Sunday, November 29, 2009

Some Numbers

I have been writing this blog for close to a year and a half now. I am able to track visitation to the blog - how many are reading it, how long they are on there, how many are new visitors, and where visitors are from.
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This is my 122 post and of that number 93 were from last year when I was still in treatment. So far as of today I have had 6,895 visits and 1,366 different visitors. Those visitors have come from 40 different countries including; Estonia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, and Tunisia. Most of the countries of Europe and the Americas have had at least one visitor. All continents except Antarctica are represented on the list. In the US, I have had visitors from 45 different states. The five states not on the list are New Mexico, Vermont, Mississippi, Alaska, and Hawai'i. The states with the most visits are Utah (Hi Mom!), Michigan (Thanks Aunt Joyce and Aunt Janice!) and Illinois(WooHoo Janet!).

I know most of the visitors are people who know and love me that are checking in to see what I am up to and to see how I am doing. I know others are just starting or are in the middle of their own journey with cancer. Every time I see someone from a new location stop by and stay for awhile my heart goes out to them. Most recently someone from Brazil has been reading through the 122 posts. I don't know if my blog is of any help to anyone but I hope they at least see that while cancer will occupy their lives for awhile, the treatment does end and a new "normal" life starts again. Cancer can go from being the major focus of their life to something that while always there, no longer is the first thing they think of in the morning. The medical bills will finally get paid, your body will start to feel "normal" again, and you will laugh at yourself for being upset at the little things. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of you in the fight.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Daisy is Crazy


That's it - we are renaming her Marley!
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We had Daisy spayed last week and she is supposed to remain calm and not tear open her stitches. They gave us sedatives and we have kept her locked in the kitchen. This is what I came home to today at lunch. Of course Maddie was outside the kitchen egging her on. Dad had used wires from coat hangers to lock the cabinets shut. They did no good against this determined little dog. Sedatives or not she almost tore the doors off of the cabinets. I was hoping she hadn't eaten too much of the pasta and such that she pulled out but she refused to eat her normal dinner tonight so I am guessing that she has a sore tummy. I've used picture hanging wire to tie them shut this time - we will see if she gets passed that. (Don't worry Mom, I saved the coffee maker and put it on top of the fridge. She hasn't figured out a way to get up there yet!)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The First of Many Photos from the 3 Day Walk

One of my favorite photos
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That's me dead center, looking at the camera and waving. I'm in the sunlight and you can see only part of my face.
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At the end of the three days of walking everyone walked into Phoenix Stadium for a closing ceremony. I learned on the first day of the walk that the survivors on the walk were to walk in together last behind the other walkers and the crew members. It disturbed me at the time that I would not be walking in with my teammates - Steph and Kristin. We had made the journey together and I thought should finish together. But as I thought about it more, I realized that yes I had made the journey with them, but I had also made a journey that all the other Breast cancer survivors had made also. As survivors we may have not made our cancer journeys together, we did however make the same journey; from hearing the diagnosis to having to tell our friends and family to dealing with the elephant in the room to making treatment decisions that we will never know if they are correct or not to dealing with medical bills to the pain and struggle of treatment to living with the fear that at anytime it can come back and that this time it doesn't go away to deciding that we weren't only going to fight the cancer in ourselves but we are going to join the fight to make a difference and end cancer once and for all for everyone by participating in the walk. I decided that the walk was like my like cancer journey - my friends were with me during the whole journey but in the end it was still a journey by myself. I needed to walk in with the other survivors and show myself to the world as a representative of a survivor. Cancer may not define me but I am one of the many faces of cancer.
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It is hard for me to put into words the feeling I had when they had us survivors join together before we walked into the stadium. I have to admit that I have been really struggling with my self esteem since I finished treatment. Let's face it I am not even close to the same person as I was physically or mentally since my diagnosis and I've been embarrassed to have had cancer and have tried to forget about the whole thing. I was really nervous before the walk to face it all again. There were 200 or so survivors on the walk out of 1,800 walkers. When I walked up to the group of survivors and saw the smiles and tears, I was as proud as I have ever been to be a part of such a group of wonderful women. Very few of us knew each other but we all held our head's up high and looked each other in the eye as we hugged and cried and laughed and appreciated each other. We may not have know each other's names but we knew each other's journeys.
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I will have quite a few more posts about the 3 Day Walk. We raised over 4 million dollars to fight cancer and end it forever. That is first and foremost the most important part of the walk. For me personally, I learned to say...
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"My name is Linda and I am proud to be a breast cancer survivor. I walk because Everyone Deserves a Lifetime."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Greetings from the Arizona 3 Day Walk

