Saturday, April 30, 2011

Look Into My Eyes. .

Nothing to do with my delicate condition but this dog was such a beautiful animal and had the eyes of an old soul and I had to share.  I am doing well, we will be on the road monday morning for my first week of radiation treatments.  My biggest strggle this week has been trying to understand the Medicare statements and reconcile them with what financial statements I have from Mayo.  I think I finally have the process figured out.  It is confusing because medicare pays some of the payment to me directly and some goes to Mayo directly.  Overall I think it is coming out ok.  Whatever additional I end up paying, I decided long ago that Mayo is so worth it when life,death and your health is at stake. I am so grateful for medicare coverage and I hope the generations ahead of me have the same in their senior years.  How sad for us as a society if they don't!  Hopefully I should have more interesting things to report from Pheonix/Scottsdale in a few days.  Happy trails  to all of you.  I know where our trail is going to be for the next four weeks.  But it is a good thing.  Hugs and Love to all,      

Monday, April 25, 2011

Whoo-Hoo! I've Got Tattoos!

Sorry but no pictures!  :)   We just got home from a quick trip for my pre-radiation visit at Mayo.  One of the things that they did was put proper and permanent marks on me  for the radiation treatments.  It didn't hurt. It was just a few little sticks with the marking needle, but I was thinking of those who have a whole tattoo done. Ouch!   Anyway, Tom and I are both dragging tonight from the hours on the road.  The best I can figure only 4 more round trips and  I'm done!  So tonight I am going to enjoy a good nights sleep in my own bed. . Ahh, one of those little unappreciated things in life.  Goodnight all. . Love and Hugs. .

Sandy  AKA The Tattooed Lady

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hearst Church at Pinos Altos

This lovely old church becomes an art gallery every summer and Tom and I prepared our photography and delivered it today for the show that starts this weekend.  It was great to get my head into the project today of selecting, printing and framing photography from a whole lot of photo safaris!  Tonight it is back to hot and cold packs and  packing for a quick trip to Mayo and getting Scooby-Doo's blanket and lunch bucket ready for the kennel again.   But working with the photography was a good distraction and it will be fun to be part of the opening and artist reception Friday night.  I am feeling well, good energy and only what naps are appropriate for a 69 year young grandmother.  I am already looking forward to May 28th.  The day after my last day of radiation treatment.  I plan to celebrate the day with gratitude big time!                         
Happy Easter to all. . May your day be filled with love and joy and appreciation of life.      Sandy

Friday, April 22, 2011

Birthday Ramblings and Blessings

Today is my birthday!  I was 68 yesterday and today I am . . .67.  Actually 69 but I have been kidding everyone that at 68 I have the right to go in reverse on the years.  But guess I will settle for being 69 and having all the blessings that a 69 year old could wish for.  . . Restored good health coming my way. . the love of family and friends and the probability of being here to see my great grandchildren in the years ahead.  I have had a good week of "Normal".  We head back to Mayo Clinic Sunday with an early morning appointment Monday  to prepare me for the next  month's treatment.  An amazing example of  the "Kindness of Strangers". . a friend of a Friend  has a home in Phoenix that she will not be using in May and graciously offered it to us for the month.  Love and kindness overflows in this world when you least expect it!  I am feeling well with no real problems as I heal from the last surgery.   I am still doing hot and cold treatments to rid myself of a hematoma. I can assure you that the heating pad feels better that the ice cubes on that particular body part!  But it does seem to be working.  The photo is a moon shot that I took from the front yard a few days ago.  Although the quality of the photo isn't that good, I was surprised when I downloaded it to see the" heart" around the moon.  Talk about "Show me the love"!  How special is that!  Ok, these days my imagination runs a little wild at times.  I guess that is your privilege when you are 68 and just turned 67. . . Love and hugs and gratitude overflowing to all of you. . Sandy

Monday, April 18, 2011

Gratitude for A Week of Normal

I am so grateful to have a week of normal activities before we head back for a one day visit to see the Radiation Oncology department.  And it is a week without the uncertainty looming large overhead.  I know what my condition is, I know what my treatment path is and the knowing is good.   This week I get to be just Sandy, not the Sandy With Breast  Cancer person.   I am looking forward to attending my Kiwanis meeting, working to get a FeVa Foto order filled and entries ready for an upcoming Art Show.  There are classes to attend and a showing of "Waiting For Superman" at the University tonight. Quiet meals to enjoy with my sweetheart.   A week of "Normal".  How precious. . .How unappreciated by me in the past. . . . Love and Hugs to all. . .And wishing you all a joyful  "Week of Your Very Best Normal". .

