Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Great weekend

Well, its the most beautiful time of the year in Tennessee, even though it was a bit warm today!  We have been busy doing stuff out in the garden & enjoying the spring.

Saturday morning Emilia debuted Jams Jams at the flea market.  Lets just say it wasn't the right target market & leave it at that.  She had fun & enjoyed her day with Amber & Julie. 

Here comes Daddy!

Eriana & I went to watch Kendall in the Country Music 1/2 Marathon - we were so proud to see him running toward us!  He even came over & gave us "5".  He finished in the same time as last year but significantly further ahead in the placings & was pretty happy with it overall I think, especially given how warm it was.  It still is unfathomable to me how fast he runs - and I just love to watch him!
And he's gone!

We worked in the garden a lot on Saturday.  I am so fed up with my fat leg - I just put my sneakers on & off I went to the garden.  With a hat & sunscreen of course.  I paid for it later in the day but I didn't care.  Did the same today - Kendall is finishing up the fence & the gate.  I had a bunch of seeds to plant & some things to move around.  The fence is nearly complete & then we can plant the last rose & the last hydrangea.  The veggie beds are all full now, but as things "fail to thrive" we till them up & plant new stuff.  EB & I took down & rebuilt our pea fence today too.

Saturday night the girls went with Christine to see Beauty & the Beast at school - so Kendall & I went to dinner.  It was a nice peaceful night (for us!).  Tonight we had our great friends, Ben & Mindy Isaacs & their kids over for dinner to celebrate Mindy's birthday.  Kendall made his famous ribs & we all ate way too much & had a lot of fun.  Emiila is back at it with her Julia Child concoctions - today she made the chocolate sponge cake with the chocolate icing & whipped cream for Mindy's birthday.  Was pretty darn good!  Eri entertained us with her dancing & singing of course.

So needless to say we're all tired tonight, ready for a good night's sleep & then another week starts!  Get to knock out the first half of Round 3 of Chemo this week!  Not looking forward to getting the Red Devil again but its a means to an end.  The sooner I get it the sooner I don't have to get it anymore, right?  Will certainly be feeling crappy on Wednesday afternoon & Thursday.  My sweet neighbor Angie is teaching me to knit on Tuesday while I'm at chemo - looking forward to that.

I wanted to say I've gotten 3 very touching and meaningful emails this week. They are too deeply personal to me and to the senders to share - I had no idea I've impacted these 3 people the way they say I have, but I'm very very proud & humbled to have received notes like this.  I want everybody to know how deeply my friends influence me every day as well - without the healing power of my family & my friends I'd be in a bad way - its a two way street for sure.

Have a wonderful week - will let you know how chemo goes.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

This is why I fight

So the fat leg continues to be fat!  Physical therapist said it may take up to 6 weeks or longer of weekly "manual lymph drainage" (sounds horrible but is really just very very light massage) plus wearing my beautiful compression socks for it to go down.  If it doesn't then I get these amazingly sexy & gorgeous night time "garments" to wear that look like oven mits on steroids & are custom made to fit my leg.  Yeah, one more disfiguring event - hopefully we can get it under control without that. 

So, last night I got a package from Kirsten, whom I've written about before - she was my roommate the first year at West Point.  I was telling Eriana about her this morning & realized we've been friends for 23 years.  I know for my high school & childhood buddies who read this that is nothing, but wow, thats a long time.  Anyway it was a wonderful package with some beautiful scarves & a very sweet card. 

But what I found in there that truly moved me was this - a note from Benjamin - Kirsten & Rob's 5 year old son (whom I've never met sadly).  It was accompanied by a note of explanation from his Grandmother that he didn't have time to finish it - it was going to say "feel better soon" at the end.  But somehow, it doesn't need that. 

The beauty of his innocent handwriting (on the backdrop of a St Jude note no less) moved me to tears.  Here is a little boy I have never met who is expressing his love for me - as much as I hate cancer - I have to be a little thankful for it at this point.  I never would've gotten this note from Benjamin (or the hundreds of others I've gotten) if it weren't for cancer.  I wouldn't have had the opportunity to be encouraged, inspired, and motivated by a little boy whom I've never met.  I wouldn't have had the opportunity to sit in awe of his parents - who have instilled this spirit of caring and love in him for people he doesn't even know. 

