Tuesday, April 22, 2014

And Today I Rant

I'm trying really hard not to complain about my treatment, but somedays it is hard to keep that "Rosy Attitude".  My doctors and nurses are telling me that I'm doing great, and that I'm sailing through this.  All my side effects are normal and expected and we can work with them.  And it's everything.  I've lost my taste for food.  Nothing tastes right and even textures are funny.  One minute I think I'm constipated, and then in the blink of an eye... I'm really not.  I have days that I am tired from deep within my bones.  I have days that I'm nauseous and I haven't found the right anti-nausea to completely neutralize that for me.  I nearly cried during Easter Dinner when I tried my sister-in-laws mashed potatoes.  They were the very best thing I have eaten in literally weeks.  I have tingling and numbness in my fingers, toes, and balls of my feet.  My white blood cell count gets too low so I have to get injections for the two days after treatment to get them up to a healthy level.  The bonus here is that it was three days, but I responded really well and have been been able to scale that back to two days. So yeah.... it's all super fun.

I have officially passed the half-way mark of the chemo portion of my treatment plan.  Today was treatment 7 of 12.  And today I witnessed the most self-centered nimrod I have encountered in a long time!

Chandler has April Vacation this week and really wanted to take me to chemo.  I understand how much he wants to support me and at barely 18 years old, it can be a challenge to find the ways to do that.  So I let him be part of my journey today.  He took me today, in his car, and bought me a cup of coffee on the way :-)  He's a great young man and I love him dearly.

My chemo takes 5 hours, give or take, to administer.  Plus I see my oncologist right before my chemo appointment.  Thankfully my oncologist office and the Infusion Center are in the same building, and on the same floor, so it's pretty convenient.  But there is no way around the fact that it's a long day.  I know that I am a freak in that I kind of enjoy the quiet time.  I prefer to go by myself because honestly it is 5 hours of guilt free relaxation!  Sure I get poked and prodded and asked a bazillion personal questions, but people... I am telling you that it is also 5 hours that I cannot fold laundry, sweep floors, clean toilets, walk dogs, grocery shop, pay bills, etc, etc, etc!  I can read, knit, watch Mad Men on Netflix or anything else my little heart desires, absolutely guilt free!  It's like a little slice of heaven :-)

Obviously the Infusion Center is a clinical environment, but they really have done a nice job of making it as comfortable as possible.  Chandler comes in with me today and I get to pick which of the open chairs I want today.  As nice a job as they have done, not all the seats are equal.  They all recline, but a couple are power recliners so that you can find that perfect sweet spot.  Some are a little bigger which is great if you have a long day as they are easier to snuggle in with a blanket a pillow. A handful of them have heat. Not quite half of them have Direct TV, so you can watch TV if you want. I have a favorite chair.  It is the coveted corner chair, because it has ALL of these lovely amenities, is directly across from the nutrition center, plus being in the corner it has lots of natural light on two sides!!  Sadly for me today, my favorite chair was already taken, so I chose the chair beside it.  Really not a big deal, but I did explain to Chandler why that was my favorite chair and he completely understood why I like it so much.

About 10 minutes after I got checked in, the young woman who was in my favorite chair gets up.  At first I thought she had left, but then I realized that she was sitting with the woman in the chair on her other side.  I didn't think much of it at first.  I just figured that it was someone she had met there and that woman was sharing some good news that she had just received from her doctor.  Good for her!  Good news is exciting and always welcome!  It wasn't until the young woman returned to my favorite chair that I realized what a jerk she was.  It's now the busiest part of the day in the infusion center.  There's only one open chair for patients left.  Volunteers are milling around and checking in with patients.  Do you need anything?  Can I get you a drink?  Or some soup?  A sandwich? Anything?  And then I heard the words come out of her mouth that made my chin drop.  "I'm not a patient.  I'm just waiting for my mother."  And she stuck her nose back in her book.  EXCUSE ME....?!?!  WHAT DID SHE JUST SAY?!?!?!?!?  I looked at Chandler with my mouth hanging open and he looked back at me with the same expression.  She did just say that.  Who does that?  Who accompanies a family member or friend to a facility for specific patient care and just occupies a patient space simply because they feel like it?  Furthermore,when it's busy and that space could clearly be being used for PATIENT CARE?  Seriously, who does that?  It just really blew my mind.  I just don't understand the mindset of some people.  There are plenty of chairs available for the support people of the patients.  Admittedly they're not as comfortable as the patient recliners, but the visitors aren't getting chemo.  Suck it up Buttercup, this is not about you.  If you're going to accompany someone to their treatment for support, then maybe, just possibly, perhaps, you might actually try supporting them.

The icing on the cupcake though was when she was leaving with her mother.  "I'm all set" the mom says.  "Good.  Can we finally go to Barnes and Noble now" the young woman asks?  Good grief.  I guess it really does take all kinds of people to make this world go round.  I hope she knows that Karma can be a real bitch.....

Monday, April 21, 2014

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Girlfriends are awesome!  Sometimes, knitting girlfriends are even better :-)  

I had said that there would probably be a parade of hats knit to keep my bald head warm.  I have plenty of warm winter weight hats, but with spring finally arriving, they were too warm.  I had one lighter weight hat, and although it is the perfect weight and really, really comfortable, it is the most unflattering shade of blah known to mankind.  At some point I knit this hat thinking that this nice neutral color would "go with everything" and yet.... it goes with NOTHING!
I wasn't kidding, was I?

I mentioned this at Knit Group a couple weeks ago and my friends asked me to pick out a some patterns that I liked and favorite colors.  These beautiful hats were waiting for me at Knit Group on Friday afternoon.

Rustling Leaves Beret

Sundance Lacy Hat

Lace Trim Chemo Cap

Thank you Laura


and Nancy!
You are the best :-)

(Can you believe every one of these beautiful women said "I hate having my picture taken"?  So beautiful, every one of them!)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Happy Socks

First, let me say how overwhelmed I am at the outpouring of love and support that you have all expressed as I continue along my journey with cancer.  This has not been the easiest journey of my life, but it certainly will be one of the most memorable.  I know that when it is all over, it will not be the endless doctor appointments, treatments and side effects that stay with me. It will be support of my community, both near and far, and how that has made me and my family feel that will stay with me.  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart :-)

Since this is primarily a blog about my knitting, let me show you my spiffy, happy new spring socks! This is the February shipment of the Cookie A Sock Club.  This pattern is Bjork and I used the club yarn, The Plucky Knitter Feet, in the color Goin' Steady.  Although I have some Plucky Feet in my stash, I hadn't actually used it before.  I did like it!  It's not as soft and cushy as the Primo Fingering, but it makes a nice sturdy fabric and the lace pattern shows beautifully.  They're ready for a bath now and I'm curious to see how they feel after a good washing.

Starting from the top, a nice 2x1 ribbed cuff,
which was followed by a lacy leg and foot.
It is finished off with my favorite wedge toe.
I finished these just in time for the April shipment to arrive, as in I finished these last Saturday and the new package arrived Monday!

I even baked one of the cookie recipes last month.  Behold the deliciousness of the Chocolate Crinkle cookie! I'm not going to lie, these were fabulous!  I will definitely be making these again!
I almost forgot, this pair of socks is pair #8 in the 26 Pair Plunge.  I am SO behind on this challenge.  It ends June 30.....

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

In Which I Share My Battle with Cancer

Cancer. It's an ugly word and one that no one wants to hear their doctor use to describe their situation.  It is the word I heard though the day before Thanksgiving, when my surgeon called to let me know that the lump that was removed from my reconstructed breast, the lump that was thought to be nothing more than some scar tissue, was in fact invasive breast cancer.  My diagnosis was a shock to me and my surgeon.  It was a situation that he had never seen before and he assured me that he had already begun the process of reaching out to the doctors that would make up my team of care providers going forward, that there would be significant input from all of them and we would approach this as a team and make sure no rock was left unturned and no question was left unanswered.

Without delving in to all the particulars that have gone on over the last 4 months, I will just say that I have had many starts, stops, and redirects in the collection and interpretation of information.  I have been to Dana Farber Cancer Institute and have a team of providers there as well.  Although my particular situation is very unusual, my particular cancer is actually quite common and very treatable.  My local doctors and my team at Dana Farber came to the same conclusions for my diagnosis and both had the same recommendation for treatment.  There is some comfort in that.  Both teams assure me that at the end of this journey, I will be cured.  I am looking forward to that very much.

So why am I sharing all this now you may be wondering?  My treatment plan is quite long.  52 weeks to be exact and I am currently in week 5 and already behind schedule.  My dear friend Marie asked me if I had considered blogging about this, or journaling it, because there may be times that writing about it may help me cope with all that is going on.  I may want to vent or I may want to share something that has lifted me up.  It's the lifting me up part that I just want to shout from the rooftop right now!

Last week I reached the point in my chemo where enough of my hair had fallen out that I had become very self-conscious of how I looked.  My youngest son, Chandler, had told me at the beginning of this journey that if I lost my hair he was shaving his head too.
 My forehead had turned into a five-head and the hair on my sides and back had gotten ridiculously thin.  The only place I had any significant hair left was on my crown.  It was not a flattering look!  It was time to shave my head.
Chandler called Megan, his best friend who lives next door and who is the daughter of my heart and I love like she was my own kid, and she came over to shave our heads.  Then she cut 10 inches of her own hair off and donated it to Locks of Love.
We texted pictures to Justin, who is at school in Alabama.  Not 15 minutes later I got this picture back from him, with the comment "For the first and hopefully only time in my life, my mom and I have the same haircut" LOL

The next day after school, Chandler showed me a picture of one of his friends who had also shaved his head. He posted his picture on instagram with the comment "For you and your mom, bro"

It's very heartwarming when your friends check up on you and seem to show up at just the right time with just the thing you need to boost you up.  But it is quite another when the young people in your life shave their heads and donate their hair, just to show you what you mean to them and that they want to stand with you too.  There are no words to describe how full it makes your heart, and right now.... mine is bursting.

There will undoubtably be a parade of hats to keep my head warm over the next few months or so.  Today I'm feeling a little badass though, wearing my biker chick head wrap that my hubby got me at the Harley Dealership.  It's a good day :-)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ten on Tuesday

This week's topic is a fun one for me as it involves one of my other hobbies, namely books!  Carole has asked us to talk about the last 10 books we have read, including reviews if we feel so inclined.  So here they are!

1. Be Careful What You Wish For by Jeffrey Archer.  This is the 4th book, of 5, in The Clifton Chonicles.  I have been waiting anxiously for this to be released and I was not disappointed!  This book focused more on the younger generation of characters as they have become adults.  Again the book ended with a great cliffhanger that has left me anxious for the 5th and final book of the series, although I have no idea how long I need to wait....
2. The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K Rowling).  Ultimately I enjoyed this book but it seemed to take me a while to get through it.  Cormoran Strike is an interesting character with an interesting background.  There may have been too many characters for my liking which seemed to take away form the pace of the story.  But in the end the outcome surprised me which I think makes a whodunnit even better.
3. The Yarn Whisperer: My Unexpected Life in Knitting by Clara Parkes.  This was a nice collection of essays that I lingered over for a long time, reading an essay here and there as it suited me.  Having had the pleasure of meeting Clara a couple times and spending a weekend with her at a retreat, I thought that she did great writing this book in her voice, if you know what I mean.
4. Me Before You by JoJo Moyes.  I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK!!!!!  It is a beautiful story of two people who have no idea of the ability they have to affect other people.  Some of their confinements are real and some, in my opinion, are imagined.  The opportunity arises for each of them to have a positive impact on the other.  Along the way they develop true and deep feelings for each other that neither of them expected.
5. Sycamore Row by John Grisham.  It had been several years since I read a Grisham novel, but my DH read this and couldn't put it down, so I decided to give it a go.  I'm glad I did!  I loved the character of Jake Brigance from A Time to Kill and this book features him again and also brings back many of the local characters from his town.  Although I had a pretty much guessed what the outcome was going to be, I enjoyed how it all came together in the end and I enjoyed spending time with these characters again.
6. Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.  This was a fun book of quirky characters! What I loved most about Bernadette was that she was a character that was lost in about every way that a person could be lost.  Her story was told in part through correspondence with other characters, many of which had no interaction with each other.  Some parts of this story were truly heart wrenching and other parts were laugh out loud funny.  It was definitely worth the listen!
7. Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich.  I love the Stephanie Plum books and this was the perfect light hearted book to entertain me during the holidays.  It wasn't as good as the numbered books, but thought provoking literature is not why I read Evanovich's books.
8. The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiana.  I've read everything this author has written.  If you are not familiar with her, she typically writes nice family driven stories. This book is part of the Valentine Series and picks up right where Brava, Valentine ends.
9. Deadline by Sandra Brown.  This was a typical romantic thriller by Brown, but sometimes that's just what you want to read!  Even better for me, I found myself surprised by some of the plot twists.  I love when that happens!
10. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.  This was a beautiful story.  The main characters are at very different stages in their lives.  Vivian is a 90ish year old women who wants to sort her belongings in her attic, although really she wants to visits the memories of her past.  Molly is a child in foster care in desperate need of community service to avoid juvenile hall.  When the two come together they discover they have much in common despite their age difference.  A true friendship develops between them and in a time of need for Molly, she turns to Vivian who gladly helps to the surprise of many.  This book made me think about the importance of GOOD foster homes for children in need and crisis, and how a bad one can have devastating damage for a child.

Currently I am reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, and listening to Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlan.

Tell me about some of your favorite books recently.  I'm always looking for something good to read!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Scholar Athletes!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

It is also, by Proclamation of the Governor, NH Scholar Athlete Day!  This is an award for seniors who have lettered in at least 2 varsity sports, maintained a B-plus or better average, demonstrated good citizenship, and served as role models for their peers.

Let me present the Scholar Athletes from Bishop Brady High School.  A total of 27 students from a class of 90 earned this award this year.

I am particularly proud of this handsome guy on the right!  I'm also delighted that many of his good friends also earned this award, especially his girlfriend who is the young lady on crutches.  And yes, it's a sports injury....

Isn't Chandler a good boyfriend carrying her purse for her? LOL  When I found the kids before the ceremony started, he held up her purse and asked "Does it complete my outfit?" His sense of humor really makes me laugh!
Congratulations to all the recipients!  I know you'll all do great things in the future!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ten on Tuesday

This is a fun topic this week!  Kudos to Carole and her dear Dale for coming up with it.

10 Things You Can Do Yourself But Get Your Husband To Do Instead 

I didn't have a picture of Tom doing one of Tasks, so I chose a picture of him doing one of his favorite things.... taking the dogs for a boat ride.  It doesn't matter how old a boy gets, it's still a great day when it's a boy/man with his dogs :-)

1. Clean up the dog poop.
2. Clean the cars. Pretty much every Sunday he washes and vacuums our cars. We had to install hot water in both garages for this express reason!
3. Let's the dogs out during the night if they need to go out.
4. String trims the yard.  I don't mind the mowing if the boys aren't around to help, but I stink at string trimming and have no desire to get better at it!
5. Rakes under the decks.  They seem to be a catch-all area for the leaves in our yard.
6. Sweeps the sand out of the garages.  It's amazing how much gets tracked in, especially during the winter!
7. Digs my holes if I want to plant something new, especially if it's on the larger side, like a shrub for instance.
8.  Scrubs roasting pans after big family dinners.  I'm one for letting it soak a bit, he hates dishes sitting in the sink.  Works for me!
9. Makes sure the trash gets to the dump, even though most weeks that means sending one of the boys to do it.
10. Makes sure that the snow gets cleaned up.  Again, this is usually taken care of by the boys, but if he's going to be away during a storm I always overhear "Don't make you mom snowblow the driveway.  Make sure you get it done BEFORE you go anywhere."

He's a good guy.  I'm definitely going to keep him :-)

Today is also a BIG DAY in our family.  My baby is celebrating his 18th Birthday!  I'm not really sure how it is that 18 years has sped by since he joined us, but he has brought us much joy over the years.  He is smart, confident, outgoing, friendly, and has the most wonderful sense of humor.  He is truly a blessing in our family and we are so very proud of the amazing young man he is becoming.