Saturday, September 27, 2014

Chemo Treatment 2 of 12

Got thru another day.
No fun to go thru this.
Was grateful for the anti-nausea medicine being pumped in after the benadryl.
Only 1 of 3 meds today.
My life coach suggested I dig deep to find things that will bring me to the clinic every week. My things for this week were: audiobook of Mary Poppins- laughing, time with husband and son afterwards- anticipation, chatting with friends and ride home with friend- support, and expectation that things will hit Monday and Tuesday - hope for an ok weekend. I got there.

My friend told me that this might be an easier week since it was only 1 med but the cumulative effects will slowly make my 'bad' days worse - Monday/Tuesday. So I'll take that anti-nausea medicine quick and early and take it easy as I should.
It was only 4 hours at my oncologist's office vs 7, that was not pleasant at all but ok.
This is the week that hair might start coming out. Oh boy. At least I have many scarves, hats, and such to entertain me once I get it shaved off.
I know it is odd but I'm filling my days. I really miss work. Really miss students. Really miss connections to my colleagues. It isn't fun. I'm enjoying reading when my concentration is there. Enjoying watching shows which I don't have to work too hard at.

I'm turning 41 this Thursday. Oh boy. Turning 40 wasn't great since I had my radical hysterectomy on that day... 41? Chemo treatment effects. Grateful to be here. Grateful to have this chance to celebrate life and be with family and friends but boy, wouldn't mind that future 42 birthday being just a little easier. For me, for my family, and my friends...
A friend who is struggling for a terribly different reason posted on Facebook today something that resonated with me:

"Dear whatever doesn't kill me,
I'm strong enough now.

Found the ecard of it:

I'm not down emotionally right now, actually feeling pretty positive on the day of treatment. Got to go out with my husband and son, try out a new restaurant, wander thru a few shops, pick up craft supplies at the Hong Kong version of a dollar store, and relax with a few shows with my husband tonight. Almost felt like a typical relaxing Saturday afternoon to be honest. I enjoyed every moment, even when my son and I argued over silly things and I had to apologize to my husband about being a grouch this morning when he didn't read my mind. Yes. I was angry and snappy that he didn't read my mind. I'm not a morning person in the first place. Add heading off to chemotherapy and I'm not a fun person to be around, even when I'm trying my best. Poor guy was just in his own world and not worried about me, which he shouldn't have to be 24x7. But talking it out this evening for a few minutes cleared the air, gotta talk things out!!

I went thru a few 'damn it' moments this past week. One was during pre-chemo treatment today when I found out I lost 2 more pounds. Seriously. I'm really eating a LOT and packing it in. Even ate a mini-carton of Happy Cow Coconut Vanilla ice cream tonight... But I'm still losing weight. Damn cancer. My oncologist isn't happy but told me it is normal to lose weight and to "eat". Seriously. I'm freaking eating. Even added in chicken this week which was weird to have back in my diet- treated it as an appetizer as I planned... and I added in bone soup thanks to a friend's generous sharing... My acupuncturist told me to try to drink a cup of it every day. Will try!
The other 'damn it' moment was dealing with the public hospital system for the first time. Good thing- I know what to expect now. Bad thing- I know what to expect now. Blech. I already dislike waiting, and I do have to wait a lot lately. But waiting in an uncomfortable chair, wearing a face mask, seeing 30 other cancer patients, and waiting for 2 hours and 45 minutes wasn't a thrill. The oncologist I met was knowledgeable and plenty experienced and told me that I'm a pretty special case. Yes, special, that's me, I go above and beyond. He said that he wanted me to continue to do chemotherapy through my private doctor so that we didn't interrupt the protocols already set in motion. (Ok) Then he scheduled a follow up appointment in November - scheduled for 10am but he told me to bring my lunch and expect to see him around 2-3pm, seriously!!- to see how I'm doing and whether I qualify for getting radiation through the public system. Basically, he's worried about radiation so close to where I already had it for my breast cancer treatment- me too! But as my wonderful husband said to the doctor when he said this, "Whatever it takes."

Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer - I know I don't have this but it is one of the closest things I can find to what I'm going thru since I'm such a "special" case... Appreciated this video:

And now... moving on. Day by day my friends. THANK YOU for all the support. Grateful. Grateful. Grateful...

Friday, September 26, 2014

Health- More Alternative Practices and Music

Note- I wrote this part 2 weeks ago! Just wasn't ready to share it, but loved every minute and have thought about this interview many times since:
I appreciated listening to this interview with Rae Leung by my wise friend Reenita who has written numerous books on Ayurvedic medicine and also a fantastic young adult book called Operation Mom that I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend to others.

Not only did I appreciate the interview but I also enjoyed the music that was mixed throughout the interview. Powerful thoughts and messages. I found that much of what Rae Leung, the person interviewed, had to say about her Cancer journey were things I agreed with... It was interesting to hear more about how she went to try out Bioresonance and Tapping/EFT. Interesting. Heartbreaking. Understandable.
*Loved that her #1 lesson was to learn how to be more patient... I really can appreciate this.
Learned about how she ran a project here a few years ago in Hong Kong: - Looks interesting.
"When I look at cancer, I don't want to think of it as a battle, because that puts us in a combative mode every day. That creates too much stress, too much anxiety. Just to psych ourselves up for a fight every day? Then we're constantly struggling. And I don't feel like I'm struggling at all... I don't see it as a battle. I see it as an existence... And that's where I see pain can creep in and negative stressful signals can creep in..." - powerful reflection to think on.

India Arie - I am not my hair:

Melissa Ethridge - I run for life:

I sat back and looked into a few things this week. 
I am appreciating this Jewish Mindfulness Program:

I looked into Tapping or EFT/Emotional Freedom Technique. Interesting practice. Going to see what works, fits, feels right. My good friend, cancer survivor, told me tapping really helped her deal with chemotherapy and the side effects. Think I haven't formed this as a routine yet.

Also looking further into Qigong, I need breathing exercises... must retrain my lung! (Since I wrote this, I've had two qigong sessions by a talented, thoughtful instructor at my apartment, really is a good practice, well worth the time and routine to get into.)

Finally, present day:
Every day in the morning I wake up dying to drink water... but I stop myself. I go into the bathroom and dump 2 teaspoons of coconut oil in my mouth and do 10-15 minutes of pulling. It should be more like 20 minutes but that just doesn't work out quite right yet. Then I do my swishing/gargling from the doctor- a mix of sea salt and baking soda. Plus many report that their teeth deteriorate with chemo so if pulling helps? Heck yeah, I'll do it. No fun but part of my routine. Anything I can to prevent mouth/lip/throat sores, the better. I then drink squeezed lemon in warm water with my chinese herbal medicine... every morning. There's other routines I'll share on another day.
Never heard of pulling before? You're not alone. It was new to me...
Here's a little info on it:

Pulling- Months ago I asked my dentist his opinion and he said, go for it, it doesn't hurt but I don't personally believe it helps much either. So... going for it.
Happy New Year to my friends celebrating Rosh Hashanah! I wasn't at services this year but took time to reflect upon the year and appreciate all the good things that have happened. Important to do!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Perhaps oversharing?

