Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I had a wonderful time but Omaha had a blizzard and we were snowed in over Christmas. When it started snowing we decided to go to Mercy Villa Health Care facility for Christmas Eve services. Well, none of the priest could make it so there were no services. Christmas morning the sisters tried to get one of the priests there but could not because of all the drifts. So, the sisters did a communion service and it turned out very nice. Mercy sits kind of down in a gully but maintenance kept the drives clear so that we could make it from one building to the other.
Johanna had a therapy treatment on Tuesday morning and decided to stop and pick up a small turkey just in case we were snowed in. It paid off. Everyone’s plans were cancelled and so Johanna and Jeanne had all of the sisters on their floor to Christmas dinner. It turned out very nice. After Christmas day the weather improved a little each day and we finally could move around some.
Johanna and Jeanne purchased a Wii for Christmas and set it up in the large common area so everyone could enjoy it. I have never played on a Wii before and it was so much fun. I could not believe how sore my right shoulder was the next day. I am pretty good at golf and not as good at bowling, but terrible at tennis. It truly is exercise.
The picture at the top is the balcony of one of the apartments in the building across from Johanna and Jeanne. The wind blowing was so strong. They live on an end apartment and one side is open so there was no drifting on their porch. In the last two weeks they have had a total of 22-24 inches of snow. We watched truckload after truckload dump snow in a field a couple of blocks over.
My oncologist wanted me to go on antidepressants a year ago, but I did not want to until it was absolutely necessary. I emailed him and he was in agreement that it was time. He said that it would take about two weeks before I would notice a difference. I was very surprised when I noticed a difference after the first day. The anxiety is nothing like it was. He also gave me a prescription for the back pain. It is pretty strong and I only take it when I feel that I absolutely need it.
Things are progressing and I am in hopes that I can get another PET scan in February. That will be six months since the last PET scan.
God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death, sadness, crying or pain. ~Revelation 21:4
The lady that will take my cats when I can no longer care for them, Laurie, kept the cats at her house the two weeks I was gone. Before I left we talked and decided that if Mario adjusted well at her house with her two cats that she would just go ahead and keep him. Mario did well and there were no catfights, which really surprised me. So Laurie is keeping him.
Laurie brought Ember back to the apartment just before I got here on Tuesday morning. She was under the bed and did not come out for about 45 minutes. I talked to her continually while I unpacked and put the luggage away along with her carrier. When she finally appeared it took another hour to get her to really make up with me. She usually gets upset when I am gone for a week but this time she was doubly upset. She has made up with me now and does not leave my sight she follows me everywhere. She knows that something is not right and continues to look for Mario.
I stayed home all day and have cried on and off. I miss Mario so much but I do know that it is a decision that I had to make for him. He has steps again and a large house to run in – even bigger than the condo. He has windows to look out on the ground floor, that is a totally different view than the 15th floor. I have no doubt that he will be happy there.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
So often we forget that every person, with their own personality, may not always do things the way we think it should be done. But, are we really any better…I don’t think so. I can’t help but remember what my aunt Mickie taught many of us, “Love them where they are, not where you want them to be.”
This Christmas season let us put aside our differences and just love each other.
Jesus said in John 13:34-35 "A new command I give you: Love one another as I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
As I have said before - My Facebook is for cousins only. We are spread out all over the U.S. I am talking with cousins that I have never met personally. Cousins by marriage and cousins who were little kids that last time I saw them...and now they are grandparents. I especially love the pictures and I am getting to know my cousins through these pictures and postings.
I get lots and lots of good comments from the different ones that they also are communicating with people they really don't know...they just know that we are all related. What an exciting time this has been for me. I only pray that they will all continue getting to know each other after I have gone home to be with my savior.
There were nine children in the Joe/Jo Burnell Family...eight girls and one boy. One girl died when she was 18 and one is a nun in the Mercy order. So from seven of the Burnell children came 28 cousins with one thing in common - "lots more cousins."
The following "A Tribute to Cousins" is a glimpse of our family.
Some families are more serious about cousins than others. We never made much of cousins in our family. I can't even remember exactly how many I have. They were nowhere near as important in my life as uncles and aunts. You're more aware of cousins when you're young than you are later.
When I was little, I knew some of my cousins pretty well, but in our family, we treated cousins more like friends. If we liked them, we saw them. If we didn't like them, we hardly ever saw them.
One of the first questions I recall having about cousins is why boy cousins and girl cousins are both called just cousins.
It's as if uncles and aunts were both called by the same word.
