Category Archives: Chemo Therapy

Maturation


Yesterday was visiting day at my children’s camp. This is year number 4. I can tell you the difference between them this year and the years before was huge. Their whole demeanor was one of ease, and happiness and contentment. It was just so wonderful to be with them.

Frankly, in years past, In years past, I always enjoyed seeing them, but the day had a different feeling. The first hour was usually calming one of my kids down from the anxiety of us arriving. I mean talk about a bull in a china shop…We parents storm the camp much like they stormed the beach at Normandy all those years ago. We throw our stuff down, reserve our space for the day and then go charging to the bunks. (This does present a problem with twins, because my husband still haste part the car…but we work it out every year). I watch as parents push kids out of the way just so they can get to their won kids 1 or 2 seconds earlier than the next mom. I think Sasha Baron Cohen would have a field day using “visiting day” in one of his satires.

Anyway, even though visiting day was from 10-4…The 1st hour was getting the kids calm and the last 2 hours were spent calming them down for when we left… But this year my kids were totally different. More relaxed, more self assured, more, “go with the flow of the day”…and for the 1st time I have to say…Visiting Day wasn’t long enough. We talked and played and roamed around. It was just nice. and I thought why this could be?

Yes my children are getting older, and that is a big part of it. But I realized, they had “no worries” this year. As much of a relaxing summer it is for me, it is for my kids as well. Last year I had given Alissa’s bunk “THE CANCER MADE ME DO IT” bracelets.When I arrived this year many of the girls were still wearing them…which was lovely . Many told me how happy they were that all was okay now.

Later I ran into an old friend (really an old Boss…but he was a really good boss so I considered him both). And he new about my year last year, and asked me about the blog and about the foundation. I was touched that he knew all theta was going on. Throughout the day I ran into women who are parents of campers who asked about the blog and the foundation…and they were also followers…also very cool. Later the kids and I were sitting and talking. I mentioned how nice it was that people asked how I was doing…my son Matt said something that struck me to the core.

Mom we told everyone last year how hard you tried to make things seem okay…This year you are okay and things are easier…Their are other kids in camp who has someone in their family going through cancer now…and a few have come to us and asked questions. I tell them what you always told us…There are some bad days but mostly the days are really okay…and honestly, have family and friends who love me…makes everything sealable….

He said it in such a way that I was stunned at how grown-up he sounded. I was so proud to hear them talk about it this way…At the end of the day, the good-byes were tearless, but still warm and loving…They both were glad for the day, and look forward to coming home in 4 weeks. But are filled with happiness to stay at camp and “play” with their friends for 4 weeks. They are in a great place, and spend their days laughing and loving life…and this year not fearing what is going on with their Mommy.

Cancer is a disease that does more damage than you can imagine. Their are many, many great charities that are working hard to find a cure…It is the day to day issues that I chose to focus on though…the family, the kids and how it affects them is what made me want start this foundation. We can help each other get through it…Cancer is still a growing problem. My illness made my kids mature a little quicker than they might have (and trust me this is only in certain areas…I still can’t get hem to make a bed or clean a room). But all in all, Maturation is good.

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I can’t stop this feeling



Yesterday was an extraordinary day for me. Through a friend I was introduced to a women who was recently diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Her diagnosis was different than mine, but none the less she was going to go through many similar situations as I did. During the first few weeks, I could really hear the fear in hear voice…it grabbed me through the phone. It was almost as though I could visualize all of these crazy concepts circling around her head.

I would try to calm her with stories, or anecdotes about my treatment, or my mom’s and even my sister-in-laws..but It was hard. I do remember that the first few weeks after diagnosis everything seem so rush rush…to then have to wait for all the results…It is a massive sensory overload. Think of being tickled, frozen, rained on , pin pricked, and slapped all at the same time. Your mind doesn’t know which sensation to address first.

Anyway, after a few weeks she was calmer (especially knowing that her chance for long term survival was excellent). As chemo began, she unfortunately got several side affects, and then a cold…so she had to stop. Just for 2 weeks (1 cycle) though.

So yesterday, I went down to the city and met her and her friend (the one that had given her my name) so we could sit together at chemo. She is a doll. Funny, and hopeful, and lovely. And it was a great day because she was given really good news that her tumor was really responding will to the medicine (and was shrinking). I watched her crumble a little at the good news (It was a good crumble). Her tears were touching and they wordlessly expressed how much of a relief it was to get that news. SH, I was glad to be with you….

Some may have a concern that I am becoming to emotionally invested in all of these women I talk to. But I say not so. It is basis of what makes me want to start this foundation. I do it to help – that is for sure…BUT I DO IT BECAUSE IT MAKES ME FEEL GOOD! IT MAKES ME FEEL BETTER…not better than anyone, just better about my past. And I don’t want to ever stop feeling better.

I hope everyone has a reason to feel better.

Enjoy today.

Carol

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A River in Egypt!


This weekend, we had an unexpected and unprecedented October storm. It caused untold damage on houses and power lines. Hundred’s of thousands we’re without power. Mother Nature came to remind use of the kind of power she has. Driving down the streets you now see piles and piles of downed tree limbs. These help us remember what happened — and these signs of damage are hard to avoid. Sometimes the damage isn’t always so visible.

How is it really possible to avoid a brick wall when you are traveling straight for it at 90 miles an hour? Well. you can pretend it isn’t there…or at least that is what I do. Lately a heap of praise has been showered upon me…and please believe me I am truly humbled by it. Many have told me how brave I have been through this whole ordeal. And in spending sometime reflecting on my past six months, I wonder if my supposed brevity isn’t just a fancy form of denial.

Today I was asked if I remembered how I felt when I was in college — when I was diagnosed and how I felt being there without any family (and. yes, even friends). My answer, “I don’t remember. Face it I was a 20 year old college kids. I am sure I thought I was invincible – even if the Dr.’s showed concern. I guess i was just a dumb kid. Certain things I remember, like the day I lost my hair! But those memories are few and far between.” But this can’t be true, because every time the subject comes up all I want to do is move on to another subject.

