Saturday, January 31, 2009

Difficulties are a part of LIFE

Well, it is late...very late. I didn't take a nap until this evening, and now here I am staring at the ceiling, so I decided to get up and write in my blog. Today was a great but LONG day ....but great. I started off a bit uneasy again because of a couple of things. I was still concerned about the soreness I am having and the leakage from my surgery site; the new measurements and markings and today is also the day that Jeff will find out if he is being laid off. We have known for a couple of weeks that Boeing was going to lay off a lot of employees and today was the day. So I do think I had a lot of things on my plate when I woke up.

A dear friend of mine drove me today to my appointments, it isn't that I can't drive myself, but it was a great excuse for us to see each other. My first appointment was for Physical Therapy and that is always a great 50 minutes, my therapist is a wonderful gal and easy to talk to and very concerned that I am healing well. I really enjoy going to her. Next I headed straight for my radiation appointment. I wanted to stop by my Doctor's office first to see if there was a time today that I could meet with him and discuss my concerns. I usually don't see him except for Mondays, but as soon as I walked in ...there he was and so I spoke to him for a minute. He was on his way to a consultation meeting and said that maybe he could call me later and talk, I said that was fine. I did however ask him if a nurse or someone could look at my incision because I had some leakage and I just wanted to make sure everything was alright. When he heard that, he immediately ask the nurse to put everything on hold and then the both of them came in the room to examine me. He said he had never heard of the incision leaking this far out from surgery when everything was already healed. He mentioned that it did look red and I told him about the soreness, he told me to watch it the next couple of days and that he would examine it again on Monday and if we think it is an infection that he would start me on antibiotics....yuck, I am hoping that is not the case. He also mentioned to me that the redness and sore spots can be caused from the radiation. I was surprised, everything that I had read up about it made it seem like those symptoms don't usually come till a few weeks into the radiation, but he mentioned everyone is different. I didn't have the heart to tell him how very DIFFERENT my body handles anything. :)

The next thing I had to ask was about the markings and measurements that happened yesterday, I just wanted to know what that was all about. He reassured me that it is normal to sorta recheck a week or so into radiation to see if everything is where it should be. I told him that I wondered and worried about that because I wasn't told that. He assured me that he personally watches everyone's films each week to make sure the patients are getting just the right amount of radiation and it is going exactly where it is suppose to go. He then went into explaining who the specialist was that came in and what he and the technicians were talking about. I have to admit to you that I really didn't understand a lot of the terminology, but I did feel that he was telling me the truth and that he was sorry that it concerned or worried me unnecessarily. I suggested if the technicians are going to talk about stuff like that, they should do it somewhere else and not in front of the patient who is laying there wondering how all this works anyway. He went above and beyond to make sure that I knew everything was right where it was suppose to be and then he personally went in and talked to the technicians and then contacted the specialist too.

You know I always hated the old saying THE SQUEAKY WHEEL GETS THE GREASE because I thought that usually meant ,mean nasty people who throw fits, I don't believe that always true now. I think that you need to stand up for yourself and find out what is happening, especially when it is dealing with something that is effecting you and your body. I am glad that I asked, the Old Lynn Woodard wouldn't have done that, she wouldn't have asked questions because... she wouldn't want to hurt anyone's feelings or put any one the spot or even question their authority. But now, I learned that is is vital to take care of myself and what is happening to me.  Standing up for yourself and asking questions is very empowering, wow, I should have figured this out years ago! :)

The last part of the good news from today was, that I met a lady from the hospital who was the head of the Support Team and Services that are available to patients. I am not sure that she realized that I wasn't there to necessarily to take advantage of any of the services or to join a support groups, but to share my concerns about what happened to me when I had my mastectomy. It was a great meeting though and once again I truly felt HEARD! I think she was even surprised at some of the things that happened and she told me that she was grateful for the feedback, because that is how they can become aware of things and can help change them or at least get the information to the right people. I really enjoyed talking to her, she had a great spirit about her and to be honest with you ...now that I have had that personal connection to her, I would be way more willing to go to one of the support groups or call upon one of those services if I felt I needed it. I am telling you there is nothing like a personal connection with people. I also was able share with her a few ideas that I had that might help the next women who have to face cancer and mastectomies. I hope in the near future that I have the strength and energy to help volunteer in some way and help make some of these suggestions come to pass. Baby steps... I know, I need to get through this radiation first.

I need to head to bed but wanted to share a couple of my thoughts with you  before I did. Oh and by the way, Jeff DID NOT get laid off today from Boeing. I could tell he was excited when he told me but also sad, because he knew some of the people that did lose their job. I have to say that we are so grateful that we still have a job, especially in light that I am fighting cancer again, I can't even imagine what it would be like if we didn't have insurance.  Thanks again for sharing this journey with me and being my cheerleaders along the way.  Fighting cancer is a difficult thing and I know I still have a long road ahead, but I am sure I will make it... with family and friends like you.

Here is my quote and photo for the day...

"Real difficulties can be overcome; it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable".
Theodore N. Vail

"The individual who know the score about life sees difficulties as opportunities".
Norman Vincent Peale

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The challenge of change

I woke up this morning with that nervous almost sick feeling like something was wrong or that something was going to happen. I checked in with Jeff and the kids and everyone was fine, I tried to go over my day today to see if there was anything to be nervous about....and there wasn't. Then when I was starting to get ready for the day, I noticed in the mirror that my gown had a spot on it where my surgery site is. Something has started bleeding during the night I guess, it wasn't a big spot but one that I was concerned about. Since my incision has been healed for weeks, I couldn't figure it out.
I did notice yesterday that I was hurting a bit more than usual. I thought maybe it was because I had my massage yesterday but actually that is not the area that she works on, it is more under my arm. I also noticed that the surgery site was a bit redder and warmer than it has been so, I need to ask today when I get there.

I actually don't know why those anxious feelings were there, because I have been excited about today. When I first met with the nurse of my oncologist and she gave me all the information about radiation and so on, I expressed my concerns about much information I WASN'T GIVEN before surgery. I then went on to share with her some of the experiences that I had, she really seemed to listen. Low and behold just a few days later she told me that she had mentioned my experiences with the DR. and had called the hospital and the surgeon's office to see (if I was willing) someone on their staff and tell them my suggestions. I was thrilled when they called me right away, we set today as my meeting for the surgeon's PR person and Friday for the Hospitals. I typed all my experiences down and brought them with me.

At 9:00 am I was in the office and meet with this person. She was very nice and seemed to listen attentively to my experiences with having a mastectomy. I asked her some questions too, but mostly she asked me what ways that I thought they could improve in the future. I brought up everything from not being given hardly any information about the mastectomy to not being told what you would look and feel like afterwards. I talked about calling the emergency room 2 days after my surgery when my drain leaked and how insensitive and down right rude the DR on call was. I mentioned quite a few things and areas that I thought and hoped would change for the next woman who had to have a mastectomy. I mentioned that the reason most people get into the medical profession is to help people, right? She agreed, but then I mentioned that if you take the HUMAN TOUCH and CONNECTION out of it ... hasn't something gone wrong? I told her that I did not like being treated like a statistic or number, I know that the number of people getting cancer is growing more every day but...still we need to remember those are individuals, human beings with feelings, with a life, with family and friends. Giving them more knowledge about their disease or the treatment... for the disease is POWER.  KNOWLEDGE IS POWER ! She was very kind and took lots of notes and seemed like she was sincere in trying to make some positive changes in the future. Wouldn't that be nice? She also gave me her business card and told me that I could give it out to the hospital person tomorrow and maybe together they could make some real changes. I am thrilled that she listened and may really do something about it.

Right after that appointment I went straight to Radiation, this is day 7 for me. The technician mentioned as we were going into the radiation room that someone new was coming in to do some more measurements and marks on me, then she told me that this is normal  during your treatments. I didn't quite understand what she meant but I just went in and did my thing. It took a bit longer because of the re-measuring and marking. Now I have to tell you that something didn't feel right about that whole thing. I didn't quite understand all that they were talking about when they were doing it, but for sure tomorrow morning I am going to go ask to see my DR and have that whole situation explained to me. Maybe people don't ask, or wonder... but for some reason I always want to know, don't spring something on me, just tell me up front. So I will let you know more about that later, I hope it really isn't anything but....usually those gut feelings are there for a reason.

I didn't lay down today so I am so tired that I can hardly think. I hope that this post even makes sense. Even though it was a long day I am glad that I was able to hopefully get the ball rolling on positive changes for women in the future that have to have mastectomies. It won't change my past experience, but how neat ...that it might change someone else's!