Cousins are the only relatives, the word for whom does not distinguish gender. And, come to think of it, English is probably one of the few languages in which the word for boy cousin or girl cousin is the same. In French it's "cousin-cousin", in Spanish, "primo-prima." You always have them and even if 20 years go by without any contact, it's still possible to get together with a cousin and share stories about how Uncle Herbert drove his car through the garage door.
Cousins are the glue in the cracks that hold big families together.
Southerners make more of cousins than people from other parts of the country. In the South, everyone knows their second and third cousins. I hardly know what a second cousin is and I know darn well I couldn't give the definition of a third cousin or a cousin twice removed. Whatever it is, we didn't do third cousins in my family. Just plain cousins were enough to deal with. ("Kissing cousins," I understand.)
Strange things happen with cousins in relation to age.
If your mother has a brother 10 years older than she is, and he has children early in his marriage and your mother has you late, you can end up with a cousin 25 years older than you are. My cousin Bob was more like an uncle than a cousin to me because he was about 15 years older.
Cousins are a great reminder of genes and inheritance. You can know a cousin for years and never give much thought to what he or she looks like and then one day the cousin will turn his head or pick up a glass or a shadow will fall across his forehead and, in a flash, you see a likeness.
There is something about the way the cousin holds his chin or something about the position of his thumb, that reminds you of your father or your mother or yourself. You see some minor gene you have in common and wonder what major genes you share.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Faith - I am thankful that God put it on my heart to be responsible for my future while dealing with cancer.
I was able to make sensible decisions about my treatment and my resting place when my time comes to go home.
I was able to make decisions about selling my condo and moving into a small apartment.
I was able to make decisions about paying off my bills and not leaving them for someone else to handle after I am gone.
Family - I am thankful for the opportunity that FB has given me to connect and reconnect with all of my cousins through pictures and postings. There are now 76 cousins, 3 nieces, 1 nephew and 1 aunt on my FB. I am so blessed.
Friends – I am thankful for my church family who have supported me both spiritually and sometimes financially (especially for my birthday) throughout the past year.
Rebecca who is always available to take me to appointments and cry with me when I need to cry.
Laurie who calls me almost every day and will be taking my cats when I can no longer care for them.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
“The Lord shall guide thee continuallly and satisfy thy soul.” Isaiah 58:11
Saturday, October 24, 2009
It is hard not to worry - wondering if the cancer is progressing faster than I would like. So, I try to remember Matthew 6:27 "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" I do pray that I am on my way to feeling better now.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
~Hebrews 6:19a (NIV)
As my cousin pointed out on her husband's blog, "Sometimes we sugar-coat what is really going on in our lives - those of us with cancer." She is correct, sometimes we do. It is not always easy to face the daily realities of our future when cancer is always at the forefront of our minds. We often do not realize how it affects, not just ourselves, but all those that we love. I found this Hospice web site that has put into words some of my true feelings. I did not copy all of it just those parts that spoke to me.
Acknowledge You Are Dying
Acknowledging you are dying is the first step to living the rest of your life. If the onset of your illness was sudden or unexpected, you will likely feel shock and numbness at first. This is a natural and necessary response to painful news.
You can only cope with this new reality in doses. You will first come to understand it with your head, and only over time will you come to understand it with your heart.
To acknowledge you are dying is to let go of the future. It is to live only in the present. There is no easy way to do this, and you will probably struggle with this task every day until you die. Know that if you work at acknowledging the reality of your coming death, however, instead of denying it, you will open your heart and mind to the possibility of a new, rich way of living.
Accept Your Response to the Illness
Each person responds to news of terminal illness in his or her unique way. You, too, will have your own response, be it fear, excitement, anger, loss, grief, denial, hope or any combination of emotions.
Becoming aware of how you respond right now is to discover how you will live with your terminal illness. Don’t let others prescribe how you feel; find people who encourage you to teach them how you feel. After all, there is no right or wrong way for you to think and feel.
Respect Your Own Need For Talk, For Silence
You may find that you don’t want to talk about your illness at all. Or you may find that you want to talk about it with some people, but not with others. In general, open and honest communications is a good idea. When you make your thoughts and feelings known, you are more likely to receive the kind of care and companionship you feel will be most helpful to you.
But if you don’t want to talk about your illness, don’t force yourself. Perhaps you will be able to open up more later on, after you have lived with the reality of your illness for a time.
Be an Active Participant in Your Medical Care
Many people are taught as “patients” to be passive recipients of the care provided by medical experts. But don’t forget this - this is your body; your life. Don’t fail to ask questions that are important to your emotional and physical well-being out of fear that you will be “taking up someone’s time.”
