A thought or two …

I, like many others, have been watching the Olympics and they just did a “spot” on the space race.

One of the things they showed was a piece from the famous speech that President Kennedy made in 1961 when he challenged America to put a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade.  The program was often referred to as the “Moon Shot“.

A while back, I thought I heard President Bush (the younger) say that he wanted to get everyone behind a program at M.D. Anderson which they call “Cancer Moon Shot“.  This particular program is looking to do something similar for research in the areas of breast and ovarian cancers.  http://www.cancermoonshots.org

Wouldn’t that be incredible?

There are so many brilliant minds around the world that I wish they could put aside their political, cultural, ideological and egotistical differences and work together to solve the questions of what causes the plethora of cancers and work to discover a cure for them.

Perhaps there will be other world leaders who will call for their researchers to join in a world-wide effort to put an end to cancer by the end of the decade.  After all, researchers have found the cause of and nearly eradicated such things as smallpox and polio …  There is always hope …

Keep fighting …

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Filled with love …

Today is Valentine’s Day and it has traditionally been a day for love.

Well, I’ve been feeling that kind of love for a very long time — especially during this year of fighting multiple cancers.

It is those demonstrations of love which have given me the strength to fight to get and stay well.

I hope that you are surrounded by this kind of love and that if you have a friend or family member who is fighting cancer that you surround them with love all year-long.  It will not only help them on this day, but throughout their journey.

So, Happy Valentine’s Day and …

Keep fighting …

Sleep …

What’s that?

After more than a year of a highly disrupted sleep pattern, I’m beginning to think that sleep is highly overrated …

I really don’t remember the last time I got a full eight hours of sleep.  Oh, I’ve stayed in bed for eight hours, but I haven’t always been able to sleep.

Too many nights I’ve slept for two or three hours and then been wide awake for three or four.  Wide away.  Unable to fall back asleep.

In case no one’s ever told you, overnight television is really bad.  LOTS and LOTS of infomercials and when you can’t take any more of those, there are always I Love Lucy reruns followed by a LOT more infomercials.    I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of the latest cooking gadgets, diet products and beauty products.

When you can’t take any more  infomercials or Lucy, you can always try movies, music or books.  Sometimes you get lucky and one of them works but they too are only good for so long.

For me, lack of sleep started soon after the first surgery and I was just beginning to get a few longer stretches of sleep when I started chemo.

Since May of last year, I’ve averaged four or five hours of sleep a night — often with a long wide-awake period in the middle of it.

My usual bed time?

Well ….

Any time between two and six in the morning with it usually being somewhere around four.

When I mentioned it to my oncologist, she said that some people do have sleep problems. Really?  It was just one of a number of things that I had to learn the hard way.

I keep hoping that it will soon level out and I’ll start getting longer and longer stretches of sleep, but that hasn’t started yet.

Sleep aids?

Television — an internet game — my favorite music — a book …

That’s about as much of a sleep aid as I’ll take.  I know lots of people take something and get great sleep, but I figure that I’ve had so many drugs in my system this last year that it’s time to back off on them.    Right now I’m watching the Olympic games and hoping that they will make me tired.  After going to bed at six this morning and four yesterday morning, I’m forcing myself to stay away so that I can head to be around ten or so.

I hope that you are having better luck sleeping while you are either on chemo or when you’re finished and trying to get back into a “normal” routine … whatever that means.

Until then …

Keep fighting …

You gotta … well, you don’t have to, but …

This journey that we’re all on can be tough.  It can be tiring.  It can be overwhelming.  It can be long.  It can be lonesome.

You gotta have an advocate.

You have to have someone who is there to go to the doctor with you and take notes.  Who is willing to ask the doctor questions.  Who has the time and willingness to move into the hospital with you.  Who is willing to sit for five hours beside you and keep you entertained while you are receiving treatment.

You gotta have a friend.

That person for me is my husband.

He’s the one who has “spoken doctor” from an early age.  As a doctor’s son, he learned the type of questions to ask when talking to medical personnel.  He’s so good at it that he even had an anesthesiologist ask him one day if he was a doctor — nope, just a lawyer who knows a lot about medicine.

The reason I’m thinking about my advocate right now is because last night I took all of the material that I’d been carrying around to doctors appointments for more than a year and moved it from a file folder to a notebook — I thought that two inched would be plenty but three or four is going to be more like it …

Even since this all started in the fall of 2012, I’ve been asking questions and getting copies of every test that has been performed.  Everything has gone into a folder and traveled with me.

Did I always understand the information that I was gathering?

Nope!

Sometimes it led to more questions but by the time I left the doctor’s office, or spoken to a doctor friend who “translated” for me, I understood it completely.

Now, as I start on the next leg of this journey, I’m starting a new folder where I will gather all the information and test results.

My bottom line advise to you:

  • have an advocate
  • ask questions
  • get copies of all of your reports and learn what they mean
  • know and understand each and every medicine that you are taking
  • know and understand each and every treatment that you are having
  • take your file to every doctor’s appointment — that way it’s “doctor to doctor” when they read the reports
  • give your file to your doctor’s nurse so that they can have copies of anything they want
  • find people who you trust to give you good information —sometimes what you find on the internet is not relevant to your situation … it may be good information, but not for you.

Keep fighting …

Celebration …

Tuesday, February 4, 2014, is World Cancer Day. 

Regardless of where we are on our journey, our first step in the battle against cancer starts us on the road to recovery. 

Please take a moment and give thanks for all who are in recovery.

Also, please remember those who waged a valiant battle and who showed us courage on their journey.

Keep fighting …

Flashback …

A few minutes ago, I was looking for something interesting to eat and it made me think of all the times during chemo when nothing sounded, looked or tasted good!

One of the things which helped me get through the tough days right after treatment was Nabisco Ginger Snaps.

Why Nabisco you might ask.

Well, after trying more than a dozen different bands, some major  as well as others from specialty grocery stores like The Fresh Market or Whole Foods, for my taste buds, the Nabisco ones were the most gingery.  Also, they are thicker and had some substance to them.

Why ginger?

Because ginger is a natural nausea suppressant.  The use of ginger to relieve nausea can be traced back to the time when China was a navy power.

Yes, there is sugar in the cookie, but they really helped me in those days when absolutely nothing appealed to me but I HAD to eat something.  Now, I didn’t eat a lot, I couldn’t.  In fact, the ginger snaps usually looked like a mouse was eating on them.  But I was putting something in my stomach and for those first few days, that was really important.

So, if you’re fighting nausea but know you have to eat something, try a ginger snap.  It just might help you, too.

If not, perhaps, someone else has a suggestion or two which might help you.  Fellow chemo survivors may have found something different which worked for them.  Ask.  I bet they’d be glad to share their hints.

After all, we’re all in this together, so

Keep fighting …

Growth spurt …

I’ve been having a growth spurt.

No, I’m not getting any taller nor hopefully any wider …

I am, however, having a growth spurt on my head!  Just another stop on my journey of recovery …

My last treatment was October 9th and within a month, there was evidence of hair on my bald head … a first in more than six months.

There wasn’t much, but there were a few strands.

Now my head is almost completely covered with 1/4 inch spikes of gray and dark brown hair.  I had hoped that it would all come in gray/white, but it looks like it’s going to end up salt-and-pepper … oh well …

One thing’s for sure, it’ll certainly be a lot warmer for this cold winter weather.

Is it coming in curly like I’ve often heard happens after chemo?  Not yet, but only time with tell.

For now it’s just growing really, really fast.  Looks I’ll have a full head of hair by the end of spring!  Guess I’ll just have to start thinking about hairstyles again …

Keep fighting …