Friday, October 24, 2014

When I Was 14

The summer I turned 14, we moved to a teeny spot on I-5 in Washington State called Smokey Point.  It was a gorgeous spot just north of Seattle, between Marysville and Arlington and a short distance from Twin Lakes.  I have fantastic memories of Smokey Point and those lakes - there was a fruit stand across the highway, bike trails down to the lakes that were lined with wild blackberries, and no matter what people tell you about the Pacific Northwest, people - the weather there during the summer is perfect.  It's  beautiful.

We thought nothing of walking a couple of miles to the general store up in Lakewood, or across I-5 to the fruit stand or the burger shack across the road.  We walked all over everywhere back then (although now looking back I wonder what the hell our parents were thinking- that was smack dab during the middle of when the Green River killler spree!) and I often wonder if our generation was the last one to  truly enjoy a "leave it to beaver" childhood. 

Today - a kid the same age I was when I lived in Smokey Point walked into a high school that many of my friends went to school at just up at road in Marysville and shot 6 kids, killing 2 of them and himself.  Seeing the school on TV just blew my mind.  I remember going to the Strawberry Festival in Marysville.  My first ever track meet was in Marysville.  I had been in that school when I went up there to see my friends graduate from Washington State.  I played on my first video game at Marysville-Pilchuk High. 

I have the hardest time comprehending how a kid from Marysville could do something like this. I still think of that area like Mayberry or Walton's Mountain - how can someone there feel like this is their only choice?  I was 14 that first year I went to school up there in Lakewood, and honestly I felt pretty lonely that fall - all new people I didn't know all that well, since I had attended 4 different schools the year before, they weren't sure which classes to put me in (and it turned out I was in the wrong Math class for sure - luckily mom got me switched out of there after the first 6 weeks).  But it did not occur to me that things were that bad.  I was living with my family in a travel trailer, and I think back on it now and it might have seen like hard times looking from the outside, but for us it was an adventure. 

He was 14.  I was 14.  I understand it was nearly 30 years apart, but how did things turn out so sad?  So desperate?

I don't have an answer - just an overwhelming sadness.  One of the sweetest people I met that year - when we were 14 - still lives in the area, and her son attends school near there.  They are just reeling tonight.  Would you join me tonight saying a prayer for everyone in the area?  Somewhere there are parents tonight lost and grieving tonight - and kids trying to make sense of what happened.  They should be enjoying homecoming tonight - watching the class homecoming floats during halftime, fiddling with their homecoming mums and looking forward to the homecoming dance.  Not sitting at someone's house wondering how this happened?

Not that any of us knows. 

(I am going to try to blog again tomorrow to update you all on my treatment and how I'm doing. I just had to get this out first)

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Digby's Take Houston

So. Here we are in Houston. We have visited with the clinical trial folks, and they don't think I'm strong enough to be on a trial. Most of that is probably due to my lungs not working well these days. They are also sending me to another lung doctor, as well as a nutritionist doc.

Since clinical trials are currently off the table, I also saw the same doc I saw last year at MD Anderson. The last couple of months, my oncologist at home has been telling me that she can feel nodules during my physical exam, which coupled with my CA-125 had her convinced my cancer was not responding to treatment. When I saw Dr Coleman, he did not feel anything. Neither did his PA. Considering last year he didn't have any problem feeling a mass there, it makes me feel like maybe things aren't as dire as we thought.

Needless to say, my doc here had me go for new scans since there was some weird mix up and none of my scans or records for the last year made it here. We brought the report from the chest CT, but apparently it wasn't very detailed (I believe the doc's comment was "well that tells me nothing")  - I'm hoping that will tell us one way or another.

All of that just to explain that we have a plan (which is almost exactly what my doc at home wanted to put me on) but the doc here at MDA will be making the recommendations. And we are going to see about going back to my old treatment center. The folks at the new one seem very nice, but I'm just not comfortable there. I miss Arrington and how it worked. So when we get back home we are going to get that arranged.

Yes - that also means I'll be going back to my original oncologist, but coming down here on a regular basis. I really did like Dr H, but I'm not sure I have confidence in her after seeing Dr C down here. Not only was he sure he didn't feel any nodules, but he was also concerned how quickly we had switched from chemo to chemo. He said that you shouldn't base treatment decisions on just the CA-125.  Some of those drugs might have been working. *sigh*

Yikes. This is getting seriously long. Sorry about that.

So anyhoo - we still here in Houston while the boys hold down the fort at home. We are hoping to get to go home next Wednesday. I am ready. I miss my bed. I miss my house, my herd, my garden, my chickens - an oxygen set-up that I don't have to lug around.

It's the little things.

This morning the hubs is running errands and I'm lying in bed like Lady Mary snacking on Rosemary and Garlic Triscuits. We are supposed to have dinner with the hubs' cousin and family tonight, and with a couple of my awesome alumni and their awesome wives on Sunday. This afternoon we have to go buy me some clothes because for some odd reason I brought 5 pairs of britches and only 3 tops. (Yeah - don't ask - my mind wasn't working - none of the shirts will go with a couple of britches either. ) Maybe tomorrow we'll go to a movie. It's just taking it day by day.

As usual.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Precious moments

I've been kind of nervous about today.

Last week, I had a couple of tests run to see what kind of condition I was in.  In addition, I had to make copies of the paperwork my oncologist had completed and provided to support my disability retirement application, so I planned to read through that as well.  Today was the day I expected to have to face some hard truths - and I assure you, I was scared.  I spent all weekend planning for the worst so that when I read it I wouldn't be devastated and would be able to handle it.

Because expecting the worst is just how I roll, y'all.  If you expect the worst, then either you're all prepared when your expectation is met, or your happily surprised when it's not as bad.

I'm happy to say, I was happily surprised for the most part.

Not that there aren't a couple of things that weren't happy news.  There appears to be something on my liver that they aren't sure what it is - and I'm pretty sure while I had a teeny spot there previously, this is new.  And my lungs are working at 50% capacity, which isn't good.  But other than that - no masses, nothing else showing up other some slight thickening and a small amount of abdominal ascites.  To top it all off, after 5 days, when we went to drain my pleural effusion, we hardly were able to drain anything.

All in all, it's good news.  Not great, but good.  I'm bummed my lungs are working so poorly, but my PCP wants me to see a pulmonary doctor to see if we can get them working a bit better.  I'm not sure about the "thickening" but I haven't seen a copy of the report  yet, and it's likely that maybe they are referring to something that has been seen before.

Advanced stage cancer patients like myself are always looking for the silver lining.  To focus on the good news, and find a way to accept the not so good news.  When you are constantly facing down the big C, you can either let all the doom and gloom take you under, or you find a way to make the news work for you.  As a glass half full kind of gal, I try to stay realistic but still positive.

I was having a ton of trouble doing that on the Gemzar. I felt so horrible after a dose, and after the shots to boost my white blood cell counts I just wanted to give up.  I was constantly battling the feeling that there was just no point to all this, and that I just couldn't keep fighting.  I spent a huge amount of time near tears, and it took nothing to tip me over the edge.  Pair that with the fact that crying tends to make breathing oxygen through a nose tube difficult, and you have a recipe for "Mysti don't play that."

