Sisters Gone Wild

HEALTH UPDATE: Although my usually perfect labs were not perfect today, my wonderful oncologist says I’m good. Waiting for my juice right now. Yessssss!!!

Ramblings….

Spa Day reunion! If anyone can make cancer treatments fun, sister Melanie can! It felt SO good to have her by my side today. Much more than I could ever have imagined. I was on edge as I usually am. She was the distraction I needed. Before I knew it, the buzzer went off and the last few drips of miracle concoction were met with an AWWWWWW because it was almost time to leave! Seriously! Is this life real?

If cancer wasn’t so hideous and out to kill people, I’d wish it on everyone! I’m a broken record but I’m replaying this song again! This day. This time. It was incredible! Time with my sister. Time. Just time being here!! Time that she took to be with me and take the top down on her Jeep for a joy ride on the way home! I’ve lived in this town for 35 years but the Capitol has never looked so freaking exciting and fun as it did today! I was woo hooing out loud out the windows! I’m ALIVE!! My appreciation for these simple things continue to swell.

LAUGH, LOVE, LIVE!

Today we got the band back together!
Sisters Gone WILD!!!!
My beautiful city!

Ramble of all rambles

HEALTH UPDATE: Same. Treatment next week.

Ramblings….

I’ve got spaghetti brain. I cannot pinpoint the topic of this ramble. I’m thinking it will consist of many different topics. It could turn into the ramble of all rambles. I never quite know when I start writing how long it will be. I almost always know the topic I’m reaching for. The situation that inspires me. Today though, I’m going with an inner drive without clear explanation. Let me begin.

I miss my blogging. I know it’s dropped off considerably. My life has just been so ordinary! Although the world today has been anything but ordinary, I’ve adapted quite well. Now that Tom and I are vaccinated we are venturing out a bit more. We still play it safe. One of the happiest changes we’ve made is taking Willow to parks again. Her face. Her smile!! It melts me. So much has changed in the last year and a half. SO MUCH.

I recall quite clearly that when I was so physically sick, the feelings of doom were overwhelming at times. There was nowhere to hide. I’ve had some new minor physical symptoms lately. They are minor and can be explained as things everyone goes through. Things that certainly don’t mean you have cancer! But I already have cancer!! What does this mean for me? It’s spread? It’s growing again? Like my Dad would say, doom and gloom! Lol!! I just had a scan. It was stable. Was it? Is something being missed?

My expectations have been low. I mean seriously low. Since the day I was told I had months, not years, any extra moment on earth would be a bonus. Extra time didn’t need to be perfect. I don’t need details either. Just keep me alive! The summary of my scans are just fine. At what point do I get my head in the game of survival? When do I pay more attention to the fine print on the reports? What have I learned?

I’ve learned that I need to ask questions. Things can be missed. Listen to my body. It’s hard to ask questions though. If they think I’m just simply stable then so be it! But what if I’m not.

I’m fairly certain that all of this paranoia can be understood when referring to my history of self diagnosed hypochondria. There is another component that shouldn’t be overlooked. Time. School is done. Slide one worry away and another is happy to take its place. I know what I need to do. Acceptance. It is my friend. Why can’t I accept that this is the way it is now? Ding ding ding.

This is SO WEIRD! Nearly every single time I write, I experience some type of epiphany. Almost. Every. Time. I know this will sound crazy to most, but for me, I’m yet again learning to understand what the hell is going on in my mind. Up until this moment, I thought my hypochondriac ways were over. I came to the final stage! I was diagnosed with what I feared most! What else would there be? It was a sense of relief to finally get past the constant fear of finding out I have cancer. No more worries about worrying.

Well I’ll be damned! It’s back! Isn’t it ironic? So let me break it down. It started with numbing fear of getting cancer. I get cancer so there is no longer need to worry anymore. One less thing to worry about. I survive. The cycle starts all over. I worry I will no longer be stable.

This is not as dyer as it may sound. Am I concerned for my life? Yes. Do I get scanxiety? Yes! Horribly! BUT. I have been through this before. at least I know now what is on the line. It’s my life. All the same positive thoughts apply and they are: Trust God’s plan. What is meant to be, will be. Fight like hell. Never ever give up.

