Sunday, August 2, 2009 4:31 PM, CDT
Hi everyone! What an absolutely beautiful morning! The sun is shining with a slight coolness in the breeze, the birds singing their melodies and my gardens are radiating their beauty. Wouldn’t it be so cool for you to be joining me right now with a cup of chia tea instead of reading about my ponderings on line?
Sorry I haven’t been a bit better about updating, I have been struggling just a bit about what to say regarding my radiation treatments. Have you ever known that you were going to do something and yet, when you experienced it, it wasn’t at all what you imagined it to be? I don’t know what I was thinking radiation was going to be like, and although it is easier physically than chemo, for me mentally it has proven to be a bit more of a challenge. The first few days were the most challenging…I lay on this thin black table, naked waist on up (bald headed, too), my hands positioned above my heads and my feet strapped so I don’t move. The techs had to mark different places on my chest with a marker for proper fields, etc. I had all kinds of x’s, dots and line--think treasure map design. The first few days I had to lay there for quite a bit of time (1 to 1 ½ hrs). Thankfully this past Friday the time is down to about 30 minutes. When I had done my research, I was under the impression it would only take 5 to 10 minutes, but I guess since they are doing both breasts, there are more fields to radiate than usual, thus the 30 minutes. My radiation schedule is 730am daily Monday through Friday for a total of 28 treatments. Only 20 more to go…
Fortunately I can continue to work, but have eliminated many other social activities at this time, due to fatigue. As I believe exercise equals energy, most days I push myself to walk 1 to 2 miles and do a bit of yoga for stretching. The bone pain has been replaced with mild muscle stiffness and just occasionally some neuropathy that comes and goes, definitely an improvement. My nails are starting to grow out, still gross looking and tender, but they too are rebounding. Ferlin came up to me this morning and recited “Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, Kim is starting to grow hair!” We still have to have a magnifying glass to see it, but it is coming! Last week was a bummer as I lost my remaining eyelashes and have just a few hairs left on my eyebrows…it is a bit more of a challenge for me to want to be out in public as I think without eyelashes/brows I look like a cancer patient. (Before I just looked bald…) Thankful that the summer has been cool, as if I am out in the sun or even get a bit warm, my skin feels prickly and like it is on fire.
I have shared the physical dynamics of my recovery, I am still pondering the emotional and spiritual…getting diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, surgery, chemo and radiation has been like climbing a mountain. I am almost to the top, now how do I come down? (I am terrified of heights, so I know I won’t be jumping!) I think I am going to hop in a hot air balloon, spend time pondering and praying and let God slowly bring me off the mountain, enjoying the scenery and the gift of life!
As we have said before, we can’t express enough thanks to all how have helped us climb the mountain! We appreciate and love you all very much!
Sunday, August 16, 2009 10:20 PM, CDT
A garden, like its creator, should have its secrets and surprises. It should contain delights within delights and paths that make you want to follow them, even though they may not lead you anywhere in particular. On the other hand, they may lead you somewhere wonderfully unexpected!
This quote made me think of not only my gardens but of life…sometimes it feels like our journeys aren’t leading us anywhere, yet when we stop long enough to enjoy the paths we are on, we find such wonderful surprises! I so needed this encouragement today as the last few days have been a bit tough for me physically. I have completed 17 radiation treatments with 11 left to go. By nature, I am not a quitter, but to be honest, quitting radiation sure is tempting. Up until this past Friday, I had been doing really well with treatments, my energy was returning and I was up to walking about 2 miles a day. BAM, energy is gone and the weekend found me once again on my chaise lounge. Not only did the fatigue hit hard, but also some shortness of breath and tenderness/pain in the radiated areas. On top of it all, the hot flashes and sleeplessness from chemo still continue. I just feel crappy. (I did go for a small walk this evening, but only managed ½ mile and had to quit due to shortness of breath.) Urghhhh! Maybe tonight wasn’t a good night to update this site. I think what is so frustrating is that radiation is supposed to be so much easier than chemo, yet it comes with a whole different set of side effects and new challenges. (it probable doesn't help that most women's treatments are 10-15 minutes and mine takes 30-35 minutes.) I keep reminding myself that there’s just a bit more to persevere through and then I am done with this piece of the cancer journey. Please be rest assured that although my physical body may feel yucky, my heart continues to focus on the Lord and His plan through all this…giving Him praise and glory that I am alive. (and so very, very blessed.)
