About Me

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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

Journals about Chemo

Welcome to Phase 3! My first appointment at The West Clinic with Dr. Smiley and her nurse Susan went very well. I immediately liked the nurse and the doctor. Both are easy to talk to, and willing to listen and answer questions. The nurse reminds me a lot of my dear friend, who is also a nurse in oncology, Chris...and that felt comforting. The most comforting, though, is having my mom right there next to me!! 
The appointment started off really well because I discovered that I've lost 4 pounds since last week! Yay!! The other good start was that I only waited 45 minutes to get into the exam room and talk to the nurse. This is a pleasant surprise because the in-take paperwork warns you that you'll be there for at least 4 hours. 

The waiting room for gyn oncology patients is next to a Chemotherapy treatment space. There's also a blood draw lab, and of course the patient exam rooms. That's a big plus at The West Clinic- they can do everything right there which is more convenient for everyone. 
After an initial talk with the nurse, I got to meet Dr. Smiley. She's kind, focused, approachable, and has a calm energy. I really like her, and I trust her. She said that we will never know if I had a recurrence of endometrial cancer, or if it really was ovarian cancer. My tumor in January could easily have been a second Primary, but it's impossible to tell. The good news is that the kind of tumors I had (in 2009 and 2008) are 'easy' to treat. So, I will make peace with never knowing what to call this second cancer experience. 
Dr. Smiley agrees with my FL gyn oncologist that chemotherapy is the best and right thing. The chemo is treat any stray cancer cells that are in my body and there's a good chance that there are stray cells as I've had cancer twice within 2 years. I will have 6 rounds of chemo, once every 4 weeks. So this will be a 6 month process which will have me finishing up just before Christmas. I will lose my hair, though time will tell to what degree. My hair loss won't happen, though, until about 3 weeks after my first chemo treatment. So I have a little more time to enjoy my long curly locks. I will get my hair cut short in the next 2 weeks, and will try to upload a picture on this site. 

I will begin my chemo treatment next Wednesday, June 2 at 9 AM. The treatment will take 5- 6 hours. I am very grateful that my mom will be able to sit with me the whole time. 
There are lots of details to think about and plan out, but my mind isn't up to write it all out right now. I'll share those details in the next day or so, after I'd had some time to sort it out it my head and get it on paper. Next Wednesday will come quickly, and I need to get my list of scripts filled and get my game plan all set...BUT first I'll need to call pharmacies to check on prices and go buy the OTC meds that I'll need as well. Lots of details! Thank God for Mom! Seriously, thank you God for my mom. 

Honestly, I'm not loving the idea of losing my hair. I love my hair, but I know that it will grow back. I am really hoping that I lose the hair on my legs...that would be a real treat especially for the summer!

I'm also not loving that I don't know how my body will deal with the chemo....how sick I will be...how long it will last...when will it start. This is why I've come home, though, so my family can help me deal with these things, find a way to find humor in them, and to comfort each other through it.  

Hello everyone!! My first chemo treatment went well today. Yay, for 17% done! My mom figured out the math for me, gotta love her!! 

I knew that everything was going to be just fine today once the IV went in on the first try. That's always a huge relief for me! It was extra cool to find out that my blood can be part of the World Bank for research. It means a lot to me to be able to be able to contribute to research to hopefully help other people in the future. 

We waited just a few minutes for my blood to go through the lab before I got called back to the chemo suite. There weren't very many other patients, so Mom could sit next to me in a real chair (as opposed to the folding stool she brought just in case). Thank you for being there with me, Mom! Your presence made everything easier today!
I got Bendryl and an anti-nausea in my IV first. It made me groggy which led to a couple of short naps, but that was the only side effect. Yay!! The taxol came next. This can cause an allergic reaction in many people, so the nurse started it very slow and kept a close watch on me. Lucky for me, I didn't have ANY allergic reaction! Whoohooo! That drip took about 5 hours. I napped, chatted with Mom and a couple of the volunteers, looked a couple of magazines (which, by the way, is very hard to do when you can't bend your arm due to an IV!), drank lots of water and consequently went to the bathroom a lot. It was weird to be hooked up to an IV but be fully dressed and able to walk around! Usually when I'm hooked to an IV I'm in a hospital bed. So that was funny and weird. 

The next drug (carboplatin) was hung and dripped for a short 40 minutes. I was feeling pretty good, just a little sleepy and groggy which is a very pleasant surprise because God had plans for my evening. 
By the time I was done with chemo,  my sister Heidi was in the maternity ward getting ready to have her son. God's Hand guided the timing so divinely and wonderfully today!! Mom and I made it to the hospital in plenty of time to share in the birth of Steven Randall Joyner Junior, who will be called JJ. He's 6 pounds 9 ounces, 19.5 inches long with beautiful dark curly hair, and perfect in every way!! Heidi is doing great, I am so proud of her! I got the very special joy of getting to hold him very shortly after he was born, and it means the world to me (especially today when I'm feeling good as opposed to tomorrow or Friday when I may not be feeling so well). Thank you, Heidi and Steve!! 

Mom brought me home, I took a cautionary anti-nausea pill (that will also help me sleep), filled my water bottles, and stepped into cyberspace. I'll be ready for sleep very soon, but I just had to catch everyone up on my big and special day!

I'll be sharing pics of my long red hair soon...and soon after that will come pics of my very short red hair. My hair will start falling out in the next week or so I will be getting it chopped off this weekend sometime.

Thank you for your prayers, positive vibes, emails and Facebook wishes today. They worked beautifully and are deeply appreciated!! Please keep them coming along with notes on my Guestbook on this blog. 

I think I'm on the good side of Chemo treatment #1, finally. It's taken a solid 5 days to out from under the side effects of treatment. It's like a bell curve...started out not bad at all, peaked on Saturday and today it's not too bad again. I almost feel normal today, and it's a very welcome shift!

Here are some words that describe my side effects: leg bone pain, headache, tired, foggy, decreased appetite, heartburn, constipation, restless, intense bone pain, foot numbness, and more tired. 

I was quite surprised about the leg bone pain and foot numbness. I remember the nurse telling me about it, but thinking that somehow it wouldn't apply to me. Silly me! I'm trying to make light of it, but it was truly horrible and scary. It started on Friday afternoon and got worse until Sunday afternoon. This chemo stuff made me feel totally disconnected with my body, and completely uncomfortable in my own skin. It was like living in a strange sick person's body- I didn't feel like me. It's good incentive to take care of myself and live as healthfully as possible now and in the future.
Thankfully, the bone pain started to slowly melt away on Sunday- just about the time I was starting to wonder if it would EVER go away. I was scared enough to call the On Call Oncologist Saturday night, but this particular doctor won't call in pain meds for patients that aren't his own. My nurse said that my doctor would prescribe pain meds for me in the future. Thank God!!! 

