Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gilda's Club


I don't know of anyone who knew Gilda Radner that didn't love watching her comic genius. I grew up watching the first season with the dream cast of Saturday Night live - Radner, Belushi, Akroyd, Morris, Chase, Curtain, Newman and others. They haven't had a cast like that since. I read Gilda's book "It's always something" several years ago, and had followed her life and death in the news. She was an amazing woman, who fought a hard battle with ovarian cancer. Before she died she talked about the need to have a place people could go and hang out and laugh and get the support they and their family and friends need when you're life is turned upside down by cancer. Gilda's club was started by her husband Gene Wilder and Joanna Bull (Gilda's friend and therapist) in her memory. Gilda's Club offers art classes, exercise classes, support groups, places for kids and teens to play, etc...

Josh, Chassi, Lisa and I took a Thai cooking class there recently. It was fabulous! Two Vandy students taught it and we learned to make some amazing dishes. Anna Belle attended Camp Sparkle, an arts camp there last month in "Noogieland". She had a wonderful time as well.
One of the great things about Gilda's is that everything you do there is free of charge. They have several corporate sponsors and volunteers that stock the clubhouse with delicious snacks and teach the classes. This is where Mickey and I are taking yoga classes.

Gilda's club is not only for cancer patients, it's for anyone who's life is touched by the disease. So if you are reading this blog, you certainly can come and check it out and join us in a class or just to hang out and laugh. I've met some really wonderful and brave men and women there. Some of them are currently battling cancer, and some who have been in remission for years. They all inspire me, come by and they will inspire you too.

Chemo #8 done!

Chemo #8 is over, only 4 to go - Yipee! I'll be so glad to get this behind me and move on. Kathy took me to this weeks treatment, and the time once again flew by. We had a nice lunch and then shopped at some of our favorite places and then I had a nice long nap. Bryan and I had dinner with the Spears family, Sandy and Ivey and then it was back to bed for me. I think with each week my body and mind get a bit slower. 


Long week

Work is good, but exhausting. I guess being up and around at home is different than being up and around at work. It's so good to see everyone, they are so supportive and kind. I was having a rough day on Thursday and came back to my desk to find a take out pack with a "Mexican feast" waiting for me to take it home with me. Thanks Sam and Eric - you are the best! 

That was the last meal I fully tasted, my taste buds have been coming and going for the past week, and since Friday they seem to be on hiatus. Oh well not too much longer of this to go.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Blah weekend

Friday, Saturday and Sunday were very low energy days for me. I didn't really feel like eating or doing much but lying around. I did get up and go to work today, but I stayed at my desk working on a project all day. So far I've had cheerios, yogurt and popcorn. Hopefully the energy and appetite will return tomorrow.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The husband


Lots of you have asked how Bryan is doing during all this. He is still pretty quiet, so it is hard to tell, but he says he is doing ok. I can tell you he has been pretty amazing with me, especially right after surgery when I was completely helpless. He quickly learned to change dressings, empty drains, brush my hair and gently shove me out of bed or off the couch when I couldn't use either of my arms. He hasn't run screaming from the room yet, and I have been very proud of him.
Bryan and I got married when we were teens, so through the years we've been compared to all the couples in the songs...Tommy and Gina, Jack and Diane, Brenda and Eddie...and on and on... Take a young couple, throw in two unique kids and quite frankly I'm sure most of our life together could be summed up by the title "Livin' on a prayer". We both grew up with great supportive families, his is smaller and quieter and mine is loud and large.
Bryan has a had a mistress since before we married, she has six strings, is made of wood and varies in color. Her name is usually Fender...Gibson...Ibanez...or Les Paul. He also has his best friend Mike and they enjoy writing songs and playing music every Thursday night. I learned pretty quickly when music is in your blood, you have to be playing or you are NOT happy. So he has his music room to retreat to for his "daily fix" and that gives me my own time to watch the chick channel, read or do some art project. We have found this works well for both of us. We both love to travel, go to concerts and try new restaurants - we occasionally agree on which movie to see. Although I will NEVER agree that "Pulp Fiction" is appropriate for an anniversary date.
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Coming soon: blogs on "The son" and "The daughter"




More and More fabulous food!

I was spoiled once again with great dinners these past few weeks. Adelia (Bryan's mom) brought me a mexican chicken casserole, to satisfy my mexican food craving. Megan brought me an assortment of awesome salads. Angela brought delicious spinach lasagna and yummy cupcakes. Abbey made us some fabulous homemade gnocchi and salad. Once again, we are thankful and completely spoiled!  
When all this is over I will have to have a huge dinner party and cook for all of you!!

Chemo #7 is a wrap!

