Saturday, May 30, 2015

Could it be?

Husband is back from his scuba diving trip to the Philippines.
He had quite a load of fun. So happy he had that time...
I know I've talked about this pain in my side for a long long time. I also have been dealing with wearing sports bras and supportive tank tops as well. The other day I rotated to sports bras after weeks of wearing supportive tank tops. That day the pain was gone. Hmm. The next day I didn't rotate back to the tank top. No pain. Today? Wore a tank top. Go figure, pain. Could it be? Could I have been treating one symptom (cellulitis in r. breast) and getting another one? Could it be as simple as stopping wearing those tank tops? I love those things darn it. And I was feeling pretty well supported. But I'll try to investigate this further. Crazy body. Crazy reactions. Glad I noticed the connecting difference... I guess... - written Wednesday. Now Saturday: pain has eased up so much, what a relief. Annoying that what I've been wearing has been giving me so much pain...

So on to another pain for the past 2 weeks.... my stomach has been giving me such pain with cramps I haven't slept more than a few hours. So I talked with my oncologist about it. He gave me pain medication. He gave me another medication but unfortunately I couldn't find a pharmacy that stocks it... shall find it soon. Pain sucks. Pain medication helps a little bit. Was able to go book shopping with the kiddo and enjoyed spending time with him... Hoping to sleep better tonight. My oncologist got a little panicky when he found out that I lost weight again (couldn't eat much all week, not sure why, couldn't even swallow pills without gagging...) and he was also concerned about the pain and wanted to get a PET scan done sooner to find out what was going on. Shall see what happens in the next week.

Time is creeping up on us... Yikes to the move happening soon.
This past week I watched a show... it helped distract me from the stomach pain- Chasing Life- was on Netflix... pretty good. Heartbreaking too since it is about a 24 year old woman who finds out she has cancer and her life is turned upside down... I know some might avoid cancer related stories as I dealt with my own situation but watching this was helpful...

Our dog is doing better.... poor old girl. She's flying out before us... getting things sorted for her. She has many issues and one is that she obsessively licks and creates sores on her skin... I decided to try having her wear a t-shirt to distract her. Really worked well. She's adorable in them and I've noticed she's much calmer at night now and I don't have to worry about her licking anymore...
Shall see how the next weeks are. Chilling out and enjoying life as well as I can. Hoping that pain eases up so that I don't have to mask it with medication...
Thanks as always for journeying with me...

Sunday, May 24, 2015

You're turning the corner, I know it is hard

Love my lunch duty time because I can see
such beautiful living things.
I haven't thought about writing much recently. This week has been a little challenging for me. I'm so grateful I had the previous week off. This past week I had 4 evening activities. Two were "goodbye" dinner events which are really hard for me. I don't enjoy goodbyes. I feel socially awkward in them usually. These two events though included some really interesting conversationalists and also some dear friends sitting close which made them special... and a little harder in a way. I was pretty much plugging my way thru each work day with patience. I love school. I've mentioned this before. I love students... they gift me energy and love...

For now though, I'm just fatigued. I've been dealing with some disturbing sleep patterns that I haven't had before where I fall asleep but can't sleep more than an hour at a time without waking up. And falling back to sleep is harder that I've experienced before. And the dreams I'm having are weird and vivid where I'm working out someone else's worries and concerns. For example: One dream I've been having for multiple days is about a woman who did testing on whales of some sort and realized that the testing was emotionally disturbing them so they were beaching themselves. I dreamed about the aftermath where she was heartbroken and having to defend herself. ... so just weird. So serious.
I'm taking it easy and napping a little bit since I'm in the middle of a beautiful long weekend.

Student led conference included science electricity demonstration.
My kiddo is having a terrific weekend... a little time with me and a chance to go to a movie together (Tomorrowland- pretty heavy handed with message but decent enough flick) and enjoyed a little time together but he's mostly away at wonderful friend's homes at sleepovers. Glad my husband and I organized them. Kiddo told me today he just cannot wait to move home to Oregon but he regrets that all these good friends he has now will be left behind... glad he's so reflective, good kiddo.
My husband is away in the Philippines scuba diving, really happy for him... glad he has this opportunity. Miss him though, been a long while since we've been apart for days.

I've had a little time to watch the Hay House World Summit movies... E-Motion, The Shift, and The Tapping Solution are the ones I watched today. Such interesting creations reflecting on the emotional state... appreciate them. They're free for around one more week. Hooray for free healthy resources. Grateful.

