Archive for April, 2011

Thank You!!
April 29, 2011

Friends and Family

With just one week to go before the 2011 Siouxland Race For the Cure, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your generous support. Thanks to you, my team, Cathy’s Light Brigade, has raised nearly $5000 in donations…money that will go toward helping people here in our community as well as helping fund the research to find a cure for Breast Cancer.

 We’ve come a long way, but I was sadly reminded this week that we’re not there yet. I personally am doing great, but not everyone is this fortunate. We MUST find a cure.That is why 1000s of people here in Siouxland will be walking/running on Sunday, May 8. I feel so honored to be this year’s honorary Race Chair. Thanks again for helping me to make an impact.

 To be a part of this, please visit my personal Susan G. Komen page.  http://bit.ly/eRYr8f

Later.

Crossing the finish line after the 2010 Race For the Cure

Inspiration
April 27, 2011

Meeting Ali Vincent

In 2008, at the completion of the 5th season of the popular tv reality show, Biggest Loser, Ali Vincent was named the first female Biggest Loser.  At that time, I was conducting weekly Career Coaching sessions for new sales associates and used Ali as an example. She had focused on seeing herself achieving her goal of being the Biggest Loser. She saw herself on stage with confetti raining down. She even saw what she would wear. She was the perfect example of setting a goal, seeing yourself achieve that goal and finally achieving it.

Today, I had the privilege of listening to Ali speak at the United Way Women’s Power Lunch. It was incredibly inspirational. Her message was about her own weight loss experience but went far beyond that. It was a lesson in empowering yourself to achieve whatever your goal might happen to be.

Her motto and the title of her new book is Believe It. Be It. You have to recognize where you want to be. You have to see yourself there. And this applies to much more than weight loss. I believe that is what I was doing when I completed my treatments and made the decision to move forward and have surgery to remove my port. I saw myself at that point as a survivor. I believed that I was cancer free. And, I just felt the strength and empowerment to move forward and claim that freedom.

Ali Vincent is strong. She is determined. She is inspirational. That is exactly what I want to be. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to her today and also, the brief opportunity to meet her after the luncheon. Great day. Great message. Great life lesson.

Believe It. Be It. That’s what I’m doing!

Later.

The Siouxland Susan G. Komen Race For the Cure is Sunday, May 8. To join my team, Cathy’s Light Brigade, or to make a donation, click here. http://bit.ly/eRYr8f  Thanks so much!

Blessings
April 25, 2011

Ahhhh…home at last. What a long day…it’s a long drive from Denver to Sioux City. But, it gave me lots of time to lose myself in my thoughts and to relive the week-end and count its blessings.

We spent the long Easter week-end in Denver and were blessed to have all of our kids with us. My sister held a Bridal Shower for Kelli and did such a fabulous job. It was beautiful. I am truly blessed with a wonderful family.

I visited with one of Kelli’s friends at the shower. Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer awhile back. She lives in Poland. What a different experience it appears to be for her. For instance, she is now going through radiation. There are so few places to receive radiation and she lives so far away that she is having to live at the hospital, away from family and friends, through the entire radiation series. I had to go every morning at 7 am for 7 weeks…a bit of an imposition, but nothing more. Treatments last approximately 15 minutes, but she has to live there for that entire time. Can you believe that? And that is just one of the issues which she shared with me. There are those who say our health care system is inferior to those of other countries. I don’t know. I think those who say that must have never visited with a cancer patient from Poland. If I had to get cancer, I am truly glad I was treated for it in the United States of America. Yet another blessing.

41 years ago today, Ken and I were married. When I was diagnosed a year and a half ago, it was life changing not only for me, but for him as well. Yet he was there for me every step of the way, through that seemingly endless period of treatments, surgeries, tests, etc. Today, of all days, I celebrate him and the blessing he has been to my life.

On Cathystunnel.blogspot.com, I used to often comment that I might have cancer, but I am truly blessed. I want to update that just a tad and say that I may have had cancer, but, in spite of that, I have been and continue to be truly blessed.

Later.

The Siouxland Susan G. Komen Race For the Cure is Sunday, May 8. To join my team, Cathy’s Light Brigade, or to make a donation, click here. http://bit.ly/eRYr8f  Thanks so much!

There’s No Escaping It
April 22, 2011

I guess there’s just no escaping it. When cancer is part of your life, you just can’t run away. Here I am in colorful Colorado, and the Cancer Center called to schedule an appointment. So be it.

In spite of that, we’re having a great time. Today was a shopping frenzy. So much fun. Tonight Matt and Sara are headed down from the mountain (if they can get through all the snow) to join us for the week-end. Tomorrow, dress fitting and bridal shower. Somewhere in the midst of this, we’ll all join forces to get the invitations ready to mail. And, all too soon the week-end will come to an end and we’ll all go our separate ways.

