July 18, 2006
A friend asked last week how I am doing other than physically. I thought it might be good to share that here. Some of you might have either been through this kind of treatment for cancer, might be going through it now, or might know someone who has. I have to say right off the bat that I am in a support group with 30-40 other women who share my history of breast cancer. We are sisters who have a special bond. Some from our group have already gone before us to be with the Lord. If that is true for you, what I tell you about my experience is something you can relate to. To those of you who are being exposed to all of this through my experience, please know that every situation is different, and some are much harder than mine. I have many heros from my Friends For Life support group and others I know from elsewhere who have been, or are in, similar or rougher waters than I am. I pray for them like you are praying for me. My hope is that with my ongoing story I can share with you what this experience is like, how to pray for me or others you know who are going through this, and so that we can all know God’s presence and love more deeply.
As to how I am handling this other than physically…I am feeling a little torn. At first when I heard my cancer was back, I thought about how there are some things I need to get done in case my time is short. Letters for my kids, people I need to talk to about important things, get my life really organized, spend lots of time spiritually preparing, etc. Then my doctor told me that my prognosis is hopeful and that I have an 85% chance of living at least 2 to 3 years, and I felt like there is less of an urgency for me to do all of those things.
Now the tension I feel is whether to do those things that have a more long term, extremely important value, verses going back to just living day to day like I did before on the days I am feeling better. After all, maybe I will be around for a long time to come and can think about this if I ever have another recurrence. BUT, I think the things I want to do could take a lot of time, and I probably should be doing them anyway. Pray that I would have balance and discipline to use these unique days of down time the way that will honor God the most. I have permission to not be doing a lot of my usual stuff right now, so I think I need to be a good steward of this time. I can relax, rest when I need to, and “be” more than “do” for now. I need to keep the stress down (according to my doctor), and I think I can find a balance as I navigate through this time as you pray for me. Some days just watching a movie or old Dick Van Dyke shows was all I could do. We are taking it day by day.
My hair is really falling out today. It is about 1/3 to ½ gone. I figured that I have been through this before and it wouldn’t really bother me. I think about how grateful I am to be looking across the room at my very cute wig and a few nice hats and scarves which were provided by some of you giving toward extra medical expenses. I will save a lot of time in hair care in the next 8 months or so. But it is strange to have your hair fall out just the same. My scalp is itchy and sore- it feels like when you let down a ponytail and your scalp feels weird while your hair is getting used to the new direction- only amplified. It was hard to sleep last night because of this. I am trying not to touch it much as every time I do, more comes out. I was at the chiropractor today and she massaged my head to help with my headache and lots of hair came out as a result. So it is an adjustment. I’m not crying, just pensive.
How I’m doing physically…For a week after my first chemo, I was really not able to do much of anything. I felt too tired and sick to do much of anything on my “important” list. I have felt very much better since last Thursday, and have felt up to around 80% of normal. My major current health problem is headaches. I am only able to take Tylenol which doesn’t work very well for me. So far, this has only been debilitating for a few half days. Today was one of them. Going to my chiropractor regularly has really helped. She is letting me come as often as I can at no charge and says it is her unique way of helping me. Others have made meals and done other things, and this is her way to bless me. It is beautiful how God is using the Body to bless us through this experience. It is a rich time for us.
I went to my doctor for bio-meridian testing today. Connie spent almost 2 hours with me and we worked out a plan to help my body stay strong during chemo. I came home with some extra supplements and homeopathics which she tested me for specifically. So I know they will work optimally for me. The testing revealed that even with all I have been through with surgery and chemo, etc., my body is doing very well. I am still healthier now than I was when I first went there last September. I also got to talk to Dr. Choi who gave me the information I needed about issues of long term treatment with hormone therapy, etc. That was excellent and very helpful. I now know what questions to ask and what steps to take. She has the double wisdom of being a gynecologist as well as very informed about nutrition and natural medicine. I again feel blessed to be able to see her. I think it will make chemo much less devastating to my body- hopefully with less long-term side effects. I couldn’t have gone without the special medical money many of you sent, so thank you so much for that if you were one of those who helped in that way!
I am having some muscle and nerve cramping and tingling, but not too bad. That is one of the Taxitere side effects they told me to expect. It accumulates over the duration of treatment. My digestion is doing much better. I have 7 days before my next chemo (I am not looking forward to that!) and blood work tomorrow to check my levels. If they are OK I will not need to give myself shots to build up my white count. My next door neighbor is a nurse and is willing to do them for me if I need them.
I believe that Tim (HR Director at Caleb Project/new org) has fixed it so we can stay with our current Kaiser health insurance HMO for the duration of my treatment- maybe for this entire next year. He is working hard on finding the right set up for the new org. It is a complicated situation. So I will be able to stay with my doctors and am very grateful. . Thank you for praying about this. Again-God at work.
Jesse is healing up from his wisdom teeth extraction really well. Laura is in Washington, D.C. looking into jobs for after graduation in Dec. Jenni is in Tennessee for a huge youth conference. Greg left today for California where he is until Saturday for the new organization’s first board meeting. I think this is the first board meeting I have ever missed in 20 years. I usually do the food for them and really enjoy being with them twice a year. Greg will also attend the ACMC national conference (now it is the new org’s conference). Greg will address the whole conference on Thursday night. Allison is working hard babysitting daily and just did 10 days with the 2 girls while their parents were in Greece.
I was hoping to make this shorter and do more entries, but have been tired and the days have rolled by. Thank you for sticking with me/us and caring enough to check the blog. I am grateful for such wonderful friends! God bless you!