Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Since then

Today - the day after chemo & the steroids - I have enough energy to be up BEFORE 9am and help Kyle pick up some toys and check my e-mail! Imagine! I've been Rip Van Winkle for the past week or so. I also had to have Neuprogena (sp?) shots 3 days last because my white blood cell counts were low. They weren't sure I'd get a treatment this week. But I did and I was glad to get one more treatment down.

The nurse practitioner Mitre saw me yesterday before my treatment. This woman KNEW more or at least SHARED more than everyone else we've seen combined! She gave me an antibiotic and nose spray for my ear/nose infection. She told me that the fact the tumors in the brain or bone and "grown" was not all bad. She said that they would look worse for a few months and then finally show what all the treatments had produced. She said that the one chemo drug Avastin crosses over into the brain and would work on those cancers. The Abraxane would work elsewhere in my bones. I'm so glad that I got to see her and find out all that...

Last night Max took me in for an MRI. I asked the fellow (who'se seen me for the last 3 MRI's) if the different loud sounds made up a pattern. He said, "yes". The different MRI sounds make different pictures. So now we know why we're all but deafened by those noises, Yes?? Hmmmmmm.

We were very fortunate last night to have Lorna bring us dinner. The Relief Society gave us a menu and insisted we use it one day each week for a while. Since we were getting chemo until after 5pm, that meal was a true blessing! We were also blessed to have Kamiakin HS bring us our Christmas meal - they were very very generous in their gifts to us as well! And while we were at Max's relatives home, some sneaky person left Christmas packages for us on our porch.... as did the school up in Richland - I am just overwhelmed! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. We have been so blessed throughout all this.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

New Skills.....

Yesterday I had a fun visit with Terre, Tracy and Donna! They brought over the softest, fluffiest bath robe on this planet earth! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! And the gummy worms were wonderful, too!

Last night while going through some e-mails, I came across one that was absolutely wonderful. Our church's Relief Society organization put out a call to each of us ladies wanting to know just exactly what skills we are wanting to learn. How can they be of assistance in our lives???? Here is what I replied:

Dear ladies of the Relief Society,

after I got your last e-mail about the skills we'd like to learn, I had me a great think. After pondering for some time, I decided that these are the things that I would like to know how to accomplish:

1. Boeing just came out with a 787... I'd like to know how to fly it.
2. I'd like to learn how to drive one of those oily asphalt rollers.
3. I'd like to learn to orchesterate the music and lights to one of Senske's fancy houses.
4. I really want to know how to produce and manufacture my own insulin
5. Mom says I should learn how to Cure cancer.
6. I'd like to dispose of 2 dogs and 20 cartons of magazines without my hubby noticing.

If you could arrange to teach me these skills, I would greatly appreciate it!
tHANKS !!!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Feelin a breeze.....

Okay, so I had chemo yesterday. They gave me Avastin (clear) and Abraxane (milky colored) as well as Zometa for my bones.... The bag of steroids I got kept me awake most of the night and gave me energy today. I even took a photo of me. Without my hat! AaAAAAAAaaaaagh. It's a rather nasty, revealing photo of my condition, but I thought I'd show you what the steroids and radiation have accomplished. Now you can go tell your kiddies to never, never. never get cancer!!!! Though I didn't look this way last time, I was bald..... and I normally have a hat on so that I'm less scary.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I'm pretty pleased with myself - got to part of church today! I was too exhausted to stay for all of it. Had a great talk with Karen who has gone through a lot of what I have and has taught me tons about life! And I think I've worked myself all up over the chemo tomorrow..... keep "tossin the cookies" as one person says.

Faye brought me flowers and Roseann brought me over a warm cancer hat yesterday - so nice! Thank you!!! Thought I'd share some details with you: ever since that first surgery, I get to run to the water closet every two hours. without fail. But to get up off the bed or couch, I have to position my right arm and brace it for the inevitable shock of pain that comes when I swing my legs up and over, up and over and then use my left hand to manipulate me up... so my left hip - which is particularly weak - can come to a stand. At this point in time, nobody had better stand in my way - I hobble along imagining what it must feel like to be the giant slug, Jabba, from Star Wars fame! (And since the steroids have done their thing, I'm nice and plump to boot!)

No. I've a better analogy: with this warm cancer hat I look like a Smurf! Really! It's great.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hold to the rod.....

The rod in my arm is sore, sore sore - with this cold snap we have here in Kennewick! Hopefully it will warm up this weekend.....

Dr Klarnet, my oncology doctor said we're starting chemo on Monday. He's not wanting me to go for the brain tumors just yet. The doctors will have to talk together about this. I'm just along for the ride, it would seem.

We're really blessed, I know I've had a few cries over this, but people have been so incredibly generous! We got a delightful bright red bag yesterday - thank you to this anonymous person(s). And the fruit basket from the ward and their singing was super! Thank you!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I told Mom today that I haven't had a single bit of good news from any of my MRI's so far.... Well. to continue in that tradition.... Sunday's MRIs showed that the cancers in my head have grown. The neurosurgeon was very surprised to learn that I have already FINISHED my radiation. He wants a more aggressive treatment plan and is going to talk with Dr. Rege (radiation doc) He did say that the radiation I've gotten probably killed off a lot of "baby" cancers that can't be seen.

Actually, his office just called and they've scheduled another brain MRI for next week and an appointment to see him. Is he thinking more surgery? ?????

