Friday, December 19, 2014

Update Squeaking in #14 and Heading OFF

My kiddo's art, surprised me. Love it.
So excited for the holiday!
Happy that I got into work for three days. Think that I've gotten over the weakness stigma that I was judging myself with for taking sleep medication- what a godsend it is. I really needed sleep Wednesday night after having one of those "can't believe I have insomnia it isn't the first day of school for goodness sakes" the night before...

I've really missed my coworkers. Many leave mid year, mid term, etc... it isn't that they don't love Bradbury, just the life of teaching in a school filled with many expats (many locals as well). I was so grateful for my supply teacher/substitute, she was so wonderful, organized the library with a new set of eyes, got projects done that brighten up areas that needed brightening, and took care of my wonderful staff and beautiful students... So grateful I could simply walk in and teach Wednesday-Friday. SO lucky I am. And my school.  So it was terrific to be back. I chatted with someone and agreed that the true test of my energy will be in January when I'm coming back after treatment on Saturday and work a whole week. As long as I don't feel overtaxed or such, I'm going for it, I'm working... BUT I'm watching myself carefully. Today I had to run to catch a bus and still had energy for that but never know. Grateful for every minute I have.

Debbie, how did the kids/staff react to your hair/wig? All support and respect from staff... they're lovely. Kids are brutally honest but I was ready. "Mrs. Alvarez you look so different!" "Mrs. Alvarez, what happened to your hair?" "Mrs. Alvarez, your hair looks weird." "Mrs. Alvarez I missed you, I know you've been sick, what was wrong?"
My reaction? I said to the wig/hair comments: "Well, this is my hair now and I'm getting used to it, it is what I have and part of me." They seemed to take that well enough. My answer to the what's been wrong, here's what I said to my students: "I've been sick for three stinky months. I did not like it. I'm not quite strong like a superhero yet but I am strong enough to see and teach you, so I'm happy to be here." The kids who pushed further got a "I really don't want to talk about that personal information." - I've learned over the years with sweet kiddos that you don't leave the door open for further questions, just flat out say what you feel and they'll stop. I'm respectful and redirect the conversation afterwards. Some of my students know I had cancer, they think it is lung cancer (because that's what it was diagnosed as when I left work, that's ok, do they have to have those details?) Some of my (honestly) favorites really learned the truth and handled it quite well and just asked some thoughtful questions about how I was feeling and told me they missed me... I only saw half my students this week, will catch up with the rest after the holiday.

#14 Treatment sucks as always (what's new, right?). My concern about my half-covered-with-a-bruise hand wasn't necessary since I'm alternating hands. Keeping up with the topical bruise medication... One of my favorite nurses was quite pleased with the vein she used today. Who knew veins would be exciting. My hands aren't happy presently as I'm using much much much hand sanitizer but I'm also using some terrific hand lotion from many thoughtful friends who just knew what I needed. Only one drug this week... and flying out. Can't wait. Can't wait. Talked with my oncologist further about what would happen with treatment... two more- those Saturdays after the holidays. Then a BREAK. Then radiation. He said "We hope to get rid of the rest of the cancer with radiation." I'm trying to be confident about going back into that tube. It was painful and I'm a little concerned about how my throat/bronchial tube will react to getting zapped... plus the past radiation area will be touched as well which isn't thrilling. Shall see. Then after radiation, if I'm strong and can handle it, "clean up chemo"- two more treatments just three weeks apart and then shall see if there is further prescriptions he wishes to give me. So I see a light. I see 2 more chemo rounds, radiation and 2 more chemo rounds- that means 4 more times I'll be stuck with that long needle in my hand/arm. I can accept that. I'll work hard so my body can also accept it. I'm feeling stronger this week. A little wiped, a little excited about the holiday, and happy about seeing students and staff. My administration has been respectful, bluntly honest and concerned, but respectful. I've hit them with another thing that I'll share soon enough and they've been kind and patient. I'm so so so grateful for the situation I'm in. I read about others dealing with cancer who don't have the support I do.

Grateful for all the support online, wow. I feel so lucky and loved... and grateful...

I subscribe to Soul Pancake- YouTube channel- have subscribed for a long time and LOVE it. L-O-V-E it... when I have time to watch it. I came across a new series they're putting out, below are the first two. Short 3 minute-ish videos. So honest, raw, humorous, touching... love them.
Highly Evolved Human:

Also appreciated this 60 Minutes report on Mindfulness- my mom sent my way, thank you Mom!! :)

Finally, I also read this post by a Cancer Survivor/Thriver- 13 Ways I live my life with purpose after cancer:
I agree with every single item on her list but disagree. I live my life with purpose during this triple hitter cancer experience, it is imperative to have goals and be purposeful. My husband told me the second day after I returned to work how happy he noticed I was. How much more active I was than other days... Today was a harder day (treatment sucks). I enjoyed work but was honestly grumpy and a little snappy during/after treatment. This is due to leaving my safe cocoon... I've picked myself up by looking at happy "stuff" that refocuses me to the positive... Can't live in that negative. Finding my moments...

Feeling the love from my students....

Get well card book given as well... so touched.


  1. those signs at the end made me weep. So happy you're back, that there's a light at the end of treatment, and that you're going ON VACATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. As always I love your journal posts, Debbie. Your positive attitude lights up the room when I am reading your words. I wish you well on your holiday.