Thursday, December 7, 2017

Angels Among Us

Hello Darlings!

So how does it feel to be told you are cancer free?

What's it like to be informed that El Diablo is El Gone-o?

Um....I don't know...

I'm not exactly there yet...

but I am so close I can taste it.

Over on the cancer board forum that I sometimes read they call it "Dancing With NED"...in other words No Evidence of Disease (NED).

I can't wait to dance with NED!

He will be my new boyfriend...

I'd like to start with a tango...and then maybe move to a foxtrot and go from there...

Me and NED could be the new power couple on Dancing With the Stars!!!!

But I am not QUITE at NED yet...

Let's put it this way:

I'm in the ballroom with him
and he is eyeing me from across the dancefloor
and he is making his way toward me
and I am giving El Diablo his walking papers
and I see NED heading my way

So I'm close but we have just a little bit more waiting to do before I can take NED by the hand and we can start that tango.

I saw Dr. Angel today...

I love that man...

truly love him...

he's the sweetest doctor I have ever had and he knows just how to handle me and has a good sense of humor.

So he took me into his office and pulled up my scans on his big computer screens.

He points to a scan that has a very scary black blob on it.

He says "I bet even you can tell that is bad"

I remind him I only speak glitter and that it's all blobs to me and that the black mass is scary.

He laughs and says "this is your OLD scan" and then goes on to show me the new scans (still just blobs to me and I realize I am glad my life does not depend on MY ability to read them) and tells me that the lymph nodes that were cancerous have reduced in size a lot and that there is no new evidence of disease.

That got a little scream of joy from me and a big hug for him...

and then he says the word I dread...

the word I was afraid to hear...

he says: BUT

I looked at him and said "it's always something isn't it?"

So the BUT was that although the glands have shrunk they are still on the large side of "normal" and we don't know if they are free of cancer yet.

So he says I have to have a PET scan in 6 weeks.

I tried to negotiate to have it done tomorrow but he vetoed that

Apparently we have to wait just a little longer to see if the treatments worked and if the lymph nodes go down some more.

I have total and complete faith in Dr. Angel and that he cured me so if I have to wait I have to wait...

He did say that he might want me to have the lymph glands taken out.

okie dokie

well....I'm being a little flip about it....it's actually fairly serious surgery because they lymph glands are right by my carotid artery so there's that...

He called the surgeon and they decided they will decide in 6 weeks...

okie dokie

In the meantime I get to enjoy my life...have a much better Christmas than last year and continue to recover from the Gertie the Hernia removal surgery.

Dr. Angel said I looked good and healthy and could not feel the lymph glands when he felt for them and he was amazed at how good the skin on my neck looked because it did not look one bit like I had radiation.

(that's because I used Rodan + Fields "Soothe" cream on my neck and it was a miracle cream...if you know anyone who will be having radiation please tell them to find a friend who is an R+F rep (or me) and get the Soothe line to protect their skin. He's now going to recommend it to patients...)

So for now...

GOOD NEWS!!!!!

OK people it's time to dance...that's all of you...so right now get up and do some dancing because I don't get to dance with NED for 6 more weeks so I need all of you to dance with me now...

Dance like Snoopy....or any of the Peanuts...
Dance like Ren in Footloose
Dance like Fred Astaire in anything...or Gene Kelly...
Do the moonwalk like Michael Jackson
Walk like an Egyptian...
Be Cyd Charisse and vamp it up a bit...
Dance like Napoleon Dynamite did for Pedro...

just DANCE!!!!

(you there in the back just standing there with your arms crossed---I said to DANCE DAMMIT)

I know I did...I danced all the way to my car in my high heeled booties....

I've waited for this since April when I finished chemo...
but then I had to have radiation

I've waited for this since early September...
but then there was the pesky lymph glands in my neck and more radiation

So now I get good news.

So
Now
I
Get
Good
News

I was freaking out on the way to the doc so I called Twirler Girl and had her give me some moral support. She's fought hard along with me to make sure I am ok (and that I got to keep my hair). She had a good feeling about it but I was nervous. I've been tired lately and had some tummy issues (I see now that was all STRESS) and I was freaked out because Dr. Rockstar's office called and said I had an appointment with her on Monday so I was totally convinced she was seeing me because it was bad news (as it turns out it was just a coincidence that I got the call about it this morning...but it was a scary coincidence...)

Then I freaked out on my Aunt Jane...

And then I had to wait an hour and half for my Dr. Angel so basically I was put in time out and I calmed the hell down.

They put me in the back exam room and I realized it might be so that no one could hear me scream....good or bad....

But my precious Dr. Angel walked in with a smile and I knew he was happy....

and if he's happy...

I'm gonna be happy...

So now I wait.

This is what I plan to do with my extra time I have now...
time that I don't have to sit and worry about my cancer...or endlessly go to the Med Center...

I'm going to:
costume Legally Blonde
finish my Christmas decor (a few things left to do)
organize my closet better
file all my medical stuff I have just piled up
finish my Christmas shopping
cook glorious food for my kids
enjoy time with my kids and family
have fun with friends
return to Revolution (Dec 30)
spin and do yoga as much as possible
take great naps on weekends
take a carload of stuff to Goodwill
blog more for therapy
continue my diet but enjoy some treats
organize things in my house that have become disorganized this year
sleep peacefully
pray more each day

and be damn grateful for the life I have been given.

I can wait 6 weeks to hear I am clear of cancer...

Cancer has taught me patience (except not about missing my workouts...I am impatient to get back to my bike and mat).

I've learned so much through this journey and I have discovered so much about myself.

El Diablo was the hardest thing I have ever had to battle.

I had to do things I never thought I would do to kill this cancer. Needles and tests and exams and laying dead still on a table while radiation is aimed at my body...

I've said it before and I will say it again---you never know how strong you are until you are tested.

I've been through deaths, a divorce, raising kids----but this tested me like nothing before.

And I didn't realize until Dr. Angel told me that things were looking good at just how much all of this has been weighing on me.

I was terrified of dying...of leaving my children....of dying before I really knew what it felt like to be loved and love again...

And now to think that I can actually dare to hope to have a future....to maybe share a life with someone....to see my kids get married and have children of their own...

Life is never predictable or what we expect it to be.

You can't plan your life and guarantee that it will all turn out exactly as you planned it.

No one has that kind of control.

We are tested and challenged...

We have unexpected joys and blessings...

the road is never straight...you have curves and hills to negotiate...

Life is unpredictable.

When I was a little girl I thought I would grow up, go to college, get married, have 2 kids and some pets and live a happy life...

and that happened...

but I never imagined a divorce, losing my parents so young and cancer...

little girls playing with their Barbie dreamhouse don't think about those things...

But as an adult as I saw my marriage unravel and then as I saw my health deteriorate I had to face challenges that no little girl imagines she will have.

I had cancer...

(I'm pretty sure it is gone so I am going to claim it)

And an Angel and a Rockstar and God made it go away...

I don't know why I got so lucky...how I got to be the girl who had cancer and kept her hair and doesn't look sick and got to have a future...

Why me?

Why am I so blessed?

I have no clue...

But I'll take it!

Now excuse me while I go and practice my tango...I want to be ready when NED comes to get me for that dance...

Inspiration Song: "Angels Among Us" by Alabama...yeah I know they are country but when my kids were in middle school and GOTT was directing the choir they always sang this song....and for me my doctors are my Angels...and one LITERALLY IS...

And here is the chorus to the song...it speaks to me so deeply now:

Oh, I believe there are Angels Among Us,
Sent down to us from somewhere up above.
They come to you and me in our darkest hours
To show us how to live
To teach us how to give
To guide us with a light of love.



Bye darlings....I have been blessed to have angels in my life and most especially now when I have needed to be cured but also to show me love and guidance and patience...angels surround you and me...open your eyes---they are there! I have no clue why I am so blessed---but it must be the angels who surround me....and the Angel who cured me with God's help and love...





Sunday, December 3, 2017

High Hopes

Hello Darlings...

It's the holiday season...

I'm hoping to get my Christmas present on December 7.

