alternative

Birthday Flowers

I've been staying in Flagstaff all week due to the recent snow fall. It wasn't the return to the canyon that made me nervous it was getting back to Flag the next day. There was no way I was going to miss having the port taken out. So, here's the snow on the car on Tuesday morning. It has pretty much snowed constantly ever since. I've scraped this much and more off the car each day. It's been fun! Plus I have the world's best boss so I was able to work most of the week out of our offices here.
Everything you need for a successful port extraction. It took only around ten minutes and in the doctor's office. Much easier than when it went in.
The port coming out. I photoshopped out the blood and gore for the squeamish. It was much bigger than I thought. I'm trying to decide what to do with it. A necklace, bracelet, broach? It is sooo nice to stretch my neck out again!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me!

I got the present I asked for - the port is out. It only took ten minutes and wasn't half as gross as I thought it would be. It did hurt though. And best of all they let me keep it! I didn't even get a chance to ask - they offered it first. I think they were surprised when I said yes. It's much bigger than I thought. I'll post pics soon. Anyway, it's nice to be able to stretch my neck again! And my birthday isn't actually until tomorrow so my present was early.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Promised Weekend Photos

Upper Antelope Canyon

Upper Antelope Again
Cancer Girl Surfs The Wave
The Truck Is Over There Somewhere
(Waterholes Canyon,we started out in the canyon and climbed out to hike on top back to the vehicle)
Chemo Stripes
(and canyon dryness/chips)
Owl Pellet
(cool, huh? We got to see the owl also!)

Tiny Skull
(a little over an inch long, I know I know lots of bone pics but I can't resist and
at least I'm not including the one of the cow hoof)

Sand and Small Rocks(we saw lots and lots of this)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Weekends Away From Cancer

I can say one thing for radiation - so far other than being inconvenient - it has not affected how I feel physically. On weekends when I don't have to visit my Northern Arizona Cancer Center friends I can actually have a life away from cancer. Unlike that horrible time during chemo. So, for the past two weekends I've left the village and the cancer behind. Last weekend I was in Greer for a friend's birthday party. It was full of friends, laughter, good food, games and lots of fun. This weekend was in Page and included but was not limited to - hiking, exploring, sunshine, even more laughter, a flock of bluebirds, a random balloon, a lack of restrooms, some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, music, quail, owl poop, wind, more laughing....heck, I was even bamboozled - TWICE! Trust me that doesn't happen very often - it was kind of fun. There was a time during chemo I couldn't even dream of ever again getting out and hiking and playing and laughing like I did this weekend. There is life after a cancer diagnosis - and I'm learning fast it's all what you make of it. I'll post some pictures tomorrow.
Thanks My Friend. And I still have to go with Star Trek. :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Have I Mentioned Lately How Much I Hate Having Cancer?

It's been over five months since I was diagnosed and the treatments are never ending. I keep saying that I don't want to be "cancer girl" but even I am starting to define myself that way in my mind. I know I just have to hang on and that it will be over in less than a month but those 18 treatments that are left just seem daunting. And then what? I'll still have to wait years to get my long hair back, who knows what side effects I'll have in the long term, and heaven forbid there's a recurrance. sigh........ I think I'm just being melancholy tonight and starting to feel tired from the radiation treatments. I wish this had never happened to me but since it has I'm trying to deal with it as best as I can but sometimes it's hard. I just want to be OK.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Guest Blog

Is it really possible to feel more in the loop when you aren’t with Linda, than when you are with her? I’ve been home for a couple of weeks but was previously with Linda for almost 2 full weeks. I was working while I was there but we had lunch everyday and spent every evening together. As Linda’s blog mentioned, there was talking, eating, movies, laughing, etc. and I didn’t read the blog the entire time I was there…why would I need to since I was there!?!? But when I got home I caught up. I love reading the blog so much that I didn’t want to miss anything…even the stuff I was there for. And strangely enough I learned things I didn’t know while I was there.

I remember going to the Salt Lake Olympics in 2002. It was a phenomenal experience I’d do again in a heartbeat. However, I found this one very interesting occurrence. While you are at the Olympics you barely know what’s going on in the Olympics. I knew about the 1 event I attended each day but there were dozens more I knew nothing about…I didn’t even know they were happening. At home you get all the highlights but at the Olympics I went to medal ceremony and kept saying “that even was today” or “I didn’t know the US swept that event.”

