Thursday, November 21, 2013

Blog-Lovin' Not So Much!

Hi There, Little World!

Been a long, L. O. N. G. time since I was here! I didn't love the 'chemo brain' excuse when I was having chemo this March-April-May, but hey! I the 'real world,' I'm gonna use it FOREVER!!

I'm so much stronger and better now!
I was able to make my first quilt for Greenbaum's as a sample, back in June-- including the quilting! That felt overwhelming, exciting, and exhausting-- all at the same time.

I discovered in July, after my treatments were complete, that my boss had replaced me at work. 

What utter discouragement.

At present, I am looking, anew; keeping quilting, and blogging new merchandise each week for the quilt shop. I LOVE MARKETING!! So much fun sharing enthusiasm for merchandise you believe in!

I have a couple new quilting/ quilty girlfriends who've stitched their way into my weekly schedule and my heart! I've tried out some new ideas and patterns, attempting to grow my skills and just savor the fun of crafting quilts.

I am so thankful for how far I've come... Nearly 1 year ago, I got my breast cancer diagnosis. My world turned upside down-- but not for long!

God was there! Family, Friends, and even Facebook was there (great support and encouragement!!), comfort food, outstanding medical teams, Odwalla Juices, Pop-Tarts! (Lol-only a couple!), and PRAYER ALL OVER THE PLACE!!

These are the things which save you. And a kitty.

And a sense of humor.

Laugh about losing a boob (one less politician in this world!)

Laugh about losing hair (don't have to worry about having 'Hat Hair'!)

Laugh about losing your memory to chemo ("what was your name AGAIN?"!  Or- "Someone else has to drive, make the brownies, take me for a manicure...!!! I just CAN't remember how to: get there, bake!, or Find the Salon!")

The best medicine is laughter, and Faith!

If you believe in God and His Promise of Heaven when we die, we have not a thing to worry about. Even if my cancer returns, I don't worry! I tackled it once; I can do it again! And-- if I'm not here in this world-- I go straight into the next!

(Blog-Lovin' the blog-reading site-- has me stumped in a 'Catch-22' mode with a forgotten password, today!) ... Deleted the app off my phone! Lol!)

If all else fails- LAUGH!

Dear Friend:

You've just seen the inside of my survival kit!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Thank You, God!

Today I was able to use my sewing skills to make quilt blocks for the 'First Saturday' Block-of-the-Month program at Greenbaum's.  The fun part is seeing the completed block before any of the 'club' participants! I also get to help plan the colors and fabrics which will be used in the blocks each month.

So- photos of the block? Nope! It's a secret for now! I can share a photo of my close compadré and 'secret-keeper, Maggie...

She tucked herself into my scrap-box to take a little nap while I was away helping finish kit-folding at the store.

It's gonna be a fun 'B.O.M' quilt for people to make, and today- I'm thankful to be ALIVE!

Much joy can come from simple things:
A warm kitty, and a well-pieced quilt block!

Bye for now!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

What A Long Strange Trip It's Been...

Late at night
Need to Sleep
Miss my blog
Need to Write.

Chemo Brain
Makes me Forget 
Where I leave Things;
I Regret

Not knowing;
Don't Care
I forget
My Underwear!

Miles to go
And now, no job
Why am I here
I fear and Wob-

Ble in my heart-- the
Bills overwhelm and
Nothing I can do--
I cry overcome

And give this mess to You.

You came through in Cancer,
And were there during Chemo.
You took my burns in Radiation.
And you're restoring me inside.

I fall and I'm weak, and fear ill never be strong. This path up this mountain to health is so hard to climb. I know you go with me;

I know you've been there,
You've cried every tear with me-
You've named each new hair!

Thank you for hearing the pain in my soul.
It was really tough today, God...
But with You, I'm Made Whole!

Friday, March 29, 2013

'This Old Man...'

Hi Friend,

I've now made it through two rounds of chemo... Hey! That's HALFWAY!!

That's HUGE!!

My head is pretty much bald-- I have a couple weeks growth following my 'Beauty Rampage' party, which TOTALLY ROCKED!!

It was better than the time I got my wisdom teeth out under Valium, Novocaine, and Laughing Gas!! (And that WAS SO MUCH FUN that I told the oral surgeon he could yank them all out!)

I really did!

(However, We did not go to that extent!)

What is chemo like? I gotta write this down so as not to forget the 'specialness' of my experience!

There is LOSS OF HAIR = good and bad!
Bad side=is losing it on ones head--and I had a GOB!

Good side= is not having to shave legs, armpits, and any other girly things! ALSO, I know now why men 'get ready' so much faster than women!!

There is ACHINESS in my bones like the flu...
Bad Side=when you hurt like that, it wears your spirit down.

Good Side=just say the word and you've got prayer support all OVER THE PLACE!

