Our Mom's Cancer Battle
Through good times and hard times, her spirit has shined as a beacon to all whom have associated with her, and her impact on those whom she has touched will truly affect the world for generations.
She has always been the first to jump at an opportunity to serve or care for others, from flying out to help with the birth of a new grandchild, to spending weeks at a time in support of loved ones, and to staying months away from her home to help one of her daughters who had brain surgery. From writing weekly journal entries for every single child for their first years of life, to making after-school snacks, endless piano lessons, countless chauffer pick-ups and drop offs, or just cleaning up a scrapped knee, she has been there for anyone who has needed her. Now she needs us.
Debbie has recently been diagnosed with skin and breast cancer. Her current financial burdens include debilitating long term costs of skin and breast cancer treatments, deductibles, up-front costs for procedures, prescriptions costs, wig costs, future reconstruction surgery, and other unforseen costs that come with years of cancer treatment and prevention.
If you have wanted to show your love, care, and support to this amazing, giving, loving person during this hard time and didn't quite know how to go about doing it, this would be a great opportunity and any small amount will be much appreciated.
Thank you from the bottoms of our hearts.
Journal entry 7.19.16 Chemo Whining.
"After my first night with new "Red Death" running through my veins, and immediately experiencing the more severe side effects all evening and night, with buckets of tears, I'm humbled by the pain of it all. By the complete exhaustion of 4 months of relentless life sucking side effects & pain.
I realize that the details of cancer, chemo & symptoms, costs, and etc. does sound like whining to those who have never been through Chemotherapy. I used to think that, until i lived it. Some patients seem to be so smiley and uplifting, and peppy, so i really had no idea how they were truly feeling away from spectators, in the comfort of their own bed, toilet, chemo cap or bald head showing, cuz wigs are hot and itchy too. But I am pretty sure that it is not possible to complete Chemotherapy without complaint. The definition of “whining” is “to complain or protest in a childish fashion.” I think we need a different word besides whining.... If torture is being inflicted on a POW, if they cry out in pain, do you call it whining? If a hostage is injected with poisons and they complain as they don’t know if they will live or die, do you call it whining? I think not.
Pink ribbons & Pink denotes a comfortable warm and fuzzy feeling, and a ribbon is such a nice thing that you wrap on presents. How can there possibly be a battle to fight with all that pink? The funny thing is, I love pink. But the drugs are extremely toxic. They are killing cancer AND good cells, damaging organs, setting me up for some other disease or failure in the future. It's scary to read up.
After 12 weeks of Taxol, i have just started my new 4 week regime of Cytoxan & Epirubicin. (Chemo drugs), they do not call it “red death” and “red devil” for nothing. It can only be administered into a vein, most often through a port. By hand not drip. Its a derivative of mustard gas!
It can cause permanent heart damage, not to mention many other organ & tissue serious side effects. Low blood counts are inevitable. Besides the obvious hair loss, extreme nausea, vomiting, bowel issues,extreme fatigue, mouth sores, nail darkening and loss, infection, eye problems, blending or bruising, swelling in legs & feet, shortness of breath, coughing. (That's another journal entry on its own!)
It is used to treat many forms of cancer, but can only be administered by a specially trained Chemotherapy Nurse in cap, gown and gloves by injection. It is so toxic you can only have it for so many rounds once in a lifetime. And they warn you to flush your toilet not once, but twice with the lid down and to wash your hands for 45 seconds during and after infusion. Then hand sanitizer. (And there's MORE cleaning tips for laundry, dishes, counters, furniture, skin care, etc).
But right now, it is the best weapon against Breast Cancer, it so often does its job, and we have to tolerate it until something better comes along! For that I am grateful.
We all know a few over-achiever chemotherapy patients who continued to work full time, go to school for their PhD, travel to Europe, run 5Ks, take care of 8 kids, and write a novel while undergoing chemotherapy. Much of that depends on their age, type of cancer, stage of cancer, and their treatment meds and regime. They ruin it for the rest of us who are trying to just make it day to day. I am grateful that I am able to receive the drugs and thankful for all the cancer cells it is killing in my body.