Learn about your illness. Visit your local library and consult the medical reference books. Request information from educational associations, such as the National Cancer Institute or the American Heart Association. Ask your doctor, nurses and other caregivers whenever you have a question.
If you educate yourself about the illness and its probable course, you will better understand what is happening to you. You will be better equipped to advocate for personalized, compassionate care. You may not be in control of your illness, but you can and should be in control of your care.
Be Tolerant of Your Physical and Emotional Limits
Your illness will almost surely leave you feeling fatigued. Your ability to think clearly and make decisions may be impaired. And your low energy level may naturally slow you down. Respect what your body and mind are telling you. Nurture yourself. Get enough rest. Eat balanced meals. Lighten your schedule as much as possible.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
A meadowlark sang, but the child did not hear.
So the child yelled, "God, speak to me!"
And thunder rolled across the sky, but the child did not listen.
The child looked around and said, "God let me see you."
A star shone brightly, but the child did not notice
And the child shouted, "God show me a miracle!"
And a life was born, but the child did not know.
So the child cried out in despair,
"Touch me God, and let me know you are here!"
Whereupon God reached down and touched the child.
But the child brushed the butterfly away and walked away unknowingly.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Each time the oncology department calls it is about my treatment or lack of treatment. And, each time they call it leaves me upset, frustrated and second guessing myself. Yesterday they called and had another option for me since my breast cancer is Estrogen receptor positive. She was talking about a pill that has fewer side effects and would not be as harsh as chemo therapy and radiation. I finally asked if it was Tamoxifen and she said yes, that or something similar to it. I know enough about it to know the side effects: serious side effects of tamoxifen are blood clots, strokes, uterine cancer (don't have to worry about this one anymore), and cataracts. Other side effects include menopause-like symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, joint pain and leg cramps. Since I already suffer from about five of these symptoms, the first major one being blood clots, does this really sound like something that I want to risk?
All of the doctors have been telling me for the past year that we needed to wait on the breast cancer and concentrate on the endometrial cancer. It was slow growing and we could take care of it later. I guess my question is, "Why didn't they suggest Tamoxifen a year ago?" I might have considered it at that time, or would the side-effects been to risky then along with the chemo? But never at any time was this suggested until now.
I asked the PA what difference it would really make whether or not I took the Tamoxifen and she had to agree with me that it wouldn't make any difference in my outcome because of the spread of the endometrial cancer. She said that they felt they needed to offer me some options. I know they are just doing their job but the position that I have taken on treatment takes a lot of courage and I am not sure that they understand.
I would pray that this could be a peaceful journey. Dear God, please give me the strength and courage to face each new day with joy in my heart.
I have many friends and family fighting their own battles with health right now and they need prayer as well.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
I had a follow-up appointment for Wednesday (tomorrow) but it has now been cancelled. The doctor just called with the results and we talked on the phone. When he removed the mass (left because of the needle biopsy) he said that he was able to remove the majority of the cancer but that the margins are not clear. The tentacles of the cancer are still in the breast. My option is a mastectomy, chemo and/or radiation. If I want the mastectomy we would go ahead and schedule it. If I want chemo and/or radiation that I needed to talk with my oncologist.
I think they are all aware that as long as the cancer is in my lymphatic system and my liver that I only had the lump removed because it was so painful. I plan on standing by my earlier decisions about no additional treatment.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
After everything was scheduled I started noticing a sore spot on my lip right by my nostril and realized that it was coming from the inside. By Sunday, the 23rd, I had a huge abscess on my gum that was very painful. I left a message at the dentist office and they returned my call first thing Monday morning with an opening at 10 am. She was able to lance the gum, scrape out the bacteria, flush it out, and then insert the antibiotic. She said that it would last about 14 days.
I was pretty nervous thinking that I would have to reschedule the breast surgery. The dentist said that it was so localized that it will be healed by Friday - there would be no need to postpone the surgery.
Well, when the deadening started wearing off, my gum started throbbing. I took a pain pill to lie down for a bit and completely forgot about a meeting that I had at the church at 3:30 pm. All I could do was say that I was sorry but I was in no condition to drive at that point.
"Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today." ~ Mark Twain
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
cause I think I know what's best.
It's then I hear you say to me,
"My Busy Child... Just rest."
There's much I do you cannot see,
and much you do not know.
but not without a cost;
at Calvary, I gave My Son,
so You would not be lost.
