Archive | June, 2010

June 14th, one of the happiest of days . . .

15 Jun

I am tired, I am sore, I am so exhausted. But, I will, according to my doctor, get off of this cancer roller coaster . . . exit left! My oncologist told me yesterday that I am cured. She used the word cured.

I almost feel like I am tempting fate to use that word. But, my oncologist used it and so I will take it and run with it.

Thank you so much for your continued prayers and support. It means the world to me and to my family.

Much love and peace,
Lisa

Have a listen if you like . . .

11 Jun

“Danny Boy”:

“Amazing Grace” (two part “harmony” – two Lisas :)):

A couple of years ago, (before all of this cancer nonsense), my Mom asked me to sing “Danny Boy” and record it for her. I did, along with “Amazing Grace”. I don’t know the technical stuff on how to do this and I didn’t work out harmonies for Amazing Grace very well, just kind of threw it together quick because she asked.

Anyway, I thought I would share it here now. Especially since my singing voice has changed a bit since the radiation. It isn’t awful, I just don’t have the same voice or ability (not that I had some incredible ability anyway, but, it is just different now). It may come back and it may not, I am happy with what I have got . . . time to shut up and post a couple of songs . . . 🙂

Much love and peace,
Lisa

Things are looking up . . .

11 Jun

Hello All,

This week has been a busy one on many fronts. Mostly medical, but, all productive.

I have a medical appointment every other day or so these days . . . I didn’t figure on that being the case 15 months into this cancer ride. But, that is the way it goes I guess.

Anyway, good news:

I am healing well, slowly but, surely making my way back to feeling more like myself, a bit stronger etc. (still can’t drive, can’t get things out of the cupboard very easily, unless it happens to be on the edge of the first cupboard and is light weight – solution – I leave dishes on the counter top for easy access and use paper bowls and plates as much as possible).

Other good news – walked for about thirty minutes yesterday and again today (thank you Sandy for being my walking partner)!

AND – I got the highly annoying pic line taken out of my arm yesterday – which means that my doctor took me off of the IV antibiotics!!! I am so relieved about that. Of course, it means now that I do not have the antibiotic protection – so I need to be extra careful, limit my exposure for a bit, but, I am feeling pretty darn good about it.

Yesterday I had a really nice dinner out, a walk along the bird sanctuary afterwards – it was beautiful – and I had great company too. It was a nice end to a busy medical day (started with the antibiotic infusion given by a nurse at my home, then a couple of appointments and well, that pretty much did me in – but, the dinner and the walk along the water, amongst the birds, was really a great pick me up).

So, now it is just about continuing to recover and heal from surgery. It is amazing how long it takes and at the same time it is also amazing what the body can sustain and get through. I am physically pretty uncomfortable, BUT, it is so much better than it was, I can hardly complain now as there is no comparison between now and two weeks or three weeks ago. Such a relief.

Thank you to everyone who has been praying for me, following my blog, sending me emails, cards and love, I so greatly appreciate it.

Much love and peace,

Lisa

Places to visit and things to do . . . much to do . . .

9 Jun

I am doing better these days. It is now just a little over three weeks from surgery. I am still not really doing much of anything other than tending to the absolute necessities – which is pretty minimal. Most days I have a doctor’s appointment. And everyday a nurse comes in still to administer the IV antibiotics (hopefully there will only be a few more days of this). Although, I have had some really nice conversations with a few of the nurses, two in particular. Both love to travel and have traveled extensively. So, I have very much enjoyed talking with them and hearing about their past and planned travels.

As these women discussed past travels, trips these women had taken – some to places that I had been and places I would like to go (based upon their descriptions) it made me reflect upon some of the wonderful experiences I have had . . . like going to the Kroller Muller Museum in Otterlo, Netherlands (Holland). The Kroller Muller Museum is in the middle of a national park and it holds the second largest (I believe it is the second largest) collection of Van Gogh. One of the most moving experiences I have ever had was standing in one of many rooms of Van Gogh’s work, displayed against purple walls, all of those yellow and golds in his paintings, it is simply breathtaking there.

This museum is definitely worth a trip to . . . unlike some more famous museums in Europe, there are no lines, no crowds and you can walk right up to his work (and there are other artists’s works as well – but, the most notable to me, anyway, was the Van Gogh collection). Helene Kroller Muller acquired 91 of Van Gogh’s paintings and collected 175 of his drawings as well.