This ramble was helpful to me. I never know how it will come out, but it does. It’s pretty neat. Once again I feel so lucky to have found a way to figure things out. It’s so consistent!! I’m also realizing that I do need to start therapy again. Lol.

Scanxiety

HEALTH UPDATE: The miracle continues. I had my scans done today at 9 am. The results are in and they are stable. No changes. No changes!!!!! No. Changes. This thrills me. I’ll take it. Labs and treatment tomorrow.

Ramblings….

I wish what I tell myself and others was reality. All of the talk I do about being strong. It is what it is. Acceptance. All of my coping strategies. They were nowhere to be seen today. Why? Why?? WHY??

Just the thought of going backwards. Being severely sick. My beautiful life interrupted. In a rare moment today, I just could not take it. I let the torture of the unknown take me down. How can I possibly do this for the rest of my life? I crumbled like a cookie. I debated a lady in the waiting room about Brett Favre!!!! My smiles were forced. I was physically exhausted. I cried all the way home from my scan at the hospital. I almost drove by my cemetery plot that I bought over a year ago. I just wanted to lay there on my forever dirt and cry. Nope. Not today. Sharp left.

I went home. Something inside snapped me out of it long enough to remember something. Get help. You need it. Go get it. I surprised Willow. She didn’t realize how soon I’d be home today. I snuggled with her on her bed and we didn’t say a word. I held her for many minutes. Her innocence and love stuck to me like glue. No matter what the results, I was healed.

Shortly afterwards, I made my late breakfast. I started stalking mychart for results. Certainly they won’t be available for many hours. I was wrong. There they were. Stable. No metastasis. More time. More time for me. This miracle has to be for a reason!! It inspires me greatly. Everything is more beautiful than yesterday and the day before that. I’m so grateful. I’m so lucky. I wonder if the results were worse, would my affirmations kick in? I’m not sure. All I know for sure is that on this day, it doesn’t matter.

Emotions in motion

HEALTH UPDATE: I’m just plugging along. Weakness in my legs is undeniable but I can deal. Scan day is May 25th. I pray this miracle continues.

Ramblings…

Oh man. My urge to write is so strong. Hello, old friend! Everything has been so status quo for so long. My urges to write almost always come from conflict and confusion. Sometimes it’s an overwhelming happiness that I need to share. This beautiful forum assists me in sorting it all out. It allows me to let it all out. I’m thankful.

As I’ve know for some time now, the fine details of life have surfaced for me since my miraculous rebound from certain doom. The sun is brighter. The flowers smell stronger. And yes, smiles have more meaning. I was taken aback the other day. I was on a brisk walk with a sweet friend. I’m pushing myself. It felt great until it no longer did. I feel myself swaying, uncertain of steadiness, afraid of falling. The emotions came without warning. Hot, wet tears. Oh that’s right. I have cancer. My physical abilities are not the same as they once were. It’s not that I just don’t want to push myself physically anymore. It seems that I no longer have the choice sometimes. This reality scares me. Acceptance is my friend. I will learn to accept this as I have with all of the other challenges that this beautiful life has to offer. I’m rusty though. I have been blessed to not be challenged in some time. Forward!!

On the complete opposite side of this, I am purely elated with my personal life developments. My podcast, Hello Cancer Friends, has been amazing. It is working! I’m meeting people! We are sharing stories and conversations. We are together yet separated by miles and miles. The power of technology bringing people together amazes me. The energy is so strong and it brings such positivity while also bringing guards down while discussing impossible topics. I’m so lucky to have found this new passion!

At home, my love tank is overflowing. Willow is preparing for kindergarten graduation. I used to find it silly and annoying that kids would be rewarded with such pomp and circumstance for simply completing kindergarten!!! It’s a given! We all had to do it. Certainly it is nothing outstanding. My truth has proven to be so different. I watched my beautiful child sprout before my very eyes. Learning letters, sounds, WORDS! Mathematics, bald eagles, the American flag! Shapes, science, time, predictions, story telling and role playing! All while struggling with the loss of being with her school friends in her beloved school setting and being nearly tortured with the confusion. Is she my mom or my teacher? We’ve made it work and this glorious and difficult school year will soon be a memory. I’m beyond proud of my girl. My heart hopes with all hope that she will look back at this time with fond memories once she realizes how incredibly difficult this time was for not just us, but for the entire world!