Trying out tapping actually started to distract me from my frustrating side pain and stomach pain I've been consistently having. I also started having back pain, perhaps because of all the bed rest. I went to get a massage (one more prepaid massage left!) and the therapist said to me "so you're getting fat". I chuckled at this for a while. Told her that I actually am trying to gain weight and that my Dr. is concerned that I'm not gaining weight. She was astounded. Funny how someone who works on bodies would state this or be surprised. I carry my weight in my legs, that's where she was looking. Still funny to me. Told a friend about it and she told me about how when she lived in Ghana it is traditionally the greatest compliment for someone to say that you are fat... that would be quite the thing to get used to!

Went to my oncologist yesterday and he told me I should be feeling better. That he thinks I've reached the turning point of this last round of chemo... shall see. Love that he also said "I know it is hard for you" and did the heavy hand pat on my back on my way out of his office, he's a good guy, shall miss his support. I can tell that I'm better than a week ago but the pain in my side is really distracting me, can't just ignore it sometimes... and no way to massage the area.

Was interesting when someone asked me the other day if I ever slow down. I didn't realize I was giving that impression of busyness anymore. I'm still blogging and working but really, I'm so much slower and more purposeful with where I put forth my energy... not sure why it came up. Maybe the person was trying to measure herself to me? Doesn't really matter. I told her that this whole diagnosis experience has made me slower and careful about pacing myself...

My dog can still hear loud thunder and lightning.
There have been many storms recently. Poor girl.
I'm working on the transition moving home. My important things were to connect with an oncologist in the US and get insurance for the few months I'm not covered by either job. I figured out insurance now and also contacted the oncologist I feel confident going to see... I have a load to "to do" things to do here before we move like getting a background check done with the Hong Kong police to show I'm clear when I'm back in the US... also I have to deal with various financial things- taxes, retirement paperwork, and more. Trying to just pace myself and get things sorted carefully. Things will work out eventually...

A friend shared this link on Facebook, really interesting to see which organizations own organic brands... kind of mind boggling.

Well, thanks for journeying with me. I'm taking things day by day as always... reaching deep in my toolbox for what will help me. Happy I am trying out tapping again. Happy days to all...

Sunday, May 17, 2015

My Turn Now: Faith and affirmations

I have accepted traditional medicine.
I have experienced multiple surgeries.
I believe those surgeons did what was necessary and helped save my life.
I have experienced three rounds of radiation treatment.
I believe those radiation rays went to where they needed to go to help me heal.
I have experienced six rounds of aggressive chemotherapy.
I know those chemicals have run through my body to help it heal.
I have finished the traditional medicine reaction to the cancer.

Now it is my time.
Time to focus my mind on the positive.
Continue positive affirmations.
Continue qigong.
Continue meditation.
Continue deep breathing.
Continue acupuncture.
Continue yoga.

What am I continually saying to myself? Things from Louise Hay from her book You Can Change Your Life:

My body now restores itself to its natural state.
- I'm repeating this throughout the day. It is time to heal. Time to recover. Time to be strong. Time to continue to celebrate life.

I lovingly forgive and release everything in my past.
I choose to fill my world with joy.
I love and accept myself.
I love myself just the way I am.

Years ago I experienced something I loved. When I was in high school there was a group called Dram-edy I was a part of. Drama and comedy combined. We came up with skits that communicated about positive approaches to life, taught lessons to inspire, etc.
We often began our meetings with this chant:
"I love myself.
I love my body.
I love my mind.
I love my spirit."

What positive affirmations they were... that have run through my mind through the years. I continually focus on the positive. I try my best to look for the good in others. If I'm in a situation where I'm judging another I often try to redirect that thought to think about their perspective. My best friend calls me "ever the diplomat". I think never a word more true has been spoken. I act based on how I want to see myself viewed out in the world.

This afternoon my family attended CancerLink's Celebration of Life. It was interesting. I learned about a rock star Coco Lee who is popular in Hong Kong, Korea, and in the US as well. Hmm. She sang beautifully. There were dance performances, a laughter yoga workshop (all in Chinese, ack, strained to understand, really really was interested), and it was nice to see many friends from CanSurvive group and CancerLink support group as well. Lovely people. Poor husband and kiddo. Was a bit of a push for them with 90% in Chinese. I appreciated that they came... Love my family.

There's a Hay House World Summit available right now. Free. Videos, audio inspiration and more... I appreciated watching this movie:

Appreciated this family dinner idea, what discussions and deeper understanding can occur with this:

Feeling a little better today. More energy. Less shakiness. Grateful for how amazing the body is at healing. Taking things day by day by day. I keep on keeping on.
Thanks for journeying with me folks...