I had weekly Taxol to contend with for 12 weeks, (plus pre meds steroids) and Herceptin & Perjeta for 4. Now I have Cytoxan & Epirubicin with Emend & Aloxi & Herceptin & steroids to battle with for 4 treatments a week apart. Plus Neulasta on body injectable with side effects of joint & muscle pain, particularly hip pain.
My experience: Losing my hair strand by strand, clump by lump, handful by handful, was such a heart sinking feeling. losing my identity, my feminitiy, weight gain, puffiness, my great hair pride and skin & beauty pride, my confidence, and the ability to feel pretty, dark circles, dry & pale skin, and thinning skin under my eyes, skin that has aged, not sleeping, debilitating mouth & lip sores, body sores, bloody noses, drippy noses cuz no hair, nausea, diarrhea, headaches, tummy pains, chronic heartburn, extreme exhaustion, no energy, neuropathy in hands and feet, metal taste in my mouth, Chemo brain and mental confusion, muscle pain, neuropathy tingling & numbness in legs & feet and hand, swelling legs because the kidneys are sluggish with the chemo damage too. Low blood counts, necessity to take steroids and not lose any weight even though you can’t eat, chronic bloody noses & mucous, coughing, raspy voice, clearing my throat all the time, heart palpitations, hot flashes, but mostly cold all the time. out of breath because of anemia, inability to even walk to the mail box without stopping to rest, depression, blurry vision, twitching eyes, loss of identity, inability to care for others, Inability to carry on my normal day to day routiene.
The effects of chemotherapy are cumulative! Get worse! And last over 2 years in your body once you are through it. So think before you ever accuse a Cancer Patient of whining.
There is light at the end of the tunnel. (I hope).
It will get better. I think about Living one day at a time or one hour at a time is even better. One foot in front of the other. Every day. Remember to breathe in and out. every day. And don’t listen too hard to those who say “stay positive” in the midst of it. I know they mean well & it's a good reminder cuz they love me & want me to live awhile. Its obviously ingrained in my thoughts as an intigrative wellness therapy. But, I'm telling you true,.....Some days I just cannot “feel” positive. 5 out of 7 days I feel Chemofied.
Then I get one good day of feeling pretty good, I put real clothes & makeup on. Then it's chemo day again! And we start it all over again. Feels like the movie, groundhog day.
Put yourself first, the nurses say. You are being a WARRIOR even when you rest. You will be a heroine when you are done. You do not have to be heroic now."
"First & foremost, I am grateful.
I/we are so emotionally overcome with all your loving kindness and prayers & positive healing wishes. We truly feel THAT!
I am overwhelmed with so many friends & neighbors & even strangers that have extended their arms wide open to me during this onset of Cancer. I recognize that service is NOT always convient, and you all have busy full lives! - We are truly grateful for all YOU Earthly Angels thinking of me, bringing treats, meals, sending notes, texts, messages, calls, front door heart attacks, donuts, fruit, cinnamon rolls, granola, soup, gifts of books, magazines, offers of service, sacrifice, gofundme donations & all other thoughtfulness & kindness.
There are not enough words in the English language to honestly express sufficient gratitude. Oh, my heart is full and eyes are overflowing.
This Cancer journey will be a long, tough battle. Accepting service is a difficult thing for us. The last thing I want is to be a burden. I'm a fixer. I'm a doer. I'm a do-gooder. I'm a pleaser. I'm a loyal, hard-working Soldier. I'm a mom. I'm a wife. I'm a caretaker. But I am not a burden to anyone.
When you have lived as independently as I have, being a take charge, in control, strong, having to BE strong for everyone around you kind of person, and then you suddenly lose that freedom of choice, it changes everything you know and understand about yourself. I'm not wallowing in self-pity about my disease, quite the opposite. I want to ignore it. I want to stick my head in the sand and pretend it isn't here. But I am constantly reminded of it's presence. By looking in the mirror and seeing my bald head. (That is a harsh enough reminder). By my lack of usual Boundless Energy, by The Chronic heartburn I haven't seen since my last pregnancy nearly thirty years ago. And a whole other list of side effects. I just want to be normal again. Cancer is huge.
