Tuesday, December 27, 2016

HOW CAN WE FACE TRIBULATIONS & CHALLENGES THOUGH FAITH IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST?


This was a talk I gave back last summer.  I am posting it here so I can remember it.

I have a favorite little book written by Carol Lynn Pearson called “The Lesson – A Fable For Our Times”  It is the story of a boy named Robert who goes to school where he is taught lessons on how to solve problems.  At first the problems are simple like 1+1=2, but as he successfully solves the simple problems the problems become harder like “If you are outside playing and you have three cars and one truck and Joey comes along and grabs two cars and the truck, how many times should you hit Joey?”  Sometimes Robert gets the answer wrong, like when he answers this question with “two times”, but after some thought and the help of a patient teacher he gets the answer correct…  “I know, no times”.    After he has solved enough problems, he moves up to the next grade, he gets bigger and so do his problems.  There are the fun times like recess or playing ball or roller skating, but always there are the problems.  With the problems, Robert often asks, “Why are you punishing me with all these problems?”  To which the teacher answers “I am not punishing you.  It ‘s just that you have moved up a grade and are ready for harder problems”

Throughout  Robert’s life here are some of the he problems faces: 
          Robert, if your family moved to a small house in a big city and you had to leave behind two aquariums and one dog and your best friend…

OR    Robert if you were a teenager and you were not doing well in school and you were not popular and you had pimples all over your face and your parents were getting a divorce and you thought it must be your fault and you felt that life was the pits would you  A. take drugs to make the pain go away, B. Kill yourself,  C. Hate your father or D. Think of another solution?

Robert really struggled with that one and continued to ask the teacher “why are you punishing me?”  To which the teacher answers “I am not punishing you, you are a big boy now and you have big boy problems…You are here to learn.”  So Robert works on those problems, he drops a few tears, makes a number of mistakes, and he wonders if he will ever smile again.  But with the help of his patient teacher, he finally gets it right and he does smile again…and he moves up to the next grade where the problems are even bigger. 

          Robert if you had 7 dates with one girl and fell in love with her and four months later asked her to marry you and she said no and you felt like a complete zero..

          Robert if you really wanted to go to college and it cost five thousand dollars and you only had two thousand…

          Robert, if your wife, who was really a very good woman, had ten habits that drove you absolutely crazy and was thirty pounds overweight and spent half her time on things that were important to her but not to you…

          Robert if you had 3 children and one of them was born with a birth defect that added to your sorrows because it subtracted from her possibilities and divided your attention and multiplied the problems of caring for your family…

          Robert, if you knew that your boss at work was cheating 45 people in seven states in 12 different ways, and if you said anything there would be a 90 percent chance you would lose the best job you’d ever had…
Robert, if you woke up 14 mornings in a row wondering if it were worth it to get out of bed because you felt like you’d been giving 100 percent to 2 dozen people and getting only 30 percent in return and you felt yourself going down and down and down and your brother’s house went up in flames and your wife’s mother was in a terrible accident and your daughter wanted to marry a jerk and the pollution thickened and the ozone thinned…

Eventually, Robert learns to stop asking why he is being punished. His teacher and those who love him, encourage him with his problems, but he realizes that his problems are his own and he is here to learn. 

Then one day, when Robert is very old, he gets one more question:  Robert, if your body had three heart attacks and one missing kidney and you got weaker and weaker until you could hardly breathe, …..how much would you have loved and who would remember you after you were gone? 

Suddenly, Robert realizes that all the lessons and problems in his life had only been one problem…”Robert, how much do you love?”    At this realization, Robert leans back in his chair, sighs and smiles.  The teacher smiles and …Robert moves up a grade.

I bought that book at a particularly difficult time in my life, just following a divorce when I was at a very low point.  It has served as an inspiration and to give me perspective for many years since.  I must admit that there have been times in my life when I, like Robert wondered Why, why was I being punished?  There are times when I dropped many tears..and I admit I even stomped my feet and yelled that these problems were too hard and I didn’t want any more.  There are times when I even stopped talking to the teacher altogether.  I determined that He was the source of these problems, that it was His will that I have these problems, and if this was His will, I didn’t much care for Him.  That point in my life lasted for a number of years…and you know what?  I still had problems.

