Category Archives: challenges

How Did I Make Sense Of Everything?

Laura's Journey Notebook

How did I make sense of everything?  I didn’t.  There is no sense to cancer or any other illness.  However, I did organize all information and take charge of my journey.  If I had to be on this journey, I was going to be informed.

Chemo Education

Before you start chemo, you have to attend Chemo Education.  I had never heard of Chemo Education.  Chemo Education is scheduled with a nurse.  My nurse was the sweet nurse from Dr. Wonderful’s office.  I am going to refer to the Hematologist-Oncologist/Chemo Doctor as Dr. Wonderful. Doug, my husband, went with me to Chemo Education.  The clinic suggests that you bring at least one of your caregivers.  I had my calendar with note paper in the back and I was ready to take notes.

The nurse went on to explain…

1. 4 weeks of AC chemo every other week… with this chemo you may experience the following side effects… sores in your mouth, loss of nails, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, body aches and pain and you will lose your hair.  This chemo was known as the red devil.  After each cycle of this chemo, you will need Neupogen shots. (Neupogen shots stimulate the production of white blood cells. The shots will be needed between 5-7 days after each treatment.  It depends on results from lab work.)

2. 4 cycles of Taxol and Herceptin  (No extra shots with this chemo. YAY!)  With this chemo, you will experience the same side effects as the AC chemo.   Your hair will not begin to grow back until this chemo is out of your system.

****Everyone responds differently to chemo. The nurse did say to eat protein and foods that contain potassium.  Also, the acrylic nails must come off immediately.  (I loved my nails.  As an Assistant Principal, I would attend meetings at school and at the district level and I liked for my nails to look nice.)

Information Overload and How to Organize It All

As I returned home with handfuls of information, I realized that I needed to organize all of this information so I could find it as needed.  I had a couple of small piles already…. chemo info, notes from two doctors and my mammogram and CT report. I decided to organize the information in a 3 ring binder.

I set up the notebook according to the following categories:

1. Meds

2. Doctor’s visits – I took notes at every conversation with each doctor, filed it by date in the notebook and put a copy of the notes and the lab reports in a plastic sleeve.

3. Copies of all Test…CT Scans, PET Scans, MUGA Scan, Pathology Reports, Echocardiogram, etc…

4. Miscellaneous Information

I took my notebook and calendar to every visit.  I had questions written ahead of time so that I didn’t forget anything.  As I sat in the chemo chair receiving the infusion of chemo, I organized my notebook.  When I got my very first chemo, my nurse, Jerry, asked me what my notebook was for and I told him that I take notes at every doctor’s visit and ask for a copy of my chemo orders and all lab results. He replied with something like, that’s a good idea because we aren’t Jesus Christ.  We aren’t perfect.

One more tip about the organization of the notebook. In the front of the notebook, I had a 3 ring pencil pouch so that I would always have my writing tools and a 3 ring business card holder.  I kept a business card from every doctor and everyone affiliated with my treatment.

Most Importantly

The most important thing that I want you to remember is that you are in charge of your health care decisions.  You can research your doctors, be an advocate for yourself or designate an advocate.  You are more than a statistic.  You are so important to God that even the hairs on your head are all numbered. (Matthew 10:30 NIV)

Nothing about cancer makes sense.

I invite you to follow me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope.

Be Blessed.

Laura

Compassion Needed!

