Tuesday, September 20, 2011
For those of you able to attend, we will be having a memorial service for my Mom at Riverside Chapel in Waterford, MI located at 5630 Pontiac Lake Road. Visitation will begin at 1pm with service at 2pm. There will be a reception to follow at her beloved school, Riverside Elementary located at 5280 Farm Road in Waterford, MI.
Please join us in celebrating the amazing life of the most brave and inspiring woman I have ever known. In lieu of flowers, please send donations in Joanne's memory to:
Pink Ribbon Trailblazers
Patricia Nolf, Chair
831 Tonkawa Trail
Lake Orion, MI 48362
Thank you for the continuos outpouring of love and support during this difficult time for our family. May she rest in peace.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
As if I don't have enough on my plate, I am halfway through 2 college classes at the local community college to keep my teaching certificate current. Every five years teachers have to take classes in order to renew their certificates, and I never planned to wait until the last minute, but cancer kind of got in my way! So here I am...taking naps in the afternoons to make it through my night classes! lol The summer classes only run for 8 weeks, but they are 15 week classes crammed into half the amount of time!! I have been doing "homework" like CRAZY!!! (my students should be very proud of me...although I forgot to put my name on one assignment and almost did not get credit for it! And I am the one who has been yelling for years, "PUT YOUR NAME ON YOUR PAPER!!" lolol) I had my first mid term this past week and I am happy to report that I received 29 points out of 25!! Extra Credit DOES pay off! That would be one A+ for Mrs. Sheiman! :)
On the "daughter front" Jessica has been asked to stay with Harpo in Chicago, but she will have a different job when she returns to work in July. She will be working for the new "Rosie O'Donell Show" which will be taping in the studio that Oprah taped her show in. She will also continue to bake and sell our wonderful "Clearly Cookies" and has been freelancing and baking for a dessert truck in Chicago called "Sweet Ride. She made cookies that look exactly like the truck, and they sold out! You can check out the truck here!
Carly, daughter #2, out in L.A. has been asked back next season at the ELLEN Show...and she is very happy about that! (Mother is too...MORE Ellen T shirts and STUFF are once again in my future!)
Rachel is home for the summer and gainfully employed with TWO jobs!! She is working as a cashier in local grocery store on nights and weekends, and in two weeks will start her job as a day camp counselor. (she even gets to drive the van to pick up campers! scary! lol) It's been wonderful to have her home!
My left hand was cooperating this morning, so I jumped at the chance to blog a bit for all of you!
I am praying every day to return to school in the Fall, and with all of your continued prayers I know that it can happen!
Love to you all
P.S. Relay for Life is June 11 at Pierce Middle School! I will be there and would love to see anyone that can make it out there. You can check it out at the link below. Food, fun, and friendship...all proceeds go to the American Cancer Society! :) :) :)
Race for the Cure! Detroit May 2011...A wonderful day wirh 44,000 of my closest friiends! Of course the most important are right here with me! It was a beautiful day for the race, and quite warm! I forgot to wear sunscreen and was a tad bit "rosy" when we got home! Thank you so much to my family and friends that were there to support me!
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
But, I know that I have to keep you informed so you don't think the worst...DON'T THINK THE WORST! :)
I have now had two rounds of my new chemo, and what can i say...I feel pretty darn good! So I am praying that it is doing what it's supposed to be doing. (You may all pray for the same thing lol) The strangest thing though, my hair has begun to grow back..YES while on chemo! I talked to my doctor last week about it, and as we all know, every chemo is different, and this one doesn't seem to affect hair growth :) I have been happily leaving the house with a fuzzy head, and loving every minute of it. I decided that bald men don't get any stares, do the heck with everyone else, and let me be the one to "educate" people on (semi) bald ladies!
My arm has its ups and downs, which it will sadly always have, but I am learning to deal with my new "normal," and Steve has become my own personal lymphedema massage therapist, and he helps me every night. xox I am just thankful for warmer weather, because short sleeves are so much easier with a wrapped up arm. I do not have to wear X large baggy shirts, and have actually gone out looking like a real person and not a homeless bag lady!
I will be having another chemo treatment a week from Thursday and then more than likely, yet another PET scan. Let's hope there is nothing but good news at that time.
My daughter Rachel is on her way home from college, and is now officially a SENIOR! I am so glad to have her home for the summer! My sister is coming to visit in a couple of weeks as well.
She will be here for the "Race for the Cure" in Detroit, which I will be attending! Jessica and her boyfriend will be coming in from Chicago as well. I am inviting ALL OF MY FRIENDS to come and join us on our walk on MAY 21. If you are in the Detroit area, I would love to have you join us! All you need is to wear PINK and some comfortable shoes for the walk. If you would like to "officially" register, you can (and will get a cool t shirt!) at:
but it is not necessary to register. Bring your strollers with your little ones, your friends and family, or just bring YOU! Help join the thousands that will be in attendance to show your support for ENDING THIS HORRIBLE DISEASE!! Hope to see you there! You can email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let me know if you would like to join us, and we can all meet at the race (which is a walk lol) or even car pool.
I will try hard to update more frequently...now that Rachel will be home...she can be my typist!
Love to all,
Thursday, April 28, 2011
I've got my trusty Vera bag loaded with snacks and things to keep me occupied. Maybe I'll be lucky and just sleep through the whole thing.
Alrighty, off I go...I'll let you know how things went. (I typed this message before wrapping up the 'ol arm...which is why I haven't been on here as often. It's VERY hard to type with a "mummy arm."