I have a scan tomorrow...and on the 7th I see Dr. Angel and hopefully he will tell me that I am clear of my horrible cancer.

Wouldn't that be like the best gift ever?

(it also means I won't be endlessly blogging about my cancer....I can move on to other things...like food...and diet...and exercise...and being boyfriendless...yipee!)

I long for normalcy...

I am very ready to not see the Medical Center for a while...

I can't wait to not have a month where I am poked by needles or scanned by some sort of machine...

I live for the day that I can realize it has been months since anyone cared what my hemoglobin count was, or what my blood pressure is (currently excellent thank you spin, yoga, good eating), or if my CA125 count is under 20.

I look forward to maintenance: just having the occasional scan and going in every 6-8 weeks to get my port flushed...

Oh that will be lovely...

So I am in a 4 day anxiety ridden rollercoaster....

Tomorrow I get the MRI of my neck...

then I...

W
A
I
T

and wait and wait and wait...

it's less than 72 hours but it will feel like 72 days...

The last time I had this little dance of scan/go see Dr. Angel I had high hopes...

high high high high high hopes

I went in dressed in a twirly little dress and heels and my brightest happy lipstick on and champagne at home chilling in the fridge...

the champs is still there...

w
a
i
t
i
n
g

I danced into the radiation therapy department fully convinced that I was going to hear awesome news and that I was going to be free of all the treatments and I could schedule my hernia repair and finish out the last quarter of the year quietly...

but no...

God said "Ha!"

God had other plans for me...

because He wasn't done burnishing me with the cancer...

notice I said "burnishing" and not burning...

burnishing is polishing...

it makes things shinier....

glossier....

it beautifies an object....

and in my case, a person...

He has used my cancer as a way for me to grow and improve...

to smoothe away my rough edges and make me shiny.

I needed a little more under the lens of cancer to transform me into the Anice2.0 I needed to be...

or maybe it is 3.0 because I think of Anice2.0 as the me that left the ex.

In any case Dr. Angel and Dr. Rockstar and I were not done fighting.  We had more work to do.

And I am damn blessed because if Dr. Angel had not seen the cancer in those lymph glands it might have spread and my story could have turned out very very different.

So hopefully when I see my precious Dr. Angel on Thursday I will see on his face that there is good news....I know from the look in his eyes if all is well...

I know he is waiting and anticipating too...I was told I needed to do my scan in the same building as radiation therapy---that way he gets the scans quickly.

And one of the nurses I dearly love there (oh who am I kidding I love them all..) called me Friday to confirm I was having the scan and that I would be in on Thursday.

I told her we were going to have a dance party on Thursday so get ready to celebrate.

I have done as much as I possibly could to drive my poor doctors crazy with this second round of radiation and chemo, the unplanned stay in the hospital because of my blood being so bad I needed transfusions, and my insistence at having the hernia repaired.

I think they are ready to be bored by my case...

So for now I face 3 great challenges:

1) I have to get into the MRI machine and since it's my neck well...yeah....fun in a tube!  Yoga breathing will help and so will praying...I am claustrophobic so this will be a challenge. I have had an MRI before but it was my knee and I wasn't all the way in the machine...

2) 68 hours of waiting...work will help, I also see my hernia surgeon so there is that distraction and you might get a lot of anxiety filled blogs from me...

3) preparing myself to face whatever the news is: good or bad...

I'm going to go into it feeling as positive as I did the last time...I want to walk in there with all the hope in the world that the news will be good and that I will have a reason to celebrate.

The champs is still in the fridge....I will have a reason to pop that cork!

I can't dwell on the "what if's".

It does not serve me to do that.

I have to focus on what lies ahead for me in a positive outcome and what I can do to honor the gift of life I have been given.

Last night I had a belated birthday celebration with very dear friends. As I looked around the table and saw two of my oldest friends and their children I could not help but feel that the greatest gift was to be loved.

I am loved and truly nothing compares to that.

I want to share and spread that love and I want to be a beacon of it.

I want my kids, my students, my friends, my family, and all who know me to see me as a warrior who won but continues to fight with love...

I am not a perfect person.

I have made many many mistakes.

I have done many things I am not proud of.

But I will be proud of this fight and how I handled it.

I've had moments of doubt and true real fear but for the most part I have girded myself with the attitude that I must fight on and keep moving forward and face each challenge as it comes.

Every day we wake up and there are challenges before us.

Some might be as minor as running out of coffee (that's what Dunkin and Starbucks are for) and others might be as large as taking an important test or making an important presentation.

But if before our feet hit the floor we thank God for our blessings and we take a moment to say to ourselves "this will be a good day" (or if you are like me most days, because I am Christian, I say "this is the day that the Lord has made...I will rejoice and be glad in it").

If we START positive we will finish in glory...

And that is how I see this battle I have fought...

I started it with saying I would win...

and I will finish it (hopefully) on Thursday in full glory....

and maybe smothering my doctor in hugs and making him dance around the room with me....

Whether it is a day, a week, or a year (like this cancer has been) if we start positively and finish with joy then even if we don't come out on top we are still winners because we did all we could.

When my gyno called to tell me it was cancer I told her "I will beat it" and she said "yes you will".

When I had a day I cried to Dr. Angel that I was terrified of what I had read on the internet about my cancer he said he fully believed that I was going to be ok. And I believe him. I hold on to that.

So for the next few days fill social media with joy for me to keep me distracted. Pray for me and my doctors. Send up happy thoughts. Do good for others in my name. Share love as much as possible because we will all feel that in the universe.

And tomorrow at about 3 pm CST pray as hard as you can that I will not freak out in the MRI and that my scan will be clear....El Diablo needs to vamos...

I used to not be fond of being challenged.

It usually made me mad and I made bad decisions because I don't like to compete (and lose).

I've had myself challenged physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually with this disease.

I have overcome all and I sit victorious ready to claim my crown.

(and we all know just how much I love a crown)

I will win this battle...and I have a strong feeling that Thursday will be the day that cancer lays down the gauntlet and admits defeat to me.

And I will put on the crown, declare El Diablo to be forever banished from my kingdom, and I will rule as the Unicorn Glitter Princess...

be ready for a whole lot of sparkle y'all....

Inspiration Song; "High Hopes" as sung by the one and only Frank Sinatra...Old Blue Eyes did it best and just like that ant I will move the rubber tree plant that is my cancer...

Bye Darlings---prayers please...It will take all my will to handle that MRI and then patiently wait to see my Dr Angel....



Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A Moment Like This

Hello Darlings...

At about 6:45 on November 28, 2016 I was being wheeled into the OR to have a fully hysterectomy to remove my cancerous uterus and other female organs (all contained cancer) and a few lymph glands that had decided to jump onto the cancer bandwagon.

For the last 365 days I have fought to survive what was trying to kill me.

I wasn't sure until the morning of the surgery that I was even going to get the lifesaving operation...when the hospital called to confirm on the Friday before I was warned "we might call to tell you to stay home".

I prayed hard all weekend.

I sent my son back to school and I waited....

No call on Monday morning so I reported to the hospital as I was told to do.  They had all my paperwork ready and sent me upstairs to the surgery department.

It was "Day Surgery" but that's where all surgical patients go.

They put me in a room, handed me a gown, and the waiting began.

My beloved OB/Gyn Dr. Gorgeous and her hubby who is also an OB/Gyn (Dr. Husband) stopped by to hug me, hold my hand, and wait to see how things were going to go down.

Dr. Husband demanded I be given the best room on the surgical floor with the best nurses and and put a lock on the room so my aunt would have a good place to wait and not in the uncomfortable waiting room.

I took selfies in my tiara, got an iv put in and begged for ice chips (big no to that one...although my most recent surgery I was allowed to have water up until 2 hours of surgery).

The told me it would likely be 3:00 or later for the surgery...

but LifeFlight kept coming and I knew someone needed the OR more than I did...

Aunt Jane and I kept ourselves amused by seeing if I could manage to stay in the bed without sliding down...it was a surgical gurney with a vinyl mat on it that would help them slide me onto the OR table.  Why we didn't just take it off until it was time to go I will never know.

