Saturday, May 28, 2011

I Rang The Bell!

Whenever a patient has completed their radiation treatment at Mayo they get to come and ring a big brass bell that hangs in the inner waiting room!  I rang the bell Friday morning at 8:15 !   Good feeling.  Excuse the xrated photo used for this post but loved the joy expressed in this particular piece of street art! Note the beautiful Arizona tan.  Thankfully, although I have gained a couple of pounds from enjoying the good restaurants in the Scottsdale area, not quite that much! And having displayed my left breast to much of the medical community in both New Mexico and Arizona, I find bare breasts much less shocking myself.   But anyway, quick post as I have not yet unpacked or any of the many other things that go along with it, but gratitude to be home. And for life and for each of you that have followed me.I was told that the radiation will continue to work from within for about 2 more weeks and  I still have possibilities of complications such as lympodema,heart or lung injury etc but at this point everything is looking good.  My doctor and I are thinking positive!  So sending out hugs, love and gratitude this morning.  Now back to the first day of the rest of my life. . . . . . Sandy

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Contemplating. . . . .

My last full day in the Pheonix/Scottsdale area. . We made it to Heard Museum North this week. This was one of my favorite sculptures in the courtyard there.  It is a much smaller version of the big Heard Museum but we also enjoyed visiting  Carefree, a community just north of the big city.  We had lunch on a sidewalk cafe and toured a couple of small galleries.  Mostly today I am contemplating my last doctor visit.  I have my list of questions ready.  I have my FeVa Fotos "Thank You" card ready. Before departing Monday,we had quickly printed some photos of the beautiful cactus blooms at the Mayo entrance.  I grabbed some cardstock to assemble them .  In putting them together yesterday, I realized that it wasn't my best choice of cardstock for those particular photos. Anyway, I guess it is the thought that counts and employees that had come in a different entrance said they had not had the opportunity to see these special blooms that were only open for one day.  What a shame.  There should be a message about "seize the moment" in there somewhere! Our motto for our photography has been "Share the Joy" and the five cards that I have assembled for different people or groups of people who have touched my life on this journey as a cancer patient is my humble attempt to share the joy of photographing those special blooms.  The cards with that photo were Tom's idea.  He has been such a good partner in this venture.  Between the two of us we manage to come up with some good ideas.  Excuse my morning ramblings.  Just contemplating. . . what lies ahead. . 19th treatment this morning. . final treatment tomorrow. Yeah!   Guess I am also contemplating what doesn't lie ahead because of the skilled treatment here. . .Gratitude for this whole experience.. . .Hugs and love to all. .. Sandy

Sunday, May 22, 2011

How Do I Say "Thank You!' ??

Time to pack, again.  Heading back to Arizona again for my last week of radiation treatment.  Last week I was given a book to read about what after treatment is over.  I have been so focused on getting through these 4 weeks that I really had not given the "after" any thought.  I finally read it and did give me some food for thought for questions to ask at my last doctor's appointment on Thursday.  But also gave me things to worry about.  I don't want to worry.  I just want to have my life return to before cancer.  But I don't want to forget  the appreciation for life and health and friends and family and all of the other things that have loomed so much larger in my mind since I started down this path the first days of 2011.   I would like to be able to do something special for all of you who have sent me encouragement and positive thoughts and good advice and prayers.     I think I am going to be OK,   I think I am going to be a cancer survivor and there are so many  good friends, good doctors, kind nurses, supportive family and my sweet Tom all that have had a part in that.  I don't even know how I say "Thank You"  to that many for that much caring.   Ok!  Group Hug!  I am picturing my arms around all of  the above and the love is overwhelming! (I think Dr. Wong just blushed!)  Last week of treatment here I come!                    Sandy