Monday, August 10, 2009
The breast cancer is showing more than before so that means it is progressing. It had been pretty stable until I let them do the biopsy. I did not have a lump before the biopsy but I do now. The doctor said that it would go away, however it has not and it does hurt. I will make an appointment with the general surgeon to see what can be done. I see no reason to be visibly uncomfortable just yet.
There are times when our sadness and grief overwhelm us to the point of hopelessness. But even when healing seems out of reach, God is reaching out. scooping us into his arms, speaking through claps of thunder, "I am here." (from "God Things Come in Small Packages")
Friday, July 31, 2009
"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you, O God." Isaiah 26:3
And then one afternoon - I knew that I had a blood clot when I was rushed to Boulder to the hospital. The pain had been going on for 4-5 hours before I told anyone, but I knew what was happening. By the time I left the hospital another 4 hours later the pain had subsided. I was really puzzled about what was going on. You can not mistake the pain of a blood clot once you have been through one. And then, I ran across this article on Altitude Illness. It was a wonderful article about what actually happens when we change altitude. I would have never guessed that it would cause thrombophlebitis, but it actually made sense after reading the article. I caught it in time and getting to the lower altitude helped until I was told by the ER to use moist heat packs. This is just a short sentence that caught my eye in this article. "Studies have shown that there is an increased tendency for blood to thrombose (clot) in arteries and veins at high altitude." If you would like to read more about Altitude Illness, check out the site - http://www.elbrus.org/eng1/high_altitude1.htm
There is always something funny if you look for it. When I go to Dory Lakes it is with my aunt. The last time we were at Dory Lakes was ten years ago. I was napping one afternoon and my aunt woke me and said that she need to get to the hospital. She was having numbness in her arm and her breathing was very labored. The doctor said that she needed to get to a lower altitude and stay there. So, ten years later she decided that she could probably handled it if she really paid attention to what her body was telling her. This time (ten years later) I woke her from a nap and said that I needed to get to the hospital. At the moment, of course, it was not funny, but as we looked back on it we had a good laugh. Maybe we will try it again in another ten years.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I just returned from a week in the mountains (higher altitude) and did not see any ladybugs. Not sure if they left or if it was truly limited to the Jefferson County area. You can click on this link to see a sampling of the massive amounts of Ladybugs. http//media.smh.com.au/ladybugs-invade-colorado-629437.html
I must say, however, that the wild flowers are magnificent this year. I have never seen so many varieties. I had a wonderful week with family at Dory Lakes, just the other side of Black Hawk and celebrated my birthday, on Saturday, at Georgetown with my aunt. I did have one little incident and was taken to the emergency room at Boulder. After about 4 hours it was determined that I did not have a blood clot at that time and the pain had almost subsided. After warm, moist compresses the pain finally went away. They said that I did the right thing by getting it checked out since I seem to be a high risk for blood clots (due to my episode in October).
I am feeling relatively well and I am scheduled for another PET scan on August 6th. My CA125 (blood test) two weeks ago was up to 53 which is above the normal range. In April it was 20 and an indication that it was on the rise.
It was a birthday like no other. I received well over 50 cards from my church family alone. I thank you Father for close friends who help me build a stronger character and draw me closer to you.
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" John 15:13
Friday, July 3, 2009
This has been a very busy week with getting a contract on the condo and making all of my funeral arrangements. I am very excited about the place that I have chosen. I will be cremated and my ashes scattered in the Garden of Freedom on Mount Lindo. I will have a small bronze plaque with my name and years of birth and death on a Cenotaph sitting in front of a magnificent view of the mountains. (A cenotaph is a tomb or a monument erected in honor of a person or group of persons whose remains are elsewhere.)
Several months ago I met with my aunt, Sister Johanna, to plan a service in the Kansas City area for all of my cousins, family and friends that want to attend. We planned a very nice service with biblical verses and songs that are close to my heart. Today, I met with my pastor, Steve Heese, to plan a completely different type of service for my church family and friends in the Denver area. Since we wound up choosing many of the same verses and songs, it will be different only in the fact that it will be on Mount Lindo where he will scatter my ashes.
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you O Lord, are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." Psalm 23:4
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
One year ago today, July 1st, was the start of my journey, better known as “Katherine's Cancer Journey”. No one knows for sure how long I had the cancer before I was diagnosed as Stage 3C. So, I consider this my first year of survival. I know - I know, everyone has set five years as the true survival rate. I look at it a little differently - each day, each month, or each year that I am alive is survival for me. I will turn 66 this month but instead of celebrating my birthday I want to celebrate the fact that I have made it one year living with a very aggressive cancer that has taken over my body.