Love to all of you reading this,
Monday, April 18, 2011
If you go back two weekends to the March Madness final game, I was thrilled to have Jessica drive in from Chicago, and Rachel drive up from Indy to spend the weekend with me. Yes, I tried to talk Rachel into staying in Indy for the "Big Game" but she told me that she would rather be home with her good 'ol mom! Both girls decided to come to home to cheer me up a bit after the results of my second PET scan showed that my current chemo treatments were not being as successful as hoped, and a new drug had been ordered. I would begin the new treatment the following week. Having two of my daughters home with me would give me the needed distraction to keep my spirits up while waiting for my new chemo and it's always a thrill for me when they are here. We just hung out, did a bit of shopping, and they cooked some yummy food. Jess left to go back to Chicago on Sunday, but Rachel was lucky enough to stay through Tuesday since the Butler campus had been given Monday and Tuesday off due to the March Madness Finals. Rach left Tuesday morning, I met my friend Peggy for lunch at Panera (where else) and then headed home. By the afternoon I wasn't feeling well not sure from what) and went to lay down for awhile
That little trip to my bed T uesday afternoon turned into five days of sickness and complete bed rest! By Tues. evening I felt a fever coming on, and my throat was beginning to hurt. I woke up Wednesday feeling TERRIBLE!! I confirmed with the trusty thermometer that I indeed, did, have a fever which went up and down all day, topping out at 101.something. My throat was by now KILLING ME and it hurt to even swallow water. Eating was out of the question. Steve stayed with me in the morning and went in late to work. I slept most of the time he was at work, and then he left early to come and check on me. Good thing too...I was kind of "out of it" by then.
He brought me some yummy "Ensure" (not) and a big bottle of Pedialyte. (another "yum") but with eating out of the question, I knew I needed to drink things that would have something to nourish my body! By now I was even more stressed because I thought that they would not give me my new chemo the next day (Thurs) because I was so sick. Steve called up there for me,
and was told to bring me in for an evaluation and they would see if chemo could be administered.
Usually fever and throat infections pre chemo treatments rule out actually GETTING your chemo.
The next morning, my friend Jan from school, showed up at 7:15 a.m. (now THAT is a friend!) to take me to chemo, also know full well they might not be able to give it to me. Once there, they checked my blood cell count, and by some miracle, it was high enough for me to receive my new chemo medications. Jan helped the time pass, we were there from 8:00 until 1:30...yes it seemed like forever and my throat was still really bothering me, and I told my nurse. She told me that tomorrow I needed to come back for a white blood cell booster shot, and at that time someone would look at my throat if it was still hurting. Jan and I stopped at Panera on the way home. I ordered soup, but was unable to even swallow soup. I just packed it up hoping that SOON I'd be able to eat it. I was going on my third day of not eating. I drank chicken broth and water to keep me going. On Friday,Steve took me up to get my "booster shot" and my throat was finally checked. I was told it was red and swollen, and given the Z pack.Steve drove me home and i went back to bed. In three and a half days I had not eaten anything, I had a fever and severly swollen throat, received a new chemo (with unknow side effects), had a shot to boost my white blood cell count, and given Z pack antibiotics. :( Needless to say, I spent two more days in bed. The chemo made me coma tired, an upset stomach, and a trip to the "bathroom" and new on the hit list of side effects, some weird sores down around my ankles on each foot.
By Sunday afternoon I began to feel slightly better and managed to eat a bit of solid food...encouraged long distance from my sister in Dallas. She even stayed on the phone with me to make sure I ate. I felt a bit better afer eating, and continued to eat small amounts of food the rest of the evening. Slowly each day I began to feel a bit better, and continued to eat small amounts over the days. I had my one week post chemo checkup and was told my throat was no longer swollen, but still a bit red. That was three days ago, and my throat is finally beginning to feel normal. UGHHHHH it was a terrible, no good, very bad week! I am so glad that is over!!!
Well, I'm going to go and try and go back to sleep now...I started this post at 3:00 a.m. (yup back to getting up in middle of the night...thanks chemo)
Hope all you had a better week than I did!!
Thursday, March 31, 2011
When I woke up this morning, I said to myself, "What? Nowhere to go today?" It seems like I've been "running around" for an entire week. Oh wait...I HAVE!! I think I will take a day and RELAX, if I can remember what that's like! Because later today Jessica is driving in from Chicago, and Rahel is driving up from Indianapolis! They both said that they would just like to come home and visit for the weekend. If L.A. and Dallas was a drivable distance I know that Carly and my sis would be here too! (love you both) So I will have company this weekend, and I'm looking forward to it!
I know you are wondering what Dr. K. has in store for me next. New drugs have been ordered, and I'm waiting for a phone call today to tell me which day to come in next week (probably Monday or Tuesday) to start the new chemo. I will one new drug infused at camp chemo, and the other drug is in pill form. So I get to take that one at home! Somebody called me yesterday to confirm that the pills will be sent directly to my house (very convenient) and I will begin to take them starting the same day as my infusion. The pills must be taken every day. The new chemo will also be infused every three weeks, just like the last one. Everyone alert their respective prayer chains...let's pray that this drug not only works, but CONTINUES to work! That's the goal. I guess hats are just in my future for quite some time.