The hubs and I spent some time in discussion, and after realizing just how much worse my breathing was after the last two doses of Gemzar, we made the tough decision to discontinue that particular drug.  My CA-125 has continued to rise while on it, and although it appears to have finally put a end to the pleural effusions at last, it just isn't worth it.  I'm already afraid that my poor lung function will prevent me from getting on a clinical trial, and I just can't risk it getting any worse.  So that's that.

I haven't had a chance to talk to my doc about going down to MDA for a consultation/see about a trial yet.  I don't see her again until the first week of October.  Her nurse has already told me that they plan on switching me to Doxil since I won't do Gemzar any more, and that terrifies me as well.  Doxil has some wicked side effects.  But I'm thinking that maybe we will hold off on that until after we see the doctors at MDA and see what they might have for me before a decision is made on that.

So that's where we are health wise.  On the homefront, we have had a crazy amount of rain over the last couple of weeks, and my cantaloupe vines have bit the dust due to whiteflies and fungus, and some of the watermelon vines and the cucumber vines are thinking of following suit.  I'm glad I made the pickles I did when I was feeling better because I don't know if I'll make any more.  I'm enjoying the seriously tasty watermelons we've picked from one of our volunteer "I sure don't have any clue what kind it is, but it sure is healthy!" vines, and what few cantaloupe we have been able to save.  We're also sharing with everyone we can because these are big watermelon, and that volunteer vine has a whole lot of melons on it, not to mention the couple we planted have a fair amount on them, as well as the other type of volunteer vine on the far end of the field.

My tomato plants finally put on fruit, and I'm hoping I get enough to make a batch or two of hot sauce.  It would help if it would warm back up around here for a couple of weeks, but we'll just have to wait and see on that.

I totally downloaded an app to create To Do lists on my Kindle in hopes that having a list to work from each morning with get me to do more than see how many episodes of L&O:SVU I can watch each day.  I just feel better if I move around more, so that seemed to help today and I'll just keep that going.

It's just taking things day by day.  Finding ways to make each day have purpose, and to spend time with my boys or my husband when I can.  These days are precious - whether you know how many you have left, or if you are guessing, or even if you just assume you have a plethora of them in your future.  They are still precious - and I'm trying to make the most of them.

Here's hoping you do the same.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Life After

So here I am - in my first week of not working.  So far it's been spent sleeping until 9 am, then watching Law & Order: SVU while checking Facebook, then lunch with friends, then a shot to build my white blood counts.  It's also been trying to adjust to wearing oxygen 24/7, and trying to figure out how to balance the rest I need with being active enough that I don't lose any more stamina or strength.  That's the tough one to figure out. 

The whole process is just weird - after all, I've worked steadily since I was 18.  Being without a job is scary and just odd.  I wonder how long it will be before I start climbing the walls?  Or will I become obsessed with seeing every episode of Law & Order in all of its incarnations? 

On top of all that, my CA-125 continues to rise, although the fluid around my lungs seems to have gone down significantly.  My oncologist wants me to try one more cycle of the Gemzar, and if the CA-125 hasn't gone down (and the nodule she's able to feel during my physical exam hasn't gotten smaller), then she is all ready to switch to yet another drug.

While I'm glad she's not waiting forever to try something new, the fact is we are running out of drugs.  And since starting the Gemzar, we have seen my lung capacity diminish to the point that I have to be on oxygen.  Since I'm unable to have any platinum drugs with any of these other drugs, it cuts our options in half.  And I'm not so sure I'm ok with just running through the drugs she has in mind then just saying that's it. 

I'm thinking maybe it's time to see about clinical trials again.

Last year when we went down to MD Anderson, my only options were trials that required me to be there every week, for 3 or so days a week.  That just wasn't an option with youngest son still in high school.  But youngest son is now in college.  Eldest son is also in a better place than he was last year.  Now I'm not working - so I could be there weekly if need be.  So we may be looking at going down to see if there are any trials I qualify for now. 

I worry that I've had too many lines of treatment - that there aren't any trials for women with such persistent ovarian cancer at MD Anderson right now.  But it is worth a try - it's worth seeing if there is anything that might affect this stubborn bitch trying to take over my body.  To see if I have more than the 8 - 12 months I would have left if I kept trying drug after drug that didn't work.  Because my goals haven't changed in the last two years.

I still have grandbabies to see born - and to hold.  That means lasting a helluva lot longer than another year.

Wish us luck.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014


In the summer of 1990, I was working for Kelly Girls when I received a call to come interview for a job at Mid-Sized University.  I had wanted to work for Mid-Sized University for some time, as I knew they had excellent benefits, including generous sick and vacation time on top of the best paid holiday schedule in town.  I had had a couple of previous interviews at M-SU, but nothing had panned out as of yet.  I had a good feeling about this one though.

This one was in a department located right above where my beloved Aunt Linda worked.  An entry level position in Computer Science - and my last two jobs were computer oriented (ok - data entry, but still).  My interview went perfectly, and sure enough - I was offered the job.  So in the fall of 1990, I started a job that would define the woman I would become.

When I started that job, I was still a girl practically.  Engaged, but not married, no children and still trying to find out who I really was.  Over the years I married the Hubs, had two children, and was promoted several times.  In the process I grew up.  I became a woman who had confidence in her abilities to handle any job given to her, of any situation, to take on new tasks and experience without freaking out.  I had lucked out you see.  I found my place.  My niche.

Not many people find the job they are meant to have when they are 25.  I got to crunch numbers, to work with students, to write a newsletter, to do layout and play with graphics, to work with webpages, and to work with alumni.  When I started, the department had 10 faculty, and maybe 30 grad students.  As I leave it's grown to 15 or so faculty, 150 grad students, and instead of two office staff, there are four.  I was so very very lucky to have been hired into a department that took care of me as well as I took care of it.  They have been my second family.

Today, I turned in my resignation.  It became increasingly obvious over the last few weeks that I am unable to perform my job any longer.  I had resisted this decision for months - how do I leave the job that has helped define who I am?  How can I walk away from the department who made sure I had a place to return to after the birth of my children, after recovering from cancer - hell - even after I tried to leave them for a couple of years?

I had to do it.  They deserve someone who can do the job fully - and that is not me any more.  I will work part time this week, then they will start a  new chapter without me.  It is breaking my heart, but I know I need to focus more on me and less on them.

Now how to I figure out how to be Mysti without them?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Playing Farmgirl

As everyone knows, one of the things I love to do is garden.  This year, the only way we've been able to have as large of a garden as we have is due to my push to adopt no-till gardening several years ago, and my husband's willingness to adopt the "mulch it all!" method this year.  Other than a couple of hours doing a big weeding at the beginning of the summer, it's only taken about 10 - 15 minutes to weed the garden each weekend.

This past weekend, we finally started getting  something back for all this watering/weeding/mulching.  We picked a large bowl of cucumbers, pulled some onions, and about half a large bowl of green pintos.  Woohoo!