Chemo #7 is over and done. It was a cytoxan and abraxene day so it took a little longer in the chemo room, and I saw the doctor as well. Dr. Peacock said everything is looking ok and I am still feeling pretty decent. I haven't had any nausea to speak of, thank goodness! I still get tired easily and the fuzzy thinking is driving me nuts, but I have so much to be grateful for. I have the most amazing family and friends and having that support is what gets me through each and every day. 

Today Rebecca took me for my treatment and then we went to lunch. The two and a half hours went by very quickly.  If anyone can make chemo "fun" it's you girls. When I stop and think about it, when else do we take 2 hours to just sit and talk uninterrupted? Not frequently enough is what I've decided. 

So my advice for today...slow down, sit and talk with your family and friends and let them know you appreciate them.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Yoga and walking


I'm still trying to walk 5x week for 20-30 minutes. Also, my friend Mickey and I are taking yoga on Tuesdays. I'm not sure how flexible we are becoming, but we do have fun.

I'm back at work 4 days a week. I usually do pretty well until about 2:30 or so and then I start getting tired. Once I've rested an hour or so, I can usually be up and about at home to walk or at least stretch and use my hand weights. I'm trying to be a good patient, but I sure am ready for the next 6 weeks to be over with.
This picture is of a rose in my backyard. I'm trying to remember to go outside every day and look and appreciate the flowers.
My advice for today...appreciate the little things and tell your family and friends you love them!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Blog stuff

Sorry, some how the blog settings got changed. You should be able to leave comments again. Thanks for those of you who let me know this wasn't working. I'm new at this blog stuff. : )

Laura

Saturday, August 16, 2008

"Fight like a girl" team mascot - Sophie Spears


This is Sophie Spears. Sophie is the toughest little girl I know. In addition to being a strong and talented gymnast and athlete, she hardly even cried last year when she got 4 teeth knocked out! Sophie and her brother Elijha have been right with me through all this. They make me cute cards and keep me laughing.


This is why they hold the "Komen Race for the cure". We are not only walking in memory of those brave women who didn't survive this, or those of us who are battling it now. We are walking for our sisters, daughters, and grandaughters. So none of them have to deal with this disease.
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Having worked in Oncology from 86' to 98'. I can attest to the fact that early detection, improved chemo protocols, new anti-nausea medications, tests and scans have come a very long way. Survival rates are much much better than they were 10 years ago. I'm all for funding research to stop this disease in it's tracks!


Come join our team "Fight like a girl" and walk with us on October 4th!


***If you need a t-shirt there is a link in an earlier blog to order them. Of course you can always make your own - Samara has created a great iron on template as well. Thanks Samara!***

Friday, August 15, 2008

Chemo #6 DONE! I'm halfway there

Only 6 more (weeks) treatments to go! Everything went well with the treatment, veins are holding out good. I have been having hot flashes and insomnia which they tell me is my body having early chemo induced menopause. Really?? Do I need this right now on top of chemo?? They offered more drugs for those symptoms, but I'm going to try and do it without if I can. I feel like I have enough for my liver to process right now.
Oh well, I'm still very thankful that I'm not nauseated or too fatigued. I told Dr. Peacock I went back to work this week and she reminded me again to pace myself. I'm really trying to do this. It's just hard, because I don't want to miss anything. 

Keep those prayers going- Thank you all!



Fun Birthday Package

The outer box was labeled:

"Close and lock door.

Hide behind large piece of furniture.

Quietly open box.

Savor and Enjoy!"



Inside were the most delicious variety of giant chocolate covered strawberries you have ever seen! So of course I followed the directions and enjoyed them immediately.


Thank you Amber!


www.berries.com

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My Birthday

Most years I just try to ignore getting another year older. I guess this year, I am just thankful I get that chance. Nothing like a health crisis to make you appreciate each and every day. I arrived at work to flowers and chocolate, had lunch and dinner surrounded by great friends and family. Thank you for all the sweet cards, funny cards and just for being the great people you are. Tonight I'm having a slumber party with my sisters and Jenni, the perfect end to a day.
I love you all!
Laura

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Team name chosen: "Fight like a girl"

After much discussion our team name for the Komen Race for the Cure has been chosen. It will be "Fight like a girl".

Now I don't know about the girls you grew up with, but I grew up with some tough cookies. Powder Puff football was banned in Chester County, because of unnecessary roughness and multiple injuries. So fighting like a girl was no laughing matter.

