Saturday, 31 March 2012

Day 17 - 4th Chemo Cycle - "Family Visit"

Today finally arrived!  I've been looking forward to this day for the last week or so.  My aunt, uncle, cousin and her fiance were coming to visit today!  They arrived around mid-afternoon.  They arrived bearing gifts.  They brought me a gorgeous bouquet of flower, a fruit tray, a vegetable tray, a plate of cookies and an apple pie.  We had a wonderful visit and the afternoon flew by.  Before we knew it, it was time to go out for our dinner reservation at Fasooli's Bar and Grill.

We shared laughs, great food and fellowship.  It was a wonderful time.  After our dinner, we went for a drive to my favourite little parking area across from the airport where you can look over Lake Ontario from your car.  It wasn't too cool, so we climbed out of our cars and stood and looked over the water which was reflecting the calm sunset.  The water was so calm and still like a mirror.  Beautiful is an understatement.  As we were getting cool, we climbed back in our cars and headed home to our house.  The visiting continued as we all chatted and laughed in front of the big screen television.  Throughout all the visiting, my aunt and uncle were concerned about tiring me out.  I'm so glad this is in my best time and I have energy.  I really do like how I physically feel at this point.  I can eat, drink a glass of wine, visit and feel "normal".  Tomorrow we will meet up with my relatives again and spend some time with them before they head back home.  It will create more warm, fun-filled memories to help me through the next treatment on Thursday.

I knew I was looking forward to their visit today.  From about noon onwards, every time I heard a car door close, I was looking out the window hoping they had arrived.  I was knitting fairly quickly to help keep me busy and help the time pass by while I waited for my relatives to arrive.   This was an excellent day and I expect tomorrow will be the same.  I am so blessed!!!

Friday, 30 March 2012

Day 16 - 4th Chemo Cycle

I've had a good day today but I'm getting tired of being in the house.  I can't really complain though because I've had visitors drop by throughout the week and it helps to break the boredom.  I'm still tired in the mornings and really don't have energy to "do" stuff until the afternoon.

This morning I spent my morning watching "Hereafter" with Matt Damon.  I wanted to watch it in the theatre when it came out in 2010 but somehow didn't get around to it.  I enjoyed the movie this morning while I knitted at the same time.

This afternoon I had energy and it was sunny outside so I went out and pruned my grape vines for 45 minutes until I got tired.  It felt good to be outside and in the fresh air.  When I came indoors, I was still restless but tired so I played some of my favourite Easter melodies on the piano.  How I wish I could have sung them too, but I behaved and just played them on the piano.  It was great fun and it has been many, many years since I've played some of these songs.  By the end of it all, I felt peaceful and calm within.  The restlessness was gone.

It was a nice treat to have a glass of red wine with my supper tonight.  After supper, my husband and I went for a walk around the block.  We decided to come home when it started to snow on us.  I was pleased that I had my touque on my head.  It kept me nice and warm.

I've been looking forward to tomorrow all week long.  My aunt and uncle along with my cousin and her fiance are coming for a visit! We always have a great time when we get together and I'm looking forward to some great laughs.  I haven't seen them since November.  So in anticipation, I'll probably go to bed early tonight so that I have lots of energy for tomorrow.  Too bad it isn't going to be as warm outside as it was a couple of weeks ago.  I had hoped we could all visit on the patio.  Oh well, we'll still have a great visit indoors.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Day 15 - 4th Chemo Cycle

I was less tired today but did find that I run out of energy fairly quickly.  Just making a salad, heating up some left overs and setting the table then eating, tired me out.  I had to sit for about 30 minutes before I could summon up enough energy to go out and do a couple of errands tonight.

Today, I looked ahead to the Cancer Society's Relay For Life Kingston fundraiser on June 1, 2012.  I'm considering entering a team if I can get enough team members.  A team needs to consist of 10 to 15 members.  If I had family in Kingston, I would be able to field a team easily.  However, I don't have extended family in town to ask to join me.  The team members collect donations and then participate in a run/walk event that goes overnight into June 2.  I'm hoping to also participate in the Survivor's Lap.  I think this would be a great way to celebrate the end of my treatments and hopefully what will be the clear results of my CT scan which will be done after my last treatment.  If anyone in Kingston is interested in joining my team, please contact me either personally or through the comment section of this blog.

As I started researching the Relay For Life, I noticed the Survivor's Lap.  This brought me to tears.  As I've mentioned the Relay For Life to some friends, they have immediately wanted to participate.  This also brought tears to my eyes.  I still have very strong emotions regarding my lymphoma and recovery.  For the majority of the time, I seem to keep them deep inside and then "poof"....they just suddenly show up.   When I say I keep them deep inside, it's not like I'm stuffing them down and not acknowledging the emotions.  I do acknowledge them in my quiet moments when I'm alone.

What brings me close to tears is looking forward to being cured but also acknowledging the ways that the lymphoma has robbed me of moments with my children.  Missing some of their activities or just missing moments of shopping with my daughter are snippets of time that are gone.  They can not be recovered and as a result the cancer has stolen these from me.  I can try to replace these stolen moments but it is not the same.  However, having said all of this, I do know that I will have future times that will mean even more.  Life is fleeting and I think once you've faced a major illness, you learn to appreciate the small trivial moments a little more.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Day 14 - 4th Chemo Cycle

Today was a rest day because my body is tired.  Unfortunately, my mind is bored.  I'm tired of knitting, watching television and reading.  I felt the cold too much today to try to prune my grape vines.  I may have been feeling the cold because my body is tired.

I had seen a cooking program on Monday, March 26 (Day 12 - 4th Chemo Cycle) where a chocolate pecan layer cake had been made.  I got the recipe and have been wanting to try and make it since Monday.  I finally dragged up some energy to make it this afternoon so the kids could have some dessert.  For supper, I did reheat some macaroni and cheese that friends from Avonmore had delivered a few weeks ago.  Between the macaroni and cheese and a slice of very sweet cake, I'm very full tonight.  I've eaten too much and now I'm even more tired as my body tries to digest a heavy supper.

Today as I read today's entry in "The Book of Awakening", it spoke to me very distinctly.  It talked about "The Gift of Shedding".  By shedding dead skin cells, our skin is renewed.  The entry asked the reader to consider what area in their life could be shedded and make way for renewal of thoughts or actions.  As I read the entry, it became very clear to me that I need to "let go" some thoughts that I hold on to regarding some very annoying neighbours.  This is going to be an ongoing challenge but it will be my next area of "shedding".  I didn't do a very good job of it today as my thoughts regarding these people didn't change.  I do recognize that I need to change my thinking pattern because it really is like a shackle and is holding me back from totally enjoying life.  If I can "shed" this dislike and the resulting thoughts, then I believe the renewed thoughts and actions will lead me to be an even happier person.

Certainly, this whole lymphoma experience has given me more time for reflection and allowed me to improve my inner self.   Reflection only occurs when we make time to be still and get to know ourselves.  Our society does not make it easy to be still and thoughtful.  We, as a society, are always on the run from one activity to another and we tend to neglect our inner thoughts and souls.  Hopefully, once I am well again, I will make changes in my life so that I have daily time for reflection and communing with my soul.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Day 13 - 4th Chemo Cycle

Today was a really nice day.  I had a lovely phone visit with a dear friend and hopefully I'll be seeing her soon.  We had to end our visit as another phone call was coming in.  After that phone call, another phone call came in immediately and I had a very nice visit over tea with a warm, wonderful lady from my church.  On behalf of another wonderful and caring lady from church, she was delivering some lemon loaf for me and my family.  Like I said, we visited over tea and we did have some of the fresh lemon loaf.  What a nice complement to our visit.  When our visit ended, it was time for lunch already.  Where did my morning go?!!

