Clarification on why I’m writing this blog.

Hello guys and gals,

I would just like to clarify why I am writing this blog. I started writing this for my family and friends who wanted to know exactly what I was going through and how I felt about it all. I also hoped to help those that are affected by cancer as other cancer blogs helped me know that I was not alone in having all these symptoms and feelings. I understand that this blog can be difficult to read sometimes but people wanted me to be ‘brutally honest’, so I have been. Cancer is not funny, fun, or pretty. Whether you have it or are dealing with a loved one who has it. I know because I have been on both sides of the coin. I totally understand if you cannot read what I write, I would not be offended at all if you stop reading it. But just know that in this blog you are going to go along with me in this cancer journey. I write from the depths of my soul. I let you in to my deepest thoughts. And I keep you updated on my condition as I live it.

This blog is not for everyone, so if your having a hard time reading what I write, then don’t read it. I’ll keep on writing because there are a lot of you out there that do like reading it no matter how raw it may be. I let you into my personal life and thoughts. Plus this has been really therapeutic for me. So if I end up writing for no one but myself then so be it. lol

Love you all no matter what! Goodnight.

PS…I get full body scans in less than 2 weeks to see if this chemo is working, so I will be giving you and update on that soon. 🙂

Taking things for granted and my letter to Chemo

I haven’t been on here for awhile so it’s time for an update. I am finding that these chemo cycles are unpredictable and no two are alike. I just had my 6th infusion last week of this infinite chemo and it is all still going as well as can be expected. My biggest symptoms have been fatigue, nausea, constipation, body (bone and muscle) aches, very dry mouth, a constant taste of metal in my mouth, no appetite, memory loss, severe stomach aches, pain in my sternum and back where the tumors have damaged the bone, and worsening of neuropathy in my fingers, feet and lower legs. Most days I feel like I have the flu with a few good days in between. I’m pretty weak most of the time now and get short of breath, or winded very easily, thanks to all the tumors in my lungs. But I’m grateful that I can still breath, walk, talk, and feel. I’m still here…fighting.

It’s funny the little things that we take for granted like Saliva. When you have a severe dry mouth with no saliva it makes eating very difficult. I cannot eat bread, crackers or anything dry anymore. It sticks in my mouth and is hard to chew up and swallow. You don’t ever think how important saliva in your mouth is until you don’t have it anymore. My eyes are constantly blurry because they water constantly (making it hard to drive, especially at night) and my nose constantly has a clear drip. My finger tips are numb and it is hard to put on earrings or button my clothes. It is difficult to type cause I can barely feel the keys on the keyboard. I have to look at the letters when I type now to make sure I’m hitting the correct keys. My toes, feet, and lower legs are numb BUT hypersensitive to the touch and hurt if even the sheets in bed touch them, much less when I wear shoes. It feels like jelly fish are constantly stinging me and fire is being held to my skin. OUCH! Makes me jump!

I constantly tell my family the same things over and over again only because I can’t remember that I’ve already told them like 5 times already. They have learned over the last 3 years to be tolerant of my memory loss and don’t get as irritated as they did at first. They just calmly say “you’ve already told me this (like 500 times)” lol I forget words and how to spell them (and I used to win spelling bee’s in school when I was little!) Oh how fun this journey has been! The newest symptom is the “shakes”. My hands shake like I have Parkinson’s Disease. 😦 This symptom is caused from the new anti-depressant that I am on. Yes, I succumbed to admitting that I may be a little depressed and got on an anti-depressant. I’m glad that I did cause I feel a whole lot better and am laughing and enjoying life again despite everything that is happening to my body. And yes, I still see my therapist, every Friday at 3 o’clock. (I have recurring set appointments, unless I have an emergency.)

I believe I started getting depressed and having anxiety after I was told that the cancer had metastasized. I didn’t realize it until my doctor put me on a med for anxiety (that also treated depression) but it made me feel really bad and made my sodium levels go below normal, so they took me off and I requested an anti-depressant which has worked wonders for depression and anxiety. If any of you out there feel down or depressed or have anxiety, please don’t be ashamed to admit it and get help. I don’t care anymore who knows it or what people may think, I feel better and I feel good about it. Mental health is very important whether you have cancer or not.

I’m still holding onto my job (barely) but it keeps me going and gives me purpose. Being a nurse was a dream of mine since I was a little kid and became a reality for me. So it is really important for me to keep my job as long as I can. Once I retire I will most likely volunteer at the cancer center where I get my infusions. I know chemo is hard on the body but I am also thankful for it, because without it I would most likely not be here anymore. Cancer is a monster and it eats you up pretty fast from the inside out. Chemo has to be strong to kill that monster, unfortunately it kills good parts of you too. If I had a choice to do it all over again, I would do the same treatment.

