This week has been an emotional roller coaster. I worked full days and physically I was whipped at the end of each day.My tissues from the surgery site still swell and cause discomfort. When I am tired (with or without chemo in my body), emotions rise to the surface.
Wednesday was our wedding anniversary. It would have been 42 years of marriage for us. This year, I did not have the energy to go to Parma and visit the cemetery to place flowers on Lolly’s grave.
Both Todd’s family and Paige’s have been sick the last few weeks and I have missed seeing them something fierce. We cannot be together when anyone is sick. They are a part of my strength.
Tonight the family is gathering at my sister’s home to celebrate my nephew, Travis’ 40th birthday. I did not have the energy to drive to Parma after work and then drive home to Star in the same evening. I love being with all the family and I miss not being part of the celebration.
Tomorrow morning, barring any negative blood work I will have my third chemo treatment. I have such mixed emotions; dreading the chemo and it’s awful reactions with my body yet anxious to have it. The third treatment marks the half way point of the “hard stuff”. Again I am needing prayer. I finally gave way to an exclusive pity party ( no one else invited but myself) and cried. It felt good to let go of the emotions. In spite of everything difficult this week, I have blessings to share.
Yesterday’s blessings: Phone calls from a friend in Baker City and another friend called from Yakima.
Two co-workers who took me to lunch while my taste buds could appreciate the taste of food. Yummy.
Today’s blessings: A new devotional book given from Drew and Debra. Thank you, friends.
A gift and card sent via mail to boost my spirits from Toni and Ben. How gracious of you to think of me. Again, my thanks.
A morning dove; I left the office on my lunch hour and drove to a shady spot to eat and listen to music. A morning dove shared the shade with me. I watched her breast rise and fall as she serenaded me with her cooing. Precious to watch and comforting to listen to. She spoke to my heart.
Yesterday after work I stopped by the local supermarket for garbage bags. Star is a very small town like Parma, the town I grew up in. I paid for my purchase and the stranger approached me again. He says, “Hi, I am the one who hugged you last week. How are you doing today?” I smiled broadly and replied, “Today is a good day. I treasure each day that is good and try not to get too down when the days aren’t as good.” He introduced himself and we shook hands. I again thanked him for his concern. We turned to go our separate ways. This time is was the stranger’s eyes that were brimming with tears and not my own.
I found out who the giver of the Aveda hair products was. A co-worker, Susan was the one responsible. I am not sure how she knew my scalp was an issue. I have large red areas on my scalp and this treatment has been so beneficial. It hasn’t lessened the redness but it feels so good on the skin. It moisturizes the scalp so it is no longer dry and flaky. I have not used the lint roller on my head since using those products. Again, I am blessed by someone’s thoughtfulness.
I continue to receive cards in the mail and they too reach inside my heart. I read the written words and I am comforted knowing so many care. The box I save them in is over flowing. I have not thrown any away. Sometimes I need a physical reminder that I am not walking this journey alone. The box of cards sitting on a shelf in my bedroom closet does the trick. I think my family and friends are keeping Hallmark/card companies as well as the United States Postal Service in business!
Each Chemo treatment has affected my taste buds differently. The only food that I have found that doesn’t feel like gravel or sawdust going down my throat has been Pacific low sodium tomato soup. I am so hungry but everything I try hurts the throat going down. I tried to lick a spoonful of peanut butter and when I swallowed it felt like grains of sand. I drink a lot of milk. I have also resorted to drinking Boost supplements. Boost smells like a bottle of vitamins. I pushed the straw to the back of my throat and chug down the nasty tasting stuff.
The one thing that my sister has refused to do for me is shave my head with a razor. She buzzed and used an electric razor on me but she will not finish it off. I have stubble all over my head. It is prickly and my scalp is extremely dry. When I remove my hat it sounds and feels like Velcro ripping apart. Your hair naturally adds oil to your scalp and Chemo therapy dries out the skin. Although I moisturize my head but it is hard to get the lotion on the scalp beyond the stubble. I have a new use for a lint roller. Every day I use the lint roller to pick up the dead, dry skin from the top of my head. Works like a charm! When I got to work today there was an Aveda bag with products for my head. I don’t know who the giver of the gift is but I smiled thinking, “Who could have known my scalp would be an issue for me?” Another little blessing sent my way.