Thursday, May 19, 2011

On the Road Again

These have to be the most beautiful cactus flowers ever!  We have been waiting for this cactus to bloom for days and today was the day.  It is at the entry to the Mayo Clinic and we were able to take a series of photos prior to my treatment this morning. Breathtaking!  I found that running around the grounds doing photography and then getting on a table where you are to lay perfectly still is not a good idea. I was still breathing hard when they were ready to do the radiation treatment.  Had to really work at laying very still so they would hit their target.  I had the weekly radiation/oncologist doctor appointment after the treatment and he said all was going well.  But said that I still had quite a bit of fluid in the cavity area from the surgery but that it would slowly go away,although it may take several months.  I agreed with him that it would be best not to do a needle extraction of fluid  as long as I wasn't feeling discomfort. Big needle. .extraction from my tender body part. Wasn't a hard decision on my part! :)  Tomorrow is treatment #15 and it is home again to Silver City for another busy weekend.  Next week is the final week of treatments.  The last four are to be more targeted on the area of the surgery.  Then I'm done!  I'm done!  Yipee!  It will be so good to be home for good.  Grateful for a good day.  Guess at this stage of my life I should be grateful just for a  day whether good or not!   Gratitude isn't hard to find.  Love and hugs to all of you. . . Sandy

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Life in the Big City

Hello all, I just wanted to check in and let you know that I am doing well as one can be .  as my old saying goes "not bad shape for the shape I'm in".  Treatment # 13 in the morning.  That is a lucky number isn't it?  The weather is mild for Pheonix and we are not planning our days that closely.  Started out for the Heard Museum today and ended up in a 3D cartoon movie-"Rio"-fun!  We came back to the motel for a nap and then for a swim and then found a nice little oriental restaurant for dinner.  Bedtime now!  Friends, friends and family, I find myself of thinking of so many of you so often. So grateful for your support and love and prayers.  Eyes are closing. . so it's goodnight. . sleep tight out there world.  Hugs and Love, Sandy

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I'm Getting Over It

Right now , along with breast cancer, I am getting over pink-eye which started sometime last week.  The patient oriented culture at Mayo Clinic never ceases to amaze me. When I told the doctor I was seeing in radiation oncology that I had what I thought was an eye infection and that being from out of town I didn't have a local primary physician, a Mayo eye doctor who specializes in cornea transplants looked at my eye and wrote me a prescription!  So after going from red to yucky it is on the mend.

 Also, in the I'm getting over it category, this led me to feel that I need to stop apologizing and feeling guilty about not using our local cancer center and opting to go to Mayo once I was diagonsed.  I have praised the good care given by my general practioner and others locally  but when the radiation people at Mayo mentioned they were taking extra time with a proceedure because this needs to be perfect, I realized that perfect , when you are shooting radiation beams that close to my heart and lungs, that the commitment to perfect was what I came to Mayo for.

 I am getting over being angry at myself for the pounds that I have gained since I started this journey into the world of cancer back at the first of the year.  Size 10 is where I feel my best, size 12 is ok and as I slide toward size 14 I do it with regret but am no longer consoling myself with extra ice cream as I was during the nail biting part of this unknown trip, and know that I do not feel it wise to concentrate on weight loss while I am in treatment and can worry about that once the next two weeks are completed.  As I wait in my pink smock for treatment, and see those there also waiting for radiation treatment that are frail from what cancer has done to their bodies, gratitude for my strong, slightly overweight body is recognized.

 I am getting over feeling guilty about leaving my 13 year old doxie, Scooby Doo, at the kennel 5 days a week for the month.  She doesn't understand,seems depressed and has not been eating well and has lost considerable weight.  But this is the best solution for her.  It is an excellent, caring kennel and one of the employees made a special trip to the vets office for special food to entice her into eating last week.  She is thin and has the standard indoor outdoor  room  with elevated sleeping pad and not  the  luxury one with the TV and the real bed(really this is available) but I am giving her extra cuddling and extra exticements to eat well on the weekends. So Scooby Doo will get through this also.

 So, in addition to getting over cancer, I guess I am learning to cope better with life's little bumps.  And comparatively, they are so little and petty on my part.  So my eye is less pink, my radiated body part a bit more so, but I am feeling well and only two more weeks to go!  Grateful for that and for the 2000 plus visits to my blog.  I can feel the love! 

