Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Breast Cancer Awareness Open

Julie Evans entered this tournament as an underdog, and and unknown, but quickly made it through the qualifiers, defeating Number 81 in the world, Findingda Lumps, and Number 73, Bio Opsy. In the first round, she met up with wildcard Number 123 in the world Furthe Rinvestigation. In the secondround she met a tough match in Number 50 in the world Bee Rest Cahn Ser. She got by in 4, and made it to the round of 16, where she met Number 23, Doubell Masstyctomee. She took that round in a very tight 5 setter, and moved on to the quarter finals where she met Rico Very, the Number 10 in the world. She took it in four, and then took on the ever famous number 2 in the world Rapha Port. She took a hard five setter, to meet in the finals the world number 1, Chemo. She's midway in the first set where we meet her, up 4-1. Julie is definitely the underdog, but with enough determination and hard will, and enough support from all her friends, which she definitely has, she can persevere, probably in straight sets!


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Chemo Cocktail 3, Downed, and I'm Shaken but not Stirred.

Okay, so I'm not exactly shaken, and I don't really know if I'm stirred or not, because it really doesn't make any sense except when James Bond orders a drink. That is just me and my lead foot with my poetic license, which has not, to my knowledge, been suspended - like other people and their literal lead foot/suspension, who will remain unnamed, but may live under this same roof. Or may not. I'm not saying any more. And I blame it all on the chemo if that will get me out of trouble with any, say Celtic-blooded, not to mention, red-headed, little girl with size 5 leaded feet, who might find some uncanny connection to any details of my blog, written of course, under the influence of chemo and all the accompanying anti-nausea drugs I am on.

So it's Tuesday and I'm writing my own blog because Dave is out practicing driving with Matt, who may have very large feet, but we checked, and so far, no lead, but is hoping to secure his license in the near future. He has recently bought his first car, and he just turned sweet 16 a couple of weeks ago, so the license is the last obstacle to his freedom. Not to mention our freedom from errands he can't wait to run for us just to drive his car.Speaking of cars, my mini broke down again. In Clifton, at 11p.m. Dave and I were going to watch a movie at this artsy theatre we love. (They use real butter on their popcorn, which I think warrants mentioning.) A few posts ago, I wrote that the clutch had gone out on Dave, who likes to blame it on the mini, but in all honesty turns into a completely different person when behind the wheel of such a fun car to drive, and so, since I wasn't there, I really can't be sure. But my money is on the driver. As Dave always says, it's usually an operating error, and usually he's pretty wise. So we took the mini to the mini doctor, who put in a new clutch, but methinks he didn't tighten something, because on the way to the movie (and I must preface this story with the fact that DAVE was driving, again) we lost 5th gear, then 3rd, then 1st, but somehow Dave managed to get us there, toggling from 2nd to 4th. Malpractice and operating errors aside, here's what I think really happened. On the way, Dave was talking about how it was probably time to sell the mini because I had already been struggling with shifting gears, due to tennis elbow and rotater cuff issues for awhile, and then you throw in recovering from the surgeries and especially getting used to the port sitting on top of my chest muscle, let's just say it wasn't a pretty picture. Although I'm sure it looked pretty funny if you were watching me be stubborn and try and drive my car. Which, if you don't know, I call Rocinante, after Don Quixote's horse. So what I think really happened, is that Rocinante got his feelings hurt, and just lost his will to go, as in his clutch just went caput from a broken heart. In Dave's defense, I don't think this was his intention because he's not really that mean, even though he thinks he looks mean with his new haircut. Still, I think an apology might be in order, to Rocinante. And maybe a car wash and a Starbucks card. Unfortunately the story doesn't stop there, even though we did. We quickly lost reverse, then 2nd, then we can only assume, 4th, because there we were in the middle lane of a 5 lane busy street in Clifton, going uphill, just past Good Samaritan Hospital, which is worthwhile information just because of the lovely irony that nobody came out and helped us. Although, there was a nice guy or angel, driving the other way, who did pull up next to us and ask us if we needed any help, but we just weren't sure what to ask for, sitting in the middle of a busy street heading uphill. In the end we called a tow truck, and my tennis partner, Lisa Dupps, who missed the end of a movie she had had overdue for like four months, but who came in her pjs nonetheless to save us. Plus, it was past her bedtime, so she was slap happy and entertained us quite a lot, which is always appreciated in such circumstances.

