Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thinking Pink

Yesterday I went out and did my share to stimulate the economy--and I did it locally to keep the tax dollars in my hometown (bonus!). LOTS of pink items now adorn my wardrobe. I even found a pink polka dot umbrella. Initially, the weather forecast was rain, but it seems now we may be in the mid 60's to 72 degrees. Perfect weather for a walk. Today I will be packing my suitcase and tomorrow I have to show up at the registration desk by 5 a.m. I'm taking my camera and will document things I see the next three days. I'm at $650 towards my goal of $2300. The fellow at the shoe store yesterday told me many people are having trouble raising the funds for this year's walk. (And, no, I didn't buy new shoes yesterday.)

Windbreaker, tights, tees, umbrella, fleece, hat, scarf, socks, shoes, moleskin, fanny pack/bottle carrier, sports bras, anti-chafe, chap stick, heel cups,anti-inflammatory med, swimsuit for the hot tub after (yikes!) check, check, check....Let me know if I need anything else. Praying for manna from heaven.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Brother John RIP

I guess I sort of fell off the wagon for several months and didn't blog. Now, it seems, the dam has broken. I re-read some of my posts and realized I told you about my brother being diagnosed with cancer, but I forgot to mention that he passed away July 23rd at 9:00 a.m.

When I took him to the doctor to discuss his diagnosis from the biopsy, it was apparent to us all that he needed to be admitted to the hospital. How he made it that long on his own, I don't know. When I arrived to pick him up for his appointment, he was laying on his bed and couldn't really complete a sentence. I asked him to comb his hair a little before we left and he got the comb into his hand and to his hair and then it sort of stayed there. There was a disconnect in what he was doing. I got him from his apartment to the car, and from the car to the door of the doctor's office. The nurse who came out to meet him greeted him and he was not able to give a coherent response. I didn't intervene or finish his sentences because I wanted them to see how he was responding. They made arrangements for him to be admitted to the hospital that day. It took several hours for them to get a bed ready and so we waited at the office and then went over. He was unable to feed himself--food wouldn't stay on his spoon, he kept trying to eat from the nurse call bell (thinking it was a plate?), by the next day he wasn't able to swallow and so was taken off anything by mouth. They kept increasing his meds so that soon he was mostly "resting" in bed. He never really gained consciousness again. I was with him and my sister was with him until the end. There is more to tell, but again it is TMI. That was the first time I have been with a person as he took his last breath. I can only reaffirm how sacred life is. I am thankful to my Father in Heaven for all that he has given me, but especially for life.

See's Butterscotch Chews

Hollie came down tonight to bring me some See's caramels. She knows I love them--can mostly live without chocolate, but don't tempt me with a vanilla caramel. I don't know why, she just brought them down.

I think she had sort of forgotten about the THREE DAY WALK. My husband and I were just sitting down to dinner and the bell rang, and in she came. She sat down for a few minutes to chat and I started telling her about my experience with Janice and Christopher today and her eyes did exactly what mine did--they started to sweat! Both of us are blown away at the incredible kindness and generosity of people all around us. She reminded me of some of her students from last year who set up a table at the local farmers market to raise money to donate in her behalf. These were 4th graders mind you. And then she told me of how the teachers on her staff have donated their sick leave time to her if needed AND they have kindly "driven" some of the school day schedules around what will help Hollie. Her team, the principal and all the staff have come to her support. One of the mothers from her class last year came to her class today to help her run off copies--a big help because she already knew exactly how to do things. People at every turn are looking for ways to help her. Did I mention that her meal calendar filled up in minutes? Truly, it doesn't have to be something "big", just small acts of kindness can make a big difference.


Anyone who knows me well, knows I work best under pressure. Well, here it is Tuesday before the WALK on Friday. So far I have $585 in donations towards my goal of $2300. I haven't chipped in my contribution yet, and I am VERY willing do throw in my own money, but $1700 is a little beyond my means right now....anybody notice there is a recession going on? Well, anyway--according to the government, the recession is over, but has anybody noticed?

So, I was in a bit of a panic. I've sent emails to everyone I know, and friends have been very generous, but it is not enough. Enter Janice (my next door neighbor and Team Leader for the WALK). She has been doing fundraisers with team members and her husband's employer does matching funds. Today she just stopped by to tell me that she has about $600 to donate to my contribution--maybe more by Friday, since the TEAM is still fundraising and sending emails, letters, and making phone calls for donations. I almost cried.

Then I called my son, Chris--who has 1400 facebook friends and I asked him if he wanted to put my link on his FB page and ask his friends if they would donate $10 each to my pledge. He laughed at me and said, "Haven't you seen contributions from people you don't know?" and I told him I had. He told me he had set up a TWITTER account and told me to go to it. I SAID, "WHAT?!" I Did. I have 2 following (I'm sure one is him), 3,181 followers, and 106 listed.  Now I don't know how to use TWITTER, but he does--and he said he set it up so that every time I write a blog, he sends it to TWITTER. Well, I haven't been blogging--remember I said initially I thought it just might be TMI.

