Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Day 98 I Don't Know What To Say Anymore

It seems like I'm not getting better.  Well, I am better.  I am keeping down food but seem weaker today than yesterday.  Maybe once I have some nutrition in me for a while, I'll perk up some.  I fixed breakfast and ate all of it this morning.  Then I had to go back to bed.  I'm up now and hope to stay up long enough to get a few things done.  I got the garbage out.  Now I just want to get the dirty dishes into the dishwasher and run the vacuum to pick up some of Chipper's hair which is rolling around the living room.  I really need to move more.  I wanted to take him for a little walk this morning but not to be.  Maybe tomorrow.

I made it to my new oncologist's office yesterday.  I feel like I've upgraded from McDonald's to Tony's.  Not just the physical aspect of the office, which is hugely different, but the concern for my wellbeing, the professionalism and the sweet office staff.  The treatment will be the same.  It's pretty standard for Stage III colon cancer and the best one out there.  It is the method in which it is delivered and the meds that accompany it that will be different.  My new dr prides himself in minimizing the side effects of nausea mainly.  Not much he can do about neuropathy which I've had no problems with, or sensitivity to cold which has only been a minor problem.  Mouth sores so far have limited themselves to behind my back teeth and to the corners of my mouth and I'm not sure that hasn't been from being so dehydrated last week and not the chemo.  So all in all, I guess I can say that things are looking up although I don't really feel that way right now. 

My determination for today is to get some walking in even if its just around the house.  After that I am going to try to get some vitamins down with lunch.  Happily, my stomach is concave but my legs look like kildees.  Not a pretty picture.  Hair so far is okay.  It just needs a good haircut.   I have today and tomorrow to recup a little more and then my scheduled followup visit with my colon surgeon on Thursday.   Rest of the week to get my strength back and then blood work on Monday and start it all over again.  At least, it'll be round 3 and once that is behind me, I'll be 1/4 of the way through.  Yayyy!

Precious Father,
I couldn't do this without You and all the precious souls You have placed in my life.  I get messages almost daily from someone else that is praying for me.  How grateful I am for each and every one of them.  I ask that, as You rewarded Job when he prayed for his friends, that You reward each and everyone of these prayer warriors as they intercede for me. 
Help me today, Lord, to take my focus off of myself and to keep it on You, Your light and Your love and Your healing spirit that is moving mightily within me right now.
Oh, and another thing.  Thank You Lord for football season and the NFL Channel.
In Jesus' precious name.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Day 96 It's Been One Bad Trip

Round two of chemo was even worse than round one.   The nausea meds the dr gave me just didn't work and by Friday I had to make a trip to the er.  Two bags of meds and 1 1/2 bags of fluid later I was home, still sick but not vomiting.  The er doc gave me old time fenugren (sp?) that gratefully knocked me out but also allowed me to eat a little bit and drink some.  Saturday is a haze and here it is Sunday morning and I think I may be able to finally have a semi normal day.   A little weak but I'm actually up and at the computer. 

I have fired my oncologist and am moving on to a new doctor.  I have had misgivings since day one with this onco but hesitated to change.  I started to interview others after the first treatment but backed out.  There have been too many things done and statements made that have made me question if he was the doctor for me.   The new onco has been recommended by other patients and is known for his care and compassion.  Plus he has a record of survivors.  Yippee! I was to meet with him on Friday when I ended up in the er.  Since I couldn't go to his office, he came  to me to introduce himself and tell me that he had already reviewed my records and I am going in for a consultation tomorrow.   I don't know if it means a different treatment or if it is just someone who will work harder to help me get through the same treatment without my wanting to give up.  I do not intend to be this sick for the next five months. 

On an up note, art friend Betty sent me a picture I have to share with you.  First of all, Betty and I spoke by phone last week and she prayed over me which I am so grateful for.  She also told me the story of her now 94 year old mother, Harriet,  who went through breast cancer and colon cancer in her early 80's..... which makes me sound like the biggest whiney baby ever.  After her bout with cancer, she began to paint.  Is she not one beautiful cancer victor?! 

I say all the time how God repeatedly places the most awesome people in my life.  Betty and her Mother, Harriet, are just two of the most recent and I'm grateful.   Friend, Grace, sent me this earlier this week when I was whining: 

"Behold, God is my salvation.  I will trust and not be afraid."  Isaiah 12:2

Precious Lord,
I do trust you but I admit that sometimes I am afraid.  I am afraid, not of death, but of not being able to see the end of this journey and of being so sick that I don't care if I make it to the end allowing the enemy to win.  Thank You, Father, for putting people in my life to uplift me and give me the strength I need to work my way through this journey.  I can say with resolve today what I couldn't two days ago and that is that I can fight this enemy and I can defeat this enemy because with You, all things are possible.
I ask special blessings today, Father, for Harriet who is a shining example of what You can do for those who love and trust You, and for her daughter Betty who You placed in my life through my art.  Special blessings also Father for sweet Renee who is defeating breast cancer and has just completed 11 treatments with surgery scheduled for September.  
I thank You Father for this beautiful glorious day.  Help me to be the best that I can be today and to make the most of it to honor You.
I love you Father.
In Jesus' precious name, the name above all names,

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dar 92 It's Whine Time!

Went for blood work on Monday in preparation for this round of chemo.  Blood work - Good!
Thank You, Jesus.

Then yesterday for chemo.  This round is to be with all three components of the cocktail.  First of all, there were three bags of chemo drip and then the pump filled for me to bring home.  Left the hospital and the alarm on the pump went off so I had to turn around and go back.  Sigh.  Someone.........had missed unclipping one of the tubes.  Easy fix and on my way back home, feeling okay but just a little tired. 

Four o'clock came and a world of nausea unleashed itself on me.  It was two hours of porcelain hugging nausea but no throwing up.  I took another of the meds for that two hours early.  Nothing.  I tried to eat a cracker and the other side effect had kicked into effect.  It was like an electrical shock to nerve endings in the back of my mouth, under my jaw all the way up and behind my ear lobes.  I started to cry and, oh my gosh, same thing inside my eyelids.  Let me tell you, I cut that cry off and dried up those tears in a hurry.  Yikes!

