Thursday, July 08, 2010

Rest for the Weary

I apologize for it taking so long to write this post. Last week was my fourth round of chemo. You already knew that. What you may not have known is that it was the most difficult chemo week I've had to date. Usually, the really difficult part of chemo is in the days that actually follow. I suppose my body is worn down a little more with each chemo cycle. I never have quite enough time to get back to "normal." The Independence Day holiday added to my "business" when I was feeling better.

Chemo round four really knocked the wind out of me.  After lunch on Wednesday afternoon I was in bed pretty much until Saturday. I was tired, sad, and sick. I never actually threw up, but even the thought of chemo made me nauseous...still does. There were fleeting moments where I mustered the energy to sit outside in the swing or on the couch. For the most part, though, I felt like garbage.

My brother, Darrell, and his wife, BJ, came to help out over the long holiday weekend. Darrell usually works in GA all week and comes home on the weekend. So, when he sacrificed his holiday weekend to make the four hour drive to Mississippi, I was touched to say the least. This is really the first time I've been able to spend any time with him since my re-diagnosis. What I love about my brother is that he works hard and plays hard. He did not disappoint. He worked hard all weekend, helping Kevin complete several "man jobs" that he either had not had the time or strength to complete alone. It doesn't help that Kevin usually has a three foot shadow with his every step. Aunt BJ worked just as hard. As usual, she jumped right in, cooking, entertaining Jack. When I see BJ and Jack together, I am reminded of Christian (Darrell's 13 year old son) and me. When Christian was Jack's age, I had no children. He was like my own little boy. We did everything together. We spoke a special language. BJ is like that with Jack. He is never timid or afraid with her. He trusts her completely. It's fun to watch. She took him shoe shopping, birthday present shopping, grocery shopping, and to Wal-mart for fun stuff. When they returned home, they played in his pool, played basketball with the new net Aunt BJ had bought, and jumped on the trampoline. Of course, all this happened after Aunt BJ had completely cleaned my house. She moved furniture and other items so she could clean my floors...sweeping, mopping, dusting, and the list goes on. BJ took care of me by taking care of my family. I didn't have to give any direction or thought. She just did what she would want done if she were in my shoes. For that I am grateful.

Those who know me well, know how stubborn I can be. It's difficult for me to ask for assistance or even accept it when freely offered. By Saturday morning, I was so touched by Darrell and BJ's generosity, I was in tears. I think all the exhaustion crept up on me. I was on the couch "cuddling" with Jack while BJ cleaned. I just couldn't hold it in any longer. I think I was sad that the 4th of July wasn't waiting for me. Everyone was buzzing around, and I couldn't even get dressed. While I was sad for me, having a pity party really, I was so touched by the kindness of my brother and his wife. Even then, BJ was there to reassure me that I need to worry about me this time. Take care of me. Rest for me. No need to feel embarrassed to have cancer. I didn't want Jack to see me upset. So, I went to my bedroom and called my little sister. I just needed to hear her voice. She was busy rushing her own family out the door for 4th of July activities, but took the time to talk with me. I just needed to hear her voice. I enjoyed hearing Amanda and Tony whiz around with their girls. Tony was very patient with the orders he was receiving from the three females of his house.

There was a break in the southern humidity over the weekend and a nice breeze from the storms in the gulf. I was able to sit outside and watch the guys work on laying pavers under my swing long enough to get a little sun on my knees. I wasn't up to going to the park for firework festivities. So, we put on our own firework demonstration for Jack at home after a delicious summer dinner of BBQ ribs, BJ's mexicorn casserole, beans and bread. I was sad to see them go Sunday morning, but Darrell had to travel to Athens after his four hour drive home to Greenville. Jack has asked a million times since then when he can go spend the night with Aunt BJ and Uncle D.

