A week ago I had my LAST radiation. A lot of hugs and a lot of tears. My sister Marilyn and her daughter Melissa sent me beautiful pink tulips. They were so gorgeous. I received a gold pin from the radiation clinic as my graduation pin. I loved all the girls there. Everyone was so sweet and I miss them already. I thought I had seen the last of Dr. Deming but he is always on the news so I can catch him there. He told me about his next trip with Beyond Cancer which is in September to Tibet. As tempting as it sounds to climb a mountain in a foreign country and eat foreign food, I said I didn’t think I’d be ready yet. I think I will start out slow like climbing the hill at Ahren’s park. :)

I will be seeing him again in May for my follow up. He needs to be sure my skin is healing. It is pretty much cleared up except for the oval around my incision which is peeling.

I also saw Dr. H last Monday for a follow up. He is putting me on another medication, this time for estrogen. Oh boy!!

Jarl and Chris took me out to Texas Roadhouse to celebrate. Yummy!

It will be some time before I am over the fatigue– or at least I won’t be able to use that as an excuse anymore. I found out this weekend that I am not quite able to do what I once did before cancer struck. Mary and I went to a few garage sales Saturday– in the rain. When I got home I was so cold and tired I slept for two hours and couldn’t find the energy to do anything. Sunday we had church service, met my cousin for lunch, Chris and I went to Marshalltown to a movie, then we had movie night at church. It was go, go, go all day. I was tuckered out. I woke up this morning tired, achy and have a sore throat. Did I do too much?

I let Chris drive home from Marshalltown. I am so very proud of him. He drove 65 on Hwy 30 and did great. Hwy 146 is a bit too narrow for my liking and Chris got over a little too close to the shoulder a few times, but all in all he did great.

We saw Age of Adeline in Marshalltown–very good.

Just Two More

TWO MORE RADIATION TREATMENTS!! Did I say TWO? Yes I did. Today and Monday and then I’m done. Tomorrow it will have been 8 months since I started treatment and 9 months since I was diagnosed. It may seem like alot but when I think about the people that have had treatments for years, it’s not. I am so blessed and so very thankful that my journey is almost over. Thank you Lord for being there nudging me to have the lump checked, thank you Lord for being there through the biopsies and the tests, thank you Lord for holding me while I cried, thank you Lord for being with Jarl and I when we told Chris, thank you Lord for the peace you gave me through all my treatments, thank you Lord for helping me be strong, and thank you Lord for all the amazing people you brought into my life.

Last week we did one final mapping for the six days of treatment. They are now zooming in on where the tumor WAS. Yes that’s right! The tumor is gone! I have NO cancer. Praise you Father!!

The right side of my chest is totally sunburnt. And it hurts!!! No wearing bras for me. My right armpit and underneath my breast are blistered and are ‘weeping’ which means they are oozing. I have medicine to put on them but it still hurts.

I thank you all for supporting me throughout this. Don’t worry… my blog will continue. I’m gonna do Whatever God Wants.

It’s Almost Over!!!

I cannot believe I only have 10 more treatments left! Surprisingly, it has gone fast. I think it’s due to not being sick, having great weather, and the amazing people that drive me there and back.

‘The Girls’ as I lovingly call my techs are awesome. I have had four different ones rotate in and out. Cheryl is my fav as she is sweet and funny- a lot like me! We laugh alot during my treatments which helps them go fast. When Mary took me Cheryl came out to the waiting room to get me. On the way to treatment she asked who brought me. Being ornery, I told her my sister and my best friend. She then asked ‘well which one was in the waiting room?’ I told her both. She said ‘there was only one person there.’ Yep. that would be my sister and my best friend. She finally got it and we had a good laugh.

I am getting very red from the radiation. It’s like a sunburn. And since that area has never been exposed to the sun (no, I’ve never laid out naked!) it is very tender. Remember now much it hurt to wear a bra after getting too much sun? Yep-that’s about how it feels– only worse. To help with the irritation the girls suggested I wear a t-shirt under my bra. WHAT? It feels strange but it works.

