Friday, January 21, 2011

The importance of keeping your balance level.....

my husband and i watched a very good program on public television this week. it was a documentary about two cancer survivors. one survivor, a man, had been in remission for several years, against all odds. he had a rare, usually fatal, kind of leukemia. the other person is a breast cancer survivor. what surprised me, and my husband, was the similarities,you might say, of their feelings about having cancer and my own.

for instance, the man said that after his diagnosis, he did not watch or read anything disturbing or sad.he had his wife go out and buy him books,say, of "Calvin and Hobbs "or" the far side". he had the need to laugh,not cry. i too, felt this way. i refused to watch any violent movies or television programs- that sure did eliminate a lot- even the news! i felt the need to surround myself with humor and good news. he also did not find out about his slim "survival percentages" until he was practically in remission. again, i did not want to know my cancer stage, as i said in a previous blog, until i was further along in my recovery.

the breast cancer survivor had the need to be thankful- for her family and friends, things big and small. she said that when she woke up everyday, she was thankful just to be able to open her eyes-thankful to be alive. i too still feel the need to be thankful. since my cancer had spread a bit, one of my doctors told me that i had caught this "just in time". that statement always gives me something to think about.  she also had a LOT of trouble with her doctors. she could not get a consensus from her doctors concerning her treatment. in the end, she chose to be in a clinical trial. this made the decision for her, but she also said that by being part of a clinical trial she felt that she would be helping other women in the future.she said that when it finally came down to making a decision, she had to follow her "gut feeling". i too, and i think many cancer patients, have had to do this. we need to decide what we think will be best for us and go with it.

all this somehow reminded me of when i was in pharmacy school.( DO NOT ask when that was!) we all had to buy our own set of weights to use in compounding lab.they came in a small box( i still have mine-jeez, i guess that now  they are antiques!) and consisted of several different gram sizes- 5 grams, 3 grams, etc. and some milligram sizes- cute little squares . we had a set of tweezers to handle these with- not only to be able to pick them up, but the idea was not to contaminate them. anyway, we used these weights on our balances. on one side we put the weight we needed for a  compound prescription. for example, a special cream. on the other side, we carefully ( some people more carefully than others) added the ingredient until the balance moved back and forth- equally on both sides.

i feel like my life is like that balance. on one side are my "life challenges". on the other side, it is up to me to add happiness, humor,thankfulness, all things positive, until my balance is level. i think that this is crucial for happiness and   good health.if you have ever  weighed anything on a pharmaceutical balance, you know that both sides swing back and forth until they come to a steady state. i confess that mine is still swinging back and forth a bit, but  i will do my best to add to the "good side" of my focus on the positive.  

Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy birthday to my mom

today would have been my mom's 80th birthday. she passed away 2 years ago from multiple myeloma- a nasty kind of blood cancer. we were very close- we talked every day, and i visited her( she and my dad lived about 1 & 1/2 hours away from my house) i really, really miss her! part of me is glad,though, that she did not have to worry( and i know that she would have worried) about my health.of course, my cancer has a good success/treatment percentage, and hers did not.

anyway, i decided to try to honor her in some way. her favorite color in the whole world was red. and i am talking fire truck, cherry pie, stop sign, red bird  red. not pink,fushia, or whatever watered down versions of red you can  think of. i have never purchased  any red clothing- up to now.  i have red hair, so red clothes are just, well, over the top. but today, by golly, you could see me from one end of the store to the other! i wore a bright red- it had glitter on it, another favorite of my mom's, shirt. also, i had on a red heart necklace and red heart earrings. i had on one of the rings she left me- a red garnet( her birthstone). i bought a bracelet from "choose hope" - the one that represents multiple myeloma. guess what, the color for that cancer just happens to be red,too!

i know this was a small thing. she is always on my mind, but this just made me feel happy  my daughter sent me a picture/text on my phone. it was a picture of her fingernails. they were painted bright red- " for gabby" she said. my children called my mom,"gabby". next year perhaps, i will do something more noble in her honor. a donation to charity, an article for the newspaper- she was a well loved and respected teacher, something like that. but next year i will be wearing red on january 17th,too. and maybe, just maybe,  i will add more red to my wardrobe. as one of our cashiers said today, " i have never seen you wear that color before, bea. it looks good on you." well, i am not sure how good it looked, but it sure did feel good. happy birthday, mom!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"seven days without Zumba, makes one weak!!" as the saying goes...