Oh well, since I was diagnosed with my lymphoma in December, I have learned to just go with the flow and be flexible in what I plan to do based on energy levels.  I'm hoping that my new found flexibility will stay with me as it really diminishes the stress I used to feel.  So as I mentioned in my blog yesterday, I had hoped to prune some grape vines today.  I found I was too tired this afternoon so I went for a short nap.  The grape vines will always be there.  They aren't going to run away.

I do find my energy levels are limited. Today was the first time since November where I have been responsible for being the family taxi and making supper at the same time.  I had to pick my son up from his high school baseball practice but at the same time have supper ready for him to eat immediately so he could get out the door to his rep baseball practice.  This means being organized, efficient and alert.  So this morning, I had pulled out some chicken breasts so they were thawed in time.  After I woke up from my nap, I started to make supper so it could cook while I picked my son up from the school.  I felt very satisfied that I could be a proper mother to my children and have a nutritious supper on the table in time for my son to leave for his next activity.  It is also easier now that he can drive because he could just up and leave and I didn't have to drive him.  We had chicken parmesan with sides of corn and noodles with left over marinara sauce and meatballs.  Thank you again for our friend that dropped off the spaghetti and meatballs/sauce on Sunday.  It provided us with 2 meals.  The only frustrating part is how quickly I tire.  By the time I cleaned up from supper, I was tired again.

Needless to say it will be an early night again for me.  I am continuing to learn to listen to my body and act according to what it dictates.  My voice still goes hoarse when it's tired and if I overuse it, it gets sore.  Laughing is hard on my voice but I refuse to stop laughing.  Humour is a great way to relieve stress but also to handle challenging situations.  So I'll continue to laugh.  Life is too short! 

Monday, 26 March 2012

Day 12 - 4th Chemo Cycle

I'm definitely in the good portion of this cycle now.  After my full day yesterday, I wasn't sure how I would feel today.  My stamina even during my good times has been much weaker since I started chemotherapy in January.  So there were no plans made for today except for one phone call to a friend in PEI that I was supposed to make at 1 p.m.  I ended up just relaxing and resting today by watching television.  The little fear that maybe some nausea might return because I might have been overtired from yesterday was unfounded.

I didn't sleep all that well last night as we had some strong winds and something kept bumping the side of the house just by our bedroom.  That noise combined with intense night sweats had me waking up throughout the night.  So today I was tired as a result of my sleepless night and my travelling yesterday.

In fact, my brain didn't even remember that I was supposed to call my friend in PEI until 7 hours after the time she had been expecting my call.  So I called her tonight and have had a wonderful "walk" and chat with lots of laughter.  I also had another telephone visit with a friend tonight who I haven't talked with in several weeks.  I always feel better after my visits with friends and family.
I have been fighting some constipation the last few days, so last night I took my lactulose.  It worked I'm feeling better again tonight.  If it hadn't worked, I was going to go  to the chiropractor today.  So I'm back to eating normal portions and that should help my body function normally.

Maybe if tomorrow is another sunny day, I'll be up to pruning a few grape vines.  It all depends on how I feel.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Day 11 - 4th Chemo Cycle

This was an absolutely fantastic day!  Tiring but fantastic.  Our former neighbours and friends lost two mothers within the last week.  I managed to convince my husband that I had the energy to do a two hour drive to a wake and another two hours home.  I'm so glad we did!!

As we arrived in Finch, ON, we unexpectedly met up with some old friends.  We stood in line for the wake and visited.  As we waited in the line up, I saw other old friends.  It was heart warming.  When we finally reached the family we came to visit, it was very emotional.  How I wanted to be there for them last week!  I couldn't because I was having my chemo done.  I'm so glad we made the trip today.  I just wanted to hold them and not let go.  My heart breaks for my friends as they go through the heartache again so soon.

I had warned another friend that I might be making the trip.  I couldn't guarantee anything because it all was depending on my energy level this morning.  As requested, I called her just before we left home at noon.  Didn't we see her and her husband at the funeral home.  We hugged and they invited us back to the farm for a visit.  The lineup at the funeral home was very long, so when we left we decided to drive past our old home.  How it has changed!!  Anyway, at our friends' farm, we met up and got a tour, had a visit with their parents, met two of their children, had dinner and a lovely visit.  Before we knew it, it was 8:30 p.m.!!  So back on the road we went and drove home.

I'm tired but I figure I can rest for the next few days if needed.  Oh yeah, the constipation bug has bit me again.  So I just finished my thrush medicaton and now I'm back on some more medication.  However, that being said, I'm feeling fairly good and my appetite is back.  Now to enjoy the next week and a half.

Today was worth tiring myself out.  More warm memories were created and these will carry me through dark times in the future.  Oh yes... we arrived home to find our dinner for tomorrow night dropped off at the house.  Our son was the one who found it on a chair at the front door, because no one had been home.  There was no note with it but we finally figured out who the good samaritan was and are very grateful.

My next "project" will be to make a list of places to visit in my "Cathy Conquers Cancer Tour".  This list may take more than one year to complete.

Life is so precious and so good!!

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Day 10 - 4th Chemo Cycle

What a wonderful day today was!!  My inlaws came for a visit and they helped clean my house and air it out.  We had lunch and dinner together as well as we shared love and laughter all day long.  The day was too short.  Is it ever nice to be sitting in a house that has had its spring cleaning!  I guess small things make me happy these days.

Physically, I'm feeling a little better each day.  I still tire easily.  My thrush seems to be clearing up.  I can't wait until I don't have to take the medicine anymore!  I tried some coffee again this morning and my taste buds are still not back to normal.  The first sip tasted like old cigarette butts again.  I had a sub at lunch and it tasted good.  However, something on it kept coming back on me in the early afternoon.  I had another treat at supper by having some Swiss Chalet.  I ate all my meal but was very full afterwards.  I'm glad that the taste buds cooperated and my meal tasted really good.

I'm tired again tonight even though I had a short nap this afternoon.  So this is a short entry again as I'm off for the night.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Day 9 - 4th Chemo Cycle

Today was the best day so far this cycle.  I enjoyed two visitors today, one being a friend and one was my minister.  It was a very peaceful day.  I had energy and managed to rake the leaves out of 2 parts of my flowerbeds late this afternoon.  I even went shopping with my daughter tonight after supper.  Unfortunately, my energy level tanked at just the second store.  We had hoped to visit four stores but made it to only three.  I'll have to return to the third store as I ran out of energy and couldn't be bothered to stand and look at styles and sizes of what I was looking for.  I'll go back another day and hopefully my daughter will want to go shopping with me.

My stomach was feeling a little better today.  My taste buds are still off.  I tried a half cup of coffee this morning and it tasted like stale cigarette butts.  Ewww!!  By next week I'll be able to enjoy my morning cup of coffee.  Today was the first day that I could handle the ginger green tea.  So far this week I was just drinking hot water poured over a fresh ginger slice.

I'm looking forward to my weekend but I'm tired now.  It's been a very full day.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Day 8 - 4th Chemo Cycle

I'm definitely on the upswing in this cycle.  I awoke this morning ready to take on the world.  That was until I did my morning routine and then I was tired.  I rested and read for about 1 hour.  Then I thought I would tackle the grape vines again.  I did a small amount of pruning and then felt light-headed.  I stopped but that feeling wouldn't go away.  So I didn't do anymore pruning today.  I did make a loaf of bread in the bread machine so that we could have fresh crusty bread with our chili tonight.  Thank goodness for kitchen appliances.  The bread machine and the slow cooker provided us with a very nourishing meal.

This afternoon a good friend came by for tea.  I hadn't seen her for a visit since the end of November.  It was wonderful to catch up.  We spent some time in the fresh air on the patio until I got too cold.  Then we moved indoors.  She had just left when the phone rang.  It was another friend who I haven't seen since just before I started my chemo.  The two of us are so similar and I've really missed my visits with her.  We talked for over an hour I think!  How nice it was.  However, then I was really tired again.  So I just rested and read my book.