I'm also planning on going to Indianapolis in a few weekends to visit Rachel for Butler's parent weekend, AND to walk in the Indianapolis "Race For the Cure." I can't thing of one thing more important than a CURE for cancer. The Detroit "Race for the Cure" is coming up May 21, and I'm planning on being there too. Please mark that date on your calendar NOW, and save the date. Please join me, and thousands of others, while we walk to show our support to wipe out breast cancer. It is a very emotional day, and I would be HONORED to have all of you (in the area of course) walk with me. We will talk more about this in another post.
One of the most special times in recent years that I can remember is when I walked with my sister, Jessica, Carly, and Rachel in the Chicago "Race for the Cure." All of my female family, along with a city full of supporters, walking in unison as one giant pink ribbon which stretched out for miles and miles. It's really a sight to see, and you truly feel like a part of something much bigger than yourself. Not to mention that I could draw strength in knowing that I am not alone in this nightmare of a disease.
My daughter Jessica also phoned me last night. She told me that she has signed up to do the "THREE DAY WALK" in Chicago this year. I was very emotional when I talked to her, and am thrilled that she is going to do this for me. (I know that they sleep in tents during the walk!) My sister in Dallas has also been a top contributor in raising funds for Komen the last few years, and I am equally proud of HER efforts. Think about what you can do. Because together, we CAN move mountains. Sooner or later there IS going to be a CURE!!! Of course in my case, I'm praying for the "sooner!" :)
Let's end this post on a happy note...because I don't know about you, but flowers and chocolates ALWAYS make ME happy, especially after the crappy week that I've had. I was pulling into our driveway with Steve on Tuesday night, and I noticed there were FLOWERS sitting by our front door. Of course I was VERY excited! Steve carried them inside (it was a VERY large arrangement) and he unwrapped them for me. Of course, the first thing you think about when you receive flowers is, "Who are they from?" I was thrilled to read the card, and to see that they were from Bobby, my daughter Jessica's boyfriend! (that has such a nice ring to it...Jessica's boyfriend!) It is without doubt the most lovely bouquet that I have ever received. Number one,
the flowers were BEAUTIFUL! Number two, there was a DOG made out of flowers!! (and we all know how much I LOVE DOGS) Number three, there was a HUGE box of chocolates that came with the flowers!! (and I'm talking a big honkin box here) Now does this guy know the way to my heart or what?! I called him immediately (didn't even take off my coat) to thank him for such an amazing gift...but I will tell him again right here...Bobby, I just LOVE my flowers and chocolate, and I love you too! It was so sweet of you to send that to me, and it definitely put a smile on my face for the first time that week. I shared a few of the chocolates with Steve, and BOY ARE THEY GOOD! yummmmmmmmmmm I wish the flowers would last forever. Wait, they will, because I took a TON of pics! So here are a few, so the rest of you can enjoy them as well.
Don't look too closely...there were already pieces missing when I took this pic! :)
Love to all of you
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
This is what I posted to facebook but wanted to give you a little more detail below
3:40 A.M. up and wide awake, so I wanted to tell all of you that the visit to U of M yesterday did not go as I had hoped and prayed. After an ultrasound which was compared to the one that I had in December, it seems that despite the chemo showing the cancer shrinking in the first three rounds, the next three rounds showed that it reversed and has begun to grow again :( This means that right now, surgery is not even in the picture. We are back to square one and need to change the chemo to find the right one that will send this %&@$ disease back down to a reasonable place and keep it from growing anymore!! I may have lost this round, but I am going to continue to fight the battle. I have had multiple calls recently and I am so sorry that if you are one of them and I have not returned your call. It has been a VERY tough week. I have no choice now but to fight like hell and that my friends is what I plan to do. Nobody said that life was easy...but I guess I didn't know how tough it could get. I love all of you and am thankful for your support as I continue down this uncertain road.
Stealing a line from one of my favorite children's book...It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day yesterday. Well, I should say that about the last 48 hours, because the lead up to the doctor visit wasn't exactly a picnic either. Nerves and the unknown just got to me on Sunday, and I had pretty much worked myself up to a place that I don't usually go to. So it was with a heavy heart, that Steve and I headed to U of M yesterday. The long and short of my day was that they performed an ultrasound to compare to the one that I had in December. It showed that the cancer had decreased in a few areas, but it sadly showed that there was new growth in another area, despite the initial success of the chemo that I have been taking. Because of the new growth, surgery is not in the picture for me currently. To say that I was saddened to hear this news would be an understatement. I just wanted to hear that it could be taken OUT! So, I will be switching to a different chemo that hopefully, miraculously, (feel free to insert your own word here) will WORK and make "it" stop growing, get smaller, and keep it under control. Then I can be re-evaluated at that time...but first I have to get there. On to the next battle. I am NOT giving up, that is not an option (did you hear me girls?!!) Yes, there were a LOT of tears yesterday, and talking with my daughters, sisters (that means you Mary), and mother was...well...you know how that went...no need to say anymore. And Steve, having to deal not only with me, but the news as well, was very hard on him as well. He tried to be strong for both of us, but in the end I was the one handing him the tissues on the drive home. But as I told each of them...I'll finish my personal pity party tonight, and tomorrow is a new day. Steve kept reminding me that there is also always hope. So that's what I'm holding onto dear friends...A new day and new hope.
The next round has begun. Bring it on.
xoxo to ALLLLLL OF YOU!!! You mean so much to me that I can't even put it into words.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Apparently, chemo cannot be absorbed through scar tissue. I'm still a little fuzzy on all of this. I did ask him if my implant was removed, would that help? He told me that was a question to ask my surgeon at the U of M when I see her on Monday. He also told me that he would like to change my chemo drugs, which means continuing on chemotherapy :( No, I don't know now for how many more treatments either. I will see the surgeon on Monday, and see what her "plans" are for me. Then I will return to Dr. K. (oncologist) on Tuesday morning to discuss the surgeon's plan...which might be different.