Before my diagnosis, I could pick all of that by myself, take in the house and have a batch of pickles and a batch of green pintos canned by bedtime.  I've had to learn to make adjustments since my diagnosis - and since the chemo started hammering on my bone marrow so hard.  So now it takes both myself and my husband to pick that bowl of cucumbers, pull a few onions and that half bowl of green beans.  Then I spend the rest of the afternoon cleaning and snapping green beans, and slicing cucumbers.  Instead of adding onions and salt and draining and canning 3 hours later, those cucumbers had to sit overnight.  Instead of me washing 12 pint jars and 5 quart jars, my husband had to do it so I could rest.

And the pickles got finished Sunday, and I've finally got the green beans in the canner now.

It's frustrating - remembering how doing both pickles and green beans all in one day used to be so easy.  Now if I didn't have my husband to help with washing jars and lids, filling canners with water, and making sure all I have to do is fill the jars (and make a little brine) and put the lids on, there is no way I could do this.  I can no longer gleefully proclaim that I canned it all by myself.  Tonight when I got home, the quart jars were in hot water, the lids were simmering, and after I rested for half an hour or so, I was able to go fill 'em up and start 'em canning.

I'm so very tired of not being able to do the things I took for granted two years ago.

But despite the whining, we did manage to get the pickles done (12 pints of bread and butter!).  I'm learning to utilize teamwork a bit more often, and I'm trying to not be bitter about what I can no longer do on my own.  I will make more pickles - kosher and regular dill, more bread and butter - and I will can more green pinto beans.  We pulled most of our onions, and we won't have to buy those for a couple of months.  This coming weekend, if I feel up to it, we'll dig up our taters and start curing them.  This winter we will enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Even if I contribute less and less labor to it.

Friday, August 15, 2014

In One Moment

From one moment to the next, your entire world can change.

In early October of 2012, I spent my lunch one day laughing and talking with friends and co-workers, with nothing more than the every day cares of a wife and mother on my mind.  As I came back from that lunch, I became short of breath - and my whole life changed.

That was the beginning of my diagnosis - that moment when I realized how short of breath I was, and knowing that I shouldn't be.  It led to me googling ovarian cancer symptoms, then making an appointment with an ob/gyn that was able to start the diagnosis process.  Just like that - I stopped being just a normal, slightly overweight forty-something, and became an ovarian cancer patient. 

A Survivor. 

It's been a crazy couple of years.  I mentioned last time I wrote that my new oncologist was switching chemo drugs since the taxol had quit working.  I had two rounds of topotecan, and my CA-125 kept rising.  So last week, she switched me to gemzar with avastin and we once again started knocking on wood and desperately pleading with God to just let this one work.  Please.  (Ok - that was just me desperately pleading)

This morning, I was told that my white blood count was way too low to do chemo.  The plan was 3 weeks on with gemzar, then one week off.  Being told this morning that I couldn't even do a second dose devastated me.  I felt like my body had decided to take cancer's side - like it wouldn't even help me to save my own life.  It's silly, I know, but it's weird how after a certain amount of time you start to think of your cancer as a cognizant entity, separate from yourself.  You give it its own identity - evil of course.  Because only something evil could put you through so much pain and fear.

The truth is, cancer is just mutating cells, with no mind of their own.  They divide and multiply because that is what they do.  They aren't actively trying to kill you specifically - they just multiply over and over again because...well...they don't know how to do anything else.  Our job is to find some way to stop the cells from replicating, and to kill them out. 

Simple, right?

It's scary to realize that you may not be able to tolerate the drugs that can save you - the drugs that might get your cancer under control, or eliminate it completely.  I had a major melt down this morning, completely unable to control my tears, sobbing to my husband asking why?  Why is this happening?  I try so hard to be a good person - to say my prayers, to be kind, to not cause anyone pain, to be fair, to be an example of how a woman of faith handles this type of diagnosis - with grace, and dignity and without bitterness.  I'm not perfect.  But I try - I really do try.  I have a good heart.  So why is drug after drug put beyond my reach?  Why is my body betraying me?  Doesn't it want to LIVE?

I do.  I want to live.  I *want* to be a warrior.  A warrior queen, fighting off the evil cancer from my body.  I may no longer be able to pull off a Xena outfit.  And I can't do that if my own body won't tolerate the treatment.  In a moment this morning, my whole world view changed, and I felt like I was facing my own mortality for real.

Scary shit, my friends.  Scary shit.

Once I was settled down, and we were able to get my fluid drained off (had a minor blockage when trying to do it last night, so we had to do it at the cancer center), the hubs and I left the cancer center, and after running a couple of errands (ok - he ran them.  Due to my low numbers, I was forbidden from leaving the car), we  headed home.  While he was running errands, I posted a plea on Facebook - asking for prayers from the prayer warriors, and positive energy from everyone else that my white cells would rebound so I could have treatment.  My awesome friends responded.  And I started trying to think of how we would keep fighting - would it be a new chemo?  Should we start looking ahead to going back to MD Anderson?  I got myself back into fighter mode. 

I have never been much of a victim.

Thirty minutes later, on our way home, the cancer center called and told us to come back.  My oncologist had decided that I was to have shots to boost my blood marrow into making more white cells today, and for the following four days.  So I can have treatment next Friday.

Another answered prayer.  Another moment where my world changed in an instant.  From the depths of despair (or at least on the second flight of steps down) to the return of hope.  Hope that I will be able to have this chemo drug - maybe not 3 weeks in a row.  Maybe every other week.  Maybe with the shots I can have it two weeks on, two weeks off.  Hope that I can still fight this horrible disease. 

A return of faith.

(The last two times I've drained, the amount has gone down.  That would point to the gemzar working.  I won't have my CA-125 run again until September, but I'm hopeful that it might go down at last.  It's nice to have hope.  It's nice to have good news again.)

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

When a Chemo Quits Working


Here it is July, and I haven't written anything since April.  I thought it might be time to explain why.

You see, back in April when I was worrying about whether the Taxol was working - it wasn't.  After 2 months of being just under the normal limit number for my CA-125, it went up.  And the next month it went up again, so it was decided that the Taxol was no longer effective on my cancer cells.  Needless to say, I had a minor freakout about it - and I just didn't know how to write about it. First I was waiting for my youngest to graduate high school, then until we told the boys and my folks what was going on.  Then I was waiting until my new oncologist and I made a decision on what to try next.  But it's been too long since I wrote, and I'm feeling the effects.  So here it is.

My new oncologist is a gynecologic oncologist, and she is VERY up on the latest methods/chemos/etc for my type of cancer.  So she decided - even before we realized the Taxol wasn't really working anymore - to take some of the fluid that I'm draining from around my lung and send it off for testing - first to see whether or not there are cancer cells in the fluid, second to see what chemos it responds to.  By the time it was obvious that Taxol wasn't working anymore, she knew that yes - there were still cancer cells in that fluid, and more importantly, she knew which chemotherapies that those cancer cells were responsive to.

The good news is that I have several options.  There are other taxil chemo agents that I can use later, as well as several other drugs.  She started me off with Topotecan three weeks on, one week off, and Avastin on weeks one and three.  Unfortunately, after two weeks, the Topotecan kicked my blood counts into the dirt, so no chemo last week!  I see her next week and we'll decide if we're going to change to two weeks on, two weeks off or lower the dosage and stay on the three week schedule, or whatever else she thinks might work.