It is day one and this is the most amazing experience. I am back at camp and have shower and set up our tent. I walked ten miles today which is double what I thought I would be able to do. It is easy though with all of the people cheering and walking with my great team. I'm getting a chair massage in a minute and thought I'd do a quick post. I have two blisters on the bottom of my feet and a broken toe nail. And I am of course a bit sore. Lots and lots of walkers - the logistics are amazing (that's the accountant in me!). Lots of pink too!

I'll check back in tomorrow!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I'm Heading Out to Phoenix This Morning

The 3 Day Walk starts tomorrow morning. We are supposed to be there by 6:30 am. Looks like the weather will be great and I have everything packed that's going to be packed. Thanks again everyone for all of your generous donations and well wishes. I'm very excited that it is finally here and ready for a fun weekend with friends, new and old while contributing to a cause that is very personal for me. I have the camera all ready to go so will have lots of photos to share when I get back on Monday.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Arizona Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk

Well, the walk is almost here - it is less than two weeks away. It seems like we have been planning for it and raising money forever. I'm starting to get nervous about it - not about the walking - I know I can't do the whole 60 miles but I'm going to do the best I can. I worry about how emotional it may be. I'm doing a great job not making breast cancer the number one topic in my life and this will move it back to the forefront for at least a few days.

A breast cancer survivor is what I am and always will be. Embracing the survivor part of that statement and doing everything I can to make sure that everyone who is diagnosed with breast cancer also gets to embrace their survivorship is what the walk is all about for me.

I was really worried when I signed up for the walk that I would not be able to raise the $2,300 minimum amount they have on donations. I am so excited and grateful to say that I have raised over $6,000. Unbelievable!! Thank you to everyone who donated. Thank you so much. By the time of the walk the three of us in Team Grand Canyon will have collected close to $15,000.

If you are planning on donating there is still time - http://www.the3day.org/site/TR/Walk/ArizonaEvent2009?px=2968049&pg=personal&fr_id=1290

Friday, October 2, 2009

I got good news today

The bone scan came back clean. The only thing that showed up was my root canal from a couple of weeks ago. My oncologist believes that I probably have arthritis in my hip. I read up on it a little and learned that losing weight can help hip arthritis. So, losing weight sounds like a great plan to me. That and finally having a great night's sleep tonight! Thanks everyone for your prayers - they must have worked. :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Results Tomorrow

My bone scan last Friday went well. I showed up at 9am and was given a shot. You would think I would know what they gave me but I didn't ask any questions and barely read up on the procedure online. Who knows maybe I am thinking that if I ignore it then the results will come back clean. Anyway, the tech had trouble finding a vein and asked if I had a port. Who knew I would still need that darn thing. She finally got me after a couple of tries and resulting large bruises. I went to our Flagstaff offices and worked there for a few hours. At noon I went back for the scan. I laid there for 18 minutes or so as the scan was taken. They took a look at the results on the monitor and said they had a good reading so I could leave. My oncologist has had the results since Monday but his nurse says I won't hear anything from him until my appointment tomorrow morning. I've been really busy at work so I haven't had a chance to be a nervous wreck about it. I've tentatively scheduled the hour plus drive to the cancer center as my freak out time. I'm sure it will all come back just fine and I will post on here tomorrow night the good news.

Thanks everyone for all the encouragement and prayers!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bone Scan Tomorrow

It is a week earlier than I thought - will be nice to have it over with. I won't hear results until next week. Hope I can get some sleep tonight!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lots of Doctor's Appointments This Week

I had a root canal on Monday - no fun but nice to not be in pain any more.

I got to spend some quality time with my surgeon on Wednesday - waited an hour to see him for four minutes. He said I need to see him every six months for four more years and that it was not a request but a requirement.