From birth to death, Jesus had a difficult life.  He had moments of joy and hours of pain.  If the Savior, being perfect had a life filled with problems, why should we expect a trouble-free life?  I have learned that whether or not we have faith in Jesus Christ, there will be problems.  But when we exercise our faith in our Savior, we can be confident that he understands our troubles.  Not having Faith will not make our trials go away, but having faith will allow the Savior to Succor us.  I did not know what the word “succor” meant so I looked it up…  To succor means “to give assistance and support in times of hardship and distress.”  Having faith in the Savior allows Him to give us assistance and support in times of hardship and distress. 

I am not always a willing and humble student of life’s lessons, however humble or willing or not, lessons were learned.  Through my trials, I have gained experience and wisdom to better know how to deal with future problems.  I have also gained compassion and understanding.  Occasionally people come to me and ask how to handle some of their problems and because of my experiences, sometimes I can relate to their struggles.  I am able to share some of the wisdom I have gained from having gone through my own trials.  The same has been done for me by those who have experienced hardships.

We have a Savior who has felt all the pain and fear and sorrow we have felt.  He knows what we are going through, and He knows how to help.  The only thing we have to do is have faith in Him, to ask Him in faith for guidance, and then to put our trust in him and His will.  He will do the rest. He will guide us and help us know how to best solve our problems…if we will listen. 

Through our trials, we learn how strong our faith is.  C.S. Lewis wrote that  “You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn't you then first discover how much you really trusted it?”  I know that in my life, I have found myself wondering if I believed enough to hang by that rope.  Did I trust the Savior enough to let His will be done in my life?  Did I trust Him enough to remain calm during times of turmoil?  Did I trust him enough to pray and to wait for help.  Did I trust him enough to do what He asked of me? 

In the book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis, also compares faith to his experience with anaesthetics.  He says that he knew that anaesthetics under the hands of trained professionals do not smother the patient and that a properly trained surgeon will not start to operate until the patient is completely unconscious.  However once on the table and the mask clapped over his face, he would begin to panic.  He would start thinking that he is going to choke,  and become fearful that they will start cutting before he is properly under.  In other words, He would lose faith in anaesthetics.  He goes on to say “It is not reason that is taking away my faith; on the contrary, my faith is based on reason.  It is my imagination and emotions.  The battle is between faith and reason on one side and emotion and imagination on the other. 

How often is that the case for us?  When things start to get scary, how often do our emotions and imaginations get the best of us?  During some of my more difficult trials, I have pondered a couple of stories in the scriptures. One is the story in Matthew chapter 14 of Peter walking on the water to Jesus.  Even while Peter is looking at the Savior, he becomes fearful and he begins to sink.   There have been times in my life when I felt like Peter.  That even though I was doing the right things I was beginning to sink.  I was reading my scriptures, praying, going to church, yet my world was in turmoil and I was sinking.  Also the story about the Savior calming the tempest in Mark4.  Many times I have asked the Lord, “Carest thou not that I perish?”   Some times we get anxious.  Our ship is sinking… or worse, we are sinking…or our emotions and imagination make us think we are sinking, but when we remember that Heavenly Father is in charge we can find calm in the storm. 

Last year I began writing in a journal.  This journal was given to me when I was on Trek a number of years ago.  On the front cover is written “We traveled on, trusting in God.”  On the inside of the journal is written an excerpt from a pioneer journal which reads…   “READ JOURNAL”     Then on the first page my Ma and Pa wrote “Remember…you can do hard things”.  And D&C 6:36 which says “Look unto me in every though; doubt not, fear not.”  Last year when things were particularly difficult  for me, I picked this journal up.  I thought it was the perfect journal for an experiment I was about to try.  I began getting up on some mornings, and instead of just saying my prayers and reading a few scriptures, I decided to write my prayers in this journal.  Not just my regular daily prayers…but the prayers that reflected the desires of my heart as well as my most concerning problems.  Prayers for my family, for my health, for peace of mind.  As I wrote these prayers I also looked up scriptures or other inspirational quotes that went along with my concerns or requests and wrote them down as well. This exercise alone brought me peace and comfort.  Also I knew that, as I wrote these things down, I was trusting my most difficult problems to the Lord.