There is NAUSEA!
Bad Side= it's Nauseating to think about- and can attack at random moments, like in the middle of your favorite resale shop in front of your daughter and friend;

the steps you run through are lightheartedness, spots in front of your eyes, head between your knees, getting to the bathroom for WHATEVER, BECAUSE YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT is about to happen! Then, all you can think of is a cold, wet paper towel: how it is suddenly so perfect, and golden, as you lie on the linoleum floor-- the coldest spot in the building...

Thank God that it was time to close the shop and no one else had to use the 'Loo,' because I had cold sweats too- and it was about 45 minutes of being unsure what was happening in my body!

(Sorry to gross you out)

So Good Side about Nausea?
It passes, you learn to carry meds in your purse, there are drugs to help, and you have permission to lie down and veg close to comfort, blankies, and kitty...

Bad Side = WHEN you can taste, you go crazy for food! I am famous in my family for "searching for the 'Perfect Bite,'" and currently my reasoning is shot! I spent one night binging on toffee, another evening was centered around Peanut Butter Crackers!

(I need to buy cold cooked prawns- my favorite thing and binge on those, instead!! Next stop-- the MARRRKETTTT!!)

Good Side = you can finally stay up all night because your adrenalin is high, it's before the treatment and you feel fantastic!
Also, you can finally understand how Lance Armstrong was able to win the TOUR DE FRANCE seven times in A SINGLE BOUND!!

Let's NOT 'GO' there.

Haha!! (See, I've still got that sense of humor!! Hot-Cha-Cha!!)

Oooh! Here's another thing--

Bad Side = Your mind is like a sieve! Short term memory is SHOT! Sometimes you can't remember your daughter's name, ingredients for soup, even something which happened 30-seconds BEFORE!!

Good Side = the older we get-- we'll ALL BE LIKE THIS!!
My parents said they have it all the time, 'we just call it OLD AGE!'


Bad Side = it's one of my favorite things, eating. After the treatments, I gradually lose my sense of taste, until favorite things like chicken, potatoes, and really anything that's not sweet or spicy are like eating the color WHITE!

(Like wallpaper paste!)

Good Side = well theoretically, I would be hoping for loss of weight, as a consolation prize -- it has NOT HAPPENED!

(Please see 'Steroids,' 'Toffee,' and 'Peanut Butter Crackers,' above!)

I may think of other fun things, but really; how can anyone get the 'Full Cancer Experience,' as I call it, without Chemo?!!

Carole, this is not a Cruise Ship!!

Oh wait-- they HAVE HAD things like this on Cruise Ships lately!!!

Please see 'Princess Cruises!'

Thanks for stopping by!
Take Care.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How Was Your Monday?

Hi Friend,
Well, this has been an amazing 48 hours!!
I've hosted my First Beauty Rampage!!
(AND- it might not be THE LAST, either!!)

What is a Beauty Rampage?!!

Well, in my case, it was a vehicle for actually shaving my head; a preemptive strike, against the more passive 'waiting for it to fall out...'

As hard as the cancer diagnosis- all along I had grieved over the 'possible' loss of hair-- I prayed not to lose it: long, shiny, healthy, my beautiful golden crown!!!

Only that and my 'perfect' nose on my face were the two things I'm proud of-- and have one of those 'taken away' because of cancer;

"I'LL DIE! MAYBE THERE's some way to save it!!"

My Aunt, a Barber/ Beautician Instructor in Seattle heard of someone up there, who; when feeling her chemo drugs made her head 'hot'-- put a bag of frozen peas on her head, and, "she only lost TWO HAIRS her ENTIRE TREATMENT!!!"

Was it worth a shot?

Should I wear a bag of frozen peas, too?!

In the end, when it did come time for chemo, I chose the non-pea 'road'-- and went as myself-- NOT, as a representative of the Jolly Green Giant!!!

As frightening the idea of losing my hair, that, in my mind was WORSE THAN LOSING MY BREAST!

Lots of women might disagree.

What you can say with certainty about cancer: everyone is different! Think about this, all of us, because of DNA, are inherently unique. God made all of Creation this way. As we live, our upbringing, experiences, locations, friends, foods, medications, choices, leave 'traces' of themselves on our bodies and souls.

One woman may grieve losing a breast, another, her hair; still another woman: her bag of peas!! Hahaha!!

Transparency in Cancer seems to be a good rule of thumb-- I am so SO not sorry to share my journey on Facebook.

I might have chosen to keep my journey private, with just family and pastor on the inside track-- after all, lots of people do. I might have decided just to include my girlfriends.., lots of people just do that, too.

What prompted my decision? I didn't want rumors about me floating around "Jane, have you seen Carole? She's not been at church for awhile?" sharing my story, Facebook friends get a chance to be my cheerleaders, keep up on the latest info, and I don't repeat the same test results, or my day, 'another 50 times!!'