I have not really cried yet, throughout this whole cancer thing, which I'm not sure is weird or what. I almost did when my kids broke down when we got the initial news. But there's something about your kids breaking down when they hear their mum has cancer, and something kicks in that all you want to do is hold them and try to find some hope to wrap them up in. My eyes did water after the mastectomy when I woke up couldn't get an ice chip (or a friendly face) when my throat was so dry and I was just wanting to get into my room where my people could come be with me. And I did shed a couple of tears while watching Living Proof last weekend, which is a movie about the amazing breast cancer drug, Herceptin, which I will be going on during round 2 and 3 of my chemo, for a year total, and the doctor who invented it. Harry Connick, Jr. (I have to be careful here because David gets a little bit jealous) starred as the doctor, but that's not really why I shed a couple of tears. The women who paved this hopeful road before me, did touch me though. But for some silly reason, I broke down, most likely an empathetic response to my mini's break down. Or something like that. But the comic relief on the ride home was relieving; the mini is back at the mini doctor; and I will most likely be driving a not as cool car very shortly. It's not that I think I'm so cool that I have to drive a cool car. of my students did say I looked hard core with my bald head, newsboy hat and Amanda's bomber jacket the other day. Which I know Dave is dying for somebody to say to him.

All that to say, chemo cocktail #3 has been significantly better than #1 was, and even slightly better than #2. So hopefully we are on an upward trend here. And there is only one more treatment in this round. Which leads me to another point I'd like to address. Since I can't play tennis right now, I'd like to redefine this round and treatment number business, using tennis lingo. Let's call this first round, which we're up 3 games, and at 40-love, GAME. The next one, will be SET. And the final one will be MATCH. I really think this will be more fun. And it will be way less confusing for some of my tennis buds. ;) Boy, am I cracking myself up tonight. Must be the chemo.

So while I was having my chemo cocktail on Monday, followed by a flu shot, which thankfully has not made me sick like the last time I got one, I took the list of port name entries, which were all very fun and brilliant, and Dave, my friend Wendy, and my cocktail nurse (all of whom did not have entries in said port naming contest) and I all shook them up, then stirred, and I decided to name my port Rapha, chiefly because Jehovah Rapha is the God who heals, and that is where all my hope is. And I don't think He minds, that Rapha Nadal is one of my favorite tennis players, not to mention number one in the world. Vamos Rapha! May I fight like you. Not to mention, win. Although I don't have to be number one in the world. I just want to be my kids's mum. And play a little tennis. Ok, a lot of tennis. Until I'm in 100 or so. And on a clay court in Spain would be fine with me. And better on my knees. Pictures of port naming prize winner and their fabulous prize will appear in a post post, if you will, as soon as I go buy the prize and then take a picture of said lucky winner.

And a very close runner up, was Hey Jude, because if you read the lyrics, it's spot on clever. Therefore, I have decided that it will be the official theme song, and will consequently also get a fabulous prize. Which hopefully gets me out of the doghouse for the first paragraph.

And, Lady MacBeth gets to star as me, in the movie, which will, of course take place somewhere around the Port of Good Hope. Honorable mentions.


P.S. On Friday night, Dave duct taped my head, since I previously mentioned my stubble head, and he was only trying to help, at least that's what he said in between cracking himself up, and most likely feeling a little hard core with his duct tape. But I was wondering, if anybody else has had quite an interesting date before? And no, it didn't really work. But he did shave my head again Monday night and now methinks my head is ready to rub and make wishes on. Plus, my hats go on a lot smoother now, and my head doesn't get stuck in one position on my pillow, which Dave at first remarked that he thought it might help me grip so as not to slip off the bed, but all I can say is that it didn't go over well. No, I didn't laugh; you have to be careful about encouraging some of Dave's humor (ask the kids); but I didn't hit him on the head with my pillow either.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Yay For Not Chemo Weeks!

In keeping with my head looking like a baby's (although, for all of you out there dying to rub my head and make a wish...I would just hang on a bit, since it still has a little stubble on it, sort of like the play- doh barber shop toy - but feeling like sandpaper and not so much play-doh), and getting thrush (a baby infection) from the first chemo, I have been keeping track of my "firsts" this week. Most of these have to do with being the first time to go somewhere with longer hair on my legs than on my head.