My mom, as usual, as been an absolute Angel! She has taken care of my every need and want with the special loving finesse of a mother. Thank you, Mom! I am so thankful for you and all that you're doing to my make treatment easier! 
I spoke with my nurse and the nutritionist today regarding my side effects and got a list of vitamins that will help relieve the numbness and leg pain. Mom and I took my 2 oldest nieces to Vitamin World and got them all. Now I'll be taking L-Glutamine, Super B complex, Vitamin E, Vitamin D3 and 2 Flintsone vitamins with Iron every day. All this will also help keep my immune system rocking and rolling. I'm getting close to the post-chemo treatment time when my immune system tanks, so we'll see how it goes. I've been sneezing a little bit today and I can feel a touch of soreness in my throat...I'll be extra careful and eat some vitamin C rich foods tomorrow. 
One chemo treatment down, yay!! I'll get my Port-a-cath put in on the 21st, and my 2nd chemo treatment will be on the 24th. I'm hoping that means that I'll be up to participating in some 4th of July festivities! 
I'm including a picture of my dyed red hair. I'm thankful that it cooperated and looked so good for this pic! I got my hair chopped off later that day, but I don't have any pictures of the new 'do yet. My hair is due to start falling out in fun clumps sometime this week. I keep pulling at it, just waiting for it to happen because I want to get it over with already! No luck so far. I'll keep you posted. My sister and newborn nephew are going to take me to get a wig at the American Cancer Society in downtown Memphis later this week. I'm a little excited about it...but think it's weird to feel that way. I honestly don't know if I'll even want to wear a wig, but since ACS gives me one for free I might as well have it just in case. 

I am very thankful for the toddlers and babies in my life! They bring me so much joy and comfort. Big thanks to my sisters (and their hubbies) for the gift of these children to our family!!

Hello everyone! OkNOW I am feeling much more like myself- almost good even. It's taken a full 6 days, but it has happened and I am so so glad! I can tell that my immune system is in a weakened state, but I am washing my hands a lot (and so is the rest of my family- including the Peeps), eating healthfully, and taking all my many vitamins. I'm also taking allergy medicine again, thanks to the reminder from my baby sister, Sally. (Yes, I know she's not really a baby anymore, but she is to me despite how proud I am of the woman she's become!) It worked like a charm today. It's so hard to think about every detail and remember everything during this post chemo treatment fog. This is one of the many reasons I'm thankful to be home and under the care of my family. 
My feet have a bit of numbness still, but it's something I can tolerate. I'm not sure how long the L-Glutamine is supposed to take to start relieving the numbness, but I'm just so very glad it's down to 'tolerable' now. I'm going to keep taking the L-Glutamine twice a day throughout my treatment process and hope that will work in my favor. 
I still get tired out quickly, but today I had the energy to run and play with 2 of my Peeps today. We had such fun playing Toddler Hide and Seek. It goes like this: I count to three and say 'ready or not here I come' and the Peeps, sometimes both of them and sometimes only 1 of them, hide under a blanket or in the bathroom. When I find them we all laugh hysterically. Then one or both of the Peeps count and it's my turn to hide. And we laugh like crazy again. Repeat until your Aunt wear outs.

I realized today that I've been having hot flashes. I haven't had a fever, but I break out into these strange sweats. It's mostly at night, but sometimes it happens when I'm just sitting on the couch. Makes me even less marketable to the opposite sex, not that I'm really interested anyway- so I guess it works out. 

Tomorrow my sister Heidi, my newborn Peep and I are going to the American Cancer Society to pick out a wig. No, my hair has not yet started to fall out in lovely clumps. I want to be prepared, partly, and I want to just get it over with already so we're going for it.  I'm nervous about it, and kind of excited too. I am very thankful for a sister to share in this memorable event.  I'm trying not to make a big deal out of it in my head, but it feels like a big deal. I hope I don't end up in some emotional cancer breakdown!! 

Thank you for all your continued prayers, positive vibes, Reiki, and love. I assure you that it's working and bringing me great comfort. 
Hello out there! This is a picture of my short red haircut, and my oldest nephew- Gabriel George. He's a ham and half, and extremely cute! 
Tonight I began the hair loss chapter of my chemo journey. I've been running my fingers through my hair for the past 2 weeks in anticipation of it coming out. I was starting to think that maybe I would get 'lucky' and it wouldn't fall out. Two days ago my scalp started tingly and feeling tender to the touch, and I figured that was a sign. I was right, tonight a small clump of hair came out while I was watching TV with Mom. I felt sad and surprised when I saw my hair between my fingers. My heart sank, because I love my hair. My hair is part of my identity. It's beautiful, thick, curly and wavy. It helps give me confidence in my looks and it gives me a sense of security. At least I didn't get my hair cut short for nothing now! 

I wonder if I'll wake up bald tomorrow?! 

I feel a little silly being upset about losing my hair. I KNEW I would, the nurses and doctors told me I would, but actually losing it feels different. I know it will grow back, but right now that's not a whole lot of comfort. Right now I'm thinking about the next 6 or so months of not having hair, or not having much hair. For these next several months I'm going to LOOK sick to other people, and to myself when I look in the mirror. I can cover it up for other people with a wig, baseball hat, or skull cap; but that won't keep me from knowing. Living with little or no hair will be an inconvenience, it probably will be embarrassing at times, and frustrating at other times. However, it's also a badge of courage! I hope that when strangers see me that I can show them that cancer treatment isn't a death sentence. It's just a journey with some unpleasant and visable side effects.

On a more positive note, it's not physically painful. I'll get used to not having hair eventually. Truly, it's a small- albeit sad- price to pay for a cancer free future.  Still, I don't like it! 
Another big positive is that I'm prepared for this hair loss. I have a very cute wig courtesy of the American Cancer Society. My sisters even tried it on the day I brought it home (to help my oldest niece not be afraid or sad), and it looked very cute and natural on each of us. Also, I have 2 skull caps and a baseball hat ready to go. I'm not sure what I'll be more comfortable wearing...right now I'm leaning toward the skull caps, but we'll see. 
Other than the new hair loss side effect, I've had a few minimal issues the past 2 weeks. I've got minor fatigue, but I am blessed with gift of time to rest whenever I need to. My feet have a little bit of numbness, but the L-Glutamine is helping to relieve that numbness. I've had a few bouts of insomnia, but Benadryl has come to my rescue. I'm doing an excellent job taking all my vitamins, resting, and taking care of life's and cancer's paperwork details. 

I've been truly enjoying spending time with my family, especially my Peeps! Each of them is more adorable and entertaining than the next! I was napping on the couch one day this week and my 2 oldest nieces were there playing with Nana while I slept. I was awakened by the kisses of toddlers, and it was the sweetest thing!! I got to spend most of a night earlier this week holding my newest Peep, and it was pure heaven. I just can't step smelling that newborn head, simply divine! I have absolutely no doubt that coming home was the right choice! I am deeply grateful for the love that surrounds me. 