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Weekend time

This morning was hard and then good.
I got to CancerLink and enjoyed a little yoga, picked up my ticket for their "Celebration of Life" at some big stadium tomorrow afternoon. Shall see if I have energy to go. Bringing husband and kiddo along if we do go. Had to duck out of yoga early, much to my chagrin as I would have enjoyed catching up with a few friends after class. Same thing will happen next week, sigh.
I had an appointment with my oncologist. That was hard. By the time I got to the appointment I felt like... I was the walking dead. Almost as weak as when I was leaving the hospital after the operation. Didn't enjoy the MTR ride over to the clinic, an elderly woman pushed me during entry (rarely do I get pushed) and I got a seat anyways. Letting go.
At the clinic I got my weekly blood draw but it hurt more. My poor veins are darn tired of needles. And much more sensitive after all these months of chemo, etc. Funny how that is but I was warned. I found out that I was running a low-grade fever and had lost 5 pounds in one week. 5 pounds. So many of my friends struggle and worry about weight, that is, getting weight off. But to lose 5 pounds in one week made me want to weep. I've worked so hard to put that weight on. I was at a healthy weight of 127 pounds (not anywhere near what I used to be) and I was proud of that weight. I don't like going below 130 to be honest because I bruise like crazy when I don't have any cushion on me... and I've seen more bruises this week. Sigh. Now hovering below 122...
My oncologist suggested putting me on an IV drip right then. I told him I wanted to go eat a burger and spend time with my friend. He made me promise to drink more yucky sports drinks to boost my electrolites (I tolerate Pocari Sweat here, too much sugar but at least I know it helps) and drink a lot of water. He's also concerned because my nosebleeds have started again, the chemo makes me have nosebleeds so it isn't much of a surprise to me... Just dealing...
I talked with my oncologist about the looming PET scan. I told him I was concerned about the rush to have one. He told me he just wants to get me strong and recovered from chemo at the moment and we'll talk about the PET scan in June. Ok. Sounds good. I think. I told him I'd prefer to avoid the PET scan until school is over. What's the point really of finding out before? I have stayed positive about things but honestly, I can't even consider any treatments/operations, etc before we're back in the states. I want his opinion and certainly plan to have the scan before we leave but... meh. Not in a rush... peace of mind? I'm better putting it off and getting stronger during June. Shall see what he says once I'm feeling better. He's very respectful but also isn't hesistant about speaking his mind about what he knows is best for my care.
I'm to watch my fever. If it goes up or if other things come up, I'm to go on antibiotics twice a day. I already have the prescription. Shall see. Fever isn't down yet. I checked.
I was able to meet up with one of my favorite people here in Hong Kong and have lunch and then book shop together. Spending time with my friend Tanja is always a "picker-upper" for me. We visited a book sale and I got 25% off a few books for school, woot. Wasn't too impressed with what they marked down 80% but was happy to have the energy to hang out and book chat.
Looking forward to work next week. Only 4 days of school and then a long weekend. My husband is excited because he's going to scuba dive in the Philippines. I'm happy for him. Looking forward to spending time with my kiddo too, just the two of us...
This afternoon I read a website that had some really good advice for people who are dealing with metastatic cancer like me. The American Cancer Society article is called "When Cancer Doesn't Go Away". Trust me, I can hope for it to go away but am honestly just realistic as well.
Appreciated the advice and thoughts.
Damn cancer.
Going to read and relax and drink many fluids.
Thanks for journeying all.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Careful day by day even on down days

These days have been really rough. More than other chemo reactions, I think.

Monday- stomach flu plus chemo side effects left me almost fainting in bathroom trying to take a shower, etc. Barely ate anything.

Tuesday- pushed myself to go into work thinking I'd get thru like other days. Unfortunately, I got shakey and weak and couldn't even figure out how to get myself home until my kind principal sorted me out, walked me to get a taxi and sent me home. Barely ate anything. Tried to do qigong in evening but unfortunately I didn't have energy, class changed to Friday thanks to patient teacher...

Wednesday- felt shakey, didn't want to take the risk. At mid-day I got a call... received the gift of two more recovery days. After a little protesting I thanked my wonderful admin and then thanked my lucky stars. Still can't eat much, got some soup down.

Thursday- FINALLY I had ability to eat. Took two hours to eat breakfast but ate lunch a tiny bit speedier and my husband cheered for me at dinner when I ate my rice and veggies. Feeling weak still but just grateful for healing time.

Missing work and kids. Didn't expect to miss a whole week of work. Oh well. Last chemo, being patient with myself. Doing deep breathing. Now that I'm not as shakey, looking forward to doing qigong exercises again.

