Monday, August 29, 2011

Leukemia or Drug Side Effects?

It seems that every single day presents itself with a new challenge. One thing that I have noticed for sure is that I can never actually figure out whether what I am feeling is a side effect from my Sprycel (Dasatinib) or from my leukemia. I suppose when it comes right down to the bottom of it, it really doesn’t matter all that much.

Of course my every day, overall feeling has certainly changed since being diagnosed with leukemia six months ago. Almost every single day I feel as though I am coming down with the flu, you know the overall achy, maybe I have a fever feeling; that I am becoming accustomed to. I am also getting used to the pile of hair on the floor every morning. That has become smaller since I cut my hair. The chronic fatigue and heat intolerance is also now, just a part of life.

The intermittent issues are probably some of the worst side effects; the bone pain, the mouth sores and the skin rash, really suck. Luckily they do not occur every day. However, for the past week, I have had two mouth sores; they are killing me. I have a teeny, tiny one on the very tip of my tongue and one on the side. They are so small that you can barely even see them; yet they hurt so much that I cannot even sleep. Talking is also an issue; the one on the tip of my tongue makes me sound like a drunk, slurring my words. I never realized how important the tip of my tongue was until I had this teeny, tiny little bump on it. Eating is also a huge challenge. It totally sucks when two of your favorite past times, talking and eating, cause you pain.
After the first two days, I decided to try Campho-Phenique; it is a topical antiseptic used to temporarily reduce pain in minor cuts, scrapes, burns and insect bites. I remember my mother torturing me with it as a child. It tastes horrible, but does offer some relief. I used the Campho-Phenique and Ibuprofen but still could not get the pain to subside.

Happy 18th, Kevin!
Despite my achy-breaky mouth, I decide to go to the desert for a few days to visit my family. Of course, I was hoping that my dear mother had a miracle cure, as she too suffers greatly from mouth sores, due to her medication. My mother, my hero, DID have a possible cure. She had an entire bottle of Nystatin on hand and I began to use it, after first checking the drug interactions with Sprycel; to make sure that it was alright. It burned like crazy, but is supposed to coat your mouth and help to heal your sores.

Later that night, my brilliant mother brought me some maximum-strength Oral-Jel…can I just say “Duh” right now? How stupid am I? Ora-Jel totally “numbs” the area for quite some time. Any of us that have had children know about Ora-Jel, right? I am now in heaven! I slept four hours straight last night, re-applied the Oral-Jel and slept for four more hours. Hopefully, the Nystatin and the Ora-Jel combination will quickly return my mouth to working order.

Thank God for mothers! Good-bye Campho-Phenique: Hello Ora-Jel!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

It’s True: You Catch More Dogs with Honey!

We are now best friends!

Let me preface this story with the fact that I do not dislike dogs; however, any one that knows me would never consider me a “dog” person. Yes, I grew up with dogs and my kids had dogs; any of you know that if your kids have dogs, in reality, they are actually “your” dog. I liked our dogs; they were all really, really great, indoor family dogs. They protected us, loved us, entertained us and were always a consistent and loyal companion.

I did what any pet owner would do; I fed them, cleaned them, took care of their medical needs, bought them things to make their life happier, taught them to sit, stay, shake, roll over, not beg, sing to the harmonica and other such dog tricks and manners; I occasionally even pet them. I drew the line when they tried to lick me and never let them lie to closely. My kids were great at sharing their beds and their food with the animals, but I never took any part in that behavior. I also never went out of my way to be extra affectionate to them. I don’t know, I think the lolling tongue, slobbery mouth and doggy breath just got in the way.

Fast forward: I have been living in a pet free environment for many years. I have found that at this stage of my life, I like it that way. No animal hair to clean up, no animal hair on my clothes, don’t have to worry if I leave something yummy on the counter, no poop to clean up, no chew or clawed furniture,  no food or water bowls to fill and no worries when we travel. Yes, I know that there are many, many pluses to having a pet, but right now, for me, I am enjoying the freedom.

So, just what do you imagine was chained up in the corner of our yard, back by our garden, six or so months ago? You guessed it, a dog; a very pretty shepherd-looking dog. He was medium sized and still a puppy. He was kind of tan and silver with the most beautiful blue eyes that you have ever seen and he was ferociously aggressive. Every time that we walked into the garden area he would begin to snarl, bark and charge the fence. He appeared vicious. He barked all day long and went crazy when he saw us. I truly believe if he had been given the opportunity, he would have eaten us alive!

