Friday, January 19, 2018

Oncology Appointment

Almost two and a half years have passed since Diagnosis Day.  I am reflective - reflecting - pondering the time and maybe the meaning - but certainly the blessing I have had and realize more than ever.  Nothing has changed - at least that I know of - I am about to have my appointment after 2 months of time off.  It's the longest between appointments.  They said it was because I was doing so well.  I'll go with that.

Two and a half years - intense awareness of each moment.  Appreciation for the opportunities that have been given to me.  The time with my boys - the ability to entertain them here and to go visit them there.  And of course the most recent addition!   Who knew how much fun that would be?  OK - You ALL knew but I couldn't let myself go there until...   Suffice it to say that I have never been so focused and in the moment as when I get to spend time with that sweet little boy who is just learning how to laugh.  What a skill!

OK - I digress.

The opportunity to  visit with and spend special time with friends, near and far.  A wonderful week with Dallas friends, upcoming second attempt at visiting Florida friends,  catching up with California friends in California and in Longmeadow.

Travel to areas of great intrigue, experience different cultures, histories, vistas - what a beautiful world.  And then to come home, recharge relax enjoy John's company and cooking and cozy down into our home.  I am one lucky girl.

then WHY do I feel depressed sometimes?  Reality of the loss of David Sr.  Missing my precious Gracie.  Sadness of passing of dear friends...

  and then there is  this cloud looming over my head.  I don't look like sick (stage four sick whatever that looks like), I don't feel like it,  and I am beating the odds.  How long will that be true?  My friends tell me I am going to be around a long time.  But I still feel there is some kind of race with the clock.  And I feel it most strongly before PET scans and before Oncology appointments.  Anticipation - Carly Simon - of another appointment, concerned that I don't ask all the questions I want to (maybe out of fear), that HE hears something different in my chest,  concern that there is a change somewhere else in my body that triggers an alarm.  This is the time the changes are noticed.  So I get depressed, scared, shut down my feelings, go under a rock, shut out my friends... - and then it will be over - the appointment that is.

I'll get back to you - just wanted share - it helps me.

Returned from the Dr. and all seems well - Pet Scan and next appointment scheduled for 2 months out!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas... Again

Merry Christmas to glad to be here for another one.

I can't believe it's been two months since I last wrote.  My new status as Grandmother has been joyfully preoccupying.  Should I bore you with pictures?  He is ADORABLE and a beautiful blend of Will and KA - maybe a little more Will right now!

We also have taken some time to take Johnny and a Alex Coker - a friend from Dallas now in NYC -  to the Met to see the Magic Flute - a great treat and fun to share.

Each milestone makes me more thankful, and, a little scared.  As my "situation" has made me concentrate more on enjoying each day as much as I can,  each person as dearly as I can,  each moment as candidly as I can - the milestones also make me wary of how fast time is passing. I am being blessed with many days, weeks, even years, through the efforts of our medical world.  Each morning when I take my chemo, every night when I take it again, I am conscious of the reality of where I am.  I am not dwelling on it, just acknowledging it.  In fact, many mornings I get ready for the day and have forgotten to put on the support hose that keep my feet from swelling out of my shoes.  I retrench and start that process over,  again reminded.  So it goes and I am thankful.  Another Christmas.

For us, there are some adjustments and changes from last year.   David is no longer part of it,  which adds much sadness and emptiness.  The first year without him - especially tough on our boys.  David and Tyler are not making it home because of job commitments.  Will and KA are staying in Suffield - it's "our" turn.  Johnny has come in from Boston.  We will be a small group Christmas Eve - but it will be good.  Dr. John has his family traditions of Christmas Eve, equally important to his group - so we are dividing to conquer.  It will be strange not to be with him - but it's only for a night.

I was lucky enough to carve out three days last week and visit with David Jr in Austin.  John and I will head to Steamboat for a quick visit with Tyler and J'mie early January - so I will celebrate Christmas with all the boys!  A well worked series of compromises.

Happy Holidays to you all and maybe our paths will cross in the new year.  I sure hope so.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

i have to share

It's halloween.  My friend Meryl wrote this and I have to share.


