Thursday, February 9, 2017

Fighting Hard...

On January 25, 2017,  I posted this on Facebook "today I'm thankful for chemo. And I'm grateful for all of you. My CT scans showed shrinkage...whoop, whoop!" Sorry to those of you who follow this blog and not Facebook. I didn't mean to leave you hanging. 

It's been a while since I've had a good report from scans. So long, that when the oncologist told us, I think we all stared blankly at her and almost didn't know how to react. Shrinkage...the little f----ers shrunk? Whoop whoop!

 For now we will continue using the same tool from the toolbox and keep hope that it continues to be effective. During my visit I got my infusion of chemo and here we are about two weeks later dealing with the side effects most people don't see or hear about.  Truthfully, I've been struggling with feeling good and dealing with yuck. I shed tears almost everyday because I'm so exhausted and tired of the Big C.  Mentally and physically it can be a struggle.  Don't feel bad for me, just know that this is often the reality of those of us with MBC. Maybe it's not visible from the outside, but the nausea, exhaustion, anxiety, seizures and so many other things are behind that seemingly average looking person who has a body full of cancer cells.  We have various side effects that often seem to take over, but most of us are willing to play on and take the good with the bad. Thanks to our support systems we are also able to continue fighting hard. 

 I'm hoping that tomorrow is the day things will turn the corner. It's a struggle, but one I'm determined to fight and conquer. 

In the meantime, my E is now a teenager. 

It's so hard to believe that it's been so long since I answered that phone call saying he had entered the world. We celebrated his birthday with family and he enjoyed some of his favorite people. Although his spirit often challenges us as parents, he is truly a sensitive and kind little boy and works hard helping his Momma these days. I love him more than I can possibly express.

Little Miss had her Red and White School Dance. This was her last dance at the elementary school. 

Today and tomorrow we are enjoying our first official snow days of the season. I'm hoping the kiddos will enjoy sledding. They need some fresh air and time away from SCREENS.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Living with challenges...

I sit here in front of my computer screen and STARE, not really sure what to say. Tomorrow, I go for the results of the rest of my scans. The different scenarios of what could be the outcome of Monday's scans and tomorrow's blood tests occupy my mind. I try to remain positive and hopeful, but also know that things don't always work out that way. What I am hoping for is a continuation of last week's brain scan where things appeared to be stable. 

The most recent way I try to handle things is to take what I'm given, ask the questions I need to, fight for what I think will be the best treatment and carry on as best I can. This is typically how I have tried to handle things from the beginning. Now I think I'm just becoming confident enough to challenge the thoughts of the doctor while trying to incorporate all those working with me to give me my best life. 

This job is a daily challenge, from waking up in the morning to going to bed in the evening, and everything in between. I'm exhausted most of the time and feel like I could sleep 24/7. I'm not driving, but I have to coordinate the daily rides my children need to get to their activities. I'm blessed to have so many willing to help us out. For those Metastatic Fighters who are still working in paid positions, you are amazing. I can only imagine how difficult it is most days and I think it should be a requirement for you to have a comfortable resting place when you need it.  Keep up the fight,  fellow warriors! We're all in this together, in one way or another.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Embracing Uncertainty...

I think I'll start this post off like I've started some others...CANCER SUCKS, and the uncertainty of Metastatic Breast Cancer is even worse!  I had an appointment yesterday with my Naturopathic Doctor.  He recently had me take a test to see what chemotherapy treatments would still be effective and also reviewed recent blood tests to see how the cells to fight the little F'ers are doing.
Well, the results were not all that great and ultimately I ended up crying the entire ride home and then some. He basically said that the medicine I have been taking for months is not effective and at my next appointment I need to push for a specific chemotherapy. After the one he suggested, I have two others it listed...two!  At the beginning of this MBC yuck my oncologist said there was an entire toolbox of treatments for me.  What she did not clearly state was that I would be a guinea pig for each medicine and some would not be effective at all. Now here I am feeling like I have a toolbox that seems to be quickly running out of useful tools. So after months of chemotherapy and huge amounts of supplements, it's a bit frustrating and a downer to know it's most likely not doing what it's set out to do. It would be great if he was wrong! At the end of the month when I go for my scans I will know for sure.

