Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Underwear Hangers

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 duty to me . Handing over to me a bag containing an old sample of what they used to hang their privates : Could I please do something with this ?

I pulled  out the tattered hanger , a box of clothespins , and a skein of yarn . What am I to make with this ? I took it home , making no promises . After a week , this is what I came up with .

I showed them , all five of them , to my girlfriend and now she wants a set for herself . I thought she was joking , but alas , she's quite serious . Honestly , what am I missing here ?

BUT then . . . the more I look at it , the more I liked it so much that I've decided to make a set for myself . Odd as it may seem , we shall add this to my  portfolio .

Have a Blessed Day everyone .

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

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 become smaller , much more private consisting of no more than three people at a time . I don't have a chemo partner by choice . I find I can face it alone now . The symptoms vary from one type of chemo to the next . With each re-occurence , I have adjusted a little bit more to that acceptance part . My hope is that it will be years before my " next " bout .

Have a Blessed Day everyone .


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Halfway Point

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 is what it is " .

Honestly ? By the time the halfway point comes ( 3 months ) , I'm fed up with everything . I want it over . Usually by now the side effects are in full force and my endurance is at a low . Yeah , it's getting old at this point .

What are your side effects ?
People usually think that all cancer patients react the same way , which is not true . I've had three different types of chemo in the last six years and I've had three different kinds of side effects . My hands are red , dry , cracked and blotchy . I have a rash on my armpits , under my breasts , my thighs and not to mention some other private places . The palms and balls of my feet ache like callouses . My feet hurt .

At my last infusion , I only had the rashes on my thighs and head which my doctor didn't feel it was caused by my chemo , but something I have started using recently . I have used the same products  for years . Gave me some pills and a cream . That was then . Now , my other list above has appeared and I'm curious what she will say caused it this time . It's not even a red rash but a darkened color . We will find out this Friday .

How are you ?
I'm crappy , that's how I am . I'm itchy and scratchy . My hands hurt . My feet hurt . I'm tired and sleep the whole weekend away . Otherwise , I'm okay . How are you ? Plus , I've gained 5 1/2 pounds last month . Who knows how much next ? So how am I ? I'm ready for it to  be over and I'm crabby .

P.S.
 I am proud of myself for downloading my first pic !
Have a Blessed Day everyone , even if I am crabby.

Monday, January 28, 2013

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 rear it's ugly head anytime soon . When it came back , four and half years later , I was in complete shock . That word " why " screaming inside my head and my heart . My emotions bursting forth , wanting to write them down . I started a blog and the rest is history . The rest you know .

Have a Blessed Week everyone .

Sunday, January 27, 2013

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 donated their vacation time so my mom could spend time with me in the hospital . There were neighbors , friends of friends that offered up prayers for me , people that I have never met . People came together and sterilized my house from top to bottom , washing furniture and carpets so I would not get an infection .

I have many fond memories from that time . I have never felt so loved in my life . Everytime  I started to feel down , a get well card would appear magically in the mail . I had the opportunity to say " I love you " to the people in my heart . Not many can say the same .

There are a few things that stand out in my memory , like the time my older brother came for a visit , spending the whole day with me . I have never heard him speak so much as he related one story after another . Or the time my children spent the day together , taking a picture in a photo booth to place at my hospital bed . The numerous visits that my younger brother drove me back and forth to without complaint .

A new me was emerging from her cocoon , all ready to live life . Full of energy and  thirst for what God had in store for me .
Have a Blessed Life everyone .

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 eversince .

Later that afternoon , chills racked my body and I felt extremely tired all of a sudden . I knew what that meant . Immediately , I grabbed my thermometer and my suspicions were confirmed . . . . another infection .

Disappointment washed over me at the thought of another setback . Back in Church earlier , I felt I was on my way for a permanent recovery . I could feel the Holy Spirit wrap his arms around me . Never did I think I would I would have a setback . Little did I know that not only would this be my last trip to the hospital , but also the shortest stay .

As the months followed , I slowly recovered . My body had to get used to alot of things like eating normally . I couldn't take in food because of lack of appetite . My mom would make these small snacks for me ( bite size pieces ) for every hour , whether it was a fruit or drink . Not only did my body need normalcy but my soul .
Have a Blessed Day everyone .

Friday, January 25, 2013

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 with her , everything spilt over . . . .every emotion that has been bottled up all these months . I couldn't stop crying .

