December 15, 2011

Oh Holy Night Sweats …

Night sweats vs. hot flashes … and the winner is … night sweats!  Many thanks to the two sessions of chemotherapy as it has thrust me into early onset of menopause.  Delightful, chemotherapy is the gift that keeps on giving.  Previously I set the intention that I would “bring my cycle back on-line” and this would signal my body is coming back into balance; the added benefit, no more hot flashes or night sweats.  I have reevaluated this intention and have dismissed it as a foolish benchmark of balance.  Besides, do I really want to begin the process of menopause over a second time?  I think not!  For now, I dress in layers, carry a fan in my purse, and proudly announce when a hot flash is making its way on scene.  I will embrace each hot flash happily with the understanding that I must love my body, just as it is. 

I am still processing a conversation that took place during a women’s Christmas brunch.  The brunch was delightful and laughter filled.  During the gift exchange, the women began to speaking of a dear friend that recently passed-away from cancer, I did not know her.  The stories of her touched me deeply; she was a young woman in her 30’s with three children under nine years of age.  The stories recounted included the deep love shared between husband and wife, the joy felt each time the mother looked into her children’s eyes, and the meaningful imprint made in the lives of those around her.  The shared stories of this young mother were touching and inspiring; as these women spoke, tears filled my eyes.  Although I desired to share in their stories, the urge to get-up and run into another room, fall to my knees, and weep was marked.  Questions, thoughts, and feelings overwhelmed my soul.  I questioned, when it is my time to leave this earth, how will people speak of me? Have I made a positive imprint on the lives of those around me so much so that they will recount touching and loving memories of their time with me?  This experience was deeply touching and thought provoking; the seriousness of my reality flooded my mind.  Did these women forget that I am living with a serious cancer diagnosis?  I paused to remind myself that the collective conscious is that I am healthy and this is an outstanding phenomenon.  As the conversation progressed, I could feel myself settling in as though I was watching from afar as a virtual observer.  This conversation was the beginning of an emotionally charged and trying couple of days.

After meeting with my local Ayurvedic practitioner, I felt uneasy and I began to explore why I felt this way; this feeling set-in for two days.  It seemed as though I was walking a tightrope and I knew it would not take much to knock me off balance.  I lost my balance after receiving a return telephone call from my local oncologist.  It has been approximately seven weeks since my last blood work panel and I contacted her office inquiring if they would order the blood panel, as we previously discussed.  I was not pleased to learn that she [oncologist] was refusing to order blood work earlier than every 12 weeks.  What I was not prepared for was the distasteful tone as the telephone call progressed.  I expressed to the doctor that if I were currently receiving chemotherapy then I would have a complete blood panel conducted every three weeks.  Although I am not receiving chemotherapy, I am in the middle of working to bring my body back into balance in an effort to eradicate cancer from my body.  The doctor smugly expressed many thoughts including if your alternative person wants your blood work so bad then they can order it and the standard of care when monitoring cancer is to order blood work every three months.  I gently reminded her that my Ayurvedic practitioner does not have the ability to order blood work and it was not for them, it was for me; noting it would be irresponsible of me not to monitor my blood work.  I next remarked that there is no established standard of care when a patient chooses alternative instead of western medicine.  The more she spoke the more I realized that this doctor was not only mocking me but had become a bully.  Is that what western medical healthcare professionals do when a patient chooses to be in the driver’s seat of their own health care?  In the nearly five months since my diagnosis, I have never encountered such a hostile, uncompassionate, aggressive, and distasteful individual until now.  Distressed and taken back by her behavior and attitude; I simply ended the telephone call.  I was completely blindsided by this bump in the road; I became emotional and tried to grasp why another person would treat someone as she did.  Did she even realize or care that I had become unsettled?  Does she not understand that I am somewhat alone in my quest to find balance?  I was not in a good space emotionally.  I was not questioning my treatment choices that one is an easy choice– do I want to continue to poison my body or balance it? Balance!  I was however, feeling alone, fragile, and deceived.

When the oncologist and I first met, we discussed the totality of my alternative treatments and the timeline for my blood work; she agreed and never voiced an objection.  Perhaps her practice had a policy change or her professional ideology shifted; this remains a mystery.  I certainly would have understood if she was unable to order blood work on the time-line I requested, if it was outside the scope of that which she is permitted.  I would have been disappointed; nevertheless, there was undoubtedly a better way for her to conduct her interaction.   I thought the oncologist was on my team; she respected my choices, and was willing to assist where she could.  I do not much fancy being deceived, just be honest from the beginning.   Perhaps the oncologist could have offered some suggestions as opposed to engaging in mocking expressions and bullying. When I ended the telephone call I was confused, angered, and in distress.  Maybe she was having a challenging day.  I plan to send her a note to express how her words and tone affected me and potentially sparing the next patient, deciding to take the road less traveled, her wrath.

I firmly believe that where the mind goes, the body follows.  My mind was lost, weak, and fragile; my body joined my mind later that evening.  I awoke weeping, at 2:00AM; I whispered to Curtis that I did not feel well.  As I wept, I remarked that this is messed up; I just need my blood work so that I can make sure that I remain on track.  I added that no one really understands how alone I feel, at times, in this journey through breast cancer.  My darling Curtis knew exactly the words to comfort my mind and bring me peace.  In short, he noted that my whole life I have been an advocate for those in need or the underdog.  I have been preparing for this journey through breast cancer my whole life.  He expressed, that I know how to advocate, how to stand alone with confidence and conviction in the most challenging circumstances.  True, it may be lonely at times but this is what I do and I do it well.  Poignant words that I must remind myself of more often these days.  Sharon Kapp too reminded me that I must trust myself.  I am grateful for her generosity, kindness, and what I call – the “Zen Factor” of who she is

After an emotional couple of days, I am back on track and no longer feel as though I am walking a tightrope.  My feet find themselves firmly planted on the ground and I feel at peace.  I am fortunate that I am surrounded by individuals who love me, respect my choices, and support my family.  The generosity of others is vast and unending.  Things have a way of working themselves out~ 

Today, I am hopeful.

November 21, 2011

Peace, Clarity, Answers ...

My mind has been filled with many thoughts over the past several weeks; organizing them remains a challenge.  As I write I am plagued with considerable menopausal hot flashes, oh how enchanting at 40 years of age … lucky girl.  The after effects of chemotherapy – the gift that keeps on giving.  It is hard to believe it has only been four short months since being diagnosed with TNBC.  I would like to find peace, clarity, and answers to questions and situations that weigh heavy on my mind as of late.  Last evening, I stared off into a grand black and white scenic print of the Eiffel Tower hanging on my bedroom wall.  My husband noticed tears falling from my eyes; he gently began stroking my head that resembles a blossoming chia pet.  Sensing that I was somewhat lost, he offered comforting words as I expressed my fears, hurt, deep sadness, and doubt.  Is all this worth it?  Is it even working?  Do you realize this will always be looming in the shadows?  I am only 40 years old and facing the idea of death; I have written about this many times prior, yet it still looms from time to time.  It is strange; the feeling unsettling. 

