The Big C

A journey through Stage Four Cancer

It’s Here!

            My wheel chair is finally here!  What a story about it getting here.  As you know, I was trying hard to be patient about the coming of my wheel chair.  I reminded myself that some people were already mailing their Christmas presents and the Thanksgiving Holiday was coming so inevitably, things would be moving slowly.  But finally, last week I called to find out, where is my wheel chair.

Well maam, Fed Ex delivered your chair to the front door on November 11th.  No signature was required.

First off, I want to know who thought making not signing for a delivery a good idea?  If you are using Fed Ex or UPS for delivery, the item must be pretty important in some way.  Signatures should be required unless you specifically ask that a signature not be required.

I was home all day that day, as was my husband, since the eleventh was Veterans Day, a holiday.  My wheel chair was not delivered here, I can guarantee.

Fed Ex says yes it was.

So my wheel chair was considered lost, and a new one was on it’s way.

The next day, there was a noise in my driveway.  I checked, it was just a plain ordinary truck of someone I didn’t know.

Apparently the person in my driveway was a building contractor, doing work on a house on a nearby street that is also called Court, like my road is.  The house is of a Navy man who is out at sea, so he had no idea that my wheel chair was waiting on his front porch.  His parents check on the house every so often, and told the contractor that they would deliver the chair to my house, but they never did.

Yesterday, the contractor returned to the house to do more work, and saw my wheelchair still there, so he decided to deliver my chair.  A man who owes me nothing, has no responsability to deliver my wheelchair, did it.  He did it without telling me his name, without expecting compensation or thanks.

As my son was putting together my wheelchair, Fed Ex backed into my driveway, dropped a box with my replacement wheelchair next to my garage and was half way down the street by the time I was able to get to my front door to refuse the delivery.

He never knocked on the door or asked for a signature.

In one day I went from having no wheelchair, to having two wheelchairs!

And I know first hand that their are still heros in this world.

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The Wheelchair

Well it’s time for another update.  Do you remember the way Nate and I argued about getting a handicapped tag for me so that we could park closer when going to the mall?  I was for it, because if I was feeling good, I didn’t have to use the tag to park in a handicapped parking space.  Nate fought against it because he thought if we had it, we would use it and we’d get lazy about keeping my legs strong and walking.

Well, little by little, my hip area has started to hurt too much for me to walk much.  It used to be that I’d walk through the mall, and have to rest for a few hours afterward.  Then, I couldn’t make it through WalMart, and would have to rest on the bench while the family finished shopping and checked out.  And then rested for hours at home later.

There is no longer any fooling around, I hurt.  I walk from my living room couch to the bathroom, and it hurts.  I walk from the bedroom to the living room and it hurts.  I can’t stand long enough to prepare supper any more.  My world has become my house, because unless the store has a wheel chair, I can’t shop.

Finding a wheel chair has been impossible.  I have called churches, charities, community centers, lending centers, thrift stores and even a pawn shop, to no avail.  Renting a wheel chair was $80 per month, and I wasn’t willing to have another monthly bill.

Nate to the rescue!  He scanned the Net and found one for under $200 and free shipping.  It was on back order. Now it isn’t on back order any longer, and I should be getting it before Christmas.

All great news, at least physically.  Mentally, I am not prepared.  I have always been a walker, a big walker.  I’ve walked all over creation as a child.  I’ve always gone on walks with my kids.

Not anymore.

“But we like pushing you Mom!” my kids protest.  “We don’t mind!”

I mind.

I am at one time both grateful for Nate’s perseverance in getting me a wheelchair and ungrateful to have to use it.

Interesting position to be in.


Chemotherapy “Goody Bags”

It might seem funny to call these bags, goody bags, because when you think of a goody bag, you usually think of little paper bags filled with small wrapped candies.  The kind you get at birthday parties or for Halloween.

This is a bag that you need to make up for yourself, or for someone close to you who is going to start chemotherapy. 

This might not be everyone’s experience, but this is my experience.  I can only write about what I know and I very much welcome the comments of other people experiences.  So please feel free to comment.

When I first started chemo, I felt pretty healthy and I walked to the treatment.  I carried my purse, with all its contents.  I bought a book with me.  My husband bought a crossword puzzle book with him.

The next time, I bought all the same things with me, but I bought a crossword puzzle book with me.  The next week, I traded the crossword puzzle book for a word search book.

Somewhere along the way, my body started to ache at the end of the treatment.  The food that the clinic offered it’s chemo patients was absolutely not something I could eat anymore.  The snacks made me sick.  I realized that I couldn’t read the books that I bought with me, I couldn’t concentrate on the puzzle books.