Life is definitely a learning ground. I hope that I am learning and growing in the way that I need to be? Thanks for your continued support and friendship. Night!

 

 

"I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better”          ----George C Lichtenburg

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Patience is a virtue

I had to head out early today to make it to my chiropractic appointment and then back to my 6th radiation treatment at 9:50 this morning. I knew something was up when I changed into my gown and walked into the waiting room, it was full! There usually isn't more than a few of us in there at the same time. I asked one girl there what was going on and she explained that one of the two radiation machines was broke and so they were running way behind. I waited about 20 minutes and when they came in for the next person, I asked how much longer I would have to wait ?  They said about 30-40 minutes,I wasn't sure what to do because I had physical therapy at 10:00am and I was already late for that. So I was told to go ahead to P.T. and come back for my radiation treatment after that. I went back to the dressing room, redressed then went to P.T. One hour after that I was back in the waiting room, waiting my turn. I arrived home around 11:45, WOW was I ever tired. I had been told that most of the time you get right in and right out, but it is never consistent, the machines brake down, the nurses want to check your skin to see how it is doing, or the Dr. wants to check in with you. I see now why I will need to bring something to do next time. It seemed like my whole morning was there, but I need to just be patient because I still have a LONG way to go.

Well, it is late and I am beyond tired, I will leave  you with a few quotes and another one of Lauren's beautiful photos. Thanks again for your support.

 

"Nothing can bring you peace but yourself"

"This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it"

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Things aren't always as they seem!

Today was Day 5 of my radiation treatments, it was uneventful mostly. One thing that I thought of today, was how many times things appear different than they really are. A few days ago when I went to the Chiropractor because of the nerve pain in my back ...he suggested that I get a handicap parking permit, for just  a little bit. I really didn't want to do that, he had suggested it before but I never took him up on it. How can I justify a handicap parking permit when there are so many other people who are visibly worse off that I am? Then I remembered what the Physical Therapist said about me the other day, when I was in such pain that I couldn't work out in the gym. She said "Lynn, your body is so deceiving, I would have never guessed that you had such a bad back and were in so much pain. You look so strong and healthy". Gee if I had a dollar for every time I have heard that statement. I usually just look at them and say "but sometimes that makes things harder because if you could see the problem then maybe life would be a bit easier", then I realize I really don't want to look as bad as I feel.

So today I parked in the handicap parking spot, I was so grateful to be able to do that. The parking permit that they give you for radiation is still quite a walk and a painful one when you are hurting. I have had many times in the past where I almost cried when I went to Costco or Target. First of all I would have to park miles away and then the store is so big and if there weren't any electric carts available, there was no telling if I would be able to stand and walk long enough to get what I needed and then stand in line. All that is stressful when you are hurting so bad. I don't hardly ever get prescriptions but I have always wondered why you have to walk all the way to the BACK of the store to pick them up? Just a thought! 

My oldest brother is in a wheelchair and has been since he was 19 years old. I have watched him be frustrated when people would park in a handicap spot and they didn't have a permit and didn't look handicapped at all. I then throughout my life have judged silently, some people that I saw with a permit and wondered how in the world they ever got that? Funny how much you learn when it is YOU that experiences pain or suffering, all of a sudden you realize that things aren't always as they seem. Wouldn't the world be a better place  and kinder to everyone, if we all had signs that we wore every day telling everyone what our problems or struggles were? Maybe we would be less judgmental of the nasty check out clerk if we knew that she was a single mom and working way too many hours just to survive. Or what if we knew the crazy driver that cut abruptly in front of us was, trying to get to his preschooler that he was late picking up? Point is, I have learned to be less judgmental and also I am learning not to worry about what other people think of me. If you are true to yourself, that is all you have to worry about. So I will end tonight with something that I read that made me think about this very topic. Take care dear friends!

WALKING THE DOG
A woman was flying from Seattle to San Francisco . Unexpectedly, the plane was diverted to Sacramento along the way. The flight attendant explained that there would be a delay, and if the passengers wanted to get off the aircraft the plane would re-board in 50 minutes.

Everybody got off the plane except one lady who was blind. The man had noticed her as he walked by and could tell the lady was blind because her Seeing Eye dog lay quietly underneath the seats in front of her throughout the entire flight.

He could also tell she had flown this very flight before because the pilot approached her, and calling her by name, said, 'Kathy, we are in Sacramento for almost an hour. Would you like to get off and stretch your legs?' The blind lady replied, 'No thanks, but maybe Buddy would like to stretch his legs.'

Picture this:
All the people in the gate area came to a complete standstill when they looked up and saw the pilot walk off the plane with a Seeing Eye dog! The pilot was even wearing sunglasses. People scattered. They not only tried to change planes, but they were trying to change airlines!

True story... Have a great day and remember...

...THINGS AREN'T ALWAYS AS THEY APPEAR.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Lynn, I have good news!

I got up earlier during the night and my back still had that nerve pinched or swollen and I was struggling to get out of bed without making a painful noise. I prayed hard that the swelling would go down enough to relieve some of the pain, for me to be able to make it to Radiation in the morning. When the alarm went off I was surprised (pleasantly) that I was able to get up without too much pain. I was able to get showered, dressed and at my appointment on time.

I really thought when I went to these daily appointments I would be able to connect with the other people there in the waiting room, but instead the room is very quiet, solemn and has a sad tone to it. Most of the people look very tired and don't usually give eye contact; it is a different atmosphere.

After my 4th treatment the nurse told me to get dressed and wait for the Doctor; on Monday's they visit with you to see how you are doing. I didn't have much to report since this was only my 4th treatment. The best thing though that did happen when I met with him, was what he said to me. He mentioned that he had been in California over the weekend for a Conference about Radiation. He said that they report the latest data and updates on Cancer treatments with radiation.

I have to back track a minute here!  Now when I first met him, he said that the Standard Procedure for Breast Cancer was to radiate 3 areas for the best results for survival. The axillary area (arm pit), the chest wall area (which is also called the surgery site) and then the area right at the base of your neck above your collar bone(can't remember the name for it).

When we got home, I studied out the pros and cons of radiation and of those 3 particular areas. Jeff and I talked about it making sense to radiate the axillary area since I did have 2 lymph nodes involved and the surgery site area because that is where the cancer returned. But I wasn't sure about the neck area and I studied more, there were a lot more side effects when you get into that area. You sometimes wish that you had a degree in this field to truly understand all that they are throwing at you; the terminology  alone is confusing. When I was reading all this information and got so overwhelmed, I basically just prayed that I could absorb enough to understand what my options were. Then I just went with my gut feeling.

When we returned to the Doctor's office after Christmas, I told him that I had decided to do radiation... with the condition that we would only radiate 2 areas, axillary and the chest wall. Since I only had 2 lymph nodes involved I didn't feel like the benefits were worth the risks to do that third area.

Back to my story... He mentioned that the latest data on all of this, is that if a patient has less than half of her nodes involved, that it really isn't beneficial to have that 3rd neck area radiated. I am sure he explained it much better than that, but basically the bottom line is... that statistics have proven that the benefits do not outweigh the side effects. Then he said " Lynn, your gut feeling was right! I was so excited when I heard the latest data so that I could come back and tell you that you are doing the right thing, you made the right choice. We no longer will treat all three areas now, as Standard Procedure".  It did make me feel good, my reply to him was short and simple " Dr. all my life I have tried to follow my gut feeling and that is what I have taught my kids to do and usually it turns out to be right". I did feel sorta sad though, for all those women who already had that 3rd area radiated because it was the STANDARD TREATMENT and then suffered all the side effects ...they are the STATISTICS that he was talking about. Real women... who suffered and most likely it was unnecessary.

So, I left his office grateful that I had listened and stood up for my gut feeling. Honestly though it is very hard to listen to your gut feeling when you are so scared. That is why I feel like IF you can, try not to make rash decisions but take the time out to really investigate all your options and know the facts. Get to a place in your mind and heart that is calm enough to make a decision.

The last thing that I want to mention is I had another Angel visit today. This dear friend came over with her two little ones and spent the whole day in my kitchen making dinners for our freezer. She knows me all too well, she knows that I am not making very many dinners for my family lately and when I do... it takes more energy and effort than I have. I know that she is a busy mom of four and has TO DO lists a mile long for each day, but she chose to take one whole day out to serve a friend. What an unexpected blessing.