My appetite seems to be increasing again.  This is another sign that I'm coming into my "good" period.  I had my chili served on top of the bread and then topped with grated cheddar cheese.  It tasted good.  This afternoon I found the pamphlet that came with my Nystatin.  I discovered that I had been taking it incorrectly which probably explains why it was making me nauseous.  I had been taking it before meals and the pamphlet said I should be taking it right after my meals.  So I've done that at lunch and supper tonight and lo and behold....there's a difference!!  I'm kicking myself that I didn't see the pamphlet sooner.  Although, when I'm feeling awful right after my chemo injection I can't read and absorb anything important.  Oh well, live and learn.

I'm so proud of my husband with how he is juggling everything.  Tonight at supper, we discovered that Meet The Teacher night almost "fell through the cracks".  It was tonight.  The kids announced it at supper.  So there goes my husband who just got home from a hard day at work.  He jumped right into the car and went to Meet The Teacher night.  To make his night a little easier, I decided to collect the garbage and take it to the curb for him.  I put on the surgical gloves that I have for gardening and did the garbage.  Just as I was coming back to the house from putting it to the curb, my neighbour called me over for a visit.  I was tired and light-headed but I also like having the feeling of normalcy.  I didn't visit too long but was very glad to get back inside and sit down.  I'm done for the night now.  It will be an early night as I have a friend coming to visit in the morning and my minister coming in the afternoon.  I want to be well rested so I can see both of them alertly.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Day 7 - 4th Chemo Cycle

One day at a time.  This is what gets me through the low points in the treatment cycle.  Today I'm finding that each time I take the Nystatin, it gets a little harder to take.  I now associate the queasiness and vomitting to the taste of the medicine.  I dread having to take it.  I must, though, in order to get rid of the oral yeast infection (thrush).

When I woke up this morning, I laid quietly for a bit to see how my stomach was feeling.  This is just like what I used to do when I was pregnant with my kids.  You open you eyes.  You don't move because you don't want to cause your belly to slosh around.  Unfortunately, the soda crackers don't help the queasiness like it did when I was younger and pregnant.  I digress.  As I laid in the beam of sunshine slanting across my warm bed, I could hear the birds singing and chirping in our backyard.  I had the window open because it's been so spring-like outside the last few days.  Anyway, I could hear the robins, the mourning doves, the cardinals, the grackles, the crows, the red-winged blackbirds, the blue jays, the sparrows and the chickadees.  As I listened to the peaceful sounds, I thought how wonderful it is to be alive.  This seemed like such a contradiction considering my stomach was feeling queasy and I was having the "runs".  Then I had a light bulb moment!

In the mid 1980's, I went to a Women Alive Conference where Joni Earikson Tada was the guest speaker.  I remember because I had read her account of when she broke her neck in a diving accident as a teenager.  I remember her talking about always having "joy" in your heart.  She indicated at the time that this did not mean fleeting happiness but a deep, profound joy in all circumstances such as during her injury and rehabilitation to living as a quadriplegic.  I thought I understood at the time but I didn't grasp the fullness of it until today.  Today, my light bulb moment was when I fully realized you can feel deep joy even while feeling completely miserable.  I'll try to explain what I mean.  Today I had the joy of peace even while I struggled with a stomach that wanted to violently purge itself.  The joy of peace was listening to the different bird songs,  and learning to relax as I listenened to the birds.  I had such a wonderfully clear sense of being alive and was not just happy about it but joyful deep inside.

So that was just me trying to get up this morning.  I finished off another pair of socks today.  I did some reading.  My current novel is 921 pages long.  By late this afternoon, I was feeling much better and even did some pruning of my grape vines.  I do get frustrated with the very little amount I do before I'm tired.  I see so much of what I want to do and I'm still adjusting to accepting what my limits are.  I'm not overdoing it because I don't like how that makes me feel.  When I've done too much, I get very light-headed.  So I prune for a short bit.  Then I sit down and read or knit.  Then when I have restless energy again, usually an hour or so later, I do a little bit again.

I did have a great laugh late this afternoon.  I rediscovered one of my favourite BBC shows "Mrs. Brown's Boys".  It was wonderful to watch some newer episodes on You Tube.  I laughed so hard my cheeks were very sore.  My husband came home at this point and shared in the laughter.  Then we enjoyed some quiet time on the patio while his Shepherd's Pie heated up in the oven.  I did enjoy our dinner.  I've had to pass on the apple crisp for dessert  because I took my Nystatin which pretty much rules out any more eating tonight.

All in all today was a great day except for the restless feeling I've got happening.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Day 6 - 4th Chemo Cycle

As this cycle was advancing, I was dreading today.  Typically the day after I stop the prednisone (which is today), I am dragged out, feel miserable and feel like I'm spiralling downwards emotionally.  Today I was very tired and took it easy.  I'm finding that if I walk around too much, I get dizzy.  I slept, rested, read a book, knitted and spent some time sitting outside.  At one point this afternoon while I was on the patio, I just laid back and closed my eyes.  I let the sounds of the birds chirping and chattering soothe me.  At another point this afternoon, I was restless as I get when I'm bored.  I took this to be a good sign.  It means that things are looking up and getting better as far as this cycle goes.

I've been struggling to eat and drink in the last 2 days.  Today I tried steeping fresh ginger in hot water and drinking the "tea".  It seemed to work.  I'll have to keep this up and maybe I'll be able to handle my green ginger tea in the next couple of days.  I managed to eat half a sandwich at lunch and a little bit of pasta tonight at supper.  It filled me up and I passed on the dessert.  Anyone who knows me would be shocked that I passed up the dessert.

It looks like I'll be having family come to visit from out of town next week. This will be wonderful to see them and gives me something to look forward to. It gave me something useful to do today to look up hotels and motels. It felt good.

When I first took the Nystatin for thrush, I thought "It tastes pretty good!".  It does taste good, but it upsets my stomach and digestive system.  I have to continue this until Monday.  That seems like a long time so I'll just take it one day at a time.  I've managed to handle this whole journey by focusing on one day at a time.  If I look too far beyond, I get overwhelmed and concerned.  At this point, I have passed more days than I have left to go before the treatment ends.  Whoo Hooo!!!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Day 5 - 4th Chemo Cycle

I didn't sleep that well last night due to the rolling stomach and nausea that I've been experiencing.  I believe the nausea is worse at the moment because it is a side effect of some medication to treat a side effect of the chemotherapy.  Today, so far, I seem to have figured out a dosing schedule that is keeping me nauseous but not vomitting.

My morning routine is to read the paper and do the sudoku in the paper.  Then I pick up "The Friendship Book 2012" and go over the reading for the day.  After that, I carefully read and follow the meditation exercises in "The Book of Awakening".  I finish my quiet time with a light-hearted read of "The Book of Awesome!".  Today I opened "The Friendship Book 2012" and the first thing I saw was a photograph entitled "Nearly There".  It depicted a fishing boat at anchor with a brilliant sunset in the background which emphasized the background of mountains and land.  What caught my attention was the beautiful sunset and the title "Nearly There".  It spoke to me as I'm "nearly there" with only 2 more chemo treatments.  This lifted my spirits as I was a little apprehensive about how today was going to progress.  It makes it easier to face the illness now when I focus on just 2 more treatments!!

I had a nap just after eating my small lunch.  I awoke in the early afternoon and then moved outside to the patio to enjoy the beautiful warm sunshine.  It was so bright and warm!!  I did some knitting and then my eye caught the mess that my hostas and irises are.  I could see the poor little iris shoots trying to poke through the leftover debris from last year's irises.  So I got the rake and started to clean it up.  I did succeed in cleaning up that very small corner of the flowerbed until I got dizzy and light-headed which is my body's way of telling me "Sit down!!".  My sense of humour says this sounds a little like my husband and father-in-law telling me the same thing.  So I put away my rake and the bag of debris.  Then I sat down and continued my knitting.