Our deck rehab is complete and I love it beyond words. It’s a project that was put off for years. With assistance from our unbelievably kind friends next door, we now have a beautiful space to create more memories. I am becoming quite adventurous in the kitchen. I’m actually starting to enjoy it. Now that it’s time to grill, there are unlimited options. I dug out the veggie pan and it’s been just wonderful. I’m infatuated with lemons. A little squeeze over asparagus before grilling is a favorite taste of mine. Squeeze on any vegetable for the grill. Delish!!

Our cozy deck!
Ivy, one of my favorites.
Beautiful!
We have planted a “garden”!!

Now that I’m fully vaccinated. I got my oil changed and my haircut. We also have gone into stores. Baby steps as our girl is not yet safe. I appreciate the statistics on children with covid. Willow’s glee of normalcy, I believe, is worth a venture out. The soul needs to be free. We all need to explore once again. I find that the possibilities are so exciting.

Cheers and blessings to all❣️

Happy

HEALTH UPDATE: Same! Can you believe it? I can’t. I know how lucky I am.

Ramblings….

I’m SO HAPPY! I should not feel this happy. Or should I? As I sit here at the UW Carbone Cancer Clinic waiting for results that dictate the direction my life is literally headed, I am filled with happiness. The sun is shining. The lake is mirroring the sun after another long cold winter. Flowers in bloom. Flowers!!! Important and special flowers. My lily of the valley plants that I planted last spring rose from Gods wonderful soil. They made it! Just like me. We made it!

Tomorrow is my freedom day. Freedom from the worries of being high risk and catching covid. The vaccine has given me peace while here at the hospital. My habits have not yet changed. I still will be very careful. The inner struggles have lessened though. First on my agenda is to see my mom. HUG MY MOM. I’d like to think the horrors of not hugging my mom since Christmas 2019 was just a bad dream. I can’t look back. I can only look forward. Our souls are intertwined so the void has been physical. Physical connection is important and I cannot wait to see her.

My fellow warriors here in the waiting area are assisted and accompanied by loved ones. My heart is seriously jumping out of my chest! Happiness! Companionship! Sister Melanie even sent a text suggesting she come along again once she’s fully vaccinated!! SPA DAY! We are getting the band back together, man!!!! It’s all coming together. Picture the scene. You have months to live. You miraculously exceed this but you can’t touch the ones you love. You need to hide from cancer and hide from covid. We ALL have been fighting. The light is getting brighter and brighter. It feel so warm and SO GOOD.

Should I keep going? I have happy guilt! I mean seriously, I don’t want to rub it in. However, it must be mentioned. People are so amazing. My podcast has brought to me more love and energy than I thought possible. It is my passion!! It’s all so real and so raw. My goal is this. If someone feels alone, they can come to me. To us. We are in this together. It helps my soul to let things out. I can only hope and pray that it will help others as well.

Moving on to more happiness. I’m clear for another treatment today. This time, the doctor came in and I hadn’t even stalked my labs yet!! It’s such an incredible mind game. My apparent tumor marker, lipase, was elevated 2 points. Normal range is 8-78. My result is 11. Last time it was 9. It’s still completely normal and at the lowest range of normal, yet it gives me pause and is a reminder that my miracles will likely not last forever. Commence incredible mind game. Not today. Life is way too good!!! Yessssss!!!!!

I know there are more happy things to report but I must move on to planning. I will be cooking my mother in-law a feast for Mother’s Day. She is a warrior. All alone for months on end while also fighting cancer. She is a tough lady. We will all rejoice as we are together enjoying all that this beautiful life has to offer.

Sending love and happiness to all!!

At a stop light today. John Nolen Drive, Madison, WI.
Lily of the Valley! They made it! Just like me!

Same fever, different time

HEALTH UPDATE: Fine except for second covid vaccine side effects and the usual muscle pain.

How soon I forget. The relentless fevers. Not moving. Chills, sweats, repeat. For days and months. The reaction to my covid vaccine is mimicking my early days of being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I can’t remember having a single fever since a few weeks after I started immunotherapy treatment. The fever is back. But for a different reason. My second covid 19 vaccine, shot into my arm 22 and a half hours before I started freezing.