One of my most recent entries…  “Please help me to write my talk for Sunday…and to have it prepared by Saturday so I won’t be panicked on Sunday.”  It worked! ( Perhaps I alone can truly appreciate the miracle in the answer to that prayer)  Not only was that simple prayer answered, but having a record of other, perhaps more critical, pleas for help to look back on, allows me to see that Heavenly Father is hearing and answering my other prayers.   Usually not in some remarkable way, usually  they are answered with small changes or impressions that help me see or do things a little differently, but  I can see that my prayers are indeed being answered. This strengthens my faith of knowing that He will also answer my prayers in the future. 

An old Gospel song says, “Our God is an on time God, He may not come when you want Him to, but He'll be there right on time.”  In times of trial and tribulation, we must remember that God will not be late.  He may never be early, but he will not be late.  By trusting in Him, we find that God’s timing is always right on time.
A poem that I memorized many years ago has been helpful to me when things look overwhelmingly difficult, it is called
“Let Go & Let God”.
As children bring their broken toys,
With tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dreams to God,
Because he is my friend.
But then instead of leaving Him
In peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help,
With ways that were my own.
At last, I snatched them back again
And cried, “How can you be so slow?’
He said “My child what could I do”
You never would let go”




Through years of trials I am finally learning to “let go and let God”.  Really, what choice do I have?   I am learning that no matter how much it hurts and how many times I ask the question, “Why?”, my faith carries me through.  I don’t like what I have to face in life at times, but I do know that if I remain faithful, God will bless me.  He finds a way to bring back my focus to His plan for me, if I remember to “be still and know that He is God”, remember that he loves me very much and remember  that He wants me to be victorious through my faith and love and belief in Him.  As I face my uncertainty and fears in life, I know that I can face them with the understanding that if I allow the Savior to take it from me and trust in Him, I can face anything even the really hard things.  Hopefully, I am learning as Robert, from the story at the beginning of my talk,   that all of the problems and trials I have faced and will face are really only one problem…  Robin, how much do you love?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sarah!!


Last Wednesday we flew up to Utah with Sarah to drop her off at the Missionary Training Center in Provo.  We had just had a whirlwind trip to San Diego with Jacob and a couple of her friends.  She stayed up all night packing and we got up at 3:00 AM to catch an early flight so we could spend the day together.  What we ended up doing is napping for a few hours after we got there and then getting lunch at The Old Spaghetti Factory, picking up a few forgotten items and then she was off.

Sarah has always been a joy to raise. (After about the age of 3...3 was kind of hard)







She has always been a wonderful big sister.  What a wonderful example and friend she has been to Jacob and her other two siblings, Kyle and Katrina. 





 















More than being my daughter, she has been my friend.  She is smart, fun, funny and so much fun to be around, and I am going to miss her. 

They warned me that "they grow up fast"...and it is true, they do.  She is all grown up now.
























  She has things to do and a mission to complete.  
















I was so sad to say goodbye, but I know she will be an awesome missionary and she will serve well.  It is time for my little girl to spread her wings. 

The people of the Spokane Washington Mission are going to love her.  What's not to love?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Jacob !!

6 years ago I posted a comment on Facebook that said "I enjoyed seeing Jacob for the first time in over 2 weeks...if only for a few minutes. As much as I missed him in just 2 weeks, I can hardly imagine him on a mission."  I guess Jacob had been gone for summer vacation with his dad.  It popped up as a memory on my feed yesterday.  Well, the time has come and Jacob "on a mission" is soon to be realized.  He will be reporting to the Provo Missionary Training Center on Wednesday June 22 where he will spend two months learning Japanese and how to teach the Gospel in it.  After which he will begin his service as a Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the South Tokyo, Japan mission.


