The prednisone fools me into thinking I have more energy than I do.  So this translates into my not being able to sit still for very long.  I was up and wandering and then started visiting with my neighbours.  As I was standing at the fence, a male cardinal flew into our red maple tree.  He sat there for a little while watching us standing at the fence.  Then he flitted down to the birdfeeder to get a taste of the fresh seed I had just put into it moments before.  From my vantage point in the yard, the feeder and the cardinal were nicely framed by the limbs of our apple tree.  I was wishing I had my camera when along came the cardinal's mate.  She was highlighted by the sun and when she joined her mate at the feeder, it was like the sun created a spotlight on the two of them.  The male cardinal, as he always is, was a brilliant red.  However, the sun caught the female mate at just the right angle and I could even see her brilliant red even though it is slighted muted.

Unfortunately, after my visit with the neighbours and viewing the birds, I again felt dizzy and light-headed.  So off I went back to the patio chair and my knitting.  I was good and didn't do any more movement until it was time to go to the chiropractor.  I did have a sense of light-headedness for the rest of the day.

Overall, today was a much better day than yesterday.  I love the outdoors and I think this is helping me to feel better.  I'm a little anxious about tomorrow and Wednesdsay because this marks the end of the prednisone in this cycle.  It seems to be a pattern that the following 2 days will be more challenging emotionally but also physically.  Even if I'm stuck inside, I'm able to watch my tomato seeds grow and my alfalfa sprouts grow.  I've been eating the sprouts and today I'm sure the tomato plants grew as I watched them!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Day 4 - 4th Chemo Cycle

This has been the worst day so far in the whole ordeal since November 2011.  However, I can still find some good things in my day.  I'll start with the negative and end with the positive as that will help me look forward to tomorrow.

I woke up as usual and had a toasted bagel to go with my cholestrol medication, my prednisone, my thrush medication and my stool softeners.  I was full after half the bagel was eaten, but I continued to eat the rest.  As soon as everything was eaten, it came right back up.  Then the diahrrea started in.  This all left me very weak and pale.  As I laid in bed with all the blankets around me to keep warm, I said to Scott "I had hoped to get through the St. Patrick's Day weekend without turning green".  He was glad to see my sense of humour was still working.

So it's been a day of resting, laying in bed and running to the washroom.  I did manage to finish my anti-nausea medication and have used the supplemental medication as well.  It has to be taken with food, so I've managed to keep 2 bananas down today.  I've been trying to drink water so I'm not dehydrated.  The thought of drinking tea or anything but water currently makes my stomach gurgle and that's not in a good way.

In the midst of feeling absolutely miserable, all I could do was look at my grandmother's crucifix and ask God to hold me and keep me safe.  Then a very good friend dropped by and gave my son a card for me.  This was perfect timing and another Godcidence.

I started to feel a little better about mid-afternoon.  My husband helped me get to the patio where I managed to sit for about an hour while watching and listening to the birds.  What a sight I must have looked!!!  In my nightgown, housecoat, track pants, socks, slippers, hat and a thick afghan wrapped around my legs and covering my body.  Despite how I looked, it was nice to sit outside for a little bit.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Day 3 - 4th Chemo Cycle

The only good thing about today has been typing that I'm in the 4th chemo cycle.  I feel terrible.  I'm grumpy.  I'm so nauseous that today has been "one breath at a time" type of day.  I think the oral thrush infection isn't helping.  The medication that I take for it tastes all right, but it contributes to the nausea.  It also causes "the trots".

I've been cold all day while everyone says it's warm.  I've been in my housecoat, wrapped in 2 afghans with a hat on my head.  I finally went to bed this afternoon and wrapped myself up in my duvet.  Apparently I fell asleep.

I ate a little bit at supper but the garlic sauce, which I normally would have really enjoyed, stung my tongue due to the thrush infection.

As my doctor said on Wednesday, I'm in the dog days of treatment.  But I'm 2/3 of the way through.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Day 2 - 4th Chemo Cycle

Today I haven't felt too bad.  As long as I keep up with the anti-nausea medications then I don't feel too nauseous.  After breakfast, I noticed I was already getting the metallic/ugly after taste.  This normally doesn't show up until a bit later (like Day 3 or 4).  So I had lots of water to wash it away.  It didn't help.   It always helps to brush my teeth so I brushed again.  This was the second time already today and it was only after breakfast.  I've been tired which is par for the course so I've taken it easy by knitting and watching television.  I had a small lunch and then the after taste happened again.  I had another visit with my toothbrush when I noticed white patches were showing up on my tongue.

I called my primary nurse at the Cancer Centre to describe what was going on.  I'm glad I did because it ends up I had the beginnings of thrush.  This is a side effect of the prednisone.  So now I'm on some more medication to treat that.

I feel like one big chemical cocktail.  I'm on 6 stool softener pills a day, 3 pills a day of ondansetron (anit-nausea meds), 2 pills a day of prednisone, 4 doses of nystatin (to treat the thrush), 1 pill a day of ezetrol (cholestrol med), 2 pills of senokot (to fight constipation), 2 doses of lactulose (if the Senokot doesn't work) and more pills of a supplemental anti-nausea medication if needed.  All this when I normally do not take pills and I hate taking pills!!  There I have had my rant!

I noticed today that I was rather grumpy.  My husband is convinced that it is a side effect of the prednisone.  In taking some quiet time to think this afternoon, while I knitted, I think the ripples of anger may be coming from a feeling of helplessness.  This isn't helplessness about looking after myself but more of a helplessness about what's going on inside my body.  I know that my body is continuing the fight against the cancer cells.  I also know my body is reacting to the chemicals that have been injected directly into the blood stream.  But I am helpless as to how my body reacts to all these agents invading it.  I just have to ride this out for the next week.  Anyway, the grumpiness of all this is coming out at my family around me in little comments.  I'm not really upset with my family.  They have been supportive in their own ways.  As I read my "The Frienship Book 2012" today, it quoted the author, Margaret Lee Runbeck.  Here's the quote as quoted from the Friendship Book.  ""Apology," she wrote, "is a lovely perfume; it can transform the clumsiest moment into a gracious gift"."

Needless to say, today I was apologizing more often than I have in previous days.  If my husband is correct about the prednisone, then it will be a rougher ride for my family until about Monday.  I hope it won't be.

Last night it was nice to be reminded by family and friends that I'm now two thirds of the way through my treatments.  I'm just going to focus on one day at a time for now.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Day 1 - 4th Chemo Cycle

I went in this morning for my 4th chemo treatment.  All went well although I did get a headache from one of the chemicals.  The extra-strength tylenol is working at keeping it at bay.

My appetite isn't affected too much yet.  My taste buds were starting to change by dinner tonight.  I tried to eat some soup and it tasted like cough syrup.  The coleslaw was good so I ate that to get rid of the cough syrup taste.  I'm drinking lots of water to flush the chemo through me and out.

I'm very tired today.  I had multiple night sweats last night and when I wasn't sweating and soaking the bedding, I was kept awake by the thunder storms that swept through overnight.  So as the chemo was pumped into me, I dozed and rested.  I also spent my time reading my novel that I'm currently on.  I did have a nap this afternoon.  I've felt cold most of today even though everyone says it is warm.

