Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A friend who cares

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair of confusion, who can stay with us in our hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. ~Henri Nouwen

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Call from Oncology office

It is the unwelcome surprises in life that trip us up and cause us pain. But God never misses an opportunity to pick us up and help us learn and grow from life's interruptions. ~from "God Things Come in Small Packages"

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

Breast Surgery

I did have my breast surgery on August 28th as planned. I cannot believe that I was allergic to the tape or to the stuff they stuck the tape on with - it was a real sticky consistency. I thought I was going to pull skin off with bandage or that I might never get it off. Finally, it came off after several days and the rash lasted several more days after that. Since the doctor put in dissolvable stitches the discharge orders said to let the steri-strips come off gradually keeping them trimmed. I have had these before and never had a problem. Believe it or not they would not come off. More than a week after the surgery I woke up itching and had a horrible rash from steri-strips. I tried every kind of greasy ointment to get them to come loose - nothing but the very edges of just some of them would loosen. A friend told me to use olive oil - no it didn't work either, however it did stop the itching - go figure. I knew that the incision had to be healed so, last night, I ripped them off one-by-one. Yes, I have another rash to deal with.

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


I tried Facebook about a year ago and it just was not my thing. Several months ago I had a couple of invitations from cousins, so I thought about it, and decided to give it another try. But this time the only members on my Facebook would be relatives; nieces, nephews, aunt and cousins. My primary purpose for this was so that I could see pictures of all the cousins that I have lost contact with and their children and grandchildren as well. So far I have reconnected with 57 and that by no means is all of them.

This summer I was able to go on two vacations with cousins. It was such a joy to get to know their children and grandchildren. Now when I look at the pictures there is a connection. This is the real reason that I decided to do Facebook for family only. So far I love it and have enjoyed so many pictures of family members. It is better when I can put a name with the faces. Okay, so not all pictures are labeled and that is a good reminder to me - I will be going back and adding information so that you know "who is who" in the Crofford family.

The one thing that I have noticed when looking at all the pictures is that we have one beautiful family. Some of those that I knew as babies and toddlers I no longer recognize. When I was growing up, family was our social life. We lived in the country and there were many, many gatherings at our house. As in all families, some lived out of state and some moved out of state and over the years I lost touch. There were nine Burnell children and 28 first cousins. There are over 103 families and over 300 members on the web-site, but there are also a lot that are still not listed. I am in hopes that I can get everyone listed in the near future.
As I travel on life's pathway
Know not what the years may hold
As I ponder hope grows fonder
Precious memories flood my soul