I hope you will join our team and walk with us. If you can't be in Nashville and walk with us physically, please be with us in spirit.
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The walk is October 4th in downtown Nashville.
Team info:
Feel free to be creative and make your own t-shirt, but if you want to purchase one, here's a great site with several options:
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I'm pretty confident I can get Josh, David, Wes and even Logan in a Fight like a girl shirt...not so sure about Bryan, Mike and Jamie. Come on guys...do it for me?
:)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Back to work

I started back to work this morning. I felt like a kid on my first day back to school. I'll be off on Friday mornings for chemo, and there are several things I can do from home when I need to. Everyone at Gordian has been so supportive during the past few months, it was great to get hugs and see those faces again. I think it will be helpful emotionally and physically to get back to a daily routine at work. I just have to remember to pace myself, which I'm not very good at yet. I tend to go and go and then I just drop.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Komen Race for the Cure on October 4th, 2008

Lisa is setting me up a Nashville team to walk in the "Komen Race for the Cure" walk on October 4th. http://www.komen-nashville.org/race.htm


Anyone who wants to walk with us email: Lisa lisannt1@comcast.net
or me lahall@comcast.net . I also need suggestions for our Team name.

Who's "IN" for walking with me?


Chemo #5

Chemo #5 is over and it all went well. My counts are down as expected, but I'm feeling pretty well. I'll have to take it easy the next few days but usually by Mondays I'm feeling stronger again. Lori took me to chemo, then we went to Bongo Java for lunch. I then came home and took a 2 hr nap.
I got to have dinner with my friends Anna and Sarah tonight, it sure was good to get to see them again. We all worked together at Healthways years ago.

I start back to work on Monday. I'm looking forward to being back with my friends. I hope they have patience with my "chemo brain" tendencies. I actually looked it up, because it has been frustrating for me. Mayo clinic had an article on it, so I guess I'm not imagining it. Of course I didn't have the best memory before all this began.

Next week I'll be at #6 and half way through with treatments! Keep those prayers going, they are keeping me strong and getting me through any rough moments.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Walking

Have you ever gotten off a treadmill and then just layed down in the floor beside it to catch your breath? Whew!
I have finally made it up to 30 minutes a day with my walking. It does make a difference in my energy level...just not immediately. Other than fatigue I'm feeling pretty well. Chemo #5 is tomorrow.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Bucket List

A couple of days ago I watched "The Bucket List" with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. If you have not seen this movie I recommend it. It's not a morbid movie, it just makes a point to stop, and do the things you have always wanted to do now - don't put it off until you are faced with "kicking the bucket".
It is very easy to lose focus in this high paced life and spend way too much time on things that really won't matter at all 30 years from now.

My parents were firm believers in family road trips, exploring new places, trying new things and not getting in a hurry and letting life pass you by. I appreciate that so much more as an adult, than I did as a whiny teenager who just wanted to go sit on the beach. I've tried to instill a sense of adventure in my kids, but many times I'll admit we get lost in "life" and forget to appreciate the little things each day.

So, the big question for today is:

"What is on your bucket list?"

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Prayer request for 4 yr old Will

Some of you have gone with us to the annual "It's a Wonderful Life" showing at the Belcourt during the Christmas season. You may remember the two host couples for this event - Robbie & Angie Cook and Dale & Elisabeth Laurence. Robbie and Angie have a sweet 4 year old son Will who needs all our prayers right now, as he deals with the return of a brain tumor.

" We received great news regarding the spinal tap and the MRI .... both tests came back negative. There is no evidence of tumors forming in the spine and the spinal fluid was clear. We are very encouraged by this news. Will begins chemo tomorrow in a pill form that will be given to him 5 days in a row every 28 days .... at home. We will closely monitor the tumor every 2 months to make sure the chemo is effective. We have so much hope and know that God has a wonderful plan for Will's life. Please keep us in your prayers as we begin treatment.
Many Blessings to You All,
Robbie, Angie, Cole, Will & Calvin"

I once read that raising a child can be compared to "watching your heart walking around outside of your body" and if you have children, then you know this is pretty accurate. Please pray for Angie and Robbie as well as precious little Will.

Thank you,
Laura

Monday, August 4, 2008

Lazy weekend

Saturday and Sunday were a bit rough for me. I was just very tired and slept a lot. I got out of the house twice and both times it wore me out. Thank goodness Bryan was there to take me home and tuck me in.
I'm feeling better today. I got back on the treadmill this morning, and even felt up to making dinner tonight.

We had great dinners on Friday and Saturday nights thanks to Patsy and Amy - BBQ chicken pizza and salad, and homemade chicken pot pie and applesauce. Comfort food is just what I needed this weekend. They were delicious - thank you both so much!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Chemo #4

Chemo #4 is over, only 8 more to go! Denise took me today and the time passed quickly. There were two other ladies sitting beside us that also have breast cancer. We struck up a conversation and compared notes on surgery, expanders and hair - or the lack of it. One lady had just gotten her new perky breasts and was very excited, she showed them to whoever walked by. It was funny, wonder if that is how I'll be? If so, watch out!

My blood counts were better this week, which is good, of course they will drop again after this treatment. Counts dropping and hair loss is expected, it means the drugs are working, so I can deal with that. Today I got both drugs, so it's a double whammy on the system. 
Denise and I had a nice lunch and now I'm home for a quick nap. I miss seeing her everyday at work, we have such fun together.