Last night and today, I've received many encouraging emails from family and friends.  These help lift my spirits and carry me through the "dark days" of treatment.  The instant messages through the use of technology is great to read in the moments while I'm struggling.  Having said that, I still enjoy opening the mailbox and seeing cards or letters in the daily mail.  During the last few months, I've wondered if our mailman recognizes the increase in cards being delivered.  I wonder if he ever wonders why.  Just a thought to ponder.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Day 21 - 3rd Chemo Cycle

I was to my doctor today.  My red blood cell counts and my platelet (clotting cells) counts were well within the normal range.  My white blood cell counts were just under the normal mark.  My doctor is very pleased with my progress.   I did mention to the doctor that I don't have much stamina.  He said this is quite normal and it will rebound once the treatments are all finished.  I also have had a sore throat through most of this cycle and struggling with hoarseness again.  It had seemed to let up.  Dr. Meyer checked my throat and it looked clear of any infection.  He mentioned that the nerve running to my larynx was affected by the tumour pressing on it.  It will take some time for the nerve to heal.  The nerve may be also slow in healing because the Vincristin (one of the chemo drugs) can affect the nerves.  This particular nerve may be highly sensitive to the Vincristin because it was already compromised.  Dr. Meyer had a great quote which was "You're now in the dog days of treatment". This means I'm in the middle and may be getting tired of it all.  This is true.  I've been anxious the last couple of days and I am dreading this next round.  I really don't like feeling miserable although I'm still able to knit and feel useful which helps me mentally.

I forgot to mention that yesterday when I was briefly pruning the grape vine, one of the twigs caught my touque and pulled it off my head.  I was quite embarrassed and hoped that none of my neighbours saw me with my balding head.  I felt rather exposed.  I'm sure it must have looked funny though.

It was too cold today to sit out although it was very sunny.  Today I did get to walk a good distance to my appointment.  The fresh air always makes me feel good.  Perhaps as the warmer weather arrives now, I'll be able to sit outside during my worst times and enjoy the warmth of the sun.  My husband has even offered to tuck the afghans around me to keep me warm.  We'll have to see.  I don't want to get sunburned as I will be more susceptible to that due to the side effects of the chemo.

I'm off now to enjoy a Shamrock Shake.  I have always loved these milkshakes from McDonalds leading up to St. Patrick's Day.  I have to get mine tonight or else I have to wait until next year.  I can't see that my body would enjoy it anytime soon after my chemo treatment.  So off I go.  One more treat before the injection tomorrow!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Day 20 - 3rd Chemo Cycle

Today was another beautiful day outside.  It was sunny and warm.  I woke up, fed my cat and then washed my bedding.  It was so nice to hang it outside this morning.  By late this afternoon it was dry and I love the fresh smell of sheets/clothes dried on the line.  I also get great enjoyment watching them flap in the breeze.  One of the small things that I enjoy in life.

This morning I caught up on some emails, mail and daily readings.  Then I played the piano for about 35 minutes.  I seem to be able to start playing longer now before I get weary.  I spent my afternoon outside on the patio reading my novel.  Although I also puttered around the yard a bit.  I noticed my rhubarb is starting to poke through the ground.  I started on the pruning of my grape vines although I'm going slowly as to what my energy and body dictates.  So as a result, the vines don't really look like they've had anything done to them.  Oh well, I know that I pruned them a little bit.  I'll continue with that in a couple of weeks when I'll be feeling better again.  In about that time, I'll also be able to rake the leaves out of my flowerbeds and clean out some of the dead plant material.  I don't clean the beds up too much in the Fall because I like to leave some of the plant material for the birds to use in building their nests in the Spring.  The leaves also insulate the plants from the frost and snow.  I'll be slowly cleaning things up and putting them in the compost when I'm feeling better in this next cycle of chemotherapy.

I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow and if all goes well, I'll be having my fourth chemotherapy on Thursday at 9 a.m.

My family all arrived back this evening after being away for a couple of days.  I had a really nice phone call from my brother-in-law and sister-in-law this evening as well.  I also had a very good friend over for tea tonight and had a wonderful visit.  The time always flies whenever we get together.  Somehow we always end up in gales of laughter and silliness.  This is just what I needed as I face the upcoming treatment.  Thanks a million!!

It was a super day!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Day 19 - 3rd Chemo Cycle - "Alone"

I have a couple of days to myself with no one around.  Am I going to feel lonely?  Get depressed?  These were my thoughts when I was in the house last night by myself athough I do have my trusty cat, Frodo, with me.  He didn't leave my side all night long.

I awoke this morning at 7 a.m. to Frodo meowing to be fed.  I was still very tired, so I fed him and changed his water and went back to bed.  Next time I woke up it was 10:45 a.m.  This is so unlike me!!  Anyway, up I got and started my morning routine.  I read the paper, then the daily reading in "The Friendship Book 2012", the daily reading in "The Book of Awakening" and an excerpt from a more light-hearted book called "The Book of Awesome".

I'm also following a Lenten Study from my church which is focusing on the "song of my soul".  As I followed the outline, I came across hymns which would be sung as a group at the study.  So off I went to the piano and started to play the hymns.  Playing hymns has continued to be a challenge for me, not musically but because I want to sing them.  I found this morning I was playing the hymns as if I was singing them and I was singing quietly in my head.  At the end of the music, I just sat quietly with no background noise and felt comfort and peace.  This may have been me listening to my soul.  What I realized was I still have the same ability to worship!!  This was a huge breakthrough as I've been mourning the loss of my singing voice for the last three months.

I continued to let my mind wander and ponder various aspects of comfort and peace.  My pondering led me to think of all the different religions and Christian denominations that have been represented by my friends' prayers, support, and positive vibes since the beginning of my journey with cancer.  These various forms of religion include Wicca, Buddhism, and Christianity (Catholic, United Church of Canada, Baptist, Morman, Wesleyan, Anglican, and Pentacostal).  As I pondered the various religions and my friends that participate in these religions, I wondered why can we not be open and accept everyone without judgement.  We're all there for each other and bring positive aspects to our world.  In the end it all makes the world a better place.  How wonderful it was to have a quiet household with no activity and the opportunity to think deeply without interruption.

After my devotion/meditation time, I realized it was time for lunch.  I had some lentil soup and then was energized to spend time outside in the warm sunshine.  I dug out the gardening gloves and the rake.  I was going to tackle the leaves along the fences which were leftover from the Fall when I had no energy to finish them up.  Before I even started, I had a wonderful visit with my neighbours as I leaned against the fence.  At the end of the visit, I managed to get one fence line of leaves raked and put into our composter.  Then I was tired.  So I put away the rake and gloves but I didn't want to go back inside.  It was so nice out in the sun.  I went inside and got the novel I'm currently reading.  I put out a patio chair in the sun and sat down with my book to soak up the lovely warmth of the sun which was soaking through to my bones while I read my book. anyone who knows me well, it is difficult to sit still.  The bird feeder was empty so I found the birdseed and filled the feeder.  Now I can sit and read my book.  But....I saw that my garden lamps were lopsided because of the ground freezing and thawing.  So up I got and straightened them out.  Now I'm happy and can sit and read.  But.....then I heard the various bird songs and activity.  I looked up and saw birds chirping and flitting playfully about.  I saw sparrows, black-capped chickadees which have a spot of yellow on the belly near the wing, Carolina chickadees which have a pale yellow belly, red-winged blackbirds, a seagull and some robins.  The chickadees and sparrows were coming very close to me as I sat still and quiet on the patio.  Our patio is surrounded by grape vines and the birds would go to the feeder, then flit to the grape vines to crack open the seeds and eat the meat of the seed.  It was fun to watch the activity.  Then my eye caught sight of a black squirrel.  I watched it scamper and frolick through the tree branches.  Then it tried to leap from one branch to another.  My heart leaped to my throat as the squirrel just made it as it clung and scrabbled for footing on the branch.  I watched it cling with its front claws and then haul itself up to safety.  The black squirrel then continued to scamper across the branch in the sunshine and out of sight.  Although I didn't get as much read from my book as I had hoped, it was very peaceful and comforting to watch the antics of the birds and the squirrel.