I had no idea when this second diagnosis was given in October, how difficult it would be to travel down this road again. It has been tough, I won't lie to you. Some days it seems like my life will never be normal again. I try so hard to fight, and the thought of all of you is sometimes the thing that keeps me going. Recently I have been seeing the ads on TV for the 3 Day Breast Cancer walk, as well as hearing them on the radio. In the past (pre B.C.) I would see them and think, oh, that's really sad, and then honestly, not think too much more about it. Now it difficult to watch without tearing up. The part that means the most however, is when different individuals say, "So nobody's mother, wife, sister, or friend EVER has to go through this." Not a day goes by that I don't wish that somebody comes up with a cure because now I am one those mothers, wives, sisters, and friends that is going through it.
I will be back on Monday with the surgeon's recommendations. Hug the people that mean the most to you, let them know that you love them, don't sweat the small stuff, and don't take anything for granted.
Lots of Love,
P.S. CeRae...you are a ray of sunshine in my life! My dear "cookie" friend, you put a smile on my face everytime you leave me a message...thanks for still being there!! xox
Monday, March 21, 2011
It is once again quiet on the home front. Carly left to go back to California on Saturday evening, and Rachel drove back to Indianapolis yesterday afternoon. (How about those Butler Bulldogs in game 2 against Pitt in NCAA basketball!!!! GO BULLDOGS!!) It was WONDERFUL to have them home for the week! We lounged around mostly, (always nice) ate well, and even took Rachel to Greektown Casino! (We LOVED the Wizard of Oz slot machine... she even won 30 bucks! Not bad for a newbie to the casino who just turned 21!) All in all, everyone left well rested and ready for the next two months. Rachel will finish her junior year the first week in May, and Carly will end Taping on her first season at the Ellen Show on May 26. My oldest, Jessica, is now busily job hunting, since Oprah will also be wrapping up (for GOOD) sometime in May as well.
On the B.C. front...I am scheduled for my PET scan this Wednesday morning at 8:45. I am SO thankful to have the test at that hour. You have to "fast" for 6 hours before the test (water only) and the test is administered in two parts. When you arrive they inject you with radioactive isotopes (yeah...doesn't sound very healthy to me either...Now I glow from the outside due to radiation therapy, AND the inside from all of the isotopes they have injected me with for multiple PET scans over the years) and then you have to wait for over an hour for the isotopes to circulate through your body. Then they call you back in to lie in the claustrophobic tunnel for about half an hour. Last time I had this scan it was at 4:30 in the afternoon. So that meant NO food or drink ALL day! By the time I was finished with the scan it was close to 8:00 p.m. and I was so hungry that I when I went home, I ate anything that wasn't nailed down. Hopefully this time will be better. I should be finished by noon.
It takes 24 hours for the scan to be "read" and that will bring us to Friday. UGH Doctors are not around on Friday afternoons I have found...so I probably will have to sweat it out all weekend for the results on Monday or Tuesday. I want them to take their time with this scan, as it will determine what is happening to me next. I really have NO idea what my next course of action will be...it's up to the scan. (just a "little" nerve racking) I will also be taking this scan to my surgeon at the University of Michigan to see what she wants to do as well. Sure is a LOT hanging on this scan. Which is why I was very happy to have Rachel and Carly home for the week, to take my mind off of what will be happening. I didn't really give it much thought for seven whole days. But, it's back to reality now, so let's all just keep praying that everything looks good on the scan, and the "options" will be good ones.
I will let you know as soon as I know anything...let the waiting game begin.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
I began my infusions and after the first bag, I reallllly didn't feel good. I was just about to say something to my nurse, when she approached me first. She said, "Joanne, are you feeling alright?" (Later she told me that she looked over to check on me and noticed I did not look "good" (understatement) and I was not my usual perky self. Thank goodness these people know me, and could tell right away when something was not right!) I replied, "Actually, no, I am not." I told her I was light headed and extremely cold." She thought it best, (me too) to see the physician asst. Suzanne, and off I went, I.V. and all. My blood was rechecked and all seemed well, but she thought I could use some extra "fluid" and went back to my recliner to get the rest of my chemo, as well as intravenous fluids to hydrate me. I also told her about the P.T. that I had received the day before, and how it was quite a work out for me. She seemed to think that my muscles took quite a work out, and my body was telling me that it was too much. She gave me a RX for a muscle relaxer to give them a rest, and told me to stay in bed for the next 24 hours and just sleep. I went back to my recliner to receive the extra drip, which took an additional two hours. I slept through most of it, and when it was finished, I drove myself home...very slowly and went to bed. Bed is where I spent the better part of the next couple of days. I slept A LOT!
I'm not sure how that muscle relaxer works, but I was "out for the count" for an entire day after taking it. Over the next few days, I did start to feel better, but I canceled my P.T. for Friday morning thinking that it was not a good idea to do this all over again! By this past weekend, I began to feel better, but decided to really take it easy. I did not even take the dog pack out for a walk for five days! (They were getting cabin fever!) By Sunday, I felt good enough to venture outside for a walk, and it sure did make me feel better.