 I think that it is criminal to own an animal, if you are only going to neglect and ignore it, and to chain it up in the very back corner of your property.  Why bother, it is cruel.

Waiting, patiently!
At some point, several months into this new addition, I began to feel really sorry for the dog, which by the way is named “Elvis.” I started talking to him and told Joe to stop spraying him with the hose and to stop yelling at him. I deduced that the dog was actually; probably just feeling really threatened and scared. Here he was, chained in the corner, on a four foot chain, feeling totally vulnerable. Telling him to stop barking for the past several months wasn’t working, so I thought that I would try a different approach. I was getting sick and tired of being barked at in my own yard!

I went to the store and bought long skinny doggy treats; the kind that I could stick through the fence without losing a finger or hand. I started visiting and talking to him every day and when he stopped being vicious, I poked a treat through the fence; he snarled and snapped and grabbed the treat, looking at me very suspiciously. The next day, he approached me cautiously, barking less. His ears were pinned back as he approached me and the fence; I kept repeating “Nice, nice, be nice,” and he actually took the doggy treat in a much “nicer” fashion. Eventually he began to sit, facing our yard, always waiting for me and his treats. He now only barked when I left, or when he saw me in the yard and I didn’t come for a visit. Joe started tossing crook neck squash over the fence for him to play with; that was the highlight of his day. This routine went on for a month or so.

If he could crawl over that fence, he would!
A few days ago, after I gave him his treat, he started tossing it up into the air and catching it. He so wanted me to play with him. Sensing my fear and reluctance, the damn dog brought the treat back over to the fence-line and backed away so that I could reach out and retrieve the treat. After I once again had the treat in my hand, he started wagging his tail and waited for me to toss it to him. He was just so cute. He kept coming to the fence-line and dropping his treat. Eventually I allowed him to smell the back of my hand; I even let him lick me. Brave or stupid I am not sure; I’m thinking that the chemo has definitely given me brain damage!

Two days ago, he put his paws up on the fence, turned his head and put his side against the fence so that I could pet him; he is so smart. I cautiously stuck stick my finger through the fence and touched his side; he did not move his head. By the end of yesterday, he and I are old pals; I now reach right over the fence and pet that darn dog. When I offer him his treat, he ever so gently takes it right out of my hand and places it on the ground, waiting to eat it until I am gone. I find myself visiting him four or five times a day and realize just how apparent it is that one really does catch more dogs with honey, than vinegar.

It is confirmed; He Loves Me!
Way to go, Elvis! Now my only fear is that the neighbors will realize that their dog likes us better than them and they will move him to the other side of the yard. Who would’ve ever have thought that the non-doggy lover could become so attached to a dog that wasn’t even their own. I am guessing that it must be pure empathy of not being in control over one’s own destiny; neither Elvis nor I can change the hand that was dealt to us. His, a life of confinement, mine, a life living with cancer. What we do have control over is our attitude and how we choose to live under our respective circumstances. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Still Waiting for Bone Marrow Biopsy Results

It will be one week tomorrow since I had my second bone marrow biopsy. I must admit that I am still quite tender at the biopsy site and that I have been extraordinarily tired for the past week. My hip is still bruised, but not nearly as bruised as the IV site in my hand; way to go “Miss Nurse Know-it-All!” I tried to tell her not to put it there and that it wasn't in very well, but as usual I was “poo-poo-ed!” I told Joe that I should have been bossier, he said that I was pretty bossy, and I said; that evidently, I wasn't bossy enough! When will I ever learn?

Oddly enough, I am not too concerned with the results. For the most part I think I am still in denial and that I will shortly wake from this nightmare. I am not a bit apprehensive about the results and am just expecting them to be better than the doctor is hoping for. My blood work on the day of the biopsy was better than it has been in a really long time. My white count was 4,130; my reds were 3,800 and my platelets 211,000; mostly in normal range, despite being at the “lower” end of the spectrum.

Now if I could just regain some energy. I am hoping that as September approaches, the weather will begin to cool, and I will begin to feel better. I don’t think that summer and I cohabitate very well together!

Looking forward to cooler days!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Important Questions for Newly Diagnosed (CML) Leukemia Patients

I am often asked how I “knew” what to ask my doctors. The answer to that question is simple; I really didn’t have a clue. I believe that my questions came from my ever inquisitive and often annoying personality, as well as my innate nature. I am sure that my inability to completely “trust” authority comes into play, as well.

