Saturday, June 26, 2010

Toes in the sand!!!

It's Saturday afternoon about 5 PM... I had a full day of work today ... these past two days really. Like I use to ...running up and down the steps... cooking up a storm, laughing and enjoying this business of parties and cooking.

My last day of treatment was last Friday.

I went in for an early radiation treatment and met with the doctor who warned me of the week ahead. "Could be bad" she said. Expect not to feel good, expect to actually feel worse then you have been feeling. Coming down from the drugs... with the highest does of chemo & radiation in your system, expect it to make you feel bad, they warned.

Well~ Friday night we went to the Phillies game with my daughter Tina, Rick and the boys. It was a beautiful clear night. The Ballpark was buzzing with excitement. Ryan Howard hit two home runs followed by a home run from Chase Utley. The Phillies won and I had my hot dog and a great time!

Saturday & Sunday I worked and cooked for parties still not feeling too bad.

On Monday we were headed to the shore for a little R & R and ready to expect the worse.
Monday & Tuesday I was tired and grumpy, wanting to just sleep but by Wednesday I was starting to feel like myself. My old self... the self I missed, the fun, life- loving person that I know I am.
The beach, with my toes in the sand is just what I needed. Some down time, time to do nothing but daydream, read, walk the Jersey shore, smell the salt air, eat steamed clams, laugh with my husband... sleep, rest and do nothing. Just perfect!

We came home in the storm on Thursday night to a four hour drive that should have taken an hour and 1/2. Clint drove home patiently-there was nothing else to do!

We made it home amid the tree limbs and blown leaves, hail and torrential rains... but guess what~ I was feeling good. Great in fact!

I came home to cook ... busy catering weekend this week. We did it in style, we cooked with laughter and calm, knowing I was buzzing around the kitchen like my old self!!

I was expecting the worse and I received a gift! I am slowly healing, still burning down under but it is healing too. I came out of this strong and it gives me hope for the journey ahead. My body can take it ... I can get better... I will be myself again. I am strong and yes, I am healthy too!

Doctors visits coming up along with tests to see what is going on and how the tumor reacted to treatment. Appointments to schedule surgery. All this coming up.
But now ... right now... I am happy, smiling, upbeat, thrilled to feel like me!

I read and re-read my blog... it is healing to me to see my way through this, how I felt, what was in my mind, to see me emerge on the other side. Me again!

I see how important it is to take care of yourself. To take some quiet time for you... to get some fresh air, to laugh, to love, to live in the moment. All this is so important. For everyone!!~ for you!!!
I thank everyone for all the good wishes, the cards, the emails, the prayers. They are what got me here... carried me on their wings. Helped me, supported me, encouraged me!

Thank You!! Thank You!!!
With all my heart!!!!

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Words have been going through my head all week...thoughts, phrases... how to describe this week? What to say to express the emotions that are flowing out of me?
I probably wrote this blog in my head everyday this week, each time different.

Monday morning I was ecstatic that this was my last week, after going in town and getting hooked up again, I was exhausted and slept from 3 pm Monday until Tuesday morning!

Tuesday & Wednesday I had energy and enthusiasm but by Thursday I was weepy and emotional.
I didn't expect the emotions, couldn't explain why I would just start crying.... after all it was the last week and I did it!

But this is a very emotional journey.

I learned a lot about myself these past 6 weeks. I learned that yes, I am strong. That people are very caring, that my family will stand besides me no matter what, that my body is an amazing thing, that resilience and fortitude are in my blood.
I learned that it is OK to cry and laugh at the same time and I was given a glimpse of how my life will be forever altered by this experience.

The health care provides told me this was a difficult 6 weeks and that I came out strong and with minimal side effects. I lost only 5 lbs. My blood work remained stable and most of the scary side effects like mouth sores, uncontrollable diarrhea, blistered hands and feet, dehydration, hair loss just to name a few ... never effected me~Thank goodness!!!
I have my health to thank for that. I came into this a healthy person, a person who always took care of herself, ate right, exercises regularly. This surely had some bearing on my reaction to treatment.

But the side effects are not only physical, they are emotional as well. So much goes through your mind.

I learned about the power of prayer. I was put on so many prayer lists and received cards and emails every single day of these last 6 weeks. Words of encouragement, thoughts of healing, knowing people were thinking of me and sending me light and love. This is true healing. These thoughts carried me through this, allowed me to realize what was important in life.

To live everyday with gusto and love, to be kind to everyone because you just never know their situation. To go easy on yourself, not be too critical, too angry, too judgemental, too exacting, to be in the moment and enjoy what you are doing and if not make the changes NOW to make that happen. Your life is now.