I was reading another persons blog that has the same type of endometrial cancer that I have. I love this quote from her doctor so I took the liberty of borrowing it. "This is YOUR fight, not theirs. You will do as well as you think you will, do not believe in any statistics but your own! The statistics your are reading are old by the time you read them anyways. Keep positive!" ~ Dr. Jeremy Sturgeon
Saturday, June 20, 2009
I spent a week at Moss Beach near San Francisco with family and had a wonderful time. Oh how I love the ocean. It was cool there but it has been cool here in Colorado also. The picture of the tree is the reason that it is called Moss Beach - what beauty.
I cannot believe that the month is half over. There is no news health wise and I am still feeling well. I am no longer working except at the church. Mentally and physically it became overwhelming for me just like the house did. Still no offers so keep praying that it will sell soon.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
But, Mr. Tentmaker, it’s scary now.
My tent is acting like it’s not going to hold together. The poles seem weak and they shift with the wind, a couple of the stakes have wiggled loose from the sand, and worst of all, the canvas has a rip. It no longer protects me from beating rain or stinging flies.
It’s scary in here, Mr. Tentmaker. Last week I was sent to the repair shop and some repairmen tried to patch the rip in my canvas. It didn’t help much though, because the patch pulled away from the edges and now the tear is worse.
What troubled me most, Mr. Tentmaker, is that the repairmen didn’t seem to notice I was still in the tent. They just worked on the canvas while; I shivered inside. I cried out once, but no one heard me.
I guess my first real question is, why did you give me such a flimsy tent? I can see by looking around the campground that some of the tents are much stronger and more stable than mine. Why, Mr. Tentmaker, did you pick a tent of such poor quality for me and even more important, what do you intend to do about it?
Oh, Little tent dweller, as the Creator and Provider of tents, I know all about you and your tent and I love you both.
I made a tent for myself once and lived in it on your campground. My tent was vulnerable, too, and some vicious attackers ripped it to pieces while I was still in it. It was a terrible experience but you’ll be glad to know they couldn’t hurt me. In fact, the whole occurrence was a tremendous advantage because it is this very victory over my enemy that frees me to be of present help to you.
Little tent dweller, I am now prepared to come and live in your tent with you, if you will invite me. You will learn, as we dwell together, that real security comes from my being in your tent with you. When the storms come, you can huddle in my arms and I’ll hold you. When the canvas rips, we’ll go to the repair shop together.
Someday, little tent dweller, your tent will collapse (for I’ve only designed it for temporary use). When it does, you and I will leave together, (I promise not to leave before you do). Then, free of all that would hinder or restrict, we will move to our permanent home and together, forever rejoice and be glad.
~~By Roselyn Aronson
Saturday, May 23, 2009
I cannot believe how much a person collects over the years - stuff we don't really use - it is just there. My little apartment has everything I need and so far I am very comfortable here. Yes, I do miss the garage and I go to another floor to do the laundry. I was so used to the comforts of every day life and having everything at the tips of my fingers. Now I have to reach a little and it is good for me.
The whole move and process of moving went so fast that I did not have time to go through all of the old paper work, etc. I am still in the process of doing that - almost finished. It will be so good to have all of this finished.
As for my health I am feeling pretty good, certainly nothing to complain about. My back is hurting but that is because I was lifting things I was not supposed to lift - there is not always someone around to do this for you. I don't have any doctor appointments scheduled but I guess that will not happen until it is necessary.
My hair was finally to the point that I had to do something. It was growing fairly fast in the back and on the sides but not on the top or the very front. It looked kind of weird so I decided that I needed to get it styled. Well, to make it look right and match the top it is now very short again. It was growing in all different directions and I now have a slight wave at the neckline and the very front and a huge cowlick at the crown. She said that some of my hair was very fine and some was very coarse. Guess it will just take time to get straightened out. However, I think I am through with the wigs.
The cats are doing much better but they know there is something on the other side of that door and they want to explore. I am going to put something under the door to help reduce the noise and maybe that will help.
I am looking forward to a week at Moss Beach in San Francisco. It will be good to get away and enjoy the beach.
"Thank you" to everyone who helped me move and to those who prayed for an easy transition. Please keep praying for me. I have a long way to go and so hopefully you will be praying for me for a very long time.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Well, I actually moved on May 1st and it is hard to believe that I have been in my new place for over a week already. It truly is small and I had to leave a lot behind but I have no regrets. This is going to be so much easier to take care of as time goes on. The cats on the other hand are not as impressed with the smaller space. They no longer have the steps to race up and down. But, each day I do see improvement with them and they are finally eating again and playing. They are trying to get used to the different noises - me too!
