Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Ken and I have been married for 10 years tomorrow. It is amazing to see what we have accomplished, done, learned, found out what has worked and what has not; lived through, laughed, cried, were angry and upset, annoyed, happy and scared. But usually, as the end of the day comes to a close, no matter what we have felt, it ends with "I love you" as we hold hands.
Last night, in a desperate attempt to figure out what to do for our 10 year anny, we stayed up and talked for a while. I cried - shocking - and told Ken that I just didn't want it to be this way. I wanted to be as beautiful as the day he married me. I wanted my eyes to shine with happiness; to wear a beautiful outfit and feel good... not chubby, bald and unattractive. I don't want to be scarred, bloated and feeling sick. I don't want people to look at me for what I lack... I just want to blend in with everyone else, like I did before. I don't want to draw attention to us, I just wanted to go away, have fun, reminisce and laugh about the last 10 years. To all of this Ken replied, "We are lucky to have had 10 years babe."
And we are.
So that changed my attitude (slightly.... can't change chubby, bald and the feeling of being unattractive overnight...) and we excitedly started looking up places on-line where we would like to go and get away too. "THE WILDERNESS" looked fun, but too much work and I am scared to step too far out of my comfort zone, and honestly away from a hospital, currently... "just in case" I get a fever and potentially die because my counts are too low to fight an infection. Wow, drama, but "could" happen.
We looked at going to the States. We do have travellers insurance, but "just in case" something happens, I want to be in Canada.
We checked out Jasper, Banff, Lake Louise, all very beautiful, romantic, lots of walks or hiking we could do with lots of bears.... I can picture us lost, up some mountain in the middle of the night, me freaking out because we stranded and our children will be so sad that we were eaten by squirrel's or something bigger. See, nausea and optimism, frequent often but I wish the optimism stayed as long as the nausea does.
So I thought it would be super romantic to travel across BC to Kelowna and check out the BC Cancer Center. That screams sexy!!! We are staying in a beautiful hotel for two nights. And I told Ken, I just want to be able to go for a run, waddle walk, stay up late and watch a movie, go sight seeing at the mall and just relax. He agreed.
I am excited to celebrate our 10 year milestone. I am excited to talk about what we want to accomplish in the next 10 years. I am excited to get away and relax for a few days.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
I have been feeling more optimistic though as I have read through a couple of blogs of other women. One is around the same age as me, mother of three and she is a "Survivor" of two years now. The other is a 23 year old girl who had to have a double mastectomy after her chemo protocol. And her Mom ended up going through her second bout of breast cancer while her daughter was, and she also had to have a mastectomy. Doing it together. That would have been hard.
The stories of these amazing women lifted me up and made me want to fight with all I have to be able to wear that "Survivor" tee-shirt. I am excited to be able to get one. :) And it was really nice to read mostly about their small triumphs; slowly along the way. Moments that brightened their journey, that brighten mine. I am thankful for women who are so openly honestly about their dark hours and their days full of light. I am thankful that I am not alone... from many, many aspects.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
So today after I finished up chemo I thought of what I would try next. Of course chocolate, Nutella and blizzard's came to mind but I didn't want to ruin that. :) So, I opted for a greasy Double Cheese Burger and small fries from McD's. And I think it might just work!! I am starting to feel a tad gross and indigestion has set in for another sweet week of uproar!! "Greetings from the interior!!" (My gf's Dad said that and I LOVED IT! He is freaking hilarious!!!)
I will let you know if my sick little plan works. If so, I have to work myself up to eat the sweets for next time. That would be "Awesome!" if I could get off those.
Some plus' though, I know how I will feel when I am 65 and older. I am getting a taste of menopause - EARLY!!!... too early, so when I revert back to glorious period's and such, I will know what to expect when I hit up menopause for real. Which brings me to the next part of having your hormones so screwed up that you can't loose weight, even when all your eating is soup. The sweet nurse V told me yesterday that "Now is not the time to worry about your weight. Your going to gain, but we just don't like to tell you that right away..." And like I said, "Well that's crap. I thought cancer was my in for getting rid of my "baby/cake weight"." Not so lucky. (And PS. We all know it's not baby weight at all but I do love it when people say that... HE'S ALMOST 3!!! And at least having cancer people aren't looking at my round tummy anymore wondering if there is a 4th bun in the oven. Now they are mesmerized by my bald head.)