What a privilege and a pleasure it has been raising this boy.  I am sure going to miss him. 



 Jacob has prepared his whole life for this and I know he will be as wonderful a missionary as he has been as my son...maybe even better! (If that is possible.).

I have 2 more days to spend with Jacob.  Tomorrow we will spend the day together in Provo...probably check out that new Temple.  On Wednesday morning we will all get breakfast at IHOP and then we will drop him off at the MTC and say our goodbyes... for 2 years.   I think my heart is breaking...It is also bursting with pride and joy!!  

Thursday, April 7, 2016

It Has Been a While... Anniversaries... How am I Doing?

It has been 4 months since I last blogged.  I've been meaning to because there is so much I want to "talk" about.  So if you find this blog to be a bit ramble-y...I apologize in advance.  I have found that blogging my thoughts and experiences is so useful to me personally.

 Sometimes I just stop and re-live last year in my mind and I am amazed.  Amazed at what I went through, amazed at my thoughts, amazed at how much better I feel.  It really does seem like a dream. For the ladies...  It is somewhat like giving birth...we know it was painful and miserable, but the memory fades. That is how I feel, so when I re-read my blog, I am amazed.

Last night Ron commented on how yummy some strawberry freezer jam was, and I remembered that I made it on that day last year.  Last year on this day I received my first dose of chemotherapy.  I have come a long way since then.

I am often asked how I am doing.  I tell people that I am getting better all the time.  I am surprised at how long it takes to recover from chemo and radiation.  I found the radiation to be a piece of cake compared to the chemo.  The burning and blistering healed quickly.  I think I can see a faint shadow of where the radiation was, and on my back (the exit point) in a place just out of my reach I have an itch.  It can be maddening, but fortunately Ron knows where it is now and can offer relief quite adeptly when this itch strikes.

I am so relieved to say that the neuropathy that was so miserable for months following the chemo has mostly resolved.    Oddly enough...  When I got married in 1992 I wore tight pumps that squished my very wide feet.  Since that day I had always had numbness and tingling in the last two toes of my right foot.  That seems to be gone...after over 24 years.  However there seems to be a similar spot on the sole of my left foot beneath my middle toe that was never there before.  Go figure.

The arthritis in my fingers is resolving itself.  I have not worn my wedding ring for quite some time due to my fingers swelling.  I think soon I will be able to wear it again.  The pain in my shoulders seems to be getting better.  My right shoulder is pretty much back to normal, but my left feels like the rotator cuff is torn. Also there is still stiffness in my back when I haven't been moving for a while and my feet still hurt a bit when I get up at night.  Until things warm up, I am quite a sight getting up and moving.  I used to tell people that I felt like I aged 20 years from all the treatments...I truly did.  Now I would say maybe 5-10 years.  Things are getting better.

I gave up two things for Lent this year.  Sugar and Facebook and I made it a goal to lose 15 lbs during the period of Lent (Feb. 10 - March 27)  I did very well with the Facebook and have pretty much kicked the habit.  I check it now and then...but not like before.  The sugar was about 80% successful.  Most days I did very well.  My birthday was Feb 24...so I took some time off for that...boy was it hard to go back to no sugar afterward though.  I would say I consumed about 80% less sugar than I usually do.  That is really a huge amount considering that I am a sugar junkie.  I did manage to lose 14 lbs as well.  However since Lent is over...and I "can" eat sugar again...I am having a tough time with that last pound...  I think I finally go it off today.  Why is it so hard to what is good for us?  Without sugar, I eat better and feel better over all....but not as good as a fast hit of sugar makes me feel. **sigh**  We keep trying.

Ron and I have been going to the gym regularly.  We go in the mornings before he goes to work, for 30 minutes.  I am seeing progress.  I am trying to strengthen my upper body because it has become extremely weak.  In the beginning I could barely lift the lowest weights on some of the machines without straining and sweating.  Just this week, I moved up a notch on all the machines.  I am  also getting back into running.  I can now run 2 miles in 24 minutes.  It seems my heart rate gets up pretty high when I am running...like 170 bpm, but it feels so good to be running again.

