Thursday, 31 May 2012

A Busy Bee

I forgot to post last night because I'd had a busy day and then went for a very long walk with my husband.  I still don't walk too fast but I'm definitely able to walk farther.  Yesterday, I collected and handed in the offline money that had been collected so far by our team for the Relay For Life.  I also ran some errands and did 2 loads of laundry and hung them out to dry.  By the time I got home from my walk last night, I was very tired.  As a result, I slept well last night.

This morning I did another load of laundry and finished transplanting all my plants.  I wanted to go to my son's high school baseball game so I had to have everything done and myself cleaned up by 2:30.  I did it!!  I was out of breath and my muscles were sore but I did it.  I enjoyed my son's ball game except the wind was cold.  This was a quarter-final game and they won.  My son pitched four innings and, in my humble opinion, he played very well.  My hips stiffened up and it was difficult to get off the bleachers but again I did it with out any help!

I'm tired again tonight and my hips are achy.  I'll have to keep them moving and maybe stretch them before I go to bed tonight.  I've noticed a change in myself in the last couple of weeks.  I've always been sensitive, caring and compassionate.  I would feel hurt for other people and even for myself but I wouldn't shed many tears.  The full emotions including tears were often dealt with inside of myself.  I now find that tears fill my eyes and overcome me very easily.  I just need to read about another survivor of cancer and I'm filled with emotions that overflow in the form of tears.  These won't be gushing, noisy tears but more the silently weeping kind.  I'm wondering if this is a delayed reaction to the last several months.  Maybe they are tears of thanksgiving.

For example, this afternoon as I was transplanting some petunias into my front flowerbed, a young but full-sized doberman pinscher was running loose in the street with the owners trying to catch her.  The owners were in a car but also on foot.  We were all trying to catch their dog when she ran into the street and hit a moving van on the side.   The dog was alright as she twisted and ran down the street towards a very major intersection.  After the owners took off after the doberman, I found myself trying to go back to my gardening, but I had tears in my eyes.  I felt just terrible watching the dog hit the van.  I was very thankful that she seemed to be OK but I was overcome with emotion.

I also find I'm overcome with emotion when I read the obituaries in the paper and see that someone young (I'm including myself as being young) has died from cancer.  This will bring me to tears very easily.  I used to feel sad for the families but I never actually cried over the obituaries.

I know it is perfectly acceptable to cry but the tears just seem closer to the surface now.  On a happier note, the Relay For Life team has made over $5,700!  I can't thank everyone who has supported us to reach this goal.  We did this in just four weeks of fundraising.  Tomorrow is supposed to be wet, windy and raw (cold).  I'm still hoping to last for the full night.  I'm going to bring my warm track pants, my warmest hoodie, my winter coat and my warmest toque which a friend made for me.  I've got my rubber boots and I will extra pairs of socks.  I'm even bringing mitts with me.  I'm going to try to nap tomorrow afternoon so that I can stay up all night long.  My husband has different ideas.  He has already said that he will drag me out of there if it gets too damp and cold.  I'm hoping that I will be dressed warm enough to withstand the weather.  We'll see.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

A "Do Nothing" Day

Today my mind and body were totally tired from the timeI got up this morning.  It felt like the last five months converged on me like a wake from a speed boat.  So I listened to my body and did nothing.  I shared a glass of lemonade on the front porch with a friend when she dropped off her Relay For Life fundraising.  We had a lovely visit.

After she left, I thought maybe I was tired and dragging because it was close to the noon hour and time for lunch.  I enjoyed my leisurely lunch of a salmon salad sandwich on my patio.  There was a really nice breeze all day long today which made it more comfortable than if the air was still.  After my lunch, I was still tired.  I had planned to watch my son play baseball after school but listened to my body and went for a nap instead.

The nap didn't really help so I'm wondering if my lethargy is due, in part, to the hot, muggy day we had.  I'm a little concerned because the Relay For Life is this Friday and I don't want to be feeling this way on Friday.  I guess I will have to continue to listen to my body and not push it much this week.  I had hoped to transplant more tomato plants in containers and also to transplant two wave petunias that a friend brought by a couple of weeks ago.  Maybe I'll get to them tomorrow or Thursday.  My hope is that I will not do anything on Friday so I can conserve my energy for the Relay.  I definitely won't be running the Relay but I will try to walk as much as possible.

I'm going to sit outside on the patio now and enjoy listening to the robins sing and watch the antics of the local squirrels.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Weary but Satisfied

I continue to get impatient with myself and how quickly I tire.  However, I am enjoying being outside and working in my garden.  I just get to prolong the enjoyment as I tire easily and my projects take longer to complete than normal.

Today I continued to work on a section of my flowerbed that was overcome with weeds.  I'm working on clearing it so I can transplant more of the tomato plants that I started indoors in February.  I'm satisfied with what I accomplished today.  As I was filling my watering can with the water from the rain barrel, I also weeded another area of the flowerbed that was showing some slight neglect.  I managed to transplant nine tomato plants today.

As I worked, I noticed a mourning dove nestled into a hollow in the grass near my vegetable garden.  I went inside to get the camera so I could take a picture.  The dove looked small and I'm wondering if she (I think of her as female because she looked so small and fragile) was a young one.  I managed to get one picture of her and as I was trying to get more of a closeup, she flew away.  I put the camera away and then continued on with transplanting my tomato plants.

I made continuous trips to the rain barrel with my watering can so I could give a major drink to all the tomato plants and red pepper plants that I've transplanted in the last week.  As I watered the tomato plants in the vegetable garden, I noticed the green shoots of my green beans peaking up through the soil.  My zucchini is also starting to peak through.

Tonight was a gorgeous evening and I, again, took pride in looking at the vegetable garden.  In some ways I feel like my little plants from indoors and the seeds that I planted last week, are like little babies.  My mothering and nurturing instincts come to the fore as I coax the plants to grow using the water and the sun.  Tonight, I noticed that during the day today my broad bean seeds have also started to sprout.  My husband asked me how many tomato plants and red pepper plants have I transplanted so far.  I have six red pepper plants growing and over thirty tomato plants.  I still have more tomato plants that I want to transplant.  They will have to go into large containers as I've officially run out of room in my gardens for them.  We will use all the tomatoes, as we like fresh tomatoes and then use the rest of the tomatoes to make canned spaghetti sauce, salsa, tomato juice and tomato butter.  I can never have enough tomatoes in my garden.  The red peppers will be used in salads, as fresh veggie sticks, in the salsa and in my zucchini relish.

I'm tired tonight but I'm feeling very self-satisfied with what I've accomplished today while I communed with nature.  I want to share a poem that really spoke to me this morning.  How it describes weariness really resonated with me.  The whole poem very much described how I felt throughout my journey through chemotherapy.  This poem came from today's entry in "The Friendship Book 2012" that an acquaintance (but a stranger at the time) gave to me back in March.

"When weariness plucks at the heartstrings
And limbs might be fashioned of lead,
And the light which is shining on others
Can't get inside of your head.
When the ship of your dreams, having foundered
Lies wrecked on a boulder-strewn beach,
And Hope is a big, shiny bubble
Just floating away, out of reach...