Here is something Helene Kroller Muller had to say about art and about Vincent van Gogh’s work in 1933:

“Part of the intention of forming this collection was to show – to prove – that abstract art is not something insurmountable but that it has always existed. That is why you find new and older works here side by side. I meant to use the old to support the right of the new to exist.” (I like that).

And about Vincent van Gogh, whose works comprise of her collection, “His value lies not in his means of expression, his technique, but in his great and new humanity. He created modern Expressionism.”

I can tell you though, that standing in front of glorious painting after painting and looking at those brush strokes, (knowing that if I could touch it, I would be able to feel each stroke, almost like a wood cutting, but, with such intense color), that expression flowed right from his canvas and into my heart. What a wonderful experience it was to see his work. So moving. Some of it so very sad, the potato farmers – not bright golds and yellows there. But, perhaps that is one of the things that I found so compelling about the collection of his work – the incredible range of human experience – from the worst depths, sheer suffering to the brightest sunflower standing tall on a warm and sunny day.

You witness that full spectrum all there in one place. Truly a wonderful museum. I would love to take my Mom there some day.

Thinking about that today, urging my nurse to make her way from her planned trip to Amsterdam this summer to the Kroller Muller Museum – as it is so worth the trip, made me think about traveling, about making plans, about having my life back and about giving back.

I am grateful that I have traveled some. And, I really hope to travel more. But, of course, one never knows what lies ahead. And, so, today, I am just grateful that I have these places to think of, to hopefully return to and new places to hopefully discover.

This past year plus has been a different kind of journey and time of discovery – I have discovered new places within myself that I never thought existed – both good and bad. And, my friends and family, what can I say, I have reaped such strength and joy from you. I have seen my own kind of despair and definitely seen some beautiful sunflowers.

Here’s to more sunflowers . . .

Love and peace,

Lisa

Great news . . .

7 Jun

Saw my surgeon today – she took out the last drain – YAY!!! Such a relief, those things are so uncomfortable. Anyway, she says I am healing well, things look good (and they do, or rather I should say “it” does look good – since I have one newly reconstructed breast now). Although, there are minor things she will do, it is quite apparent now that she does excellent work.

Also, my surgeon’s bedside manner has improved (hopefully permanently). Today it was like being with a totally different doctor. I have a feeling I know why. She was on vacation last week. So I asked her how her vacation went and she explained that it had not been a vacation or time off. That instead, she went to look after a good friend who had very bad thyroid cancer. I believe that my surgeon went to visit her friend while she was going through her staging exams (CT Scans and MRIs that they put you through to determine if the cancer has spread to other areas of your body – a very scary time in a cancer patient’s life).

My surgeon said it was just really hard for her friend and that it was such a difficult time. And then she said to me, “Well, you know . . . you know what that is like.”

Yes, I do. But, now, I think my surgeon has an idea of what it is like and suddenly has a totally different perspective on what her patients have to suffer through.

I am very sorry for how she has had to gain that perspective, but, hopefully her friend will be fine. I know that thyroid cancer is very treatable. But, like with all types of cancers, the key is early detection. So, hopefully her friend’s cancer was detected early enough. I will say some prayers for her.

I don’t know if that is why my surgeon was so much better towards me today. But, I have a feeling it might have had something to do with it. It certainly felt like she had empathy for me – and it really is the first time that I have ever felt that from her before.

So, to recap, the great news is that my drain is out (this will surely make sleeping more likely) and I appear to be healing well from surgery. My surgeon does want me to stay on the IV antibiotics a bit longer, but, my other doctor will likely have the final say on that. So, I anticipate that I will be free from the IV line nonsense this Wednesday or Thursday. I hope so. In any case, things are improving.

Thank you for your continued prayers, I greatly appreciate it.

Much love,

Lisa

My apologies . . .

7 Jun

Hello All,

I just wanted to thank those of you who have sent emails and commented on my blog and . . . apologize if I have not yet responded. This post surgery time is pretty grueling – although MUCH, MUCH better now. But, I have not yet even begun to catch up on email. Your emails mean so much! It really helps me get through this, so thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Today is all about getting to the doctor’s (I have secured a ride there, so now it is about figuring out my questions and simply getting dressed to go – a slow process these days, getting dressed that is, but, it is getting easier).

I will probably make a trip to the grocery store on the way home from my doctor’s appointment. After that, I will be pretty much spent for the day.