The other cancer in my hips and sacral area - still there. So I had me a little cry on the way out the door. Oh, he told me to load up on B vitamins and get out and get some exercise. No more sleeping 18-20 hours per day. And the shaking? He says it's coming off the steroids and all the trauma my body has been through in the past many weeks.

Monday, December 7, 2009


My hair is rapidly disappearing. Each brushful has me wondering it it's my last.....
I've also been so exhausted since Thurday that I have done nothing but sleep and sleep and sleep! My sister and her husband came up Friday and stayed until today. I am so lucky that they came!!! What fun they are!

This weeek we have three doctor appointments. One for my arm, one for the MRI's done on my head and sacrum and the next day to plan my chemo treatments.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Finished radiation!

Today I finished my radiation treatments - have a certificate to prove it! They also sent me home with my lovely white-plastic mesh mask. Each day it was placed over my head and screwed to the table below me. Can't imagine what I'll do with it - wear it for Halloween next year maybe??? They gave me one less treatment on my pelvic area. Better for my bowels, they said.

So, I have the MRI Sunday, arm dr. appointment Tuesday, Surgeon appointment for reviewing the MRI on Wednesday and chemo doctor on Thursday. In talking with the chemo people today, they aren't starting my next rounds until after Christmas - on the 30th. I'd like to get it over with, but I guess they're thinking to spare me the side effects for now....... can't imagine why else...

Anyway, Mom and Dad helped me celebrate my finishing radiation by treating me to Panda Express! It's funny, cuz I asked her to get me some egg rolls from the freezer for lunch.... and she had a bag from Panda Express instead! It was marvelous!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Stray thoughts...

I've had this thought the past few days. In August, Max's brother and family came up to visit Washington. We all went out bowling. Bowling, mind you... including me. I picked up the ball and tossed it down the lane. Didn't hit too many, but I was playing......

Okay, switch that thought to October 10th or so - when I picked up a blanket and broke my arm. I'm just amazed that the cancer was so aggressive! Hmmmmmmmm.... What kind of fluke was it?

I have one radiation appointment left: tomorrow. Did my last Taxol chemo today. I won't have any more chemo treatments until after next week when I talk to the doctor about a new drug: Abraxaine. It's similar to the Taxol but designed for metastisis.

This Sunday I am going to get MRI's of my head and tailbone. I am eager to see what the cancers have done. Hopefully, they will all be gone! I've gone through enough steroid treatments to shrink anything to the size of raisins! Everytime I get headaches or complain of anything, that's what they give me. I am so swollen in the face that I have stretch marks on my cheeks. (And my radiation mask squishes me all up!!!) Can't wait to FINALLY finish with them.... (I'm down to 1/2 tablet twice a day.)

My sister and her husband are coming up to visit this weekend. I can't wait to see them!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Side Effects....

Started losing some hair yesterday. Sad day. ALso,GI effects taking place, too. I couldn't get to church as a result. Having family here is a blessing for me. They are such a great support!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chemo and Radiation... and Thanksgiving!

Just finished radiation #6 and chemo #2 (Taxol). The chemo doesn't seem to bother me so much as the stuff I took last year. I AM GLAD!! It is sunshiny outside, too. What more could I ask for? McDonald's and a chocolate shake? Got that, too! Yum.

I am thankful for my parents who've come up to take care of me every day... And For my family. I know that they're most important!!

Happy Thanksgiving :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I am a sleepy girl....

I've been taking the anti-nausea medications. THey make me really sleepy. I'd rather sleep right now than be nauseated, though. It's a combination of the radiation on my head and the chemo that I started on Tuesday or WEdnesday. I'm not sure when right now.... sigh......

We went to Kyle's school on Thursday (that day is right) to see his Life SKills classroom and Mrs. C He was absolutely thrilled to be there and everyone was glad to see him, too! I'm glad we went:) We also took my Daddy out to dinner that night at the Great Wall Chinese Buffet. I was in heaven with all the yummy food and everyone else had a great time, too. It's fun to see Kyle pile up the crab legs and fish and delicacies that we don't have around home.

Mom and I went to a luncheon today - a potluck - my favorite! But, I ate too much and we had to leave a bit early. I finished reading Dan Brown's newest book "The Lost Symbol." The author doesn't know how to end a book... he kept on going and going and going trying to redeem himself from revealing so much about the Masons, I suppose. Anyway, I was glad to have something to read for a change. It's the first novel I've read this Fall. Now I need something new.... any ideas?

My mother=in-law and sister-in-law are coming tomorrow to sit with me while Mom goes to Church. What a sweet idea! I went to Sacrament Meeting last week, then came home to rest. THis time I'll be at home with my stomach doing its thing. Oh, wait, I forgot. I've been keeping up a mantra: I feel great, I feel fine. I feel great, I feel fine....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Scary Photos - view with caution!!!!!

Got my cables together and uploaded my photos.....

So, one of these is my head from 2 1/2 weeks ago... can you guess which?

I did chemo today - they can give Taxol while at the same time doing radiation, so I did that, along with a cocktail of benadryl, aluxi (sp?- a powerful anti-nausea), steroids (I am definitely bloated and looking like the good-year blimp lately!) and zanax. I also got zometa - bone juice. It took from 9:30am until 2:30 to do that. I had to "do labs" - give blood; visit with the doctor and then two hours of chemo. I didn't get radiation in today because their machines weren't working. I'm kinda glad, cuz I was so worn out after being on the other side of the building all day.

Back when I broke my arm and they put the rod down inside it at KGH:

Arm full of plastic iv stuff ready for brain surgery.....