Today is Tuesday, a week from chemo and I do have my post chemo check up this afternoon with Suzanne. She will also make the appointment for my next PET scan (probably next week sometime) and hopefully a decision of some kind will be made for my next round of treatment...whatever that might be! I will let you all know as soon as I find out something.
Lucky for me, two of my three daughters are home for the week. Rachel has spring break from school, and Carly has "spring break" from the Ellen show! :) Jessica did have a week long break from Oprah two weeks ago, but LUCKY FOR HER...she spent her week off in PARADISE...Hawaii that is...with her boyfriend, Bobby!! I lived vicariously through her that week, and had wonderful pics of pineapple plantations, sea turtles, exquisite beaches, etc. and loved every minute of her trip!
I hope to have a MUCH better time THIS week than I did last week! Thanks for checking in with me, and sorry to keep you all in the dark and not posting something here sooner.
Have a terrific Tuesday!
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
The arm has had its own ups and downs. Some days it is GREAT, and I think, "Hooray! This is it! The beginning of it getting better!" But the next day, I come crashing down, along with the swelling, and wind up taking five showers that day to relieve some of the discomfort or pain. There is just no telling when or where the swelling will arrive, or go away. I may have to design a line of clothing with one arm bigger than the other so thatI can wear real clothes again. I'm really sick of wearing the same three over- sized baggy t shirts to fit over the mummy arm.
One of the best things to happen to me in the last couple of weeks is YOGA! My dear friend Jan persistently kept asking me to attend a yoga class with her. I really did want to go, but "life" just kept getting in the way. Finally, her persistence paid off, and we were both free last Thursday to attend a class together. To say it was amazing, would be an understatement. I can't tell you when I've enjoyed something more. By the time I left class I felt calm, peaceful, and totally stress free. (stress is usually my middle name) I felt so good after that class that I immediately thought that I'd like to come back. So I am...tomorrow! It is a basic yoga class, and the title of the class is "Yoga for Emotional Healing." I can take all of the emotional healing that is pointed in my direction, and I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks so much to Jan, for not only being my friend for so many years, but for not taking no for an answer, and for offering me something that will be life altering.
While I'm on the subject of thank yous, I have a few more to dish out. First of all, I need to thank someone I've never met! Her name is Layla, and she works at the Ellen Show out in sunny Los Angeles, with my daughter Carly. She is the manager of the "Ellen" gift shop. She gave Carly a beautiful scarf to give to me, and I was thrilled when I received it. Layla, how VERY thoughtful of you to think of me. I am deeply touched with your kindness and I will wear it proudly. The scarf is SUPER soft and very long...which is important when one has no hair and is trying to keep many body parts warm in a freezing Michigan winter. I will think of you when ever I wear it. Here I am in all of my glory! (Yule Brenner has nothing on me! Once again, if you don't know who he is...look him up and you'll understand the reference)
On to the next thank you. Yesterday another package arrived, this time from Texas! It was from Sheila, a friend of mine and my sister. (OK, my sister knew her first, but I can still call her friend too) This box contained a beautiful homemade polar fleece scarf, in two shades of pink! I just love it! Thank you SO very much Sheila. For not only thinking of me, but taking the time to make such a wonderful gift for me. It is warm and cuddly, and feels fabulous around my neck. It is just the thing to keep wrapped around my neck on these miserable March Michigan days, and it is going to be perfect to wear when I walk the dog pack. (which is mostly every day) I had a huge smile on my face when I tried it on, and if it weren't for the "hot flashes" I would be very happy to wear it around the house to keep toasty! I'm sending you a big Texas sized hug right now through the computer...and you know how big that is because everything is bigger in Texas! Take a look for yourself. Is this FUN OR WHAT!! It just makes you smile to look at it. Thanks Sheila! xoxo
Coming up on the horizon for me....Yoga tomorrow (yeah!), P.T. on Friday and Monday, followed by chemo #6 on Tuesday! Then I'll get "scanned" (again) shortly after that. Based on the scan results, I will let you know the next course of action. Let's pray for GREAT results!
Enjoy the upcoming weekend. I'm just hoping that it doesn't snow!
Thursday, February 17, 2011
It is the best feeling in the world to know that friends, whether nearby or faraway (in this case) are thinking of you. You just get a warm feeling inside of you that grows and grows. That's exactly how I felt. Then, on to the gift! Well, in this case it turned out to be gifts...actually three beautiful hats to be exact! And as you know,t a girl in my position can never have TOO many hats! ;) It all depends on the day, the weather, your outfit. Do I need a hat for Walmart or for the Joffrey Ballet? (That HAS been a real situation...and heaven forbid you would show up at the Joffrey wearing a hat you wear to Wally World...see a girl's dilemma?) I repeat, a chemo girl can never have too many head covers. I stand by my old girl scout motto, "I am always prepared!" (Kathy and I were G.S. together in High School! Kathy, remember our trip to Canada and our wide plaid pants that were SO "in?" lol)
Anyway, without further ado (don't you just love that word) I present the newest in fashionable head attire for ME..I'll bet you can't guess which one I like best?! (Come on...everyone has a favorite!)
And remember...I had chemo 48 hours ago* so I know I'm not exactly ready for my close-up Mr. Demille. (If you don't know that phrase you are too young, and need to google it.) And yes, Frankie had to horn in on the action. We all know how needy he is.
*Treatment number five...so far so good...just the usual tiredness and the arm swelling seems to be slowly going down. (it can never happen quick enough for me) I'm off to P.T. this morning, which always makes my arm feel better though.