May is Fibromyalgia Awareness Month
May is Fibromyalgia Awareness Month
Compassion needed!
When I found out that May is Fibromyalgia Awareness Month, I invited my friend Sara to share some thoughts with you. I urge you to read her story carefully.  Compassion is always needed when you deal with an invisible illness.
Sara’s Story – Part 1
“My name is Sara and I wanted to share a bit of my story and living with Fibromyalgia. May is Fibromyalgia Awareness Month and this invisible illness needs awareness. Currently, there is no known cause, no cure, and no real medicine that will help. The best you can hope for is a small bit of relief.  Honestly, it’s sad but true. You eventually get used to the pain. Before I get ahead of myself, let me tell you a little bit about my story.
I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia about 6 years ago. Getting a diagnosis was the hardest part. I went to many doctors and saw many specialists. They either made me feel like I was crazy, blamed it on depression, blamed it on anxiety, and honestly some of them just made me cry. I was at the point to where I thought maybe I am crazy.
New Doctor
Then I started seeing my current doctor. He is the one who fought to find answers as quickly as possible. He’s the one who didn’t give up on me and believed me! When I did get the diagnosis of fibromyalgia part of me was relieved because hey, I wasn’t crazy. However, knowing that you’re going to live in pain the rest of your life, you have to go through a process. I think it started out as shocked and it switched to sadness, denial, disbelief and then finally after many years, acceptance.  I can finally say I am at peace with what I have in life even though I have to struggle. It’s still worth living. My only wish is that other people would be more understanding of this debilitating illness.
Having chronic pain means many things change, and a lot of them are invisible. Unlike having cancer or being hurt in an accident, most people do not understand even a little about chronic pain and its affects. Those that think they do are usually misinformed. So if you have questions ask me or do a little research.
I would just like to add, I didn’t choose this, at least not consciously! Nobody wants to feel like this. I sure don’t! But I am grateful for everything I’ve learned from this illness. I’m more patient, more understanding, more compassionate and more authentically me because of this illness.
If you know someone living with Fibromyalgia or chronic pain, remember we could use some of that compassion and understanding reflected back our way.” Sara
Thank you Sara for enlightening us regarding this invisible illness.
I invite you to connect with me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope.
Be Blessed.
Laura

Twice Sisters

I'm on the left. (Laura) My sister is on the right. (Cheryll)
I’m on the left. (Laura)
My sister is on the right. (Cheryll)

My sister and I are ‘twice sisters’ meaning we are blood sisters (born sisters) and pink sisters.  Both of us have been personally affected  by breast cancer which makes us pink sisters.  In September/October of 2014, my sister called me to tell me that her mammogram was flagged and the radiologist really wanted to do a biopsy because she saw a cluster of cells.  I told her that the majority of biopsies turn out to be benign and my motto was..’Don’t worry until you need to’.  Now, we all know that is almost impossible but I really try to practice the concept.

Cheryll had a real peace about the whole process.  It seemed like a lifetime had passed from the first call about the biopsy to the results call.  In the meantime, I prayed and prayed and prayed!!

She had just started a new job and I prayed to God that she would be okay and not have to join the Breast Cancer Survivor group.  I have traveled that road.  I was diagnosed the day after Christmas in 2008 with Stage 3a, Grade 3, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.  I prayed that she would not have to go down that road and that she would never have to endure chemotherapy and radiation. I prayed for a clear report.

When she received the biopsy report, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I was devastated.  I thought I took the bullet for the family. I cried. I cried for her.  Then  I prayed…okay God, if she has to have this diagnosis, I pray they caught it early.

Thankfully, they caught it early at Stage 0. She would only need a lumpectomy and radiation. The doctor was amazed and told her that it was unbelievable that it was only Stage 0. Regardless of what stage the breast cancer is a 1, 2, 3, or 4, a diagnosis brings so much more with it. Not only does it take a toll on you physically but it takes a toll on you emotionally and psychologically. It’s not like a root canal that you fix it in 2-3 visits to the dentist.

Okay…my view/opinion about breast cancer… the very hormone, estrogen, that defines you as a woman ends up globbing together with other estrogen cells to become breast cancer. So the very hormone that makes you a woman, trys to kill you, and the treatment robs you of your hair, eyelashes, eyebrows and so much more. I hope you can infer that I find this entire concept, hideous, outrageous and unacceptable. However, I can’t change that so I will only give it this small paragraph.

I am glad to report that Cheryll is cancer free.  I have invited her to guest blog. I hope she is able to share her story soon.  I am blessed to have her as my sister and now we are twice sisters.

I invite you to follow me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope.

Be Blessed.

Laura

Who Knew?

My new look!
My new look!