There are more photos, but now the internet won't let me upload them.... these Really are scary photos!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Tattoos

Went to two doctor appointments today. I start chemo next week in addition to the radiation. I had the forms made today for next week's radiation - a mesh mask for my head and they added tattoos to my right arm and pelvis for those areas. I guess I'll be beautifully covered with dots (got tattoos for the breast area when they did it last year). Larry and Kurt - the radiation guys - same as last time sent me through the CT scan a few times and had me all marked up. Guess I'm ready!

Went to Albertsons today - got to ride around in their little electric cart and get some of their specials. That's two places I've been now that weren't doctor's offices! Yippee!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Radiation on Monday

Went to Dr Rege today. She is anxious to get started on radiation. Dr Klarnet's anxious to start chemo - they're wanting to do both at the same time, but Dr Rege said she's not ever done radiation on the brain while the patient was receiving chemo. She wants me to check and make sure tomorrow when I go to Dr Klarnet's office. I have re-read Rochell's blog from last year when she found out the cancer had gone to her brain. The similarities are remarkable. Being on steroids, taking zometa...

Mom and I were right on when it came to knowing they should do the MRI on my left hip. Turns out there's cancer in both hips as well as the sacrum and arm and brain. So, they will radiate all those places. I shed a few tears. Mom, too. After the radiation I may get a second opinion from UW. Just so we know what's out there. That's what Dr. Rege suggested.

I had Max get some bath mats for the tub so I won't slip. I'm paranoid now about falling and breaking a hip. My hip has felt just like my arm did before it broke. Mom and I were laughing tonight and decided that I need a "lift chair" hung from the ceiling that swings me through the house!

Yesterday, Mom and I went to the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers meeting. I give the lessons once a month. I missed last month as I was having the rod put in my arm, but I realized that as I entered the church it was the first non-medical place (besides home) that I've been in over 7 weeks! They gave me a lovely framed certificate for being their lesson leader, too. I think I'm spoiled!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Unexpected Sampler Program

I joyfully announce that the STAPLES are GONE! My head is FREE! There is still some pressure going on, but the doctor said it's a delayed response - my brain saying, "hey, sometime ago there was this tumor pressing around in here...." I even took some pain medication a minute ago, so I might feel better yet!

There was a full-page ad in the Sunday paper about Kadlec's neurosurgeons yesterday. It shows some doctors in full regalia. Says they can do anything from back surgery to brain surgery..... I figure that since I participated in an "Unexpected Sampler Program," I am qualified to comment on it:

Yes! The surgeons are very good and especially competent! Dr. Brian O'Grady and assistants did a phenomenal job. However, due to the pain involved, I regretfully do not recommend the back surgery, insertion of chemo port, broken arm and brain surgery all in the same month! (Or, as Marcia asked me last week, "Do you feel like someone took a bat to you?")

If you add a week's time, you can add these procedures:
5 MRI's, a bone scan, a pet scan, a CT scan and several x-rays.

Oh, and we asked about the extra staples on the left side of my head - he said that it was when my head was fastened in a vice and I moved and it got cut, so they put some staples there. I saved the staples, by the way. Though I felt like a Zulu warrior with rings up my neck, They're not as large as I had imagined. The ones in my back were much bigger.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bowling Ball Head...

It's been a week since my last surgery. I feel like I'm carrying around a bowling ball for my head. It is frequently swollen. Well, it FEELS swollen and lumpy. I've written in my journal a few times that: My other head doesn't hurt! Surely there is another head up there.

Dr. O'Grady already told us he'd leave the one cancer there to be radiated, another "satellite" piece ended up getting left as well, as it wasn't wise to go up that high. He said that a part of the bone was eaten away by the cancer and that there was a cyst that drained completely when removed.

I came to in the recovery room with a large turban on my head. It pinched my head very tight. He came and cut that off Saturday morning. That pain is gone. I just have to try to position my head so it doesn't rest against the 22 staples (23 if you count the one way out in left field!) I was pretty nauseated after the surgery and they kept trying to get morphine down me, but I was throwing it all up. Then I had to have a CT scan done of my head - they schedule these in the middle of the night!! I threw up some more for them. I love the bags they have - I made sure I always carried one around.

Then, I thought to tell them that when I was going through chemo, I was prescribed phenergren and kytril. They used the first drug quite a lot for me in the next couple days and the nausea went away. But, they also kept trying to get morphine down me. yuck. The oxycodone thing helped more than anything else.

The ICU was really noisy. They have the nurses' stations right outside your door with all the delivery and doctors and etc. And machines... beeep beeeeeeep beeeeep. I was so glad to get home! But, the nurse didn't want to release me straight from ICU, even though the doctor ordered it. She had several concerns she had to check with him on - more nausea, high blood pressure. In the end, she had to let me go! aha! free woman!

I am just a bit blue wishing that some part of me worked really well - something I could show off: I can wave my left hand! "hi" Can't waggle my right one very well, though I keep on trying - need some physical therapy on it. My left hip is getting an MRI on Saturday - to see if it needs radiation therapy. With so many doctor's fingers in the pie, they've all pointed at each other on this one, but Mom and I are adamant: take a look! So Dr. Klarnet (with whom I did have an appointment on Tues.) prescribed it.

Max is getting good at showering me and shaving my legs! ha ha ha I appreciate his help. And daddy massaged my legs and shoulder the other day. Mama keeps the Essiac tea going....