We also didn't see the tv controller so we spent about 3 hours watching the "keep the patient calm with nature photos" channel until we found the remote and found some real tv to take our minds off of what was about to happen.

And LifeFlight kept coming...

and 4:00 came...
and 4:30 came...
and 5:00 came...

and I was the only patient left in that part of the pre-op area...

Finally somewhere around 5:30 my oncologist's resident showed up and announced that Dr Rockstar was rested and ready to go and that we would be getting the show on the road soon...

the anesthesiologist came in and delivered the news that I would not be receiving a pain block because all the painkiller docs were gone (I got it the next day).

Finally Dr. Rockstar arrived and I cried...because I knew we were going to finally get the damn cancer out of me.

She's the most amazing woman in the world.

Seriously...

at least to me she is...

because even though it was late and she should have been home with her family she told me "let's do this!" and said she was gonna get it all out...

By then it was after 6:00 pm...

They finally wheeled me down to the pre-op area...the anesthesologist was still trying to figure out what to give me for pain (I itch with everything)....

Dr. Husband showed up and I burst into tears...he told me Dr. Gorgeous was parking the car (he wouldn't let her see me because it would do no good for me to go into surgery crying my eyes out from the love I received from them...). He told me they were scrubbing in and wanted to be with me.

I still cried buckets....

Then he demanded that the anesthesiologist give me the happy shot and let me settle in...

I got wheeled into the OR, put onto the table and they started hooking me up to things and sticking more needles in me...

I remember the mask coming toward my face and yelling out:

"please fix me!"

before they put me under...

I woke up in horrific pain and them moving me into a bed and wheeling me to post-op...

It was after midnight...

Dr. Rockstar had worked on me for 5 hours.

Dr. Gorgeous and Dr. Husband had to go home but they were there for most of the ride.

They told me later that Dr. Rockstar was like a maniac in the OR but she knew exactly what she was doing and she worked as hard as she could to take everything she felt was cancerous.

Except for two lymph glands.

The ones along for the cancer ride...

they were too close to my aorta and one would have left me with horrible lymphodema...and since she had to leave the one by the aorta she left the other one too...

I kind of like having my legs work and I really really love my aorta so I am glad she left them alone even if it meant I had to have chemo.

I finally was in my room around 3 am all I remember was my aunt Jane being there to greet me and my lovely nurse trying her best to keep me comfortable.

So that was a year ago today...

All day I have been reminded of what I was doing 365 days before.

And all I have done for the 365 days since was to fight this horrible disease.

For the past year I have fought cancer almost every day.

I had a nice little 6 weeks between the end of my first radiation series and my second.

Otherwise it has all been chemo, chemo recovery (X6) and then radiation and then the little break and then more chemo and radiation and then blood transfusions then a frenzied 12 days of working and then my hernia surgery...

It has been...

horrible
exhausting
nauseating
terrifying
horrifying
lonely
scary
frightening
painful

and hard as hell...

I am so ready for it to end and be behind me....

And in another 9 days I will know if I get to lay down my battle gear and be a real woman again or if I have to fight on...

The surgery was only the beginning of it....

We all have burdens in our life.

I know for certain that my troubles are minor compared to some and unbearable compared to others.

But life is not a competition to see who can withstand the most pressure and pain and strife in their life.

We have good days (and years) and bad days (and years)

Mine I have laid out before you in this blog....

this has been a bad rough year FOR ME....

I have friends who have flooded and either lost their homes or are having to rebuild their homes

I have friends who have lost loved ones and family members

I have friends who have gone through the breakup or divorce

I have friends who are ill or have a loved one who is ill

We all have things that are hard for us to deal with....

I have found throughout this year that my faith and will has been tested more than I ever thought it could be.

I have discovered I can do things and handle things I never thought I could...

you honestly don't know how strong you truly are until you have no choice but to face something and be strong.

in my case I felt I was as weak as a kitten but I discovered that I am as strong as a lioness...

One year ago I lay in an OR cut open with a surgeon doing her best to take out all the cancer she could find...I was on that table for 5 hours while she fought to clear out everything that was cancerous...

And I have been beyond blessed to have had her operate on me...and to give me the chemo....and to send me to Dr. Angel to give me the radiation...and to have the radiation...and to hopefully be cured.

It's been a year...

the hardest year of my life...

harder than the year I left my spouse...

harder than the year I lost my mother...

harder than I ever expected a year to be.

I am tired...

I am tired of fighting and of all that goes with the battle.

I'm ready to put my weapons away and find peace.

I'm ready to face each day not being afraid and to know my body is at peace and rest and that the cancer is gone.

A year ago I had no idea how hard the fight would be.

A year ago I had no idea what I was going to have to face.

A year ago I had no idea that I would have to do more than recover from surgery...

I'm ready for this year to be over....

I feel like 2018 will be a year where I rediscover who I am...where I get to enjoy life again....where my schedule does NOT revolve around medical things...

I don't have much to offer here tonight other than to commemorate the day that my life was saved.

November 28 will always be an extra birthday for me because it is the day that we discovered just how big a battle I was to face and it was the day that most of the cancer was eradicated.

We had no clue what she was going to find when she opened me up...

we thought I was Stage 3C

but thanks to the lymph glands in my neck I am Stage 4B....

that
is
terrifying

But I have faith in my doctors and in my body that I can overcome even something as awful as Stage 4 Uterine Pappilary Serous Carcinoma.

It will not get me...

It will not stop me...

and next year on November 28 I will celebrate another year of beating cancer....

so right now, wherever you are, if you are the praying type: please send up a prayer for me, for my  Dr Rockstar and Dr. Angel and Dr Gorgeous and Dr Husband, pray for all the men and women suffering from cancer and pray that someday soon cancer will be as rare as smallpox.

I have had a year of fighting....

and I am grateful....

some never get to fight....some never know they have to fight...and some die fighting...

I will not die...

I will win....

and I will shine in my victory like the surgical lights shone in my body while she took the cancer out...

Thank you Dr. Rockstar for saving my life...

Inspiration Song: "A Moment Like This" by Kelly Clarkson....because what was a moment in my life has now become a day that will always define me...

Bye Darlings: if you have a day that your life changed remember to celebrate it and give thanksgiving...for me November 28 is one of those days...

Monday, November 27, 2017

Thank You

Hello Darlings,

Warning: long winding road of a blog...it meanders a little here and a little there...all just train of thought stuff from my head....might go down better if you have had wine...sadly I wrote this without any...

Well I survived my birthday

I am now 53 years old...

Cancer did not get to keep me from having another birthday.

THAT is a victory in my book.

And I am extremely grateful for it and I am incredibly grateful for my doctors (Dr. Angel and Dr Rockstar) for doing what they could to get me to another birthday...

And not only did I get to celebrate my birthday last week but I also got to celebrate Thanksgiving...

I love Thanksgiving....

although through the years the holiday has gotten harder.

It was always my Daddy's favorite---he loved the food but mostly he loved having his brood about  him and everyone together.  When he died a little of my love for the holiday died with him.

Then when my mom died 11 years later a LOT of the joy of the holiday died for me.  She was always the cook and in my adult years I had become her sous chef and I loved the time we spent together making dressing and creamy dreamies (mashed potatoes) and the turkey. I was especially proud the year I told her I was going to have everyone to my house and I made my first solo turkey. It turned out perfect.

My mom excelled at the cooking. Her gravy was wonderful. Her stuffing was perfection. Her creamy dreamies were given that name because they were the creamiest dreamiest mashed potatoes ever. Her turkey was always perfectly done and delicious.

One year she screwed up.

Just once.

We were celebrating the holiday in Montana.

The ranch there was a good way from town (30 minutes plus) on a winding mountain road.

My mom got home from the store and discovered that she did not have a clean new cloth (or cheesecloth) to cover the bird.  When we were really little she got the diaper service to sell her brand new cloth diapers and used them to cover the turkey but we were in Montana and had no need of a diaper service at that time because disposables had come along.