Warning: This specific post isn't for those who are reading to check up on me. This is for those who don't mind a woman oversharing and complaining a smidge... maybe more than a smidge. Men... not exactly for you. My poor husband has heard it all and feels sorry for me, but that's part of his life with me, the oversharer... spare yourselves...

So, for a while now I've been thinking about nursing my son. I'm sure that's what others think about when they're dealing with the aftermath of operation effects and chemotherapy, right? No?
Well... here I go with sharing too much x 2 today.

So, nursing. I was one of those smarties. I thought to myself, "I've nursed my son for 16 months, I'm preventing any chance of breast cancer, woo hoo!" (little did I know 8 years later...)
Eight years later when I received my first diagnosis (cervical cancer) my first thought was, "Thank god my son is already here." well, maybe not my first thought... but I was so grateful my husband and I already had a happy, healthy child. So grateful.

So, for those moms who have nursed their children, do you remember when your boobs felt heavy, ready to pump or nurse? And do you remember ever feeling that for more than an hour? two hours? As teachers, some of us have that challenge of the "must pump!!" moment but you still have 3 classes in a row you must teach first.

So, why the heck is my mind backtracking eight years?
Because for the past stinking month, my right boob has felt like it was crazy engorged. To that point where I'm ready to scream "OW!!!" Well, sometimes I do yelp... I think it is a combo of a few things:
1. Lymph node removal- drainage is screwed now
2. Surgeon who removed my lower right lung cut into the underside of my breast to get to the lung (think that's the camera incision), also he cut a long incision across and almost into my breast for the lung removal portion (I think). The scars are healing but still a bit painful sometimes. Quit taking tylenol/panedol a week ago. That poor breast didn't need to be cut into more than it already had with the lumpectomy.
3. Radiation- this poor boob had already been thru enough in May when I went in for round after round of radiation. Poor thing doesn't know what end is up. My oncologist offered anti-inflammatory. No. I was taking that and nothing happened with the breast... nice thought though. He's told me "wear sports and supportive bras"... certainly am during daytime hours, made the mistake once of not, OWWWW.

So I walk around with what I describe as an engorged, painful breast in addition to the center of my chest burning with pain (assuming it is the cancer/healing from lymph node removal)... in addition to feeling scar tissue form... oy. I feel very lopsided when I look in the mirror. I've asked a few poor girlfriends if they can see a difference when they visited. They said "well, now that you've pointed it out..." - hah. I share too much sometimes... right?
Shared too much yet?
Well here goes more then...

I'm going on goodness knows how much sleep today. I'm exhausted. Last night I was reading myself to sleep and realized I was wide awake still at 1pm. Oops, closed the book. Tried breathing, counting, peaceful thoughts. Nope. Opened book and continued to read. Then 2pm. Then 3pm- finished a book, LOVED it, didn't help the sleep predicament. The last time I was up ALL NIGHT was when I thought I had lice in July. Uh oh. Jumped up in realization at 4am. Sprayed my hair with these healthy oil stuff and combed my hair for 45 minutes squinting, looking, and checking- repeat times goodness knows how many. Blech. Really made me appreciate the short haircut. Nope, no lice. Yuck. BUT my scalp was freaking out. So itchy. Not sure if it is because my hair is curling back in as it grows a little bit and making it itchy when I lay down on it?? Not certain at all. But I was freaked out. IE no sleep. Thank goodness I brought back to Hong Kong the stuff that could immediately provide me with peace of mind. Yuck. Plus... my hair is falling out. Not clumps. But I'm pretty sure more than the 50-100 strands that can fall out daily- but of course it is more visible in some ways now since it is shorter. Hmm. Chilling out and enjoying hair while it is there... short and easy.

So, I'm done with my oversharing for the day.
I already went to my acupuncturist today. He worked on some energy healing and refocusing of my mind = redirecting from worry to letting go. Appreciated it but basketcase/exhausted one that I am... he made me cry- which is ok. I'm also trying his herbs, shall see. Will show ingredients to my oncologist but my oncologist already gave his approval for herbal medicine for a different Chinese medicine practitioner... so I'm not as concerned about that than I am all these other vitamins/herbs I have to bring in the list of and get permission for before I begin taking them.

I am going with wonderful husband to the local hospital today as well. Letting go of worries and concerns that are out of my control. Shall see how this appointment goes.
Thanks for bearing with me... To those that thought that I overshared, sigh. I warned, right? #gototopofpostandadddisclaimernow

Monday, September 22, 2014

Chemo Reaction- A little documenting

for future patients: preventing metastisis- which I'm presently dealing with:

So, I realized I didn't share what happened on my chemotherapy day 1 of 12 day.
Here it goes... 7 hours long...
I checked in at my oncologist's clinic and was immediately weighed and had my temperature checked. I lost two kilos which was really upsetting. Didn't think about how I had cut all my hair since the last time I was on the scale, so perhaps some of the weight loss is from hair??
Vampire time- blood was drawn and analyzed.
I checked in with my oncologist who lectured me about losing weight, this is an ongoing conversation... and also chatted about how my blood is, told me many side effects to the chemo drugs that were going to be pumped into me, discussed other things as well. I forgot to ask why he "upgraded" me from Stage 3 to Stage 4 cancer but found out later it is because of the metastasis.

Then I went to his back room. I've had my blood drawn here so often but I always said to myself, at least I don't have to do chemotherapy. Thought that one too soon.
There are comfortable chairs there. Lounge ones... good thing too since I had to sit for 7 hours. The medicine is operated through a machine plugged into the wall. You can't walk around with it!
My wonderful friend Diane who is an incredible support came around this time... she was there the entire time, we have such fascinating conversations... So grateful she was willing to be there, funny that I brought along books and magazines, never opened them.
The nurse was so lovely. Kind. Patient.
I warned her. "I don't like needles. I have to pee a lot. I'm sorry if that creates complications." She was so easy going every time I had to go to the restroom. Just stopped the meds. Removed the line going into my hand and put a cap on the tube until I got back...
First I got a line in my left hand (which sucks, I'm left handed-- has to be that way since the breast cancer and lung cancer both are in my right side).
Then saline was pumped into me to get going.
Then a little medicine was pumped in.
And a little more...
Then around 10:30 the first chemo was pushed in.
Then around 11:30 the next chemo drug.
Then a little more medicine was pumped in. (Benadryl, etc.- only thing that made me wince, that darn medicine stings when it is going in!)
My friend Susan showed up at 1pm. She wanted to visit, bring Diane lunch, and see how I was doing... plus give me a ride home afterwards, so grateful for her time. Super supportive friend.
Then 1:00-2:30 the final chemo drug. It was fascinating to meet a lab technician I'd seen for a year working in the back room on blood analysis and find out he was a Chinese medicine doctor certified and practicing in Hong Kong. He provides his service to my oncologist's patients- herbs, acupuncture, and more... wow. I'm waiting this week to see my side effects and then checking in with him on Saturday for my next round of chemo. He helped out my friend Diane which was incredible.
I ate lunch.
I was so ready to go at 2:30 when the saline was pumped thru again.
That was when the nurse began lecturing me. For 45 minutes. Seriously. My friend pointed out that I started biting my nails during that time. Why yes, I'm sleepy, tired of being in a chair, and ready to go go go... I don't want to hear about side effects now! But for fourty-five minutes I worked hard to concentrate on all the side effects and careful practices she talked about. I thought to myself, I'm better at reading this stuff, please just give me the paper... but I listened too since she would often offer her sage advice as she went over the paperwork. Unfortunately, she forgot to give me the packet (oops) she popped it back into my file record booklet so I will probably run by the clinic this week to pick it up.

