Monday, November 24, 2008

Here Goes Round 2

I know I haven't posted since the night before I downed Round 1's chemo cocktail. Sorry about that. Thank God round 1 is over. Bartender, I don't think I'll have another. Goodbye and good riddance red devil-Adramiacin and Cytoxin. I have no idea how to spell those words and no desire to learn since I hope I never see them again! ;)

Ok, fit thrown, now it's onto Round 2. In an hour or so, some of my tennis buds are picking me up to take me to my next chemo cocktail, of Taxol and Herceptin. I'm pretty sure I spelled Herceptin right. I'll let you know if I feel like doing a spell check on Taxol, depending on how I cope with it. Truth is, if I don't like them, I'd prefer spelling them wrong because I'm pretty sure it makes me feel better.

The good thing about Round 2, is that I get three weeks in between each treatment now! That is an extra good week, and that is really something to look forward to, and to be thankful for!

Speaking of being thankful, I am thankful for my tennis buds, who are just now beginning to show up to take me to watch me down my chemo cocktail. I do so hate drinking alone; but this is one drink I wouldn't share. Anyway, we will have our own little turkey day together, as one of them is bringing turkey sandwiches for lunch. Yum-o.

My ride beckons...

Cheers and bottoms up,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

And the first round goes to Julie! (That would be GAME, in tennis terms)

Dave here, filling in for the weakened, but victorious, Julie.

Monday was the fourth and final AC mistreatment (Adriamycin+Cytoxan, one of them is a derivative of mustard gas like was used in World War I). In two weeks she will have her first of 4 TH mistreatments (Taxol+Herceptin). Thankfully, those will be only once every 3 weeks.

Julie's doing ok but I'm definitely noticing the cumulative affect of the chemo on her. She has very little energy, isn't very steady on her feet, has a hard time concentrating, and her pulse has been running about 97. And it doesn't help that everything she owns is breaking down, too. Her Mini Cooper has been in and out of the shop 3 of the last 4 weeks. Her Bose iPod stereo stopped working. And her computer has died. We may have lost several of her writings on the crashed hard drive.

Sometimes it's easy for us to get a bit discouraged, but we press on, believing and praying help for our unbelief. And we get by with a little (a lot) of help from our friends. Your blog comments, emails, cards, notes, flowers, support, help, and of course meals, all mean so much! Thank you, and bless you.

Dave & Julie

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Some Days I Feel Like Midas-Minus the Gold

'Twas the night before chemo
And all through my house,
My computer wasn't stirring,
Not even the mouse.

Out in the garage
What do I hear?
Nothing because my mini
Lost all his gears, and isn't here.

Friday, November 7, 2008

On Apples Falling in Relation to the Distance from the Tree

Previously on my blog, I posted a Facebook post Matt had sent out to his friends after the mastectomy and lymphnode biopsy confirmed that I am now technically cancer-free. Wednesday night Amanda and Mikey both showed me pieces they had recently written, in their own processing through all this. I love that they love to write and express themselves, and think they do it so lovely. I love that it reveals their sweet and huge hearts, which I get to see everyday, and are my three greatest treasures. So to complete the portfoliio of the trio, Amanda and Mikey gave me permission to post their writings here. Amanda's is a philosophy paper she had to write for class this Wednesday, where she takes out, I mean, takes on Aristotle. Sweet and fiery little red-head of mine. Talk about courage. And Mikey's is a blog post, where he is reflecting on the Latin phrase, In Omnia Paratus, the root (thought) of which comes from the fact that we have recently become addicted to The Gilmore Girls, and is not to be mistakenly taken that we are doing Latin in our homeschool.

Amanda Evans Evans 1
Prof. Bickle
Philosophy 107: Philosophy through Film

Courage in Illness

Peter French points out in Cowboy Metaphysics, that Aristotle says someone battling a terminal disease is not displaying courage because they show no act of prowess and do not die particularly nobly. But he does not address the issue of non-terminal, but possibly terminal illnesses. I would like to argue that Julie, facing breast cancer, is someone who shows true courage.