From my beautiful good friend who is recovering from a serious operation and has a clean bill of health, thank god:

If this experience has taught me anything it is that we are all in this life together...through the good times and bad. The only thing that makes it bearable is the love from family and friends. The Brazilians have a word called 'saldade' that does not translate to English well but in essence means a sweet longing. Sometimes it is for something you know will happen someday, you just do not know when, sometimes it can mean a sweet longing for something that may never happen but you always carry it with you with such hope and longing that words cannot describe it. Sometimes it is both things together. I feel such saldade for you, a sweet longing that your health straightens out, that your energy returns and you can return to the life you had before this all began.

Thanks for journeying with me...

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Last Day of Chemo

Actually smiled.
I'm keeping faith.
Faith that this is really my last day of chemo.
Faith that the exhausting, expensive, emotionally draining experience over the past 10 months has successfully helped me rid cancer and extended my life. I'm continuing positive thoughts, deep breathing, qigong once or twice a day, and all the other things from oil pulling to essential oil treatment and I really do believe this is helping me. I've been dealing with pain in my side and more recently in my stomach and doing the deep breathing and acknowledging the pain has really helped me actually ease the pain.

Found out I have the stomach bug which helps me understand why I had stomach pain. It is difficult to distinguish sometimes what type of pains I'm dealing with. Good to have a solution, rice water to drink, and meds to take.

Happy moments and a feeling that an anvil has been lifted off my shoulders.... that's how I feel after finishing the chemo experience.

Hope this view is done in my life.

Author/Illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi made this for me.
As sad as I am to be wearing hats again,
I feel like this picture represents me.
A wonderful friend mentioned to me that some of my random shares in these posts have helped her out with her own medical needs. Hooray. That just makes my day. Touched by all wonderful people I'm keeping up with on here, Facebook, and other places...

Here's what has inspired me recently:
I LOVED the idea of these greeting cards created by a former cancer patient... this woman is an inspiration:
I'm grateful a friend sent this my way (thanks Candy!) and I agree, each person is different and it is really challenging to know what to say to someone who is dealing with cancer in their life.
Now, I do not refer to my illness as a journey, my journey is celebrating life itself every day. It has been interrupted slightly by this darn cancer but I am still celebrating what I appreciate, spending time with those I love and care about, pursuing my passions, and not letting go of my dreams...
Here's lovely card examples:

My beautiful qigong teacher sent me a link about gratefulness. 
Really appreciated this link and this song - 
Grateful  - A love song to the world:

I watched a video on Positive Psychology, enjoyed watching, most of what I know but I appreciated watching the research reinforcing it. (Shared by wonderful colleague at my school...)

I've added the mantra from this meditation link/video to my daily practice with my deep breathing. Really helpful reminder every time...

Moving ahead, taking care of myself... thanks for journeying with me...

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Day by day....

I love my dog.... last picture of me BEFORE my hair all fell out.
Allowing my emotions to flow thru these ups and very downs kind of sucks sometimes.
After clumps of hair coming out this morning, I acknowledged that I'm past the thinning stage and going back to the bald stage. Unfair. Sucks. Must I really live through this again? I loved the curls that were finally growing out! Sigh. I know there are many worse things but I do not find the silver lining of having to go bald again after 6 months of bald already and 3 months of seeing hair. Not cool. Like I'm getting teased in a bullying way... but I chose this. Chatted with the kiddo about it and told him I'm willing to deal with hair loss and chemo side effects if in the end I can be with him much longer...
Many of my students asked me if I was ok today. One said I looked sad. Not too many asked 'why' today, but I was ready.
My good friend told me what her friend used as an answer to students: "I took some medicine that makes me lose my hair but it will grow back out."
I've had a few times today when I'm just feeling miserable. Many people kindly avoided pointing out the freaking hat and just led on with normal life, having interesting conversations and being good distractions. I appreciate work distractions so much. I'm certainly aware and recognizing my emotions, but I really don't need to be fixated on them 24x7. It is much better to be working than to be staying at home on my own trying to be healthy and balanced... So much more is accomplished and I just love being around my colleagues and students.
Appreciated snuggling and silent side by side reading with my kiddo. Love when he's lost in a good book.
Loved snuggling and talking life things out with my husband, grateful for our time together...
Also snuggled with my dog for a long long time, to the point where she looked at me with those "mommy, I really want to sleep now" eyes... So, to bed I go.
Got thru this day.

And so wearing hats begins again... At least they have style!

Another day has passed. I was tired and found that old pains that hadn't tortured me in a few weeks had returned. Thoroughly annoying. Did lots of deep breathing and stretching. Think they helped.

Many days ahead.
Will plug my way through each one gently and carefully. Thanks for journeying with me...

