There is an award passed between bloggers, and I think it’s pretty neat. It’s called the One Lovely Blog award, and you get it by being recognized by fellow writers. Continue reading
I spent most of the day feeling pretty significant pain in the area that is getting daily radiation zaps. I was also willing my hair to grow faster, but it didn’t work. I am feeling great exhaustion, I am penciling more and more eyebrows everyday, and my precious puppy chewed up my Yellow Box flip flops. Sigh.
It’s a feel-sorry-for-myself kind of moment. It’s me being difficult. It’s me forgetting that I am still alive.
So I decided to turn that frown upside down by making a list of the things that don’t suck about stupid cancer.
Today our whole family participated in the Cupid’s Chase 5K race in Georgetown, TX. The best news is this: I beat my goal time by six and a half minutes!!!!! I don’t know where this strength came from. (It may have come from the realization that this bald DOES make my butt look big.) I guess it also comes from the fact that I like entering races and setting goals and then beating those goals. I was a machine today! If you were here right now we would be high-fiving and doing end zone dances.
While running, I noticed a fellow competitor with this on his shirt:
Pretty awesome, right? This gentleman is “Scottydog”, and he’s a cancer survivor. Today marked his twelfth race of 2012! He enters all kinds of races and then posts photos and info about the course on the forums at runnersworld.com. You can see his post here. I saw him on the course (when he passed me and finished four minutes ahead of me) and felt empowered by his great shirt.
And speaking of getting passed up by people, Jeremy beat me AND his goal time. I was also beaten by an 11 year-old girl (my daughter), by an 8 year-old boy (my youngest son), and by several people with grey hair. I beat my oldest son and a three-legged dog though, so I feel good abut that.
Somewhere along the course, we came upon a cemetery. These final resting grounds have always made me feel reverent and sad. Today, the sight of gravestones made me feel encouraged–because I don’t have to be in there yet. This cancer treatment stuff is horrible, but it’s all because I don’t want to die anytime soon. I did my best impression of a sprinter when I passed the cemetery, mentally giving cancer the middle finger. Ha! Cancer may have me down, but I’m not out, and I’m not ready to have my own area in any kind of final resting place.
I came in 415th out of 658 total runners, 226th out of 416 females, and 36th out of 58 females in my age division. This is not my best showing, but it was my best effort. I planned to run (jog) some and walk some, and I did. I planned to get a certain goal time, and I obliterated it. I planned to be sort of awesome, and I ended up being awesome times 10.
So…SUCK IT CANCER! I CAN RUN FROM YOU AND LEAVE YOU FAR BEHIND! EAT MY DUST YOU STUPID DISEASE!
When the whole world came crashing down around me (Jeremy in the hospital), my friends and co-workers came together and started planning a BBQ benefit to support my family. In just 7 days, they mobilized forces and put on a 500 plate BBQ that completely sold out! There was a bake sale, a raffle, and KVUE news showed up to cover the event! I saw former students, parents of students, co-workers, school board members, business owners, the sheriff, and more friends than I knew I had. I know some of these people quite well, some just because we work for the school district, and some I met for the first time. People that don’t even know us were willing to help. What a blessing to have so many come out and support our little family! Elgin, Texas really knows how to come together and make things happen.
You can see the news clip here: http://www.kvue.com/news/Central-Texas-residents-come-together-to-help-Elgin-family-137329533.html
I’ve been stubbornly hanging on to the last few hairs on my head, and I’m glad. That hat really works with hair. Not so sure how it’s going to look with a blank scalp.
Screen shot of the video on KVUE’s website:
Due to this event, we are going to have help covering the crazy costs associated with the stupid illnesses that have decided to infiltrate our lives. I can’t even begin to tell you how this will help to remove at least some of the burden. I already have medical offices calling me every few days seeking “payment in full”. If I’m struggling WITH insurance, what do people without insurance do? Just not pay? I feel like we HAVE to find a way to pay, especially since I’m going to be with these offices for quite some time. (But the costs associated with my treatment shall be saved for another post. I am HOT under the collar about the outrageous dollar amounts charged for healthcare.)