Later that day , the phone kept ringing like never before . It seemed that everyone wanted to see how I was doing . I found out later that my friend was worried I had given up and told everyone to call me with encouragement .

That was the last time I ever broke down in front of others . I've learned to keep a positive , upbeat attitude in public . People became scared when I'm depressed and start worrying  needlessly . I say needlessly , because there are many downs when you have an illness and it's very normal to become depressed once in awhile . Sometimes , you just want to have a good cry , but once you're done , you pick yourself up again .

After my meltdown , I felt better and eventually things started to work normally again . Tomorrow is the final chapter of my saga . Until then , have a Blessed night everyone .

Thursday, January 24, 2013

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 become so emotional , but as I watched the last of my hair fall away , my eyes teared up . Being bald was such a statement of cancer . I was sick and I looked it . There was no denying it now .

As the surgery approached , I was getting very nervous . My last surgery was horrendous and the memory still very fresh in my mind . My cancer therapist still visited me occasionally while at the hospital to see how I was doing . She would close the blinds and turn off the lights . Tell me to close my eyes , she would speak softly reminding me to think myself somewhere safe and pleasant and calm . Sometimes , she used music and let me tell you , it worked . It calms a person and it also helps with  the pain .

 This surgery was a breeze and the entire experience was  wonderful . What a difference a hospital makes ! For the first time since this whole cancer ordeal , I could actually eat regular food at the hospital . I couldn't wait to experience that food cart that went around every evening ! The only problem was that with all these medications I have been on all these months , my palate was gone . Nothing tasted good to me anymore . Alas , when the moment finally arrives ........

I started this journey in late May and here it was the first week in October already . The physical part ends and the soul searching begins .
Have a Blessed Week everyone .



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

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 me in good health . I was glad to be able to thank her for her good care of me .

Three times a day , I would go on a walk around my floor . Once in the morning , afternoon and evening . This was a project , dragging all my equipment with me . My mom stayed quite alot with me and this became one of " our outings " .

Everyday , like clockwork , I had therapy sessions . Before noon with the occupational nurse and afternoon with the physical therapy where I actually left my floor . The second always came right before my favorite show on television would come on . Everyday , I wished they were behind or maybe cancel our session so I could watch it . That , of course , never happened .

If there were any tests to be done , you were wheeled away to wait in line with other patients . This I really liked . If I had a particularly difficult day , I'd always be wheeled next to someone who had a worse one . This I found humbling and suddenly , my day wasn't so bad . Sometimes , I think God planned it that way . Being in a hospital , you find so many people with real serious issues that are dealing with things you can't even imagine . That's something we need to remember the next time someone irritates us . We don't know what they may be going through in life .

By the time dinner came around , I would have visitors . My friend Jan came by regularly . This was my favorite part of the day . My doctor always made  an appearance , no matter how late it was . There was a snack cart that came through , but I never got to participate . During these early months , I had eating restrictions . I craved that snack cart and would watch it roll away with a pout . So would you if you saw the cookies and pudding that was on that cart .

Nighttime  was the worst for me . You see , one becomes accustomed to a hospital time clock . Every couple of hours , you are awakened to have your  vitals checked  . You don't sleep eight hours , you take naps . If you have a roommate , you can't really have the light on . I was very lucky to be in a single room , but what does one do ? You run out of things . How much television can one watch especially if you've seen all the episodes already ?

I don't know why people think you can rest in a hospital . My day was pretty full . I didn't mention the phone ringing ( usually my mom ) nonstop and the constant hospital staff that flowed in and out . Since the staff became my second family , they would visit me on their break . How nice is that ?
Have a Blessed Week everyone .

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

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 . This wound was a huge problem for me . I think there was so much going on with me physically that I had to deal with myself , my mind couldn't grasp all of it at once . I wanted the doctors to magically make it all disappear , but in reality , I had to do the work .

Another problem I had was with infections . With cancer , we have to take our temperatures regularly to ensure we have no fever . If a fever ensues , we need to get to a hospital because we developed an infection . I had five of these fever/infections basically all stemming from my pic line .

When the fever went down , I would be placed on antibiotics at home  which involved an I.V. thru my pic line . A nurse would visit me twice a week at home to take my temperature , weigh me , take my blood pressure and change my pic line . On her first visit , she taught me how to take care of my pic line and how to connect this I.V. myself . That first time , I literally vomitted from fright .