Then I was asked how I felt about this last diagnosis, “now that it is in the past.” The answer is very similar (obviously not the part about being young). I don’t remember much. I remember how certain events surrounding my diagnosis and treatment made me feel, but nothing really, in depth, about the actual treatment and diagnosis itself. Again I can remember events related to certain days and treatments. For example, I can remember agonizing for a week on how to tell my friends. Poor Elaine got the good news first. I hated having to tell her first, for so many reasons, but I needed her help (not easy for me to admit). Then I told my parents. I remember how upset I was for my parents to have to hear the news, because they had already been through enough. I felt bad that I had to tell my brother’s — and made them be with me when I told my parents. I spent much time worrying about how everyone else would handle it, that I was able to avoid worrying about how I would handle this. And if I didn’t think about it, each day would just ‘happen’ and I wouldn’t have to face the “Hail storm” that I was living through. But it seems this unexpected winter storm has somehow unearthed some ground shaking feelings with in me – feelings I am having trouble avoiding.

Now that I am done, I am trying to get a handle on what I have just been through; and it is proving to be overwhelming at times. I can sometimes feel like my body and psyche has just been hit with an unexpected October Storm. I keep hearing that old saying…”You have to take the good with the bad.” Well I am here to state that I am pretty full up of bad, SO BRING ON THE GOOD.”

I am not turning to the dark side. No I am not becoming a Debbie Downer. Not me! But the truth is…even the strongest of us, and even those of us that are always there for others with a “stiff upper lip” can just accept what has happened. I just can’t avoid it anymore, because it takes to much energy avoiding the facts – I accept them and I’LL DEAL WITH THEM.

So Denial is, once again, a river in Egypt.

Enjoy the day!

Carol

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The Day of Atonement


In the Jewish tradition, the day of Atonement is one of the most holy days of the year. This is the day to admit to your wrong doings of the year, and apologizing for it will clean ones soul for the next year. Well I don’t have to tell you about the year I have had. And I think few would disagree with me when I say that I feel I have done my penance….But as I sit and ponder this past year, I feel that maybe in my haste, I may not have repented for some things that I have done. So I feel it is time for me to come clean….and tell the truth, and deal with the consequences of my actions.

As hard as I tried I couldn’t help myself. It all started when chemo started. I have often blamed the drugs for my straying off the path of righteousness. When I am alone in the morning I often regret my actions from the day before…But I can not seem to help myself. I try as hard as I can, and even today I have asked for; nee prayed for the will to make it right. It has been so difficult to come clean but even I know that I must, so here it goes.

It was me who ate the cookie from the cookie jar, yes me — couldn’t be you say — but on Tuesday I went for the ultimate in lie detector tests….WEIGHT WATCHERS, and they agree — It was me who stole all of the cookies, the cakes, and the ice creams from the cookie jar. And I am truly repenting for it – though I am telling you it was really tasty!

Enjoy today!

Carol
@funnycancermom

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The Flip Side


Call me crazy, but yesterday I was practically “school girl” giddy. On Friday, I was notified that my 7th chemo treatment (2nd to last treatment) would have to be postponed due to the impending Hurricane Irene. The thought sent me into a state of depression fro a few days. I have plans, I have a schedule, and I am un-accepting of that changing. All weekend long I concocted stories in my head; stories to make ensure that if appointments opened up for monday (or Tuesday) I would be the first to snag one. I thought of the child care angle (though my kids are almost 12 and I have friends her were on call), I thought about being will to sit all day and wait for an open chair, and, of course, I thought about all out begging…I have no shame — I want this done with.

Well in the end I had nothing to worry about. Dr. Mills called me 1st thing Monday and said she was there to come on over. I may have to wait for the protocol nurses, but they would definitely get my treatment in. HORRAY! So my friend Elaine drove me on up. Hurricane Irene had done damage, but it also made the office uncrowded. I was up in my treatment chair by 10:30. My nurse today was a different one than I was used to, but she did an exquisite job finding a vein and drawing my blood. I was back in my mom’s car by 12:30! And for what ever reason I was up and perky all day (and all night – Man steroids really do keep you hyped up). I got home and had some quality time with my husband before the kids go home from their friend’s houses. I relaxed for an hour or so, and then I sat on the tennis court watching my son play with my husband, My friend Wendy and her son Daniel. My Daughter and her friend rode bikes and jumped rope (which I tried but realized at 50 – I mean 49 – my jump is a little rusty).

Usually by 5 or 6 I am ready to crawl into bed for the night but I was positively giddy. So the evening continued with a great impromptu dinner out with my friend Amy and her family. We sat outside on a gorgeous night, on the water, watching the sunset. I was feeling fine and famished (as usual). Was this feeling of jubilation from the breathtaking setting, maaaybe; was it because I had 7 done and only one left – Poooossibly; Was it because The support, love and warmth that has surrounded me through out this entire ordeal has lifted me to a higher plain of being…Ok really? But that sounded poetic didn’t. 🙂 But I do think that I have found a great combination of things to get me through all of this and change my life for the better. Since my 1st treatment on May 4, I realize I having a great support system – family, friends, and community; I believe that having a positive outlook on your time in treatment as well as what you hope to achieve after treatment is a must; that getting my priorities in line and keeping things in perspective can be hard but can be life changing; learning when it is time to stand up for yourself…and not back down has helped me find (and push away) the right Dr’s and have allowed me to ignore the negative influences during this period in my life; but most important of all.. I have learned to laugh at life and enjoy what is thrown at me…because after all this was only a short bump in what I hope to be a really long and full life. Full of love, laughter, family and friendship — and, yes, even some tears and sadness. With out one you can’t understand the other.

So here I am on the flip-side of my May 4th f=post titled 1 down 7 to go…

Today is 7 down 1 to go….