Yesterday I thought I could perhaps handle a game of racquetball.  I felt pretty confident since we have been working out for the past 4 months.  I was unpleasantly surprised at how far I still have to go to get back to anywhere near the condition I was in last year (and that really wasn't that great).  Every racket swing felt like it took all my strength.  I was truly panting by the middle of the 2nd game.  But it felt so good to play again.


My hair is short and gray.  I haven't decided what to do with it yet.  Surprisingly, I get so many compliments on the color of my hair.  Strangers will come up to me out of the blue and tell me how much they like my hair color.  The problem is, I'm really not crazy about it.  Granted it is low maintenance, but I don't like me in gray just yet.  I think it makes me look a bit older and it must be so because the lady at Goodwill the other day gave me a 25% 55+ discount without my asking for it.  She just assumed I was old enough.  I'm not sure whether I like that or not.  I mean a discount is a discount...but 55?  Some days I am on the verge of dying it, and then I change my mind.  When it first came in, it was pure white, however it is getting darker and with two trims, the frosted tips are disappearing and now it is just a gray...to me.  Gray hair changes the way  colors look on me.  Earth tones are not so good anymore as the cooler colors are.  I like earth tones better.  Anyway...I am just trying to figure out what to do and have decided to not be hasty in my decision, because once you start dying your hair...it is a commitment.  My hair was also fairly curly when it came in...no as curly as some people I heard of after chemo, but a nice little wave.  Now it seems to be super straight.  No curl...not even what I had before chemo.  I have always wanted straight hair...I wonder if it will stay that way.  I guess I'll just wait and see. 

I have been busy getting back to my work of selling things on Ebay, and more recently, I finally did something I had thought about for many years... I opened up an antique booth at a new Antique Mall.  (It is on the Southwest corner of Country Club and Southern...for my local friends.   Here is a picture of my booth:




My mom just opened one across from me as well.  Here is hers...

I have always been afraid to do an antique booth, but I finally took the plunge, and it has been fun and so far, in only one month, I have made a profit.

Between Ebay, and my booth, I have been very busy, however, since setting up my booth, I have decided to take some time off of Ebay, because priorities have been re-focused.  I have just a couple of short months to enjoy with my before my kids go on Missions, and I want to spend as much time with them as I can.  Jacob and Matt got their mission calls a week ago.  Jacob will be serving the next two years in the Japan, Tokyo South Mission, reporting on June 22 and Matt will be serving in the Arcadia, California Mission, reporting June 8.  ...and my daughter Sarah is patiently awaiting her call which will come any day now...we are thinking Tuesday though.

With the three of them graduating in May and then at least 2 out of 3 leaving on missions in June, we are very busy...but extremely excited!  Ron and I will be sudden empty nesters...for 2 years at least.  We are planning a vacation of our own, still trying to decide where.  We are debating between finally taking that trip to Washington D.C. where Ron has always wanted to go (and I have been 4 times) or to Hawaii...The last state for me to visit (and Ron has already been)  I am voting for D.C...and Ron is pitching for Hawaii.  First things first...we have a lot to do to get the "kids" all prepared. 

Speaking of visiting states...  Today, I am cleaning house and packing for that trip to Alaska that Sarah and I were planning last year when everything abruptly changed.  When I took my kids on our road trips through the country, I told them I would take them to 48 states...but they had to take me to Alaska and Hawaii.  Well, Sarah is making good on her end of the deal this weekend.    We are hoping to see the Northern lights...that is why we are going in April.  It looks like pretty good weather...in the high 40s/low 50s during the day.  Pretty chilly for this Arizona Girl.  We will be staying in an Air BNB home near Fairbanks.  It is on the outskirts of town...so if the Northern lights are visible...we will get a good view.  From there, we don't exactly know what we will be doing.  We have some kind people putting us up in Anchorage tonight who have offered us a salmon dinner before we fly out on Monday...we are looking forward to that.  So nice!  We are planning on driving up to the Arctic Circle and to Chena Hot Springs.  We will also see some glaciers and of course Denali National Park.  It is not the best time of year to visit Alaska...but  we really just want to have a chance to see the Northern Lights. The rest is just some exciting extras, and I am looking forward to a wonderful girls road trip with Sarah!  I am so excited to visit my 49th state, and so excited to be picking up from where I left off last year.  Moving on...onward and upward!! 