After some lectures, I decided to add organic chicken back into my food plan, just treating meat as an appetizer but doing it to get more protein... I'm eating a ton of food but losing weight. I know cancer has a lot to do with it but still, doing what I need to do. A beautiful friend dropped off chicken broth (bone soup) for me to eat... will add some brown rice noodles to it and have tomorrow. So grateful.
I also enjoyed breaking the rules and eating a piece of whole wheat bread today (gasp) with avocado and smoked salmon on it- what heaven it was to eat! So...  there's the update I didn't include in my last post.

Monday- 2 days after chemo was pumped into my veins... I'm having a harder time. Honestly, I'm fatigued, gave in and admitted I was nauseous and took pills, and didn't have as much get-up-and-go energy today. Considered it a feat to eat my meals, shower, and welcome my husband home from Vietnam. He completed the mountain marathon in 12 hours! So proud of him.
I wanted to go to this workshop in the evening after dinner and thought I had enough energy to go and return. Learned a hard lesson... I attended this essential oils workshop for around 45 minutes and realized I was done. I needed to go. So they put a drop of oil on my wrists- Joy- smelled like my grandma, lovely, and I headed out. I wasn't thinking my best. I decided to go to ride the MTR home. Figured I could find a place to sit down and it was only 3 stops. Rush hour. Dream on Debbie. So, I got there, had to stand but found a place to lean and got thru two stops. Then I blacked out/fainted. On the MTR. Many people worried. One woman helped me stand up. I slightly collapsed again and people helped me exit the MTR at my exit. The lovely woman who helped me up walked me over to the guard's station and asked me what I wanted... to call the police? Heck no. (But that's a normal thing to do here.) but I said I needed to sit down. They pulled a chair out of the station for me and for five minutes I cooled off. (Was dripping with sweat.) I then realized I didn't trust my energy level so I called my husband and he came to get me. (Welcome home honey!) I was grateful to be home, humbled, and upset. I chatted with my life coach and discussed decisions, what happened and why. We agreed it was probably a combo beyond just being exhausted- I had started wearing a face mask and felt it was suffocating me. She pointed out that breathing in my CO2 probably wasn't good. I need to practice wearing it at home for a while. I had taken the nausea medicine which can get you dizzy... And I should have taken a taxi home. Lesson learned. The hard way but at least there were wonderfully helpful people around who cared enough to get me to a safe place where I was monitored.

Have snapped a few pictures lately... figured I'd share a few. You can see the clinic and even the meds... not fun but part of my days 11 to go...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Finding inspiration, poetry, and being careful

Expected drama today. None. Maybe side effects from chemo are holding off for tomorrow or the next day. Odd. NOT COMPLAINING.
Felt really productive and happy today. Enjoyed visiting with some wonderful friends, had fun doing art with my kiddo, and got through the day taking rests when I felt a little fatigued. Noticed my face was flushed three times during the day (I never flush)... Hmm.
Working my way thru Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips book still, taking my time as I really am appreciating it and taking ideas to heart... and feeling reassured with things I've already done this past year. 
Funny how strong I feel when I have poison coursing through my veins and cancer cells multiplying (hopefully they're very confused and starting to die instead.)
Wrote these poems a few months ago at a writers workshop. 
Thought they still represent my thoughts about this cancer journey:
No. No.
Thank god he is here with me, wouldn’t want to be the one to tell him.
No security.
No safety.
Operation prep.
Leaving work.
Repeated conversations.
Repeating myself too many times.
Not so grateful to say I’m grateful over and over.
Happy to be alive but terrified.
Books- what do I read first?
Online Articles scare the hell out of me.
Online groups are useful.
Talking with someone is best...
Thank goodness for good friends.

Survive? Yes.
Thrive? Will give it a go.
Inspire? Not so sure.
Must my cancer story be so special?
Would it help or worry others to read it?
Will thinking about cancer make me worry more?
I already worry enough.
Every twinge.
Every pain.
Especially every consistent pain brings forth
an immediate worry about what could be coming.
Scans? Expensive.
Hate worrying about money.
Hate getting upset about costs.
Better to focus on outcome.
Better to focus on what I can control.
Appreciated these sites and resources - last two shared by lovely friends recently:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Up Down Suckage

Today was one of those up/down days.
Up at 5am with a shaking dog- can't let her sleep on the bed when my husband is away!
Barely any sleep so a little more emotional and sensitive... all day.
Tomorrow is the big chemo-begins day. Been dreading it so much. Didn't help that I didn't make plans today. I made time to Skype with my parents which I enjoyed- had discussion and show and tell with the wig/hats/scarves, etc... but after that... had frustrating technology time. Wifi has been a little iffy. Will resolve sooner or later, I'm sure. Took a walk and wandered around areas of Causeway Bay which was good. Getting out of the apartment every day has always been goal one.
Received a letter from my oncologist reclassifying me as stage 4, not stage 3 which is quite upsetting for me mentally, takes me a little time to process those things... like having to have chemo every week vs. every 3 weeks... He didn't clarify this with my husband and I a week ago but I should have asked... gotta be your own advocate! So here is the official diagnosis: cancer of the cervix now with metastases to lung and mediastinal lymphatics, stage IV disease. Tomorrow- Avastin, taxol and carboplatin rounds begin. I'm going to be repeating these things tonight when I meditate and tomorrow during chemo as I remember: "I feel strengthened by the love of my friends and family." and "I can relax and let the chemotherapy work." and "Every treatment takes me another step closer towards health and recovery."
Missing wonderful husband but enjoyed Skyping with him this evening. Beautiful area at the top of a mountain in Vietnam. He pointed out to my son and I which mountains and peaks he'd be running up and down tomorrow. Still think it is wild but just so beautiful as well!
I've been getting a little down but trying to stay positive as much as I can... riding the waves day by day. Just knew today would be hard. Like pre-surgery and pre-radiation... the unknown is darn scary.
I think things are straightened out with friends, kiddo, etc. for future days. A few people will be leaned on... so many others have said, just ask, but honestly? It is hard to ask. To know to ask. To know that I need something. My best friend forced me to think about her visiting and when it would help. Forcing me think made me realize that I was quite nervous about when my husband and son are off on an adventure in Beijing in October. So, I asked if she could come then... I'm really looking forward to her visit and grateful as well. Lightens up my days and makes me hope for some good energy during treatments so that she can see fun areas of Hong Kong. Shall see. I read in Crazy Sexy Cancer in the advise for friends area that the friends that simply "do" something will be appreciated and I've noticed that those who have called and said "Ok, let's take a walk" and others that said "I'm visiting, here's a day I'm free" have really helped... Asking for anything is tremendously hard for me. I don't know why, just part of me that I'd prefer to help others vs. ask... but grateful to all who have written notes, sent messages, called, and visited... not complaining, just reflecting.
I'm excited because I signed up for a laughter yoga class like a friend recommended I go to- will be in a few weeks but will be nice to look forward to. I've been quite curious about it.
Yesterday I had my first acupuncture treatment with a new person. I appreciated his approach, reminded me of the person I went to in the US (quite a relief)... will see him next Thursday.
Emotionally up, down and every which way.
I realized that this actually marks a year. A year with cancer. A year ago my world was flipped upside down. A year ago I was so relieved that the surgery went well and that I'd only have to have radiation. (surgery happened on my birthday last year, at least chemo isn't on my birthday this year... if things go well with treatment, my last one will be on my sister's birthday, shall want to dance together on Skype to celebrate...)  Little did I know that the cancer was bouncing around and into my lung and who knows where else... Can't believe I'm dealing with this all again with the financial stress, insurance worries, and more added to this mess. My husband thinks things will all work out but I admit, I'm so concerned.
I think cancer sucks majorly. It encompases too many of my thoughts. I love chatting with friends, reading, watching shows, and any distraction that takes me away from cancer a little bit. Still appreciating much humor and trying to surround myself with it as I go thru the days. I have Mrs. Doubtfire cued up to watch with my son tomorrow night, looking forward to laughing with him.
Tonight I'll return to a little more technology mess and then read some Crazy Sexy Cancer again, appreciating her attitude and tips. Probably finish off the night with some humor, starting a new book soon called People I want to Punch in the Throat by Jen Mann. Heard it is hilarious.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ambulance, surgeons, wigs, police, and more