I was feeling better by Sunday evening when Jack's friend, Wren; his mom, Julie; and their CeeCee, Ms. Susan; came to visit. We cooked out hamburgers and hotdogs and enjoyed watching the boys play outside. Ms. Susan makes the very best deviled eggs I have ever had. I may have to call and ask her to make some just for me when I have chemo again! I was so excited to feel like "me" again, I overdid it a little and was pretty wiped out by the time dinner was over. We had a great time, and enjoyed the company. Julie and I are a lot alike, crazy about our boys. We love the opportunity to hang out with girls. Wren slept until 11 am the next day. Jack did not. :)

Monday was a much needed rest for our little family. In fact, we are still tired. We all went to Wren's 4th birthday party Tuesday evening, a swimming party at the country club. Jack had a blast and swam pretty well. The clouds rolled in and brought summer storms, but we continued to have fun when we moved the party inside. Jack, Wren, Jasmine, and Calvin are the fab four, all the same age. It's fun to see them play and interact. I don't know who our priest will be at their confirmation in about 13 years, but I hope he's drinking plenty of vitamin C. He's going to need it.

Tuesday was also the day of my MRI. Dr. Reed scheduled it to rule out the possibility of any cancer causing my ongoing headaches. Endometrial cancer can spread to the brain. We don't think it is cancer, but we want to be sure rather than assume. This is the first MRI I've had. I can now understand why some people freak out when lying in that tube for so long. I was fine, but thought of the folks I know who can't go through that alone. I hope to hear the results from Dr. Reed today or tomorrow. I'm optimistic, but the wait is killing me. We want this behind us.

I woke up with a cough and awful headache Wednesday morning. It feels allergy related. Still, it's exhausting. I'm not running any fever, but hope to find something I can take for the yuck.  The mouth sores I've had since Sunday are beginning to subside. They were right on time, but like the chemo yuckies, a little worse than usual. I really need to feel better. I am traveling to Salt Lake City next week for Academic Meetings and graduation at Western Governors University. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone, but a little nervous about flying for the first time since chemo started. I don't want to catch anything. So, anyone willing to post advice to stay germ-free, feel free to post. I can't wait to see my work buddies and friends who have been especially supportive, even across the distance. Also exciting is the opportunity to meet blog buddy, Kim M., (See Tender Mercies blog in the links to the right) who is now cancer-free. I was connected to her by our common friend Melanie Olson, when I found out I was sick again. She has helped me so much in my journey through her own blogs.

The highlight of my week has been the sweet card I received from my former student, friend, and fellow cancer survivor, Laura Huish. She is an amazing woman! I really needed the lift this week, Laura. You were right on time! Then today, I received another card filled with prayer from Mrs. Jane Sullivan. People are so kind to continue praying for us, even this far into treatment.

Please pray for my sister's high school friend, and mine, Amanda Schwartz Ward. She had complications delivering her precious angel, Journey, in May and continues to fight her way to better health. Each time I think of my own struggles with cancer, I remember how much more difficult Amanda's battle is.


Heather said...

Hi Cindy,
I can't wait to see you next week. Here are some hygiene travel tips that I use--it is a little gross (I do it in a bathroom stall to not gross out other folks) but I haven't become sick from the plane since doing this. See video link below.

Also, upon entering my hotel room, I wash my hands, disinfect my room with those chlorox or lysol wipes (Wipe EVERY surface you will touch, doorknobs, desk, phone, switches, chairs, clock), then wash my hands again. Since we are going to Little America, I'll check the beds for bedbugs too (I saw a dying one there the last time we were there).

Safe travels-- remember, we'll watch out for you the entire time you are in SLC.


Kim said...

Hi Cindy!
It will be great to get to meet you next week! I love keeping up with your progress and hope things will continue to be "doable"! That's all we can ask, right? : )

~ Kim

Melanie said...

I'm so excited to be with you, but especially excited for you and Kim to finally meet in person.

Remember that I'll be going back & forth from the hotel every day, so PLEASE let me know if I need to bring/pick up anything for you.

Love you! See you soon!