My throat is scratchy and sore. For some odd reason I lose my voice with the chemo treatments. It happened with the first and now the second treatment. I talk a lot so maybe it attacks the weakest link; my voice. I’m smiling here. When I swallow anything it feels like dry sawdust going down. I am so hungry yet I cannot find anything this time that tastes even half way good. I am trying Jell-O this afternoon. I am hoping that will be smoother on the throat.
I am getting used to the “no hair” thing. I only wear my caps or hats when I am outside to protect my bald head from the sun’s rays. I even answer the door without any head covering. My head is small and finding hats to fit my head is a real problem. I wish that I were brave enough to go to work bald but I don’t have that much courage. Actually, I do have that much courage but I don’t know if it would make the customers or co-workers uncomfortable. Prime example; I donned my “Bad Hair Day” cap that my friend, Susan had given me. I went to the store to buy a few packages of Jell-O. A gentleman was waiting behind me at the checkout counter. He commented, “Having a bad hair day, are you?” I smiled softly and replied with only one word, “Cancer.” This total stranger immediately embraces me in the middle of the store saying how sorry he was. I don’t have a voice so I did what I often do, just smile and whispered,”Thank you.” He continues to walk with to the parking lot with me. I turn to go my separate way and this stranger calls out to me, “I am going to pray for you!” Again, I smile and whisper, “Thank you.” I walk quickly to my car hoping he didn’t notice the tears in my eyes. Add a total stranger to the list of people praying for me. My heart is touched and the tears brim over the eyes once I am in the safety of my car.
Tomorrow my sister’s childhood chums will come for lunch. Once a year, I invite these delightful ladies to my home for a full blown “Martha Stewart” type luncheon. Theresa, Karen and my sister stay for the whole day and we catch up on each other’s lives. Usually I plan the menu and table setting weeks in advance. However, this time my sister is preparing the meal for me. I know that my taste buds will not appreciate her culinary efforts but I will definitely enjoy the company. What a wonderful way to end my week surrounded by people who love me and a few who don’t know me but are willing to pray anyway.
I was able to have the second chemo treatment last Friday. Paige drove me to the appointment and my sister, Glenda came on Friday night to spend the weekend with me. I went to Michael & Paige’s home Monday through Wednesday. The first few days after treatment are pretty rough so it is nice to have someone with me to follow up with the meds, proper eating and hydrating. The brain is pretty fuzzy and the energy level is near zero during the first week. My chest really hurts. It feels like it is sitting inside a vise grip; very tight, swollen and uncomfortable. I had to resort to pain medication once again. The salty taste and insomnia have also returned. I am hoping next week I will have more stamina back and be able to sleep once again. Two treatments down and four to go!
Today is Maxton’s fourth birthday. I can hardly believe so many years have passed since I first held him in my arms. We celebrated by opening gifts before breakfast. Max kept asking, “Ga-ma, would you like to play with me?” We played catch, threw bean bags, built a fort and played with his new Transformers. Later in the day, Michael and Paige took him to the zoo as a special treat for his birthday. Carter spent the remainder of the day with Papa and Grandma Goodson; a real treat for him as well. My heart swells with love whenever I think of my four grandsons.
I’m sitting with Mom during her second chemotherapy treatment. The chairs were uncomfortable, so I crawled up in bed with her. We’ve spent the morning talking with the volunteer, social worker, doctor, and nurses. Now I’m teaching Mom a few tricks on the MacBook. She’s in good spirits (obviously–look at the pictures). Even with no hair, she’s still BEAUTIFUL! The people at MSTI are wonderful. Just wish we could get a pedicure during the 4.5 hour treatment.
This week a test result came back negative; indicating the infection I had with the first chemo is gone. I mistakenly blamed all of my issues on the side effects of chemo treatment not realizing I was dealing with two separate issues; chemo plus an infection. If my blood work is good, tomorrow I will be given my second dose of chemo. As before, I have mixed emotions. I am eager to complete the “hard treatment” but I am not looking forward to feeling sick or fatigued. Again, I am digging for courage. I instantly think of my four grandsons and I am more determined than ever to fight cancer and win!