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2 time ovarian cancer Survivor, Advocate for ovarian cancer awareness & research, Teacher of Zen Method Tai Chi, Blogger, sharing the wonderment and power of essential oils, proud fan of Cathe Friedrich's workouts, Reiki practitoner, A Course in Miracles student, paper crafter

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Journals of a Journey through chemo

I'm finally ready to share my journals through my chemo. Reading through these journals today was very emotional for me, in fact the past few days have been very emotional for me. As I close the book on cancer treatment and celebrate remission, the countdown to my sister and her family moving to Texas ticks on.

This is our last weekend all together at home, and it just doesn't seem possible. It's happening anyway. The U-Pack Pods are being loaded this weekend, and their family of 5 have temporarily moved in with Mom and I. Even though everyone was tired last night, we sat down together- my two sisters, one of my brothers-in-law and me- to play Scrabble. We are clinging to the time we have left together and doing our best to enjoy it while dealing with the scramble of feelings inside and the wonderful craziness of 5 children under 4 all around us. There's sadness, excitement, nervousness, and perhaps a tad of jealousy. All of our lives will change dramatically once they move, yet I have faith and hope that we will each create a new kind of happiness and peace.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pinky's Creed

My cancer has been a catalyst to many new friendships- much to my surprise. I've never been a social butterfly, in fact making friends has been difficult for me. So, I treasure the friends I have now- old and new. Some of my new friends are Fighters or Survivors themselves and our bond was instant and deep. Other friends are supporters and cheerleaders each special to me  in their own way.  Many of my new friends are Cathletes, fans of Cathe Friedrich and her fun, intense and challenging workouts. One of my new friends, and fellow Cathlete, is Pinky Dakay. Pinky inspires me to work out harder and smarter, and to carry that into the rest of my life in a deeper way. She is one totally awesome woman, and I am thankful for our new friendship. Pinky wrote a Creed recently after reading the article New Form of Yoga Stirring Up Controversy. She's gracefully given me permission to share it with you. 

Creed
By Pinky Dakay
What if I tell you that fitness is my religion? When I’m fighting for that last rep or two, I call upon that higher self, who is stronger than I am, to carry me through. That higher self that is connected to something bigger than I am, that power that makes everything possible.

What if I tell you that when I’m squatting more than my body weight and my legs are threatening to quit while I’m down there, I PRAY to get back up? I’m not talking about the Our Father or Hail Mary. I’m talking about keeping the faith. Faith in my own body and the source that created it. I’m talking about taking that leap from “I don’t think I can”, to “YES!” Because you have to BELIEVE, before you can DO. As simple as that.

What if I say that when I cheer a friend on, I am calling upon that sacred part of her to come out and make things happen? Because it’s that part that is most able to create something good. And when I’m rooting for someone and applauding her efforts, we are somehow bonded for a moment, celebrating what has been accomplished AND the bigger possibilities that lie ahead. And isn’t that what prayer is? A connection, a celebration, the anticipation for something positive and life-affirming?

What if I confess that when I’m high-fiving someone, I see every bit of energy she has put into her goals and I feel all the aches, uncertainties, and frustrations that have lain upon her path? It’s almost like saying “Namaste” – I recognize the power and strength in you that is also within me. I greet your spirit that is struggling as much as mine is. I honor that which is holy in you, not because it’s the right thing to do, but it’s the only way to live.


Pinky's Creed speaks to my soul. Her words reflect how I feel about being a supporter to my fellow Survivors, friends who are Fighting disease of all kinds, the rest of my friends and family- and to myself.  This is, also, the spirit in which I have taken all the words and expressions of encouragement and caring from my friends and family through my cancer journey. Indeed, each of us is holy and, and I honor that in each of you. I honor that in myself, too, as I refine my health and restore faith in my body. Thank you, Pinky, for allowing me to share your beautiful, powerful and inspirational Creed. Namaste. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Celebrating with Cashmere





It's still sinking into my brain and my soul~ remission. What a humongous relief!! It doesn't feel real to me quite yet. I am overwhelmed by all the joyful responses I've gotten from my friends and family on Facebook last night and today. I am over-filled with thankfulness for every prayer, every positive vibe, every strong shoulder, every Reiki treatment, every hug, every card and email, every gift, every friend that helped to hold me up and encourage me along this 14 month cancer treatment journey. A very special thank you to my mom, Sharon. Thank you Mom for your strength and love that reached all way to south Florida at the beginning of this scary cancer journey and that brought me home for the completion with it's sickness turned to joy. Also, thank you, Mom, for all of your many layers of support, kindness, faith, and care-giving. You're a God-sent Angel, I have no doubt!


