Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sunny Day in Massachusetts

Today marks the day before Elisha returns home to New England from his time out in Ohio with his many relatives that include Grammy Lou and Grandpa "B". I am excited to see my boy, hug him, talk with him, hug him some more, hear of his great adventures of swimming, swimming & more swimming! I feel energetic today, and ready to face the time I have to lesson plan and run solo errands before my almost 6 year old returns! These past three weeks have been a gift to me.
I am grateful to my family for all of the many facets of help they have given me, and are giving me.
The outpouring of love and tangible help during this season in my life awes me.
This experience is curing me of my propensities to be cynical, for sure.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New Hair: It's called Light Chocolate

Wig Day

Okay, first good news! My CA125 (which is a type of blood test for ovarian cancer) has gone down. Since surgery it went from a whopping 306 to an 18. After chemo infusion # 1 it has traveled down to an 11. I am going for 0. The reality is: This number has to stay in the normal range for a few years...(5 or 6) to be deemed a cancer survivor-that is my understanding of the information my surgeon gave me. Wow, dastardly little cancer gargoyles hide and do strange things within a body. 0-35 is a normal range for a woman. I am so grateful today for the surgical team that took care of me on the 17th of April, and the chemo team henceforth.
So, today marks the day I become a "red head" for a season. I think I'll go short-spiky red head verses a long flowing hair-do, but I will rely on divine inspiration when I see the "floor models".
My scripture for the day today was: "But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: you are of more value that many sparrows." Luke 12:7
I laughed to myself about the hair metaphor in the scripture. I have a few left, and actually feel like I look like a gosling. God knows the number of hairs on my head, but it's not a big count lately. Tufts of soft downy like hair on my very bald head are just hanging on, but I am guessing two weeks two days from this past infusion will be another session of "chao pelo".
I thank God I still have my eyebrows and eyelashes, but it is my understanding that those will go, too. It will be an opportunity to get very creative with eyeliner. I have been wearing mascara since I was too young to wear it. A reprieve from it will be humbling. Okay, so I am off to the salon at MGH where they will help me with this wig thing. I am reminded of Uncle Harley Davison's comments: "Hair is over-rated".

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Little Swimmer Returns!

I am counting the days until Elisha returns home.
This time of him spending with family has been a tremendous help to me, but three weeks is too long to be away. (Maybe not according to him...) He has been swimming non-stop!
Next summer, two weeks maximum, and then mama will join him in the midwest fun.
I have a great family.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Made it Through the bone-breaking flu-like symptoms of that Taxol chemo drug

I fared pretty well this time considering constipation was NOT an issue. Let me tell you the gift in that reality. Huge blessing. I chose to keep away from the stronger (and the medium) anti-nausea drugs, but ended up throwing up on Sunday night (or was that Monday morning...). It's all kind of a hazy blurrr. The effect on day 3 is like having a flu, but not exactly. I cannot explain it. But for those of you that are praying for me, please intercede on day 3 of my chemo infusions... (The next day three will be July 12)
The nursing staff at MGH helped me via the phone line, and I ended up taking the "medium" anti-nausea pills just to get the nausea under control. It is a balance of letting my body accept the drugs to do their important work of killing the cancer, and enduring the side-effects. God is helping me every step of this way. (Psalm 93) He reigns over my life. I feel His presence even in the small moments of my daily life when I am trying to decide what is important to spend my low energy on. I know that I am now on the uphill climb back to an energy level that will allow me to function daily, and to gear up for the month's work of literacy teaching to a group of emerging ninth graders. I am excited about teaching this summer. It's part-time. It's a provision. I love teaching, and facilitating better writing skills. The work takes place between July 1-31 from 8:00-12:00. I can do this with the grace of God, and some extremely detailed lesson planning. I believe it is a stepping stone to my employment for next year's 2009/2010 academic year. No word yet on a new contract. I wait. Surrender. Wait more. I surrender more. So, this post is just to let all of you know that I am upward bound, and walking forward daily relying on His strength for today and hope for tomorrow.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Day After Chemo Infusion # 2