Well, I have been down all evening on my ice pack, I feel bad because right now, Lee is playing his JV basketball game and also has been asked to play with the Varsity team after that and  I am not there to see it. Jeff did take the video camera, so I hope he got Lee's playing time. He is an amazing athlete, he has loved playing ball since he was a little boy. I think what makes him good at it because when he is playing sports, he gives 150% every time. It makes me tired watching him and my body hurt when you see how hard he plays. But he loves it and it is fun to see him play. I hope my back gets better soon so that I can make the last few games of the season.  Thanks for checking in on me. Here are my quotes and photo for the day!

 

"Angels can fly directly into the heart of the matter".  ~Author Unknown

"The angels are always near to those who are grieving, to whisper to them that their loved ones are safe in the hand of God".  ~Quoted in The Angels' Little Instruction Book by Eileen Elias Freeman, 1994

"Your heart sees what is invisible to the eye"

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tough day... part 2!

I just entered my last post a minute or so ago. I felt sad that it was such a tough day, but before I shut down my computer for the night, I remembered a story that someone dear sent to me a while ago and it gave me great strength and insight. Obviously I needed to remember it again today and I will put it as part 2 of my post for today.

 Refiner's fire

Some time ago, a few ladies met to study the scriptures. While reading the third chapter of Malachi, they came upon a remarkable expression in the third verse:

"And He (God) shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver"  ( Malachi 3:3 ).

One lady decided to visit a silversmith to learn about the process of refining silver. After the smith had described it to her, she asked,  "But Sir, do you sit while the work of the refining is going on?"

"Oh yes, Madam," replied the silversmith; " I must sit with my eye steadily fixed on the furnace for if the time necessary for refining be exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured."

The lady at once saw the beauty, and comfort too, of the expression, "He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."

God sees it needful to put His children into a furnace; His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying, and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for us. Our trials do not come at random, and He will not let us be tested beyond what we can endure.

Before she left, the lady asked one final question, "When do you know the process is complete?"

"Why that is quite simple," replied the silversmith. "When I can see my own image in the silver, the refining process is finished."

Tough day!

Well, it seems like when I get up for any length of time that it puts pressure back on that nerve. The pain is almost more than I can bear. When Jeff came home today from church, he asked me how I felt and I began to cry. I really wonder how much more I can take? I know that you really shouldn't say something like that because things can always be worse. I just am so tired of hurting. I some times think that I am strong and have a high pain tolerance but not today. How much more can my poor body take? The scary thought is I won't even turn 50 until this summer, I can only hope the next 50 years get better and healthier.

My arm hurts from the arm sleeve that I have to wear now, my arm pit is still swollen and sore when wearing almost any type of clothing. My neck is hurting from the PT weight bearing exercises and now my back muscles are swelling and the pressure on that nerve is terrible. I haven't hurt like this in my back for quite some time. I just feel like I can't handle any more today, I just need a break! So I am struggling to find anything positive to say today. I pray that I will feel better tomorrow, I can't imagine having to feel like this, and be able to be up and dressed and there for radiation at 9:20 am tomorrow, I have to... but if I still feel like this, it will be a painful and long trip. I am sorry that I am so down today, I know that there are going to be days like this ...but I truly hope not too many. I will close with a photo of something happy and a few quotes, that's about all I have in me today. Thanks

 

 

"Great victories come, not through ease but by fighting valiantly and meeting hardships bravely."

"Patience is the finest and worthiest part of fortitude"

"God will not look you over for medals, degrees, or diplomas, but scars"

Saturday, January 24, 2009

An uneventful Saturday

Today has been uneventful, I was able to go to the chiropractor this morning and get my back adjusted. I was so grateful for that because I can hardly walk today. The only bad part was our chiropractor has been sick and today he didn't really feel very good but had to come to work. I have known him for over 1 1/2 yrs and I have never known him to miss work. I felt sorry for him because you could tell he needed to be home in bed but... I was sure grateful that he was there. I was doing a bit better yesterday after I got off my feet and iced my back, but 2 1/2 hours at the basketball game and those hard bleachers did me in, I guess? Anyway, I was glad I was there for Lee but I am paying for it today. After my adjustment I came home and have been down all day with ice on my back. The Dr. said that it might take a couple of days to get the swelling down and the pressure off of the nerves. Oh brother, I just knew I was in trouble when the Physical Therapist started working me out in the gym. My back and neck are stronger than they have ever been lately but... still weaker than the normal body. So today I wanted to share with you one of my favorite stories. Hope you have a great weekend and thanks for all of your support!


                                                                The Wooden Bowl

                                                                                                  By Author Unknown
A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year grandson. The old man's hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered. The family ate together at the table. But the elderly grandfather's shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.

The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. "We must do something about Grandfather," said the son. "I've had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor". So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed their dinners together.

Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl. When the family glanced in Grandfather's direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.

The four-year-old watched it all in silence. One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, "What are you making?" Just as sweetly, the boy responded, "Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when you get old." The four year old smiled and went back to work.

The words so struck the parents that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done. That evening the husband took Grandfather's hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.

I've learned that, regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life. I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.

I've learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you. But, if you focus on your family, your friends, the needs of others, your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you.

I've learned that children's eyes observe more than their ears ever hear and the example we set for them determines their actions.

I've learned that make a "living" is not the same thing as making a "life".

I've learned that every day, you should reach out and touch someone. People love that human touch -- holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.

I've learned that people will forget what you said ...people will forget what you did......but people will never forget how you made them feel.

I've learned that life is about people and making a positive difference.

I've learned that you should take care of yourself and those you love - Today and Everyday!

I've learned I still have a lot to learn!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Maybe I should stop counting?

I read this quote today and thought maybe I shouldn't focus on how many days I have left of radiation? Maybe I should notice what I accomplished or learned each day?  Here's the quote that triggered this thought...

"It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end."   ~ Ursula K. Leguin

So today I went to my 3rd treatment, my back is really getting worse so it was an effort to drive, park and be there by 9:20am. The technicians that actually do the radiation are very nice and I got right in and out today. I stopped and talked to one of the ladies who works for Dr. Taylor (can't remember what her actual position and job is) but she mentioned to me that she was working on something that she and I had talked about on Weds. I was thrilled that she had really listened to what I had said about my whole mastectomy experience, and she was trying to get some things changed in that area. I really  hope that they do! For a hospital who is known for their expertise in Breast Cancer treatment, there sure were a lot of things that weren't discussed or taught to you before you go on a tough journey like that. Anyway, she was great and I really enjoyed her spirit.

After meeting with her I went straight to physical therapy. She noticed by my facial expression that I was in pain and we decided to hold, on the gym workout today. She just did the massage and is working hard to get the swollen area under my arm to decrease. I hope it does, because it is still very sore and tender.

Came home and headed to bed for a couple of hours. Then I headed off to Lee's basketball game. I feel bad, that is the first one that I have been to all season. Lee says he understands, but I sure wish things were a bit different so I could be there for him more. He just got asked to dress for the Varsity team tonight, that is a big deal for a sophomore.  So I came home to rest in between games and then we are heading back tonight for that game.  Some of our friends have come to see Lee play and I can't tell them thanks enough for that. Not having family  here is tough, especially for the kids at times, and so I am grateful for those who take time out to support us and especially the kids.

I have 2 days off from radiation and so I am really looking forward to this weekend. Hope you too have a great weekend and remember how much I appreciate  you!

"When a goal matters enough to a person, that person will find a way to accomplish what at first seemed impossible."       ~ Nido Qubein

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tired but happy!

Today was my 2nd day of radiation and I am still struggling at getting up, getting ready and being at the hospital by 9:20  each day. I know that doesn't seem like a lot to do... but it is for me, I struggle each day with energy and that actually takes more energy than I thought it would each morning. Plus, it doesn't help that I am not sleeping well at night and so I wake up tired. Today I had a person ask me why I wasn't doing chemo? I explained and as I did, I could see in their eyes that it wasn't a good enough explanation for them. I started to go into my whole discussion that I had with my medical oncologist a month or so ago. I was going to explain to them that since my cancer isn't as aggressive as most, that I had a better chance of going without it and then I just stopped and smiled. The next thing that came out of my mouth was " I chose not to do chemo but I did chose to do radiation. Then I ended the conversation and left.