yes, i have been snowed in,too. well, i had to go to work- i rode with my husband, but  we got to close up a little early two days because of all of the snow and ice. i have noticed that people, in general, and we are not calling names here, have been more "testy" due to the weather. o.k., i have just discovered that i am grumpy without my Zumba. ha, i said it! i really miss the exercise and i am concerned about when i go back. will i be able to keep up? it has only been a week, i know, and i can still pick up my dogs' water bowl, but after starting to feel so good, i really miss those endorphins! i plan to go this saturday, weather permitting, and as a bonus, my daughter will be visiting this week-end, and we are planning on going together.(whoops, i think that was a run-on sentence. my daughter is an english teacher. sorry, sweetie!)  i can not wait! now, she is the Zumba queen. she is going to take the instructor class next month. she has been practicing for it, but i know that she will do great. she is a teacher anyway, so it will be a good way to make a little extra income doing something that she loves.

it is fortuitous for me  that i work in a pharmacy. sometimes i get depressed about having had cancer. is it really, really gone? is that ache in my back something more serious than i think? i am still bothered by the "salivary gland issue", as i call it. i can handle it, but i wish that  i did not have to. but then, just as i start to feel sorry for myself, here comes someone with something far worse to deal with than i have. it really puts things in perspective for me." just do the best that you can, and enjoy your life. don't sweat the small stuff". i keep reminding myself of these things so that i can live a better, happier life. it is a daily struggle, especially on these cold, winter days with no Zumba in sight, but it is better than the alternative.

each day i try to find something, large or small to be thankful for. well, today at work there was a small boy in a shopping cart crying his eyes out. i mean, he was practically screaming! and he and his mother were in the BACK of the line. i buy bags of dum-dum suckers to give out to the children. usually, the darn cashiers beat me to it, but today, and i will admit it was somewhat for my own sanity- i did mention he was at the BACK of the line didn't i? i grabbed up a blue one( the boys like the blue ones- maybe they are programmed at birth from all of the blue stuff they have to wear,etc.) and hot footed it to the back of the line. i handed him the sucker( after i asked his mother if he could have it, of course) . she gratefully said yes. but the very best thing was the great big smile that he gave me. he stopped crying and we both had a better day. here's to everyone having a better day. i am tired of the snow, and i want my Zumba back!!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A thank you note to my daughter

my husband and i went down to raleigh to visit my daughter and son-in-law yesterday. we had to leave a little earlier than we had planned- due to the bad weather. we had some snow and strong winds yesterday. the big,bad storm is scheduled for tomorrow and tuesday,though. snow,ice,Arctic temperatures,etc. after all, it IS winter. i think that this year we have had more snow than usual. figures, since the meteorologists predicted a mild,dry winter for us. lol

my daughter had my Christmas present to give to me yesterday- it got hung up in the Christmas rush, you might say. anyway, was i ever surprised!! what she had done was design my blog into a hard bound book! it was just beautiful. on the cover, below the title" Losing the butterfly", she had a wonderful picture my son-in-law had taken of a swallowtail butterfly. on the back cover, she had the picture of our house and the "healing garden" that my husband had planted for me. below this picture, she had one of my quotes: " i am getting stronger( it's the Zumba!) and i am becoming happier, and less fearful. i have learned that cancer journeys, like life journeys, are better shared with loved ones and friends. i hope that everyone can enjoy and make the best of their own journey."

i am not a person who is prone to crying, but the tears flowed! what a beautiful and special gift. the book goes up to my entry on december 6th. she said that she would continue it, if i continue on with my blog. ( i will of course, it is quite the incentive!) i have read over it today, and i am amazed at the details that i had already forgotten. i am glad that i documented them, and i hope that the information i have provided can help someone else who might be dealing with similar issues. she was not able to include any comments on my blog- but i have them on-line of course. i am, as i have said, truly thankful for all the comments that have been posted.

wow, what a year 2010 has been for me. i look forward to this new year, but will always remember 2010, and try my best not to forget lessons learned. thank you again to my daughter- you have been a wonderful support to me, and have read ALL of my blogs!! jeez, you should get some award or something for that! i would include in this blog the dedication that you made at the first of my book, but i could not do it without crying again. i love you,too, sweetie.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