I must seek answers to my own questions – Is this worth it?  When I say this, I am referring to treatment of TNBC whether it is western or alternative modalities.  Clearly for me, chemotherapy was not worth it.  Chemotherapy was slowly killing not only cancer cells but healthy cells while depleting my senses and entire body system.  Fact, chemotherapy prematurely thrust me into menopause at 40 years of age.  I am hopeful this will conclude the collateral damage.  Fact, yes this is worth it, I am alive!

Is this even working?  Fact, yes what I am doing is working and I have the empirical evidence to support this finding.  Since moving back to Oregon my heart rate has dropped from a whopping 97 – 103 (bpm) to 62 – 79 (bpm) and my blood pressure dropped from 138 to 103.  For the most part, my blood work looks good.  Tumor markers remain in normal range and white cell, red cell, and platelets counts are nearing normal range.  This is all positive news.  There continues to be areas of concern that I am working on, for example my liver function tests were elevated and my hormone levels indicative of menopause that is here to stay.  The SmartPort removal was a relief and psychologically supports my decision to stop chemotherapy treatments.  I was able to decline anti-nausea and pain medication following the port removal surgery.  This is a good sign that what I am doing is working.  My body is becoming healthy. 

Do you realize this [cancer] will always be looming in the shadows?  I do not have the answer for this one as of yet.  Why?  The answer is quite simplistic.  I do not want TNBC to be looming in the shadows of my life therefore I do not want to give it undo attention and focus.  I make every effort to live in the present; not the past nor the future.  I want to enjoy today.  I do not choose to worry about what if scenarios – this would surely reduce my life span significantly.  I am aware of the statistical data and the endless array of what if scenarios; I am not in denial of my diagnosis.  Triple negative breast cancer is not who I am nor does it define me; I am most certainly not going to place TNBC at the center of my world.  Why would I choose to give this enormous power to cancer … no way!  

There are many questions from friends about my current treatment modalities, most notably, Ayurveda.  Recently, a dear friend, tears welling in her eyes, said that she wished science supported Ayurveda as a treatment for cancer.  My response – I am not looking for cure to cancer, I am seeking to balance my body.  If my body has the ability to heal itself, it will.  In order to create the most conducive healing environment, I must build my immune system and bring my body into balance.  Another question is, are you still doing all your alternative stuff?  It seems that since I no longer am undergoing chemotherapy that many people think that everything is great with my health, I can go get a job, and resume living my life as though nothing happened.  I giggle a bit, inside myself, when I hear this one.  The answer is heck yes I continue with my alternative modalities!  My body did not get out of balance overnight and it surely will not self-correct overnight either.  This is a lengthy process, not a quick fix.  Sadly I am unable to participate in all the modalities I need on a regular basis as we cannot afford them – insurance does not cover any of these practices with the exception of acupuncture.  As far as seeking employment, I would LOVE to work!  However, my full-time job right now is to get healthy.  Therefore, work must wait.

Finally, there is the idea of collective consciousness.  I have numerous individuals who believe that I will conquer this diagnosis and will live to grow old.  I have several individuals who believe I have already beaten the odds.  Then there is my sweet teenage girl that I mentored in Texas who has professed not once but twice on FaceBook that I am cured!  You know, I am going with her declaration because it sounds perfect to me.  When the collective conscious is that I am healthy and cancer free, it has the ability to make this a reality.  Living in the present.  Believing and imagining healing and good health. 

Today, I am hopeful~

November 3, 2011

Yes, sweets ARE "no no foods" ...

I am forced back into reality as I acknowledge that I am neglecting to take every measure necessary to bring my body into balance.  I am frustrated and disappointed with my choices, so much so, I embraced my crying person status.  The choice should be simplistic yet I struggle?  Why is this?  In a moment of distress I speak aloud to myself “seriously Christina do you want a cookie or do you want to live … it is that simple!”  The knowledge is at my fingertips and yet I quite skillfully obfuscate this newly acquired knowledge with convoluted justifications.  Classic – I shall eat this ice cream, after all it is about quality of life.  Yet by condoning this action, I am defeating my goal of bringing my body back into balance.   It should be an easy choice … do not eat the “no no foods”.  Feeling defeated, I tearfully spoke with Curtis as I expressed my deep sadness as I searched for an answer as to why cutting out sweet sugary yummy food was increasingly challenging.  The one thing that cancer and I agree on ... WE LOVE SUGAR!  I then voiced that cancer is no fun! 

~ Desperate to turn things around I quickly declared that I am choosing to live in the present, with determination, I will nourish my body with the proper foods; this will allow my body to continue to heal itself.

Realty check number two.  With excitement my dear friend Leslie speaks often of her upcoming birthday; 11/11/11!  She is an incredible inspiration and support person in my life.  Cleverly, I contacted a close friend of hers in order to organize a birthday surprise, a girl’s luncheon only to come to the realization that physically, I am not able to bring the surprise to fruition.  I am devastated.  I must face the unpleasant reality that has become my new life, my energy levels continue to be weak and my immune system is working overtime.  Once again, I became a crying person.  All I wanted to do was to create a forever moment for Leslie, for her to know how much I love her and cherish our friendship.  What I realized is that she already knows this and together we create forever moments each time we speak.

Recently I reconnected with a classmate from junior high school; we did not share the same circle of friends.  I sensed this individual was caught off guard by the FaceBook friend request I sent, in fact, I believe the response was do you remember me?  What proceeded was an exchange of emails where this individual wrote I am not the same angry hateful person I was when I was a kid. I thanked this individual for sharing noting we were kids a very long time's all good.  This individual, whose name I did not want to openly disclose without their approval, is a beautiful person; I knew it back in junior high school.  You see, we all have a story that explains the why behind behavior; I choose to see the good in people and easily see beyond tough exteriors.  Frequently, it is the kids that present as tough and hard that have the softest hearts, I understand this as I often presented as a tough girl.  I was spot-on about the soft heart of my former classmate.  I am witnessing an extension of this individual’s kindness; I am deeply touched and amazed.  Thank you to my former RA Brown Jr. High classmate who today I call friend.

There is so much beauty in my life that I would have never experienced if not for this cancer diagnosis.  Life is good.  Life in Oregon is fabulous.  I am happy to be back home in Oregon.

Today, I am hopeful~

October 23, 2011

Ayurveda ...