It's unsettling.  Coming at the end of a week that included the Oncology Advisory division of the FDA voting against fast-tracking Olaparib for ovarian cancer treatment (hmph) and a delay of an event I had been hoping to get done next month, it was not what I wanted to hear.  It did explain why I was so tired at the end of the day last week.  Anyhoo - that's where I'm at.  I am happy to say that the fluid around my lungs that had been increasing since the end of Taxol seems to be decreasing just a bit lately - so I'm hopeful the Topotecan is making some headway against the cancer.  My scans in June were still clear, so whatever is going on in there is still pretty small.  I'm not getting my chemo free summer, but having a week off every month will be heaven.

In other news - as I said, the youngest graduated high school.  My garden is growing, my flowers are so pretty and just make me smile every day:

We've had plenty of rain this summer so far, and this morning, our new cow dropped her calf!  So we officially have a herd!

(Click to see cows!  And babies!)
The hubs and I took a long weekend trip to Cloudcroft for our anniversary last month, and we're just taking things day by day.  I'm going to try and write more often, but to be honest - when I get home from work I'd much rather work in the garden or yard for a bit before I sit down to catch up on Facebook - or reading, much less writing.  We'll see.  

So here I am - doing my best not to just survive - but to thrive.  So far - so good.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

My Season of Discontent

The wind is blowing again - as it has been for the last several weeks.  Living in the West Texas Panhandle, I'm used to wind - but it sure is getting on my last nerve lately.

It may be because things are stressful at work.  One of my staff left at the end of March, and I'm having to do part of her job as well as mine.  Part of me loves it - I'm getting to advise students, and I love working with them.  That part of me is having a ball.  But the other part of me - the part that remembers that I'm fighting a sneaky type of cancer - knows that I'm putting in too many hours at work, and worrying too much about whether the students are getting the attention they deserve in a timely manner.  That side is also pretty concerned with how in the world am I going to keep up with my regular job at the same time.

So there is that.

There is also my ever-present worry about my health - when we got my blood test results back at my last treatment, I only had one result that wasn't normal.  Somehow, all of my blood work has improved over the last few weeks.  You would think this would make me happy.  As a worrywart, instead all it does is make me wonder - if it's not kicking my blood counts down, and not making my hair fall out, is it killing the cancer cells like it's supposed to?

Yeah yeah - quit looking a gift horse in the mouth, and just be grateful.  Easier said than done.

Of course, it might be that my finger tips are starting to hurt more and more the longer I receive treatment.  My nails are shot - full of ridges and blotches, and I'm pretty sure a couple of them intend to fall off in a matter of weeks.  It's really not a side effect I'm in the mood for, but it is a possibility with the Taxol.

Or maybe it's because the Dallas Stars are getting their butts kicked by those damn Ducks tonight.

I'm struggling with envy right now.  More and more I am hearing of ovarian cancer patients that were Stage IV at diagnosis as I was - that went into full remission - and there are more and more of them that stay in remission for years at a time.  And I envy them - oh how I envy them.  Remission!  That glorious state of being where you can believe that you have beaten the beast.  That you will not die in a year.  Or two.  Or three.  Instead you will be the miracle...the statistic breaker...the one who lives 10 years and beyond. 

I so wanted to go into a full remission.  When I read those stories I feel cheated.  Why didn't *I* get a full remission?  Why didn't *I* get a year - or two or ten - of remission?  Of life without chemo and constipation and nausea and steroid weight gain and no eye lashes and tubes?  Why why why???

I don't know why.  And I certainly don't know why NOW I'm fighting the green monster.  I didn't spend that first year wondering why I got ovarian cancer.  It was the luck of the draw - and bad genetics.  It is what it is.  It did no good wasting time on wondering why.  I'm not sure why I'm struggling with it now.

I wonder if it's just not my mind's way of avoiding the real issue - what comes next?  I'll be switching to a new doctor and treatment center this summer, and taking a chemo break.  Instead of looking forward to it, I'm kind of dreading it.  For two months this summer, I won't be getting treatment.  The plan is to get my last tube removed, and to get some dental work done, and to give my body a break.  It should be something to look forward to, but all I can do is think about what will happen without the chemo - the last time I had a chemo break, my numbers started going up immediately.  Is it going to happen that way again?  Is switching doctors a mistake?  Will I be as happy with the new treatment center as I was with the one I use now?  Are the chairs as comfortable?  Will they bring me drinks like they do now?  Will they pay as close attention as the nurses do at my current center?

Is all I have to look forward to is a lifetime of chemo and bloody noses in the morning and painful finger tips?

I don't want to be envious of those who celebrate their years of remission.  I want to be happy for them, and look at them as reason to hope.  But somehow these ugly envious thoughts creep into my head instead, and I don't know how to stop them.  I try to be grateful I'm still here - 18 months since my diagnosis.  I've already beaten some odds.  It's my intent to beat even more.  To be one of those that declares I'm Still Here - 5 years from diagnosis!  10 years from diagnosis!  15! 20! 

*sigh*  I hope I'm not fooling myself.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Sara. Debbie.  Becky.  Allison.  Amy.  Dr. S.  Dr. L. Dr. G.  Nancy.  Lynn's mom.  Megan's mom.  L.  M.  The sweet lady who likes my scarves.  The man who likes to gamble.  The sweet man who reminds me of Angie's dad from hockey.  The man Monty knew from his old job. The professor from BA who's name I've forgotten.  The man who has had all the chemo.  The sweet lady with the trees.  The lady from WalMart. And myself.

When I was diagnosed, I didn't really know anyone who had ovarian cancer.  There was one lady who was a friend of a friend that I talked to on the phone once, but once I switch doctor's to a regular oncologist, I was just one of many cancer patients with a wide range of types of cancer.  While Sara had some similar symptoms to mine, there are some symptoms that are specific to ovarian cancer - and I had no idea if it was really normal or not.  It took me a long time to find any support groups online, and until I found the message board on, I couldn't find any groups on Facebook either.

It was a lonely time.

I got through it, but when I had my first reaction to carbo this year, I finally met another ovarian cancer patient who was also in her first recurrence.  We both had reactions to carbo on the same day, had second reactions when our doctor tried to de-sensitize us 3 weeks later, and are now currently on the same weekly Taxol/every other week Avastin schedule.  We have treatment on the same day, and odd as it may seem, it's nice to have someone to visit with every week - to compare our lack of side effects, our energy levels, who's hair is growing back quicker (woohoo - I win on that one so far). 

Debbie's experience is different from mine.  Her cancer was a surprise found during a hysterectomy.  It wasn't as advanced stage as mine.  We had the same front line treatment, but she had a little over a year before she recurred. And her recurrence is in her liver and viewable on CT scans - unlike mine that was found via a rising CA-125 and the return of ascites.  They've never been able to see anything on the CT scans.  She's also responding well to our Taxol/Avastin combo - her tumor is shrinking, and she will likely have surgery to remove it in a month or so.  But she's my chemo buddy - and I'm going to miss her when I switch treatment centers this summer.

We share a love of gardening, and living in the country.  We share a craptastic diagnosis.  She's tough as nails though - while I rely quite a bit on my husband and sons to get some of the more strenuous gardening work done right now, Debbie does it all herself.  I don't know how she does it - maybe since she's not working, it gives her more energy to do it.  And while I have gone scarfless for weeks now, she still wears a wig - a great looking one to be sure, but a wig none the less.  She always has all of her makeup on, and actually drives herself home after treatment each week. 

