Friday, January 30, 2015

I'm halfway there!

Chemo #3 finally went ahead and went well on this past Wed. No major side effects so far...except this insomnia craziness! My good friend Angie came along and we had lots of fun chatting as she whipped up another crocheted dish cloth. Thanks for being there for me! Rachel lets me borrow her "Baby Minou" (precious stuffed cat featured in the photo below) to comfort me each time. I have to do 10 days of injections following the chemo this time, instead of the usual 7 because they want to make sure my white blood cell count won't go down too low again. Not looking forward to that, but trying to give myself a good talking to and convince myself it's not so bad. I'm still such a chicken when it comes to needles. I really don't turn after my Mom, the nurse! Daniel, my private nurse, is standing on call, ready to be overworked if necessary. ha, ha! He's such a good sport about it all and has his only personal assistant nurse in Rachel, who sets up everything beforehand and makes certain with much seriousness that he has sanitized his hands before and more than once if ever he happens to touch something before my injection! Maybe we do have a future nurse in the family.
I am feeling thankful and encouraged to finally reach this milestone in my chemo treatment - only 3 more treatments to go! The next 3 are going to be with another type of medication, which may bring on different side effects. We'll just take it one treatment at a time and face whatever challenges come up then.

Friday, January 23, 2015

My battery is low

This thing called cancer is weird! Just yesterday when I read a friend's prayer request for 3 ladies who are going through cancer treatments, I found myself surprised to see my name among them! It was like once again I didn't belong in that club - why was my name there, I'm not sick. I'm totally normal?!

Oh my!! Sometimes it still seems so unreal. But then my body screams:"Go to bed. Take a nap!"  My battery light is flashing that energy is getting low, the alarms are sounding! And reluctantly (yes, I know this is hard to grasp) I go to bed for a nap or a rest. Why do I fight this so? Why can't I just give in graciously to my body's demands, with peace and serenity? Why can't I realize that stopping and resting is the biggest and most important job I have to accomplish now, at this moment in my life? I have always been a go, go, go person, a busy bee. Guess I turn after my Aunt Violet! Stopping and putting my life on hold while I get through this is one of my biggest challenges. I think this is harder than the physical side effects. I know that in cancer, the biggest battles are those waged between one's two ears, in the mind. So I continue on with hope, that I will win this battle also and run to the finish line of this race. Because yes, it is a marathon and not a sprint!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

No chemo - bummer

Well, I found out yesterday that I was not able to have my chemo treatment today because my white blood cell count was too low. They always do a blood test the day before chemo to make sure everything is OK. That morning I was feeling rather discouraged and not really wanting to have needles poked into me again. Because I was operated on my left arm to remove the lymph nodes, I cannot have chemo, nor any kind of injection or blood test in that arm. So, in order to save my veins in my right arm for chemo and not irritate them too much, they have to do the blood tests in my hand. I don't like that. And yesterday was painful because she couldn't get the blood flowing well. Then to top it off, I get a phone call in the afternoon telling me my chemo is postponed, which means all treatments get pushed ahead a week. I went to bed feeling down and woke with a heaviness in my heart. When I opened my devotional for the day - it's "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young I read this:

This really helped me get a better perspective on things. There is so much I cannot control in this journey, or understand for that matter. So it's no use fighting my circumstances, especially when they don't go as I planned. Every day is a constant lesson in learning how to trust. Sometimes I feel I am a slow learner...good thing He's patient with me!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Hair today, gone tomorrow!

Well, sorry about that bad hair joke...I just couldn't resist. Two Wednesdays ago I finally took the plunge and went to see my hairdresser about doing something with my hair...or what was left of it. It was definitely time to have my head shaved. My friend Karey came along for moral support and to take pictures. My dear hairdresser Marie-Claude was so gentle and encouraging as she took off what was left of my hair. She even finished it off with head massage! So how do I feel about my new bare look? Actually, it doesn't bother me as much as I thought it would. I actually find myself not bad looking at all. Because of the winter, I do find it cold at times, so I usually keep my head covered even at home. I was able to attend a "Look good, feel great" workshop at the Canadian Cancer Society last week and came home with a box full of skin care products and make up. What a treat! Everyone there was so great and caring. They even lent me some more scarves and hats and I rented a wig! I put it on before coming  home and the girls had quite the surprise! They say it makes me look younger! And so I turn the page to this next stage in the journey.

This Tuesday I will be having my 3rd chemo treatment. I am not anticipating it to be much different from the others because it's still the same medication. I have been reading a book by a doctor who has worked with cancer patients for years. It has been very helpful. He talks about the difference he sees in patients when they have a positive attitude about their treatments. I am thankful to have so many people encouraging me to persevere and not get discouraged. I have been touched by verses that speak of being joyful even during trials and of the hope we have as believers:
"And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us." Romans 5: 2b-5

Emily Dickinson wrote this poem:

Hope is the thing with feathers,
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all.

And so I move forward with hope - hope in each step of the journey, hope to discover all the treasures that are hidden for me as I learn so much about myself, others and God and hope for a healthy body once this is all over.
Here's a look at the new me!

Well, it's done.
Dear Marie-Claude - such a big support!

With my dear friend Karey, my photographer and favorite cheer leader
This is me for the next few months

Monday, January 5, 2015

I've joined the club

Well, chemo went well, had less side effects up to this point - not sure if that was because of the vitamins, prayer or Carl & Stefany's visit...probably a little bit of all of the above. Thanks so much to all who prayed for me. Katherine came with me and did great! We even had a few laughs together over some games on her cell phone.

I was thinking back to the time over 4 months ago when I first got news that I had cancer. I remember telling a friend:" I don't want to be part of that club - the cancer club! I want to be seen as Karen, the person, not Karen, the cancer patient!" Unfortunately there was no clause enabling me to opt out of the club, so here I am.

This week, however, I received my "official membership" into the club. When thinking at the beginning of this journey about losing my hair, I felt it was an advantage to be going through this during the winter because then I could just wear winter hats and nobody would even know I had cancer. I would especially not wear scarves or those little head coverings that would reveal my situation instantly. Up to this point, besides family, friends and aquaintances, people really couldn't tell I had cancer. Many people would even say to me - "But you look so well, not sick at all." This week that changed. After discovering beautiful silk scarves in a small boutique here in town, fun hats at a thrift store and lots of big, dangling earrings on special... I realized for the first time - hey, I could have fun with this! Not being especially fashion conscious throughout my life, I never really was too preoccupied by make up, jewelery and so forth. Here, before me was a unique opportunity to experience something new. So I decided to embrace it and enjoy wearing new colors and styles - "my new look".

Then came the real initiation into the club - going out in public, wearing one of these new creations, instead of a winter hat. This past week-end I went to church, a funeral and a few stores with my membership card on my head. People looked, some with compassion, some turned away, little kids stared... but it was OK. I smiled, dangled my earrings and kept going on my way, doing my thing. I am part of this club and I can be proud to be able to be in solidarity with so many who have gone before me and fought and survived this same battle. And I also know, as my friend Karey shared with me, that when people see I have cancer it will open up amazing doors to be able to meet, connect with, listen to and encourage others as they share their story with me. It's all a question of perspective. I thank God for helping me see this and for the grace to embrace it.

                            Chemo #2 with Katherine and Aunt Violet's knitted hat to keep my head snug

                                                             Some of my new styles