I had appointments with both oncologists on Friday - and did get a little bit of good news. My radiation oncologist said that it didn't make sense that I was seeing three different doctors for cancer followups so she said I don't have to see her any more if things go well. She did set me up for another mammogram which she wants me to have soon.

The not as good news - I have been having a bit of pain and loss of range of movement in my left hip for over a month. I told my oncologist about it and we decided that I should have a bone scan. One of the most common ways breast cancer will metastasize is in the bones. The hips, sternum, and back seem to be the place the cancer starts in from what I am reading. So, in two weeks I go back to the cancer center for the scan. As he was walking out the door my oncologist said - try not to worry about it too much. Easy for him to say - harder for me to do. One thing I keep thinking about - while I had the tooth abscess this past week or so, I took vicodin and it didn't even make a dent in my hip pain. Is that a bad sign? I know, I know - I will try not to drive myself crazy trying to analyze everything. Hopefully it is all much to do about nothing and for the next two weeks I'll take the doctor's advise and try not to worry about it too much.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Breast Cancer 3 Day Walk

Thank you so much all of you who have donated. I have a couple of more months before the walk in Arizona and hope to reach my goal of $6,000. I am almost there and it is due to all of you.

I've never been involved with collecting donations for a cause before and I am humbled by all the generosity I have seen from my family and friends.

I have attempted in my own words to describe the horror of being diagnosed with cancer and the torture of the treatment that ensues in this blog. It was one year ago that I started chemotherapy. I remember vividly the pain of that first weekend. I was unable to even get up from my bed for days after the treatment I hurt so badly. I was alone and was as terrified as anyone could ever be. How was I going to survive this? Would it get worse? (It did) What is the reason this is happening to me? Did I make the right treatment choices? Was I going to die? It still takes my breath away and brings me to tears thinking about it. Chemo is a horrible terrible thing. There has to be a better way to beat this horrible disease. I knew that if I made it through my treatments that it had to mean something. All of that pain and effort had to lead to more than me - or at least the pre-cancer me.

I now have a few simple goals. I hope to get better at supporting others going through cancer hell. I try to live every day thinking "any day that's not a chemo day is a great day". I try not to think about it too much but I could have a recurrence at any time and I don't want to be kicking myself for not enjoying the time I have being relatively healthy. There was a quote in the radiation waiting room in the cancer center - "happiness is not a destination, it is a way of travel". I spent many an hour staring at it and contemplating how true that can be. I swore if I made it through all the treatments I would be one happy traveler through life.

My new passion is raising what I can to fight breast cancer and to support breast cancer patients. If you would like to contribute to my walk or learn more about it please click here.

everyone deserves a lifetime

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Couple of Photos from the North Rim Last Night




Linda and Felicia on the North Rim veranda
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I made a quick trip to the other side of the canyon this weekend to see my dear friends - John , Felicia, and Julia. The sunset was beautiful over the canyon, the meal was yummy, and it was wonderful to see my friends and spend an evening laughing.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Some Photos from the President's Visit to the Grand Canyon

Air Force One Lands at the Grand Canyon Airport

Start of the motorcade at the airport


Look close - the President is in the picture somewhere

Hey look it's Greg driving the firetruck in the motorcade!!!
Click here for more pictures of Air Force One landing
or here for more pictures of the Grand Canyon presidential visit






























Saturday, August 15, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hey It Has Been Awhile

It has been over a year since I was diagnosed. 7-08-08. I meant to write a "what a difference a year makes" blog on the anniversary but I'm still in a state of denial that the whole cancer thing ever happened. I try not to think about it at all. I started reading some of the posts on this blog and I don't even remember writing some of it. If I do start to think about it I get all wigged out - did that really happen to me? What would my life be like if it never happened? Maybe it didn't really happen and it was all a bad dream? Surely it won't happen again? Right? Can I handle it if it happens again? How would I ever find the strength to walk into the chemo room and sit down in a chair ever again? Please please please never make me lose my hair again. And I don't ever want another of those nights of terror. Or the pain. Or another hated port. How will I ever survive? See - it is just best if I don't think about it at all. I digress down this thought path all to easily.

Here's a great Newsweek article about cancer patients who use humor to fight back.