Good News! I slept well last night. I woke up semi-refreshed at 5:30. I dealt with the nausea with food, and did have to take a single pill this morning to counter the chemo affects! This is important to me! Constipation is officially a non-issue! I "went" first thing this morning. Ahhhhhhh...the "gift" of regularity. I could do a commercial as it related to this one- anti-nausea drug side affect to chemo treatments.
No more Zofran (the big anti-nausea drug)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Don't do: Decadron (steroid that counters an allergic reaction and helps Zofran work better)
Say no to Ativan (anti-nausea-chill pill used at night!)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Stomp-a-zine Compazine (the medium anti-nausea drug)!!!!!!!!
No drugs for me, but the ones that thin my blood, and kill my cancer (and hair cells, and...yadadadadada-I will spare you those details) Yes, I officially look like a gosling (a baby goose) with a bit of hairs left on the top of my head. Jamie has agreed to do a "Mother & Son-Are-Bald portrait" at a professional studio with me-just to mark this milestone in my life photographically. As soon as the last strand leaves my head, I am booking a studio appointment.
I am serious about this project. Does everyone know Jamie makes a conscience choice to shave his head? He is a rare blue-eyed young man that can pull this look off well. He's a beauty. I love my two boys soooooooooooooooooooooooo much. Well, one is a boy, Elisha, but the other has turned into a fine young man. Jamie will be 23 this July, and Elisha will be 6 this July. God has blessed me with two very unique first-borns. My rubies. I am grateful to have been given the calling to raise sons. Be well everyone. I am feeling well for today.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Chemo Infusion # 2 of 6 (like a long FAX)

I am here in the infusion room hooked up to the chemo IV cart." I woke somehat refreshed despite the interupted sleep patterns of the "night before" chemo. I am feeling a slight buzz from the IV of Benadryl. Wooweeeeeeeee!
My nurse is so kind, efficient and a GREAT communicator of the processes I am now engaged in. I am sitting in what seems like a reclining lazyboy chair. The window overlooks the Charles River, and it is beautiful. It is a foggy and rainy day in Boston. My sweet neighbor Carol drove me into the Yawkey Building this morning. Well, I don't mean she literally drove me into the building! She and her young son dropped me off there in front of the building. It was so nice having conversation with her during our 40 minute ride in-traffic was bumper to bumper, but the drive into town went by so nicely. People's generous hearts are blessing me. I am full of gratitude for my family of origin that is stepping in to help me out of multi-faceted ways. The people of Abba's House that I live with, Marlane, Jennie, Bertude, Josuha and even Jael (the black lab) are amazing me everyday with the love, prayers, humor, help and hugs!
I am enduring this regime well because of the grace of God. I am perservering through the unknown factors in my life about my next year's employment because of the grace of God. I am letting go of the past because of the mercy and grace of God. I am looking forward to the hope of my future because of the peace and provision of God. My point is this: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." That's my story.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Life is good with a good night's sleep.

I slept soundly last night, and awoke early, but refreshed.
I am trying to lay my anxiety about the second chemo infusion at the cross of Jesus. Sometimes I must do this hourly. God has delivered me from my fears, but they rear their ugly head to entice me to focus on the the fear rather than God through my faith in Him. Yikes!
I am finishing my 2008/09 year well, as I prayed I would be able.
I am optimistic that I will have a position in the upcoming academic year in the same school system, but no word yet.
I surrender all outcomes to the Lord, and wait.
Waiting has never come too easy for me, but I am in a process in life now where I very well may become an expert at "waiting." Sigh.
I am grateful for another day, and feel pretty good. Fatigue is a factor in my life now, but it is not the G-force fatigue that I have heard about, and have experienced once or twice since the first infusion.