Presently, I'm quite glad that I have a fully booked week. It is helpful to distract myself at the present time.
I enjoyed free time yesterday in the morning with my son and husband when there was the T8 (typhoon level 8) warning hoisted. Eventually my husband had to head to work and the kiddo and I had an appt to get x-rays and sutures out at the surgeon's office.

Working on my patience:
I've noticed that my patience is wearing thin when I have to talk with medical people on the phone. It helps to remind myself that it is a short time period that I have to deal with it and "this too shall pass". Sometimes I think these complications are good for me to work on my patience skills, breathing skills, and communication skills...  Reminding myself how many people these individuals talk to is also helpful- if I'm kind/nice, will help other patients out.
For example:
On Monday afternoon, I got a call from my surgeon's office. They wanted to change my Tuesday appointment time from 3:45 to 2pm. Well, that was confusing as the appointment they wrote down for me was at 11am one week before. After sorting it out, I was grateful that the appointment was at 2pm since there was that T8 that came in and had most everything closed in the morning. They called two hours later to confirm the appointment that they called earlier about and took quite a bit of time clarifying everything, I grew impatient about this since I already talked with them two hours before about the same thing. Also, I was told to go at 1:30 to get an x-ray of my lungs done at another location. When I got there at 1:05, the office was closed for lunch from 1-2pm. I chuckled, called the surgeon's office, and was told to wait til 2 and then come over immediately after... It all works out. I was able to cross the street and hang out at a favorite bookstore and had unexpected relaxing time.

Surgeon time:
Visiting with my surgeon was ok. He's quite pleased with me and my progress and is now "done" with me. Good guy, talented surgeon. Asked me about new diagnosis and when I mentioned how my oncologist said that the chemo/radiation only had a 40-50% predicted success rate, he simply said "try to be more positive, I've seen patients like you before successfully battle cancer and live for a long time." I explained to him how I was staying darn positive but that he asked about the diagnosis and I was simply filling him in... but I appreciate his positive support. He gave me some ointment for the three scars, removed the final three sutures, and sent me away with many instructions. Really glad that he's happy with the progress and also grateful to be finished visiting yet another doctor. Must mention, I can recognize myself now by x-ray. Since that lower right lobe of my lung was taken out, my x-rays look quite odd. Interesting to see the changes already in three weeks since the surgery.

So, working on my skills, taking deep breaths and more...
At the end of the day I was able to have some lovely women over and have a class in Qigong, reminded me of Tai Chi with deeper breathing and energy focus. I'm so happy that this will be a weekly occurance, just wish I'd started this up years ago... Complimentary to yoga. I put a few YouTube videos with Qigong exercises on that page to the right of this blog post called Healthy Practice Videos to Visit.

I'm happy that I got preregistered for a yoga class and chanting class thru CancerLink. Those will start in October. Hope I have energy to go to them every week... will be healthy outlets I think.

So... appreciated accomplishments for the day.
Hair- I like touching it, soft and all that but when I look in the mirror I'm not so fond of it yet... but I'll adjust. Have had many supportive friends tell me how much they like it.

Insurance fun (NOT):
Today I met with my school foundation's human resources representative about insurance coverage. She was reassuring but I didn't receive any definitive answers... what a surprise. I have paperwork requests I'm setting up for back-up insurance and more. Shall see. Grateful there's someone supporting me there.

Overwhelming packages:
Received the prettiest hats and scarves in the mail today. Thank you to my lovely friend for passing them to me. Shall picture model soon enough. This afternoon I went to CancerLink to meet with the wig specialist to learn a little about wigs and also find out about how to wear scarves. I was really thrown trying on different wigs. Really thrown. Didn't recognize myself and wasn't so thrilled. But the woman was so kind and patient. I borrowed a wig... it is ok. Plus I received a nice pink hat and an odd skull covering for keeping me warm, protecting me from itchy wigs, and when my hair starts falling out I have another odd head covering that helps me avoid hair falling all over when the chemo effects begin...
Yesterday a friend also passed me her turban/scarves that were created for cancer patients. I'm happy I have multiple options, a good thing.

Began crying (crying is ok) this afternoon when a care package arrived from some of my beloved librarian friends from Beaverton, Oregon. Working with them was incredible over the years... dear friends... Really touched to receive so many special letters, treats, personalized gifts, and much more... I have many things to use for chemo treatments and many special things to boost my spirits. Really really overwhelmed by that box of special gifts, thoughts, and love.
*I just read in Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips by Kris Carr about how I should create a quiet place to go each day. She had one corner of her home with a cushion, candles, and things that inspired her... Think some of the care package gifts will be there.

Ambulance and Local Hospital Experience:
Tonight was a little tumultuous. Our live-in helper (my lifeline for almost everything) collapsed in pain after dinner, we're not sure why, and we called an ambulance. I rode with her to the hospital. She felt a little better after 45 minutes but then we waited an hour and a half before she was released... she has to go to the doctor tomorrow. I suspect she has kidney stones but also she's had other issues in the past and usually it is food related. While we waited for the ambulance to show up, my husband quickly zipped out to take our dog for a walk. He went to a local money exchange place and when he talked to the person about getting Vietnamese dong. The person tried to give him a poor exchange rate and then refused to give him back his money. He called the police and the person gave back money right before the police showed up... He filed a complaint. Our son was over at our wonderful neighbor-friends in the same apartment complex... Thank goodness we have friends to lean on that have a kiddo his age. He was happy to hang out with his friend.
I got home with my helper at 10pm. Glad she got care, medicine, and is now resting. Scary to see someone you care about in pain, curled up... Appreciate that an ambulance ride and emergency room care total $100 Hong Kong Dollars- that's $12 USD. In the US how much would it be? Crazytown costly, I know... But I didn't feel like the ER doctors were really knowledgeable. You must be your own advocate there. I noticed that my helper spoke up and got a referral letter so that she could go see a regular doctor... That was my first experience in an ambulance in Hong Kong (or ever for that matter) and also in a local hospital. I've been in four private hospitals here in Hong Kong for procedures. I tell you, drastic difference. I was quite entertained people watching for two hours- drunk people, vomiting people, broken ankle people, and more... did I mention I asked for a face mask immediately?

