Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed, when you are discouraged thinking all is lost.  Count your many blessings name them one by one....

Thanksgiving dinner is over.  Leftovers put away, all the pots and pans washed and dried. I'm back home, in bed, tired from the busy day, but so happy to be able to have had the opportunity to cook the dinner with my daughter's.  Show them how I do the turkey in a bag.  Explain how to make REALLY good dressing.  Share the secret of my sweet potatoes. Thankful to have had this day. 

In the quiet solitude I wonder if I'll be around next year.  If not, will they remember the lessons today? I start to drift off to the dark place of gloomy cancer thoughts.  And then I shake away the darkness and fill my mind with those blessings I am so thankful for on this day.

Wonderful loving parents. Four beautiful, smart, responsible, loving kids. My grandkid's smiles when they see me.  Laughter.  Footprints in the snow. Cushy and warm socks.  Hugs. Memories of wonderful camping trips spent with family.  Playing guitars with my daughters, cousins, friends...making music.  Tennis, running after the balls and making a winning shot. Molly, my cat. My sisters and brother.  Cloudy days.  Sunny days.  Sledding with my grandson.  Driving with my husband and listening to Garrison or Click and Clack.  Trips to Europe.  Train rides with spectacular views. Pizza. Mexican food. Doctors and nurses who show they care.  Full moons and starry nights. Down pillows. Hot baths. Holding hands with my husband, grandkids or kids. Kisses that get sloppy.  Friends who understand that many days are difficult. Friends who weren't scared away by cancer.  Online friends I have never met. The fresh clean smell after a summer rain.  Finches on the feeder. Flowers, especially wildflowers. Vibrant colors. Hostels. Road trips. The perfection of imperfection in art, nature. Cards. Christmas lights. A husband who is my best friend.

Happy Thanksgiving.  

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Doesn't Get Better Than This!

I know there are a ton of blogging mom's commiserating with each other over the trials and tribulations of motherhood, dirty diapers, toys everywhere, laundry that never gets done, etc., etc., etc.  I'm sure it's out there, but I haven't seen much from the Grandma's point of view. I'm now wondering, after reading my kindred spirit of a cousin's blog, about the special moments of Grandma-hood and why I haven't touched more on those many magical moments.  Yes, being a grandma, it's a beautiful and wonderful thing!

I just returned home from a babysitting gig with two of my daughter's three beautiful, bright and bouncing off the wall kids. What a blast to give them dinner (prepared by mom before she left) play games, chase them around the house while they squealed with laughter, easily tricking them into picking up their toys, playing hide and seek, getting them ready for bed and remembering that truly wonderful smell of baby lotion and then at the end of my time with them having them run and give me a big hug and kiss when it was time for 'Grandmama' to leave.   And how much fun it is to leave and hear them crying and screaming that they don't want to go to bed and know I'm not the one who has to deal with it this time around!  Spoiling grandkids must be the reward for raising your own kids into productive, responsible adults.  Grandkids are God's way of saying, "You managed to raise your own kids without too much damage, so now I give you grandkids who will love you unconditionally, who you spoil without worry and who you can turn back over to parents whenever they become too difficult."

Truly, it really doesn't get much better than this! Unfortunately, only grandma's can really understand this whole magical thing of being a grandparent...okay, maybe some grandpa's!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Starting Down the Hill

Today I started round five of chemo.  IV Taxol-day one.  IP Cisplatin-day two.  Hydration and injection-day three and four.  Hydration-day five.  Weekend free unless counts go down and go to ER for hydration. IP Taxol-day 8.  Hydration days-9 & 10.  Nausea, vomiting, neuropathy in feet, and is starting in fingers.  Muscle aches, back pain.  The day and the life of an Ovarian Cancer patient with recurrent OVCA--advanced stage.  This after a successful stage one surgery and 95% cure rate.  It wasn't supposed to come back.  It did. So.  Radical chemo after a controversial second debulking surgery.  I'm bald.  Again.  I'm weak and fatigued.  Again.  My tennis game sucks when I have energy to play.  Again.

But I'm still here, with one more round to go in August.  I do not have a cancer marker to adequately determine if the treatment is working or to indicate if the cancer returns.  I will have to rely on periodical CT scans and symptoms.  Not optimum.  But I'm still here.  I'm over the top of the hill, heading for the finish line with regards to the Chemo treatment.  One that most people can't tolerate the entire treatment.  I know it's my best shot and I'm not going to give up. I'm not going to dwell on those things out of my control.  I'm only going to concentrate on the fact that I'm still here AND I'm not dead yet!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Cancer Sucks....or have I said that already?