Monday, May 4, 2015

Oh, duh!

A glimpse:
Gee. I feel pretty terrible. I wonder why? Shaky, weak, stomach issues, and more? Blood test says? Very low blood cell count. Ahh. That's right, chemo kills off blood cells. Glad I changed my oncology appt. to today. Answers on the spot, helpful. Might not get chemo on Saturday unless cell count goes up? Great... just want to be done already.
Gather up energy, head home. Jump in bed. Ask husband for a burger. Yes, that's right, a burger. Plus eat dinner. Time to feed the body. Rest. Rest. Rest. Kiddo time. Finish book together silently reading side by side. Reading aloud won't happen til the last few pages. Coughing fits galore equal my evening. Rest. Rest. Rest. Qigong. Sleep.

Appreciated this meditation video my acupuncturist told me about, good one:

Can't wait to make this horchata recipe- I LOVE horchatas, this one being healthy with chia seeds, etc. sounds terrific...

Quick journeying share but I got thru a low day and family time made things quite positive... so did a few classes today, enjoying unit I'm teaching and students I'm seeing. :)
Thanks for coming along as always...

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Ping Ping Ping

Appreciated this from Facebook...
Enjoyed the weekend, dealt with pain, coughing, and such but really appreciated time with family plus downtime. Coughing is easing up a teeny tiny bit...

Getting thru the days. Enjoyed getting back to yoga classes on Saturday. Missed for weeks. Will miss next Saturday but that's just one time...

Noticing hair coming out. Run my fingers thru the hair and get 3-5 hairs. My husband said "So don't do that!" But it is honestly itchy until I do do that... One went PING onto my food plate last night. Sigh. I'm NOT going to shave it off though.
Presently, hair falling out is nowhere near like when my amazing hair stylist thinned my thick hair around a year ago. Annoyed to deal with hair loss again. I've been dreading this for way too long. Good to just have it happening already.

Took a good walk with a good friend this afternoon. Helpful to talk out things for a while. Helped me realize that I'm getting concerned about too many things. I addressed many worries tonight, made some decisions about insurance situations that were weighing on me and more... Feeling calmer.
There are many, many unknowns right now, but when is there a time when there aren't? Focusing on having faith that things will work out they way they were meant to. Also focusing on a clean bill of health, no self sabotage. Sure, I'm addressing my frustrations, acknowledging when I feel despair but also trying to turn those thoughts to positives...
Next Saturday I'll get thru chemo. Last time. Getting there.
Mutts Comics plus Kris Carr = brilliance. Loved.

Went out yesterday and did a little swing dancing with my love. So wonderful to be dancing, to be spun around, to work as partners in that way. I just love dancing with my husband. I also simply love dancing. I've made it a goal that I'll be able to have the stamina to do zumba again. With qigong and yoga helping me get stronger, it is possible.

Thanks for journeying with me...

Off to dance.

If only I could get this comfortable and sleep as soundly as our sweet Dulcie dog.
She's doing a little better...

Friday, May 1, 2015

Getting along day by day

My qigong instructor shared a video with our class many weeks ago. I finally made time to watch it, under 30 minutes and well worth the watch, fascinating. It was worth learning about the meridian lines, the healthy practice this incredibly knowledgeable person does every day with acupressure, breathing, and a knee bending exercise... glad I watched.

Hair hair hair. I'm back at that stage that I remember all too well from the first round of chemo: itchiness. The kind that made me think I had lice. Yuck. Poor skin cells, they're so confused. Happily growing and then hit by this medicine. It's doing what it needs to do. I WILL NOT shave it off though. Will tolerate the itchiness and hold back from scratching like a maniac. (Not hard to do, not like mosquito bites.) Sigh.

Two days later- meh. Hair is starting to fall out a bit. Will just carefully watch it...
Went to my acupunturist, been too long since I did that... Helped me a bunch. I am trying out his mix of Chinese herbal medicine in a drink form (I always drink one from him twice a day) just for this dang cough that won't let go. Today I coughed so hard it took me a while to recover. A younger student asked me why I'm coughing so much, I said "because I am..."

Decided to explore a new treatment option, a little concerned with it but keeping an open mind and have read one book and will learn more in the coming week. It is called Paida and Lajin. Shall see.

Enjoyed a Labour Day holiday, Friday, off today... rested most of the day, took a walk with friends, and rested more. Didn't feel any guilt for being chilled out... Felt like I was in deep thoughts most of the day, guess I needed a rest after work... plus I've had terrible sleep for days and days and I think I'm just darn exhausted. Probably will do a few things tomorrow though with the kiddo.

Thanks for journeying.