Marathon man:
So, why was my wonderful husband getting Vietnamese dong? He's going away! Tomorrow! For 5 days! I'm getting my first chemo treatment right in the middle of the time he's away! But I refused for him to cancel anything. He is a marathon person, one thing we'll never share beyond my support for him. He's going to Vietnam to participate in the Vietnam Mountain Marathon. Running. A marathon. In the mountains. Seriously. This is like his birthday present to himself since that's coming up the day after he returns. Curious? Here's a link to his adventure:
Really happy we live in a place that gives him a chance to run marathons like this. He's done marathons for a long long long time... and I admire his tenacity. Shall miss him a tremendous amount while he's gone though!

Tomorrow? Trying out a new acupuncturist. Crossing my fingers he works out for me... Have had some not-so-fabulous experiences so far here... they are expensive appointments. Want it to be worth it.

Enjoyed watching this video, interesting study: Cell Nutritionals: Pomi-T Study -

Monday, September 15, 2014

Preempting Hair Changes

Part-way thru the cut...
Grateful that I talked to experts, a few survivor friends, and read blogs and advice sites for people dealing with chemotherapy and side effects.
I've mentioned a few times that I've read about how patients who have longer hair are advised to get it cut short to help with the transition to losing hair/going bald...
Decided to do this before my first chemotherapy appointment. That appointment is this Saturday- 5 days away.
Sophie, at Tony and Guy in Central is one of the best hair stylists I've ever experienced. (And I'm really picky as a curly haired person.) Really appreciate how she handled today- I know that it wasn't just hard for me to get the hair cut... she's been invested in my hair- helping it grow, getting it to a style both of us agreed worked well for me, and now had to go thru cutting it. This was after last year when she flat out told me she'd never cut my hair short in a random conversation we were having...
So, I nervously asked Sophie a bit ago if she'd be willing to help me with this not-so-wonderful situation... Of course she said yes... She's one of those that is comforting and ridiculously talented simultaneously. I also asked my friend Amy if she'd come distract and take pictures... she's a wonderful friend that staged an intervention with another dear friend the first day I stepped foot in a community center here in Hong Kong and helped welcome me and sorted me out with doctors, hair stylists (introduced me to Sophie), and more... I appreciate her friendship tremendously. Amy came prepared with funny anecdotes, interesting things to chat about, and a talent for photographing the whole thing...
Now it is done.
Moving on.
I think it is a lovely haircut. Not what I would have ever chosen in a different situation...
(damn cancer)
Sophie is on call for when I need to officially shave it off... as is Amy.

Husband was wonderful as always, he first said, "Well, you have your hair pulled back so often this wasn't too much different until you turn around. Almost forgot for a second." - he likes it...

Kiddo was a little tumultuous.... Yesterday I asked him to decide between a few short curly haired pictures... he chose this one:

A friend recommended that I ask him to help with the decision, appreciated the suggestion. I loved the show Felicity and was surprised by the haircut way back then on Keri Russell... which isn't appreciated by many out there but helped me look at short curly hair as a possibility.

When my sweet kiddo got home from school, we caught up and this was his reaction to the hair cut: First not really noticing, then noticing, then saying he liked it, then later saying it scared him, then tearing up and saying he never wanted me to lose my curls and long hair, then voicing concerns about me eventually going bald, then at the end of storytime together saying that he thought it was pretty and goofing around together. I knew it would be up and down and up and down for him. Love my little sensitive guy.

Somewhat of a mohawk style for a friend who suggested it... partway thru cut.
(Hardest part was actually seeing the top part of my hair cut short...)
Facebook friends are incredibly supportive... beautiful people that they are. Many told me the cut brought out my eyes, made my cheek bones more pronounced, and that I should get some fun dangly earrings. Many suggested I color my hair an outrageous color, funny idea but heck no... going to put enough poison in my body with this chemotherapy, no need to put it on my scalp as well. :)

Got thru the day.
(It helped that earlier in the day I was able to go to school to see an absolutely fantastic author visit for my students with Candy Gourlay- LOVE HER BOOKS- Shine and Tall Story- and also had a long wonderful Skype visit with my best friend in Alaska....)
Positive moments keep getting me thru.

*Amy noticed that I was having a few "wow" moments right after the cut and that she expected that I'd have some to share on the blog, yup.... I do like my lists.
Here's a few things I randomly thought of since the cut:

1. I need other things to fidget with now that my hair isn't there to mess with...
2. It is fun to touch short hair.
3. When it rains, you can feel raindrops when they hit your head.
4. My hair will actually dry in less than an hour now vs. taking all day to dry.
5. I can feel every breeze now...
6. Missing the cushion of hair when leaning back, sigh.
7. Will take adjusting for how much hair product to use.
8. Washing my hair is super fast now.
9. Short hair is stinking easy... No need to think about how to style it. Just wash and whoop, you're done!
10. Curls will find their way. Right now every hair on my head is saying, "Oh My Goodness WHAT Happened? I'm FREE!" and they are having a little fun adjusting... curious to see how humidity here in Hong Kong will effect the hair...
I'll watch the changes over the next few weeks until things change with expected chemo side effects kicking in...

So ends my thoughts for today... Glad I have time to reflect. Thanks all for keeping up with me on this....

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Blood blood blood

Blood thoughts:
Ages ago, I decided my oncologist was a vampire.
He always wanted my blood, right from the get-go.
He had his own blood testing lab right there in his office.
The cost of blood tests added up and up and up...

Now, with chemotherapy, one of the drugs I'll be on makes you deficient with red blood cells. Oh boy. More blood blood blood tests plus the focus on food, thank goodness I'm used to both.

A good friend reminded me about this and mentioned how she had a hard time continuing chemo because she was low on her red blood cells... so she tried to eat foods that would build them up.

So, what is good for building red blood cells?
I'm not eating meat but that's not necessary. (I really hope.)


They tell me to eat these:
Iron-rich foods include:
Chicken and turkey
Dried lentils, peas, and beans
Meats (liver is the highest source)
Peanut butter
Whole-grain bread

Other sources include:
Raisins, prunes, and apricots
Spinach, kale, and other greens

I do eat beans and lentils a LOT. Salmon is part of my meals. Plus I'm allowed to eat Ezekial bread- whole grains! Woot. Raisins and apricots, can do. Spinach, kale and other greens? Absolutely yes.
Meats? No no no. Peanut butter? No. Soybeans? Well... I've been trying to avoid soy because of the estrogen factor but recently added back in edamame and miso soup, so I guess that'll do...