Hearing that you have cancer for the very first time is a shocking experience. It leaves you dumbfounded, confused and scared. Chances are you know very little about your disease, other than what you have heard in the media, or experienced through friends or family. I know that when I was first told that I had leukemia, the only thing that I knew for sure was that it was a blood cancer and that I may need a bone marrow transplant. I had hours and hours of waiting in the emergency room, before even seeing a doctor, and then after I saw him, I still knew little more than I had when I was first admitted.

Fortunately my computer arrived later that evening and I was able to begin my research. Hopefully, if you are newly diagnosed, my experiences will be able to help you to know what to ask and what to expect. Of course these questions are based on my diagnoses of chronic myelogenous leukemia, but I am sure that they would apply for many other diseases and cancers.

Here is a list of many questions that you will want to ask your doctor:

         1.     What stage is my Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia? Chronic, Accelerated or Blast Crisis
         2.     What are my best treatment choices? Chemotherapy, leukapheresis, Gleevec, Tasigna, Sprycel and/or a Bone Marrow Transplant?  These treatment choices are all a possibility and are sure to differ from patient to patient, stage to stage, doctor to doctor.
         3.     What are the expected benefits of each treatment?
         4.     What are the risks involved in each treatment?
         5.     What are the side effects of each treatment?
         6.     How will these treatments affect my daily life?
         7.     How will these treatments affect my overall well-being?
         8.     How much damage will these treatments and medication do to other parts of my body?
         9.     Should I consider clinical trials?
        10.  What clinical trials are available to me?
        11.  What are the chances of my cancer returning or progressing to a more serious stage?
        12.  What are my chances of being cured?
        13.  What are the chances of me developing another type of cancer?
        14.  What changes should I make in my current lifestyle?
        15.  Should I follow a specific diet?
        16.  Am I allowed to ingest over the counter medication along with my treatment?
        17.  What symptoms should I report to you?
        18.  How often will I need to see you?
        19.  Are you available by email? 
        20.  Is financial help available for the cost of my prescription?
        21.  Are there support groups?
        22.  How many CML patients have you treated?
        23.  What do I do if I miss a dose of my medication?
        24.  Who do I report my side effects to?
        25.  Where can I go for more information about my treatments and CML?
        26.  What are the chances that my CML will progress to a stage that I will need a bone marrow transplant?
        27.  At what age is one considered “too old” to receive a bone marrow transplant.
        28.  Is it better to have a transplant donor ready and available “just in case” or should we just cross that bridge when we come to it?
        29.  Do I need to take “extra” precautions regarding my health?
        30.  Can I travel? In the country? Out of the country?
        31.  Is CML going to kill me or am I going to die with CML?
        32.  Will I ever feel “normal” again?
        33.  Is there support for my family members, friends and care giver.
        34. What other complications may arise?
        35. How will you monitor my disease?
        36. What is my PCR and how often will it be checked?

I know that some of these questions are probably ridiculous and not necessary and I know that there may be many others that I will either come up with at some point or have totally forgotten; so, if you have questions that you would like to add to the list…..Just let me know!

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Bone Marrow Biopsy Success!!


Ok, so seriously, why in the world would ANYONE have a bone marrow biopsy without some form of medication? And why in the world would any doctor even suggest such a thing? I guess that there are always exceptions to this rule, such as a major reaction to anesthesia or someone that has a very high tolerance for pain, or maybe even someone that enjoys pain, but otherwise, I think that performing a bone marrow biopsy without administering drugs is simply barbaric, sadistic, inhumane and just plain brutal! Did I get my point across?

Yesterday, I had my second bone marrow biopsy, six months after being diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia. My first bone marrow biopsy was performed in my hospital bed, the day after I was diagnosed with leukemia. It was done without any pain medication or sedation of any kind; it was excruciating. I made a mental note to NEVER allow that to happen again. Fast forward six months and three doctors later and I am pleased to say that yesterday’s BMB was a breeze!

My current doctor, all of the nurses and the anesthesiologist were floored when hearing how my first BMB procedure was accomplished. They were all appalled and could not even believe that any medical professional would suggest, yet alone perform a BMB without any sedation of some sort. They all agreed that it is a painful procedure, one that does not need to be tolerated by any patient.