When the warmth of the fire turns to ashes
Leaving you chilled to the bone,
Don't let despair overwhelm you,
For truly, you're never alone.
Be still, in the depths of your darkness
And wait for the silence to sing,
Then know an uplifitng enfolding,
And feel the soft touch of a wing."

By Tricia Sturgeon

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Did I do too much?

After cutting the grass yesterday, I woke up with very sore muscles and I was very tired today.  My son had two baseball games today that I wanted to see.  It was also a beautiful day.   I wanted to take advantage of the warm, dry weather and dry my laundry on the line.

I awoke this morning with a little bit of stress.  My daughter had a friend sleep over last night.  My daughter woke me up this morning with the announcement that her friend wasn't here and all her stuff was gone.  Considering I've been reading a book about kidnapping and murder, you can understand where my mind leaped.  All ended up being fine as the friend had been picked up and taken home by her mother before any of us were awake this morning.  Whew!!!

I delivered my son to the ball field and returned home to do two loads of laundry and get them hung on our outdoor line.  At one point, I walked up stairs from the laundry room and felt very dizzy.  I sat down and then I started to feel queasy.  This hasn't happened since my fifth chemo cycle when I did too much in week 2 of the cycle.  I finished the laundry and also enjoyed a nice telephone visit with a close family friend.    I returned to the ball field in the middle of my son's first game and settled myself in for the rest of the afternoon.  I took this opportunity to rest.  Unfortunately, my hips, legs and knees stiffened up and became very sore.  I think this is partially due to being out of shape, cutting the grass yesterday and also lingering effects of the prednisone which was part of my chemo treatment.  I enjoyed watching my son play baseball but at the same time I was very tired.

I'll be having an early night tonight.  My son and my husband are playing softball tonight and I had hoped that I would be able to watch their game.  This won't be happening.  I do have to listen to my body and it is definitely telling me that it has had enough for today.

Hopefully tomorrow, I'll be able to finish planting my vegetable plants.  I'm enjoying living life and I want to live it to the fullest.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Pushing To Get Stronger

I had a night full of night sweats so I didn't sleep very well at all.  I knew I was going out with friends tonight so I planned to have a quiet day.  I decided in the morning that I would try to cut the grass.  Normally, it would take me one hour to cut the front, side and back lawns.  Today, I cut the front and had to take a break.  I, then, cut the side lawn and half of the back lawn before I needed to take another 2 hour break.  I finally finished the lawn and felt satisfied.  The lawn mower was much heavier to handle than I remember.  It was difficult to push it up the slight grade in our backyard.  I noticed my arms are weaker.  My legs are weaker.  Cutting the grass was the only task I was able to accomplish today.

While I rested during the cutting of the lawn and afterwards, I sat on the patio and reclined in the lounger. I read my current book, watched the wildlife in the yard and worked on the crossword puzzles in the newspaper.  I'm really enjoying the patio this year.  The colours in the yard seem much more vivid to me.  I'm appreciating more individual moments and "taking time to smell the roses".  I hope this will be a permanent change for me.  What I mean is that I won't go back to running constantly to try to complete all my work, chores and activities.  I hope that I will remember to stop and enjoy the quiet moments.

Tonight, we went out to dinner with friends at an Italian restaurant downtown.  We really enjoyed ourselves but I I could feel my knees starting to ache.  When I tried to rise to leave, my knees and leg muscles were very, very sore.  My husband was concerned because I was not able to stand upright at first.  My knees didn't start to limber up until we were well outside the restaurant and heading for the van.  I will need to make sure that I keep moving and walking every day so that my muscles can continue to get stronger.

I'm tired now and hopefully will have a good night's sleep.  I'm very satisfied with how my day unfolded.  I'm pleased that I am continuing to learn to take things slowly.  We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Stronger Each Day

This morning, I had a surprise phone call from a very good friend and we enjoyed a really nice visit.  Not long after, I went for a walk with another close friend and then we had quinoa salad for lunch here at home.  I was so pleased that I was able to walk a little farther before I started to pant and tire.  I even managed to push myself to walk up a hill during the walk.  So far I've avoided hills as they take a lot of energy out of me.  My friend and I had a great visit which continued throughout our meal.  After lunch, we moved to the patio and enjoyed the outdoors while we sat in the shade of the patio umbrella.

While we sat on the patio, I regained some of my energy.  Once my friend left, I worked on weeding one of my flowerbeds which has been neglected.  Once I had an area cleared of the weeds and looking good, I was able to transplant some of my red pepper plants. This activity left me tired and so I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the shade on the patio and reading a book.  I'm discovering that once I've used up my energy, I may get some of it back but it is more short-lived.  I'm slowly getting stronger each day and my stamina is slowly increasing.  I just find that I'm impatient to get on with living.  I love gardening and playing in the dirt so it is a little frustrating when my activities are curtailed due to a sudden tiredness.

I'm not complaining because I do see the improvement each day.  My doctor told me last week that I would feel much better in about 3 weeks or so.  Tonight was the first time that I was able to handle helping to do the grocery shopping with my husband.  I don't know that I was much of a help as he has become very efficient in the shopping area.  It was nice to go along for the walk though.  However, after the second store, I was too tired to go on.  So I sat in the van and people watched while my husband finished the rest of the shopping.

I'm very tired tonight but in a good way.  It is very satisfying to have been able to do some new activities and extend myself further in some of the other activities.  I just need to continue to be patient with myself.  My hair is starting to grow back.  You can now tell where my hairline is and I have areas of my head where it looks like I have smudges of dirt.  The hair isn't long enough for the wind to move yet but you can see the shadow of it.  We think it is red but we can't tell if it is curly.  It does look like it is coming in thicker.  It was very thick before so I don't know how I'll get a brush or comb through it if it grows even thicker.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Poco a poco "Little by little"

Poco a poco is a musical term meaning "little by little".  This describes my recovery from the chemo treatments of the last 4 to 5 months.  Today I was able to finish transplanting my tomato plants that I started indoors in February.  I also finished planting the seeds in my vegetable garden.  This used to be just a small amount of work for me and I would have moved on to weeding some of the other beds, or I would have still had energy to work on my hedge.  Unfortunately, my body was tired after just doing the planting.

I'm having to accept that my body has limitations at the moment.  As a result, I had a couple of telephone visits friends this afternoon while I sat and rested.  Making supper tired me out today.  After dinner, I forced myself to go for a walk as I try to get a little stronger.  The walk took the rest of my energy reserves.

I have to remember the term poco a poco.  Tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Lingering Chemo Side Effects

I had a wonderful long weekend but I'm very tired today.  Tiredness and lack of stamina seem to be lingering.  I've heard that it can last up to one or two years after treatment.  Today I was our family's taxi and it has wiped me out tonight.  Although I did get part of my vegetable garden planted this morning as well.