The move went smoothly with my pastor in charge, three other men from the church and Rebecca. It took only about 2 1/2 hours. Others have been by to help me finish packing things at the house and to help arrange things at the new place. I am so thankful for all of them. God has truly blessed me with good friends.
I cannot believe that it has been 12 years since I have been able to sleep with the bedroom windows open. I am loving the fresh air and the magnificent view. St Anthony's hospital is right across the lake and I can watch the helicopter take off and land. It usually goes right by my window.
I seem to be going to the house to exchange stuff I brought with me and don't need, or I left something that I do need/want. This will be the last week I can do that because the Estate Sale is this weekend and all will be gone (hopefully). I think I hung the last thing this morning - the clock.
Health wise I am feeling good, just really tired. The move took a lot out of me but I am sure as soon as I can settle down I will regain my energy. I have not gone to the Y for several weeks now and I am anxious to get back there.
I have sent out my new home address and email address but I am not getting a lot of response. I did figure out however, that it went into junk mail for several providers. So if you don't occasionally check your junk mail you may not know my new information.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I have a friend who works for Mercy Housing and she gave me a tip on a facility where I could go in as an independent resident and then as my cancer progresses I can change buildings to assisted living and stay within the same system. I just knew that they would have a long waiting list – I was wrong. They had an apartment, one bedroom-one bath, available immediately. It is small but it will be much easier for me to take care of. It is on the 15th floor, corner apartment, so it is a little larger than most in the building. The view is magnificent – Sloan Lake and a full view of the mountains – couldn’t ask for more. I will lose my garage but I can live with it. It is very possible that I will be moving the 1st of May. Wow! That is only a week away. I am already worn out so this is going to be a real challenge. I have been packing for a garage sale tomorrow, the 24th. I know that my pastor and others in my church will make sure the move goes smoothly. So much to do – but I am not complaining.
A friend of mine sent me the most beautiful, powerful message that I have read in a long time. Please click on it and read for yourself, it is worth it. Click here: He Is God Thank you Jolene.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
One of the things that I have learned is that you cannot walk away from cancer you must take a stance. Along with God’s direction, I feel that I am taking a stance that is right for me. I have made the decision not to fight the cancer but to embrace the life that I have left until my day comes to meet God face-to-face.
This past week the reality of cancer came tumbling down on me like an avalanche and became overwhelming. I had to make some very hard decisions about my living arrangements for the duration of my illness. I can honestly say that this is the first time I have really, really cried. There are so many decisions to make; selling my house, where to live, what to take with me, finding a place where I can take my cats, etc. - I just wanted to walk away from it all. I am sure that there are going to be other days in the future when I still have these feelings and I know that my friends will be there to support me.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Eat: Listen to what your body wants and needs.
Talk: Talk to anyone about anything you are feeling whether it be your friends, family, nurses, pastors or even a support group.
Keep a journal: Go out and buy yourself a good journal or find one online. (I chose this blog.)
Hugs: Hugs give us the sense of safety that when we are being hugged, nothing can seem to harm us.
Relaxation: Make time for yourself throughout the treatments.
Do whatever you want: Try to get as much normalcy into your limited life.
Ask Questions: Ask your doctors any question you may have about your cancer, chemotherapy, symptoms and limitations.
Exercise: Finding a type of exercise is a good idea.
Cry: Yes I said it, cry. Not all the time, but when you feel the need to cry go ahead and just let it out.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
The radiologist (the salesman) called this morning to make plans about how to handle the breast cancer. His main concern was that it might be the same as the endometrial cancer. It is not however so it would be a completely different treatment. He said that the most important treatment would be the radiation for the endometrial cancer for now and the breast cancer could wait until we finished radiation. He wanted to personally cancel my appointments with the surgeon. He said that he would call and explain to him what we were going to do. I told him that I still wanted to meet with the surgeon.
I have felt like none of the doctors are being really honest with me. I am a realist and I need facts. Everyone wants to beat around the bush. Today I really pin-pointed him and he finally admitted that my chances are "not good" but I do have "a chance". He kept saying 20% so I asked if that adds 2-6 months to my life or what. He said that the 20% is based on a 5 years survival rate. Okay, it might give me a year. But that year will be miserable with the side effects from the full pelvic radiation which he admitted was going to be very diffiult. Once again, I have decided to go for quality of life over quantity of life. I will not be doing radiation therapy. The real catch to all of this is that the type of cancer that I have does not have a 5 years survival rate to start with, so what does that make the 20%? My common sense did not go on vacation without me after all.
