July 10

(The following was originally posted on my Carepages blog for family and friends during my treatment.)

I spoke with my surgeon and will have surgery on July 10. (I'll probably be in overnight.) Someone asked me if I was alright with it.

To be honest, I haven't been all that okay about having chemo. (I avoided putting toxic chemicals in and on my body for over thirty years.) I haven't been okay about all the side effects. It's zapped my energy, affected my brain and eye sight and been hard on my skin. My fingers and toes still remain numb beyond the third joint, making it hard to write, correctly type, open things, and pick up things. They say this usually goes away.

I am also not okay with having cancer. (I didn't get a vote on it--at least not consciously). Thus, based on the fact that I wanted to eradicate cancer, I agreed to endure some of the other more annoying things. (I want to add that, although there are alternative paths I could have taken, those who know me know I wasn't going to go the "eat wheatgrass" or "drink green smoothies" route.) Being that I had cancer before and that this round was showing itself as fast growing, I couldn't afford to fool around.

What I'm grateful for is a team who seems really good at what they do as well as being admirably compassionate. Even though I sometimes feel like a living science experiment, I am definitely seeing positive results--and that's the most important part.

So mark your calendars for July 10 and send up some extra prayers that day. I may be a little rough around the edges after, but will be on the recovery road thereafter.

Counting the Days

(The following was originally posted on my Carepages blog for family and friends during my treatment.)

Jamie ChemoDoneI’m counting the days right now until Thursday the 15th when I am slated to have my last chemo infusion. Two or three days after that, I will likely hide out in my cave, shuffle my way through the handful of side effects that come with the treatment, and then take a deep breath knowing that my body can truly begin to recover without being attacked by toxic chemicals. I see my surgeon on the 23rd of June, at which time I believe he will schedule and discuss my mastectomy surgery. It appears he will schedule it quickly, based on prior discussions we’ve had.

As I write this, my elder cat, a mere five-pound puffball of fur and fuzz, sits at attention on the stool opposite the front door. Normally, Wizard would use this time of day for her morning nap and, since the blinds are closed, I know she isn’t watching the birds at the feeder. I’ve decided she is praying. I don’t know if cat’s pray, but that’s what it looks like. The sun trickles through the blinds and dapples her body. She sits very still (not her normal M.O.). I am pondering what cats would pray about.

I miss my hair. It’s funny. I don’t have to spend money on lots of hair products, fuss with straggling ends, worry about style. Weather permitting, Tim and I do a lot of porch sitting. We live across from a small lake and beach. I watch the women who come and go from the lake and what they do with their hair. I’m certain when mine grows back I will return to fussing over it as I once did. For now, it’s just one less thing I have to worry about—and that’s okay.

I have yet to go public with any of my situation but have pondered doing so. Up until now, I have wanted to avoid filling my head with everyone’s opinions about how I should heal myself as well as keeping my mind clear of others’ stories and side effects. Strange as it sounds, if I don’t know it can happen, my mind won’t manifest it. Even though I have had a laundry list of reactions from the varying chemo cocktails, I feel I have been lucky in that they have been minor. Every day I see people who are far worse off than me—and not just from cancer. Still, sometimes I like to whine.

I’ve continued to work on the revision of my Transformational Healing book. I’m hoping to release it by September or thereabouts. When that occurs, I’ll need to be more public, thus my considering going public now. The most difficult part has been writing the updated epilogue. How does one profess to be a healer while amidst a healing crisis? (This is actually more common that you might think.) Since the book presents ailments as a means to look more deeply into one's life, my hope is they will embrace the journey with me, rather than feel it discredits my years of work. Once that is done, I can work on the heritage card deck that serves as the next step after the book.

Thanks again to all of you for your prayers, support, understanding, cards, letters, posts, and calls. It has meant the world to me at a time when my world is upside down and backward. I wonder what my new normal will be on the other side of this big adventure and hope I have learned well enough the lessons it has brought. I certainly have made many shifts in actions and in thought. Still. I know life will continue to be a journey with many new twists and turns all along the way. I have always strived to be a little better each day. I know now I also need to appreciate the person that I am who will never be perfect but desires to matter every day.

If I could impart one thing to you all, that would be it. Know that you matter in some way to someone each and every day. You don’t have to be perfect. Just by being you, you are touching someone’s life and are making a difference—even if you don’t realize it at the time. This not only affects the people you come in contact with each day, but also those who are at a distance and connect with you through thought, love, and prayer. I know in my life, each one of you matters a lot. Thank you.