I did it! I shaved my head on Saturday night. Actually my sister Heidi did the actual shaving (she shouldn't quit her day job, but we had tons of fun). Mom, Heidi and I drank margaritas Saturday night to help us all deal with this big change, and we ended up having a blast! I am so thankful for my family and the laughter that we share so often! 
It feels very strange not having hair! It feels like it's up on a ponytail most of the time, for now at least. I forget sometimes and surprise myself when I look in the mirror. Yikes! Oh, wait it's just me and my shaved head! haha
My nieces handled the change quite well (my nephews are too young to notice). My oldest Peep, Zoey, took a few minutes to adjust but her mama (my sister Sally) and my mama (aka Nana) helped her talk through it. 

My nieces, nephew Gabe and Mom wore hats today to help me feel more comfortable and show their support and love. It really did help! Thank you all!! My sister Heidi loaned me her favorite Old Navy hat, which is very nice because it's a ladies hat which means it's the hat part is shorter so it doesn't hurt or cover my ears. I've found that one of my knit hats that we bought at Relay for Life is most comfortable for right now. It was super hot and humid today, but the knit skullcap didn't feel hot at all. Yay!
I even braved out going in public today. I wore that knit skullcap, my nieces wore their super cute hats and Mom wore her baseball hat too! We went to Borders to buy a cookbook to help me through the chemo treatments. It's a Betty Crocker one, and it's very well organized and has yummy and easy recipes that just about everyone in my family will enjoy. 

I'm happy to report that no one at the bookstore said anything rude or uncomfortable to me. Instead, I got many sympathetic and caring looks. Overall it was a good first trip out as a sick-looking person. 

I am very excited about my new cookbook. My super fabulous Mom already has 2 of the recipes in the works. Can I say again how much I appreciate and love my Mom?? She is the absolute best Mom and friend!! I seriously don't know what I'd do without her! 
I've been home in Memphis for just over a month, and I feel like the transition period is behind me. Now I am ready to focus more on the daily details and self-care of cancer treatment. I'm going to start a handwritten journal of feelings, energy levels, water intake, and foods. This is something I've been meaning to do for quite a while. I think it will be really valuable to me, and to my family in the future. 

I am also going to find out where and when the free yoga for cancer patients classes are held and start going! I want to make yoga a part of my daily life, and I have some a couple really great DVDs, but there's nothing like a live class. 

This week will be a busy week for me. Tomorrow I get my Port-a-cath put in. It's an easy outpatient procedure that will make getting chemo and drawing blood MUCH easier on me. Thursday is my 2nd chemo treatment. 
Thank you all for your supportive Guestbook notes, private emails, prayers, positive thoughts, distance Reiki and constant love. This hair thing has been tough, but with all of your support I made it through quite well! Love you all!  

Hello everyone! My Port-a-cath spot is feeling about 30-40% better today than yesterday. I'm a little nervous about it and wondering how long it will take to heal. I still can't lift anything noteworthy, and my range of motion stinks. I keep reminding myself that all the nurses I've talked to say that this is worth it in the long run. Still, I have this crazy vision of it 'popping out' and spurting blood everywhere. That would be seriously traumatic, but probably unlikely. Right?

Tomorrow is my second chemo treatment. I'll see the doctor before treatment starts, and then I'll talk with a genetic counselor sometime during my treatment. Even though I was negative for 3 mutations, my oncologist thinks that further testing would be a good idea. It's one of those things where I want to know for power's sake, and a part of me doesn't want to know because it's scary and generally yucky. I will face it head on, though, with Mom at my side- just like everything else so far on this crazy cancer journey. (Love you Mom!)

I had a bit of a hair tantrum in the shower tonight. Even though I shaved it with a #4 clipper, it was falling out everywhere, making a mess and making me crazy. (Notice the crazy theme is tonight's post?) It's just gross and a constant reminder of what's happening. I don't really need a physical constant reminder, though, thank you very much. Thus the tantrum in the shower. I gently scrubbed my head over and over and over and, well you get the picture. 95% of my hair came out, but there's a few stubborn strands. Not attractive at all. I feel like an ugly, fat, bald blob. I know it's part of the long term cancer-free plan though, so I'm trying not to focus on those negative feelings. Some moments are more challenging than others. I was hoping to just be completely bald and get it all over with already, but oh well. I'll be wearing my skullcaps, baseball or wig everywhere now for sure! Yes, even at home most of the time. For now that feels more comfortable and secure. 
I keep meaning to write, but the timing either doesn't work out or I'm too tired. Another reason may be that it's hard to write about this cancer crap. I just don't always want to think about it, even though I know it's affecting every part of me. It's irritating and frustrating. 

It's weird not having hair. I've gotten to the point that I forget to wear a skullcap when I leave the house, and have to go back in to get one. I'm not sure if that's a meaningful sign, or just chemo brain. Maybe a little of both? My head and ears get cold, especially at night. It's hard to wear a skullcap at night because it rubs against the pillow and falls off. So I quit trying and just try to sleep with one hand over my ear for warmth. 

I thought that everyone in family had gotten fairly comfortable with me being bald until tonight. It's an adjustment for everyone, I know, to varying degrees. It's a constant reminder. Every time someone looks at me I feel like the first thing they think is 'sick person'. I hate that for my family. I don't always think about it because I don't have to look at myself, but they do. That must be really hard at times for everyone. 

Zoey, my 4 year old niece, cut off a little bit of her own hair tonight. She has absolutely beautiful curly brown hair. She said she wanted to have short hair like me. I cried, and so did Mom. I wish I knew better how to help this little Angel, my Sweet Pea, deal with her bald Aunt. We've told her that my hair falling out was a sign that the medicine is working and that I'm getting better. We make jokes about my silly hair cut. She checks for new hair growing (she's sure it's going to be purple). She's an old and very tender hearted soul. We can tell her whatever we want, but she still understands that something isn't right. No matter what anyone tells her, a part of her knows that it's true and it's scary to her in a way she can't express. It's all scary to me in a way that I can't really express either. I think it is for all of us. 

That's one of the probably many reasons why I struggle to find sleep. I am so tired, but sleep eludes me until 3 or 4 am. I'm concerned about not sleeping enough because I know that healing is often at it's best when we sleep. My body has been through so much the past 6 months...it needs sleep so badly... I feel helpless about it. The things I've tried aren't working consistently, but I'm very leery of taking prescription sleep medicine. Benadryl isn't working anymore. Melatonin helps me get drowsy, but it doesn't get me to sleep. It's frustrating. A part of me wants to just do nothing in an attempt to let it work itself out. The other part knows that's not wise. Insomnia is part of the chemo journey for many people, so I'm sure a nurse at The West Clinic will be able to help me.