Otherwise things are going very well in our home. Ferlin’s work is staying steady, Brett is getting ready to move back to Vermillion next weekend (tears) and Kelsey starts 8th grade tomorrow! Steven and Kalina are doing a great job parenting our precious grandson. I wish everyone could see Apollo’s smiles…heart melting for sure! Some exciting news on the work front…a few of my coworkers and I are now certified wellness coaches. I still feel a bit silly trying to help others with wellness, since I am the one who came down with cancer, but hoping that my example of continuing to try and practice wellness while going through surgery, chemo and radiation will be an encouragement to others.
Thanks to everyone for your continued well wishes and prayers. We appreciate you all!
Tuesday, August 18, 2009 10:44 PM, CDT
Bang! Bang! Bang!
Have you ever had it where you kept banging your head against the wall so much that you created a big hole? Yup, guess that’s what I’ve been doing regarding “take it easy” & “let your body rest and heal”. For some reason, I kept thinking “yippee, you have NO cancer; surely you can get back to the land of the living!” Oh, wait, I’m still going through treatment. Radiation is the killing of any stray “bad” cells, but also kills some of my good cells. Oh, did I mention, my treatment is at 730 am every day?? So, duh…I wonder why I ran into a bit of trouble this past weekend. I met with the radiation oncologist yesterday to discuss my fatigue and shortness of breath. She referred me back to my oncologists, who promptly did lab work. YIPEE!! Labs came back great!! God sure made our body with marvelous healing capabilities. So, I asked why the shortness of breath??—both docs feel that it is my body saying “SLOW DOWN!” The radiation doc did say that since I am having radiation to both sides, the fatigue will probably be worse for me—oh goody! So, I guess I am once again going to be on “house rest-arrest!” My plan for the next month or so is to finish my 9 radiation treatments and work. I guess the cells continue to die for a few weeks after radiation and some women actually have the worse fatigue when treatments are finished. Today I worked at the office a few hours, came home, rested and worked from home the rest of the day. Although my energy is still extremely limited, over all I feel better. I sure hate it when I have a stinky attitude and am a “debbie downer.” I really miss connecting with everyone, but I am truly so thankful for this gift of life, so I’m not going to complain about another few months of healing. (hopefully there will be no more banging my head against the wall about slowing down.)
Ponderings on “house rest-arrest”—when I first started this cancer journey I really struggled with the reality of pulling out of the life I was living and even though, I recently forgot about staying at a slower pace, I find that I am no longer fighting this gift of time. Sometimes it is so easy to get so busy with life that we can’t hear the direct line from heaven as our lives are too noisy. Taking the time to heal is allowing me to turn down the noise. The other day I was sitting on the front step at our home and I could actually hear a bee buzzing in a nearby flower. What a treat to be able to sit peacefully, drinking a cup of chia, appreciating the blessings all around me!
So do you want to know how I am using visual imagery during radiation? When the beams of radiation are beaming you there is buzz type noise. (think bug zapper noise) So I imagine lots of little men with really big boxing gloves shooting out from that beam knocking out all the bad cells. You should see them cells fly! After the buzz sound there is a “shooosh” sound—so I imaging that as the vacuum cleaner sucking up the mess my little boxers made all over the place. I just got to have a little fun! On a not so fun note, my skin is really starting to turn red and itchy from the radiation, so I am requesting prayers that my skin will hold up for remainder of the treatments. There is some pain, but nothing like I had during chemo.
Well, that’s about it for tonight…thanks for hanging in there with me on the good and not so good days! Thanks also for your continued support for my family and I. We appreciate you all and pray that you are living your dreams!