One of the other lingering side effects is lack of memory and vocabulary.  Yesterday morning, I was on our patio with my husband and I heard a bird singing.  I said to my husband "Do you hear the tomato singing?"  In my mind I was saying "Do you hear the cardinal singing?"  But as has been happening lately, a word comes out that is not even close to what I'm thinking.  This is very frustrating.   We blame it on chemo brain and it may be just exhaustion from treatment as the chemotherapy really didn't go into my brain.  In another example,  on Saturday evening we were talking about a partial eclipse that was going to take place.  I said "Where?"  but really thought and meant to say "What kind?" (lunar or solar).  Tonight, I tried to ask my husband to pass me my laptop but I couldn't think of the word "laptop".  It's very frustrating!  It seems to be worse when I'm tired.  I either have words pop out of my mouth that weren't meant to come out or I can't remember the correct word at all.

I'm very tired tonight and will probably go to bed early.  I'm even having trouble composing my thoughts for the blog tonight.  Time to take it easy, I guess.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Birthday Celebration

Today I celebrated the best birthday ever!!  It started with a poached egg on toast and a cup of coffee with Bailey's Irish Cream enjoyed on the patio.  Family came from out of town to help me celebrate.  We enjoyed a beautiful, hot, lazy day outdoors in the shade of our apple trees.  As we visited, we could smell the slow roasting maple spareribs my husband had going on the BBQ.  My family and visitors were able to enjoy the pastoral view of the birds and squirrels flitting and scampering around our yard.

A good friend dropped off a bouquet of roses, a card and a present in honour of my birthday this afternoon.  What a surprise!  I'm sorry I missed seeing her as I was in the backyard.

At dinner, we toasted with champagne the best birthday present ever which is being cancer free!  What a wonderful birthday dinner I had sharing it with family.  After dinner, we enjoyed a chocolate cake that my husband made along with some maple walnut ice cream.  Yummy!!!

I sat in the shade all day with a hat on and sunscreen.  I saw that I was turning pink so I put on a very light jacket to protect myself.  Despite my efforts to avoid the sun, I have a sunburn and can feel it tonight.

The number of emails extending  birthday wishes brought me to tears this evening.  I am so blessed to have so many caring friends and family as well as my health.  Although this birthday was not a milestone in terms of my age, it is definitely a special birthday as we celebrate good health.  It's great to be alive!!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

A Day of Rest

I didn't sleep well again last night due to night sweats but also the outdoor temperature was warm.  I arose in time this morning to go to church.  I haven't been since back in February.  What a joy it was to see everyone in my church family/community.  Like in February, I again was welcomed with warm, open arms but also joy as my church family celebrated the news of my remission.  Prayers have definitely been answered.

During the service, the congregation was asked to think about a moment when you have felt lifted up, soared and stayed up there.  I thought about it and the obvious answer was when I received the news I was in remission.  But as I thought about this abstract concept in more depth, I realized that it actually occurred when I was in my second cycle of treatment.  I can remember it was Day 7 of the second cycle of chemotherapy.  I had just finished my prednisone, I was in a depression because of that.  I was also very chilled, nauseous and achy.  I was at home by myself as my husband was at work and the children were at school.  I can remember laying curled up in a fetal position in my bed with all the covers, my housecoat and anything else I could find piled on top of me to try to warm me up.  I was absolutely miserable.  I remember if I moved, I felt like I was going to be sick.  It hurt even to open my eyes.  I remember opening my eyes and seeing my grandmother's crucifix on my wall.  As I looked at that crucifix, I felt a sense of peace and calm.  I remember feeling a sense of being held and lifted up out of my misery.  This wasn't an out of body experience, but an abstract feeling of my soul being held.  I do remember feeling that sense of being lifted up and carried.  In my opinion, this would be when I was soaring.  I truly believe I continued this way spiritually throughout the rest of the treatment.

Obviously, I enjoyed being out at church this morning.  I was tired for the rest of the day and spent my afternoon on my patio and in my backyard in the shade.  I watched the wildlife and just relaxed.  Yesterday's bake sale combined with a sleepless night had me laying down for a short nap late this afternoon.

After supper, once the heat of the day was past, I went for a nice long walk with my husband.  Walking uphill continues to make me breathless.  I'm able to walk farther each time I go out though which is encouraging.  After our walk, we enjoyed some additional time on the patio watching the cardinals, blue jays, robins and sparrows in our backyard.  We were able to listen to the sounds quieten as the birds made their way to their beds.  We were then chased indoors by the mosquitoes that made their appearance known.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Bake Sale & Rhubarb Sale

What a gorgeous day it was today.  A sunny and warm Saturday of a long weekend was a perfect day for our Team Cathy Conquers Cancer Relay For Life Bake Sale.  Our team members really came through with donations of baked goods!

My daughter, her friend, myself and my husband ran the bake sale and rhubarb sale.  It was heart-warming again to see the number of friends who came by to support our fundraiser.  I get overcome with emotion when I think of everyone who has supported us not just in this endeavour but throughout my treatment. The girls made $160 on the bake sale.  The rhubarb made $75.  I would say it was a success.  Every little bit helps and all the money raised for the Relay For Life stays in our local community.  It helps fund the support programs for those living with cancer and also is used for research done locally.

Although, I helped to package and price some of the baking this morning, I sat most of the day under an umbrella to keep me out of the sun.  I'm very tired tonight.  My doctor told me that I would still feel tired for a bit yet.  He expects me to feel much better in 3 to 4 weeks.  I hope that for the rest of our long weekend, I can just take it easy.

I don't intend to work on the hedge this weekend.  I might plant some of my plants tomorrow afternoon.  It depends on my energy levels.  My memory is terrible at the moment.  This is apparently another side effect of the chemotherapy.  I'm constantly misplacing things, forgetting messages to give to people and generally not thinking clearly.  This is not only frustrating for me but also for my children who are used to me knowing where everything is that gets misplaced.  Hopefully my mind will improve in the next 3 to 4 weeks.

This evening my husband and I enjoyed our supper on the patio while we watched the wildlife flitting around our yard.  We stayed outdoors until I started to get cold.  At that point, you could hear the birds starting to sing less as they settled into their nests for the night.  I find this very calming and peaceful.  What a nice way to end the day.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Life With A Vengeance...well sort of

I didn't get an opportunity to post yesterday because I was busy working outside on my hedge and in my garden.  I'm enjoying the outdoors and even enjoying my chores that used to be an inconvenience.  This is partially because I'm not working but also I have a new lease on life.  I went for a long walk with my husband last night and when I returned home, I was very tired.  I spent some time on the telephone with family and then off to bed I went.

I'm sleeping well other than my night sweats which are due to menopause.  I have about one or two hot flashes each day.  I just dress in layers and take sweaters or hoodies off when I start to get hot.  At night I have found that if I have a night sweat, I can reduce it by putting my feet out from under the covers.  This helps keep them cool and I end of going right back to sleep.

Today, I walked to my dentist and back.  I was able to walk further today before I started to pant heavily.  This is good news.  My muscles are less sore each day.  I also sat on the bleachers at the baseball park for a whole 7 innings today.  My back started to tire in the fourth inning but I made it through the whole game.  Tonight, I'm feeling the muscles that are tight in the small of my back.  I'll continue to use my core muscles and try and strengthen them every day.