Next site: of iron include red meat, organ meat such as kidney and livers, beans, lentils, dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale, dried prunes, dried raisins and egg yolks, according to MedlinePlus.
Sounding similar, phew. BUT NO EGGS. (I miss eggs, just avoiding as well because of the estrogen factor.)

Next site:
Ok, this one has an interesting list:
Eating the right foods can help increase the number of red blood cells in your body. Here are a few of the ways you can eat your way to better blood cell health:
Iron. Food rich in iron can help your body rebuild what it has lost. Lentils and legumes are a great way to get the iron you need and they are healthy for you in many other ways, too.
Copper. This vital mineral can be found in many foods, including shellfish, poultry, liver, whole grains, beans, cherries, chocolate and nuts.
Folic Acid. Long known as a great help for pregnant and nursing mothers, foods that contain folic acid include lentils, dark green leafy vegetables, blackeyed peas and cereals fortified with folic acid.
Vitamin A. This very important vitamin can be found in a multitude of fruits, including grapefruit, mango, watermelon, plums, cantaloupe and apricots.
Vitamin B12. Meat, eggs and fortified cereals are a great way to get plenty of B12 in your diet. Since those on a western diet get plenty of this, a lack of B12 is rare.
Vitamin B6. This vitamin is found in a wide variety of foods, including meats, whole grains and bran, nuts and seeds, fish, vegetables and legumes.

Plus I find their supplement suggestions interesting, don't want to take things that conflict with chemo but...

Sometimes diet isn’t enough to increase red blood cells. In that case, turning to supplements can help your body produce the red blood cells it needs. Here are a few options:
Iron. This is a vital nutrient that your blood cells need to function properly. Women need 18 mg and men need 8 mg of iron per day.
Vitamin B12. Derived from mostly animal foods, B12 can be lacking in vegetarians. Everyone needs 2.4 mcg per day, and a supplement can provide most of that.
Vitamin B6. Women need 1.5 mg of this vitamin each day, while men need a bit more at 1.7 mg. A supplement can provide this, and you can boost the intake with baked potatoes, bananas and fish.
Vitamin E. This vitamin is excellent for good health, including red blood cells. Everyone needs about 15 mg of this per day. However, supplements might provide much more than that, so speak with your doctor about whether that is okay for you.

Similar things though to be honest... looks like I can still survive without meat... besides salmon that is... I refused to take iron supplements in the past though as I noticed it activated my arthritis. Hmm.

Other websites I read from repeated the same things... Hmm.

Other thoughts beyond blood...

One friend and I were talking about how Vitamin D deficiencies could also lead to cancer and how I should have my Vitamin D levels checked before I begin chemo. Hmm. I've requested to have this done on my chemo day- when they take blood from me before...

Another friend told me that she was able to avoid Neuropothy - where you get numb fingers, toes, feet that tingle painfully - side effect of chemo- (yuck) by taking these supplements: Alpha lipoic Acid and L-Glutamine and walking a good amount every day... good to know, right?
Information about that:

Interesting video about exercise practice for those going thru chemo/recovering from cancer treatments:

Think this website is worth spending time at for a while. Good interviews with survivors, etc!
My wonderful sister-in-law suggested I visit a few websites that were inspiring, one written by a friend of hers. Appreciated obsessively reading thru all the posts here: and here:

Appreciating advice.
Appreciating online research.
Appreciating experts.
Hoping I'm not going overboard with all of this.
Just want to survive, thrive and feel like I'm dealing with things with information backing me up....
Short hair is coming tomorrow afternoon... glad to have friends around for it.
Starting Qigong on Tuesday night, hoping friends show up and it is worth the energy. (All about energy, so should be a win!)
Looking like a full week coming up... but full of action taking moments, which is good. Very good.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Skin and Hair Researching Tips Plus Chemo Details

Thank you to those who shared humor videos and websites with me...
I've been collecting suggestions on this blog page:
I also decided it would be good to collect my healthy practice videos as well on a page, here it is:

So, one tip I read recently (and was also told by a helpful friend) was to cut my hair short so that when I do have hair loss, it won't be as much of a shock.
I have permission to pop into my school on Monday when there's an author visit. I'm excited to see coworkers and the author... and of course students... for a few minutes.
After the visit, in the afternoon, I'm going to see my favorite hairstylist who will do her best to give me a good short haircut. Haven't had it short/pixie like pretty much since I was 12. At that time, that style was a disaster for me. I love having long hair... So, my friend will come along and distract/support as well...

Sweet boy:
Had the chat with my kiddo tonight. Broke the news that chemotherapy was going to start next Saturday. He just pointed at his head and said, "that's the one where you might lose your hair, right?"
I explained that I would likely lose my hair, yes. Saw tears starting to pop out of his eyes and we quickly explained about getting a shorter haircut on Monday and how I'll still be me, just less hair... He calmed down and joked with us about being bald and we shifted to a conversation about scars which was quite entertaining... Ended with us talking about how I fell for my husband at a swing dance lesson and how he caught my eye by reading a book during the dance break times. My husband thinks that scars are attractive and draw women in with the curiosity factor... I told the kiddo that it wasn't necessary to get scars to be attractive. Amusing to shift to that topic, I was grateful... I know this is just the beginning and that he's going to have many ups and downs as he watches my reactions to treatment. He's been the cheering section so far with my lung recovery/breathing practice.

Chemotherapy Details:
I read up on side effects of the chemo drugs that will be pushed into my body. Many listed skin changes, lip and mouth ulcers, and many other drastic side effects. So... to the internet I go to find out more.
I know some people might actually want to know the combo of drugs that will be pumped into my body so... Here they are:
I will have chemo for 12 total weeks as long as things are going ok.
It will occur in 4 week rounds, so 3 rounds total.
Avastin - the antiangiogenic- once the first and third week:

Skin changes and more, investigated:
I found out a few things...
First off, there is a site called Look Good Feel Better, interesting:
Appreciate their videos and tips for makeup- losing eyebrows isn't as worrisome:

There are many good tips for chemo treatments...
25 tips here:

Skin tips:

Some interesting skincare tips...,24441

Concerned about mouth sores...

More ideas for lip treatment:

Video on effects of chemotherapy on skin:

So, yup, learning a little bit more...
Enjoying the days....
Getting thru.
Sweet dog monitored me today:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Answers... well we asked for them.

Less than a week ago, my husband and I walked away, frustrated, from my oncologist's office. We had more questions than answers. Today, we received some answers... but we certainly didn't walk away from the appointment happy or relieved. Honestly, I'm overwhelmed. My wonderful husband is... quiet and contemplative and supportive and... surviving too...

I attended my first 'CanSurvive' meeting today (cancer support group) that included a lunch with many friendly strangers who were catching up after months apart and then going to a lecture with a counselor who talked about how to manage negative thoughts and how to reshape and redirect them. Appreciated the lecture and was frustrated to have to leave early for my oncologist appointment... Think part of the frustration was that I knew answers were coming from my oncologist.
Here's the YouTube video I took note of when I had to leave - shared by the counselor from the Well Cast Channel: interesting approach to reshaping thoughts... think I'll watch more videos from this channel, a little disappointed that it isn't quite appropriate for primary school since I like some of the topics...