God gets lots of credit! My friends and family know I'm a Christian. I'm able to constantly look for the 'Light' in situations... 'Serendipitous' encounters,
Renewed Friendships, 'missed markers;'
which, when needing to be retrieved-- showed itself as a cancerous lymph NODE!!

(Do you think God was in THAT?!)

I do!!

And having God as the Point Man in my Cancer Journey, has made it bearable, has filled my heart back up with joy and laughter, and helped in my healing.

Every day I choose to walk with him thru this minefield, which could be DOOM AND GLOOM AND DEATH;

Instead, I'm making my friends laugh over my preemptive strike haircuts at the Beauty Rampage!!! Or showing Cancer Survivors a new way to tie a head scarf,
Getting healthier eating my veggies!

And realizing that now, without hair- I see myself as stronger, confident, a warrior for my health, more in love with my True Self:

WARRIOR. Because I'm fighting for better health for myself, and will do all I can on this side of Heaven to fight for Jesus!


On this Cancer Journey, I see displays of his love for me, flowers, friends, test results, a hug- just when I need it, food delivered when I could not cook, prayer shawls gifted me by unknown 'angels,' financial support when I have been unable to work- learning to trust God each DAY--

One Day, Each Single Day at a Time...

That's all we are asked to do-

"Trust in The Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."
Proverbs 3: 5, 6 (NIV)

With God ALL things are POSSIBLE!!!

Take Care.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Scenes from a week...

Long Day's Journey

Hi Friend.
I haven't been here for awhile... Wouldn't be if insomnia hasn't set in.

So far, I've had a mastectomy on my right side, followed by a lumpectomy, also right side, to remove a wayward marker.

The Blessing was that the tissue
surrounding the marker was a cancerous
Lymph Node (the previous surgery had two, blue negative nodes removed)... This node, full of cancer, expanded its boundaries; not allowing the blue dye to enter-- without returning to retrieve that marker, cancer would continue growing.

God is watching over and protecting me!

I get the 'full meal deal' now that I have had a cancerous lymph node= chemo AND radiation!

I might as well get the whole package, right?

What I'm after is the mints on the pillow dessert= new readjusted lifted BOOBS!!

I didn't think chemo was too bad the first couple days-- steroids give you happiness, energy, and you can leap tall piles of laundry in a single bound!!!
I didn't feel any different walking out of the oncology office, than when I went in.
So proud and happy with my attitude. I was Brave! I was Courageous!!

Next day, Friday, I returned to get 'THE' shot to jump start my bone marrow, and even then, into Saturday was not too bad: then, a severe wave of nausea hit, and I was lying on the bathroom floor at my favorite resale shop, in a confounding cold sweat!

The coolest spot for a cold sweat IS linoleum or tile floor!

After 30-45 minutes, I was back together- able to drive home; Caitlin following in her car. Scared to eat, scared not to, am I sick? Constipated? Achy? YES!

From then on, it was like having the worst flu-- achy into my bones, and only now- 5 days later, does it seem to be easing up a bit.

I want to do SO MUCH! quilting, laughing, cooking, gardening, working! Painting my nails! Scrapping! But I'm weak, achy listless. Seeing a brief glimpse at 'no pain' tonight, I watched a movie and forgot for awhile! Nice!

There is still so much to do and see and accomplish: more chemo, radiation, tests, discomfort, fun runs/ walks, quilts, friendships, scarf-tying techniques!, new recipes... I know The Lord God is with me, and has been since the beginning.

My daughter, Caitlin, gave me a 'religious' book, called 'BEAUTIFUL BATTLEFIELDS,' by Bo Stern. (this is the disclaimer where I say, I hate books like this-- I wanted the coffee-shop Latte-Love story, and she gave me THIS INSTEAD?!!)

I was wrong.

I started reading last night, and was comforted knowing that God knows the beginning, middle and end of my journey-- he intimately knows each moment, each teardrop, each increment of pain. He's not going anywhere, and yet amazingly, He's here for everyone else in the world and their needs, too.

Because God has no limits on his time, and is the Beginning and the End, he understands the intricacies of my cancer journey, my joys, discomforts, and is the Captain of the Team!

So glad to know when I win the race, WHO'll be in the Winner's Circle with me!

Take care.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

TOXIC Waste Removal

Here's the latest from the TRENCHES OF WAR...

I had my mastectomy (right side) on January 4; began reconstruction immediately. The plastic surgeon installed a 'spacer,' and I've just been healing up since-pain meds, mood swings, all the fun!

Pathology showed Stage 1 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (.9 cm), several mm or less-sized Non-Invasive Ductal Carcinomas, and also Paget's Disease, a type of cancer directly on the nipple. They got all of that.