My letter to Chemo: Dear Chemo, even though you have ravaged my body and make me literally sick, I love you and thank you for extending my life, killing this cancer, and teaching me to be humble. Because of you (and GOD of course) I have lived to see grandchildren being born, meet the one’s that live so far away, you’ve given me extra time with my loved ones and my wonderful husband, you have made me appreciate the little things in life that normally we don’t even see. Like how beautifully blue the skies are, how puffy the clouds, the beautiful thunder storms and lightning that lights up the purple skies. The way the moon lights up a dark night. The heat of the sun on my skin. The smell of rain, the feeling of wind across my face, the natural perfume of flowers and all the wonderful colors. The smell of fresh cut grass and the smell and sound of the water sprinklers in the summertime. Swimming in ice cold water. Lightning bugs lighting up the woods at dusk. All the different seasons. The smell of newborns and their sweet little cries. Laughter, tears, joy and sadness. The smell of the salty ocean and the sound of the waves at night. The beautiful white capped ocean waves and the feeling of just how powerful the ocean is. Sand between my toes. Finding beautiful shells and sand dollars on the beach. Our furry little friends. Food, when I used to be able to eat and enjoy it. Margarita’s and wine, when I used to be able to enjoy it and drink it. Medications that help with all the cancer and chemo symptoms. I’m grateful that you didn’t take my hair this third time around cause I didn’t like being bald. Thank you for the weight loss, cause I needed to lose a little weight, lol. I’m grateful that cancer didn’t get me until all my kids were grown and on their own. I’m grateful for the bonds of love with family and friends and how strong they have become. Thank you for all the new friends that I have made throughout this cancer journey. Shopping, lol. (Amazon, and all the little stores here in my hometown) Soooo many things that I once took for granted and wish I still had or could still do. But most of all, You have taught me how to love deeper than I have ever loved before, unconditionally. I guess chemo has extended my life to appreciate these things but getting cancer was what really humbled me and taught me to appreciate the little things in life that we take for granted. So thank you Cancer and chemo…..Goodnight. 🙂

Going through these chemo cycles.

Hello everyone. Thought I would jump on here and give you an update on how this cancer journey has been going. The fight continues. On Monday, Sept 8th I had my 3 year anniversary since being diagnosed with cancer. I am a 3 year survivor so far. The cancer has slowly spread in the last couple of years but I continue to fight and live my life as best and close to normal as I can. And yes, I’m still working. Thank goodness for all the treatments that I’ve gotten that have slowed the cancer down and allowed me to live a little longer. I am on my 5th cycle of chemo and on Oct 1st will be the 6th treatment, then I will have scans again to see how the chemo has been working.

The cycle is the 3 weeks in between chemo treatments. The first 4 cycles I was really sick almost the whole time in between treatments. I didn’t think I could take much more and was going to ask my Oncologist for a break after the 6th cycle. But I have done good during this 5th cycle and have been able to work everyday. I guess I still had a lot of radiation in my body that affected the chemo and made the symptoms worse and I guess it must be out of my body now cause I’m feeling better. Radiation is tough. I was doing good this cycle until Tuesday night. I started getting sick and it has slowly gotten worse to where I was unable to work today. I’ve been on pain meds all day. For some reason in the middle of the cycle my back starts to hurt really bad where all the tumors are. And I mean it hurts BAD! The pain is about at a constant 8 and it hurts so bad that I get chills and shiver, and get real nauseas. Sometimes it makes me cry cause the pain is relentless. The pain med only brings it down to about a 6. Makes it a little more tolerable, but it still hurts real bad. It sucks having cancer. I’m going to ask the Oncologist why this is happening in the middle of every cycle. I just don’t understand why unless it’s the chemo working on the tumors and aggravating them. I hope it’s a sign that the chemo is working!

I’m still waiting for the ‘chemo flu’ to hit me. I’ve been feeling like it is slowly coming on. This cycle has been really crazy and different than the last 4 cycles. I’ve done better for the majority of the cycle. If this is how it’s going to be then I can go on and handle the treatments without a break.

Other than all that I am still glad to be here, and if I am having and feeling pain that is because I’m still alive…so I’ll deal with it.

The neuropathy in my hands and feet has slowly been getting worse. That is a side effect of the chemo and there is nothing I can do about it unless I choose to stop the chemo, which then means the cancer will spread faster. So not much choice there. It’s either dying quicker or staying alive longer with numb fingers and toes. I guess I’ll take the latter.