Today I was picking rhubarb and putting it into bundles to sell tomorrow in my driveway.  This is called Relay For Life Rhubarb...$5/bundle plus a recipe.  At the same time my daughter and her friend, who are also on the Cathy Conquers Cancer team, are running a bake sale in our driveway from 12 Noon until 3 p.m.  The money raised will be going to the Relay For Life.

Relay For Life is being held on June 1 from 7 p.m. to June 2 at 7 a.m. and it is a walk/run event.   Money raised is used to fund support programs for families and individuals who are living with cancer.  Some of the money raised in Relay For Life is also used for research in our local area.  The Relay For Life runs overnight to symbolize what it is like to live with cancer.  The 7 p.m. start symbolizes being diagnosed with cancer and feeling your emotions and attitude start to sink into darkness and as the evening progresses.  The middle of the night, when it is cold, dark and participants are getting tired and it is hard to stay the course, is very similar to the middle of treatment when the cancer patient is tired all the time, feels ill due to the treatment and doesn't see an end to the misery.  As morning creeps closer and the sun starts to rise, it is very much like seeing the end of treatment and your emotions start to improve as you see the light at the end of the tunnel.  The burst of seeing the sun in the morning is very much like being given the news that your cancer is in remission or even cured.

So tomorrow will be a busy day as I live life fully.  I still have to watch that I conserve my energy as I don't have a lot of stamina.  It is so nice, though, to come to the end of the day and feel self-satisfaction for a life worth living.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Day 21 - 6th Chemo Cycle - REMISSION!!!

Today finally arrived!  The morning crawled by as I waited for my doctor's apointment at 3:00 p.m.  Two good friends called to help distract me and I really appreciated their phone calls.  The time came to go to my appointment.  I sat and waited in the waiting room and then in the examination room.  I couldn't keep my foot from swinging as I waited.  My nerves were showing.

My doctor arrived and sat down.  He said my blood levels were perfect.  Then he said my CT scan was absolutely clear.  He took me and my husband to his office and showed us the CT scans from December and then showed us the CT scan from Friday.  It was definitely clear!  I'm officially in remission!!!!

I have a check up with him in 5 weeks time.  He said that I should feel really well and back to normal in about 3 to 4 weeks.  He gave me permission to live life fully and without any restrictions.  After my appointment in June, I will see him every 3 months for 2 years.  Then I will see him every 6 months and finally I will see him once a year.  If I am to have a relapse, it will happen with 12 to 18 months.  There is a 12-15% chance of a relapse.  After 18 months from now, there is a 2-5% chance of a relapse until I hit the 5 year mark from now.  I still think these are good odds.

I must say that I would not have completed this part of the marathon nearly as well without all of my friends and family's support through positive thoughts, prayers, blessings, karma and suggested ways of dealing with stress.  This all has helped me keep my own faith strong even when it was challenged and wobbled in doubt.

Now I can go on with my life and living life to the fullest. I plan to enjoy every single minute of it. I've already been asked, "Will you continue your blog?" I don't know how often I will write an entry but I will continue the blog until I am deemed cured in 5 years. I imagine that I may have times of anxiety or doubt and at that time, I may feel it helpful to write an entry to the blog.

My plans tomorrow are to continue working on my hedge.  Maybe start planting my garden.  Maybe do some weeding.  I just want to enjoy the outdoors and taking each moment and enjoying it.  I do know that I will be having a visit with a friend that I've reconnected with tomorrow afternoon.  May the living begin anew!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Day 20 - 6th Chemo Cycle

I had a very busy day yesterday as I tried to keep myself distracted and not worry about my CT scan results.  I really don't like waiting.  Unfortunately, I did too much yesterday.  I woke up this morning with every muscle in my body aching and not wanting to move.  It hurt just to lie in bed.

I finally got myself out of bed and had a very slow morning of just sitting and trying not to move.  Then I decided that I would try some very basic yoga stretches to get my muscles stretched out.  It worked!!  I was finally able to get moving gingerly about 11 a.m.  I decided that if I sat all day I would seize up, kind of like the tin man from "The Wizard of Oz".

So I made a marinade for the pork chops that we were going to barbecue for supper.  I made another quinoa salad but this time I used a caesar dressing.  I had that for lunch and it was very good.  I peeled the potatoes for supper and left them sitting in a pot of water.  Then I moved outside to the patio where I intended to sit and read a book for the afternoon.

Once I was sitting on the patio, I noticed that some of my tomato plants needed watering.  Then I noticed that some of the plants in my flowerbed closest to the house needed watering.  Before I knew it, I was watering most of the flowerbeds.  This was good though because now my muscles didn't hurt at all and I was able to move fairly well.  I sat down to finally start my book.  I read a few pages and then realized that the bird feeder needed to be refilled.  Then I looked at my hedge and thought "Well, it can't hurt to do just a little bit of the hedge."  Before I knew it, my afternoon was gone and it was time to start cooking the potatoes.  I set the table, got the potatoes cooking and went back to sit on the patio with my book.  "NOW I'm going to stop" I thought to myself.  Huh!!  I must be getting back to normal because it was hard to sit still.

After supper, I had good friends over and looked at some pictures from a trip to Scotland.  It was great to see them as I love Scotland and it helped pass my evening.  I've realized that I was keeping busy today so I wouldn't be worrying about the CT scan.  My friends came just at the right time and it again kept me from dwelling on results.  Now that I'm sitting agin, I can feel some muscles getting achy.  I'll sleep well tonight and I will definitely take it easy tomorrow.  I see my doctor at 3 p.m. so by this time tomorrow night, I'll know the results of the CT scan.  As my husband said tonight, "Tomorrow will be the start of your second chance at life."

Monday, 14 May 2012

Day 19 - 6th Chemo Cycle

What a beautiful day it was today.  The sun shone brightly all day.  It was warm and you could almost see the leaves unfurl and grow on the trees.  Yesterday I took my tomato plants and red pepper plants outdoors onto the patio to get hardened off.  I'm hoping I'll be able to plant them on the weekend in my vegetable garden.  They seemed to survive just fine and were a little more perky looking today after the shock of being introduced to the outdoors yesterday.

I continued to be a little anxious about my CT scan results.  Wednesday can't get here soon enough.  In order to keep myself distracted and therefore more positive, I worked on my hedge some more.  I'm trying to cut back the top growth to where I had originally cut it back to when we first moved into the house 11 years ago.  Although we've trimmed the hedge every year and sometimes twice a year, the top seemed to gain and keep about 4 inches.  My project this year is to reclaim and cut it back.  It's slow going as I don't have a lot of strength and energy.  I do a little bit of work and then I have to sit down and rest for a bit.  Today I got a good portion done.  My muscles are sore and tired tonight but I think this is good as I will get myself back into some kind of physical shape.