I have never really thought of myself as a vain person. There are some days when I don't even look at myself in a mirror. And, if by chance I do catch myself in said mirror while brushing my teeth, it's usually before I've had my coffee, so I carefully avoid eye contact with that person in my periphery, so as not to have to have pre-caffeinated conversation. It's not that I'm not a morning person, exactly. It's just that I am quiet before I've had my coffee. Now give me a glass of wine and I'll be chatty. But I digress. Mostly because I've been second-guessing myself on the vanity issue since I've actually had a hard time going out without my hair. And it's not even like I was crazy about my hair. I had a really bad double cow-lick (I'm not even looking that up to see how it's spelled because it is what it is) which is half the reason gave up looking in the mirror and trying to do anything with my hair. Because it was pointless to try and make it lay any way but the erratic way it wanted to in the back. Plus, I'm lazy. Not to mention, I've never been a primpy sort of girl. I really don't even know what primping is, if you want to know the truth. I mean, I know the definition of primping and such, but the sordid details...not so much.

Anyway, I've had to come to terms with myself and going out wth a hat and knowing I'm not fooling anybody. Not that I was trying to fool anybody. But I just am not in the mood to be a billboard. It's interesting...before when I was sick I didn't look sick; and now, technically I'm not sick, but I look sick. It's hard enough to keep straight with chemo brain, let alone look in the mirror at that strange person looking back, or know what you look like to others. Vanity, I know, and it drives me crazy, because before, the clouds were in my coffee, but now I'm so vain that I do think the song is about me. Or something like that.

So the three biggest things I had to do, my three biggest firsts, were going to the club to work out, teaching my Brit Lit class, and going out tonight with my tennis buds.

We belong to this really nice tennis club that has a hot tub that my achy, though admittedly, warmer than my head, legs have been begging for. This presented two initial problems. One, finding a swim suit, which I will just leave at that. And two, figuring out which hat to wear since I don't think I'm a swimming cap kind of girl. So I've gone twice now. Got in the hot tub. Almost cried because it felt so good to my very happy, hairy legs. Then got in the pool and took one of those noodle floaties and kicked, backwards, 4 lengths. Yesterday I did the 4 lengths again, then took one of those kick boards and made it 2 more lengths, forwards, although I'm not sure how I didn't drown since I sort of propped my neck up on the kick board and was barely hanging on - let's just say I am having issues with my port, and getting my full range of motion back, not to mention my strength. (I can't seem to keep myself afloat with the kick board way out in front of me, let alone the dreaded breast stroke. I know, a very bad joke but I really couldn't help myself because it was just there. In fact, recently I've been wondering if I will ever be able to serve a tennis ball again. But honestly, I have enough issues trying to shift gears in my mini, which doesn't instill the utmost confidence, and so I won't go there. Right now.) But I've been to the club twice and even worked out. Also, have been walking, trying to fight the fatigue, and am up to 2 miles. If you think about it, throw in a bike, and I'm practically in training for a triathlon.

The second "first" was standing up front and teaching my Brit Lit class. On the first day of class, I had told my students that I didn't really like standing up front, let alone stand up there bald. So I walk in yesterday and they are all wearing bandanas. How cool is that?!

The third "first" was going out tonight with my tennis buds, to one of my most frequented restaurants, P. F. Changs. As much as I want everything to just be like always and feel all normal, it just doesn't feel normal going out without your hair. Here's the email I sent out in reply to the invite, just to break the ice for myself:
Joules is in. Looking forward to seeing everyone. Sorry my hair can't make it. Except for the hair on my legs, which I will probably NOT braid for the occasion, but which I totally could if I wanted to. So, if you're on the fence whether or not to come, I'll just let you know that it may be the last time you can see my hairy legs until I'm done with these first 2 rounds of chemo and my hair grows back in the spring. Which seems an appropriate time for it to sprout.
Anyway, it was a blast of course. And it was so good to go out with the girls and do something so normal. I almost forgot I didn't have hair under my hat. But then I could see it in all of their eyes, that they were dying to rub my head and make a wish. Luckily, we were at a Chinese restaurant and they give out fortune cookies because I think this saved me, not to mention, their delicate tennis hands. I really liked my fortune, btw. It said, "You will become a great philanthropist in your later years." (Once, on Mother's Day of all days, I got a bad fortune that fortunately I can't remember, but the next time I came in I told our server and he brought me the whole box of fortune cookies to choose from because he didn't want to have a bad fortune on his tab.) No, I liked this fortune a lot. The later years part, obviously, but doesn't the philanthropist part imply that I'm going to have lots of money to give away?

