Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Expectant

The skies are gray and the clouds are pregnant with rain. I look out through barren tree limbs and see tiny buds of green. All of nature seems expectant, ready to burst into bloom and I feel the same.

It seems for months I've been in a holding pattern, a season of rest. For those who know me, this is unnatural. I am usually in a constant state of motion, perpetually busy but for some reason and in this season, I am not. Oh, I have been feeding my mind but does that really count as busy? Reading massive amounts of books and pecking out reviews seems trivial. What is God up to, I wonder. Why am I in this strange and unfamiliar season of life and why now? Am I supposed to be learning some valuable life lesson? Am I being prepared for some new trial? There are too many questions and not enough answers, so I wait...expectantly.

I remember when I was pregnant with my first child. I was young and giddy. As I watched my body change and grow, I could barely contain my joy. Just the thought of a new life inside me flooded my soul with happiness. In just a few weeks, that child will be 41. My how time flies and where does it go? The minutes pass by so swiftly and yet, there are those that seem forever etched in time.

Expectant. Even the word is full. And just like the tiny buds about to burst into bloom, I'm ready. I don't know what is coming but I can feel something electric in the air, buzzing, humming, building...and I wait.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Lovely day, lovely day...



Oh what a lovely day it's been. The sun has been shining, the birds have been singing and all is right in the world...well, in my world anyway! It's rare to have a day when I feel as good as I do today, so I'm going to gloat in it for a bit. I'm extremely thankful for a good day. There's nothing better than feeling good both physically and mentally. It amazes me how much people take good health for granted but as soon as they lose it, they understand how valuable good health really is.


For me, most of the past two years and 7 months have been filled with pain so you can imagine how happy I am when I have a pain free day. In fact, I felt so good today that I washed and folded two loads of laundry, I vacuumed my entire house, I loaded and unloaded my dishwasher, put dinner on in the crockpot, and even put on the backpack blower and ventured outside to blow off the driveway, walkways, and the patio! I read two books, wrote an article for a publication on breast cancer, talked on the phone with 4 friends, texted numerous folks, and even spent a little time on Facebook. I'd say it's been a very productive day!

Thank God for good days! If you've ever struggled with poor health, you know what I'm talking about. Good days cancel out the bad days and help us focus on better things. Spring is just around the corner and I'm looking forward to many more good days. And what could make a good day even better? Why lovely music, of course...thank Bill Withers for groovy tunes. I love his song, Lovely Day and you can listen to it by clicking here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Attitude is everything

In two weeks I'll see the oncologist again. For the past couple of years, it's been an ongoing thing. When cancer comes into your life, so do the doctors, and the nurses, and the labs...and while all these repetitive visits get to be a royal pain in the rear, they're a necessary evil. The doctors just want to keep tabs on things. They want to make sure cancer isn't trying to rear its ugly head again. And even though I'd rather not be continually poked and prodded, I know it's for my benefit so I suck it up and deal with it. I've learned it's important to keep a positive attitude.

One of the best ways I've found to stay positive is to begin each day by being thankful. I spend the first minutes of every day being grateful for all of God's blessings in my life. Gratitude helps me get things in perspective and keep them there. Attitude is everything.

It's hard to stay in a positive frame of mind when things in our lives aren't in our control but, being a person of faith, I know God uses all things for my benefit...the good and the bad, the easy and the hard. When I look at life this way, it's easier to accept the things I can't control or change. I've noticed when I focus on the positive, my day goes smoother, my load seems lighter. When I focus negatively or complain about things, every single thing seems to weigh heavily on my heart. I'd rather be happy than sad any day, so I choose to look for the silver lining in every gray cloud.

I'm hoping, when I see the oncologist on March 1, he'll tell me I don't have to come see him again for six months or even better than that, for an entire year. If I get that news, I'll be skipping out of his office with a great big grin on my face and I'll be celebrating my progress. Gotta keep believing that good things are around the corner! Hope and gratitude are my constant companions.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Journaling the Journey

How can a six letter word wreck your life in a heartbeat? You might not think it could, but I assure you it can. When I heard the word CANCER, my life, as I knew it, was turned upside down and inside out. I knew from that point forward nothing would ever be the same. It’s been 984 days since I received my initial diagnosis and it still feels like it was yesterday.