After getting home and catching up on Linda’s blog, I thought about my Olympics experience. I was there yet I was missing out. Maybe we were having too much fun to talk about the less fun cancer stuff. Time loss, always thinking its Tuesday…no clue. Not wanting to go to her tattooing alone…9pm the night before Linda mentioned it, I think by accident though. Coyotes howling…ok, maybe I just sleep through a lot more than Linda can but I had no idea. Of course, I can’t even figure out when Linda had time to write the blog while I was there…maybe it was while I slept through the coyotes and they kept Linda up.

Well, just like the Olympics, I wouldn’t trade my 2 weeks staying with Linda for anything. OK, maybe the work part but not the fun, hanging out with my friend I’ve never spent 2 straight weeks with. How often does work give you a chance to spend 2 weeks with a friend, conveniently stay at their house, and do it between chemo and radiation!! Next time I’ll just remember to keep reading the blog! :)

Linda’s Friend

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Eleven Down - Only Twenty Three To Go!

The massage was a nice treat today. It's been a long time since I felt that good - physically anyway.
I'm starting to show some redness. Sort of like a light sunburn. They gave me some directions for pain and/or itchiness. So far it doesn't bother me at all. It's strange to see the difference in skin color. The radiation is just like an X-ray. I can neither see nor feel anything while it's happening. I guess now I know it's actually doing something. I can see now why everyone else leaves the room while they zap me. Everyone seemed happy to see me today - guess I should have been nice to them sooner!
All I want for Christmas is my port taken out - and I made the appointment. December 17th is the day. I hope they let me keep it!
Just throwing in a picture I took in Arches National Park a couple of years ago. No reason other that it's a nice winter shot.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Moment of Clarity

For some reason I could not sleep at all last night. I finally drifted off around 6:30am. No idea what that was about but I had a lot of time to think. I realized I've been a complete idiot about radiation. I'm mentally fighting the treatment and not the disease. I've been angry towards the wrong things and I've taken it out on the nice people at the Cancer Center. I walk in each day, change clothes, sit in the waiting room waiting to be called, I lay down, they zap me, I change clothes and leave. I am not nice to anyone, I answer all questions with one syllables, I don't smile, I angrily tap my foot if I have to wait more than a couple of seconds, I lay there stiffly hating every second of it as I get radiated, and I fume the whole way home. They must think I am naturally a negative person. Then it hit me last night as I lay there thinking about what the heck I am going to do if it comes back. Radiation is my friend. I should be thinking postive healing thoughts while I am undergoing treatment. Plus the folks there do not deserve my attitude in the least. Today I walked in trying to be happier. Right away I noticed a difference. The receptionist who usually doesn't even look up when I walk in was waiting for me. "There you are - I was looking for you." Oh Oh I thought - she's looking for money. Nope - she asked f I wanted to sign up for an hour massage tomorrow. Of course I would. I asked how much it would cost and she said they were free for patients - the Susan G. Komen Foundation pays for them. Sweet - I like this place better already I thought. Then I grabbed a couple of Oreos from the goody box. Before I had a chance to even eat one they called my name. Early even! I have been wanting to ask them if I can come in early this Friday since I am going out of town for the weekend and I have a friend to pick up at the airport that morning. But I have been kind of nervous to ask since they have not been open to my change request before. First thing they say today though is that they would like it if I could come in early on Friday. Great timing! Then for he first time I watched the machine and imagined all those cancer cells being burned to death. I even played with the beams of light on my hand afterwards and got teased by the radiologists for goofing off. I actually enjoyed my short visit today and had my Oreos on the way home. I bet Dad even enjoyed having some conversation on the trip there and back. Instead of my brooding. Tomorrow I go an hour earlier for my massage! I might even smile this time.
Funny Note - as we were walking into the center there was another lady walking in at the same time. She was on oxygen, had one foot in a cast, was all bent over, looked 90 years old until you got close and saw she was probably late 40s, was really struggling with each step. She looked one step from death's door and I felt bad for her. Then as I was walking past she turned to her companion and loudly whispered while pointing at me - "at least my hair didn't fall out".
My hair is kind of starting to grow in but very strangely. There is the last of the old hair which never really fell out and that's growing in very dark and wiry. Then there's the new stuff that is like a very pale red and is very thin like baby hair. The combination is very interesting to touch so I find myself rubbing my head more than usual.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sedona Sunday

We explored in Sedona this weekend. Lots of pretty scenery and laughs. I actually did a couple of hikes. They were short but one included hiking on boulders. I did better than I thought. I got tired but my legs held up just fine. Highlight of the day - we saw javelinas! It's been a long long time since I've seen a wild animal I haven't seen before. It was really cool.