But I did realize how lucky I am today. No one came with me to chemo today and I was ok with that because it would be some quiet time where I could read my book that Jen lent me and I am still only on page 168 (deep breath) and I have been "reading" it for two months now. Lame I know. So anyways I was really looking forward to it.
There were only three of us in the chemo room to start the morning off... it's nice to see less than more. But when I went yesterday for my lab it was a full house again. It's kind of sad knowing how many people are really going through things like this. Anyways, there were two older fellow's (one of my fave words... because I am only 31 and I should be using such words (that's for you Amy)) and my bald headed little self. I looked just like the one fellow sitting on the other side of the room from me. He's SO cute! He told me last time and this time that I look beautiful with no hair. His wife was there and so they were talking a bit and so the gent next to me struck up a conversation. He was quite chatty... even with a book open on my lap. But it was nice to talk to him and get to know him a bit.
This is where I am lucky. He goes for chemo every 2 weeks and is there for 4 hours when he goes. He feels pretty good today and can eat, and then he might eat a bit on Friday morning and then almost nothing for the rest of the two weeks. He starts to feel better by the second Wednesday, just in time to have another cycle start on the Thursday. My heart broke for him. Not because he doesn't eat much, but because he feels so horrible that he can't and then he only gets 2ish days where he feels at "30% of his normal" as he calls it.
Just starting another week of feeling crappy was hard for me to think of over the past few days. I think I suffer from PCS instead of PMS. BLB, yes, my Vegas girl, you would be so proud that I self discovered and diagnosed myself. I am a witch from probably Sunday evening as I begin the count down to the next treatment. But after I talked to this man, I realized how lucky I am. After I get through the first week, I get a pretty good week and then I get a week where I feel almost normal. I am so thankful for that two week reprieve. I don;t feel 100%, but I can definitely function and get back to life for the most part.
He has been doing this for 6 months now. He went through this 8 years ago and is back. He said the chemo is better than it was, but lets face it, when even you aren't supposed to come in contact with your own bodily fluids for 48 hours unless your gloved up, your toxic. I was really excited for him though as he only has one more treatment after this one and he is finished up. He must be so happy. But he was saying that it's hard not to be down and depressed. And I can appreciate that, but you can't stay in that moment for very long. I am a new comer to this club, so I am quite sure that I have no idea how bad it can really get. Again I am thankful.
Also, I am midway through this marathon (speaking in cycles of chemo). Three down, three to go. My next cycle is two different drugs, so it will be switching up a bit. I wonder how it will be. Better or worse. I guess I will find out.
Well, I feel like my brain is pretty much maxed out right now, so I am going to run and have a long nap. I will keep you posted. Love you and God bless.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
So when we got back from our holiday I had a lab the day before chemo. When I was up at the hospital the oncology nurse V took my hat off and showed everyone how "smooth" my head was. This started some conversation's amongst the fellow chemoites. I was chatting with a very sweet lady in the chair next to me and I was telling her of our plight. She suggested, that like other women (who wanted to support but didn't necessarily want to shave.... again I don't blame them) that we put some pink highlight's in K's hair. I thought this was a great idea and couldn't wait to get home and share this idea with Ken and K!
She was honestly ecstatic. However, the next day I had chemo so that put it off for a week and a half. She kindly reminded us everyday that she "...would like to have pink hair."
Well, this sparked at least an hour of whining and tears from K. Finally I was so annoyed with her and her grump, that I told her that she didn't even know she was going to get it so why was it such a big deal that it was broken. I was the one who should be sad, not her so to let it go or I was going to duct tape her to her bed for the afternoon for a nap. Nice Mom, I know. Judge all you want. I don't quite have the patience that I used to have right now for the kids and their, well, for lack of a better word, crap.
And here we are. Love her!! (and of course the rest of our crew!)
PS I would never duct tape our kids to anything but I know I made some sort of pathetic and outrageous threat...