I had three or four more rounds with the nausea throughout the evening but each one was a little lighter and of shorter duration.  Praise God.  A little tingling in my feet and hands but nothing to really complain about.  My daughter brought me some 7Up and Mentos that a friend said had helped her dad when he was going through chemo.  Not so much for me.    My grandson brought me some soft dinner rolls because I felt like I could eat those.  So, my day's diet from noon on was 3 dinner rolls and some crackers.  I began to think that, hey,  I'm a child of the 60's and 70's so whatever came of the discussion about medicinal marijuana?  Just kidding...........
Well, sort of just kidding.  If some had appeared yesterday around 5pm, I would have gladly accepted it. 

This morning, just a little "not right" in the tummy and heading out for day 2.  More chemo and another day of pump.  I know today is going to be a much better day.  My body is so wonderful and doing such a great job adjusting to all of this poison being thrown into it and I'm proud of it. 

Precious Lord,
I am asking and believing this morning for special blessings for all those people undergoing chemo, some for years and many with side effects much much worse than I have experienced.  Hold them in the palm of Your hand today, ease their suffering, let the chemo find it's target so that the enemy cells are obliterated and unable to reproduce.  Wrap Your comforting arms around them so they feel the warmth and strength of Your total love.
Forgive me for whining when I forget what this is all about, a complete healing so that I'll be able to do more for You, to serve You better.
These things I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, the true Messiah.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Day 90 Can it only be three months...........?

Ninety days.  Can it only be three months since my life was turned upside down?  Oh my gosh, I feel like I've been fighting this enemy forever.  In the last three months: diagnosis, surgery, recovery, outsurgery for port and first chemo.  One and a half months of diarrhea and two weeks of nausea.  Wow, could it just get any better than this?! 

Ups and downs, highs and lows.  Through it all there has been amazing support from family, friends, church, and art family.   How lucky I am.  I have to tell you that writing here every day has been incredibly cathartic for me.  I have vented here when I couldn't anywhere else.  I can whine here when I don't want to whine to anyone else unless they judge me for feeling sorry for myself.  It has brought new friends into my life and old friends back into my life.  This past week, I have had online visitors from Russia, Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil and Indonesia.  I know that some of the readers probably just stumbled upon the blog and might not ever be back but others are regular readers.

Yesterday at church, our guest minister was Jesse Lee Turner, old time rocker who now writes and sings for Jesus, and three time cancer victor.  At the end of the message, he asked everyone who has been touched by cancer to come forward for prayer.  It was quite moving to see almost everyone in the church come forward.  Jesse, who goes to MD Anderson, said that over the last ten years that he has been going there he has seen it triple in size and treatments are now being given daily through midnight.  On top of that, they have satellite facilities giving treatments in several other areas throughout Houston.

We all at some time or other wonder what we're here for, what our service or ministry should be and how do we fulfill our purpose.  I know that these writings have done some good for some people.  If that's the reason for this journey, then I accept it willingly and gratefully.   I share my experience so that others on the same path know that they're not on it alone.  I want them to know that no matter what, God is there for them. 

"For I AM the Lord, your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you."     Isaiah 41:13

I hope that I can encourage some to read their Bible a little more than they might have otherwise and maybe help them turn more often to prayer  for others and for themselves than they did before.   It is a privilege to pray for others and  I want to say how honored I am to have so many people praying for me.  It is really humbling.  My job is to pass that blessing along by continuing to pray for others.

Father God,
I thank You for all You have shown me through this journey so far.  I am open and receptive to whatever else it is that You want me to learn as I continue.  I ask, Lord, that You let my words be a comfort to others on this same journey as they become more and more aware of Your healing spirit moving mightily within them. 
Bless every cancer fighter, both patient and provider, and every cancer victor.  Let Your insight and inspiration disclose to the world how we can defeat this hated enemy.  Help each of us to learn how to draw closer to You through this experience.
We love You, Lord, and thank You for every day that we are here.
We pray in the precious name of Jesus Christ, the name above all names.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Day 88 Profoundly Sad

I had to tear myself away from the television yesterday as word began to come through of the tragedy at the movie theatre in Colorado.  I remember watching with the same horror and fascination when the compound in Waco caught on fire, the tragedy at Columbine, the Oklahoma City bombing, the explosion of the space shuttle, the shooting in Arizona that injured Gabby Giffords and, of course, the planes flying into the twin towers on 9/11.  I cannot begin to imagine the horror and devastation felt, not just by the victims, but by the witnesses, the families and the survivors. 

Some of these events were accidents and some because of a misplaced religious/political fervor.  Possibly the saddest, to me, are those that occurred because someone was so lost in their own mind that they felt a compulsion to destroy other human beings.   They felt it was the only way for them to be seen, to come out of oblivion, for people to realize they existed. 

I'm sure lots will be said about gun control after yesterday.  I'm not against guns but I personally don't like them.  Guns, however, other than simply being the vehicle for the destruction the gunman chose to use in the theatre, had nothing to do with the tragedy.  He was obviously incredibly intelligent and determined to kill.  Without the guns, he would have used some other method, maybe fire or bombs and possibly a deadly gas which had the potention to kill even more.  I think at this point, no one has yet attempted to enter his boobytrapped apartment.   How sad that a mind with so much potential, that has been devoted to the study of the brain, could go so off course. 

I think the saddest of all is that we all have the potential to go off course at any time.  Maybe not to that extent and not in that way but, nevertheless, off course.  It reminds me how important it is to stay focused on God, to keep our mind and our eyes focused upward.  It is the only way we can stay on the path that we're meant to be on.  I know that God is the only answer. 

"Set your hearts (your mind and thoughts) on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things."  Colossians 3:1-2

Heavenly Father,
We ask today that you just wrap your loving and comforting arms around the people who are suffering after yesterday's tragedy.  Help them to know that You are there, loving, caring and healing their pain.  Help them especially to forgive, no matter how difficult.  We know that only by forgiving can we be forgiven. 
Father, so many of them have a long journey to healing as we all do.  Let us all draw closer to You as we work our way through healing, whether it be physical or emotional.  We can only make it with You there beside us.
We love You, Father.  We love you.
In Jesus'  precious name, the name above all names.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Day 87 Angels Everywhere - Even at Krogers!