We shared the ranch with another family so Mom and Betty (the other mom) got to cooking and realized they had no cloth.

So mom grabbed a new dishtowel and decided to use that to cover the bird.

the dish towel was red and white check...

I guess you can surmise what happened...

We now call it "the year of the pink turkey"

no one would eat the turkey....

Daddy wasn't happy....

but we filled up on sides and had a good laugh about it.

After my mom died I usually went to my Aunt Jane's if she was in town or made turkey and all the sides myself.

I experimented some but the kids wanted it to taste just like my mom's....so much for putting my own spin on things.

When the ex and I divorced I invited him to eat with us so he wouldn't be alone and so the kids didn't have to have two meals like I did when my parents split up.

We did that for a few years...but the kids found it awkward and he got a girlfriend so I was off the hook.

The year he texted me the morning of Thanksgiving and said he had made other plans I opened the wine early and did a dance around the kitchen.

Now it's just me and The Cutest Boy in the World because his sister is too far away....the last few years we have had prime rib per his request.

But last week he had ALL 4 of his wisdom teeth pulled so prime rib wasn't on the menu.

I'm made gumbo...turkey gumbo...per his request...

Last Thanksgiving is a blur to me...I had just gotten my cancer diagnosis and I was in a lot of pain at that time. I was waiting to have my surgery and terrified. I do remember cooking prime rib for the kiddo but not much else.  The ex offered to send a plate (that was kind) but frankly I was just living as a shadow of myself because my future was so unknown.

This year my future is still unknown but I have had a year to be thankful for...because even though it has been the hardest year of my life I am blessed beyond measure that I have insurance and got the best care possible.

I'm thankful for my doctors, my treatments, the people who work in the doctor's offices, the nurses, the radiation techs, the staff at the cancer center and radiation therapy, my aunt who has stood by me, Twirler Girl who came to every chemo and helped me keep my hair, the cold cap that helped me not go bald, my students who keep me rolling, my medicines that have healed me, the blood of the people who I received in transfusions, the pain meds that kept me from hurting, all the love and support from you people and friends and family and most of all I am grateful for my kids...

Cancer has not been easy but it has been a blessing in many ways...

it has made me grow stronger in my faith
it has made me be a more patient human
it has showed me that I am stronger than I thought I was
it has taught me that staying positive is medicine in itself
it has taught me to be less selfish
it has taught me how precious life is
it has taught me not to take things for granted
it has taught me to appreciate each day

I've grown as a human thanks to cancer.

I don't recommend it as a way to achieve personal growth though...there are better avenues!

Thanksgiving has come and gone but we should always be grateful and thankful and mindful of our blessings.

If you are thankful for your HEALTH---then be sure to cherish it.  Have you had a checkup this year? Have you put off a colonoscopy? or maybe you are avoiding a mammogram? or haven't had a well woman checkup with a gynecologist for a while?  If you have your health TAKE CARE OF IT.  So  maybe spend a minute and book that doctor's visit you have avoided so that you can keep your health and have something to be thankful for next year as well. And since many of us have insurance that resets on our deductibles on Jan 1 try and get it done before the end of the year...

If you are thankful for your LOVE/spouse/partner/boyfriend/girlfriend---tell him/her but also do something to show thanks...plan an unexpected evening...go do something he/she loves but you don't...cook his/her favorite dish...be thoughtful in some way and when you do say to him/her "I am truly thankful that I have you in my life and that you are my love". Acts and words together will confirm that you feel blessed to have that person to love...I truly wish I had someone to thank for loving me...

If you are thankful for your KIDS---show them love in ways they understand---they grow up and leave us all too quickly...and yes they mess up the house if they are college kids coming home and little ones can be trying at times...but we are all thankful for our children....they are horribly embarrassed if you try and tell them you love them...they would rather die than have us say "I am lucky to be your parent"...but you can tell them in the ways they understand like making pancakes or french toast just because...or going to see a movie that they will love and you might need Advil for after...or just saying it's ok for them to go hang with their friends because even though we want them with us they are social beings....my kids would rather have me smear dog feces on them than to listen to me say I appreciate them but my kids know it when I do the "little" things...

If you are thankful for you FAMILY (other than spouse and kids)----spend time with them...invite them over for things other than holidays...you will miss your aging parents when they are gone so soak them up and make memories. I miss my parents and grandparents so much it kills me.  Go shopping with your sister. Go to a game with your brother. Make memories with them and have fun. I have been blessed through my illness to get to spend some great quality time with my beloved Aunt Jane---the infusion center is no fabulous place to have a party but each day we spent together there is a memory that I am very loved.

If you are thankful for your FRIENDS---tell them! Or maybe reconnect with someone you lost touch with...or spend time with someone you have not spent time with in a while...text your bestie that she is great....tell your work friend that he/she makes work better by bringing them coffee....bring lunch to a friend who has been having a hard time...I once cooked an anniversary dinner for some friends who had a new baby and not a lot of $ to go out with----my friend still tells me to this day 27 years later that it meant something to her and that it was a kindness unexpected. Small gestures can be as awesome as the grand ones...Things like Twirler Girl coming to each chemo and being in charge of my cold caps is something I will never forget...we had a lot of laughs and my hair owes itself to her...but it was the fact she took that time and did that for me that I will never forget...that and all the Starbucks pound cake she fetched for me!

We are all thankful and blessed and we should not just take one day a year to be so...gratitude should be a daily thing.

I start my prayers by thanking God for my life and my kids and the many blessings He has bestowed upon me.  I want Him to know that I know I am blessed and very lucky before I lay anything before Him that I am praying for...

This month I have been doing "30 days of Gratitude" to help me remember all the ways I am blessed...sometimes it is a little thing and sometimes it is something big...but each day I find something to truly be grateful for...and if you have never tried that little exercise for yourself I highly recommend doing it.

Next month I plan to dig further in my gratitude...I want to do an act of kindness in some way each day until Christmas. I'm not sure what it will be but I plan to explore all the ways I can serve others as as a way to be grateful for the things I have.

I also might start the new year by having "30 days of gratefulness for YOU" by texting or messaging a different person each day and telling him/her why I am thankful to have him/her in my life.

I look at being grateful a bit differently now...something that once seemed important no longer is and now the little things really really matter.

I recently reconnected with a friend I had a falling out with---I honestly can't remember why we drifted apart but I missed her and in the spirit of the holiday reached out to her so that we could once again enjoy the friendship that I have long treasured (it is a great thing to reconnect with someone you thought you lost). Whatever caused us to drift apart is not important---but once again enjoying a friendship with someone who you miss IS important. I know when she learned I was ill that it saddened her and through a mutual friend she sent some messages that I was on her mind. I'm not a perfect woman or perfect friend and I was as much at fault for our drifting apart as she was but I decided that it seemed silly that we didn't communicate directly and that she too could suffer along with other friends as I endlessly whine about my cancer and medical crap...she might decide to retreat after she gets a belly full of whiny cancer girl...

I've made so many mistakes in my life.

I've handled things badly...
I've hurt people I love and/or care about...
I've been selfish
I've been rude
I've put aside things I should handle
I've focused on things I should have let go of
I've ignored signs of trouble
I've made trouble or stirred the pot

and those are just the ones that pop into my head as I write this...

I've made little mistakes like eating the wrong thing, taking the wrong route, and being blind to what I see in front of me...

But those can translate into bigger things like not taking care of myself to be healthy...running down the wrong path in things I do, and turning a blind eye to act as if I don't see the trouble/issue/problem in front of me...

I
constantly
screw
up

I fail at more things than I succeed at

But I am GRATEFUL for those failures.

No one ever really learned much from getting everything right (although right now I pray that Dr. Angel and Dr. Rockstar have done everything perfectly to get me cured).

I learn so much more from the things I mess up and fail at.

I don't just learn how to fix what went wrong---I also learn the grace to admit to my mistakes, to look for ways to fix what I messed up and to humble myself to know that I didn't do it right and need a do-over or forgiveness for my screwing up.