(The following was originally posted on my Carepages blog for family and friends during my treatment.)

Tomorrow (Thursday, June 1) I will have chemo #7 of 8. (Yay!)

I haven’t written the past couple of weeks because there wasn’t anything new to report. It was mostly me sitting in a chair watching time go by. Some of the early days after chemo #6 were not all that pleasant. I had some joint aches and nerve pain and sometimes didn’t feel like eating. Despite Tim making sure I ate. . . something. . . sometimes more than I thought I would. . . I lost four pounds, but admittedly, I’m not sad about that and had been eating way too much anyway. (Blame it on the steroids.) I’m still eating whatever I want, just a lot less of it.

After several days of not feeling all that well, I flipped on my Netflix. I made the mistake of watching a movie that turned out to be rather depressing and needed something to cheer me up. I decided to watch some of the Undercover Boss shows. I like the surprises the CEOs learn and how they try to affect change with their companies and the people they encounter.

In one of the shows, a CEO of Waste Management had been given the job of collecting blowing debris of a windy hill. His counterpart could fill two garbage bags in ten minutes. The CEO couldn’t even fill one. The CEO later learns his instructor is on kidney dialysis and can’t believe the man’s work ethic and ability under the circumstances. The fellow explains that he doesn’t let his body tell him what he can do, he tells his body lest he find himself unable to do anything.

That hit me really hard after all the sitting I had been doing. It encouraged me to try to do a little more each day, even if I still had to take it easy, still had to have periods where I just sit, and still couldn’t do all I wanted to do. Sometimes that means just taking short walks up and down the driveway. I started feeling a little better after that.

I met with a Physician’s Assistant this week, reviewed my shopping list of side effects. Most annoying is the numbness in my fingers and toes. Apparently, if I can button a button or put on an earring back, I’m still good to go (which I can—though handwriting is a little sketchy and I can’t manipulate some things like the lock on the side door). They claim for most people these effects dissipate after chemo is done. Personally, with only two more to go, I just want to get them done and move on to the next stage (surgery), which I will be reviewing with my surgeon soon.

Thanks again for all your comments, cards, letters, and prayers. They really mean a lot. They often come just when I need them most.

Miracle Waiting Room

(The following was originally posted on my Carepages blog for family and friends during my treatment.)

I walked into the secondary waiting room of the Lecom Imaging Center today, glanced over at the coffee table of magazines, and something caught my eye. Next to a large stack of the typical, well-read reading fare, a single magazine set off to the side grabbed my attention. In large letters across the top it shouted, “Miracle.” I’m not sure if one of the technicians had purposely set it aside like that. I do know it caught my attention and I decided to mark the occasion by snapping a photo of it with my phone.

I went to the Imaging Center for a follow-up mammogram and breast sonogram. These were to compare to the ones I had back in February and to note my progress. After the mammogram, waiting for the radiologist to review the films (again, sitting in the “Miracle” waiting room), the technician came out and hugged me to let me know the tumor had shrunk considerably. This we already knew since it had visibly sat on the skin’s surface and we’d all been well aware of its thankful disappearing act these past weeks.

Miracle MagazineNext up was the sono, which, for me, offered much more significance since this would let us know the status of the left arm’s involved lymph node. After reporting to the radiologist, the technician returned, hugged me as if Tim and I just announced our wedding engagement, and stated that there is no visible evidence of cancer in the lymph node at this time. How’s that for a “Miracle” room?

Next week I’ll be up for more challenges including chemo #6 on Tuesday and a breast MRI on Thursday. It will be a busy week with other obligations thrown in every day that week and all on my “slow” energy period. I’ve been repeating a mantra “it doesn’t have to be hard” and hoping that the few new side-effects that showed up with chemo #5 will diminish or be “one hit wonders” that feel no need to have a return engagement with chemo #6.

While I continue to wait out the weeks of chemo and treatment, I see little miracles everywhere. Monday we were greeted by a waitress harboring some illness who excused herself to leave for the doctors shortly after seating us. (Thank goodness, as I’m not to be exposed to anything in my low immune condition.) This is just one example of many.

Lastly, please know how much all of your comments, notes, cards, and messages mean to me. They always come in just at the right time and you all are so amazing in knowing just what to say. I’ve been so touched by all of the support I have received and I am immensely grateful to all of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being there for me.

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