Monday, June 15, 2009


I really really really miss my little boy. It has been exactly one week now, and that seems enough, but I must accept this help from my wonderful family at this time. They are taking such good care of him. His days are filled with Grammy Lou & Grandpa B. Grammy's 4 cats. A weekend away at a wonderful lodge in southern Ohio. Aunties and Uncles. (Aunt Laurie is taking such good care of him out at the "farm".) Aunt Cathy and Uncle Dan and the shop, and their new puppy! Uncle Jonathan (Elisha doesn't call him Jon, I hope.) and Aunt Laura. Cousin Jarrett and baseball! Erika and Levi-Megan, Nick, Jessie & Morgan-Brian and Gretchen and the twins in utero, Ricky and Lauren, Sweet Jenny. There are lots of cousins big and kind. More to come on Father's Day-little Alessandro from Sicily is coming! Volleyball games. Good food & rests. Movies, I'm sure. Joshing with Uncle Jeff. etc.etc.etc. Knowing he is in such good hands and hearts makes the separation easier, but I really do miss him.-a lot.
However, this is not to say, I am enjoying the space and time I need to prayerfully gear up for chemo infusion # 2, and wind down my 2008/09 school year. I take long walks in the evening lately, and think that Elisha could be scooting along with me on his scooter as I walk. Big sigh.
Elisha will be six years old, but this short video clip was taken when he was not even 2 yet.
I miss my baby! I love the six year old emerging.
I am soooooooooooo grateful to God that my ovaries served a great purpose in this life:
Bringing the egg down those tubes that soon became Elisha.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Psalm 27: 4-8

One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.

5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.

6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD.

7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.

8 My heart says of you, "Seek his face!"
Your face, LORD, I will seek.

I was able to attend worship services today, and felt glad that I feel energetic enough to do many of these important parts of my daily living. Attending church services is an important part of my spiritual growth, and it keeps my freak-out at bay because every Sunday my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ lay hands on me and pray. This is # 1 on my 5-step health plan. I sense that Jesus himself is ever interceding for me and my complete restoration. God is getting me through this. He is using the many people near and far in my life to give me support. His spirit lifts and strengthens me in my quiet times alone with Him in prayer.
I am over the hair drama and have moved on to gearing up for chemo infusion # 2 on June 19th. I will get both the Taxol and Carbo (something) and the newer chemo drug called Avastin. I will be on the 8th floor of the infusion center overlooking the Charles River. The view is amazing, and I am grateful to be in a place that feels very un-hospital-like. (if that's a word) MGH is a place of healing and innovation. I am grateful that I was led to this place to eradicate this cancer. God went way ahead of me on this one.

Chao Pelo!

Okay, so this is how I dealt with the clumps of hair (mine) falling out as I ran my hand through it, in the shower, and as I pulled on it in disbelief. My state of hair affairs was extremely fragile Saturday morning. I decided to call "Faith" the hairdresser that gave me my transitional groovy short hair do (for Elisha's sake) a few weeks ago. This kind-hearted stylist had offered to shave my head for free when the time came for the "fall-out". She fit me in Saturday morning, and buzzed away. By the time I got into her salon, I had already grieved my loss, ( I sobbed on Saturday morning.) and reframed the whole situation like this: If the chemo is making my hair fall out. then it truly is doing it primary job of KILLING my cancer cells. Kudos to Kemo Shark! So, I am bravely posting my new look. I think I look like my brother Jeff-beloved Uncle "Harley Davison". As long as I keep my head donned with the beautiful head wear-then my femininity is intact. That is a whole other issue as it relates to everything I have been through since April Showers of my major life events.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

My Hair! My Hair! My Hair!