Even as a young child, I loved nature and the outdoors.  There's nothing like walking through the quiet woods in winter and taking the time to identify the different pawprints of the forest residents.  Then there's walking through the same forest in the hot summertime when the shade of the trees provides you with a coolness that cannot be imitated.  Today was a magnificent day as I enjoyed one of my most favourite activities.  I soaked up the healing warmth of the sunshine while I read a good book.  I listened and immersed myself in nature.  This truly was a balm to the spirit!!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Day 18 - 3rd Chemo Cycle

I had a good day today although I have been tired all day.  I had wanted to get to church and to watch my son compete in his curling playoffs.  I didn't get to do either but I did go for a slow walk with my husband.

In the past, I was always the one who was striding quickly while I walk and Scott was the one struggling to keep up.  Currently, I don't have the energy or strength to walk quickly but it was nice to get out and walk.  I just take twice as long as I used to.  Scott was the one that had to slow his gait for me this time.

It is so nice to be in this part of the cycle where my appetite is back and in the new scheme of things, I feel well.

After our walk, we watched the Brier Bronze medal game.  I continued knitting the first sock of the next pair of socks.  Thank goodness for the yarn I have as well as all the books that are waiting for me to read.  I don't feel like I'm going to be bored any time soon.  I even managed to play the piano today for a little longer.  Again, my stamina has been interrupting my ability to play the piano for more than 20 minutes.  At least I can still play piano!  Tonight I'm going to watch the Championship Game of the Brier and, you guessed it, continue my knitting.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Day 17 - 3rd Chemo Cycle

Overall, I had a quiet day today.  As always, I checked my email this morning.  An email, from a friend of mine in PEI, was waiting to greet me this morning.  It always lifts my spirits to see her unread emails in my inbox.

For a change of scenery, I rode around in the van while my husband ran a couple of errands.  It was nice to get out.  Once we arrived home, I decided to check my gardens.  It has been so warm lately that my forsythia bushes have little buds on them.  I even noticed that my peonies in the west facing flowerbed have shoots starting to push through the earth.  This is much too early especially when we received some snow yesterday and the temperature dropped overnight.  I hope the new growth doesn't get frozen.  I did enjoy the fresh air as I walked around the yard.

Once I was inside, I settled down with my knitting to watch the Brier this afternoon.  I'm again watching it tonight as I knit.  I'm very tired since we got back from the errands this afternoon.  My stamina is not very good.

It could also be that I'm tired because I've been awake since 5 a.m. because I was having night sweats.  This could just be age related.  However, that's what I thought throughout the Fall and then I found out it is a symptom of lymphoma.  I'll be mentioning this to my doctor when I see him on Wednesday.  It's so confusing because a lot of the symptoms of the lymphoma are also symptoms of my age and peri-menopause.

I'm doing a lot of knitting today because I'm also getting anxious about the next round of chemo. The knitting distracts me from my anxiety.  I really don't like the chemo.  I am almost dreading the next "bad" time.  However, when I have these thoughts, then I talk to myself and say that "without the chemo, I could have already been put in the ground at any time from now until June".  I'll do the chemo and I will survive the side effects.  I have too much to live for and the chemo will cure me.  It really is a waste of time to fret about the next round.   To fret about Thursday (my next treatment) robs me of my good time now and worrying doesn't stop the treatment day from arriving.

I'm hoping to go to church tomorrow, but if I'm as tired as I have been for the last 6 hours, then I won't be going out.  I would also like to watch my son play in the playoffs of his curling league tomorrow afternoon.  It all will depend on how I feel.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Day 16 - 3rd Chemo Cycle

Today was a fairly quiet day.  I am tired today.   My cheeks are still achy from smiling and laughing so much yesterday with my good friends that travelled from afar for a visit.

My alfalfa sprouts that I planted on Tuesday are already sprouting!  It always makes me feel good when I see my seeds start to poke through the soil.  I think this is because it is a sign of new life and the beginning of Spring.  I can't wait to use the sprouts on sandwiches and in salads.

I had a very good friend over for tea this afternoon.  I've missed her while she was ill with a cold and then busy.  It was nice to catch up over tea.  We used to get together once a week to play flute and oboe duets.  I really miss that.  Until my voice is stronger, I'm afraid to play the flute as in November it seemed to affect my throat.  When I mentioned to my friend that I miss seeing her weekly and playing flute with her, she reminded me that this is most likely a temporary break from playing together.  I hope so.

I think I have a new side effect showing up.  I've developed some mouth sores inside my mouth.  One of them is quite painful.  It woke me up during the night.  When I first met Dr. Meyer, my oncologist, on January 4, he gave me some pamplets on each of the medications that are part of my chemotherapy.  In each pamplet, there is a description of possible side effects, uncommon side effects and most rare side effects of each drug.  Along with the descriptions, there are suggestions on what to do to ease the side effects and when it is necessary to contact the doctor.  Anyway, the mouth sores are quite common side effects.  So there I was a 2 a.m. looking up what to do to treat the mouth sores.  The suggestion was to rinse with 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda mixed with 250 ml of water.  I did that at 2 and it was very soothing.  It allowed me to sleep the rest of the night.  I'll have to remember to do that again tonight just before I go to bed.

I'll probably have another quiet day tomorrow.  On quiet days, I spend my time knitting while I watch television or listen to music.  When I need a change in activity, I switch to reading.  I have one book on the go and some magazines to catch up on.  I still have several books patiently waiting for me to pick them up and start reading.  Thanks to my many friends and supporters, I have many opportunities to sit quietly but still keep my mind occupied and my hands busy.  Without those activities, I think I would go insane.  It has always been very difficult for me to sit quietly.  I'm slowly learning how to do this.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Day 15 - 3rd Chemo Cycle - "Reconnecting"

Today was the day that I was looking forward to throughout the awful first 10 days of this cycle.  My friends from Avonmore were coming to visit!!  I spent my morning finishing up a pair of socks for the homeless shelter.  My morning couldn't go fast enough as I waited for my friends to arrive from their 2 hour trip from home to here.  These were women that had children the same age as mine.  We were going through the same stages when they were infants, toddlers, preschoolers and then school age children.  We were all a support for each other and worked together for community projects and events.  When we moved away it was very difficult to say good bye or see you later to the many friends in that community.  I have missed them every day since.  So when I heard a few of them were planning a road trip to see me this month, it gave me a tremendous boost and a target to fix my mind upon during the difficult days at the beginning of this chemo cycle.

They arrived at 12 Noon and came bearing a cooler and a box full of food.  My freezer is full and the slow cooker was pulled out and filled with roast beef,  new potatoes and au jus.  Thus, supper would be ready for my family without any effort.  The roast beef is from our friends' farm and the potatoes are from their garden along with the frozen corn niblets.  Another of the ladies made a cake for our dessert tonight.

My husband dropped by and was able to visit with them too before he had to head out on the road.  We visited and laughed and caught up with each other.  Then we went out for lunch.  We continued talking and laughing and reminiscing over lunch.  Then we continued our visit back at my home again.  This time our friends were able to see our children.  The last time they saw them, the kids were small children.  They both stand at least 6 ft. tall now.  I haven't laughed and had such a good time in a long while.  Pictures were taken and in a blink of an eye, it was time for our friends to return to their homes.  This afternoon passed by much too quickly.  I realized my stamina is not very good as I was quickly tiring as it became later in the afternoon.  However, I was with friends where it didn't matter if I started to look tired.  I can sleep early tonight and all morning tomorrow to recuperate.  This visit was so worth it.  It's like the years of separation hadn't even happened.  I still feel the glow of love and friendship tonight.

The kids and I had the beef, potatoes and corn for supper.   I made a gravy in the slow cooker to go with the beef and potatoes.  It was all very delicious.  My daughter doesn't remember when we used to buy our beef from our friends' farm and how it tastes better than what we get at the grocery store.  She loved it!!  We were too full for the cake right away, but later in the evening we all had a piece and it was wonderful.  The leftover beef will be used for school lunches tomorrow!  As I was cleaning up and putting leftovers into the fridge, I came across the package of coleslaw mix and dressing that I was supposed to make to go with the supper.  I had totally forgotten it was in the fridge.  I'll make it as part of our supper tomorrow night.