All that distinguished October for so many years, was Halloween. The last day was the goal, the prior thirty spent considering and concocting a costume.  The day itself an exuberant tumbling of rules…out in the evening, collecting candy, school-night expectations on pause.  It was an event for the children, and back then, a fun and benign one.

But benign isn’t how I think of October now.  Almost forty years ago when I met Jan, it changed. Her mother had died on a Halloween; her discovery not benign. Since then, the ghoulish apparitions of the season have always felt cruel. And since then, more deaths. Of course, those happen in other months, as well, but the tenth month holds the sad record. My father; our nephew; our Norwegian Viking; my mother-in-law; Jan’s mom.

This year, it also claimed Jan’s Gracie.  What a harsh echo, this through thick-and-thin curly-furred companion felled by malignant cells. They were discovered almost precisely two years after Jan’s own diagnosis. An unwelcomed symmetry. She has been through much, my friend Jan.  This year the father of her sons died…a hundred years to the day her father was born. Further symmetry.

But there is more to October.  Against all odds, Jan lives, survives, thrives.  Her chapter, she dares imagine now, could become a book.  And she has achieved goals, roles she couldn’t imagine two years ago. There are two more men in her life to cherish:  her husband as of a year and a half ago.  Her grandson, as of a week ago. Birth in October. Living.



Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Summer's End - Already

How fast it has flown by.  One more week till Labor Day and Two years since diagnosis day! Amazing.  I am continuing to enjoy a very blessed life full of friends, new adventures, and cherishing memories of the past.  Most of the summer has been spent at the lake - enjoying the Adirondacks and friends and family.  The "cabin" is being well used and enjoyed.  John's family, my family, friends, a wonderful blending of people and reuniting of families.  So fortunate to have this little bit of heaven in the wilderness.

Last week we had ALL of my KIDS - all the boys, a daughter in law, and a significant other!  So much fun.  The boys reverted to adirondack adventures from yesteryears - summers at Lake George.  Having two ladies to "observe" the antics with enriched my enjoyment.  Dr. John watched it all go by preparing incredible dinners every night.  The differences in our families was apparant!  SOO much fun and more memories to add the books.  My heart warms when I realize how fortunate we are to have had that time together - to PLAY.

My health continues to be good, and I wish this cancer thing would just go away.  The heavy cloud covers everything I do - it does makes me enjoy more intensely and this is good.  It is hard to think of the "next" time to "do it again"  when I feel some limitation of time - but I don't really know and wish I didn't worry.  Two years is longer than we expected,  and it doesn't seem to be turning yet!  We are making more plans for adventures - but the time frame is shorter.

a weekend trip to the Cape with Will, KA and  their friends Victor and Victoria 

at the Lake with all the boys and more.

  Johnny and I on the sunfish - he caught on quickly!

David taking the sailfish over the sandbar.

KA, Will and Baby Anderson!!
Tyler and J'mie

This week is truly a highlight of my MY summer.

Of course, life is not full of just bliss and reunions - although we would all like it to be.  Sadness has befallen me with the news that my trusted companion of the past 12 years - through thick and thin - Gracie has Cancer herself.  Signs came on quickly.  She is walking slowly, has difficulties with steps, and reminds me so much of exactly where I was two years ago - almost to the day.  Sadly, her prognosis is about what mine was originally,  Hers has little likelihood of changing.  

Friday, July 28, 2017

Willie Nelson - I woke up "still not dead" again today!

Every Three months I go through "the change." or more correctly said, the fear of the change! I have a PET scan to see if there is any growth in my cancer - indicating a resistance has built up to my current treatment, Every three months I get exceptionally moody and inward. I suppose it's another "side effect" of this road I am on. Tuesday I had an appointment with my oncologist about the Pet Scan the week before and it is all good. I get the reports of the scan on the internet before I see the doctor - so, of course, I read them, don't fully understand, panic a bit, and withdraw even more. This time was no different - but once again, all is well, continuing on the same course, and we can make plans for the next three months! - and that brings us to the end of October when (drum roll) . Baby Anderson is due to arrive. I have also been given a reprieve on going to the doctor - I just need a blood test in a month and don't see the doctor for TWO months. John and I are spending a bunch of time at the lake with family and friends. It's a wonderful place to retreat to - and it's fun to share.
Karen Meyer with Carolyn and Ettienne D'Otreppe

Karen flew in from Scottsdale on a whim - hadn't seen her in maybe 12 years.  We picked it right up and moved forward!    I find that so refreshingly amazing.  Lesson here, though, if we are NOT intentional about our friendships,  they won't maintain themselves.  Be a friend and be spontaneous!

