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.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

First Walk in the Park

So today I decided to get outside and walk. The day was only overcast, and a little coolish. PERFECT for walking (I hate to sweat.). My neighbor was outside when I left and she told me she'd be ready for backup in case I got to somewhere and was unable to return....But I made it! Walked 4 miles in an hour and a half--I know because I jumped in the car and traced the route. By the time I got home, it was raining, so I looked horrible, but whatever. The legs feel strong, the heart and lungs seem to be working fine....the ankles are a little inflamed, but that is easy to resolve.

I made what I will call a shower aid for Hollie. It was their great idea--In order to hold the drain tube "bulbs". The lady on UTUBE suggested a string around your neck to hook the bulbs on. Hollie's husband suggested a type of belt with pockets in it instead. We took a bath towel and cut it into three strips lengthwise, folded that in half along the length, sewed the ends together and sewed pockets into it every 5 inches. Then I attached hook and loop tape  to close it up when wrapped around her waist. That way, when she showers, she can pop the bulbs into the pockets and doesn't have to worry about them flapping around. She said it worked great, but ended up using a safety pin to close it instead of using the hook and loop tape. Then she just can hang it to dry.

Her husband is now helping her wash her hair and blow it dry. Is that love and devotion or what? She said the thing she wasn't planning on is how long it takes to get ready and dressed daily. I told her, why bother...but that's just me.

Prelimary pathology reports are back and the GOOD news is that of the 15 nodes removed, only two had cancerous cells. I won't go into all the details, but it sounded very encouraging to me. She has had her moments of "up and down", and seems to me she is overdoing things a bit, but it is difficult to keep a busy woman down.

We have arranged meals to be brought in using the website  If you are not familiar with it, try it....It is WONDERFUL. And what a great idea. The people who started it are angels.

Time for a shower....

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Two Steps Forward and One Step Back

That's the way I feel right now. Now I know why I haven't exercised in YEARS. I ALWAYS start out with good intentions, and then fall off the wagon. Seems something always gets in the way of exercising. Lately there have been some semi serious family obligations and so I have not been walking like I planned. I know, excuses, excuses. I think to myself I will walk tonight--and then tonight comes and I am too tired. Then I think, I will do it first thing in the morning and then the phone will ring off the hook, or I need to leave, or someone needs me to do something for them. I HAVE to commit to this or I will never be able to finish 60 miles in 3 days. And I WILL do it. So, back on track. I had been getting up to 3 mph for a little over an hour--that to me is pretty good for a beginner. But, as my friend Morgan says, after 72 hours your body "forgets" the progress.

The good news is that I have helped arrange meals to be brought in to Hollie nightly for the first week (her double mastectomy is tomorrow afternoon). She has purchased "neat" camisoles to wear post op that will hold the apparatus for the drain tubes. Guess what, you can learn all about them on UTUBE, where a brave woman demonstrated all about them. Funny, wouldn't you expect a nurse or a surgeon to explain all that? But no. I guess they zip up the front and hold falsies--not the prostheses that will come later, but enough to make her look like a woman for a while. She feels encouraged enough that she will be able to visit her students and not feel uncomfortable. And, BONUS, Nordstroms will bill her insurance. At least that is one less thing she has to worry about.
Hollie is a woman of great influence. She is a natural educator and has many friends in the community. She has been blessed with cards, visits, flowers, gift baskets from her students that brought her to tears. She has been reading her mothers treatment record and believe me, treatment has come a LONG way since her mother's journey began. She told me yesterday that in the last month, since diagnosis, her treatment is farther along than her mothers in 7 years. So thank heaven for that.

Tomorrow is her surgery in the afternoon. Please remember her in your prayers.

Signing off for now, I am going to put my shoes on and walk. Not even going to watch Oprah....just hitting the treadmill.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Nutrition and Cancer

Last night, while walking 2.11 miles @ 2.5 mph, I turned on UCTV and happened to catch Donald Abrams, MD--he has been an oncologist for 28 years and has studied nutrition. He deals with people who have cancer now and helps them learn to eat to fight this disease. If you click on his "link" below, it takes you to the 57 minute lecture. It is worth your time and provides valuable information and resources. I'm learning more each day. As Adele Davis used to say, "You are what you eat.", and lately we as a nation are NOT eating very well.