Breast cancer is one of those diseases that is terrifying but not necessarily terminal. Some people die, some people don't. Hearing the word cancer is like a hope-killer. But sometimes hope can still bud. Cancer can be fought. And I challenge anyone who says otherwise. Julie is a woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was the fastest growing variety, but she caught it very early. The cancer struck with three lumps in one breast. Julie struck back with first a lumpectomy and then a double mastectomy. Not only did Julie attack the cancerous lumps but she attacked the possible hiding places that the cancer could go to. She wasn't letting this thing beat her. Cancer: 1 Julie: 2. Then Julie went straight into chemotherapy. Not just a short, oh, here's some chemo real quick just in case. No, it was a full 14-month blast. One she is still struggling through. Cancer: 1 Julie: 3. She continues to attack hiding places that this cancer might go. Is it necessary? No, but it's safe, it's aggressive. She could've just done a single mastectomy and a short round of chemo. That's all that was necessary. But it wouldn't ensure that the cancer wouldn't spread.

So Julie decided to go full-force, lose both breasts, and suffer through 14-months of chemo. Yes, she would feel sick almost that whole time. Yes, for the majority of it she would have no hair. Yes, she would have the pain of bi-weekly appointments. Yes, she would have to suffer through a surgery to implant a port (an IV straight to the heart, basically, that the needle is stuck through). Yes, she would be weak and barely be able to lift anything slightly heavy. Yes, she would have to end up giving up her stick-shift, adored mini cooper because she wouldn't be strong enough to shift gears. These are only some of the sacrifices she makes. It is a battle. One that she chooses to fight.

Why does she fight so aggressively? Why not sit back and take the easy road, even if it is riskier? There are three reasons for this: her three kids. She hates their heartbreak so much that she would face needless pain and suffering simply to ensure that she would live a long life for them. She battles cancer until it is completely, without a doubt demolished simply because she wants to help her kids. And the whole time she suffers through this battle, she fights for other people. She fights to show other cancer patients that they can survive and be strong. She sends them messages of hope. She still pretends like nothings wrong with her in order to help her friends. She fights for the people around her.

Aristotle can say that someone fighting terminal illness is not courageous because they cannot show prowess. But Julie shows prowess in her daily battles. She attacks hard and faces pain and suffering. She goes up the stairs multiple times a day even though it makes her out of breath and tired. How is that not showing prowess? Her illness is not terminal, and therefore she can hope. Julie is the most courageous person I know. I dare Aristotle to raise from the dead and just try to tell me that my mom is not courageous.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

In Omnia Paratus

"Prepared for all things."

Can anyone, in all honesty, say that phrase, and really mean it? In this life, can you really be prepared for anything anyone or anything can throw at you?

Honestly, the notion makes me laugh. No-one can prepare for anything. Say, you're having a nice day with your friends, when you get a call saying your mother has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. Prepared for that? How can one prepare for that? Total devastation and ripping apart of everything in your life you knew before. Nothing can be the same when you hear those words. How can you prepare for a total change of life?

Really, there's no way to prepare for everything. No way any human on Earth could do anything to prepare themselves for anything life throws at them. It's simply impossible. There is only one way to even get close to this preparation for all things, and that is trusting in Jesus Christ.

Now, you may all have suddenly left after reading that last sentence. Who knows? But I will continue, nonetheless. God is really the only One that was prepared for everything. He was prepared to create the world, and man. He was prepared for what to do when man rebelled against Him. He was prepared with what to do when all man was sinful, but one family, which he spared. He was prepared when His people were attacked by a giant, sending a small boy to vanquish it. He was prepared when, some years later, the world had erupted in so much sin again, by sending His only Son down to our Earth, to die, and take away our sins! He was prepared when, just before you found this, you may have been looking at who knows what, or doing who knows what! HE is prepared for anything and everything. Why would we not follow Him?

Aside from the phrase being utterly impossible apart from God, it is still one of my most favorite phrases, just for the simple fact that it HAS to include God. It's like saying "God has prepared me for all things" almost.

The phrase In Omnia Paratus was taken from an episode of Gilmore Girls. The phrase is the featured phrase used by the Life and Death Brigade.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Exercising the Gift of Life, Friendship, a Beautiful Day and the Right to Vote. In that order.

