Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I sat in church tonight and said many prayers. What a year it has been, and even though we've been through hell, I can't help but be thankful.

Thankful for humility - as I lost my hair, and scarred my body with rashes and needle pokes, and as some days I struggled just to have the strength to get out of bed.

Thankful for pain - because without feeling something, the experience wouldn't be real.

Thankful for time - the added time I spent with Brett, Jack and Jenelle. The days in the hospital with my Mom, and best friend Erin. The time to realize the important things in life.

Thankful for the difficulty - because if it hadn't been difficult, I wouldn't have learned as much from it.

Thankful for health and happiness - the new look on life, and the new ways in which I appreciate my body.

In church tonight at Christmas Eve mass. We sat in one of the last rows as a family. As the church sang Silent Night, it was our turn for Holy Communion. And together, as a family, we walked to the altar. Jenelle walked to the alter - holding Brett's hand and my hand. And as I sang, I got a little emotional. We've struggled so much, and yet here we are - healthy and thankful, walking with our amazing little girl to share in his love.

Merry Christmas. Thank you all for the love and support this past year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Today is my official anniversary of being cancer free! ONE YEAR!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hair... one year later

One year ago today, I looked like this...

And today, I look like this!


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Neutrophil watch

I wasn't going to mention anything, because I assumed it would return to normal by now. Apparently, my neutrophils took a huge dive shortly after Thanksgiving when I caught that cold virus from Jenelle. The anti-biotic worked well, and I've been feeling fine with no cold symptoms, however when my labs were drawn at my last appointment at UCLA (on Dec. 2) my neutrophils had dropped to 700. Apparently the virus, along with chemo meds took a real shot to my immune system.

I had a message on my answering machine last Friday from the oncologist instructing me to stop all chemo meds. I called them back and actually got the nurse on the line. I was actually getting dressed to head out the door to go to Disneyland that night to enjoy the Christmas lights. When she told me my neutrophils were 700, I asked her if it was OK to go to Disneyland and she said absolutely not! She told me to be careful and to avoid sickies, but 700 had me concerned as anything below 500 and I'd be back in the hospital. Never mind that I had taken Jenelle to the Pediatrician the day before, or that I had just come home from my firm's Holiday party.

I had my blood re-drawn on Wednesday this past week and have been waiting for the good news. I spoke to the doctor yesterday, and my neutrophils are still low at 1,200. But they are headed in the right direction! They are going to keep me off chemo another week until it returns to normal. I can still go to work, but need to be extra cautious and avoid schools and sick people. I have to have my blood re-drawn this coming Wednesday.

Always better to be safe, and I can't imagine we've had a lapse in washing our hands this time of year. All I know, is that I am much happier and healthier than I am a year ago, and that keeps a smile on my face. No need for a neutrophil dance, but if you could send a positive thought that they keep increasing, that would be wonderful.

I'll keep you posted - and keep smiling! ;)

Friday, December 11, 2009

A new lease on life

I can't help it, but I smile a lot more these days. I smile to myself in the car. I smile at people in the grocery store. I smile on my way to the printer at work. I smiled at 10 homeless people sitting outside the County Recorder's office this morning. I even offered a cheerful "good morning" to one man who actually gave me a smile in return. I'm smiling as I type this right now!

It is said that people who survive a life changing experience such as cancer often experience what they call a new lease on life. While the optimist in me wants me to think my whole cancer thing wasn't really that big a deal, I do realize it was. And that I came very close to dying.

So without fully embracing it, I have noticed subtle changes in myself for the better. Like smiling, and laughing, and striking up conversations with strangers. I find myself being more patient and not so hung up on the little things. At work I feel much more organized. I'm even happy to be at work and absolutely love what I do. It's a fresh start. A new lease with life.

As a survivor, you want to teach this to others, and share this happiness with the world. But sometimes there are people who simply can't change. I wouldn't wish for anyone to have to experience cancer, but for those who survive, there are silver linings and hidden gifts. And for even the most positive people, like myself, there are always new lessons to learn about happiness.

Try to find a new lease on life for yourself, without having to experience cancer. Try smiling more - it helps. Always be thankful for what we have in this world, because it is so very special.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Another follow up at UCLA

On Wednesday I drove up to UCLA for another follow up with my oncologist. Things are great and I'm still cancer free! Over Thanksgiving, Brett, Jenelle and I came down with a cold. Jenelle started first with a clear runny nose, then I started to have it as well. My cold started to look like a sinus infection by Sunday, so my oncologist placed me on an anti-biotic. It worked well and I am doing fine.

My doctor still wants to keep me part time, but was OK with my increasing my work hours a bit. I've been able to work four, 7 hour days a week with Fridays off. When I asked about full time, the doctor reminded me that I was on an anti-biotic for a cold. Clearly, even though my mind is ready to do more, my body says to keep it slow.

As you can imagine, the cold has not been pleasant for a child like Jenelle, especially when she can't blow her nose. In the last day, the runny nose got worse and I took her in this morning to see Dr. Patel. Yesterday I insisted to the nurse Jenelle only had a sinus infection and that all she needed was a Z-pak. The nurse insisted the doctor needed to see her and it goes to show me, I'm no nurse; Jenelle has a sinus infection and an ear infection! Poor thing. She is now on a more powerful antibiotic and cough syrup. Hopefully she'll be back to her happy self this weekend.

Thanksgiving was thankfully uneventful this year and we really enjoyed sharing our desserts first the night before. After my appointment at UCLA on Wednesday, I walked over to the hospital and went up to the 6th floor oncology unit where I spent most of December last year. I spoke to a nurse at the nurse's station and dropped off a Christmas card/thank you note. She didn't remember me at first because last year I had "blond" hair, but said the best part of her job was seeing patients like me return to say thank you.

I peeked into my old room, which was empty, and reflected on how different things are this year. What a blessing to have a new lease on life. Thank you all again for your prayers and support. Things are so much better this time, this year.