Physically and mentally I feel better every day. I've still got some chemo side affects that seem to flair up from time to time. I can tell when I am going to have a bout of chemo brain when I start hearing the same song over and over in my head for a day or two. The weird thing about it is - no matter what song it is, it does not bother me. The next sign that chemo brain is starting - I see things out of the corner of my eye that aren't there. Over and over and over. I'll see that my message light is blinking on my office phone - I'll reach for the phone - and then notice it is not blinking - I'll see that my message light is blinking on my office phone - I'll reach for the phone - and then notice it is not blinking - I'll see that the message light............you get the picture. I can some days do that 50 or 60 times. And just like the repeating song in my head, reaching for my phone all day long does not bother me. Then chemo brain will start and I'll forget who people are, or where I parked, or how I got somewhere, or or or. I will also find it hard to think through things - the other day I had a chemo brain episode and I was in tears at the thought of unloading my groceries from the car. It just seemed such a daunting task - I had no idea how I was going to do it and I was in tears about it. I got home, carried the three bags of groceries into the house, put the items away, and almost sank to the floor in relief to have accomplished the task. The worst part of it is that there is a normal part of my brain totally aghast at what is happening. UNLOADING THE CAR IS NOT HARD!! Luckily my chemo brain sessions are getting further and further apart. Oh Oh - I'm hearing the theme from The Office.

Physically I feel pretty good. I seem to still have pain in my joints and numbness in my hands. I'm starting to get out hiking more and loosing the weight I gained in the past year. A year ago I was a tall thin long-haired blond. Now I'm a tall heavy short-haired brunette.

Both of my Grandparents died this spring.

Sales of my photography at http://www.zazzle.com/wanderlinarts have started to take off. I'm averaging a sale a day this last month or so.

I've also been spending most of my computer time writing for examiner.com. I just posted my 100th article. http://www.examiner.com/x-5374-Phoenix-Grand-Canyon-Insights-Examiner

Both dogs are doing well. Puppy has made Maddie young again. It is awesome to see her run again!

The president and first family will be at the Grand Canyon this weekend. Makes for a busy week and weekend. It will be exciting though.

All of my medical bills have been paid as of last week!

Any day that is not a chemo day is a great day-
Linda

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Southern Utah Vacation Pictures

Greg Finds His Muse(s)

Valley of the Goblins

Spooky Slot Canyon

San Juan River Gooseneck

Tower Ruins - here there be rattlesnakes


Cool Double Decker Ruins

More Ruins

Rock Art

Devil's Garden

More Devil's Garden










Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk

Wow - it's only the beginning of April and I am half way to my mark of $2,300 in donations for the 3-Day Walk in November. Thank you so much all of you who have donated. For those of you interested in helping me reach the last half of my goal just click on the 3-Day picture on the left of this page. Every little bit helps an organization that has been a god send for me.
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I've started training for the walk by trying to walk three miles every day either outside on nice days or inside on the treadmill on the not so nice days. I took the puppy, Daisy Mae, this past weekend for the whole three miles and she did great. Unfortunately Maddie is only up for a half mile or so these days.
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It is fun though to watch the puppy and Maddie wrestle all the time. They are best buddies. It is great to see Maddie have so much fun and even greater to have the puppy tired out enough that in the evenings they are both sleeping on my feet right now. And they are both snoring which is pretty funny.
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My hair is still growing but oh so slowly. I am going to throw a huge party and you are all invited the day I can wear a ponytail again. Now it is just short and sloppy looking. Yes, Mom I am actually thinking about getting it cut so it at least has some shape as it grows out. :)
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I know a couple of people now that have had cancer recurrences lately. I must say it has me freaked out. I'm not sure I can do this again. It does remind me to enjoy my good health while I can - things can go downhill fast.
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I cry at the drop of a hat these days. Especially when I hear the word cancer. We are running tests on Maddie who might have lymphoma. When the vet first said it was a good possibility that she does have cancer, I could barely hold back the tears. Actually the tests are back but I'm avoiding calling our vet back just yet. I will tomorrow - it's just too hard to know.
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My grandfather died a few weeks ago. My heart is broken but it was so nice to reconnect with my Michigan family at the funeral. They are just the nicest bunch and I wish we got to see each other more often. It makes me sad though when I think about my Dad without his Dad. Grandpa was a great man and he will be missed terribly.
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I've been slowing down on doing original posts on my Grand Canyon blog. I hope to get a bunch of new ones written up this weekend.
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Go State!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I have a new writing assignment!