Hot eyes. My dad often complained of this. Damn I wish I could have told him what it was. I get hot eyes with fevers too! I’ll nap while Tom takes Willow for a ride in the car. I’ve got my love pile of blankets on me. Gifts of love to me from my friends and family to make me warm. It’s working again and I’ll never forget the generosity from so many. All of the same symptoms but from a very different time. A time when I was told the end was near. Now, this is the beginning. Two more weeks and I can soar a little bit higher with my family.

Never give up. Always keep the faith.

All good!

HEALTH UPDATE: Soon to find out. Everything feels the same. It’s the same. I’m all good for treatment!!

Here we are! Another day at the hospital. I can’t BELIEVE it’s already been three weeks since my last visit. I feel like I’m a visitor, not a patient. I am starting to question if I have cancer at all. This is not what I expected cancer to be. I expected what I went through the first several months after my diagnosis. That was hell. Now it’s just life with the reminder that hell can return without notice. I don’t feel like today is that day and that scares me. I’m getting too confident. Too detached from my reality. But shouldn’t I live without constant worry? I’ve spent most of my adult life worrying about cancer. Every little quirk. Cancer. Now it’s here. I still can’t believe it.

I’m all checked in. Waiting for my lab buzzer to go off. I am 3 weeks past my first covid shot so I sit in the actual waiting room. I’m with my people. One lady has on her fuzzy slippers. That’s brilliant!! Rachel is here. She yells Norm! But not loudly. Just so I can hear. We manage to have a great chat while she pokes me, draws my blood and prepares me for treatment. I am blabbing at record speed. On and on. I can’t help myself. It’s like meeting a friend for coffee but you only have 5 minutes. I really love talking to her. I love her.

I am waiting to see my doctor. When I’m called back the first order of business is getting weighed. I don’t want to look. I’ve been so disappointed. In myself. In my body. I know what excuses are. I’ve made a lot of them when it comes to my weight. But I’m so tired and my legs are shit! I had to “say it out loud” so I can face how stupid it sounds. I need to do more. Not tomorrow. Today. I need to watch Rocky. I need to be more physical. I need to not be more terrified of how I look in the straps when I go over the edge than actually going over the edge 14 stories!! Ok. Enough of that.

It’s almost time to start stalking lab results. I feel cool as a cucumber. I’ve already convinced myself that if anything is wrong it’s because of the covid vaccine. Lol. I looked. Urine mostly normal. It says it’s 50% coffee. Just kidding. I’m going to read the news while I wait for the other results. Labs are good. Again. I’m still here. God is so good.

Lots of new stuff in the waiting room today. From fuzzy slippers to stilettos! Seriously! Maybe she’s like me and this is her big day out. I love it. I love her and I love both styles and everything in between!! Most of the guests here are peppy! I feel like there is a positive vibe everywhere. I need to capture it and sprinkle it all over. ALL OVER!!

I’m on a roll. Moving right along. Doctor appointment went well. They get shorter and shorter. My oncologist didn’t have time to review my labs before coming in. I let her know they are good. Lol. She still takes a look. We chuckle how my tumor marker, lipase, is now 1 point over the low range of normal. 3 weeks ago it was 2 points under the normal! Eeeks! We are kidding and making jokes about this. At my highest level, I was 9.420 points over the high normal. That’s a lot of words to say the tumor monster is either dead or sleeping very soundly. Still.

I decide to check out the cafeteria today, before I check in the chemo department for treatment. It’s been closed for nearly a year. I get a big cup of coffee and some milk to go. I notice several differences. Coffee is no longer self serve. All the fresh fruit is individually wrapped. No more salad bar. That is devastating. It was a great salad bar! I go to check out. I still have $60 in my wallet from last year. I don’t want to touch change so I use my check card for the $3 cup of coffee. I have no idea what my PIN number is anymore. It goes through without needing a pin. I get to the chemo department to check in and the sweet girl at the desk now knows my name. Hello Cathy!! It’s official. I’m a regular. The place is packed. There are no open rooms. I opt to wait in the seating area by the elevators where I’m writing this chapter of today’s blog. I think people in all areas of this hospital are sounding happier and looking more energetic. Is it spring? Vaccinations? All of the above? Perhaps!

I’m in my chair. I’ve got a window! My nurse is so nice. She knows her stuff. While I’ve been waiting I read an inspiring news story about a cancer survivor. I stalk him on Facebook and send a message to see if he would consider sharing his story on my podcast. He very kindly replies and says yes!! This life!!! It’s amazing!!!