Nutrition and Cancer - UCTV - University of California Television

Nutrition and Cancer - UCTV - University of California Television

Friday, April 30, 2010


My friend,neighbor, almost sister, Hollie saw the oncologist after her MRI. The good news is that given the situation, things are "fairly good". There is no cancer in the left breast or lymph nodes. None in the liver, kidneys, spleen or chest wall. However, her right breast has cancer in every quadrant. Three of the right lymph nodes are cancerous and possibly more, but that won't be known until surgery. She has a very good oncologist, who spent a lot of time with her. They are going to treat this very aggressively. Planning a double mastectomy in a couple of weeks. Then chemo from 3-5 months and then radiation and a lifetime of Tamoxifen.
Two things  we should all know:
Washington is now #1 in the nation, followed by Oregon and AK. They have found a direct correlation between our low levels of Vitamin D and cancer. Her oncologist told her that adults should be on at least 2000 units of Vitamin D a day!  IF you have fibrocystic, dense breasts like Hollie does, don't settle for a mamomgram. Demand that you have an MRI if you are over the age of 40. Hollie's cancer was growing in her for a very long time. The mammogram just didin't pick it p. An MRI, on the other hand, can spot tumors that are extremely small.

You also need to know about Hollie. When she told me she had cancer, I knew how she would react to this disease. Her mother passed away 5 years ago almost to the date of Hollie's diagnosis....from breast cancer. Her mom lived 10 years fighting this dragon. Hollie learned a LOT through that experience, and so she has come out fighting. I know that she will partner with her physicians in this battle. I know that she will take her ring binder with ALL her medical records and history with her to EACH hospital and doctor visit. And I know she will also take her mother's ring binder and medical history with her as well.She knows the path that she is on.  I know that she is going into this with both barrels loaded and she is going to win this battle.


Now I remember why I stopped exercising years ago, my WHOLE body aches now. It shouldn't right, just my legs should hurt. But the whole thing is waking up to its use. Yesterday I walked just two miles at 2.5 mph. No incline yet. I still have to just get myself disciplined to finish this short distance. Believe me, I am counting every second. Still distracting myself by watching tv while I walk. But SCORE, when I rotated my treadmill 90 degrees so I could watch Oprah straight on--I found a left over Snickers (snack size) lurking under where the treadmill was sitting. Hey, it wasn't even opened and I figured it was still good since it was probably dropped around Halloween. So, it was like it was a reward for the dreaded walking. BEST piece of choclate I've had in a long while. Some people would have waited to eat it AFTER they finished their walk, but not me. Wolfed that thing right down.
I'm getting quite a bit of instruction on how to lay tile (from Holmes on Homes) and Oprah's guest was Reille Hunter--that interview was unbelievable (really).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wouldn't You Know

I have already received my first donation. And wouldn't you know, it would be from my friend, Patsy, who is undergoing treatment. Yesterday was her third dose of chemo. When I asked how she was feeling--right after arriving home, she wasn't too bad, but that was because she had taken Lorazepam. I told her thank goodness for "good" drugs. Right now she needs it. Last week when I spoke to her, she was in a "different place" and, frankly, it scared me. I have never known her to be so depressed and scared. She told me that the week she has chemo isn't as bad as the week that follows. That is the week she feels awful, and that is when I was speaking to her. Scared the heck out of me. Yesterday she said her MD was encouraging and so she was in better spirits.
When I asked her if I could share her story, she agreed. And she asked me to ask you all to pray for her. I assured her I would. I assured her there are legions on the other side of the veil to help her through this. So PLEASE remember her and Hollie in your prayers.
Hollie goes to the oncologist today and they will discuss the results of her MRI taken on Monday.
Last night was a short trip on the treadmill. Sid fixed the display so I could read the miles, time, calories, and distance. I only walked two miles. But it seems I can walk a mile in about 15 minutes. By my computation, that would be 20 miles in about 6 hours. I'm still very new to exercising, so I want to ease into this for a little while and build up my ability to go the distance.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Just Doing the Math

I'm not a mathmetician, but the goal seems reasonable....
23 people could contribute $100
46 people could contribute $50
92 people could contribute $25
230 people could contribute $10
460 people could contriubte $5
You get it, right? Is it possible to give up a movie night ($40 out without babysitter) or a Starbucks ($5) to help me on the path?

And so my journey begins.....

I never thought I would be one to blog. First of all, usually it is TMI, and usually people only want to read about fun, interesting things and people--which I usually am not. But whatever. There comes a time when maybe it is easier/better just to blog. You will probably find I am pretty random. But that's the way I roll.
My most recent motivation is due to two of my dearest friends, recently diagnosed with breast cancer. I decided that I will participate in the Komen 3 Day walk September 24-26th in Seattle this year. This blog will help facilitate my participation as it will provide a way for me to communicate with you, and I have decided to post a link to the fund so if you have a desire to contribute $ you can do it easily via the link. With their permission, I will also use this site to update you on their progress through this challenge in their lives. Since I am NOT accustomed to exercise, this will also chronicle my progress through this period as well. I hope you enjoy our journey.