So I'm not really sure if I conquered vanity or anything. Basically all I did was what Nike has been saying all along: Just Do It. And it got me thinking, maybe that's how I'm going to make all my money that I'm going to get to give away in my later years. Maybe Nike is going to pick me up just like Sharapova and Serena. At least, that was what I was thinking.

Well, this is a long post, but I have one more thing to cover - The famous Name the Port Contest. Here are the entries to date:
  1. Corky
  2. Spencer Tracy
  3. Stryver (from Tale of Two Cities)
  4. Philip Methuselah Vonstreubenheimer
  5. Port Warriorshire
  6. Port Iefanshire
  7. Port of Good Hope
  8. Lady MacBeth
  9. Jude (as in, Hey Jude)
  10. Jojo
  11. Rapha
  12. LBB (little bitty b*&%!)
  13. Dr. Livingstone
This is the last call for entries. I plan on choosing before my next chemo treatment on Monday. And remember, there will be a prize! Thanks for playing.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oh Where Is My Hairbrush?

So I am halfway through chemo round 1, and fairing much better this treatment than last. Thank God.

Monday morning I was getting ready to go teach my British Literature class at the co-op where my boys get their math (Adv. Math-Matt; Alg 2-Mikey), physics (both), worship band (Matt), and art studio (Mikey), and Mikey noticed that there was hair all over my shirt. Went upstairs to check the pillow, same story. But no patches, or was it even really noticeable, so off we went to co-op. Then chemo, which I was nervous enough about to make my hair fall out, just because I wasn't sure if every chemo would be as hard as the first one was, which, again, thankfully, it wasn't. Later that night, Amanda was running her fingers through my hair and, I thought, enjoying herself a bit much, watching it fall through her fingers. Tuesday morning I took a shower and looked down and there were a few handfulls. Then I dried my hair and it was just flying everywhere. Not in clumps or anything, more like a cat shedding. And not noticeable beyond thinning. But it kept flying every time we touched it, so I decided to get the upper hand and asked Dave to go ahead and shave me. So it's done. Not the end of the world or anything, but a wardrobe adjustment that I'm trying to figure out so I feel comfortable and not a walking billboard. As you can tell from the photo, Dave shaved his head for me, with me, because we're cheesy like that.

This 2nd treatment has been like day and night from the first. The anti-nausea meds seemed to work really well to keep things at bay. And I'm on day 3 since, and done with them for this treatment, with no incidents of hurling, or even near hurling. Which is good, because I hate to hurl. I still am dealing with a minor headache I just can't seem to shake. But it is not anything like the caffeine withdrawal headache I was plagued with last time, on top of the chemo. Which may have been the hardest part of it. The other side effect I got last time that we're hoping doesn't happen again this time, is that I got thrush in my mouth. Yes, thrush is something babies get. But I can understand why they don't eat now. Thankfully, my friend Heidi, who is a pediatric nurse and sees these kinds of things, helped Dave figure it out on the phone that night, and the oncologist concurred. I had meds to deal with it the next morning, and was on the mend to the point of being able to eat, and taste, the day after that. Please feel free to pray about the headaches and the mouth issues. I understand that mouth sores and such are common with chemo, and I already have sensitive gums, so this is something that makes me nervous.

My mum went with us to the chemo treatment, and then took me for my white blood cell shot Tuesday, and then stayed around even today, helping out and just making sure things were ok, like mum's do. I think we were all pleasantly surprised that I was fairing so much better this time. I even got out a bit today. Went to see my tennis team play. Went to the chiropractor to get "straightened out", if that is possible, with me. Even took a short walk to a friend's house, who is also battling the nasty c-word. Her name is Linda if you wouldn't mind praying for her when you think of me.

I am really so very grateful to God that I am feeling so well, and it's only Wednesday! I still have a whole weekend and another week to boot, before my next chemo treatment. I'm also very grateful for all the prayers, which I know are carrying me, and so smoothly, as God is being so merciful to me, to delight in answering them. Thank you, and please don't stop.

