Sunday, May 31, 2009

More Than Negative

Drifting off to sleep at night, so many thoughts flood in, some being what I would consider good to share on this blog. In the morning, those thoughts are gone. Please don't tell me to keep paper and pencil next to the bed to jot down the info. That would require turning on the light, re-engaging the brain which will wake me up! Falling to sleep has always been a challenge for me. My brain is too active day and night . . . alot too active.

Some of you may know the mantra, or at least part of the mantra: If only I was younger,or If I was thinner. . . or I wish my [insert body part] was different. For you men (I’m guessing here): If only my [blank] was bigger/smaller, or If only I had hair, I'd be, , ,. Woulda, coulda, shouda.

Quite a few issues occurred this week that have set off these negative thoughts. One can handle a negative thought. I can do that. I can get the Doris Day, Que sera, sera song going with the best of them. But when many issues and many negative thoughts pile up on me, I don’t do well. Raise your hand if you do. Please.

I have no idea where I’m going with this, but hang on. Maybe we’ll circle back around.

I’m sick of self – myself. Self, self, self. I’m tired of people noticing the length of my hair. I AM more than my hair. I just looked up “self” on and found this:

Noun: An individual person as the object of his own reflective consciousness.

Reflective. Hmmmm. Yeah, been doing that this week. Wondering why I think and feel the way I do. What makes me different from other people? Am I really different? Don’t we all have some insecurity? Fears?

Fears? Oh my. Yeah. Fears that this damn cancer will come back. I hate sneaky people. I hate sneaky cancer. I hate fear. Fear takes away the ability to live your life in the here and now. Fear robs you of looking forward, outward.

Noun: A strong, uncontrollable, unpleasant emotion caused by actual or perceived danger or threat.

In the reflection of this week, I tried to find a metaphor for cancer. While in treatment, I had a purpose, a fight, a battle, a journey. Out of treatment and getting ready for the one year boob squeeze (mammogram), where am I? I need metaphors to get over big issues and negative thoughts. Like the time my doctor introduced the idea of anti-depressants 20 years ago. I didn’t want to take something just to feel normal. And this wonderful doctor said,

Doc: Do you have allergies?
Me: Well of course I do. That’s why I’m here every spring.
Doc: Do the allergies make you not normal?
Me: Okay, doc, where are we going with this weird conversation? No, the allergies don’t make me not normal. . I just have them. A lot of people do!
Doc: You just have them, hmmmm.
Me. Getting ready to roll the eyes. Yeah? So?
Doc: You have a chemical imbalance that causes depression. Just like you need anti-histamines for the allergies, you need anti-depressants for the depression.
Me: Light bulb!

Noun: The use of a word or phrase to refer to something that it isn't, invoking a direct similarity between the word or phrase used and the thing described.

And my metaphor for cancer is tooth decay. I know there is decay somewhere in my teeth. It’s inevitable. It may not show up at my dental appointment this coming Friday. It may not show up at the one 6 months from now. I eat sweets, I don’t brush my teeth 3 times a day and I don’t floss twice a day. But do I worry about the tooth decay? Is our life all about tooth decay? No and no.

My apologies to anyone reading this blog that may be dealing with Stage IV cancer or a more life-threatening cancer than my Stage 1 Grade 3 TNBC. My intent is not to downplay the seriousness of cancer or offend.

Worrying and having fear about the cancer returning robs me of my laughter and my joy. It robs me of living in the present. Worrying about the future is powerless. I like what this person has to say about worry

Worry is proportional to our sense of security. When life is going as planned and we feel safe in our life routines, then worries subside. Likewise, worry increases when we feel threatened, insecure or are overly focused on and committed to some result.

So, I’m going to live my life with possible tooth decay. But I am not going to BE tooth decay. If and when the tooth decay is discovered, I will deal with it then. And I'll continue to speak to the negative thoughts and do my best to turn them around to positive thoughts.

Sending you many hugs, I remain . . .


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Walking Port

Many months ago, just the thought of getting the port removed sent me to anxiety city for hours. The weeks leading up "the" appointment on Friday, I felt rather calm. I did end up taking two 5 mg Valium - one before driving in and one when I was at the office waiting, and waiting, and waiting. No, I wasn't driving, Vic was.

Before the nurses accessed the port during chemo, they would inject lidocaine into the area around the port. The lidocaine injections stung, but were tolerable. Not sure what happened with the port removal, but each injection of lidocaine hurt like a big dog. The "I've never taken out a port before" resident, did the first round of injections. After the surgeon did the "do you feel this" poking of the skin to see if I was numb - and I wasn't - the surgeon did another round of injection. That was probably the worse for me.

I had my iPod blasting Josh Groban during the procedure and did my best to focus on his beautiful voice. However, the surgeon had other plans . . .she wanted to make sure I could hear her. Wait, I don't WANT to hear you or your knife or you talking to the resident. The main instruction was to hold still and to hold my breath when she told me to do so. I'm not sure why and I didn't ask. I believe I held the breath while the tubing that was in the vein was being removed.

There was a bunch of tugging, which I did not like. Was it enough to say I wish I had twilight anesthesia for the procedure? No, not really; that would have required an IV which we just don't do well. My veins close up as soon as they hear "IV". Trust me, I know this to be true. I wondered, tho, could they give Versed through a very fine needle directly into the vein. . . just a little bit of Versed? I love Versed!