I'm asking that you all add Debbie to your prayer list for a few weeks.  I'd love to hear from her in a month or two that your prayers have led to her tumor shrinking enough that she *doesn't* have to have surgery.  Wouldn't that be awesome?

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Where's A Holy Hand Grenade When You Need One?

When I looked out my back door this evening, I had no intention on barrelling out of it a scant two minutes later.  All I wanted to do was to watch Buster amble across the field.  But when I looked out of the back door, I saw him.

The Bunny.

Those who have read my blog for a while know of my deep loathing for those little grass and garden nibbling bastards.  They eat my grass.  They eat my garden.  They nibble on my bushes and garlic and trees.  They dig little holes in my yard.  They are a MENACE and I hate them.

Currently, we have a gap in our back yard fence as the Tree Man is supposed to come and dig up the trees we paid too much money for last year that died in the last freeze of the spring.  He assures us that he coming soon to replace those trees, but until then my back yard is wide open to all sort of predators.

Including bunnies.

So when I saw this latest invader sitting in the middle of my back yard, I did what I do most times I see his marauding compadres - I stepped out onto the porch and told him to beat it post haste in a loud and annoyed tone.  He wiggled his nose at me.  I then grabbed a piece of bark that was on my porch and lobbed it in his general direction.  He hopped to the right - just one hop mind you - and continued wiggling his nose at me.

Obviously, this bunny was not intimidated by a woman with short gray hair and poor bark-tossing aim.

So I turned around, slipped on the nearest pair of shoes I could find, and muttered something about "taunting little bastard - we'll just see about THAT."  I vaguely recall hearing my husband asking if I wanted to scare it off or let him shoot it - but I just grabbed the old mop on the porch and charged out after him.

I would love to tell you how he fled from me in obvious fear - recognizing that I was without a doubt the top of the food chain and that his days were numbered.  But that little SOB leisurely hopped into my asparagus bed and I'm pretty sure stopped to have a snack as I came after him.  He had no fear, this bunny.  And he was right to have no fear, because as I tried to chase him through the asparagus bed I realized that the pair of shoes I slipped on were E's house shoes and were about 4 sizes too big.

Go ahead.  Laugh.  Since you are not in the throes of bunny-homicidal thoughts, you can see what's coming.  You have all the time in the world to realize that annoyed and tired woman + too-big house shoes + cocky bunny leads to only one thing.

Yup - as I tried to chase said bunny out of the asparagus bed, I stepped out of one of the house shoes, tripped over border to the asparagus bed, and landed on my knees.  The bunny made his escape and I - well I sat there in the dead grass, hoped I didn't break anything, and realized that shortly my husband was going to come out and find me on my butt.  *sigh*

Never fear - nothing was broken.  Although my pride has taken a beating, and I'm sitting here with ice packs on my knees and very glad that the Tylenol has kicked in, I'm ok. 

As for The Bunny?  The one who was obviously related to that bunny in The Holy Grail?  The next time when my husband asks if I want to chase it out of the yard or let him shoot it?

That little dude is going DOWN.

(For the record, no bunnies were hurt this evening.  UNFORTUNATELY!!!  But next time he won't be so lucky!)

Thursday, March 20, 2014


I mentioned the other day that I was having a hard time finding something to blog about.  The fact is, I'm just avoiding blogging because I don't have super happy stuff to blog about.  I've been doing chemo since last October, and frankly, I'm tired.

I'm tired of spending every Friday at the cancer center.  I'm tired of being constipated for 5 days out of every 7.  I'm tired of constantly having to wipe or blow my nose due to the Avastin.  I'm tired of the taste of blood in my mouth from all that drainage.  I'm tired of constantly worrying if the chemo is working, if I'm going to go into remission, if that weird pain in my chest another blood clot or a tumor or just a weird twinge.  I'm tired of the cellulite that has taken residence on my thighs because I don't have the energy to work out every day.  I'm tired of having to draw on eyebrows so I don't like a boy. I'm tired of having short gray hair. I'm tired of not being able to sleep more than 4 or 5 hours at a stretch.  I'm tired of having circles under my eyes so dark that it truly looks like my husband tuned me up.  I'm tired of gaining weight, of hot flashes, of food tasting too salty or too spicy, of the constant craving for chocolate.  I'm tired of trying to brave, inspirational, and chipper.

I am so very tired of having cancer.

I know I could have it so much worse than I do.  I have family and friends that love me and support me.  I have a job that provides me with insurance that has made all this treatment possible.  Sometimes I feel like such a whiner for feeling this way.  But even if you're not at death's door, after a while - having cancer wears on you. 

Those who haven't had cancer - or haven't had dealings with someone with late stage cancer - look at me and see that I'm feeling pretty good compared to a year ago and think that my battle is over.  But my battle may never be over.  I may never go into a full remission.  I might - but the odds are against me.  Sometimes I think people don't know how to deal with someone like me - the cancer patient who can't claim they are cured.

I'm not sure I'd want to hang out with someone who just can't do the things she used to.  But I wish I knew of some way to tell the people I don't hear from much anymore that they are missed.  That I'm sorry that I can't just go back to who I used to be.  My life has changed forever.  I will never again be the chick who can party until the wee hours, or that can spend Sunday morning loading a pickup truck with load after load of hay. 

I wish I knew how to tell them that I miss that chick too.

I've said before it's not all moonlight and roses.  I'm not helping anyone if I only post when I'm all happy and chipper.   I would hate for someone to come across this blog and see nothing but unicorns and rainbows and get down on themselves because they are having more blue days than they know what to do with and feel like they're doing this wrong.  There is no wrong - we all have to deal with it in our own way.  And I bet I'm not the only one who gets so damn tired of having cancer.  It helps me to write it out - it's a way for me to figure out why I feel the way I do, and a way to express those feelings and get them out of my system.  If it helps someone else someday, even better.

It's unrelenting, this having cancer thing.  It never goes away.  Not for me, and not for my family.  I wonder if it would be easier if there was any real hope that I could actually be cured.  I'll never really know - I'm to look at ovarian cancer as a chronic disease that I can treat but not cure.  Like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.  I'm doing my best to find a way to accept that gracefully.

But damn.  I'm just....tired.

Monday, March 17, 2014


(In case you haven't noticed, I've had a hard time coming up with something to write about lately.  It's all the same ole same ole lately. So I thought I would share with everyone those that I pray for and why.)

Sara. Debbie.  Becky.  Allison.  Amy.  Dr. S.  Dr. G.  Nancy.  Lynn's mom.  Megan's mom.  L.  M.  The sweet lady who likes my scarves.  The man who likes to gamble.  The sweet man who reminds me of Angie's dad from hockey.  The man Monty knew from his old job. The professor from BA who's name I've forgotten.  The sweet lady with the trees.  The lady from WalMart. And myself.

Sara is married to one of my faculty members.  When he was originally hired, back when I was hugely pregnant with my eldest, I met Sara when she came to town to find a place for them to live when they moved to Mid-Sized City. She brought with her their 6 month old daughter and we bonded over impending motherhood. She had two daughters, and I two sons, and we both loved them like crazy. She had wonderful advice for a new mom, and the sweetest personality.