I've trusted humans I should not trust---and thankfully that has taught me something about learning to be a little more discerning in who I put my faith in. More often than not I will give that person a second chance and more often than not that person once again showed me just who they were the first time (Thank you Maya Angelou for that wisdom---when someone shows you who they are the first time---believe them).

I still want to have faith in the goodness of people but there are just some who will show you all their true colors and when you see the "red" that indicates "stop"---stop...that person is never going to serve you well in friendship.

I'm thankful for the people who have not been true friends to me...because I cherish the ones who really are and are trustworthy even more.

I have put my faith in looking good into a lot of potions and lotions (and some Botox). The Botox hasn't failed me yet but only recently have I found the right skincare for me and a great hairdresser that knows how to make my hair look good.  But the bottom line to looking good is good health and no amount of $ or serum will replace being healthy, drinking lots of water, eating clean,wearing sunscreen, getting good sleep, and washing off my makeup at night. I am thankful that my mom taught me that...

I am thankful for hangovers I had that taught me what "too much" was when it came to wine and vodka...or food...

I am thankful for running out of gas a few times to teach me not to let my tank get so empty...literally and figuratively....

I am thankful for the times that I have not been allowed to exercise to show me how much I truly love and need my workouts...

I am thankful for the lonely nights I have had these last 6 years to help me appreciate how less lonely I am when my kids or my aunt or a friend is here...and hopefully it will make me truly appreciate having a love around (if I ever do have a man to love again) because I know what it is like to cook for one, to spend an evening with only the cats to talk to, and to go to bed with an empty space next to me...

I am thankful for this blog---I can get my feelings out and hopefully one or two of you finds something useful for your own life in it...

And I am very very thankful for all of you who read this blog and have been supporting me on my journey of life....the fact that ANYONE reads this is a miracle to me so thank you for doing so...

So here you go...my thanksgiving blog....about all the things I am thankful for...oh there are so many more things (like cheesecake....and my car...and Amazon prime...and air conditioning...and bubble baths...and....well you get the picture...)

Tomorrow I might muse on one year post cancer removal....let's see how the brain does...

Inspiration Song: Thank You by Dido...thank you for all you do...

Bye Darlings----be thankful for what you have....and show gratitude for those who make your life better...show love....show peace...be thankful....







Sunday, November 19, 2017

Invincible

Hello Darlings...

Tomorrow is my birthday.

I will be 53 years old.

There is no use sugar coating it because it is what it is.

I will be 53.

I think back to past birthdays and have fond memories.

My 30th was a lovely surprise party that for once the ex did something right...and he even arranged for our sweet friend LovelyLinda who was babysitting my daughter to have her deliver her to the party (and that way LovelyLinda could come too!).

My 40th birthday was my last birthday I got to celebrate with my mom.  There was a limo, champagne, my kids, lovely friends and steak at Ruth's Chris.

I forgot to mention that I share my birthday with my ex.

Yes...we have the same birthday.

Different years but same day.  He is 7 years older.  He will be 60 this year.

I don't remember many of my birthdays in my 20's because most were spent with him and we just went to dinner.

I do remember my birthday in 1985...because he proposed.

I drove in from College Station and just before going to dinner he did a fumbling proposal that I think he expected to turn out more romantic and better than planned but it was ok.  I do enjoy a grand gesture and this was sort of a mini gesture but that is more his style than mine.

I do give him extra credit for asking my parents.

He called my dad (because my dad was in Kerrville and the ex was working here in Houston).

My dad in typical fashion tried to talk him out of it.  He asked if he was SURE he wanted to marry me.

Thank you Dadddy...you tried your best to stop me.

But honestly I don't regret marrying him because I have my children and they would not be who they are without him.

They also would not be able to do math and science like they do without his genes so there ya go...you can't get by just by speaking glitter...

My children look like my mom and dad and have my compassion and sense of style but from him they can do calculus and balance chemical equations and don't need a calculator to figure out a tip.

I married a book smart man...he was just dumb in other ways.  It does make me realize that I do need a man who is smarter than me (not THAT hard to find) and I'll be grateful to have someone figure out the tip without agonizing over it.

When the ex told my mom he was going to propose he went to where she was working and showed her the ring.  She put it on and it almost got stuck.

Right there that says a lot about my mom...it was always about Debbie...and frankly as much as it aggravated me that she was like that I loved her for it.

So he proposed, I said yes and we went to dinner and the next morning I drove back to College Station and kept looking at my left hand.

I kept my engagement a secret from almost everyone except my friend Marvelous Marlene because she was in cahoots with the ex for my sorority "candle pass".

For those of you who do not know the extreme excitement of a candle pass I shall enlighten you...a bouquet of flowers with a candle in it (with the engagement ring on the candle) is passed around after your sorority meeting.  Everyone is in a circle and songs are sung and the bouquet/candle is passed from girl to girl until it stops on the girl who has gotten engaged and she blows out the candle.  Hugs and tears abound...it is definitely one of the highlights of being in a sorority---you get to do silly things like that.  These days what I see of sorority girls is a lot of posed photos for Instagram...

I think I was as in love with the idea of the candle pass as I was with him...

I had some fun birthdays as a child---the usual dress up parties and slumber parties.  They were always fun and the slumber parties always had someone who ended up in tears...that's what I remember about slumber parties---some sort of drama that caused tears...

Last year I spent my birthday at a Friendsgiving celebration with some beloved friends.  There was laughter and good happy loving tears and great food.  I started the day with a wonderful yoga class with my yoga goddess Sensational Sarah and I was joined by my Aunt Jane, my Aunt Susan and GOTTESS and then we went to brunch and GOTT and GOTTSON joined us.  It really was a perfect birthday.

Tomorrow I will have a simple celebration.

Just me, my Aunt Jane and The Cutest Boy in the World.

I'm still recovering from my hernia surgery so going out is not available so we are planning on an easy night of picking up Outback and just having a nice easy dinner.

It's going to be a perfectly ordinary and absolutely boring kind of birthday.

Nothing fancy...

no limos...

no champagne (doesn't mix with the pain pills)....

maybe a piece of cheesecake...

simple...

last year I pledged that I would have a 53rd birthday and I will...

I have survived a year of cancer treatments so that I can see this birthday.

Last year I thought I might make this sort of a special birthday because I lived to see it but honestly the hernia surgery sort of took the wind out of my sails on that one.

Maybe next year I will have a fun party...

and hopefully a date...

oh that would be so nice...

if I could even remember how to act around a man who likes me as a woman and isn't a man trying to do something horribly medical to me...

honestly it's been so long since I have been on a date I am actually worried I might just look across the table at my date (if I ever have one) and ask him if my scans are clear and what my CA125 level is.

But this year will be low key...kiddo is having wisdom teeth pulled the next day and I still am wearing a binder to keep me from feeling like my tummy will swell to full term gestation size so getting dressed up cute isn't exactly in the cards.  But maybe with the help of a pain pill I can have a little celebration at Outback (it is across the street from my neighborhood so it wins by proximity and not desired place to celebrate birthday).

There were times this year I wasn't sure I was going to get to see this birthday.  I've had to do so much medically that if the cancer didn't get me the treatment almost did. And when it turned out that my cancer was the ugly aggressive kind I really feared that I might not have that much longer to celebrate things like birthdays.

But despite all the needles and poison and nuking and surgeries and pain and nausea and weakness and gut issues and days that just getting out of bed was a feat I did have some happy things happen over the course of my 52nd year around the sun.

My daughter graduated from college AND spoke at graduation
My students got nominated for best musical
My girls and I got nominated for best costumes for a musical
My son turned 19 and my daughter turned 24

and I got a lot of love and support from my friends and family

I'm hoping for a belated birthday gift in the form of Dr. Angel telling me he has vanquished El Diablo and that there is no evidence of disease anymore...that would make this the best birthday ever...and I have to wait about 2.5 more weeks to see if that is my gift.

I used to take my birthdays for granted.