The hair is gone, or mostly. I look like a wispy 80 year-old, toe-head. Thought I was making it through this last round of chemo fairly well, and all things considered, I suppose I have. Played tennis on Saturday and won with my partner Janelle! I love running and hitting the ball and feeling almost normal. Normal would be no thoughts of chemo, cancer, wondering if I'll make it through this battle. The nausea is continuing with stomach pain. The ct scan at the Mayo Clinic last week showed my right kidney enlarged. I get so tired at work, want to spend too much time sleeping and then hate that I am wasting precious time sleeping when time truly is so very precious.

I long to feel pretty and sexy for my husband. Yet, bald, skinny and a scarred body is the reflection in the mirror and there isn't anything pretty or sexy about it. I long for the carefree days riding on the back of the motorcycle, holding on tight to my loving guy with more love and joy in my heart than should have ever been legal and foolishly thinking those days would last forever.

I don't like to get into thoughts of fairness or why me, because I inevitably answer, "why not?" There is nothing fair about cancer so I won't waste thoughts on it.

Chemo is the chance to make it all go away and let me live. But it zaps all energy, and for a hyperactive person like myself, that is a killer in and of itself.

I just want to get it done with, again for the second time. Grow my hair back out. Make mad passionate love with my husband and not cringe from my reflection in the mirror.

And then there is the mountain home. The dream house my husband bought me. It gives me hope that one day we will be able to enjoy being mountain hippies and just soak in all the beautiful energy that is there. I know it's not his dream, it is mine, but it's that dream right now that gets me up in the morning putting one foot in front of the other.

Cancer sucks, chemo is tough, but this chick isn't about to give up the fight anytime soon.  

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Round F***ing Two

RFT. Thanks to my dear friend V-grrrl for coming up with this most appropriate name for my current battle with Ovarian Cancer. After recovering from three surgeries over the past few months to remove all evidence of the disease, this past Tuesday the fight begins again with the first round of chemo (or 7th if you count the 6 cycles from 2008). The cancer killer duo of Taxol/Carboplatin was given via an IV port that has been surgically implanted in my upper chest with a direct line to a vein. This makes it much more easier to get the chemo and the weekly blood draws as my veins are virtually invisible from the last round of chemo. Being poked and prodded in the attempts to locate a vein for an IV or to draw blood was becoming a real pain in the behind as well as the arm! Today is day three and am feeling a little achy, fluish, but that may be from the shot of Neulasta that was given yesterday to help encourage white cell growth, but also does something (?) to the bone marrow, thus the achies.

This has obviously been a difficult journey, certainly anyone that is told they have any type of cancer in the advanced stages knows they are in for some difficulties, but additionally, I dropped my GYN/Oncologist who I really trusted from my initial bout, decided to go to the Mayo Clinic, and willingly do a pretty controversial and evasive 2nd debulking surgery (during which another tumor was found!) and do a chemo regimen that usually is only done during the initial discovery of Ovarian Cancer.

Additionally, I decided to go with an oncologist here in town, that my gut told me to go with. I feel my gut was correct as he continues to add various supplements to my pharmaceutical regimen to help boost cell rejuvenation. Again, controversial, but I have found many clinical trials that show this to improve outcomes. To me, it makes sense to help my own bodies defenses in attacking this disease and kicking it's ass as far away from me as humanly possible!

And so, today I have spent most of it in bed, most not all. I will always try my best to walk out to my beautiful little patio garden, water the roses and all the other plants, say "hi" to the finches and sit for a while, see that the sky is still blue and the sun is shining above me and thank God for it all.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Monster is Back

I thought I was on the road to recovery from my battle with Ovarian Cancer a silent killer among cancers. I was going to be the "lucky" one. This past December found me in the hospital for almost a month and three surgeries. They originally thought the pain was my Gall Bladder...SWOOSH...take it out! Symptoms didn't stop. Then surmised it must be an intestinal blockage...but nothing showed up on the scans. After several more weeks of pain they went in and yes, there was a blockage. But, there was also more cancer. SWOOSH! Out with more parts.