I arrived late at my son's high school baseball game but I managed to sit on the bleachers for about 4 innings.  This is better than the last time I sat on bleachers last week.  At that time, I lasted only 3 innings before I had to leave.  Tonight my husband and I went for an hour walk.  It was hard and it was a slow walk but I was able to do it.  My body is slowly getting stronger.  I still need to build my stamina and my endurance.  I still run out of breath quickly.  I still have to rest often.  I still walk slowly.  I have noticed that my balance still isn't 100%.  I used to be able to walk up and down the bleachers at the ball fields without much effort.  My balance is off and as a result I'm wobbly going up and down the bleachers.  I find my legs are weaker also.  I feel like an old lady.

After our walk tonight, my husband and I sat on the patio until the moquitos chased us indoors.  It was so peaceful to hear the chickadees, robins and cardinals singing away.  A great end to a great day.  Let's hope tomorrow will be a repeat.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Day 18 - 6th Chemo Cycle - Mother's Day

What an extra special Mother's Day this has been.  I was  around to enjoy it!!!  My whole family made my day today.  I talked with my own mom briefly this morning via the telephone.  My daughter made me a beautiful card from both her and my son.  My son touched me deeply when he publicly mentioned that I have been an inspiration to him throughout the last 6 months.

I felt good this morning and so I made the trip out of town again today to watch our son play baseball this morning.  We got back home and I was able to enjoy some time on the patio with my husband as we watched the birds at the feeder.  Our children came out every so often to visit and then they disappeared back inside as only teenagers do.  My husband made supper on the barbecue and our daughter made the caesar salad to go with our supper.  Our son set the table.  After dinner, they took me out to Dairy Queen for a small caramel sundae with pecans.  What a great day this was!

Today I also heard about another person who did not beat their fight with cancer.  Everyday I seem to see obituaries in the newspaper about people that have had their lives end much too soon due to cancer.  I feel so thankful that my prognosis from the beginning has been so positive.  Now as I'm facing the end of treatment, I feel mixed feelings.  I'm hopeful and looking forward to the rest of my life and being cancer-free.  At the same time, I feel some guilt as I see others struggling with diagnoses and prognoses that are not so positive.  While going through my treatments, I would see others who were just as positive and obvious fighters but their chances of survival were more slim.  All this makes me wonder why some people get one form of cancer that is so vicious and terminal and others like myself get a form of cancer that is more treatable.

As the Relay For Life comes closer, I realize that research in the past has been so important in improving the treatment of various forms of cancer.  Thus, it gives people like me a better prognosis so that we can experience another Mother's Day, Father's Day,  birthday, etc.  So please when you have an opportunity to donate to cancer research, consider it carefully and realize that there are advancements made in research due to the money that is collected through fundraising.  As I walk in the Relay For Life this year, I will be remembering the wonderful people I've met who are also fighting cancer.  I will also be remembering the people that I know who have lost their battle with this horrible disease.  As I walk each lap, I will be thankful that I'm healthy enough to participate and I will be celebrating with my family and friends the end of my chemotherapy treatments.  This will be the beginning of getting better and stronger each day.

You may support my team by clicking on the following link:

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Day 17 - 6th Chemo Cycle

When I awoke this morning, the first thing that entered my mind was worry and fear about the CT scan.  I gave myself a mental pep talk that worrying doesn't help anything and just makes me miserable and then I offered up a short prayer for peace of mind.   The rest of my day was great.  I was distracted for the day and as a result, my mind was calm and peaceful.

I did a load of laundry and hung it out to dry this morning.  I finally finished my sign "Relay For Life Rhubarb....$5/Bundle".  Hopefully it will dry fully over the weekend.  We supported the M&M Meats Charity BBQ (supporting Crohns & Colitis Foundation) by going there for lunch.  Then we went on the road out of town to watch our son's baseball game this afternoon.  It was great to be able to sit in my lawn chair for the whole game and support my son.  Secretly, I was very proud of him.  While at the game, I also collected some donations to the Relay For Life.

We treated ourselves to dinner out at our favourite BBQ restaurant.  I've had a good day but I am a little weary.  I'll see how I feel tomorrow but I'm hoping I'll be able to go to the ball field again in the morning.  If I'm too tired, I'll just spend the day on the patio and enjoy the birds and sunshine.

I think the key to not fretting about the CT scan is to use my methods of distraction such as reading, knitting, family activities and enjoying nature.  Let's hope this plan can get me through to Wednesday.  I also have found in the last 6 months that focusing on others helps keep my mind off myself.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Day 16 - 6th Chemo Cycle - CT Scan

This morning I had to eat my breakfast before 8 a.m. because I couldn't have anything but water after that time.  My CT Scan appointment was for 10:15.  I got there a little early because I wasn't sure where I was going.  Once I registered at the desk, the clerk gave me a piece of paper and I was directed to the waiting room.  While waiting, I looked at the piece of paper and it was a copy of the requisition that my oncologist had sent over.  The paper indicated my appointment was for 12 noon.  I was starting to worry that I was there much too early.  Then a gentleman in hospital garb arrived at the waiting room and called my name.  Relief flowed through me because I wasn't too early.  He gave me a very large plastic container full of water and a plastic cup with three different times written on it in marker..."Now", "11:00", and "11:30".  He gave me instructions to drink 1 cup full of water at each of the three times.  This was now 10:15 and so he adjusted the times saying I could drink at 10:45, and 11:15.  So I drank all the water as directed.  At about 11:25 or so (there was a clock in the waiting room), the gentleman came back and called me in.

He had me sit on a gurney and started asking me questions about if I've had previous CT scans.  "Yes", I replied, "on Dec. 2 I had a chest CT scan and on Dec. 16 I had an abdominal CT scan".  I went on to explain that I had no reaction to the first CT scan but on Dec. 16 I reacted to the red dye later in the day with a rash on my chest.  The gentleman (technician?) had to confer with two different doctors because I was dealing with a neck/chest and also the abdomen.  After the small three-way conference, the technician came back to me and said they were not going to give me the red dye today.  Now I was anxious and concerned.  My concern is that without the red dye, maybe they'll miss something.  Maybe they won't be able to see if all of the cancer is gone.  I mentioned this to the technician and he said that the doctors feel that because this is a comparison CT scan (not a dianostic one like the previous two) that they will be able to see what they need to see.  He went on to explain that they didn't want to give me the red dye especially since it was in the neck area where the possibility of anaphylactic shock would be too dangerous.  The technician went on to say that if my oncologist deems another CT scan needs to be done using the dye, that he can prescribe me some pre-appointment medication to help fight the allergic reaction.  So we had a CT scan done of my neck, chest and abdomen without using the dye.

I left the hospital about 12:15.  I've been much more tired throughout today.  I came home and had a friend over for tea.  After she left, I went for a nap.  I guess I fell asleep immediately as a few minutes after I went to bed, my husband came home and found me sound asleep.  I slept for 2 hours.

I am feeling very anxious.  What if the CT scan shows that it is clear but that's because there was no dye used and they've missed something because of that?  I'm feeling some of the same anxiety and worry that I felt back in December when we were waiting for results from diagnostic tests.  I have to wait for 5 days before I see my oncologist.  I see him on Wednesday.  I need to focus on a wonderful weekend with my family that will culminate with Mother's Day.