When I was a child it was all about the gifts and the parties.  I still remember my father sneaking into my bedroom to put my Barbie dreamhouse in the middle of my bedroom so that when I woke up it would be the first thing I saw.  He stumbled (and cursed) on his way in and had to fumble about with it to make sure all 3 floors were still standing so it woke me up but I pretended to be sleeping so as not to blow his surprise and the minute I knew he was safely down the hallway I jumped from bed and pulled the string to make the elevator go up and down.

Best. present. ever.

mostly because he worked so hard to make it special for me...he could have just had me unwrap a box but having it completely put together and there for me to see when I woke made it super special. It was a flimsy thing so I am amazed he got it down the hallway and I'm even more amazed he put it together because that was NOT Daddy's strong suit.

In my teens birthdays weren't much of anything except getting to select where we went to dinner...I don't remember much about those birthdays.  And the restaurant was usually something like The Magic Pan or The Magic Time Machine (the late 70's and early 80's were big on restaurants with the name "magic" in them). Or it was Chinese food.  I don't remember my first trip to Benihana but I am sure someone's birthday was involved...

I got to be "legal" on my 19th birthday so I do remember that---up until a point...and I do remember a hangover from very cheap champagne.

As I said before my birthdays in my 20's were spent with the ex as were those in my 30's...and I was happy to have my kids with me to celebrate...since it was a birthday I shared with the ex it really was a family night and I am happy it was so.

I was a bit apprehensive about turning 40.  I was unhappily married and felt like I still wasn't a real adult.  But I am grateful that THAT was the last birthday I had my mom with me for and I cherish the memories of that night and of sitting in the limo with her and seeing my kids on either side of her happily having a very fun ride...I sipped champagne with my beloved Aunt Jane and I think we attempted to be like Tom Hanks in Big and put our heads through the sunroof...

Birthdays after my mom passed were sad to me because I didn't have her to celebrate with me and I missed her.

My 50th birthday was perfect.

I did exactly what I wanted to do.

I did a double spin class at Revolution Studio with Marvelous Mel and KuteKim and all my beloved Rev people and it was without a doubt one of my happiest days ever.

I was 50 and I did 2 badass amazing spin classes at the place I love with all my heart...and if not for this hernia surgery I would be at Revolution tomorrow doing the same thing.

I've been put through so much this year I have actually surprised myself.

The night I spent in the hospital having transfusions made it all hit home to me that I was forced to take a journey that no one would want to go on and I had to pretty much do it alone.  I looked up at the bag of blood hanging from the iv pole and realized that so much had happened to me this past year that I never thought would be things I would do/see/experience/live through.

So this past week as I have recovered from this hernia surgery I have had a lot of time to think about tomorrow and the day that marks my 53rd year here...and maybe it's just the painkillers talking but I came to realize that there was no need to do anything really special for this birthday just because I survived to see it.

I'm going to do exactly what I want to do: share a meal with two of the 3 humans that mean the most to me in this world. I will miss my daughter but she will be with me in spirit.

My real celebration of life will come when I am finally free of this cancer. 

Free of treatments...

of needles...

of poison...

of radiation...

of my weakened immune system and low blood counts...

of endless drives to the medical center...

of scans...

and I will celebrate on the day that I can move forward with my life and start making plans again...

and that will be a day for champagne, flowers, cake and glitter...

tomorrow will just be a day that marks that I have survived a year of terror and fear and pain and aloneness in my fight for survival...

I'm blessed to have this birthday...many women in my position will not see their next birthday.

Many women with my disease will not survive....

some will die because of it and some will die trying to fight it...

but I have lived to see November 20...

and I will live to see 54...

and hopefully then my life will have moved forward in a direction of joy...of love...of less pain and fear...

I have survived more than I ever thought I could...

and the little girl who lept out of bed to play with her Barbie DreamHouse grew into a strong woman who faced cancer alone and beat it...

Inspiration Song: Invincible by Kelly Clarkson....Kelly and Sia are my "go-to's" for music that lifts me up when I need it...this year has been one of having so much thrown and me and I have survived...here are the lyrics:

You know I was broke down, I had hit the ground
I was crying out, I couldn't make no sound
No one hears the silent tears collecting
You know I had lost hope, I was all alone
Never been so long till you came along
Teacher, I feel the dots connecting
Beat down on me, beat down like a waterfall
Cause I can take on so much more than I had ever dreamed
So beat down on me, beat down like a waterfall
Cause baby, I am ready to be free
Now I am invincible
No, I ain't a scared little girl no more
Yeah, I am invincible
What was I running for
I was hiding from the world
I was so afraid, I felt so unsure
Now I am invincible
Another perfect storm
Now I am a warrior, a shooting star
Know I got this far, had a broken heart
No one hears the silent tears collecting
Cause it's being weak, but strong in the truth I found
I have courage now, gonna shout it out
Teacher, I feel the dots connecting
Beat down on me, beat down like a waterfall
Cause I can take on so much more than I had ever dreamed
So beat down on me, beat down like a waterfall
Cause baby, I am ready to be free

Read more: Kelly Clarkson - Invincible Lyrics | MetroLyrics 


Bye Darlings---tomorrow I will turn 53....I am invincible








Friday, November 17, 2017

Look What You Made Me Do

Hello Darlings...

One year ago today---almost to the minute as I write this blog----I was given the terrible news that would forever change my life.

News that would forever make it impossible for me to wake up each day and not worry...

News that would forever make me wary of every twinge I feel and every "what is that" with my body...

News that terrified me to my core...

News that NO ONE wants to ever hear...

News that meant that I no longer got to just live my life but that I have to FIGHT for my life...

My wonderful gynocologist Dr. Gorgeous called me up and through tears informed me that I did indeed have cancer and that it was uterine cancer.

Well....crap....

I know that she would have given anything not to have to make that call and was hoping and praying (along with me) that the "what was wrong" with me was just something minor like fibroids and was easy to fix.

But nothing with me seems to be easy these days and it wasn't going to be something simple.

I'm really not sure that there is anything scarier to hear than "you have cancer" except maybe to hear that you are dying (which duh---if you have cancer there is a good chance you are dying).

I can pretty much guarantee you that nothing will ever terrify me more than those words unless it is something about my kids and then hell yes that is worse.

When she called we talked and cried a bit...we railed against how unfair it was and we both agreed it was really really crappy that I had cancer. 

I got off the phone with her and practiced saying "I have uterine cancer" a few times before I called my beloved Aunt Jane and shared the awful news with her.

Trust me spitting those words out was like talking with poison in my mouth.

I took a long deep swallow of whiskey (and I am not a whiskey drinker) and made the call and said the words out loud to someone I loved...and my aunt was there for me.

After a year of being a cancer patient I can now say the words fairly easily and they don't catch in my throat as much as they did during those first days but trust me it is still not easy to say.

But I knew if I SAID it I would OWN it and it wouldn't OWN me...

I have uterine cancer

At that time we didn't know what kind it was (and because I am an overachiever and have to do everything the hard way I had to end up with the really badass awful kind that kills people and so I have Uterine Pappilary Serous Carcinoma---some damn ugly stuff).

I spent that first night trying to digest:
that I had cancer
that the next morning I was going to see an oncologist
that I had to find a way to tell my children

During that time I also had some friends confide in me that they or a family member was going through their own medical or emotional drama but I couldn't say a word about my situation because it was so unclear as to what was happening with me and I wanted to be "there" for them and give them support.

I went to the doctor because I was bleeding a lot and thought it was menopause and I ended up with a cancer diagnosis.

Well...crap....

Most of you reading this have been on this journey with me---reading my blogs and my posts on social media.

During the time I have been in treatment I lost one sweet friend to a brain tumor (BeautifulBecca and my heart still grieves for her and the loss we feel from her no longer being with us) and another friend lost her daughter to Cystic Fibrosis (WonderfulWhitney...a gorgeous young woman who was taken too soon). And another friend had to watch her child go through his own cancer diagnosis (oh that was hard...) but then something great happened and met my #spiritanimal and fellow warrior Great Grace....

When I was in the hospital having my hysterectomy Beautiful Becca would message me sweet uplifting things in the wee hours when neither of us could sleep.  She was an incredible cheerleader and when I discovered she was now in heaven my heart grieved so deeply I felt I was in a trench of sadness that I could not see the top of....

