Friday, February 27, 2009

The Words

Ok. Joe says he can't understand the words and he's sure his dad won't be able to understand them either, so here's the words of the chorus for those of you who may be auditory challenged. :>)

Ain't no rhyme or reason
No complicated meaning
Ain't no need to over think it
Let go, laughing
Life don't go quite like you planned it
We try so hard to understand it
The irrefutable, indisputable fact is

Yeah, the irrefutable, indisputable, absoluteable, totally beautiful fact is
Pshhhhh, it happens

Love you!

Psshhh....It Happens!

Hi, everyone! I was on my way home from the gym earlier this week and heard this song on the radio and thought the chorus fit my situation perfectly. I have two friends, Carol and Sheila, who have amazing blogs and they have music on them. I got to have lunch and hang out with Sheila today and she told me how to do it and now I've got music, too!

I like the light-hearted approach of this song and the idea that no matter how hard we try to control things or understand them, sometimes psshhh . . .it just happens.

Hope you're all having a great day!
Love you all tons!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Oh Happy Day!

Hey, everyone! I continue to be so blessed on this journey! Every time there has been the possibility of recieving bad news, it turns out to be good news! I was so very anxious about going to see Dr. Livingston today. Except maybe being softer, my breast has not gotten smaller and the lump feels as large as it did when I first realized that big ol' thing they were feeling in there was a lump! I always thought I was feeling for something the size of a pea or maybe a small grape. The lab drew tumor markers (something they monitor in your blood to indicate whether the cancer is getting worse or spreading) last week and I was to find out the results today. I also had an ultrasound yesterday and would find out the results of that. Needless to say, it was a little hard to sleep last night!

The ultrasound didn't show anything unusual. This is the same result as the last two I've had done. For some reason, my cancer doesn't show up on ultrasoud. All it said was dense, fibrocystic tissue. My tumor markers were down! At the beginning of January they were 63. Last time I saw Dr. Livingston (a month ago) they were 44. Today, they were 32! Anything below 40 is considered normal! Yippee! And, even though Dr. Livingston agrees that my lump doesn't feel any smaller, he says that to him it feels more like fibrous scar tissue than cancer! Whoohoo! That would mean the chemo is doing its job. I am going for another MRI on Monday. They will compare that one to the one I had before beginning my new chemo regimen. Then, Dr. Livingston said eight more weeks of chemo and I should be as ready for surgery as I'm going to be as long as things continue the way they are. I don't want to celebrate too soon, but this would mean I would be ready to return to teaching in August. I might possibly still be recieving radiation treatments at that time, but from what I've learned, lots of people work while recieving radiation. The treatments are very short. So, a day I was dreading turned out to be a very happy day!

I know I've said this before, but I truly believe that all the love, good thoughts, and prayers are really helping me. I know they help me keep the positive attitude I need for my body to fight this disease. Thank you to everyone!

That's it for now!
Love you all tons!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

This and That!

Hey, everyone! I borrowed the title for this post from my friend, Liesl. She emails me pretty frequently and keeps me updated on all kinds of things like what's going on at school, with her family, sometimes political commentary (we're both proud moderate liberals) and titles her emails This and That. It seemed to fit this post perfectly so I hope she doesn't mind.

On the Cancer Front

Not much to report. I've had four of my new chemo treatments and continue to do well with them. I get a little nauseous now and then, but I take a Compazine and it gets better pretty quickly. I have a lot of energy during the day, but crash around four to five in the afternoon. Unfortunately, that's just when Joe is about to get home. I've tried conserving my energy during the day, but it doesn't seem to make a difference. My blood counts are low, but steady and in the range where I can continue to recieve the chemo. Fingers crossed, this will continue. I can't really tell any difference in my breast by just looking at it or trying to feel it, but I have an ultrasound on the 23rd and see Dr. Livingston again on the 24th so maybe we'll know more then.


Have I told you all what an amazing sister she is? She just left yesterday after spending two weeks with me again. I can't even begin to tell you how much it helps me to keep my spirits up and my emotions fairly even when she is here. Just having her here to talk with, laugh with, and sometimes cry a little with during the day when I would usually be home by myself is a huge thing. Besides that, she does a zillion things around the house to help out and has helped Joe and I keep all the medical information organized. She gets me out and about doing things when I'd probably sit at home otherwise. She is truly amazing and the best friend anyone could ever ask for. I meant to take a picture of us together while she was here, but forgot. Here is one of my favorites from when we were little.


Joey had his first snow day this past Tuesday! I didn't even realize kids had snow days in Arizona! He put it to good use by going snowboarding with his friends. Here are a couple of photos he took.