I hope all of you have a wonderful day...the weekend is right around the corner, so get out and enjoy! (I for one will be ridding the yard of dog "business" since the snow has melted. UGHHH
P.S. Renee and Sarah...when you get a chance, I'd love to have the pics you took when you came to visit me. There will be a Hats Off To You Part II on the blog! :)
P.S.S. I had a commenter named MARY who said that she had read my blog and it helped her on her B.C. journey...Mary, thanks SO much...I am here for you, as we are all here for each other on this bumpy road. Feel free to contact me anytime: email@example.com I would love to hear from you. xo
Sunday, February 13, 2011
I have also finished reading the amazing book, "Aniti Cancer" by David Servan-Schrieber. I can't recommend this book enough, but I understand that sometimes it's hard to sit down and read a book in a reasonable amount of time. So, let me share a very condensed version of what he has to say with you. He has compiled a list of 20 Anti Cancer Rules, and as he says, they are "rules about what every person needs to know about how they can help avoid cancer - or slow it down if they have it." You can read the list here:
The rules are mostly common sense. Things we have all known for years, but just don't seem to find the time or effort to make a priority. Maybe you might consider "easing" your way into some of them, others are really easy to incorporate into your daily life. I guess it all really boils down to you, and the changes that you feel will make your life better for you.
Have a sunny Sunday if you are lucky enough to live somewhere where there IS sun. The rest of us might consider standing near a light bulb and closing our eyes...it might just feel like the sun!
P.S. The bruises and scrapes are subsiding and don't look nearly as bad! :)
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Monday, February 7, 2011
Anticancer A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber
This book is written by a man that was diagnosed with brain cancer at age 31, he himself a scientist and doctor, and then faced cancer again in the same place a few years later. Sound familiar? I am 3/4 of the way through the book and cannot put it down, for obvious reasons. But, this book is for everyone. Those with cancer, those have had cancer, those that have loved ones and friends with cancer, and those who would like to know the best possible ways to help your own body AVOID getting cancer.
The author also tells you how with MINIMAL changes to your current diet you can create an atmosphere in your own bodies that will not allow cancer cells to flourish, or better yet, be given an opportunity to grow in the first place. He also provides, in detail, cancer fighting foods that area readily available to all of us, and everything is scientifically backed up with current research. Why would anyone not want to follow his advice?!! The book is truly an eye opener.
I am busily putting sticky notes throughout the book, and I know that I will be returning to read and re-read often. The few lines that I keep returning to again and again remind me that there are others who know how I feel, the author being one of them. Which is why, when I read the words below, written by Dr. Servan-Schrieber, I thought it would be "easiest" to steal his words to try and express my own feelings on dealing with all of this a second time. I hope he doesn't mind.
"Finding out you have cancer is a shock. You feel betrayed by life and by your own body. But finding out that you've had a relapse is crushing. It's as if you've suddenly discovered that the monster you thought you'd distanced was still there. It had gone on tracking you in the shadows and wound up catching you again."
Don't get me wrong. I'm not walking around on a daily basis with doom and gloom. On the contrary, this book has confirmed what you and I have already known...your psychological state can greatly influence the way your body deals with disease. There are studies that have shown a direct link between a person's mental state and the development of cancer. This gives new meaning to the phrase, "Don't Worry Be Happy."
Do yourself, your family, and your friends a favor, and read this book.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
I haven't blogged for about a week, so I thought I had better check in. Things have been going fairly well and that is a good thing. I've only had a few "bad" days and I just deal with them as they come. It's usually for a short amount of time that I feel lousy, and I just let it run its course . (so if you call me and I don't answer...I'm not avoiding you..I'm just "sleeping it off.")
I'm continuing to receive physical therapy about twice a week for my arm and shoulder. It is helping tremendously! Marilyn, my physical therapist is just wonderful, and when I don't see her, I'm at home trying my best to do my exercises. My left arm is not as swollen anymore thanks to the miracle of drugs! (Repeat after me, "CHEMO IS A VERY GOOD THING!" However, my arm is extremely weak and I am also doing strengthening exercises with Marilyn.
Last week I actually hit myself in the nose. (nooo not on purpose!) Ok, picture this...Me, on my back on the. P.T. table. Marilyn standing to my left, holding my left arm up at a 90 degree angle.
(any of my students that are reading this...you KNOW what that angle looks like because I taught it to you) She is supporting my arm somewhere between my shoulder and elbow (not really sure because I don't have much feeling up there) with one hand and her other hand is holding the lower part of my arm near the wrist. She let go of my wrist and asked me to "hold it." I did. For about five seconds. Before either of us knew it, my lower arm flopped over like a dead fish and it landed right on my nose! OUCH! (lol I told you it was weak) Both of us were so surprised and we burst out laughing. There's not much humor in physical therapy, but this definitely qualified as humorous. (I might not have called it funny if I had given myself a bloody nose...yeah..I probably would still be laughing) Anyway, you now see the need for strengthening my lower arm. I'm sure you're asking yourself about now why it is weak. Well, let's just use the old "domino effect" theory because that's what it is. The cancer cause enlarged lymph nodes, the lymph nodes that I have left were working over time to handle lymph fluid movement, they couldn't handle it anymore so lymph fluid didn't move, hence swelling in arm from fluid, fluid build up affects muscles and surrounding tissue, affected muscle movement causes your arm to flop like a dead fish and you nearly give yourself a bloody nose. Get the picture? Honestly, it IS getting better little by little, and I am working hard to get back to normal. I have a feeling however, that my old "normal" is not going to be my "new" normal, but that's ok. There are worse things to have than a gimpy arm, as we all know.