There is so much to say about Angels in my life.  Friends are angels, family are angels and I could not do without them but it's the unexpected appearance of angels that remind that God is watching over me ........... always.   I could write pages about the angels that have shown up in my life and disappeared just as quickly, but this time I want to write about yesterday.

As I'm feeling better in the nausea department, I decided it is time to get back to juicing.  I was out running errands and stopped in at Krogers to pick up some organic carrots, apples and purple grapes.  While I was there I had a horrible tummy pain that doubled me over and it took a while to go away.  I thought my best bet was to get home quickly, just in case that was a sign of worse things to come.  When I got to the checkout area, only one of the aisles was open.  A young (? I can't really tell any more) man with a shock of premature white hair was the checker.  I sometimes avoid his aisle because he's a chatter and ..... I don't know.  I just go to a different aisle.  This time I couldn't.
As I pushed my buggy into the aisle, I said to him, "I'm really not feeling well right now.  Please check me out quickly."  He started to check and paused to ask if it was my blood sugar.  I shook my head no, not wanting to get into the whole thing.  You know how I hate when people first hear the word "cancer" and tilt their head in that sad, sympathetic way.  He asked something else and I just shook my head again while unloading my basket as quickly as I could.   A line was forming behind me but then he just stopped, closed his eyes, bowed his head and raised his hand and asked, in the name of Jesus Christ, that I be healed from whatever was making me ill.   Now if that wasn't a God thing, putting me in that aisle, nothing is.  I prayed with him, thanked him and he proceeded to explain to me about God being in our dna and what composes dna and the symbols for the elements spell out God's name for himself, "I AM that I AM."    Who would have thought...............?

This is the second time at Kroger's that someone has stopped to pray for me.  Right after I was first diagnosed, I was in there very early one morning and checked out behind a lady in a lovely suit all dressed for work.  When I got to my car I found we were parked next to each other.  As we unloaded groceries we smiled at each other and one of us made a comment about the beautiful day it was going to be and very quickly God's name came into the conversation and she spoke of His healing powers.  I then shared the diagnosis I had just received and there in the parking lot she began to pray for my healing.  I've never seen her since.  I think maybe I should always shop at Krogers. 

The week before my surgery when I went forward at Church to be annointed and all the church came to lay hands on me, one of the ministers told me after that she had a vision during the prayer of a twelve foot tall angel standing on my left.  We didn't discuss it much right then but she sent word to me later that every time she prayed for me she saw the same angel, always on my left.  In prayer she asked the significance of his being on my left and she received that he was a warrior angel meant to go with me into surgery, to oversee and be in control.  And he did.

"See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way."  Exodus 23:20

So, here I am, starting another feel good day.  I woke last night around 1:30am with my mind whirling and it was hours before I went back to sleep.  A new painting was on my mind, a very personal one.  Not the portraits I spoke of yesterday but one that would be more representative of the journey I'm on.  It's hard to explain how a diagnosis of cancer brought my life to a screeching halt while in the background life went on as normal for everyone else.  People went to work, took vacations, got married, had children, fell in love, fell out of love and all of that seemed to be happening on the other side of a window with a gauze curtain inbetween.  On this side of the window it was ............ well, that's the rest of the painting.  They say that patients undergoing chemo sometimes develop "Chemo Brain."  That may be what I'll call this painting. 

Precious Lord,
Thank You for another gorgeous and amazing day.  Thank You for the healing that is taking place within me right now.  I ask that you send that same healing to every other person out there fighting this hated disease.  Thank You Lord for the angels you place in my life over and over to remind me who is ultimately in control.  That is You, Father.  It is You.
Help me today to use every second productively.  Help me to glorify You in everything I do and everything I say and everything I think.  Without You, all hope would be gone.
I give You all the praise and honor and glory.
In Jesus' precious name.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Day 86 Don't Worry - Be Happy

My second chemo is scheduled for Tuesday.  I started without the most important part of the chemo cocktail last week because I thought I couldn't pay for it.  Then yesterday I decided that I can pay for it.  I'm not sure how at this point but I have enough to at least get started.  Then I received a call that the main foundation I was counting on for copay assistance that it is now out of funds.  I immediately was sick at my stomach and tried desperately not to cry over the phone as a feeling of hopelessness washed over me.  Once off the phone I did have a cry and an angry rant.  I know that cancer is not the only enemy out there that I am fighting but I can tell you, I am up for this fight.
I did regroup then and got back to business.

God is so good.  This morning I opened Daily Word and the heading was this:


Oh, thank You, Father.  You always know exactly what it is that I need.

Next is to get all of my applications for assistance completed.  They seem to just go on and on but everything in the studio is in a hold position and there's no room for me to start anything new until I clear some of the finished paintings out, so I'll do what I need to be doing today and that's finding money.  I know it's out there. 

"Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?"  Luke 12:25

I've faced this money battle before.  Anyone who is self employed can probably identify.  It's usually feast or famine but as long as I stay busy and productive, God will see that it all works itself out. 
For three days I've been very productive in the studio.  This morning I sent out Jo Edwards Fine Art Newsletter to my collectors letting them know that I've had to cancel my shows for the rest of the year and asking if they would consider again investing in one of my paintings.  If anyone following would like to see some of my work, you can go to my website at www.texasgalgallery.com  and I have smaller pieces offered on www.myotherstore.etsy.com .   If you would like to receive my monthly art newsletter with the new pieces that I'm working on, just send me your email address at jo@texasgalgallery.com

Yesterday on FB, someone posted a pic of a beautiful cancer victor in all her bald glory and with a caption to the effect that the prettiest curve on a woman is her smile.  That picture just really inspired me.  I have painted a series in the past that I called "Whisper Portraits".  They are watercolor portraits with rice paper collaged over and then glazed giving them a sort of ethereal quality.  This started me thinking about a series of portraits of other cancer victors without their hair and painted with the same technique.  I do have some of the Whisper Portraits on www.myotherstore.etsy.com .  Take a look and let me know what you think. 