And now, it's time, for silly songs with Larry. For those of you who don't know Veggie Tales, you're in for a treat. This is, to me, the most appropriate way to end, the "Oh Where Is My Hairbrush" post.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Downed Chemo Cocktail #2 (halfway through round 1 and still livin' on a prayer)

Dave here, filling in for Julie. She calls them chemo cocktails. I call them mis-treatments.

I took Julie to her second chemo mis-treatment today. This time her mom came, too. I think we know the drill now. About an hour before the appointment we put some numbing cream on the skin over the port and cover it with cling wrap. When we get to the office, first they take her vitals and stick her finger to draw some blood for a blood test. They have to make sure her blood counts, etc., are up to snuff for the chemo. Today the blood flowed slowly and she told the tech she blames them for taking wine away, which could act as a blood thinner.

Next we meet with the oncologist, Dr. Lower, who is excellent. She gives Julie an exam, reviews the blood counts, finds out how Julie has been and answers questions. This time she told Julie she could have a little wine later in the week, consistent with the Apostle Paul's teaching. Then we go upstairs and Julie sits in a plastic recliner and gets hooked up. Today we sat in a big room with a dozen other people getting mis-treated. Julie was nervous going in today and looking forward to getting the ativan to calm her nerves. Unfortunately they were out of ativan today (Julie said, "Figures."), which only added to her stress. But we had a wonderful nurse name Jennifer who did an excellent job sticking the needle into the port and pushing the meds in. So it actually went pretty well, and Julie did great. She even managed to read a chapter of Emma, which is the next book she is covering in her British Lit class that she teaches at our co-op. Julie's mom read the paper and I got a little work done.

The whole thing from start to finish took about 4 hours. We got home just in time for a delicious dinner with some good friends who had prepared it. This month the co-op is providing dinners for us during chemo weeks. This has been a real blessing - in fact, we don't know how we would manage otherwise. Julie has always cooked the meals for us and it puts a real kink in the system when she is out of commission. So "Thank You!" to all who have been sending meals, from the co-op and others. Bless you.

After dinner Julie went up to sleep off the chemo as much as possible; all the anti-nausea meds make her really tired. I'm not sure what I was sleeping off, but I joined her. I set the alarm for midnight to wake us up so she could take her next round of anti-nausea meds, which seem to be keeping things at bay today, and God-willing we won't fall behind and things will continue to go smoothly. She has a white blood cell shot tomorrow at noon. And we'll all be getting flu shots in the next couple weeks.

In other news, Julie's hair seems to be falling like rain, not in clumps, but one by one. Mikey noticed it first on her shirt this morning and I noticed it on the pillow. And then Amanda had a little too much fun running her fingers through her hair collecting loose strands. You still can't really tell by looking at her, but the thinning has begun. We'll see what tomorrow brings. We may be running out to get a razor.

We haven't named the port yet (these things take time), but we will post all the entries so far and make a decision soon. So stayed tuned. And if there are any other entries, you better get them in.

Thank you all for your love and support. Please continue to lift up Julie in prayer.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sonnet Number 43 (the chemo cocktail mix)

For a number of years, I have working on a collection of sonnets; and for a number of years, I have been writing a sonnet for my birthday. This one is a wee bit late. It's been percolating on the old back burner. But I couldn't see the back burner for the trees. Or the fog in my brain. Or something like that. Anyway, let's just blame it on the chemo and leave it at that. The main thing, is that I got it done before my hair falls out. I'm on day 11 since the chemo, and my head has been tingling since Monday, so the oncologist said that's a sign of a head in need of a tan.

Sonnet Number 43
(The Chemo Cocktail Mix)

It's always been a curious thing to me
That the trees bare themselves before the big chill;
Seems a tree needs its leaves for a midwinter dream.
Truth is, I'm not ready for winter. Still

It's coming, like seasons are wont to do.
Last year there were no words, just wonder...and
Tennis balls were green; now they are pink, too.
It's a lot for me to comprehend.

There is no complaint, though, in my bones;
I hope I can still say that when it's cold
And I'm bare. All I know, is the One who runs
The weather is the One whose hand I hold.

So comes the winter. So I'll bundle up
With hats and friends. So "Cheers" as I drink this cup.


