Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Freaking out

Life has been hectic.Saturday was my daughter's high school graduation and party.  We had people coming from Washington state, Montana, Connecticut, Michigan and of course, the local area. 

Iris from my garden
Trying to get the house and gardens ready was a real feat. I had help from lots of people but found that the fatigue and pain in the pelvis I had was really a bit much to try to accomplish this.  Each night when I went to bed or often even before, I had horrific pain in my pelvis.  Since I didn't have similar pain when I had the first bone mets in 1997, I was terrified that I had chemo resistant cancer.  

The good news came today, howver, that my markers dropped again.   So, the pain, which is rather nasty, is due to a re-fracture from the damaged area, pain associated with Abraxane, or pain from the 2009 fracture from all the lifting, pounding, digging, etc.  I've been doing. 

I was really frightened.  How was I going to be able to continue to live in a 2 story house?  Does this mean that the rest of my life, however long that may be, I would continue to have pain?
Sometimes the Tramadol worked, sometimes it didn't. 

In the meantime, I am going to  hire someone to help me spread mulch, the only way I'll be able to keep on top of my garden this summer.  One of my neighbors told me that I would have to cut back.  I've been thinking that and I've been giving away plants, but there is a limit to some of the areas that I am willing to cut out.  I don't want to loose a lot of the shrubs I have and while I can, and am, reducing the size of some of the beds, others I don't want to.  Mulching and using Preen, a synthetic corn gluten which inhibits seeds from sprouting helps.  The areas in my garden where I used it last year and mulched were far easier to get into shape this spring. 

And...of course, I hope I don't have to do this next year.  In the meantime, I'm going to concentrate on the falling markers...........

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Moon Face

 Two weeks ago, I had a revelation....No matter what you KNOW about side effects...sometimes you're slapped up-beside the head with them. 

Since starting chemotherapy in November, I have lost 10 pounds.  This photo was taken of me right after having my first treatment.  I got the chemo on Friday and this was taken on Saturday morning.
This photo was taken April 30....now mind you, I've lost 10 pounds.  What you're seeing is the result of Decadron, the steroid I get to alleviate some of the side effects of chemo.

Yuck.  Maybe if I stuck a pin in myself???? Oh...wait...they stick needles in me weekly.  :) 

Saturday, May 7, 2011


A couple of weeks ago at the Noble Circle project, we were talking about anger and the diagnosis of breast cancer.  It was interesting, several of the participants had reacted to the original (and in my case repeated) diagnosis of cancer without anger.  Instead, we saw it as having a job to do and we needed to get to work.

I can say that I have been angry during my treatment several times.  I was angry with Dr. Bernie Siegal when I read Love, Medicine and Miracles.   In it, he commented that those who got angry with their disease were ones who tended to survive longer.  I had a hard time with this as I wasn't angry. I felt that I was sideswiped by evil, but that there wasn't anything I could do about what was in the past, I just had something I needed to work on at that moment.  I felt that by saying that those who got angry survived , by the opposite, those who didn't died.  I had to take a deep breath with this one.

Bernie was one of my friend's neighbors and I told her to tell him the next time he was jogging by to say I was angry, but that I was angry at him for having written such a thing. 

Anger is a funny thing.  In general, it is considered a negative....and "bad."  However, I think that that is a disservice to human-kind.  Anger is a normal, human feeling and to label it as bad is denying ourselves our humanity.   However, it is what we do with our anger which is the trick.   If we direct it towards others in a raw, destructive manner, yes it is bad.  If we stuff it and allow it to eat at us rather than looking at the causes of our anger and trying to face it and find a solution and an appropriate outlet or diffusion, than that isn't good either. 

Anger can be a motivating factor and if approached rationally it can open dialogue and clear the air.  However, I think far too often we don't approach it in the right way and we lash out...

I have to admit, I have been angry with my family's inability to help me or acknowledge that I have cancer and am unable to do what I normally do because their own fear.  In the past with my husband, I directed this anger inward by eating too much or stuff I shouldn't have....self-destruction is always a bad idea!  But, I do think that if we step away and cool down, analyze it then talk rationally with the source of our anger, if we can, we can go far to finding solutions.

This isn't to say that I feel bad that my daughter doesn't remember a healthy mom.  I do sometimes envy those who are living "normal" lives and haven't had to repeatedly face the financial and other burdens that having had cancer causes.  But then, I look at the many beautiful children who have not been able to live as long as I have and all the young soldiers who have lost their lives or who are suffering from PTSD, or loss of limb and functionality whether it be mental or whatever and I feel fortunate that I am where I am.

Polyanna? Perhaps.  I've always been that way...but I don't think we need anything else to beat ourselves up over....I do think that we need to work hard on trying to have the mental and physical stamina we need to live our lives as best we can...and that includes accepting that we are human  and we get mad...at our disease, our doctors and the many injustices in the world..  So..lets go out and see what we can do to rectify some of these things...correct what we can and let go of what we can't.  Seems to me that that's a pretty good way to live our lives however long or short that might be.

The photos is a honey locust tree (Gleditsia triacanthos) growing at Mt. St. Johns, the Marianist Environmental Education Center in Dayton, Ohio.  The thorns were sometimes used as nails.  The "honey" comes from the sweet pulp that is in the seed pods.  The Native Americans used to use it as a food source.