Why do we think that we always have to explain everything to everyone?  Probably many of you don't think that way, but for years I used to try to be such a PLEASER and what a waste, that is. I am finally realizing that it is not important what other people think of my choices and decisions. The only person who can really know what choice to make is .....ME! I am the one that has to live with my decision.  Everyone is different, everyone's circumstance is different and for sure everyone's body is different. So I now try to remember that myself, not to judge and respect other's and their decisions. I was glad that it didn't upset me too much and that I was able to let it go. You have to do what is right for YOU and you only. You have to know your own body,  you have to feel right about what you are doing, regardless of what the rest of the world's opinion is.  Man, I should have learned this earlier in my life, it would have made life so much easier. When you try to worry about what everyone else thinks or feels, you will always be disappointing someone. Not any more, I am grateful for the people and friends who support me in my decisions with this cancer, even when they don't totally understand or agree with me. I have always thought that you shouldn't make a judgement on me until you have been there yourself. But honestly, I wouldn't wish CANCER on anyone!  I just try to learn from this and remember to support and love people in every aspect and decision in their lives because ....I HAVE NEVER WALKED IN THEIR SHOES.

So after that discussion, I left the hospital and decided since I was up, dressed and out, that I would go see Amy and Angie. I was so tired but knew that if I made it to their house, I would feel better when I saw Angie. I don't know why I have a bit more energy  or I am more happy when I am with her?  Maybe it is because I just feel that Angie loves her grandma (Nana) no matter what. She doesn't know if I am sick or tired, she is just glad to see me and thrilled to have me come play with her. So that is what we did for a little while. I was so tired when I left and went and picked up the kids from school that I had to come home and head straight to bed. So today was good, I was a bit more tired than usual but it was a happy day and I was grateful to feel that!  So I will head to bed and leave you with my quote for the day. Thanks for checking in on me. Only 31 treatments to go!  :)

"Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage"
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"You don't get to choose how you're going to die, or when. You can only decide how you're going to live now."
-- Joan Baez

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Only you can do it, but you can't do it alone!

I realized tonight that I finally made it through day one of my radiation and that I really wasn't there alone as I thought. I came across this quote and story and it reminded me... that if I ever go through something ALONE, it is because I have chosen to do it that way. I have been blessed and watched over my whole life, why should this be any different? I just need to remember that on the days that I feel so overwhelmed. So tomorrow will be Day 2 and then Day 3 and 4 and hopefully before I know it, I will be having my last treatment on Day 33 and I will  have given my body even a better chance of not having Cancer return. The hardest part of course it that no one can promise you that. There is still so much that we don't know about cancer, I have seen it return in people who have done everything that has been suggested or asked of them. I just pray that I will be able to accomplish what it is that I am suppose to accomplish, this time around in my fight against cancer. Thank you for helping me and my family all along the way. Have a great night!

Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth's rite of Passage? His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him there all alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shines on his face. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN.

He cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own. The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of strange noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might stumble upon him and do him some harm. The wind blew the grass and the earth shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing his blindfold once. He knew it was the only way for him to become a man!

Finally, after the horrific night ended, the sun appeared in the horizon and he removed his blindfold. It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from any harm.
We, too, are never alone. Even when we don't know it, God is watching over us, sitting on the stump beside us. When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him.

'For we walk by faith, not by sight.' 2 Corinthians 5:7

P.S. Now that my daughter Lauren has shown me how to attach her photos, I am excited because probably all my posts now will have them. That is so neat. Thanks Lauren!

Day 1 accomplished!

I just returned home from my first appointment. Jeff was sweet, he called and told me that he would go with me but I told him, not to worry I would be fine. It was fine and fast, you just change into a gown then go into the radiation rooms and lay on the table. They measure and move you around until they get you in the exact position that they want you, then they leave the room and the machine moves round until they get too get in the right position and then you just hear a buzzing sound for so many seconds then the machine moves around to the other side and they radiate you from that angle. Total time in there was approximately 15-20 mins.and then you are done. I got changed and then one of the nurses came in and we sat down and talked for about 40 mins.

She was there to explain how the radiation exactly works, to talk about the side effects and then she gave me a prescription for cream to put on my skin or she said that I could get aloe (which I already did). She gave me a calendar and explained to me what is to be expected in the next 7 weeks with treatment. She was very nice and informative, although I had already studied all about it, never hurts to hear the information again. She went on to give me another parking pass, the parking is crazy there. All and all I was there about 1 1/2 hours and then my friend met me at the hospital and then we went out to lunch, that was a surprise but it was nice to get some food in me and now I am home, ready for bed. One thing the nurse mentioned to help the fatigue... is to exercise, walk at least 20 mins.a day so I need to rest up and then try to accomplish that each day. I am glad that today is over, I know this is the beginning but....I am doing it and now I need to just find opportunities to make it work for me and do all that I can to support and sustain my health and strength during it. That's for  your calls, cards and emails...what an encouragement they are. Thank you.

"Don't let change overwhelm you, let change help you find opportunities you may have never seen"

Below this cute photo that Lauren took for me, is a joke that I found and thought I would share it!

 

An Illinois man who left the snow-filled streets of Chicago for a vacation in Florida. His wife was on a business trip and was planning to meet him there the next day. When he reached his hotel, he decided to send his wife a quick email.
Unfortunately, when typing her address, he missed one letter, and his note was directed instead to an elderly preacher's wife whose husband had passed away only the day before. When the grieving widow checked her email, she took one look at the monitor, let out a piercing scream, and fell to the floor in a dead faint.
At the sound, her family rushed into the room and saw this note on the screen:
Dearest Wife,
Just got checked in. Everything prepared for your arrival tomorrow.

P.S. Sure is hot down here.

"Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it."     Dennis P. Kimbro

 

 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I don't have a green thumb!

I spoke to my Dr today at the Cancer center and one thing that she suggested that I do for my skin while having radiation is to buy an ALOE plant, and each day after radiation to cut off a piece  and rub the gel on the whole area that was radiated. She said that it really should help my skin from burning and blistering.  I called quite a few places and they didn't have any in yet, it is a bit too early in the season they said. So I decided to call my dear friend and neighbor who DOES have  green thumb, and ask her where she thought I could get it?  Low and behold before I even got home this evening she and her husband had already purchased one for me and brought it to me. What a life saver!

Now I have to admit something and I mine as well do it right now. When my kids were little I had read somewhere that the Aloe plant was great for healing many things and so I picked one up at the store. For the next couple of years if my kids had a cut or burn I would cut off a piece of the leaf and rub it on their sores. Many times they would complain saying that it didn't feel very good, my reply was always " maybe it doesn't feel good but, it is good for you... so put it on there!"  I patted myself on the back for learning more natural ways to help heal my kids.

Then one day a friend of mine was over visiting and  Lauren got burnt on something, with that girl...who knows what or how it happened? :). Anyway, I went over to my trusty plant and cut off a piece and tried to squeeze something out of it so that I could put it on Lauren. Sometimes the plant didn't seem to have juice that I thought it should have, but I squeezed and squeezed just the same... until something came out. As I was putting it on her, she had the same complaint and I had the same reply. When Lauren left, my friend ( who has a green thumb ) asked my why I was putting that plant on Lauren?  I gave her the whole explanation about the Aloe plant to which she gave me a dumbfounded look, then her classic comment came.  " Lynn, that is an African Violet Plant, not an Aloe Plant, no wonder it doesn't have much gel and doesn't feel very good!"   I couldn't believe it, I told her that I thought it was an Aloe plant, and if it was an African Violet, then why didn't it bloom so I would know?"  She said, "it didn't bloom probably because you keep cutting off the leaves!" We had a great laugh and I was grateful that the African Violet Plant wasn't poisonous or something like that :)  Motherhood, it isn't as easy as it looks!  The next day she arrived with a REAL ALOE PLANT and then I realized that they really didn't look that much a like after all, not sure how I made that mistake maybe it is because they both started with the letter A ? Scary huh?

So today I have tried to stay busy, my mind is very anxious about tomorrow, I am sure it is because I am going to step out into the unknown and that can be scary. It will be fine and I am sure that there are many things to be learned along the way.

I was able to stop and visit for just a minute a few old friends today and that was great. I just sorta dropped out of life from October on, many people didn't even know that I was battling cancer again. I am sooooo blessed to have soooooo many dear friends. Thank you for your friendship.

I will report back tomorrow.

"It is a basic principle of spiritual life that we learn the deepest things in unknown territory. Often it's when we feel most confused inwardly and are in the midst of our greatest difficulties that something new will open. We awaken most easily to the mystery of life through our weakest side. The areas of our greatest strength, where we are the most competent and clearest, tend to keep us away from the mystery." 
-Jack Kornfield

Monday, January 19, 2009

Reality is beginning to hit!