But, please know that your thoughts, prayers, messages, cards are not forgotten and that they mean so much to me. I promise I will get back to you individually as soon as I am a little further along in my recuperation.

Thank you all so much.

Much love,

Lisa

So tired . . . of all of this . . .

7 Jun

Hello All,

I am now three weeks out from surgery. Kind of hard to believe. I am so grateful to be three weeks out, and not the first week or the second (which were their own particular kind of hell). I am definitely getting better – the most marked difference is in the pain department. While I am not pain-free, it is a level I can tolerate.

Today I will see my surgeon for the first time in a few weeks (she was on vacation last week – so I saw her partner instead – I like him a lot, wish he could be my surgeon – appreciate that he gives out straight answers and doesn’t get defensive or feel the need to apologize for what he is about to say – he’s up front, direct – – what I would give to have that from my surgeon, oh well, I digress). So i see my surgeon today. I believe she will take out the one remaining drain (after surgeries sometimes drains are put in to help your body to drain blood, fluid and tissue away from the surgical site – I know, kind of gross, but, that is what it is). These drains help your body deal with that stuff so that your body doesn’t have to absorb it.

Anyway, I had just two drains with this surgery (I had expected more, since there were four incision sites. One drain was removed last week and the last drain may come out today. I should probably leave these details (and others I will spare you from now) for a “for cancer patients” blog. I would have really appreciated knowing more about all of this stuff, (how you have to maintain it as a patient, etc) before my first surgery. Instead, you get a one page handout that shows a line drawing of something called a “Jackson Pratt” drain. Not very helpful – doesn’t prepare you at all.

So, I am very tired. This weekend was a long one for me. My Mom, who is getting better, has had some kind of flu bug (she has promised me she is going to call her doctor today – she’s been quite stubborn about getting over this on her own). Anyway, as a result, I haven’t allowed my Mom or my Dad to come over for several days now. Mainly, i want my Mom to get rest (something she does not get here as she is always doing something for me). But, also, I should not risk being around anyone who is sick. And, even though my Dad is not sick, he has been around her, so he could potentially give me what my Mom has. I doubt it. But, I have to say, it is putting some pressure on my Mom to actually go into the doctor (since I keep telling her that she can not come see me). I am not trying to be mean, I am just concerned about her – I want her to get checked out by the doctor and I also do need to be pretty cautious myself.

But, since they have not been here for several days I got low on groceries (I can’t yet drive to the store, so my parents usually go for me or take me there). Anyway, a friend of mine took me last week and now I need to go again. I have a doctor’s appointment today and should be able to make a stop on the way home to pick up some groceries.

I am just so incredibly tired of having to rely on everyone for so much. I had no idea going into this thing (not to suggest that I had a choice of going into it or not :)) that it would be this long a period of time – needing to rely on people for so much. It is unimaginable. And, the thing is I’ll have a little stretch where I am pretty good and can fend for myself, then surgery and I am right back to being useless.

I am, however, getting better. I still can’t drive, probably at least a few weeks more of that – very frustrating. Although, I am so physically tired and my arms are still so limited I would not want to drive right now. But, you understand, I just wish that I could drive, and, I especially wish that I felt well enough to drive.

I am getting better, just really tired of this whole thing, so worn out from the past 15 months and really hoping to get a break from all of this sometime soon. I know I still have the next surgery (same one that I just had) ahead of me, which is fairly major. But, I really hope to feel well in between this surgery and the next. And, then, after the next surgery I just pray that this will all be behind me. No more cancer, no more surgeries, no more feeling like this. I want my life back so badly. And, I hate to admit it, but, I can understand why people stop treatment because at some point your quality of life is just not there anymore and you can’t do it anymore. So I pray that I will be one of the lucky ones and that I will be clear of cancer.

Once I have the second surgery I will be able to have a brain MRI (something my oncologist wanted me to have last month – but, I couldn’t because there is metal in the expanders in my chest). So, after I have the second surgery (one expander was taken out in the surgery I had three weeks ago and replaced with an implant) I will no longer have any metal in my chest and so i can proceed with the brain MRI. That is when I will know with more certainty about whether I am cancer free. So there is some pressure to have that second surgery as soon as possible in order to get the brain MRI done. But, I think I have to wait at least 3 months between the surgery I just had and the next one. I will find out more about that when I meet with my surgeon today.

Well, what a ramble this has been.

Please continue to keep me in your prayers, I need it and I greatly appreciate it.

Much love,

Lisa