Thursday, July 31, 2008

It's a Beautiful Day in the Hood!

THREE! Can you say three? Three is a very good number and the number I was given for chemo treatments, better than six, eight, ten or twelve! I still lose my hair, oh well, can't cry about that! Went today and bought two wigs. One long, one short. One called Nona, (like the song: Nona, N-O-N-A, Nona! Oh, no that was Lola, okay it isn't like the song!) the other Alexia. The color: Spring Honey see the short wig below. They are from the Rachel Welch collection. I looked for some silicone boobies in the boxes but there were only the wigs. One can always hope and dream, damn it!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I Will Survive!

Tomorrow I visit the oncologist to get all the details about starting my chemotherapy treatments. Actually, I have found out that what I will be getting is pretty much just plutonium, isn't that what they make bombs out of? So, I have my list of questions, such as "Will I explode?" "How long before my hair falls out?" "When can we have sex again?" "How many medications will you give me to forget all the crap that's happening to my body?" "Does this qualify for medicinal pot?" "When can we have sex again?" Oh, yea, asked that one already.

Well, I am pumped up and ready to kick some cancer ass! To everyone out in blogland I have three words: "I Will Survive!" However, I am not so certain they have been totally honest about all the side effects...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The New Engagement Ring? Say What?

I just have to post this. I was listening to public radio yesterday and they had some young couples on who were talking about relationships and stated that an engagement ring isn't what it used to be. That now, to show a girl/guy you are committed to them and want an exclusive relationship with them and show you trust them, you have sex without a condom. That's right Sex Without a Condom, the new engagement ring! Now isn't that romantic?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Magic of Watercolors

I decided to start my art journal yesterday. I got out my watercolors that have been pretty much abandoned since my insomnia picture days. That's when I first started painting, that is painting other than the scenic art I have done in the theatre. It was about 7 years ago, I found myself alone for the first time in my life. I would wake up at 1 or 2AM and couldn't sleep, so very alone and so afraid. I decided if I was going to be up for 3 and 4 hours in the middle of the night I needed to do something productive.

And so I painted. Every fear would vanish for those hours. I didn't have one clue how to paint I just painted. Some were good, some not so good. Lots of ocean scenes, actually tons of ocean scenes. It was calming and very soothing. When I needed it the most they brought some solice to my life and some small bit of sanity to a completely fractured soul.

Eventually, six months later, my life got back on track, and the paints and the paintings were put on a shelf in a cabinet, and I had pretty much forgotten all about them. Through the years that followed I started painting with acrylics, I started beading and pretty much abandoned the watercolors, too much trouble, too hard to control.

It seemed right somehow to pull them out to start the journal. I need to see the vibrant colors that emerge off the bristles of the brush and spread across the wet paper. I need that hope. I need the fear to vanish even if for a little while.

And so I pull out the watercolors and it comes to me as the blue spreads across the paper. You are strong. Yes, I am. Just have faith. I will. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. They are still there. You are still here. Yes I am.

There is faith and hope in those tubes and somehow I instinctively knew there was also a soothing power as well. I can tell right away, that it's been much too long since I sqeezed the paint on the palate, dipped the brush in the water and put the paint to paper. But that's okay, it sends me a message even in its mediocrity that embraces my scared being letting me know everything will be okay.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Old Hippies for Peace

I had my dear Beni (hubby) get me out of the house this morning, we drove over to my Mom and Dad's house for a change of scenery. It turned into me being put to task by my mom when I told her I wasn't feeling good. Of course, I was doing too much and I need to quit going to the store and shopping (I went to Michaels for 5 minutes-Oh, and Sunflower Market 10 minutes) so she is already to start bringing in the casseroles again. I can't complain really, because she made my favorite squash casserole when I came home from the hospital among many others. I love you mom!

Anyway, just needed to get out of the house was feeling punky. On the way back home we had a guy pull up and signal to roll down our window. "I like your bumber sticker! I'm an old hippie, too!" "Aren't we all" says Beni. I smile. I love driving around in my sunflower yellow Nisson Xterra. I know Beni hates it, even though I have tried to convince him it is much smaller and better on gas than my old SUV. He would have me in a Prius. You need to understand he walks or rides a bike. I'm more of a jeep sorta girl and need something that can pull my tent trailer. I'm a girl with NEEDS!

