Monday, April 27, 2009

Happy 50th Birthday, Joe!

Joe's 50th birthday was this past Saturday, the 25th. I'm terrible at planning parties when I'm feeling great, never mind trying to do so when I'm not 100%. So, I arranged for us to go to Lake Tahoe for a four day weekend. It was a surprise for Joe. He knew we were going somewhere, but had no idea where. He found out at the airport when they put the tags on our luggage. Neither of us had been to Lake Tahoe before. When we arrived at the airport in Reno, I told him we couldn't leave for our hotel yet because I had a package arriving. Soon, in walked his parents from NJ to help us celebrate!

It was a wonderful weekend! I've always heard how beautiful Lake Tahoe is, but you really have to see it to truly appreciate how beautiful it really is. We stayed at a fantastic hotel in Incline Village, which is located on the north shore. On Saturday, we woke up to falling snow. It was gorgeous! But, also freezing. We went out for a scenic drive and oohed and ahhed over the scenery; the lake, the pine trees, and the mountains. We were also amazed at the amazing homes. There were so very many gorgeous, multi-million dollar vacation homes all along the lake in Incline Village.

We met a friend of Joe's Dad who races Corvettes for lunch. Needless to say, with Joe's interest in Corvettes it wasn't hard to make conversation. As we ate, the clouds completely cleared out and the sun began to shine. Everything just glittered and shone. We drove up to Truckee, went through the Donnor Historical Museum, and browsed through several interesting shops.

On Saturday, we took a cruise across the lake to see Emerald Bay. When we returned to the hotel, Joe and his parents swam in the heated outdoor pool. I was reluctant to go without my wig, so hung out in the hotel room reading.

Each night we went out for a wonderful meal and then returned to the hotel to play Rummikube. I think over the course of three nights, Joe's parents and I won one round each. Joe won something like ten rounds! Must have been birthday luck!

It was sad to say goodbye to Joe's parents, but we have a wonderful memory to hold on to.

I'll post a couple of pictures below. If you'd like to see more, I'll be making an album on my facebook page.

Love you all!

Joe by the lake the morning it was snowing. Does he look cold to you?!

Joe with his parents in Truckee.

Joe and I on the deck of the cruise boat. Janaya liked this picture and said she thought we looked like we were posing for a Ralph Lauren commercial!

OK. I've heard of looking more and more like your mother as you get older. I've even heard of people beginning to look like their dog. But, have any of you heard of a daughter-in-law beginning to look more and more like her father-in-law?!! :>)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Good News!

We're just back from my visit with Dr. Livingston and the news is really good! The area of enhancement, indicating cancer on the MRI, is completely gone! :>) Dr. Livingston asked me, "Are you crying or are your eyes just watering?" I was just so very relieved! Now, this doesn't mean there isn't any more cancer, but it sure makes it a possibility. The lump that Dr. Livingston and I have been feeling measured smaller this week also. It was originally 7cm x 6cm when I first saw him in January and today measured 3cm by 4cm. Dr. Livingston is still not really sure what it is. It doesn't show up on ultrasound or the MRI. He said today that there could be cancer encapsulated in scar tissue. I think he just wanted to make sure I didn't spend the next month completely worry free. :>) I just keep telling myself that I've had two biopsies taken from that area that were benign.

So, one more month of chemo and we'll start to plan surgery. I'm starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel right now and thank goodness it's not the light calling me home! :>)

I know I say this over and over again, but thank you everyone from the deepest part of my heart for all your prayers, good thoughts, and encouraging words.

Love you all tons!

Monday, April 20, 2009

An Important Message

Hi, everyone. I'm sorry if my last post sounded down. I didn't mean for it to. One of my friends, Ruthie, wrote to me and said to let my friends be my mirror for now. I love that thought and will put it into practice.

There is a Internet support site that is focused on women that are diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. I don't read it every day, but check it out every couple of weeks. One of the members posted this speech given by Anna Quindlen. I feel her message is so important and meaningful. I am posting it below. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

Lots of love!

This was a speech made by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Anna Quindlen at the graduation ceremony of an American university where she was awarded an Honorary PhD.

"I'm a novelist. My work is human nature. Real life is all I know. Don't ever confuse the two, your life and your work. You will walk out of here this afternoon with only one thing that no one else has. There will be hundreds of people out there with your same degree: there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living. But you will be the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk or your life on a bus or in a car or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank accounts but also your soul.

People don't talk about the soul very much anymore. It's so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit. But a resume is cold comfort on a winter's night, or when you're sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you've received your test results and they're not so good.

Here is my resume: I am a good mother to three children. I have tried never to let my work stand in the way of being a good parent. I no longer consider myself the centre of the universe. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh. I am a good friend to my husband. I have tried to make marriage vows mean what they say. I am a good friend to my friends and them to me. Without them, there would be nothing to say to you today, because I would be a cardboard cut out. But I call them on the phone and I meet them for lunch. I would be rotten, at best mediocre, at my job if those other things were not true.

You cannot be really first rate at your work if your work is all you are. So here's what I wanted to tell you today: Get a life. A real life, not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger pay cheque, the larger house. Do you think you'd care so very much about those things if you blew an aneurysm one afternoon or found a lump in your breast?

Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze at the seaside, a life in which you stop and watch how a red-tailed hawk circles over the water, or the way a baby scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a sweet with her thumb and first finger.

Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work. Pick up the phone. Send an email. Write a letter. Get a life in which you are generous. And realize that life is the best thing ever, and that you have no business taking it for granted. Care so deeply about its goodness that you want to spread it around. Take money you would have spent on beer and give it to charity. Work in a soup kitchen. Be a big brother or sister. All of you want to do well. But if you do not do good too, then doing well will never be enough.

