Reflections

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This has been quite the year. I can’t say I ever imagined it would’ve gone the way it did. It was not easy but it was worth it. Every minute of it.

The weird and wonderful thing about getting cancer is all the good that’s come from it. It’s strange trying to embrace that nasty demon for all the amazing things.
I was able to reconcile some relationships that needed to be mended. I grew closer to family and friends and to myself. I appreciate things much more and try to make the most of every day.
Cancer did this for me, but it didn’t have to. You can do these things too. You should. It feels good. It’s such a weight off.

I look forward to 2013 and all that it will bring. I’m hopeful for more good news and better health.

Happy New Year to you all!

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Three little tumors

Let’s end this year with some good news, shall we?

Before I left for New Orleans in November I had an MRI done to see what my progress was. I waited to get the results until I got back. I just wanted to enjoy my trip.

The results were amazing!
As you may recall, when I started this journey I had more tumors on my liver than they could count. As of that MRI, I have THREE active tumors left and they are all less than 1cm. Can you believe it?

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This is not my actual photo, but it’s what mine looked like. I think my oncologist was shocked too. He and I have never had a “prognosis talk”. I never wanted one. Didn’t matter to me. But my oncologist did let me know after this scan that he wasn’t sure I was going to make it through the first month of treatment. Whew! Wow. I can’t tell you how weird that was to hear. Glad it wasn’t so ūüôā

So because of where I’m at I’m off of the big stuff chemo. Yay! I’m on more of a maintenance chemo now. Should mean less side effects. So far I haven’t noticed because of all the other things going on, so we’ll see.

Sure makes me feel that much closer to maybe kicking this thing!

Withdrawals, Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas!
We had a wonderful morning. ¬†Got up early with the kids who got some pretty big gifts. ¬†We don’t usually go all out but we did this year.

This is the kids reaction to Disneyland passes:

And their cautious reaction to getting their own iPad:

Brian took the kids to MN later that morning so after we took them to the airport, it was just MJ and I. ¬†Sounds wonderful doesn’t it? Well…

You see, I’ve been on Morphine now since my surgery in March. ¬†Not huge high doses, but consistant. ¬†I needed it back then because I was in terrible pain from the tumors. ¬†Now that the tumors have shrunk and my liver is back to it’s normal size, I haven’t felt like I’ve had any pain and so I decided a couple of months ago to stop taking the Morphine. ¬†That was a huge mistake! ¬†Apparently I have a¬†dependency¬†now and I started shaking and having hot flashes and just felt sick.

I had no idea the effects Morphine would have. ¬†I talked to another oncologist about it and he recommended taking Vicodin to help with the¬†withdrawal¬†symptoms. ¬†What I didn’t know was that 1 of my 15mg Morphone tabs is the¬†equivalent¬†of 2 1/2 Vicodin. ¬†Wow. ¬† And I had gotten to the point I was able to drive on the Morphine.

Since I tried stopping I connected with my oncologist about getting off and he didn’t really know what to do so he put me in touch with a “transitions” team to help, but they haven’t really come up with a solution either. ¬†Their best was to put me on anti-depressants. ¬†Yeah, great. ¬†More drugs with more side effects. ¬†No thank you.

So we decided the best thing would be to just sweat this out and do it.  So I stopped taking my Morphine on Christmas Day.  By the night I started again with the sweats and chills.  A general blah feeling.  I did have one moment of weakness where I almost broke down but MJ guided me through.

By the next day I was pretty miserable.  AND I had chemo.  Great.  The one blessing was an old friend was in town and stopped by to visit.  It was a nice distraction even though I was really starting to struggle at this point.

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The second and third days were not much better. ¬†I turned on our heater in the bedroom and made myself a little nest in there. ¬†I charged up my new iPad and fired up Netflix. ¬†I have dozens of documentaries about religion, politics and better health all lined up in my cue to watch… ¬†but what I really watched was about 11 hours of “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” ¬†and that’s only because I’ve already watched all three seasons of “Make It or Break It”. ¬†Damn you ABC Family and your stupid dramas. ¬†:::fist shake:::
Don’t judge me. I was sick.

So here I am on day 5. ¬†I still feel a little blah but getting better. ¬†I don’t want to take anyone’s head off or jump off the roof, so I guess I’m doing OK.
Looking forward to bringing in the new year drug free.