I have researched my type of cancer, as much as possible, since there are not many studies, and the survival rates for this type of cancer, USPC, is approximately 24 months and that is for Stage I and II. All of the big cancer hospitals say the prognosis is poor - MD Anderson, etc.
Friday, April 3, 2009
They said it would be about a week before I received the results and one of the radiologist would call me with the results. Today, April 3rd, just 2 days later, I received that call. The results - "Invasive Ductal Carcinoma".
I just received the results of my CA 125 - it was 14 in January and it has gone back up to 20. However, the CEA was normal.
I have an appointment for an MRI of both breast on Wednesday, the 15th. And, an appointment with the general surgeon on Friday the 17th.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
I know that I said I would "never" do radiation therapy. Lesson learned - "never say never" - I knew better but my common sense has gone on vacation. The chemo did not kill off the cancer cells and they are traveling through my lymphatic system. So far they have not entered the vital organs and I pray that by doing the radiation the cancer cells will be stopped. We can only pray and leave it in God's hands.
This afternoon I will have my breast biopsy. (April 1st - Hmm!) More Later
Monday, March 30, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
When I was diagnosed with cancer, over time I was told that it was an aggressive cancer and that it could not be cured. The best to expect was remission for an unknown period of time. Because the endometrial cancer that I have is rare, there have not been a lot of studies to go by and the one being used looked like chemo was the best option. After I finished chemo I met with the radiologist and, besides the information above, he said that they just were not sure what, if anything, radiation would do for this type of cancer. I chose to wait and see since I really did not want to do full pelvic radiation because of all the side effects, some of which cannot be reversed.
On Monday, March 23rd, I met with my oncologist to discuss the PET scan that I had on March 9th. The PET showed that there is a malignant lymph node sitting right on the aorta. (The aorta goes down the spine.) It cannot be reached by surgery and he said that cyber knife was out of the question at this location. The longer he talked the more I realized that I was out of options, or not being offered any options except a clinical trial at Colorado University. The only thing, I felt, that he did not tell me was how long I have to live. Needless to say, I was pretty bummed when I left his office and by the time we got to the elevators Rebecca and I were crying – both of us in shock. It all became very real.
My oncologist did say that he would talk with my surgeon and radiologist and get back with me by the end of the week (I have not heard from him) and that he would also check with Colorado University about clinical trials (which he personally would prefer to do). I checked myself and all of the trials they have going, or trials they are starting have to do with ovarian cancer, which I did not have, and of course none of them will be trials with the rare kind of cancer that I have.
On Monday evening my radiologist called and said that he wanted to see me. He had a voice mail from my oncologist but had not talked to him yet. He wanted to talk with me directly. I met with him today, Friday, March 27th. The discussion was much the same as the last time that I met with him. I asked lots of questions and he answered them all. I even took my anatomy book with me and asked him to please show me the boundaries of the radiation being planned. After a week of prayer I have decided to proceed with radiation. What have I really got to lose? He said that it is not going to be easy and will get worse as each week passes. It will be everyday for 6 l/2 weeks – 33 treatments. I should be finished about the first week of June. I will go on Tuesday to get my CT scan and tattoos. Yes, Katherine will be tattooed with little dots – can you imagine that. Maybe I can have them do a little flower around each one – ha! I think he really wants to go ahead with the radiation now while I am so healthy (Hmm! Do you see that as an oxymoron?) and before the cancer goes into a vital organ. He was quite clear that if that happens there would be nothing else they could do with this type of cancer. So far the cancer is in the lymphatic system and no vital organs. Both doctors are sure there is more cancer in the lymph system but it is just not strong enough to show up on the PET scan yet.
The actual radiation will not start for a couple of weeks. He wants the needle biopsies done on the breast before he starts. He said that if they were malignant it would mean a mastectomy. I said, “no” a lumpectomy even though there is no lump there. He said that would mean radiation. So, that is what we are doing so one more spot of radiation doesn’t matter.
Does this mean that another trip to Hawaii is out of the question? I sure hope not!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
He was very pleased that I am losing weight and that I go to the Y four times a week. My blood pressure was really low and I asked him about it. He wanted to know if I was light-headed or tired - yes to both! He said that it looked like my new program was working (the Y and WW) and that I may need to alter my BP medication. He wanted to do 1/2 a pill/day and then said not to take them at all. Each day that I did not take my BP pill my blood pressure went up a little. On the third day it was obvious that I cannot go off my medication. I don't think I need the full strength but I do need something. I just have to get it figured out. It is a good thing that I told him that I would monitor it at home - I have a BP kit. So far it is all over the place.