Here is a picture of the port before removal.

I have a picture of the port after it's removal. It does have some red stuff on it, so if you are of a squeamish nature, don't, as in DO NOT, click on this link . The port itself is about an inch long, so I'm estimating that the tubing was about 8 inches.

Having low tolerance for pain, I did take Vic's Oxycodones Friday and Saturday. Sunday was Advil and today nothing. The incision itself doesn't hurt today, just the muscle in my neck. I am just glad that it is out!

Relay for Life was a very moving experience. For the cancer survivors reading this, if you have an opportunity to participate in the Relay or some other type of fundraising event, please do!

Here is a lady that spoke during the opening ceremonies. Please take a moment to read her great story!!

Each survivor wore a purple shirt and words can't begin to describe what it was like to watch this sea of purple walk the first lap. Caregivers walked the second lap and both survivor & caregivers walked the third. Participants and supporters surrounded the track, clapping as we walked by. Yes, I did cry, but I also hooted and hollered back at them. The laps truly symbolized a race, a journey, that we all had been on.

I had just a few minutes to create two luminary bags. My apologies for not getting everyone's name onto one of them. But every one of the Journey Supporters and fellow cancer previvors/survivors were in my thoughts!

One of the volunteers put the luminaries out for us since we were short on time. But! As Vic and I walked around the track, we came upon them! It was so extraordinary that I glanced down at the right moment to see the names.

There are more pictures of the event on my Facebook. If you would like to email me your ID (see "Complete Profile" for the link), I will add you to my friends list on Facebook.



Friday, May 15, 2009

Port and Walking

Well, today is THE day! It's two significant events in our lives.

The chemo PowerPort comes out in 2 hours. Then this evening, Relay for Life. Where I will proudly (and probably bawling) walk the Survivor lap. It will be a joy to watch Vic walk the Caretaker lap and he should lead the pack since he was the best one ever!

It's not too late to make a donation. If you haven't already donated, won't you help me reach my financial goal by donating $10 . . . just $10. Come on, you can do it! Just click on this link and it will take you to my home page to donate. Plus you get to see a pic of Baby Posh Spice. Thank you so much for your help!!!!

I will update later on how it actually was to have the port removed without Versed drugs. Got to go charge up my Ipod so I don't hear anything!

Much love and hugs to you all!


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Tea for Two

Whoa! It's been a while since I updated. The delay isn't because I've been out having fun. . . . shoot dang!

My company laid off 24 people; 6 being from my department. One of the positions was the other Admin Asst. My supervisor is doing her best to keep the other admin's work off my desk, and I am so appreciative that she is doing this. I've been covering evening meetings, at least 2 a week, and it has drained my level of energy back into the fatigue arena. This week there were two meetings, both beginning at 7 pm with one ending at 9 pm and the other 10 pm. I start winding down my day at 8 pm!

I started back into yoga two weeks ago and it feels good to finally be doing something other than walking a little bit each day. The fatigue is such a catch-22. I needed exercise to help alleviate the fatigue, but sometimes felt too fatigued to exercise. Doing some type of exercise during chemo and radiation would have been good for me, but I found myself doing no exercise other than going for treatment and/or going to work. Those going through chemo and radiation - please do something. It will definitely help!

Even though the past weeks have been rough due to the evening meetings and the stress associated with the layoffs, I am actually feeling pretty good! The nails are doing much better and filing them very short has helped tremendously. They are still ugly, but I'm happy that I only have to bandage one now every morning -
Mr. Lefty Middlefinger - in order to keyboard.

I received a post card in the mail this week that gave me that catch in the gut. It was from the breast imagining clinic notifying me that I was due for an annual mammogram on June 11th. Could it really be only eleven months since my first digital mammogram and we found something suspicious? It feels like it was forever ago that the cancer was found.

Now I feel so "seasoned" in the cancer patient world. Reading other people's blogs, who are just beginning the journey, brings back so many memories. Sometimes I am awestruck when I think of what my body went through with the chemo and radiation. I let someone do that to me?

Vic is doing very well after his surgery. He still has "discomfort" every now and then, but amazingly has been pretty active. I forgot all about another cancer-related item with him, though. He has a spot in his mouth that the dentist recommended a visit to an oral surgeon to rule out cancer. The dentist said it could possibly be a spot where silver dropped onto the tissue. I now remember wanting Vic to have this done last August before his major surgery . . . he didn't want to, stubborn mule.

Port removal and Relay for Life are this Friday! I'm sure both will be highly emotional events. I am so thankful that I get to walk the survivor lap and watch Vic walk the caretaker lap. Let's hope we both can do it without bawling our eyes out. Dang, I'm tearing up now just typing about it!

It's not too late to make a donation. If you haven't already donated, won't you help me reach my financial goal by donating $10 . . . just $10. Come on, you can do it! Just click on this
link and it will take you to my home page to donate. Plus you get to see a pic of Baby Posh Spice. Thank you so much for your help!!!!

My oldest daughter and I attended a tea last night at my youngest daughter's church. Yummy desserts and a new way for us to celebrate Mother's Day. I am so proud of my two girls. They are magnificent women!

For those of you who are mothers, I wish you a wonderful and relaxing Mother's Day!

Many blessings,