I'm mentally working through the chemotherapy plans... new more aggressive plans because unfortunately my prediction was right, my oncologist assessed the lab results and confirmed that the cancer I have now is metastatic cervical cancer in my lungs. He has a much more aggressive plan for chemotherapy than he had when it was the lung cancer diagnosis. Now I have to go for chemo weekly with a rotation of different medicine each week on a four week cycle. I will lose my hair, no doubting that now, scarves are my new focus instead of hats, shall see. This protocol can have many side effects. The costs of all the chemotherapy is overwhelming. I'm checking in with insurance to see what will be covered.
I considered going to the local hospitals in Hong Kong now that I finally have an official diagnosis and a referral letter from my doctor as of today. Unfortunately, getting an appointment could take 2-3 weeks and getting treatment could take 1-3 weeks later... which isn't very promising. I'll still look into the local treatment, even just for radiation treatment, shall see.
My oncologist wasn't very encouraging about the government/local hospitals proceeding with the protocol he has created for me. He thought they'd prefer to do radiation first which he did not recommend. This means a lot to me because...
1. I want to survive, recover, and be in remission.
2. I can't imagine putting off treatment for another month when my oncologist wants to begin next week (I just hit my 2 week mark after having surgery, can't believe it will be just 3 weeks and then chemo treatment begins but as a friend said to me, those Hong Kong doctors do not mess around!)
3. I trust my oncologist. I do not believe he would exaggerate or dissuade me because he wants my business. I believe he wants the best for me.

So, will talk and sort out finances and begin chemotherapy sometime next week.
Looking forward.
Staying strong.
Overwhelmed but dealing with emotions as they roll... and they will... and that's ok...

Thinking that I would like to focus on humor a little more. Find funny videos that make me laugh, comic strips, comedians... anyone have a favorite? I adore comic strips, subscribe to many online... almost as obsessed with them as I am with graphic novels.

Appreciated one cancer survivor's story in the book Radical Remission which included her and her daughter making time at the beginning and end of the day to find ways to laugh. I love to laugh. My son does too... perhaps that's something we can do together for a new routine. He already thinks I find the most awesome videos to share with him... The librarian in me is already mentally figuring out how to organize this...

I am looking into comedians on YouTube, here's the first one I'll be watching: - Humorous guy, I like his slightly twisted approach... for adults though.

Also, I like the idea of creating one of these: vs. making a get-well-soon card for classes, nice idea... productive, positive idea... :)

Grateful my mom suggested I reread that chapter in Radical Remission... inspiring. Good for redirecting my mind to the positive and thinking about humor.

Thanks all for keeping up with my journey. Getting through...

Monday, September 8, 2014

Ho Hum Hat, Hair Loss Thoughts

So, we have a sweet fourteen year old dog who I adore. I love snuggling with her. She's adorable. Seriously. She's been my constant companion but is honestly daddy's girl. I'm good with this. You see, I'm a bed hog. I don't want a loving dog sleeping between my legs, chin on my ankle or any other sort of endearment, I need my space... (My poor husband.) And so... she knows she can snuggle with AH (Amazing Husband) any old time she wishes, just as long as she shifts a little when I'm around.
Why do I bring her up? Because she's calmed me this past week. Snuggled. Watched over me. And been the sweetest thing... Quite grateful.
Here's the look she gave me most of the time... 
'Are you going to pet me? Notice me, I'm right here!'
So, thinking about losing my hair totally blows. I've been appreciating it every day for years... Sure, I hated those curls for a number of years. Especially during my afro hair stage in middle school... But for years now, I love these frizzy, hard to control, boinging curls... sigh. So, I'm approaching the next round of this fight carefully. I'm working on my food regimine with a focus on gaining a little more weight. Enjoying the opportunity to have some healthy walking every day... and thinking about how to deal with hair loss. Now, I know, I'm not finding out my chemotherapy protocol yet but I am trying to be realistic here... It is more than likely that I'll lose the hair. (Not to mention my eyebrows and eyelashes, yikes!!)

A lovely friend shared with me a hat that she thought worked well during her chemo treatment... got me on a mission. A few days later I found a hat that could cover my head... found two actually. And a scarf... Thank goodness I found them when I was taking a walk with a friend so I could get her opinion on them, there were so many choices in the market we were at! I was a little overwhelmed but successfully chose two.

So my dog. Why did I bring her up? Because she barks at people wearing a hat. She barked at me ages ago when I came into the house wearing a hat and then quickly stopped... so I thought I'd better wear the hat for a day. For myself to see if I could handle it... for my sweet dog so she sees me wearing the hat before I really have to wear it. And also for my son, so that seeing me in a hat or other head covering becomes a little more natural before I deal with chemo side effects more drastically. 

Wearing a hat is hot. Especially in Hong Kong where the temperature is in the 90's plus HUMID. I feel like I'm hiding underneath it. But kiddo and dog didn't even blink twice at me wearing a hat. It was helpful a little bit with the sun glare but overall, meh, ho hum hat. Not so excited about that... Goodness knows how wearing a wig would feel. I'm looking into it all now though so that I can feel like I'm taking control, addressing what I can vs. feeling angst over the unknown.

My surgeon took off two of the three bandages on me today. It was freeing and honestly a little scary. He didn't want me to put on steri-strips to protect the skin while it healed which I had to do after the lumpectomy/lymph node check during round two of operations/fighting cancer. Odd to have someone who simply says, you're healing, looks healthy and fine. I told him about some of the side effects I've been dealing with and learned that I'm normal. I'll take normal I guess. He offered me cough suppressant but I turned him down. He offered me anti-inflammatory but I turned him down. Pain isn't too bad and the cough isn't keeping me up at night. The less medication I have to put in my body, the better. I'll see him again in another week, that's when he'll remove three sutures and the final bandage. 

I received more lab test results from him and it really does look like this third round of fighting cancer is actually NOT LUNG CANCER but instead another round of fighting cervical cancer that bounced (my word choice) into my lung and lymph nodes. Officially, I'm expecting my oncologist to tell me in two days that I have metastatic cervical cancer in my lungs. Meh. When I read about metastatic cancer, I became quite concerned about my prognosis. Will I live more than 5 years? Can I beat this? What will my quality of life be? My doctor has calmly walked me through things so far... Accepting that I need to deal with this day by day. Here's a little bit about metastasis: - Yup. I referenced to Wikipedia... bet my librarian friends are laughing... But it is in normal people speak vs. so many of the other sites I've researched and read!
So, I'm concerned about how well radiation will kill these cancer cells vs. what my oncologist was happy about before with the lung cancer prognosis... and how well chemotherapy will help... and which type of chemotherapy will be prescribed... so fixating on wearing a hat- a good distraction.

It was a wonderful day today. I Skyped with one of my best friends, spent time with my sweet son and took a great walk with him, and also chatted for a while with my wonderful Rabbi who is introducing me to someone who might teach about Qigong, interesting practice. I chatted with my life coach tonight which always feels like an inspiring blessing. Plus my son gave me a double high five for getting all three balls in the breathing practice tool up simultaneously. I was proud of myself too. He said I need to practice more though so it becomes consistent. (Love that my kiddo is finding goals for me.)