September 27, 2011 was to be the third of eight chemotherapy treatments; the key word being – was.  I have chosen to forgo chemotherapy and traditional western medicine as if fails to address the causation of this dis-ease [cancer].  Time to say good-bye to the battle as I welcome the new task at hand, a quest for balance.  Causation points to a disruption, at a cellular level, and this is where my attention has turned.  As a society, in large part, we embrace the notion that when diagnosed with cancer, we must undergo chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery [poison, cut, burn].  I am choosing to allow my body to heal itself, naturally.  My mind is strong; my mind is telling my body to heal itself and to come back into balance.  To do this, it is imperative to build my immune system, allowing balance.  I will rest my body, mind, and soul; my intention is to allow my body to heal itself.

Ayurveda Wellness Modality

Prior to departing Cypress, Texas I met Sharon Kapp an Ayurvedic Practitioner,  My goal is to bring my body back into balance whereby my immune system will have the ability to remove cancer from my body.  Ayurveda is made up of two Sanskrit words: Ayu which means life and Veda which means the knowledge of.  To know about life is Ayurveda; the combination of mind, body, and soul.  Ayurveda is the science of life. We are all part of nature, just as animals and plants live in harmony with nature and utilize the laws of nature to create health and balance within their beings, we, too, adhere to these very same principles.  Therefore, it is fair to say that Ayurveda is a system that helps maintain health in a person by using the inherent principles of nature to bring the individual backs into balance with their true self. 

Heeling Rituals
Rise between 4:00 am – 4:30 am
Scrape tongue and brush teeth
Oil drops into nose
Brew Dashmoola Root Tea
Read for 30 minutes
Apply oil to body
Infrared Sauna 30 minutes
Ghee, four tablespoons daily
Fresh Wheatgrass juice two-three ounces daily
Drink Dashmoola Root Tea throughout the day
Daily dose of morning sun, 20 minutes
Cuduchi Stem Powder two times daily
Vidari Kanda Powder three times daily
Kaishore Guggulu supplement two times daily
Yogaraj Guggulu supplement two times daily
Kitchari, one-two servings daily
Dashmoola Root tea enema
Ghee enema
Apply oil to head and feet
Oil drops into nose
Retire to bed at 10:00 pm
Lymphatic drain massage - weekly
Swedish massage - weekly
Yoga four – five times per week
Acupuncture - weekly
Surround myself with positive individuals and environments
Environmentally friendly cleaning supplies and detergents

Every day I am feeling healthier and have more energy.  I continue to do a great deal of interpersonal exploration to clear my soul of lingering hurt.  For me, this journey is about quality of life, finding peace, and living.  My intention is to bring my body into balance and conquer this cancer forever. 

My mind is strong.
My mind is telling my body to heal itself.
My body is healing itself and casting out dis-ease.
My body is destroying cancer cells.
My body is healthy.
My mind is strong.
My soul is peaceful.

My hope is that friends and family will be willing to spearhead fundraising events, in my honor, in their communities and social circles.  To fully implement my treatment plan, the cost tops $1100 per month; these treatments are not covered by medical insurance.  I want to live and have the ability to fully engage in my treatment; every dollar helps!

Today, I am hopeful~

October 17, 2011

I can take a deep breath, literally and figuratively

At long last I, along with my family, arrived in Oregon.  I was eager to get on the road to complete the last day of our cross-country travels from Texas to Oregon.  In the family suburban, I followed the big yellow Penske truck towing my car driven by Curtis.  It was 6:00 AM and the sun had not yet risen.  After driving for nearly an hour, the sun gently drifted upward from behind the mountains.  It was pure beauty.  Tears filled my eyes as a joyful smile cast across my face; I was nearly home. 

Although we were scheduled to leave Texas around 1:00 PM, we secured the moving truck the night prior to our departure and eagerly loaded our belongings until 1:00 AM.  The next morning, after saying good-bye to several friends, we anxiously departed Cypress, Texas at 10:00 AM.  We drove until we reached our first destination; Senora, Texas.  Curtis and I decided that we wanted to arrive in Oregon as quickly as possible therefore we adjusted our time on the road each day; we would drive 12-14 hours per day.  It was exhausting!  With the exception of DJ, the manager of the Comfort Inn, Phoenix, and our trip was absolutely delightful.  Mr. DJ decided that he did not much fancy our family staying at “his hotel” and refused our family service.  It was unbelievable.  We remain unclear what his “issue” was with our family – our reservation was intact prior to our arrival.  It may have been my bald head; was he fearful that I was contagious, a lover of women, or a white supremacist?  It may have been my children; was he decidedly opposed to housing my African American and Hispanic children of differing shapes, skin tones, and sizes?  It may have been that he became dazed, left in a vast state of confusion and befuddled when my African American husband presented in the lobby alongside me. 

Dear DJ,

We are writing to inquire if you have recovered from your momentary lapse in character that was witnessed at the Comfort Inn, Phoenix.  Your vial and unconscionable actions cast upon our family were met with shear amazement and many questions as to why you refused service to our family.  We believe that “people do well IF they can” and it seems you were having a less than stellar day.  To ease your mind, cancer is not contagious and you will not become afflicted with cancer nor will you be converted into an African American or Hispanic person by coming into contact with “us”.   

As I gently whispered to you prior to leaving your establishment, while on the telephone with your corporate office, you may want to reconsider the way you treat people – especially cancer patients and persons of color.  Your actions were uncalled for, outrageous, and my hope is that you lose your employment with the Comfort Inn in order to spare others from your poor character traits.  

In closing, please know that we welcome a belated apology for your behavior and actions; it would go a long way.  We remain optimistic that today, you are having a much better day and will choose to provide excellent customer service to all your guests in the future.

What you do makes a difference,

The Garrett Family 

After arriving in Oregon we were met by several friends and my baby brother who assisted with the unpacking of our moving truck.  It was wonderful!  One of our friends even provided food and beverage to our unpacking angels.  We were unable to spend the first evening in our new home as we did not have heat as the gas was not scheduled to be turned on for two days; we spent the night in a hotel.  I was freezing!  The next evening we did not have heat however, we had the beds assembled and we all snuggled deep within our blankets and slept like babies.  Since then, I have stocked-up on long sleeved shirts and sweatshirts to keep warm; my Oregon friends laugh at me because they are “hot” all the time!  I love Oregon and am beyond thrilled to finally be back home where I am surrounded by loving friends, family, fresh air, a kind community, and where I feel most at peace.

This weekend we traveled to the Oregon coast, Yachats where Curtis and I were married.  We all enjoyed frolicking on the beach, giant rocks, in the forest, and on nature trails.  It was a day Curtis and I, for many years, longed for.  It was amazing!