Damn, I am one lucky girl.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Other People

I thought today I would write about other people, as I have had a lot of time to think about people this past week.  Before I get to that, I will let you know that with yesterday's Neulasta shot, 2 of 7 rounds are officially complete.  Hooray!  The nausea subsided yesterday & was replaced by vengeful abdomenal cramps.  However, today I'm feeling good!  Excited about physical therapy for the "fat leg" starting tomorrow.

So, now onto other people.  I got a note yesterday in the mail from a colleague that really made me stop & think.  It was the sweetest note about how much she admires my attitude and strength.  I've heard that a lot, but this time it made me pause.  And I started to think about all the people I admire.  I admire those who have taken the time to write to me -  whether it is
  • once like this colleague or
  • every week (often twice a week) like Myra, Maryann's sister or
  • heartfelt and emotional like from Lisa or
  • a postcard from a land I love like England or
  • a text from my friend Julie saying she prayed for us this week or
  • a care package from Judy, Cara's mom or
  • handwritten recipes from Ann or
  • decorated, painted "puke buckets" from my brother & his girls or
  • a handwritten note from my friend Mark who is recovering from a tragic accident or
  • a huge colorful drawing from ClaraBeth or
  • a handmade recipe book from Cori's spring break in Italy or
  • ...
You get the point.  I am in awe of the kindness and thoughtfulness of humankind.  Most of you who know me know that seeing the best in everybody isn't necessarily my strongest attribute.  Yes that would easily qualify as understatement.  But goodness, this last 4 months has changed my outlook on people.  Kindness overflows in places I wouldn't ever have looked for it.  Its humbling, for sure.

So, I will leave it there. We had a wonderful week with my folks - they got to spend a lot of time with the girls which was really great.  This weekend we haven't done much of anything which has been very enjoyable.  This afternoon we are going to the summer swimteam kick off then going to come home & make some dinner.  Last night we watched Julie & Julia - a wonderful movie - love that movie.  And love that EB loves it too.

Hope everyone has a great week & is able to see kindness in places you wouldn't ordinarily look!    No pictures today - I didn't take any this week.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Quick update

Good morning everybody.  Sitting in my chemo room for the day with a bright sun shining in!  Not where I'd opt to spend the day given a choice, but it is what it is.  So far so good this week, been feeling a bit nauseated so not eating a whole lot, but otherwise doing okay.

My parents surprised me last night with my mom's old tea cart completely refinished.  They had it done in Florida & shipped up here - what a wonderful surprise.  Looks great in our dining room.  As I get older, I wish I had saved more of Mom's furniture. 

So tomorrow I am more than half way done with radiation.  No real side effects from that so far - thank goodness.  It will be nice not to have to go down there to the basement every day though!

And Friday I am 2/7th done with chemo (will have done 14 of 49 treatments but who's counting).  That doesn't sound like very far, does it?  But for perspective, one of my favorite chemo nurses is 14 weeks pregnant. I will finish chemo before she has her baby.  Thats a hopeful thought!

We have enjoyed some food brought my friends this week.  Ann & Bill made us a delicious French beef stew which we all enjoyed on Monday.  Last night we enjoyed a chicken & rice casserole that Pam brought.  Not sure what's on the menu for tonight, Mimi told me she would take care of it & for me not to worry about it! 

For photo therapy today I just chose a few of my favorite pics from 2011.
EB & Julianna this summer

Eriana at Sanibel last Spring

The girls with Mimi in the Spring

First day of school.  This may be the last time Eri work her Sperries & skirt.

The Jessie Dog.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What have I learned?

So, Amy, one of my BFFs, asked me in an email last night what I have learned that I didn't expect thru this process...  Gosh, I haven't really stopped to think about that but its a darn good question.  So I started putting together a list off the top of my head & here is what I came up with.  There are explanations behind all of them of course but I decided to leave those out.  Maybe I will get into them later in the year.

…people need to help & its okay to let them
…cancer sucks but your attitude can overpower the suckiness 99% of the time (okay maybe more like 80%)
…if you feel like shit its okay & it won’t last forever - and it will definitely make you appreciate when you don't
…hair is over-rated - but you can't say that until you know the shape of your head
…I (we) have more friends than we ever knew
…hospitals should not allow chinese food in the cafeteria
 …working is healthy - for me - that doesn't mean it is for everybody
 …kids are really resilient & are amazingly capable of looking past short term stuff - most of us could stand to take a page or two from their book
 …some people just cannot cook & really should rely on takeout - but it doesn't matter because the thoughts & intentions are so good
...nurses & medical professionals have a bitch of a job & its not their fault you are sick - so treat them with respect
…a lot of people are carrying some sort of burden – its better to assume that than assume they are just grouchy & mean don't know the impact you might have on another person
In other deep thoughts, a guy at work circulated a list of Rick Frost-isms (Rick is our CEO who is retiring in a few weeks).  I thought some of them were spot on so I shared the list with Kendall.  He singled out this one as being particularly applicable to this point in our lives.