I'll talk to a nurse about it on Wednesday. My third chemo treatment is Wednesday. Then I'll be halfway done, yay!!  I'll be very glad to be halfway through, but the thought of starting another cycle of 'sickness' is a bummer. I feel like I just don't have time for being sick. There's lots going on in my family and I would be much more helpful if I wasn't sick 3 weeks out of the month. I can't believe that so many cancer patients who get chemo can continue with their normal work schedules and family life. It's incredible!! 

This week has been my 'feel good' week, and I've enjoyed it. I was able to do 3 workouts, which made me feel like SuperWoman. Yet I can't imagine having to work 40 hours, too! There are so many details to this chemo journey...keeping up with meds and refills...insurance...trying to keep up with my changing taste buds (thanks Mom!!)...trying to relax...remembering to bring a skullcap with me...trying to drink as much water as humanly possible to get the chemo poisons out of my body...wondering if I'm drinking enough water and what may happen to my liver if I'm not...controlling heartburn, headaches and joint pains...dealing with a swinging body temperature (one minute I'm cold and then next burning up)...and on and on. And I don't even have to worry about being an employee right now. I just can't imagine addi
ng that into this journey. (Thanks Mom!!)  

Hello out there! I have so much to share with you about the cycle of treatment #3 and since tomorrow starts the cycle of treatment #4  now is a good time.

The side effects of my third treatment were quite similar to cycles 1 & 2. The only difference was an improved appetite which is really good! My taste buds are super picky (even *I* don't know what I want to eat most of the time) but I did feel some hunger and was able to eat a bit. The bone and joint pain continues to be my biggest side effect followed by fatigue. The pain surprises me every time, but I get through it by sleeping, taking the pain meds, distance Reiki from my beloved Reiki friends, deep breathing, the loving support of my Mom, and knowing that it only last about 4 days. That's not a long time to be in pain, really. I know people who experience some level of pain nearly every day despite searching for relief. So I am thankful that my pain is short lived and is for the good cause of killing cancer cells. 

I've embraced my baldness during this third treatment cycle and started a bit of a 'Go Bald, Be Proud, No Shame, No Fear' movement. It wasn't my intention, but it's been really cool. It started when I forgot my skullcap when I left the house a couple weeks ago, and I was irritated that I had to go back inside. I realized that I would be much more physically comfortable just being bald in this extreme Memphis heat. I started seriously considering going out of the house bald. I was concerned about strangers saying rude or ignorant things to me, or just making people feel uncomfortable.
So I decided to test the waters in the kiddie pool and changed my Facebook profile picture to me and my bald head. To my very pleasant surprise my Facebook friends showered me and my bald head with support and love. It's overwhelming and very touching to have so much support!! I even made a few new friends thanks to a dear friend of mine from my Wisconsin high school days. It boosted my confidence and got me excited about this Go Bald, Be Proud, No Shame, No Fear movement that I've been going bald ever since. I haven't had a single negative experience. 
Each time I go out in public bald I realize how important this 'movement' is for cancer patients. Some people like hats, scarves and wigs and it works for them. I'm 100% about feeling comfortable and beautiful or handsome in your own skin whether or not you're dealing with cancer. I found that I was wearing my skullcap out of fear and shame. I've realized that my bald head has nothing to be ashamed of! I want to sport my bald head as a badge of honor and trophy of courage for myself and for other people. I want people to look at me and think 'she must be going through chemo, but she's enjoying life too'. Cancer is certainly a big part of my life right now, but it doesn't define who I am and I won't let it confine me in hats. If anything my cancer journey has shown me how strong I am and how beautiful I am inside and out. It took me 35 years to realize my beauty and I want to embrace it. 

In other news...I've become a part of the American Cancer Society's Choose You program. It's a program for women to help them take care of themselves, to Choose YOU, each day to prevent (or fight) cancer. It's a very cool program and website. I found out about it on Facebook, and decided to join. When you join there are several different healthy commitment you can make such as food journaling, losing weight, and wearing sunscreen to name a few. You make a commitment to do X and you can contribute money as an incentive for you (but you don't have to) and it's a way for ACS to raise money for More Birthdays. I committed to food journaling. This is something I've done off and on for about 10 years. It helped me lose 75 pounds 5 years ago. When I'm finished with the chemo treatments and my body has recovered from all the trauma of the past year I know that food journaling will help me reach my goal weight. I've been meaning to get back to food journaling for quite awhile, and when this came across my eyes I just knew it was the right time to re-commit. It's a good way to keep track of how I'm doing through each treatment cycle and it leaves a physical record for me and my family in the future. 

During the feel-pretty-good weeks of treatment #3 I had the precious honor of helping care for my newest Peep, baby JJ. He is such an adorable sweet baby. I will never be a mother because of cancer and the path my life took, for better or worse, and I've made peace with it. I've been able to come to that peace because my sisters have shared their children with me. Caring for JJ is my "mother time", and I treasure it. I had a similar honor of caring for my oldest niece, Zoey, when she was a baby (she is now unbelievably 4 years old). Caring for those 2 precious babies have filled that mothering void, and I am very thankful. I get so much joy from spending time with all 5 of my Peeps, it's the kind of therapy and healing you just can't buy. Thank you, dear sisters, for sharing your adorable and wonderful children with me. It's my honor and joy to an Aunt. 

Onto treatment cycle #4....I get to meet with my oncologist and the genetic testing gentlemen (who happens to be a good looking guy!) before the drugs start flowing. Stay tuned for all the interesting stuff they tell me in the next couple of days.... 

Thank you all for you continued support, love, distance Reiki, and prayers. I can sense all that positive energy each day, and deeply appreciate it! 
Go Bald, No Shame, Be Proud, Fight hard!

I'm trying something new with today's entry. I shared in my last journal that I've committed to food journaling, and I thought I'd experiment and share that journal in this journal. I'm thinking about starting a blog- outside of Caring Bridge so this is a test. Please let me know what you think...and if you have any helpful suggestions about starting a blog please share that with me too.
As you know today, well Wednesday as I type it's technically Thursday, was chemo #4 treatment. Treatment days are always messed up food days. I had to meet with the geneticist at 7:45 this morning so I didn't have time to eat any breakfast due to my thyroid medicine schedule. The meeting went well, we don't know anything yet. We're still in the gathering the tumor sample and getting the insurance to approve the testing stages. I could have Lynch Syndrome...if not then I could have a few other genetic mutations or I could have no mutations at all. Fun stuff before 8am! Right after the meeting I got called back for blood draw. Yay for the Port working smoothly!  

A couple minutes after that the nurse called me back to talk with the oncologist. The morning moved right along which was great but didn't leave me any time to eat. I was so hungry by the time Mom and I were seated in the exam room. The oncologist discussed my side effects with me and answered my questions. She ordered a shot of something to help alleviate the tingly and numbness in my hands and feet (I can't remember the name of the stuff, but it's written down in my planner which is downstairs). I got a prescription for vitamin D and magnesium (and some more pain meds) as those have been consistently low. 