I’m just glad I didn’t lose my hair again with this chemo. It is still growing, really slow though. It came back so dark people think that I dye my hair lol.

I continue to steadily lose weight. I first started this journey at about 175 lbs, and I am down to 147. I’m glad I’m losing weight because I needed to, but it’s a hell of a way to lose weight. I just don’t eat much anymore. The nausea is a constant. I don’t think I will ever gain weight again, just keep losing. I need to go through my clothes and get rid of all the bigger ones that I no longer wear and will never wear again.

The fatigue hasn’t been that bad this cycle. I’m waiting for the ‘chemo flu’ to hit where my body just shuts down and I sleep for 2-3 days. Those are the days where I’m really sick and can’t get out of bed. I hardly eat and can’t shower. I just lay in bed, get up to pee, try to eat jello, or applesauce, and just sleep. No matter how hard I try on those days I just cannot stay awake. My body literally shuts down. The Doctor said that was because the chemo has been working and my body is at it’s lowest point and needs to recover. So I just sleep.

So those are about all the symptoms that I am having with these cycles. Fatigue, nausea, neuropathy, weight loss, and pain.

So there you have it. The journey continues.

Memories

Souvenirs of the mind from the past. So beautiful. We all carry them till we die. It is what has helped shaped our lives. Bad and good. I have so many good memories of my life, 54 years of them. From doing karate as a kid, when I really wanted to do dance, then growing up, having my own kids, all girls, and putting them in dance and cheer. lol

I had a big family on both my mom and dad’s sides and I had a lot of cousins. A lot of my best memories growing up were spending time with them. Easter egg hunts, tamales at Christmas, and summers swimming till dark.

Since I have gotten sick with cancer I have reunited with cousins on both sides which has been like winning the lottery. We have reconnected and spent time together, which has really been nice. We hadn’t seen each other in over 30 years.

Family is so important, sometimes we take each other for granted thinking we will always be there…but when things like cancer hit the family everyone becomes suddenly so individually precious.

I have 9 grandchildren and the 10th one is currently in the process of being born as I write. She will be here tonight or tomorrow. She lives in Utah so no telling when I will get to meet her but at least we have social media so that I can see her. Out of the 10, one is biologically mine and she looks just like me. I see her almost everyday. She is the only grandchild that lives close to us. The other 9 all live in other states so we rarely get to see them. Eliana will be 6 weeks old tomorrow and she is the light of my life. She makes me so happy. I can stare at her precious little face for hours. I have never known love like the love for a grandchild, an extension of me. My blood runs through her veins. I hope and pray that I live long enough to make memories with her so that she remembers me. If not, I will be her guardian angel always. I wish the rest of our grandchildren lived close by so that we could spend time with them and make memories with them. They hardly know us. But each one is so precious.

Grandchildren are the best. You can love and spoil them and then give them back to their parents to take care of them. I love watching them all grow up and watching their little personalities develop. They are such little people and so smart. Our grandchildren range from ages 7 to 0. And again….all so precious. I am so happy that we have at least one that lives close by that we can be a part of her life and she will know us.

When I’m not feeling good or having a bad day I just have to think about Eliana, look at her picture, and my day immediately brightens up. I can’t explain the feeling that I get inside when I see or hold her. It’s a feeling of so much love I didn’t know was possible. I feel so blessed and am so thankful that God has given me the time to be here and experience such love.

As long as I am alive I am still making memories for myself and those that I love.

Coming out of the fog

I’m finally feeling better today and coming out of the fog. The ‘chemo flu’ (that’s what me and my husband call it cause it feels like the flu) hit me on Sunday night and knocked me off my butt on Monday and Tuesday. I was lethargic and could do nothing but sleep. My family tries to get me to eat, which I do very little of on those days cause I am in so much pain that my body shakes and all I want to do is take pain meds and sleep. Those are days that I wish I had a caretaker to feed me and help me cause it takes everything I have to just get out of bed to go to bathroom, brush my teeth or get some water, much less feed myself. My family has offered to come help me, but I say no cause not only do I not want to be a bother, but then I feel like I can’t sleep, and that is all that I want to do. My dear cousin Michelle was here from Virginia over the weekend. I felt bad for her cause I wanted to do a lot of things with her but I had no energy to do so. She came on Saturday and we had a good day–we went to see my new granddughter, got mani\pedis, then went to dinner and had wine and listened to a live band and just chit chatted, on Sunday we went to a park called Zilker Park where we used to go when we were little and went swimming in Barton Springs and just reminisced. It was fun. On the way home from dinner that night I could feel the ‘chemo flu’ coming on… and sure enough on Monday I couldn’t get out of bed and it was her last day here. She spent the day cleaning and reorganizing my pantry and fridge while I slept then made a lasagna for dinner. I got up and went and laid in her bed and she laid with me and watched me sleep. I love her for that. Had I not been sick I would have had a get together at my house with the whole family to come and see her and I would have cooked for her. But not this time. And she didn’t expect anything. She came to see all the family in May while I was in Vegas that is why she said she came this time just to see me and spend time with me. She knows I’m terminal and wanted to spend time with me while she still could. I appreciate that. All in all we still managed to have a good time just being together.