The first time (and every time) that I walk into the Memorial Hermann Cancer Center my wind gets knocked out of me a little. I literally stepped off the elevator and had to catch my breath.  So did my Aunt Jane. We just paused as we stood in the hallway and looked at the words written on the wall.

Memorial Hermann Cancer Center

Why the hell was I there?

I didn't belong there...

but I did...

I have cancer...

and I feel the same way every time I push open the glass doors of the Radiation Therapy Department.

It's been a year now and I am on a first name basis with all the nurses in the department, the receptionist and most of the ladies that handle all the signing of paperwork.  My pharmacologist has me call her by her first name and if I ever need to be hugged I need only go up to the 29th floor of the Memorial Hermann Medical Plaza (or the radiation therapy department) and I will have a dozen people who will wrap their arms around me and make me feel better.

I don't remember if I slept the night I found out I had cancer...it was all such a blur.

I don't remember if I ate...

I don't remember much about any of it after she said the words "you have uterine cancer".

Cancer...

I have cancer...

I do remember thinking I had to be strong...I felt like if I started crying I would never ever stop.

I remember trying to be calm as I met my oncologist and her residents and while we discussed the surgery I was to have and scheduling it.

I remember it feeling like I was in some sort of hazy dream that wasn't real.

But cancer is very very real.

As this year progressed I did so many things I could not have ever imagined I would have to face or do.

I had a total hysterectomy  and several lymph glands removed...she had to cut into me very deeply and sadly the cancer had spread to what we thought was stage 3C (but it turns out I have Stage 4B because of the cancer in my lymph glands in my neck)

I had a port put in...

It is a daily reminder that I am a warrior and that I have poison put into my body from it...

I had the first of 6 chemotherapy treatments two days before Christmas so I ended up sleeping most of Christmas day and laying on the couch...my children had to watch their mom struggle to move about the house and they did their best to make the holiday easy on me.

I learned about cold capping so I could keep my hair.  It was hell but I don't regret it and my Aunt Jane and Twirler Girl worked very hard to help me keep my long blonde locks. I honestly believe that keeping my hair helped me keep my sanity...and made me feel so much better...

I learned all about chemo and steroids and had to learn to manage all of it on my own because I am alone with no partner so there was no one to help ease my pain or nausea when I felt bad and there was no one to help me do simple tasks (like heating up a meal) when I was recovering from chemo.

I learned how to handle radiation being shot into my body and how to make sure I wasn't burned by it and I learned that having a doctor who took time out of his busy schedule to make sure I was ok was a true blessing...I cried to Dr. Angel many times and he made sure I always felt secure and cared for.

I had:
a total hysterectomy
6 chemotherapy infusions of Taxol/Carboplatin
3 Brachytherapy treatments
25 external beam radiation therapy treatments to my pelvis
30 external beam radiation treatments to my neck
4 chemotherapy infusions of Cisplatin
4 blood transfusions
one Neulasta shot
countless blood draws
countless iv's
countless iv and port flushes
hernia repair surgery because I got an incisional hernia after my hysterectomy

I've cost the insurance company hundreds of thousands of dollars and I have spent hours upon hours getting treated.

And I have done it without a partner, boyfriend or husband.

Those of you with a love in your life will never understand just how that multiplies the difficulty of it all...because as much as friends are helpful they are no replacement for the person who hears you crying in the night and pulls you close to tell you it will be ok

I've had many friends help me but it honestly doesn't replace having someone who is in love with you tell you that you will be ok and you are still loved and loveable...

Cancer made me gain weight
Cancer made me so tired it was an effort to cross the room
Cancer made me lose a lot of sleep
Cancer made me take a lot of naps
Cancer made me cry more than I have ever cried

It's been a year of hell and a helluva year...

And now as I wait to hear if I am cured or in remission I fear making plans...

Because I have made plans before...and they were for naught...

I planned to have found a love and be enjoying time with him...
but Cancer cancelled those plans and I have yet to go on a single date

I planned to lose weight and get into shape...
but Cancer cancelled those plans and I gained weight

I planned to do some travelling
But Cancer cancelled those plans and all my money has been spent on medical bills

I planned to do some work to my house
But Cancer cancelled those plans (see above)

I planned to try to find some time to work on some sort of writing or cookbook
But Cancer cancelled those plans and all I write about is my damn cancer

The other day I was shopping for boots....and I almost didn't buy them because I wondered why bother? I had no place to wear them or anything special to wear them with so why spend the money...

But then I said to hell with it and bought the damn boots and another pair as well...

Cancer has completely disrupted my life but it will not mess with my wardrobe and once I heal from this damn hernia repair I plan to dress as cute as possible...no more alien baby head to get in the way.

As much as I hate having cancer and all the hell it has put me through I have learned a lot from it...

I've learned patience
I've learned to handle things alone
I've learned to handle needles
I've learned to be grateful

I had a very privileged childhood...I had everything I could ever want and the hardest thing I faced was my parent's divorce and dealing with a stepmother who really really did not want me around.

I had an unhappy marriage but it wasn't misery and my children were easy to raise and other than my son having monthly ear infections and screaming in the car (until his sister would sing Wide Open Spaces by the Dixie Chicks) it was easy...not happy or fulfilling (the marriage not my kids) but easy enough...

I've had an easy life....

and I decided on that day one year ago that I WOULD NOT have an easy death...

Cancer was not going to take me....

I will not let it win...

I have no choice but to conquer it and win the battle.

God puts a lot on our plates.

Sometimes we look at the plate and feel like there is not enough there to nourish us---but sometimes it is the smaller amounts of things that we need to handle at one time.  The plate may not look full enough to fulfill us but it will...because He is giving us what we can handle at that time.

Sometimes we look at the plate He gives us and it is full and overflowing. It is more than we can handle. We ask God to take some of it off our plate or we try to sneak some of it off into the trash but in reality what is on our plate is what we have been served or we have requested to be served. And we can only tackle it one small bite at a time.

Sometimes the plate is empty. We feel like He is giving us nothing...but I know that we are never holding a truly empty plate. It may feel so but there is always something there.

Sometimes the plate is full of things we hate. Like a plate full of kale and liver. Things we don't want to see on our plate. Things we really really dislike and don't want to deal with. But we have been served and we must take from it.

Sometimes the plate is full of sugar. Lots of beautiful desserts that are pleasing to the eye and palate and we totally indulge and partake of all of it even if it might mean we end up feeling awful later.

Sometimes the plate looks perfect---just the right amount of everything on there. Not too much and not too little.

I have been served all of those types of plates this year...times I felt that there was not enough there for me to be strong and get through the day....sometimes it was more than I could handle...sometimes every bite of the day felt bitter and awful.

Sometimes I just wanted to wash my plate clean without partaking from it...but you can't do that...you have to work with what was served to you.

(Thank you StarChild 2 who posted that her plate was too full...it got me thinking)

God serves us exactly what we need even if we don't think it is right or what we want...

I do not want cancer...

no one does...

but I HAVE cancer...

And my serving of cancer has been on my plate all year...it has not gone away....

I have had days of unending physical pain
I have had days of unending emotional pain

I have had days where I wondered why I was given what was served on my plate...

But I have never gotten mad at the fact I have cancer...I am mad at what it has taken from me but I am grateful for what I have learned from it.

A year ago today 4 words changed my life:
YOU HAVE UTERINE CANCER

A year ago I was immediately thrust into a life I had never thought I would live.

But I have survived this year...I have survived all that has been put on my plate.

And today I feel like my plate might just finally change a bit...instead of being overflowing with things like Kale that I don't like that maybe my sad ugly plate is going to be exchanged for some fine china and just the right amount of stuff on it...that I will be able to see the beautiful gold embellishments on the china and that everything on the plate is something I love...

And I have hope that maybe just maybe I will have someone to share my plate with...maybe a man who is kind and loving and able to look past a roadmap of scars will share my plate and help me finish my battle.