Finally, I was seated in the chemo suite, hooked up to my pre-chemo drug drips and sooo ready to eat. BUT WAIT! I couldn't eat because the nurse told me that the this new shot to help my tinglies can make me vomit soon after the injection. She had to wait to give me the shot until after my pre-chemo drugs stopped dripping. So I still had to longer to wait before I could eat, because what would be the point of eating if I was going to puke it up in a 30 minutes? Bummer dude. This shot turns out to be 2 shots- one in each upper arm. And it burns as it goes in...and it burns for awhile after the needle comes out. I fought the urge to jump into Mommy's arms. Later in the day I noticed that those shots left big white splotches on both my upper arms. Pretty!! NOT! I don't vomit. In fact, I feel no nausea at all. Thank you, Iron Stomach! I very much appreciate your toughness! 

Time to eat, YESSSSS! Mom brought one of the new Life cereal bars- the banana walnut kind. Heavenly to my very empty tummy. I think that's all I ate before the pre-chemo drugs got me sleepy and I dozed off as the Taxol started to drip. I woke up a couple hours later and I was so hungry but didn't feel like really eating much- it's a weird chemo thing. Mom had a Special K Fruit Crisp bar (like a pop tart but only 100 calories). Deliciousness. I got excited when I saw the bag of Taxol was almost empty, and I thought I was almost ready to go. I forgot about the Carboplatin. Opps! Mom and I decided to wait until after we left and go for a late lunch instead of her running out to pick up fast food. I ate a mini Twix and tiny bag of Butterfinger, drank a lot of water while we waited, and looked through my new Clean Eating magazines (great stuff in there, as always!). Ironically, my hands start tingling...and they've been tingly ever since. Not so sure that shot worked, but maybe it takes time to kick in. ???  

All done getting chemo-ed and after a brief stop at the scheduling desk (chemo #5 on August 25) we were off to a much needed lunch. We had a coupon for Chili's and it just sound good so we went. I ate 3/4s of a buffalo chicken sandwich on wheat bread and about 1/3 of my fries, 1/2 of Mom's salad, 1/4 of her corn on the cob (we're good sharers), and unsweetened blackberry ice tea. I couldn't believe that I wasn't into the fries, it's a good thing though. Cancer has been a catalyst for many positive changes in my life and eating less french fries is a big one.  

After we ate we wanted to go to Kohl's and shop for a couple birthday presents for some beloved birthday girls in our lovely lives. We found some great stuff and some deeply discounted great stuff. It was a fun diversion from cancer-land, but I was really worn out after 2 hours of shopping and my mouth was wicked dry. Time to go home!  

I live with an Angel, and her name is Mom. Actually her name is Sharon, but I call her Mom...and my BFF. She got me settled on the couch and fixed me bowl after bowl of Cranberry Green Tea Granita (which she made herself) which my favorite thing to eat when my mouth is dry during the week after treatment. Hit the spot! She also got me glass after glass of water with fresh lemon as we watched TV and tried to decompress after crazy chemo day. Then she fixed me dinner- a nitrate free hot dog on a whole grain bun with a side of leftover roasted sweet potatoes. I took my handful of supplements and headed to bed. I was sure I'd fall asleep soon. But nooooooo, it's 3:20 AM and sleep is teasing me. Chemo days are just weird. I'm thankful to be 66% done with treatments, though.  

The Servings Count: Fruit: 0  Veg: 2 Dairy: 1 supplement Whole Grains: 3  Like I said, chemo days are weird. 

I'm partly through the recovery from chemo treatment #4. It's been a doozy!! For the first time during chemo I had the unpleasant experience of tossing my cookies. Vomiting was the second thing I was most afraid to go through with chemo, and I was pretty darn happy that I had made it through 3 rounds without experiencing it. It came on suddenly Friday morning and I hadn't felt at all queasy. Darn those sneaky chemo drugs!! 

So, one of my worst fears happened, but I made it through fine thanks to my Mom's loving presence, rest, breathing, positive energy, prayers, and taking the right actions at most of the right times. My Angel of a Mom whisked in and took care me in that special way that only a mommy can when I was sick to my stomach. I will never be able to thank you enough, Mom.  

I should have taken the anti-nausea drugs right away and kept them going like I did for the first 3 rounds, but this round I decided that I didn't really need them. HA!! Once I got sick I couldn't even hold down water and a pill, so I had to take the medicine in a different way. Getting to avoid that 'different way' is incentive enough to take all my anti-nausea drugs from now on, believe me! Thankfully, the medicine worked and I was able to rest and sleep which helps to keep my mind off the bone pain, all over aches, the headaches, and the weakness.  

Sleep has been my first and middle name the past 3 days. I slept the rest of the day on Friday, and only woke up to eat a can of chicken noodle soup and some saltines. I did a happy dance in my head when I realized, thankfully, that my body was going to hold it down. Then I went back to sleep. 

Sleeping during chemo recovery is odd. I'm in and out of consciousness, go from freezing cold to night sweats, have no energy or strength to roll over but I HAVE to roll over because my knees hurt so badly, and time just melts away. I feel so vulnerable and weak. It's not the peaceful kind of sleep that I usually enjoy. I am thankful that I have been able to sleep so well during this recovery period, though, because it's made the tummy issue much easier to handle. 

Saturday night I woke up and came downstairs long enough to eat a can of potato soup and more saltines. Mom had fixed a tasty and healthy smoothie for me also. I need all those vitamins and antioxidants!! I got to see 4 of my 5 Peeps for a few minutes, which is always good for my soul and Spirit. It's so sweet how tender and loving they are with me when I'm sick. It's like God reaching out to touch me through them....such a blessing! 

I woke up Sunday early afternoon and felt actual hunger. Yay! It's a very welcome and good sign. I took it easy on my tummy and ate 2 pieces of whole grain french toast with real maple syrup, 1 slice of nitrate free bacon, and a small glass of milk. Delicious and comforting! 

I'm so tired of sleeping and laying in bed, so I spent some time downstairs with my 2 oldest Peeps. So cute...so sweet and very entertaining! I didn't last too long, though, before I had to lay down and stretch out and nap. This time I didn't nap for 8 hours, so there's progress! I woke up hungry again, and this time I had a bowl of tuna fish noodle salad. This is my Nana's recipe and I love having the comfort of Mom and Nana all wrapped up into this dish. Mom used noodles that are made from veggies this time, too, so I got a nutritional bonus. After that I had a small bowl of sour creamed cucumbers, a very yummy summery treat. A few hours after that the hunger revved up and this time I had a nitrate free hot dog on a whole grain bun and some reduced fat Kettle potato chips with a can of coca-cola. Not nutritionally dense, I know, but it hit the spot. 

The good news is that I'm on the upswing of recovery #4. Tomorrow the pain should start melting away, my appetite will be evening out, and my energy will start to come back. Most importantly, though, my body will have killed off another bunch of cancer cells! That's what it's all about, after all. 