Well, a week prior to my first chemo treatment (May 28th) I had asked Dr. "C", my chemo doc, "okay, so how long will the side effect of hair loss take"?  To my surprise she stated 2 weeks 2 days without hesitation.  Well, today is that day.  My hair wasn't on my pillow as I imagined.  It is on top of my head, but if I run my hand through it, it'll comes out in my fingers.  Weird.  Weird.  Weird.
I am thinking about going to a follow-up hair appointment with Faith the hairdresser that offered to shave my head if I start freaking out about the "clumps" of hair coming out.   Taking a shower this morning and having it be washed off my head is still a mystery. (I am in hesitation of doing so.)  Weird.  Weird.  Weird.
I have received my two very colorful head gear from a Michigan company called "Siempre Bella"  (Always Beautiful) in preparation to say "Chao Pelo"-Goodbye Hair.  I have some Israeli head dresses on order, too.  I am looking forward to donning a lime green scarf called the "Queen Esther" in particular.  So, my bald head should be having some fun with its fun and exotic coverings this summer.  I have secretly always wanted to be a red head, and I will be using a prescription for a wig to make that dream come true for the fall months!  Weird. Weird. Weird.  This part of chemotherapy just feels weird.  I am feeling good these days as long as I keep up with the 5-step health plan given to me prior to my surgery:
1. prayer  (I cling to and praise God everyday for another day) 2. chemo (it's doing its thing in my body) 3. nutrition (if I eat right, I feel better, and the nausea stays at bay-H2o keeps this part well managed) 4. exercise (I am trying to walk everyday!)  5. rest (I take power naps like a toddler)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Well, I drove my little guy and my brother- his beloved Uncle Harley Davison- to the airport this morning.  My day was busy at work, and I came home and crashed into a deep sleep-only to awake to a phone call from his sweet voice via my mom's cell telling me his ears popped on the plane.  He sounded good, and I know he was in a car full of people who love and will care for him over these next 20 days as I finish my school year and gear up for Chemo Infusion #2. 
I miss him already, and am finding myself feeling a bit like a fish out of water knowing that tonight's bedtime routine will be quite different.
Elisha will be getting his bath, bedtime story, and nightly prayers in Ohio.
Acceptance.  We had planned a week at his Grammy Lou's pre-diagnosis-just not a 20 day visit.
So.  I will use this time gift wisely.
I have determined to get step 4 on my 5-step health plan a bit more in force while I have these huge windows of time now that my  day-to-day hands-on parenting responsibilities have been lifted.
1. prayer 2.  chemo  3.nutrition  4. exercise 5. rest
I pray a lot these days, and feel as if I just walk and talk with God throughout my day about everything that concerns me or makes my heart sing.
The chemo is doing what it is suppose to do:  Kill my cancer cells.  I know that it affects the other cells in my body, but the side effects seem to have subsided-for now.  I did a weird thing today, and went out and bought my favorite shampoo, and had this thought about how indulgent that was since, in reality, I would only get about 5 or 6 shampoos out of it.  I bought it anyway and decided it was worth it for a week or so.  There are plenty of heads full of hair in this household that could use it later.
I am eating more right, and trying to be very aware of what kinds of food I am putting into my body.  I am trying to listen to my body tell me what I need to get well.  I am also reading a great cookbook for cancer patients.  It is helpful. "Eating Well Through Cancer" by Holly Clegg is a good resource.  I am not eating to feed my emotions lately.  I journal instead.
So the challenge is: Step 4-the exercise...I am more than 8 weeks from the April 17th surgery, so I know I have the green light to do more aerobic exercise.  "No time" cannot be my excuse any longer, so I am counting on these next days to launch a new and improved habit of moving my body forward into a sweat.  It will help release the toxins, and do all that good stuff an exercised body is able to do!
Rest has never been a problem for me.  I love naps!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