Hip Hip Horray!

and ENJOY today

Carol

@funnycancermom

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Past, Meet Present


I live in a town that I never visited as a child. Even though it was very close to the town I grew up in. So I found it strange that when I moved here, I have met many people who I knew from different parts of my past. The first time I would run into a person that I knew, the memories came flooding back. I would stand talking to the individual while simultaneously visualizing the last time I saw him/her, the last place I was when I saw him/her, and the circumstances surrounding me at the time I last saw him/her. Now that doesn’t happen the next time we would run into each other, but that first encounter always opened the floodgates.

Tuesday, Scott and I decided to take the kids to Boston for a few days. Through a friend we had gotten Boston Red Sox tickets. Somehow my son has become a Boston fan — though I am not sure how that happened. Anyway, after I got the tickets, we thought we would go and spend a few days there. Seeing the game, walking around Fanuel Hall, seeing the Aquarium, going on the Duck tour…the fun touristy things…which where not the usual things I did when I went to BU. The kids were thrilled – especially when I told them about Anna’s fired Dough. Anna’s fried dough was a Kiosk at Fanuel Hall (back in the 70’s and 80’s) that served fried dough with powdered sugar. REALLY WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE ABOUT THAT! I loved them so. I remember that during my Senior Year, when I had to go to the Hospital for Blood Tests or weekly check-ups, I would swing by and treat myself to one. It was my way of rewarding myself for being a cancer patient; and frankly being 5’10 and only weighing 126 lbs,I figured I could use the weight gain. I am ashamed to admit that my present day “cancer body” is a little jealous of my past “cancer body”. But eating what you want whenever you want to — doesn’t Suck — just sayin’.

Anyway, Tuesday morning we packed up the car and off we went. The kids were in the back enjoying a movie, Scott was in the passenger seat enjoying a snoozy and I was driving and listening to my country tunes. We had been driving for about 2 hours when we hit the Mass. Pike and out of nowhere, I began to cry uncontrollably. I couldn’t stop myself. Thankfully my kids were wearing headphones. My head was spinning with thoughts. I realized I hadn’t been back to Boston since college. I left in 1983 – Cancer Free! And yet here I am returning No longer Cancer free. It was as if I was meeting an old friend and the memories came flooding back. At first I couldn’t figure out what brought the tears on and then I saw a Billboard like sign (one that I had seen a few miles back when the crying started). It was the sign for Tufts Medical Center – the place I was treated, the place I went every day for 60 days. A place that I credit for saving my life, and for also bringing me back full circle.

I regained my composure in a few moments, but it was a real watershed moment. When we got to the Hotel I told Scott all about it, and he sweetly told me I should have woken him up. But this was one of those private moments I needed to face and deal with on my own. These were emotions hidden so deep, that they even shocked me as they appeared. I needed to face my past, by concentrating on my present. So I put the past away and looked in my rear view mirror to see my present and future still enjoying their movie in the back seat; I deal with my life the only way I know how…I enjoy what I have — and that what I have is a life filled with people I love.

I am positive about one thing though, the next time I come back to Boston, my memory will not be about cancer, but rather about the great 3 days we had as a family, and the amazing Red Sox Triple Play we saw at Fenway.

I know where I have been and I know where I am going…and I hope that my future leaves all of my cancer memories in the past.

Enjoy today

Carol
@funnycancermom

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Keeping Up Appearances


It is not that I am heavy, but for me I am 20 Lbs. heavier than I was 2 years ago. And I have gained quite a bit of my weight during chemo. Over the last 30 yrs I have made goal weight on Weight Watchers 5 times. (So YES that means I have gained a lot of weight 6 times). With each weight gain, I set a weight loss goal – which honestly gets higher each go around. But I do reach goal, so I have become a “Life time” member at Weight Watchers (an achievement you seek as a WW member). Of course the goal is to reach it once and never have to do it again. The over achiever that I am seeks to to collect Life time achievement award for reach “Lifetime membership status” the most; right now I have reached it enough times to secure status for my Granddaughters daughters generation. I am not sure this is the intended purpose for the philosophy of “paying it forward” — but I have never followed the norm.

See why I am so upset is the Dr.’s told me I would gain weight; so I in all honesty I could have tailored my food intake to offset it. But ever since chemo started I have enjoyed a new fascination for sweets. I haven’t met a pint of “Half Baked” Ice Cream that wasn’t specifically earmarked for me. It is like those grocery stores know that I am coming and steer me right for that pint with my name on it. We really it has Ben and Jerry’s name on it but that is just a matter of semantics — “Ben and Jerry’s” and Carol sound very similar.

The problem is, the next morning (after I have consumed the entire pint myself) I stand in my closet getting dressed to go out and face the world with a smile; my objective being to show everyone that this “life with Cancer” can’t bring me down — Keep up the appearance that life is good. And frankly, until I pull up or on those jean shorts or leggings life really is okay.

Now I like a good muffin top toasted for breakfast – but when I am standing staring at the worlds largest human muffin top in my mirror…I lose my smile almost instantaneously — and the largest sigh of disgust escapes my subconscious and is heard through out the house.

And my poor husband has to put up with my moaning for the next 20 minutes. I run around screaming “on my goodness how can I let myself go like this; how can I not control myself; this is disgusting how can you want to be seen with me!” The horror on his face is obvious! Immediately I think he is also horrified by my weight gain — but I know that is not true. The real horror is from not knowing how to answer any of these statements I have just thrown at him. He is trying to dodge the bullet — you know the “Honey do I look fat in this dress” bullet. Only for Scott I am holding an automatic rifle — the bullets just keep coming and he doesn’t know how to answer any one of them. And let’s face it — anything he says will be wrong, and he knows it. It is a true no win situation. Honestly, I give him points for even trying.

After going through every bit of clothing I finally settle on an a line dress that covers everything up. I walk downstairs and my husband puts his arms around me and tells me I look beautiful. Okay he really is a keeper. And then I try to reflect on my mornings anxiety attack. I mean I really do feel fine most of the time, and I am heading into the home stretch of chemo. I know the treatments are cumulative so it is going (and has gotten) a little harder to be “UP” all the time. But I it does make me feel better to ‘put on a happy face’; and I think it has helped me all along.

