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Showing posts from January, 2013

The Underwear Hangers

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Here's some light reading :


Over the past six years , I have made numerous crocheted items for friends , family and organizations . There were baby blankets to a crisis center as well as for  a friend's baby shower . From blankets ,  baby hats , booties and slippers to stuffed animal clothes . BUT . . .

BUT . . . . . .I have never been asked to make , what Emily calls , an underwear hanger . Yes , you read it right . An underwear hanger . Who ? What ? Why ?

My mom gets her hair done every week at the same hairdressers for like decades . They have a pair of sisters , senior  citizen ladies , that like to hang their " privates " such as underwear and bras on a hanger out on their balcony . They were in search of someone who would crochet or knit a new set of these hangers for them . Of course , they immediately thought of my mom or myself .

Mom , who has knitted beautifully in her youth , has absolutely no patience left in her body any longer . She happily thrust that du…

That First Time

I remember the very first time I ever walked into the infusion area for chemotherapy patients . Everyone looked so frail and thin . . . . so ill . It was a huge room , filled with people . I was astounded to see so many going through chemo . That was the first time , my eyes were opened to the reality of cancer . What you don't see can't hurt you , right ?  Cancer is everywhere , affecting everyone , whether it's your friend , co-worker or relative .

My friend , Jan , became my chemo partner . She would pick me up and stay with me for all six treatments . Sometimes , I would sleep or work on my puzzles or crochet , but each time Jan would get us  lunch while there .

My emotions toward chemo were great . Compared to all I've been through physically , chemo was a piece of cake . . . . at least  that first bout with cancer . I did seem to be so extremely tired while there . Maybe my body was  so worn out from all those surgeries  . . . .

And now ? Well , now the room has b…

Halfway Point

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This approaching month will be my halfway point with the current treatment . So where am I at ? How do I feel ? What are your side effects ? How are you ? These are the main questions I have been asked .

So where am I ?
People seem to be worried how I'm handling this re-occurence . They don't want to believe me when I tell them I'm good . They're expecting me to fall apart , especially Linda . When I tell her , she stares at me in disbelief . Why ? Because Linda still hasn't accepted her condition . She still is at the angry and the why stage .

If I'm angry , it's not about this . I do hope that my next re-occurence will be a longer interval in between like a few years . That would be awesome .

How do I feel ?
I never quite know how to answer that one . Should I really be honest and go into a lengthy and descriptive answer ? Or should I say what everyone expects to hear like " I'm feeling okay " ? I usually opt for the latter and say " it…

A Long Respite

In the next four and a half years that followed , I had great health . There were no re-occurences , no setbacks , all tests were passed with flying colors . There were minor adjustments I had to make regarding my health , but at least , I stayed out of the hospital .

During that time , I reconnected with people from my past . I joined a Women's Group , volunteered at my Church and worked on my soul relationship as well as the physical part . Slowly , the layers were peeled away to expose the butterfly in me . Here I am , folks , still not completely there .  . . . still working on myself .

As the years passed , so did my confidence grow thinking I was completely healed from cancer . A year after my recovery , they took out my port , which produced even more confidence . I started living my life full of zest . . . . . .  living my life inside a make -believe bubble .

Who knew I could be so naivee ? There is no cure for cancer . You can only put it to sleep and hope it doesn't …

The Road To Recovery

When I was in the hospital , I received many gifts to preoccupy my time . One of those gifts was a book called " Ninety Minutes In Heaven " . That book changed my life . It really spoke to me and the  situation that I was facing .

There was a chapter where the author spoke of accepting his bodies' limitations after an illness . He seemed to have such a hard time and it took him years to finally accept it . I couldn't understand this no matter how  much I tried . Little did I know that I , myself , would have trouble with acceptance . Even now , six years later , I'm still not there .

I guess , I just wanted things to go back to the way they were , and of course , that's impossible . You can't go through something so major and not expect it to change you on the inside as well as on the outside . You emerge a different person altogether .