"Hair is Over-Rated" June 7th

My older brother Jeff flew out from Ohio this past weekend to escort Elisha back to that region for some summer fun and family time.
I have been blown away by the beauty of this re-connection with him. I had forgotten how funny he can be, and we have enjoyed and had some really belly moving laughs. But, something that I will reflect upon throughout the summer months is this idea that my brother thinks hair is really over-rated. He commented on this a few times this weekend. I am convinced he really believes this. He himself showed up at Logan airport sporting a mighty short buzz cut. It has spoken to that part of me that is really freaked about losing my hair to these two chemo drugs that have been doing their cancer-killing duties since their arrival into my system on May 28th. "2 weeks and 2 days" are what the very smart and forthright Dr. "C" told me when I asked about the timeline for the particular side-effect of hair loss from the chemo drug blend I received.
So, I write with gratitude in my heart tonight for a brother that sacrificed a weekend to come retrieve his little nephew, humored his sister, and really just blessed all that he met here in New England by his kind-hearted presence.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

June 4th (sleep deprived)

Well, I am finding that the side effects to taking chemo therapy are multifaceted. Fatigue set in this week in bouts. Not to mention other things too embarrassing to blog. (However, some of you are privy to my Wednesday project-thanks to: MOM, and mom, Laurie, Cathy & Marlane-I got through it-so-to-speak (it got through me is more like it, huh?)
However, I worked today, and was productive in the end-of-the-school-year push. Actually, it seems everyone around me is pushing, but I am gliding. I cannot explain that other than I have this acute awareness that
I am going at a pace that is much s l o w e r than everyone else. Although, I am up and participating in my daily routines, every thing I do has a way different feel to it now that chemo is in my body fighting the cancer. When fear, doubt or anxiety invite me in or grip me, I lean in more heavily to my Heavenly Father. I keep the vision a friend shared with me that her husband had as they prayed for me one day not too long ago. The day she voice mailed the description of the visual her husband got while praying-little did she know-I was going to see Dr. Boruta at MGH, and get the pathology and prognosis of the ovarian cancer I had just been diagnosed with.
This visual image is something God uses to help me when challenges rise above my tolerance level. While they were praying for me, her husband saw Jesus and I on this huge rock out in a bay in the Santa Maria area in California. Jesus had His arms wrapped around me tightly as stormy & dark waves crashed upon the rock. The storm was from all sides and above, but Jesus' light was shining through all the darkness and onto me.
I keep the voice mail saved, and listen to my friend's sweet voice describe this above, and now I have shared it with my family and friends. Be encouraged. I am going to be okay through this STORM in my life.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

June 2: Sometimes lyrics to a song tells it best (Trying to live a surrendered life)

Safe by Nicol Sponberg
These lyrics sum up most of my thoughts for today:
"I don't know where I will be tomorrow
Take my hand and lead me through the night
I can see the sadness and the sorrow
I can feel the danger of the fight

Guarding my heart,
Your angels surround my soul
So how can I fail?

I will be safe wherever I go
I can be sure I'm never alone
And when I face whatever I find
I'll always have You
So I can live like never before
You will be mine and I will be Yours
You'll be forever walking with me
I know I'll be safe
Safe with You here

Even though my eyes don't get to see You
I will still believe that you are near
In my heart I know I'll never leave You
You're the One to take away my fear

Guarding my heart,
Your angels surround my soul
So how can I fail?

I will be safe wherever I go
I can be sure I'm never done
And when I face whatever I find
I'll always have You
So help me live like never before
You will be mine and I will be Yours
You'll be forever walking with me
I know I'll be safe with You here

From the darkness and on to the glory
By Your hand we will conquer the night
Take my every breath, take my every move
I give You my life"

Monday, June 1, 2009

June 1st (A Monday, a sunny day, a work day, a good day & my brother's birthday!)

Well, I actually went back to work today after 24 hours of what seemed like a bone breaking flu.
I awoke at some point last night with what seemed like a flu-breaker sweat with this thought:
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. That is from the bible in Jeremiah 29:11
I was grateful just to get out of bed, and have some normalcy of my daily routine.
******************************************Enough about me:
It is my brother Jeffrey's birthday today. (He is older, but I bet he feels younger than I do at this moment!)
Elisha and I have affectionately re-named him Uncle "Harley Davison".