It's 1:30 in the morning and I can't sleep. I've used all the tricks in my sleeping cap, but it's just not happening right now. So, I'm just going to go with it and use this time to write. 

I felt a full step better Monday. The pain in my legs and joints is melting away as anticipated, my energy is returning and my appetite is stabilizing. I'm still walking funny and don't feel up to doing much, but it's a step in the right direction. I felt good enough to go out for dinner and do a little Target shopping this evening with my BFF. I'm so thankful for all the quality time we are spending together! 

Food is a tricky thing for me. I love it, and I hate it. I need it, but I'm afraid of it. I've struggled with my weight since my teenage years. I lost 75 pounds about 6 years ago thanks to educating myself about healthy eating, finding balance and Cathe Friedrich's totally awesome workouts. I've regained about 30 of those pounds over the past 4 years. My fight against cancer is motivating me in the toughest fight of my life- reaching my happy weight. Crazy, huh? During chemo I'm not 'allowed' to lose weight, because my body is focused on recovering from the chemo and healing. That makes perfect sense to me. Still, I want to use this cancer journey to lay a fresh foundation of good health for my future. This is why I've started to share my eats for the day in the journal. It's all connected. 

I'm an emotional eater. I have no problem admitting it, or seeing it. Radiation and chemo have changed how I eat, in good ways. During radiation there were foods that I loved and emotionally craved but couldn't eat because of the physical consequences. It was so frustrating to have to find another way to deal with my emotions, but I had to and so I did. I mediated. I practiced self Reiki. I cried. I talked. I sang. I slept. I vegged out in front of the TV. 

Chemotherapy has changed my taste buds and, at times, taken away my appetite all together. Very weird!! It's incredibly frustrating to want to bury myself in ice cream only to know that it will make me sick and it wouldn't taste good anyway!! But it forces change, and change, as the cliche goes, is good. 

Cancer has been a catalyst for healthier eating and living. I'm embracing it!! 

Monday's Eats
Bfast: 1/2 c lowfat cottage cheese and 1 large peach

Lunch: Tuna Noodle Salad made with veggie noodles and 1/3 of a Snapple Green Tea

Dinner: 6 oz sirloin, 1/2 large baked sweet potato, 1/2 order of onion petals, 2 rolls with butter, salad with Ranch dressing, 2 sweet teas

Snack: cup of Sweet Dreams tea, 1 teeny Twix and 1 teeny bag of Butterfinger crisps

Fruit: 1 
Veg: 3
Dairy: 1 (plus 1 supplement)
Whole Grains: 0

Not a really healthy day, but it's a work in progress. I need more vegetables and whole grains (more alkaline foods)!!  

I'm happy and relieved to share that I am on the well side of my fourth chemo treatment last Wednesday!! Yayyayay! That was the toughest round so far, and I'm glad it's behind me. My appetite is back, the pain is gone, as much feeling as returns has returned to my hands and feet, no more queasiness, and my energy is getting a bit stronger each day. 

I did have a night of insomnia last night and it was not fun at all! I forgot to take my melatonin or drink any sleepy time tea, and I blame the chemo fog. A part of me resents that I need this little helpers, but for now I do need them. So, I'll take them from now on because I need to sleep and I love to sleep. What am I really proving to anyone by not taking anything anyway? 

During the sleepless night I had lots of doubts and questions about how the foods I've been eating. I've been journaling, as I committed to for the American Cancer Society's Choose YOU program, everyday. If I don't share my eats on this journal, I share it with some treasured journaling friends. Through my mild self-crisis last night I realized that I haven't been as committed to the following the Anti-Cancer Diet as I want to be. So, I am making a strong effort each day to stick to it! Right now, that's the best food plan to follow. In the perfect life that exists no where but my own head I'd like to be able to do at least a part-time vegan thing, but right now it just doesn't fit into my lifestyle.

Today was a good day for eats, and I'm happy with the improvements and balance. I'll highlight the Anti-Cancer suggested foods in green. 

Brunchoatmeal, organic Greek yogurt, blueberries, walnuts

Lunch: 2 cups organic lettuce and spinach mix, 1 T black olives,1 Eggland's best hard boiled egg, 2/3 c shredded carrots, 2 T green pepper, 2 T celery, 2 slices nitrate free bacon, lowfat Blue cheese yogurt dressing, 1/4 c of croutons 

Snack: nitrate free hot dog, whole grain bun, 1 serv PopChips (they are whole grain), 2 T french onion dip, 1/2 c Rasp Lemonade diluted with water

Dinner: 1/2 of California Kitchen's Spinach and Artichoke pizza and a Coke

Snack: 1/2 of a small Milky Way, 1 Ritz cracker 

Total Servings:
Fruit: 1
Veg: 4
Whole Grain: 4

A very good day indeed! I've got a busy family-filled weekend that actually started tonight. I'm so thankful to feel well-as-can-be right now so I can spend time enjoying my family (especially those Peeps!!). 

Thank you all for your prayers, support, kind words, and love. Keep 'em coming, they are working wonders.

Two weeks after treatment #4 and I'm feeling pretty good. The only symptoms I'm dealing with right now is numbness in my feet, food cravings, changes in my taste buds, short bouts of insomnia, and fatigue. Crazy as it may sound, but I feel thankful for the health and wealth of life that surrounds me. 

I spoke with a very sweet lady the other day who is a 5 year Survivor of breast cancer. She also got her treatment at The West Clinic, and is doing very well now. It was so good to talk to someone who has walked the walk and made it through successfully. Sisters of cancer are wonderful!!

My favorite fitness guru is Cathe Friedrich. She puts out incredible workouts and is an awesome person. She has personally wrote encouragements to me over the years! One of the many things she does for her devoted followers, who proudly call themselves Cathletes, is put together a monthly workout rotations featuring her DVDs. Right before treatment #4 the August rotation came out and I decided to follow it- at my own pace. So far I've made it through the first week of the rotation, and it feels great to have a goal!! I modify the intensity of most of the workouts and sometimes sub an easier (in some way) workout for the scheduled one. I'm accepting the limitations of my chemo-self, but at the same time I'm embracing exercise and celebrating what my body CAN do right now. 

This week I'm seizing the opportunity to spend time with my nieces and nephew. My family has lots of stuff going on, and I'm thankful for each minute of togetherness!! Next week Wednesday will be chemo #5...and then I'll only have 1 chemo treatment to go! I can see the finish line.... Thank you for being a positive and loving force in my cancer journey! 

It's been 6 days since chemo treatment #5. This round was tough in a different way than the previous four, though they all have their uniqueness. Before I tell you all the 'after' details, let me tell you about my meeting with the oncologist. 