So I will continue to “keep up the appearance” of always being happy — but know that pretty much every morning I go through this routine. And, luckily for Scott weekday mornings he off to work way before this process starts — it is only weekends he has to deal.

And know that soon I will be once again heading off to my Weight Watcher meetings to yet again seek the “lifetime Member Status”. But that’s life — and honestly, I am happy to be living it!

Muffin Tops to

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Roller Coasters


Ever since I was a child, I have always hated roller coasters. The unsettling up and down motion, the side to side jostling. All motions happening simultaneously – which makes me feel totally and utterly out of control. Needless to say, this is a feeling I am not comfortable with.

But if you ever wanted to know what having cancer is like — this is the closest thing. You are never balanced, or on sure footing. One day is good and the next day, well, not so good. Equilibrium becomes a thing of the past.

When I did the double dosing and got so sick I have been silently concerned that I have really destroyed some vital functions – my liver….who knew this could possibly be a side affect. I am a side affect individual…I get side affects listed – after that is how I got Breast cancer. It was a side affect of the radiation treatment I had when I had cancer earlier in life. So I should have paid more attention to the other side affects.

After the double dosing they did some blood tests to reveal that my functions were not what they should be, but hoped it was a temporary glitch — (which I still believe it probably is). So to double check they had me do follow up tests. Which I did yesterday. The good news is that a lot of the tests came back in the normal range, but a few still seem to be off. So I must head back today for a shot of a drup called Nupagin. It will help boost my immune system. It seems my white blood cell counts are very low so I am at risk of infection.

All in all not terrible, but still I feel I am being thrown up and down and side to side — just like roller coasters and I hate it. But there is an up side – at least I don’t want to throw up! So that is a positive!

In case you don’t know, I have decided to start a foundation titled THE CANCER MADE ME DO IT1 (Gee I wonder where I got the idea for the name?) Which will be a fundraising organization with the purpose of raising and redistributing funds to 6 charities. It is a venture of love and a project that keeps me grounded. Having a sense of purpose keeps me “stable” and my equilibrium in tact – which is in great contrast to all this other stuff.

I will being talking about this much more in the future.

Enjoy and stay on solid ground!

Carol
@funnycancermom

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HEAT


We have had record temperatures for the las few days, and it got me to think about the heat.

We have heard about heat indexes and actual heat versus “feels Like” heat, heat stroke, heat related illnesses, record heat, and scorching heat…

Heat is funny because when you have it (or rather to much of it) it you want it less, and when you don’t have it you want it more.

During the winter you seek the heat while simultaneously wishing summer would arrive quick.

During a summer heat wave you wish the heat would break, while simultaneously wishing for the cooler temps of a beautiful fall day.

If you are a Pitcher all you want to do is bring the heat, and strike the batter out.

And if you are a Miami resident the Heat can be a blessing and a curse – depending on whether you are talking climate or sports.

If you are a criminal you have to avoid the Heat;

And if you want to stand up for a mistake that you may have made you have to take the heat!

If you in back, neck, or knee pain you seek a pad of heat,

and to bring life back to a frozen Lasagna you need to re-Heat.

People who live in Arizona don’t mind it because they say it is “dry-heat”

But my treatments haven’t been so nice lately, and I feel like I am running a dead heat to beat the side affects, and not always winning. The fevers and chill this week weren’t the greatest, but just like all good things – even a heat wave, it comes to an end, and this morning I woke up felling like myself again!

So like most of us I am staying inside — I am just trying to beat the heat.

And may cooler heads prevail.

Stay cool and enjoy

Carol

@funnycancermom

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KEEP IT MOVIN’


Please forgive my absence for the last several days. The duties of motherhood superseded my life as a cancer patient. And frankly it was a great diversion; especially after the awful week I had prior due to the double dosing. And as I had said, I did that so I could be full strength when my family was back together in August. Right reasons, wrong decision, and we are moving on.

Having to go and do for the kids this week was great. Visiting day was yesterday, and I wanted to get all the things they wanted (or really I wanted to bring them) – so, it gave me a reason to get back on task. So I decided it was time to get my schedule back to the way it used to be. Back before “Chemo” was part of my daily life. So Monday morning I went back to Pilates. It used to be part of my weekly routine. It was awesome. Being stretched and pulled in ways you don’t really think are “anatomically” possible has true restorative powers: Even if my muscle’s seem to wobble for a few days after. That one act of ambition, lead to many more. I walked on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Friday; and even went back for another pilates session on Friday.

All that excercise had “steroid like powers”. After a week of feeling good and exercising I truly felt energized. Friday I basically left my house at 8:30 and didn’t get home until 6. Then friday night I went out for dinner with friends. And I still had energy. Saturday morning Scott and I got up at 5:30 (yes a.m.) drove 2 1/2 hrs to camp; where we spent the day doing activities with the kids (I admit I watched a lot more than I participated), and in the afternoon all 4 of us went swimming in the lake. And just as a side note, for me it is a lot easier to be seen in a bathing suit in front of people I don’t know, cause I won’t see them till next year and they may not remember that I was the white whale in the cheetah print (sublety is my speicatly) bathing suit in the water. After we said our good bye’s we drove home changed and went out to a party. And I still feel like I had energy. I can honestly say, I am a little tired today, but I think after a few days of running like I had — even a “non-chemo using” 49 year old adult would be tired.

So it got me to thinking – maybe exercise is good for the mind as well as the body! HMMMMMMM! It is a concept, and one I will take under advisement. It is not that I want to be rash and exercise every day — but this can truly be the start of something great — and maybe even take off some of this chemo weight. I just want to lose a pound, OK, maybe eight. Oy did that additional drug cause a glitch in my mind — I seem to want to rhyme. Oh, I will worry about that another time.

I’m back and happy to be so!

Enjoy the day!

Carol
@funnycancermom

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The wish you want can be the one you don’t!


This week I learned that “Getting what you want” is not the same as “Wanting what you get.” I was so hard pressed to move up this one treatment to a two week “dose-dense” treatment, I never really thought it all through. I wanted to move them closer together for a few reasons.

