Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Would the REAL Mom please step forward?

Confused? Me too! And you are not seeing things, so don't try to adjust your screen. This is what happens when you are slap happy and your family has been at the University of Michigan Cancer Center for seven hours. Yes, we were all there... all day yesterday. We checked in at 8:30 and left about 5:oo pm. Why? Well, that's a great question. I'll give you a very short answer (or we'd be here for another 7 hours.) I was encouraged by my surgical oncologist to seek a seek opinion for my treatment, and I did. With all the family in tow. By the time I saw my third doctor, and all five of us were stuffed into an extremely small examination room, we were loopy, tired, and just a little on edge. (ok, maybe I was the one on edge, they were all just tired from being up since 6:00 am) Jessica decided that she would be "Mom" and put on my stuff. Then it got passed to Rachel, Carly, and even Steve! The door was closed, but the laughter level was high, and I'm sure anyone passing by in the hallway wondered what the HECK was going on inside that room. I guess there isn't often wild uncontrollable laughter emanating from inside a breast cancer center examination room. Well, there's always time for a first, and this was apparently it. We phoned my sister in Dallas and she got into the act as well. (xoxo Aunt B!)
Laughter is the best medicine after all, and we needed a big dose!

The day at U of M went well, and the great news is that their opinion matched with my current course of treatment. I will be returning at the end of January however, after my third chemo treatment, and the next round of scans for another round of evaluations. For now, we hurry up and wait, and let the chemo do its job.

And yes, in case you haven't seen me recently, the hair is history. I was buzzed this past Friday, it just wouldn't wait for the girls to come home. That's ok though. I am more than my hair, and it will take more than a buzz cut to keep this (bald) chick down. You won't have to look very hard, you can still see the REAL ME shining through.


Friday, December 17, 2010

A visit from Santa Ryan!

My second chemo has come and gone, and so far so good! :) My post chemo meds were
changed slightly and maybe I can attribute these feelings to a "little less of this, and a little more of that."
I will go with the flow however, and just enjoy feeling mostly myself...which is a good thing! The hair however, is a different story. I will have to refer to the sentence above..."a little less of this" would be most accurate.

I was very kindly invited to have dinner last night with a student from my class this year, Ryan and his mother, Wendy. They asked me join them at Panera (only to happy to oblige) and they told me that they had some Christmas gifts for me! :) So I decided to take a shower before I left. It's not nice to show up for dinner with friends looking unkempt! Hindsight being twenty twenty, it was a bad bad idea...hair wise that is. (I did smell rather nice so that part was ok) However, by the end of the shower, I looked like a bird that is quite close to the END of molting. Take my word, it was not a good look (even for a bird) So off I went in search of a bandana, tied it on, hopped into the bug, and I was off!

I spotted Ryan right away! He was peering over a booth top watching the door for me. It was wonderful to see him and he rushed over to give me a huge hug! Wendy ordered our food and the gift giving frenzy began! :) Oh my, Oh my, Oh my is all I can say! The bag was about as big as Ryan, and he kept reaching in to pull out gifts! It was TRULY Christmas come early! One gift was more amazing and thoughtful than the next. The most amazing gift of all however, had to be the "Harry Potter" Snuggy! Being the TRUE H.P. fan that I am, they found this amazing gift and thought of me. It will be warm and FUN to wear up in camp chemo, and I'm sure to be the only H.P. Snuggy Wearing patient in the entire hospital!! We ate, talked about school, yesterday's holiday party in class, and in general, just had a WONDERFUL WONDERFUL visit. Wendy and Ryan, I cannot thank you enough for your kindness, thoughtfulness, and caring. You really truly made me feel special and I feel the same about you!

Now I'll fit right into the Gryffindor Common Room with Harry, Ron, and Hermione! :)


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Going...Going...But Not Gone...

yet. The time has come. My hair will not be with me much longer. But that's alright. We all knew it was going to happen sooner or later. My second visit to camp chemo will be in two hours, and after this visit it will really be adios. This past week my scalp has been very tender to the touch. Even water hitting it from the shower head has been uncomfortable. I also have to be extremely careful when I pull a shirt over my head because even if the material barely touches it, my head doesn't feel that great. In a way it will be a relief. It's actually been quite a pain to have hair everywhere. It's on my clothes, on the kitchen table, in the sink, and I've even pulled it out of my food. (At least I know it's mine...it's a different story when you find it on your plate as you're out dining in a nice restaurant! ewww) I'm just sorry to have to be bald again in the cold weather. It gets chilly up there with no covering! I'm open to suggestions for ways to keep the 'ol pool ball warm.