My entire procedure lasted approximately an hour and a half; from start to finish. I had an IV inserted into my hand, signed a few forms, spoke with the anesthesiologist for a few minutes and was given some medication, before even going into the procedure room. I had told her that I really didn’t “want” to “play bone marrow biopsy” and she told me that I really wouldn’t mind in just about 20 seconds. Amazingly she was right!
She explained that while I would be asleep, it would be a light/twilight sleep. I asked her what that meant and she said that it would be unlikely that I felt or remembered anything, but if she shook my arm and called my name that I would likely open my eyes. I looked at my doctor and told him if I felt anything that he was in trouble and if I said “Ow” to just hit me over the head with a sledgehammer. He responded, “Well, if I knew that, I would have done this downstairs in my office!”

The very last thing that I remember was being wheeled into another room and someone asking me to move over onto another bed; I remember that the bed had a warm blanket on it. I was then asked to roll over onto my side; I honestly couldn’t tell you whether or not I actually did it. The next thing I remember was being in a room with a view, Joe standing there, and several nurses saying, “Oh, you are already awake?” Yup, awake and ready to go home! No recollection at all of the biopsy. Whoo Hoo, I couldn’t have been happier. Thank God for “twilight sleep” and a compassionate doctor.

I have a vague memory of driving home and getting into bed, I slept most of the day and throughout the night. I do have a dull ache in my hip and down my leg, but compared to my last biopsy this has been a walk in the park, or should I say a Waltz around the dance floor.
Now, just praying for great results!

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bone Marrow Biopsy: My Second One

For those of you that had the dis-pleasure of reading about my first bone marrow biopsy, you will be pleased to know that my current doctor will be knocking me out cold to do the second one. Even though I know that I will be knocked out, I can still feel that disgusting feeling of my marrow being sucked out of my body, from the very tips of my toes. Yuk!!

Despite the inconvenience of it all, I am really anxious to see just how much progress that I have made during the past six months, since first being diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia. Depending upon the results, there is an off chance that my current dosage of 100 mg of Sprycel may be reduced. That is my hope as I am holding on to the fact that I will have more energy and fewer bone pains, on a smaller dose. If that does not happen this time, then I will hold out for the next time. I am curious to see just what stage of response that I am in. Will it be a complete hematologic response (CHR), a complete cytogenic response (CCyR), a major molecular response (MMolR), or the ultimate prize; a complete molecular response? It has only been six months, so I shall be content with any improvement and pray that I am responding in a positive way.

Nothing to eat or drink after midnight!

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia: The Third and Final Phase aka The Blast Crisis

The Blast Crisis phase of chronic myelogenous leukemia is the most serious and life threatening phase of this type of cancer. In the blast phase, the leukemia cells become more abnormal and the disease is no longer driven solely by the Philadelphia chromosome. By the time someone is in the blast phase they have accumulated a number of other genetic abnormalities besides the BCR-ABL. Remember that I told you that these are smart little suckers and that is why we must be diligent in taking our medications just the way that they are prescribed.

All of these abnormal cells now crowd out the healthy cells and the number of red cells and platelets can drastically drop. The blast cells increase to at least 20% in the blood and marrow. The leukemia begins to act more like an acute leukemia with blood counts getting higher and symptoms appearing and becoming more severe. Most often the leukemia cells in the blast phase act like cells of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), but are often resistant to the chemotherapy drugs that are normally used to treat AML.

The only real treatment for a person in blast crisis is a bone marrow transplant. Your doctors will no doubt attempt to get your disease back into the chronic phase before doing a bone marrow transplant, but even if you respond well to chemotherapy and/or oral tyrosine kinase inhibitors, this response to the disease is likely short-lived. The only “real” hope for a person in blast crisis is a stem cell transplant.

If you would really like to make a difference in this world, you could possibly save someone’s life. You could Be The Match! There are thousands of people waiting for a match, you could be the one!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Loved My Three Day Sprycel Vacation!

Well, I am thinking that my prayers were answered! My three day vacation from Sprycel alleviated all of my abdominal and bone pain. It was welcome timing since I was at a dance event all weekend, by the second day off of my Sprycel I had more energy and all of my aches and pains disappeared; at least the ones related to my leukemia.