First, my husband is taking a week off when the kids arrive home from camp. I was thinking that if I had chemo that week, it wouldn’t be much fun for the family. I think that it would be nice to have everyone home and happy and energetic..so that we could be a “normal family” for a week.

Secondly, I thought it would be sad for the kids to get off the bus, and wee me the next day all yucky from chemo. MY intentions were all solid.

And the final (and, yes, selfish reason) was that it would move up my FINAL treatment to the day after my 50th Birthday. What a great Birthday gift for me it would be.

Now that I have done it, I am not certain I really thought all of this through. It will be great to be all together the first week, but the week after I have chemo and no back up. The kids are not in school, and many friends will be away – so they will spend the week inside and bored. They will get to see me “sick” first hand. Not that they haven’t seen me up until this point, but this is just 24/7 of me not great…and I didn’t want that. I have enjoyed “Supermom” status up until now. I am working on a solution this problem though.

Moving up the chemo 1 week also overlaps with my husbands birthday. And while that may seem okay, he really has been so great that I think he deserves a night to celebrate him and all he has done for me. But I kind of messed that up as well. He isn’t upset about it, I am.

And lastly, and the biggest issue I face today (and the last 2 days) is this course of treatment has really made me feel pretty weak and gross. I have gone through this whole thing feeling relatively okay, and because of a desire to finish “a little” earlier — I have lost a little of my “swagger” so to speak.

None of this is awful, or debilitating, but I am definitely not myself. I am neither happy nor sad; I am not bubbly or blue; and I am not spunky nor sick…I am feel achy and abnormal. I am just BLAH! Not a word I would ever really describe myself as. I am sure that I will bounce back in a day or two…but, admittedly, I wish I would have just left well enough alone.

During this whole time I have never wished for not “being sick”…because I am and what would the point be. I have not regretted the decisions or the path I have taken with my illness. And I most certainly don’t take any of the moments with friends and family for granted. I cherish each and every one. This illness has motivated me in ways I could not have ever imagined…and I am so thankful for that. So I got a little greedy in a way. I wanted my chemo and my wine too — and I have learned that I can’t “always” have both – just because I want to. So I will not up my treatment again. This is a one shot deal, and I have learned much from it.

So I guess the old saying is true “Be careful what you wish for. Because it just may come true – but not the way you think!”

Enjoy today.

Carol
@funnycancermom

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HALF


Half off is a great sale!

Half baked cookies are awesome, because they are fresh and gooey!

The Better Half — Well that would be me of course!

Half Moon — and awesome view on a clear night!

Half a mind — well yes that describes me now!

Half the time — Finishing anything quicker than it should is usually great!

Half a pound — If I gained it — it is still better than gaining a full pound, and if I lost it I never want it back!

Half and Half — The best of both worlds in coffee, and In England (pronounce olf and olf) an awesome drink — 1/2 Beer and 1/2 Lemonade….Tastes great less filling so to speak!

HalfDozen – So many ways 6 is great. 6 Oysters, 6 pack of abs, 6 one way – Half a dozen the other.

So many ways to spin it, but tomorrow I go for treatment number 4 — which means I am HALF WAY TO THE FINISH LINE!. Half way home, Half way done! The next best thing to being done!

And I am not half hearted about this News — I am overjoyed. And that is not the halfof it!

enjoy today!
Happy July 4th to all!

Carol
@funnycancermom

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Re-Tell Therapy


As is obvious from my posts, I AM A TALKER. A trait that can sometimes (okay often) drive my family crazy. I like to talk out and talk about all situations, because the more I talk about it, the more alternate viewpoints become clearer. I admit that I can over talk about an event as well, but that is me…”take it or leave it”. I also talk the situations over with my friends — re-tell the story if you will. Now, some people re-tell situations to “correct the spin” on it: you know to try to improve upon the “why I am right” scenario. That is not to say they are lying, it is just that they have their own belief’s on why a “situation” played out the way it did. I re-tell situations so that I can learn from them. And yes, there are times that I still feel that my answer (reaction) was the correct one; but not without exhausting every other perspective. My friends are very helpful with this. I use them as a sounding board. I tell them what happened; or what I saw; or my opinion of an interaction between to other individuals. In return, they give me wise and unbiased opinions as to whether I responded correctly, or I read the situation correctly, or even if I should (or shouldn’t) have intervened. And when I do this, I find that even my friends varied viewpoints, I get a greater understanding of the events that occurred, why I ‘read” the events a certain way, and if my response was handled correctly or not. So by re-telling an event, I get the whole picture…and from that I am able to make my next move.

In fairness to my husband, I admit that this procedure can cause me to misread or over analyze things (only sometimes). It happens less than he is willing to admit. But it does happen. As an example, this is my children’s 3rd summer at sleep away camp. As many know, camps post pictures nightly so you can get a brief glimpse of your child’s day. The first summer, another mother told me how to “analyze the pictures”. Absolutely an absurd thing to do, by the way…but, of course, the idea was in my head — every once in a while I would succumb to the idea. Ridiculous suggestions like; if “she/he is in the middle of the group shot they are happy – and if they are on the outside they are not.” “If she/he has their arm around someone, but the other doesn’t have their arm around him or her it is a forced picture.” ABSOLUTE BOLOGNA!!!! And I listened to it – the first summer anyway. But when the kids came home I showed them some of the pictures, and asked what was going on…the kids painted much different scenario’s. Proof that this idea of analyzing doesn’t work.

Even knowing that this analyzing pictures is wrong, this week I found myself doing it again. But this time my fears/analyzing are based strictly on my own neuroses. My children have handled my illness with the grace and maturity of well adjusted adults — not 11 year old kids. And I am so very proud of them. The fact that they have dealt with so much “death and illness” in their short lives consistently brings tears to my eyes. But on the reverse side, they have learned so much from it all; and these experiences have helped to shape their tremendously warm hearted , sensitive, and wonderful personalities. So there has been a positive outcome to it as well. But I worry that their strong shell may crack, so when I don’t see them in pictures, or in the groups my thoughts begin to shoot off in tangents. And then I begin to use my re-tell therapy strategies to come back to center.