And so ~now I can be happy and thrilled and relived and say~ I DID IT!!!!!
This 6 weeks went by so fast, proof that life does indeed go by fast... good or bad, happy or sad... your life goes on.

SO~If I can offer some words of advice ... please take care of YOU! Make those doctors appointments, eat right, get rid of the stress... take a walk, take a vacation, sit in the sun, plant flowers, kiss those you love. Make plans for the future, yes, but live NOW in this moment, enjoy what you have, be grateful for every little thing, notice what and who is around you.
Life is so very precious and sometimes it takes a situation like this to realize that I have everything I need right here in me and that I am the person responsible for me... no one else.. I am in charge of my happiness... so I will make it the best I can.

I am still healing... this treatment ravages the body, the good cells along with the bad. My burning bottom will get worse before it gets better but I can make it from here!

I have 8 weeks to heal before they schedule the operation. I will be going through more testing but not for a month or so. I worked & cooked throughout the past 6 weeks and the summer months are usually slower, so I will take it easy, enjoy my grand babies, sit in the sun with a good book. Laugh with my husband. Heal from the inside out and get ready and strong for the next step.
For everyone who took this journey with me through the blog~thank you! For being there, for all your support and encouragement. I couldn't have done it without you! your words and prayers lifted me up, made me strong, kept me going!!!
Thank you!!!!!

YEA!!! I DID IT!!!!

I will keep writing weekly!

Saturday, June 12, 2010


This week was tough... there I said it!

So many people ask me how I feel and I want to lie and say "Great" because I don't want to keep saying I don't feel good... I think I am giving it energy ... that "Not feeling good" feeling.

I want to feel good, I want to be myself, jump out of bed in the morning, have a~cross stuff off my list kinda day, feel good, laughing easily, doing 10 things at once. Getting so much accomplished in one day ~I surprise myself. But guess what~ I don't, I can't ~I am not going to be doing what I did before. Not yet anyway.

This is a different world, me and my chemo & radiation. This stuff is meant to kick ass and guess what? it's doing it!
I guess that means that it is working... I should hope so. I hope all those beams of radiation that get zapped into me and making that tumor shrivel away to nothing.
I am envisioning a laser gun zapping away at my insides... breaking that tumor into little harmless pieces.

This week was a smorgasbords of symptoms: queasy, nauseous, tired, sore, burning, achy, grumpy, weepy, tired... did I say tired?? oh yea pain. They gave me something for the pain... a few things actually. I am not a good pill taker... pain meds especially ~they make loopy... more than normal! My night table is a jumble of medicine bottles, creams, lotions & potions. I have so many anti-itch creams I squish when I walk!!

All these things treat the symptoms not the they really don't work. It is just a matter of getting through these next few weeks. I will. I know I will.

I will come out stronger, happier, love life more if that is at all possible. I truly realize just how precious life, family, friends are. This has given me a new perspective on my life and how I want to live it from now on. I can take a deep breath and say "I can see clearly now"... just like the song!

The beautiful bright side to this week is that "We got out of Dodge" as Clint likes to say!

I was feeling like all I did was go to the doctors and come home to work. So we decided to take an off day.. a happy day... filled with flowers and green pastures and horse drawn buggies. We went to Lancaster on Tuesday. I scheduled an early radiation treatment at 8AM and we were off.

Riding through the rolling hills dotted with farms, the sky was crystal blue with white puffy clouds, the temperature was gorgeous- low 80's. We had no agenda... just a rambling ride to calm the heart and sooth the soul.

We stopped at a blacksmith where I bought a hairpin piece of wrought iron fence for my front porch. As a child we had black hairpin railing around the front of our house and this brought back those childhood memories.

We stopped at local farm stands to buy tomatoes & strawberries and pickled beets.
We had lunch at Shady Maple. We bought flowers for a window box I want to put outside my office window.
We browsed through a few Antique stores. I am a sucker for old bottles and old wooden boxes so a few of those made it into the car. It was a peaceful, beautiful day. A calming day a day to forget about CANCER and all the stuff that goes along with it. A day to heal my soul and spend with my husband and come home with a smile on my face. A day that made this week bearable.

On to week 6!!!! ... go get'em laser beams!!!!

Oh~ don't try the Prune juice Cosmo... the flavors just didn't work!!!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Here's to Life!!!

I am sitting here with my cup of coffee, it is early~ around 6 AM. I like to get up a little earlier and have some quiet time to myself in the morning.

It gives me a chance to think, to write my journal, to clear my head for the day ahead.

Mondays are usually very long days. This is the day I see both chemo & radiation doctors and go downtown to Jeff to get hooked up again.