The next step will be the PET scan. I am feeling very positive about it and a little nervous at the same time. I still need lots of prayer.
My PCP's nurse called me week before last. She wanted to know when I was going to do more mammograms, etc. I told her the story and later that day my PCP called me. I have really not seen her since this whole thing started because all I see now are specialist. So, I explained to her what I had decided about the breast biopsy, etc. I told her that I would be seeing my oncologist soon and he was going to order another PET scan at that time. She was okay with that but asked if I had any other problems going on right now in light of all that I have been through. Well, yes, but I hesitated to tell her. I have been smelling smoke for awhile now. She was very concerned about it. She called my oncologist and then called me back a couple of days later. After talking for a bit she decided to treat me aggressively for a sinus infection first - I had a few symptoms but nothing major and that morning did wake up with a sore throat and a deep cough. I am taking 6 pills a day - two different antibiotics plus Sudafed, the one you get from the pharmacy now, a nasal spray (I cannot pronounce it) that is prescription and sinus wash twice a day, for 14 days. I would say that is aggressive.
The alternative, if this does not clear up, is an MRI to see if there is something going on in the frontal lobe with the nerve that controls smell. I have always heard that when someone smells smoke that it had something to do with the pituitary gland - not sure if that is true or not. Apparently what they would be looking for here would not show up on the PET scan so that would be - MRI.
Yes, the antibiotics are helping even though they are doing a number on me. I still smell a little smoke at different times. I will be through with the regimen on Friday and we will just have to wait and see what happens.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Full of sorrow, trouble and woe
It's then I have to remember,
That it's in the valley I grow,
If I always stayed on the mountain top,
And never experienced pain,
I would never appreciate God's love,
And would be living in vain.
I have so much to learn,
And my growth is very slow,
Sometimes I need the mountain tops,
But it's in the valley I grow.
I do not always understand,
Why things happen as they do,
But I am very sure of one thing.
My Lord will see me through.
My little valleys are nothing,
When I picture Christ on the cross
He went through the valley of death;
His victory was Satan's loss.
Forgive me Lord, for complaining,
When I'm feeling so very low.
Just give me a gentle reminder,
That it's in the valleys I grow.
Continue to strengthen me,Lord,
And use my life each day
To share your love with others,
And help them find their way.
Thank you for valleys, Lord,
For this one thing I know
The mountain tops are glorious,
But it's in the valleys I grow!
~by Jane Eggleston
Thursday, January 22, 2009
He gave me quite the compliment. He had read some of my medical history before I arrived and he was expecting to see a sickly old woman because of all that I had been through. He said that I looked really good and not sick at all - and I don't feel sick.
This is only my 3rd week at the Y and already I am feeling much stronger. In fact, I walked a mile, at my favorite lake, twice this week and I did a mile on the exercise bike at the Y. I was not sure that I could do the walking because of the neuropathy in my feet, but I think I am getting used to it now - I knew I would eventually.
For those of you not in CO it has been in the 60's this week - absolutely beautiful for the middle of January.
Monday, January 12, 2009
My CA125 was 154 after my surgery. The standard range is <=34- u/ml. On November 17th it had gone down to 16 - this was after 5 chemo therapy treatments. On January 8th it is down to 14. This is such exciting news. My oncology nurse was also excited when she called. She said that her calls so often involve bad news that this made her day to be able to deliver good news.
If God willing, it will be even lower the next time I get it tested. I will keep praying for a miracle.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
He wanted to know about my energy level and was pleased to hear how well I am actually feeling and getting back into the swing of things. I told him that since I cannot walk with my feet in this condition I had joined the Y, and that I do aqua-aerobics and silver-sneekers (low impact exercise) at least four times a week. I am sure that this will help with my stamina as well as my balance - which is not great because of neuropathy in my feet.
With a smile on his face he asked if my hair was coming back in yet. Yes it is, but this is going to be a very slow process. They say 1/4 inch per month and that is true so far. I have two wigs and I always wear one of them when going out in public, however at home - I take it off. My eyebrows and eyelashes are coming back also.
He was very pleased that my CA125 had gone from 154 to 16 the last time it was tested in October. He said that it was not a sure-fire test but that it was a good indicator about what was going on. He ordered another one and the results should be back by the time I meet with my oncologist on Monday.
I will be seen by him every three months and have my next appointment in April. He suggested six months for a PET scan.