Ayurveda Wellness Modality

Prior to departing Cypress, Texas I met Sharon Kapp an Ayurvedic Practitioner,  My goal is to bring my body back into balance whereby my immune system will have the ability to remove cancer from my body.  Ayurveda is made up of two Sanskrit words: Ayu which means life and Veda which means the knowledge of.  To know about life is Ayurveda; the combination of mind, body, and soul.  Ayurveda is the science of life. We are all part of nature, just as animals and plants live in harmony with nature and utilize the laws of nature to create health and balance within their beings, we, too, adhere to these very same principles.  Therefore, it is fair to say that Ayurveda is a system that helps maintain health in a person by using the inherent principles of nature to bring the individual backs into balance with their true self.

My daily regiment consists of herbs, a special diet that includes consuming kitchari and ghee, infrared saunas, lymph-system drain massages, meditation, herbal tea, and yoga to name of few.  Every day I am feeling healthier and have more energy.  I continue to do a great deal of interpersonal exploration to clear my soul of lingering hurt.  For me, this journey is about quality of life, finding peace, and living.  My intention is to bring my body into balance and conquer this cancer forever. 

My mind is strong.
My mind is telling my body to heal itself.
My body is healing itself and casting out dis-ease.
My body is destroying cancer cells.
My body is healthy.
My mind is strong.
My soul is peaceful.

….  Today, I am hopeful~

September 27, 2011

Battle vs. Balance

For the first time in a very long time, I awoke from restful slumber energized; seven hours of uninterrupted and unassisted sleep.  I glance at the date noting it is three months, to the date, that I first discovered the former mass in my breast.  Following my last treatment, an ominous feeling set-in and failed to subside from my mind; that is until late last week.  Intuition, listening to one’s inner voice, is paramount for healing and those seeking balance.  Today is a new day; the battle is over and my quest to balance my mind, body, soul, is in the forefront of my journey.  Today, I am hopeful.   

Today was to be the third of eight chemotherapy treatments; the key words being – was.  I have chosen to forgo chemotherapy and traditional western medicine as if fails to address the cause of this dis-ease [cancer].  Time to say good-bye to the battle as I welcome the new task at hand, a quest for balance.  Causation points to a disruption, at a cellular level, and this is where my attention has turned.  As a society, in large part, we embrace the notion that when diagnosed with cancer, we must undergo chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.  Why is this?  Have I become the classic “rogue client” as I turn away from this conditioning?  Not at all.  Science supports my conclusion and choice.  I am choosing to allow my body to heal itself, naturally.  My mind is strong; my mind is telling my body to heal itself and to come back into balance.  To do this, it is imperative to build my immune system, allowing balance.  Nutrition is foundational, a raw vegan diet.  As a now former pesco-vegetarian, this shift is not too alarming to my senses.  The absence of my beloved sugar, this may prove to be another story.  Cancer and I agree, we love sugar!  My strategy is to forgo my partnership with cancer in its entirety.  Good-bye sugar.  Detoxification is the next building block followed by vitamin, mineral, and natural supplements, and finally inner peace.  I will rest my body, mind, and soul; my intention is to allow my body to heal itself.

I have submitted my medical history to three alternative medicine clinics located in California and Nevada.  Ideally, I find acceptance into one of these phenomenal programs. They are outpatient clinics, the length of stay between two – four weeks costing on average, $5000 per week, not including travel and lodging.  Post outpatient, I would continue to incurring expenses as I maintain supplements and other alternative modalities.  There is not a quick fix.  Once I find balance, I diligently must continue to maintain balance – this is the challenge spanning my lifetime.  For now, I embrace my new nutritional requirements and begin with alternative modalities today.

There is much excitement in the air!  Within 30-days, I plan to have my family return to Oregon.  Literally and figuratively, I will be able to take a deep breath of fresh air.  Today, I am hopeful.

September 18, 2011

Thoughts, the dark side of finding peace...

I am left alone in my thoughts often as of late.  These thoughts build on one another; blossoming into a multitude of new-fangled directions.  I visualize myself standing in the clearing of a sumptuous forest; the midpoint where countless paths intercept.  I gently close my eyes; raising my chin high into the sky as my head sinks deeply into the back of my shoulders.  As though I am preparing for flight, I extend my arms outward, palms facing the sky, and each finger is lengthened.  I breathe the crisp fresh air deep into my lungs and exhale freely; my body and mind are tranquil.  My face beams an expression of pure joy; I am at peace.  Although the paths before me are many, there is no predetermined right or wrong choice that awaits my footsteps.  At this moment, I enjoy my sense of peace and the quiet tranquility of my surroundings.

Scratching The Surface Of Two Thoughts
I reflect on two thoughts shared by a sister friend.  She sensed that this [cancer outcome] is a choice that I will make, she noted that my soul is weary, and there are many lessons that I will learn.  Could it be that I do have a choice of sorts whether I overcome this cancer?  I am not convinced one way or the other at this moment.  I am however, convinced that my soul is in fact weary.  The many years, perhaps lifetimes of being a caregiver, advocate, and shield of sorts has rightly tired my soul.  I question – do I possess the inner strength to continue protecting?  Do I hold the burning desire to live on being my authentic self, or is that time quickly approaching.  I am unclear.  Questions continue to linger while answers appear elusive.  My heart fluttered and smile widened at the thought of reuniting with my grandfather who passed several year ago, meeting my little sister for the first time, and hugging my dear friend Peggy who left this earth before her time.  Is my existence on earth truly my choice, in far reaching terms?  I am weary to the depths of my soul; I am weary.

Without question, I am ready for this cancer to be my rear view mirror.  I truly do not want to continue with chemotherapy.  Losing my hair, not that big of deal, you know it is like whatever, I have bigger things to worry about.  I never imagined it would my daily goal to evacuate my bowels, unassisted.  Nevertheless, it is what it is.  I do not even understand why I am torturing myself with these chemicals.  Essentially, I am cancer free right now; the lumpectomy removed any visibly formed cancer cell masses and my tumor markers are currently within normal ranges.  The doctors do not have some magical treatment regimen to prevent this type of cancer from returning and taking up residency somewhere else in my body – typically the brain.  How revolting in nature, is it to be forced to choose to pump these chemicals through my veins, damaging perfectly healthy and fully functioning organs; followed by the removal of both breasts.  The finale being five-weeks of radiation.  And for what?  Where the hell is hope, the statistical data that indicates these revolting and unimaginable acts [treatment choices] will save my life?  The answer is that what I seek is not in existence.  All this is not to say that I have lost hope; quite the contrary.  I am at peace.  I am realistic yet optimistic.   

Destination Known As Hurt
I maintain and hold tightly to this ideology; people do well if they can.  I forever consider and remind myself of this rather simplistic saying that is riddled with its own complexities.  This ideology has served me well in my later years. 