I just can't believe the generosity of those who bring us meals and wishes. Thank you so very very much!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Home again

The surgery went well. They removed 2 of the cancer tumors. Will get the other 2 with radiation. Had a new hairstyle for a few days, the white gauze look. I am up and moving around, and I am at home!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

i'm up

Got back a few hours ago from the pre-op stuff for Thursday. That will be my new surgery date. I had to have some blood work done and sign papers and talk with the nurses and anesthesiologist. He showed me pictures of my brain. It sounds like they do a lot of my surgeries there and I will be in ICU for a day or so.

I almost cried when he asked if I had pain on my left side. I DO. It's my hip and I'm afraid that I'll break it like I did my right arm. He said that the cancer pressing on the brain is causing the pain. mmmmm, that rhymes.

They will definitely be cutting off my hair in back. Well. It's done its part, I guess. He hopes they won't get air into the brain, so they will have me facing down and forward some to prevent that. My broken arm will be up against my side. Supposedly there isn't much pain with brain surgery - the scalp is all. I just want it all to be over with.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday and no surgery...

Just got back from Dr. O'Grady's. He's the surgeon. He is very surprised that I am conscious and that I have no head pain!!! God works in wondrous ways!
The surgery will be more complicated, so it won't be today.. There are four cancers - one on top of my head that he won't touch (they'll radiate it later.) Three in back towards the cerebellum. He thinks that they are all three connected. A problem is the cyst - fluid sac that is the central one. That is the one that's supposed to be causing all the pain. It is also on my cranium - bone. But none of us can see anything - I made them look!!!

He said I could end up fine - I could end up paralyzed - and if we did NOTHING, I wouldn't make it at all. It has to come out.

Dr. Rege said No radiation until it's all over and done with. I've been working on my right arm and trying to getting it working. It's still being a baby, though. I am also babying my left hip since last week since it's been hurting like my arm did before it broke.

Friday, October 23, 2009

test results today

i just started working on right hand writing. Have sat all day on living room couch. happy. Got a call - cancer is in my brain. Cerebelllum. They think I have headache. Nope. It just likes to travel, I guess. I may have surgery on Monday.... Because there is fluid in the tumor, it's not a good candidate for radiation. But, Imagine half a head of curly hair. I will be able to walk better. No more crashing into you or the steps. Imagine I'll be able to think. ..... I'll get better grades on my BYU classes online!

Kyle's home -

Thursday, October 22, 2009

brain scan

Just got back from a brain scan - mri. It was LOUD. They held up my arm really well, but I break out into a cold sweat just getting to the bathroom and back. I'm sure I drenched their bed. My port is getting a good workout. They put the contrast in it tonight.
Mom Harward was gracious enough to go with me. Max had made dinner = and salsa, too.

I'm all snuggled in bed. just talked with Mom Rickords. Everyone is sick! Wish we were all better.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


i can hear a droning in my ears again. i used to get it with chemo but it went away until last week. haven't broken anything new all week. yea!!!

i can tell you what love is, tho:
love is having a sponge bath, helps up to the bathroom, shaving your legs. It's having your husband kissing you wildly every day cuz you're alive - one more time!

Friday, October 16, 2009

on and on and on....

this will be done one-handed for a while. Cancer docs warned that the bone spots that hurt might break due to the cancer. Last Saturday I lifted a blanket and it broke my arm!!!! The gory scene from Harry Potter don't explain it well enough to be "missing" a limb! Twice they had to put my arm in front of me so I could see it. I screamed buckets of tears and scared all awake. The ambulance folks tried to give me fentanyl and it still hurt terribly. After I was taken to KGH, I still couldn't calm down. They put me out and set it.
I was in a room straight out of WW11. Later when they put a rod in it (Mon.) I was in a newer room. Fimally got home and on reg medicatioms. Felt rather low yesterday but Mom & DAD have pulled me through!!
We watched 'Helllo Dolly' today and "Yours, Mine & Ours" for movie-night. Talked with Karen about her cancer-gone-to-the-bones. It really helped me out a LOT. Talking with Terre & Priscilla & Tifiny & Mom helped, too. Thank you.

I decided tonight (after a shower!) that our chances in life of staying alive are "x" (an unknown) and that having cancer and life must make my chance of being alive "2x" I'm just living on the dangerous side!

And just so you know it....dying doesn't make you a poet!!!!!! Tried and tried ALL night long to get words to rhyme so they could be read at my funeral..... no such luck! But, Lucky YOU!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

bathing beauties!

I copied this from my genealogy post today:

Yea! Hurray! It's only taken 3 days, but inbetween doctors and surgical procedures, I have managed to find the same three photos that hang in my bathroom. I wanted to share them with you. They are so utterly fantastic! Imagine these three women being photographed back in the day when scandalous photos as these just WEREN'T shown. They had to have been strong women. Women who were role models to me. Women to whom I still revere and look up to as I hang on with this cancer. If they could do something so everyday strong as this. I can keep hanging on, too.

Here's my Grandma Helen Anna Sanders Madsen (Mom's mom who with Grandpa, raised 8 children during the depression) - she's in the front & right in this photo at Utah's Great Salt Lake:

This one is my dad's step-mother's mother: Nellie Arnett Cheesbrough. She was a Wyoming school teacher from a wealthy family in Illinois. She married John Cheesbrough and created a cultured haven out in there in the wilderness! This photo must have been taken at one of the Great Lakes

My husband's family wasn't exempt! Here's his great grandma Jennie Eliza Jane Calkins Rickords at Soap Lake, Washington

Hope you love them as well as I do!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Yesterday Mike McDonald came by with flowers for me from KONA 610 radio! I feel so privileged!!! Thank you Lois for nominating me! I have flowers from Cleta and cards from Karen and Lorna and Mike. Each of them helps! Phone calls from relatives and Facebook luvs from everyone!

