Saturday, December 24, 2011

My Christmas Wish

 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
  and your healing shall spring up speedily;
 your righteousness shall go before you;
  the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
(Isaiah 58:8 ESV)

Father,

I am praying tonight and asking that you send me a Christmas miracle.  I pray that life would return swiftly to my body.  I long to play with my son.  I want to have energy to serve You, to mother my child, to be a wife to husband, to work and play and live fully.

You have made many promises to me, both personally and in your Word and I claim them tonight.  You said in Matthew 7:7 that if I ask and it will be given to me; if I seek I will find; and if I knock you will open the door for me.  So Father, I am asking you for a health better than I knew before cancer, I am seeking your will over my life and strength because I am so frustrated, and I am banging on this door with all my might that You would hear me and open.

Romans 8:11 promises life to my mortal body because Your Spirit dwells within me.  You have answered my urgent cry regarding my fatigue in Isaiah 40 when you said, that they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."

I have tried to be a good student through this experience and on this part of my journey.  I have worked hard to keep my head up and a positive attitude securely in place.  I confess that I am getting tired and that I feel sad because this is not the life that I want to live.  It is not how I wanted to treat my child, when I finally had one, and it is not a life that I sincerely believe does me justice.  I have too much to give to lay in bed too weak to move around and be useful.  I pray for your mercy and ask that you heal me quickly because I honestly do not know how much more of this I can take.

I ask for forgiveness for where I have fallen short and I am working to practice forgiveness and patience in my life.  I admit, I don't think I am very good at this yet but it is a work in progress.  I hope for continued guidance and direction of where I need to improve and to respond faithfully where I am needed. 

I pray all of this Father in Jesus' name, who died for me that I might live abundantly,

Susan

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Full Serving of Christmas Joy

My sister is here from Maine and we are trying to get all of our holiday celebrating in before she leaves.  Sadly, it is only a week past chemotherapy so I am dragging a bit.  My son is 2 years and 8 months and is in quite awe of all things Christmas and shiny.  Today while he was napping and as I looked on, Mom, Dad and Tracey drug out all the boxes of Christmas decorations and put up the tree.

When I was a single woman I bought glass hummingbirds and glass three tiered bells for my Christmas decorations.  These are not toddler friendly and he has a real tendency to be rough or wing things across the room. This year Dad had this brilliant idea to decorate the tree with my little wee bears which really brought me back.  www.weebearvillage.com   They are so cute and so funny.  Check out the website.  I have almost all of them. 

I discovered them in a coffee shop, years ago, and found that they were way too irresistible to pass up.  I indulged myself, thinking how much delight they would bring the child I hoped to have one day, but they brought me a lot of joy also.  When I met Huy and downsized my house they all went into a box and I always felt sort of sad that I didn't display them somehow or have a use for them.  I invested quite a bit of money in them and wondered if I had been foolish.  Today all those doubts were brought to rest and I was given a full serving of joy as all those past hopes and wishes culminated into a magical moment when his eyes saw the tree and all the animals.  He squealed and giggled and looked them all over.  There is a crocodile, an octopus, a colorful peacock and on and on.  They are all teddy bears wearing a complete and removable costume.

He seemed to know that we had done this for him.  I don't believe that he had ever seen the toys before as they had been packed up.  I think he thought it was the finest tree he had ever seen.  When he saw the pig, he said, "PIG!" and made a pig sound.  He kissed the duck costumed bear and said duck.  He admired the lights and named the colors.  This is going to be a fun Christmas for sure.  He found my nesting Santa doll and Grampy helped him take it apart.  He lined them all up on the table and then Grammy helped him put them all back together.  He then scooped up the Santa and put him back on the table in his original resting spot.

I have a full heart this evening.  The memory of this day will be with me always.  I want to thank my generous family for all the heavy lifting today that I could not do.  I was able to cut and ribbon the ornaments for the tree.  I had a nice birds eye view when the magic Christmas moment occurred.  It is nice to see the purchases I have made over the years and the special gifts I have safe guarded thrill my child.  I think this will be one of my happiest Christmas' yet.  It seems so many of my dreams have come true.  I pray that God will give me some energy and stamina so that I may participate as much as my heart yearns.

Happy Holidays My Dear Friends,

Susan

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Time!

If you have not have the pleasure of visiting a retail establishment, and having then been assaulted by Christmas music, then you should be informed that the Christmas time of year has returned.  I know that things are different nowadays from when I was a kid.  While I am picking up my Halloween candy, I could also select my Christmas candy canes and get a jump start on the Christmas holiday shopping.  I am sure you can hear the edge in my voice, I confess, it drives me crazy.  I would like an official law passed that no Christmas item can hit the shelves until December first out of respect for Thanksgiving. Ah but I digress, this is in fact a positive blog post.  You have to keep that negativity under control or it slips out when you least expect it.

I am curious to know what item, food, or decoration just announces Christmas in your life?  It may be hard for you to pick just one thing because it is hard for me.  My grandmother always kept Christmas cactus' and they were huge and glorious.  I have one in my office that is hot pink and it has 30 or so blooms on it.  It is beautiful.  It reminds me of Grammie Audet's house.  My other grandmother always displayed a ceramic Christmas tree with little colorful lights on it and this revved up the Christmas spirit for me.  I have always wanted to have one of those for my office but have yet to obtain one.

The one thing for me though, is the Christmas Angel Tree Topper that my parents purchased when I was a kid to decorate their tree.  It was magical for me as a child, and it stirs those feelings in me now when I see it.  It is next to me in the chair in this photo.  I have given her a makeover.  After twenty years her gold wire wings and dress had seen better days.  I am forty now and terrified to leave the Christmas tree on if she lit up because I don't trust her wiring.  Does it seem silly to you that I am considering having her re-wired? 

As you get older, it may begin to seem like a lot of work to unpack all the Christmas decorations and put them all up, only to later take them all down and put them away.  It was beginning to feel that way for me.  Then the other day, I overheard my husband and son putting up or little 3 foot Christmas tree and lights.  My son was extremely impressed and excited.  He is fascinated by the lights and the ornaments.  I then insisted we find our LL Bean embroidered stockings and hang those.  They say Mom, Dad and Tan.  He is 2 1/2 and he looked them over, read the names (with help), and then hooked them up with Huy.  He reached his arm down into the bottom of a couple of them to see if there was anything in them but found nothing.  He loves it and he doesn't even realize what is coming his way.

I hope that while I am helping him understand the true meaning of Christmas that he will also find some special foods and items that stir those holiday feelings for him.  We started last year making the sugar cookies painted with colored icing.  He liked it.  He did paint his tongue quit a bit, though.  When Auntie Tracey comes next week we will put up the tree and hang some ornaments.  I am really looking forward to this year with my little boy.  It reminds me of how important special memories are which is why I look forward to making some.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays Everyone!! 

Susan

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Life Lesson #too high to count

My heart is grieved.  My soul is weary.  I need some recharging, I guess.  As I sit in my chair, eager to be pressed into service, the stories I hear are hard to stomach.  I have been wondering when the world went crazy and how bad I want to get off this ride.
Luckily, for me, I can only stand so much of this before I begin searching for an exit stragedy.  I just do not like feeling bad and I begin working on shift.  I have to shift my thoughts.  I have to shift my focus.  I need to lift my eyes.  I need to do it quick before I get infected.  You see these sorts of thoughts and feeling are contagious and this is not what I want to catch.  It could lead to me feeling sorry for myself and I refuse to do that, allow that, or live in that space.

I am given this verse tonight and want to share it with you

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Philippians 4:8



Susan

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Innocence of Children

My beautiful son is 32 months old and fast approaching three years old.  He has a great sense of humor and is language skills improve by the day.  I still cannot keep my eyes off his face.  I never tire of looking at him. 

My heart is a bit heavy the last few days.  My work brings me face to face with the pain and suffering that is so prevalent in this world we live in.  We live in a world where people hurt each other, and whether or not the they do it intentionally or carelessly, the consequences are real.  It is hard to avoid hearing about it and sadly the triumphs in this life are not broadcast as far or as often.

I write this because we are in the Christmas season.  This is a time of celebrating the birth of the child that came to save the world.  Yes. it has become very commercialized, but through the eyes of a child it is a beautiful, magical time.  My son is awestruck by the lights and the decorations.  He looks at the houses and all their adornments with admiration.  They glow so pretty in the dark.

I intend to take this heavy heart of mine and work on making this year a time of celebration for my son.  I commit to protecting his innocence and I commit to protecting him.  I will guard myself when I am angry or tired or feeling sick and respond to him lovingly. I will forgive myself and re-commit when I fall short because I am a human parent.

 I will use appropriate discipline that is neither harsh nor abusive because I love him and it is my job to guide him but not harm him.  I will remember that I have a voice and an influence in this world.  I will continue to shine my light into the world in the hope and prayer that I can make a difference in other children's lives as well.  They will grow to be the citizens and neighbors of my son.

I hope and pray that this will be a reminder to you, this Christmas season, to be kind and generous.  I hope you will also shine your light into a dark world and offer a hand to lift someone up. 

Susan

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:16

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving

Another Thanksgiving day has rolled around and due to the prompting, I have been thinking of what I am grateful for.  This holiday, this month. for me is all about my grandmother Lucille Violette Audet.  I do not know who said it first, but someone said that a woman's true power in the home, is the power to set the tone.  I do not know what my grandmother would say about this but she set a tone in my life that has created a safe, warm childhood nest feeling which influences my every thought about how holidays in general, and Thanksgiving Day in particular, should be celebrated.  Holiday decoration, excellent food as with as many of your family as you can fit in your home, to be exact.

My Grandmother is a fine woman and the finest example, in my opinion, of what a real grandmother is.  To my knowledge she has no tattoos, no substance abuse issues, and has never been arrested.  She is a woman who commands respect.  There is an order to how things are done in her home, in her cooking, and on holidays and she is a woman who conducts herself with dignity and respect.  She loves us in her quiet way and demonstrates that love with her cooking, her presence, and her legacy.

Mom and I were talking today about families and Thanksgiving and it seems that the cornerstone for a lot of people is the stuffing or dressing for the turkey.  My grandmother's pork stuffing is the only stuffing for me because anything else is just not a family celebration.  So many of my holiday celebrations and my grandmother's cooking are completely intertwined but the tone she set branches out much deeper and wide than food. (Though Christmas is coming and I remember fondly her holiday tin of fudge and other treats.)

For example, my grandmother was not content to watch us play and sit on the sidelines.  My grandmother would suit up and swim with us.  Sometimes, she would sun herself while we splashed around but she was right in the mix.  Every year she would throw a New Year's skating party at camp and she would ice skate with us.  Then she would make enough hot cocoa with marshmellows for an army.  My grandfather is amazing too but I dont think about him in November...that is reserved for her.

I am sad on the days when I don't get to emulate and live out this rich legacy due to fatigue or pain. I am working hard to overcome cancer so that I may live the life I have dreamt of.  Somedays, this fully encompasses my energy and I have no energy left. What I have, though, even on those days is a heart filled with hope that God will heal me.  My earnest prayer is that I can be the sort of woman that my grandmother is and my parents are.  I believe I can accomplish this, especially as I am lifted by all the prayer and generosity that is constantly added into my life by those of you who love me.  I love you back.

Susan

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Push, Pull and Drag

I want to apologize for my neglect of you and this blog as of late.  I am acclimating to a new chemotherapy and each round brings a challenge by way of side effects on my body.  I am now on Iexempra and it really hits the immune system hard so I am given Neulasta (an injection) the next day to boost my blood counts.  It really throws me a for a loop.

This round I had only half an injection of the Neulasta and I am functioning again after a week.  Praise the Lord!!  I think it was a week and a half to two weeks last time.  I had very little pain thanks to the Claritin which seems to aid in the histamine production of the immune system resulting from Neulasta injections.  Weird but if it works....at this stage in the game...I am for it.

Today I was back at work and rather enjoyed the movement and not being knocked off my feet.  Hooray for work!  Hooray for feeling better.  This new chemotherapy is working and my tumor markers have decreased from 903 to 682. 

More interesting posts to come!

Susan

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Hard Part...

Looking back at this journey, I would have to say that the hard part is staying upbeat and not giving in to feeling discouraged.  I tend to struggle with this when I have a series of days when I feel sick and am in pain.  It has been over two years now and I am still maintaining a remarkable good level of wellness but on the days following chemotherapy and the injection of Neulasta...it is hard to remember that.

If anyone has any tips on how they maintain a positive outlook when things are not going well then I hope you post it because I could use it.  I find, for myself, that I lean on my support system during these times, I keep my eyes fixed on where I am going, and I try to keep moving forward and reminding myself that "this too shall pass." 

When I do feel discouraged, I acknowledge this as reasonable and a normal part of the ebb and flow of life.  It is easier for me to move past it when I validate why I feel this way rather than beat myself up or consider it a lack of faith.  I cry a little.  I sulk a little.  I distract myself and then I try to get back on target.

Your thoughts and suggestions welcome.

Susan

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Quotes on Cancer

If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or fight like hell. ~Lance Armstrong

We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival. ~Winston Churchill

Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops... at all. ~Emily Dickinson

The power of love to change bodies is legendary, built into folklore, common sense, and everyday experience. Love moves the flesh, it pushes matter around.... Throughout history, "tender loving care" has uniformly been recognized as a valuable element in healing. ~Larry Dossey

Friday, October 28, 2011

Family

I am privileged to work in a profession where I meet a lot of people.  Over the years my taste has changed and I find that I like the colorful characters the best.  Speaking of color, my Dad and I like to watch nature programs and he is sure to say with each viewing, "God has a lot of fun with color, doesn't He?"  I realize that my father may be referring to the marvelous variety among the hundreds of species of hummingbirds in that program but, as my thoughts linger on the interesting conversations I have had this week, my agreement is weighted with more depth and reflection.

We grew up with the idea that the United States was a melting pot and later in my Master's program the idea was suggested that, in fact, we are like a tossed salad.  A really great salad contains lots of variety in the ingredients, and if you look into the salad bowl you can easily identify what is what, as they remain sliced or chopped, but recognizable as their whole self.  We have not immigrated here and given up our identities.  Instead, we joined communities, gained employment and contribute in our own unique ways.  We are who we are but we form part of the whole.

Family is like that.  We grow up each forming a part of the salad and each adding to it in our own way.  There are many characters in a family and that can lead to conflict and division.  This is not always pleasant, but having a bowl of iceberg lettuce only seems hardly a salad.  It is dull.  It is lonely.  It is not very fun to eat.

Family is the very foundation of our lives.  It serves as our spring board each day to launch our lives.  It is the very air that we breath and the wind that we propel ourselves forward with.  Sadly, this can easily be taken for granted in large and extended families when each member does not give thought to the role they play in the success or the demise of the other family members.  Sharp words of criticism, selfish acts, negativity or a spirit on non-cooperation can begin to spoil the salad.  Generosity, patience, random acts of kindness aimed at family members, commitment to family goals, and intentional attempts to contribute positively to the family can do wonders.

It is not any more difficult to contribute to the good of the family than it is to contaminate it.  The more we examine our role in our salad, and take responsibility for the responses by its members, regarding our word and deeds, the more we can seek to make positive changes in the functioning.  It takes a degree of awareness and a great deal of commitment toward the good of the whole.  When things are at it's best our salad is full and crisp.  Each member has chosen to come and make their presence known and contribute by adding a measure of them self to it.  It becomes full and colorful and nutritious to those who are able to indulge in the eating of it.

There are those who would not make time for salad making.  There is so much to do at home.  Stress can get the better of these members and they will be absent from the salad.  It will be too far to travel.  Schedules will conflict.  It may time a long time to plan a get together and opportunities to get every one there may be quite few and far between.  Sadly, this tragedy compromises the ability to jump in and function as a great and bountiful salad.
We are entering into the season of family.  In writing this blog, I am not suggesting that we all make salads, but rather we come together in creative ways to connect and build family ties.  Have we harmed each other?  Have we been rude and uncaring?  Was I selfish and forgetful?  I pray that God will give me the courage to seek forgiveness and ensure that I contribute and uplift those in my family.  I pray that this year we grow stronger and closer.  I pray we narrow the spaces between us so that we may stand together when the tribulations of life come.

Don't forget the croutons as you examine yourself and take your inventory.

Susan

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Little Glimpse of Heaven

I keep getting this little glimpse of heaven in such a strange way.  Our little grandson Tan has grown up with some elegant dietary expectations thanks to his "gramPY".    At our house the refrigerator is ALWAYS stocked with a fresh selection of strawberries and more importantly, raspberries, just for you-know-who.  When he comes each evening Paul prepares a little dish with some of this fruit for Tan.  Tan has this cute way of fingering the berry up to his mouth and then popping it in with his index finger, one after the other.  (he also dragged me over to the refrigerator the other day and said "juice - me".  He's getting his language skills down pretty well)   Anyway, back to the point.  I sometimes want to say to Tan, "do you have any idea what raspberries cost???" but of course he doesn't.   From his perspective, they just appear and are there for him to enjoy in whatever quantity he needs or wants.  The concept of cost, money, labor and reward are irrelevant and unheard of.  The only currency he understands is the little kiss I request and am given.

This is my reminder and picture of heaven.  I look forward to the time when my needs are met not on what I can earn but on what I already inherited.  When all is provided with no cost.  A mansion, a feast, everything beyond what I can comprehend or imagine.  Not for a day or a week or a year but for eternity.  Not perishable but imperishable.   Just like the Children of Israel who took possession of a land flowing with milk and honey and great and splendid cities which they did not build, and houses full of all good things which they did not fill, and hewn cisterns which they did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees which they did not plant, I will have an eternal refrigerator stocked and supplied for me by the One who already meets all of my needs.  What's not to like about that?  

Oh, help me Father to focus on the eternal and not on today, on your purpose and not my own, and to trust you when I am afraid. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Re-Train Your Eyes

Tonight I am reminded of the story of David and Goliath.  I was thinking about truth and how easily our eyes and our thoughts can be deceived.  Once that occurs, it is very easy to have your faith shaken and to begin to forget the very promises that God has given to you.  I feel lighter hearted this evening, having been reminded about truth, and having been reminded my strength and my faith has been restored.

Here is an account of that famous story to refresh your memory.

The Philistine army had gathered for war against Israel. The two armies faced each other, camped for battle on opposite sides of a steep valley. A Philistine giant measuring over nine feet tall and wearing full armor came out each day for forty days, mocking and challenging the Israelites to fight. His name was Goliath. Saul, the King of Israel, and the whole army were terrified of Goliath.

One day David, the youngest son of Jesse, was sent to the battle lines by his father to bring back news of his brothers. David was probably just a young teenager at the time. While there, David heard Goliath shouting his daily defiance and he saw the great fear stirred within the men of Israel. David responded, "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of God?"

So David volunteered to fight Goliath. It took some persuasion, but King Saul finally agreed to let David fight against the giant. Dressed in his simple tunic, carrying his shepherd's staff, slingshot and a pouch full of stones, David approached Goliath. The giant cursed at him, hurling threats and insults.

David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied ... today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air ... and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel ... it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give all of you into our hands."

As Goliath moved in for the kill, David reached into his bag and slung one of his stones at Goliath's head. Finding a hole in the armor, the stone sank into the giant's forehead and he fell face down on the ground. David then took Goliath's sword, killed him and then cut off his head. When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. So the Israelites pursued, chasing and killing them and plundering their camp.  1 Samuel 17

Anyone looking down on that fateful encounter would not have believed that David could win.  Anyone trusting their eyes, that is, and not their hearts.   I am reminded that I need to see with my heart because that is where I hold the promises that God has made to me in his scriptures and to me in person.  I will re-train my eyes, as they read the reports, to see myself through the eyes of faith and not to see things at face value.

Thanks!!!  I needed that reminder.

Susan

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Thanking God For Small Miracles x 24 months

And praying for larger ones.

Today Susan and I had a pretty good day.  She completed a 6 course radiation treatment to her left hip and had a inconsequential visit with a oral surgeon who dismissed our concerns of mandibular necrosis.  We haven't quite decided if we believe him or not as she still has symptoms including chin and lip numbness and her teeth still feel strange.  We are still wondering if this is the 'duck' disease or not.  "if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, it must be a.... duck".   In any event, the doctor didn't see anything fowl going on.   Ok, I know that is a major pun, I just can't help it.  So we are going to wait and see. 

We went to Olive Garden for a mini celebration dinner and then picked up the 2 year old and brought him back to "amPEE's" for a nap.   Tan proceeded to eat a half carton of raspberries and climb repeatedly onto the kitchen countertop that he thinks is his perch.  Why is it he understands "no" only in a uni-directional way?   From him to us and not the other way around.    Speaking of Tan, yesterday morning he climbed into our bed, elevated the head of it and settled in to watch his favorite Little Einstein video on the television.  When I wandered in to check on him, he pointed his finger towards the door and instructed 'go'.  I was being kicked out of my own bedroom. 

This weekend marks the exact two year anniversary of our sudden and terrifying trip to Colorado Springs when Susan was admitted to the hospital for the then undiagnosed problem that turned our lives upside down.  On that Friday night after work, we hurriedly threw some clothes into an overnight bag and caught an early flight out of Tampa the next morning.  We didn't know it would be this way then, but Paul has not slept a night in our Florida home since that fateful night that we came for a weekend and stayed for a lifetime. 

Two years later Susan is still going, some days stronger than others, but still going.  We have loved, laughed, traveled, and lived.  We are still dreaming, hoping, and praying.  God is still in charge, still on His throne, and still in the miracle business.  