“teamwork means sometimes the individual sacrifices for the good of the team, and sometimes the team sacrifices for the good of the individual”

So much is true in that statement and in how it is representative of the challenges we are facing.  The team we are surrounded with both at home and at work has sacrificed so much for us.  Although I try to be very diligent about recognizing and expressing appreciation for each contribution and sacrifice, I can never say enough.

One more deep thought.  Yesterday Emilia said she had come up with a metaphor.  She said to me that gardens cannot grow without rain.  I said, Duh.  She said, well mommy, cancer is your rain.  You are the garden & the rain is going to make you grow into a big strong garden.  Really, she is ELEVEN years old.  I seriously don't know how I would be getting thru this without her, Kendall & my comic relief Eriana.  They each bring their own rays of sunshine to this journey and together it makes us the tightest of families.

And here is your photo therapy for today, which is definitely not in keeping with the "serious" tone of this post!!  Suffice to say I have gotten a lot of comments and looks today!!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter & the Garden

Happy Day!  The fog from last week's treatment has lifted & I get to enjoy the week or so of a clear head & feeling good.  A bit of back pain from the Neulasta but the pain meds help with that pretty effectively & don't mess with my head.  My leg is still swelling like crazy, darn it. 

This week is radiation every day, otherwise no doctors!  Yay.

Here are some garden pics. 
Tomatoes - they were looking good but now the leaves are kinda yellow, not sure why.

Peas - we may have planted a bit too dense on that row on the right...  We put the pea fence up this weekend.

One of the side beds, rosemary & lavender - thats mint in the pots at the back.

Herbs just getting started.

Now, for the Easter pics.  Emilia was gone Saturday night so we didn't do our Easter Egg Hunt until later on Sunday afternoon.  The kids both got Easter baskets on Sunday morning, though & Eriana made Kendall hide EVERYTHING in her basket at least half a dozen times.  So funny.  She got Happy Feet 2 from Mimi & Papa so we watched that last night as our family movie.  The cutest thing ever - when the penguin is singing in the beginning Eriana said "She makes my heart beat.  Her singing is just SO beautiful."  From the mouths of babes...
Ready.  Set.  Don't Go.

Is she hilarious or what?

And she is just too big to enjoy this so much.

Mini Me.  I wore my wig to the nail salon Saturday with Eriana & one of the vietnamese nail techs commented on how we have the same haircut.  That made me laugh!

Lots of Loot.

OH NO YOU DIDN'T.  Steal my money.  This picture cracks me up - I look like a 10 year old boy!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Hooray its the weekend!

I used to look forward to weekends because I got to stay home from work & play with the kids.  Thats still great (although I miss going to work), but now I am looking forward to the weekend because NO TREATMENTS.  Yes, no radiation, no shots, no needles, no chemo, no stinky chinese food smell.  Yes.  And this is Easter weekend too - even better!

We don't have much planned, just a quiet weekend with the family.  EB is going to a friend's quinceanera tonight & spending the night (she's good friends with the 15 year old's sister).  So we will have a night with just us & Eri.  Fun.  Tomorrow we will hide and hunt for Easter eggs - Eriana is beside herself with excitement about that.

We got so many delicious treats yesterday from Pam, Tracy & Jennifer.  Its hard to even pick what to eat there are so many great things in our fridges.  And our sweet neighbors, David & Betty, brought us stuffed shells Thursday too so we have had a pretty delicious week.  I can't even articulate how much the support means to us.  Its food seasoned with love, which is better than anything else we could ever ask for.  Trust me, we love & enjoy all of it and don't take a single bite for granted.

Kendall has been traveling a bit so we have decided we need an emergency call roster just in case I spike a fever or something goes wrong that I need to be admitted to the hospital - actually we realized we need this whether he is here or gone - so we will be emailing some of you to see if you would be willing to be on our roster.  Really all it means is you are willing to get a call from us any time of the day or night to ask if you would take care of the kids until we can get things situated.  Our hope, of course, is that we will never need to use the list, but we will feel better having it prepared!