Over the years, we would see each other at various departmental parties, and talk on the phone when she would call up here to talk to her husband.  I've always thought the world of her.  It's been nearly two years since she went into a hospital to have some tests run to see why she was having some gastro-intestinal issues, and came out with a diagnosis of advanced pancreatic cancer.  When her husband told me, I was devastated, because all I knew was that there was no cure.  I didn't expect her to finish out the year.

I often talked of going to see her while she was undergoing treatment.  Of calling her when she was stuck at home recovering.  But I never did.  I'm not sure why - was it because I didn't know how to deal with her diagnosis?  Was it because I was afraid?  I'm not sure, but I'm so ashamed of the coward I was.

Later that year, when I was diagnosed with my own advanced staged cancer, I was even more ashamed.  Sara called me frequently to see how I was doing, to offer me support as I went through chemo, as I recovered.  She offered me ideas as to what I could eat, and shared that she too spend months sleeping in a recliner because she just couldn't tolerate sleeping in a bed.  She made me feel normal.  She made me feel less alone. 

Sara is doing great right now.  She sees a doctor at MD Anderson that specializes in her type of pancreatic cancer, and for now, her disease is stable.  She is a constant inspiration to me as I go through my own cancer journey, and is always the first person on my list of those I pray for healing.  If you are so moved, would you consider adding Sara to your prayers for a time?  She is a woman of faith, with an open heart.  She doesn't kid herself about what's ahead for her....but the way she handles the day to day and the future to come makes me proud to call her friend.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Our Newest Addition

Everyone - meet Buster.

Buster joined the Digby family a couple of weeks ago, at the start of the coldest weather we've had in the boonies.  He seems to be thriving, and this morning he and his mama were pretty close to the house (comparatively speaking anyway) and I was able to grab a couple of pictures.

As you can see, he's totally black, and still a little gangly.  But cute!  As all babies are.

It's fun to have a baby around the place, even if it's a calf, and someday we'll probably change his name to Ribeye.  I'm really quite pleased with how good a mama ole Steak turned out to be - she had Buster completely on her own, and we didn't even realize that she was ready to drop him until Monty couldn't spot her and it was so cold.  He found the both of them down in our "pond" out of the wind. 

Since Buster is so small, he's already figured out how to just walk under the hot wire fence and escape into the neighbor's pasture to hide amongst the weeds to take naps.  When he does this, Steak just kind looks over the fence every now and then, but grazes nearby.  When we had snow the other day, my poor husband, who was not feeling well, had to suit up in his insulated coveralls and hike out there to get Buster back into our pasture because he couldn't figure out how to get back under the fence. 

Hence the name Buster.  As in "get your silly butt back over here buster!"

Last weekend the boys had to walk our fence to pull tumbleweeds off of it so that the hot wire stayed hot, and that's when my eldest determined we had a little bull on our hands.  Now we have to figure out when to get him "fixed" because we're not equipped to raise a bull!  Nope - I'd like a nice docile steer, thank you very much.  One that won't give us too much trouble when it's time to load him up and well - you know.

It's almost time to attempt to start seedlings again.  My husband is contemplating putting our greenhouse kit together this week.  This would be awesome, because while I am quite proficient at starting seedlings, getting them big enough and strong enough to be transplanted is not my forte.  Part of it is not really having a great place with enough light and enough warmth, plus enough breeze to grow them large enough and strong enough without being too spindly and weak.  It would be so cool to not have to buy any seedlings this spring!

I probably should sit down today and figure out my garden plan.  Since I'm feeling so well with this new chemo regimen, I think I might plant big again.  Plenty of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions, taters.  I might even try eggplant!  And okra - we skipped okra last year, and squash because they put out so much produce and we weren't sure I'd be up to cooking it all the time, and let's face it.  Okra and squash just don't freeze all that well.  I'm thinking this year I can handle it - as long as I don't let my husband plant too many of them!

It's fun to look forward to gardening again!  I'm thinking that looking through my new seed catalogs this afternoon while doing laundry and watching the Olympics is a great way to spend the day.

My husband just asked me how I was feeling.  I told him I was feeling pretty good all things considered - that's when he informed me that it had been 5 days since we drained from around my left lung.  I would have never guessed - I don't feel like I have anything in there!  We'll drain tonight, but I have a feeling that's going down some as well.  Woohoo!

It's so nice not feeling sick.  Not feeling worn out all the time.  Not having fevers every three weeks!  I just hope that the taxol is still working at this different rate - and that the Avastin is doing it's job as well.  I won't know if I'm still making progress until the 21st.  Until then, I'm just enjoying feeling good.

When I'm not trying to get pictures of this little guy!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Herd

Well - it's been nearly a week since I had my last chemo.   I've felt good and have been able to work all week.  It's been awesome. 

You know what else is awesome?  We have a calf!  Yes - that's right - the cow formerly known as Steak had her baby this week.  I had hoped to share cute calf pictures with you, but our mama cow is keeping that baby on the edges of our property and it's been too cold for me to walk out that far.  I'm hoping that maybe my husband can get some pictures today as he works on building their barn. 

(Yes - I know we're building the barn after the calf was born, but better late than never, eh?)

Our calf was born at the beginning of the coldest three days we've had out in the boonies, which had us worried to death about it.  We weren't sure that it was staying warm enough with the wind, and that silly mama had them out on the pasture, not in the empty pond where they would have been out of the wind.  But since the calf was up and moving, and the hubs had seen it nursing, we kept our fingers crossed it would make it through the first night, and it did.  So we might not be the worst cattle ranchers ever after all.

I have no idea if we have a he or a she calf.  Since I haven't been able to get a good look at the baby, and my husband stated he had no interest in trying to determine which it was as long as the mama cow is being so protective, I don't know if we'll ever know.  I'm sure at some point it will become more obvious.  I'm just hoping it's before the calf turns into an onery bull and it's too late to make him into a steer!

If anyone has any great advice on how best to care for a mama and her calf, feel to share.  We're clueless and just hoping that the cow formerly known as Steak has good mama instincts.

In other news, the chickens seem a little miffed that the cattle (ha!  now that we have two, it's a herd!) are getting all the attention these days.  I'm pretty sure the roosters were giving me the evil eye when I was out trying to get a look at the calf the other day.  Pfft.  Guess they should have tried harder to provide me with baby chicks last summer, huh?

It keeps crossing my mind how much Evie would have enjoyed barking at the baby.  I miss that dog.

I finished Beth Moore's Believing God and am trying to figure out which one of her books to read next.  I have Breaking Free, To Live is Christ, When Godly People Do UnGodly Things, and The Beloved Disciple.  Which do y'all recommend next?

Tomorrow I go in for chemo again, and most likely my first dose of Avastin.  I'm asking for prayers that I tolerate it well, and that it doesn't cause my blood pressure to go up, my nose to bleed, or my bowel to perforate.  I'm so hoping that I'll be able to feel as well as I did this last week.  Even if I don't, this has been a week of blessings.  I hope your week has been a happy one as well!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Gratitude. I've Got It.

My goodness - what a difference a week can make.

