Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Home Again

There's no place like home....there's no place like home!

We returned from CTCA two weeks ago today. It is hard to believe my last treatment was just two weeks ago. My energy is slowly returning and I am becoming familiar with routines at home.

Looking back, it is rather odd to think I was away eleven out of twelve weeks. I was away from home for what amounts to a season. It was not an easy time for me. At the same time it was an amazing learning experience. I have come to have an even greater appreciation for what is important; family and friends. They helped provide energy and reminded me of the hope that was right around the corner. I also gained appreciation for the more simple things of home. My bed, the familiar and beautiful neighborhood in which I live, restaurants that are not fast food and the snuggle time with my dog, Bert.

When we left Illinois, I made the decision that my last treatment was my last day of cancer. I feel very positive about the treatment outcome. I wake each morning feeling like a 'normal' person. I have shared with Dick that I do not quite know what to do with myself. It is a rather foreign feeling....normal. Give me some time, I will get the hang of it.

I guess what is so strange is that I feel I have a full life in front of me. I am so afraid I am going to fall back into old thoughts and life patterns. My hope is to continue to wake each morning with great appreciation for all of the big and small things that surround me. I also feel I need to do something with what I have learned through this journey. I need to give back, as I have received so much.

Due to the swelling and inflammation in my lung from treatment, we will be returning to CTCA at the end of October for a CT scan. We will learn at that time if we need to proceed with any additional treatment. As I stated above, we all feel very good about my outcome. I will not allow myself to live as if my time here is limited. I have been doing that for far too long.

I want to thank all of the wonderful staff at Cancer Treatment Centers of America for all of their caring and support. A truly empathetic and nurturing environment has been created and instilled with this healing organization.

To all of my caring supporters, thank you for sending your healing thoughts and prayers of high intention. It was all of you that assisted me in greeting each day and having the ability to proceed with a rather difficult treatment experience.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Dark Hole

Honestly, I do not know how else to begin this entry other than to say it up front and talk about it. I hit the proverbial wall. I wouldn't say I had a breakdown, but I did indeed have an 'episode'. Whatever happened, it took over the strong, upbeat and positive person that has always had the ability to rally.

It has been difficult being away from my family & friends and the comforts of my own home these past months. The short bits of time I have been home, I was fighting pain. The discomfort did not allow me to be fully present and enjoy spending time with family and friends, as I was always distracted.

Poor Dick called me to say good-morning two weeks ago Friday. He was on his way into work and was ready to settle into his day. When he asked me how I was, it was quite apparent that I was not in a good place. Dick and Eileen quickly put themselves on the road to drive down to see me. The hope was that if I were to see the two of them, the spirit that disappeared within me would miraculously reappear. It did not work.

That Sunday afternoon I ended up in Cancer Treatment Centers of America's emergency room. I was convinced I was going to die. I was admitted into the hospital.

The tomotherapy treatments were taking more out of me than I wanted to believe. I recognized, now that I was in the hospital, I had not been sleeping well, nor had I been eating enough to healthily sustain me. My downward spiral had started a couple of weeks back. I kept thinking I could rally...I always do.

Monday was a very busy day. The staff at CTCA were all over it. Not only was my doctor involved, I had visits from nutrition, mental health, mind & body medicine and care management. There was a concern that I might possibly have brain mets. A CT scan was scheduled. CTCA was going to get to the bottom of this and quick.

When all is said and done, I guess you could say my well was empty. My spirit was drying up. Fighting was taking its toll and I had not shared it with anyone.

Dick has stayed and spent the past two weeks with me. He has been tremendous support and has done a phenomenal job of pulling me up out of my hole. He returned home today. It was very difficult to let him go. My mom has arrived in his stead...I continue to be in good hands.

Two weeks later I am a new person. I have renewed energy. With the help of a funny little pill by the name of Marinol, I have an appetite...and a sense of humor. I am sleeping soundly at night and I have great hope.

The CT results show that my brain has not been invaded. Hallelujah! The radiation treatments are going very well. My pain has completely disappeared. Dr. Eden is very impressed with my results thus far and feels we are beating the enemy. I am down to just seven more treatments. My fighting attitude has returned and I am once again a warrior.