In the meantime, I'm feeling pretty good, possibly due to some of the meds I'm taking on a daily basis, but regardless, most days I have an appetite, good energy and a positive outlook. And I think as a result of not having control over this nonsense, I've been purging like a madwoman. I also decided the Christmas season wasn't long enough and am keeping up my tree for at least another week.

Five years ago this past New Year's Eve, I was officially diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time. By 2012 I thought I was finished fighting the beast. But, in June 2015, I discovered it was back and I was now a stage IV cancer patient. That day was so hard and I barely remember it. What I do remember is that in the past year and a half I have never felt more support and love in my life. I'd prefer my old life back, but in the midst of all this yuck, I feel blessed and so very grateful to see each new day with all this love surrounding me. Thank you! In 2017, I hope to find the perfect match to conquering these little f'ers, and living each moment how it was meant to be lived, with gratitude, hope and most of all love. I'm also going to continue to do my best to embrace this uncertainty of life.

I wish those struggling with their lives and current situations enough love and courage to know they will conquer and something good will eventually come out of the yuck they are experiencing.
Happy and blessed new year to all. Xo 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Focus on the blessings

      Wowzers, it's been well over a month since my last post. Let me apologize to those of you who rely on it for updates. Yikes!  I'm still here, doing ok. If you would have told me I'd still be functioning 1 1/2 years after my Metastatic diagnosis, I probably wouldn't have believed you. I'm a different person, but taking things one moment at a time has helped me to have more good days than bad. 

It been 5 Christmas's since I found that first lump that would change my life. Things would certainly be easier without this yuck, but here we are, chugging right along, one moment at a time, through all the ups and downs. 

For this post I will focus on what I have received from the yuck, instead of what I have lost. 

Blessings beyond my comprehension are still occurring on a daily basis, including cards, texts, gifts, and simple gestures.

I now have children who show more compassion and help out their momma in need. E will be sure to help me out of the car, guide me on rough terrain and carry my bags for me. Little Miss will help more in the kitchen, do her best with small chores I give her and she is a master cuddler. 

Friends go out of their way to shop, transport my children to their activities, take a walk, share meals and send sweet messages so I know they are thinking about me. 
I have family, including two caring and supportive brothers who would do anything I ask of them, along with a large extended family who continues to show they're fighting along side me and show their endless caring for me. 
Although I've had my soul sister for a long time, we are at a new level. Most times, I don't need to say a word, she knows what I need. I'm not always in the best of moods, but I try my best and she continues to encourage me, tells me I'm a fighter, sets my crazy brain straight and gives an endless amount of hugs and back rubs. Oh, and she does my laundry a lot of time, claiming it's therapeutic for her...I'm not going to argue about it. 
I have a husband who is by my side, on good and bad days, through laughs and tears. He is for sure my rock amidst this madness. 
Then there's my parents, the best there are, who spend more time with me than at their own home. As I said before, they are master givers, always putting their children and grandchildren first, before themselves. The list of things they do for me is endless: making chicken soup, taking care of the kids, picking me up from a funk, driving me to and fro, giving hugs, and knowing just what and what not to say. 

Love would be my number one! I am blessed enough to have an endless supply of it from all those who are part of my life. I am grateful beyond what I'm able to express through words. 

Christmas seems like the perfect time to Thank ALL of you who  share your love with me. I truly believe it's the strongest healer there is out there.

May this New Year bring us all continued Peace, Love, and Hope.

Much Love, Linda

"The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of love and of generosity and of goodness. It illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world's busy life and become more interested in people than in things."

Thomas S. Monson

P.S. And how appropriate that I wrap up this post as "It's a Wonderful Life" is ending on the T.V. Like George, I truly feel like the richest person in town.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Unknown Blessings...

Just like I always knew I'd be a teacher, I also always had this desire to adopt children. Although I had no idea of the circumstances that would bring me there, I just had this deep seeded feeling that it was something I was going to do in my lifetime, it was in my heart.

After being married for 7 years and trying to have children, our journey to adopt began, sooner than I initially thought. Since the start of the process we have grown in so many ways and since Saturday was National Adoption Day, it seems like a good time to celebrate all those who have been brought into our lives by this amazing experience, especially our beautiful children and their first parents who brought them into the world. 