As you all know, I've missed teaching terribly. Besides missing out on getting to spend my days with the kids at school, it has also been hard to not have something outside of myself and the cancer to focus on. I've talked about looking into volunteering and Pam nudged me into going to the Gilbert Public Library to see if they needed volunteers. We went over and I filled out the paperwork. The lady in charge called me the same evening. I go Wednesday afternoon for orientation and then will start. I think it will be a nice fit for me because I love reading and being around books. I put on the form that I was a teacher, so I'm hoping they might be able to use me in the kids section at some point.

Valentine's Day

Cindy who works with Joe helped him make arrangements for us to go out to dinner and stay at a hotel in Scottsdale for Valentine's Day. We stayed overnight on Friday. When Joe asked me what I would like to do on Saturday, I wanted to do something outdoors. I got thinking about my friend, Jane from school, who wrote on her blog about hiking up Camelback Mountain. I love to be outdoors and to hike, but have mostly done it up at our cabin in Payson or on vacation. I have never done any of the local trails. I was really inspired by Jane and suggested to Joe that we try it. I had no idea how I would do and we agreed we'd just start out and turn around any time I felt like I needed to. Well, guess what? I made it to the top!!! I did have to stop pretty frequently to catch my breath and Joe kept encouraging me the whole second half of the hike. "We're almost there. You can do it." I get vertigo pretty easy and in some places toward the end of the hike you're scrambling over rocks with pretty good drop offs on both sides. I just kept saying to myself, "Don't look down. Don't look down." Then, we were at the top! The first picture below is of Camelback Mountain. I didn't take it. I downloaded it from the Internet. I thought you'd all be more impressed with my accomplishment if you could see how high it is. :>) The other pictures are of Joe and I at the top. I was so excited and energized at the top of the mountain, but by the time we made our way back down I was done in! We had reservations to go to Rigatoni's for dinner, but I begged off and was in bed and sound asleep shortly after seven. I feel great again today. It was an awesome way to spend the day.

Well, that's it for now. A little of this and a little of that, but no political commentary. :>) I hope all is well with everyone and that you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Love you all tons!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Holding Pattern For Now

Hey, everyone. We are back from Tucson again. Pretty soon we will be able to make the drive in our sleep. Actually, I think Joe may have done part of it in his sleep yesterday! He has so much on his shoulders right now between keeping his business going in this poor economy, worrying about me and trying to be there for me all the time, and medical bills that come in the mail every single day. Thank goodness we have good health insurance! He is emotionally and physically exhausted. I don't know how I'd get through this without him. Luckily, Pam arrived on Monday and she is a huge help to us both emotionally and with all kinds of other things.

We saw Dr. Livingston first thing yesterday and he seemed pleased. I'd only had the first dose of my new treatment, but he seemed to think the tumor felt softer and possibly a bit smaller. I have hematomas (blood clots) under the skin from where they did my biopsies which makes it difficult to do a good assessment. They should resolve over the next couple of weeks. He is sending me for an ultrasound on the
17th and will see me again on the 24th. In the meantime, I just keep going for my weekly chemo treatments. He did say that I may need to be on chemotherapy for as long as six months before I'm ready for surgery. This is longer than I had previously thought. I didn't think to ask why. It's hard to describe the anxiety and fear I feel everytime I have a doctor's visit and sometimes it's not until I'm away and think over the things he said that questions come to mind. Anyway, I'm trying to follow my mantra of one day at a time.

Chemo went smoothly. Only the Abraxane this week, so I was in and out of there in an hour. My blood counts were lower, but still within the range where it is ok to have the chemo. Fingers crossed, this trend will continue.

Joey calls almost every day from school and seems to be really enjoying it. He came down two weekends ago to visit and was very happy. He has made friends who have similar interests as he does. They were out yesterday riding long boards around campus. They went snowboarding this past Sunday. He brought laundry home with him and insisted on doing it himself. He says he is enjoying learning to be independent.

Michael has been very busy between working as a bus boy at Buffalo Wild Wings, keeping up with his school work, and lacrosse practice every day after school. He is a junior this year and is hoping desperately that he makes the varsity team.

Janaya is also busy working as a server/bartender at The Texas Roadhouse and going to ASU full time. She told Pam and I the other night that she is in need of a shopping fix, so we're planning on fitting that in later this week.

Joe and I are amazed and so proud of the wonderful people they are growing into.

Joe and I went up to our cabin outside of Payson this past weekend for the first time since before I was diagnosed. It did us both good. So much of our energy, thoughts, and conversations are focused around my illness that many times it just seems to consume us. For these two days, we were able to put it in the background somewhat. We went for a walk, then took a long ATV ride through the forest, played a game, and had a nice dinner. The weather was cool, but beautiful. It was good medicince for both of us and hopefully we'll be able to get up there a little more often now that it seems my treatment has fallen into a routine.

The cabin in Payson.

Well, that's it for now. We miss everyone, but know we are in all of your hearts. That means so much to us!

Love you all!