Me in the slow hot elevator at the beginning of my wandering about day. 
Cute enough hat. It'll do. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Inspiring me

So, I love when my husband asks me what I've done during the day. When life was normal, I'd fill him in on work inspiration stories... now that I'm recovering from surgery....
Some days, I'm a little productive. Take today... I finally made three phone calls and followed through on some paperwork all of which I've avoided for a while. I also had a wonderful visit from a sweet friend.
Other days, I'm just surviving. Reading. Browsing online. Not productive.
I allow the day to shape itself.
So far.

I've made sure to get myself out walking every day. I've been contemplating what I want to do when I'm dealing with chemo treatment. An inspiring friend walked 2-3 miles every day during her treatment. I would like to increase my stamina and recover from this recent surgery so that I could do something healthy every day during chemotherapy and radiation treatments as well. So, do I want to go for a weekly hike? shopping adventures around random areas in Hong Kong? visit all the libraries in Hong Kong that I can? explore new areas of Hong Kong by hopping on random ferries and wandering around a little island for the day? visit all the beautiful beaches? work on my manuscripts? go work out at the gym that my husband and I joined right after my breast cancer surgeries? Hmm. Options are bountiful, which is lovely. But will be careful to pace myself, read how much I can honestly handle...

I've had chats with friends about life.
That's valued time for me.
I've done so in person and also online.
I've organized playdates and hung out with my son and husband. That's treasured time.

I'll go to my first cancer support group activity next Wednesday. Can't believe I was diagnosed a year ago and I'm only just looking into this... but I did have a close friend who dealt with similar treatments who gave eloquent advice in my first round with cervical cancer and another good friend who helped me learn about new diets and healthy choices during my second round with breast cancer... CancerLink has some healthy activities starting up in October, I wrote down 7 classes like meditation, yogaa, chanting, and more that looked promising and will narrow down within a week.
Each round has been different. Enlightening in different ways. Grateful for the experience although I wouldn't wish it on anyone, ever. I know I'm growing as a person but honestly, could've grown without this type of experience.

Thought I'd share a smattering of what's inspired me in the world of fighting, living, and dealing with cancer... I've browsed, watched, and learned more through other's experiences. Really appreciate others sharing what they've dealt with.
So inspiring me recently were these- two videos and two articles. I mostly find these through Facebook groups I joined thanks to another friend's recommendation recently.
First, a brave man who shares what it is like with chemo, loved this video, love how connected he is with people at the hospital but can just imagine how many days he's dealt with life there... impressing singing!

Second, an interview - really appreciated the perspectives shared: (I appreciate following The Silver Lining and reading recipes and posts too.)

An article on how it is helpful to write your way through cancer? Why yes, thank you I agree:

Fighting cancer perspective: Does cancer ever win? Appreciated this powerful reflection:

What else inspires me (to fight, stay positive, go one day at a time)?
Little special messages from my sister and happy thoughts from her.
Loving messages from my mom every day staying stronger than I am, ready to listen anytime.
Close friends booking time to Skype with me.
Wonderful friends writing and sending me messages about how they're thinking of me, praying for me, and more.
A friend who shared my name in her prayer circle at a retreat the day of my big surgery.
A friend who stuck in her yoga tree pose and sent energy and positive thoughts my way, then also shared my story with her classmates so they also sent positive thoughts my way. Across the ocean, received.
My son's consistent love, even when it is all about him (which is just wonderful for an 8 year old) he's such a sweet, caring soul...
My husband's persistence in providing me with happiness, love, and humor. I love making him laugh and it is reciprocated through conversations, tv shows shared, and more. So grateful.
My dad and other loving family members sending special messages.
Positive messages from my colleagues and friends from work reaching out and ready to help with anything needed.

I also appreciated these 100 Wise Words from an Econ Professor...

Thursday, September 4, 2014

More Questions than Answers and Dear Body...

Dear Body...
I find this to be an interesting practice for anyone. Many might be bitter after an operation. I remember after my first operation, I looked at my long scar and sighed, told it, I know you'll recover, I know you hurt now, this had to be done, I'm sorry. *I barely see this scar anymore. The pain has subsided, especially after a few months went by from radiation treatment.
After my second operation, I looked at my little c scar and sighed, told it, yep, you're there, you look a little different but there's more coming with radiation... I'll keep putting stuff on you for healing. Said the same to the "S" scar under my arm from the third operation where lymph nodes were removed and checked.
After this past week's operation, I looked at my side and imagined what was coming. I have bandages all over. I know there are three scars. I know two were cut through my right breast which already went through enough with a lumpectomy and radiation less than 6 months ago, poor thing. Goodness knows how the scar tissue will feel this time. Goodness knows how radiation will make me feel this time beyond burned and tired and wired- will it impact my throat? voice? give me dry mouth? ruin my gag reflexes? give me sores so that it hurts to eat? What about chemotherapy? Oh vey to the imagination I have for reaction to that. I've watched the videos that have doctors saying that you can still work during chemotherapy and you can also still stick to an exercise regimine that both will combat fatigue... shall see what I'm able to do. I'm hoping to buckle down and work on my writing, look at this as a gift of time... sort of.

So, for now... here's my Dear Body:
I forgive you for being prone to multiplying cells that shouldn't be in me. I forgive you for being sensitive to food. I will accommodate you, care for you, and try my best to nurture you with patience, positive energy, and alternative treatments to balance out all this wonderful life-saving yet reactive modern medicine.

What happened this afternoon:
The Dr. appointment today was frustrating. My love walked with me away from the Dr. and we agreed, we were leaving with more questions than answers, that's annoying. I dislike that lab technicians are now giving conflicting analysis of biopsies and we have to wait another week for further decisions on treatment based on more lab tests... Right now they're thinking that I don't actually have lung cancer but a stray cancer that bounced up to my lungs from my cervical cancer... so cervical cancer that didn't just spread up? It just is there in my lung and lymph node? What if I had been treated with chemo back in November when I was first diagnosed? Could that have helped us avoid this exhaustive experience? Yes, I ask these questions. Of course I can't change the past but realistically they run through my head. Plugging my way along, working on looking toward the positive but accepting that I'm a little angry as well.

Oh well. Patience has brought us along this far... I do know now that my doctor plans to first give me four rounds of chemotherapy every three weeks and a month of radiation second. He mentioned that he might have some chemotherapy drugs that I'd have to take to make the radiation work well. They won't do anything for at least 2 more weeks so I can recover from surgery... Gearing up mentally for whatever comes...

Here's where my thoughts on "Dear body" above reflection came from:
There was a sweet girl, think in 2007 who started a meme called "Dear Body":
Without cancer example:

Today I came across a different "dear body" video for someone who dealt with cancer, chemo, radiation and such and was a survivor. Loved her messages to herself. I really honestly could care less about weight loss, in fact I'm trying to gain weight on this limited food protocol I'm on so that's beyond why I was touched by this video... I just appreciated self reflection and positive messages within both videos.

After cancer example:

Staying strong and positive but riding the waves through this journey...