By the end of my treatments, I would walk into treatment, but not with the same vigor as I had previously.  The clinic had a smell to it, and tears would come to my eyes as I got close to it.  I’d leave the treatment in a wheelchair.  I’d sleep the hour drive home.

I no longer brought my pocket-book with me, and I prefered to wear two zippered sweatshirts to wearing my winter coat. It was just too heavy for me now.

My next round of chemotherapy wasn’t as bad.  This time I was prepared.  I got myself a very lightweight, zippered tote bag before my treatments even began.  This would be my “goody bag.”  At Wal-Mart I was able to pick up a clear plastic, zippered bag to hold smaller items inside of my tote bag.

There was no question of me driving after my chemo treatments.  This is something you need to know before you start treatment, because you need to know how you will get to and from treatment.  In my opinion, even if you can drive to and from the chemo treatment, have an alternate driver just in case as the treatment progresses, you find that you really can’t drive yourself anymore.  The American Cancer Society has volunteer drivers.

My husband drove me to treatment.  Since he would always bring me, I asked him to carry my Drivers License and the medical cards.  Sometimes the clinic asks for these proofs when you are signing in for treatment.  This way, I didn’t have to carry a wallet with me.

These are the things that I found that I either needed, or made my stay more comfortable:

1. a small, though not tiny, bottle of hand sanitizer

2. lip balm

3. small packet of tissues

4. fruit flavored gum

5. Crossword Puzzle book.  This is where having someone with you helps, when I couldn’t concentrate on the book by myself, my husband would read the hint, prod me for an answer and fill in the blanks.

6. An E Reader.  Don’t save money here.  Buy a few different types of books.  My choices were the newest Debbie Macomber , Cedar Cove series book,  a collection of Agatha Christie books and Ozzy Osbourne’s autobiography.  Many different types of stories and writing styles.

7.  My Ipod with Solitaire loaded on it, and most important, its charger.  You will be surprised how quickly the battery will die while you are undergoing chemotherapy.  The Ipod is nice and small, and you can keep in touch with net friends this way.

8. A small bottle of your favorite hand lotion, for when your skin feels annoyingly dry

9. A roll of Lifesaver candy

10. A bottle or two of my favorite beverage.  After chemo, I couldn’t take things that were cold.  This way my drink was the perfect temperature for me.  And staying hydrated is soo important during chemotherapy and the days afterward.

I didn’t bring a blanket with me because the clinic usually has them, with the added benefit of  also having a blanket warmer.  At one point, my wonderful nurses would trade my blanket for one right out of the blanket warmer every half hour or so.

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Great Update

I went to my oncologist on Halloween , to tell me the results of my latest CAT scan.  I call it the CAT scan from hell because I’ve developed an allergy to the contrast fluid and had diarrhea from shortly before the scan until about a week afterward. Not fun!

The good news is that my tumors have not increased in size or number.  I am scheduled for another CAT scan after all the holidays are over, sometime in January.  The bad news is that the Dr told me that more chemo is in my future.  With all the good news, I asked how needing chemo fit in?  I was surprised, and a bit take back.  The short answer is that the kind of tumors that I have won’t stay dormant, at some point they will start to grow again and I will need chemo to knock them down again.

I wanted to yell “No!”, but this is his profession, he’s seen this beast many times. He knows.  But I’m not laying down with a lily on my chest.  I am going to continue to start every day asking the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be my Patroness, to ask her son to please grant me either a remission or a cure.  I’m going to continue to take my vitamin D and my yucky mushroom supplements.  I’m going to try to keep a cheerful mood .  I am going to continue to refrain from alcohol because that is what the Dr’s have told me to do.

I am going to continue to take it day to day, and be grateful for the day that God has granted me.

The bills continue to be, spectacular.  Today I don’t feel guilty for living.  My family is grateful to have me.  I am continuing to write my book “The Development”, although inspiration hasn’t been as strong as it was previously, but maybe that is because I am now writing hoping for commercial success instead of just telling a good story.

I’ve also taken pictures of my daughters cats with pumpkins, Jack O’Lanterns and Christmas garland and then submitted them to SnapFish Stock Photos and had them accepted.  I’ve been told not to expect to make my fortune selling photos, but anything I do make will help pay the bills.

I still have the pain in my leg, the mystery pain because it isn’t from the tumors.  I’ve been trying to find a wheel chair from Craigslist, thrift shops, even pawn shops, to no avail.  Maybe people are selling wheel chairs instead of donating them in this economy?  My knight in shining armour has come through again, and ordered me a new one.  It should be here before Christmas, so soon I won’t be home bound anymore.  Even walking in my yard is too much for me now.

So, there is my mostly great, update!