A year ago I had no idea what I would face...
I had no idea how hard it was all going to be...
I had no clue that it would take every ounce of my strength to fight

I've fought harder than I thought I could
I've faced tougher challenges than I ever imagined
I've faced death and had things done to me that almost killed me...

A year ago I was a woman who was lonely and weak

A year later I am still lonely but I know I am stronger than I ever imagined...

You never know how strong you are until you have no choice but to be strong...

And I have had no choice...

Thank you for weathering out this year with me...I am not done but I have come far...

Thank you for reading my thoughts and sharing my pain...

Thank you for standing for me when I was crumpled on the ground...

Thank you for praying for me when I had no prayers left...

Thank you for offering to help when I could not ask for myself...

Thank you for cheering me on when I felt I had no more to give...

Thank you for helping me live...

I have cancer

But it doesn't have me...

Inspiration Song: "Look What you Made me Do" by Taylor Swift...because I can't believe all the things that cancer has made me do...

Bye Darlings---a year ago my life changed...I pray each day that because of it I will be a better human and lead a better and more fulfilling life.  If your plate feels too full, or too empty or you feel you were served the wrong thing just remember that the plate is every changing....one bite at a time...





Sunday, November 12, 2017

You Get What You Give

Hello Darlings...

tomorrow I will have surgery to get rid of Gertie the Giant Incisional Hernia...

I'm quite tired of her ruining the way I look and not letting me show off all the hard work I have done to lose weight and get back in shape.

Plus I worry that she's getting bigger and that something might just get caught in the hernia so I am glad to be rid of it.

I have been dealing with this medical stuff for about 13 months now. 

Nov 14 with mark the one year anniversary of the phone call from my gynocologist telling me that the pathologist found cancerous cells (they just didn't know what kind) and on the 17th I will have known I have uterine cancer for a year...

All of it came down in November of last year---right while I was costuming our fall play and just before my birthday.

This year I have known I would have surgery again for about the last 6 weeks. I planned it to occur right after the run of our fall play so that I could recover on the one short bit of down time I have before getting ready to costume our musical.

I almost didn't get to have the surgery.

My platelets were extremely low
My hemoglobin was so low I needed transfusions
My white cell count was in the basement

Basically my body was working hard to recover from all the radiation and chemo I had put it through for the last year and most especially the last 6 weeks.

Being thrown into the hospital threw me for a loop and could not have come at a more inconvenient time but GOTT and my costume team girls jumped in and handled what I hadn't finished.

But I got out of the hospital on Tuesday and on Wednesday I went back to work and I went to see the anesthesia team at the hospital.

The nurse practitioner looked at me and said "what you are on paper and what you are in reality don't match up. On paper I see a very sick woman who is less than 24 hours out of the hospital and should be weak and sickly. In front of me I see a healthy looking woman in high heeled boots and a cute dress and great hair"...

I took that compliment to the bank...thank you sweet nurse!

When the surgeon's nurse assistant called me to confirm the surgery on Friday she said the same thing---that what I am on paper and what I present in person doesn't match but that my oncologist convinced them that I am strong enough to handle the surgery....

I had less than 26,000 platelets when I went into the hospital.

When I left I was at 43,000...

I had to get to 100,000 to get the surgery...

I was at 132,000 on Friday

I'm an overachiever...

that's how I roll...

give me a goal and I will sail past it...

That's how I have handled this cancer mess...throw the bad stuff at me and I will conquer it.

There are no magic potions to raise platelet levels so I just did my best by eating healthy (I dropped my dieting for a bit and focused on getting in good food to feed my blood) and trying to rest as much as could during show week.

In the midst of all of this medical drama I still had about 45 kids to costume for "Our Town" and we had 4 performances and a full dress rehearsal with an audience. It was 14 hour days and late nights.

And it was worth it.

The kids were amazing.

Our Town is not an easy play to understand, act or watch.

The third act is a doozy as it deals with the death of one of the main characters and it makes the audience realize that ordinary life is a blessing and we take so much for granted.

And now, having looked possible death in the eye, I am even more aware of how blessed my life is and how lucky I am to live the life I do.

I am lucky to be alive...

I am lucky to not have undiagnosed deadly cancer inside of me...

and I am lucky to have all the love and support I get from my family, community, friends and my students I work with.

Last night the Stage Management team blew me away by giving me a sweet award.

We always give each member of the cast and crew a fun and silly award that reflects something about them or the character they played.  The awards are just for fun and the kids have a good time with them.

But I had no idea that the 3 student stage managers and the student director had a surprise in store for me...and after all the kids awards were given the student director began to speak...

it took a minute or so before I realized that the words he was saying were about me...

and then he hugged me and handed me a piece of paper that said "The Fighter Award"...

and then, in a moment I will always consider one of the sweetest of my life, the kids surrounded me and we were all in one big giant hug.

THAT was truly a moment I will never forget...

I felt so much love from those precious kids and I am so happy that they all know just how very very much I love each and every one of them.

I cried then...
I cried on the way home...
and I am crying as I type this...

Feeling all that love surround me and knowing that these are young people just beginning to understand life and death and illness and struggle I was stunned by their insight...

and I am ever so grateful that they see the work I put in to making them look good on stage and they know it is because I love them that I do it.

So these past two weeks have been lessons in learning that what I put into something is ultimately what I get..

you get what you give...

and because I gave my body a chance to heal and recover I get to have my surgery to repair an ugly hernia (people trust me on this...it is huge...it is alien baby head huge...)

and because the kids see the love I put in to doing my costume work they give me love and support in return...

I have resolved to spend as much of my life spreading love and showing strength as I can...

I believe with my whole heart that I am healed from this horrible disease I have been fighting.

I have spent a year:
being cut on...
having poison put into my veins
being radiated inside and outside my body in two different areas
spending days in my chair just trying to get the energy to walk across the house
having needles put into me so often that I no longer flinch when I am poked
being scanned endlessly

but because of all of that and the tireless work of my doctors I fully believe I will be cured...

So tomorrow when I go under the knife one more time (my stomach looks like some sort of crazy road map of scars) I hope that this will be the last of what I go through with this cancer (other than some scans and blood tests).

I'm ready to live my life...
to find love...
to enjoy my job...
to spend time doing something other than going to the Med Center...

For 6 weeks I drove myself all the way down to the Med Center Monday-Friday.

I had to leave work to do it and my entire day was planned around 7 minutes on the radiation table.

Mondays I had to be in the infusion center and work with the radiation tech guys to also get my radiation.

It was a crazy time of me endlessly in my car travelling across this city to get to my doctors to get cured.

I am grateful I was able to and that I do something that allows me the freedom to walk out the door at noon to go and do something that will cure me.

But the effort it took will be worth it in the end when Dr. Angel tells me my scans are clear and that I am in remission.

He's worked hard for it.
Dr. Rockstar has worked hard for it.
Dr. SweetMeds has worked hard for it.
My aunt and TwilerGirl have worked hard for it taking care of me.
My friends have worked hard for it supporting me.

And I have given everything I have to fight it.

Last night I was surrounded by love.

It was a physical realization of the love I feel from all of you.

I stood in the middle with my arms around those children and their hugs made me feel so incredibly loved and appreciated.

Life is not easy...

No one has it perfect...no one has a smooth flat road to travel...we all have bumps in our road and struggles.  And I don't have more or less than most others.

My battle has been a physical, spiritual, and emotional fight to survive.

And tomorrow I will lay down on that operating table and fight the last part of my fight.  The hernia I got because I didn't mind my doctor when she said not to lift heavy objects will be gone.  The last reminder (other than my scars and port) that I have been battling cancer for a year.

And then I get to rest...

and wait...

and let my body do the final healing so that I can be declared cancer free.

You never know when the smallest act of kindness might have the biggest results.

Last night my kids handed me a piece of paper that is more precious to me than gold.

I am blessed...

Inspiration Song: "You Get What You Give" by New Radicals...it's a fun little song and its one I listen to to give me strength to not give up.

Bye Darlings---pray for me...and never forget that a small acknowledgement can mean the world to someone...