You would think that after all this it would still be easy for me to hand my worries over God.  It isn't.  But I have to remind myself that worrying doesn't change anything.  It won't change the outcome of the CT scan.  It won't make me feel any better.  Throughout the last few months, I've been learning to do some deep breathing to help relax me and centre my thinking as I pray.  I need to remind myself to inhale slowly and deeply and gather my fears and worries.  As I exhale slowly, all these fears and worries are given over to God's hands to collect and keep.  Now I pray for peace of mind and calmness as well as envisioning a circle around me that cannot be penetrated by negativity, fears or worries.  I finish with a prayer for God to keep me safe.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Day 15 - 6th Chemo Cycle

I was tired again today.  I still can't make firm plans each day.  My plans are all contingent on whether I have the energy to go out.  I had hoped to do the mundane task of grocery shopping today.  I so want to help out towards household chores and make it easier on my husband.  However, when I woke up today I just knew that I didn't have the energy to do the shopping.

My mind had energy even though my body did not.  I was in a creative mood and made another quinoa salad for lunch.  I was very pleased with it and there was enough to have at dinner time too.  My son and husband even enjoyed it.  I created a stuffed chicken breast using the few ingredients we had in our refrigerator and pantry.  I could tell it is time to do a grocery run.  Anyway, I flattened some chicken breasts and put a slice of black forest ham on each along with a small square of cheddar cheese.  I rolled the breasts up and secured them with a toothpick.  Then I took some leftover salsa and combined it in a pot over medium heat with orange marmalade, dried lemon peel, cardamom, cumin and celery seed.  Once the orange marmalade was melted and combined with the salsa and spices, I spooned it over each chicken breast and then baked them uncovered for 35 minutes at 350.  I served it with the quinoa salad and a caesar salad.  In my opinion, it worked very well.  My son asked for me to reserve the extra breast for him to eat after his baseball game tonight.

I was happy to be able to have enough energy to be creative and cook a full meal today.  I know this is something that I used to take for granted but in the last 6 months, it has been an infrequent activity for me just because I did not feel well enough or have enough energy to cook.  I now appreciate and take pleasure in the small things in life.

Secretly, I was glad it was cool and rainy today because I allowed myself to have a rest day.  I enjoyed a leisurely visit with a friend over tea this afternoon.  It has currently stopped raining and I'm hoping I can go for a short walk yet tonight.

Tomorrow I go for my CT scan in the morning.  The last one I had in December, I had a slight reaction to the red dye that they injected into me.  I hope that my veins don't roll as they try to get the needle into me tomorrow.  My veins rolled away from the nurses in both my fifth and sixth chemo treatments.  As far as the rash, I have some liquid benedryl at home now so I will just have to take that if I get a rash.  I'm not overly anxious but I am a little nervous about tomorrow.  I just hope the results will show that everything is clear and fine.  I won't know the results until Wednesday, May 16.  I have to mentally gird myself from thinking about the "what ifs".  I just want this all to be done with.  I'm looking forward to feeling like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  At the moment, I still have a "huge boulder" resting on top of my shoulders as I wait.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Day 14 - 6th Chemo Cycle

After having two outings yesterday, I was very tired today.  I finally went outside to the patio when the sun shone brightly this afternoon.  I worked a little bit on the hedge until I felt tired again.  Then I sat and read my book in the sunshine where it was nice and warm.  I still feel cold a lot of the time even though other people are warm.  When I felt rested and thought I had some energy again, I tried to start weeding my flowerbed.  I couldn't do that for very long and then I was tired again.

I just have to be satisfied with doing little bits of activity and recognize that I get tired very easily.  Once the shade of our house covered the patio, I moved indoors and rested until dinner.  After dinner, I went to the Relay For Life Team Captains Night at the Canadian Cancer Society office.  I picked out my tent site for June 1 and received some answers to my questions regarding the logistics of the event.  After that, my husband treated me to an ice cream waffle cone.  The swiss mocha ice cream tasted wonderful!  Little pleasures of life is all I really need to be happy. 

It was a momentous day today in that I met my fundraising goal of $800.  I'm going to try to beat that.  The team goal for Cathy Conquers Cancer is $5,000.  So far the team has raised $1,825.  Now that I'm starting to feel better each day, I'll be able to start fundraising in person a little more.  I'll be selling fresh rhubarb from my garden for $5 per bundle.  A bundle will consist of what I can hold in one fist.  This will not be a small amount as I have large hands.  I mentioned in a previous post that I'm working on a sign.  I still am.  I'm currently waiting for the background paint to dry so that I can do the lettering.  My daughter has offered to draw a yellow daffodil on the sign as well.

I played the piano for a little bit today and am rusty.  My fingers aren't cooperating very well which shows I need to practise more often.  Part of the problem is there is some numbness in my fingers as a side effect from the chemotherapy.  This will pass.

I also enjoyed a couple of phone call visits today with my mother and then my brother and sister-in-law.  It's so nice when the miles melt away and you feel like you're visiting in the same room.  So although I get frustrated with how easily I get tired, it's been a good day.  I'm just happy to be getting better each day.  I continue to feel blessed each and every day not just for my friends and family but for my return to health.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Day 13 - 6th Chemo Cycle

I slept really well last night for a change.  I had energy when I woke up so I kept the van today.  I went to the school where I taught piano lessons and visited my students and the teachers during the noon hour.  It was nice to see everyone and it warmed my heart to receive the outpouring of affection and good wishes.  As per usual, everyone was very surprised at how well I looked.  My cheeks are pink and my weight hasn't changed.

This visit tired me out and I had no energy for the rest of the afternoon.  Generally, I'm feeling well at the moment.  The constipation bug is visiting and this time around, I'm trying to handle it through diet.  So I'm eating lots of fibre and drinking lots of water.  At some point, it will all start to move again.  I tire easily and I just have to make sure that I don't do too much in one day.

Tonight, I was very happy to go out with my son and buy a suit for his graduation.  It was fun and seemed to give me even more energy.  It's been a good day today.

A few days ago, I posted about watching my son play baseball.  It has been brought to my attention by various readers that I left everybody hanging and didn't let them know the outcome of the game.  His team won their game that day but I don't remember the score.  I just know it was great fun to be able to embrace life and participate in the outside world.

I realized today that I'm not experiencing a feeling of relief that I'm done my chemotherapy.  I expected that I would feel a great relief and feel like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  That hasn't happened yet.  I'm assuming it is because I still have a CT scan to go through on Friday and that I still have to hear my doctor tell me the results are clear.  I'm still just going day to day.  I'm not looking too far ahead yet.  I'm waiting for the day that I feel free and can celebrate fully a clean bill of health.  I'm not sure if this will happen next week or will I mentally and emotionally not feel like celebrating until 5 years from now when I'm declared "cancer free".  I guess I'll have to wait and see.  Just like at the beginning of this journey when I had to wait for chemotherapy to start, I'm back to waiting for clear results of medical tests.