I have another voice mail from the Cancer Center to deal with when I get home. It’s just always there…for awhile longer anyway, I guess. That’s OK. It’s much less of a factor than it was a year ago and a year from now it will be less of a factor than it is now.  

Hope you all have a very blessed Easter. Thanks for always being there.

Later.

The Siouxland Susan G. Komen Race For the Cure is Sunday, May 8. To join my team, Cathy’s Light Brigade, or to make a donation, click here. http://bit.ly/eRYr8f  Just a few days left to register to walk. Thanks so much!

Confirmation Call
April 19, 2011

I had a voice mail when I got home from work yesterday. It was Dr. D’s nurse calling to let me know she had scheduled my next appointment for June 17. Do you realize that by the time I next have to deal with the Cancer Center, the wedding will be over? Hard to believe. She also wanted to confirm that I had my port removed. Apparently she had been told that I no longer had my port but it was still in the computer system that I did. So she wanted to confirm. NO…I NO LONGER SPORT A PORT. Confirmed. And that also confirms that I am officially done with this. I don’t think about being in remission. I think about the whole thing being over. But, as soon as I start thinking it’s over, something else surfaces.

Just now got home and had another voice mail…this time from someone wanting to talk to me about a ginseng trial. It is apparently a study of fatigue in cancer patients. Well…I have to admit, I do still have a huge issue with fatigue, so guess I will call them back and set up a time to discuss the clinical trial. But not right now.

We leave tomorrow after work for Denver. Lots of things to do over the long week-end. There is a shower, a dress fitting, shopping, putting invitations together and hopefully getting them mailed out and just spending quality time with family. It just so happens that our wedding anniversary also falls during that time. Actually, we will be driving home that day, but we can celebrate yet another milestone year with all of our kids there to share. I remember last year. It was our 40th and we had initially planned a Las Vegas vacation with our kids to celebrate. Chemo changed those plans. However, we all got together and went out for a nice dinner. I actually had to take everyone else’s word that it was a wonderful dinner. I was in that chemo “hell” where absolutely nothing tastes good. I couldn’t even enjoy the champagne toast. But that was last year. This is now.

I’m anxious for the trip, I’m anxious to finalize some wedding plans and preparations, I’m anxious to see the family and attend the shower. It’s going to be a wonderful few days. And, when it’s over, I’ll have the comfort of knowing that we will all be back together again Mother’s Day week-end. After that…I’ll go back to focusing on moving from cancer patient to cancer survivor.

Later.

The Siouxland Susan G. Komen Race For the Cure is Sunday, May 8. To join my team, Cathy’s Light Brigade, or to make a donation, click here. http://bit.ly/eRYr8f  Just a few days left to register to walk. Thanks so much!

Running Out of Dreams
April 15, 2011

Ah, yes. Now I remember the good old days of sitting for hours at the Cancer Center. Two hours today and that didn’t include chemo. How did it go? Not great, but not bad. He let me know right out of the gate that he is very concerned about the fact that I continue to lose weight. But…it has slowed down!! Yes, he agreed that is good, but it just doesn’t quit. The part that really got me was when he said that the last time he saw me he had to admit that in spite of the fact that he didn’t like  that my weight is down every time I come in, he did think I looked good. Today, he said that he doesn’t mean to insult me, but I am starting to look unhealthy. Ouch!!

Yet, most of my blood results were good. My white cells are still a bit low but not bad. The cancer marker numbers were a little higher than last time but still within the normal range. That scared me. I asked what it meant that the numbers were going the wrong way. He said it just meant we would have to keep an eye on it but right now he is not concerned. He said he wouldn’t even be running that test every time if it weren’t for my weight loss. Back to that again.

I have to see my internist the end of the month. We’ll see what he says about it.

On the way to work today there was a song on the radio that said something about “getting older and running out of dreams.” Don’t know the name of the song or who was singing it. It just struck me and I wondered how you can run out of dreams. I have tons of dreams still ahead of me and all of this time spent at the Cancer Center is what is going to make it possible for me to move in the direction of those dreams.

I was looking for reassurance today and I guess I got it. Would have liked for it to be GREAT but, for now, I’ll settle for good.

Later.

The Siouxland Susan G. Komen Race For the Cure is Sunday, May 8. To join my team, Cathy’s Light Brigade, or to make a donation, click here. http://bit.ly/eRYr8f  Thanks so much!

Reassurance
April 14, 2011

It will be seven weeks tomorrow since I had my last Cancer Center appointment. It was just prior to our trip to South Padre Island. That feels like a lifetime ago for some reason.

Tomorrow afternoon I return to the Cancer Center for a follow-up…labs, exam, evaluation. It was supposed to be last Friday, but they called and changed it due to a problem with the doctor’s schedule.  It’s funny how something that was so totally a part of your life for so long can so quickly fade into nothing but a memory. This will be my first appointment since having my port removed so, for the first time, I will have to submit to the regular blood draw. Not really looking forward to that. I’m trying to decide if I am feeling apprehensive about all this. I don’t think I am. For awhile, several weeks ago, I was experiencing some pretty strong shoulder pain. If you recall, I was beginning to convince myself, at that point, that I was experiencing bone mets. Then, I reigned my out of control imagination back in and talked myself out of it. The pain went away.