When peeling back the emotional layers I clearly have revealed the authentic feelings of deep sadness.  Moreover, it is hurt.  Remove the anger, disappointment, unmet needs, and yes, sadness.  What remains fast is the constant manifestation of hurt.  Do all roads lead to this destination known as hurt?  Perhaps.  Consider that in the darkest moments of one’s life, our true character is exposed; filters no longer exist.  Through my eyes, my filter, many needs remained unmet for far too long by the individuals I self-appointed as the caretaker of these [my] needs.  I deemed it their [self-appointed individuals] duty and purpose to fulfill a particular need – believing it was not a far-reaching appointment in that these labels and roles followed western tradition. 
The Lost Mother Son Relationship
Ironically, my sole biological child boasts angrily that I have failed him immeasurably.  I pause in unbridled reflection.  Parallels may be drawn in a broad sense between his hurt and mine.  Yet there is a vast difference.  I say this as to not be dismissive of his perspective rather as a cautionary measure to ground my thoughts in truth.  While one’s perception is their reality, my son has methodically altered his childhood story, devoid of personal responsibility.  Even in this moment, he projects his hurt, anger, rage, loss, and personal responsibility onto others.  I am the primary recipient.  Leaving me in a quandary is that I created half of this child yet he represents the essence and character traits that I advocate against.  His words have become carefully sharpened weapons; his intention is to wound if not decimate the intended target.  An altered story, if recounted enough over a sustained amount of time – may allow one to believe these intentional rewrites.  The question then becomes why is there a need to produce an altered childhood story, the why behind the behavior.  For him, as for many, I believe it is his deep shame, regret, and pride.

At age 15, my son succumbed to his demons.  Today, nearly six years have passed; I have seen glimpses of the sweet kind-hearted boy that I raised for many years.  Sadly, much time has ticked away since my last glimpse of his kind heart in action.  For many years, I held my head in shame for the unconscionable behavior and flawed character of my son.  I no longer carry his shame; it is his to carry not mine.  While children may be a reflection of a parent, they [children] do not necessarily define the character of a parent.  Unequivocally, more than anything that pierces my heart is to know my sons potential, his true authentic self, and that it is not present with him today.  He has buried his authentic identity underneath altered stories, shame, and pride.  Understand, I SEE my son; I listen to every word, rise, and fall in his tone, and his never-ending fantastical stories.  In his desperate quest for self-acceptance, the words he speaks to others may echo a happy, successful, and well-adjusted young man.  This is a fa├žade.  His sadness is deep.  His loss is unimaginable.  His shame is paralyzing.  Prior to taking my last breathe on this earth, I hope to see My Son reappear at least once. 

His words no longer hurt me.  Today, I am hopeful.

September 9, 2011

Warrior Juice Number Two…

The final countdown is underway as I look forward to my last Warrior Juice session, two down, six more to go.  I really do not want to do this anymore; it really sucks!  I continue to compare the first round of WJ with the second in an effort to deduce - are the WJ sessions becoming easier or increasingly challenging.  The answer remains allusive.  I chose not to sport the new ginger wig to my WJ session, opting for a colorful scarf.  My fellow Warrior Juice recipient Angela was celebrating her final WJ session.  I too am looking forward to my last treatment on January 10, 2012.  Curtis and my dear friend Vanessa joined in the Warrior Juice festivities.  Vanessa carried with her the most beautiful gift bag, inside was the softest blankie.  As I revealed the blankie, my fellow WJ recipients were jealous!  They passed the blankie around as they gently stroked the blankie.  Love It! 

The nurses connected the bag Cytoxan to my SmartPort and I was off to good start.  Everything was going well until the nurse started to push the “Red Devil” drug into my SmartPort.  Instantly, I did not feel well and they immediately stopped.  I remarked, “I feel like a freak.”  The nurse asked if I had another descriptor; I remarked, “I feel like you’re poisoning me.”  The nurses sprang into action.  They pulled the curtain around my station, took my temperature, and applied the blood pressure cuff.  My blood pressure had spiked, my face was red, and I felt as though I was going to pass-out.  I was able to recover and complete my WJ session.  I was significantly fatigued.  Upon returning home, I continued to experience severe fatigue.  Curtis fed me small pieces of crackers and popsicles as I lay in bed.  Later in the day, I hastened Curtis to the bathroom.  As I sat on toilet (excited to evacuate my bowels – after experiencing major stoppage following WJ session one), I broke-out in a cold sweat and felt as though I was going to pass-out.  Sweat rolled down my head, to my forehead, and onto my face.  Unable to complete the job, I launched onto the bathroom floor.  There I lay with my pajamas around my ankles.  I began weeping and said “hun I need you to clean me up!”  He dutifully agreed.  He then remarked, “It has been a long time since I have done this!”   At that moment, there was nothing funny about what was happening.  However, in hindsight, no pun intended, it must have been quite to visual!  Nevertheless, severe fatigue and mild nausea are the reigning themes of Warrior Juice Two. 

Today is three days post Warrior Juice number two.  Curtis is now sporting a baldhead to match mine, very sweet gesture and it looks great as well.  I still maintain that I really do not want to do this [Warrior Juice] anymore but truthfully, who the hell would CHOOSE to be a recipient of Warrior Juice …right?  I do feel as though my mind is not as compromised this go-around or it could simply be that I am becoming one with my chemo-brain; I am leaning more towards to later!  Things that I am doing well include resting, knowing my limits, expressing my emotions, keeping my sense of humor, and remaining positive.  Looking beyond cancer to see the beauty that surrounds me still brings a smile to my face.  I appreciate friends, family, and others that continue to keep my family in their prayers and send positive thoughts, emails, voice messages, texts, Facebook messages, and blog postings.  Many thanks to those who have extended their generosity, through monetary donations, on my online website:                                             

Garage Sale & Fundraiser

Curtis and the boys are holding our Garage Sale & Fundraiser tomorrow.  If you are local, please stop by and for those who are out-of-town or unable to attend, please consider showing your support by donating to my breast cancer fund [link located above].  I am simply tickled pink about my signage for the sale so I just had to share at photo! 

Life is good.  Today, I am hopeful.

September 4, 2011

Has it really been three weeks already?

As of late, I frequently mention that Warrior Juice has seemingly slowed the natural passage of time.  Yet, it is nearly “that time” again!  I began the big 60 hour fast last evening around 10:30pm; Warrior Juice #2 is scheduled for Tuesday at 10:30am.  In an effort to “get fat,” prior to the upcoming Warrior Juice session, I am pleased to report that I have been successful; I now sit at 128 pounds.  Now, the goal is to not drop below 125 pounds despite the pre-Warrior Juice fasting period. 