So, moving forward is what I'm about today.  No worries, no concerns.  I know that I am taken care of already.  It may require lots of effort on my part and I'm up for that.  And I know that I know that I know that whatever is going on, God is overseeing it for the right and best outcome.  And I am grateful.

Father God, I am so grateful for all You do for me every minute of every day.  I thank You for the strength and determination to fight this enemy, even if it comes at me from more than one front.  I don't care.  With You on my side, I'm up for this battle. 
Please forgive my momentary doubts and weaknesses.  I know that I have Your favor and grace and that You have me in the palm of Your hand today.
I am asking Lord that you extend that same confidence to everyone else fighting this same enemy.  Give them the comfort of knowing that they know that they know. 
I love You Lord.  I love You.  It's all You Father.  All You.
In Jesus' precious name, the name above all names.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Day 85 A Wonderful Day in the Neighborhood

I feel like I should start a different countdown because it's another day of feeling good.  Third day and I am a happy happy girl.  I will say that on Sunday I was ready to give it all up.  Amazing what a difference a little pill can make when taken at the right time.  I had a huge paint day yesterday and have my paints thawing so I'll be ready to hit the studio again shortly.   Thawing?  Yes.  I use an impasto ingredient to help the cad red oils dry a little faster and by putting the palette in the freezer when I'm not using them, the ones left overnight won't dry out overnight. 

A huge decision made this morning.  God and I have been talking a lot lately.  The chemo cocktail that is the most desirable for Stage III colon cancer is pretty costly and I started my treatment last week with only two of the drugs, less the most important one, thinking I just couldn't pay my portion of the cost.  God just showed me this morning that it can be paid for.  Why did I ever doubt Him?   No, I didn't receive a surprise check in the mail to cover it, although that would be pretty nice.  What I did receive was the sale of my booth in Wimberley that will cover the first few treatments.  Only twelve treatments, remember.  The cancer policy should pay for two and at least one of the grants for copay assistance should come through with enough to cover a couple more.  Then, I am asking my art family to help by considering a purchase of another one of my paintings.  They don't know how important they are to me because one of my main focuses through this whole thing has been getting back into the studio in front of an easel.  And, yes, I am happy to report that I again have paint under my fingernails, smudged on my face and back all over my clothes.   God is good.

Did I tell you I am feeling good enough to start back on my supplements?  Well, I am.  Back to cooking and more antiangiogenesis food.  The frozen meals were okay for a day or so but too much sodium.  I'm thawing out some of the lima beans I made last week and planning on that today with either broccoli or spinach and a sweet potato.  All three AA.  More info on those foods at www.eattodefeat.org .   Great website.

Lord, Lord, Lord,
I am so grateful for all You do for me.  I just feel overwhelmed this morning with Your goodness.  How can I even begin to express what I'm feeling.  Tears are flowing as I think about how much You love Your children and how much I love You.
I want so much for everyone fighting this disease to know Your goodness and compassion and to know they are not alone through this.  That no matter what happens, You are there with them and for them.  Help me to share that feeling, that knowledge and that confidence that You, Father, are the one true God, that You are the Creator and the Saviour. 
Father, I ask that Your healing spirit move mightily within each one of us fighting this enemy so that it is defeated, totally eradicated and never to return.
Iin Jesus' precious name, the name above all names.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Day 84 Staying Ahead in the Count

As a child, growing up in Maracaibo where many major league baseball players came to play winter ball, my Mother and I were rabid baseball fans.  Luis Aparicio's team, the Gavilanes, was my favorite.  We were often the only Americans and almost always the only women at the games but were always treated with respect.  Later I became an Astros fan......... until Bagwell and Biggio retired.  Now, not so much.  But one thing I know about baseball, it's important for the pitcher to stay ahead in the count, to have more strike pitches than ball pitches going with any batter. 

That's how I feel about this nausea med.  I have to stay ahead of the nausea.  Once it hits, it's really too late for the med.  I wrote yesterday about Gracie sharing that I should take my first one of the day before I even get out of bed.  Grace was a nurse and that's advice she shared with her pregnant patients and thought it would probably work for me too.  I tried it yesterday and, all of a sudden, I'm like a new person.  I ate three meals yesterday and even juiced in the afternoon.  I had a productive day in the studio.  Same thing this morning.  Yay.  Actually having some coffee and I'm feeling good.  My paints are out and once I finish this morning's journaling, I'm off to paint again.   How awesome is that?

I've heard it said that coincidence is God's way of staying anonymous.  God reconnected Gracie and I through a picture I posted online of a cake I had made.  We probably haven't seen each other in over 20 years.  But my experience helped her make a decision that may well have saved her life and her advice has given me back my quality of life.  God is so very good and I give Him all the praise, honor and glory.  All the time.

So, what's next?  Now that I feel like I'm back in control instead of cancer being in control, I may have some decisions to make about my treatment.  Not sure and I have some serious talks with the Lord in front of me.  No, I'm not quitting treatment.  Yes, I would love a supernatural healing but if that is not in God's plan for me right now, that's okay.  My job is to determine what is His plan.  I am just wondering now if one of my doctors is the right one for me.  I am in a fight for my life and I want to feel like he is too and right now,  I'm not sure that we're both on that same team.  So.......will see. 

Longtime friend, Anice, contacted me that a church friend of hers is a five year victor over colon cancer and I spoke with that lady yesterday.  It's so awesome to communicate with people who have won because it seems there are more and more of us every day in this battle.  I hear daily of more and more people that I know with cancer.  It's almost like something is in the water.  If it were some sort of contagious bacteria or virus, that would be one thing.  But to have cells go haywire inside our body and begin to destroy us from within is quite another matter.  How is it that so many people are dealing with this same disfunction?  It has to stop now.

Precious Lord,
I am so blessed and grateful today that You have put people in my life to help me, inspire me and give me the courage and motivation to fight and defeat this hated enemy.  Please bless each one of them who have taken time to write, share and pray for me through this journey so far. 
I am asking Lord that You let my experiences that I share of this journey provide that same courage and motivation to others in their battle against this hated enemy. 
Thank You for this glorious day, for another day to be here in the midst of Your children and to revel in the beauty of Your creation.  Let that feeling work it's way through everything I paint today.
These things I ask in Jesus' precious name.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Day 83 Bad Day, Dark Thoughts

Yesterday, Sunday, was the worst day yet.  It's hard to describe a feeling of such malaise with nausea overshadowing it all.  I know I have to get a grip on my food.  I forced down some oatmeal in the morning and 1/2 baked potato at noon.  No Coke.  Couldn't stand the taste.  The nausea meds did nothing.  I just lay there.  I thought that now I understand how it is when people feel like it's time to die.

