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October 25, 2015

Time Escapes Me

Texas Morse Family
 It seems so long ago that I traveled to Texas, yet it was merely nine days ago since my return. Time escapes me; days grow long and slow yet seem to travel fast – a complete contradiction, absolutely. It is difficult to explain – that is a theme these days. My mind unable to find the words to portray the essence of what is occurring neither in my mind nor in my body. I long to register the poetry of what is occurring – one would have to live it to understand it I suppose.

First Class food
Leslie & Christina 
My trip to Texas was widely successful. Thanks to Darrin & Deborah Poole, my traveling companion/caretaker/friend Leslie and I traveled first class; I am quite sure I have been ruined forever – first class travel is the only way to go! During my travels, I was able to connect with my Ayurvedic practitioner, a few Texas friends, two of my sons, one grandbaby, and spend time with my family. There are several very hilarious stories that I would like to share – but I fear Leslie would never speak to me again – we laughed endlessly. There were tears shed too – part of roll’n with me these days. 

Pablo, Christina, & Quentin
Unknown! LOL
There was the big question between my niece Karlie and I of what species of bird we were looking at! We actually turned the truck around to take a second look. The trip provided the much need physical and mental jumpstart I needed to return home, although I did not fully realize this until the night after returning home.
 When I began accepting chemotherapy treatments, it was August 6, 2015. I did two cycles of treatments for a total of six chemotherapy infusions – the schedule was weekly for three weeks, take one week off and then repeat. Although I was virtually housebound during this two-month adventure – I thought after stopping the infusions, I would begin to regain strength, body aches would subside, and fatigue lesson. This was not the case. The cumulative effect of the treatment brought me to my knees – I thought my time on this earth was about to end. But it did not. I am grateful. This brings me back to the realization I unearthed the night after returning home from Texas.

Saturday morning I was poised to begin taking a combination of two supplements, setting the intention that these, in part, would help bring my body back into balance and become healthy again. I am counting on these, I would think to myself – this literally is a life or death situation and I am not ready to leave this earth as my work is not done. As I counted out the supplements, there it was laid out before me; 26 capsules to be consumed daily; three times on an empty stomach and two times with food. The shear amount of large capsules overwhelmed me, as did the timing schedule. I began to set alarms on my phone reminding of ingestion time – I was getting frustrated now. Swallowing up to six capsules in one setting…they were getting stuck in my throat and it hurt. I began cursing these supplements. My words in general were themed negative. “How the fuck am I going to take all these fucking pills every day” another one being “I can’t believe I have been wearing these stupid panties inside out all day”. By evening time, my stomach was upset, I felt so weak in my mind, and I finally broke. 

Sharon Kapp
I began tearfully recounting all the thoughts I was having, to Curtis, and how frustrated I was at not only this process but also myself. I mean, here I am asking these supplements to heal my body yet cursing them before ingesting– yep, not the best choice. I cried from the deepest part of my heart that I worked so hard to get through graduate school, I am a therapist, but unable to practice. I cried that I no longer knew what my purpose was. I cried at those dang panties being inside out all day! 
I was so sad. 
I was so negative. 
I was feeling frustrated. 
I was searching for my purpose. 
I was feeling broken, not wounded, but broken. 

I was rapidly processing as Curtis sat and listened. I must have a looked a mess, perhaps he was thinking about how long this emotional event would go on. I wondered if he was becoming tired of me being sick. I mean, were we all just ready for this to be over? As I processed what was happening in my head, it felt good to let it out – unlock the inner secrets I keep to myself. I was pleading with myself to get my mind right – I was disappointed that I was struggling. The truth is, I know what I need to do – it is the doing that is often times the most challenging of tasks and I do not have time on my side, I have to quickly make adjustments as awareness presents. And so I did.

Saturday night was the beginning. I started to bless my handful of supplements prior to taking them; I reminded myself gently of the power of gratitude. I put out into the universe to my high power to provide a sense of my purpose. In reality, my purpose has not changed; it is just coming in different forms, looks a bit different from what I imagined. Within hours of my pleads, I received a message from a friend asking me if her daughters 6th grade class could write to me. Then 48 hours later, I received a call from a friend sharing that she was just diagnosed with breast cancer. Absent my realization, emotional release, and processing with Curtis on Saturday night, I would not have been able to respond to either situation – but I was able to because I made the choice to sit in gratitude and get back to that peaceful place. 