You know you are having a fantastical day when:

1.  You have an unassisted – chemical or otherwise induced, bowel movement
2.  Your hair is not falling out in droves leading to a complete shaving of one’s head
3.  Your primary eating utensils do NOT consist of plastic flatware
4.  You can taste the natural essence of each morsel of food placed in one’s mouth
5.  You can form a coherent thought and immediately verbalize said thought
6.  Your head-wrap or wig stays in place absent multiple adjustments
7.  You can continue to be positive and keep a sense of humor in the face of adversity

The big decision has been made; my husband and I will relocate our family back to Oregon following my last Warrior Juice session.  It is important that my family find peace with my diagnosis.  I have undergone a lumpectomy and currently, I am a Warrior Juice recipient; the last session is January 10, 2012.  Within seven – ten days of arriving back in Oregon, I will undergo a double mastectomy and after healing, a series of radiation treatments. 

Living in Texas, since 2007, has been filled with many challenges and achievements.  Curtis and I continued serving as therapeutic foster parents, welcomed nine children into our home since 2007, and formally adopted 16-year-old Carlos earlier this year.  As we look to exit Texas our oldest two sons, Kenneth and Dominic, will remain in Texas to complete their college degrees.  Our younger sons, Carlos (16), Cole (15), and Jackson (12) will travel back to Oregon.  Our experiences in Texas have prepared us to be increasingly dynamic individuals, parents, professionals, advocates, and members of our community. 

Preparations are underway for the big move back home to Oregon.  We have launched a new fundraising/donation website: JourneyThroughBreastCancer  I have been preparing for the big Garage Sale & Fundraiser on Saturday, September 10.  I have never organized a garage sale however; I have to say that my first just may be the most organized in the history of garage sales!  I made special price tags for each item.  Curtis and the boys will move the large sale items outside and sell, sell, sell.  I will be unable to assist with the garage sale as it will only be four days post Warrior Juice #2 and I will be down for the count.  We are hoping for a large turnout and for those who are out of town or unable to stop over, will extend their generosity utilizing the donation website; our goal is to raise $11,000. 

Two fun facts I have learned exclusively because I have cancer
1.  According the pre-surgery height/weight chart, 
2.  According to the Women’s Health Boutique, 

Who knew that a wig fitting could be so fun?  Earlier in the week, I traveled to the Women’s Health Boutique to have my wig fitted to my newly shaved head.  I quickly learned that I have a petite head under my massive mane of hair, requiring some custom adjustments to the new wig.  While the alterations were underway, I proceeded to try on several different wigs in various styles and colors.  Paula H. “made it work” and I walked out with my new hair – I am a Ginger!  I love it.  I should have dyed my hair years ago; talk about green eyes “pop’n” and my freckles…oh so cute.

 I am determined to eradicate cancer FOREVER from my body, despite the not favorable five-year survival statistics.  I remain positive and continue to be amazed by the multitude of beauty when looking beyond the cancer.   

~Today, I am hopeful.

August 30, 2011

Xina, Warrior Juice Princess...

Today is 14 days post Warrior Juice and I am sporting the new anti-hairdo!  In typical overachiever style, my hair began to fall-out on day 13; the usual hair loss time frame for this type of Warrior Juice is 14 – 17 days.  Monday (August 29, 2011), I was speaking with my husband and I ran my fingers through my hair only to discover a handful of hair cupped in my hand.  I thought huh, that is strange.  I ran my fingers through my hair again…out came more hair.  I started to tear-up and said well, I guess it is that time.  As the family sat around the dinner table, I made an announcement to the boys that my hair was falling-out.  I then removed my bandanna and ran my fingers through my hair; not quite sure, what prompted the demonstrative evidence.  The boys looked mortified!  They kept saying, “Mom, stop pulling your hair out!”  I laughed and continued adding to the pile of hair on the floor exclaiming, “boy’s, I am not pulling it out, it is falling out!”  I next declared that it was time to get out the clippers.  Carlos pleaded with me to wait, “mom you have a lot of hair.”  My response, “yes, I know and this is why I must shave it now or I will be leaving a trail of hair everywhere I travel.”  Carlos remarked, “We will always be able to find you.”  I excused myself from the dinner table and went into the bathroom, set the clippers on the counter, and looked at myself in the mirror; I began to tear-up.  I said aloud, “no, it is time and I will decide when my hair comes off – I choose.”  I turned the clippers on and stated shaving my head.  Curtis and Carlos stood silent and watched.  They had both offered to shave my head; I refused.  It was empowering to shave my head.  Carlos, my apprentice haircutter in the house, made sure I did not miss any spots.  Taking a shower and not having any hair was an odd feeling.  Now, I am sporting the GI Jane look and lov’n it!

Update on my last post – I am pleased to report that after five days of being completely locked-up I successfully evacuated my bowels!  Seriously, I expressed an enormous amount of joy post evacuation through verbal expressions and dance.  LOL~

My mind is quietly returning to some type of normal, either that or I am unknowingly embracing my newfound chemo-brain syndrome.  My memory is not intact fully and, at times, I find it challenging to form a coherent sentence or complete an entire thought.  Nevertheless, I keep on going!  Let me give a shout out to my new visitors for at least the next six months – fatigue, and hot flashes (forced into early menopause).  How awesome is this?  Awe yes, cancer treatments, the gift that keeps on giving.  I have not lost my sense of humor and I remain positive and hopeful.  I continue finding humor as I encounter many unique scenarios.  I drafted the following, in response to one such scenario:

Dear well- intended lady with the pink shoes,

            It was thoughtful and kind that you accompanied your elderly mother to the oncologist office for her warrior juice treatment.  The uninvited interruption into my conversation with a fellow warrior juice recipient (Angela) was interesting.  Apparently, it was overlooked that Angela barely had her footing and was gently swaying back and forth, as she stood in the waiting room.  Her cell counts were low, fatigue was marked, she did not have a companion accompanying her, and chemo-brain was large and in-charge.  Similarly, my fatigue was in full swing and chemo-brain was large and in-charge.
            Your rapid fire verbal rattling of fun facts, with a twist of warnings, rendered the minds of two warrior juice recipients, nearly useless.  You noted that Dr. Oz proclaims, a sweet potato a day keeps the cancer away – if he says something, we need to listen, using morphine to control pain will really mess with your brain, sugar feeds cancer, eat a daily dose of fiber, and eating fresh fruit – not a good choice!  I am quite confident the list is not complete – to that end, I declare chemo-brain.  If my brain could have processed your words at my typical rate of speed, I would have shared the following fun facts, with a twist of warnings with you.
            Shut Up!  For the love of everything holy, shut up!  It is wise to know your audience, warrior juice recipients + oncologist waiting room = Chemo-Brain.  Slow your speech pattern down, way down…you talk entirely too rapid.  Chemotherapy really messes with your brain – a morphine pill, post chemotherapy is not going to further mess it up.  Dial down the fun facts – keep your sweet potato remedy to yourself.  Senekot S, Colace, Miralax, stool softener, liquid poop juice, in addition to one’s daily fiber intake, was necessary to finally take a shit after five days!  Lastly, God gave you two ears and one mouth, take heed.  Enough said.