She talked to me about my major chemo side effects and we decided that I would start taking an anti-depressant to help control and stop the numb/burning feeling in my feet. I'm not the kind of person who looks for cures or 'answer's in a pill bottle, but this isn't a normal circumstance. The detail that pushed me over into the 'let's try' side was that this numb/burning thing might last for the rest of my life or it could take a year or longer for it to melt away. I can't imagine living with this sometimes debilitating chemo side effect. There are times when I can barely stand to walk, and that's just not acceptable for me and the active lifestyle I want. 

We are combating this side effect in other ways, too. One of them is a shot (actually 2 shots worth is the dose) in my arm (sorry I don't have the name of the medicine). The shots burn and leave a big huge splotch on my arm, but I had Mom's hand to squeeze really hard and no one is really judging my arms right now anyway. 

The positive side of my discussion with my oncologist is that my blood counts continue to be quite good for a chemo patient. Yay, me! 

Treatment itself went well. I slept through about half of it, thanks for all the Benadryl that gets pumped into me before the chemo drugs. I had Mom's new Samsung Captive phone/computer/world controller to play some games along with a couple of magazines. I didn't get sick to my tummy, so I'm 5 for 5 on not puking on treatment days. Yay!

Immediately after treatment Mom and I ate some delicious Memphis barbecue and then went shopping at grocery store that's closing to hunt for bargains. We found some great organic soups, yay! 

Then we came home and I slept. Thursday came and I slept 90% of the day and night- only waking up to eat some of the organic soup, crackers and take my meds (ok I peeked on my Facebook page too). I felt completely weak and vulnerable- like a completely different person. I had absolutely no strength or energy. I found it very disturbing and unsettling- like it wasn't really me at all. Friday and Saturday were just like Thursday. I slept for the better part of 5 days!! 

By Saturday I had some strength and enough energy to go downstairs and visit with my sisters and Peeps but not for very long. I got to hold the baby Peep which I absolutely adore! There's just nothing like holding a sleeping baby to soothe yourself. Saturday also brought bone pain and that numb burning feeling in my feet.  

Sunday brought serious bone pain in my legs. The best way I can describe it is this: bone crushing. It feels like my bones are being crushed under something very heavy and I can't get it off of me. I am very thankful for pain meds and all the other ways to combat this side effect. Deep breathing, meditation, prayer, and Reiki all play an important role too- not just in combating side effects, but in surviving chemo. 

Yet despite all the pains I have to acknowledge that the pain is a reflection of the chemo drugs at work. My crazy mind knows that my bones hurt so badly because the chemo drugs are attacking the bone marrow. This could be saving my life in the future. So even though the pain sucks and I'd much rather be able to skip over it, I know that the pain is part of the process of getting well. I am thankful for this opportunity to get well and to have the means to get chemo while have so much loving support surrounding me. 

My Mom continues being an Angel. I truly and deeply appreciate everything she does for me. Her love is never invisible in my life and through my treatment. 

I'm very happy to share that I am feeling much MUCH better as of today, Thursday. Whew, and yay!! 

I had a very helpful conversation with a oncology nutrition specialist earlier this week. Initially I sent her an email full of my questions about nutrition during and after cancer treatment and after she read it she called me to talk me through her answers. One of my dreams in this life has been to find a nutritionist to help me and guide me, and so I am very thankful that cancer treatment has brought me to this Angel. 

I learned that for optimal health post treatment I should aim for 66% plant based foods (including whole grains, nuts, seeds and oils) and the other 34% animal based including dairy. I also learned that it really is best for me to be eating organic grass-fed dairy and beef. I've been doing this 75% of the time. It's best to limit how much milk, cheese, eggs, beef and pork that I eat on a weekly basis as there is some medical research that points to those foods raising the risk of cancer, and for a me another recurrence. Largely what she told me is in line with what my intuition and reading had already pointed me toward, and I am very thankful and relieved to have confirmation. I'm so happy to know that I've been on the right track and reading Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life was the right book a few months ago. I feel sooooo much better now! I feel armed with powerful knowledge to help me fight cancer for the rest of my life as well as lose weight when it's time.

The most valuable item that my onc nutritionist Angel told me is about the L-glutamine I've been taking for the numbness and burning in my feet and hands (also called peripheral neuropathy). It turns out that I've been taking a much smaller dose than I should be, and I've been taking it at the wrong time in my treatment. YIKES!! Thankfully, now it's all straightened out. 

The best part is that it's helping tremendously!! I'm supposed to take it 3 times a day for 4 days after treatment, but I missed that window so my onc nutrition Angel urged me to start right then and go for the 4 days. I'm in the middle of day 3 and there's just a little numbness in my feet. It feels like a miracle to me, and I am very very thankful! 

My onc nutritionist Angel also helped me to see that I've been too hard on myself these past few weeks concerning my eats. She told me that the chemo is causing my crazy strong cravings, and that eating less than healthy foods is not a matter of willpower or wisdom on my part right now. I shouldn't feel disappointed in myself or guilty for not eating healthier or cleaner. In fact, she said that chemo is a time for extra self-love and grace. She pointed out that I really haven't gained any weight during chemo and that assured me that she will help me lose weight when chemo is over and my oncologist clears it. Her best advice during chemo is to add in as much plant based food as I can each day and focus on the positives while giving my body lots of understanding as it survives chemo. That put my mind and heart at ease. 

Only 1 more chemo treatment to go....6 weeks after that I will be able to start losing weight again. I'm excited about both... Here's to the fight, and the win!! 

Hello out there! My sixth and final chemo treatment is this coming Wednesday. It feels unreal to me that the end of active treatment is in sight! I'm feeling a bit anxious about my blood counts being good enough to get treated, though, because my allergies have kicked up this past week and I've been extra tired. I'm doing all that I know to do to get (or keep) myself healthy and think positive, though. I hope it's enough!

I've been thinking a lot about how cancer has bruised my ego lately. Cancer treatment has been hard on my body. I am much weaker now than I was before treatment started in January. I worked hard for 8 years to gain cardio endurance and physical strength using Cathe Friedrich's workouts. I was proud of being a Cathlete even though I still had (and have) a big amount of weight to lose. Now just walking up 1 flight of stairs leaves me short of breath sometimes. My feet constantly have some kind of numbness or sensitivity. The times when I've felt up to doing a Cathe cardio workout I have to reduce the intensity a lot and shorten the workout. I'm proud that I can do ANY Cathe workout right now, but every time it's bittersweet. 

Then there's the 'chemo brain'. It's a real thing that can last for months or even years (!!!) after chemo. Doctors refer to it as cognitive dysfunction. The symptoms are: inability to focus or concentrate, disorientation, forgetfulness, difficultly finding the right word, losing track of a sentence, difficultly understanding what people are saying, difficultly completing tasks and multi-tasking, difficultly balancing a checkbook, poor sense of direction, fatigue, mood swings, and insomnia. All of these symptoms have increasingly affected me the past couple of weeks. Talk about a bruised ego!! It's extremely frustrating and embarrassing. I've lost some control of my mind! Before chemo I was a fairly intelligent person, and now I feel often feel stupid. It must be very frustrating for someone to talk with me these days. I try to avoid conversations so I'm not embarrassed by not understanding and so I don't frustrate the other person. It's scary and frustrating to know that this chemo brain thing may stay with me for a long time. I worry about how it may effect my future. For now, I'm managing by making lists, keeping my calendar updated, and playing games that (hopefully) sharpen my brain. 