On the horizon for me will be chemo #5, one week from this Tuesday, # 6, three weeks after that, followed by another scan. But, let's not get too ahead of ourselves. I also want to tell you about a new B.C. support group that I've been attending, but that will have to be for another post. I've also been reading (so what else is new) a FABULOUS book called Anticancer that is a real eye opener, and one I think that everyone should read. I'll tell you more about that as well.
So have a SUPER Superbowl day, and as always, thanks for checking in on me! :)
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Feeling pretty wide awake now! :)
Also awoke to SNOW...UGH...even the dogs didn't want to go outside (me either) but out we went, and I put the coffee on. Looks like it will be an inside day again...I'll try to stay awake today!
Thursday, January 27, 2011
and of course I took cookies with me! :) If you want to be guaranteed that your surgeon remembers you (for GOOD reasons lol) just bring cookies! You are sure to get big smiles and hugs! (not to mention jealous looks from the office staff too)
Anyway, the visit was a quick one today...yeah! Dr. Newman (surgeon) had looked over my Pet scan, and saw that things were "shrinking" and said that it was wonderful news. She also was happy to see that "it" is NO WHERE ELSE. (ME TOO!) She examined me and could feel that the lymph node in question was undeniably smaller, and was pleased to hear that I am going to be having more chemo, which will shrink it even smaller, hopefully! She told me there is the chance that chemo will shrink it away...keep praying...and I will more than likely need surgery at some point to "clean" the biopsy area where the cancer had returned, and if the lymph node shrinks away to very very small, then I might not even need surgery to remove it. That would be wonderful since it's in the collar bone area, and there's a lot of other important "stuff" in that area and unless necessary, you don't want to be poking around in there. Amen to that!
So back to chemo, waiting, and hopefully major shrinking going on inside of me. I had physical therapy yesterday on my shoulder again and it seems to be helping with general movement, which is another good thing, since I was NOT moving my left arm very well at all. I will see her again next week.
All in all, in has been a good week, filled with good news and I am very thankful for that. I just keep taking one day at a time and am thankful for the blessings in my life.
Have a terrific Thursday!
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
The PET scan also revealed that the areas that "lit up" on this new PET scan only had a light up score of 3.7 as compared to my original scan in October which showed them at 5.0 (it's very confusing and harder to explain...but just know that the lower your score on the scale...the BETTER it is!) All in all, the bottom line is that the cancer IS shrinking, and that's the best news I could hear. So, what does this mean? According to my doctor, as long as the chemo is working, he wants me to continue with 3 more treatments, and then get scanned again. (Is anyone thinking "Ground Hog Day" here?) I am having chemo this morning, chemo #4. Then again three weeks from today, and once again, three weeks after that. That will bring us to March for the scan.
I will be also visiting with my surgeon at the University of Michigan on Thursday to see if she agrees with the decision made by my oncologist, or what her view is from a surgical standpoint.
My oncologist told me yesterday that the smaller the cancer, the smaller the surgery! That makes sense to me, and one doesn't want to rush into surgery anyway. But I will wait and see what Dr. Newman thinks on Thursday. I'll let you know what she says.
The physical therapy before my doctor visit went well. As well as physical therapy can go I guess. The swelling in my arm was measured, and there was a measurable difference in my upper arm from the last time I'd been measured, and sadly, not in a good way. No wonder I was having so much pain in that area...it was 4 cm larger than last time. (which means a LOT more fluid was stuck in that area) I will be having P.T. on Wednesday again, and probably a few more times after that. Hopefully, chemo #4 and physical therapy will help reduce all of this extra swelling.
I did also attend the "Look Good Feel Great" program which is hosted by the American Cancer Society yesterday afternoon. (Now you know why I came home, ate dinner, and went to bed!)
It was being held right there at the hospital, so I didn't have to go out of my way exactly to attend. It was a lovely event, and I left with another new hat (lol I may have to remain bald for quite some time to wear all of them) and a HUGE bag of cosmetics and skin products. (Yes Rachel, new make up next time you come home)
All in all, a long, but productive day. I'm actually kind of looking forward to just sitting today at chemo. I might even take a nap! :)
Thanks for checking back to see what's going on. I'll be back on Thursday with the news from U of M.
Have a wonderful day!
Monday, January 24, 2011
So all in all, the news was good on Thursday. I spoke to Suzanne and Marilyn, my physical therapist, and it was decided that I needed some more physical therapy on the swollen arm. They believe that the swelling and fluid in my arm is putting pressure on the nerves, which in turn is causing me the pain I've been experiencing (which let's just say has not been fun.) My P.T. will now include my shoulder area which has had its own issues in the past, but now due to the swelling and fluid is affected. Just think domino effect. Hopefully this will help. I'll try anything.
I actually have something FUN to look forward to today as well. Twice a year the American Cancer Society sponsors a program called "Look Good Feel Great" for women undergoing cancer treatment. There will be free hats, free make up, and even free wigs! :) Not to mention being with others that are experiencing the same things that I am. I'm looking forward to going!
My schedule for today is a long one:
Physical therapy @ 9:45
Dr. Krishnan (oncologist) for the "plan" at 11:30
Look Good Feel Great 1:00 - 3:00
I will check back later today and let you know what PHASE TWO will be!
Have a great day!
