Saturday, January 29, 2011

Forward to my printed journal

(I am posting this on my blog because it really is part of my journal.
It is totally out of order so some of the information is repeated.)

My Journey actually began some months sooner than July 1, 2008. The reason that date is chosen is because I did not have insurance and on July 1st I would be on Medicare. I never in my life thought that I would want to turn 65 so quickly. I did go to my doctor a couple of times but I did not pursue the issue because I did not have the money.

No one knew that I had a problem because I kept it to myself. Over Memorial Day I went to Kansas City to see my aunt Mickie who was dieing from lung cancer. (She died in August 2008.) I knew that my chance of making it back for her funeral was not in my future. Besides I would rather see her alive and have a chance to talk with her. My aunt Johanna, cousin Betty and myself went out for pie and coffee one evening before I came back to Colorado. It was at that time I told them that something was wrong but I would not know anything until July. That is all that I told them and that I would let them know when I saw the doctor. Once I knew my diagnosis Johanna (my aunt) and Marci (Mickie’s daughter) took aunt Mickie out to dinner and told her that I had cancer. I called her the next day and we talked every week and sometimes more often until she died. She gave her children orders that if I called they were to wake her up so she could talk to me.

Several weeks before my doctor’s appointment I finally told Rebecca because I needed someone I could talk to who would not tell everyone. I just did not want it to become an issue until I knew something. I did not even tell my pastor because I am of the ‘old school’ where you just don’t talk about female problems with a man unless he is your doctor.

I was still working for Myrlyn at that time and I called and cancelled two Sunday nights in a row. I didn’t call Laurie, who I talked to everyday. Instead I called another person to fill in for me and she called Laurie. The whole idea of me not showing up for my shift was unheard of. Laurie called, “Okay what is going on?” So I told her that I had a problem and would not know anything until I saw the doctor on the 1st. I did not want to tell Laurie because she had enough going on in her life and she did not need one more thing to worry about. I also did not have the courage to tell Myrlyn when I was diagnosed – I let Laurie do it. Big mistake on my part!!

I am a very private person and this journal was very difficult to write. I started it and then decided not to do it so I deleted it. Then in October of 2008, I decided that it was the only way I could keep up with what was going on. I started the journal for myself and eventually many people were reading it. As you start to read you will notice that all I give are facts. That is the way that I am. Then as it goes along I start slowly inserting some of my feelings and beliefs and my knowledge that God will take care of me no matter the outcome.

At this point the blog continues to grow and it is difficult for a new person to start reading it because it is reverse chronological order. And, there are many people that do not have computers and they want to read my blog. Thus I have decided to print it off. Just a funny little story - One Sunday at church I walked past this young woman and just as I did I glanced over her shoulder. What caught my eye was that it was my posting from that week. I said, “That is my blog”, she said yes, and told me who had printed it for her. I had no idea that I was making such an effect on people.

My doctors have assured me that getting in a couple of months earlier would not have changed my diagnosis or the outcome of the journey I was about to take.

The first five pages of this printing are pictures and quotes that are on the side bar of my blog. I wanted to keep them as part of my memories when I printed my blog.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Happy "100" Birthday Helen

There were "100" lit candles on the cake. Good thing Helen did not have to blow them out all by herself - she is a tiny little thing. Everyone at the table helped!

On Monday afternoon, Francis Heights had a birthday party for Helen’s
100th Birthday. She is an amazing woman and is certainly spry for being 100. Helen does use a walker now after breaking her hip last year. She quit driving when she was 92 and moved to Denver from Kansas City MO where she was a nurse at Shawnee Mission Hospital in Shawnee Mission KS. I told her that I worked right down the street from her at St Joseph Hospital in the early 80’s. I doubt that she worked until she was 92 – I did not have a chance to ask. Helen’s daughter works at for Francis Heights in some capacity and that is why she brought her mom out here.

At the party, which was in Claire Villa dining room, Helen got up and went to every table to great everyone that came to celebrate her. There were no gifts that I could see, but then what would you get for someone who is 100 years old. Can you imagine all that she has seen in her lifetime? Wow!