Oh for goodness sake, that isn't me.  What the heck is going on?  Am I just depressed?  How can I feel so defeated that I don't even want to go on?  I see people all the time dealing with chemo like it's nothing.  I've had one round and not even the full dose and I'm ready to give up.  I just lay there most of the day.  Finally around 2pm, I drug myself into the bathroom to shower and dress.  My daughter was back from her honeymoon and I wanted to go see her for a bit.  Really, all I wanted to do was go back to bed and cry. 

I visited with Mel.  I had a hard time focusing but so happy to hear about the wonderful time they had.  Then went to Kroger.  I decided to buy some frozen dinners to try because everything else in my fridge has already been thrown out or is about to be thrown out.  Not sure if I'll eat them but I'll try.  I did make a fresh salad there and bought some chicken salad.  I came home and ate some of that and I have to admit I did start to feel a little better then.  I had some tapioca pudding before bed and that was pretty good too.  Maybe there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

My friend, Gracie, sent me an email after reading Saturday's blog.  She said to try taking my nausea meds before I ever get out of bed in the morning.  I am very bad about taking anything and always wait until the very last minute but I decided to take her advice.  I woke around 4am and took one of the pills.  I was hungry almost immediately after so I ate a couple of crackers and some more tapioca.  I read a while and then back to sleep.  It's 9:30am and I'm about to take another pill and eat a little bit more.  This might just work.  Thank you Gracie!

Praise report from Gracie.   She decided a few weeks ago to have a colo/endo done even though it was a few months before she was scheduled.  Her stomach was in terrible shape and waiting much longer could have had dire consequences.  She reports that her stomach is no longer bleeding and all is looking good.  Praise God. 

"He is the head over every power and authority."  Colossians 2:10
"Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to His anointed.  He answers from His heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of His right hand."  Psalm 20:6

Precious Lord,
Thank You for the victory You have given Grace.  Bless her with continued victory as her body heals and she is better able to serve You. 
I am asking for that same victory Father, not just in my body but I need Your strength in my spirit as well.  I know I am not the only one fighting this hated enemy who sometimes feels defeated.  With the victorious power of Your right hand show us how to overcome.  Guide us in doing what it is we need to do to be strong, determined and of the right mindset to work our way through this journey so that once we're done, it's for good. 
Thank You, Father, for everything you do for me every day.  I couldn't do this without You.  It's all You Father.  All You.
I aks these things in the name of Jesus Christ, the name above all names.

Update:  Took my second med on time, went to McD drive thru and got an english muffin and bacon and a cup of coffee.  Ate the whole thing and am working on the coffee.  Yippee!!  Thank you Gracie.  Thank You Father.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Day 81 This is Crazy!

Most of you know how hard I've worked to keep my diet alkaline and antiangiogenesis since the diganosis.  Well, let me tell you, chemo has sent that all to heck.   I'm not sure if I'm hungry or just nauseated.  My sense of taste is totally out of whack and I mean totally. 

Yesterday was not an up day but I woke hungry.  Looking through the fridge I realized the container of apple juice was turning my stomach so I had to pour it out.  I knew my cancer fighting smoothie was a no go.  So, I decided to try an egg and a slice of Ezekiel bread toast.  Forget that.  I ate just enough to take my vitamins but those didn't sit well with me either.  So next was a med for nausea.  Then 10:30am found me sitting in the drive thru at Hartz Chicken waiting for them to fry up some chicken livers.  WHAT?!?!?!?!  Yes, chicken livers!  I could not even wait to get home with them and started stuffing them in my mouth while I was driving.  Now, I like fried chicken livers okay but I probably haven't had any in at least two years.  And having them for a late breakfast has never been a choice on my menu.  I can't even tell you if they were all that good or not, I just knew I had to have them.  All I can attribute it to is that my body needed some nutrient really badly and that was where I was going to get it.  I had some of them cold for lunch and a few more cold for dinner.  How weird is that?

Not sure about today.  I have had a sip of ginger ale and a bit of a soft roll this morning but not ready for anything else yet.  I guess I'll just wait until I'm really hungry and see where my car takes me.  Hopefully not back to Hartz.

Now for some good news.  I did paint on Thursday.  Received an email from my San Antonio gallery that he has three commissions for me.  Jerry called them a "wish list" because he didn't want to put any pressure on me to get them done.  That pressure is exactly what I need right now and I'm incredibly excited about it.  Yay.  A little sense of normalcy means so much. 

A praise report:  Darlene's friend Ruth who has been fighting lung cancer and undergoing chemo for the past four years has been declared cancer free!  We prayed for her a few weeks back and I knew she had been in the battle for a while but I had no idea how long.  What a victory that is.  And here I am whining after just one single treatment.  Shame on me. 

Precious Lord,
We come to You this morning filled with gratitude for Ruth's victory over this hated enemy.  We ask that her victory is total and complete and she never has to deal with cancer again in her life.  Let her tenacity and strength be a shining example of how to fight this battle. 
I ask Lord that You forgive me today for my weaknesses, for my self pity.  Help me to be stronger and increase my resolve every minute as I wage the same battle as so many others.  Give us all the knowledge and the strength for a final victory while praising You all the while.
I am so grateful to be one of Your children.  You are truly my Father, my Lord and my Savior.
These things I pray in Jesus' precious name.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Day 79 First Chemo ...... Done.....sort of

It seems like forever since I've written.  Monday I went for bloodwork and then a call Monday evening regarding one of the drugs for my chemo cocktail.  It's a fairly new and very agressive drug.  Each dose of which I'll be taking one every two weeks costs about $4,000 per.  Yes, you read it right.  $4,000.  My copay for that drug is 20%.  Hahahahaha............  So, we started on Tuesday with two of the three drugs and only the two is an acceptable treatment according to my research on the web.  So we started with just the two.   But I want the third so that's yet to be worked out. 

