Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Great Inspiration!

Like many grandmothers, Eva Schamp will again spend Christmas with her family in 2011.
Gary Schamp, her husband of 56 years, says that’s a bit of a miracle. Eva thinks it’s a miracle others in her situation can experience, too.
Eva wasn’t supposed to be here. Through her own fighting spirit, the dedicated work of her doctors and caregivers, and the unyielding support of her family, she has defied the odds.
“We’ve had a few miracles through all of this,” said Gary Schamp, “when you think about where we started.”
Eva, now 72, was diagnosed with leukemia not long before Christmas in 2001. She was told it was terminal and she had not more than six weeks to live, probably less.
Eva had spent much of the summer fighting fatigue, breaking into sweats and lacking energy.
“I finally went to the doctor and had blood work at 10 a.m. one morning,” she said. “By 3 p.m. they called me back in.”
Her tests had shown the presence of leukemia and she was admitted to the Good Samaritan hospital in Corvallis right away.
“I’d never even heard of an oncologist until then,” Eva said.
It was determined she has Philadelphia chromosome, an abnormality that causes a rare form of leukemia with a dismal prognosis.
That was on Dec. 17, 2001.
Last Saturday, Eva and her family celebrated 10 years of life since her diagnosis.
“It wasn’t anything big. We just went out to dinner,” Eva said. “Not all of the family could be here.”
Family has been an important part of Schamp’s recovery. Gary and the Schamps’ daughter, Mary Mintken, traded shifts watching Eva and taking her to daily visits at Good Sam.
“I had gone out and made arrangements for what we were told was inevitable,” Mintken said. “But mom kept going one day to the next.”
With the bedside vigils of her family and through her own determination, she was still alive.
“First she was a week past the time they gave her. Then a month. Then six months,” Mintken said.
“Mom deserves a lot of credit. She had such will power.”
“I fought it,” Eva said. “I hope what I’ve been through can encourage others.”
In June 2002, after fighting infections, lengthy hospital stays and administration of different drugs through IVs, Eva began taking Gleevec, a drug developed in part at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland that had just been approved by the FDA.
Gleevec is among a new class of medications that works by blocking a specific protein that enables cancer cells to multiply.
“It was designed strictly for that form of leukemia,” Eva said. “It’s expensive and we weren’t sure about it, but it certainly seems to have worked.”
Schamp went into remission. Over the last 10 years she has regained her active lifestyle.
Schamp gardens, does all her own housework, travels with family and paints. She also meets regularly with a group of other cancer patients.
Eva admits the drug, which she still takes daily, was a big part of her recovery but doesn’t discount the efforts of her family and doctors — Stephen Neville and Peter Kenyon.
“I was fortunate to have such support and God was there too,” Eva said. “I hope my story can influence others in that situation to never give up. There’s always a miracle out there.”

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I Use to be a Mountain Girl; Maybe I Still Am!

One of the greatest things about this time of year is the chilly nights. They remind me of when I use to live in Big Bear Lake; Ca. Big Bear is a fabulous, small mountain town in southern Ca. The days are warm and sunny, and the nights are crisp and clear. Not many that live in southern Ca. can say that they have really seen the stars, unless they have left the abundantly lit sky, of the millions of lights, which the inhabitants turn on, every night as soon as the sun goes down. The sky, without the city lights is breathtaking. Upon returning home, after going down to the valley, my youngest son always used said, “Look, Mom, the stars are home now, and so are we.” I always loved that! I really think that I am a mountain girl at hear.

In addition to the starlit sky and the smell of pine, another one of our favorite things to do was to have a fire. We had one every night during winter and often during the other seasons, as well. I was an expert at lighting the fire and keeping it going. I often had two fireplaces, one with a blower for heat and one just to look at, going at the same time. I knew how to bank the fire so that I could start it again in the morning and I never tired of listening to the roar of the fire.

So, now that it is cooler at night, we often find ourselves lighting a fire, even if we have to open a window, or two, to keep from melting. Joe is typically in charge, but tonight is our dance class night and I am home alone; sick. Since it is quite chilly tonight, I decided that even though Joe wouldn’t be home, it might improve my mood to keep the fire burning, I mean after all, I used to be an expert fire tender, so I can do it, right?

So, Joe started the fire before he left, and a while later, I noticed that the flames were starting to die down, as I was preparing to add another log onto the fire, a branch fell out of the fireplace and onto the hearth. Now only half of the log was on fire, and since I had a potholder in my hand, I reached down, picked up the log and threw it, AND the potholder right into the flames in the fireplace! Now I know that it has been awhile since I tended a fire, but come on, really? Did I really, just do that? Ugh, my poor brain! My first reaction was to reach in and grab the potholder, but it literally incinerated right before my eyes! I have never seen anything catch fire and disappear, so quickly. Hopefully the rest of the night will be more relaxing and uneventful.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Leukemia Bonus: No Wait at Disneyland!

In every situation in life, there is a silver lining. Sometimes the lining is very apparent and easy to spot, other times you have to really look for it; and then there are the times, that it just comes as a complete and unexpected surprise.