Friday night I social danced for three hours, I had such a great time! Saturday, I spent the entire day in bed resting, had dinner with my parents and then managed to dance for another three hours. Sunday was a bit tougher, but I still danced for quite a few hours during the day. It was so nice to be able to just dance without a care! I danced with many old friends and made a ton of new ones. Our Country Two Step classes were well attended and well received.

Today I did some laundry and caught up with my writing and emails. The rest of the day I just relaxed. It is going to be a very busy week with dance classes on Tuesday and Wednesday and another bone marrow biopsy on Thursday. I am praying for good news and a new lower Sprycel dosage. Thank you, God!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cancer Sucks!

Tomorrow, the plan is to head to the Palm Springs Summer Dance Classic. I am looking forward to the event because I am not competing! We are teaching two classes and I might do a Jack & Jill or two, but overall, it is a low stress level dance event! Whoo Hoo!

Of course, as luck or fate would have it, yesterday I started having sharp pains in my abdomen, below my right rib cage. They are not constant or excruciating; they are just there. It seems that they are worse when I breathe deeply. Today I am a bit nauseous and my head feels like it feels sometimes when I am taking off in an airplane. What the heck does all of this mean?

Of course, if I did not have cancer, I probably wouldn’t think a whole lot about it, and would probably just wait and see what happens over the next few days. But since I do, I guess I have become a bit of a worry wart. I wonder whether or not these symptoms are drug or cancer related.

The good news is that my wonderful doctor is available by email. He gave me a get out of free jail card for my Sprycel, for a few days, to see what happens. He also said that he wanted to see me on Monday if I do not feel better. The vacation from Sprycel is very exciting. I am hoping and praying that whatever is going on disappears and that I regain some energy and have a great time in Palm Springs; dancing till dawn. My inner voice keeps shouting gall bladder or liver so I am just keeping my fingers crossed. I am so sick and tired of being sick and tired!

Luckily, I will be right down the street from my original doctor in Palm Springs….just in case!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Leukemia Diagnoses was Six Months Ago; I Thank All of You!!

I can hardly believe that it has been six months, since I heard those frightening words, “Michele, you have leukemia.” And here it is, six months later and I still do not even believe it! I keep thinking that this is the stupidest thing that has ever happened to me. I mean I have done some pretty “stupid” things in my life, that is for sure; but THIS takes the cake!

Being that I am able to live in denial so well, I just keep thinking, that one of these days, my doctor is going to look at me with that puzzled look and say, “Just what ARE you doing here, YOU don’t have leukemia?” After I give him the biggest hug ever, I am going to Waltz right out of his office and dance the jig!
But, in the meantime, I am going to continue to live my life; loving and spending time my family and friends, dancing, gardening, traveling and doing whatever else my heart desires for as long as my body is capable. I really do feel that my lust for life and pure stubbornness has helped me to prevail during this very difficult time. I had two choices; I could either “sit it out” or “just dance.” I chose to dance! (My back-up theme song!)

I do not know why this journey has chosen me, and I do not yet know its’ purpose, but I shall continue down my path; living and learning all the way. Thank you all for your prayers, love and support, and for cheering me on my way; I couldn’t have done it without all of you! 

With humble gratitude, Michele

Monday, August 8, 2011

Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia: The Second Phase aka The Accelerated Phase

The accelerated phase of chronic myelogenous leukemia is the phase that can develop after the chronic phase, but before the blast crisis phase. It is a transitional phase that may lead to blast crisis. During the accelerated phase, leukemia cells begin to build up in the body more quickly. In this phase, the leukemia cells often acquire new gene mutations helping them to outsmart the TKI’s (tyrosine kinase inhibitor).

Patients that are diagnosed in this phase may feel ill and actually develop symptoms from the disease. Anemia may develop or progress causing fatigue and the white cell count may either fall to very low levels or rise because of the accumulation of blast cells. Platelet counts generally decrease. The blast cells now make up 10%-19% of the cells in the blood and bone marrow.

The treatment for this phase of CML will depend upon what treatments the patient has already had. In general, the treatments are similar to the treatments of patients that are diagnosed in the chronic phase, however, patients in the accelerated phase are less likely to have a long-term response to any treatment.
TKI’s, Gleevec (Imatinib), Tasigna (Nilotinib) and Sprycel (Dasatinib) are still an option for most people, but the dosage is often higher. Interferon, cytarabine, hydroxyurea, busulfan and bone marrow transplants may be an option for patients in the accelerated stage. The treatment goal during the accelerated phase is to regain control of the disease and to return it to the chronic phase.