Other than that, no real news. I'm doing fine.  Not getting the red devil 2x this week and changing up the medications seems to have worked well as my nausea was controllable on Wednesday.  Thursday I was just tired so that was a definite improvement from Round 1.  Kendall told me last night I'm half way to half way - thats encouraging.  This certainly does feel like an endles marathon sometimes.  I know its not, it will come to an end & we will celebrate mightily.

I hope everybody has a fantastic Easter weekend, whatever your plans are.  We all send our love to you.

Finally I took a picture of the Cards that I have gotten.  Yes, every single one is up there - cards, pictures, drawings, notes, posters, all of it.  I look at it every morning - in fact to take this picture I had to shut the blinds in the kitchen because there was too much sun.  Its such a happy way to start each day.  I promise garden pics by the end of the weekend.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Time Ticks On...

Crick, crick, crick, crick, crick - the sound of the IV.  Nearly done with the first half of Cycle #2.  Hooray. 

So, no blood clot in my left leg.  The swelling is attributed to lymphadema - swelling in a limb after removal of a lymph node.  As it was explained to me, the body has to re-learn how to filter fluids out of your body once the lymph nodes are gone.  Sometimes it happens fast, sometimes it takes a while.  So we are just monitoring it for now.  If it doesn't improve then I will go to the Lymphadema Clinic which is like physical therapy basically where they work on getting the fluids to drain.  One doctor described it as the tissue is like a sponge - soaking up water - so it isn't big pockets of fluid its dispersed throughout the leg.  Meanwhile it still looks hideous.

My blood counts were good yesterday.  That neulasta is amazing - my WBC was 15.7 - for those fellow cancer patients or anybody familiar with blood counts that is pretty doggone high.  My RBC was a bit low but not low enough to get platelets.  So, so far so good on that front too.

I spent a couple hours in radiation therapy yesterday afternoon.  I have about 12 (Eriana counted them) sharpie marks on my leg & belly.  I got my first treatment yesterday, second one will be this afternoon.  Then every day until May 7th I believe.

This morning Eriana & I went to Emilia's recognition for making the Head's List at school.  Pretty stringent criteria - grades have to average about 95 with no grade lower than an 85.  She was one of 4 or 5 in her class to receive the award (all girls of course).  She got it in the first quarter as well & last quarter she was on Dean's List.  Smart cookie - we are all proud of her!

They start swim team on the 22nd at their new place - its called Seven Hills & is right near our house.  Our neighbors across the street are active there & we decided to see if its a better fit for us than the Y at this stage in our lives. 

For photo therapy today I chose this hawk image.  I took it in Naples last spring.  His eyes are hauting huh.  I wouldn't want to be that rat or snake he is hunting down.  Of course I wouldn't really want to be any rat or snake...

Monday, April 2, 2012

Fat Leg!

Yep its swollen alright - looks like a fake leg - kind of grotesque really.  They think the swelling is due to the fact that there are no lymph nodes to drain my left leg, but I will be getting another Doppler this afternoon just to be sure there are no clots.  Its mildly painful - just because the skin is so tight really and it hurts to bend my ankle.  I have what I call "Old Lady Toes" where the nails look really tiny because the toes are so fat.  Very attractive, good thing I'm already married.

Speaking of attractive, the rest of my hair fell out this weekend.  I'm pretty much bald as can be now. Still a few patches to fall out here & there but it no longer looks like I just buzzed my hair short.  Ah well, another step in the journey.

It was a beautiful weekend here.  The girls & I went to Opry Mills Saturday morning - glad we went early because by the time we left it was claustrophia-crowded.  Pretty much the same place it was before but obviously has had a facelift & there are a few new stores.  I just love watching Eri pick out & try on clothes.  Its the funniest thing. 

Emilia's is on the left, mine is on the right.
Saturday night EB & I went to Paint Along Nashville in Brentwood.  We haven't done that for a long time & it was a very fun evening.  Once again our two paintings are so different!

Yesterday Kendall took the girls & the dogs to the dog park & then we hung out, worked in the garden (yes I still need to take some photos of it!), had a great dinner on the grill.

Don't these make you happy???
We also made Easter cookies yesterday.  It was a lot of fun & both girls got into the decorating - here is our finished collection (minus the ones that got eaten along the way).  I will just say the bunnies are hard.  The suns, eggs & butterflies are a lot easier.

Inspector Rabbit.
This cookie made us all laugh - my first attempt at an Easter bunny didn't really turn out like an Easter bunny so we dolled him up to look like Inspector Gadget.

Dinner tonight is Enchiladas home made by Ashley - I have to say everyone is pretty excited about that!