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!)