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September 5, 2015

I am wondering...a lot!

After one week off of chemotherapy, my body was strong enough to handle another round of chemotherapy. The new chemo treatment plan is three weeks on, one week off. I will be meeting with my oncology surgeon this week to discuss the possibility of having a port placed. After reviewing my blood pressure and pulse rate during chemo sessions, with a snappy excel spreadsheet created by Curtis, we discovered that my heartrate and blood pressure is much lower when accompanied by only one chemo-buddy. My friend Leslie, is in charge of my LotsOfHelpingHands volunteer site, she has made changes to the schedule to adjust for just one chemo-buddy to be with me during the infusion.

I am two days post chemotherapy. Last night I had my first real scare. After waking from a late afternoon nap, I did not feel well at all. Barely able to walk and too weak to crawl, my husband assisted getting me into the bathroom. Curtis then tucked me into bed and we continued to try and figure out what was going on. I made a couple calls to local friends hoping they could stop by RiteAid to purchase a newer thermometer – the one we had was saying in one ear I had a low-grade fever and the other ear over 100; sadly, no one was in town to help. Jackson was at his first football game so it was just Curtis and I at home; he did not want to leave me alone because I felt so bad. I talked on the phone to my friend Lene’ for a quick minute while Curtis dashed off to get the thermometer – I wanted to keep talking but I had no energy to talk and hung up.  

After taking my temperature with this new snappy designed thermometer, you hold up to your forehead, it was confirmed I had a fever of 101.8. Rarely do I ever get a fever and my baseline temperature is 97.7, so this fever was a big deal!  I made a call to the on-call oncologist to get medical direction. The oncologist suggested taking Tylenol to reduce the fever and to go to the ER if the fever reaches 103. The oncologist called in an antibiotic as well. Being that my fever broke after taking Tylenol and after reading the medication insert – I thought I would only take this medication as a last resort. That kind of sounds funny saying being that I am choosing to allow poison to be pumped into my veins weekly. Anyway, back to this antibiotic, it is used to treat exposure to the plague and anthrax! Seems like a pretty hefty antibiotic.

There is this dance that Curtis and I do with each other; no, less than once a day, Curtis looks deep into my eyes and tells me “I really don’t want you to die”. Today was no different. It just breaks my heart. Repeatedly throughout the day, I apologize for being sick. This situation sucks! Or as Curtis often says – “this is really fucked up” – he doesn’t have a potty mouth like me so it’s a big deal when he rolls out the F word. But you know, he is right, this is a pretty fucked up situation right now. This journey is stretching our ability to cope, to remain positive, to not be angry, and to release the need for understanding exactly why this situation is occurring – being okay with not knowing why this cancer has been brought into our lives. After one such dance, we briefly checked in with each other about stages of grief, but Curtis quickly changed the subject saying something like I cannot go there yet because “you are still here”. I offered that yes it is totally okay to be experiencing the stages of grief. I briefly psychoanalyzed where he was at, and was grateful he quickly ended that conversation.

Bald is Beautiful August 2015
Bald is Beautiful August 2011

I am not sure why this is happening – but I wish this cancer would take a hike and let me continue on living a glorious life. There are moments when I am sitting in my spot on the sofa, writing cards and notes back to people, decorating each one, and including creative words of inspiration – When I start to wonder, is this how I will be spending the rest of my days? I wonder if my words of encouragement are needed at just the right moment for someone. I wonder if I still inspire others? I wonder if I give others hope? I wonder if my strength and grace is helping others dig deep on those really hard days. I wonder what is my purpose. I suppose you could say that I wonder a lot! Clearly we have confirmed that I am in fact Wonder Woman, we can now move on.

I am learning what my new baseline is and I can say that I do not much fancy it at all. I am however, willing to get used to it while keeping my eye on feeling better. I will share that I am getting tired of being tired and not feeling well. Please keep sending positive healing thoughts and prayers. I love reading your letters and I hope you enjoy the letters I am writing back! I believe in miracles and am open to receiving.

Please keep sending letters to:
Christina Garrett
PO Box 192
Philomath, Oregon 97370

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Today, I am hopeful~