Yesterday I went to a workshop called Looking Good, Feeling Better. This is put on by the American Cancer Society. There were eight of us who were in different stages of our cancer journey. We each received a make up kit filled with all sorts of make up. Many companies donate the products- Lancombe, Clinque, Chanel, Smashbox, Mary Kay, and more. Yes, I do have a tube of Chanel lipstick! I never thought I’d own anything Chanel. Unfortunately it is pink which is not really my color, but heck I’m gonna keep it to say I have it!! We had a ball with our instructor Sal. He used to have four beauty salons in Des Moines and also a school. When I first saw him I thought “oh boy, an old man is going to teach us how to put on makeup??” But he turned out to be very good at it. We took off our wigs/hats and got down to business. It was awesome being with women who knew what I was going through. We laughed at each other and ourselves and shared our stories.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter. Ours was quiet at our house. Chris helped me clean out my flowerbed since last fall I wasn’t able to do it. It felt great to get out in the sun and do some gardening. Now I just have to get some flowers to plant in it!

Think spring and sunshine!!!

Five Weeks and Counting

I have finally started radiation. Dr. Deming is my radiation oncologist and he is very sweet. He is a very gentle man and always smiling.

When you first meet with the oncologist, they do the standard vitals and then set you up for a ‘mapping’ appointment. To me, mapping sounds like your mapping your travels. I wish I were going on a trip! This mapping is with a scan so they can mark where they want to do the radiation. For this mapping I stripped down to my waist, laid down on the gurney, put my hands up over my head and grabbed two posts, turned my head to my left and hold it there for what seemed like hours but was only 15 minutes or so. Oh did I mention my feet were bound so they wouldn’t move. Now this started to feel like a recent released movie that everyone was talking about. It actually was more like Fifty Shades of Red! The tech, of course was male, also gave me my first and only four tattoos. They are so tiny that I can’t pick them out. They’re the size of a dot, a pin poke. I have one on both sides of my chest and then two in the cleavage of my bosom.

It takes about 10 to 14 days for them to process my mapping and come up with a plan for radiation. I had my first radiation on March 9th. I have a great couple of gals that do the actual radiation-Cheryl and Drema. There’s another one that works on Mondays but she is not my favorite. I lay on the gurney with my knees supported by a wedge. I get into my Fifty Shades of Red position, and then using the sheet beneath me the girls tug and pull me into position. It reminds me of when you’re making a bed with someone and you say I have so many inches over here, what’s your side like… When they finally get me into position, they leave the room and the big machine takes over. If you hold your arms in a big circle that’s about the size of the machine that puts out my radiation. It starts on my left side (remember I have my head turned to the left so that’s all I see) and there are little bars inside a big window type thing that move back and forth in a pattern that is program just for me. It is there about a minute then it moves over me and is there another minute or two, then to my right side for another minute or two. I think it takes me longer to change then the actual treatment. Chris timed me the day he went with and it’s about ’15 to 17 minutes’ from the time I left the waiting room until I returned.

The only side effects I could experience are redness (like a sunburn) at the sight-(that’s right, my boob, folks) and fatigue. I am tired, but I don’t know if it is from the radiation or the driving back and forth and back and forth from Des Moines. It’s only been a week and I’m already tired of the drive/ride. I am hoping before I’m done, the landscape will be green and showing signs of SPRING!!

I have some wonderful people taking time out of their days to take little ole me. Shout out to Lora, Dana, Bob and Mary. You all rock!! And of course Chris. He has been my entertainment making me sing songs from Frozen. I’m about ready to let him go! I do love that brat (and I call him that with affection). I let him drive home from Netwon. He did an excellent job. There was no one behind him so he could go at a speed he was confortable with. My little boy is growing up.

Well time to head for Des Moines. Until next time–

My Interview with Ellen DeGeneres

Okay so maybe it wasn’t with Ellen, but the interviewer made me cry like Ellen would. We sat across from each other and she threw the questions at me. It sure felt like an interview.

I was asked what was the worst part of cancer. It made me stop and think for a moment. Was it the chemo? The nausea? The fatigue? What was the worst part?

The worst part for me was the thought of dying. Oh I know where I’m going- no doubt about it. I am okay with dying. An awesome person once told me that he was okay with dying- he was going to meet God. I have to agree with him. I can’t wait to meet God and walk those streets of gold.

I may be okay with dying, but there’s someone that would not be ready for me to go– Chris. I go back to the day when he learned of my diagnosis and told Jarl he could not lose his mama. What do you say to that? Yes he may be 21 but he is not like most 21 year olds. He is like a little boy trying to find his way in the world and I cannot die until he finds it. I plan to stick around as long as it takes.