During my illness , many people came together to help me and my family . My mom's co-workers got together and donate…

The Final Chapter

After my meltdown , my niece Kathy , asked if I would try out this new church called New Life Community Church-Mont Clare  with her . I was anxious to start moving forward and living life like everyone else . It's been a record ten whole days since my last hospitalization , so I said yes .

The preparation for Church was a problem . During these past four months I have lost over fifty pounds and I had nothing to wear . Everything would literally hang off my body . Weighing in  at around 100 lbs. , I looked more like the survivor from Auschwitz .

Looking in the mirror , I had absolutely no curves or bumps anywhere . So I did what every pre-teen girl does and stuffed my bra and underwear with washcloths for much needed curve appeal .

Sitting in the pew , I realized this past week was painfree for the first time in months . Deep gratitude washed over me like the warmth  of sunshine . Closing my eyes , I gave thanks and praise to God vowing to come back again . I've been there ever…

Part 10

Be careful what you ask for . . . . . I wanted a reversal colostomy so I wouldn't walk around with that darn poop bag ! Well , I got it ! The problem was my body hasn't performed in the natural way for four months . My friends , there is nothing more painful than trying to go to the bathroom .

I tried everything : laxatics were no help whatsoever , prune juice equals nada , exercise produced only gas , dairy tasted good , heated pad brought on sweating . This went on for two whole weeks . Not being able to go is painful !

During this time , my phone never stopped ringing with friends calling . On one particular day , I sat there with a heating pad on when a call came in . She asked me how I was feeling . . . . . . .that was the end of me . I burst out crying , no sobbing ! I've had enough .

I've been through alot in these past four months . There have been moments where I've asked God to take me because of the pain . . . . but this was just too much ! As I talked wi…

Part 9

It was during my fourth infection that my doctor decided he had enough and ordered the removal of the pic line . Instead , I was given a port which goes under my skin on my chest . Another frustration for my doctor was this fischula and the mesh . All these issues were preventing the start of my chemo . I only had one treatment , so my doctor was getting anxious with continuing .

So the decision was made to try to fix this fischula and take out some of this troublesome mesh . During this time , I still had my colostomy . That dreaded poop bag ! They promised me a reversal and I was afraid it would never happen . You know that saying " be careful what you ask for " ? Well , I got my reversal . The surgery date was scheduled .

Since I had one treatment of chemo , my hair fell out within ten days . I tried to prepare myself by cutting my hair real short . When it was time to shave it off , no one wanted to do it . Finally , my sister-in-law agreed . I never thought that I would …

PART 8

My life in the hospital took on a routine and the staff became my second family . Every morning at 6:00 a.m. , the hospital came alive . The  swarm of interns made their daily rounds , then came the doctor's assistants , followed by my doctor . This also was the time where one's day would be planned for tests or meds .

After breakfast was served and selections made for lunch and dinner , one was urged out of bed . There would be no laying around  . A sponge bath or shower followed depending on your condition . They would prop you up in a recliner and a blanket , while the sheets changed and the room was cleaned .

My nurses' aide was an African American woman named Lulu , who had ten children . She always had a beautiful smile on her face . She was my favorite . I always wondered if her ten children had anything to do with that gentle , loving nature of hers . A few years later , Kathy and I were invited to a church and we ran into each other . She was literally happy to see…

Part 7

Being transferred to Rush changed my healing process . The nurses were wonderful , attentive and caring . I absolutely adored my doctor . I wished I came here right from the start . My stay and care at the hospital was wonderful .

As to my health , I spent the next 3 1/2 months in and out of the hospital . I think the longest I was home at one time was 10 days . It wasn't the cancer I had to deal with , but all these other health issues that developed from my illness .  

During the last surgery , they placed a mesh in my stomache that caused me so many problems . I basically had a hole in my stomache , that I had to learn how to take care of myself on a daily basis until it healed naturally with the skin fusing together . Cleaning and bandaging this open wound was more than I could take mentally . For some reason , I couldn't even look at it , let alone deal with the maintenance of it .

