Breast Cancer Warrior

The battle is done. I have won! I am marching on, ready to snuggle, cuddle and play with my granddaughter. I am ready to help my children. I am ready to properly ride my horse, take my dog for longer walks and play with my cats. But most of all, I am ready to fully take care of and love my new husband.

I have started a vitamin regimen and I am beginning to eat more healthy. Not that I was not already eating healthy but I intend to really watch the foods I eat. The internal oncologist told me I need to eat hormone free beef. I started yoga and tai chi classes through Levine Cancer Institute. In September, I will begin a survivorship program with the YMCA.

And, I am looking forward to getting my tattoo. I found both these tattoos which I really like on a tattoo website. Now I just have to decide where I want to put the tattoo. On my calf or on my shoulder? I like both tattoos but the ribbon needs to be pink. I also want the word Warrior with the tattoo. I also love the butterflies and I don’t need the zipper idea with the ribbon. I want to keep the tattoo delicate and not large.

The next steps on my warrior crusade against breast cancer is to go on a hormone suppressing medication starting the end of this month. I will need to be on the medication for five years. I have had several women tell me they did not do well on the medication and had to be taken off. I will see. I also have to have my mammogram on the right breast in July. My surgeon will then decide when to have the mammogram done on both breasts. I will also need to have my remaining ovary taken out. My team at Levine Cancer Institute does not want any potential estrogen making organs in my body.

Life after cancer diagnosis? Does one ever truly move on and forget about what one went through? Does one ever truly not worry that it might come back? I know Jesus has said to place your worries with Him and that He will take care of it. I need to be able to trust in that and I do trust in Jesus. But I am only human and there will always be that worry. Especially when all my other mammograms have had irregularities.

Right now, this warrior is moving forward. Eager to see what new things will happen in life. I have this wonderful, fantastic, handsome new husband that I want to share the rest of our lives with. There are so many beautiful things that God has put on this earth for us to appreciate. I want to appreciate as much as He will allow me to.

Coexist

The Coexist image is an image created by Polish, Warsaw-based graphic designer Piotr Młodożeniec in 2000 as an entry in an international art competition sponsored by the Museum on the Seam for Dialogue, Understanding and Coexistence. The original version was one of dozens of works displayed as large outdoor posters in Jerusalem in 2001. (From Wikipedia)

I keep seeing this symbol on a number of vehicles as I am driving around. My first thought was, wouldn’t that be nice, but it is unrealistic. I don’t know why that was my first thought. But I do know that living side by side with people who have different ideologies would be difficult.

Let me see if I can explain how I think this way. I am a Christian. I am not a bible thumping, better than you, Christian. Oh boy. I think I have already smashed the coexist thing. I am a Christian with faults. I have sinned and I keep sinning. So I need to pray a lot and ask for forgiveness. A lot. I try very hard to not look at the skin or outward appearance of a person. I truly value a person for their thoughts and actions. I try very hard to love my neighbor and treat others with respect. I know I fall short of that too often. Most of the time, it is unintentional. My brain has a very short attention span and so many times, I finish one thing and I jump full force into the next item on my list so that I forget that I have left someone or something very abruptly.

As a Christian, we are told to be disciples of God and to spread the good word. We are supposed to tell everyone we meet about Jesus and the love of God. I am not sure how well a Muslim would receive that message. Then I don’t know how a Jewish person would receive the news about Jesus. I already know agnostics and atheists have a low opinion of Christians and how our message is received.

Then my brain went a little further and I questioned how many different religions are there in the world? I googled that and the answer came back with 19 major religions which are divided into 270 groups. Could we fit all those religions into coexist?

If we are to coexist with our different ideologies and religions, how would we be governed? Who would decide the laws and rules of the land? I mean even as Christians there are different groups. We have the Catholics, who started it all. Then the Lutherans broke off from the Catholics because they didn’t agree with their rules. Then we have Protestants, Baptists, Methodists and so on. Right now, there is bickering going on between these groups. We also know how many horrific wars have been fought because of religion. When one sect doesn’t agree with the other, there are battles fought in the most horrible of ways. So I would like to know how it would work to coexist.