I just experienced one of those “surprise” silver linings. It began with Disneyland tickets that were given to me as a gift, and continued when we got to Disneyland; on Black Friday. I am not entirely certain what I was thinking when we decided to take my son and grandson to Disneyland on Black Friday, other than I had high hopes that the masses would be shopping, not spending the day in the Magic Kingdom. Boy was I wrong! Now, not knowing how long that I would last, or how crowded it would be, I asked each of the boys to pick their two favorite rides, so that we would be certain make it to those attractions. With those guidelines verbalized, we headed into the Magic Kingdom.

My friend that gave us the tickets told me to be sure to go straight to City Hall, in Disneyland, as soon as we got there and to tell them that I had Leukemia. Now, I must admit that I felt a bit funny about doing so, and didn’t really have any idea of what they were going to say or do, but I followed her advice and headed straight there. Once inside City Hall, I was greeted by a very friendly young man. I told him that I was instructed to come there and to tell them that I had Leukemia; I then apologized for taking up his time. He laughed and asked how many were in my party. I told him that there were four of us and he said, “Here, take this card to the first cast member, at any exit, of any attraction. This will help to make your day easier and more magical. Welcome to the Magic Kingdom and have a magical day.”

I thanked him profusely and left with my little blue card, still wondering exactly how it worked, and if I dared to use it. Once we made it down Main Street and into Adventure Land, I could tell that the day was going to be exhausting. The masses had forgone Black Friday and were all here, with us, at Disneyland. We decided to give our blue card a go and went to the exit of the Jungle Cruise. We were met by a cast member and I handed her my card. She said, “Oh, you have a green light, come with me.” She immediately walked us through the exit line and right onto a boat. I thought, “Hmmmm, that was kinda’ cool.” Next stop Indiana Jones. Now Indiana Jones has a REALLY long exit; I was literally pooped, by the time we got to a cast member, at the end of the exit line, and was really hoping that they didn’t turn us away. Once again, we were treated with a “Right this way, you have a green light.” We climbed into the jeep and headed into the Temple of Doom! I screamed louder than the kids and actually had to stop and regain my legs after we got off of the ride. I am not sure exactly why I get jelly legs, but it happens from time to time, and I literally have to stop in my tracks, or I will fall down.

 At this point, we are all digging Disneyland, with a person with cancer! Heck, my “party” was even joking that they were going to start renting me out. I began to relax and realized that I was not going to regret my decision in coming, and that I wasn’t going to have to be a bump on the log.

We continued on our journey and ended up at theThunder Mountain Railroad. We glanced around for the exit and saw a line with a handicap sign. The line had about twenty people in wheelchairs standing, or should I say sitting in it, so we got in line behind them. I suppose that we had waited about 15 minutes when our spoiled little group noticed that the line was not moving very quickly. We just figured that we had gotten really, really lucky on the previous two rides and that this was the way the rest of our day was going to go. I was actually quite grateful that we were not in the other line, which was much, much longer and decided that I would keep going for as long as I could and that would be that. When we finally reached the cast member at the front of the handicap line, she looked at my card and said, “Oh, you have a green light, come right this way.” After questioning just what the green light meant, we realized that we did not have to actually get into the handicap line, but were to go directly to the cast member at the exit, without waiting in that line at all. That line was just for people that needed assistance getting on an off of the rider. I guess that when you have a more serious condition than a broken foot or toe, you actually receive a card with a “green light” on it.

The rest of the day was spent fighting the crowds to get from place to place, but all in all, we DID have a very magical day. We had ridden many more rides that the boys’ original four choices, it was getting cold and I was getting really tired, so we decided to head to Main Street to see the fireworks show and then head home. The fireworks display was above and around the decorated castle. It was absolutely fabulous and when it ended, it began to snow. My grandson was beaming from ear to ear; he looked at me, reached up and gave me a hug and said, “Oh, Nana, this is the most magical time that I have EVER  had at Disneyland!” Of course, despite the snow, my heart melted!

So for all of my CML brothers and sister, there is at least one bonus to having cancer! Don’t be afraid to play the leukemia card at Disneyland!

Thank you Karen and thank you Disneyland! 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cipro vs Leukemia

Oddly enough, dealing with leukemia has been less painful than dealing with the side effects that I suffered after taking only 4 doses of an antibiotic, Cipro. The pain in my muscles, joints and tendons was excruciating for the first three months and lingered, in an extremely painful state for an additional eleven months.

I often wonder if I had found the products offered by LGMedSupply, if my pain might have become manageable. They offer products that can be used in your home, such as the TENS Unit, Muscle Stimulators and the LG-TEC Dual Combo TENS Unit and Muscle Stimulator combo unit. Their products are designed to aid in pain relief and to stimulate your muscles, thus creating better muscle tome along with muscle pain rehabilitation.

Cipro destroyed the collagen in the balls of my feet, creating a bone to floor contact. My joints were swollen and my tendons felt as though they would burst if they were used. They recovery was long and painful, and I am still not 100%, I still wonder if I would benefit from LGMeSupply’s Pain Relief Products which are used by thousands of patients worldwide. All of their items and in-stock and you can view additional information at their online customer blog.

If you are suffering from muscle pain, please Visit LGMEDSuppy Online.

Bricks for the Brave!!