Cancer and Covid

HEALTH UPDATE: I just keep going!! Stable! Pain lingers but it’s an easy trade for life. Treatment number who knows what next week!!

My urge to write is strong today. I admit it. I watch real housewives of New Jersey. There is a dinner scene. A packed restaurant. The wives are all glammed up. They are seated wearing face masks. Glaring white paper masks, like the ones required at the hospital or doctors office or perhaps that a restaurant may enforce at the door. They sit down with a smirk as they remove the inconvenient mask. Martinis for everyone!

I was diagnosed about 2-3 months before the covid crap hit the fan. I was catching colds that Willow brought home from school. At this time, I was being treated with chemotherapy and even a common cold was potentially dangerous for me. It was at a time when I had never been more sick because of cancer. When covid came, and schools started closing, it was a no brainer. We sadly needed to keep her home. We needed to lockdown. I was already fighting one deadly disease. My risk was high for complications with covid.

I have restrained from posting about covid. It has divided this great nation of ours. I read opinions. I have a general knowledge of the extremes of both “sides”. There are the people that are against masks and vaccines. They don’t want to social distance. Live life! Gather, go out, etc etc etc. My life, my choice. Let me tell you what it’s like to be the complete opposite. While fighting cancer.

I haven’t complained out loud about not remembering the last time I hugged my mom. Christmas 2019 maybe? The last time I hugged my brothers. My sisters. My friends. I don’t complain out loud. I don’t say anything because if I complain, I know some people think that it’s my problem and if I’m afraid to catch covid then just stay home! That’s what I have done. For over a year. With cancer. Being told I have months to live. So much for a bucket list. It feels like I’m being chased down. By cancer. By covid. Without the touch of family and friends. I don’t want to sound weak. I don’t want to whine. I must be STRONG.

I’ve tried everything to make it easier for my girl. This has been hard on her too. Unlimited water balloons, chalk art, backyard camping, skating “rink”, pretty school and play space, driveway parties, etc!! I will admit it is a blessing in disguise to be with her 24/7. I hope she remembers this time we’ve had together! I pray for my time to continue. I need to show her MORE. I need to take her out of our small world.

I’m lucky. I’m still alive. I cried a lot when I was first diagnosed. All the pressure of adjusting my thoughts to what dying would be like. Willow. Willow. Willow. I still can’t go there. The incomprehensible pain of leaving her is one thing I cannot talk about freely.

My purpose of this post is not to change minds. That won’t happen. I know and accept this. My purpose is to share the gut wrenching pain of being away from family and friends when I need them more than ever before. It hurts like hell. It’s been really hard.

I’ll have my second vaccine shot on April 22nd making my fully vaccinated day May 6th. I cannot wait to hug and be hugged again!

Hello Cancer Friends

HEALTH UPDATE: I’m good. Feeling fatigue after both my treatment and the covid vaccine, dose 1 last week. No worries, I’ve got this!

Ramblings….

Life is so good! So much going on! Another season is approaching. We are enjoying more time outside and a fresh batch of new sidewalk chalk colors, thanks to the beautiful Beccah! I can’t help but think of my life watching flowers sprout from the ground, through the mulch. My life feels new! I’m a newborn at age 52! Ha! Not in a religious sense, as my faith is not new. More of a grateful and happy sense.

Coming off a great week of stable health and hope of leaving my homestead for activities other than doctor appointments has left me brimming with gratefulness! I’ve made a haircut appointment! My last was in September in my driveway. I will make a dash to hug my mom for hours on my freedom date, May 6th. Following the guidelines, that will be two weeks post second vaccine dose. YES! Is it me or did the past year fly by? Precious time granted to me by the grace of God! I feel strongly that I have used this time wisely and wonderfully, especially considering the covid factor. There is still so, so much to do.

My podcast is proving to be more that I had hoped for. I’m meeting people, listening to stories, realizing how many people truly care about others touched by cancer. It is moving and inspiring me greatly! Of course there is also my own story telling and cheesy jokes. It’s like my blog with my voice. I’m not about to hold back. It’s feeling good and right to me. I think the vulnerability is shattered. It’s easy to let go when you have nothing to lose. The thought of healing broken hearts, even if just for a moment, is a goal that I want to positively crush.