My GF started doing it the night before and she felt really bad and was a little grossed out by how it was NOT coming off all that easily. So we stopped and thought about shaving even though I was told not to because of infection. We didn't do that either. So we called it quits that night and thought we would try again in the am.
We were away on holidays and so our babe was sleeping with us. In the morning he woke up and felt my head all over and then found "the spot"! He kept feeling it and asked "Mommy, wud ja do there?" I had to laugh... ummmmm, made a huge mistake! I couldn't leave it, so like I said the girls came to my rescue. And I think it did come off a little easier that morning.
My parents had missed the head shaving party and the joke going around for my Mom and Mom-in-law was that the hubby's would do it if the wives would do it. They weren't in and I DON'T blame them. But my Dad has a surprise for us when he showed up sportin' his new do!
I felt so special and I was so excited!!!
Friday, June 17, 2011
I was joking and asked her if she wanted the donation of my old foam fakey... I can't remember her response to that question, but she did tell me that she did take donations of older forms as some women can't afford them. The baby I ended up with is apparently the lightest and perkiest (guess the old sock on the right ain't doin' too bad!), but to the $$$ amount of $370.00! I truly feel blessed that we can afford one. They are guaranteed for 2 years, at which time you can get a new one and donate the old one. I will do this with mine for sure. I can't honestly imagine a woman having to go without because of money. It truly made me feel "normal" (was I before) again and I would hope that any woman could have this feeling no matter her circumstance.
I also learned a lot and I am thankful for people with knowledge of things where I have little or none at all. J made it a great experience and I would recommend her to anyone!
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Where did it come from? After I blogged I was determined to find someone that was just like me in this breast cancer battle. And in a few short hours, I learned quite a few things.
There is never going to be anyone "just like me" in this fight. I am unique. Our cancer diagnosis might be similar, but never exactly the same. I don't know if "my" diagnosis will ever be exactly like someone else. And I know for a fact that although I will be doing a chemo routine that others have gone through, the way I deal with it will never be exactly like someone else either.
In realizing that I will never find anyone "exactly" like me, I found similarities through a few of the blogs that I read. They are women just like me. Some with young families and children, some who are cancer free, some who are dealing with recurrence, some who have lost their battle. But no matter where they are in their journey, I think we all feel the same way at times. Which connects us all to one another.
I learned that "they" (survivors and ones who's journey's have ended) have/had hope. And faith. They never really stop thinking about cancer and when a worrisome symptom arrives they are scared all over again, but they have hope. They do what we already know what to do best... wait. Wait to hear have appointments made, wait to have tests done and wait for results. And after they have heard what is happening, they get on with life, like they did before. Whether bad or good, they have hope and continue on.
There is never going to be a guarantee that I am going to be fine but that's ok. I could die tomorrow in a car accident on my way to get fitted for a prosthetic boob, I could choke on a blizzard, I could, I could, I could. The list goes on and on of what could happen. So this is where I learned that I need to just live in the now! Now is all I have. It's all any of us have. I need to cherish the time that I have with my husband and children. Don't get me wrong, I still want to duct-tape them to a wall some days they are after all children, but I am tyring to not get as flustered with them. All I have is this moment. To love, to teach, to react, to learn, to listen, to grow.
I need to be more thankful for what I have been given in this life. I am beyond blessed. Blessed with family, friends, doctors, a free country where medical knowledge is great, the ability to worship our Heavenly Father as I wish, without punishment or scrutiny, to be otherwise healthy and most important alive!
I don't know whether I will have a few years or a lot of years. That is not important. It is important what I decide to to in the moment. It is vital for me to have hope and faith. Where else would I be without it?
All I can think about it how I hope to be able to still be putting my kids clothes in their closets until they are grown and gone. And that I will be able to save their favorite toys for when my grand babies come to visit. I just want to be here. I just want to see them grow and learn and live their own lives. I just want to be a normal Mommy and wife... daughter, sister, friend... I cannot imagine the agony of our Savior in the garden of Gethsemane as I sit here, with one trial to bear, in a bald, crumpled mess on my child's bed. Again, closet bawling so I don't wake anyone up.