I am concerned that her jeans were so worn out - I am looking for iron on patches to send to her!

If I don't write for awhile,  I am trying to forget I have Cancer and live a "normal" life.  I always love to hear from YOU - my inspirations to keep it upbeat but real.  Enjoy the end of summer - and then we get the FALL!  Except for the shorter days - so beautiful.

Monday, July 17, 2017


More side effects to contend with! I've mentioned swelling and nausea and many others and now I have the white blood cell to contend with.  I guess it's common to have a low count and have to skip Chemo - but I have felt so good that it totally surprised me.  I had to go off of it for a week,  and each week is precious.  The count came up, minimally but enough to resume treatment.  As well as attacking the cancer cells, the chemo attacks the white blood cells and compromises my immune system!    When you are given a short period of survival if you "do nothing" doing nothing is not something I want to do.  Don't want to eat up that time.  Doing "something" has worked well.  This is uncontrollable - i can't change my diet, walk farther, breath deeper, take a vitamen...  Of course, I fear that old slippery slope in my future and wonder - fear - that any change is the beginning.  

 Monday I have the pet scan which is the bottom line on knowing what's going on with my treatment. I can't study for this test, it is what it is. Keep your prayers coming and fingers crossed. I will let you know how it goes. 

 Meanwhile, I continue to live a wonderful, active life.  John and I went on a river cruise last month which was devine.  We have spent and will spend more time at the lake this summer - what a relief from the incredible heat we have been having.  A trip to the cape... plans for Austin, Maine...  it is a busy, fun summer planned.  

With Will and KA and ??  at the Cape

Thanks for traveling with me on this bumpy road. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Not an easy Month

This has been a roller coaster of emotions,  probably made more dramatic with the reality of my own diagnosis in the background.  the highs higher and the lows,  well, you get it.

David E. Anderson Sr.
My perspective is MY perspective, we all have our own.  The loss of David resonates with me on many different levels.  During the funeral times, I was mostly focused on the boys and their reactions,  trying to be there for them when needed but let the grieve together and alone.  Then I identified with the loss, thinking about my own diagnosis five weeks after his,  the parallel that aren't parallel.  But similarities make me aware on a much different scale.  And then came the whammy of having to deal with my own grief with the loss I was married to, had children with, and lived the better part of my life.  I, too, feel a hole in my heart and a blank space where there always was a supportive partner.

I am working through these emotions, they will not be dealt with easily, nor should they be.  The boys are having their own transitions and concerns which I am not able to patch and make better!  Mother's instincts don't die, but I am doing my best.

And then,  three weeks later, as a total surprise, my dear friends, Christina and Gil Ahrens became my dear friend Christina.  One moment laughing and planning for the future, the next,  Gil was gone.

Gil Ahrens
Emotionally, these events have taken a toll on my psyche and perhaps my physical well being, for the moment.  The strength of a positive attitude is clear.  My last visit to the Doctor resulted in a recommendation for a chest X-ray to check for pneumonia - which turned out NOT to be there,  and a cessation of my Chemo for a week because the white blood cell count was low.

I need to bring back the positive power and get those white cells up!  I can do it, and will.  It's just so easy to fall into a pit of sadness.

Chocolate splurge on our "getaway"
I am very blessed with good friends who care, a husband who has great patience with me and keeps me busy doing some pretty fun things.  He is my strength and rock when I need it.  Although he doesn't understand some of sensitivities and over thinking of things,  he allows it,  which is all I could hope for.   Between these two sadnesses,  we were able to get away and have some glorious adventures.

Oncology Appointment

Almost two and a half years have passed since Diagnosis Day.  I am reflective - reflecting - pondering the time and maybe the meaning...