I am looking forward to this weekend. ALL three of my girls will be home! :) :) :) To say I'm excited, overjoyed, and beyond happiness, would be an understatement. Carly, you had better bring warm clothing! I'm afraid 6 months of living in L.A. in 80 degree weather might have dimmed your memory as to what a Michigan winter feels like. It is C O L D here! They have canceled schools for the second day in a row...so you KNOW it must be bad out there. My teacher friends are doing the happy dance and the students are rejoicing! Now there are only three school days left before the holiday break. Good Luck when they come back tomorrow! ;)

I also wanted to say thanks to some people that have contacted me and I have not yet gotten in touch with them. Your kindness and thoughtfulness has touched me deeply. You truly have no idea what it means to me to hear from you. I have had a difficult time dealing with this the second time around and I'm trying my best to cope. Peggy Lisac, I LOVE the pin you sent me, and your card touched my heart. You are a true friend and I want to thank you for just "being there." Leslie, I'm SO sorry that my dogs nearly attacked you through the window when you delivered your card. I'm not sure what I was doing, but since they bark at anything, I didn't rush to the door. I'm SO sorry that I didn't. Your card was beautiful, and I'm so very sorry for your recent losses. I WILL make an effort to walk three whole houses away so we can visit. Sue H. I told you that I'd return your call, and I didn't :( You are one of my oldest and dearest friends and just hearing your voice warmed my insides. Thanks for just being you. Cindy P. what can I say. You are always there, even when it's been awhile since we've talked. That is a true friend.

There are so many more of you out there, and just knowing that you're keeping me in your thoughts and prayers has boosted my spirits and keeps me going. I know that I still have quite a road to travel, but I can do it with your help.

Well, my chariot will be here soon to pick me up. Kathy, you are an angel to come out in this frigid frozen tundra to take me to camp chemo and to keep me company. If we had only KNOWN that this would be a snow day, we could have rounded up the "troops" and had a party at "camp!"


This is what happens when I comb my hair...

and this is what fell into the sink...

but for right now, I still look like me! (ok a tired me lol)


Back from Camp Chemo. I'm all "juiced up" and at this point feel fine. Everything went as planned...well, there was one small problem..there was a "malfunction" with the tubing that drips my cocktail into me, and let's just say that I was being showered upon. It was dripping onto the floor, onto me, and the nurse had to call for "back up" to help stop the flow of toxic chemicals. All in a days work for camp chemo nurses I guess.

I also wanted you to see the headband that my mother made for me. It arrived yesterday with a note that said, "This will look beautiful on a bald head." I agree! I did want you see it WITH hair before you see it without. It's the pic at the top of the post with me in the chair. I just love it! Thanks Mom! xoxo

I also wanted to give a huge XOXOOXO to Kathy for coming and taking me to chemo. It took us an hour and a half to get the hospital due to the bad weather. The trip normally takes 20 minutes. We stopped on the way home at Panera (where else lol) and had soup (what else do you eat on a freezing day!) She made chemo fun and the time just whizzed right by. She also helped me pick two new hats from the "hat basket!" They are always available to take and are made by volunteers. I picked one (the one on my head) and she picked another. We couldn't decide so I took BOTH! :)

Stay warm!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Oh where Oh where have you been?

Sorry I haven't really updated recently. I was having some "issues" with my swollen arm. Don't worry, I'm alright now, but it was a little scary. I left physical therapy on Monday (was that only 48 hours ago?) with great news! The therapy worked quickly and my arm below the elbow was normal! (The therapist took measurements each time I went) Above the elbow, only 2 cm (NOT inches) bigger, which was in the "range" of normal (easy to say when you already have a flabby upper arm) but I was being sent to the medical store to get fit for a compression sleeve. This was great news since the sleeve is like wearing support socks (not that I would know) but on your arm instead. I was thrilled...no more MUMMY WRAP during the day. I would have to still "wrap" at night to keep swelling away. OK I can handle this. Off I went to get measured on Tuesday. I left with the sleeve on my arm. I will now refer to it as the "arm girdle" because that's what it feels like. TIGHT. The good news is that from the wrist to the tip of my fingers, I was FREE and it felt good! :)

Fast forward to Tuesday evening. I was wearing the arm girdle and I feel asleep around 7:00. Early even for me, but I'll take the sleep when I can get it. I must have woken up in the middle of the night and pulled the arm girdle off because I don't remember doing it. I woke up in the morning and realized what I had done! I was supposed to mummy wrap my arm when I go to sleep! I looked at my arm and noticed it was just a bit swollen, so I wrapped it instead of using the girdle. (I'm supposed to wrap when I notice even a little swelling start because it will keep it in check) Well, later in the day, my arm REALLY hurt. A lot! I tried to ignore it, but it wasn't going away. I thought, "Joanne, you should unwrap and see what the problem is." So I did. I surprised you didn't hear my shocked gasp from wherever you are. I could not believe what I was looking at. There was an ENORMOUS swollen fluid filled lump by my elbow. I can't even begin to tell you how large it was. I was scared. I made an "emergency physical therapist" call to Marilyn and told her what the problem was. (who would think that there IS such a thing as a P.T. emergency?!!) She told me that I had wrapped my arm TOO tightly above and below the elbow (can you spell tourniquet boys and girls?) and there was no place for the fluid to go. Hence, it was all collecting in the elbow area! She told me that I had to do what SHE usually does, and physically move the fluid. Yeah, right. I tried, but it wasn't working for me. (I was also a "teeny" bit upset)