I actually had a therapist at the hospital that would help me cope with all these issues . T…

Part 6

I can understand in taking great care in choosing a doctor , but a hospital ? Looking back , I wish I did . I should be able to go to any hospital and expect them to provide outstanding care . Unfortunately , in reality , it's not the case .

The hospital was lacking in that department . The nurses were terrible . I would ring for assistance and wait forever for them to come by . My meds were late  every single time . The machine would run out and beep continually to no avail . I was in so much pain because they would never order my meds on time , then you have to wait an hour until they get sent up .

I would call my family , crying in pain , telling them that again the nurses haven't brought up my meds on time . They would call the desk or the doctor , complaining about the nurses taking care of me . Once , my roommate went to get a nurse  for me because she couldn't take watching me in pain anymore . This , of course , made things worse and the nurses developed an attitud…

Part 5

At home , I was in alot of pain . I couldn't hold down any food or liquid , soon becoming dehydrated . I was re-admitted within the week and tests were performed . I developed an abcess and needed emergency surgery .

My sister-in-law was with me and she immediately called the family . When they arrived , I was already in surgery . At that moment , it finally registered in my brain at the seriousness of my illness . I was really sick .

As they wheeled me into surgery for the second time , I cannot express how scared I became . I had visions that I would die . I was afraid . . . deeply afraid that I would not make it .

I can vividly remember when I  awakened after the surgery just as if it happened yesterday . I can still feel the breathing tube and how uncomfortable it felt . I wanted to rip it out of my mouth . I could hear people talking around me . My friend Jan , was reading scripture . My brother was saying something to me ... all I wanted was this breathing tube gone . I want…

Storms Of The Past PT.4

The events after the surgery are kinda blurry to me as I drifted in and out of sleep  . I do remember my back hurting immensely since I wasn't accustomed to laying flat for long periods of time . The hospital beds were a killer for me , hard and uncomfortable , almost impossible for me to get used to .

My family came pouring in from all over . In my hospital room , bouquets of flowers and balloons were everywhere . When I finally was fully awake , the doctor informed me I had ovarian cancer stage 3 .  My tumor weighed in at seven pounds ! I could have given birth to a baby ! I had a complete hysterectomy and they also had to cut six inches of my colon . They had to perform a colostomy . . . .

A colostomy . . . that was the hardest for me to accept . I was sickened by it . I would peer down to my stomache afraid to look at it . . . . . afraid to touch it . I  felt like screaming , I am too young to be wearing a bag to poop in !

As to my family . . .well , I have never felt more love …

Storms From The Past PT.3

At my appointment , the doctor examined me with a growing urgency in his manner . He sent me on numerous tests , all pointing to one thing . . . .it looks like it might be cancer . All the doctor needed was the results of the CT scan to be sure . I went home knowing it was time to tell my family .

The person I am now , is not the person I was back then . My mom always described me as a  " strong as a bull "  type . They never saw me in a weakened state let alone imagined me that way . My family was devastated by the news . I , on the other hand , handled it like I handled everything back then . . . . .

Let's go in there , take that tumor out , get a hysterectomy , recooperate and move on to the next . Wam bam , next !

That's how I was concerning everything . No time to cry . No time to think about anything . No time to deal with feelings and emotions . Just do it and move on .

I didn't go back to work that night . I was getting cramps and it was uncomfortable to mov…

Storms From The Past PT.2

The year was 2007 and Emily was due to graduate from High School in the Spring . I believe it was about March when I started noticing a hard bump in my stomache when you pressed your hand into it . I felt there was something there , but I really paid no attention to it . Unbeknown to me , that was my tumor that I was feeling .

Many people have asked me how did I know ? Was it a papsmear exam ? No , I actually felt it . As time went on , I did have a hard time having a bowel movement . Ovarian cancer is called a silent cancer because there aren't really any  symptoms you can go on .