Big hugs to all of you. . .Sandy

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Radiation Vacation

That is Tom's term for our month of May .   When we were trying to make plans for this venture into treatment, we thought of the different ways to handle the four weeks in Scottsdale and I think what we are doing worked out well.   There have been a lot of things going in our favor.  The weather has not turned to really hot on the temperature gage.  Most of the snowbirds and seasonal residents have headed north so the roads are not congested.  Treatment takes very little time out of my day so it leaves lots of free time. And I am having no side effects and not feeling "sick".  We have yet to run out of things to see and do in this area.  I really haven't done as much photography as I thought other than cactus flowers, etc. but we have explored many neat places.  This is including Nordstrom's Rack. . wonderful place!  Tom patiently sat reading his kindle while I shopped for an hour. What a guy!  And after tomorrow's      8 AM treatment I am halfway to the finish line.  And we get to go home and spend 3 nights sleeping in our own bed.  Grateful for that!  A lot to be grateful for as I was reminded of last night as we came out of the Red Lobster and an old man on an old bicycle asked if we knew of a "shelter" in the area. When we told him we weren't locals and didn't, he said he was hungry and humbly asked if he could have my leftovers I was carrying.  As we drove out and turned the corner, we saw him devouring the scraps from my meal.  Little doubt that he was genuinely hungry. I forced myself to not be judgemental about his circumstance. Pandhandling? Maybe. Alcoholic? Maybe. How he gets some good eats? Maybe.  But this I know for sure. . There but for the grace of God etc. .  Yep, we all have a lot to be thankful for.  Gratitude bigtime here for so much.
 Love and Hugs, Sandy

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thank You God, But Could You Please. . .

All at once I am realizing that I am hearing so much about other cancer patients.  Those so much younger than I, those with families, those still in their youth and not even having the chance to live their lives.  I am so grateful for the easy path and positive prognosis I have had, but I grieve for those who are fighting the hard fight and not all of them winning.  Today my prayer was a " thank you" for all that has been handed me, and for help and a few miracles for the others.  And I was even so bold to ask God to please give someone out there the wisdom to find a cure for this horrible disease that takes so many lives too soon.  They say ask and you may receive.  So I asked.  I even said please.  

Hugs and Love,

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day Musings

Delightful Mother's Day here.   No children close by to share it with but daughter Heidi called and I had online sharings with many people.  Tom greeted me with a hot cup of coffee, a sweet card and even sweeter bag of gourmet chocolate.  Scooby-Doo greeted me with a wagging tail and wanting her morning hug.  I lingered at home while Tom went off the Sunday morning Quaker meeting.  It would have been good to go but I am trying to pace myself with all the traveling for treatment. We went to a late brunch at a favorite place of ours, Bear Mountain Lodge. And finished the afternoon with a concert from a local chorus group singing a lot of "oldy but goody" songs. We enjoyed!  We are having a quiet evening with repacking suitcases for our next week in Arizona.  I was determined to pack lighter, didn't happen!  Just kept pileing clothes in the bag.  It happens.  I will do better next week.  I was thinking(this is the musings part) that it seems strange that this is Mother's Day and it was the ducts that carried the mother's milk that fed my children that have brought me into  the battle with cancer.  Were they the enemy that created the deranged cells that threatened my life?  Or did they encase the bad cells till I had the time to have them removed instead of cancer cells dangerously wandering  through my body?  I prefer to think the later.  I could be wrong but I prefer to think that my milk ducts allowed me to nourish my babies and came to my aid again when needed. It's Mother's Day afterall and Mother's get special privileges. . .even in musings!  Today I am grateful for this 69 year old body that is my partner in fighting this disease.   Happy Mother's Day to all of you moms. . Love and Hugs. .