I have no reason to believe that there will be any problem that surfaces at this appointment. I’m pretty sure that there won’t be. I guess I’m just looking for reassurance. Sure hope I get it.

Later.

We are looking for 6 more people to join our team for the Siouxland Komen Race For the Cure. Special thanks to Bill Van Dyke for signing up today! PLEASE REMEMBER…you don’t have to be available to actually walk on Mother’s Day. Just have the commitment to join us in our efforts to help raise the funds to eradicate Breast Cancer. IMAGINE a cure! I do. Every day. Thanks so much! http://bit.ly/eRYr8f

The Epiphany
April 13, 2011

I had an epiphany this week. A few days ago I noticed that I had some new hair growth along the hair line. I was thinking that FINALLY my hair was going to thicken up and maybe go back to normal. I finished the chemo drugs that cause hair loss around the first of June…nearly a year ago…and my hair is still thin and only a couple of inches long at best. But…there is new growth showing.

Yesterday, I had a hair appointment. As she combed through my hair I noticed that there was a noticeable amount of hair falling on the dark colored apron. Are you kidding me? Just when I notice new hair growth I start also noticing new hair loss? I checked the possible side effects of the drug I am currently taking. Sure enough, one of the possibilities is thinning hair. Could that be the problem or could it just be a “spring shedding?” Is there such a thing. I don’t know. I have read that there are people whose hair never does really grow back after chemo. I may be one of them. It never occurred to me before but I have just realized that I could be one of them. Not my first choice, but I guess I can deal with it if I have to. There are some plus factors…I haven’t had to worry about going out in the wind for a long time. It takes me no time at all to do my hair in the morning. I have spent very little money at the beauty salon in the past year and a half. I used to stress about my hair. It was one of the most emotional days of my life when it fell out. And, it was pretty emotional when I realized that it was growing in white. But, I’m used to it now and it is what it is. If this is as good as it gets, then so be it. I’m alive.

Funny how your perspective on things changes.

Later.

The Siouxland Susan G. Komen Race For the Cure is Sunday, May 8. To join my team, Cathy’s Light Brigade, or to make a donation, click here. http://bit.ly/eRYr8f  Thanks so much!

Now THAT’S a Light…
April 10, 2011

A friend announced at church this morning that she had gone in for her yearly exam last week…twenty years since she had breast cancer. TWENTY years. Her oncologist told her that everything was great and that he had no reason to see her again. She’s REALLY done and that is DEFINITELY a light at the end of the tunnel.

You know what’s funny about that? She told me that, as excited as she was to hear that, she is almost apprehensive about the fact that she doesn’t have to go in for check-ups anymore. I can so relate because when I learned that my treatments were ending, I felt exactly the same way. I was so ecstatic to be done but nervous about the fact that I would no longer be monitored so closely. Apparently that feeling never goes away. It’s understandable, I guess.

Anyway…three cheers for you, Kathy.

Later.

Have a Great Summer
April 8, 2011

Today was my follow-up appointment with my surgeon, following the removal of my port two weeks ago. It was scheduled for 9 am. Just as I was getting into the shower to get ready, my phone rang. It was the doctor’s office, letting me know that he was tied up in surgery and wouldn’t be in until 11. My appointment was moved back to that time. I really dislike appointments that fall in the middle of the day, but sometimes there is just no other option, so mid-morning I left the office for the drive out to the Dunes. I arrived shortly before 11 to find out that they had just gotten word that it would now be noon before he was able to make it in. She said I could leave and come back or reschedule if I wanted to. Weigh the options…drive all the way back to the office through the construction zone, spend about twenty minutes working and then drive all the way back through the construction again. No. Reschedule for next week. My schedule for next week is already really tight so, no desire to do that. So I opted to just sit in the waiting room until he got there. I figured, if nothing else, it would put me first in line when he did get there.

It was pushing 12:30 when he finally arrived. But, yes, I was first in line. He came in apologizing, of course, and promised me that he hadn’t been out golfing.  I didn’t think he had.  Life happens. It wasn’t his fault and I was just glad that I wasn’t the person on the operating table that caused the delay. He looked at my incision and said it looked great, asked if I had any problems, told me to have a great summer and that was that. I’m sprung. The incision is healing and it will soon be noticeable that my port is no longer there. All that will remain is the scar, joining all the other scars I now sport.

“Have a great summer.” Funny he should say that. I plan to. It will be much different than last summer. Looking forward to it.

Later.

The Siouxland Susan G. Komen Race For the Cure is Sunday, May 8. To join my team, Cathy’s Light Brigade, or to make a donation, click here. http://bit.ly/eRYr8f Thanks so much!