Christina & Vicki at the Beach
I knew I needed to get to the beach as well – put my feet in the sand and get grounded. My good friend Vicki and I headed over to the coast for a day trip this past week and it was amazing. I shared with Vicki all the dark thoughts – she listened empathically no problem solving, just listening. We walked on the beach and it was just perfect; everything was as it should be. My beloved Grandpa LeGall showed-up with his symbolic China hat shells – I found four, this is how I know he is with me from the other side. I am quite sure he is my lead guardian angel. As Vicki and I walked, it was just us on the beach. We sat quietly in the sand at one point, my body telling me that I had way over done it, as we prepared to turn around and head back to the car. Listening to the waves – enjoying the majestic ocean this is where I feel spiritually fed. Did I mention it was perfect? I am feeling as though I am mentally and physically (slowly) getting back on track. Regardless of what my body does, I know it is essential to keep my mind in a good space, so I will.

I forgot to mention in mention that I was able to graduate from my baby toothbrush and tooth paste, back to my big girl brush! I too am able to drive a bit, which is nice – reclaiming my life. It is about the small steps sometimes. 

I never went to my PET/CT scan and I cancelled my oncology appointment too. I was planning to ask the oncologist is he was willing to make the six month call in writing so I could proceed with the paperwork to exercise death with dignity. I want to have access to the medication, if the time comes – I do not want to suffer. So why did I cancel, well, I am not ready to officially hear or see this is writing. I am not claiming the life ending diagnosis but I do want to be prepared if things start to shift again – which the doctor says will most certainly happen. This is a strange space to be in – like a holding pattern of sorts, but with my life. None of this is easy. I have body aches, fatigue, nausea, hot flashes, night sweats – it is a challenge to get out of bed each day. Most recently, I have been experiencing constant low grade head pain/pressure making it difficult to read, watch TV, and write. There is some fear that comes from this – I had a friend that passed away of TNBC after she had completed all her treatments, the cancer went to her brain and spine – she passed about 9 months after her diagnosis. I try to push any thought of this happening to me away – but it is not easy. 

Someone recently asked me "how I do this,” keep positive and hopeful, this was my response:
How do I do it? Hmmm, I just do. It's tough sometimes, especially this latest event where I thought I was going to die. It's strange knowing doctors say that death awaits me in the near future. I just decided not to claim that diagnosis for myself; instead I am committed to getting well and bringing my body into balance. To be doing or thinking thoughts that don't serve me well, would make things so much worse. It's not worth it. Our minds are a powerful tool so keeping positive can only help- even in our darkest hours. Keep hopeful!

There are many things that are out of our control – but what we do have the power to do, is too forever remain hopeful in order to walk these difficult journeys authentically, triumphantly, and with grace.

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Today, I am hopeful~

October 4, 2015

Holy Night Sweats Part Two:

Curtis went back to work on Wednesday this past week; he had exhausted all his vacation time and had taken several FMLA days, which are unpaid. It was good for him to get back to work; he disagreed at first but now is feeling more comfortable being away from me being that I can slowly navigate at home alone. Jackson showed up at the house during his lunch hour Wednesday - Friday – I think he was making an excuse to come home to see if I was okay. I did not ask – I just smiled. So our lives are getting back to normal a little bit, as my health improves. I cannot believe it has been over two months since this crazy cancer situation came back to life. I am left wondering what happens next. I know that I have a terminal diagnosis at this juncture, but I am refusing to accept that – I am still going to keep trying to get this body healthy and beat the odds. I am all about not fitting into the “norm” so naturally, I will regain my health and continue to live into my 80s.

