Tuesday, November 30, 2010

chemo take two

First of all, thanks to everyone who has taken the time to send messages and leave voicemails (I haven't been the best at responding).  Your words give me strength and make me feel like I am on this journey not just with my immediate family, but with an army of folks who support me and love me, and that alone makes the world a better place and leaves me in a better place to conquer this thing.

I went to work today thinking I'd go and help tie up things, but it was hard.  It is hard to go and realize that I can't be all and do all.  Fortunately I work with a bunch of amazing people who can step up and take charge and pick up my slack. They are supportive and encouraging, and know I will be back to put my best foot forward (something that has been lacking for a long while).

So I start chemo tomorrow.  ICE therapy.  It is 3 days of chemo, I have a pump installed for a continuous infusion.  Then I go back again in 3 weeks for more.  I'll be sick again for Michael's birthday which makes me very sad (he is so sweet though and doesn't seem to care).  Fortunately Lia has offered to share her birthday celebration with Michael in a couple of weeks--go karts and video games!! sounds perfect :).  And Michaelle has offered to come over on Friday and bring cake and celebrate Michael even though I'll be sick on the couch.  (sounds like last year!)  I feel so lucky to have such amazing friends to pick up where I lack. 

We hope that after two infusions of ICE that my PET will show no signs of disease.  This is when we start the conditioning phase of the SCT.  They will give me Nupagen to mobilize my bone marrow to produce stem cells.  Then it will take three days to harvest my stem cells.  Once that is done I'll have the atomic bomb dropped on me to kill every last ornery cancer cell in my body.  I'll be in quarantine for the next month as they replace the stem cells and rebuild my immune system.  This will leave me cancer free and ready to rebuild my new cancer-free life.

Patty today found an amazing story of the battle and recovery and the mind/body connection.  I've been drawn to qigong for awhile, and my acupuncturist supports it wholly.  I think there is something to this...http://www.bobellal.com/articles/standing-post-meditation/

So I look forward to my meditation group tonight with Mary and Patty and I am going into this next round with hope and positivity and I will visualize these drugs working to put down this disease in my body.

Next round...here we go...I am ready!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I am typing this post after watching beautiful sunset with my family over the marsh at the Aerie.  After the initial shock and emotional release, I am feeling amazingly calm for hearing bad news for the third time.   I asked Michael if I am handling this better because bad news gets easier to hear.  And he says well, yes, that can be, or it can be that you are stronger than you have ever been (Becky fiercly confirmed this to me today too), and we know that we can keep fighting and move forward.   This is our path now, and it is what it is.

Dr. Hamrick delivered the bad news with most kind spirit.  He said that the tumor has returned in my mediastinum (chest).  But, it hasn't spread to other organs, and he says we are in the same place as we were this summer before the biopsy.  I said, well, we gave it our best shot.  He responded without any hint of ego, but just pure encouragement and faith with saying you did what you needed to do, and we will keep fighting to beat this.   I won't forget his kindness. He e-mailed me the PET results and said in the e-mail enjoy my Thankgiving holiday and we will begin to fight again next week.  I read Love, Medicine and Miracles by Bernie Seigal this fall and think I lucked out finding a doctor who seems to fall into this special set of doctors who understand and embrace the doctor patient relationship.

So I am here with my family and I am going to enjoy this weekend for what it is...a celebration for the good in life.  Love, family, nature, laughter, and relaxation in a beautiful place.  ... a reminder for all that we are grateful for.

Part of me feels solid about going forward with this harsh treatment because I know we tried our best with the less toxic treatments.  They didn't work, but at least I won't be years out from a stem cell transplant, suffering from the side effects, and wondering what would have happened if I just took those three months to see if other things would work.  

This is the path we've chosen.  And I am surprisingly okay with it.  We held true to our beliefs, and still do.   There will still be fears, and sadness, and pain, but it won't last forever.  And thank goodness I have spent these past months really working on the mental/emotional/spiritual side of my life because that will help make this whole thing easier.

So next week I start ICE chemotherapy in preparation for and high-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplant.  This will heal me once and for all.  And, we do have the best medical care available for recovery from these treatments. 

Onward and upward.  My deepest love to  you all.  I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving and you better believe I will be thinking of you with gratitude in my heart.

...and p.s..  I am signing off, and what song comes over satellite radio while my family is buzzing around making a delicious dinner?  Shower the People you Love with Love by James Taylor.  It brings tears to my sappy soul...

Monday, November 22, 2010

the Spectrum

Today = fear and courage, strength and weakness, love and hate, joy and sadness, grief and relief, anger and release, gratitude and resentment, tears and laughter, doctor's offices and my feet on the earth.  I am totally exhausted.  Time for the couch, and a good book.  I'm checkin' out.

The outpouring of love from those of you who sent messages to me today was amazing.  I know we've been fighting this thing for awhile so thanks for staying with me on this journey.

I'll let you know when I hear something!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Well, on the eve of my next PET scan I am finding myself in a place of incredible gratitude.  I have cried several times this week...ranging all the way from fear and anger to being touched by incredible love and beauty.  It is such an interesting thing...to experience the swing of the pendulum.  Senses are heightened right now and I guess I am just holding on for the ride.  What I have found is that I can influence this swing of the pendulum...I can catch air on the love and gratitude side of things...hang tight for awhile, and bask in that loveliness.  And then fear steps back in, but I don't linger for long.

On the eve of this national holiday, Thanksgiving, I have many thanks to give.  I thank my dear friends for their friendship.  Lori, I loved loved loved our conversation this morning and look forward to the day when I can embrace you and we can laugh and play together and enjoy this gift of life.  To M in Fl, your dedication and support...I have no way to repay you.  It touches me deeply.  And to Mary and Patty who let me cry and beat pillows, I am grateful for the love and energy you bring to me and our home. 

Yesterday morning I was reminded yet again how deeply I love this soul mate of mine (not that that is hard...), and how much he loves me.  I've been having trouble with my port access this week, and we've had to jerry-rig the IV to get the fluids in fast enough.  I ended up having to do an IV on Saturday morning (long story...) but, because of this problem with the port Michael had to put the IV pole on the coffee table, and I had to lie of the floor to use gravity to our advantage.  Instead of him leaving me and doing normal Saturday morning things he plopped right down next to me on the floor (even though his butt went numb--I used up all the pillows) and we made the most of an annoying time.  We spent a couple of hours pouring over our wedding photos trying once again to make an album (progress was put on hold when our Mac Book pro was stolen in the break-in...not to mention the year delay with all the other stuff going on...).  So we got to re-live that amazing weekend again.  And then my friend Dee posted this video of facebook that immediately  put me into tears...ain't love grand???

So with all the anxiety of the test tomorrow...which keeps liking to show itself, I am also feeling grateful for all that I have despite what the results will tell me.  After the scan, which Augustin is taking me too, I get to spend time with my amazing grandmother for her 84th birthday, and then enjoy the holiday with my parents, my brothers, Michael's parents and Margie and Ray.  Life is good.  We are surrounded in love and good people.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Soul food

Ahhhh....just had a lovely day with mom at the Piedmont Cancer Wellness Center.  We started off with an amazing Qi Gong class, had lunch overlooking the city, and then let our creative juices flow at the art of Mandala making class.  My dear friend Karen also came after a grueling morning of chemo...bless her.  After we created our Mandalas, the teacher read to us about the 12 different stages of "the round" and which style mandala fit with each.   Mine fit the 8th stage, the Functioning Ego:
  • ability to work comfortably in group settings, organizations, or alone, whichever is needed to accomplish your goals
  • inspiration becomes reality through great effort, and takes on a form that is seen and appreciated by others
  • you are actively engaged toward personal goals, living life on life’s terms, using the imagination to the fullest to create new and wondrous things
  • on the spiritual level, healing takes place through finding ways of sharing wisdom gently and respectfully with others, in ways they can understand
The description seems so great for the timing.  And, my picture looks somewhat similar to the one I picked for my last post.  I must be channeling that wavelength these days.

Mom's was the stage of Transcendent  Ecstasy!  That's a good one, eh?  I wished I had taken a picture of her's to post here.  I'll try to get my hands on it.  But here is the description for hers:

"A change of consciousness – a feeling of fulfilment, of awareness of our relationship to a higher power, a sensation of rising from the earth in exultant joy. Images more often than not have an uplifting quality about them and contain only the one single image (although sometimes there tends to be a focal point implied above or near the top of the image). The images are powerful, yet playful. The task at this stage is to accept the gift of grace and to plant the seed for a new cycle to begin."
So another day of soul-food.  I just can't seem to get enough lately!  And these experiences, each one, gives us greater inspiration of how we look at moving forward.  There is such a rich source of good people in Atlanta to welcome to the retreat to teach, lead courses, and heal people.  We certainly are fortunate!

Happy Friday everyone, I hope you have a great weekend!  I know mine is off to a good start.  Now to get ready to have my brothers over for dinner tonight.  Oh, how I love those boys and feel incredibly grateful for them. 

    Tuesday, November 9, 2010

    PET Scan

    Well folks, the time is almost here that we've been waiting for.  I finally bit the bullet and contacted my oncologist so that he can order the PET scan.  I scheduled it for the Monday, November 22nd.  I asked my doctor if he was going to be going on vacation that week which would delay him being able to give me the results, and he said no, other than Thanksgiving.  So I hope to have the results by Tuesday or Wednesday.  And then either way, I'll be surrounded by family for celebration, or support during the holiday. 

    Overall I am doing pretty well.  I am working hard on keeping my energies pointed in a positive direction, and grounding myself in a way that releases the fear.  It doesn't work all the time, but I have learned some wonderful tools to help with this.  Meditation, energy work, acupuncture, plenty of sleep...I have found that this time the fear is sitting in my brain instead of my heart, and doesn't hurt as badly. 

    Scheduling the PET was very stressful and anxiety provoking, but now that I've done it, I feel a bit more sturdy.   It doesn't hurt that Sunday I spent all day working on the spirit with my women's circle and a breathwork class, and continued right into Monday with an another amazing energy meditation and therapy appointment with Becky and meditation with Patty and Mary in the evening.  And this morning I started the day off with acupuncture with the intention of balance.  So I am trying to stay ahead of this emotion beast! haha. I am off for a warm bath after I get done typing this before crawling into bed with my sweetie. 

    My friend Lara just sent this link to me, it is so neat, I find myself mesmerized...I especially love the first song, the Gayatri mantra.  Moving Mandalas 

    p.s.  I got some test results back today and they look normal!!  (now, granted, this doesn't mean there is no cancer, but abnormal means cancer....)  And, my CRP, a marker of inflammation that I have been monitoring, is lower than it has been in YEARS!!   Guess that helps justify the 87 pills I take everyday! 

    Here's hoping you all are doing well.  My love and gratitude to you all!!

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    In the lap of Jesus

    Sunday afternoon a sweet friend of mine lost her battle against cancer--and boy did she put up a good fight. She is survived by her three teenage children and her deeply devoted husband, and the most loving and supportive parents and sisters. 

    I've typed and erased several things here, as I guess I am just struggling about what to say--I keep tearing up with memories and stories.  Bottom line is Holly was a vibrant, loving and passionate person who's faith was unwavering.  I am deeply saddened by the loss for her family, but know that with that faith she is now home with her maker. 

    I know we all have our crosses to bear, but I guess in times like this I always wonder why bad things can happen to such good people.  Pointless to ask these questions I guess. 

    In the meantime I'll just be grateful that our paths crossed and I got to experience yet one more person on this earth who is good, and loving. 

    Sunday I went walking the land with my family and there was a part that was full of Holly bushes.  I remember thinking of her so strongly, and I realized later that that was right around the time when she was making her transition. 

    Cancer takes a lot from you.  So here is my blessing tonight...I hope for peace of mind, love and courage for all of those I know out there right now struggling with this disease, which is too damn many of you if you ask me!  And I also hope that despite what it has taken away from you, you get something back in return.  I know I did with Holly's friendship. 

    Much love and many blessings to you all.