One of the hardest times for me was when a fischula developed which really means a hole opened up between one wound to another . I hope I got that right . In this instance , it was from my colostomy . Everything I ate , ended up coming through the hole in my stomache . If I ate a tomato , chunks of tomato would appear in  my stomache wound . How do you heal that ? You don't eat through your mouth , you are fed intravenuously .

My " food " would arrive three times a week . I could not eat or drink anything through my mouth . You have no idea how difficult this was for me . It's not that you are hungry , but you miss the act of eating . We had a peach tree in our yard and during that time the peaches were ripe . I would cheat and take a bite to swirl around in my mouth and then I would spit it out .

Again , all of this was happening one event after the other . Home three days , in the hospital for five . Home for eight , in hospital for four . It went on like that for almost four months . All during this time , I wasn't really dealing with my cancer , I was dealing with my body's limitations . This time was so difficult for me emotionally because I have always been the " bull " and my strength was gone . I became a sick little calf instead .
Have a Blessed Week everyone .

Monday, January 21, 2013

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 attitude  towards me .

Things were also strained with the doctors . That abcess occurred because I wasn't cleaned up correctly during my last surgery . My family demanded to know how this could have happened . Everyone pointed fingers at someone else . All I wanted was my drugs to relieve the pain .

Finally , one of my sister-in-laws , happens to be a doctor and she arranged for me to be transferred to another hospital . A  new hospital with a new doctor . I think they were glad to be rid of me .

Now , this last surgery left me with so many tubes sticking out of me that I ended up a tangled mess everytime I had to get up for the bathroom . It took the medics over an hour to untangle , unhook and hook me up again onto the gurney . Three machines were used to handle my meds , my I.V.  and my drainage . The ride to Rush Presby. Hospital ( my new haven ) was awful . I was jostled so badly in the ambulance from the bumpy road that I clenched my teeth  in pain . I couldn't wait to get into a bed with a painkiller .

By the time we finally arrived I was ready to be left alone . I was tired , full of pain and fed up with everything and everyone . The minute they set me up in bed , my new doctors came in to assess my condition . Within the hour , I fell asleep , finally pain free for the first time since my surgery . From that moment on , my road to healing began . It was the best move my family ever made for me .

Until tomorrow , have a Blessed Day everyone .

Sunday, January 20, 2013

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 wanted to get their attention , trying desperately to raise my arm  , willing it to move but I couldn't .

Later , I was told that when I woke up it was a shock to everyone because the doctors gave me so much medication that they predicted I would be out for awhile . I personally think that my fear before the surgery built up this strength. . . .this will to live . . . that I woke up before the nurses could remove the breathing tube . I remember thinking that if I don't wake up now , I will die . I remember that so clearly . It will be etched in my mind forever .

I think this surgery brought on the reality to me of what was really happening in my life . The fight has begun . Reality has sunken in .

Have a Blessed life everyone .


Saturday, January 19, 2013

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 . I've always said that cancer has made me aware of how loved I really am . This disease came at a time where I was unhappy with my familial relationships  . It provided a deep sense of longing to change all that . As they extended their hands in love  towards me , I grabbed on and let it absorb me .

In the days that followed , they  were filled with tests , doctors and occupational therapy . Visitors came by regularly and the phone never stopped ringing . At night , I was awakened every few hours to check my temperature and blood pressure . It's funny for me to say , but it's difficult to rest in a hospital .

During one of those days , my doctor came in with a huge smile on his face . In his hand , he held an 8 1/2 x 11 glossy picture of my tumor . The expression on his face was so happy like " look what I got for you " . I stared at that picture for a long time trying to imagine how something so darn ugly could have grown inside of me . I made a decision to frame this thing one day with a caption  that would read " my cancer " . I would show that glossy print to everyone and yet they weren't very impressed . Obviously , it didn't mean to them what it meant to me .

I was delighted to hear I was able to go home . Second bit of good news ? The colostomy was only temporary and in a few weeks they planned on reversing it . I couldn't have been happier . Chemo would be starting soon .  Again , in my naivee frame of mind , I pictured a speedy recovery and even made a bold statement that I would be back at work by September .

If I only knew , that instead of things looking up , they were about to take a huge nosedive .
Have a Blessed Day everyone .