Anyway you have to picture the bright yellow Nisson with a paddedd green peace sign on the grill and several Peace bumper stickers and deadhead dancing bears on the back. It's a happy car. I get homeless people that hold up a peace hand sign when I drive by and a big smile. Makes me feel good to make people smile. And I always get these old guys pulling up besides me and signaling me to open my window, and everytime I think I have cut them off and they are going to yell at me. Instead, it's always, "I like your stickers!" Me too. Peace and Love!

Note: Check out my June 2007 post for more of my stickers and the old and new SUV.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

It's Monsoon Season

It's monsoon season in Vegas. The winds start blowing in the afternoon, the clouds tumble in, thunder and lightening roars and crackles across the sky, the smell of rain permeates the air and then the flood gates open. It's weird though, because it doesn't rain over the entire city, different sections get hit. We only have had sprinkles and yet other parts of town are flooded. But the end result leaves the air cool and smelling fresh and clean, a nice reprieve from the smog filled oven of our Vegas summer days. It reminds me of camping on the Oregon Coast. I wish I could be there now without a care in the world. My mind free from all the confusion and fear that currently has taken up residency.

People ask me how I feel. I don't know how to honestly answer that. Physically? I'm sore, sometimes in a lot of pain but doing well. Mentally? Okay. Afraid of what is ahead of me with the chemo. Emotionally? I feel like a monsoon is inside of me and the floodgates are going to open any minute and the tears are going to pour out. My womb is gone. I feel empty. It protected and fed four babies. It was my last connection to a very special, intimate time. It was what made me a woman. It's gone. I keep thinking of this ugly alien invader that somehow managed to attack my body and I didn't even know it was there. It stole something precious to me. I didn't expect to feel this way. But I do. How can I explain that to people who ask how I feel?

I now understand exactly these lyrics of Eleanor Rigby..."wearing the face that she keeps in the jar by the door." I have had to grab that face put it on, smile, pretend.

So whenever anyone asks I just say, "I feel great. Getting better each day."

I remember how very lucky I am. My gynecologist called me a couple of days ago and and said I must have a really great guardian angel, because for the type of tumor and how advanced it was for it to have not spread was truly a miracle. I am a lucky girl. That's what I will try and concentrate on. I just wish I could go to the beach watch the waves roll in, see the seagulls soar, hear the kids laughing and splashing in the water and not have to think about what the next few months has in store for me. I want to feel the warm sun and the cool salt air on my body. I want to run on the beach and splash in the water, I want to fly my kites and get the string all tangled and spend hours untangling it. I want to play my guitar around the camp fire. I want to sing and laugh. I want to run and feel strong.

Instead my mind wanders to the hospital, sitting 5 hours with an IV that will slowly drip poison into my body. It will kill the bad cells. It will kill the good cells. It will make me sick. I will lose my hair. There will be pain. There will probably be tears and some self-pity. But it will not get the best of me. Because I am going to kick this things ass! Chew it up and puke it out!

I know, like the monsoons, it may be a terrible storm, but it will pass. But you know, I just can't help it that I am a little scared. I have always hated the wind blowing at night, and that is what this feels like, dark and scary.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Blahg Revolution!

Three cheers for BlahgHer! Thank you V-Grrrl for your inspiration on so many levels.
I am inspired! It's been just one week since I was released from the hospital for my Ovarian Cancer surgery and I decided that my recovery would be a time of growth and not one of self-pity, or being a whiny ass about being hit with this disease. I am convinced that this cancer was the result of a much stress-filled life. I know I am the only one who can rid myself of the demands of this stress that seems to follow me in whatever I am doing. It must stop. How can I use my time away from work (and housework) as a learning and growing experience? I decided I would dive in to as many of my art hobbies as possible. Bring them out of the closet so to speak. Stop stressing and start creating.

With that said, I am so excited about having time to work on stuff I have started and stuffed into closets or under the bed and really try and develop my talents! I'm not going to worry about how good they are, just that it brings me great joy in the creating. It gives me the opportunity to try and capture a small glimpse of Brenda on the inside and throw it out there for all to see, good or bad. I know I would rather improve on my limited abilities in a variety of areas, instead of trying to be an expert in one given area. So, for now, I will bounce around to what the day moves me to do, whether it be the challenge of working with watercolors, the joy of blending acrylics, the capturing of a moment in time in photography, or just the satisfaction of accomplishment I get from beading or crocheting.