I've been on the phone today with doctors offices.... not sure with whom I have appointments and who's coordinating all this. Guess that's me. Heather's kitty is helping out tremendously - says I need a bath. I need a port put in... I need an MRI on my head, a PET scan....

Sunday, October 4, 2009

home sweet home

I'm finally home. Nauseous, but home. Dr Fewell saw the MRI's and knew he'd be out of town this weekend, so he talked with dr. O'Grady. He saw me right away. Said we had to do surgery right then. So, surgery was done - back of my tailbone removed. Released the nerves. Said if he'd left them any much longer and they would have been paralyzed. While he was there, he saw the mass of tumor through the nerves. He got most of it out. It's only from one spot, but it's one spot less that the chemo and radiation will have to get to.

I'm pretty sore now, though. At the hospital I looked at myself in the mirror and realized what a mess I was in. And then it came..... at least I didn't feel like this AND had a squirming newborn to add to it! Wo to women everywhere who go through this kinda pain and then have to care for a child, too.....

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Saw Dr Klarnet this afternoon. He rushed everything. He apologized for the earlier doctors missing it. It's breast cancer gone all over - I gave blood and also got to see the radiation doc right then. She will send me for surgery this weekend depending on the three scans they're doing tonight. I get my port put back in next week. After that, I will do 3 weeks of radiation and then start chemo... Radiation doc said that they were all talking about me. I told them that I needed the attention....

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Our youngest is really acting up. He does things to purposely upset us. He told us he would be sick until Saturday. We had to keep him off the tv and his bicycle yesterday - repeatedly. Then, we told him he'd be at school today regardless of his being "sick" or not. We couldn't find anything for him to be sick about. Maybe it's me that he's worried about.... I've talked to him a number of times "Mommy is sick. That's upsetting to a lot of people...." We'll see.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mom and Dad are here...

My mom and dad are here to help out. And boy, do they EVER help!!!!!!! I would rely on hubby's family, but Mom R went and had complications of diabetes and then broke three of her toes when she passed out the other day.... you get the picture. There's a race going to see which of us is the most helpless!

If my back would just cooperate, I'd be the picture of health. I can't believe the diagnosis. In fact, I had the nurse send me a printout of my record. They're talking about me all right: 49 year old woman... previous breast cancer... found in the tailbone... It says, in 5 pages, that I have cancer all up and down.

I checked and last year i had 4 MRI's or CT scans - all showing I had "healthy bones" healthy lungs, etc. Karen told me that even tho her cancer came back into the bones, her cancer markers show she is cancer-free! I guess I fall into that category. We'll get more information come Friday.

Thank you for praying for me. Thank you for thinking of me and sending me the message of hope! Day 4

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I was just about to change my post and remove the parts about cancer. Then it happened again. No one had greasy fingers, bubblegum on their chair or needed the MRI to blow their nose. No. It's cancer. There is a tumor on my tailbone. One on my collar bone (now that one makes me grouchy - I asked about it several times last year and was reassured by doctors.....)

I told the kids that they could talk with me about it whenever... I think it's unbelievable, sad and funny. T about died when I told her the funny part. What's funny about it? Well..... I've always wanted to know what was inside J's brain... why he acts the way he does. Now I'll finally get my chance to find out!

Really, though, I'll just surprise everyone! I might hang around here longer than anyone else..

(p.s. Just to show you how goofy this medication makes me.... the lady doing the bone scan asked me when and where I had the MRI done. And I didn't know. I thought about it for over an hour and finally remembered I had it done in Richland a few days beforehand and a guy was the technician. And I left my insulin pump on - oooops - we discovered too late. Now the pump is history! Had to get a new one overnited to me... just takes me a bit longer to remember, which can be good.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The spice of life....

Cancer seems to pop up every time I go about my every day life. It's the spice to my new life.

My back has been on the fritz the last few weeks. I've had tests to see if it was the disc and last week I had an MRI. I went in yesterday to find out about it and to start the fix-er-up part. The doctor read from the radiologist's report. He pointed out where I'd had surgery ealier. He showed me where the bulging disc was this time around.... But what was really interesting them was the cancer that they found in my tail bone. WHAT????? We did that already! It was in my left breast. They cut it out. I did chemo. I did radiation..... so what was this new thing all about?

The doctor said I'd need to put off fixing the bulging disc for the time being (more days of being in la la land due to the meds...) and get a bone scan to find out what was going on. "We have to find out why this bone changes color right here." Well, I'll tell you what it is.... somebody just got back from lunch and he had greasy fingers and streaked the MRI film.... or there was some bubble gum stuck to the chair and they used the mri to scrape it up.... something. something. It has to be something like that.

This afternoon (Priscilla told them at the front desk that we wanted a rush done on this test!) I got a shot of some nuclear medicine. I went back 4 hours later with Max and they did a body scan - checking all my bones. I lay still as I could (the medications I'm on for my back make me itch!) and afterwards, she said nothing. I'll have to wait until I hear back from the doctor. I'll be calling him starting tomorrow morning. I have to know. (Maybe someone had to blow his nose and the mri film was handy???)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Knock, knock...... Who's there?

Biggest boy has launched out on his own. It's been 8 days since he left. He had to go to save us the chaos, but he's been back.