You really rocked the pink shoes,

Xina, Warrior Juice Princess

            Looking beyond cancer, I observe the beauty that continues to blossom; it is a delightful site.  Vanessa Raanes is an astonishing woman!  She made the most delicious dinner of lasagna, salad, and bread for my husband and children.  She is one of my biggest cheerleaders who naturally will incite smiles and belly laughs.  Vanessa, I love you sista’.  Leslie Brittell is an authentic and loving woman.  She sends me packages filled with handcrafted jewelry – my good-luck earring supplier.  We share a friendship that will forever remain a cornerstone of my foundation.  I love ya sista’ from another mister.  I am a fortunate woman!  To everyone, please know that each word of support on the phone, text message, blog comment, email, voice message, and note is appreciated; your words lift me up and allow me to remain hopeful.  Many thanks for loving and caring about me.  Today, I am hopeful.

August 20, 2011

Warrior Juice Number One…

I asked Curtis to take my picture prior to departing for my appointment.  I picked out the cutest outfit…I mean it is a first, therefore one must commemorate it with a photo…right?

August 16, 2011 is in my rearview mirror; the date will forever mark the first day of chemotherapy.  Moving forward, when referencing chemotherapy, I am borrowing the verbiage “warrior juice” from a recent supportive email from an exceptionally wise woman; it is much more uplifting than poison or chemotherapy.  This date is an exciting date for two of my sons as well; Kenneth and Carlos obtained their drivers licenses.  Vanessa Raanes, a dear friend picked me up at the Department of Motor Vehicles office, just down the street from my oncologist’s office.  She and I arrived early to my appointment; we sat in the lobby and swapped stories for nearly an hour.  We laughed and we cried.  As my appointment time approached, Curtis and Carlos joined us in the lobby; Carlos presented with the most pure, delightful, and joy filled smile across his face.  Yes, he passed his driving test!  We made our way up the stairs to my appointment. 

Warrior Juice Treatment #1
My blood was drawn to test my blood cell and platelet counts; everything was within normal range therefore we were ready to proceed.  I swallowed an oral anti-nausea and headed back to the warrior juice room where I met Angela.  She is a warrior juice recipient as well.  She has breast cancer and is in her late 40s; she is nearing the end of her treatments.  She was great!  She provided a plethora of information, Real Talk style, and added levity to the pitfalls of the warrior juice.  The Smart Port worked; the nurse flushed my Smart Port and delivered an IV anti-nausea medication.  The nurse prepared my cocktail of warrior juice; I declined the steroids.  First, to be delivered was the Cytoxan followed by the Adriamycin (AKA The Red Devil).  Delivery of the warrior juice was complete by 12 noon.  After consuming four 16-ounce bottles of water, I needed to tinkle.  I was delighted to see that The Red Devil was making its way out of my body so quickly. 

Nearly an hour after arriving home, I began to feel extremely fatigued, dizzy, light-headed, nauseous, and shaky.  I looked at my husband and barely had enough energy to mutter, “I don’t feel so good.”  After fasting for nearly 60 hours, it made sense that I was not feeling well…oh, and the pesky warrior juice!  I was able to consume some food and continued to hydrate myself.  The fatigue was incredibly debilitating.  I would gather enough strength to walk to the bathroom only to find myself unable to wash my hands without collapsing to the bathroom floor from sheer exhaustion.  At one point my husband leaned down and said “Hun, do you know you are lying on the bathroom floor?”  I responded with a weak “yes.”  He asked me if I needed help however, I let him know that I was thinking about getting back into bed, I just needed a minute.  I am unclear how many times he watched me crawl on all fours back to bed.  I felt horrible.  In between taking anti-nausea medication, eating, and going to the bathroom, I slept until the next morning.  My memory of all the events is foggy at best; it was traumatic.

Day #1 Post Warrior Juice
As I awoke, I thought to myself – today is definitely going to be a better day than yesterday.  It was.  I garnered enough strength to take a shower and pull myself together to travel to the oncologist’s office to get my shot of Nuelesta (helps build my white cell count).  I spent nearly an hour trying to evacuate my bowels; it was a slight success.  As the day continued, I remained fatigued.  I developed a headache, which I believe is the culprit for the increased nausea.  I went to sleep around 9:00PM.

Day #2 Post Warrior Juice
I awoke around 10:00AM, my headache had intensified overnight, as did the nausea.  I was extremely fatigued.  My knees and ankles started to ache a bit so I wrapped them with ace bandages to apply some pressure; it relieved the achy feeling.  I was able to eat and continued to hydrate myself.  In the evening, I indulged in a pain medication – hell, I should have done that earlier.  Within a couple hours, my headache and nausea was bearable.  I went to sleep early, around 9:00PM.

By day three, I was feeling much better.  I continued to go to sleep around 9:00PM and wake around 10:00AM.  I remain fatigued but am able to eat and do small tasks for a short time; I tire quickly.  My husband and boys have been terrific!  It is challenging to see mama down for the count however; they seem to be taking it all in stride.  My memory is questionable at this point and I am unclear if I can declare “warrior juice brain” but something has shifted.  Speaking of shifting – I am on day four of being unable to evacuate my bowels.  Already taking Miralax, the doctor has added Senokot-S and Colace to the mix.  Someth’n had better start moving!

Today, I am hopeful.

August 15, 2011

Live, Laugh, Love ...

Whew, the time has come; chemotherapy begins in approximately 12 hours.  I am unable to put effectively, into words, how I am feeling.  I do know this: I have been fasting since Saturday evening at 9:00 pm, 48 hours and I am hungry!  LOL!  Oh, what I would not do for some fresh cherries, blueberries, raspberries, raw almond, cashews, and a smoked salmon Caesar salad … not all at the same time of course.

Strangely, I do not feel panicked, anticipatory, fearful, nervous, or anxious about tomorrow.  I am clear that I am not in a state of denial but rather a state of acceptance; I have an aggressive form of breast cancer.  Equally, I am embracing the depth of sorrowful emotions I am frequently experience.  Humiliation is the first word that comes to mind as I write.  This cancer is systematically changing the landscape of my physical body.  I told myself, a lumpectomy will only remove the tumors and my breast would remain somewhat in tacked.  Real Talk – When looking in the mirror, there is a quarter of one breast missing, I cry.  I tell myself that the best health choice is to undergo a bilateral mastectomy after chemotherapy.  Real Talk – I weep nearly every time I envision losing my breasts.  I tell myself, hair is only hair…it will grow back.  Real Talk - it does not relieve the sting.  Cancer is cruel.  Treatment is harsh.  The cure is unknown. 

