Florida's Daughter

Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous Posts’ Category

Cancer teaches quite a few lessons … some more dramatic than others. One of the big ones is the necessity of being grateful. Grateful for an appetite, for the desire to eat. Grateful for functioning taste buds on the days when you have an appetite.

Grateful for family … especially the family you live with every day. However configured, the family living closest to a cancer patient gets to see all the process in all its gorey details.

The wild eyed look that flashes across your face when you realize you’re about to barf. The barf all over the floor when getting sick becomes inevitable. The endless backahes, the lost hair, trips to the emergency room, the many other ugly side affects associated with cancer treatment that one tries to keep to herself.

As for me, I’m most grateful for Richard. Since the day I was diagnosed my husband has been to most, if not all of my many doctor appointments. His was one of the last faces I saw before being wheeled into surgery. It is his name I call out in the middle of the night. His is the face I search out while laying on the emergency room gurney.

Richard and I have been together nearly 16 years and like most couples, we have our good and bad times. Periods when we couldn’t keep our hands and minds off of each other. And other times when one or both of us simply didn’t like the other. But through it all and through these years, we’ve always loved each other.

Although I admit that he is a better nurturer than I … it seems to come natural to him. Whereas I tend to have to remind myself about being nurturing, we’ve still tried to be there for one another in any way we could.

A lot of Richard’s nurturing occurs in the kitchen … he’s a really good cook and he enjoys it. So I can only imagine what he must have thought 16 years ago when he entered my apartment for a week long visit only to find no stove, no frig, and only one place setting in my kitchen. By the time we got to together my cooking candle had burned out and I’m afraid it has yet to make so much as a flicker these days. I never led him to believe I either enjoyed or was very good at cooking. Instead, I collect cookbooks with glossy photographs.

I don’t know what I would have done without Richard’s caregiving these last few months. When no one else is there, he’s been by my side in full support. This dispite his own healthcare issues. And as helpful and encouraging as every one has been towards me, no one – including my children and his children – have been there for me like he.

Another thing about being grateful – it loses its power when you keep it to yourself …

Thank you, Richard … I love you!


Prayers were answered yesterday morning when members of my physician/nurse practitioner team decided to re-adjust the amount of one of my chemo drugs. They felt the level of pain I described occurring after the first infusion, especially as it originated in my back, indicated that my kidneys were under distress. They also increased the intensity of the pain meds so I will not have to take as many pills to experience the same level of comfort, thus decreasing the added stress on my kidneys with the over-digestion of acetaminophen (Tylenol) …
Breast Cancer Journal 065

I grew up believing that my doctor’s opinion were always correct, and that it was disrespectful to comment or question his advice. As an adult I’ve learned, sometimes the hard way, that I must serve as the most important member of my personal healthcare team. I’ve learned that it’s okay to disagree with my doctor’s advice, and to seek another opinion, or physician, if I deem it necessary for my own continued good health. Now I come to appointments questions written down, poised to write down the answers I receive, understanding my right to know what’s happening within my own body.

Extensive reading, research and interviews have helped me unveil some of the mystery behind healing. While my own life experiences have taught me that members of the healthcare profession are humans just like the rest of us. Which means they have families, their own illnesses, financial uncertainties, experiences and crises as do we. As patients we have the right to communicate our true worries, triumphs and concerns – to sometimes make ourselves loud and obnoxious so that we are heard and our needs met …

Much of diagnostic medicine is based upon hypotheses, educated guesses about what should or should not happen to you, based on what did or did not happen to the last patient. So it’s critical that patients communicate honestly with their medical teams. In turn, a knowledgeable patient is a wise patient, and wise patients follow their knowledgeable physicians’ directions …

I am someone who looks for God in ordinary, every day experiences and crises, believing as I do that the sum total of our every day experiences and crises constitute the totality and legacy of our individual and communal lives. Each day is built upon the strength of the last; likewise, each week, month, year, and decade acts as a foundation for the next and the whole becomes the legacy we leave behind.

Bishop T.D. Jakes regularly counsels his parishioners at The Potter’s House in Dallas that “God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good.”

I feel good right now … I’ll keep you posted.

Florida’s Daughter

Florida West Coast sunrise

This is perfect imagery to explain how I feel most mornings ...

This is perfect imagery to explain how I feel most mornings ...

I don’t fear the surgery so much, although I am not looking forward to the pain it will leave behind, or the realization that I no longer have breasts of my own. Or that chemotherapy will make me sick, or that paying for other meds, treatments, and doctor visits will strain our finances, and most likely, our marriage.
Eventually, my body will heal from the surgery and left behind will only be memories of what was once upon a time. I will move on and pick my life back up and we will try and move on, forgetting perhaps the memory of this experience, if not the lessons.
No, I’m logical-minded enough not to fear the surgery so much. I am afraid that next Tuesday will signal the beginning of my end and that cancer will eventually kill me. If not now, then at some other time.
I am afraid that the sacrifice of both my breasts and my ovaries will not be enough of a price to pay for a cancer-free life.
I have a lot of Christian family members, friends and acquaintances, and I’m positive that each would counsel me to pray to God for healing, for peace of mind, for comfort. But I am of the belief that God is not sitting around stubbornly waiting for me to pray before he heals me, bestows peace upon me, and graces me with comfort.
There is a reason why I am going through this, and I don’t believe it is entirely for my sake. But understanding that my tribulation may be in the end for the benefit of someone else does not make the thought of it any less painful to bear.
I know I will die someday. I’ve known since I was a 15-year-old witnessing the death and burial of her 35-year-old mother. But I guess I thought I had more time to write, to travel, to watch my grandchildren grow up, to watch my children realize their dreams and my dreams for them.
Now I know that I have less time before than behind me and the realization is forcing me to re-think my priorities, to determine what I want to accomplish before I die, knowing that my life no longer represents the great expanse of time and opportunity I once thought it was.
Cancer makes one understand in a way that cannot be read about, or told about that time is precious. That each day is not promised … what a cliche … but cliches are repeated so often because the truth of them is never lost no matter how often the truism is repeated.
Already I am tired of thinking about cancer, tired of wondering what ultimate effect it will have on the rest of my life. I feel guilty about talking and thinking about cancer all the time while everyone else around me seems only to have good news to share about new adventures, unchartered discoveries, and renewed relationships.
I am boring to my own ears, but there is nothing else on my mind right now … there is nothing else to focus on until I have scaled this mountain, until I have found my way out of this maze.
Florida’s Daughter

Today was a productive day. I was able to squeeze in a visit with The Center’s resident social worker, something I was attempting to do, but had not yet secured.

The bone scan is not radioactive; I don’t think … because the door was open. Turning my head to my right allowed me to see an image of my skeleton displaying itself on the computer screens on that side of me. The technician was willing to take a photo of me before I got up, but the camera’s batteries were zonked.

Meeting with surgeon went well … nothing happened that I didn’t expect, except that she was running late, so I went downstairs and had lunch. I landed in the Cafe at the height of lunchtime rush hour. Cheers to the Ben Hogan Center employee that gave me one of his meal coupons so that I could afford to pay for all of my meal.

Stopped by the Cancer Boutique; met the director. She was able to provide me with some direction, encouragement and support … the visit went well. I left with some intriguing investigative journalism ideas in mind.

Productive Day …


Florida’s Daughter