When my friends arrived this morning, our cat was not very receptive to being invaded by new people entering into the house.  He showed his displeasure with a hiss and a growl.  Then he promptly ran away from the hustle and bustle of our living room.  One of my friends was really not comfortable with Frodo.  We have a stuffed toy cat that looks just like our real cat.  Frodo (our real cat) often plays with the stuffed cat.  When we returned to our house after lunch, we were still laughing, chatting and visiting.  I then heard my friend, who was uncomfortable with Frodo, make a sound of fear and shock.  I turned around and she thought that Frodo was laying on his side, expired and bloated like a piece of road kill.  Then she realized that this was our toy cat.  We all had a great laugh!!

I can't thank my friends enough for the wonderful visit that I had with them today!  We talked about health concerns but we also enjoyed each other's company and caught up on each others' lives.  The deep affection I still feel for them will carry me through this next round of chemo in one week's time.  Thank you is too inadequate a word for the depth of gratitude that I feel for the day they gave me today.

Physically, I felt really good today.  I'm very tired tonight.  I really believe that if you surround yourself with positives (love, fun, prayers, good vibes, karma, etc) then you can overcome some of the negatives in a difficult situation.  It doesn't change the fact that there's cancer in my life, but it distracts my mind from dwelling on it.  All the positives can also help the mind lessen some of the physical and mental side effects of treatment, at least in my situation.

This was an excellent day!!!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Day 14 - 3rd Chemo Cycle

As I expected, I was very tired today after my active day yesterday.  I'm slowly learning that I don't have much stamina.  I had a nap this afternoon and was awakened by my cat who decided to sit on my shoulder and stare at me until I woke up.  I think this was his way of waiting to be fed.  It's rather disconcerting to wake up and see big green eyes staring at you.

It was a quiet day of knitting and watching television.  I was content to have a quiet day.  I did have a very nice "telephone" visit with a friend from Cornwall this afternoon and then another "visit" with my mom tonight.  It's also interesting to hear how many church communities are praying for me.  The current count is 7 different church congregations are keeping me in their prayers!!  This is a little overwhelming but very touching as well.  This doesn't take into account the many people who are sending individual prayers, good vibes, positive thoughts and karma my way as well.  I'm feeling very comforted and cared for.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow when I see some friends who I haven't seen in 10 years!!  Tomorrow is going to be another great day!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Day 13 - 3rd Chemo Cycle

Today was the best day so far this cycle!  I awoke full of energy and feeling "normal".  I was able to finally enjoy a cup of coffee.  How I've missed my morning coffee.  It tasted so good.

I've had a full day.  It felt tremendous to be able to be active!  I'm well aware that I need to be careful that I don't get an infection.  My hands are dry and chapped so I didn't want to get any dirt in them while I plant my seeds.  A friend had suggested using surgical gloves which lets me still have tactile function in doing the planting.  So on went the gloves and I was all set.  I dug out my seeding flats and pots.  I washed and sterilized them all.  A couple containers still had some dirt leftover from last year's plants.  So I sterilized the dirt so I could use it again this year.  Then I found all my seeds.  I waited for the sterilized soil to cool and then I started to play.  I mixed the recycled dirt with the new seeding soil I had bought last week.  I also mixed some vermiculite into it too.  I had fun crumbling up the clumps of dirt into a fine soil.  I filled my trays with the dirt and then using my finger poked little indentations into the soil.  Then in went the seeds and I covered them up.  Then all the trays received a sprinkling of water, not too much but not too little either.

I love working with dirt.  It brings back memories of when I was a young child and playing in the dirt and mud at my grandparent's farm.  I remember the laneway had a couple of indentations that always collected the water after it rained.  I will never forget the day that my sister and I put on our rubber boots and went out to play.  We found the mud puddles and started a mud fight.  This was much like a snowball fight but with balls of mud.  We were a mess!!!  My mother and grandmother were not very happy with us but we had fun.  We were literally covered from head to toe with mud!  I apologize for going off on a tangent.  I had great fun working with the dirt today and planting my seeds.  I dug out my card table and set it up in front of the west facing window in my living room.  It gets the most sun and the warmest sun in the afternoon.  The trays of seeds are lined up ready to receive the bright, warm sun each day.  I feel like a child who will be watching the trays every day.

I know that I'm a little early to be starting some of the seeds but with my next chemo treatment coming next week, I'm afraid I would be too late when I have the energy to do it again.  I hope that seeing the seeds sprout and grow will help keep me in good spirits in the next chemo cycle.

After cleaning up, I was tired.  So I sat down and wrote some letters.  When I glanced at the clock, I realized that my day had marched right past.  It was late afternoon and time to think about supper.  I had planned to make chicken korma but I was still tired.  So I just sat for a little longer.  But time marched quickly on and the phone rang.  I looked at the clock and it was now 5:00!!

Thank goodness my husband was calling to say he was running late.  Whew!!!  So I tossed this and that into the pan and sauteed it.  I put a pot of water to boil and added pasta shells.  By the time supper was finished cooking, I had come up with an Eastern Chicken Pasta Casserole.  It smelled delicious!  My son came upstairs and went "Mmmmmm".  He proceeded to look over my shoulder and into the oven.  It smelled so good, he couldn't wait for supper to be served.

Supper was a hit.  My family enjoyed it and there's enough for leftovers tomorrow night.  I've officially stopped for the night and will enjoy watching some television while I knit the current sock I'm working on.  It's been a great day and I'm so happy to have enjoyed every single moment today.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Day 12 - 3rd Chemo Cycle

Today I was very, very tired.  My abdomen was more painful today.  I was still constipated so I went to the chiropractor this afternoon.  It worked and by tomorrow I should feel much better, I hope.  The chiropractor's office was busy and I realized that I'm afraid to look up and around.  I don't want to see people staring at me in my touque.  My colour was also a little off today.

I  worked on knitting another sock all day.  I didn't have energy to do anything else.  Although tonight I did go to the mall to pick up a few items. 

Just that brief outing has exhausted me again.  Oh well, there's nothing on the agenda for tomorrow and I can sleep in if needed.  I didn't get my seeds planted today, so if I'm up to it tomorrow, I'll do that.

My appetite is coming back.  It does seem as if the "bad" first week is lingering longer in this cycle.  As always, I'm hoping I'm in the upswing of the cycle and tomorrow will be a better day.   

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Day 11 - 3rd Chemo Cycle

I woke up this morning at 4:00 wide awake.  I was still awake when everyone else started rousing at 7:30.  I felt really good so I decided that I would go to church this morning.  I haven't been to a Sunday morning service since December 11, 2011.  Choosing clothing was not difficult.  Choosing what to wear to cover my head was more challenging.  Anyone who knows me well, knows that I do not like to fuss with my hair.  Since there is almost no hair, this translates into not liking to fuss with hats, scarves, touques, etc.  I started off with a lighter weight touque which a friend gave me and I dressed it up with a scarf I had bought in February.  My daughter has a very good sense of style, so I modelled it and asked her opinion.  She thought it looked good.  I showed my husband and he said the same thing.  But....each time I looked in the mirror I saw "Aunt Jemima".  The scarf wound around the edge of the touque and knotted at the top of the middle of my forehead.  I couldn't get past the "Aunt Jemima" look.  And I was sweltering! So off came the ensemble with only 30 minutes before the service was to start.  Back to the drawing board.  The same friend that gave me the light weight touque also gave me a filmy blue scarf with sliver thread woven throughout.  I picked it up and tried different ways of tying it around my head like I had seen on Youtube awhile ago.  Each one looked like a 5 year old had done it.  In frustration, I tried one more way of using the scarf.  This was my own last ditch effort not seen anywhere before. looked good.  My daughter loved it.  My husband loved it.  We left for church before I could rethink it.