Let me tell you, when those chemicals went in, it felt like fumes rose from my chest and out my mouth and nose.  But it only lasted for a few seconds.  My dr laces the doses with lots of additional meds to stave off side effects.  After the drip, a pump was attached to the port and filled with more chemo.  I wore it home and then back on Wednesday for another 1 1/2 hour drip but different meds this time with different immediate effects that quickly dissipate.  Refill the pump and back home.  Back this morning to have the pump off and I feel free.

Side effects...........hardly any.  My church family prayed on Sunday that I have no side effects and that prayer was honored.  I took a little med for nausea twice yesterday strictly as precaution.  My taste is weird and I want no morning coffee.  I don't even want to smell coffee.  Yesterday, I craved bread and butter and coca cola.   Half a slice of bread with some sweet creamy butter smeared over it and a few sips of coke and I was a happy girl.  This morning I wanted a cinnamon roll.  I can't remember the last time I ate a cinnamon roll.  I had to get up and go get one and ate the whole thing and then it sat like a rock in the bottom of my stomach.  I know........those are not good foods for me but I guess at this point it's better than not eating at all.  Dr says not to lose weight, eat regularly and take lots of vitamins.   First time in my life I've had a concern about losing weight.

Back to the dilemma of the copay.  I've applied for three grants for copay assistant.  I have a cancer policy that will hopefully cover that fee but they want to pay in arrears so I imagine I'll be on the phone with them all day tomorrow.  They squeaky wheel gets greased and I intend to do  lots of squeaking.

I have noticed something about having a diagnosis of cancer and it may be the same with any other life threatening diagnosis, although I don't know for sure.  What I have found is that I live in the present moment more than I ever have.  It's not about looking back at woulda, shoulda, coulda and it's not about looking forward to what might be, good or bad.  It is just about what is going on right now, whether it's brushing Chipper or thanking God every time I hear the pump send more chemicals in to kill those darned cells, or trying to figure out exactly what my taste will accept to eat, or blessing the other patients in the room with me undergoing the same treatments, some of them in such delicate states and some strong and hearty.  It's about loving this rain, snuggling down for another healing nap and getting back into the studio now that the pump is off and I feel so good. 

Taking that pump off is sort of like training a trotting horse.  The trainers weigh down their front hoofs so that when they take the weights off, their front legs lift up so magically when they trot.  The pump was weighing me down like that and now that it's off, I feel lighter and more energetic.  Ooohhh, that's exciting.  Twelve days of freedom and then back for another round.  I'll be ready.

Heavenly Father,
Thank You so much for this gorgeous gray rainy day.  I love the sound and the smell of the rain and I'm so grateful to be here to enjoy it.  I thank You for the medical researchers that you guided to solutions for defeating this enemy. 
I am asking special blessings for all of the other patients at my clinic that are undergoing treatment with me.  Let the treatment be beyond success as Your healing spirit moves mightily among us maximizing the effectiveness of the treatments. Guide the hand of the oncologist to make the right decision of each one of us. 
Father, I thank You for everything you do for me every day.  It's truly all about You, Father.  It's all about You. 
In the name of Jesus Christ, the name above all names.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Day 76 Two Days Reclaimed

I last wrote on Saturday about reclaiming my life.  It was a great day and I finished up with a few hours of painting, working on some larger pieces I had already started.  Standing with my right arm up for an extended time did irritate the port but that was the last of the "big" painting to do on these pieces so I'll finish them flat.  Let me just say here that researchers should find a different spot for ports on women of a certain age who no longer have firm muscular chests.  Just saying..........

Yesterday was back to Church for the first time since surgery and it was so wonderful to be back with that family of God's children.  Afterward a quick trip to the store for a few items and then I did get more painting done.  Yay!

The difference between the last two days and before?  Well, for one thing I began to make a to do list which before all of this started I did on an almost daily basis.  No, I didn't get everything on the list done but I did complete a lot more that I would have otherwise.  Praise God.  So, today another list to complete.  First is a trip to Methodist for bloodwork to make sure my blood count is ready for chemo which I'm sure will be fine.  This will be done before each treatment so I plan to research which foods will help me keep a healthy blood count and try to balance them with my antiangiogenesis and alkaline foods. 

Tomorrow is my first chemo treatment and I admit I'm a little nervous about it.  I know the port will be flushed and then treatment started...........slowly to see how I'm going to tolerate everything.  I'm sure I'll be fine and it'll proceed with no problems but I do have some butterflies about this first one.  I wish it was today so I can just get it over and done with. 

Church yesterday was wonderful.  Allan Frizell, Lefty's baby brother for old time country music lovers, was in concert and gave his testimony mostly through some amazing songs he's written since giving up the glitz and glamour of the big stage for a bigger stage with a little less glamour but a lot more glory.  The service ended with a corporate prayer for healing for everyone there needing a healing.  Pastor RO spoke on the importance of praying for others.  I've written before that when I begin not to feel God's presence, I can get quiet and start to pray for others and He's immediately there with me.  In the book of Job, after undergoing the most incredible losses, everything Job had lost was restored and more "when he prayed for his friends."   I invite you to join me in prayer today for these people fighting cancer. 

Precious Lord,
We come to You this morning with a special request for some special children of Yours.  We are asking Your favor and healing spirit to move mightily in the lives of Susan who is undergoing surgery today for breast cancer and for Tracy who is also fighting breast cancer and having issues with her kidneys and for Anna who is also fighting breast cancer. 
We ask Father that You show them what they can do to take an active and aggressive part in their own healing as You guide their doctors to do the best for them that modern medicine can do.  If it is in Your will to heal them supernaturally, we give You all the praise, honor and glory for that.
Father, we are so honored to pray for these precious women and thank You for everything You do for them.
These things we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, the name above all names. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Day 74 An Important Lesson Learned

Cancer can steal your life in more ways than one.