Stay tuned.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Day 12 - 6th Chemo Cycle

I didn't sleep well last night.  Yesterday my brain was trying to come up with creative ways that I could stimulate my fundraising efforts and my team's fundraising efforts for the Relay For Life.  Other teams are having garage sales, bbq's, car washes, etc to help raise money.  Unfortunately, I don't have the energy to organize something big like that so I've been trying to think of other ways that don't involve a lot of effort.  So I didn't sleep well because I had a cup of coffee last evening and I couldn't turn my brain off.  I didn't fall asleep until 2 a.m. and then I woke up at 6.

I made myself a poached egg on toast for breakfast.  I like that every once in awhile.  I guess my husband and two children had never seen me have it before.  So I had an audience while I cooked a simple poached egg.  It was kind of nice have them be interested enough to watch and learn.  Making breakfast tired me out but I had already started laundering my sheets.  By the time I hung them outside to dry, I was really tired.  So then I caught up with my emails.

It was another warm and sunny day so I spent some time just sitting outside watching the wildlife.  A crow was circling through the area and I think it was probably looking to raid some nests.  Certainly the other birds were disturbed with his presence and they kept chasing him away.  As I watched and listened, my thoughts also returned to my fundraising.  Normally at this time of year, I would be picking my rhubarb and making cakes, muffins, breads and freezing it.  I don't have the energy to do any of that this year.  So I thought, maybe I can sell my rhubarb in bundles and that's how I can raise some money for Relay For Life.

This thought led to the evolution of how would I sell it.  How would I draw people in to sell it?  It's not like I'm going out to work and have co-workers to try to hock the rhubarb to.  The next thought was, "Why not make a sign and set up a stand in the driveway?"  This prompted me to look for material around the house/garage that I could make a sign from.  I found a cardboard box that our laundry sink had come in from the store.  If I cut one side  and paint the inside panel white, then I can paint the words in red and it will stand out.  So I took my husband's drywall knife and cut off one complete side of the box.  I then went into the crawl space and found my 20+ year old oil paint kit.  Most of the oil paints were dried out and useless.  I did find one large bottle of white paint that was salvageable.  Now I went in search for a large brush and a smaller brush.  Lo and behold, I found them in another one of my husband's tool hideaways.

My next step was to find a drop sheet so that I can paint the cardboard.  I found one and also dug out my surgical latex gloves to keep my hands clean.  I took advantage of the warm day and set everything up on the patio.  By the time I finished painting my cardboard white, I was exhausted.  I was so tired that I felt a little nauseous.  Oops....I overdid it.  So I stopped and just let the cardboard dry.  I made some lunch and rested while I ate.

I really wanted to lay down and take a nap but I couldn't because I was the family taxi driver today.  I'm frustrated because really I didn't "do" that much based on what I used to be able to do.  I used to work at a quick pace and always felt like I accomplished something.  Now I'm having trouble just making a meal and eating it.  Anyway, I sat and rested until it was time to pick my children up from school and run them to their separate activities.

Perhaps it was because I was tired today, but my brain seems to be more forgetful.  I have words pop out of my mouth that make no sense in the sentence that I'm using them in.  Even as I say the word, I know that it is not the one that I meant to use.  But I can't think of the word that I'm wanting.  This drives me insane.  Am I losing my mind?  I've heard that people get "chemo brain" and that it is like living in a fog.  Is this what's going on with me?  Or is my body so tired out from the six cycles of chemotherapy that it's affecting my cognitive abilities?  It's hard enough to adjust to less energy but I don't want to lose my mind.

As far as my sign that I started working on today, I'll let it dry completely and then go to the next step.  All I can do is try.  If I don't sell any rhubarb, then it will already be in bundles and I will drop it off at the local soup kitchen for them to use.  We'll have to wait and see what happens.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Day 11 - 6th Chemo Cycle

What a wonderful Spring day it was today!  I'm so glad to be alive!  I don't have a lot of energy yet but I'm starting to feel better.  I did a load of laundry and hung it outside.  Then I spent the rest of the day sitting outdoors on my patio.  I watched all the animal and bird activity in our backyard.  I also started experimenting with our camera and taking pictures of the various flowers that are currently blooming as well as the pear and apple blossoms that are out in full force on my trees.

The calico-coloured squirrel made a visit to my yard today.  He didn't hang around very long though.  I heard him chattering and complaining in an adjacent yard a little while later.  All afternoon a couple of mourning doves were coming and going throughout the backyard.  I felt sorry for the little female as the much larger male dove did not seem to get the hint that she wanted nothing to do with him.  He was very persistent.  It was a relaxing and fun afternoon shared with my husband.  It was a little frustrating that I would get dizzy just by going around the yard taking pictures.  So obviously my stamina and energy is not very high but at least I'm feeling much better today.

After a wonderful barbecued pork roast with mashed potatoes, gravy, corn and caesar salad, I returned to the outdoors.  It is just so peaceful to hear all the birds singing that I didn't want to be indoors at all today.  I did eventually succumb to the coolness of the evening and return indoors.  Not long after, a longtime friend came to visit with her daughters.  I haven't seen them all together in many, many years.  They dropped by for a brief visit that was much too short.  It was so nice to see them and share many laughs again.

While I spent my time outside today, I made sure to keep myself covered from the sun.  One of the side effects to the chemotherapy is a heightened sensitivity to the sun.  I'm very fair skinned and sunburn at the best of times.  Now I have to make sure that my skin is covered completely by clothing.  Yesterday I had thought I was fully covered but I noticed this morning that there is a small v-shaped area at the base of my neck that got sunburned.  So today I did a better job of covering myself.  Or so I thought.  I notice tonight that the back of my hands are a little sunburned.

It's been a great day and I'm weary.  I hope that this will help me sleep soundly tonight despite any night sweats that occur.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Day 10 - 6th Chemo Cycle

This has been an excellent Spring day!  I woke up early.  I washed two loads of laundry and hung them outside on the line.  I enjoyed the sunshine on the patio as I hung up the laundry, so when I was done I pulled up a chair and watched the activity at the bird feeder.  I saw two mourning doves, three worm-eating warblers (yes, that is the real name of the bird), a black squirrel, a calico-coloured squirrel (black with tan patches), a red-winged blackbird, a blue jay, some sparrows, a robin and a red admiral butterfly.  I wanted to stay outside longer but it was early morning and the wind was cool.  I didn't want to get chilled so I went inside to read the morning newspaper.

After reading the paper, I made myself some breakfast and needed to rest again.  Once I felt more energized again, I transplanted a pot of dwarf daffodils that a friend had given to me a couple of weeks ago.  Then I had a brief visit with my next door neighbour.  Now I was weary again but it was so nice outside that I sat on the patio and watched the birds.

This afternoon, I was so happy to go to my son's baseball game and watch his team play.  I normally sit on the bleachers but I have discovered that I don't have the stamina for that.  I guess my core muscles have deteriorated in the last number of months.  So I made the long, slow walk to the van and watched the game from just behind the left field fence.