It is truly your loving gestures, kindness & prayers that lets me know that I'm not FIGHTING alone, that gives me the strength to be a WARRIOR, that lets me know God and Angels are with me and YOU are HIS HANDS."
"There have been SO many moments in the last 3 weeks that I just wanted some control over, my mind was constantly churning, wanting to call here, say that, ask this, be there, or be able to do something, affect an outcome, but then I would just feel something holding me back and saying "Be Still".
God does not give stones or serpents, he only gives bread and fish. All things God gives are good, and even the negative ones he can make good. I hope that I can respond to his nourishing and bring forth good fruit in spite of the soil in which I may have been planted right now. I trust that the Lord himself will in time wipe away all tears. And his burning fire give me warmth, light and cleansing. And may the Lord bless us as we walk his path of happiness. This is my prayer for myself, my family, my friends, and for all of God's children."
Thanks to all who have shown their love to our superwoman, our mom.
First & foremost, I am grateful. I am overwhelmed with so many friends & even strangers that have extended their arms wide open to me during this pink battle called Breast Cancer. It is truly your loving gestures, kindness & prayers that let me know that I'm not FIGHTING alone, that gives me the strength to be a WARRIOR, that lets me know God and Angels are with me and YOU are HIS HANDS. I never could have imagined that the girl in pink would be me. I never considered that the private suffering behind the public warrior smile would be like this! Now that I'm the girl in pink, it's like living in an alternate universe. It is such a juxtaposition this constant pain from cancer, with constantly feeling the hosts of Heaven. Heavenly Father is definitely by my side going through this with me. Comforting me, guiding my decisions, thoughts, steps. He whispers in my ear to take one more step, breathe one more breath, do the next right thing. I hear HIM. I FEEL HIM. Even though we do not understand all things, He does. Because He has experienced ALL our pains, afflictions, and infirmities, He knows how to help us rise above our daily difficulties. He has "overcome the world " and prepared the way for us to receive eternal life. There is nothing bigger than the atonement of Christ. Cancer isn't bigger, divorce isn't bigger, death isn't bigger than the atonement. God does not give stones or serpents, he only gives bread and fish. All things God gives are good, and even the negative ones he can make good. Even cancer! Never before have I felt such love, peace & tender mercies. Such enhanced gratitude & blessings. I have truly felt the Light of Christ so often this year. Cancer has been the BEST worst thing to happen to us. I hope that I can respond to His nourishing and bring forth good fruit in spite of the soil in which I may have been planted right now.
This song keeps coming to me, popping into my mind, several times a day these last 2 weeks. I am SO incredibly fortunate to have people who take the time to stop whatever they are doing in their busy lives and send or bring me loving gifts, sweet emails, cards, important reminders, donations, and loving gifts and support in my life. I'm not sure I would have been as affected by a simple text before my cancer Journey, but I have a more profound appreciation now. And now that I do have immense gratitude for this type of support and outreach, it seems to come every day. I have reconnected with so many of my lifetime friends and relatives and I have profoundly felt their love. I have also found immense strength and support in their messages. I suppose it sometimes takes a challenge to fully appreciate something intangible, like the intensity and breadth of a link to so many human beings far and wide. If it weren't for social media I never would have known people's capacity for compassion and kindness. I never would have being connected to so many people all over the world. I certainly never would have understood how much I mattered to so many-that they cared so deeply, and with such kind-heartedness. - I love you all. Deb 1. Each life that touches ours for good Reflects thine own great mercy, Lord; Thou sendest blessings from above Thru words and deeds of those who love. 2. What greater gift dost thou bestow, What greater goodness can we know Than Christlike friends, whose gentle ways Strengthen our faith, enrich our days. 4. For worthy friends whose lives proclaim Devotion to the Savior's name, Who bless our days with peace and love, We praise thy goodness, Lord, above.
I'm so emotionally overcome & grateful with the donations, and you all show such great loving kindness and positive healing wishes and prayers. I am overwhelmed that family, friends, strangers, extended acquaintances, etc, have extended their wide-open arms to us in this lengthy, extreme challenge. ......We are truly blessed & grateful for all YOU Earthly Angels!!!