I went to the hospital today for Physical Therapy and we started out by fitting with an arm sleeve. The sleeves are designed for cancer patients to wear while taking radiation and any time that you fly or will use your arm in any rigorous exercise. The idea is, if you wear this arm sleeve you have a better chance of not getting lymphedema which is swelling  caused by an obstructed lymphatic vessel. When you have a mastectomy they take some of your lymph nodes to test them, I had 16 removed which is quite a few. People usually have around 20 or 22 so my few that I have left, have a very high chance of getting obstructed because they are trying to get rid of the waste in your body but instead of the normal 20 or more to do that with, there are only a few. Every morning I have to spend time massaging the arm, chest and other lymphatic areas, trying to reroute my waste and filtering to be done on the other areas of lymph glands. It is still tender some, to constantly be rubbing and massaging it but I certainly don't want lymphedema, I already still have swelling under my arm pit and it is very tender. That is why it is still more comfortable to wear sweat suits and something big, rather than something fitted, especially under the arm. This sleeve comes down past my wrist and all the way up to my arm pit, is it comfortable?  NO!  But like everything else, I will probably get use to it. I am always sore after my Physical Therapy days, because she is working so hard on trying to get the swelling down and also to build up my arm muscles. Those muscles haven't been used in quite some time so on top of everything else, now my back and neck are flaring up ... my grandmother used to say "IF IT WEREN'T FOR BAD LUCK, YOU WOULDN'T HAVE ANY!" Some days it really feels like that.

Tomorrow is my last free day, then on Weds. I start radiation every day for 7 weeks or so. I am still dreading it, but I need to remember that this was my decision and I need to go with that. I pray that it doesn't take such a toll on me that I can't take care of my family. I don't think I would be nearly as worried about it, if I wasn't already struggling with energy from my MONO. Oh well, I am sure it will be fine. I am grateful that we have insurance for all of this. Today I found out the price of the arm sleeves. I didn't have to pay anything, but if we didn't have insurance it would have cost me $60.00 each, that is crazy. I hope there are foundations who help the poor women who don't have insurance.

I need to head to bed but want to remind myself that I need to have COURAGE to face what is a head. I will do it some how, I need to do it... because I have my family, friends and neighbors who still me. And that is a good feeling.

Good night!

It takes courage….(author unknown)

It takes strength to be firm,
It takes courage to be gentle.

It takes strength to conquer,
It takes courage to surrender.

It takes strength to be certain,
It takes courage to have doubt.

It takes strength to fit in,
It takes courage to stand out.

It takes strength to feel a friend's pain,
It takes courage to feel your own pain.

It takes strength to endure abuse,
It takes courage to stop it.

It takes strength to stand alone,
It takes courage to lean on another.

It takes strength to love,
It takes courage to be loved.

It takes strength to survive,
It takes courage to live.

Kindness and Love!

      

Ok, I found this story and it reminded me of how vital it is that we serve each other each day, this was perfect.

Have a great day!

         A Glass of Milk

image

One day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry. He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door. Instead of a meal he asked for a drink of water.

She thought he looked hungry so brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it slowly, and then asked, "How much do I owe you?"

"You don't owe me anything," she replied. "Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness."

He said..... "Then I thank you from my heart." As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strong also. He had been ready to give up and quit.

Year's later that young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease. Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, a strange light filled his eyes. Immediately he rose and went down the hall of the hospital to her room.

Dressed in his doctor's gown he went in to see her. He recognized her at once. He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day he gave special attention to the case.

After a long struggle, the battle was won. Dr. Kelly requested the business office to pass the final bill to him for approval.

He looked at it, then wrote something on the edge and the bill was sent to her room. She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally she looked, and something caught her attention on the side of the bill.

She read these words.....

"Paid in full with one glass of milk"

(Signed)
Dr. Howard Kelly

Tears of joy flooded her eyes as her happy heart prayed: "Thank You, God, that Your love has spread abroad through human hearts and hands."

Sunday, January 18, 2009

For everything there is a season

We took down Christmas decorations yesterday, it is never as fun taking it down as it is putting it up. Why is that? I imagine it is because when we are putting up the Christmas decorations we are also anticipating what the season will bring. We are excited for it and can hardly wait till that day arrives. But I thought yesterday when I was taking down the decorations that instead of being sad, I need to remember what we learned and enjoyed from this past Christmas season. It was a different Christmas for us in many ways ,but still we had wonderful experiences and memories of 2008. It was a different SEASON all together... but one that we did learn and grow from.

Now I look at my house and it seems like we are preparing to move or something, the walls and shelves look bare. I now need to decorate it for the next SEASON. Many of you that have been into my home know that I love to celebrate and decorate for almost every SEASON, that is true. I have always believed that each one holds something exciting and so I get our home prepared for it.

I am grateful that the next SEASON to decorate for is Valentine's Day!  LOVE...who couldn't use a bit more of that in their lives? This year seems even more special to me, because I am still here, still able to be with the ones that I love, and because I know that I am loved and what my purpose here is! That makes anything that I am going through just a whole lot easier.

I like this quote...

"OUR JOURNEYS THROUGH LIFE ARE BRIGHTENED BY THE ACTS OF KINDNESS AND CARING OF THE FRIENDS WE MAKE ALONG THE WAY"

I need to remember to be happy about this SEASON of my life, this is my time to heal, to refill my bucket and to understand what is the next thing that I need to do in my life? I need to make the best of the next 2 months as I  begin radiation. I need to stay focused and believe that I can make it through this. I need to not expect too much from myself in the next little while and understand that it is ok. I need to remember that maybe someone else there, who is receiving treatment needs me and my friendship. I need to remember that there may be someone there, that I need to learn from or have as my friend. So this will be my SEASON to know myself better, to remember how to take better care of myself, to heal and to be excited for... many more SEASONS of my life.

  In the bible we read  Eccl. 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under...heaven 

I hope we all can remember to be excited for the SEASON that we are in right now. Thank you for the difference you have made in my life!

"Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they can take away your health. But no one can ever take away your precious memories... So, don't forget to make time and take opportunities to make memories everyday. To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

In case you didn't know!

 

   For those of you that have just started reading my blog, my name if Lynn Woodard. I love to do motivational speaking and that is exactly why I started this blog. Then in November of last year I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer for the second time. I have been cancer free for seven years and now I am battling it again. So now my blog has become my journey on fighting cancer.

   I hope that when you read my blog, that in some way it will help you. Or maybe it will help you comfort or support a friend, who is struggling with cancer or anything else that is a trial in their lives. I do think by sharing my story that it helps me and hopefully it will be a help to my kids and my grand kids some day. Just thinking about that, makes me want to strive harder... to keep fighting the fight and not give up.

   Cancer is a terrible disease but it doesn't deserve to stop us from living!  So welcome to my blog and thanks for coming on this journey with me.

 

What Cancer Cannot Do

Cancer is so limited
It cannot cripple love
It cannot shatter hope
It cannot corrode faith
It cannot destroy peace
It cannot kill friendship
It cannot suppress memories
It cannot silence courage
It cannot invade the soul
It cannot steal eternal life
It cannot conquer the spirit.

Friendship is a blessing!

I didn't do much today but I had a few friends stop by, talked to a few more on the phone and received sweet cards from some in the mail. I am amazed at how RICH I am ...with sooo many dear friends! I have to admit that  many times when things are really tough and bigger than I can ever imagine that I can handle, I remember my friends and how they are cheering for me and truly believe that I can beat this. That gives me great power and confidence.

One of the things that I have struggled with this past year of being so sick is how limited my service has been to others. I for some reason have always known that a big portion of my life, is to be in service to others. I love people! I love learning about their lives and what makes them happy.I love making new friends every day and I really don't believe that it is possible to have too many BEST FRIENDS, and for me... all that is a natural high. So it has been hard having to concentrate so much on me and not being able to help anyone else. I know that there is a time and season for everything, but still I miss being able to be a small part of other's lives.

"We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee."---Marian Wright Edelman

Since I am still at the beginning of this journey, I realize that some times I will have to ask for help from others. That is a lot harder than it looks. I love serving but being served is humbling. There have been so many that have served out family lately and many who continue to ask what they can do. I have been thinking a lot about that. If I could ask each one of you to do something I guess it would be to... TRY AND TOUCH ONE OTHER LIFE in the near future.   I am telling you it is addictive, it brings a happiness that is hard to explain and it also helps you keep your life and problems in perspective. The best thing though,is when you do service for someone it usually makes them want to go out and do the same, for someone else. A dear friend of mine introduced me to a children's book that talked about this very subject, it is called... Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed by Emily  Pearson. It is an amazing book and really shows the rippling effect that just one person's deed can have on so many other lives.