There was also a second tumor- which they are not sure they got all of. (when I had biopsies of my breast, titanium markers were inserted in each spot).  The marker for the 'retro-nipple' area was in the tissue removed, however, the Pathologist did not find a marker in the tissues from the second tumor...what does this mean? 

I had a CT scan a week ago, to attempt to locate the missing marker, and tomorrow meet with my surgeon about that.

Following that appt., I meet with my Oncologist, who will let me know if I will need chemo or not.

Last Monday, I went to the plastic surgeon for my first 'fill' of the spacer. He injected 600 cc's of silicone into my 'boobie,' and I could actually SEE IT GET BIGGER BEFORE MY VERY EYES!! Haha!

(Mom was there, she got to watch, too.)

My skin will be slowly stretching and growing to accommodate the implant--
I will go in another two weeks for another fill, and then we'll just rest on that for awhile. 

At some point, 6-months to a year away, I'll have the plastic surgeon fix my left breast, lifting that up and making it smaller to match my new fake one!

When I'm all finished-- I'll be getting a new nipple from my own skin, and the colored-part gets TATTOOED ON!!  Is that the COOLEST EVER??? 

 I'll be a perky new version of me!  THAT'S WHAT'S KEEPIN' ME GOING!! LOL

Until then, I'm still a construction zone.
(PROJECT MANAGER, sub-contractors, engineers, laser operators, grade-checkers, architect, rollers, compactors, loaders and hoes removing toxic poison, all looking for insidious 'soft spots.')


All told, I'm PROUD of where I've been.  I have had a couple meltdowns this week,

over the actual enormity of what has happened to my life, and my body...

at the beginning, all you know is:
you gotta save your you jump right into the pool.
Later on, is when you begin to look around, and you're healing... but you hurt,

and the drain gets
REAL old, like being a DOG ON A LEASH!

The pain meds make you constipated, and thus bloated, and what do you want to see looking down past your boobs? 

(you know, it sure feels good to say all this.  I've been making an altered book, slowly but surely, but the junk I put in it, I don't always feel/think about it at certain times.)
Anyway,  thanks to my incredible kids, Caitlin and Evan, I have a new laptop to blog and work from, and so, can update my blog while at home.
I thought at the beginning of my cancer journey, I was gonna write every day.  I haven't had the energy to even sit up to a computer, much less make sense of one...and it's not the old operating system  !  NOPE...nothing by new for 'mom;'
so I'm on a learning curve with all that!

BILL GATES, we need pain-killers for your new Windows 10006!
How about a bottle, free with every purchase?!!

I'll know more tomorrow, and come back to post an update.
Caitlin, my gorgeous daughter, call this 'TOXIC.'  I made an anagram for that:
                                                                 I= INSIDIOUS
Thank you for all your love and prayers.

(I'm doing my best to kick Cancer's Ass)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Roll On Down The Highway

Well, today's the day. I enter Salem Hospital in about 7 hours to get prepped for surgery.

Breast Cancer!

How CAN that BE?!

I feel pretty good. Tired sometimes, but a person could blame that on the holidays, shopping, quilting, working, etc.

Once a person knows they have cancer, every time you get a twinge: 'I must have leg cancer!' 'I must have a Brain Tumor!'
'Oh No! It must be in my elbow!'

My doctor said that's common when you're awaiting surgery.

When I get to the hospital, I'll be injected with some radioactive dye which shows if the cancer has traveled through my body.
Then, later on, I'll have blue dye put into my sentinel node to see what sort of action is happening there.

I may even appear a little grey/blue/ghoulish because of that.

If so- not to worry! I will have my daughter take photos!

The mastectomy takes about 2 hours, the insertion of 'spacers' for the reconstruction takes about 2 hours, and recovery takes about 2 hours. I am not expecting my 'suite' until about 6pm!

That's a long day!

I may be blessed to find out that I won't need chemo or radiation...that would be fantastic. I won't have an inkling until I wake up, and even then, it's only preliminary.

More definitive results will come in about a week, after the lymph node/s are tested.
At any rate the groundwork for starting this journey will slowly be laid.

I am officially a CONSTRUCTION ZONE!

(How hard not to drink water after midnight!)

As soon as you can't have SOMETHING in this life- that's ALL you can think about!
God made us wonderfully, but we're all a little 'whack,' too!

Okay, right now, winding down. Even though this is ginormous, I will be confident in God's mighty power, and pray for him to become apparent to others, and be glorified, as a result.

I have felt the love and prayers and blessings heaped upon me by friends, family, acquaintances. Total strangers are praying for me!! Even when I'm not able to pray, so many others are uniting for me!!! Isn't that SO COOL?

God, please bless the efforts and words of each person, that in my journey, others would be drawn to you. Yes, I ask you to heal me- I would prefer no suffering. But I am willing to be the One in Eight with breast cancer, if somehow it meant no one around me would get it.

Call me: