Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ten on Tuesday

This week's Ten on Tuesday Topic is 
  10 Good Things About Coming Home From Vacation!

This picture was taken almost exactly one year ago when Tom and I had the opportunity to visit St. Kitt's and Nevis, because my sweetie is awesome at his job and earned this trip with other top performers for the company he works for. It was a wonderful trip! As wonderful as it was though, there is no place like home. Here are some reasons why.

1. Sleeping in my own bed! With my own pillow :-)  There's nothing like it.
2. Being back with my family. The kids are pretty grown up now, so we travel without them more than with them.
3. Routines. I like the familiar.
4. Favorite Foods.  I miss my English Muffin and Skippy Peanut Butter for breakfast when I'm away.
5. Knowing where all my stuff is.  I worry about leaving stuff behind, like my sunglasses and phone chargers!
6. Don't need to pack a bag every time I leave the room.
7. ALL my knitting options are right in the next room.  ALL of them :-)
8. Snuggling with my dogs. My little one is a true lap dog and right after she forgives me for being away, she just wants to be loved.
9. Catching up on what went on while I was away.
10. Sharing pictures and stories of our trip with whoever is interested.  Sometimes that's everybody, and sometimes that's nobody.  And that's ok.  The memories are still mine :-)

Hop over to Carole's Blog and see who else is participating this week!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

It Feels a Little Sneaky

Knitting, knitting, knitting. It has been, literally, my sanity for the last few months.  And yet, I have barely mentioned it here on my knitting blog!  I realized today, as I am beginning to obsess about what I'm going to take with me to chemo tomorrow, that I have basically knit an entire sweater over the last 5-6 weeks and haven't mentioned a peep about it!

Remember this gorgeous Indigodragonfly MCN Worsted?  I bought it at Amy Herzog's Make. Wear. Love. Retreat last fall to make Birch Bark.
I finally cast it on in mid-March.  It's been great company over the last several weeks.  Here's the first sleeve....
the back.....
the front....
I just need to finish the 2nd sleeve, and by finish I mean that I only have about 10 rows left to knit.
Then it's on to blocking, seaming, and neckline.  I can't believe it's almost finished!  I told Tom today that because I've been consumed with dealing with the day to day aspects of my life right now, that I feel sneaky to have knit an entire sweater without obsessing over it!  I promise there will be a lot of good photos when it is actually finished.  I'm excited to to see how it fits!

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 :-)