Here's to the next 24, and the next, and the next. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

cystoscopy

Today I had the pleasure of visiting the Urologist to have a cystoscopy.  If you are not familiar with this procedure it is defined as an endoscopy of the urinary bladder via the urethra. It is carried out with a cystoscope.  Basically a small camera is inserted into your urethra and pushed up into the bladder.  The entire procedure is quite painless, due to the numbing gel, and takes only a couple of minutes.

For the last couple of months I have been having one Urinary Tract Infection after another.  I have had some pretty constant bladder pain for about two months.  I have learned from the Urologist that chemotherapy can irritate the bladder and cause this condition.  I had a Pelvis CAT scan to rule out kidney stones or other internal problems and the cystoscope did not reveal any damage.

Therefore, the Urologist has concluded that it is nothing more than irritation and infection resulting from all the chemotherapy.  He has put me on a three day anti-biotic regimen followed by an additional six months of a lighter anti-biotic to ensure that no bacteria is able to take hold and develop further infection.

If  you are undergoing chemotherapy please keep in mind that it can take a toll on your body in many, many ways.  I am feeling a bit disappointed that my complaints of bladder pain and concerns about all of the urinary tract infections were not handled more pro-actively.  I wish that I had known that this bladder irritation could be a result of chemotherapy.  I think that I would have been more aggressive in my advocating for myself.  I think I would have saved myself some pain and suffering.

Susan

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Owl Video

video

Initial reaction embarrassment followed by flinging the poor owls across the room.  What can I say?  He is 2 1/2.  He did look them over later and the next day hugged them to his chest.

Sigh.

Susan

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

MRI of the Lumbar Spine from 9-30-11

FINDINGS:  This exam was compared to the MRI dated October 12, 09.

As shown previously, there is "bow-tie" loss of height involving the L3 vertebral body without associated bone marrow edema ( concavity of the superior and interior endplates) consistent with a chronic compression fracture.  The shape of the fracture and associated diffuse heterogeneous mottled decreased T1 and T2 bone marrow signal with associated heterogeneous post-contrast enhancement.of the bone marrow is consistent with fracture secondary to myeloproliferative disease such as multiple myeloma or metastatic adenocarcinoma from breast or lung.  Clinical correlation is highly recommended to rule out a neoplastic process.  The compression fracture and bone marrow signal characteristics are not typical of osteopenia versus osteoporosis.  In particular, there is not consistent with an insufficiency fracture.  There is no displaced fracture fragment.  The neural canal is widely patent.  There has been slight worsening of the loss of height, with the central (narrowest) portion of the vertebral body measuring 1.0 cm on the sagittal cuts, compared to 1.4 cm on the previous study.

There is slight (approximately 30%) loss of height of the L5 vertebral body without increased T2 signal, also consistent with a mild compression fracture, which is not present on the previous exam.  There is no displaced fracture fragment.

The remainder of the vertebral body heights and alignment are within normal limits.  The disk space heights are normal.  The neural canal and neural foramina are widely patent, there is no evidence of nerve root impingement or cauda equina, conus medullaris, or cord impression.

Developmentally, the spinal canal volume is normal.  The cauda equina, conus mdeullaris, and distal spinal cord show no abnormal mass, signal, or post-contrast enhancement.  In particular, there is no evidence of intrathecal metastatic disease.

The facet joints are normal.  There is no evidence of spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis.

IMPRESSION:  Bone marrow signal and shape of the loss of height/compression fracture of the L3 vertebral body are highly consistent with primary versus metastatic bone marrow disease such as multiple myeloma or metastatic adenocarcinoma.  Clinical correlation is advised.  Loss of height on the L3 vertebral body is slightly worse compared to the exam dated October 12, 2009, however, there is no associated bone marrow edema, suggesting a chronic healed compression fracture.  Considering the signal characteristics, shape of the compression fracture, and bone marrow signal finding, this is not typical of an insufficiency compression fracture fragment.  The neural canal and neural foramina are widely significant retropulsed or unstable fracture fragment.  The neural canal and neural foramina are widely patent.  The post-contrast enhancement of the bone marrow suggests a persistent active process.

Slight loss of height (approximately 30%) of the L5 vertebral body without increased T2 signal, also consistent with a mild compression fracture, which is not present on the previous exam.  There is no displaced fracture fragment.

The remainder of the exam is unremarkable. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

MRI of the Pelvis/Left Femur on Sept 30, 2011

FINDINGS:  This exam was compared to the MRI dated Sept 16, 2010

As shown previously, there is diffuse heterogeneous bone marrow signal involving the pelvis and the left femur, including the ischium, ilium, and sacrum, consistent with a metastatic neoplastic process with bone metastasis.  The mottled appearance of the bone, including the head of the left femur, is worse compared to the previous exam, with deformity of the femoral head, consistent with an associated compression fracture.  The bone marrow edema suggests an acute to subacute process.  The post-contrast images show heterogeneous enhancement of the head of the left femur and remainder of the visualized bone marrow consistent with an active process.

There is no other fracture.  There is no joint effusion.  There is no evidence of periosteal reaction or subcutaneous or deep soft tissue edema.  There is no evidence of muscle strain or tear, tendinopathy, or bursitis.

The visualized portion of the pelvis is unremarkable, without evidence of lymphadenopathy or an abnormal pelvic mass.  There is no evidence of inguinal hernia.  There is no free fluid.

IMPRESSION:  Diffuse metastatic bone marrow disease with a mild compression fracture of the head of the femur, at the weight-bearing surface, with adjacent sclerotic changes.  The abnormality is not present on the exam dated September 16, 2010.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Gifts are fun to give.

My son is of the age where he loves to recognize familiar objects and shout them out.  He is learning language and gets a big charge out of things.  When he sees an owl he goes nuts.  He shouts out a long drawn out, Owwwlllll and then says hoot, hoot, hoot. 

It does not matter if it is a cartoon owl or a real owl.  When we watch Toy Story he hears an owl, never sees it and shouts out Owl! 

I saw some knitted owls on facebook and found someone who could make him a set.  My cousin referred me to a friend and she did such a nice job.  She made him a Daddy, Mommy (with blue eyes like me) and a baby owl.  It feels like the night before Christmas for me, as I am eager to give him this gift.  I plan to take a video when he opens them.

My son brings me a lot of enjoyment.  He has a great sense of humor and brightens my day every day.  I feel privileged to be able to do special things for him when I am able. 

Susan 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

My New Slogan



This is one of those things that everyone on Facebook was posting.  I love it and had to share. 

Susan

Monday, September 26, 2011

Trying to Focus and Be Clear though trouble seems to swirl around me.

If God is for us, who can be against us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8: 31b, 35, 37-39)

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:6-8)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I am feeling between a rock and a hard place.  I see my Doctor on Wednesday and we will decide whether or not to take me off the oral chemotherapy drug Xeloda and put me on IV chemotherapy.  I do not like either prospect.  The Xeloda has severely affected my stamina and my feeling of wellness.  It caused me pain, nausea, and exhaustion. 

A new chemotherapy regimen will bring new side effects and challenges.  I will lose my hair again.  I will have to sit for a couple of hours in the cancer center while they pump it in to me.  I am growing weary of all of this. 

I am taking delight in my spunky two year old son.  He gives me lots of kisses and hugs.  I am working with a woman to regain her life and her peace.  We are about to build her a new safe haven to go home to.  It uplifts my spirits to assist someone in great need.  I feel quiet.  I have not written as much but I am not beaten.  I am not even close to being beaten.

I am working to regain my strength and meditating on the verses that I included above.

In case you were wondering.

Susan

Tracey's Lesson

This is a piece I wrote perhaps 20 years ago but I remember it as if it were yesterday.  I thought I would dust it off and see how it works in 2011.  Hope you enjoy it.  

It was a beautiful Fall day. The kind here in Maine that are bittersweet with both a snap in the air that warns of the impending winter and a sunny sweetness all its own. Autumn is spectacular in New England; the air is crystal clear, the sky is a vivid palette of blue, and the pungent odor of burning leaves tickles the nose.

For me, in that Fall of 1975, it was also a busy time. lmitating the squirrels who were busy laying up winter stores of food, I was working to preserve the bounty at hand. lt had been a good harvest year; our vegetable garden had outdone itself, and now I was turning my attention to our huge apple tree in the back yard.

We were fortunate to live in an 1850's vintage cape in this beautiful Maine village. We loved this old unique home and its surrounding community, and we appreciated its rich heritage. lt was a simple life that my husband Paul and I lived here with our two young daughters, Susan, age 5, and Tracey, age 3. And we were grateful to an unknown forefather who had lovingly cared for this house and who had planted the now magnificent apple tree.

So, on this crisp, clear Fall morning, I attended to the task at hand. The old tree was groaning under its weight of red, juicy apples, and I knew I had a large job ahead of me. The girls and I would pick a boxful, and as I would sit on the backsteps and peel them, they would ride their tricycles around the yard and play. After I sugared the apples and deposited them in the freezer, we would start the process all over again.

It was a satisfying morning, and I was caught up in the beauty of the day watching my little daughters with curly blond hair busy at play. There was also great enjoyment in the knowfedge thatwe'd be enjoying pies and applesauce from our freezer all winter long. Occasionally, the girls would join me on the steps and munch on slices of fresh peeled apple. These were sweet moments as they'd interrupt their laughter and play and snuggle with me on the steps while they devoured my last ten minutes worth of peeling. We'd talk about important things like where worms go in the winter and they'd make bracelets from the curly lengths of apple peels and try to balance them on their noses.

However, the sweet aroma of the apples also drew an unwelcome visitor - one who was also trying to prepare for winter. As we sat there, me - peeling and coring, they eating and chatting, a persistent honeybee decided to join us. At first, I tried to ignore him, hoping that he was only passing through, but it soon became apparent that he meant business. I sat there wide eyed with alarm with hands sticky from my work, as he buzzed us trying to find a spot to land. As I vainly waved my arms around trying to discourage him - I considered my options, how should I handle this without frightening the girls?  Should we stay and fight it out or should we abandon the effort and run?

In those few moments, the bee narrowed his attention to Tracey who appeared quite unconcerned with all of this. When I shouted at her to run off, she calmly turned to me and quietly said "Daddy says if a bee bothers you, just blow on him and he'll go away". And as it to prove her right at that moment the bee touched down on her pudgy little hand, and as she gently blew him away he was gone.

How important was this lesson I learned from my three year old daughter that day and how much like God's ways the lesson was. I saw again the importance of gentleness. That day, Tracey reminded me that there are gentle ways to handle the annoying problems of life that buzz at us. How often l've needed to remember this.

Thank you, Lord, for the lesson you taught me that day through a three year old child and a honeybee.



Saturday, September 24, 2011

I Got To Thinking The Other Day

By Becky Comeau

I heard an interesting song on the radio the other day that got me making a mental list as I drove along.  It was about 'what you got' from your parents in terms of training.  Here's my list:
From Dad, he taught me to:
  • Swim
  • Skate
  • Ride a bike
  • Drive a car (standard shift no less)
  • Change a tire and check the oil in my car
I also got my love of travel and adventure from him.  He was a born travel bug and would have wandered the world were he able to. 

From Mom.  She taught me to:
  • cook   [HER soups, breads, pies, and holiday meals are noteworthy]
  • know how to keep a clean house [knowledge counts for something!!]
  • garden
  • love the smell of bedsheets fresh from the clothes line.  Now, would someone please invent that fragrance in a dryer sheet!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • enjoy the seasons.  Mom still loves summer, camp life, and swimming.  We picked apples in season, went tobogganing and ice skating in the winter,  picked fiddleheads in the spring and loved the smell of mudseason as it hinted of better things to come.  We noticed the early buds on the trees and even enjoyed raking leaves in the fall.   We always LOVED that 13 mile drive from "town" to camp on those hot summer days BEFORE THE DAYS OF CAR AIR CONDITIONING.   Just about the time we hit China Village, someone just had to say "it's cooler already".  
  • Love home and family.  Mom's relunctance to leave the nest for very long was the reason Dad didn't fully satisfy his travel lust, but, he understood that so well. 
What does your list look like??

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Aint nothing like the real thing, baby"

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION

Written By:  Pamela M. Steiner

http://pamelasopenwindow.blogspot.com/2011/09/aint-nothing-like-real-thing-baby.html

The following is a quote of my own comment to one of my blogging friends who had just written about whether or not she should get an Ipod to replace her Palm Pilot..."Our Journey Together" by my friend Susan

This is what I said regarding her dilemma...
"I don't have either one...I have a desktop computer. My husband has a refurbished laptop. I have an ordinary cell phone. I don't need anything else. I feel "over-connected" with this old world now as it is. What I really desire is real friends, real faces at my table and not in my computer, love and laughter with family and friends in person. Gadgets are nice, and I don't fault anyone for having them...but I just don't want them. I may have to write about this in my blog since this comment is too long already! Yes, save your $$ until you are ready to get whatever you feel you need at that time. Until then, just enjoy the real people and places surrounding you each day. That is what really matters."

My friend Susan is currently battling a very serious and aggressive cancer. She is a young mother of one very active 2 1/2 yr. old boy, as well as a counselor. She tries to maintain her work, enjoy her family,and live a normal life as much as possible. Perhaps an Ipod would help her. Her Mother seems to think so...and it might be the right thing for her to do. I was not trying to be critical at all regarding her decision or choices. I was just speaking for my own self.

I've had friends tell me that I need to get a "Kindle" to read my books on...and I have no interest in that at all. I know, I know, I've heard all the wonderful endorsements for having such a marvelous invention to carry a whole library of books at my instant disposal with me anywhere. But why do I need to do that? I can only read one book at a time, and I like to do that in a comfortable chair, turning the paper pages, feeling each page as I turn it, and looking back at the previous page anytime I want to re-read what I just read in case I didn't quite get it the first time. I love to look at the cover of the book, read the fly-leaf, look at the copyright. A lot of the books I read are very old, (from my blog-page "A Few of My Favorite Things")and sometimes the pages are stained, perhaps a little dog-eared...and I have often found other people's old  
bookmarks...an old grocery list, a small card with notes on it, the names of other people who have owned or read the book I am holding in my hand. I love that. It helps me feel connected with the previous readers, or the author herself/himself! Please don't take away my real books! You just can't do all of that with an electronic gadget that has to be recharged frequently or might easily get damaged or stolen. My books can be picked up anywhere, anytime, and I don't recall ever having to recharge them to be able to read them. (I might have to recharge my OWN batteries sometimes to keep going...but that's a different story!)

I truly do enjoy connecting with many friends, old and new, through the medium of "Facebook". I think that is a wonderful invention and I have embraced it whole-heartedly! I love to post pictures of my family and share a piece of my world with the rest of the world. I do the same through this blog. But one thing I have to remind myself of often...this should not ever take the place of "real-life" friends and family...those who are here with me in the flesh...or who may be wanting to share a part of my life in a more tangible way. You know, a "real" tea-party...a lunch date...a shopping trip...a ride in the country with my hubby...a card game with our kids or friends at our kitchen table...laughing and talking and experiencing real quality time together...face to face...hearing each other's voices and seeing the smiles on their faces...holding hands in a time of prayer for a meal shared together...a hug when we meet, and another when we part.

Cell phones are a wonderful invention also...mine is rather archaic in that it doesn't do much except make phonecalls. I could add more to it, for a price...but why should I? It does what I need it to do...and sometimes I wish I didn't need it at all. It's hard to escape when people have my number...and I feel "naked" if I go out without it. I don't like being that dependent on a technological gadget.

I refuse to get one of those GPS thingys for my car. I have always prided myself on having a good sense of direction. Also, I try to look up places before I leave and if I need to, I print out the directions...or I do it the old fashioned way...I take an atlas (map) when traveling very far. It got our forefathers where they were going (even though they hated to ask directions)...I can remember my father telling us on our vacation trips, when we had been driving around what seemed like circles for quite a while, "I'm not lost. I know exactly where I'm going. I'm just taking the scenic route!" How many of you have ever heard (or said) that before?
Besides, everyone I know who has a GPS thingy in their car still can't find my house without calling me in the middle of the night after driving around for an hour on dark dirt roads...(I Love you, niece Debbie). Some places just aren't meant to be found with an electronic gizmo!!!


Come sit across my table and let's have a real visit...I'll even give you a piece of that apple pie (well, better give me some warning first so I can bake one!)
Well, speaking of "real people", my hubby is desiring my attention...so I need to bring this to a stopping place. Yes, modern technology is wonderful and definitely has a place...but let's please not substitute the mirage for the real thing. Let us constantly strive to embrace our "real friends" and loved ones with warm hugs and long audible and visible conversations. (You know, eye to eye and giving our undivided attention). Let us keep our mental faculties intact by exercising our sense of direction, handwriting skills (that's another subject to discuss since modern technology has made handwriting almost obsolete), mathematical skills (oops! I will NOT give up my calculator! I'm a bookkeeper by trade!!)

Let's think about these things...Good night dear friends, both near and far and through my open window of this computer. I guess modern technology isn't ALL bad...otherwise, you wouldn't be reading this now (and I would never have been able to send it to you!!!)

Pamela M. Steiner

Susan's comment to Pamela on her blog
Yes...this is what I was trying to get at and in my struggle could not get the sentiment right. I dont want a gadget...I want a warm hug. I want a luncheon chat without a beeeping noise that signals an email or a text. I want to look across the table at loving eyes. I love facebook but I love real better. Someday, I will reach across the table and squeeze your hand.  Susan R. Comeau-Nguyen

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Latest Fad Or Frugality?

My mother and I are having a debate.  It's silly really.  I am trying to limp along with my Palm Pilot and she thinks I should get an Ipod.  When my friends read this they will laugh because they know that I tend to "hate change" when it comes to technology and I tend not to upgrade.

I have had my Palm Pilot for five years.  I use it to keep track of my appointments.  The entire debate began when I informed my Mom my Palm was not synching and I was in danger of losing all my information.  I am putting off investing in an Ipod and she suggested my Palm was obsolete and that I should join this century and let her buy it for me.  My Palm tx is beautiful.  It has a touch, full color screen and if it would only synch I would be golden.  Why do I need another gadget? 

Our debating back and forth reminds me of something my Doctor said to me, when I asked her about taking a trip, "take all your money and spend it on trips and things" she said.  Then she added, "tell your husband to save for retirement and you, you should spend all of yours now."  That would be a pretty handy justification for just about anything my heart desires but it does not sit well with me.

I am torn between living within my means, buying responsibly, and dabbling at being a minimalist.  I can tell you that I have never been good at any of those three things.  My father always used to laugh at me and say, "you have BMW taste on a Volkswagen budget."  I am not deprived by any stretch of the imagination.  I have a beautiful laptop, nice cell phone, and I enjoy restaurants frequently.

My parents would move heaven and earth to ensure my happiness.  Mom practically admitted that there is a chance I may not survive this illness and she wants to make sure I have the highest quality of life possible.  I took immediate offense and snorted that I was not going anywhere and an Ipod will not raise my quality of life.

I have been examining the life I have lived to this point.  I am looking for the lessons that this journey is teaching me.  Part of it comes from my work as a therapist and examining things in general and part of it comes from a desire to check these lessons off as finished and move on.  I see things I wished I had done differently. I recall decisions that were not very responsible and money I had that was ill spent.  Making mistakes and having regrets is part of life.  I challenge anyone to look back on their life without finding your own measure of this.

I have consulted my budget.  I can afford to invest in a new Ipod in June.  In earlier blogs we have joked about me being a blood sucking weasel.  This time around I plan to put off instant gratification, save my money and then delight in the purchase once I am able to afford it.  I think I will enjoy it all the more.  As I travel this journey I am keeping firm hold on my humor and my integrity.

By the way, after several tries and desperate prayers my Palm synched my calender with my work computer.  Hooray!!  I just bought more time.

Susan

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Daily Bread

I just made, and we just gobbled down some incredibly good sandwiches.  Susan mentioned that we found some 'bratwurst rolls" at Target.  They are delicious, have good flavor and texture and are just the right size (we seem to have a fixation on bread).  Anyway, as I was creating these masterpiece sandwiches with really nice ham, Swiss, tomatoes, lettuce, thin green pepper and onion slices and some Italian dressing drizzled on top, I got to thinking about a personal account I read once.  Someone wrote that while their mother always baked or bought fresh loaves of bread, she always made them use up the old first.  The point was that they never had the enjoyment of fresh bread because they always had to eat the stale, old, and dry stuff first.  What a shame, I thought.  To have the fresh and tasty right there in front of you and have to bypass it in favor of the old. 

I wonder if we do this in our every-day lives?   I hope not.  I hope that we partake of the richness that God has prepared for us and placed in our reach every day.  His mercy is new every morning and he provides our bread portion daily, hot out of the oven, fragrant, nutritious, and perfectly enough for our need that day.  For me, I'm pushing past the old, stale and dry.  I want the good stuff.  Now, would you please pass the butter?

Friday, September 16, 2011

The News

I saw my Doctor today who stated that she was not happy to see that my tumor markers have gone up to 844 from the 244 they were before I started Xeloda.  She was concerned that there may be progression of the disease so she asked me to do a PET/CT Scan, MRI of the brain, and is sending in a referral to a Urologist.  Then she wants to see me next week and if there is progression she is going to put me on a new IV chemotherapy treatment on September 22.

I have been having some problems with Urinary Tract Infections.  It seems I have been getting them one after another since May so it is important that we look into that further.  I have also had some numbness on my chin and eyesight irregularities which is why the MRI is ordered.  Additionally, I have had bone pain but we feel that this might be due to the Xeloda and not pain due to progression since I am not experiencing the pain when off the Xeloda.

If I begin the IV chemotherapy, my Doctor informs me that I will indeed lose my hair.  If there does not look to be progression I may continue on Xeloda but on a reduced dose.  So it seems that everything is up in the air once again.  I hate the idea that I may be facing another Thanksgiving while losing my hair.  I do not like it.  I was just getting ready to make a hair appointment to get this curly, curly hair of mine under control. 

My Doctor is pleased that I have had this disease since October 09 with relatively little progression.  I am fortunate that it has stayed in the bones and not spread to soft tissue where it would be much more difficult to control. 

Keeping my chin up. 

Susan

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Waiting on Pins and Needles

I have an appointment with my Doctor on Friday.  I always like to try to go in a few days before and do my blood work and labs so that I can maximize my time with her.  The cancer center is not very far away from my home so it makes sense to drive over and take care of this.  Note: that this is something that I request and schedule specially so that when I meet with Dr. Matei we have all the information.

I have not had my tumor markers tested since trying this Xeloda so I am very anxious.  I thought I had them tested a couple of weeks ago on a friday.  I waited all weekend for Monday to hurry up and get here and then when I called I waited all day.  I finally heard from them on Tuesday and was informed that no tumor markers had been sent out on the lab draw.  Apparently, they had not been ordered.

Needless to say, I am waiting on pins and needles to see where I am tomorrow.  This whole process has been a lot of waiting.  Waiting to feel better.  Waiting for tests.  Waiting to see if this or that treatment will make a big difference.  Waiting for good news.  Waiting with much anticipation for the next leg of my journey.

I am reminded of a promise

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.  Isaiah 40:31

I will let you know about the tumor markers.  I am still waiting for the news.

Susan

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Caution...could get stuck in your head!!

Dedicated to my brother Scott...probably the silliest of the Comeau's


Bit by Bit...Little by Little

I have been told this week that I look good and I have been told this week that I looked terrible.  I can tell you this week that I felt both.  Xeloda is no joke.  I have one more day on it and then a break.  It still knocks me for a loop.  A few times this week I have found myself on the mat with the referee counting and, though it was hard, struggled to find my feet.  I hear my internal coach shouting to me...is that you got?  I respond with, Heck NO!  I have guts all day long.  I'm up...I'm still moving.  I am not licked. 

Today, I awoke feeling a bit more refreshed and having more energy.  I am really looking forward to getting my tumor markers next Thursday and seeing what this stuff has done.  I am expecting some good news because this certainly feels as effective as the other treatments, if side effects are any indicator.

In the midst of all of this we are potty training our 2 1/2 year old son.  He loves his underwear.  It is a process.  We are vigilant.  We are positive and we are celebrating success. 

Sort of sounds like a recipe and I am applying it to myself.  My own thoughts sound more like...I am resilient, I am making forward progress, I feel better today....I have jumped the hurdle and am looking at this experience in my rear view mirror.

Onward and upward.  Hey!  To the Potty..Mister!!

Susan

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Front Seat, Back Seat, Shotgun or Driver?

When it comes to your own support team, which seat do you occupy?  I have often written on this blog about how necessary a support team is but it occured to me this week that I need to play a leading role.  I am on a mission.  I am working hard to hold on to what I have and make forward motion.  I, hereby, declare myself, President and CEO, of my support team.

I will support myself in my recovery in the face of intimidation, dissenting opions and adverse conditions.  I will set the tone in taking care of myself, getting to bed on time, resting when I need it and eating to the best of my ability.  I will be honest about how I am feeling and will ask for help so that my loved ones my give it.

My decision may not make sense to anyone else but me, but I'm gonna go for it.  God bless my husband we do not see eye to eye on a lot of little things.  We have very differing approaches to financial decision making.  This week I reached my tipping point and went out and bought a brand new mattress.  I had been sleeping on one that we snagged free on craigslist.  I put some nice memory foam on it but, somehow, it just wasnt cutting it anymore.  Sometimes, I feel restless at night, or in pain or Huy is snoring.  We have set up a bedroom in the other room to give me a place to go.

I had spoken to him about it in advance.  He wanted to look for a nicer one second hand and I wanted to buy a new, good quality mattress.  I hurt too much.  I toss and turn too much and I needed it.  He was grumpy about it, especially when he saw the price I paid, but he came around.  He always does.

I am not suggesting that you openly defy your husband as a cancer fighting tool.  I am suggesting that when you know you need something, you can feel it, sometimes you must make an executive decision and go for it.  Our loved ones are limited in understanding at times because they are not living with the pain and the exhaustion that we can be hit with repeatedly.  I have already felt a difference having this other option.  It puts a smile on my face even when I am hurting pretty bad.  This little gift to myself shows promise of really helping me recover some energy and stamina.

Susan

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Look Backwards

We live in such a high tech world today and it is remarkable how quickly this has happened.  Does anyone really leave home without a cell phone strapped to their waist or stuffed in a purse or pocket?   I don't think, so but I wonder if this has made our lives better or worse?  We are so wired and connected it is is difficult to find any quiet time or "white space" today.  

I recall growing up that we had one telephone connected to the kitchen wall, and (amazingly) we had to actually sit at the kitchen table to be able to talk on the phone (we had a 10 minute time limit).  And, if no one was home, the phone just rang and rang until the caller figured out that there is "no one home". IF they really did want to talk to you, they would just call back later - or not, but you wouldn't actually know that unless they did because there was no phone messaging.  Also, if someone called when you were on your 10 minute phone call they would get a busy signal - no clicking and switching calls then ('sorry, got to get this'  means "someone more important than you is calling").   And last but not least, to be able to KNOW who was calling you, you had to actually answer the call by saying "hello" and then wait until the person identified themselves.  You couldn't screen calls or answer with some cutsie greeting because the phone (or TV or pc) has tipped you off. Thought of one more thing, you had to use a phone book or list because there was no auto-dialing; then, you had the advantage of actually memorizing phone numbers out of necessity.

OK then, here is the rest of the story. 

Back in the day, when you spent time with someone either riding in the car or going out to eat or whatever, you were actually WITH that person.  No multi-tasking then.  We didn't sit at some nice restaurant and either surf the net on our Blackberry or let everyone know on our Facebook page where we are and take pictures of what we are eating.  We weren't so much interested in being connected as "connecting".  We didn't interrupt a nice meal and conversation to take a call from a coworker or neighbor.  We didn't drive our cars with a cellphone on our knee to keep an eye on "our life" or take our lives in our hands by texting at 60 miles an hour.  We didn't let guests or visitors sit idly by while we chatted on our cell phones with someone else (we also didn't entertain with the television on). 

To be fair, I LOVE technology and technology has definitely made my life safer and easier.  But maybe not better.  Here's to "connecting" instead of being connected.  I think I'll give it a try (again).

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Let's celebrate each other

Some Quotes on Family

The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together. ~Erma Bombeck

When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses. ~Joyce Brothers

The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family. ~Thomas Jefferson

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I spent time today with several different kinds of people and I enjoyed each of them.  As I ponder each day, and each client, I am struck by the realization that I almost never meet anyone whom I do not like.  I easily find wonderful things about each and everyone I meet. 

I love the quirks, the eccentricities and I love the naughtiness, especially among the young ones.  I immensely enjoy the characters, the phrases that they use and the unique way they bunch up their faces when they talk.  I like asking them questions and hearing what they say.  I like shouldering problems with them and pushing hard against them.  There is a such a beauty in being human.  The most beautiful part is the human spirit rising up and preparing for obstacles.

The other side of the coin holds story, after story of neglect, pain, torment, and cruelty.  Where was the kind smile, the hug, the compassion, the generosity.  Where did it go?  Why wasn't it there.  It is hard to figure out how someone could choose to mistreat a family member when love is a more attractive offer.  I listen to these stories and I just feel confused.  I believe that we get to choose who we are.  If we don't like who we were yesterday we can choose right now to be different.

I know that I have often written about random acts of kindness on this blog.  It is because of the stories that I hear, all too often, of receiving a cold shoulder rather than a warm embrace.  I hope that you will allow me to remind you again, to be generous with our time, love and smiles. 

Susan

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The song in my heart tonight.

Tonight as my thoughts turned toward what to write for a blog post, I heard this song in my heart.  It took me awhile to find the right version. 

Here is what I am thinking and what I am feeling this evening.

Have a blessed weekend.

Susan

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Power of Prayer

I have been asked several times, here recently, if it would be ok for an individual to add me to their prayer list.  The easy answer is, I would be honored to receive prayer from those believers who would take their time to plead with God on my behalf.  I am a spirit-filled, born again believer who sincerely and humbly prays that I may be healed.  Any one who would be willing to join me with on that endeavor is most welcome.

Prayers Welcome!

Susan

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nothing says love like a....

My mom has recently become fluent in the love language of sandwich.  We have been buying those Bratwurst rolls from Target and she can toast that baby and turn out some delicious sandwiches.  I went over to my parents home this afternoon for a swim with Tan and a visit.

I was going to stay for dinner, but was feeling tired.  Mom offered to make me a sandwich and take me home.   I came home and crawled into bed with my laptop and ate my sandwich.  It was delicious.  I felt so loved and happy.  If you are looking for a way to make your loved ones feel good, then consider making them a sandwich. 

A really good sandwich is a work of art and is not that hard.  Start with the basics.  Get some good quality deli meat that is free of nitrates.  Have the deli slice you up some nice Swiss cheese.  I think that romaine hearts are yummy and last a long time in the fridge but you can decide on that.  If you are fortunate enough to have your own garden, or patio garden, then use one of those tomatoes on it, sliced up fresh.  When it comes to ingredients you can get creative but I say start with a butter pan toasted bun.  Your loved ones with cheer, I promise.

Thanks Mummy...it was yummy to my tummy!

Susan

Monday, August 22, 2011

Gaining 30 seconds a day

It would seem that I am back on the mend.  My spirits have improved.  My pain level is down.  My energy is recovering at a snail's pace, gaining 30 seconds a day of use able energy stores.

I was asked whether or not I tend to like company and what seems to help me.  I like company but I do not have much energy to talk or visit for long periods of time.  When I am really wiped out a short email note, a quick hello on facebook or funny pictures and jokes tend to do a lot to improve my mood without taxing my strength.  It is hard to admit that, because I would much love to visit with my friends, some of them I am missing right now, very much.

As you probably know, anonymous, time saving gifts are the best uplift.  I needed gas in my car and it bothered me all week, but I felt better today when I finally had the energy to get some.  I am sure that my husband or parents would have filled my tank for me, if asked, but honestly who has the energy to ask (sounds whiny...I know). 

I have gotten into the habit of keeping hard candy in my office and it is amusing to me how much everyone seems to enjoy the little treat.  I ran out of the "good" candy and just had the yucky ones left.  I commiserated this fact with one of my clients, as they picked through what was left, and they offered to pick me up a huge bag at Costco (way too big for my energy level to manage) and then they did!!  Huge relief to me, that they gave me this gift of shopping, and now everyone is happy as they walk away, sucking on a peppermint or butterscotch treat. 

Last year, I tried the Helping Hands website, to manage all the offers I was getting to prepare meals for my family or do some shopping.  Unfortunately, many of the people who offered to prepare a meal or help out, bailed at the last minute and it became too frustrating.  There are a lot of people in this world who over-promise and under-deliver.  It is hard to take when you are counting on them and hoping to see them.  Those of you who read this blog will be shocked to read that, you being the choir and all, but it happened more than I care to admit.  If you have someone in your life, who is dealing with an energy crisis or illness, be sure that you are mindful of this.

All in all, I have been treated well.  I am spoiled completely rotten by my friend anonymous and by my parents who help out in countless ways.  All of my needs are satisfied.  I would like to have visitors but then it is nice to get out of my surroundings and have a visit.  I guess that the only advice that I can offer is to contact your loved one, ask what they need, be insistent and persistent and then...actually deliver. 

Susan

Sunday, August 21, 2011

It comes with the territory

The last two weeks have been a marathon of exhaustion, running low grade temperatures, visiting the doctor, trying to get some rest and feeble attempts to get all my work in.  My body feels like it is a deflated bicycle tube.  I have no energy, or a little, and it runs out quick.  At moments, even the prospect of getting up and going to the bathroom seems too labor intensive, but I don't like the consequences of not going.

Chemotherapy is known to cause weakness, fatigue, and a feeling of being run down.  Xeloda is proving to be no exception.  I am also showing signs that this treatment is doing what it should in terms of addressing the cancer issue, which further takes a toll on the body.  I have had so much fatigue, that we, my Doctor and I, have elected to give me another week or more rest in between cycles.

Fatigue to this extent can take a toll on the spirit.  I have certainly felt a little down as I have felt too tired to move and at times in quite a lot of pain.  I count myself fortunate to have long periods of rest and short periods of suffering, because I am not very good at taking it.

I said all of that to say this, when dealing with a disease like cancer, you are going to lose a few battles.  I am aware that I will not feel terrific every day.  If you are dealing with this, then you, my friend, are not going to have a good day every day.  I like to stay on the positive side of things, but I think I need to report the truth about my process.  There are times when I feel rather crummy.  The last couple weeks have been challenging.  I am still plugging along.  I have my eyes on the prize.  I am still believing in faith for my healing.  I am thanking God, in advance, for his answer to our many, many prayers.

Keep on keeping on!

Susan

Thursday, August 18, 2011

200th Blog Post: Reasons to celebrate

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsbugUawNaU

Celion Dion
"The Power of The Dream"

Deep within each heart
There lies a magic spark
That lights the fire of our imagination
And since the dawn of man
The strength of just "I can"
Has brought together people of all nations

There’s nothing ordinary
In the living of each day
There’s a special part
Every one of us will play

Feel the flame forever burn
Teaching lessons we must learn
To bring us closer to the power of the dream
As the world gives us its best
To stand apart from all the rest
It is the power of the dream that brings us here

Your mind will take you far
The rest is just pure heart
You’ll find your fate is all your own creation
Every boy and girl
As they come into this world
They bring the gift of hope and inspiration

Feel the flame forever burn
Teaching lessons we must learn
To bring us closer to the power of the dream
The world unites in hope and peace
We pray that it will always be
It is the power of the dream that brings us here

There’s so much strength in all of us
Every woman child and man
It’s the moment that you think you can’t
You’ll discover that you can

Feel the flame forever burn
Teaching lessons we must learn
To bring us closer to the power of the dream
The world unites in hope and peace
We pray that it will always be
It is the power of the dream that brings us here

Feel the flame forever burn
Teaching lessons we must learn
To bring us closer to the power of the dream
The world unites in hope and peace
We pray that it will always be
It is the power of the dream that brings us here

The power of the dream
The faith in things unseen
The courage to embrace your fear
No matter where you are
To reach for your own star
To realize the power of the dream

Susan