Some times, my brain works in strange ways. I will go and coexist with my cats, dogs and horse. At least they know I am the boss. Or do they let me think that?

The Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments are also known as the Decalogue. From what I remember in the Bible, they are rules God gave to Moses and they were printed on stone tablets. Moses was supposed to deliver these commandments to the Israelites when he left Mount Sinai. I also seem to remember that when Moses came down from the mountain, he threw the stone tablets to the ground and broke them because the people had gotten out of control, bored and, quite honestly, stupid by making themselves idols. Honestly!

I didn’t know the ten commandments were also known as the decalogue. So I looked up the definition of decalogue and found “In decalogue the root deca- is combined with logos, Greek for “word”. In the Biblical book of Exodus, the original Decalogue, or Ten Commandments, was handed to Moses by God atop Mount Sinai.” We know that the ten commandments were found in the books of Exodus and in Deuteronomy.

I belong to a number of different Christian groups like Christian Readers and the Christian Theological/Philosophical Book Club  on Goodreads. There are a number of discussions going on led by very well read, intelligent people who discuss a great number of issues.  The discussions that these people have are way beyond what I know from the bible. But I love to read the discussions. One of the topics was on the ten commandments and are you living them or can you live them.

When I researched articles on the ten commandments, the first thing I found that was interesting, was the concept that most people think that everything starts fresh in the New Testament. But that can’t be right. Since Jesus was a Jew and the apostles were all Jews, then one would have to assume that all the old traditions and habits would continue. It was the translators who divided the Old Testament from the New Testament (and this was not something that I knew). So one would have to assume that everything from the Old Testament would carry through into the New Testament. There is nothing in the New Testament that says the commandments are no longer valid or that even one of the commandments are no longer valid.

If you look closely at the New Testament, you will find the ten commandments in various verses and books. The ten commandments are not listed all together in one book, as in the Old Testament, but they are spread around throughout many books. Jesus reminds us that He did not come to destroy the law or the prophets but He came to fulfill the laws.

The commandments were made by a God who loves us beyond what we can ever imagine. He knows us. He knows how stubborn, silly, out of control and just plain stupid we can be. We think we can govern ourselves and control our destinies. But that just isn’t true. God knows exactly His plans for us. And we should be comforted by that.

The ten commandments are pretty awesome. I noticed quite a few blogs from people who have explained the commandments in simple terms. I think I will read up on those blogs and go through each commandment on my blog. I hope I will raise different perspectives and get people to think about the ten commandments. God never intended for us to forget about the commandments. They should be a part of our daily lives if we truly believe ourselves to be Christians.

 

 

Having It All

Today’s discussion on K-Love Radio was about having it all. Having it all meant so many different things to different people. I listened for a while and then thoughts went to – what does it mean for me to have it all?

I immediately thought of my children and grandchildren. I want them to have healthy lives. I wish for them to have safe and loving relationships where they talk and listen to each other. Relationships should be a matter of compromise. Something that will work for both people. Not where one person is giving in to the other just to keep peace. Soon that person will resent the situation and wonder, will there ever be a compromise?

I thought of my husband. He is a truly good and loving man. He has quite the past. He was never without a girlfriend for any length of time. I sometimes wonder what sets me apart from all the others. Why is it special this time? When a woman is married to a truly handsome man, all she sees are her shortcomings. But I have to let that go. It isn’t easy, though, when I have gone through cancer and my body is now slowly healing itself. I have fallen head over heels in love with this man. He means everything to me.

Lastly I thought of Jesus and praying. I wish I could get it right. What is the right way to pray? Can I be sitting or do I have to kneel on the floor? My poor knees aren’t happy about kneeling. And how do I know when Jesus has heard me? There are a number of things I am praying for and this patience thing is for the birds. I want things fixed now. I know it has to happen in God’s time. He knows best. But there are times when I have said to God, I can’t handle any more. I just can’t. I don’t want to.

What would having it all mean to you? For me, seeing my children and grandchildren safe and healthy and in loving relationships. To be happy and content with my husband, knowing and trusting how much he loves me. And to know that I am a child of God. That nothing will happen to me that He and I can’t handle. Then I would have it all.

The Final One

Tuesday, May 22, 2018 was the last day of radiation treatment. Everyone who finishes treatment gets this certificate. Kind of like when parents or grandparents go on holidays and they bring back a tshirt for their children. Whoopee!

Or I should look at it, like now my poor breast and back can heal. I was told it would get worse before it gets better. It definitely is getting worse. There is bleeding going on from the wounds on my back and in my armpit. Not a lot but enough that I can see it when I dry myself off after a shower. Trotting with my horse is definitely not comfortable right now. I will trudge on with the ointments, that is for sure.

What is next? My port will be removed the beginning of June. Then the end of June, I will see both oncologists. Dr. Bobo will check how things are healing and Dr. Hellner will start me on my medication. I was also told to have my last ovary removed. We do not want any chance of anything leading to estrogen production.

Lately, I have been quite moody. My daughter told me that her friend’s father went through a personality change after his radiation treatments. She wasn’t sure what kind of a change but the friend’s mother said there was a change. I researched that and couldn’t find anything about personality change. I just know that I have been quick to cry and certain sad things hit me harder than before.

Is that because of the chemo drugs and radiation? I don’t know. I certainly know that being diagnosed with cancer, having a lumpectomy that deforms my left breast along with lymph node removal that has left me with no feeling in my left armpit, going through powerful drugs that have warning labels on them, going through radiation where the technicians run out of the room when the machine starts, probably contributes to the emotional feelings.

Right now both my daughters are going through a difficult time and it breaks my heart. I have been crying for them. I have been going through Bill’s old photographs and I have been left in tears. He is such a handsome man and all his old pictures show how handsome he was as a younger man. This has left me feeling inadequate, when I shouldn’t. I see pictures of abused animals and I begin to cry. So far, I am not angry. Just sad and teary eyed.

I am hoping that riding and loving on my horse, going to tai chi and yoga classes will help with my emotions. I am determined to make changes in my lifestyle. I am going green. Not only for myself but for this beautiful planet and my children and grandchildren. I will be using the Environmental Working Group website (ewg.org) to make better selections.

Oh, and I am looking up breast cancer tattoos. At the end of June, I will add a tattoo to my arm of a pink ribbon. I am not sure if I want Warrior or Survivor included on the ribbon. I am still debating that.

Tai Chi/Qigong and yoga

While still living in Canada, I took a number of tai chi classes. I enjoyed them but that was several years ago. Levine Cancer Institute offers free tai chi/qigong and yoga classes to its patients, survivors, care givers and employees. My oncologist recommended that I start taking a class.

I am glad I did. I thoroughly enjoyed the first tai chi class. Several people there were quick to let me know that it has taken them three years to remember all the patterns. Not sure how long it will take me. I learned a pattern called, Embrace the Moon. So many different steps, stands, hand movements, all moving together. Not easy but I can laugh at myself and my attempts.

Tai Chi and Qigong are very old forms of martial art. They combine breathing and slow, fluid movements to help restore balance in the body’s energy system. “Qi” (or “Chi”) means the life force or internal energy in our bodies.

The cancer related benefits are many. Tai Chi and Qigong can calm the mind and emotions. Although when you are first learning the movements, it can be frustrating. But if you are patient and keep watching, it will happen. I’m still not sure if I should just focus on my feet and then get the hand movements or what I should do.

Tai Chi and Qigong can improve balance and help prevent falls. I noticed I was focusing on my core and breathing with the movements. This is from my previous days in yoga, I think. So that helps. Also, many cancer patients suffer from neuropathy in the hands or feet. I am experiencing neuropathy in my feet. I have many knitting projects and have found the knitting has helped with my hands. I am noticing that the neuropathy is slowly getting less in my feet. Right now it is just in my toes, a really strange feeling. But I now know that this neuropathy will not last.

It can help reduce muscle and joint pain. Cancer patients suffer with this depending on the chemotherapy drugs given to them. I have noticed more joint pain, especially in my back where I have arthritis in my spine. And now that I think about it, my back felt much better after the class.

It can help promote clear thinking and focus. Boy! Is that true. You have to stay focused on the teacher and people around you or you will walk into someone and/or get run over. I know that I have complained many times about “chemo brain” from the chemotherapy. It is very true and not just old age creeping up on me.

It can increase flexibility and energy. The tai chi has slow, fluid movements which helps with stretching your muscles. I know my energy levels have been quite low from first, the chemotherapy, and now the radiation treatments. But the tai chi will help with that.

It can uplift your spirits and improve breathing. The teacher at the tai chi class kept telling us to smile with our breathing. The people in the group were very encouraging and positive. Surrounding yourself with positive people, helps your state of mind. Following along with all the movements also encouraged me to breathe properly.

All I know is that I really enjoyed the class and I am determined to keep up with it. I know that the tai chi and qigong will help with my core which will benefit my riding abilities. I know Gizmo will appreciate that. Now on to my yoga class!

*Please note that I am referencing an article written by Susan Yaguda, RN, MSN who is with Levine Cancer Institute.

Also, the teacher recommended a series of youtube videos by Dr. Paul Lam (when you google Dr. Paul Lam include tai chi after his name). The videos are free and he gives instructions on tai chi.

Changes

I met with my medical oncologist last week, who scared me a little. Well, she has me rethinking a lot of things now. I started seeing Dr. Bailey-Dorton when my oncologist who was overseeing my chemo treatments thought I would be better suited with Dr. Bailey-Dorton for all my supplement questions.

Dr. Bailey-Dorton gave me a breast cancer integrative health plan where it shows I am overweight. Yah, I knew that. I can’t blame the chemo drugs totally. I think the containers of Ben & Jerry chocolate therapy and Magnum ice creams contributed quite a few pounds. So I know I need to lose weight.

But when Dr. Bailey-Dorton said that all the recommendations she was giving me would be good preventive measures to help stop the cancer from coming back. That is when I sorta kinda stopped breathing a little. I was not expecting that. I thought once the lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation treatments were done, that would be it for me.

She told me that riding my horse was excellent equine therapy. She also said I should find other exercise programs, like yoga or Qigong. Levine Cancer Institute provides these programs free of charge to their cancer patients. I have already done yoga and qigong so I was ready to sign up for those classes.

She gave me a list of supplements to take. Turmeric is used to help with heartburn, stomach ulcers and inflammation. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is an antioxidant which may help decrease inflammation in the body. Long term inflammation may lead to a wide number of chronic health conditions including heart disease and cancer.

It was also recommended to take omega-3 fatty acids, a probiotic, and Vitamin D. She gave me a list of foods that are good for me and told me to eat hormone free meats. She also directed me to the website www.ewg.org, the  Environmental Working Group site. This website has a wealth of information.

Now I am registered for yoga one day per week and qigong one day per week. Along with riding Gizmo four to five times per week, plus walking Roscoe five days per week, my exercise program should be good.

I am slowly going to replace all my cleaning products with environmentally friendly products. I am going to start purchasing healthy food (poor Bill). I need to watch my sun exposure. I have ordered a good sunscreen and two Coolibar long sleeved shirts. The large sun hat I purchased from Coolibar is wonderful. The brim is wide enough to protect my face and my shoulders. I am replacing all my makeup products with verified natural products.

I intend on living a good, long, healthy life. I have a handsome husband I want to grow older with (so he is going to get some changes incorporated into his lifestyle). I have beautiful children and the most adorable grandchildren. I want to be able to play with my grandchildren and spend as much time as possible with them. In other words, I want to be a problem to my children, in that they will never know what to expect from me.

 

 

What Brings Me to Tears

What brings me to tears?

A sad love song. Or an inspiring one that gives me hope. A moving movie where someone or a favored pet has died. A romantic movie where there was no hope, then suddenly hope is found. The loser will finally win against all odds. Almost all the old animated Disney movies have made me cry.