Friday, May 6, 2011

Day Six-Treatment Five

That's tomorrow.  There was a thoughtful offer by my doctor  to make up my missed Monday treatment with a Saturday morning treatment so. . we are making a really quick trip home on Saturday and back on Monday.  But the good news is when I am finished tomorrow I am 25% complete!  1 week down and 3 to go.  I am feeling well but it will be nice to be home even just for 2 nights and 1 day.  It will definitely be a busy day,  putting out the kitty food and water for Sophie and Fifi, picking up Scooby-Doo from the kennel on Saturday afternoon and delivering her back on Monday morning.  Watering thirsty plants and doing a couple loads of laundry.  Too much to do for one day, but for this week we will have to make it work.  I am just glad that I can do the make up treatment on Saturday and not have to come back in in June for just one treatment.  All seems to be well with treatments, I am napping in the afternoon most days but many days at home I do that anyway.  So no fatigue and the scales keep verifying no loss of appetite !   The good wishes and kind thoughts and prayers are so appreciated.  I see so many others here that are so much more ill than I that it is hard to not feel guilty about using this special facility to treat me.  And I do think "Thank heavens for early diagnosis".  So friends and family, if you haven't had your regular cancer screenings, do it!  It is the best gift you can give yourself and those you love.  Love and hugs to all, Sandy

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

In The Pink!

Day two of radiation.  Fast and easy.  I found the cabinet with the pink tops to wear for treatment.  It felt better than the oversize robe type garment that I ended up in yesterday.  It definitely did not make the proper fashion statement! I had never practiced visualization in relation to cancer treatment but strangely found myself visualizing during treatment radiation pieces chasing around my breast looking  for straggling cancer cells!  Go figure where that came from! Treatment was at 8 AM and we planned on looking for some good photo opportunities afterward..  The photo above is a blooming giant yucca on the grounds at Mayo.  There are blooming cactus everywhere.  Anyway we stopped at a mall to get a new battery charger, and started exploring and the photo safari was all downhill from there!  This mall was like a village.  Just beautiful, with water features and tons of little shops as well as eateries and major stores.  We ended up going to the movies to see Water for Elephants, having popcorn for lunch and coming back for a nap and a swim.  I am waiting to find American Idol on TV for the evening entertainment.  Good day.  Tomorrow another early treatment followed by an appointment with the radiation/oncologist.  No problem, but the doctor appointment seems to be a once a week thing during radiation.  Things are going well and I am grateful for the no problems!  We are enjoying the area.  I am sure that the interest will wane in the coming weeks, but right now we are just two over-aged kids enjoying the big city. Love and Hugs,

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

1 Down, 19 to Go

Everything lined up perfectly today and my first radiation treatment was completed.  When it happened, it seemed too quick, too easy(my job was to lay still) for something so important.  The preparation was meticulous.  The actual treatment took 4 minutes at the outside.  But Yippee. . only 19 to go and it seems likely that I can do a makeup for the first treatment that was missed yesterday before the original end date of May 27th.  I go back in at 8 am tomorrow for treatment #2.  And then it is off on a photo safari!   The photo above is one of the sculptures at the Heard Museum.  We spent most of the day at the museum.  Fabulous!  So much to see there, I know we must have missed some of the exhibits.  The courtyard is a peaceful, lovely spot where we had lunch.  Such a nice day we had!  Gratitude overflows!  Love and Hugs to all. .


Monday, May 2, 2011

Size Matters!

And I just didn't measure up!  No radiation treatment today.  I was ready.  I was properly undressed  and redressed in the glamour garment that opens in the front.  And then. . .it seems that swelling had decreased as had the size of the subject body part to be radiated and so today's treatment was cancelled.  And scans and measurements and x-rays were done again  and everything for the radiation treatment is being recalculated.  I am to go back tomorrow at 4 and hopefully then the treatment will be possible.  The technicians apologized.  The doctor apologized. They said this happens sometimes. I told them that I had come to Mayo because I had confidence in their expertise to get it right.  And that I was glad they were taking the time to do that.  So I was disappointed in not getting treatment underway and that my 4 weeks here now looks like 4weeks and 1 day of the 5th week.  But I am grateful for the perfectionist culture at Mayo Clinic.  In the scheme of things, that one day doesn't matter.  Getting it right does.. . . Love and Hugs,