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Life Given Back X 2

Morning All,

Today is a busy one for us, and we old folks are both tired from out late day travel home from Arizona yesterday but I wanted to share the further good news about my treatment.   I met with the Radiation Oncologist yesterday at Mayo Clinic and left with great confidence in the radiation treatment ahead.  I go back on April 25th for the pre radiation workup( I think I get tattoos!) and then back to start radiation treatments on May 2nd.  It will be a 4 week course, 5 days a week and be completed on May 27th!  We will be spending 4 nights a week  in Scottsdale area   and 3 nights at home.  Should be an interesting month!  And I am so grateful to have over in a month what I had thought was going to take up to a year and without having to go through the side effects of the chemo.  I feel that I have my life back in two different ways.  I have been assured that the chances are minimal that there has been any spread of the disease beyond the left breast and that radiation will take care of any possibility that  cancer cells linger there.  And it now means that we can plan for what we enjoy doing without having my cancer treatment control the schedule.  I know what I have to do for the month of May.  Beyond that it is actually a choice!  How could I have missed appreciating that before dealing with this disease??  I don't think I will ever see life the same. . Dear family, friends and Friends. . Thank you again for all of your thoughts and prayers and sending some devine light my way. . .I cherish you all. . Love and Hugs, Sandy

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Good Day, 1 Doctor to Go

Today was an amazingly good day for me.  Just when I think that nothing will surprise me, it does!  I met with the oncologist and was told that chemotherapy was not needed to treat me because in their re-do of my lab work from my original biopsies in Silver City their finding was that I had a much smaller amount of cancer , in fact a much, much smaller amount than the original lab reports from the Silver City lab.  Most all that was removed was precancerous.  Good news!  In fact great news!  The oncologist  felt sure that  radiation should be done and I have an appointment with a radiation oncologist mid-day tomorrow.  So that should start soon but yippee! I will be through with treatment within a few weeks.  I will know more about that tomorrow.  I also met with the surgeon for a follow up visit who said it looked like all was well.   He also said that he was in agreement with all that the oncologist had told me. And although I will be monitored after I finish the radiation, I was told the chance that it has spread beyond the breast is minimal.   It has been a busy day and although I am relieved and thrilled with the reports today I am  also tired and will hopefully have more inspired writings tomorrow.   I know I will sleep better tonight.  Thank you all for your prayers and concern.  I am fortunate in so many ways.  That I know for sure.  Goodnight all, Love and Hugs, Sandy

Arizona In The Morning

Hello All,

Just a quick note as we awake at the Comfort Inn in Fountain Hills Az, a Scottsdale suburb and just about two miles from Mayo Clinic. Today is the greatly anticipated day to meet with the oncologist here for finding out the treatment path ahead and then meeting with the surgeon/oncologist for a check of his work of 3 weeks ago.  It will be a busy day and hopefully I will know the who,why,what and where of the days and months ahead.  We come into this area a convenient lesser traveled road that has proved itself to be a good area to stop for desert photography.  A real highpoint of the six hour drive.  We also stopped and walked around in downtown Globe,an interesting and thriving small town economy with a huge Arts Center.  Enjoyable trip yesterday and now down to business today.  As soon as I digest the information I will pass it on via the blog.  My gratitude flows over to all of you who I know are out there.  Although there aren't lots of comments, that is ok. I have a counter for reads on the blog so I know that you are there .  Love and hugs to all.   


Monday, April 11, 2011

The Imperfect Flower

For days, I have been fascinated with the photos I took last week of potted tulips, ones not at the height of their perfect blooms as I usually do, but ones that were gracefully and beautifully fading away.    The symbolism can go many directions and I choose not to expound on the obvious one.  I just read again, "There are no accidents, everything in life happens for a reason."  And I am thinking about the reason for my illness.  More appreciation for each day of life?  Definitely!  Empathy for others, particularly those with so much more serious illness and handicaps? Yes!  But maybe another reason that I have been put on this path is that I need to work on my shortcomings, my weaknesses.  Guess I should have been working on those anyway, but I have ignored them and plowed on in life, accepting them as just me.  "Let go and let God" is a biggie for me.  I always feel that God needs me leading the way and he/she is just around should I need a helping hand. And ,gratefully that hand has always been there when I reached for it.  I can't say that I have accomplished  the "Let go and let God" stage in this experience,(how I envy those who can do this so easily) but I am leaning more on His shoulder , asking for guidance, asking for strength. And then there is that big "T" word.  Trust has always been difficult for me. So many times in my life I was the only one I could count one.  And somehow I have stuck in that mode.  Now I have to trust and not question every doctor, every technician, every procedure in this journey called cancer.And this is the most difficult for me.  I am trying to be aware and ask the questions I should be asking but I have to trust that the right things will be done for my survival. Let Go and Let God and trust.  Guess it all goes hand and hand.  I am working to get there.   I will  plant my potted tulips in a safe place where I know they will be warmed by God's sun and someday bloom again.    

Thanks for listening to my ramblings.  More ramblings than I intended.  Love and Hugs to all,  Sandy

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Busy Week

Busy week of activities unrelated to my illness.  Such as the "Any Art" class I took yesterday where I decided to try acrylic paint over sections of this photo I had taken last fall.  Interesting effect and one I may play with some more.  This class and 3 others that I attended this week were an enjoyable distraction.   Next week it is back to business as I meet with the good doctors at Mayo again and find out about my treatment path.  I should just about be through healing by then and have been told that I should start treatment between 3 and 6 weeks from the time of my surgery so it appears that time is getting close.  We are staying in a more convenient to my appointments area this time and only for 2 nights.  I am  looking forward to getting past this step and knowing for sure the path ahead.  And also we will definitely hit a couple of our favorite restaurants that we don't have access to in Silver City!  Another good happening this week was being inducted into my new Kiwanis Club.   Nice people and they do great work with the youth of Silver City as well as abroad.  Feels good!   And the world feels good  to me today. . . . the politicians in Washington DC have got" the crazies". . . . .poor Japan is shaking again. . . . it's snowing again at our old home in Mancos. . . .and selfishly the world feels good to me because although I got the big bill from Mayo Hospital I know that my medicare hasn't been wrecked as of yet, I am in a warm home with all the comforts I desire. . and I have loving people around me. And in addition to this, chances are very good that I will be a cancer survivor.  How fortunate am I!  Back to the Mayo bill, all seemed  reasonable with the exception of the $174.65 bra that was put on me after surgery.  I had to laugh.  I was going to toss it,(the bra not the bill) but now I may frame  it . . I really would love to be able to recycle it for  women who go through this without any insurance!
So, dear friends, Quaker Friends, family and acquaintances, life is a roller coaster right now, but I feel all of your arms around me holding me safely in place and that wonderful light keeping me on track in this journey. Thank you, love you all,  Big Hug. . Sandy

Monday, April 4, 2011

All Is Well. . .Lilacs and Butterflies

The lilacs have bloomed, a butterfly came and posed for a portrait and my surgeon from Mayo Clinic called and did a phone consult on my delicate condition.  How good is that!  I was so pleased to have a call from my surgeon, not because I had called him but because he had been given word of the problem I was having. Really, an important thing that  has set Mayo apart in my mind,is that I am a medicare patient and I am treated as their most important patient.  So unique in the medical world today.  I slept well last night and woke without being in pain.  The doctor confirmed that I was just getting excess fluid from the surgery and that it appeared that the body is now absorbing the excess and it will get better. He answered my other questions also.  I knew I was feeling better but after talking to the good doctor I felt better all over again.  So on with life, dragging my now slightly oversized body part along with me.  I had a great photography class this morning, a good nap this afternoon and baked potatos are in the oven for dinner.  Life is good and I wish this cancer thing would just get out of my way.  Sometimes leaves me angry, always leaves me impatient to just get through it.  I want to photograph more flowers and butterflies.  This year, next year and 10 years from now.   Gratitude. . I have to remember to be grateful for today. .and I am.  Love to all and Hugs too. .

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Dolly Parton Would Be Proud!

Well, I knew from the start that this breast cancer path wouldn't all be smooth sailing.  In the last 36 or so hours my 2/3 size hopefully now cancerless  left breast had grown to somewhere between 4/3 and huge and leaving me in great pain last night. I would guess the result of the skin outside being smaller than the inflation going on inside. Last night,after making it tolerable with ice packs and Tylenol, I called the post op contact number at Mayo Clinic and got through to the doctor on call.  After talking to me about symptoms, she decided that it was fluid buildup in the cavity left by the  part of my breast  that had been removed.  If needed, drainage via a big needle is the solution.  And I was not pleased to hear that some need to have this done twice after surgery.  She suggested alternating ice and a heating pad.   That seemed to help and I continued  to use that treatment(sounding better than the big needle option) and managed to doze every now and then cuddled up to the heating pad.  So, swelling is down a little this morning and with Tylenol not having much  pain.  I am hoping it stays that way till I can talk with the surgeon tomorrow and see if he feels he needs me to come to his office in Scottsdale or have it dealt with here.  If any of you cancer survivors or nurses that are reading my blog have experience with this condition I would be interested in hearing from you.   If any of you guys, and I know there are a few, that are reading my blog posts are grossed out with the descriptive nature of my post. . .I apologize!  You can get even and tell me about one of those "male only" surgeries sometime!    Gratitude is easy this morning. . for being where I have such good medical care available to me, both in Silver City and a 1/2 days drive away at Mayo. . .gratitude for Tom who is rolling  with the punches and adjusting our life when needed to get me through the bad days and to enjoy the good ones.. .for each of you that are going through this with me in spirit. .    Love and Hugs to all. . Sandy

Friday, April 1, 2011

Morning Light

Just a note this morning to share first light on the apple blossoms in the side yard.  Yesterday I noticed there were many bees plus tiny butterflies of black and yellow flitting around the blossoms.  I hope they are back this afternoon for a photo session!  I am doing well, I think.  I haven't done this cancer thing before so who knows?  My energy level isn't yet what I would like.  Is that the cancer disease or just the after effects of having the surgery, I wonder?  Or maybe just being 68 years young!  I have been trying to keep up with local activities and the classes that I had so eagerly signed up for and now have missed some and will miss part of due to Mayo Clinic appointments.  Last night was a night at the local college, with my Kiwanis group helping to host "Hotdogs and More" a Thursday night traditional free feed and social for students and really anyone else in the community that choose to come.  It was a culturally diverse and lovely setting with the young and old.  I was so impressed with the number of college kids to declined the sugar laden desserts.  Better and wiser than my generation!  Tonight is the "First Friday" downtown Silver City which we try not to miss.  Much going on at the galleries and in the streets.  We are needing to get a hold on our FeVa Fotos production as we have some exhibits coming up as well as a nice order to fill for our "Keepsake Photo Cards". 
Thank you to all who have been supportive in so many ways in this new and not so delightful experience of mine.  And Tom's experience too.  I think when you have cancer, those closest to you are living with  the disease also.  The count of views on this blog is nearing 1000.  Where did that come from??  Everytime that I see those numbers rise it says that there are people out there that care, about me, about Tom , about seeing another cancer victim become a cancer survivor.  Thank you, dear friends, Quaker Friends, family and those I don't really know. I apologize for those emails unanswered or other comments not yet replied to. But please know. .  You are all my strength.!  Hugs. . and Love. . with  Gratitude.. .  Sandy