Being surrounded by those I love, my husband, children, grandchildren and close friends. Enjoying each others company. Laughing together. Holding hands. Touching hands with hugs and sighs. Showing our love for each other in kind words and special tasks. Baking, cooking the food everyone enjoys. Showing respect and kindness to those I meet in my travels.

Peaceful walks outside where I can see God’s creation all around me. The trees, flowers, birds singing. The gentle lap of water against a riverbank or the sand of a beach. Sunsets and sunrises. The whisper of the wind against my face. The Carolina blue of the sky with a few fat cotton ball clouds lazily drifting. The warm feeling of the sun on my face.

Riding my horse, who has learned to trust me. She knows me now and she is now taking care of me. She helps me groom her and she loves taking the treats I have made for her. When I sit on her back, I know she is willing to take me where I would like to go and she is willing to do the exercises I set out for both of us. It is taking time to build up my strength again but I am grateful for what I can do. I am grateful that my Gizmo is careful with me and listens to me. I am trying to be a good rider and I am trying to understand what she understands. The sun and the wind on my face is glorious. I appreciate the songs of the birds around me and I pause to listen.

These are all things that will bring tears to my eyes.

But as a woman going through breast cancer treatments, the pain that sometimes wracks my body, will not bring tears to my eyes. The fear of the unknown. The uncertainty. The way the treatments have changed my body. These things will bring tears to my eyes but NOT the physical pain. I have cried enough for the emotions. I will not cry for the physical pain. The pain I can endure and I will rise above it. I have so much to live for. I have so much I need to do.

I am a warrior and I will survive.

Radiation Treatments Have Begun

It has been a while since I have been here. Let’s just say that the chemo treatments took their toll on me. But the treatments are done. I rang that bell on March 2nd. My beautiful youngest daughter was with me when I rang the bell. I tried to be sure that everyone was awake and they were. But I still managed to make one woman jump at the sound of the bell.

After the chemo treatments, I was given one month off. Yippee! During that time off, my husband and I drove down to the Keys to visit my good friends. They are a wonderful couple who have opened their house many, many times so that friends and family could visit. The week in the Keys was much needed by both myself and my husband.

The radiation treatments began Wednesday, April 11th and will continue for five days per week for six weeks. A total of thirty treatments. As of today, the treatments have been going fairly well. No side effects or issues to report, as of today.

In the mean time, I am still riding my horse at the most five days per week, walking our dog five days per week, working on my novels and doing knitting and crocheting projects at night. I also take care of cleaning the house and it looks like I might have to start cutting the lawn. And I love to cook so I try to cook, from scratch, our meals at least four or five times per week.

Did I say I will beat this cancer out the door? No? Well, I am. I have a husband, children, grandchildren and pets to spoil and argue with. I have books to write and places to see. I have life to live as long as God will let me. I have a lot of people who are praying for me. So I need to keep up the good fight and keep praying that God will see me through this.

 

Self Publishing

I took the plunge today. I opened an account in Createspace and intend on self publishing my second novel, You Are Mine. I did win an award last year for this novel at the Blueridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference. Third in  Fiction: Speculative/Mystery/Suspense.

After reading from other writers/authors about finding a publisher or self publishing, I was more and more convinced to just self publish. It isn’t just finding a publishing company, one also has to find an agent. Both tasks are next to impossible. A writer needs the proper query letter and expect rejection after rejection. Most publishing companies will not look at a writer unless they have an agent. And unless you have an angle or a shtick, an agent won’t look at you.

Now I have opened an account in Createspace. My novel has already gone through a thorough edit. Any author who is worthwhile, will tell you to edit, edit and edit even more. Especially if you are going to self publish. Anyone who tells you they can successfully edit their own work, well, I won’t even look at that person’s book. Although there is one author, who I greatly respect, who does a really thorough job of editing before submitting her book to her publisher. But they still edit her work.

You Are Mine will be published by Createspace. While I am going through this process, I am working on my third novel. Right now I don’t have a title for it but it is a paranormal story. At times, it frightens me. My imagination is pretty lively. But I have a story to tell with this book and with the support of God, I will finish it.

I will keep you posted on these novels.