Please consider subscribing to my podcast. It’s called Hello Cancer Friends and can be found on Apple. Spotify, Google and many others. By subscribing, you will be notified when new episodes drop. Please share with people you know. Help me spread the word. I sure appreciate it!

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/hello-cancer-friends/id1560912363?i=1000515089991

Happy Easter one and all! Love, happiness and good health too!

Coffee cake

HEALTH UPDATE: It’s scan week! I’m stable! More prayers answered. Labs are perfect too! God is good.

Ramblings…

Yep. Scan week. Results are stable. I’m so relieved. Would I love to see improvement? Of course. But I’m cautious and grateful for anything that doesn’t include the words worse, spread or growing. This is yet another real time blog post. I’m checked in at the lab. Waiting for my pager to go off. I remember when a pager like this meant a blooming onion was in my future. The pager. A sign of a relaxing sit down dinner with my husband. With friends and family. It’s been so long. Stop it. I’m not going there today. I’m coming into this appointment today with a stable scan, awesome music and an attitude of fierce bravery and determination. Let’s do this!! Cancer is going to take a hit today. I’ve got my gloves on!!!

It’s busy today. So many masked faces. Everyone has a story. I’m realizing I’m obsessed with knowing what their stories may be. How are they like mine? How do they cope? Am I just distracting from my own situation? I don’t know how any of them could be as lucky as me. That makes me feel horrible. For the people struggling…I know. I know. I’ve been there. I don’t know where I’m going but if I’m living in the now I would say life is nearly perfect. I pray for the people who are struggling. I pray for their family and friends! I’m with you. I am with you!

I respect the choice to stop treatment. It’s your life. Of course you have the choice! In my opinion, and with my faith, I believe the after life will be more magical than could ever be imagined. You can’t lose! You either continue on with your earthly life or move on to heaven. For me, it’s the ones I leave behind that breaks my heart and gives me the will to fight. I hope they know I’m fine wherever I go when it’s time for me to go. When will that be? Nobody knows. For now, I’m not giving up.

MARCH 26, 2020. One year ago.

The photo above is a reminder of what cancer did to me. It’s shocking to see how far I have come. I’m glad I didn’t give up. It’s not impossible to be the victor against cancer, even if just for months or years. I won’t know the rest of my story until it happens. It’s day by day. Scan by can. Blood test by blood test. I’m getting closer to accepting this. My heart races a little less each time I am tested. Then I worry that I’m getting too complacent. Don’t get too relaxed! Doom and gloom could be around the corner!! I do realize that it is really stupid to worry about worrying. Lol!!!!

It’s hard not to go back to last year at this time. My life will never be the same since then. MY LIFE. Those two words are a big part of that. I still have a life! So obvious yet SO complex! My new life started on April 2, 2020. It was the day I woke up and my first thought was coffee cake! I was hungry and I had energy. Two things I had not felt since starting chemo a few months prior. I found a recipe. Whipped it up and ate a few pieces. The next thing I noticed…NO fever. One full day without any Tylenol! Two days, then three. So on and so on. The rest is history.

The coffee cake. It was so good I took a picture.

I really don’t want to keep going back but I also can’t help but reflect. It leaves me in awe of all that is still so good in this world. I’m still confused as to why I’m so lucky.

I’m in my recliner waiting for treatment! My labs are perfect. My Doctor and I have the same look and feeling of disbelief as we had at the last appointment. I ask questions this time. Usually, I’m fully satisfied with the status quo. I’m not usually concerned about past scan findings that haven’t ever been mentioned again or projections of my future. This time is different. I need clarification of my stage and other trouble spots that were mentioned at one time or another. I’m curious even though none of the answers will change anything. I’m still stage III. We don’t know what my future holds. There are no other trouble spots. Every blemish of every gland, surface, lymph node, artery, organ and otherwise is mentioned on the ct reports. My doctor knows which ones are of concern and which ones are not. Besides the arteries blocked with clots and who knows what else, the diminished tumor monster is the only one of concern. I kind of feel sorry for it. It’s just like us. Just trying to survive. Everyone hates it. We just want to kill it. I hate it too. I want to kill it as well….but I also want to thank it. It changed my life.