We have another lady that lives in the building that writes for the “El Semanario” neighborhood paper and she wrote a wonderful article about Helen along with pictures.

I made her a card that simply said, “If I told you once, I have told you a 100 times”, and then on the inside just Happy Birthday Helen -  I hope she liked it.

We always talk about it being such a small world – it really is!

I pray that God blesses Helen with many more viable years.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Unconditional Love

Right before Christmas I met Laurie and some of her family at the art studio to go see “White Christmas”. I was being nosey, and looking around, like I always do at the studio, and I noticed a desk that I had not seen before. I asked Laurie where she got it and her answer was, “the trash”.  Then she asked if I would like to have it and of course I said “yes” since it was nicer than the one I had borrowed for the apartment. It has three drawers across the front. The other desk had no drawers. Seems that she was driving through a neighborhood and it was sitting at the curb. She went up to the door and asked if she could have the desk if they were throwing it away. She knew someone could use it sooner or later. She loaded it in her SUV – by herself. She was determined not to leave there without the desk. It is and old desk with some major worn spots on it but it works for my purpose and I don’t really notice them unless I am looking for them. The frame is brass and I will need to clean it up or use steel wool on the legs.

Craig and Laurie delivered the desk to me on a Saturday afternoon. When I started setting my computer, printer, and monitor on the desk, everything did not fit the way I had it before because of the way it is made in the front. Well this time I had to separate the printer and the CPU – one on each side of the monitor. Now this became a problem because “little bit” likes to lie on top of the CPU. Only thing is even though she is little the CPU is also little and it is hard for her to stay there very long. When the printer and CPU were side by side she would lay on top of the printer with her paws and head over the CPU. It looked very uncomfortable but she likes the heat from the CPU.

I had to come up with a new idea that would work for her where she could still get the heat from the CPU. I put a pillow behind the monitor for her but it was too large. Then I remembered that I had a nice mat in her carrier – it worked and it covers the wires so she will not get tangled in them. She sleeps behind the monitor while I am working on the computer and she is very comfortable now - and warm. Now my problem is I cannot really see her back there because the monitor is black, the CPU is black, the mat is black, and she is a black cat. I really have to look to see her back there. It is really hard to get a picture of her sleeping - she seems to know when I have the camera in hand.

Ember is the joy of my life and I don’t know what I would do without her. God has given us these little animals and put us in charge of them and we are to take care of them the way He takes care of us.

 "Cats are smarter than dogs. You'll never get eight cats to pull a sled through snow."

"One reason a dog is such a comfort when you're feeling blue - he doesn't try to find out why."

"We allow friends into our company; we allow animals into our solitude."

"We can judge the heart of a man by the way he treats his animals."

"A dog is the only thing on earth that will love you more than you love yourself."

I like pigs. 
Dogs look up to us. 
Cats look down on us. 
Pigs treat us as equals."

I hope that all of you have (or had) at least one little pet that brings joy, happiness and unconditional love to your life.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Cancer Blood Markers - January 2011

On January 5, 2011 (How can that be?), I had my blood drawn for my six-month blood markers for the endometrial cancer and the breast cancer. It takes a week to get the results so I kind of held my breath and said some extra prayers. On Wednesday evening I received the results of the CA 27-29 (breast cancer marker) and it had gone up a little. I did not receive the CA 125 (endometrial cancer) so I really started sweating and thinking something was really wrong. On Thursday evening I sent an email to my oncologist asking if there was a problem because I always get the results at the same time. Apparently the laboratory did not have enough reagents to run the CA 125 so it took a one-day longer. The office emailed me the results this morning and I finally took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

CA 27-29 is 28 (normal <=38 u/ml) 
                          - it was 23, six months ago after my surgery.
CA 125 is 15 (normal <=34 u/ml) 
                          - it was 12, six months ago.

Both test have come up a little but not enough to cause me concern just yet - well maybe a little. Sadly enough this whole thing is never out of my mind. It is strange how your life changes - you are not the same person that you used to be. When you look good and feel good people do expect you to be the old self you once were - but it just doesn't happen. I do try very hard not to let the cancer rule my life, but in all honesty I am sure that it does.