The fundraiser is a clear example of love and friendship and helping someone in need. My friends and family can’t cure me or Jeremy, but they sure can FEED us and make sure the bills get paid. I feel a little guilty about all of this attention and help, and I don’t feel like I can ever re-pay my dear friends…but Jeremy wisely said, “You’re right, you can’t re-pay them. But you can help support the next neighbor in need when the time comes.” Smart, right?
So thanks, Elgin family. You all (or y’all as you like to say) are the best. I mean it. THE BEST. XO!
I recently read an article that had me grinning from ear to ear. It turns out that someone somewhere did a study on the potential of red wine to aid in treatment of breast cancer patients. The red wine supposedly can mimic what drugs like tamoxifen do–inhibit the hormones that feed the dumb breast cancer tumors.
You can read the article here: Red Wine Prevents Breast Cancer? I’ll Drink to That!
I have a few comments about this study:
1. Why, oh why, couldn’t I have been a part of this? The women had to drink 2 glasses of wine every night for 30 days. This is an assignment that I am willing to undertake.
2. There are other studies that show that red wine is good for your heart. Two birds! Heart disease AND breast cancer!
3. It turns out that the study only included 36 women. That doesn’t seem like enough. (read Red Wine and Breast Cancer-Play It Safe)
4. What about the research that shows that alcohol can increase hormone production, therefore giving the tumors the food they crave?
Conclusion: if two glasses of wine daily equals cancer, but one to two glasses a day equals a healthy heart, can I assume that one glass, enjoyed every Friday, taken with a small plate of good cheese and fancy crackers, will promote some kind of good health? (MENTAL health, at least?)
And in other wine-related news, another dear friend gave me this FABULOUS painted wineglass! Do you love it? I love it.
Home: They let me take Jeremy home from the hospital, but he’s still so weak and tired. My white blood cell count is low, so I’m wiped out too. We briefly argued at the hospital about who was going to drive home, but since he had to be wheeled out in a wheel chair, I won. We got his prescriptions, went home, and promptly fell asleep. Luckily my mother-in-law flew out to help, so the kids were being watched after. I have never seen him beat down like this before. Hopefully recovery is on the horizon–we have races to
train for participate in!
Hair: My hair started falling out on Saturday night, which totally wrecked my secret desire to “beat the odds” and not lose my hair. Jeremy says that it doesn’t look like its falling out, but I have constant reminders since it is often in my eyes or in my mouth or on my shirt or in my food or in the shower drain. Even though he’s still recovering, Jeremy is ready with the clippers to shave my head when I say it’s time. My scalp hurts right at the root, so it won’t be long until I can’t take it any more. Just one more thing to add to the list of Stupid Things That Happen When You Have Cancer!
Help: Oh the help..we are so blessed to have so much help. Nobody really knows what to do–they can’t make Jeremy instantly better, and they can’t make the chemotherapy side effects any less. But our friends and family do know how to cook! I can’t tell you how comforting it is to not have to struggle through making a meal. I have no way to repay the kindness of these thoughtful people. Jeremy said that I really can’t, but that I can join them when we need to support someone else. I like that. So smart. See? See Why I need him? He’s so Glass Half Full which perfectly suits my Glass Half Empty.
So to wrap up: Jeremy’s Home, my Hair is vanishing, and we are blessedlucky to have such amazing Help.
Have you ever heard sayings like “it will only make you stronger” or “you will never be given more than you can handle”? Well, I would like to go on the record with this: I do not want to be any stronger and I am at my limit for what I can handle.