Like I said , Emily was due to graduate and there were many activities she was involved regarding the graduation . She had pictures to take ; a senior luncheon to attend to ; there was also an award ceremony , a dress to buy , things like that . These things took up alot of time , so I decided I would go to the doctor after the graduation . I wasn't worried or gave it much thought at all . Whatever …

Storms From The Past

The week began with the depressing news of Linda's friend ( who also has cancer ) in the hospital with pneumonia . For a minute there , we actually thought it was Linda in the hospital . That's what happens when you read only a part of the message . . . . you get it wrong .

I also spoke to someone who has been ill for awhile and just found out she also has breast cancer . Every word that came out of her mouth reverberated with anger . She didn't have to yell , but it was obvious she was upset with the dose that life gave her .

After hanging up , I realized she was me a year ago . That's how I felt the last time the cancer returned . You keep asking yourself : How many times will this happen to me .... ? When will this be finally over ? I understand how she feels .

Once the memory vault opened up , I couldn't stop myself reverting to when it all began in the year 2007 . That's where my mind has been all week . I can go back and relive everything without any sadne…

The Quiet Morn

There are days that we long for the quiet . . . . the stillness . Days where we wish we could start the morning over . Days where we could start the conversation over . Disappointment clouds my morning as does sadness .

I'm not good at giving advice . There are two things to remember when giving advice . ( 1 )People don't want to hear the truth . People want to hear what they want you to say , but most of all , I've forgotten an important detail . . . . ( 2 ) people need to experience things for themselves .

I'm also not good at debates . The things that people bring up during debates shock me . You really have to perfect the art of arguing to be a great debator . I am a lover not a fighter , baby .

Anyway , today is one of those mornings . I wish I kept my mouth shut and didn't get involved in debates and advice giving . Usually , I'm the one who walks away wounded and torn to bits .

People look for conspiracy , hidden motives and deceit . They need to " …

The Good , The Bad , The Ugly

Chemotheraphy : Good ole chemo . There are more varieties and side effects than there are flavors of ice cream . Google any type of chemo and a long list appears of do's and don'ts . I have been extremely lucky with my chemo . During these three times my cancer has come back , I've only been on three different types . That is huge !

Poor Linda ,  she has been on numerous types  and I believe that finally this current one seems to be working . Chemo really does a job on your body . I have experienced all kinds of side effects with the three I have had . I can deal with some and absolutely hate the others . I have placed them into three groups : the good, the bad , the ugly . Here are some examples of the symptoms I've had .
THE GOOD:
Yes, there is good . The cancer itself is the good . How can that be ? The cancer brought an awareness and  emphasis on relationships that I haven't known  existed . The relationships I have with my children , my co-workers , strangers in…

Sleeping Beauty

Last night , I returned to work after being off an entire week for my second infusion of chemo . What I didn't expect was the very , very warm welcome upon my return . I didn't go around telling everyone about the return of my cancer , so it seems the word got around during my week off . I was welcomed back with hugs and kisses . How very heartwarming !

The night passed quickly and amicably . I was getting extremely tired as the night went on and it took me longer to get things done . By the end , my feet were burning and I couldn't get home fast enough .

The best part of working nights and getting off at 6: 30 a.m. in the morning , is that I can do my shopping right after with limited shoppers at the store . I love that about doing my errands . This morning , feeling the way I did , I chose to do the most important ones and head home as soon as possible .

Coming home , I dropped off to sleep as soon as I walked into my bedroom . I slept for the entire day , only waking for …

10 Ways

The article read :
10 Ways To Reduce Your Cancer Risk

Over the years , I have been given many suggestions on how to prevent my cancer from coming back . People have bought me teas , made certain vegetable dishes , ordered special oils to anoint my body with and of course , vitamins . It all comes from the heart and I certainly appreciate the sentiment . I feel if people have gone so out of their way for me , the least I can do is try them .