Between the meds and therapy I’m starting to feel better as far as the anxiety that I was having. But one thing I have noticed that I miss and don’t know how to get back is laughing. I don’t laugh anymore, not like I used to. And I miss it. I watch funny stuff on TV, my husband tries to get me to laugh but it just isn’t there. I might chuckle, but that’s about it. I need to laugh. I could fake it, but that wouldn’t be the same. lol I guess I’ll bring that up more in therapy.

This chemo has been harder than I thought it was going to be and it is making me sicker for longer than I thought it was going to. I didn’t think it would debilitate me as much as it has. It kind of makes me feel sad in a way that my quality of life is waning, but I feel like I have no right to complain because it is keeping me alive and still here. It’s a hard life to be living. Not that I’m giving up, it’s just hard. I have a new pain in my stomach that I believe is from the chemo. I think the chemo is tearing up my gut. I’ve been putting peppermint oil on it which helps temporarily, but then the pain comes back. I’ll tell my Oncologist when I go in next week. It will be chemo round #6 on Tuesday. Every three weeks comes so fast.

Correction to my last post…my daughter brought to my attention that I left the H off of Hakuna Matata. So Hakuna Matata to all ~no worries. 🙂

It’s been a rollercoaster ride!

People have been asking why I haven’t written in my blog, it’s because I’ve been having some really hard days, both mentally and physically. I’ve been suffering with a lot of fear, anxiety, and pain. I know in my last blog I said the pain was going away but last week it came back for a few days with a vengeance and I got scared that the cancer was spreading again. Every time I have gotten pain like that in the past, I have gotten a new spot. But this pain was in the same spots where I already have tumors. I had scans done on Monday and got the results yesterday and found out that all is stable and well and the tumors are actually responding to the new chemo and they are slowly shrinking. So that was good news and a relief. The doctor said the pain in my back is from the damage that the tumors have already done and something I will have to just live with from now on. At least it was nothing new. There was a new little spot on my liver that is 4mm….really small, too small to biopsy. But the doctor does not think it is cancer. He thinks it is a part of a liver hemangioma (a benign lump of blood vessels) that I have had and was possibly born with. They saw this on the first scan and did not think it was cancer. But now that a new spot next to it has developed he is going to get an MRI just to make sure it is not cancer, which he is pretty sure that it isn’t. I’ll get re-scanned with an MRI of the liver in 2 months instead of 3-4 months. Just to rule it out and be sure.

So last week was a very bad week for me. I was put on anti-anxiety medication and the med also treats depression which I probably have a little of. I started having a lot of fear and anxiety when I was diagnosed with cancer and it has only gotten worse. My therapist helped me realize it is more anxiety than fear that I’m dealing with. So I got put on meds to help. I think they are starting to work. My thoughts of the ‘what if’s’ are starting to lessen. But I was getting to where I was to afraid to go anywhere or do anything and I didn’t want any of my loved ones out and about either. UGH…what an awful way to live. Along with the severe back pain that I was having came the brutal realization that I actually have Cancer. It never has really hit me before, until last week. The pain was so bad it was making me cry and I don’t cry easily. Pain meds were only taking the edge off. Cancer pain is a different kind of pain than any pain I’ve ever experienced. It hurts deep down inside and it is relentless. Even though the tumors in the bone are non active, they have damaged the bone and the nerves. All the tumors in the lungs cause my lungs to have a constant ache and sometimes twist and turn with cramps. A very painful sensation. So I was sad and crying a lot last week. My therapist helped me get through it along with the new medication. I’m starting to feel better again this week and the good news of the scans made me hopeful again. I was starting to give all my stuff away, lol…which my kids were like…don’t do that!