Well, it's down to the wire, and I have run out of immediate friends, so I am going to go out on a limb and see if anyone out there can contribute. Hey, it worked for the elections...So, if you feel like you can support me in this endeavor, please send a contribution. All you have to do is click on my link. I wish I knew how to post the amount already contributed. It shows up on my FB account--but I am just too feeble to figure it all out. Chris could do it for me, but a mother can ask just so much of her son...he is a little busy.

I wanted to post a photo of my friend, Patsy, from our college days....Were were young, trim, strong, irreverant and carefree at the time. She is the beautiful one bottom left. I am upper right. We didn't have a care in the world at that time.  Now she would just like her hair back.  Me--I wish I could give her some of mine--I never liked mine much anyway....(vbg).

So, there it is.. Three days and counting. But the thing that counts most is the people we love and the people who love us back. That's what it all comes down to anyway, doesn't it. I am blown away by my neighbor, Janice. Here I thought I wouldn't be able to walk at all--just donate what I have so far, and she came riding in on her white horse. And Chris.....Who knew? This is one mother who didn't know her son had her back. Today, once again, I am counting my many blessings.  This Saturday I will be missing a baby shower and a wedding shower--I'll be WALKING for my friends who are struggling, for my brother who is gone, for Bessie, Becky, Patsy, Hollie, Joan, Violet and my other dear friends and relatives who have had to go through this. I'm going to go out and buy pink strrrrretchy pants and pink everything---'cause I'm walkin'!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

93 Days and Counting....

Well, where does one begin? Needless to say, I feel like I have been hit between the eyes, and I am not the one with cancer....
Hollie had her first chemo yesterday, and initially she said she felt fine. Even came home and walked with her daughter for 20 minutes. She wrote on her caringbridge site in a somewhat cavalier way that it didn't seem so bad. Then last night it hit. We spoke on the phone for a few minutes and then she had to hang up. They did go together and purchase a wig. It really is quite lovely on her. Looks very natural. The shop where she purchased it has been in business 30 years and the stylist says she sells about 6 wigs a week to chemo patients. That's only one shop in the Bellevue area. Staggering.
Patsy is on Tx 5 of 12 for Taxol. Just trying to get through it. She was able recently to attend a wedding shower for her beautiful daughter. And considering all she has been through, Patsy looked FABULOUS. Nothing like a happy occasion and the love of family and friends to help you get through things.

I guess what is most on my mind right now is my brother. He was scheduled for a biopsy last Friday at 9:30. My sister and I went to take him to the cancer center and he is so scared, he refused to go. You would have to know him and his history to fully understand why, but it is his choice. Instead we spent the morning trying to "convince" him why it was necessary to get a specific no avail for now. His oncologist did tell us it is stage 4--that he has a large tumor close to his throat, several tumors in his center chest area, and his liver. He also has emphysema. Just getting him to not have anything to eat or drink after midnight was a challenge for him, and he still feels the need to smoke. It's his way of self medicating. The reality for him, I'm afraid, is that once his initial percoset is gone and he is in more pain, he will be more willing to go back. For now, that is all we can do.

And right now, I don't feel much like walking.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cancer strikes again...

Sunday my brother called and asked me if I would take him to the ER for a chest x ray. We spent four hours in the ER--They initially got him right back to an exam room, but by the time the blood was drawn, ekg was done, x ray was completed it was four hours....He was exhausted. The ER doc saw a spot on the x ray and said that the radiologist would read it and then call us. The radiologist called yesterday and he suggested a CT scan and some more lab work. Tonight he called and said it is definitely lung cancer, several of the lymph nodes are involved, and it has metastesized. He referred him to an oncologist, tomorrow I will call the oncologist and see where we go from here. I know nothing about lung cancer, but just listening to my brother try to speak, breathe, and cough, I am guessing this is not going to be easy. He lives alone, is quite poor financially. But, in spite of what has been said about healthcare expenses lately, I am grateful for compassionate healthcare personnel, who treated my brother with kindness and dignity.

Relay For Life

Saturday night was a Relay for event I have never attended. Hollie told me about it and so I decided to check it out.....In case you don't know what it is, people form teams, collect donations for the cancer society and then walk around a track....But it is so much more than that....Once you arrive, the track is surrounded by luminarias decorated to remember or support a person who has died due to cancer, or is someone who is experiencing, or survived cancer. In Hollie's case, there was a line of luminarias in her honor, supporting her. It's really quite a special event.  It's hard to imagine an infield full of people SILENTLY honoring cancer victims, but it happened. Once the ceremony started, the participants were more quiet than I what I have experienced in church. It was quite reverent and moving.