Monday, March 14, 2011

Think Spring

Believe it or not it is just around the corner. We Central New Yorker's know to never trust that early thaw, we smile and think, oh this is nice, but deep down inside we feel the threat of another blizzard or freezing rain storm. Spring...not only a welcome change in the seasons but a symbol of new beginnings, life, growth, and change. I really cannot think of a better time for me to finish up my chemo treatments really.

I have been looking forward to finishing up some home improvement projects (or I have been looking forward to other people finishing them) but we need the warm spring weather. Even though once again fall was crazy (diagnosis time) and I didn't plant bulbs....again...I cannot wait to see the beautiful crocuses and tulips poking up from the barely thawed ground in their brilliance promising that the gray doesn't last forever. I am thankful for my neighbors who have planted bulbs! Needless to say I am so excited for spring. I can already smell the fresh air blowing off the last remains of snow spots in the yard and fresh mud. I can hear the kids squealing with delight on the first real "warm" day that allows them to swing with the wind blowing in their faces on the first good warm outside day of the season. I cannot wait to get an early spring garden in since the beds are all ready from last year. I look forward to having play dates with good friends that allow us to sit and relax and watch the kids run.

About a month or so ago at our women's bible study meeting our coordinator gave a great talk about being stuck in the throws of winter and how that can get us down. She talked about how we literally need sunlight to stave off anxiety, depression, and fight disease (lack of vitamin D and B12 are linked to cancer). Fresh air and sunlight are quite literally necessary to live a good healthy life. She concluded by demonstrating that this is another metaphor that God uses between His creation and our spiritual life. We need "Son" light to get through the darkest days of winter in our lives. There have been so many times where doubt and fear have come at me in this and so many trials in our lives. God just asks us to depend on his care to get us through that time. When we allow his light to come in, He purifies us and makes us new. Only He can melt away the hard gray ice in our lives. Only He can bring the new beginning we have been looking for. Get ready to breathe in the fresh air of spring and celebrate change and renewal. I know I am ready!!
Here is a great link to an article about sunshine and cancer. Very good read!

Monday, March 7, 2011


I think you all remember back in the day when I was posting about my wellness regime and the wonderful concoction I was drinking for breakfast...I say "was" because I have been SO off the wagon. I have been taking my supplements but could NOT stomach the green drink after chemo. It is not that I have had nausea, because I haven't, but things do not taste the same the first 10 days after treatment and when I get out of the habit it is really hard to get back on track. I am proud to announce the new and improved "while I am on chemo green drink" It is my green drink powder and tart cherry juice (which is very good for you for lots of reasons). Why didn't I try this earlier? I did get my garlic in with my seared spinach though :-) The drink was so much easier to stomach and I am getting all of that green goodness too!

I have read a couple of non-traditional wellness books that I was really excited about, but the problem is that they are so different and contradict each other so much that I was really frustrated. I have been eating well, it is just that I have added some unhealthy things to the mix (if anyone is friends with me on Facebook I am sure you remember some statuses that had to do with Reeces PB Cups and ice cream). It is really hard, especially since the junk is the only thing that tastes normal right after treatment. I am currently "trying" to give up dairy, wheat, processed foods, sugar, and then there is a whole other list of foods that are considered "healthy" by all other normal people that I should be avoiding according to these books... To be fair, even my oncologist said that wheat and dairy really aren't great for anyone. Anyway, I have come to the conclusion that I am going to do my best to eliminate wheat, dairy, and extra sugar, and eat lots of veggies. I am just going to try to be healthy because the reality is that when I was sticking to this plan religiously when I was first diagnosed I felt great!

I have been trying to think of a way to motivate myself to stay on this wellness plan. One idea that I was afraid to follow through on was using my blog readers to hold me accountable! I was going to post what I ate and what I did for exercise...maybe I still will...will you be nice to me? I also thought about doing a behavior chart for myself. As a teacher I did this all of the time for children who had difficulty with self-control or just needed behavior modification. I never thought of doing this for myself but I DO need self-control and behavior modification! Also, it was in a magazine I subscribe to called Whole Living and they said it is very powerful, maybe I will do this too. I was thinking that I can reward myself with a nice blouse or go out for coffee with the girls (don't tell, I am not supposed to drink coffee, no surprise there!)

I wanted to share a couple of things that are truly motivating to me right now that are helping me to get back on track (at least for today). I think about how those sweets taste and if that report is true about sugar feeding cancer, it is so not worth eating it, it is good, but not that good. I will eat it in moderation, but that is not something I am good at right now.

Another very motivating thing is that the YMCA here does a Livestrong Program where cancer patients and survivors have class together twice a week for 12 weeks. I will start in May or August, depending on my surgery schedule. The classes are exercise or art, whatever the class wants to do. I am excited to be connected to local survivors as well. The best part is that we get a free family membership while I am in the program! We joined last week, so I think the fact that I will have childcare so I can work out will be very motivating.

Also, my awesome and inspiring friends started a team for the race for the cure "Al's Rack Pack" isn't that great? It is a 5K, and although I haven't been running I have been exercising a little bit. I am hoping that I can run the entire thing. I can't imagine how motivating that will be. I am going to have a hard time not crying when I see all of my friends and family running/walking with me in the fight against this horrible disease. I am sure that day will motivate me to keep up with the exercise part of things. Exercise just feels so good when you keep up with it. I also think that if I have a great exercise regimen, if I do fall off the wagon occasionally it won't be the end of the world. I do believe that if you are too strict with a plan it is harder to stick too. If you are interested in joining our team or supporting our team, here is the link...