I have been feeling pretty good physically since Thursday. But I hate thinking that I have less than two weeks until I feel like hell again. And after this cycle of chemo, I will switch to two new drugs, and I am afraid. One of the new drugs is hard on your heart and can cause permanent damage. Again, all I want is to be normal. I want to be a part of this family that we have created. I know things could be worse, but right now I am at quite a low. What other damage could possibly done! What "permanent" things could alter my life in the future - to save my life now. I don't want to become a number that makes up statistics. I am more than that.
I feel guilty for writing this but I honestly haven't had too many bad moments. But like I said this past week has been a hard one for me. I keep looking at a picture of me in our bedroom. W and I are in it and he has his smiling little face pushed into mine and I am smiling, not just my mouth, but my eyes - ME! I keep thinking of when that picture was taken and I was honestly so happy. I miss those eyes. I miss that I was so happy. And I think that is seems impossible to have gone from that to this in just 5 years. What's up for the next five??? Death? I mean, it is a possibility. If chemo makes me sick to think about, death is a completely paralyzing thought for a while. I know I need to be positive. I need to be strong. I need to have courage. But right now it seems like too much.
I often find myself pleading with our Father in Heaven to just spare my life until my babe is 18... but that isn't good enough. I just want to see them go to school, buy their first car's, home's, pet's.... get married, be happy and most important, be healthy. I want to be here to help them and love them and teach them, hold them and guide them. Laugh and cry with them.
I want to hold my husband's hand everyday. Be the best wife I possibly can. He deserves such great things and I want to be able to be there with him and experience life with him. Watch our lives go on together and when we are older, talk about the life we built... the love he had and still will have.
But, right now, it is one moment at a time. And I should be grateful for this moment. And I am. But not satisfied and completely miserable.
Sunday, June 5, 2011
So I haven't barfed this time, but I feel crappier I think. I can deal with the nausea, but it didn't last as long as this last time. Maybe it did but I just can't remember. I am really tired and have not had trouble resting. We have been so blessed this past week to have Mom and Dad Atwood here. They have let me sleep in, got up with the kids, got W to school, entertained the kids through the day, made meals, done laundry and tidied up the house. I honestly couldn't do this without the help of family. I don't know what I would do. None of the above. W would have probably started summer holidays already if it was up to me and we'd all be eating toast and applesauce or something like that.
I am finding that this cycle of chemo has taken a lot from my mind. I find myself stuttering and not being able to say the words that I am thinking about. I find it pretty frustrating. I am thankful for my half functioning brain at least. I can still communicate it just takes longer... maybe I will switch to pictures.
When we were away last week we waxed my head. I have never gone through so many hairstyles in such a short period of time. I feel bad for the little ones that don't recognize me as me. They are kinda stand-offish and unsure and I feel bad for that. At least my own still know it's Mommy, :) I just don't want to scare anyone like I do myself every once in a while! It is just weird. I just don't look like me. But that will come back.
Enough babbling. Sorry for this random post. I just thought I would write down a few things but now I am having hot flashes again and I feel kinda sick so I am going to run and have another - I will give you ONE guess!!!!
Thanks for all your encouragement!
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Twice a year our Church holds a conference that is broadcast worldwide to 14 million members. During this time we are instructed, loved, taught, and our faith bank is filled to overflow. We learn how to become better people, mother's and father's, husbands and wives, son's and daughter's, neighbors, friends, and follower's of Christ. We are taught principles of being prepared financially and having our homes in order. We are blessed to hear from our Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, his Counsellor's, members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and of the Seventy and many other men and women who are leaders in our Church; everything from Primary, Young Men's and Young Women's, to Priesthood and Relief Society meeting's, Sunday School for young adults and old adults (LOL I am in the old adults, the young is for teenage teenagers.). We are guided and lead by experiences that they have had in their lives and callings (none of which are paid - it is all done with great love and service) and revelation given to our Prophet directly from our Father in Heaven.
I know a lot of you wonder why I am "so strong". For one, I know it is from all your prayers on our behalf. Secondly I know I am not alone on this journey. This trial in my life is custom cut to my needs and what I can handle. I know that Jesus Christ suffered for my life, upon the cross. He knows the pains that I feel, the desperation, the sadness, anxieties. He knows it all and I take comfort in knowing that he knows EXACTLY how I feel.