Some of you know that my husband, Jeremy, has been playing the role of The Caregiver in this Breast Cancer Saga. From the day I found out that The Lump was the bad guy, he has been the go-to guy for everything. He took me to every doctor’s appointment, took over all of the household chores, researched until every corner of the Internet had been revealed, cooked the meals, arranged for the kids to be picked up, kept everybody informed, slept in a chair in the hospital for three straight nights when I had surgery, suffered when I turned mean while taking Ambien for sleep…he has done EVERYTHING. Some of the helping me with the surgery aftermath was kind of time-consuming and icky (I had four drains sticking out of me) and I thanked him over and over. I felt so bad for him all cramped up in that hospital chair–his response?
“Don’t worry, you’ll probably have to do the same for me one day.” Such an innocent comment! We both pictured this sick old man and old lady, the old lady helping the old man with tubes and pills and oxygen. We certainly did not imagine that his day to suffer poor health and hospital stays was right around the corner…
Jeremy had been sick Wednesday evening: fever, chills, body aches, nausea, vomiting, no appetite. It seemed like the flu. When we woke up Thursday, he was still sick, but we figured he needed to sleep it off. Here’s the text he sent me while I was at work (this is a word-for-word quote): “I Ned. Yo hi one I tgi nk”. Now Jeremy isn’t known for overly accurate spelling, but this was weird. I came in to find him way worse than the night before, so it was clearly emergency room time. He stumbled to the car, taking breaks every few feet.
Once we got to the ER, things quickly turned into question mark scary time. His blood pressure was way too low, he was dizzy, lightheaded, his hands were going numb, his skin was red. Nobody had any real answers at first. They began pumping fluids into him and that perked him up a little. And then one of the doctors determined that his kidneys were shutting down. They did CAT scans, ultrasounds, and gave antibiotics. One of the nurses commented that it was like this was an episode of House since they didn’t know what was going on. Suddenly, he was being admitted, they were sending him to ICU, and the doctor said something like, “we want to get your kidneys working so they’re not so damaged that you need dialysis.”
I ended up leaving as they were about to wheel him to ICU because there are no visitors allowed in that unit from 6:00-8:00. I got to the parking lot and started making calls. I must have looked crazyawful out there just sobbing into my phone. I called his parents and some of our friends who have been known to take very good care of us and our kids. It was so surreal to have to say that he was so sick, I mean this is Jeremy The Caregiver who does not get sick. This is Jeremy The Caregiver that actually had a physical and listened to the doctor’s advice. This is Jeremy The Caregiver who has been very successful at quitting smoking! This person cannot be so ill that he gets admitted to ICU!
(Note: we do find it EXTREMELY ironic that although he spent the past fifteen or twenty years smoking, drinking energy drinks, and staying up too late, it was the months after he quit abusing himself that he got so sick.)
Everybody, and I mean everybody, rallied together to get me organized. One neighbor took the kids after school and another neighbor let them spend the night. One friend texted me from the store and asked what I needed and two other friends came over and helped me drive back to the hospital to see Jeremy again. The store friend started a massive prayer chain by email and Facebook, the family was praying in California…and that’s when the miracles literally started pouring down!
When I returned to the hospital, he was a little worse. But s-l-o-w-l-y, he began to improve. Blood pressure was getting higher, fever was going down, and he actually wanted to eat hospital gelatin. I wanted to stay the night, but my immune system is one germ away from total meltdown, so I had to go home. I barely slept at all, but I’m pretty sure I finally drifted off about 4:55 am. At 5:14 am, he texted me asking for a Venti Nonfat Mocha from Starbuck’s. Now THAT’S the Jeremy The Caregiver I know and love! Caffeine? Sugar? Overpriced specialty drink? He’s back!
He is doing really well now and although he’s still in the hospital, he is on the road to recovery for sure. They still aren’t sure what caused all of this. Maybe a crazy virus, maybe a crazy infection, maybe some kind of reaction cause by some antibiotics he had been taking, for sure all of it having to do with extreme stress caused by your loved one being attacked by stupid cancer.
What I know is this: caregivers need care too. So we will switch roles for a while. I will care for him and hopefully help him return to the husband, dad, friend that we know and love. As much as I hate to admit it, this can only make us stronger, and apparently, we still have not been given more than we can handle.