Friday, January 18, 2013

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 move around . My mind went into overload concocting a mental list of all I needed to accomplish before going for this surgery . There was grocery shopping to do , bills to pay , laundry etc. and my weekend passed quickly .

On Monday , the results came in and the doctor's suspicions were confirmed : I had ovarian cancer and needed a hysterectomy . Can I please come to the hospital as soon as possible ?

My first night at the hospital was spent preparing my tired , worn out body for surgery . I was shocked to find I  needed a blood transfusion . The night before the surgery , I had to drink a hefty gallon of this foul tasting liquid . I needed to clean out my pipes where they would be clear like water . I didn't sleep a wink .  I remember talking to Joey on the phone , when suddenly , I would throw the phone down and make a dash for the bathroom frantically dragging my I.V. stands  with me  ,barely making it . I have no idea how I survived that night . I remember that soooo distinctly . What an odd thing to have etched in one's mind .

I can't believe how naivee I was about the whole thing . Not one time did I ever think about dying or having cancer . I don't think I even understood what that really meant to have cancer . I remember sitting on the hospital bed the night before my surgery and being happy that I wouldn't have a menstrual cycle anymore .

Looking back now , I can't believe how unpepared I was for what was coming . Within the next 24 hours , this independent woman who took care of things will suddenly need others to take care of her .
Have a Blessed Night everyone .


Thursday, January 17, 2013

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 that thing was it would involve a simple procedure to remove it , I was sure of it .

Well , May came and Emily graduated . It was close to the end of the month before I  finally made an appointment to a doctor . I remember that day so well . It was a Friday . That very morning , I  was clocking out at work and a fellow co-worker asked  me if I was okay . If I was coming back that night . I remember , I laughed and said yeah , I'm coming in . I told her I had an appointment that very morning .

I  wasn't aware that I've lost weight nor that my complexion looked sickly . I never made it back to work that night . In fact , the next time I would see this particular co-worker wouldn't be until the following year in January .

Until tomorrow , my friends with the next installment . Have a Blessed Day everyone .

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

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 sadness or depression . I never want to forget . . . . not ever . That was the best thing that ever happened to me as strange as that might sound .

I also realized that I've never  really told anyone my full story . This blog was started halfway through my journey with cancer . Maybe , it's time  to go back and revisit . For the next couple of days , let me tell you my story . Until then , have a Blessed Night .

Monday, January 14, 2013

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 " see " rather than believe by faith , devotion , love and loyalty .
If people live by sight rather than faith , is it such a wonder there is a lack of God in our society ?

Instead of looking for ways to destroy the world we live in and each other , why don't we try to save it . Instead of reaching for snide remarks and ways to outdo the next guy  . . . . why don't we reach for the Bible . Instead of voicing all the terrible things that have happened to us , why don't we acknowledge all that God has done for us .

As someone who's time is limited here in this world , it pains me to see people looking for controversy rather than living their life to their fullest potential . I would love to be able to live to the ripe old age of my ancestors , who lived well into their nineties . Most likely this will not happen . The years I do have , I consider a Blessing .

It pains me to see people waste their time here full of anger and suspicion . So intent on " seeing " ? Take a good look at your life . What do you " see " ? Lord , never help me forget where I've been . I need to " see " where I'm going .
Have a Blessed Life .

Sunday, January 13, 2013

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 the world and with Jesus . I am so aware of the precious time I have with all of these people . That is the good . The sleeping all the time  is not bad either .
THE BAD :
Being nauseous and extremely tired , are standard symptoms of all chemo . Another few are diahrrea , constipation , numbness and tingling in your hands and feet . All of these , I can handle . They are not pleasant , but you can basically take something for it . It's do-able .
THE UGLY:
I can't stand steroids and what they do to my body . I gain weight and become bloated everytime . Not to mention I turn this unbearable red  beet color . Next , metal mouth syndrome . It turns everything I eat to tasting like it's spoiled . By the time I'm done with my treatment , I don't enjoy food . Coffee , for instance , tastes awful . I miss that the most . Another one I detest is losing my hair and eyebrows . I'm fortunate that this time around my hair is only thinning out and not going completely bald .

Believe me , by the time I'm done with it all , I'm usually very glad it's over . Then the side effects from the side effects happen , but that's another story . Oh well , Have a Blessed Night everyone .

Saturday, January 12, 2013

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 meals . Times like these , I am so grateful for Emily . She simply takes cares of things and of me .