This is my Mom, my Angel, and I last Christmas. I love you Mom!



It took a few hours to get to hear the word 'remission' from my Gyn Oncologist. I started with a blood draw, which happens every time to go The West Clinic. Then we moved to a waiting area and I answer questions about how I've felt the past week using an e-Tablet (which is pretty cool because it saves paper and is more efficient for the clinic!). A few minutes later a Tech comes out and gives me a bottle of water and kindly tells me to drink it and they'll be ready to scan me in about 20 minutes. I was a little confused about the water, because when I've had CT scans in the past I have to drink 3 big bottles of this chalky barium. I'm thankful for the water, though, and drink it up. Another Tech comes out 20 minutes later to bring me to the scanner, and I cautiously tell her that I haven't had any barium drink yet. She tells me that the medicine they need for the scan was in the water, it's a new and much easier way. Whoohoooo!! The CT scan went smoothly and as usual I kept my eyes closes and allowed my brain to bring me to a happy place. The Techs came back in and that was it. The easiest and friendliest CT scan ever!! 


Then it was upstairs to my Gyn Oncologist's waiting area. We waited for a couple hours, but somehow Mom and I stayed fairly relaxed about it. Mom has a Droid with lots of fun Apps so that entertained us while we waited. Finally, at almost 5 o'clock, it's my turn. The nurse is very friendly and answers my questions. A few minutes later my oncologist comes in. We talk for a couple minutes and then it's exam time. Ouchie!!! Thankfully it was over quickly. I asked the rest of my questions, and am happy with the answers. My oncologist turns and does some stuff on the computer that's in the exam room. Then she says, your scan is Good, no signs of cancer anywhere. Mom and I both tear up with relief and joy. The onc finishes up, gives me a high 5 and leaves the room. Mom and I share a big hug and a few tears. And just like that this long 14 month cancer treatment journey comes to an end. It blows my mind! 


We celebrated by going out to dinner at Colton's Steakhouse. It was deeeelish! Then we got down to the serious celebrating and went to one of our favorite stores, Kohl's!! I've been eying their cashmere sweaters for a couple years. So when I came across a beautiful teal cashmere sweater that just happened to be 55% off I just HAD to try it on. It fit very nice and looked quite good, if I do say so myself. As I took it off I commented to Mom that it was fun to just try it on. And she said that she would buy it for me in celebration of my remission!! My Mom is totally awesome!! (My youngest niece, who is 2 and half has a shirt that says the exact same thing!). What a fabulous way to celebrate!! 


Here I am wearing my celebration cashmere!! Look how much my hair has grown! And I even have some eyebrows again!! Thank you, God, for remission and for all of the thousands of other blessing in my life. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Final Countdown, Part 1

One of my countdowns is just about finished, I go to my cancer clinic tomorrow afternoon for a post-treatment CT scan and an exam. It's hard to believe that it's been almost 2 whole months since my final chemo treatment! I'm regaining cardio stamina and strength at a good pace, and I'm feeling pretty darn good. My feet still have numbness which varies from barely noticeable to very uncomfortable, and I'm thankful for the improvement. 

I'm feeling a bit anxious about the CT scan tomorrow. I've been using a couple different techniques to deal with the anxiety. My mentor and dear friend, Curt (who has 30 years of counseling experience) taught me the value and power in replacing my negative thoughts with positive thoughts. So when my mind thinks about how extremely unlikely any cancer recurrence should have been for me I consciously stop that thought, and I choose to think about how I did during my most recent Cathe workout or I work up a vivid mental picture of the powerful chemo drugs and radiation killing off any 'loose' cancer cells in my body.