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
I'm not sure if the radioactive "stuff" that they injected me with last night had anything to do with it, but I had the worst night EVER last night. :( I know I'm usually happiness and sunshine, but there really wasn't anything to be rosy about last night. The swelling in my arm (from the lymphedema) has been acting up and brought with it some pretty bad pain. I'm not going to lie to you...it hurt...a LOT. I tried every med I've been given for pain and sadly, it didn't really help. I think I may have had two hours of sleep last night. :( I've put in a call to my lymphedema therapist, and hopefully she'll be able to help in some way.
Right now I'm going to head back to the "medicine cabinet," then I'm going to take a nap.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
As you all know, it is Oprah's last season (yes, Jess will be looking for a new job. (Exactly where one goes after "Oprah" is unclear...but knowing Jess, it will be something else that's equally as great) and Jessica is always hard at work, but this final season has been a little crazy, to say the least.
She works as the assistant to one of the executive producers, Lisa Morin, and is often asked to do some "unusual" things. Lisa was the producer of the show where Oprah and Gayle went to Yosemite to go camping, and one of Jessica's jobs was to make and test the "menu" for Oprah and Gayle that would be used on the camping trip. She even asked me for some advice on camping food, being the "seasoned" girl scout that she has made fun of me for years! (Yeah! Girl Scouting finally came in handy!)
Being the last season of the show, there is a new program on the OWN network showing the "behind the scenes" of the last year. It airs on the OWN network at 8:00 PM on Fridays. I have occasionally caught glimpses of Jessica's back, or seen her walking through the office. The "behind the scene" crews are everywhere 24/7, so you really never know if she will show up. BUT you can see her in a special exclusive webisode (talk about a made up word) on the Oprah Show website. Check it out here:
All I can say is, "That's MY GIRL!" :)
(Isn't it fun to NOT talk about cancer! lol)
Friday, January 14, 2011
Here is the line-up:
Monday, January 17 PET Scan at 4:00 PM
Monday, January 24 See Oncologist for Pet Scan Results
?? Tuesday, January 24 Scheduled Chemo, but depends on scan results
Thursday, January 27 U of M doctor appointment with my "second opinion" doctor
(hoping she will tell me the same next step that regular oncologist told me!)
Tuesday, February 1, MUGA scan (which monitors my heart!)
WHEW! I'm already exhausted, and I haven't done anything yet! LOL This line-up makes teaching fifth grade look like a walk in the park! :) And boy oh boy, I would LOVE to be walking in that park...believe me!
I will keep you all informed and up to date. Thanks for checking in.
Say hello to my husband, Steve, the M.I.B. (man in black) If you think its tough going through cancer treatment not once, but twice, think again. Try being married to that same person. I will be the first to admit that I've had a somewhat "rocky" road this trip. That's probably why I haven't been as regular at blogging as I was the first time around. Something that I'm currently working at improving with a vengeance. We all know it's about the "attitude" and keeping a positive outlook. Let's just say that some days it hasn't been that easy to remain positive (and that would be an understatement.) Yet, Steve manages to try his best every day, and he puts up with me and my "moods." (Who me? Moody? Noooo couldn't be!)
Anyway, it wouldn't matter if I showed you a picture of Steve from this week, two months ago, or 2 years ago...it would look the same. And these pics were not taken on the same day...just same attire. He has also worn his hair the same way for....well...forever. To say that he is "particular" about his hair would be an understatement to say the least. So you can imagine my surprise, amazement, and utter SHOCK when he walked in the front door, around the time I was losing my hair, and he looked like this...
I was SPEECHLESS! And for those of you that truly know me, you know what a rare moment that is! He was actually wearing a hat, but I could tell what was missing right away...his hair! OH MY GOODNESS is all I could say. He then told me that since I was losing my hair, he decided that he would lose his too. It was going to be his way of supporting me this time around. Wow! This is something I never thought I'd see in my lifetime. Actually, I HAVE never seen him with any other hair style. But it looks great...don't you think? His co-workers have told him the same thing, as did Jessica, Carly, and Rachel (who were also in a state of shock when they saw him.) See, it all boils down to "it's only hair." You are what you are from the INSIDE, not what people see on the outside. If we could all remember that, the world would be a better place. And as far as the M.I.B. he continues to keep his hair short, and he has told me that it will stay that way until I get mine back. Who knows, he may even decide he actually likes it, (sure has saved him time in the bathroom in the morning with the hair dryer and "styling") and he may keep it. Or, he may go back to the "old" Steve. Whatever he decides is fine with me because his "insides" are shining through.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Anyway, yesterday I had chemo number three, and all is well. I didn't feel very good the afternoon of chemo and took to bed for most of the day. Later realized that it was MY FAULT! I forgot to take my afternoon anti nausea meds and the good news is that now I know that they work! Won't forget those again. The next step on the journey is to see my doctor next Tuesday. She will give me RX to get PET scan, and based on that scan, which will tell how WELL the chemo is working (see how optimistic I'm being) then the next step of my journey will begin. It will either be more chemo or possibly surgery. Not sure at all...it all depends on what the PET scan shows. Lets all hope that the chemo is attacking those cells with a vengence!!
I have some fun pics to share and more to tell, but Rachel is leaving to go back to college on Saturday, and we area doing some last minute errands to get her ready.
I'll be all alone soon, and with lots more time to blog. Again, thanks for the many cards, well wishes and phone calls that I receive from all of you. They are what keeps me going on a daily basis.
I wish everyone HEALTH and Happiness in this new year!