Who knew that something as simple as a broken wrist would be so very challenging?  Not me.

With breast cancer,  the plan was set for the year, give or take a few port complications and a hospital visit.

4-RED Devil Chemos

4-Taxol and Herceptin

Herceptin to continue for a year

Surgery

Radiation (35 rads)

and go from there….

Broken Wrist

I was only told that I need a cast. Somewhere the communication regarding immobilization of your hand was totally left out.  What does it cause? In my case, every tendon from the wrist to the fingers needs to learn how to work again. (My interpretation of conversation with the Physical Therapist)

My observations…just a week ago, I noticed my 7 month old grandson working on the same fine motor skills that I was working on.

Benefits

I realize that I am blessed beyond my wildest dream.  I have a roof over my head, a family, friends and a MIGHTY GOD. Material possessions do not matter to me. It’s the daily blessings that go unnoticed such as tying your shoes.

Who knew? God knew. In Deuteronomy 33:26 (ESV) the Bible says: There is none like God…who rides through the heavens to your help.

I invite you to follow me on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope

Be Blessed.

Laura

On A Personal Note

NOW

NOW

THEN

THEN

A Personal Note…

I wanted to write you a personal note with an update on my wrist. I broke my wrist late February so it has been about 6 -7 weeks.  I went from a splint to cast and now I wear a brace. My hand is still very swollen but at least my nails look good. This along with cancer is one of those things I just don’t understand.

Reality Check

I never realized all those things I take for granted.  Here are just a few:

holding my precious grandchildren

typing this blog

driving

cooking

tying shoes

holding a bottle of water

Thankful and Blessed

I am making good progress. I am so thankful for what I have.  I am blessed and I know that God still has me in his divine plan. It is in his promise.

My Life Verse.

My Life Verse.

Thanks for the prayers.  I appreciate you!

I invite you to follow me on FB @ facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope.com.

Be Blessed.

Laura

DAY 9 Already!

 

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Can you believe that it’s already DAY 9?

You can start today.  It’s never too late to join.  Every ‘act of kindness’ counts. I encourage you to write down these acts of kindness in the comments section below or to keep a journal.  Some of you have already started a kindness journal.

I post at least two or three suggestions daily. These are only a suggestion.  You may recognize a different need. You can add it to the comments below or to your journal.  Kindness is about… seeing a need and helping.

Kindness starts with us!

DAY 1…

Call a loved one you haven’t spoken to in a while.

Be encouraging

DAY 2 of Kindness Challenge...

Bring donuts or other delicious sweets to work

Don’t complain

DAY 3

Leave a kind note for a family member or friend

Collect can goods for a food bank

DAY 4

Donate blood (if able)

Make it a point to smile at every one you see or pass by

DAY 5

Send flowers to a teacher (current or former) who has dedicated his/her life to teaching

Donate old books or magazines to a hospital or nursing home

DAY 6

Use this day to catch up. After all, it’s not about quantity. It’s about quality.

DAY 7

Praise someone at work for doing a good job

Check in on someone you know is alone

DAY 8

Make amends with someone you have wronged

Pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru

DAY 9

Hug a family member

Give your pocket change to someone who needs it

DAY 10

Pick up any trash/liter you see

Put a grocery cart back where it belongs

DAY 11

Give a generous to a server

Go out of your comfort zone to make a new friend

Can you believe it’s already DAY 9? We are impacting the world one kind deed at a time.

I invite you to follow me on FB at http://www.facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope.

Be Blessed!

Laura

Warning: Not for the faint of heart

It was a normal Wednesday morning I was watching my two youngest grandchildren. Had a little bump in the road this week as you can see by the picture below I fell and broke my wrist.

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I will try my best to continue to blog on Monday’s and Thursday’s.  All prayers are appreciated.

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On the bright side, at this time I do not need surgery.  It’s just going to slow me down a little bit which might be good for me.

Remember to enjoy the journey wherever it may take you.

I invite you to join me at www.Facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope.

Be blessed.

Laura