"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself." ----Ralph Waldo Emerson

Since I won't be doing very much of that in the near future, that would be what I would ask of you, just stop for a moment in your busy day to touch someone's life. It doesn't have to be big, but it must be SINCERE. It can be just a smile, a hug, a birthday remembered, a card or letter, a dinner, a ride and on and on. The possibilities are endless. I will thank you now for all that you are about to do, I promise you... that you will benefit as much, if not more than the person  you serve, that is the neat thing about service.

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."  ---Anne Frank

Need to head to bed, I have Physical Therapy in the morning. Thank you for sharing my journey with me, you are such a great cheering section. I will continue to fight this battle and remember how blessed I am to have so many dear friends support me a long the way!

 

"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve."    -----Albert Schweitzer

 

"Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little." --Edmund Burke

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Remembering I am not alone!

Well today, I have thought long and hard about this upcoming journey of mine that I have been so hesitant to travel. I realize now that I am going to be fine and that I have made my decision and although I am not excited about it, I do know that is what I am going to need to do. There are no guarantees in this life and that is why I think traveling down uncharted territory for me is a bit scary but ,I need to change my thoughts and just do all that I can in my power to make this work. Yesterday when we went to the hospital for the Radiation Simulation (that is what it was called), I saw my Physical Therapist there and we said hi and I introduced her to Jeff. When we walked away Jeff said "see I knew even coming here  you would find and make a new friend!" :)

So I will look for new opportunities to serve and befriend someone there at the hospital, since it will become my second home for the next couple of months. Here is my quote for the day and a story for the day, both of them pretty well sum up what I need to do and remember. Have a great night and thanks for all of your thoughts and prayers in my behalf!

"Don't let change overwhelm you, let change help you find opportunities you may have never seen!"

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.

Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions.

But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened; everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. "God, how could you do this to me!" he cried.

Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. "How did you know I was here?" asked the weary man of his rescuers. "We saw your smoke signal," they replied.

It is easy to get discouraged when things are going bad. But we shouldn't lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering. Remember, next time your little hut is burning to the ground it just may be a smoke signal that summons the grace of God.

--- Author Unknown

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It is the journey that counts.

   Well, if you would have asked me a long time ago if I would ever be heading down this road that I am on, I would have said "Absolutely not!."  But isn't it funny how time, perspective and just LIFE can change our minds?  I had hoped to beat my cancer this time, like last time...all naturally but I just didn't have the same situation and statistics this time around. I started radiation today, not a big deal to many, and I know that you all know someone who did it and they were fine. You may be thinking....why is she so upset and unsure about this?  There are a couple of different reasons, but it really doesn't matter now, this is what I have decided is the best decision for me and my family. I pray that it does all that it is suppose to do, but I did sign a paper today going into this, that there is no guarantee, and that the hospital or DR is not responsible if any thing goes wrong or if the cancer comes back. No guarantee, gee... there were never truer words spoken. When it comes to cancer there is no guarantee and I think that is why cancer is so scary.  It is truly the luck of the draw and I personally am not a gambling woman, I would like better odds. That is another reason I believe that Cancer robs life from people, it seems to be ever looming over you and every ache and pain, makes you wonder if it has returned. Not a good way to live.

   The appointment was suppose to be around 2 hours, so that is what I was mentally prepared for... but I was pleasantly surprised that it only lasted an hour. Jeff stayed right with me and even though he had to wait in the waiting room part of the time... I felt better knowing that he was close by. I first went in and got on a gown and then they took me into the CT room, I laid down on the narrow and cold table and then they situated me with supports for my arms and legs so that I could be as comfortable as possible. It was a bit hard to keep my arm stretched back that far above my head but it wasn't for more than a half hour. Next they put warm blankets on me because the room was cold and usually I get extra cold when I am scared.  The technician then got me aligned on the table with a laser beam to make sure my body was perfectly straight. One thing that I thought was nice, is above all the treatment areas... is a circular cut out in the ceiling and they have it painted to look like the night sky with lights that twinkle like the stars. That did help you to feel a bit more relaxed than looking at just a plain old ceiling the whole time, it was even in the CT room where I was too. Whoever designed that, did a very good job. The doctor then came in and measured and looked at my chest wall and arm pit and told the nurse exactly what areas to mark and put the wires on. He left and she drew on more marks and added more wires and then she had me lay very still and go into the CT machine and scanned me for 4  minutes the first time and a couple minutes the 2nd time. I am not claustrophobic but, I always close my eyes anyway. I try to focus on something else so that I can relax more. Then she brought me back out, took off the wires and then tattooed the two areas that we agreed to have radiated. She was very nice, the tattoos felt just like a shot. The one on my chest wall  I barely felt because it is still numb a little  but the one under my arm pit, stung. Now, I know for sure tattooing is not the thing for me :).

   After that, she wiped off as much of the markers that she could and then she told me to get dress and meet her back in the waiting room. There she gave me my 35 days treatment schedule and then told me what to do when I came in next Weds. for my first appointment and what areas to park in each day. So I am on my way. For those of you that don't actually understand what radiation does or is, then here is what I was taught. RADIATION THERAPY IS A TREATMENT WHICH GENERALLY USES HIGH ENERGY X-RAYS TO KILL CANCER CELLS LOCALLY IN A CANCER AFFECTED AREA. THE DNA OF THE CELL, WHICH STORES, DUPLICATES, AND TRANSMITS INFORMATION NEEDED FOR CELL FUNCTION, IS THE TARGET OF THE RADIATION. RADIOTHERAPY TAKES ADVANTAGE OF THE FACT THAT X-RAYS HAVE A GREATER EFFECT ON CANCER CELLS THAN THEY DO ON NORMAL CELLS. THE LINEAR ACCELERATOR IS THE MOST COMMON MACHINE USED TO DELIVER THESE TREATMENTS.  So there you have it, if you were ever wondering how all this works, (I wasn't personally wanting to know but now that I am) I will try to document it for any other cancer patients who may have to go down this road.

   Thank you again for supporting me on this journey. I spent a lot of energy  yesterday with all that I had to do and just preparing for this today  took a lot of energy too. One of those sweet Angel friends of mine, was kind enough to realize that I might be tired from all of this and she brought our family dinner tonight. Sometimes I wonder how in the world I will ever be able to thank people enough for their continuing kindness?  I will think of a way! :) Have a good evening!

"It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end."

~ Ursula K. Leguin

"The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surrounding."

----Okakura kukuzo

"Making difficult matters mentionable is one of the best ways to help make them manageable."

---Fred Rogers

Monday, January 12, 2009

Energy, will there be enough?

That was the question that I had today, will I have enough energy to make the 3 different appointments that I had? I was grateful that I did, but as soon as I came home I went straight to bed and Lauren and Lee were sweet enough to make dinner. I have said this before, it takes a lot of energy, time and money to have cancer. I am forever grateful that we have a job and insurance. There is still quite a bit of out of the pocket expense ,but I can't even imagine what the cost would be without insurance?  I first started out this morning  at Physical Therapy, this is only my 3rd time but I can tell that my Therapist is doing something right ,because I am a bit sore. She is a great lady to talk to and seems to know her stuff. She is compassionate and I am very thankful for that. I am sure in a job like this ...dealing with cancer patients every day, that it may be normal to just be neutral and not connect with the patients. I am sure that she sees more than her share of women who are frightened and scared. She is very confident and calming to me, yet she seems like she truly cares about giving me the best therapy to help me be well and healthy. I love the massage part because it is relaxing. I did more in the gym today and you would laugh if  you saw what tiny things she has me doing but... they are actually hard and taxing after being down for so long. It is a bit discouraging to think how out of shape I have become, through this past year with my surgeries and sickness  but I didn't feel that way long as I looked around and saw how bad some of the people there were. Perspective is a wonderful thing.

Next, I went back to Nordstrom and back to the same lady who fit me in December for my prosthetic and bras. They have been hurting so bad that I had to go back for a refitting. This time I think we got the right thing and hopefully the pain and discomfort will keep getting less. This experience wasn't as bad this time and I think it was because it was my second time, because I am a little tougher and probably a little less sensitive than the last. I still looked around at all the photos on the walls and all the intimate apparel and knew that my life has changed permanently.

Then I went to get something to eat and went to go see my counselor. Wow, what an amazing and wise man he is. I just needed to share some of the fears that I was having. I talked to him about my kids and Jeff and how I think they are handling all of this too. Cancer like any disease, happens to the whole family, not just me. He reminded me that each of my kids will go through their own grieving process and all I can do is be there to talk about it, if they need me. It's funny because I am more worried about them in some ways and then I am sure that they are feeling that they can't express their fears or thoughts because they are trying to stay strong for me. That is why tonight at Family Night, we discussed the upcoming treatments and how they felt about it and I explained to them how I felt. Hopefully being open, we can all work through this, in a healthy and positive way.