The article came from a health magazine . Of course , I couldn't help myself but read on . I really wanted to see if I'm following any of the 10 ways .
1. eat right , with an emphasis on fruits , vegetables and whole grains , cut down on red meat .
2. maintain a healthy weight . Overweight and obesity have been linked to cancers of the breast , uterus , colon , and rectum .
3. stop smoking . Tobacco use accounts for lung , cervix , bladder , kidney , pancreas , esophagus , mouth and throat .
4. avoid secondhand smoke .
5. drink alcohol only in …

My God Dream

Since my fast has begun this month , I have been reading numerous literature from all avenues . One of them has been from a fellow blogger , Holley Gerth . Now , Holley , is way out of my league . She is huge ! All month she has been focusing on God-size dreams .

I believe we all are looking for a purpose in our life . To me , there isn't just one purpose , but many . You finish one and move on to the next . We are forever learning  and growing in our faith . I also believe  that God has a way of doing things by placing people and things in our path that we are looking to explore and learn . When our hearts are spiritually filled we call this purpose " God's dream for me ".

Since I just completed one purpose , I'm sort of looking for my next . I'm all pumped up and confident , ready to take on whatever He may have in store for me . I'm totally embracing Holley's blog and all her imput , because when you think about it , we all want to improve our lives…

A Complicated Life

Emily and I sat in front of the computer signing into my HR account at work . Every  portal opened , required another username and password . On the desk was the notebook with all the secret passwords . Who could remember them all by heart ? Emily , rolling her eyes , exclaimed :

" You have to do all that just to get access ? "

Yes , you have to do all that . Life is complicated and all these computers are made for our lives to be simplier , but really they're not . Somehow , they seem to complicate my life even more . Maybe , if I understood them better and actually knew how to use them . . . .

Taking in her features , my heart swells with love . . . . .and pain . Life is complicated and just thinking about all she will have to endure as a woman , a mother , a wife causes my heart to ache  with pain . How can I make it easier for her ? How do I prepare her for life ?

 Emily's biggest worry ? That I won't be around to help her grow as a young woman . Won't be ar…

The Middle Of The Story

What inspires you ? Is it the good deeds of others that are witnessed daily ? How about  a book or famous movie ? To some ,  influential people throughout history spark an inspiration . To each of us , inspiration comes in different forms depending on who we are and where we are at during the stages of our lives .

One of my favorite commercials is the one for the famous soda company where each person sees someone do an act of kindness and they in return , do the same . I just love that commercial . What if we all did that ? Can you imagine what would happen ?

So what inspires you ?

Speaking to my HR manager this morning , she remarked on my positive attitude . I wasn't born with this positive attitude regarding my cancer . . . I've earned it . It looks easy when one enters in the middle of the story . The beginning held so many layers like the skin of an onion . . . .raw and pungent . . . and fresh , bringing tears with every exposed layer .

Everytime  someone mentions how well…

A Life Lesson

As a Sunday School teacher , I like to feel I am making an impact on these young lives . I will spend so much time going over a lesson in my head , because I want to make it perfect . I want to be able to reach them with the message . In my mind , I want them to sit up straight and take it all in , their little faces rapt with excitement .

Unfortunately , it doesn't always work out that way . There are times , when the lesson is a miss instead of a hit and I fall flat on my face . A time when their attention span is gone and all they want to do is play . Sundays like that are not easy on my ego .

Same thing happened this past Sunday . I was up majority of the night before in preparation . One of my teachers didn't show up and others were late . I left my papers at home and suddenly panic set in and I froze . The lesson was okay , not my best , but I wish I did better . Deep inside , I was very disappointed in myself . Feeling defeated , I dispersed the children into their separ…

Oh , Baby , Baby

As the New Year unfolds , so have thoughts of babies . That's all I think about : crocheting baby hats , baby booties , baby hair bands . You name it , I want to make it  or at least learn how to .