Last Sunday, I was still full of worry and doubt about what was going to happen with my treatment.   I felt pretty good, and was dreading feeling bad this week.  Instead, I'm sitting here feeling pretty darn good today!

Since this new regimen consists of me receiving a smaller dose of Taxol every week instead of a big ole dose every three weeks, I haven't really had any nausea and very little fatigue.  This weekend we have purchased a new RAV4 for me to drive, gotten Christmas decorations taken down and put away, I've gone to church, and out to eat for lunch, worked on laundry and helped eldest son re-organize his room.

I don't think I've had this active of a weekend since summer.

Of course, I didn't do all this by myself.  The boys helped take the Christmas stuff down.  Most of my contribution to re-organizing E's room consisted of me sitting in a chair and suggesting/directing.  But I'm feeling good.  I don't have the discomfort I've had around my torso the last few months.  I'm not constantly tired.  And praise Jesus Halleluah, I'm not nauseous.  I'm able to eat normally.

I don't kid myself.  I know that next weekend may be a different story once I get Avastin.  But today, right now, I think I should be able to go to work tomorrow.  I think that I won't miss but one day a week with this weekly chemo.  I think I just might be able to have a greater quality of life.

Heck - I may be able to nag my children to do more chores if I'm feeling this good!

*gasp* Maybe I'll even get my house clean!

Pfft.  Even if I don't.  Even if all I do is manage to keep up with the laundry and the kids' schedule, I'll be happy.  I'll take it one day at a time.  I'll enjoy every minute of feeling practically normal.  And I'll be grateful for it.

Now - if only that hair will grow back....

Friday, January 24, 2014

Pow! Right in the kisser!

(Praise God from whom all blessings flow.  Praise Him all creatures here below.  Praise Him above, ye heavenly host.  Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost)

When I first started going to the little Methodist church in Hicksville, I first heard the doxology.  I had heard the phrases before, but not sung. Something about those words seemed to speak to my soul.  I've learned them and sang them and this morning they are echoing in my heart.

Last night I found out my scans were clear - other than the fluid around my lungs, there is no other visible evidence of disease.  This morning, I was told my CA-125 is down to 37. That's just 2 over normal.  I also found out that my insurance has overturned its decision on my receiving weekly Taxol with Avastin.

I am flabbergasted.  And excited. And nervous. And grateful. And terrified.

I won't get Avastin until next week.  This week - right now in fact - I'm going to get a lower dose of Taxol.  Next week I'll get both. Week 3 - Taxol, then both week 4. I've been approved for this regimen for the next 3 months.

I'm getting less anti-nausea meds because the expectation is I'll have less nausea. I may get some of my hair back. The Avastin, however, can cause me to be more fatigued, have high blood pressure, or headaches or nose bleeds.   But we are hoping it will won't do all that.

Three weeks ago after I reacted to the carbo for the second time, I was scared and angry and despondent. I felt doomed.  I started a process that in its beginning was a way for me to find peace with everything, to find a way to be able to go gently if that was to be my future. But also to find out that if I truly believe, if I truly could "let go and let God"  if I would be blessed.

Boy howdy am I feeling blessed.

Some might say that all my good news today is modern medicine at work. That may be, but I can't help but see God's hand in all this as well.  When I was my most discouraged, feeling abandoned, afraid - I called out as better men than I have called out "my God!  My God!  Why have you forsaken me?!"  And even as I started to accept that this is the struggle I've been given, and that it is nothing when compared with the others suffering, no worse than what Christ suffered on a cross all those years ago?

I have blessings rain down on me. As if God is saying to me the words that are the backbone of the Beth Moore study I'm doing:

God is who he says he is.
God can do what he says he can do.
I am who God says I am.
I can do all things through Christ.
God's word is alive and active in me.

Maybe it's just modern medicine.  I choose to believe that I'm being sent a message.  And I think finally it's one I'm ready to hear.

Miracles indeed.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

It's The Little Things

When you deal with a chronic disease as I am, eventually you find yourself being happy about the weirdest things.  Sometimes it's having a day without pain.  Sometimes it's being able to navigate your way through a difficult problem at work without having to ask your friend that works in another department 40 questions because your chemo brain isn't blocking all of your intelligence.

Sometimes you're happy that the barium you had to drink for your CT scans put an end to that almost constipation problem you've been struggling with since you started chemo again.

Yes.  That's right.  I said it.  For the first time ever, the barium got things 'moving well' shall we say.  Who am I kidding?  Let's be clear.  I might as well have had a cleanse.  I guarantee they got a good look at my colon today because there wasn't anything in there to block their view.  Nope.  Hell - they could do another one tomorrow and STILL have a great view because  dayum - I'm empty!

See?  It's the little things.

It's kinda bizarre that I'm discussing such things on a public blog.  I never used to discuss such things.  I remember the first time my husband asked about the last time I had taken a crap and I looked at him like he had lost his mind.  Why in God's green earth was he asking about THAT?  We didn't discuss bowel habits in my house growing up.  Unless you were my dad.  I'm pretty sure we all knew way more about my dad's bowel habits than we ever wanted to.  But isn't that true of most families? Anyway - I certainly saw no reason to discuss my bowel habits with my BOYFRIEND - it didn't matter how long we had been dating.

Now look at me.  HA!

But that's the thing - with ovarian cancer, the fear of an obstruction is a very real thing.  I've been SO lucky that I haven't any any bowel involvement with my cancer - no tumors that we've ever known of, no bowel resections during my de-bulking surgery, no obstructions - partial or otherwise.  Many women do have bowel involvement and have to have large portions of their bowel removed, or colostomy bags.  We're constantly on the watch for the signs of an obstruction - because that could mean that the disease is progressing.  That a tumor has worked its way into the bowel.  Or that one has developed and grown large enough to compress the bowel or colon...

So - I'm sorry and I hope you weren't eating when you started reading this.   If nothing else, take the time today or tomorrow and see what you can think of to be happy about that you don't have the nerve to share with anyone else.   Then share it anyway and see if anyone still thinks you're inspiring.


(No - really - I wasn't trying to ick anyone out.  But if I'm going to be honest, I  might as well be honest about everything, and this is totally a big topic for many of us with ovarian cancer.  That dreaded obstruction is often what finishes us off - eventually there just isn't anything else to be done.  So forgive me for being tickled that for once I don't have to worry about taking stool softeners or fiber capsules for a day or two!)

In other news, the cow formerly known as Steak is eagerly looking forward to the arrival of Son of Steak.  I believe she is also eagerly looking forward to her new half barn that MDH is going to build for her.  At the moment, that barn consists of 9 poles set into the ground, one of which is a good foot shorter than the other two in that particular row because MDH didn't stand outside and watch the men who were setting the poles in the ground.  Now he has to decide whether to try to raise that one pole up a foot, or just to cut a foot off of the other two.  I vote for the cut - not that he always listens to me.

The hubs has also decided that since our Java hens were such crappy mamas, they have a future in our freezer and he will be buying a new breed of chicken to replace them.  As long as he doesn't replace my Americaunas that lay the blue and green eggs, that's fine with me. And of course, as long as he is the one who gets them prepped for our freezer.