As much as I have enjoyed this blog for the last eight months, its not been that easy for me to write. Its been cathartic at times for me to write down my thoughts and feeling and at other times its been a huge struggle. It has been a godsend for me to include my friends and family in treatments and I've been told it has been helpful for others struggling in their own cancer adventure. I've even learned along the way that I enjoy writing. I just don't enjoy writing so much about myself.

Which brings me to my newest writing adventure opportunity. I was recently asked to apply for an online writing position at Examiner.com. Launched in April 2008, Examiner.com serves 60 major markets across the country and is quickly becoming the premier online brand for local information and events. They are a division of the Clarity Media Group, owned by the Anschutz Company, one of the largest media companies in the country which is also the company that owns the company I work for with my day job, Xanterra South Rim LLC. After filling out the lengthy application and using this blog as an example of my writing style, I was chosen as the Phoenix Grand Canyon Insights Examiner. This gives me a great opportunity to write about something I love and not about myself. Not that I don't love myself but you know what I mean.

I've always said that my dream job is to be a travel writer. While I will never make as much $ as being an accountant - it is giving me a chance to spend a part of each week trying out what I have always wanted to do.

Please give me a visit at http://www.examiner.com/x-5374-Phoenix-Grand-Canyon-Insights-Examiner and let me know what you think. (I also get paid by page views so don't be shy!)




Monday, March 9, 2009

Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3 Day Walk




It's official - I've signed up to participate in the walk this next November here in Arizona. Just like it says - it lasts three days and we will be walking 20 miles each of those days for a total of 60 miles. Eight five percent of the proceeds go to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. According to the website every advancement in breast cancer research, treatment, education and prevention in the last 25 years has been touched by a Komen for the Cure grant. The remaining fifteen percent goes to the National Philanthropic Trust Breast Cancer Fund, which provides ongoing support to breast cancer initiatives, so that strides made today can continue to propel us toward the goal of a world without breast cancer. I've agreed to raise at least $2,300 in donations. I know I can raise even more than that, and have set my team's goal at $3,000 per person. Here's the hard part for me I hate asking for $ in today's economy but I would appreciate any help you can give. Would you please consider making a donation of any amount? Keep in mind how far I'm walking - and how hard I'll have to train. You can donate online at http://www.the3day.org/. Just click on Donate Now and search for my personal fundraising page. You can download a donation form and mail it to the address on the form. You can also call 800.996.3DAY to donate over the phone. So, far I have a team of three - we are Team Grand Canyon. If anyone wants to join us on our walk we would love to have you join our team. Just let me know and I'll help you get signed up.

According to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, more than 200,000 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and nearly 40,000 will die from the disease. That’s why I’m walking so far. To do something bold about breast cancer. I hope that you'll share this incredible adventure with me by supporting me in my fundraising efforts.

During my breast cancer journey the Susan G. Komen organization was there for me every step of the way. The day I showed up for my first surgery consultation I was given a very informative breast cancer manual printed and paid for by them. They pay for a breast cancer support room at the cancer center. It is filled with all sorts of great helpful items they pay for and give out to patients at no cost. My personal favorite - they provided me with a weekly massage while I was in radiation. It was the most wonderful thing in such a trying time. Even last week I noticed a pink ribbon on the machine as I got my mammogram. Susan G. Komen had helped pay for the state of the art equipment. From personal experience I have seen what a great organization they are and I am proud to be able to participate in one of their big fund raiser events.











Sunday, March 1, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Much Ado About Close to Nothing

Everything went just swimmingly yesterday. It was almost anticlimactic after all of my nervousness. My radiation oncologist says I am healing well and doesn't want to see me for another six months, my chemo oncologist wrote me a new tamoxifen prescription and doesn't want to see me for three months, and best of all everything looked good with the mammogram! Life is good!

