Thursday, September 21, 2017

Updates and blessings

The beautiful art piece above was sent to me this summer in a gift that blessed me so.  I put it on a bookshelf next to where I sit in my recliner most days, surrounded by gifts that continue to uplift me so.  Thank you again, Linda! 

I have felt as though I'm wrapped in a blanket of blessings lately.  My prayer for this Tuesday was a simple, "help me be open."  Tuesday, September 19th, already had a mighty tug on my heart.  My Dad, who passed away 8 years ago, would have turned 88 years old that day.  Warm memories of him followed my steps as I prepared to go to Roger Maris for chemo treatment, along with an appointment to see Dr. Panwalkar.  I was truly a bundle of nerves.  

I was so pleased to be able to walk on my own.  I stepped into the building and instantly saw the new lobby open off to my left.  It was now empty of all chairs around the reception area, and I felt like a new patient figuring out how to navigate this new arrangement.  The new waiting area in the lobby is beautifully done, and the windows bring such light into the room.  Its still a work in progress, but I think it will be great when the small details are figured out. 

After my labs were drawn I had an hour to sit and wait until I saw Dr. Panwalkar.  As I stood watching for Rick by the front door,  I saw a familiar face approaching.  Kevin Wallevand, the reporter from WDAY who had so beautifully shared my breast cancer story last March, had just finished another story and was leaving.  It was so fortuitous that I ran into him.  It felt like we picked up the conversation right where we left off last spring.  It was a wonderful encounter and helped flood me with warmth moving into the day ahead.

It wasn't long and Rick and I were taken to exam room 7.  For some reason, as humid and warm as it was the other day, the air conditioning felt unusually cold and my fingernails were turning blue.  A warm blanket was brought to me and I huddled down into the warmth as Dr. Panwalkar strode into the room.  

He dove right into asking me all the basic questions about how I had tolerated treatment last time and how I was feeling. He noticed how cold I was and he chuckled at how it might be an early "long johns" season for me.  He also said my body is so thin and has had so much treatment,  it will likely not be able to regulate temperature very well anymore.  

He then turned and faced the computer.  He hesitated before he showed me my lab results.  My counts were once again low.  Too low for chemo, so another booster shot was in order.  I have been going into infusion weekly for a booster shot to help keep my counts high enough to continue chemo.  But last week my counts were so high I didn't have the shot.  

So we figured out a new schedule of both labs and shots, and hopefully I'll be able to do chemo next week.  My tumor marker remained the same, but at least it didn't rise.  He also indicated it is time for a PET scan and filled out the orders to seek approval from insurance.  

As Dr. P worked on the calendar he mentioned it'll be 4 weeks until he can see me again, as he'll be gone.  He grew somewhat quiet before he shared with me he was taking a trip home, to India with his wife and kids.  I instantly broke into a big smile.  I don't take offense that he will be gone.  I instead want to celebrate his time away from work, and time with family. He was wondering aloud if his kids want to see where he went to school as a child, and then where he went to medical school.  His smile grew so big as he talked about it.    I enthusiastically shook my head yes, and said please take them.  I was so happy to chat a bit about family and memories.  I shared with him about my own Dad's birthday that day.  And then it struck me- I realized how much of Dr. P's compassion and how he steadies me and encourages me so, reminds me of my Dad.  It felt like a full-circle kind of moment for me.  There is a palpable positive energy that encircles our conversations and it's Rick who points this out to me from an observer's point of view.  

I concluded my day with a booster shot.  As I was walking around the corner to leave the infusion center, I ran into one of the volunteers, Sandy.

Sandy is one of my prayer warriors.  She took time off this summer to spend with her family, including a new grand baby.  But oh how I missed her.  It was pure grace we bumped into each other and she'll be working at the clinic on the days I'll be there.  She is a true spiritual mentor for me and I long to catch up with her.

Looking back on that day, I realize the parting words from my infusion nurse were an apology about keeping me waiting.  And on the occasions it happens, I simply shake it off.  It's truly in the waiting that I've found a lot of "life" happening, and that I wouldn't want to miss for anything.  Being "open" on Tuesday, feels like it helped me to fully receive the blessings that were in waiting to unfold before me.  

I haven't taken a lot of photos these past couple of months.   But recently my energy has improved so that I can walk about the house and not feel as though I will get too short of breath, faint, or fall.  In fact, I was even able to dress for a family photo with the Stanley Cup when Matt Cullen brought it home for the day.   I loved that the boys got to see the cup and play with the Cullen kids before the big party with the cup later that night.  It was a memorable day/night for us all, and one of many blessings that has come our way.  The below pic was a quick cell phone shot of two very happy boys.

One last fun thing to share with you all.  The release of the documentary I was so honored to be in,  "Part of Me Now,  Living With Breast Cancer," is October 1st!  It has won so many awards and accolades.  It's premiered in France, Italy, Spain, Canada, and other countries, as well as all across the United States.  It's also going to be available on online platforms such as " iTunes, YouTube Rentals, Vimeo, Amazon Instant, etc., and hopefully Netflix soon.  Emily, the Director, Editor, and Producer of this film has done a wonderful job helping us follow the course that this documentary has taken and allowed those of us in this, or connected to it,  to follow along.

A Facebook page with lots of information can be found here.  

A huge part of any donations and funds this documentary will raise, are being donated by Emily to Sanford's Cancer Survivorship Program.

If you ever want to truly feel what the experience of living with breast cancer is like, this is a very real look, at so many women and a man too, sharing their stories.  

Thank you all for the continued prayers, uplifting messages, delicious meals, and all the ways you find to help us along this journey.  I think we all want to feel like we matter in the end, and as much as you've made me feel like I matter, I pray that you know how much YOU matter as well.  Together, continues to be the best way through living with cancer. 

When you get lucky

When you get lucky

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