I like the quote that says... "HE HAS NOT LEARNED THE LESSON OF LIFE WHO DOES NOT EVERY DAY SURMOUNT A FEAR"    ---Ralph Waldo Emerson  That suggests to me that it is ok to be scared and have fear but it is important every day to surmount it and conquer it, and so I try.  I also like the one that goes like this..."FINISH THE DAY AND BE DONE WITH IT . YOU HAVE DONE WHAT YOU COULD"    ---Ralph Waldo Emerson   So true, one day at a time is about all I can handle right now and I guess that is ok.  My lesson in Family Home Evening was about FAITH, seems like that is a reoccurring theme around here, no wonder. I explained that some times you have to do things in faith, not always understanding the reason why. But knowing full well that you have always been taken care of and watched over, and that this time ...will not be any different.

So tomorrow I went start the next part of my journey with cancer. Thank you for all of you prayers and thoughts that are coming my way. They truly do make a difference. I will be positive and excited that I live in a day and age where we have so many things available to beat cancer. Even now, 7 years later, things have improved. Hope you have a wonderful night and I will close with another great quote...

"ALL I HAVE SEEN TEACHES ME TO TRUST THE CREATOR FOR ALL I HAVE NOT SEEN."  ___Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Grateful for Sundays!

I wonder if it's because I have missed church a lot in the past couple of months, that makes me appreciate being able to attend more?  Probably so. Today was even more special ,because my son Lee spoke. The topic that he spoke on was ADVERSITY, I am sure living in this family gave him all the information he needed on that subject! :)

He did a really good job and a couple of the scriptures that he read, were a perfect reminder to me of why adversity happens. It was sweet to hear how he handled the cancer this time. Lee is our quiet one and so many times he doesn't share his feelings. He did an amazing job of telling the truth about how he felt, what he thought and how he eventually came to peace with it. At the end, he said he was grateful to see that our family is staying strong and fighting this together. Adversity...many times is a great teacher.

Also a couple of the hymns that were sung today touched my heart deeper than normal, no wonder I am so tender hearted right now. I wrote down the words because I realize that I need to read them more often, when times get tough (which is daily ). Here is the first song...

Where can I turn for Peace?  Words by Emma Lou Thayne  Music by Joleen G. Meredith

Where can I turn for peace? Where is my solace, when other sources cease to make me whole?  When with a wounded heart, anger or malice, I draw myself apart, searching my soul?

Where when my aching grows, where, when I languish. Where in my need to know, where can I run? Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish? Who, who can understand?  He, only one.

He answers privately, reaches my reaching. In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend. Gentle the peace he finds for my beseeching. Constant he is and kind, love without end.

The next song was one that my mom used to sing to us often, too often it seemed! :)  But now, what I wouldn't give to be able to call her and have her sing it to me!

Count your Blessings   Words by Johnson Oatman Jr  and music by Edwin O. Excell

When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed, when  you are discouraged thinking all is lost, count your many blessings; name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?  Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear? Count  you many blessings; every doubt will fly, and you will be singing as the days go by.

So amid the conflict, whether great or small. Do not be discouraged; God is over all. Count your many blessing angels will attend. Help and comfort give you to your journey's end.

I hope that maybe the words to these songs will give  you some hope and courage as they did me!

Have a good evening!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I love Saturdays

I think the reason that I love Saturdays is because we are all together. The days are busier than my normal days, even though I am always busy. I just enjoy having Jeff and the kids around ...especially lately. I realize the strength and hope that they give me and I am very grateful for that. When my granddaughter Angie comes over, I am always magically transformed from Lynn into NANA, someone who isn't scared or worried. NANA is just someone to hug and have a tea party with. I realize to Angie I will always be normal to her. She will not have known me, before my mastectomy or cancer. I will just always be NANA to her and for that I am more than grateful. In just a few minutes with her, I want to smile more, I laugh more, I feel happier than I have in days, I feel important and needed and most of all LOVED! I need to never think about giving up ...I have way to much to live for!

I have realized that this whole week I have still been grieving. Grieving for part of myself that has been taken away and the realization of how that is going to change my life. I love this quote...

"HOPE IS THE FEELING THAT THE FEELING YOU HAVE ISN'T PERMANENT"   ----Jean Kerr

I guess that is where I am, hoping that these feelings won't last forever and that I will indeed be a different person when this is all over, a better and much wiser person, I  hope.  I also read this quote today...

"THERE IS A FINE LINE BETWEEN SORROW AND SELF-PITY. SORROW IS A TEMPORARY RESPONSE TO A SPECIFIC SITUATION. SELF-PITY IS AN ONGOING ATTITUDE THAT PERMEATES OUR LIVES. SORROW SAYS " I HURT." SELF-PITY SAYS "POOR ME."

I am not going to write much tonight, I am still hurting and still trying to learn from this situation.

Thanks for your continual thoughts and prayers!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sign up here!


Well, today I had another appointment with my Physical Therapist. Mostly it was massage and that felt good. There were a few places on my arm that are not healing as fast as she would like, so she worked on those areas of CORDING (that is what she called it) which  were a bit sore. The last 10 minutes she had me work in the gym on a machine for my arm strength, that was tough because I am soooo out of shape. My muscles were shaking. She reminded me when I left that I was ready (mobility wise) to sign up for Radiation. I was hoping that was a few weeks away. So I went to Radiation area and signed up for my first visit, next Tuesday. That session is where I meet with the Dr. for the first half hour and then the next hour and half they personally select a treatment plan for me, they tattoos the areas that they want to radiate. I know my life isn't going quite the way I planned it, when I heard that I had to have tattoos!   :)

I also signed up for Physical Therapy for the next 3 weeks, so my life is about to get more---------something? I read a couple of quotes today that seemed to sum up my thoughts.

You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.
Margaret Thatcher    

   I still am shocked that I am having to fight this cancer battle again. I wonder what it is that I am suppose to learn that I missed the first time?  As the next quote goes...

Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.
Thomas Carlyle

Real difficulties can be overcome; it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable.  
Theodore N. Vail

  I have been talking a lot to cancer survivors who have gone down the road of radiation and tomoxifen and asked them what their results were. I realize that my situation will not be exactly the same, but I do need to be well informed of what I might be required to face and endure. I want to know the facts, there is a lot of difference from what a survior tells you verses the doctors. I tend to listen more attentively to the one that have had to experience it.  The survivor that I talked to today ,said that when she was doing radiation she just slept about 17- 18 hours a day. She said that she would set her clock to get her kids up and out the door then back to bed until the alarm rang, for her to pick the kids up and try to manage something eatable for dinner. It is hard for me to imagine being any more tired that I have been in the past few months but I just need to be prepared if that does happen.

Some people have reminded me that the experience for me may be different, they are right....actually I pray that they are right but, for some reason I feel I need to know as many facts that I can; so I for one can study out what I can do to combat them and also to prepare myself mentally for the challenges ahead. If they don't happen to me that would be a blessing. I just want to know what I can do to adequately prepared and how to help my kids be prepared for. I realize that it doesn't hurt for my kids to help out and serve but... I do wish at times ,I could be the NORMAL mom for them and be at all their games, do things with them, have great meals waiting for them and on and on. I know that's just life and it won't last forever! But honestly the last couple of month have seemed like forever!

Thanks again for all of your support and positive thoughts coming my way! I can certainly use them!

The art of life is to know how to enjoy a little and to endure very much.
William Hazlitt

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Careful of what we say!

I am sure that everyone has been in this situation (this is an excerpt from THE RICHEST MAN IN TOWN  by V.J. Smith)...

It is amazing what can happen just by paying attention. He mentions going to a store, where the check out person asked people how they were doing or how their day was and then he looked them in the eye and waited for their response...what a concept!  He said " I thought it was odd, but I guess that I had grown accustomed to people asking me how I was  doing simply out of a robotic conversational habit. After a while, you don't give any thought to the question and just mumble something back. I could say,  "I just found out I have six months to live," and someone would reply, "Have a nice day!"  This cashier seemed genuine about wanting to know how these people felt, what a difference he made in these people's lives. Simple but ...MAGIC!

I had the same type of situation happen yesterday when I received a reminder call from one of my doctors. The nurse told me who she was and then asked how I was doing. I don't think I even got 3 words out before she interrupted me and told me what she was calling about. Gee, that is a tough one when it comes from a health professional who really should be wanting to know how you are doing or healing.  I know that maybe,it is a lot to ask now a days, with everyone so busy but....couldn't we just not ask, if we really don't care, have time to listen  or don't  want to know?