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!!


You can say that again!


I am so looking forward to a new start in 2016.  It has been a rough year, but it is finally over.  I had my port removed on December 23rd and everything is healing great. I don't know if it was the anesthesia lingering or what, but I even felt better that week than I have felt in months.  I seemed to get a reprieve from the neuropathy that plagues my hands and feet and my joints felt much better and I got a couple of really good nights sleep.  It was wonderful...even miraculous!

Unfortunately a lot of it is back now, but it made me hopeful that eventually it will go away and I will feel back to my old self in time.  In a couple of weeks I will begin taking the Tamoxifen that I am supposed to take for the next 5-10 years to help prevent the cancer from coming back.  I am not looking forward to it.  Some people tell me that the side effects are quite bothersome.  Muscle weakness, sore joints, etc...kind of like I feel now only for 5-10 years. Some people say it didn't bother them much at all.  I am hoping that maybe some diet changes and exercise will help make it more tolerable for me.

Just the same I have a new perspective on life than I did last year.  I feel kind of stunned when I look back on this past year, kind of like a slap in the face and whoa...what happened?  It seem almost like a bad dream now. I understand what it means to have a "new lease on life". I never really thought about it much, but we really do only have a LEASE on life.  One that may or may not give us notice before terminating. I think I appreciate life more, as I no longer take for granted that I have a lot of it left.  That doesn't mean I think I am dying, just that we just never really know.

I have spent just about the entire 2015 year dealing with breast cancer.  It has consumed my time, my thoughts and my energy.  Not to mention that of my family.  It over now ( hopefully forever).  Next year I have a clean slate. I feel like I will be at a loss as to what to fill my time with.  Not that I am ever bored or lacking for something to do, but I am different now.  I will be looking to fill the void with good things, meaningful things, things that make my life more meaningful and worthwhile.  I have some ideas, some of which I don't know how to get started and others I am trying to decide if I am really committed enough to begin...like maybe get a Master's Degree.

There will be a little bit of traveling. (Perhaps this time Sarah and I really will go to Alaska.)  I also have a lot to get caught up on with friends.  I have been somewhat of a hermit this past year.  I am looking forward to being a bit more social.  Our kids Matt and Jacob will be graduating from High School and preparing for missions and will probably leave early this summer.  We will be excited to see them getting ready and receiving their mission calls.  Sarah will graduate with her associates degree and is now trying to decide what's next for her.  I am sure there will be a few trips to Utah to spend time with family and friends.  2016 will be a busy year and I am anticipating a much happier year.  I am so excited to get started!!

Happy New Year Everybody!!!



Thursday, December 3, 2015

32 Down and 1 to go!!

Hello again...  It has been a while and I thought an update was in order.  It has been over two months since I finished my chemotherapy treatments.  What a relief to be done. Although I was expecting to have about a week of feeling poorly, followed by a gradual upswing.  What I got was a week of feeling poorly, followed by a surprising new side effect.  Into the 2nd week following my final treatment, I began to feel all kinds of fatigue, muscle pain and joint pain.  I was surprised at this.  In my follow up appointment 2 weeks later, my oncologist informed me that this fatigue would last at least a year.  Seriously??  She told me that I probably have been feeling it through out my chemo treatments, but because I was just muscling through it, I didn't notice.  Kind of like working on the yard for hours and only when you finish for the day and lie down do you feel the aching.  Really...I don't believe this explanation, it didn't hurt like this before.  I'm hoping she is wrong about it taking a year to feel better... ain't nobody got time for that!

What I do know is that it persists today.  I feel like I am about 20 years older than I was at the beginning of the year.  My feet hurt...they ache like I have been walking for miles.  They especially hurt when I get up in the morning, or when I have been sitting for a long time.  My joints hurt in my back, knees, hips, shoulders and fingers.  When I sleep at night I can sleep for a few exhausted hours before everything starts to hurt and there is no longer a side that doesn't hurt.  On my back my right leg gets numb, on my left side, my left shoulder hurts excruciatingly and my arms and hands fall asleep, the same on my right side, but not as bad, on my stomach both arms fall asleep.  Some days are better than others, and if I am moving around the joints loosen up some.   It is frustrating to say the least.  I am trying to get some exercise to gain some stamina.  I have tried the Couch to 5k thing again...but I think my condition is worse than that of a couch potato right now.

I also didn't realize how chemo affected me mentally until after it was over.  It really does a number on you that way.  However, I am feeling more normal now...and I don't think I feel the "chemobrain" forgetfulness, fuzziness I've heard about.  My taste buds are back to normal, which is a nice bonus as well, and just in time for the holidays!. Things are getting better!

So my radiation treatments started on October 19th and I have only one more treatment...tomorrow...and then I am done.  When I was doing chemo, the time went by so slowly...like watching a clock tick off the time for 5 months.  I would get up every day and think, I have 12 hours before I can go back to bed again...and then endure the extremely slow passage of time.  However once I started my radiation treatments, time sped back up. Partly because I was not so miserable anymore and partly because I have been super busy, but the 7 weeks have passed quickly.  For me radiation has been a piece of cake.  With radiation all you do is show up and lay still on a bed for about 10 minutes while a big machine moves all around making noises.  Then you get up and go home and come back the next day for more of the same...for about 7 weeks.  The most annoying aspect has been the interruption of my day, every day to go to appointments in Gilbert.  It is a 30 minute drive each way and so it takes up about 1 1/2 hours of each day.  One thing I have enjoyed is the timing of my radiation treatments. Gilbert is cool in that the road I drive down to go to my appointments is lined with deciduous trees.  I began my treatments in October when the trees were all green, but as the weeks have passed, every day (except weekends) I have watched as the trees have begun to fade.  First there were just little hints of yellow, then some orange and red.  Every day I notice the difference, something I have never done before. I believe they are just moving past peak right now.  It has been a fun experience!

For the first few weeks of treatment, there were little, if any side effects.  Toward the end I look kind of like someone poured a pot of boiling water on over my right side.  It a bit tender and sometimes painful.  Under my right breast  is some blistering and peeling...right in the crevice...you know the one where the bra would just love to dig in.  So, I'm flying hippie style most of the time now...if you know what I mean.  It is a little itchy as well, but they give me stuff for any discomfort.  It is almost over and I haven't noticed much fatigue.  My radiation doctor told me that I actually was feeling fatigue, but that I was recovering so fast from the chemo, that I don't notice the fatigue that the radiation is causing.  Since he told me that, I've actually been really tired...power of suggestion...go figure!

So tomorrow is my last day of treatment and I am excited to be done.  If what the doctor says is true about fatigue caused by radiation, I can hardly wait to see how I feel when it is all over.  On December 23rd I am scheduled for surgery to have my port taken out and I will consider myself done!  It has been nice to begin getting back into my old routines.  I have been back to work selling things on eBay...cause Christmas is coming you know and this has been an expensive year for us.  Ron and I are exercising in the mornings and we are both feeling better because of that. Next week Ron's son Jon is coming home from his mission in Ukraine and we will be going up to Utah to spend nearly a week.  I am so thrilled to be on to bigger and better things!!  So, all in all things are looking up.  And I think they are going to continue to do so!!   