"Chunky,chunky,...i like them chunky, i like them big. i like them chunky, i like them big, i like them plumpy,....i like they attitude, i like they style, girl i like your big...What you say??!! your big ol' heart. it's all in the way she moves." Big and Chunky, by Will I Am.

you might not believe it, but this is our favorite song in Zumba class!! especially when you consider that most of us are there to get a little less chunky.there is something special  about dancing to a song a hippopotamus sang...the music is so upbeat, and the dance moves our instructor came up with are fun to do as well. we have a twenty minute class after Zumba, taught by the same instructor, called " Ab lab". i sure could use a few labs for my abs( my second baby was by c-section) so last night i did it! i had an hour of Zumba, then somehow managed to do an intense 20 minute session of Ab Lab. i was feeling like super woman all the way until i got home. then, i felt more like " Lois LAME". i had to hobble out of the car, straight into the house for a pretty big dose of Advil!! wow, what was i thinking? today i was pretty sore,too. whenever i dropped something on the floor, i just sort of kicked it under the counter. oh, well, we'll find it sooner or later. i am going to continue the ab lab class,though. i will just need to take some Advil with me for the ride home LOL.

we have a larger class now that the "new years resolution people" have arrived. the other regulars have told me not to worry- in a few weeks, it will be thinned out a little.that is one reason that i try not to make any New Year resolutions. i think that it is wonderful to take stock of your life- where you have been, where you need to be,etc. but i think that major life changes should not be decided by some date on the calendar. this new years eve ( after i got off work) i just took a few minutes to be thankful.thankful for being cancer free( hopefully!), thankful for all of the support and love from my family and friends, and yes thankful for this blog. i have met so many wonderful people and shared so many experiences. we have helped each other, and for that, i am grateful.

oh, and yes, i am truly thankful for Zumba. it is great to dance to a song made famous by a dancing hippopotamus! seriously, i am glad to have found an exercise program that i can actually stick to. it has given me some of my strength and endurance back. i sincerely hope that all of you reading this blog can find some special thing- be it an exercise class, a hobby,etc, that will give you joy and hope  in this new year.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

"the heart is a bloom, shoots up through the stony thought that you had found a friend, to take you out of this place; someone you could lend a hand, in return for grace; it's a beautiful day, don't let it get away. ...What you don't have, you don't need it now, what you don't know, you can feel somehow." Beautiful day, by U-2

i like to remind myself of the phrase in this song" it's a beautiful day, don't let it get away." sometimes i get the the feeling that i have wasted a few days in my life. not that i expect every day to be perfect now, but i try to find at least ONE good thing to be happy about, and thankful for.

i worked this week-end, including new years eve and new years day. we were so busy! and today, i actually thought that i was working in "McPharmacy". for those of you who have not visited this site on YouTube, you should. it is funny, and i am afraid that as incredible as it may seem, i( and most everyone else i know who works in a pharmacy) have encountered these exact same scenarios in real life. along with the "challenges" of this week-end, i was dealing with the salivary gland issue again. of course, i know what to do to keep it from getting too bad. but picture this, i was working and trying to massage my jaw area, eat sour candy, and drink a ton of water- all at the same time! just how long i will be dealing with this is unknown- to both myself and my doctor. i hope that this is the only problem that i will encounter which was caused by the I-131 treatment. oh, well, i can deal with it. i told a fellow thyroid cancer patient, who had her I-131 treatment about the same time as i had mine, about this possible side effect. of course, not everyone will have this happen to them, but it is good to know about. i spent several anxious days worrying that it was a lymph node" gone bad", before i found out what had caused the swelling,pain,etc,

i am not a "doom and gloom" person by any means, but i would like to know if anyone out there had any after effects from their I-131 treatment. i like to know things and be prepared. i mean, i would like to know if there  is a chance of my hair turning purple, growing an extra ear, or anything like that. i can not find too much info about AFTER  you have the I-131 treatment. i would do it again, no question, but it would be interesting to know how other people made out, so to speak.

tomorrow is my husbands birthday. we are going to go to the wellness center( so we can eat homemade German chocolate birthday cake without too much guilt!). i asked him if he would like to do something special tomorrow, but he said  that spending the day with me would be special enough.isn't that sweet? what a beautiful day!