They thought they got it all. I decided to go to the Mayo Clinic for a 2nd opinion on what chemo regimen to begin. Instead a recent PET scan showed more hot spots....cancer. More surgery, very invasive, but the doctors seem optimistic.

After several weeks in Arizona, I am now home, trying to cope with this news. Look up recurrent ovarian cancer and you will understand the emotional and mental toll this is taking. I will go back to Mayo in April, get the stent out of my kidney/bladder and will talk with the oncologist about the chemo plan.

Originally, we were going to do IP...right in the abdomen. The surgery dictates that now we will do some of the cycles by IV until I am healed well enough inside to handle the IP. It's scary shit. I'm trying to stay positive and be in that 5% that makes it. It's just not easy, even for a Pollyanna girl like me.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

David's Ivy

Well after spending almost 4 weeks in the hospital, including Christmas and New Years, I am loving being home. Though I am still spending most of my time resting in bed, I have been able to sit and look out the window, watch the finches on their feeder and just enjoy the beauty of my small zen garden.

I think of my old house on a half acre with beautiful flower beds and lots of roses and miss being able to cut roses to have in the house pretty much whenever I wanted. I remember moving into the apartment shortly after my divorce and how hard it was not being able to work in my yard. I bought over 50 plants for my little balcony. I tended the plants and watched them thrive. I had a purpose once again. Mother's need to tend, they need to see what they tend grow and flourish. I felt whole.

Then when we found our first house together, Beni and I, I remember looking at the backyard and saying I wanted this house. I really didn't care what the inside was like, it had a big yard. Plenty of planting room. I brought all the plants from the apartment and gave them a permanent place. Except for the big momma aloe vera that came from my old house. I planted her babies, but kept the mama in her pot...just in case.

Then my daughter and her son needed a place and we sold them our house and we decided to move into the townhouse. Preston after all, needed a yard to play in, more than I needed a yard to plant and tend.

And so, here I am in the one story townhouse, that we have remodeled hacienda style with lots of color and Diego Rivera type paintings. But there is only a small courtyard in the front and a small patio in the back. Every inch of dirt is occupied with some plant or other. Additional pots abound with more plants. And I dream of having a yard with rose gardens and vegetable gardens, in the mountains where lilac bushes would grow and maybe even hydrangeas.

When we first moved in, I wondered how I would like the closeness of the neighbors. I really liked my house on the 1/2 acre so this connectedness was going to be different and I wasn't sure how I would like it. Jane and David lived next door...connected to our bedroom side. David was ill and Jane took care of him and her ailing mother. Jane. Jane had a wit and a brilliant mind. She made me laugh. She cooked wonderful things and brought them over to share. She was older, but she became my best friend.

Jane had an atrium in her unit. She had these wonderful plants. Boston ferns that were huge. Tremendous ferns that had overgrown their big pots but just too big to plant in anything else. She one day decides to cut them in two with a butcher knife and wanted my help. I wasn't so sure. It looked like a death sentence to me. Jane was determined and so we did it. We took that big knife and sliced and sawed those ferns into two rather large plants. And I ended up with half of the bounty! I still have my's outside in the courtyard now. HUGE! We laughed at what we had done, but thought it quite marvelous when we had finished.

Another lovely plant was a beautiful variegated ivy. Jane called it David's ivy. It was a little ivy plant he had during one of his stays in the hospital. It had long since thrived in the atrium into an adult plant. I always commented on it and one day Jane brings me 3 starts of David's ivy. I planted each start in a different location to make sure at least one of them would take.

At first they looked like they would all do well, but after time only one remained. I became more careful in tending this, because during the months following the planting of David's ivy, David had died, Jane's mother had died and Jane was forced to move out. I kept thinking something would happen and the landlord would let her stay, but if didn't happen, Jane moved out. No more calls to meet at the pony wall for pie or homemade macaroni and cheese. No more calls that she was armed with a butcher knife and going to separate a fern. David's ivy was all that remained.

Now I sit in a chair out on the back patio and watch the pretty yellow finches. I see the rock I painted with tulips for Jane when she decided she wasn't going to buy any more flowers for her patio only to watch them die. And I see David's ivy, growing strong and healthy. Slowly finding it's way up the trellis. Reminding me to be patient, to take it slow, to take care of myself, to remember what is important and what isn't. To remember friends that made me laugh and gave me gifts that will stay in my heart forever. I miss you Jane, but David's ivy is here and growing stronger each day, showing me that life goes on. And I am trying to do the same.