And for the curious, here are the rest of the birthday sonnets:

(There is no Sonnet Number 42. Pretty sure I was playing tennis instead that day. Plus, the following sonnet, which was, to be chronologically accurate, the previous one, could, technically, be remixed to work for forty-two as well. But I really hate getting all technical like that.)


Sonnet No. 40-Love

My tennis shoes have become nutcrackers
These days, acorns dripping like drops of dew
On the courts where I play. Little snackers
In overhanging trees, tossing a few

Back, and then comes the rain of empty hulls.
Littering, if you ask me. But they do not.
I doubt they'd even notice me at all
Except for my crunching shoes. Drunken lot

Of them, cracking themselves up as I skid
About on acorns. I can take a joke
And I'll take a laugh anywhere it's hid-
But they better watch out for my backhand stroke.

Though it's autumn now, my score: forty-one,
I'm calling it 40-Love, just for fun.


Sonnet No. 39's Sequel

I blew out an awful lot of candles
today, and the pressure to make a wish,
Prior, was almost too much to handle.
I begged my brain; it just drew blankish.

All those eyes upon me waxed levity
Like playing piggy-back on the burden
Of my future bliss, and mocking brevity
Of my shy breath, bare, behind the curtain.

If only I had a fortune cookie
Up my sleeve, that would have been, fortunate.
I'd simply show and tell: "Here, lookie."
Then I'd eat the crumbs and pocket my fate.

Instead, the candles sweat with me as the flame grew;
They they waned, with the chorus, and I just blew.


Sonnet Number Thirty-Nine

Fourteen thousand, two hundred and forty-five
Days. It was morning; it was evening. Methinks
It seems a blur, but good. Very, to be alive
And the apple of the eye of the One that blinks

Tender mercies that are new every day
Like dew. (And, the sleep I rub from my eyes
On Waking, smelling coffee.) Ah, I pray
To stand still in the middle of the roses

Along the way, and not to fear the thorns.
Nor tears fallen, still to fall upon my bed,
Kept in a jar, with the rest since I was born-
The sum of 39, broken and bled

As I have chased joy like no tomorrow,
Which comes sweetly after sipping on sorrow.


Sunday, October 5, 2008


So...been there, done that, bought the tee shirt, didn't fit...but made it through the first week of chemo. All I can say, is thank God it's not a chemo week. TGINACW. I know it doesn't roll off the tongue like TGIF, nor, is it entirely clever since TGIF was already taken to the point of being an accepted idiom, bordering on the cliche. It even has a movie named after it, and I haven't exactly checked my references on this, but I think the restaurant Fridays is very closely related to said cliche. All that to say, I blame my lack of creativity in re: this title post, on the chemo.

It was a very rough week. But it's over. Monday I had my first chemo treatment. It was mostly a blur like everything else has been so far, since everything has happened as fast and as furious as the hurricane that blew through Cincinnati a few weeks ago. Up until Monday this has really been rather surreal from my view. It's almost as if I've been watching from a very strange seat. Things have happened so quickly that I really haven't had time to think through everything that has happened. This is probably a good thing. I feel like I've just barely been keeping up with the flow of things, and hanging on by the proverbial thread that has been, in my case, doubling as a bungie cord, just to get to the other side of it where I could maybe sneak a peek from my rear view mirror. I think this is the same principle as to why I get carsick. Sometimes in a car I will ride backwards and that sorta helps. In this case, anit-nausea meds helped keep me from tossing my cookies. Not that I was able to eat any cookies. It's just a saying. But, so far so good in the anti-vomiting campaign I am waging. I don't think we have the mix exactly right, but at least I'm past the first round and hopefully we'll get it right next time and hopefully it will go better or at least not as bad.

They give me 30 hours of anti-nausea meds after the treatment, which sort of left me in a stupor, for which I think I am grateful although it's really pretty fuzzy. Not to mention carsick. With a headache from hell, which we think is due to coffee withdrawal, since I'm only allowed one freaking cup a day. And I won't even go into my whining about no red wine for dinner. We'll just leave it at, I'm just having an early lent this year. That pretty much describes Tuesday, except, somewhere in there, somehow a friend drove me back downtown to the oncologist's office to get a white blood cell shot. And I think I tried to watch the Heroes premiere we had TiVoed with the fam, but am not sure if that was real or not, or if I recommend it while on anit-nausea meds.