Here is the most recent picture of me with my hair.  It think the gray makes me look about as old as I feel right now, but I am leaving it natural to see what it does before deciding if or when to color it again.  I do get a lot of compliments on it and I do think the silver is kind of cool, but I have heard the color will change and go back to dark again.  So I am just going to wait and see what it does... because I'll never get the chance again.  ... Remember my natural color back in April... 
WOW!! What a difference!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The End Is Near...



Today, Tuesday, September 22 is the day!  (Ignore the above date...that was an ill-fated attempt to blog on Sunday)  Today is the last day of my Chemotherapy treatments.  I am excited to say that these last treatments with Taxol have been quite bearable.  In doing my research, I read that doing 12 lower doses of Taxol as opposed to 4 high dose treatments is just as effective...and has significantly fewer side effects.  Well, having had one high does that nearly killed me and so far 8 lower doses, I would definitely have to suggest to anyone who is about to start with Taxol...go with the lower doses.  While it has been no picnic, it has been bearable. I have numb tingly feet, but I have taken many vitamins and supplements to help keep that to a minimum.  I have had some nerve pain and headaches.  I wake up nauseous and when I get worn out I get nauseous again.  Heartburn, constipation, sleepless nights, exhaustion, body aches, fatigue, depressed mood, weird sores on my hands, mouth sores and many other side effects have plagued me...but they were so much better than the first 2-3 months that I am grateful that was all.  

I think one of the most annoying side effects is the loss of my taste.  Believe it or not, I can put a glob of salt on my tongue and barely, if at all, detect it.  I can taste sweet...which you might think, considering my sugar addiction, that would be great, however the yummy sweet things usually have some salty, savory element to them that make them especially yummy...think cookies you forget to put salt in.  Even a sugar junkie wants to taste something else other than sweet.  It has also been so annoying when I go to a restaurant, forgetting that my taste buds are dead, and anticipating a delicious meal, only to realize while waiting that I won't be able to taste it.  That happened on a number of occasions...and it really was depressing.  I never realized how important our sense of taste is to our happiness.  I even served some juice to my family that, although I had just guzzled a glass of it, they assured me it was fermented. (I sure slept well that night.)  Eating good food is fun...when you can't taste it, well...it's not.  (No...not being able to taste hasn't caused me to lose weight either.)  I'll be glad to get my taste back..and just in time for the holidays!

After today's treatment, I will probably feel kind of yucky for about a week, then I will be on my way back to health.  I am excited to begin to be more active...maybe take up the couch to 5K challenge again.   Next month, Ron and I are going to take a vacation.  This has been a long year and I think we need it.  We are thinking Washington DC...  I bet it will be beautiful in the Fall.  Then, after about a month off, I will begin radiation treatments.  These will be every day Monday thru Friday for about 6-8 weeks.  I think I will be done before Christmas! I don't expect the radiation to be too bad.  I hear they make you a little tired and the burn spot gets irritated and can crack, but there are creams for that.  I am just looking forward to feeling back to my old self.  

So in about 2 hours I will receive my last chemo treatment.  I reflect back on how I felt on my first chemo day, the dread, the fear, the unknown...I never imagined the last day.  If I could go back and talk to my fearful self on April 7th of this year...  I wouldn't tell her...you have much to fear. I wouldn't tell her that you will be more miserable than you ever have been in your life.  I wouldn't tell her it's worse than you have imagined... although true, that would terrify her, and she's already pretty scared.  She has a good reason to be afraid...it really was bad...at least the first 3 months..  I think instead I would tell her, it will be hard...but you are strong, and when you feel like you can do this no longer, God will strengthen you beyond your natural ability to cope.  I would tell her you have many people praying for you and supporting you, and YOU CAN DO THIS.   I would tell her that it will get better.  I would tell her that this will give you insight and experience that you never wanted, but along with that you will also gain compassion and understanding that can only come with experience. I would tell her how nice people will be; how people will turn their kinder sides toward her; how even strangers will hug her and pray for her and give her encouragement through it all.  I would tell her of growth...the kind of growth that only comes through the enduring of hard things.  I would tell her that it will feel like a very long time, but it will end.   And then I would just hold her and we would cry together...