Monday, April 28, 2008

Couple funny things...

So, this last week has gone really well. I feel more "normal" everyday. Little things are starting to bug me again which is a good and bad sign. If it gets to be too much I just say, "This could be my last day" and it all melts away. I am getting better with having two boys 100% of the time. Trips to Costco are not so scary and I am not exhausted when I get home. Don't get me wrong - I rest EVERY afternoon, but not like it used to be. My next clearance appointment with my oncologist is next week and, as I look at my calendar, I have an entire week without one doctor appointment. SHOCKING. So, here are my funny stories.... When you go into remission, you are granted permission to go see all those doctors that you haven't seen since you started. I was allowed to see my dentist during treatment, but my dermatologist and my endocrinologist were 86ed. So, I finally got to see them last week. The nurse at the dermatologist's office asked me, "Has anything major happened since we last saw you?" hehehehehehehe Her mouth dropped when I told her. I had to spell chemotherapy for her. There was a long pause and she said, "Most people tell me something like, 'I am eating more salad.'" I laughed and said, "I am not even going to bore you with my dietary stuff!" The appointment went fine and the mole that was removed and "abnormal" last year hasn't returned. My doctor said, "Everything is probably dead from your treatment." She asked me about treatment and I told her about radiation and chemotherapy. She confirmed that I didn't have surgery - like a person would "forget" surgery - WHATEVER. Then, she started asking me about the radiation. "Was it external or internal?" I proudly exclaimed, "External - thank goodness!" She smiled and said, "Well, next year we will want to start monitoring that area too." What the (*&)^&?!~?! And why is she smiling?!?! Do people really want to look at my butt that much?? What is so popular about MY butt!?!?! Sorry...I digress....apparently, because of the radiation I have an increased risk of skin cancer right there. Yes, it will NEVER end. After I exhaled, I said, "Well, if you want to look at it right now, feel free. Everyone else has." She smiled again and said, "I am not so concerned right now. We will started next year." I said, "You sure cause I drop my pants for anybody these days!" She laughed and said, "Yes, I am positive." I narrowly escaped that one. The next story was when I was returning a weed wacker to SEARS. So, I am dressed in my new CABi sweater, my boots, and pair of Jeans #1. I looked okay for a 38 year old that just got out of butt cancer chemo. I was carrying the weed wacker to SEARS to exchange for Grant. At this mall, there are doing a TON of construction and I am walking by the site on my way. Suddenly, I hear a whistle and I causally look to my side to see what cute thing they are whistling at because I have learned that whistling stops at 32 - very abruptly I may add, but that is a different sociological phenomenon that we won't go into. Anyway, back to the story.....there was no one beside me. I stopped. I looked behind me. Still holding the weed wacker, I looked at the guys and said, "ME???" They looked at me, nodded and said, "Yes." with the expression of, "What are you a dork?" I put up one hand with the "Rock On" symbol and said, "ROCK ON!!!" They burst into laughter. Maybe it was at me, but I didn't care - SOMEBODY whistled at me!!!!!! My conclusion - the jeans WORKED! Happy Monday, Ang

Monday, April 21, 2008

My Spot

For those of you that have followed this blog from the beginning, "My Spot" was a place that I had all my cancer stuff - my books, my letters, my cards, my music, my candles, etc. It was my place in our house that I could go and just be with cancer. Sometimes there was sorrow, sometimes there was pain, but most of the time there was peace and, from that peace, strength. Well, over the last week, I have been breaking down the physical space of my spot. I have a special box that I have been putting everything in, moving the furniture back to its precancer position, etc. What I haven't been able to do it but the box "away". I just need it there - in my sight - everyday. I don't know why that is, but it is and I have learned that I need to allow that to be. What has been interesting in that journey, is that I have been going through the other parts of my house too. For example, I have been going through my pantry. My pantry took on a life of its own during cancer. Precancer, I had certain food - quite healthy I may add, and, during cancer, I had certain food - quite restricted and not as healthy as the precancer food, but not being able to have antioxidants, fiber, etc. will do that. So, I reorganized for my new post cancer life, but I am not able to get rid of the cancer stuff - Glutamine, Miralax, B-6, Ensure, etc. I take a break and get some orange juice - another item I couldn't have on chemo - and I see a frig magnet that says, "Surviving Cancer - Priceless". I go into the living room to watch TV and I see my Angel of Courage that was sent to me over the holidays. I go to my neighbors house to stamp some cards and I am compelled to stamp one of my cards with the saying, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." And then, I wake up tonight in a sweat thinking, "What if it comes back? Oh my God, what if it comes back?" (Seriously, like that didn't occur to me? Am I completely dense?) And, after an hour of talking myself off the wall, I remember my spot, my magnet, my angel, my pantry, my card, and realized that my spot and I are one. This is what it is to live with cancer and to continue with courage is all I can do. For those of you that have watched the movie Dumbo one too many times, the question is, "Can I fly without the feather?" The answer always is, "Yes." Back to bed, Ang

Friday, April 18, 2008

Thankful again...