Yesterday, I was on the couch.......again.  I began to think back to a few weeks ago when in frustration I cried out, "I want my life back!"    God is so good in the sometimes gentle way and sometimes not so gentle way that He teaches us that the answer is in our own hands.  I realized that I have relinquished my life to cancer.  No, I haven't given up.  Certainly not.  What I have done is let it dominate my life 24/7 to the point where I have begun to feel weak and ineffective.  "Why aren't you painting?" my doctor asked.  Huh?  "Hello, have you forgotten that I have cancer?"    "Really, what does that have to do with anything?"  Ah, Dr. Mahmood cuts me no slack.  Thank you Dr. Mahmood.  If I can't stand in front of the easel with my arm up for very long at a time, I can certainly paint with the canvas flat on a table or I can watercolor or I can use my left hand and try a new technique.  I know these things so why have I not done them?  I don't have the answer to why but I do have a solution.

What God gave to me last night is that it is time to reclaim my life.  No longer time to talk about what I'm going to do and then never get done but instead to relate only what I have done and accomplished throughout the day in spite of having cancer.  So, now it's a little after 10am on Saturday morning.  After a wonderful prayer and study time this morning I had my black coffee and Ezekiel Bread.  Then I took Chipper for a much needed walk.  Came back, straightened some around the house, checked emails, put some lima beans and collard greens on to cook and baked some sweet potato cubes to add to the collards.  Just in case I don't feel well after the chemo next week, I want to have food ready in the fridge and freezer.  After that, I was a little tired so I had a 15 minute liedown and then I fixed my cancer killing smoothie.  That's a great restorative.   And now I'm back up and ready to continue my day.  Stay tuned.............

Precious Lord,
What would I do without You?  I would be completely lost.  My life would have no direction and I simply would not be able to go on.
Please forgive my giving some of my strength over to the enemy. Thank You for opening my eyes and saving me from an awful outcome that would have been of my own making. 
Thank You for giving me the insight and words last night to recognize where I truly am on this journey and how to move ahead forcefully and successfully.   As Isaiah said, I can look to the right or to the left but it is my ears that hear Your voice behind me saying, "This is the way, walk in it."  Thank You Lord for showing me the way.  I will walk in it.
Thank You for showing that way to everyone else out there fighting this enemy Lord, so they can move forward with the determination and accomplishments that You want for them.
In Jesus' precious name.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Day 73 Countdown to this Being Over Has Begun

Bloodwork on Monday and first chemo on Tuesday.  Yay!  I'm so ready to get on with this program, I can't even describe it.  Only about 10 weeks since diagnosis and I feel like I've been living with this forever.   But I've made huge steps in those ten weeks and I'm so grateful.  God is good and totally in control. 

I met with Dr. Mahmood, my cancer surgeon, yesterday.  Good checkup and he's very pleased with his handiwork.  I don't have to go back for another month.  Then I met today with Dr. Qurashi, the oncologist.  My first chemo treatment is set for next Tuesday and then every two weeks for six months.  We talked a little more about side effects.  He said my hair may thin but I probably won't lose it with this chemo.  I've got a cute picture of that trying to do a combover with a few strands of gray hair.   The main side effect is going to be neuropathy or extreme sensitivity in the nerve endings of my fingers and feet.  He said I will absolutely need to use something like oven mitts to reach into the refrigerator.  Anything I touch or drink will have to be warmed.  I already don't like to be cold so this should magnify that.   Poor Chipper isn't too crazy about being warm so we may have to both go get our summer haircuts together.  His to be cooler and mine not to have to look at thinning hair.  Oh well, all worth it in the name of healing. 

I slept better with the port last night.  I even managed to sleep on my side for a while so that is probably going to be a non issue in a few more days.  So glad about that.  I am uncomfortable right now doing very much with my right hand and I stopped at the art supply store to pick up a disposable paper pallet so I don't have to work with cleaning dried paint off my glass one.  I'll just put that back to bring out later when this is all done and over with.  Dr. Qurashi said the neuropathy will effect hand writing and he isn't sure how it'll be with painting.  I don't think it'll be an issue but, if it is, I'm sure there's a way around it.  I'll just have to see when the time comes.

As for now, time for a healing nap and then I'll have to see where my energy level is for the afternoon's work. 

Precious Lord,
Thank You so much for the progress I'm making every day fighting this horrible enemy that is trying to take every thing from me.  I am so grateful that You have me in the palm of Your hand and that You are in control of my healing. 
I ask Your grace and favor on all the other warriors out there fighting this same enemy today.  Give us all victory in Jesus' precious name.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Day 72 A Day Away is a Really Good Thing

I met my friend Darlene yesterday at Pappasito's for an early lunch.  I had the soup with an incredible broth, filled with rice, celery, onions and carrots, chicken and lots of fresh avocado chopped on top.  Mostly antiangiogenesis.  The Modelo Especial on draft probably not so much but once in a while a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. 

After a long lunch we drove over to Memorial City Mall where neither of us had visited in years.  We probably spent the better part of two hours just walking, talking, looking, and each of us ended up buying nothing but a tee.  But so much fun and a great getaway from home, leaving everything behind.  Darlene and I have been best friends for over 40 years and even though we know everything about each other, we never run out of things to talk about. 

Back home for a really long healing nap.  Not sure what I'll call those wonderful naps once cancer is out of the picture.  I'll have to think up another excuse.  Well, maybe I won't need them.  Yay!  Looking forward to that day.  Also looking forward to when this port comes O-U-T.  I know it's there for a reason but what an annoyance.  Aside from looking like it was installed with a can opener, it itches, it pulls, and just downright hurts when I do much of anything with my right hand.   I'm sure once it's healed up a little better I'll forget it's even there but for now I'm not very happy with it.

I only got in one day of painting last week before the port.  Now, I'm wondering about painting with my right hand.  If you know my art, you know I paint big strokes with big brushes.  That is not gonna work right now.  So, I was thinking about my friend, Jack White.  Jack and his wife, Mikki Senkarik, are both amazing artists and have helped me many times along the way in my career.  Years ago Jack's right shoulder was injured in an auto accident and really limited what he could do with his right hand.  Jack simply began to paint in a different style with his left hand and signed the paintings Gaucher which, I think, more or less means "lefty".   Hmmmm, wonder what I can do with my left hand?  I have some smaller canvases to practice on.   So, for the next week, inbetween dr visits, I think I'll work on that.  How fun.  Now I'm getting excited about it. 

