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.