I'm not exactly sure if the birth of my godson's firstborn has brought these feelings out or not . My niece Kathy is also expecting . I'm in the mood for pushing a pram .

Scouring different websites for patterns , I've decided to make two sets of everything : one for Emily's  and one for Joey's future children . I'm tired of waiting for them to make that next move in their life . Now , they're on my time clock . We can call it their baby hope chests from me .
The funny thing is that I've never made anything but a baby blanket . So far , everything I'm making is coming out looking great . How can that be ? My baby hats actually made me stop and think that I should make hats for children going through chemo . Very cocky of me . Very unlike me to thin…

A Day Of Chemo

After a particularly difficult night at work , the last thing I wanted to do is go for my chemo treatment right after . Glancing down at my pedometer ( an insurance thing ) I walked 10,934 steps in a 9 hour time limit . I was exhausted , feeling the soles of both my feet burning .

My experience that day was tiresome . My eyes were red ,  I was tired  and wanted to sleep . Labs left my arm bruised . I developed a rash of sorts , requiring my doctor to spend extra time with me . The nursing staff was short-handed due to the flu outbreak . My clinic nurse had to take care of my infusion which is done in a different part of the clinic . The steroids ( all 6 pills ) left me immediately bloated and gasey . I was so uncomfortable , just couldn't find my place to settle down and take the infusion . I kept tossing and turning on that recliner . Nothing could hold my mind's attention . I went from crocheting to reading to puzzles . . . even tried to take a nap , but nothing worked .

Aft…

A Surprise Delivery

I have to be honest with all of you . Since my donation of the slippers , I have been in a quandary on whether I should continue making more or should I move on to something else . Believe me , I have been feeling a sense of loss eversince I made that trip to U.I.C. I secretly hoped that I could continue and even started making some more .

Right before Christmas , a package arrived on my doorstep . I certainly wasn't expecting anything in the mail . At first , I thought that my Joe and Aubs sent me something .

When I saw the return address , I really was surprised . It was from a dear friend I haven't seen in almost two years . The last time was at Aubrey's bridal shower . We have kept in contact with letters , but that's all . Curiousity took over my surprise and suddenly I couldn't wait to open it .

Inside the package , were different colors of yarn . She went to a thrift store with her sister and bought whatever they had in stock . I don't know if I can desc…

Pass Or Fail ?

So how is my fast going ? My first day was a  downward bomb ! Very disappointing for a start to a new chapter in a new year .

I decided to tackle all the audio e-mails first . I thought I could play them and listen to them as I was doing other things at home . That turned out to be a huge mistake . Everytime , I tried to play one , the phone rang or Emily wanted to chat about something . I barely heard any of them .

I think I started this entire day wrong . I made oatmeal for breakfast , which clearly was a mistake . By the time I realized what I was doing , it was already cooking and I didn't want it to go to waste  so I ate it . I think this is where I went wrong . What I should have done is put it away to use at supper somehow .

All I could think about that day was food . All the food that I couldn't have . The day before , I went to the fruit market and bought a whole bunch of fruits and veggies designed for that very purpose . My friends , I was so tempted that first day …

A Fast Purpose

January , can you believe it's here already ? This month sure packs a punch . A new year with a new purpose where we can wipe our slates clean and start over . In our Church , we start the year with a 21 day fast of our choice .

Every year , I participate in the fast . You could say I have been playing pretty safe with the fasts , always choosing something easy like giving up sweets . I decided that this year I would do something bold and challenging , as a way to show God my loyalty and devotion to Him .

So what did I choose for my fast ?
1. I will fast the entire month instead of just three weeks .
2. I will not play my facebook games
3. I will spend that time in my devotions
4. I will eat one full meal and substitute rest of the time with fruits , veggies , juicing etc.

You may think it's a pretty ambitious list , but there is a reason . Every year , I'd choose something that didn't really affect me like sweets . How often do I really eat sweets ? Not often . This is …