First I tell my husband my thoughts. And like any good husband he just tells me, “I am being crazy.” I love that about men — right to the heart of the matter they are. Then my friends – who each tell me in their own ways. “that I am probably just a little over sensitive this year — and make lite-hearted jokes that the kids have left camp for a much needed vacation. One even suggested they are not in the pictures, because they are the new camp photographer. By the time I have re-told the story for the 5th time (yes that includes my husband), I realize how ridiculous I sound…and I am back to realizing that these pictures are just a snippet of their day — and to just enjoy seeing them.

Ok well now that I am done with that re-tell therapy….maybe I should try the other Retail Therapy. Shopping is good for the “sole” they say — shoes anyone?

Have a great day and ENJOY!

Carol
@funnycancermom
and at
http://www.riverjournalonline.com

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JOY


I have not written in quite a few days, and that is because I have just been on a constant emotional roller coaster. I have dealt with happiness, sadness, angst, anger, nervousness, anxiety. In the end it all produced joy, but what a week to get through, OY! The kids have finished school and finals. (That alone has caused most of the ansgt, anxiety and anger. But that is such a big issue for my school district to face, and this is not the forum for it.) The kids had been picking at each other for 1 1/2 weeks already. It got so bad that they were fighting over who got to use the whipped creme on their chocolate chip waffles first (Homemeade waffles I might add). Even though I knew where all the emotions were coming from. It was driving me crazy. After they finished with finals they had three days to get mentally prepared for camp. Going for 7 weeks. And believe me they love it…but “leaving is the hardest part.”

The kids and I talked over the emotions. We talked about why leaving is hard. And, of course, we had to talk about why it is extra hard this year. Thursday night, as the kids got into bed I went into each room to sit and to talk with them. First Lissy. She told me she was a little scared about leaving me and what “if my summer was filled with me being sick.” How could she have fun if I am not well. (Okay, is she not the sweetest – when she wants to be, that is. Anyone who has a preteen understands that). Anyway, I explained to her that since I am already three treatments in and I still felt pretty good, that I am not expected (or hope) not to react much differently with the next few treatments. And as the end of treatment isn’t until September – which may be when I get the most tired- You will be home to help make me feel better. (and maybe clean your own room for a change — one could only wish). With the thought that she would be home to help, and that she believed “nothing will change” she was settled enough to drift off to sleep.

Then into Matt’s room. He is harder to calm. He is a wonderfully sensitive kid, but can let his emotions run wild sometimes. After talking to him, he also was worried. When he gets emotional, his worries and fears can go the extreme. I understand that; but the great thing about his emotions is that he can pick up on humor as easily as he can pickup on sadness, and well humor is My specialty! So with him I talked about what I would do everyday, and how I would do things to take care of myself. Things that will make me feel better and keep me strong. I promised him I would eat out every night for dinner – to insure I eat well; I promised I would walk the malls shopping every day – to keep my physical strength up; and if I was over exerting myself or tiring myself out, I would either go out to visit my brother at the beach in the Hampton’s, or just sit by the community pool – which ever would insure optimal relaxation. I told him he shouldn’t worry, I have every intention of pampering myself this summer, even if taht meant weekly massages, manicure’s and pedicures. I was determined! (My husband will be quivering when he reads this passage). And after I joked about my plans with Matt, he also seemed calm enough to drift to sleep.

Friday was a mostly quiet day until bedtime. Again Matt was weepy, but only slightly. Scott was able to soothe his nerves. Lissy was way more stoic. She was a little more stoic. As she gets closer to leaving she begins to get quiet and hold everything in. She is like my husband in that manner. She keeps it all inside. I wish she wouldn’t, and I wish Scott wouldn’t for that matter. But I will always continue working on getting her to talk about things. (Scott not so much – he is who he is) But with all that she was staill able to sleep.

Saturday morning we were off to the buses without an issue. We were there a little early; next year we will get there a little later. Matt got a little upset but much less than I anticipated and off they went. Alissa basically knocked me over to get on the bus with her friend; Matt wanted that one additional hug from my Husband for reassurance, and off he went. That is when the sadness started. “I mean really? MATT wanted the last hug from Scott? Really?” I thought I was the favorite parent!” But I will get over that too!

I know they will have a great time, and I know they love camp; so after the buses were gone and after a little sadness, and after a little tear was shed – came JOY. Party at my house I joked! But I did feel joyous! The feeling of Joy came from knowing that my children love me, from knowing how much I me love them, and them knowing I love them; and mostly knowing that they have learned that “leaving is not always a bad thing – and that I don’t plan on leaving in a bad way ANY TIME SOON!”

HAve a great day and enJOY!

Carol
@funnycancermom
or
http://www.riverjournalonline

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SUMMERTIME — HIP HIP HURRAY!


It is officially over. The school year that is. The last few weeks have been so overloaded with end of the year activities, studying with the kids for finals, packing the kids trunks for camp, and seeing family before the kids leave for summer camp. I haven’t had a moment to think what I am going to do all summer. No children to deal with for 7 weeks and one day. Trust me that one day is very important.

It wasn’t until the end of my first child free summer that I realized all of the benefits: Laundry being really high on the list. With 2 active kids I can do about 12 to 14 loads of laundry a week. Unbelievable, but true. But I don’t think I do 12 to 14 loads in 7 weeks – while they are gone.

During the school year I cook 3 meals (often 4 due to my picky eater) a day. During the summer my husband and I enjoy date nights out 3 to 4 nights a week. And I can catch up on all of the movies I want to see.