This phase is quite a bit more serious than the chronic phase and can easily progress into blast crisis if untreated. If you begin to feel unusually fatigued, weak or ill, notice a significant loss of appetite or weight loss, start running a fever or have fullness or tightness in your abdomen, particularly under your left rib cage, please make an appointment with your oncologist.

The statistics that I have found state that about 50% of patients in accelerated phase of CML are alive after four years. I don’t know if that means that they are not alive after five, or that is the length of time that they have been following these patients, whatever the statistics, I know that if I develop any significant changes, I will be calling my doctor!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia: The First Phase aka The Chronic Phase

Possible Symptoms

The chronic phase of CML is the stage in which most people are diagnosed, often through a routine blood test. Occasionally, the disease progresses undetected and isn’t diagnosed until the accelerated phase or until a person is in blast crisis. Due to my exorbitantly high white cell count of 382,000, my doctor feared that I might be in blast crisis; I was therefore immediately hospitalized. I was given intravenous chemotherapy and leukapheresis to rapidly decrease my white cell count, to prevent a brain bleed, and to properly diagnose my phase of the disease. Not all patients diagnosed with CML will have such extreme medical procedures.

People in the chronic phase of CML may have few or even no symptoms at all. You can read about my symptoms here: Looking Back; My Signs and Symptoms of Leukemia. In the chronic phase, there are more white blood cells in the blood and marrow, than usual. Most are mature cells that work normally and are still able to fight infection. The Philadelphia chromosome is present and there are fewer than 10% of myeloblast cells in the peripheral blood and bone marrow. This is often determined through a bone marrow biopsy.

This phase can go undetected for years and often develops slowly. Most patients diagnosed during this phase are treated as an outpatient with an oral TKI. Patients often begin treatment with Imatinib aka Gleevec. Gleevec is the miracle drug that changed this type of leukemia from being a fatal cancer, to a cancer that is now “treatable.” Second and third generation TKI’s have since been developed. For more information on these drugs and how they work, please refer to my earlier post:  Treatment of Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

More than 90% of CML patients that are diagnosed in the chronic phase are stable at five years. This means that their leukemia is under control; getting no better or worse. This is good news! I think that the most difficult part of having leukemia, is dealing with the side effects of the medications that we must take to keep us alive. This includes the physical, emotional and financial burden that has now become part of our everyday lives’. The great news is that we have a life to live; count your blessings if you are diagnosed in the chronic phase of chronic myelogenous leukemia.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Leukemia is a Cancer, I Must Learn Its’ Language

I used to push myself until I literally dropped. I AM getting better at recognizing the “Do Not Cross this Line,” sign, but I am still having a really, really hard time obeying it. I don’t want to slow down and I don’t want to miss out on life. I am guessing that is why my new theme song, “Ain’t Never Gonna’ Break My Stride” found me.

Jack, my grandson
It had been ages since I was at the beach, and I had forgotten just how healing that the ocean can be. I wanted to walk for miles soaking in the breeze and the scenery. As it was, we walked from one area of the beach to another; over rocks and sand dunes. Of course the sand “dunes” were really only “dunes” to the small crabs, but they were still a bit challenging to me! The beach that we were on was staggeringly beautiful. There were cliff and caves, and since we were there at low tide, there were tide pools; full of sea life, everywhere. If it hadn't been for all of the hungry tummies I could’ve stayed there for many more hours.

Two of my Kids; LeeAnn and Kevin
I will tell you, to my credit, that when given the option to “walk” or “drive” the short distance to Baja Taco, my heart said walk, and for the first time, I allowed my brain to take over and say “drive.” It damn near killed me because my very “being” screamed WALK; WALK! What I really wanted to do was RUN, run away from the restrictions and consequences of having cancer. I wanted to do what I have always done; live in the moment and not have to pay for it later. I mean how stupidly insane; I have to choose to drive a few blocks because my body has already pushed its’ allotment of movement for one day? Ugh, Cancer Sucks!

I suppose that this is why I currently push myself, to my breaking point, so often. I think that I am afraid that as time goes on, my activity allotment will decrease and I will be even more limited than I am now. That the cancer will slowly continue to suck my energy, little by little, until my walk down the beach, turns into sitting in a chair at the beach, like some decrepit old woman, watching the children play as opposed to playing with them. Sitting around watching is so; NOT in my make-up.