How cool was it that I ran into my friend, Linda, on my way out of the polls?! I have mentioned Linda, who is a tennis bud of mine/neighbor/Mikey's geometry teacher last year/fellow cancer fighter in my blog before. Last year she began a battle with Renal Cancer. Linda, who is a tennis player/golfer (I like to think in that order) had a kidney removed after they found two tumors, one the size of a tennis ball and one the size of a golf ball. Then right before school started last year, it came back in the cavity. And lungs and breast. Cancer is a b!@#%. No matter how poetic. Linda is a graceful, gritty fighter, like Rafa Nadal, whom we both love to watch play tennis. She is an inspiration to me. That she was not only willing, but desirous, of continuing to spend some of her energy (which I am learning is a very precious commodity) tutoring Mikey in Geometry, still humbles us, and compels me to pay it forward. I pray for her when I pray for myself. So I hope you will vote for us by praying for us.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Falling Back

So I guess I got ahead of myself on the last post. Either that, or the meds had me in a good fog still on Tuesday. But once they wore off on Wednesday, there was just fog. And nausea, which feels a lot like morning sickness that I can't seem to do anything about. And the headache that likes to linger throughout chemo weeks. I don't know if it's the chemo or one of the anti-nausea drugs, because it isn't the caffeine, since I beat down that addiction to one cup a day during the first week of chemo. (For those of you keeping track in tennis lingo, that one was like when you are trying to break someone's serve, and you never really can get the advantage, but you keep scraping back to deuce, and then you finally get an advantage and they double fault.) And the fatigue, which frankly kicked my you-know-what this time.

There were aspects of this chemo cocktail round that were more positive than the previous ones. A good fog is still a good fog. The anti-nausea meds are thankfully keeping all hurling, thus far, at bay. I have aleady downed three chemo cocktails (only one more to go in this first round, thank God!) so some of the anxiety from the unknown and the unexpected has begun to dissipate. And, though it hasn't been smooth sailing, we have found somewhat of a chemo groove somewhere on the b-side, which seems to be so far so good.

I just tried to sleep off Wednesday and Thursday. I know that I am fortunate that our life allows me to do so. Friday I was hoping for a window of feeling good enough to do some things that I really needed to do with my kids. Life does go on during chemo, and, naps having their place and then being placed aside, I really don't feel like sleeping through it. Especially not the mum part. Thankfully, the window happened. I was able to go with my kids to the funeral for one of their friend's mums. It was a beautiful funeral, celebrating a beautiful life. We did not have the pleasure of knowing her, but we had been praying for her ever since our kids became friends. I also was able to go to a David Crowder Band concert with my kids (and a caravan of our friends) on Halloween night. When we booked the tickets we had miscalculated and thought it didn't fall in a chemo week. It was such a fun night. Mikey lost his voice singing with. Matt got his ticket signed by David Crowder; Mikey and Amanda got their Converse signed. Even I got a David Crowder tee shirt and Amanda had him sign it for me. He wrote "Mom's shirt" on it really big. I snapped tons of photos with my kids, their friends, and David Crowder. Even got one with me and David Crowder. My face hurt from smiling.

And Saturday morning, the window shut again. The fatigue hit hard. My heart would race every time I got up to refill my water bottle or go to the bathroom. Which is a lot of what I do. I spent the entire day trying to catch up on all the Brit Lit reading I hadn't been able to focus and read all week. Read a chapter, bathroom break, refill water bottle, and repeat. With a few naps, a short walk down the cul-de-sac to try and fight fatigue and focus brain, plus lots of losing track what I'm doing, in between. I did finish. But it was distracting hearing my heartbeat all day. I could hear and time it with the wall clock. It made me feel like I was racing the clock. I don't know if that made me all tense and tight, but my chest has been feeling like things don't fit. Not to mention, that since some more of the swelling has gone down around Port Rapha, I have been able to feel and see some of the stitches holding the tube in place. Which I would rather not see or feel. So there has been some anxiety there. Dave has talked to the doctor on call, and it all seems to be usual chemo fare, so we're just trying to see if it wears off as we go into this not chemo week. Hopefully it will, because it takes a lot to gear up for chemo weeks. I used to carb up for tennis matches; now Dave tries to fatten me up for chemo. I liked the old way better. Not to mention I could taste the food. Right now everything tastes like refried beans or mashed potatoes, but muted of all its flavor. Very strange sensation. You see the food. It looks yummy. You taste the food. Nothing. So you swallow and try again to see if there was something you missed. Nope. Then you try to finish your food and everyone will clap if you do. Totally different Pavlovian technique. But who, really, is being trained here? The finisher of food or the clappers? Something to think about next time you clap for me when I finish my food.

So I hope this doesn't come off like I'm a whiner. I really don't feel whiney. But this is what is going on; it is what it is; and Dave thought I should update the previous post, since I sort of fell back like the time did this morning. So hopefully now you have more ammo to pray, and thank you so much for praying. I am humbled, grateful, and feel a very large debt of love that feels a bit like a blanket crossed with a hope that I can someday pay it forward, since there is no way any one person could possibly pay it back in a lifetime.