Monday, February 23, 2009

First February Post

Well I almost made it a month without checking in. I must say I am enjoying not having cancer as the be all and end all for me. I can make it an hour or two without even thinking about it and can go half a day or so without it coming up in conversation. I even have writer's block when it comes to this blog! I just don't have any drama for all of you and find my nice happy life a little boring. :) I find I laugh and smile even more often than I did BBC (before breast cancer). Which really is a nice thing to be able to say. It's a very pleasant side affect for me. I know I keep talking about it but still when something starts to get me down I just have to think about what I've been through to know that any day I am healthy is a day of joy. I hope I can keep that feeling of joy to continue. I've been out playing every weekend with trips to Las Vegas, Tucson, Sedona just in the last three weeks. I don't intend to slow down at all but I do get tired easily still. I am reminded of it all every time I look in the mirror or try to run my fingers through my hair. It's almost been four months since my last chemo treatment (do you believe it's been that long!) and my hair is still less than an inch long. sigh..... Work is going great with all sorts of fun challenges and great co-workers. Maddie is well but slowing down a bit more all the time. I love my life.
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Tomorrow though I go back to the cancer center for appointments with both oncologists and my first mammogram since the lumpectomy. 90% of me knows that everything is going to look fine, the lump I can feel under the incision is just scar tissue, and I'll get to say hi to old friends and not go back for another six months. The other 10% of me is darting around my brain bouncing against the walls freaked out that things won't look that fine. I can't even imagine what my reaction will be if I ever hear that the cancer is back and if I let that 10% take over even for a little bit tonight I think I'd be curled up on the bathroom floor crying. Even though I have said I wasn't worried and I've tried every argument I could think of to get him not to - Greg is going with me tomorrow. Do you believe it's still hard for me to accept the support of others? I am so appreciative that he is taking time out of his busy schedule and that I will have him there with me but at the same time I feel bad for causing all this ruckus. Anyway, that's my excitement for the month and I'll post tomorrow night whatever I find out. Good Night!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Checking In

Sorry I haven't blogged in awhile. I've been trying out my "new" normal life as a cancer survivor without spending too much time being introspective.
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Physically I am starting to feel OK. I am getting most of my hair back. I've got about an inch on the top of my head, my eyebrows are back for good and I think my eyelashes are actually coming back in thicker than before. I'm don't have pain anymore and feel like my strength is about back to the "old" normal levels. I do still get really tired at the end of the day and when I push things too far I hit a wall and end up in bed asleep by 8 or so. Each day though I get more of my energy back.
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Mentally I still struggle now and then with conversation - finding the words to convey what I am trying to say is very frustrating to me. I have become a stutterer. I've also started this annoying habit of biting my lower lip when I need a few moments to come up a correct response in a conversation. Making simple decisions can also stymie me. I am sure I can be very frustrating to those around me when I can't even make the simple decision of what I want to drink. It's hard to explain but it's like my brain shuts down when I am given a few different choices. And I still blank out every once in awhile and find myself sitting or standing in mid-motion with no idea how long I've been there like that. It just happened this evening. I "awoke" to find myself standing in my hallway with no idea how I got there or which way I was going or what I had been doing. Very odd. Oh and then trying to remember things drives me crazy. I have to take my pill every night. And every night I go to take my pill and I make a mental note that I am taking the pill and then ten minutes later I can remember meaning to take the pill, I can remember making a mental note of taking the pill but I can't for the life of me remember actually taking the pill. It drives me crazy. It is so stinkin annoying - and it happens every single night! I bet there are nights I end up taking two or three pills. Geesh! I like to think that I've become good at acting like I am "normal" to those who are around me when I have these little mental breakdowns but I worry that I don't do a very good job of it.
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It's hard for me to believe it's only been three weeks since I got out of treatment - mentally it feels like months and months. I try not to think about cancer all the time and have been so busy both on and off work that it hasn't been too hard. For the first time since I started this blog I went back and read a couple of my posts from last August and September. Wow - it kind of brought back how hard it was and I had to quit reading. Plus all of the typos were driving me nuts. :)
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I went back to the hospital this week to pick up a prescription. I ended up sobbing for 15 minutes in the parking lot. Being there brought all the memories of the past seven months back and I then let a bit of worry for the future sneak into my fore thoughts. I remembered the "it is cancer" phone call in all it's gut wrenching glory and then imagined how much worse it will be if I ever get the same call again. I try to never let myself think "if" but that morning the "if" snuck up on me. The thought of hearing that diagnosis again knowing what I know now about cancer "treatments" took my breath away. So mentally I obviously have a few things to work through. Hopefully it's nothing a few good hikes and weekends out exploring won't cure!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Random Pictures

Lots of snow on my BBQ

The Vortex growing on my head
Radioactive Sign on my desk - it brought some levity and laughter to the office when most people didn't know what to say or how to act.