I have to say that last week went by very quickly... before I knew it Friday was here. I had a busy week with catering and cooking and it was also a short week with Monday being Memorial Day. My energy level was up all week... now let me say that I still take a little nap in the afternoon and my bedtime has gotten earlier and earlier... but all that is OK.

I so look forward to Saturday mornings when the infusion nurse comes to my home to take off the chemo.
For the last few weeks I have taken a little longer to feel like myself when she unhooks me but this week I never did get myself back.
I did not feel good on either Saturday & Sunday. Just draggin' as they say, and now as I sit here early Monday morning, I realize I am going to start another week. My 5th week.. where did the time go?

I spent some time yesterday with my family. It was my brother Stephen's 48th birthday and we went over for a BBQ. I sat in their beautiful backyard filled with flowers & kids & family and thought to myself how lucky I am to have all this. Family & friends are what is getting me through this. To realize that people care and that you mean something to them is just the best medicine I can have. It sooths the ache, the burning, the fear that sometimes surfaces.

This is not an easy time for me. My emotions are up & down and my eyes fill with tears quickly and unexpectedly ... I try not to look too far ahead.. it is all too daunting... the next steps.. the operation, more chemo, a bag.. all too much to think about. I will take it as it comes and think about one day at a time. I can do this. I am doing this and everything will be all right....these are the words that go through my head everyday. My own little pep talk.

I try to keep humor in everyday thoughts.. I laugh at myself and some of the things I am going through. This is colon-rectal cancer so when the doctors tell me to drink prune juice, my first thought is" can I make a Cosmo with prune juice?" It helps to laugh.

So I begin the 5th week of this with 2 more weeks to go. I hope only 2 more weeks ... there are murmurings among the doctors about booster treatments. They tell me that if I am tolerating this treatment well they may add more at the end~oh goody!!!
Well~ I will do what I have to do ... what they tell me is good for me.

I look forward to this day ahead of me. It is quiet this morning... only the birds are up & tweeting. My coffee tastes good and I am ready for the day, the week, my doctors visits, a ride into town with Clint. Our little ritual of lunch in town at a new restaurant every Monday. I look forward to life, my life. Lived with gusto and laughter and family & friends.

Here's to life! Live yours now! this moment in time is all you really have~ enjoy it ... make peace with your self and others.

I have a hand written note taped to the front of my computer. It has been there for a few years, old and yellowing it says:

"Today I will~ Have fun, laugh, love life, smile, accomplish what I need to with grace & ease, enjoy my day, smile & be kind." A reminder to myself that life is precious... every single minute of every single day!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Taking the Waters

The Italians have a thing for water... running water, still water, fountains, water with gas, sans gas, water you drink and water you wade in.

I am reminded of this now, when running water and soaking water are my best friends.

Several years ago, I went to Italy on a culinary tour with a group of about 22 people . We toured Tuscany and ate and drank our way through the beautiful countryside.
One experience I will never forget was the Waters at Montecatini Terme Spa the mineral spring waters in the northeast part of Tuscany.

We went for the day, 20 of us ... use to the modest beaches of the US. We went in our one piece bathing suits to experience what it is like to "Take the Waters".

Water is healing .. sitting in a still pond smelling like sulphur, having the waters drip out of a fountain onto the top of your head, or wading in a long pool that is filled only knee high so that your knees will feel the jets on both sides.
There were soft jets of water for your neck, little stools to sit on so the jets are directed to the muscles in the back of your neck, or stronger streams of water directed towards your back.
Men in little speedo and women of all ages, sizes and shapes in tiny bikinis- some topless.

Taking the waters, using water as a healing force. This is what I am doing now.
Now that the burning effects of radiation are kicking in.
My treatment is a 6 week course of chemo & radiation taken to together to shrink and reduce this tumor inside of me. Getting chemo & radiation together intensifies the effects of both.

One of the biggest side effects I have experienced this week is the burning sensation I feel on my bottom.
Some on the analogies I used this week to explain this are fire ants crawling around.. a blow torch sort of feeling, itchy burning.. no relief in sight kind of feeling.

Water .. blessed water is my only comfort. Creams, lotions, sprays won't do a thing but when I sit in a tub of warm water it is a gift from the gods! or should I say Italians!

Water is my only relief. So I sit in a tub of water and lay back and dream of Italy and all those men in the tiny speedos and glamours women with gold jewelry and long hair and bikinis and of course usually a cigarette, wading through the sulphur scented waters, healing themselves with water, washing away the stress, the pain, the weight of the world. Water is indeed a magical thing!

Another blog will be posted in a day or two!!!