So, for the explanation above of who and why we do conference is because after the conference is over, the Ensign (church magazine) prints out all of the wonderful talks and we are able to read them over again. One talk in particular that I have come across so far is called "The Atonement Covers All Pain" by Elder Kent F. Richards (of the Seventy). He has said so many things perfectly about my trial so I wanted to share them with you. They might help you one day if you are suffering or afflicted.
Elder Kent Richards is a surgeon and has spent most of his life inflicting pain on his patients and then trying to control and or alleviate it. So often he was left pondering the purpose of pain. "None of us are immune from experiencing pain. I have seen people cope with it very differently. Some turn away from God in anger, and others allow their suffering to bring them closer to God." I like to think that I am becoming closer to God through this trial.
Elder Orson F. Whitney wrote: "No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility.... It is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire." We learn from our trials and eventually we are able to be strong for someone else who is suffering the same sort of trial. We are able to bless the lives of others by enduring through our own suffering. And I am so thankful for the people who have been so kind to us to talk and help and understand and I look forward to the day when I can do the same.
Quoting again Elder Richard's: "Much of our suffering is not necessarily our fault. Unexpected events, contradiction or disappointing circumstances, interrupting illness and even death surround us and penetrate our mortal experience. Additionally, we may suffer afflictions because of the actions of others. Opposition is part of Heavenly Father's plan of happiness. We all encounter enough to bring us to an awareness of our Father's love and of our need for the Savior's help.
The Savior is not a silent observer. He Himself knows personally and infinitely the pain we face.
"He suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children." 2 Nephi 9:21.
"Let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)
"Perhaps His most significant work is in the ongoing labor with each of us individually to life, to bless, to strengthen, to sustain, to guide and forgive us."
Alma prophesied that "he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and... he will take upon him the pains and the sickness of his people...
"That His bowels may be filled with mercy... that He may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to his infirmities." Alma 7:11-12 See, He knows me. He knows what I need and He is here for me.
Elder Henery B. Eyring taught: "It will comfort us when we must wait in distress for the Savior's promised relief to heal and help us... And faith in that power will give us patience as we pray and work and wait for help. He could have known to succor us simply by revelation, but He chose to learn by His own personal experience." He wanted to go through everything as we are and truly know what we are experiencing. I believe in this way he can understand us perfectly. I am thankful for Him and his sacrifice and obedience to our Heavenly Father.
Elder Dallin H. Oakes taught: "Healing blessings come in many ways, each suited to our individual needs, as known to Him who loves us best. Sometimes a 'healing' cures our illness or lifts our burdens placed upon us." All souls can be healed by His power. All pain can be soothed. In Him, we can "find rest unto our Souls." (Matthew 11:29) Our mortal circumstances may not immediately change, but our pain, worry, suffering and fear can be swallowed up in His peace and healing balm."
To all of us the Savior said: "Behold, ye are little children and ye cannot bear all things now; ye must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth.
"Fear not, little children, for you are mine..."
"Wherefore, I am in your midst, and I am the good shepherd." (Doctrine and Covenants 50:40-41, 44.)
Our great personal challenge in mortality is to become "a saint through the atonement of Christ." (Mosiah 3:19) The pain you and I experience may be where this process is most measured. In extremity, we can become as children in our hearts, humble ourselves, and "pray and work and wait" patiently for the healing of our bodies and our souls. As Job after being refined through our trials, we "shall come forth as gold." (Job 23:10)
This is my testimony of trials that we encounter and face in our lives. I am thankful for all that the Savior has done for us. I know He is there for us in every way. I know like I said above that He knows us and knows our needs. I know he loves me. And if we turn to Him in our times of trial our hearts will be full of peace, our minds will be calmed and our spirit's will thrive. I am thankful for trials and what they can teach us and what we can learn. I am thankful to be loved and helped through this time in my life; a time that could potentially be dark, but seems so full of light. I say these things in the humble name of Jesus Christ, Amen.