Friday he called to see if he had any mail. "Yup." "Can I come get it?" (He's still pretty hesitant...) "Yeah, come on over!" "Really?" "Yeah," I told him.

So, he knocks to come in and gets his mail. I asked him if he wanted a peanut butter sandwich. "YEAH!" he says. I made him one and then had to get something from the pantry. He asked if he could have a few things.... "Yea, sure... a few." So he took a bag to our pantry, I gave him a few cucumbers and nectarines, too. He was grateful!

Yesterday, no call, but ..... knock, knock.... "hello, anybody home?" He stopped by again to talk... and get an envelope & postage. Today, he knocked again... just to talk. He's way too big for the britches around here. But, talking for a few minutes here and there is nice... and all right!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Hair hair hair

So, here's me with some hair - finally. Though I am considering ways to add bang extensions - maybe draw some on???

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer Breeze

TA DA! Dad figured this out: the missing letters spell - COURSE. As in Course of 4 lectures......

Can you read the cut-up phrase? This poster is from the 1850's in Rugby, England. The Ebenezer Chapel was being re-opened. My ancestor was the bishop of this church. He was the last speaker announced on this broadsheet! The problem is, some pieces were cut from the poster and it makes one of the words unreadable! Take a close look - there is a phrase - "_ours_ of four lectures..." The word "series" would fit in nicely... I wonder if it being British, there is an extra "u" in the word? Does anyone have a cross-word puzzle dictionary?

We had a lot of wind this past weekend. It blew some branches down off of trees - on the way to church Max saw a branch had crushed a car in the street. Whew! Needless to say, I didn't go to water workout. The dust in the air makes my allergies go crazy! I've been taking some antibiotic and finally got this sinus condition normalized... want to keep it that way.

I've got the cleaning cycle going on my oven. It's setting off the smoke alarm (at least I know it works!)

This week is nice - Our graduate is working almost full-time hours at a gas station; there's one of ours at Girl's Camp and Youngest is going to Partners and Pals - a day camp for developmentally disabled kidlets. He loves it. I love it! Our National Guardsman is leaving on Friday for a month....

This summer is nice because I am healthier! Yea! I had me a big cry last night when I recalled losing all my hair a year ago. A lot of things have been affecting me that way. Last summer, I was REALLY buoyed up by everyone's prayers because I hardly seemed to notice what was going on. But now when I think back on it, I get all teary-eyed.

This summer is nice because I have a vegetable garden - cucumbers and zucchini and strawberries. All producing nicely (want a couple zucchini??) Two of my blueberries are doing wonderfully well!! My new raspberries are taking off - I like the thornless variety! My house is in much better condition now that I'm able to take charge again. Still have the kids helping out, but being able to mop up spills and clean out the fridge and cupboards is great.

I'm getting rested and working on family history. I've just finished transcribing the 50+ pages of text of my gr gr grandpa's probated estate. Funny to read which relatives expected to be paid for their caring for Gr Gr Grandpa on his death bed and which ones protested every little detail. Makes me want to get my own will up-to-date!!!

I stopped at the travel agency last week and got some brochures on traveling to England - next year I want to go and take my parents.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hairs are still growin'

My head of hair is getting incrementally longer! Over the past few weeks, the hair that we shaved off a year ago has finally, finally, finally made some little niggly efforts at growing back. (To date, the only hair I have is what fell out a year ago. The shaved hair refused to come back in!)

I've been going to a physical therapist for my lymphedema. It's much better. My next cancer appointments are in August.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Just got back from seeing a "temporary" doctor at the Cancer Center. He checked out where I've had two attacks of cellulitis in the past 6 weeks. It's been on the side where they removed cancer. He looked at my past blood tests and said that my immune system is still low and will be for a year after treatment, that adding to it is the removal of lymph nodes and the radiation of that site that knocked out the rest of the lymph system on that side. Result: Frequent infections that will be triggered by any cut or scrape or overuse of my left arm. He suggested, just as Dr. I did, that I keep a backup antibiotic on hand for when it flares up. Sigh. Just palpating that area has made it sore again. Ibuprofen is once again my best friend.

In looking back over my "hair" photos, I have to concede that it has gotten a pinch longer. What I have is wavy and very, very baby soft! (I'd still love some bang extensions! otherwise, it's very easy to care for. I guess God planned it this way on purpose :) )

Sunday, May 17, 2009

It's sunny outside!

I'm so glad that it's sunny - and warm - outside. I have started a bit of a garden in our back yard. We fenced it off from the doggies. I put in blueberries and strawberries and a few seeds - zucchini and cucumbers. No. I am not going to share those with you. You will have to find your own neighbor with zucchini-itis. I am actually planning to eat every last one of them. Same with the cucumbers. I've been buying them all winter/spring, just dreaming of the day when I could have my OWN.

I will take the usual precautions... wearing gloves since I have lymphodema; and keeping neosporin in my purse for the same reason.

I've enjoyed immensely my time at the physical therapists. I started May 1st seeing Sara Nelson at Therapy Solutions. Each Monday and Friday I get a massage and training on how to care for my skin, lymph tissues, and even get some free counseling in as well. Her last question is helping me the most - "What if everything is already great?" Her pointed questions are helping tremendously!

I will be starting some medical leave of absence from work - hopefully this week. I need some more rest from this whole cancer treatment thing.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Is that a wave coming on?

I've been going without a hat to work for a week or so now. Since it's warmer, I don't mind so much.