I will not have the PET scan done this time since the markers are below normal range. I have made the decision to wait another 6 months to see if the markers go up, down, or stay where they are.

I am far from being out of the woods, so please keep praying for strength, courage and peace of mind. 

“I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” 
                   ~Philippians 4:13

Sunday, January 9, 2011

When I went on the cruise to Hawaii in 2006-2007, I purchased one of those oysters to get the pearl. I had a coupon and it cost me practically nothing. I don’t really remember the cost but my oyster had two perfectly sized pearls in it. I just kept them because I wanted earrings made. The following year for Christmas Laurie had the earrings made by one of her friends who is a jeweler. I really, really liked those earrings and wore them all the time. About 10-11 months ago I lost one of them. I felt like it had to be here in the apartment somewhere and I never quit looking for it. My one thought is that it possibly was vacuumed up – forever gone. Even with this thought in mind I would continue to look and pray about it – it had to be somewhere.

Today I pulled a Tupperware tub off the shelf that had my papers in. The shelf is actually level with my face. I was sitting on the floor and when I emptied the tub and put everything in another, larger tub, I got up to go to the kitchen and I looked down at the empty tub and there was something in the hollow handle of the tub. When I picked it up it was my pearl earring. All I could think to do was thank my God for keeping it safe for me. The last time I took that tub off the shelf was about 10-11 months ago at tax time.

Prayers go up and blessings come down.” 
Yiddish Proverb

If you continue to only look for big blessings then you will miss out on the little everyday blessings. Some people just call them a coincidence.

Bill Keller, Televangelist, says, “If there is one thing the Bible clearly teaches, it is that there are NO coincidences with God.”

Saturday, January 1, 2011

My blessings for 2010 are many. It is hard to recap all that has happened but most of the details are in my journal “My Blog”. Yes I do believe in miracles because I know that God is always in control. I have tried to remain faithful to Him but I know that I have failed miserably. Will God continue to bless me and give me more time here on earth? Only He can answer that question. As most of you already know, my favorite verse in the Bible that I cling to most is Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I struggle with knowing what His plan for my future might be.

I went into 2010 knowing that my cancer was spreading rapidly and that there was a good chance that this would be my last year. On February 5th I had a repeat PET scan along with my blood marker. I was really dreading the call from my oncologist but when he called he said that my cancer was not active and explained that this did not mean that I was in remission. Praise God! I had another PET scan before my surgery and had the same results.

The breast cancer was questionable but the biopsy showed that cancer was still present. In June I had a right breast mastectomy. The drainage lasted much longer than I anticipated but that was because my surgeon took all of the lymph nodes. I am now doing fine with this new procedure when getting dressed - it just took time.

Two major surgeries in two years and my body is still rebelling. I feel good but I get tired so easily. My back is doing much better since I only wear anti-gravity shoes. It does not hurt nearly as much now unless I am standing a lot. Such a blessing – I am not really fond of pain.

I will schedule more blood test and another PET scan sometime this month so that I can see where the cancer is going – or, better yet, not going. 

Rebecca and I took a road trip this fall through southern Colorado and back up on the Utah side. We had a wonderful time. The fall colors were absolutely beautiful – and the mountains, what can I say.

My other two trips were to Omaha to be with my aunt, Sister Johanna, for her 50th Jubilee in August and, of course, Christmas. Maybe Christmas in Omaha can become a tradition. I so love being with family for this holiday.

One of my most challenging and rewarding experiences was co-teaching a 6 week class, called  "First Principles". We had the opportunity to teach this class twice to spiritually thirsty women and they both were baptized before we finished the classes. Anita did the actual immersion for both women. Anita and I come from very different backgrounds. Anita's father was a pastor and I was raised Catholic. I must admit that this is something that I never thought I was capable of doing. It just shows one that you never know what God has planned for your life, so you need to take the time to listen to Him.

Happy New Year

“The moment when you first wake up in the morning is the most wonderful of the twenty-four hours. No matter how weary or dreary you may feel, you possess the certainty that, during the day that lies before you, absolutely anything may happen. And the fact that it practically always doesn't, matters not a jot. The possibility is always there.”  ~Monica Baldwin