For me, this has been a busy day but it was so much fun!  I'm tired and most likely will go to bed early.  I was hoping to watch "The Bucket List" tonight but it will have to wait for another time as I don't think I would make it all the way through.

Today I had my first experience of seeing people I know who didn't know I've been sick.  It was a little overwhelming to be made such a fuss over.  I realize that these are people who I know through baseball and so they wouldn't have seen me since last Fall.  They were shocked because I showed up walking slowly, having no hair although I was wearing a ball cap, and looking a little pale or tired.  Despite all this, it was absolutely wonderful to say  "I'm getting better each day."  I don't have to worry about gearing up for the next chemo session.  I'm truly just going to get stronger and better each and every day!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Day 9 - 6th Chemo Cycle

Hooray!!! I'm on the upswing!  When I went to bed last night, I was starting to feel better.  I fell asleep listening to the rain fall on my fresh, spring flowerbed below my window and the distant thunder.  It was relaxing.  I woke up this morning feeling refreshed.  I could hear the robin, cardinal, house finch and red-winged blackbird singing after the night of rain.  They were probably enjoying the feast of worms.

I managed to launder a load of towels and hang them outside on the line.  I had to stop multiple times to rest as I hung up the towels but I managed to get it done.  Hanging the laundry up would normally take me ten minutes to complete.  It took me 45 minutes because I would get tired and dizzy and have to sit down.  When I finished and had rested on the patio for a little while, I did pick some asparagus and then cooked it immediately for lunch.  There's nothing like fresh asparagus!  I spent most of my afternoon sitting on the patio reading and listening to the sounds of nature.  I loved it!!

I'm on the upswing but I'm still weak.  I get dizzy without expending much effort so it's still been a day of relaxing and letting my body heal from the chemotherapy.  The thrush is still there but I think it was a little better today too.  I'm still taking the Nystatin even though I don't like it.  I have to take it after meals and it always ruins the wonderful taste of what I've eaten.  Oh well, just a few more days and then I won't ever have to take it again!!

I'm hoping that if I behave and don't do anything tonight and tomorrow, I'll be able to attend my son's baseball game tomorrow if it isn't cancelled due to field conditions.  I hope this weekend that I can start seeing people again.  I would like to start talking to people face to face and maybe start collecting offline pledges for my Relay For Life team.  For those who are interested in supporting me, you can check out the following link:

I just want my life to come back to normal.  I want to enjoy my children's activities.  I want to putter in my garden and in the yard.  I want to be able to do these things without getting weak and dizzy.  I have been patient and I continue to be patient but now that I've come to the end of the chemotherapy,
I'm eagerly looking forward to LIVING life.
It's been a good day and I hope it will be a great weekend.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Day 8 - 6th Chemo Cycle

Today was another challenge.  I'm still feeling very dizzy and weak when I'm standing or walking.  I was able to sit up more today.  Unfortunately, the nystatin that I'm taking for the thrush is affecting my taste buds and makes me nauseous.  This ultimately affects my appetite.  On top of that my body did not like the Senokot that I took last night and so I was purging today and feeling even weaker.

I've managed to sit up for the last 4 hours and this is an improvement.  Let's hope tomorrow is a better day.  I just keep looking ahead to Saturday or Sunday where I'll start to feel a little better.  Just 2 more days to go.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Day 7 - 6th Chemo Cycle

Today has not been a good day.  I've been dizzy with a headache since I woke up this morning.  I've forced myself to eat but from lunch time onward I have felt nauseous.  My appetite is declining.  I spent most of today in bed and when I wasn't sleeping, I tried to read.  My brain has not been up to thinking or meditating.  I'm glad to know that by the end of the weekend, I'll be feeling better.  This is a day to let myself be carried by my faith, family and friends.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Day 6 - 6th Chemo Cycle

I awoke this morning in very good spirits.  This is odd because in all the other cycles on Day 6 I have fallen into a deep, dark hole for two days.  So up I arose, full of optimism despite the dreary weather, to meet the new day.  I was hungry which is again different than all the other 5 cycles I've endured.  I couldn't decide what I wanted to eat for breakfast so I decided to do my daily readings out of "The Friendship Book 2012" and "The Book of Awakening" before eating.  After I read in the mornings, I take some time to meditate and think about what I've read.  Since the end of November 2011, my thoughts and ruminations have always been about what is going on in my life immediately.  I haven't looked too far ahead.  Today as I sat with my thoughts, I realized that I'm starting to look beyond the next two weeks.  I find myself starting to look ahead to the future.

My stomach was now starting to grumble and I was craving an Egg McMuffin.  So I made a fried egg sandwich and I didn't care about whether or not I should be eating eggs or bread or whatever because of the thrush.  I took great pleasure in frying my egg over easy and then watching the cheddar cheese melt on the egg in the hot pan.   The egg slid out of the pan onto my hot, buttered toast so easily.  I sliced some fresh tomatoes and laid them over the cheese.  I then cut some alfalfa sprouts from my tray that I planted in February and piled them on top of the tomatoes.  To it all I added crispy romaine lettuce leaves and then topped with my other slice of toast.  It was so good!  I'm finding that throughout the last four to six months, colours are more vivid and when my taste buds are working food tastes marvelous.  I finished my breakfast and had my thrush medication which unfortunately wiped out the wonderful taste of my breakfast.  Oh well, it was good while it lasted.

At this point, I was tired out just from making my breakfast and cleaning it up.  So what better opportunity to think deeply in the quietness of my morning.  When I become still and peaceful, sometimes images and imagery come clearly to my thoughts.  This morning, I envisioned myself as a butterfly getting ready to emerge from her cocoon with all the new possibilities for a better life.  In some ways as I finish this chemotherapy and get stronger, I feel like a baby bird nesting on a cliff and getting ready to soar out above the water.  What new possibilities and changes can I bring to my life?  Do I want to consider a new career path?  As I had these thoughts, I realized that I may be hindered by lack of energy.  I've heard that recovering from chemotherapy and getting your full energy levels back takes a while.  How long is a while?  Three months?  A year?  Do I really have the energy and the desire to make a change in career?  It's so easy to stay in the comfortable area of our lives.  Do I really want to make drastic changes?  What if the lymphoma returns?  What if cancer comes back in another form?  This is when I realized the "what ifs" can be caused by thinking too far ahead.  So for today, I'll stay in my comfort zone and think to the end of May or maybe until the end of June.  I do realize that I have been given an opportunity to have a new start and a new approach to life.

While I came to the end of my pondering moments, I realized I had a terrible headache.  It felt just like when the last chemotherapy drug goes into me and I get a massive sinus headache.  The headache is pinpointed right between the eyebrows.  As I was sinking into the doldrums of pain, I realized that perhaps my Day 6 dark hole was just late in arriving.  I then took a nap in the hopes of sleeping off the headache.

As my day progressed, I noticed that the headaches returned within 1 to 2 hours of taking the Nystatin.  I'm assuming they are a temporary side effect.  Great....a new side effect arrives just when you think you've figured out the whole ebb and flow of the treatment cycles.  The rest of my day was spent resting and fighting headaches.