Today, back to Dr. Mahmood for a followup on the big surgery.  Tomorrow Dr. Q to let him check the port for chemo and set a time to get started on that.   Then Tuesday to Dr. Oppermann, who installed the port, to let him take a look at his handiwork and probably have my first chemo treatment.  So, things are moving right along.  I feel good.  God is good and He is in control.  It's going to be a great and glorious day and I'm grateful.

Precious Lord,
Thank You for this beautiful day.  Thank You for the many many healing prayers being lifted up for me.  I send those same prayers up for others fighting this enemy.
Guide each of us, Father, in doing what we can to give our bodies the best chance for a complete healing.  Help us to help our doctors and caregivers by staying as healthy as possible through this process. 
Lord, I love You so much and I am so grateful for everything You do for me every minute of every day.  It is all You, Lord.  All You.  You are more than enough. 
Thank You.  Thank You.  Thank You.
In Jesus' name,

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Day 70 Ow, Ow, Ow, and Double Ow.........

If I sounded upbeat yesterday after having the port put in, it's because I was still under the influence of the pain meds they gave me at the hospital.  That stuff has worn off and, let me tell you, this thing hurts.  It hurts above the port and below the port.  It hurts under my arm and down the back of my arm.  I'm trying to make do with tylenol but may have to pull out the big guns they gave me after the big surgery.  Of course, it's on my right side and I'm right handed.  Great.  Even had to brush my teeth with my left hand this morning.  I'm sure this won't last long but for right now, it's pretty darned uncomfortable. 

On top of this, I have just experienced a shining example of why it is so important to rest through this process and to stay calm, quiet and in the stillness of communication with God.  About three days ago, I began to have some lower back pain.  At first I attributed it to having spent too much time on my soft couch.  A day later, the pain went from my lower back to my left hip joint and then down my leg to my knee and even down the side of my calf.  By Sunday night, it was miserable.  I couldn't take anything for the pain because I was scheduled for the port procedure early on Monday, yesterday.  The pain was worse when I tried to lay down.  I spent most of Sunday night up walking or sitting at my desk with my head on a pillow.  Bad night.

You can probably imagine what was going through my mind.  First, I thought I had slept wrong.  Next I began to think it was osteoporosis.  Then I began to wonder if I needed a hip replacement and how was I going to deal with all of that and chemo at the same time.  Lastly, when I could no longer keep it from my mind, I started to think maybe cancer had spread to my spine and was causing all the other pain.   Goodness.  What a fertile brain  I have.

Then yesterday, after the procedure, the pain was gone.  I'm sure some of it was because of pain meds administered at the hospital, but I have begun to think that maybe it was just plain old stress causing muscle spasms in my lower back.  I know.....I shouldn't self diagnose but what a relief it is to be able to walk, sit and lay down in bed without that pain.  Now I just have to concentrate on getting through the next couple of days with the discomfort of this port.  The other thing I need to concentrate on is working more quiet time, prayer and meditation, into my day.  That has to be an absolute.   If I have to schedule it like an appointment, then that's what I'm going to do.   I need it and I know it'll make a huge difference.

Father God,
You said to go into a closet, a secret place, so that we could meet with You.  Please forgive me for having let all the confusion and activity with what's going on in my life take precedence over that.  Help me to find You today in that place so that I can access Your peace and love, Your healing power, and know more than ever that You are here with me through every step of this journey. 
Father, I ask this same quiet communication with You for everyone out there dealing with the same journey that I am traveling right now.  Help us to better know and understand You through knowing and understanding ourselves. 
Love us, bless us, heal us.
In Jesus' precious name,

Monday, July 2, 2012

Day 69 Port is in and I'm ready to go!

Let me say first that I had an awesome weekend.  Felt good Saturday and actually got in a few hours of painting.  I've been trying to do that for weeks and finally made it into the studio.  On Sunday, watched some wonderful Christian TV and then cooked for my two main caregivers, Darlene and Tineke.  We had a really great time.  I love to cook and it was just a small thank you for all they've done for me already through this journey.

Darlene spent the night and up at 5am to get to the hospital by 6am for the procedure.  As usual, the first sign of drugs and I was out like a light.  I'm not sure they even have to put them into my iv.  Just walk my direction with a needle in their hand and I'm almost out.  Woke up pain free, yippee!!!    Well, this latest thing is as unattractive as can be.  First they went in at my neck.  I now have a giant vein sticking out of my neck.  Then under the clavicle, a 3" incision and a quarter sized lump below that.  Oh well, it's all in the name of healing.  No big deal.  Some pretty scarves to tie around the neck and I'll be good to go.
I'm ready for the chemo and ready to poison those hated cancer cells. 

Okay, you would think at my age that I'm not very naive.  I don't think I'm in denial but am still amazed at how I just assume things about this condition.  I thought the cancer was Stage I.  Turned out it was Stage III.  I know that one of the 25 nodes taken during surgery tested positive, yet one word I never associated with my journey is "metastasized."   I don't think I've ever even spoken that word out loud.  Then reading over one of the chemos I'll be receiving,  I read that it is specifically for colon cancer that has metastasized.  Yikes!  That means me! Just because it isn't in any organs, I didn't feel like it had spread.  Well yes, it has spread.  Only to the lymph nodes, praise God, but it has spread to locations outside the colon.  Sigh............  This may be a tougher journey that I anticipated. 

But that's okay.  At this point I sort of feel like a patchwork quilt, but I'm God's patchwork quilt and I know that healing is in God's plan for me.  He is taking me on such an incredible journey and all I need to do is keep the faith, do my part and He'll do His part. 

Precious Lord,
Thank You for my family, my friends, my art family, my church family, and the people I don't even know that bless me with their prayers and loving thoughts every day.  I am so grateful. 
Thank You, Father, for this new direction You've given me whereby I can serve you by doing more for Your children than I would ever have done otherwise.
Father, I ask your blessings on each and every person on the same journey that I am on.  Give them a purpose and direction that will help them handle their journey in such a positive way that they totally destroy that enemy that is working to destroy them.  Comfort and heal them.
These things I pray in Jesus' name.