I've also been meditating and praying before I get out of bed each morning. I am thankful to have to a very flexible schedule right now that allows me to meditate for 30 minutes and exercise when I want to right now. Meditating and exercising are major parts of my healing and recovery process, and I deeply appreciate the gift of time to focus recovering and healing. 

My Cathe workouts have played a big role in stress reduction over the past 7 years. I love how Cathe challenges and encourages me through each of her workouts! Lately, I've been focusing on circuit workouts. I love how I can push myself a little harder in the cardio segments when I know a cardio break is coming soon in circuit workouts. Then I get to lift weights in the next segment. I totally love lifting weights! Over the past 2 months I've worked up to being able to do a few Cathe workouts all the way through without using premixes (many of Cathe's workouts come with condensed version of the workout to save on time or focus on cardio over weights etc). I still have to modify the intensity and/or impact. I'm very proud of myself!!  Today I did a circuit workout called cathe Intensity Series: Imax 2 + Cardio & Weights DVD workout dvd Cardio & Weights- the whole 60 minutes! My feet are tired out and a bit achey tonight, but it's definitely worth it! I burned off some stress and calories, and created some very good feelings about myself. That's a good trade off in my book. 

I came across an inspiring article at CureToday.com titled New exercise guidelines for cancer survivors. Since my cancer history is gynecological I liked the article even more!! I would have loved to have clear guidelines to have followed during my treatment as well as post treatment. This article helped push me to get back to regular exercise, and I'm very grateful!

Tomorrow is the 'big' day, but I doubt if I will get the full results from the CT scan right away. More waiting which means more exercising, meditating and thought shifting for me, but I know without a doubt I won't be alone. My family and friends are great supporters and caregivers with strong shoulders. I couldn't be more thankful for each and every one! Despite a bit of understandable anxiety, I truly believe that this scan will prove to me that my body is free of cancer and is healing well. I'm looking forward to hearing my oncologist tell me that I'm cured, or in remission, or whatever label she will use. I already know that I'm a Survivor!

My next entry will be about the amazingly wonderful spa night for cancer Survivors and Fighters that I got to attend on Monday night...

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Thanksgiving Miracle

My Thanksgiving celebration this past weekend was truly wonderful! The food was delicious and I am very thankful to be home to have the honor of helping Mom prepare the feast. Our strategy this year was to prepare most of the side dishes a day or two in advance which meant trying out a couple new recipes. It worked out beautifully!!! We chose Herb-Rubbed Turkey with a Butterball bird this year. It came out juicy and yummy! My family's traditional mashed potatoes were replaced with this make-ahead Luxurious Mashed Potato recipe. Divinely smooth and, yes, luxurious. Definitely a splurge worthy recipe for a holiday. We exchanged the traditional green bean casserole for this make ahead Spinach and Cheese Puff recipe. These 2 recipes were a HUGE hit! We also baked then mashed the acorn squash and sweet potatoes two days before The Meal.

That left us with the turkey and the gravy to cook on The Meal Day.I'm very proud to say that my gravy talents continue to improve each year. The White Wine Gravy turned out silky smooth and delicious! The meal was completed with cranberry sauce, my brother-in-law's Aunt Barbara's heavenly rolls, and 3 bottles of wine. This year we decided to try a Gewurztraminer, specifically Chateau Ste. Michelle, and we were all pleasantly surprised with how well it complimented the meal. We have a new family favorite!! We also had Barefoot's Sauvignon Blanc, which I used to make the gravy, and a bottle of Yellowtail's Merlot.

My family has a long standing Thanksgiving tradition of going around tables and sharing what we are each thankful for this year. It's been a tough and dramatic year for my family and for me personally, but you wouldn't have known that if you had heard the touching tales of thankfulness from each member of my family. We all took our turn sharing, most of us with tears in our eyes. It's very clear to me that this family truly loves and appreciates one another, and that's something to be treasured.

We feasted and later that evening we feasted on the leftovers while playing Sequence. We feasted again for lunch the next day. And that brings me to my Thanksgiving Miracle. I didn't gain an ounce!! Unbelievable, but true and that's a Thanksgiving miracle in my book. This week, I'm aiming to see a loss on that scale!
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