Friday, May 15, 2015

A Review. State of the Union. A Future Plan.
Hello There!

I just wanted to review past progress and give you somewhat of the expected time line for the future. 

A Review.
I finished two months of the rough chemo on April 16.  This was the chemo you read about that caused nausea and vomiting.  Thank God that in my situation, I could talk to my oncologist and he adjusted my anti-nausea and vomiting meds to help minimize the systems.  He also added Prilosec to reduce stomach acid.  These changes were really effective!

Best of all, the ultrasound of the breast revealed that the tumor has shrunk by 50%! 

My hair has grown in about 1/2 inch, but the nurses tell me even that will fall out with my current chemo.  My eyebrows and eyelashes continue to fall out.  Thank God I attended a Look Good Feel Better class and learned to draw on eyebrows!  I'm using Systane Preservative Free Eye Drops in the disposable vials as well as Refresh PM eye ointment to help moisten my eyes. 

State of the Union.
On April 30 I began the 12 weekly treatments of Taxol.  The biggest change was no more nausea or vomiting!  Yea!  My fibromyalgia pain has really kicked in though.  It hits hard from my knees to my ankles.  Crippling pain that left me completely dependent on family and friends to help me walk. Again, after a call to my oncologist, we adjusted my medication for that particular ailment and I am now determined to walk 20 minutes a day.  Yes, it's exhausting, but I'm determined.  It can be fun, too!  Just the other day my hubby and I went walking and got caught in the rain.  I laughed and laughed as we rushed home! 


A Future Plan.
After this second batch of chemo, I should have surgery to remove what's left of the tumor, if anything, get clean margins, and remove the lymph nodes that are cancerous.  Following my recovery we are looking at radiation.  Ug.

But I know Who hold my future, so we'll proceed a day at a time. 

And for today, this is my truth!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Heaven on Earth. Sewing Studio. Accepting Grace.

I feel like I've been recovering on my own little piece of heaven on earth.  One piece of my heaven is my awesome sewing studio that I was blessed with way before my diagnosis. 
You know, there are times when God simply wants to bless our socks off.  He did that to me with my sewing studio.  I just have to share this with you. 
It was a project of love from my husband and a lovely couple.  She is a detail person and advocated for me throughout the entire design process.  Even though she doesn't sew, I believe she researched every aspect of sewing/quilting and had some great ideas!  To say that he is a master carpenter is putting it mildly.  This man is gifted beyond words.  Together they make a fabulous team!  Many of their lunch dates were spent drawing on napkins and discussing "best case scenarios".  Hmmm...I wonder what they talked about afterwards - after all the world revolves around me - right?  NOT!  :)Then the four of us came together to design my sewing studio together.  At one point we used Leggos to come up with the configuration of the room!  Hilarious!

It all started when I showed my hubby my dream fabric cutting table and this loving man said, "No." 
No way was my loving, supportive hubby saying "no".  That just doesn't happen in my world.  Now, I'm not spoiled at all, my daughter once said, "well taken care of."  Seriously though, he and I support each other's dreams, mine is crafting and his is cars. 
Anyway, I digress.  So, we talked about it and then I showed him various other fabric cutting tables, sewing tables, design boards and such from my Pinterest page "Craft Room Dreamin' "  ( .  Disclaimer:  Should you chose to visit this page, I caution you to consider this thought: 
funny pictures, pinterest
 His answer was softened to, "Let's see, let me think about it."   Okay.  Progress made. 
We met with our friends and the result is this.  Now, I am not a great photographer and I missed a bunch of details.  My friend's hubby is also a prize winning photographer and one day he will take fabulous pictures of this dream studio.  

This is the door to my studio.  I love, absolutely love fabric yo-yos!  My quilting bee got together and made this beautiful yo-yo garden.  Then a couple of the ladies parked their cars down the block from my house and, under the watchful eyes of my suspicious neighbors, snuck up to my house and "planted my yo-yo garden by my front door" with a birthday card that said, "You've been yo-yoed!"  Each lady from the bee signed the card!  There's even extra fabric yo-yos in the bucket!   
Here is the view as you walk into my room. You can see a part of my inspiration board (more on that later), my rolling scrapbooking cart, part of my cutting table, my design board, and the portable design boards.  The fabric cutting table is huge, stores many yards of fabric and no!  I am not telling how many yards! 
My inspiration board was inspired by one of the lovely ladies at Bernina.  (Pun totally intended!)Seriously, get to know these ladies, they have tons of great ideas they love to share - as well as a sincere love for those of us who visit their shop.  It's my home away from home.  My bookshelves holds quilting, crocheting and scrapbooking books and magazines and notebooks as well as more scrapbooking supplies.  The rolls of flannel you see are actually pretty cool.  They are semi-portable design boards that have pockets on the top through which painstakingly carved dowels (thank you, Baby) fit through.  They hang from the top of my design board from carved "pins".  The bottom of each design board also has a pocket through which another dowel fits to weigh down the fabric.  I have four of these wonderful contraptions.  Come on now, which quilter has only one UFO (unfinished object) going on?  Oh, and the teddy bear in the corner?  He's roughly 30 years old - a gift from my hubby. 

Perhaps in this picture you can see the knobs from which my semi-portable design boards hang.  This Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt is all hand pieced by my daughter and myself.  We are now working on the white and yellow flowers.  This project hangs on the permanent design board.  My daughter found some cool white fabric with tiny hexagons on it, so we are now using that for the white flowers.  The squares on the bottom are designed by my grandchildren for their little brother's quilt.  The ribbon hanger storage to the right of the design board is an ingenious design by my husband.  The rocking chair was donated by a friend and I love it!  Originally, my husband's grandmother's chair was there, but we've moved it into my living room.  Don't you love the lamp?  It was a birthday gift purchased at the shop of La mujer obrera in El Paso, TX ( 
 Here you have a full view of the west wall of my sewing room.  The diamond shaped mini-quilts were hand pieced and quilted by a dear friend.  I believe one is my daughters, but I'm taking care of it for her.  :)  The view outside my window looks out in my "side garden" which I'm preparing a post on for later.  I have two rolling portable storage units on either side of my sewing table.  Both of them open fully from the top and provide tons of storage.  I can remove my sewing table and it's plastic insert, pop in the wood that was cut out to make the hole and wala!  I have a solid table top on which to scrapbook! 

Here is my framed pegboard storage case that hangs above my cutting board.  It holds rulers, scissors, you name it. 

This is only a part of my Heaven on Earth place where I recover.  Believe me, I struggled to accept this very generous gift from my husband and friends.  A lot, I mean a lot of time and money went into this project and I was quite humbled by their generosity.  I prayed and asked God to help me understand, accept and enjoy this wonderful gift. 

And now I do. 

You know why?  

Because this is grace.  This is grace.  This is grace. 

And you know what? 

God shows us His grace every day.  It takes strength and humbleness to accept grace. 
Thank you J., D., and my loving husband for being God's tools in teaching me this lesson. 
And thank you for giving me a piece of Heaven on Earth to recover. 

For today, this is my truth. 


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Angels. Friend of God.

During my recent days of panic, and even afterwards, I have realized God has been sending me encouragement.  Isn't that so wonderful? Humbling? Awe inspiring? This scripture says it for me. 

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
Psalm 8:3-4

The song "I Am A Friend of God" by Phillip Craig and Dean comes to mind when I hear this song.  It's well worth a listen.  Sure to bring a smile to your face!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Falling Apart. A Tip to Chemo Patients. Lessons Learned.

Falling Apart
As many of you know, I quite fell apart last week - really I did.  Here's is exactly what happened. 

We received a phone call from my oncologist's nurse saying that there was an insurance issue.  Oh. Oh. Yup, my husband and I were concerned - especially after all we had been through with our insurance company approving our trip to MD Anderson.  So, I returned the call immediately and left a message.  He called me back and left a message.  I called him back and left a message.  I'm sure youre beginning to see the pattern.  We played tag for two weeks. 

Thankfully we received the hard copy insurance approval for the next 3 months of chemo.  We took a deep breath and relaxed a bit. 

But the phone calls continued, so we were concerned.  Was there another issue?  Perhaps the awful early appointment I was scheduled for had been scheduled for a more decent hour?  Yea!   Well, I was going to be in El Paso anyway, so my hubby suggested I stop by the office and see what's going on.  Eeesh. 

I was able to speak to the nurse.  He told me two things. 
1)  Our insurance company has provided a nurse who specializes in cancer to call me about every two weeks to see how I'm doing - or so I thought.  I had shared with her that I was always stressed out, anxious and somewhat depressed the day before treatment.  Duh.  Of course I am - perfectly normal reaction. 

I also shared that I was dealing with the issue by inviting friends over on Wednesday nights for dinner and a movie or just conversation.  I had also contacted my PCP to see what she would suggest. 

Well, our "insurance issue" was that our nurse called my oncologist and let him know what I said and asked him to take care of this issue.  WHAT?  Really?  So is this nurse there to help me or be a watch dog with my oncologist?  I know, Polly, I talk too much.  I know, my dear sister-in-law, I give too much information.  Obviously so.  Well thank God, that was the "insurance issue."   

2)  Now to deal with my appointment.  I had to keep the upber early doctor appointment because my session would be 6 - 7 hours long.  WHAT?  ARE YOU SERIOUS?  I have seen patients who have those long sessions and God bless and strengthen them!  Those sessions are tough, awful, terrible!  These poor patients are fighting for their lives and left in such a weakened state!  As one friend said, "Chemo takes you to the brink of death to save your life." 

Clinical Psychologist
Panic.  Terror.  Shock.   Confused.

My oncologist had said the worst was over, the next round of chemo wouldn't be easy, but would be easier!  I cried.  I texted my prayer warriors.  I had to rest behind their shields of faith because I was frightened.  I forgot the God I serve. 

A Tip to Chemo Patients.
Instead of falling apart, I should have asked my nurse a very important question:  Is the infusion or the entire appointment going to take 6 - 7 hours?

Let me explain what happens when I go to chemo therapy.

  • I check in and pay my co-pay.
  • Then I go in for labs - blood work.
  • After I see my friendly vampires - and they are quite kind and gentle - I wait to see my oncologist.
  • After we visit, I go upstairs and wait to begin my chemo session.
  • The chemo nurses and I visit about how I'm doing and discuss changes, coping strategies, and such. 
  • Then I start my chemo.
Well, all of the above takes about 4 hours with the actual chemotherapy session taking about 2 1/2 hours. 

Being that I was going to start a new round of chemo, the doctor's visit and conversation with the nurses would be longer - obviously.  So, my entire appointment would be longer.  Again, I should have asked, "Is the infusion or the entire appointment going to take 6 - 7 hours?"  Or, the nurse should have explained that the entire appointment would be longer due to the changes in treatment.

Lesson I've learned?  

Never assume anything!  Ask how long the entire appointment will be and how long the actual infusion will be.  Doing so would have saved myself and loved ones so much pain and drama. 

- Remember the God I serve.  Even if I would have had to go through an all day infusion treatment, I need to remember the God I serve tells me this:
 Those patients whom I have witnessed going through those day long  - even week long - treatments need so much prayer - as do their loved ones.  Please remember them.  And remember the God I serve is there for you as well.  One more thing, please remind me when I face Panic.  Terror.  Shock.   Confusion. of the God I serve. 

For today, this is my truth.