I can still feel –

…the crispness of the white paper underneath my legs while sitting on the exam table
…the weakness in my knees as I walked out to my car
…the wetness of tears staining my cheeks as I cried all the way home
…the tremor in my voice as I shared the news with my husband
…the icy cold gel poured onto my breast as the ultrasound tech prepared to test
…the horror at seeing the mass on the screen
…the sharp needle piercing my skin as the first biopsy was taken
…the excruciating pain radiating across my chest after surgery
…the uncomfortable pulling from dangling drainage bulbs at my side
…the shock and disbelief as I looked at my mutilated body in the mirror

And over those 984 days, I’ve experienced more than I ever dreamed I would. I’ve seen and felt more than I can say. It seems like another lifetime ago but it will only be 3 short years this June since I heard the dreaded words, you have cancer. Some of my feelings and experiences are very fresh in my mind and others I’ve carefully tucked away. Some too private and painful to share but others I think might be helpful to those newly diagnosed and that’s one reason I’m so thankful I began recording my journey on the day my life changed.

It started out as a way to process my feelings. I needed a safe place to share my thoughts, a place where I wouldn’t be judged or criticized. I started writing daily in journals but soon that became tedious. I wanted a more creative outlet so I began blogging. It was much easier to sit at the computer and type up my thoughts. I could add photos, media, and tags to my posts. If I wanted to share them I could. If I didn’t, I could mark them as private.

After the first couple of weeks, writing on my blog became cathartic. I realized, when I was blogging, it was like talking to an old friend. I looked forward to recording my thoughts and feelings.  At the end of the first year, I read back through my posts. I was amazed at the rollercoaster of emotions my life had traveled. I’d had so many bad days but the good days seemed to have outweighed the bad. I tried to be open and honest in my writing. I wanted my children to read through my posts one day and understand how I’d learned to deal with the hand cancer dealt me. I wanted them to know the reality of my pain but also the joy of my triumphs.  

I made a point to chronicle my treatments and used my cell phone to document tests, take photos of facilities and medical professionals. I always made sure to ask permission before taking photos of doctors or nurses and made sure they were okay with me posting the photos on my blog. I didn’t meet any resistance, in fact, all of medical team wanted to be included in my online journey! I was grateful for their willingness to participate and laughed as they made sure I captured their best side in the photos.

Keeping a record of my cancer journey was extremely important to me. I never thought it would be anything other than an online place for my personal notes and a place for my family to check for the latest updates on my medical care but, I’ve found it to be much more. I’ve recently been contacted by people from several countries asking for help or advice with their cancer care. They’ve read articles I’ve posted about various things I’ve experienced or alternative therapies I’ve tried and they’ve reached out. It’s blessed me to know things I’ve struggled with on my journey have helped others.

Journaling, blogging, and even video blogging (vlogging) have become very popular among the cancer community. Some find it a helpful way to keep records of surgery and treatment while others use it as a means of keeping friends and family updated. The breast cancer community is wonderful about sharing helpful tips and advice with the newly diagnosed. By keeping records of our journeys we not only help ourselves but help others.

Sharing personal information in an online format isn’t for everyone. Some people don’t want to share such private things with others and that’s understandable. For those not wishing to share, perhaps keeping notes in a personal diary or journal would work best for you. For those who find blogging a creative outlet, as I did, there are many websites hosting free web pages. For those more skilled at social media, or those who enjoy keeping a video diary of their journey, there are also places to post free vlogs on the internet.


Everyone has their own way of coping with a cancer diagnosis. Journaling may not appeal to you. But I needed to blog. It was very helpful to me. I continue blogging about my journey today. When I was first diagnosed, my blog was http://journeyintopink.blogspot.com/ and as I began to move out of the treatment phase of my journey and back into life, I moved my blog to another site http://journeyintopink.blogspot.com/  At the end of each year, since beginning my blog, I’ve had my blogs printed into hardback books (offered as a service to bloggers from another online site). These books are now a permanent record for my children and grandchildren. It is my hope, that one day, they’ll take the time to read every entry and realize cancer was the most difficult time of my life, but also the one that taught me the most. 984 days, and I’m still here.  Tomorrow will be 985!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

iNsOmNiA SUCKS!!!

Yeah. I did that funky title on purpose with the lower and upper case letters. I wanted to draw your attention to the word INSOMNIA, did it work? And you may be wondering how I can be coherent enough to even blog today but that's the thing...my brain never stops working. That's partially the reason why I can't sleep. I can't figure out how to turn off the thoughts.

There's nothing like tossing and turning all night long trying to get comfortable enough to drift off to dreamland. It's challenging to even climb into bed when you know you won't find relief. This morning, my husband could tell it'd been a rough night for me. When he left for work, he could see me huddled at the foot of the bed with all my pillows trying to find a position conducive to sleep. I'm sure he wondered what in the world I was doing at the foot of the bed but I was trying to find something that worked.

Part of the insomnia is the result of coming off of Ambien cold turkey. My oncologist had prescribed it for me a couple of weeks ago when I mentioned I couldn't sleep. After researching the drug, I worried about being on a medication I could get addicted to or dependent on and decided I didn't want to risk it. I decided night before last not to take it any longer...OH MY GOSH! I don't know if it was a huge mistake or what but I'm back to sleepless nights. Not to worry though, I'm going to contact him today and ask his opinion. He'll probably tell me I'm a dummy for coming off it cold turkey and I'll take that slap on the wrist because I earned it.

So what do you do? Do you take the medication and get some really good, hypnotic sleep and risk becoming dependent on Ambien or do you keep on hoping and praying for sleep to come? I don't know. I don't know what the best thing to do is but I know I have to get some sleep or I'm not going to be able to function. This is not pretty. Something has to give. And you may be thinking why don't you just take the medication and go to sleep? It's not that easy. We just added Cymbalta to my ever growing list of meds 2 weeks ago and I'm getting tired of checking for drug interactions every time a new med is added to the list, but...as a responsible adult, I have to be careful about my body and my health. I need to know if I'm facing some life or death side effects because I can't trust the medical team to shoulder that responsibility for me.

Please pray I make the right decision and pray I can get some sleep. If you get a peaceful, restful night's sleep every night, I envy you. Please don't take it for granted because some of us don't remember what that feels like.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Falcons falter

Well, it's finally over. The big Superbowl game we'd all waited for has come and gone. It was a great game and had me biting my nails through much of it, but I'm glad it's over.

My husband takes football so seriously. I felt so sad for him last night as the game went into overtime and his hopes of the Falcons winning were dashed. He'd watched the game so intently, commenting on every play and making sure I understood every call and things like 2 point conversions. He wanted me to get the full experience and get into it as much as he did, but I couldn't. I was sick. I'd been sick for the past several days with a sore throat, muscle aches, and fever. When you don't feel well, it's hard to cheer and get excited over a sporting event, but I tried. I even made him a bunch of junk food to help him feel like we were having a little party. I gave it my best shot but really, I was just thankful to sit in the recliner covered up with my big, furry blanket and close my eyes.

To be honest, I'm so tired of feeling tired. I just want to have a few days of feeling really good. Is that too much to ask? I'm sure my white blood cells are still low and that's why my immunity isn't up to par. In a few weeks, I'll have blood work done again and hope the oncologist can come up with some solutions to help me feel a lot better.

The Cymbalta is helping a lot with the all over body pain and I'm grateful for that. I've been on it for almost three weeks now. I do find it makes me extremely sleepy at certain times of the day and that's bothersome, but other than that, it's doing a good job for me.

As I'm writing this, I see daffodils blooming outside my window...a sure sign that Spring is on its way! I'm extremely excited about that. Warmer weather will be a wonderful blessing. I've been unable to tolerate the cold weather this year and I'm getting tired of wearing a silk long johns under my clothes.

Okay, enough complaining for today! I don't mean to sound like I'm whining all the time, but I have been feeling pretty raunchy lately. Perhaps when Spring arrives, I won't have much to complain about and I'll be feeling much, much better! That's my hope, anyway.

I'll leave you with a beautiful quotation about Spring because I love profound quotations and hope you do, too -

“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.” ~ Ernest Hemingway from a Moveable Feast

Dolce Far Niente

The first time I heard the phrase, "Dolce far niente," was years ago when I watched the movie Eat, Pray, Love. I sat mesmerized ...