Adoption is not a small or short term process. It is not easy or free of pain or sadness. It starts with loss.  For us, it began with the loss of us having our own biological children and for the birth parents of adopted children, it is the loss of the children they give birth to.

 It is, however, one of the greatest blessings I have experienced. Although I will never know the experience of giving birth to my own child, there are many more who are unable to know the experience of being a parent through the miracle of adoption. 
Adoption will affect our entire lives and the lives of our children and because we are blessed to have open adoptions, we hope to have contact with our children's birth families forever. It is truly a blessing to have them as part of our family. 
  E and his birth grandmother
 Little Miss and her birth mother
These two get along like typical siblings.  They drive each other bonkers on some days and on others they are best friends. They are so different, yet remarkably similar. Everyday is an adventure and we are always grateful, even on the days we struggle as parents. 

Happy Adoption Month to all those blessed by adoption. 

If you're interested in reading more, click on the adoption label on the right of this blog. There are several more posts that share our story. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The report I wish I had...

Wouldn't it be fantastic if we could write our own results? The last few scans I've had have been less than desirable. The little f'rs continuing to grow and not shrink are making me lose patience. All this work without positive results is not reinforcing.

Today's follow up revealed that there is more change. Although I'm not completely against things changing, I could at least use some things moving in the right direction.    

So this is what I'm wishing for at my next scans.

-some shrinkage with the brain mets
-no new brain mets
-less nausea
-shrinkage of little "f'r" in the lungs

I have many wishes, but maybe a few things at a time will help manage these temperamental pains in the butt. 

Today started another knew treatment. Let's all hope that this happens to be the magic tool that helps to slow this yuck down. I need a break...PLEASE.

My oncologist is optimistic about this newest treatment. Having her staying positive helps me to keep going.  

Thanks for your continued love and support. I'm certain my gas is close to empty some days, thanks for refueling me. xo

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The end of the month of pink....

When Metastatic Breast Cancer rudely entered my life in June 2015, I immediately went into panic mode and started predicting my morbid future, afraid that I wouldn’t even make it through the next year.

I’m blessed to have a huge support system and quickly I started to learn to take my life one moment at a time, hour-by-hour and minute-by-minute. Just as though life has no guarantees, neither does the diagnosis of MBC. It’s been over one year now. This diagnosis is a full-time job that has changed frequently and continues to have too many bumps to keep track of. Some days are steady where I feel some moments of normalcy; other days I have panic attacks that take over the calm I try so hard to maintain. Having this disease is mostly scary and part of the fear is never really knowing what is coming next, but, when you think about it, none of us are able to predict the future. We can simply live the best life we can in the present. So although my children are still only 9 and 12 years old and I fear how much time I have left with them, I do my best not to waste any time worrying about something that I have no control over.

I wish I had the magic potion for surviving MBC but that doesn’t exist (yet) so I will tell you a few things that have helped me move forward, even on the days that are the hardest.

As my Memere used to say, “there is nothing so bad that something good doesn’t come out of it.” This is especially evident when living with a disease such as MBC. You can find something positive; sometimes you may just have to look at it with extra strength binoculars.

Try not to let one set back determine the future, perhaps it’s a bump in the road and not a death sentence.

I’ve been open with sharing my emotions and although it’s not always pretty, it’s always real. Let yourself cry if you have to, share your emotions and don’t feel like you have to fight those tears that come naturally. I would urge you, however, to only wallow for a short time, vent, journal, meditate and then move on. I personally benefit greatly from going to therapy weekly. 

So many share this disease, but each person’s story is different. My story is unique and how I react to it is as well. Learning to have hope and faith in my own journey continues to be a challenge for me, but with the love and support I receive, there has been some progress. 

I started this blog entry at the start of the month to post as part of raising awareness through Metavivor.  Because I don't always have the energy or stamina to write, I didn't quite make it to the deadline and thus it has become my own post. Hopefully it will be a source of some awareness for those who can benefit.

This Monday we will be driving very early to Dana Farber. It's that time again for more scans, definitely not a time I look forward to, in fact, it scares the poop out of me. It's actually a challenge for me to hold it together this weekend knowing Wednesday my oncologist will share the findings of the latest tests with me. This is when I do my best to remain hopeful and positive because it is not helpful to do otherwise.