I feel as though, as long as I keep pushing, I might have a chance to push the damn cancer right out of my body. Push, push, push and pray, pray, pray! Maybe someday, after one of my random blood tests, the doctor will simply say, “I just don’t understand what has happened, but your leukemia has simply disappeared!”  Until then, I am going to continue to test my “Do Not Cross This Line” threshold. I am going to see if I can extend its’ limits and learn to recognize its’ absolute ending point.  I hope to avoid crossing the no turning back now, relapse point, but if in the process of learning the new language I do, I know that I will have had fun doing so!

Isn’t it truly curious, that testing my strength actually requires taking it away?

The end of our walk

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Have You “Become,” Yet?

For the past few days I have been visiting my daughter and grandson, in Laguna Nigel. Besides the obvious attraction of LeeAnn and Jack, there are additional bonuses to spending a few days with them.

One of the greatest bonuses is the weather. The weather is always so much cooler at her house; than it is at mine. She lives about five minutes from the beach, so last evening we went down to the sand and sea and to my delight; I was actually “cool.” There was an ocean breeze and it was gorgeous! My crazy grandson couldn’t stay out of the water; I would have been frozen had I gotten wet. I was wearing a sweat jacket and was still chilly. We walked forever on the sand; stopping to stick our fingers in the anemones and to take a ton of pictures! It was a wonderful evening.

Another great bonus of being at my daughter’s, is that she has all kinds of “products.” Hair products, skin products, face products, you name it; she has it. Before we went to the beach, I told her that it was a MUST that I put on a “good, face sunscreen,” she handed me Clarins Sunscreen Wrinkle Control Cream; 30 SPF. It felt so awesome on my face, I knew that I had to get some, I asked her where she got it and she said, “I’ll show you when we get home.”

Bonus number three: She always knows the greatest websites and I think that is going to “become” one of my favorites. It is a terrific website with cool ideas and very competitive prices. I found the Clarins Sunscreen and on a fluke, I even found the galaxy disposable gloves that I have been looking for. I use them when I paint because I am so messy. They are thin enough that I can still hold on to a paintbrush, yet not so thick that I cannot freely move my fingers. Since painting the bedroom and two bathrooms are in my near future, I am really excited to have found a place to purchase the galaxy disposable gloves. Talk about a total score! Anyway, the site is set up into “easy to find” categories and it seems that they sell everything under the sun.  Just thought I would share!

What a great two days I have had!!

See why I need the Clarins Wrinkle Guard?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Leukemia Prompts My New Theme Song

 I must admit that there were some really, really great guesses trying to figure out my new theme song. I hope that they are SOMEONE’S theme song, because they are too good, not to be!

Here is the “Guess List”:
1. I Will Survive      
2. Anything Is Possible        
3. Gold Mine                 
4. Mercy On Me        
5. Don’t Know Why; I LOVE that song!
6. Wishing              
7. Ain’t Going Down!      
8. Ain’t Wastin’ No More Time
9. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
10. All I Want is to Be Happy
11. Mary, Mary Angel
12. Be Happy
13.Ain’t No Sunshine
14. Ain’t No Way
15. Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing
16. Ain’t That Peculiar
17. Ain’t That Just Like a Woman?
18. Ain’t It Funny?
19. Ain’t That a Kick in the Head?
20. Ain’t to Proud to Beg?
21. Ain’t That Tough Enough?
22. Let’s Dance
23. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
24. The Dance
25. Live Like I Was Dying; Love that one, too!

As you can probably tell, I did give a pretty big hint; it was the word “Ain’t” and Sandra, you win for the most guesses! It wasn’t  until I gave the second hint, “Ain’t Never,” that Larry actually guessed it in one guess. Good job, Larry!

Now, before I show you my new theme song, with the greatest video EVER,  I just wanted to say thank you for brightening my day! I hope that I have inspired every one of you to find your own theme song. Once you have discovered your “perfect” song, please let me know!

I actually truly believe that your song will just find you; my new song found me during my very first lap around the nurses station, the day after my first round of chemo. It literarily just came right out of my mouth:
“Ain’t Never Gonna Break My Stride” by Matthew Wilder!!I loved the song and then when I saw the video I even loved it MORE!! Loved the costumes and I MUST learn that dance!!


Bricks for the Brave!!