I realized that from day to day good and bad things are going to happen to us that we cannot control. For instance….last week my husband was in a minor car accident where he was rear ended. We found out yesterday that they are going to total the car cause it is not worth fixing so now we have to get a new car…the good part was…my husband was not hurt, and we will get a newer car with a lower payment. Also last week one of his employees was in a pretty bad car accident as he was turning into work. Luckily he was ok too. Then 2 nights ago we get a call that my mother in law had a stroke. She lives in AZ. Luckily it was a mild stroke and since she never goes to the doctor now they have caught all this stuff that is wrong with her..diabetes, high cholesterol, and her carotid artery is 95% occluded so she is going to need a stent. She can still talk and comprehend, and she is ok, she only lost some of her strength in her arm and leg and will be going to rehab to get that taken care of. But everything was mild and caught early. Thank God! So we just NEVER KNOW! And sometimes the bad stuff comes with a little blessing in disguise. It’s life. And that is what I was starting to be afraid of… LIFE. But I cannot live that way or I won’t have a LIFE. So that is my struggle right now. Cancer has just made life more precious to me and I don’t want anything bad to ever happen to anyone that I love and care about, but that I just cannot control. I just have to pray blessings over everyone and let God take care of it. After all worry is your imagination gone awry.

Akuna Matata~No Worries.

99% Of surviving cancer comes from a positive mental status.

There are ups and downs in cancer, good days and bad days. It’s not always easy to stay positive. BUT it is a must to try to stay having a positive outlook as much as possible in order to survive. If you have negative thoughts about you dying all the time, then you are probably going to die sooner than later. But if you think positive and think about living instead of dying, then you most likely will live longer. It’s been proven again and again in patients with cancer. Those with a positive outlook live longer. Yes, just longer. Cancer always gets us in the end eventually, but those who live positively seem to live longer than what was expected. And it’s hard to do. Not going to lie. I get told quite frequently that I have a great attitude and you can hardly tell I’m sick. I try to think positive, but I do get those days that get me when I start counting down the years of my prognosis and I start to cry and have a pity party… And start thinking about the what ifs…I’m not perfect, but I try.

The bottom line is ANGER. Why did this happen to me? Why now in my early 50’s? I’ve still got a lot of good years left in me, I’m still young..etc.. But it happened, to me, now. Cancer does not discriminate.

I had chemo today. 3rd round of the infinite chemo. Until my body gets too toxic to take anymore. I am hoping that is years and years away. Then I will go to the next treatment…the 4th line of defense…I’m on my 3rd line. And the doctor says there are many lines for me still. Although this one is supposed to be a really good one. I feel fine on days 1 and 2 from all the steroids I get. I get ravenous hunger and I can’t sleep, (thus this writing at midnight). The diarrhea and nausea start, but I have meds for that. Then it hits me like a ton of bricks on day 3 where I feel like I have the flu…BADDDDD! Then I’m sick on days 4 thru 10 and start to slowly get better on days 11 thru 14. By day 15 I’m starting to come out of it and start feeling better on week 3 before I have to go get hit with chemo again. So basically I have one good week out of the month. I still feel weak and I tire easily, BUT this Shit is keeping me alive. I get scans in 3 weeks. I will have had radiation and 3 rounds of chemo so we will see if it’s all working. I am feeling better, the pain in my spine is gone. And the cough that I get from the tumor on my sternum, (yes it causes a cough) is going away. So I am thinking this Shit is working. Hoping so anyway.

I have way too much to live for and am in no hurry to leave this earth. I just watched my first biological and 9th grandchild be born and it was the most awesome thing I have ever seen and experienced. It was sooooo beautiful! Eliana Ruby. 6# 8oz, came into this world on 7-27 at 10:58 AM after a 23 hour labor. My daughter was a trooper and did sooo good! So there you go. I can’t go anywhere anytime soon. I have to see her grow up. I have to see my other two daughters bring their kids into this world too. And I know Jenny plans on having more than just one. So, too much to live for. So I must have a positive attitude more than not.

I am in heaven with that baby. She spent 5 hours in my arms this evening. I just couldn’t put her down. She is the sweetest thing ever! I changed her poopy diaper and fed her a bottle, burped her and put her back to sleep where she slept in my arms until she got hungry again. I am soooo in love. There is nothing like a grandbaby. I love her and give her back to mommy when I have to come home and get some sleep. LOL My poor daughter. She got to take a 3 hour nap while I was there though. Plus I took them some dinner that I made, so I fed her and hubby too. They are such a cute little family. And it is so awesome to see and experience my daughter with her own babygirl. I told her that now she knows and understands the kind of love that I have for her. The love of a mom is like no other and the love of a grandmother is even more so. WOW. I am so thankful and grateful. GOD IS GOOD!

There are women that I have heard of who have lived for more than 13 years with metastatic breast cancer, and I plan to beat them all! 🙂

Goodnight my friends.