Steve came to the rescue and HE moved the fluid. I gave him instructions and he did his best. Which turned out to be alright. The lump started to go down after about 20 minutes and then I re-wrapped (not too tightly this time) and I went to bed. I was exhausted from the whole ordeal.
Thanks Steve.

I went to see Marilyn this morning. The lump had gone down almost all the way (thank goodness) and when she measured my arm, it was almost back to where it was on Monday. I wrapped my arm in front of her, and she helped me to see what I was doing wrong. I left happily NOT getting the feeling squeezed out of my arm.

I figured that since a few days had gone by, I should let you know that I'm alright. Especially now that it's all over. I know that I'm feeling better. I made Paula Deen's Gooey Butter Cake this afternoon. There's NOTHING that two sticks of butter can't fix! :)

(Yes, they taste as good as they look! Thanks Paula!)


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Good bye

The news last night of Elizabeth Edwards really hit me hard. Cancer knows no boundaries between faith, fame, wealth, or station in life. Another tragic and senseless loss from this devastating disease. Elizabeth, you were strong and brave and you showed dignity until the very end. You were a symbol of strength and resilience to all us battling the same fight.

Your family's loss is ours as well. You will be missed. May you finally be at peace now with your beloved son, Wade.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I'm a proud mama!

My daughter Carly has a wonderful job. She works for Ellen. Yes, THE Ellen. I guess before I continue, I need to tell you that my oldest daughter, Jessica, works for Oprah. Yes, THE Oprah.
I know, I know, what are the chances that one mother has two daughters, each working for the biggest names in television today. I'll tell you...ONE BILLION to one, and I'm the ONE! :) And what about my youngest daughter, Rachel? (Because I'm so lucky to have three beautiful, talented, and smart daughters. HEY, the title of this entry is, "I'm a proud mama!") Rachel is only a junior in college, but she is embarking on the BEST (and most important) career of all. She is going to be a teacher...just like her mom! :) :) :) Only the bravest of the brave, those with nerves of steel, endless papers to grade and correct, and the sinking feeling of exhaustion at the end of the school day can even attempt to do this. You go Rach!

All three of my daughters have been a constant source of pride, joy, and happiness. And I've got to tell you, the older two keep me constantly amused by their jobs, along with the "unusual" stories they share with me on a regular basis. They are traveling in circles that the rest of us can only imagine. So, it is with pride, I present to you Carly's 15 seconds of fame on the Ellen show yesterday. (I knew it was going to happen, but I was SWORN to secrecy!) What mother wouldn't be proud of her daughter being one of twelve wives to a polygamist mormon? And she is pregnant to boot! My cup runneth over with joy. She is in the red dress with the bulging belly. Kind of hard to miss. Enjoy.

*Carly actually has 30 seconds of fame...watch for her AGAIN after the give-away (I fast forwarded through the gifts, sorry Ellen, Carly was more important to her mama) she and the other "sister wives" are dancing on stage with Ellen. Carly, a gal in your "condition" needs to be a little more careful when dancing! :)

Joanne (You may now call me Grandma)

Thinking of you

Elizabeth Edwards, you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


You will never believe who I ran into in the entry way of the medical building!!! It was SARA DIXON! OK, I realize that you don't know her, but she is ONE OF MY CURRENT STUDENTS!
I was leaving physical therapy (for my arm) and I was getting my jacket on (remember, mothers and teachers tell you to put them on when exiting a building) and my back was to the elevators.
I turned around to leave, and heard the most beautiful sound I've ever heard, "MRS. SHEIMAN?!"
(hard to believe that previously when I've heard my name in class for the one thousandth time that day, I silently beg for the world to be put on mute) I looked in the direction of the voice and Sara came running over to give me the biggest hug in the universe!! Boy did I need that hug Sara! Her mom, Renee, had brought her to the doctor for a checkup because she had not been feeling well. What are the chances that all of us would meet for that split second in the entry way at the exact same time?! Well, I can tell you that it was not chance, it was meant to be. It was the best medicine in the world. We hugged and chatted, and chatted and hugged. I don't think the smile ever left my face. Eventually it was time to go, and I suddenly remembered the pie! (Remember from yesterday?) The lemon pie was sitting in my car, and I had baked up (HA no pun intended...but a good one none the less) a crack pot scheme to deliver it to my friend, Sue, the school secretary in my building. Since I'm not allowed on school property when out on medical leave, this was going to be tricky to get it to her. I had decided to drive to school from therapy, park on the street next to the building's parking lot, and wait for some unsuspecting
person to park and head inside. I was going to call out to them, and beg them politely to transport my to Sue. Lucky for me, Renee and Sara happily volunteered to bring the pie themselves as they were headed back there anyway. It all worked out wonderfully in the end. But wouldn't it have been fun to hear about the mummy encased one armed woman, shouting quietly under her breath from a partially rolled down car window, "PSSSSSSSSSSSST could you get this lemon pie into the school?"