It is so easy to waste our lives, our days, our hours, and our minutes. It is so easy to take for granted the colour of our kids' eyes, the way the melody in a symphony rises and falls and disappears and rises again. It is so easy to exist instead of to live.

I learned to live many years ago. I learned to love the journey, not the destination. I learned that it is not a dress rehearsal, and that today is the only guarantee you get. I learned to look at all the good in the world and try to give some of it back because I believed in it, completely and utterly. And I tried to do that, in part, by telling others what I had learned. By telling them this: Consider the lilies of the field. Look at the fuzz on a baby's ear. Read in the back yard with the sun on your face.

Learn to be happy. And think of life as a terminal illness, because if you do, you will live it with joy and passion as it ought to be lived".

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Who is That Woman in the Mirror?

Hi, everyone. This is not an update, just a note. I've tried to not only use this blog as a way to keep everyone updated, but also as a journal of my experiences. One of the hardest parts of each day is facing the mirror each morning. One of the things I worried about from the beginning was looking like a cancer patient. I thought that meant losing my hair. Now when I look back at the first picture I posted of myself bald, I see that I didn't look sickly at all; just like a healthy person who had shaved their head. Since that time, all of my hair has fallen out, not only on my head but on every other body part as well, including my eyebrows and eyelashes. Some hair has begun to grow back on my head on this new chemo, but it is very thin and white. It varies from about an eighth of an inch to a half inch. I have to turn my head this way and that to really see it in the mirror. It reminds me of an elderly woman's hair - you know where you can see all of her scalp through it? :>) Eyelashes serve to protect our eyes. Without them my eyes water all the time. My eyelids are puffy and red from wiping at them all the time. Nose hair also serves a purpose and without it my nose runs all the time. The inside of my nose is so irritated that I have a bloody nose every morning. The skin on my face has big brown blotches all over it now. The chemo has made my finger and toenails dry and brittle. Half of my big toenails have come off. I was fairly thin to start with and because the chemo has increased my metabolism I've lost over ten pounds. I'm as thin as I was when Joe and I first dated. No poochy tummy or floppy skin under my upper arms. You'd think I'd be happy about this, but I miss my 47 year old body.

So, each day when I get cleaned up and look in the mirror, I ask myself, "Who is that woman?!" Even with foundation over the brown blotches and my wig on, I don't look anything like the old me to me. Joe tells me I'm beautiful which really proves that beauty is in the eye of the beholder! :>) Have I told you how awesome he is?

Anyway, I've got everything on my body that can be crossed, crossed hoping that I get to have four more weeks of chemo before going to surgery. I just keep reminding myself that all of the bodily changes are signs that the chemo is at work and look forward to the day when I'm done with it; to the day when I look in the mirror and say, "Oh! There you are! I missed you!"

Lots of love to everyone!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Hi, everyone! Sorry it's been a while since I've updated the blog. Mostly, though, it is a good thing because it just means not too much has been going on. I've continued with my weekly chemo regimen and will have my follow up MRI this Friday. I will find out the results this coming Tuesday when I meet with Dr. Livingston. At that time, he will let me know if we're going to schedule my surgery or do another month of chemo. I feel really positive that the chemo has continued to work and am anxious to know the MRI results.

The days pass by fairly slowly for me. I continue to exercise every day and am staying physically strong. Some days, I'm just overwhelmed with fatigue and don't get very much done except for my exercise and other days I feel almost my normal self and am active most of the day. It is quiet when I am home alone. Luckily, Janaya is in and out most days inbetween her classes at ASU and her work schedule.

Pam surprised me on Tuesday of last week. I'd had my chemo earlier in the day and had gone to bed. Joe heard something outside and thought it was Michael coming home with some of his friends. He ran and shut my bedroom door because I didn't have my wig on and he knew I wouldn't want Michael's friends to see me. Then, he heard a rumbling noise come across the bridge to our front door. The next thing I heard was a soft knocking on my bedroom door and "Can I come in?" Pam had played an April Fool's Day trick that wasn't a trick and made a surprise visit. She knows how hard it is for me to be alone during the days. She stayed until Monday and then flew home. She and her whole family came back out this past Saturday. They are on Spring Break.

We had a wonderful Easter. Joey came down from NAU. Even though the kids are all getting older, we hid eggs and had an Easter egg hunt. We hid a twenty dollar bill in one of the eggs and that kept interest going until it was found. I made pulled pork sandwiches for lunch and we all ate outside on the patio. We played Pictionary which was good for a lot of laughs. Michael drew Africa when he was trying to get us to guess Yugoslavia and Pam drew Iceland when she was trying to get us to guess Finland. I guess we need some geography lessons at our house! (Dottie - maybe I should send them to you for some World Wanderers!)

Pam's husband had to fly back home late last night to be back at work, but first he and Pam and Joe and I went out to dinner at a wonderful restaurant friends in my book group had recommended. We sat outside underneath these huge shade trees. The food, the conversation, and the company were all first class. It was a wonderful evening. Pam and the kids are here until Friday.

I'll post a few pictures from Easter for you all to see.

This is the Easter bunny cake I made. :>)

Everyone sitting down to eat. We had our meal early in the day because Janaya had to work the evening shift and Joey had to go back up to NAU. I think everyone actually enjoyed my cooking!

Lots of smiles and laughter as we played Pictionary.

Joe and I. Pam and Jim. Please ignore the fact that my wig is on crooked!

The kids from left to right. Michael, Connor, Mary, Joey, and Brian. Janaya had left for work already.

Well, that is it for now. Tuesday will definitely be a big day for me. I will let everyone know what we find out.

Hope that everyone's Easter was as wonderful as mine!
Talk to you soon!
Love you!