The first day back to work after Spring Break, one of the life skills kids said, "Oh, you've cut your hair." "Nope," I said, "it's actually growing back in." The next day when this same student saw me, she said,
"Mrs. Rickords. Your hair!
It's getting longer."
Ha! She's cute.

Actually, various people have commented that my hair is getting CURLY. I have to concede that there is a wave or two starting to form.

Heather came over from Bellingham to visit. She's only been gone two months, but it seemed like an eternity. We were so glad she came. And brought her kitty. And left her kitty with us. Our home teachers came by and asked us who was sitting with us. "She was real pretty." they said. We had quite a laugh when they heard it was Heather and not one of Stephen's girlfriends. We got a photo, too, since we were all together:

Monday, April 6, 2009

Good news!

I had an appointment with Dr. Rege (radiation doc) last week. It had been postponed because I hadn't had my mammogram yet. I finally got it and they said it was as normal as could be expected considering what I'd been through. Interpretation: Great! Dr. Rege gave me a clean bill of health, too! Yea! See her next year! Dr. Chenal (chemo dr.) is next - I'm supposed to see him in a few weeks.

Dr. Rege said that the infection I got a week ago was a common occurence for folks like me (who also have rosacea - bright red checks) and who go through radiation. She said the peeling hands (again!) are a side effect of the chemo. Oh, and she said that I had a mammogram instead of ultrasound because ultrasounds are for those who "feel a lump." Everyone else gets mammograms........

Monday, March 23, 2009

More attention please!

Sorry. I just wasn't getting enough attention lately. Had to come up with something new and interesting..... I got an ear infection and staff infection over the weekend. The infection covers my left chest and my left arm. Went to the Kania Clinic last night and Dr. Kania put me on two different antibiotics. I can't work until this clears up. So, I stayed home and tidied the house and mended a dozen things.

Some good news, though: I wrote two essays for my history class and have found a historical book for my third essay.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Still Shy...

I can't seem to get used to going around without a hat. I leave it on whenever I'm in public. I feel absolutely "naked" without it or a wig on my head. I got brave and went to the temple Tuesday night with just my baby hairs. I was teary-eyed and felt vulnerable. Did the other people understand why I look so odd? I wonder if they think I styled my hair this way on purpose??? I'm glad Lorna was there to comfort me.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My baby-fine hairs

Here is me as of today. I thought for sure I'd have a head of hair by Christmas. Then I knew it would be grown out by my birthday.... That's long gone and well, it's still thin, baby fine and... wispy and... not a single curl in sight!

Here I got it wet and tried to spike it. Not much success - it's just too wimpy...

I have to retract a statement from my last blog. My mom remembers Dr. Droesch telling us that the reason he didn't take out ALL the lymph nodes that might have some cancer is BECAUSE he didn't want me to get lymphedema. (Which I got anyway since I had radiation.....) So, I guess I was informed about the possibilities of lymphedema. A gal in the school's cafeteria told me that her lymphedema (she wears a compression sleeve 24/7) was the worst the physical therapist had ever seen. She learned some exercises (raise your arms above your head and cross them back and forth. Also, doing wall push ups.) She had a way of tracing her fingers up her fingers, up her arm and across her chest that she said helps bring the lymph fluids up and trains the other lymph nodes to take up the fluid from that side. She also told me that she started Tranquil Waters a place for women who need help with cancers. She also raises money to make it possible for women to get mammograms who can't afford it!)

I have a Dr. appointment with Dr. Rege (radiation doc) this Thursday for a check up. I'm sure I'll be just fine!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Went to my family doctor Monday - I have the beginnings of lymphedema in my left arm. Feels like I'm wearing a blood pressure cuff all the time - you know that painful feeling when they check your blood pressure??? I have an appointment with a physical therapist who specializes in this type of situation.... appointment is May 1st.

In the meantime, I can take ibuprofen for it. There is nothing else besides raising the arm above heart level that will help it. I'm supposed to avoid hot tubs, etc, lifting things, having my blood pressure or blood work done on that arm. Apparently it occurs in 25% of breast cancer patients - especially where they took many lymph nodes (not me - they only took 3) or who have had radiation in the axilla (arm pit.) This is what I did. Apparently, shriveling up those lymph nodes can cause your arm to get sore and then start swelling.

I didn't find out all this from my doctors. (They're all pointing their fingers away from themselves.) I heard from Teresa at work who's been through breast cancer treatments - who heard about it from reading articles. I've read some great literature on the internet, but "funny" the doctors didn't bother to tell me to watch for this.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

This week

Got to sleep in today - YEA!!! (Stayed up late last night reading my new favorite book: Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.) I worked in the garage for several hours with Taija as my super-hero helper. She put some of Heather's boxes up in the garage rafters... We took a carload of stuff to St. Vinnies.... Stopped at McDonalds for lunch... Worked on my history 400 class - I'm having to reread all the texts that I read last year because I can't remember anything from BC (Before Cancer).

Went without my hat today... In front of Taija's friends... she had her friends over to play "murder" in the dark. Kyle is on the computer watching cartoon network "at www.com" (That's his interpretation of it, anyway.) We're relegated to my room with the door closed - so we don't shed any light on their party.

The City coffers are going to be filled to overflowing with contributions from our kids last week. Jacob got a ticket - as well as everyone else in the car - for riding without enough seat belts and being driven by a friend without his six months of "family only" probation up yet..... There's $120.