Wednesday I was less loopy and getting antsy to feel better, and in a desperate move, I talked Matt into taking me to spend $40 on a haircut that might not see me through this week but that I felt was very necessary since my bangs were in my eyes and it seemed to be something I had some control over. With Matt's help. My boys have been amazing this week. They have been taking such good care of me. I am so grateful that we homeschool because it is a gift that they are here with me. I know this has been a blessing and relief to Dave as well, as they have been shouldering things I wish they didn't have to.

The boys come by it honestly. Dave has somehow, so far kept all the plates, and there are many, spinning. I don't think a guy could try harder to take care of his wife and family. In such overwhelming circumstances that I can't even let myself think about. But he does. Probably too much. But that's how he plays Scrabble, too, which can get on my nerves since it takes so long for him to take his turn, but that's really not the point. The point, is closer to the story of Lucie Manette's love for her hub, Charles Darnay, in A Tale of Two Cities, where it is said of her that "She was truest to them in the season of trial." He was imprisoned in a tower in Paris, and she would go and stand in a certain spot for two hours every day, where she could not see him, but that he might be able to catch a glimpse of her, just so he would know she is still there. This is pretty much my life right now.

Amanda is doing her own plate spinning act. She has UC on M/W/F; beauty school on T/R/S; and has been working too many hours for her own good at Noodles and Co, which we are going to have cut down. It has been the most brilliant thing to watch her grasping her goals and then gracefully grabbing them, one by one. Mostly she is the sweet part of my whirlwind and I just love it when she breezes by.

By Thursday and Friday I was trying very hard to be able to tell everyone who kept asking that I was turning the chemo corner and feeling better. I was able to eat a bit more, and take a very short walk down the cul-de-sac, so I was trying very hard to turn said corner. But the headache wore me down till Friday, when it lifted a bit after day 5 of only one freaking cup of coffee. And then Friday night my mini broke down on Dave on his way home from work. I didn't have a mini break down, but I thought about it.

Saturday was a better day, but I think I finally turned the corner today. Today was a pretty good day. We went to church. I had a very light massage by a therapist who works with mastectomy patients. I went with Dave to pick out his new bifocals. I took a nap. We took a walk. I feel good enough to spend the evening blogging and getting ready for my Brit Lit class tomorrow.

I made it. And I'm grateful. Especially that it's not a chemo week. Woo Hoo! A whole week of not chemo!

Cheers, and thanks for praying,

Friday, October 3, 2008

Some have met with angels and didn’t know it…

Dave here. Have you seen those commercials where the guy is going through a difficult and uncertain time in his life, and then he meets an older version of himself? The “future him” lets the “present him” know that everything turns out OK. Well, I think something like that happened to me.

A couple weeks ago hurricane Ike blew through Cincinnati and left many of us without power for days. In the aftermath I ventured out to UDF to get some gas and pick up some snacks. They were already out of gas, but as I was paying for the snacks I overheard the guy in the next line asking for directions to the next closest station. He was a 50-something biker guy wearing black leather. He had already walked a couple miles from where his bike ran out of gas and wasn’t looking forward to having to walk a few more. I chimed in and offered to give him a ride to the next station, which he was happy to accept.

As we drove up the road we began to talk. He had ridden up from Tennessee the night before and didn't know anyone in the area. It turns out his name is David, same as mine. I told him I didn't have a motorcycle but that I had just called on one for sale a few days ago. Then I noticed his jacket said, “Christian Motorcyclists Association” and we found out we are brothers in Christ. As we stood at the pump filling a gas can and my tank, he insisted on paying for my gas. I was touched by his kindness in return, and began to open up more and tell him about what we are going through. I told him how Julie had just been diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer, that she was recovering from a bilateral mastectomy, and that she was about to start chemotherapy.

Suddenly he stopped and looked at me, and he said, “This may be the reason God brought me here.” And he proceeded to tell me how 13 years ago (when he was my age!) he and his wife went through exactly the same thing! She has been cancer-free ever since and he went on to encourage me and build me up. It was as if God wanted to let me know that Julie is going to be OK.

Here I thought I was the one doing an act of kindness for a stranger, but God had orchestrated it all to bless me when I most needed it. I know some have met with angels without knowing it, but I wonder if more often some actually are angels and don’t know it. Anyway, don’t be surprised if 13 years from now Julie and I are riding around on a Harley!