My body is fighting for it's life, focusing all it's energy on surviving chemo. I want to appreciate how well it's performing and surviving. However, often I'm either frustrated by it or ashamed of it. It's a familiar feeling. Throughout my life I've felt frustrated, confused and ashamed of my body, but cancer brings all that to a totally new level. Before cancer I had a good amount of control over my body, but sadly I didn't realize it and start using it until I was in my late 20s. Ironically, my 30s have seen 2 instances of cancer which has taken away a large piece of my control over my body. That's all tough on the ol' ego!! 

I am working on focusing on the positives, enjoying life despite chemo (my Peeps are a huge part of this one!), keeping my ego in check, and expressing my gratitude for my growing blessings. 

It's chemo eve, wheeee!! Thank you all for your Guestbooks notes and private emails today!! You all are Angels, carrying me through this cancer treatment journey. 

Physically I felt better today, my allergies have eased up quite a bit thanks to a NetiPot, new allergy meds, lots of rest, lots and lots of water (help I'm floating away!!), a couple of self-Reiki treatments, and all of your prayers and positive energy. I haven't had a fever all day, either. So, I'm feeling positive about my blood work being good enough to get my final chemo treatment. 

My Angel of a Mom reminded me last night that even if I'm not well enough to get treatment that it's okay. I'm very blessed to not have a strict timetable. She, also, reminded me to think positive. What would I do without you, Mom? I truly don't know, but I couldn't be more grateful for you!

I took Mom's wise advice and thought positive all day. Whaddya know? It worked it's usual magic!  

So, I'm ready for treatment. Our rolling bag is packed with healthy snacks, my big cancer binder, and entertainment. If I'm not well enough for treatment, I know that it will be alright. Everything happens for a reason- whether or not we get to find out the reason or not. I trust God. 

Happy chemo eve, or Tuesday eve- whichever! 

Whoohooo!! Last chemo is done!! What a relief! It's still sinking in, my brain and heart haven't fully grasped it yet. I am overwhelmed with thankfulness for all of your prayers, notes, positive energy, distance Reiki treatments, kindness and love. To say thank you isn't nearly enough... 

I will share all the details of my last chemo treatment in the next day or so, stay tuned! I have some fun surprises to share...
Come back in time with me for a few moments, back to this past Wednesday. My final chemo treatment!! I woke up slowly, as usual, nervous about how my body would feel when I was awake enough to notice. I felt pretty decent, better than the day before which meant that my allergies were simmering down. I felt hopeful that my blood counts would be good enough for treatment. 

Mom and I arrived at The West Clinic, signed in and picked up the patient tablet and started answering the questions and rating my side effects. I was called back for my blood draw quickly. Thankfully, my Port worked smoothly! That's always a relief! Then it was back out to the waiting room. We weren't there long before the nurse called my name to see the gyn oncologist. I got weighed (no loss and no gain, yay!) and vitals were checked. All good numbers!

My oncologist's nurse, Susan, came in and asked some questions and then I got to ask her some questions. Yes, I should get a flu shot, and yes they can do it there. Yes, I will get a CT scan in a few weeks. Yes, I can start going out in the sun as long as I wear sunscreen, a hat and long sleeves. 

Then the oncologist came in, and shook my hand to congratulate me on my final chemo! We talked about my side effects and swapped questions and answers. Yes, I should keep taking the anti-depressant- probably for a year. No, there aren't any foods to avoid or seek. Yes, my Port will probably be removed in about a year. Yes, I will have CT scan and a pelvic exam in a few weeks (mid-November). 

Then the best news of the day...blood counts looks GREAT! Yes, the oncologist said GREAT when describing my blood counts! Whoohooo!! Off to the chemo suite.... 

It was pretty empty so I got my pick of seats. The nurse got me started with the pre-chemo stuff. After that dripped it was time for the shots of ethyol. Ethyol (I'm not sure I'm spelling it correctly) helps to ease the numbness and burning in my feet and hands. The shots burn and leave a huge red splotch on my arm, but it's worth it. This stuff often makes patients vomit immediately after, but thankfully I didn't. I gagged a few times, but managed to hold myself together. 

This is the point in treatment where I fall asleep thanks to all the Benadryl. This time, however, my allergies were causing some drainage and I couldn't stop myself from coughing. The cold dry air in the chemo suite made it much worse. I must have dozed off a bit here and there, but no long snoozes. I listened to my Reiki music on my iPod, flipped through some magazines, played some games on Mom's new Samsung Captivate, and chatted. 

The taxol finished dripping and the carboplatin got started. The carboplatin only takes 30 minutes so I knew I was close to being done...it felt surreal. Of course, on treatment days I'm loopy anyway. 

The nurse came over to take out the IV and my mom mysteriously got up and left the room. The nurse announced to everyone in the chemo suite that I had finished my chemo treatments. Everyone clapped and it felt so nice! My mom came back carrying one of those big eco-friendly grocery bags.

The big bag held lots of little goody bags for the nurses, chemo patients and their caregivers. My mom had a little cheery note and some candy in little snack bags!! She surprised me! Isn't she the sweetest?!? I went around to all the chemo patients and handed them each bag and wished them luck and blessings. It felt so good to share some positive energy with the patients and caregivers!! My mom is simply the best!! 

We packed up our stuff and made the CT appointment, and headed outside to ring the bell. Ringing the bell is a special thing that chemo patients get to do after their final treatment. It's a sound of joy and relief! It felt wonderful to pull the big heavy chain and make that bell sing 3 times! 

Then it was off to a late lunch. I choose O'Charley's because I thought their potato soup would be good. Turned out to be too salty. Almost everything tastes too salty to me on treatment days and often many days after treatment. 

When we got there I got another surprise- both of my sisters, 3 of my Peeps and one of my brother-in-law were there to celebrate my final chemo!! I was very touched, and surprised! We got settled, ordered and then I got another surprise! A beautifully wrapped present!! It's a Reiki kit with a music CD, DVD, guided meditation CD, a workbook to improve my practice and cards to help remember all the hand placements. I love it, it's perfect! 

My final chemo treatment day turned out very good with fun surprises. I am thankful to have the treatments behind me. It's still sinking into my brain though...I can't quite wrap my head around being finished yet. I know it will come with time....

I've been sleeping a lot since I've been home, eating a little, trying to drink lots of water with glutamine to help with the foot numbness and burning, and thinking peaceful thoughts. 

Thank you all for your wonderful support and celebrating this final chemo with me!