Bethany, It was also WONDERFUL to see your mom at Kroger!! I was soooo excited and I kept hugging her and telling her to pass the hugs onto you! :) :) I miss you too! I think we should plan a "visit!" My favorite place in the world is Panera...maybe we can get some hot chocolate and visit? What do you think. You have my email...ask your mom and we will make it happen. xoxo

(I wasn't kidding about the mummy arm either)

That smile NEVER left my face!

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Renee, don't worry about it being blurry, our smiles are shining through!

Thanks for taking the pics Renee..I hope your BIG term paper got finished!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Lemon Pie

I see that I am behind "schedule." The computer says it is 5:36 AM but I have been awake for hours. My eyes popped open at the usual time (3:15) and it was time to get up. Too bad I can't work the night shift somewhere...I'd be raring to go after half a shift! My dogs think I'm insane, and cannot figure out why I'm taking them out to do their business in the middle of the dark, freezing, god forsaken night. It's been lightly snowing here in Michigan for two days now and it's also very slippery out there...note to get some salt. We do not want a repeat episode from two years ago. For those who don't know or can't remember (or possibly don't care haha too bad...when I get started with a story, you might as well just listen cause I'm going to tell it anyway) get this picture into your head: freezing Michigan day in January (I think...see, even I don't remember) dogs needed to do their business (what else is new?) and p.j. clad(red scottie dogs of course...4 sizes too big), chemo infused bald as a bowling ball little 'ol me, trots outside wearing slippers and no jacket (smart right? didn't your mother AND your teacher always tell you to put a coat on when you go outside. Sorry, I'm both) into the swirling white accumulating drifts and say, "OH MY GOD FRANKIE (little white canine monster) would you JUST PEE ALREADY!!! And while I'm waiting for the snow to get it's blessed yellow due rewards...I feel a little woozy (yes, that's a word) and the next thing I know, I'm DOWN FOR THE COUNT! Passed out cold in the snow in my scottie dogs! (Glad I'm not a lingerie type of gal) I wake up with my face in the snow and the dogs standing over me looking stupid. They are wondering if they can please go inside now? I haul myself up, realize there is blood dripping down the back of my right hand. Apparently I made a futile effort to grab a small tree for support (obviously it didn't work) on my way down to the frozen tundra. It looks worse than it is and we make it safely back inside. Now, if that story doesn't make you want to run out and buy some rock salt for the patio, I'm not quite sure what would do it. Maybe the mental picture of a frozen bald headed woman in old baggy red flannel scottie dog pajamas prostrate on the ground (Room 106...you know I love big words...look it up!) might work for you.

Oh yeah...the lemon pie. I made one at 3:15 in the morning. What else would one do at that hour?

(Sue B. this one is for you...don't worry, I kept the one with the missing slice!) *If anyone out there can help me line up pics...just step forward tin man.


P.S. Lorriane, Pat, Kathy, and Cindy P. I LOVE YOU VERY MUCH!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


"May you find serenity and tranquility in a world you may not always understand. May the pain, that you might know, and the conflict that you experience, give you the strength to walk through life facing each new situation with courage and optimism. Always know that there are those whose love and understanding will always be there, even when you feel most alone. May a kind word, a reassuring touch, and a warm smile be yours every day of your life, and may you give these gifts as well as receive them. Remember the sunshine when the storm seems unending."

My love for my daughters, my sister, and my mother are unconditional and never ending. They are the reason that my heart beats. Together, there is nothing that we can't achieve, and I will move heaven and earth to make it happen.

Yesterday, a random meeting with a kind stranger made me feel special. He spoke to me like I was a friend and took the time to listen. This chance encounter may seem insignificant, but to me, it meant the world because my world has been turned upside down and nothing is what it's supposed to be. Words can hurt deeper than a knife, but they also have the power to heal. Thank you "Dave" for making me smile.