Live, laugh love … I do all three Big, Texas Big!  Too many individuals take life entirely too serious and forget to enjoy life; this includes the highs and lows.  Life is a bit bumpy, if it were smooth, I fear we would all grow bored.  My life may appear chaotic to observers, but I would not have it any other way.  Real Talk.  My life is not chaotic, it is filled with challenges, beauty, compassion, accountability, conflict, growth, and love; every day is a miracle.  I am amazed by the resilient nature of all my children. Triumphs uniquely measure; the enormity matters not, it is progress and worthy of joyful expression.  I love all my children, just where they are at. 

I remain positive and hopeful as I look at the bright side of cancer.  Guess who will not need to shave for about six months?  Yep, me!  No need to worry about blow-drying and styling my hair; I will adorn my baldhead with beautiful scarfs or my foxxy new wig.  Whoop whoop.  There is great beauty when we allow ourselves to look beyond the cancer.  I have fabulous friends, family, and newfound friends whom offer support, love, care, compassion, encouragement, kind words, and thoughtful expressions.  I am fortunate.  Today, I am hopeful.

August 13, 2011

The date is set…

August 16, 2011 is the day the chemotherapy will begin.  As The Date approaches, I find it increasingly challenging to accept this cancer.  It was an incredible blow, to hear a doctor inform me that I have an aggressive form of breast cancer; it carries a poor five-year survival rate.  For my boys, the reality that mom has cancer is beginning to resonate.  When I look into their eyes, I see fear, a sense of helplessness, disbelief, and sadness with a twist of lingering denial that mom has cancer.  Real Talk, my appearance is going to change – my hair will begin to fallout in two–three weeks and my energy level will decline.  My intention is not to be afflicted with all the other nasty side effects of chemotherapy.  At times, the night is rough and filled with many emotions.  My sadness is deep and my emotions raw.  I know my children hear me painfully weeping; “I just want this to go away!”  This is tough. 

I remain hopeful and positive despite my amplified crying person status; my sense of humor seems to be undergoing an amplification of its own!  For example, as I climbed up onto the acupuncturist treatment table and began to roll-up my pant legs, I began apologizing for the overgrowth of hair on my legs.  I remarked, “I can’t shave my legs with a regular razor and the electric ones don’t get the job done – it’s only going to get worse!”  She kindly smiled; I then remarked, “Wait a minute, my hair is going to fall out…never mind, my legs are going to be smooth before you know it!”  She giggled.  Another example, spanning the last five days, I declared, “I need to get fat!”  Who would have thought?  As with most things, this ideological goal is three pronged – enjoy spicy food prior to chemotherapy, gain a few pounds that I could shed without falling to low in weight, and enjoy the taste of food before it alters.  My best efforts have failed to add the poundage I was looking to achieve…dang it all.  Gave it a good whirl though. 

Western medicine offers surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to treat TNBC.  The End.  Out of necessity, I preformed exhaustive research to design thoughtfully, my personal integrated modality toolkit.

1.  Chemotherapy:  Cytoxan and Adriamycin AKA The Red Devil – four course every three weeks followed by Taxotere every three weeks – four courses. 
2.  Fasting, consuming water and perhaps fruit juice, 48 – 60 hours prior to chemotherapy followed by fasting 24 hours post chemotherapy.
3.  Daily supplements: Nature’s Immune Stimulator, Suma, Vitamin E Complete with Selenium, and Vitamin D3.
4.  Weekly acupuncture
5.  Weekly Dahn Yoga energy work, meditation, relaxation, and breathing training
6.  Daily positive affirmations
7.  Writing

There you have it!  I am ready to conquer this TNBC.  I want to live.  I need to live.  I am at peace, each kind word, thoughtful act, unknowing smile, card, meaningful text, voice-mail, emails, and blog postings received by those around me, truly lift me up when I am emotionally and physically fragile.  Many thanks for the overwhelming love, support, and encouragement.  Today, I am hopeful. 

August 3, 2011

Officially overwhelmed…

My capacity to balance effectively the string of “not so good news” with positive thoughts and optimism has far surpassed it bounds.  I am on day number three of an emotionally draining and thought provoking mood; I have begun to ask why.  Last night as I sobbed uncontrollably, I expressed to my husband that I was pissed…this triple negative breast cancer, TNBC makes absolutely no sense!  Cancer is a humiliating and unusually cruel creature – I must choose to pump poison through my veins; I do not know if the poison will kill any residual cancer cells.  What I do know is that the good healthy cells will be annihilated.  My hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes will crumble due to the toxic poison, and finally I must have body parts chopped off.  Why?  Why is this happening; I am 5’3 124 pounds, exercise regularly, and eat healthy [pesco-vegetarian].  I would not wish this disease on my least favorite individual in this world.  The cruelty is multi-pronged; primarily, in this moment, my thoughts focus on the ways in which cancer will change the intimacy between my husband and me. 

My husband would love, adore, and declare me to be the most beautiful woman no matter how many body parts are missing; I know this to be true without question.  His support and love is unending.  He is patient, comforting, encouraging, loving, and supportive.  He always tells me “you are doing a great job babe!”  He sits with me when I erupt into unbridled raw emotion.  When I awake at night and cannot sleep, I reach to hold his hand and he gently squeezes back.  He sees my pain and my fears.  Words are not necessary for him to know my heart; he looks into my eyes and somehow he just knows.     

I believe that nothing happens by accident.  One of my sons just collected the mail and I received two packages and letter.  Prior to moving to Texas, Curtis and I lived across the street from the best neighbors ever, a retired couple, Dick and Bobbie Barnhouse.  They sent me two b-dazzled baseball caps to wear once my hair falls out.  This made me smile.  The next package was from my little brother Sammy (Sam).  Knowing I was more distressed about losing my eyebrows then losing my hair, he found an online company that sells 100% human hair stick-on eyebrows!  Yep, you guessed it; I just peeked at the new eyebrows.  This made me giggle.  The card was from a dear friend offering words of encouragement and reminded me of how strong and positive I am.  She gently reminds me that I am not alone in this journey.  This made me tear-up.  This is the beauty beyond the cancer that I always write about!

It is okay, that at times, I have reached the capacity to cope and become overwhelmed.  TNBC is overwhelming!  I may need to heed my words – “I would be a concerned if you were not a bit overwhelmed at times!”  LOL!  Cancer sucks, oh yes it does.  However, what is so incredibly beautiful is that with the support of those who love me, I am free to grieve that I have cancer.  This is okay, it is perfectly normal and expected.  I AM officially overwhelmed yet I move through this in order to acknowledge; today, I am hopeful.