Not mastering any of these arts used to leave me with a great sense of inadequacy. After reading V-grrrl and tracking down the book "Journal Revolution" which really encourages one to just do it, whatever "it" is and enjoy the expression of one's self, has given me a new courage to start anew.

I'm so jazzed about this wonderful book: "Journal Revolution: Rise Up & Create! Art Journals, Personal Manifestos and Other Artistic Insurrections" by Linda Woods and Karen Dinino. It encourages you to create your art no matter the media, let it come from within to be an expression of who you are and what you are feeling. It was so liberating! I truly paint for myself enjoyment so who cares that it isn't perfect?

I realize I need to stop being the critic. The learning is in the mistakes and I need to learn to appreciate the mistakes for what they are. Many times it's the accidents that are the best part of a piece. Yet, being a perfectionist is the character trait (flaw) that is my greatest barrier in developing my art. Much of my work shown here is unfinished, pieces started and left for another day, many needing the highlights and shadows to complete but me feeling hesitant on where to start. Well, now the time has come to just do it! Yea! I am free to just be me!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I'm Not Dead Yet!

On Tuesday, July 8, the day after my TAH BSO surgery(Total Abdominal Hysterectomy Bilateral Salpingo-Oopherectomy), the doctor came in and told me "it was cancer."

It all started in Austin. I was presenting at a conference and the day before I was to come home was hit with horrible nausea and stomach pains. Okay, I was eating at every Mexican restaurant I could find, some were real hole-in-the-wall places, so I assumed I had food poisoning. When I flew home the next day still in so much pain, I landed and went straight to the ER. They thought it was my appendix, the CT scan showed a pelvic mass. WHAT?

The next month was a blur of doctor visits, referrals, blood tests and setting a date for surgery, June 7, 10AM. I had always gone for all my check ups. I had a pea size cyst on my ovary at last check up. So, probably just a cyst. Nothing to worry about. And I am not a worrier, so I believed I would have the hysterectomy, 6 weeks to recover work on my art and other projects and that would be it. But the doctor blew that image to smitherines with her "cancer" statement. Am I in shock? I don't know, I took it pretty well I think. She tells me lymph nodes and the omentum (what the heck is that and do I need it?) were removed. We will know more when the test results come back. So I wait a week.

July 15, I go to have the staples removed and get the results of the biopsies. I have been pretty calm all week. All my research indicates Ovarian cancer isn't usually discovered until the later stages. I hope I am in the 15% of those in the early stages and will have a good chance of survival. I can't believe I would survive my near drowning last summer to be hit with this now. I tell myself I've always been pretty lucky. The doctor tells me all lymph nodes were negative. All tissue tested--negative. By the time I had the surgery the tumor was the size of a cantaloupe and was attached to my bowel, rectum and uterus. It ruptured during the surgery which really grosses me out to think about all that gunk inside, but doctor assures me I was completely washed clean. I will have chemo. I will most likely lose my hair. Hair grows back, I don't care about my hair. I am excited that I won't have to shave my legs and will be getting a free Brazilian! How cool is that? I am thrilled it is stage I. I am very lucky.

The doctor is classifying the cancer as Stage 1 c. Which is really good because most Ovarian Cancer isn't diagnosed until stage III when the success rate isn't very good. They haven't determined the type of ovarian cancer and I am still waiting for the results of that, but hopefully the Stage I will remain the classification.

Here's a picture of my staples and then after they were removed two days ago and the steri-strips attached. I'm a little concerned about the weirdness of my belly button! Oh well! I know you can't tell because of the swelling of my stomach, but after four kids, I had NO stretch marks at all. I know I shouldn't be upset about the scar. But I am.

I have now been out of the hospital a week, and will start chemotherapy in the beginning of August. Very strange that I about drown last summer only to be hit with one of the deadliest cancers for women this summer, in an early stage that is still treatable. I must have a tremendous guardian angel looking out for me.

For now I am researching all I can, trying to find how to ease the side effects of the chemo, how to try and build up my body prior to the treatments, how to beat this thing and get back to my tennis, back to normal whatever that is.

My theme song for now is from Spamalot: "I am not dead yet, I can sing and I can dance, no need to call the doctor cuz I'm not yet dead!" I had it on my cell phone while in the hospital, drove the doctors and nurses crazy!

I will be off work for at least 8 weeks I will have plenty of time to start blogging again and getting back in touch with my blog friends who must have thought I had already jumped off the face of the earth! For now anyway, I am still hanging on and I'm not dead yet!