His big brother got a ticket for being too "noisy" - his car has no muffler ($225.) Add that to the speeding ticket he got two weeks ago ($150) and the one for the accident in November..... (reduced to $100.) Step right up - the city should be handing out cash to all citizens soon!

We've filled up the extra room (Heather's while she was here) with Max's fishing gear and my genealogy. What a combination. We're "fishing for some dead relatives???" I've been busy scanning photos in there from a photo album I'd put together of his grandma's family some years ago... 4 pages done, about 35 more to go (about 6-8 photos per page!!)

Max is still wonderful in the laundry department. He washes/dries, then dumps them on the bed for me to fold. It's a great help as I get back my energy - bit by bit.

Monday, February 23, 2009


I had a birthday yesterday. It was quite enjoyable, if I DO say so myself! Lorna brought over a lasagne, salad and some GRAPES! MMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmMMMMMMmmmmmm! Lucky us! I got calls from my brother, sister, mom, mom-in-law, and Heather. Well-wishes from MANY at church!

Taija made me a chocolate cake - Max frosted it - Kyle found the candles, lit them (and blew them out, too!)
Below is a photo of my hair so far - it seems to be on "hold" at the moment - not much showing for all my efforts (eating healthy, taking vitamins, fish oil capsules, herbs.....) Just saw Carol's curly hair on her blog and I am wildly jealous!!! I definitely need to have words with my chemo doctor!!!!! (Maybe that's why I got a note that he's retiring.....)

Heather has found a new home up in Bellingham. We went around for a month taking photos of everything unique to Kennewick and its environs: Kennewick man (reproduction from mask), wind turbines on Horse Heaven Hills, the Moore Mansion, relatives' homes, neighbors, etc. I put together an entire album for her the night/morning before she left. Finished at 3am.... just now feeling back to normal after that!

Me and Heather before she took off...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Grab Bag

Karen talked with me Sunday about caring for my nails. I sanded them down because they were so bumpy. Ouch, ouch... Mistake! She referred me to a product called ProStrong. Just ordered some. Hopefully, my nails will stop hurting when I use it.

Karen also comforted me over my lack of hair growth. It's going to take a while. I whined that the hair that fell out is growing back in, but the hair I shaved off isn't. (You know, it should be "the last shall be first....," right??? She said this cancer treatment stuff is a "grab bag." You never know what will happen. I do know that my eyebrows are contemplating coming back - and my eyelashes have rebounded imperceptably. They are both showing traces of existence, much to my relief! Some people don't get them back at all!

Kyle saw me sans hat the other day. He announced that I have so much hair now that I can go without it....... Maybe later... when there's a couple of inches in length! (Though Sherry has plans to dye my hair soon and have me mousse it and wear it in spikes. Mmmmmmmmm, have to think on that one!)

Friday, January 30, 2009

3 months

I went to Dr. Chenal's today. I got emotional being there and almost bawled. Aaaaaack. Lots of memories of the place. But..... Looks like I'm healthy as can be. BP = 106/62 White blood cells are a bit low... the tumor # was just exactly within the normal range. So, I'm well! Yea! I go back the end of April for my next 3-month checkup. I have another mammogram next month (February.)

P.S. Heather went in for an ultrasound. She found a lump in her breast last fall. The doctor said it was a cyst and we finally talked her in to getting the followup ultrasound for today. The doctor said she was just "lumpy." At least now we know what is "normal" for her. Everyone else, PLEASE get your annual exam!!

P.P.S. My wig is making the rounds (ladies from work!) So glad that it's being put to good use. I feel guilty for not wearing it every day (as it cost a fortune!) but for now, Sundays will have to do. I just wear my hats to school. They are much more comfortable.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

What to say

I ran into a friend at the store. Haven't seen her since before diagnosis and treatment. She kept repeating over and over: "I'm so embarrassed. I'm so embarrassed. I didn't know what to say, so I never said anything to you all these months."

I laughed and told her to say, "hi." Am I so scary that people would be afraid to talk with me? Cancer isn't contagious! Well... breast cancer isn't As far as I know. Anyway, I'm astounded by her reaction to seeing me.

And just say, "hi" next time you see me. (I promise I've stopped biting....)

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Last Sunday a sweet lady at church stopped me and asked how I was doing. "Great!" I told her. "Really?" She asked. "Yes. Fantastic!"

Her next answer threw me for a loop: "Good, then I'll stop praying for you."

I'm still at a loss for words. "No! Wait. Keep praying.... pleeeeeease!"

There is about a 1/2" of hair on top of my head. Not quite enough to go without the hats or wig, I'm sure anxious for that time to come, though!

New Year's Day:

January 18th:

Friday, January 9, 2009

Getting Well-ified...

Glad for the weekend - I'll probably get lots of rest. But, I have actually had some energy this week - yea!!!!!!! The Christmas break was wonderful for getting rest. And reading.... (David Baldacci's "Divine Justice") And preparing to finish my on-line History 400 class (well, figured out that the chemo-brain thing has caused me to forget everything I'd previously read, so I'll have to re-read all the texts... sigh.)

Returned to the Family History Library last night where I serve as "librarian." My sabbatical is up! I found my sunglasses there that have been missing since last summer... and had fun catching up with the other librarians' news.

So GLAD that the snow is gone! It was so slick that on Monday I fell twice at work - crossing the parking area and again when I was going to the buses to assist students. They said that 11 staff at our school fell that day, including the principal. Innumerable students fell. We kept warning them about the ice, but many went down anyway. That's the tough part of having a California-style campus (all classrooms open to the outdoors) in a place with 4 seasons!