Yesterday, I was doctor's appointments that I have to go to now that I am out of treatment - the dentist, the dermatologist, the endo lady, etc. See all "those" appointments take a back seat to cancer, then, when you get a rest you get to do all of those again. I was feeling a bit sorry for myself as I am a tad tired of the doctor gig, but then I looked at my kids. We were in the field. Mason driving his truck - "four wheeling" - and Nolan the happy passenger. I thought about all the appointments I had to do just to get them. Seven years to have two kids. Endless amounts of money (and I had insurance to cover part of it); endless amount of time, but I got them - my two precious and perfect boys. Then I think about the last 10 months - endless amounts of time and effort for so many people, but I had yesterday and today, and probably tomorrow. Thank goodness I living here in a country with such great docs, great insurance, great family, and great friends that is tranquil enough to allow me to heal. Enjoy your weekend, Ang

Monday, April 14, 2008

Okay, I finally caught my breath

The week after Kauai was a whirlwind. I guess I have been so ready to get back to my life, I had a lot to get back to. We are unpacked and Nolan and Mason now share a room giving me back my study! Lots has changed, I worked in the yard for the first time in FOREVER. We finally got to projects in the yard that have been on hold since last spring. But let me summarize Kauai for you. Simply, it was a great trip. I was nervous of the plane ride, not have complete access to the bathroom for six hours, but I managed it just fine. I had some trouble on the island going to Shaved Ice because it was a bit of a drive and again, not having complete access, but I made it. I sat on the beach with my friends most mornings and went for lots of leisurely walks in the evening. The one really tough part was that Nolan decided not to get onto Hawaii time, so he was up every morning at 3am. Grant and I started doing shifts, but it was a grind. We took turns sleeping in. Nolan is a force, but that is another story for another time. Battle of the wills with that one! The great part about the trip was that there was no "cancer schedule", no buildings that reminded me of cancer, no memories of cancer, etc. It was like a vacation from myself - a much needed one I may add. On Wednesday night we all got together for a party. We drank Pina Coladas, I got a "What's up your butt?" t-shirt from Karissa, and all 30 of us had a great time. All friends and family that had shared this journey with me. Several times, I wanted to stop and toast those that were there - thanking them for their role, but every time I thought about doing it, I looked around and I didn't want to disrupt the natural flow of the conversation, laughter, and joy. So, I didn't. I let my need to recognize them formally go, but it doesn't mean that I don't remember what they did for me. Here is a highlight list just to give you an idea........held me while I cried because I didn't want to go to chemo, held my hand while I cried from pain from chemo, believed in my success even when I didn't, shared with me their cancer experience and told me I would be a survivor with them, wrote me stories of their children so that I could have some "normal" email, spoke only to me about non-cancer stuff, cooked me healing dinners and didn't leave a dirty dish behind, brought their Grandpa over while cooking me the healing dinners to play with the boys, poetry that made me laugh HARD, took Mason to swimming every week, picked Mason up from preschool EVERY WEEK, loved my kids, took Mason to the zoo, spent the entire summer for me with endless hours, giving me their wife/mom for a entire summer, sent me every piece of cancer survivorship stuff on the Internet, came over EVERY Wednesday to help with whatever (Costco, Fred Meyer, IKEA, yard work, babysitting, dishes, vacuuming, etc. etc. etc.), took care of her kids so that she could come over every Wednesday, spent their weekends taking care of me or my kids, spent their weeks taking care of my boys, and, finally, loving me. Again, this is NOT an all inclusive list, just a small sample....forever grateful - thank you. Happy Monday, Ang

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Okay, this is HILARIOUS!!!! Enjoy - Ang

Another 30 days....

It is very nice to go to two doctor's appointments and have them say, "The news just keeps getting better!" Yes, both appointments went VERY well. The first was with the colon/rectal surgeon, who did a rather thorough rectal exam and said things like, "Amazing. Great. Wow, this is amazing." I pretended he was looking at my butt, but I know he was focused on the tumor site. My butt is WAY out of shape anyway!!!! So, the good news is that I don't have to do that again for a while (struggling a little today from the thoroughness of it), bad news is that he wants me to go in for a colonoscopy at the end of June. Just to look at everything else up there. At least I am out for that! Then, I had my appointment with the oncologist. I knew his first question would be, "So, when is the last time you had a rectal?" See, I caught on...see the rectal doctor first so that you can say, "Twenty minutes ago, and don't even thing you are going up there! Talk to him!" Dodged that bullet!!!! He was trilled with me - my blood, my exam, everything. I cleared for another 30 days of freedom - oh how sweet that tastes. Okay, one story about Kauai and then, off to the bathtub I go.....When I was first diagnosed, some of the things I worried about is never seeing certain people again. Two of those people are in Chicago and New York. I adore them and consider them some of the best people I have ever known. So, their coming on the Kauai trip meant so much to me. We set up a dinner, just the three of us, and had an amazing time. We talked mainly about cancer, my journey, poop, etc. Then, when we were driving home in the topless Jeep, the stars were out, the breeze was just a bit cool and all I heard was our voices just like old times. Our bellies full of good food and drink, great conversation all in my favorite place. When we were just about to get out of the car, I told them that this is what I thought I would never see again - this moment, this perfect moment with the breeze on my neck and them so close to me. I started to cry. We all hugged and decided one more drink was in order before we left......don't worry it was in one of their rooms and it was a pretty bad interpretation of a Mai Tai.....luckily they got better toward the end of the week!!!! Happy Thursday, Ang

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I am home....

and what an amazing trip it was! I am not fully unpacked and have so much to tell I need to organize my thoughts. Tomorrow, I have my first appointments with my colorectal surgeon and my oncologist for monitoring. I am feeling great, but can't help but be a little nervous for those appointments. More to come about, Ang