My most important motivator is my husband and children. When something as staggering as aggressive breast cancer comes at you when you are 30, your head is swimming with wondering "why?" I could drive myself crazy wondering what I can do to prevent recurrence, or I can just do what I can do. I know what I can do, and this is just about it. I think picturing their faces and how I want to be here for everything. It is pretty motivating.

If anyone out there wants to join me in striving for wellness, let me know what you are doing! What are your tricks? What are your great wellness resources and recipes. We all have to remember that we are the ones that are responsible for our health and happiness and that today we can make a difference with our choices.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Still Plugging Along

Wow, it has been way too long and I apologize for that! I have been very distracted with being elated that I am for the most part completely normal. It is funny how being elated and determined that this isn't going to get me down has spurred me to do way more than I would on a normal basis and I like it! Part of it is also the fact that Evelyn has come into her own and doesn't demand my every second. She is happy to play with her brother and sister and get into all kinds of trouble :-) Still doing the daily duties with ease and going to all these appointments. I just told my nurse that I am not going to know what to do with myself when I only have to come in every three weeks for Herceptin. That will start in 6 weeks! That's right- I have only two more "yucky treatments"  as we like to call them three weeks apart until I switch to Herceptin every three weeks. It has gone by very fast. It has also made the winter go by very fast which is nice because if I spend too much time outside I lose my voice (weird I know).

After this last treatment I was more tired. I have my treatments on the Thursday and Friday is usually fine, Saturday and Sunday I was sluggish. Monday I had a day out with the kids, Tuesday I was beat!! Luckily I have an amazing Mom who came to the rescue and brought the kids to her house for the night. This is all so exciting for the kids that it doesn't really matter. We spent the morning until Grandma got there on the couch passing back and forth homemade presents in a cardboard box. We also drew homemade cards to go with each present. It was a great way to keep things positive and pass the time. I guess if that is the worst that I can complain about, once again, this hasn't been so bad. I still haven't needed to take any as needed nausea meds. I haven't had the numbness and tingling in my hands and feet that can come with this chemo. I haven't reacted to anymore drugs. PRAISE GOD!!

Some fun tidbits. The kids love my bald head. Funny though- my hair won't give up. I have quarter inch strands sticking up all over, so that is pretty funny. Evelyn loves to surprise baby attack when I am not looking and try to rip my hat off so she can wear it. She also let me put a head wrap on her and she was strutting around the house so proud of herself. Adorable! I will have to try it again and post some pictures. I also have to use LOTS of hand lotion because with winter and chemo it can be pretty rough. The kids love lavishing their hands as well, especially Evelyn, of course, who will come up to me desperately pleading "Hands, hands!" until I open it and squirt it on for her. She then giggles so excitedly and proceeds to rub it on her hands or anything else she thinks needs moisture like the couch.

There are a lot of bright sides to look at which is good because I have definitely had some down days as well. I do struggle with the fact that having more children (not that we were planning on it) isn't a very realistic option. I just wasn't ready for that door to be so abruptly closed whether or not it was going to happen. I had my cries and vented, now I am good. If God wants to open a door when one is closed, He will! Hope you are all having a good winter. I hope to better about making posts but can't make any promises :-)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

God's Provision

Over the past few days I have really had some moments of being overwhelmed in a good way. I have had so many "close calls" within this journey with the cancer being aggressive, catching it just in time, having an allergic reaction last week to meds (Not that I am trying to be dramatic) people have been saying how strong I am, etc. but I want to give credit where credit is due. Although it has been pretty scary at times, I really see how God is showing us that it really is in his control and he is GOOD! Everything has fallen into place and I feel so fortunate to have been in the care that I have and that every detail has worked out for our benefit. I have really been brought to tears thinking of how fortunate I am that everything has gone as smoothly as it has. I have a very treatable cancer. It was caught early. I have great traditional and alternative care. I have amazing people in my life. I have a wonderful and supportive husband who has carried me. I can go on and on. Blessings are just pouring down!

Like I mentioned earlier, last week I had an allergic reaction right at the beginning of my infusion to the anti-nausea medicine. It was very scary. I felt like I was having a heart attack. The nurses were amazing, in no time they were pumping Benedryl into me and then within minutes everything calmed down. It was scary to have to continue with the rest of the treatments, but I just handed it over  and said "Jesus, please take care of this" of course everything worked out fine. The thing that was most amazing about this allergic reaction experience was that the first thing I thought was "Why God, isn't everything else enough? Can't I just get through the rest of this without a hitch?" Later that night as I was lying awake I realized how God's is really "holding me in his giant hand" like my friend Hannah said. I was supposed to pre-medicate at home with the medicine that I reacted to at treatment. The doctor's office called me and told me not to take it because they could just give me what I needed at treatment.

All along people have been praying for us and that things would go smoothly. People have been praying for protection over me and that I would be able to get through this smooth sailing. I really believe that God protected me from taking that medicine at home alone with three kids. I was in an environment where I had great care right away to take care of the problem. Yes, it was scary, and I wish it didn't happen, just like this diagnosis. Isn't it true though that sometimes we have to go through these trials to really see how blessed we are? Life is so much sweeter knowing that God has brought me through this and can bring us through so much more! I love that we serve the God of the impossible and that He takes pleasure in guiding us on our journeys! I continue to be amazed at how God is providing me with the energy and strength during chemo. Really, I have felt a little tired here and there, but other than that, fine. I have been able to keep up with the kids, do our school work, housekeeping, etc because I ask God everyday to give me the strength that only He can provide and I can't do it alone! He is faithful! I have been feeling pretty good. I know it may get harder as treatments go on, but I am counting each day that seems "normal" I as a blessing. Thanks again for checking in and for all of your prayers!