Don’t get me wrong I miss the kids. But I was a camper as a child, and it was one of my happiest experience. So I get excited that my children seem to love it as much as I do. Really, what’s not to love – it is a 24/7 playdate that lasts for 7 weeks; for them and for me. I get up each morning and write them a letter – retelling events of the day before in great detail. Mainly to add length to the letter. Otherwise the letter would say:

Hi: relaxed all day yesterday, will write tomorrow. love Mom

My ‘Alone’ time this summer will allow me to do a lot of things. I while try (but may not succeed) at completing half of my laundry list of things to do this summer. I am going to make a really strong effort. Probably stronger than I have in the past. (okay you caught me — I started this laundry list the 1st summer the kids went away. So far I have only done 2 things on the list) I am not organized and need real help in this are….I invite any suggestions from all of you….but my list includes cleaning out the garage, organizing my downstairs closet, cleaning out the kids closets, and re-organizing the kitchen cabinets. I know what your saying — “Carol, it is summertime…it’s time to come out of the closet.” But that is where the work needs to be done. Mainly because that is where I hide everything all year.

My alone time will also allow me to reflect on my circumstances. And not in a negative way. Since I was diagnosed, I have started this Blog — which thanks to you has over 3,200 hits! I have been interviewed for an article in the River Journal (a Westchester Monthly Magazine) that will come out on Thursday. (I can’t wait to see it!) And I was recently interviewed On Camera for a reality show about women with cancer, who are going through chemo. My friend Wendy was the person who told me about the show. While I am not sure that I am the “kind of contestant” they are looking for…It was a “really fun and cool experience.” And, I have some other positive things in the works as well…but this is for me to reveal in the future. As odd as it may sound…Life is good! The cancer and the treatment still suck, but they are here only temporary, and I believe these good things are just the beginning.

All of a sudden I feel like I am back at camp, where everyday, something fun is happening. And while most people don’t think cleaning out closets or cleaning out garages is fun…It is when you know realize about what other alternatives you can be facing. And, yes, every once in a while (actually, every 3 weeks in my porotocol) there will be a rainy day — we all know what follows summer rains — RAINBOWS. And the pot of gold at the end comes in September when I end treatment….And happily turn 50 (okay that is a lie – but go with it!) Because from that moment on I look forward and joyfully towards the next 30 (atleast!).

Enjoy today!

Carol
@funnycancermom

I hope you will check out my article thursday at http://www.riverjournalonline.com

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THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE!


It seems that my daily schedule has been altered by my chemo treatments. My internal schedule that is. I used to wake up around 6:45 a.m. And get in bed around 11:00 p.m.. Now I find that I am usually fully awake by 5:45 a.m. And passed out by 9 p.m. At first this time shift was like any other “jet lag” scenario. It definitely took me a few days to get my “footing”. And I mean that literally as
well as figuratively. At 5:45 my house is pitch black; so the first few mornings I found myself stumbling around, constantly banging my toes against something or walking into some wall I couldn’t see. My house is definitely seems smaller in the dark, or I am just messier than I think (both very possible). Several mornings in a row I found myself standing in my closet trying to stifle my scream from the pain from stubbing my toe on a pair of shoes or the foot of the armoire, or just tripping over the clothes I left on the closet floor. After the pain subsides, I would make my way to the bathroom or downstairs. I was up like a pup!. Awake in an absolutely silent household. Frankly, not an experience I was used to.

What does someone do in the morning; Before the kids are up or my husband is awake – before the the general noise of daily life begins? I sat silently to ponder. And there it was again. Silence!. I wanted to scream with joy- but that would break it – the silence that is.

So, instead I thought I should figure a way to try and use the time wisely. I sit and think; think about what is, what was, and what can be! And realize “Wow I sound really profound at 6 a.m.!. Ok Obi wan!” I think, “what else could I be at 6 a.m.” I look around my living room, and think that I could go through that stack of papers sitting on the dining room table – or at least organize them. Nah! That’s quick work I can do that later. Oh, I could empty the dishwasher!. No way, the clanging of the plates would surely wake up the house. I could organize and pay the bills. Do I even need to say why that is a No!. Or I could just sit here with my feet up, stare about the room and write my thoughts down!. BINGO!. A perfect morning activity. This will get the mind flowing, and keep my body stationary in order to fully accept the affects of the caffeine entering it from that oversized morning cup of joe!. I can ruminate upon the day to come, and try to envision how I will fit in all the things I need to do; or how I can ignore them and do the things I want to do.

Wow, my head is spinning from all this thinking, maybe I should just go bed for a few hours? Let me think about that! It’s 7 a .m. Enough thinking! Now doing!

Enjoy the day! And make everyone count!

Carol
@funnycancermom

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It’s My Treat! (Ment)


Me and my IV pole - I call him Henry

Today was treatment number 3! Yeah! I am almost halfway done. Wow where does the time go, it was just yesterday I wasn’t even scheduled for Chemo…Good Times! Good Times!..

Seriously though, I don’t think I have walked you through my treatments, and today is as good a day as any. I usually arrive at around 9 a.m. So far my friends Elaine, Meredith, Julie and my Mom have been my companions. I try to warn them before hand that they may see things that aren’t the happiest or easiest to take…But really the worst they have seen so far isn’t the patients, it is the fat hanging over the top of my jeans. And while you may not think that so bad — trust me I am often reduced to tears when seeing my own horror of blubber, so could you imagine how bad it is if it isn’t your own muffin top! Yikes.

I am usually greeted first by my nurse Nancy. She is a beautiful and funny woman. With a smile that really lights up any room. Her red hair and blue eyes make me believe that she has an Irish or Scottish background. The fact that she can sometimes speak with this sweet rhythmic Brogue – could also suggest that. But her humor always puts me immediately at ease. Even though it is her job to put me on a scale every time I am there. After the blood pressure and a few questions my Dr. comes in — Also a Nancy — coincidence…I think Not.

Dr. Nancy is a far more demure person by appearance; which is deceiving, because she too has a great sense of humor. She asks me questions about my last few weeks, does a few blood tests, answers any questions I have, re-states some rules (ones that I know but she so rightly knows I am ignoring), and sends me off for treatment. Like any regular Dr.’s appointment so far.