One of my dear friends passed away from Cancer this year and my last conversation with her was just 2 days before she died. We talked for over an hour and one of the things that we laughed and complained about,were all the crazy (I think we said the word stupid but neither one of us like that word, it seemed more appropriate but we changed it anyway )  things that people say to you when you have cancer. I do believe the very same thing happens with other diseases, traumas, divorces, deaths  and etc. but for now we were just comparing notes about cancer. She said "Lynn, which ever one of us lives the longest we have to promise each other that we will write a book about WHAT NOT TO SAY TO PEOPLE WITH CANCER!" We laughed and then made our promises over the phone.

I would say that equally you could write half the book on what not to say and for the positive part ...write what to say. But it would only take a paragraph or less on what to say, not half of the book. I can complain about this because, I myself have made some of these same mistakes too...unknowingly.  For instance we talked about how people joke about you having a wig because of chemo treatments. She was the one who had the experience on this one, so I kept notes on her thoughts. She said," no one wants to take a drug that is so strong that it destroys your immune system, no one wants to lose their hair, no one wants to be that sick." And yet people joked about it often or make it seem like it was no big deal. She wore her wigs and they looked great ,but she told me that they are uncomfortable, itchy and hot. Now that doesn't sound like something that you want to joke about does it? There are many people who tell you all kinds of stories of people that they know,who have had cancer. Many of the stories don't have happy endings and more than anything I think they are at a loss of what to say and they are uncomfortable, so they just keep talking. They really have no idea how deep your worries are and how much suffering you may have to go through. I am just mentioning this because it has been happening to me and my family. Plus, like I said, I have done this on more than one occasion too and I wish I would have known some of these thoughts and feelings before I said anything.

So what do you say to people with Cancer? Here were our top choices...

1. I am so sorry to hear about your diagnosis, is there anything I can do?

2. I can't even imagine how scary all of this might be, I will certainly keep you in my thoughts and prayers!

3. How are you dear friend,and what can I do?

4. Please know that you can call me any time, night or day!

5. I know  you are a strong person and if any one can beat this you can, I am praying for you!

6. I will hope and pray the best for you and your family!

7. I am sure you will know what to do and when to do it. I believe in you and will support you in your decisions!

See that isn't big enough for even one page but the comments that hurt ( and we are sure  people didn't mean it necessarily that way) are too many to mention. But some one should mention them, because it would help the whole situation. Some times people even say some of these painful comments to our kids and that is really hard to take. Our kids are already scared enough, they do not need any negativity, stories of someone that you know had cancer and or comments that really hurt. So it is a good reminder for me after reading this article, to realize what our robotic conversational habits are and try to imagine (for just a moment) what you would want someone to say to  you, if you were the one who had cancer, a death, divorce or any other life threatening or altering situation?

Bottom line....kindness does matter and it takes sooooo little effort but... it does take time and some thought to make it happen. Thinking about what we say before it leaves our lips, wouldn't be a bad habit for any of us. If we were to be more conscience about that then, I believe a lot more people would be happy, supported and have a feeling that they really do matter to you. Just something to think about. Life keeps giving us lessons like this....everyday!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Through Lauren's Eyes

I forgot that I can add photos now from Lauren's blog site.

How fun to have them on my blog, I need to put them with my quotes,

shoot it would make a great book with quotes and photos!

So I would say that these photos went great with my quotes on the road less traveled and my last post.

If  you want to see more of Lauren's work you can go to her blog at...

www.adayinwashington.blogspot.com

Thanks Lauren and Happy Birthday!

 

Dark Ages!

Sometimes I really think we still live in the dark ages when I hear the procedures that they want to do to Cancer Survivors. I know many of you think, I am way to much on the natural side and... that is true!  I would much rather do things that won't hurt my body or that have such unbelievable side effects or long term effects. I know many people just go with the flow and that is fine, but I am not one of them. I really need to believe, in what I am doing. There is just better energy when you believe in something and not fearful or so doubtful about it. I have wondered many times why I can't be like everyone else and travel the same path as everyone else has? It would be much simpler.  Maybe it is because this quote by Robert Frost is one of my favorites...

"Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference”  Robert Frost

I am sure many of you are saying...Yes, that could be part of your problem!" :)

Another quote I like is in Proverbs and it goes like this...

“A well-beaten path does not always make the right road”

So here I am still struggling with my decisions. I spoke Sunday to a couple of friends who just have recently fought Cancer,  their honest opinions about their treatments were discouraging to me. I went to another Dr. appointment today for a 2nd opinion and then started  Physical Therapy. So by the time I got home I was DONE ...physically and emotionally. The Physical Therapist told me that I was healing pretty good. She mentioned that I had good strength in my arm, flexibility and mobility is not as good but hopefully with her help that will improve soon. She mentioned a few areas that are sore because of the amount of nodes that I had removed and then told me that some the areas, she can massage them and that should help.

Before I left, she gave me 3 pages of exercises to do on my own ...twice a day. The soreness she said is because of those areas not healing properly and then she saw the marks that my bra made and how it rubs right on the incision area. She mentioned how bad that must hurt and of course ...I agreed. So my next step is to get back to Nordstrom to be refitted. I asked her if it is normal (not sure why I ever ask that question) to have this much soreness after 8 weeks?  She mentioned yes, because of this being the second time that they have gone in and worked on that same area and then she mentioned again about how many nodes I had taken out. So...even though it has seemed like ETERNITY to me that I have been sore and in pain, I guess I am doing pretty well.

I am struggling to drive, I haven't driven since my surgery. I am trying to do some of the regular things that I have been asking others to do. I don't know why driving wears me out so much? maybe just because I am out and about more and I know too it is because the seatbelt rubs my incision area. I have been trying to shove my coat under the seat belt, but that hasn't worked too well. My dear neighbor created a padded covering for the seat belt, I tried it out today, I loved the softness  but the pressure is still painful. Maybe we can pad it more?

Ok, I have got to get this on a more positive note before I head to bed, today was just tough!

The good news about today, is that Lauren ( my youngest daughter) turned 18 today. What a cutie she is! I asked many of our friends and family to write a favorite memory or story about her and the response was great! I got so many replies! I copied all of them and then printed them off to put in a book for her. So her card said something like this...IF WE COULD GIVE YOU ANYTHING...WE WOULD GIVE YOU THE KNOWLEDGE THAT YOU ARE LOVED AND WE WOULD GIVE YOU PERMISSION TO  SEE AND EXPERIENCE THE WORLD!  That wasn't it exactly ,but I think she got the jest of it. Her 2 presents that went with her card was...the scrapbook with everyone's thoughts and feelings about her ( I am going to try and add photos with that) and the 2nd gift was a set of luggage. I personally have always been a home body ,but I am thrilled to have my kids want to go out and experience and see the world. Many people remembered her birthday today, so she was happy.

Some day I am going to write a book about Lauren stories...I have enough of them and they are hilarious, any mom would enjoy them. Yes, she was by far... our most challenging, and unique child. I wondered how she would ever turn out, because she gave us such a hard time and yet she has been one of the best teenagers.  Her confidence has been a real asset to her throughout her life. She is who she is and loves it. How many people can say that about themselves. She has never worried about what other people think, (most of the times that is good, however there were times that it wasn't soooo good) she is strong and stands up for what she believes. She is witty to say the least, she keeps us laughing all the time ( a survivor technique in our home ) I admire my kids so much and I am so grateful that a lot of the junk from my past, didn't get passed down another generation. I have had to work hard to not to let that happen.

Well, I need to head to bed, thanks for listening about my day, I have written about this whole cancer thing for over 3 months now and even though it is not always up beat and positive ...it is truthful and very therapeutic for me and hopefully enlightening some to you?  Bottom line is .... I am still a work in process. My life is a work in process, not that it is any different for anyone else, but sometimes it does help to know that at least one other person has struggled in that same area as you.

I will close with 3 more quotes that go well with my feelings today...

"REMEMBER THAT YESTERDAY'S ANSWER MAY HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH TODAY'S PROBLEM" ---Don Ward

"EVERY GREAT ADVANCE HAS ISSUED FROM A NEW AUDACITY OF IMAGINATION"  ---John Dewey

"AN AGE IS CALLED DARK, NOT BECAUSE THE LIGHT FAILS TO SHINE, BUT BECAUSE PEOPLE REFUSE TO SEE IT" --------James A. Michener

Good night dear friends.