I was emotionally overwhelmed by the reception of everyone at church when they saw me.  Everyone was so supportive and caring!  They liked my "hat".  They commented on how pink my cheeks were.  I enjoyed the service but part way through I started to tire.  I noticed I was a little wobbly getting up for one of the hymns.  I didn't want to leave because I was receiving so much from the prayers, the music, the reflection and scriptures as well as my "church family".  So I stayed sitting through the rest of the "standing" moments in the service.  My intention was to leave right after the service.  How nice it was to be surrounded by friends who wanted to tell me how nice it was to see me out at church.  One teenager, who I have always been able to joke with, couldn't wait to tell me that she's currently working on learning "Fur Elise" and "Moonlight" Sonata by Beethoven.  She wants to play it for me so I suggested she tape it and put it up on Facebook for me to see.  I'd love to hear her.  I just couldn't this morning as I was getting very tired.

As I was leaving the church, I realized how tired I was.  My knees got weak as I was going down the stairs to leave the church.  I went to the van and waited for my husband to join me.  I looked in the vanity mirror on the passenger side and realized that my scarf arrangement reminded of the hat that Clark Griswold wears in the attic in "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation"! When Scott climbed into the van, I mentioned this to him.  We both had a good laugh.  Scott also noticed that I was going quite pale.  We got home and I enjoyed a small bowl of soup and immediately went for a nap.

I've knitted and watched the early draws on tv of the Tim Hortons Brier (curling) this afternoon.  I'm still constipated but I don't currently have an achy abdomen.  My appetite is coming back.  We had maple spareribs for supper tonight and I was able to eat a good portion.  A church friend dropped off some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for us today.  I tried one and realized my taste buds aren't totally right yet.  I normally love these cookies but not at the moment.  Oh well, my children will really enjoy them unless my husband eats them first.

Today was such a good day!  I'm hoping to plant some seeds indoors tomorrow in preparation for spring planting.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Day 10 - 3rd Chemo Cycle

I'm feeling much better today.  My energy level was a little higher.  Unfortunately, I'm being visited by the constipation bug again.  I've been taking all the different medications suggested by my doctor.  Earlier this week I passed the Days 5, 6 and 7 without any problems.  Compared to my last cycles of treatment, these were the days where the issue of constipation started to arise.  I had hoped that I finally managed to miss this side effect.  So although today I'm feeling better from the chemo going into me, I'm now struggling with getting things moving.  Today my nausea was dissipating but now I'm not hungry because of the full feeling and achy gut.  I've been losing weight and I'm trying to keep my nutrient intake going.

Oh well, I'm going back to the drawing board of taking stool softeners and 2 different natural laxatives.  At least the new laxative called lacutose tastes good and isn't chalky or anything.

I managed to do 2 loads of laundry today.  Yesterday I started going through old papers and files.  Today I finished doing that and then worked on shredding the documents.  I even slipped a nap in this afternoon because for some reason shredding paper tired me out.  I know I'm feeling better because I want to be out and about.  My daughter was curling in a charity bonspiel in support of Multiple Sclerosis.  I really wanted to go and watch her curl.  I couldn't guarantee that I would be able to spend the whole afternoon out.  Considering I've been taking laxative stuff, I now have to worry about it suddenly working.  This is not something I want to have happen while I'm out.  So I missed watching her curling this afternoon.

I missed my daughter's performance at the Kiwanis Music Festival on Wednesday too.  She played "Fur Elise" by Beethoven.  Obviously I've heard her practicing at home, but it would have been nice to go and support her as she performed.  She did well.  Perhaps I'm a little biased, but I think she has more talent than I do.  I love listening to her play the descending chromatic run towards the end.  She plays it very well and it is so smooth without accents.  I know that I will have other opportunities to support her in the future.  This is why I'm going through the chemotherapy so that I can be there for my children's accomplishments in the future.  It is just disappointing that I am missing some of their activities now.

I guess I'm just showing my impatience.  You'd think that I would have learned better patience already through this experience.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Day 9 - 3rd Chemo Cycle - "Encouragement"

This last week has been long and tiring.  Yesterday and again this morning I was beginning to question the usefulness of this blog.  It is useful for me to face my circumstances each day as well as what I feel and react to these circumstances.  I was questionning the need to post every day.  I was starting to think about the people who read the blog and if the posts were starting to become repetitious drivel.  I didn't share any of these thoughts with anyone.

This morning, I had a phone conversation with my minister.  I did not share my thoughts of the blog with her.  In the course of conversation, she relayed that the blog is continuing to be a blessing and encouragement to others.  What a Godcidence!!  Here I am having an ongoing debate with myself and God steps in and provides an answer.  This made me feel encouraged and even helped me feel a little better physically.

Speaking of physically, today I was still very tired but not as weak.  My stomach is still tender but I think I'm on the upswing.  I decided to lay down for a rest this afternoon and read a book.  Three hours later I awoke just before my children came home from school.  I saw them walking up the street from the bus stop and I noticed my daughter was carrying something.  I was curious but decided not to ask her about what she was carrying.

After taking off her boots, she came into the living room and handed me a gift bag.  She said "A girl in my drama class gave this to me to give to you.  It's from her mother."  I asked who the girl was and I didn't know the name.  I opened up the bag and there was a book of daily readings.  This generous and wonderful lady enclosed a note stating she accidentally came across my blog and has been reading it every day.  She sent me this book of encouraging and inspirational readings as a thank you for sharing my journey with her!!  I'm so touched that I can not find enough words to eloquently express the depth of feeling.  I really feel like God has stepped up and shown me confirmation and encouragement to continue the blog.  This Godcidence is truly God speaking to me as my needs have been met without me even voicing them.

As my daughter was the messenger of the gift, she sat in the living room with me for a little while and we really communicated.  It was like the warm sun shining out from behind the dark, purple clouds.  I was so happy that we were able to talk to each other about our day without any tension at all.  It's been too long.

We had dinner delivered again tonight.  We had hamburger soup with crusty bread.  My daughter normally doesn't like the soup I make.  Tonight she tasted the soup and really enjoyed it.  She wants me to get the recipe.  She enjoyed the soup so much that she finished her meal before the rest of us.  I can't thank my friends from church enough for all their prayers and support (meals, chats, baked goods, and cards).  Our family is truly being blessed.

Tonight I am encouraged and feeling like I'm coming out of the dark and into the light of the rest of this third cycle.  Although I still tire very easily today, I think that tomorrow and the following days will be better.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Day 8 - 3rd Chemo Cycle

When I awoke this morning, it felt like I was going to have a good day.  I felt alert and normal.  However, after I actually got out of bed, I was quite weak again today.  Each time I got up to do anything I was dizzy and weak.  My stomach today has been nauseous again.  My taste buds are off.  Smells are making my stomach turn.  Brushing my teeth makes me gag.  This feels like when I was pregnant with my daughter but soda crackers are not helping to ease the side effects.

I am so thankful for friends from church who are delivering supper to us.  There was no way today that I could have cooked a meal.  Even if I could handle looking at or smelling food cooking, I couldn't stand for very long.  I did eat a healthy portion of supper.  Hopefully this is a sign that my taste buds are coming back and I'm on the upswing.

At my last appointment, my oncologist mentioned that the third and fourth chemo cycles are the worst for people because it is in the middle of the entire treatment.  I'm thinking that this cycle has been the worst for me so far in terms of side effects and feeling ill.  I've been having a stronger gag reflex this time around.  In the previous cycles, I've been feeling much better by Day 8.  That hasn't happened this cycle.  I also notice I'm pale during this cycle.

I'm hoping that I will start to feel much better in the next couple of days.  One thing I'm learning from this experience is that I can't plan ahead.  I have to take it one day at a time.