Here I am , finally awake at  8:00 p.m. , thinking I just slept another day away . That seems to be the pattern with this  round of treatment . I sleep alot and feel like time is slipping away , a regular Sleeping Beauty . For someone who likes to feel they are accomplishing something everyday , this is hard to take in . The treatment is for 6 months . That's alot of time wasted sleeping .

When I consider all the different types of side effects I have had during my re-occurrences , this is really not a bad one . So , my friends , as I head off to the land of nod , I bid you a Blessed Night .

Friday, January 11, 2013

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 moderation . Have no more than one drink per day for women and two per men .
6. keep physically active . Engage in at least 30 minutes of vigorous physical activity on five or more days a week .
7. stay sun safe . Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 year round even on cloudy days .
8. have cancer detention screenings and vaccines .
9. take care with X-rays and hazardous materials . Follow proper directions when handling chemicals, metals, dust and loose fibers .
10 . If you are a woman, decide carefully about HRT. Discuss risks versus benefits of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with your doctor before using it .

So , how did you do ? I can honestly tell you , I'm 50/50 . I eat healthy , hardly any meat , but I'm overweight . I don't smoke , hate to exercise , but walk alot . I stay out of the sun and have screenings every three months in between re-occurences . Oh , I do like to have a glass of red wine occasionally . I stay away from any meds unless I need to take them and that includes tylenol , advil etc .

I think these 10 ways can describe any health issue . The point here is to eat right , exercise , and get plenty of sleep . Go to the doctor if you have any symptoms or ailments . Nothing is just nothing . One thing I have learned is to listen to my body . If I'm tired , I take a nap . If your haed hurts , do something about it .Take care of any issues ,  no matter how small . You are not being a baby . Let's take care of our bodies  and our hearts !
Have a Blessed Week everyone .



Thursday, January 10, 2013

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 . We all are looking for the same thing . . . . .spiritual fullfilment .

One thing we need to remember is that we are not alone . Finding our purpose takes time and patience . Even now , I'm very impatient for the next " one " , but deep down inside , I need to take a breather and prepare for that moment .

This sort of reminds me of my cancer . Whenever , I have my life back on track . . . . . . .BAM ! It  comes back again . So for now , I have to learn patience . Accept this quiet time  ( treatment ) and wait it out . Then I can tackle my purpose , my God dream .

Where are you at ? Are you aware of your God dream ? Your purpose ? Or are you like me , in a dormant stage ? Whatever point you're at , it doesn't matter as long as we're cultivating our spiritual growth .
Have a Blessed Week everyone .

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

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 around to help her fill in the blanks . My worry ? It used to be  the same . A young girl needs her mother . She always jokes that I need to  write  down in a notebook all the important facts of life . That would be a BIG book .

How will I know what to do if you're not here to show me ?

I tell her : That's why women need other women , so we can help each other through this complicated life .  Our women friends will never leave you completely alone when I'm gone . They will be here . They will take over for me . They will pray for you and over you .

As mothers , that is our biggest fear . . .  .that our children will be left unprotected . Who will care for them ? Who will be there to hold them tight ?

I used to spend so much time worrying about my death . These questions would plaque me . The closer I became to God , I knew He would take care of all my worries . As long as my children seek Him to lead them , they will be just fine . It's His promise to us as His children .
Have a Blessed Week everyone and know that you are loved .


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

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 I'm handling this cancer situation , my mind wanders to the beginning . . . the past . Alot has happened for me to get here .

So what inspires me ?

The past inspires me . It reminds me where I came from , what I've been through and where I'm heading . Having cancer changed my life for the better and I never want to forget that . I've always wondered when people read my blog . . . . . did they start from the beginning ? Or did they just continue from wherever in the middle they happened upon ?

So what inspires us ? What provides us with the desire to get up and face the world ? To produce beauty from ashes ? We have hope and love within us to live the life Christ intended for us . The light within us that only He can provide .

So what inspires you ?

Have a Blessed Week everyone .

Monday, January 7, 2013

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 separate classes .

Taking over the class with the no show teacher , I sat down with the 3rd-5th graders . There were 6 students , but the conversation that flowed round that table was everything I ever hoped for as a teacher . Time flew as we sat and held a discussion .