I have been experiencing hot flashes by day and intense night sweats by night! This is not my first rodeo with this sweating situation – it happened after the first time I had chemotherapy four years ago. I am losing water from my body at a rapid rate; sweat city up in here people! Good thing I am not a stinky person – it would be unbearable to be around me. On Wednesday, I was able to receive IV hydration at the infusion center. I arrived, barely able to walk from the car into the building; I pulled a chair up to the check-in window to sit while I checked in with the staff. The lovely woman came out to the waiting room to place my identification wristband onto my wrist – she could see my fatigue and responded with gentleness. Curtis and  I were escorted back after waiting, what seemed like forever, it was actually about 15 minutes, to what the RN’s call “the closet”. Holy small room – closet was actually an understatement. The RN, Andrea was very kind, as she somehow maneuvered around this space. I was desperate for hydration and I knew getting a vein was going to most likely be a challenge, and it was. The first attempt in what I refer to as my “good arm” the right side where the cancer likes to rest – this arm usually goes untouched as to avoid inviting lymphodema into my life, it was a fail – no vein. So we moved to the left arm for a try and it she got it! So here we go…fluid! YES~ I then became a bit anxious due to the small space – so I took a Xanax. Even after I took it, I remarked that I was about to have a panic attack and how strange it was being that I had a Xanax on board. I was able to use mindfulness techniques along with reminding myself of how much better I may feel after rehydrated. It worked no panic attack. After the treatment, I did feel a bit better and was able to walk to the car without much assistance. Upon arriving home, I was SUPER hungry for the first time in a long time. I ate a southwest chicken bento bowl from CafĂ© Yum and then went to sleep for a couple hours. Oh my gosh, when I awoke, I knew that I was slowly turning the corner with my health.

Curtis has been my own personal angel looking after me in the most loving way – even when his heart was breaking and his body was tired from caretaking. He too was my personal chef. To know me is to know that I do not eat red meat and have not in nearly 25 years. My Ayurvedic practitioner, Sharon Kapp has been encouraging me to consume bone marrow soup for several years, but the idea of it just turned my stomach! Well, I finally gave in and Curtis cooked up a large batch of bone marrow broth. After cooking it down for 72 hours, it was ready for consumption. I drank a little bit and it was not so bad; actually, my body was craving it, so I consumed more. I now am consuming a cup of the marrow broth daily – my body loves it and it seems to be giving me strength.

Friday, Curtis and I were able to watch Jackson’s football game that was in Silverton, an away game. Elaine Markley, from Corvallis HS – our super awesome Monday meal angel, was able to arrange with Mark, the principal at Silverton HS, for us to drive our car and park on the track by the visitor stands. It was wonderful; best warm seat in the house! I appreciate the extension of grace and willingness of both Silverton and Crescent Valley High Schools that have been incredibly accommodating. Mark escorted us from the gates onto the track, clearing everyone out of our way as though we were royalty. I was a bit embarrassed – Like here comes the bald woman, cancer girl. Sometimes it is awkward to have people stare at me; this was one of those days but totally worth it, the game was awesome and Jackson had several great plays; the team garnered their first win of the season, it was a good night.

My mom was reading a research study of these two supplements, that when combined, showed success in reducing Triple Negative Breast cancer cells. She has ordered the supplements and I am
excitedly awaiting their arrival! The formula is comprised of ingredients that I am familiar with during all my research over the years – so I am hoping this may be the missing element in my regiment. I am ready to get healthy again and say goodbye to this cancer forever!!!! I love that I have so many people rooting for me, praying and sending healing thoughts on a daily basis – it makes a difference, I can feel it.

I am looking forward to the upcoming days that will hopefully bring increased energy and health. My trip to Texas is coming up, so I need to continue to gain strength allowing my body to heal as my immune system gains strength. I am not sure if I wrote of my trip in my blog already – dang chemo brain. I am wanting to go to Texas to see my kids, grandbabies, family, friends, and my Ayurvedic practitioner. When I mentioned my desire, Darrin and Deborah Poole extended tremendous generosity – they purchased first class tickets for me to travel, along with my beloved friend Leslie who will be my caretaker during the trip. Deborah understands this struggle; she is currently dealing with breast cancer as well. I am humbled that I am blessed with many Angels that walk among us like the Poole Family.  

I was able to finally write return letters to everyone that has been waiting! I wrote so many letters this weekend, my hand and arm sore from the marathon writing sessions. So look for a letter from me, if you were one of the 30+ backed up letters, writing really lifts my spirits and I appreciate every word that is sent my way. Please keep sending letters – it is therapeutic for me to write. Although I may not remember what I write to each person, please know that in that moment, my written words are in direct response to your words; what I write is what is on my heart after reading your letter. Sometimes, my teardrops stain the paper and this is okay – it cleanses the soul. THANK YOU for being in this journey with me, sometimes it is tough to watch and walk alongside me – I know this.

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Today, I am hopeful~