Radiation Room - notice hot air balloon picture on the ceiling lights in the upper left corner of the picture. The chemo room had a picture of blue sky and clouds. At least they try to make the cancer center pretty and relaxing.


It is official - I passed cancer!



Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Chemo 4 Surgeries 3 Radiation 33 Linda Won!

It is finished. It's been almost six months to the day that I was diagnosed back in early July. It seems like it was just yesterday but feels like it's been my entire life. Dad and Mom both came with me this morning. It was the worst driving conditions for Dad today of the whole ordeal with lots of snow and ice. I don't think he is going to miss the three hour commute we had each day. I know I never would have been able to do what I have done without him and Mom taking care of me. And I am really going to miss them. The staff was great at the cancer center with everyone coming around to congratulate me. They gave me a certificate that everyone signed, a book on what's next for me as a cancer survivor who has finished treatment, and an african violet. I don't have to go back until February 10th for meetings with each of my oncologists. In all I missed four days of work for surgeries, four days for chemo treatment days, four days from chemo pain, and a couple of half days from radiation fatigue.
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A lot has happened in my life in the past six months. Not all of it cancer related - believe it or not. I've gained a wonderful relationship with someone who is smarter than me if can you believe that :), started a fun challenging new job, moved into a comfy house with the perfect back yard, have four new scars, gained a huge appreciation for health care workers, explored some beautiful areas of Arizona and Utah, for the first time ever I used up all of my sick days at work, moved away from friends that I still miss terribly every single day, lost all of the hair on my body, look ten years older, felt more physical pain than I thought I could bear, heard some great new songs with lyrics that seemed written for me("December never felt so wrong"), learned that no matter how badly I felt for myself there are so many out there with much bigger struggles, first saw Charlie and Candy Mountain, went from the scared new girl to the wizened old timer in the radiation waiting room, brought home hundreds of cards of support from the post office, reaffirmed what a fantastically supportive family I am blessed to have, wrote checks for thousands of dollars, was bamboozled, made new friends (thanks chemo angels Linda and Cindy!), hated every single stinkin' second of being bald, gained weight, then lost some of the gained weight, learned way more than I ever dreamed about breast cancer, read lots of books, wrote lots of long wordy blogs like this one, felt pretty good about myself and all that I have and will accomplish, was blown away by all the support I received, gained an appreciation for every day that is not a chemo day, learned to wear hats, kept ignoring the elephant, and learned for a fact that laughter really is the best medicine.
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I was going to quit writing this blog in the next few days. I have even decided the opening and ending lines of the final blog. But I've got a few more pictures to post and a few more thoughts about cancer rattling around in my head. So, I think you are stuck with me for a little while longer anyway.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Guest Blog

I’ll never forget the day Linda smiled and told me “I have cancer.”

Day to day, it’s so easy to lose track of what’s important. We’re all guilty of it, it’s so easy to be distracted. You have to go to work, bills have to be paid, food has to be put on the table. Every once in a while, you’re reminded what’s really important in life.

I’m moved by the strength that Linda has had through her ordeal. Through everything, Linda has been fighting back with a smile and her sense of humor; I know she’s felt terrible, but her smile and attitude is her armor. I admire that.

We all want to know what we can do to help…probably not much I suppose, other than being there (which unfortunately, we can’t always do). That’s frustrating for all of us, but we’re happy for what Linda’s family has done to help.

Now, several months later, with one treatment left, Linda is still smiling. I’m so happy to be here with her as she closes this chapter in her life. :)

-Greg

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

May all of you have an incredibly wonderful, adventurous, and happy new year!