Yes there were other times that were hard- after the initial diagnosis I would climb into bed and pull the blanket over my head and cry– for me. Why me? What’s going to happen? When I would get really tired, I had pity parties. There were hard times, but God saw me through them.

My friend then asked me what the best part of cancer was? SEE I told you it was like an interview. The best part of cancer? REALLY? Yes really. There can be something good come out of cancer. You have to really look for it, but it can be there.

God made Himself known to me in so many ways. The peace He gave me throughout my treatment is indescribable. He gave me the ability to laugh through it all. He brought friends into my life that I may never have known. The support all my friends showed me was from God. He showed me His love day after day after day. Even on days when I asked where He was, He was there, holding me, loving me.

I praise God for bringing me through cancer. I thank Him for using me through cancer and I hope I made Him proud as I tried to be the kind of soldier I was called to be.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

This is my 50th blog and I wanted it to be something special. What’s more special than a mom. Especially when it’s my mom.

Today (Feb 13th) she would have been 89. I cannot even imagaine her 89. What would she be like? Would she be a crazy cat lady? I really doubt it since I don’t think she was crazy about the cats we had growing up. Would she and Dad have traveled? I like to think she could have talked him into at least seeing this country. I know she and her sister Lillian would have done things together if Dad didn’t want to.

I also know she would have loved all her grandchildren and spoiled them. Laura and Tricia were really the only ones that knew her. Melissa was only two, Kim was a baby and Chris wasn’t even born yet. She also would have loved being a great grandma to Skylor, Lilly and Sophia.

I would have loved to have had her in the front row when Jarl and I got married. Would she have cried that her baby was FINALLY out of the nest? Or would she have laughed and said ‘she’s your problem now, Jarl”?

I wish she could have known Chris, her only grandson. Oh she would have loved him. I know she would have been his biggest fan and advocate for autism. She would have listened to him tell his stories over and over and sit with him to watch Thomas the Tank Engine over and over. She would have been his biggest cheerleader as he received his diploma.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. She was an amazing woman. She couldn’t cook, but we somehow survived childhood eating her burnt to a crisp roasts. She loved working at the schools and took her job seriously. It made Mom sad when a student would come in smelling like cigarette smoke or mention they hadn’t had breakfast. She would be really sad to see how students are today.

I miss you more than words can say, Mom. Happy birthday! Have a glass of wine! Cheers!

Surgery and Beyond

It’s been one weeks and four days since my lumpectomy.  Grinnell Regional might have its issues,  but Mercy Hospital leaves a lot to be desired.  The pre-op and post-op rooms were very small, curtains for doors and no bathroom. The staff while very nice seemed to rush through directions and I felt we were rushed out.

Thankfully the surgery went as expected. I first had a ‘seed’ inserted. This was fun–not! I had a mammogram while sitting in a chair not unlike a chair at the barber’s! They were looking for the marker that had been placed in my breast at the time of my biopsy. My boob was squished for several minutes while the doctor placed what is called a seed in my breast. Then they took several pictures to be sure it was in the right place. Oh did I mention it was radioactive? A guy had to come in and scan the room before we could leave. WHAT?? I then was moved to another room where Dr. Beck pushed dye into the seed. This dye would travel to the affected lymph nodes. By doing this, Dr. Beck would only remove those nodes.

After surgery a band was placed around my chest. This band is more like a tube top with a heavy Velcro closure. It’s even pretty-purple with flowers. I might wear it this summer–;) I had to wear this until my first follow up appointment. I also had a drain that had to be emptied and the amount logged every 8 hours. My adoring husband did this without complaint.

I have always come out of anesthesia easily, but I felt it took longer than normal Even after they took me to post-op I was very sleepy. Jarl and I both took a little nap

Monday I had my follow up where Dr. Beck removed the drain YEA!! She also had the pathology report. She was very pleased with it. The chemo did an awesome job shrinking everything. The cluster of lymph nodes had been shrunk down to .8mm. Dr. Beck was reluctant to release me back to work but I convinced her to let me go back to work part time next week. My job is not that physical so I should be fine

I still have to wear the band or a bra 24 hours a day. I have found that the underwire in my bras runs right over my incision so I am going to have to buy a sports bra. TMI??

I have an appointment with the radiation doctor. I thought I’d be able to do that in Marshalltown, but unfortunately I have to go to Des Moines. I don’t know how often.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It has been a journey. One I wouldn’t choose to take, but God has been with me through it all. I give Him all the glory!