The “what ifs”

It’s Christmas Eve.
I’m cleaning and getting last minute gifts wrapped. ¬†MJ is making a gingerbread house from scratch with the kids. ¬†In a few hours we will start our Christmas Eve tradition of going to MJ’s parents house for taco salad dinner with candy cane ice cream and the kids get to open their gifts.
I’m happy. ¬†And it’s moments like today where I start to struggle with “the what ifs” ¬†Those bastards creep in on me and before I know it they’ve snatched my bain.

We all get a case of “the what ifs”. ¬†It’s natural and normal. ¬†But for someone with a serious illness, it’s our worst enemy. ¬†Especially on days like today.

The “what ifs” have already tunneled their way into my skull today. ¬†I woke up happy. ¬†My family is happy. ¬†Were going about our day and I look over into the kitchen at my smiling family getting gingerbread all over the place and I think, “Will they want to do this again next year? ¬†Is this a new tradition? ¬†WILL I BE HERE FOR IT? ¬†And there it is… ¬†the dreaded, “what if I’m not here next year”.

None of us know how much time we have to spin on the earth. ¬†It’s true. ¬†The only difference for me is I can see my bus. ¬†I don’t know how fast it’s coming or maybe it won’t even be the bus at all. ¬†Maybe it’ll be a speeding car out of nowhere, but I can see the bus there. ¬†And it looms some days making me feel like there’s no escape from it.
Usually I can snap myself out of it and enjoy the moments that I cherish so much. ¬†The ones I’m freaking out over missing. ¬†I just remind myself I’m not missing them now, and I can’t let anything ruin the moments I have! ¬†But I’m not going to lie, it’s hard some days.

So today I acknowledge those thoughts will come and that some days it will be hard to deal with. ¬†And I will move on and enjoy my days. ¬†I’ll enjoy my taco salad and I won’t steal MJs ice cream (ask her about that one). ¬†I’ll watch the kids glow as they open their gifts and I’ll replace my thoughts of doom and gloom with anticipation for next year. ¬†No one has a¬†guarantee¬†for next year but still plan for it anyway, so I will to.

Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday season to you all!
With much love,  Heather

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What’s It Like?

I’ve had a lot of people ask me questions about chemo.
What’s it like?
What do you do?
What happens?

To be honest, I had all the same questions before I actually did it myself. ¬†And to tell you the truth, it’s not as exciting as it may seem. ¬†It’s a lot of sitting around or sleeping for me if I get the good drugs.

But because I’m all about sharing here, I decided to get out the camera on a chemo day and show you what my day looks like.

And here it is:

Where does the time go?

So it’s been a couple of months. ¬†Doesn’t seem like it. ¬†Yet, a lot has happened and it seems like it’s been longer.
I have a lot to catch up on to tell you. ¬†It’l be some nice and maybe not so¬†pleasant¬†Christmas reading.

Since my last post I’ve helped build and restore 4 houses.
I’ve had another scan and an MRI. ¬†I will post more about those.
I’ve gone back to school, started volunteering ay Church and continued going to groups and art class.
And I’ve struggled. ¬†A lot.

Right now things seem to be the hardest they’ve been yet I’m the closest I’ve been to kicking this thing. ¬†It’s weird how stress works sometimes.
I’m struggling with meds. ¬†That’s a big one.
My marriage is stressed. ¬†That’s a big one too.

I just feel like I should be celebrating and yet I’m slipping into a hole.
I got pretty sick going to New Orleans and I haven’t fully recovered. ¬†It makes daily tasks and life very difficult.

I think part of the reason I haven’t posted lately is I keep referring back to my last post. ¬†It reminds me of everything I was feeling that day. ¬†And I try to keep centered in it.
But THIS is the reality of cancer. It sucks. ¬†Everything about it sucks and it’s hard to always be grateful and thankful and even happy. ¬†It’s a constant weight that can consume you if you let it. ¬†I’m not letting it, but boy is it a fight some days.

Today is¬†particularly¬†hard. ¬†I don’t always know how to reach out and say that, but today I have to. ¬†The walls feel like they’re coming down and I need help to keep them up. ¬†I can’t do this alone.

I drew this picture in my art class…

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The “theme” of the day was “treatment”. ¬†And this is how I was feeling that day. ¬†And it’s how I’ve been feeling quite a bit lately.

I’ll be posting a lot in the next week at least. ¬†I think it’s good for me to keep up posting too. ¬†Keeps me centered and in touch. ¬†So when you don’t hear from me? ¬†Bug me. ¬†It’s OK. ¬†I need it sometimes.
I have a new text plan so I can get texts from everyone now.  Let me know if you need my number.  Otherwise, feel free to text away.