I learned a valuable lesson . They were listening , even if it seemed the opposite . Two , it's not about the quantity but the quality . Three , I'm not Charles Stanley or Joyce Meyers . They are wonderful , perfected preachers , but I am me .I may not get it right every time , but I love Jesus and I love what I do . Sometimes , the simple way is the best way .
Have a Blessed Day everyone .

Sunday, January 6, 2013

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 think I could actually pull it off , but I do have newfound  courage from my last project .

The lady that wanted my baby hat yesterday really surprised me . I find that everywhere I go people are really interested in crocheting or at least handmade items . I started thinking that maybe God was trying to tell me something . Maybe , there is something here He wants me to see and do , but what is it ?

Certainly something to pray about . Whatever happens , I know I have found something in my life that provides so much satisfaction and fills my heart to the fullest . Isn't that what it's all about ? Emily always says that her food tastes good because of the love she puts in it . Maybe , that's why my baby items are coming out good . . . . it's for my future grandchildren .
Have a Blessed Day .

Saturday, January 5, 2013

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 .

Afterwards , I had to stop at the clinics pharmacy to pick up my prescription . Of course , it wasn't ready . On my way home , I needed to stop at CVS to pick up my thyroid medication that my insurance suddenly didn't want to pay for after 5 years . I swear to you , I thought I would never get home . All I wanted is to get into my comfortable jammies and sleep .

 I honestly have to say it wasn't all bad . There were good moments , too . In the waiting room , I was crocheting a baby hat and this women came up to me wondering if I would sell her this hat for her baby girl who was seven months old . I wanted so badly to finish it before they called me in , because I wanted to give it to her for free . Of course , I couldn't . I keep thinking about her and hope we run into each other again .

Another good thing that happened was that everyone at the clinic kept coming in to congratulate me on those slippers . What a warm feeling that left inside of me . I guess , this chemo was bittersweet !
Have a Blessed Week everyone.

Friday, January 4, 2013

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 describe to you how shocked I was . My friend has no e-mail or facebook . She hasn't ever read my blog , nor has she even used an atm machine . How did she know about my project ?

I sat there , surrounded by all that yarn , racking my brain trying to remember when have I told her . Did I mention it in one of my letters to her ? I must have , because how else did she know . Not only that , but she has never expressed an interest in my blog or this project . In fact , we hardly ever mention my cancer .

To me , this package was a revelation from God . Here I have been asking and wondering on what I should do next . . . . . I felt God had answered me . He used an unlikely source , but the message was clear to me . Who knows where this batch will go . I've already made 18 pairs . I will continue to make them as long as God keeps sending me yarn to do so .

Let's see what He has in store for me now . Have a Blessed Week everyone .

Thursday, January 3, 2013

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 . Everytime I had that urge , I would go and grab a fruit . I ate so many apples that first day , I don't even want to see another apple .

What about the games ? Well , I'd keep clicking on the game so I can just look what's going on there . Stupid , huh ? I feel like an immature kid . My grandson has more restraint than me . It just shows you how much of my adoration was given to that .

I woke up this morning to find instead of 2296 e-mails , there were 2308 . Well , so much for a great start . It will be alot harder than I thought . Now , I'm more determined than  ever ! So far , I've been real good today . I can only move up !
Have a Blessed Week everyone .


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

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 why I say it was a safe choice . It didn't require much of me . What if I had to really give up something that I liked ? That's where my list comes in .

You may think that playing facebook games is nothing , but I really like these two that I play . . . . everyday . Already , just the thought of doing this makes me want to skip this one little thing and play .

My devotions : Remember last year at this time , I subscribed to all these different Preacher's websites and devotionals ? My plan was to read them on a daily basis as to have the Word in me . Well , I have at least 38 -40 of them sent  to my e-mail daily and I just can't keep up with them . They have been piling up and as of now I have 2295 of them . Instead of playing the games , I plan on going through them .

The food itself and the duration of the fast has more to do with the fact of how monks of long ago would go into seclusion to fast and pray . It will intensify my fast a little more , giving the fast that bold and challenging aspect .

Of course , I always have a request that I'm praying for and usually I take on others' requests also . If any of you wish for me  to pray for you specifically during this time , you can contact me via e-mail at lottiekrol@yahoo.com  with your prayer request . Otherwise , please pray for me to have strength and endurance during this time .
Have a Blessed Week everyone .

Yarn Bombing My Life

                            Everyday is a brand new day, everyday is a journey. Some murmur if their sky is clear, And wholly bright ...