Dove continue to line up on our back yard fence and our back yard trees - taunting the hubs who did not get to go dove hunting this year.  He's also figured out just when he can hunt geese and woe unto any Canadian geese that fly too low over Digbyland.  They just might find themselves being marinated in Fred Meske's secret goose sauce!

In another couple of weeks it will be time to start seeds around here for the garden. Every year I start seeds, and every year I'm lucky if 2 out of the 30 - 60 seedlings I nurse make it into the garden.  Or survive the garden.  But this year I'm determined.  I will have heirloom tomatoes!  And cucumbers so I can make pickles!  I will!  Maybe.

So that's what's going on in Digbyland - what are you up to these days?

(By the way - my scans are still clear. Woohoo!)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


(I completely understand that not all of my friends believe as I do - and as I've mentioned before, I'm down with that.  If you aren't comfortable reading about a Christian's struggle with her faith, feel free to just click away now.  It won't offend me at all.  I just ask that you respect my choice as I respect yours.  This is a part of what I'm going through now.)

Dr. S.
Mike from NM.
Lynn's mom.
Megan's mom.
The sweet lady who likes my scarves.
The man who likes to gamble.
The man that Monty knew from  his old job.
The professor from BA who's name I've forgotten.
The sweet lady who had the trees last year that she had to keep in her garage to protect them from the freeze.
The nice lady I met in WalMart who had the cool head wrap.
And myself.

These are the people who I pray for healing every night.  Then I pray for continued health for a slew of others - people in remission, or who are recovering from other ailments.  Not everyone listed up there have cancer - some have other chronic illnesses.  But I pray for them all.

Sometimes in the morning.  Sometimes it's at night.  Whenever I have some quiet time to go through my list.

I also pray for my boys - that they continue to meet good people, and make good friends as they move into adulthood.  I pray they meet women who can love them as they are, and yet inspire them to continue to try to be better people.  Women that will respect them as I hope they respect those women.  That they find a job or career that they love, that makes going to work a joy rather than a chore.

I would love you to believe that I do this every day without fail.  But that would be a lie - I try.  It's my intent to do this every day.  But some days I run out of time in the morning.  And some days I forget to say my prayers before I go to bed.  And some days I fall asleep as I'm working through my list.

I always try to start my prayers with thanks for the day before, or the day that just finished up - to remember to be thankful for the good things that have happened - whether it was checking items off my to do list, or seeing a beautiful sunset.  Whatever I can think of to be grateful for, so that I don't always focus on the negative, the scary.

As  work through this Beth Moore book, I'm learning new things to consider as I pray.  One of those is not being afraid to ask for the big things.  I think a lot of the time I figure it would be presumptuous of me to ask for things for myself - I tend to instead ask for health, healing, etc for my family and friends.  I'm learning that may be the ultimate conceit - a falseness that doesn't so much show how humble I am, but rather my lack of faith.

See where I list myself on that list of people that I ask for healing for?  Why is that?  Why do I put myself last?  Don't I deserve to be a little higher on the list?  Aren't we told as mothers that we should take care of ourselves first so that we are able to care for our families?  Not that we do that.  Nope - it's always worry about the rest of the family first - we'll rest when we're dead.

That's just a wee bit close to home for me.

So I'm working on that - on trying to find a way to work myself up that list.   To accept that my health, my cure, is just as important as anyone else on that list.  To accept that there is nothing wrong with taking care of yourself first.

To accept that it's ok to ask for help.  For a miracle.  For long remission.  For a cure.

To really believe in miracles in this age of science and disbelief.  To have the faith of a child.

Easier said than done. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Hmm.  I never imagined that my first post of 2014 would be on the 21st.  It's been a weird month for me.  At the beginning of the month, I had another chemo treatment, and we tried once again to give me carbo - extra steroids, and more benedryl - in hopes to de-sensitize me so that I can still get one of the most effective chemos for my type of cancer.  Alas, within minutes of starting the carbo, my tongue started tingling again, my heart started racing, and even though they were watching me and stopped it immediately, my nose swelled shut again.


So - I don't know if I'll ever have carbo again.  And that scares the crap out of me.  My CA 125 only went down 6 points between the last two chemo sessions, and I worry that means without the full carbo infusion, we're not beating the cancer back as much as we'd like.  I haven't re-developed acites in my abdomen, but I still have the fluid around my lungs.  I thought we had that on the run, but the last time my husband drained it, it was significantly more fluid than the previous time.  In addition to all that, I've had much more discomfort around my middle the last few weeks.

Whine whine whine.

Tomorrow I'll be having CT scans of chest, abdomen and pelvis.  So maybe we can see what is exactly going on in there.  I haven't had scans since last October, so I am very curious as to how things look.  I keep hoping that once again it'll be a scan with no new evidence of metastic disease.  Wish me luck.

I've struggled keeping a positive attitude the last couple of months.  Having fevers every time I hit those compromised immunity days every round of chemo is a double whammy of feeling like crap and worrying that the doctors are missing something when they try to figure out what is causing the fevers.  This last time I was prescribed preventative antibiotics in hopes I wouldn't have a fever.   It certainly delayed the fever, and it was just a low grade fever that only lasted a few days, but I still got a fever.  Again.

This constant feeling like crap wears on you.  It frustrates me to no end to only have a few days out of every 21 that I feel like doing anything.  I miss way more work than I'd like, but there are just some days I can't make it in.  I still feel like I'm letting down not only my boss, but my staff and faculty as well.  I've been told that some of my faculty are complaining.  But what can I do?  I'm trying my hardest to be at work as often as I can.  To get as much done while I am in the office as possible. 

I used to rarely miss work.  I rarely got sick, and I had to be pretty sick before I called in.  I wasn't the employee who called in with a sinus headache or because I had cramps.  If I called in, I was most likely running a fever or hurling.  Now I call in because I'm so fatigued I can barely function, or because I'm so nauseated from chemo I can't comprehend trying to drive into town. 

Part of this adjusting to the new normal I guess.  Trying not to assign scary meanings to every ache, pain, lump or spot.  Trying to remember that God's plan doesn't necessarily mean I'm supposed to be his example of grace under pressure - or anything worse. 

Those who know me well know that I have a strong faith in God.  During this recurrence, I've struggled holding onto that.  I've struggled with believing that there are still miracles to be had.  I want to believe that - of course I do.  But I feel like for some reason that's God's answer to my prayers might be no. 

To help with that, I've been working my way through a Beth Moore book.  A devotional of sorts.  I'll be honest - I have it on my kindle because it was free this month.  But working through it these last couple of weeks has been fascinating - giving me a different look on how my relationship with God works - and me questioning if I've been putting enough into it.

For those of y'all who don't buy into God, or who worship a different diety, feel free to move skip all this rambling of God and faith. It won't hurt my feelings a bit.  This blog is an exploration of how I'm working my way through my cancer and my life in general, so there's gonna be some God talk occasionally.

Anyhoo - that's what's going on with me.  As usual, January sucks.  My least favorite month.  Chemo again this Friday.  Not sure what they are going to do - according to my oncology nurse, we'll find out Friday.  I'm not real sure I'm ok with that,  but it doesn't seem like I have much choice.  Keep me in your thoughts, and I hope your January is going well.

I'll just be glad when it's February again.