When I go upstairs to the treatment room, first you walk into a reception area to check in. It gives the nurses time to put in my cocktail order. And no I don’t mean my Cosmo. Though, wouldn’t that take the edge off. They mix up my drugs as I arrive, so everything is fresh. It is like a farmers market for chemicals in a way. Anyway, while we wait we get to watch this tropical fish tank. Filled with 3 fish and a big reef. Goldy – the big puffer fish, was being tortured today by a little blue “Dory” fish, and a Nemo. Meredith, Elaine and decided to speak (and use accents) that depict how we think the fish would sound (of course if they could talk) This activity kept us quite amused for the 10 minutes we waited. I even got a picture of Goldy, the bullied fish, and his attacker.

Goly (the big one) and the Bully

After our wait was over we entered the treatment room. I was lucky to secure the same spot. It is a corner chair with a lovely view of the Hudson River. The room itself, in decoration, temperature, and vibe, is cold. That is definitely something they should work on! Not that it needs to feel like a party room, but it should be a little warmer in feel anyway — more inviting. Cause frankly no one is coming there unless asked to —

After I sit, the nurse brings over my 1st infusion and pills to get me started. In all honesty, putting the IV in and taking it out is the worst part for me. It seems so trivial but it is these two acts that bother me the most. Luckily Henry, my IV pole, is with me every step of the way…even if I have to go to the bathroom. He can be a little smothering at times, never leaves me alone :). After the IV is in it is really a cake walk. I get chilly, but they supply me with heated blankets. I feel every home should be equipped with a blanket warmer — the moment a warm blanket is draped on me, I forget everything for a few moments! And that isn’t the chemo talking.

The first drip is just to hydrate me, and I will say that I feel a little lift from it. After about 1/2 hour they push in 2 different medicines into the IV. First the Methotrexate – which I don’t even notice. The second is Fluorouacil (or 5FU). The F.U. part is appropriate. While they push this into the IV I get the weirdest sensation – pins and needles in my nose, over my eyebrows and on top of my head. Kind of like a Wasabi headache. Then the final drug is a 30 minute drip. This is cyclophosphamide. Also rather inert as far as side affects go. Then the hydration continues for 30 more minutes and I am good to go.

I definitely get a little tired for a few hours, but the steroids that I took, when I first get in the chair, begin to kick in. They won’t wear off for a few days so I will skate along until then. I am presently packing my kids for sleep away camp, and that is way more torture than the Chemo. The packing that is, not the sending them to camp. The bags leave Saturday, so I need to get a move on. Frankly the steroids have me hyper enough that I may work through the night.

Timing is everything! And with only 5 times left to go, who knows what I can accomplish next time!

Talk to you soon

Carol
@funnycancermom

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I’ll Connect You Now!


I am definitely a tad more introspective these days. I believe it is a common occurrence during an illness. During quiet moments, I often sit and reflect on moments throughout my life. Moments that have had significance: Friends who have come and gone, friends that have left an impression, and those that still do. Family times of great joy and deep sadness, and the times I spend with my husband and children, moments of great joy, laughter and love. All of these moments are the connections that energize the fuse that keeps me moving forward every day.

Connections are key in today’s world. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” is the phrase that comes to mind. And isn’t that the truth (except of course for Kevin Bacon, because for some reason everyone seems to be connected to him – you know Six Degrees and all). I look at my life, and those close to me really are connected to me in many ways. Here’s a few examples.

* A very close friend is 4 years younger than I am. She and I went to the same camp, Her Grandmother and my aunt lived in the same apartment building, and over the years we have found several other common friends and acquaintances. We were connected even before we met.

* Another close friend was brought up on the same block as my husband. She was in the same grade as his younger brother. Her husband and I are born on the same day at the same hospital (1 hour apart). Her Sister used to live on the same floor as my Aunt. And her sister-in-law’s 1st cousin is married to my second cousin. Totally Connected – by birth almost.

Connections happen for a reason. I have had friends come and go in life, and some I don’t give a second thought to, but some you feel the lose when the connection is broken. For example, I was 11 when my parents moved us from Riverdale to Westchester. It was a hard move for me. As a youngster, I wore big coke bottle glasses, I was tall, awkward, and not the greatest of students. I moved to a small school filled with pretty little girls and boys who weren’t the easiest to get to know. FRankly, this was as much because of my awkwardness, as it was due to their snobbery. Anyway after living there a year, a family bought the property next to us, built a home and moved in. Their were three children. Two girls (one a year older than me and one my age) and a boy. I was thrilled. The two girls and I become friends – all through jr. high and high school. We where never best friends, but there was a connection between us. We spent a lot of time at each others houses, and we were comfortable with each other’s parents and siblings ( a lot to say for my brother’s). All of this made our friendship an easy one to keep. I was friendly with both, but I probably had more in common with the older sister. It is the kind of friendship that was routed and real…you know, the kind that if you go several (20 years) with out speaking, you can pick up right were you left off.

And I realized that yesterday. The older sister and I worked in the same industry. She was always at a much higher level than I was. She was a children’s Talent Agent for film, television, broadway, and commercials. I worked with adults and only in commercials. After a short time at another agency, Beth helped get me a job at the company she was at. (connections!) Soon we worked together, we were roommates, and we shared a lot of the same friends. In this respect we may have been a little over connected. Beth and I are both strong personalities, so I am sure I probably said something stupid, or I interpreted something wrong. and as quickly as a fuse blows, the connection was lost.

That is until about 3 or 4 years ago. It was after hearing that their dad was ill. Hearing the news brought a flood of memories back to me. I immediately reached out to the family. LIke nothing every happened, they responded and a connection was once again established. We are not in constant contact, but any time any of us has reached out to the other, the other has always responded.

Yesterday, I had the chance to met her sister for breakfast. It was lovely to see her, and just catch up. She and her sister have grown up to be women I am glad to be connected to. They are independent, intelligent, beautiful and grounded. And of course I was intune enough as a child to see that with in them. With out them knowing, they made my life easier in my youth, fun as a young adult, and happy to know them again as I reach 50 (and beyond).

So with regards to the premise that “it’s not what you know, so much as who you know.” I say “What I know, is that Who I know – and always want to know -are people I share a connection with!”

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