I Drove the Freeway!

car cartoon1Yippee!!! I drove on the FREEWAY this week. TWICE! I advise you to stay off the roads. The good news is I can most likely take Steve to his appointments across town now. The bad news is poor Steve has to be my passenger. My driving confidence is not the greatest, but I can do it. From the passenger seat he constantly assesses my speed. That’s probably a good idea. Because I can drive more now, I  had lunch with my former colleagues at Fortis College yesterday and had a great time. Having friends really sustains me. There’s nothing like chatting with a good friend and just “being.”

Steve is feeling great. As a matter of fact he is outside pulling weeds and digging in the garden. I did some too but he definitely outlasted me. So far chemotherapy has not really affected him all that much. Yahoo! WE are blessed.

Families are Forever

Kandy April 2014Our going-away party for my son and his family was awesome. It was raining so we played Catch Phrase, ate Mexican food, and had ice cream drumsticks for dessert. Mostly we just talked and joked and had fun being together. What a great family. And noisy. Steve did great but was a little drowsy for awhile.  Earlier in the day I wrote a note in a card to my son and his wife and I cried a lot. I will miss them so much, and I was hoping I wouldn’t cry at the party. Seems like the crying was all taken care of and I felt fine at the party. Sometimes I just need to let it all out. They’re only going to Atlanta, and he will be back in June for a week to defend his Master’s thesis. His wife and daughter will be back here in August for his graduation. So we will see each other off and on. I will miss their daughter taking her first steps and speaking her first words, but there is always Skype.

Steve is having a good day. Went to church, took a walk, took a brief nap. He’s upstairs checking his emails now. His ankles are a bit swollen so we will talk to his oncologist about that tomorrow. So far so good! And as for me, no nausea today. Hooray!

Chemo Days 2 & 3

Steve GarageYesterday Steve did his second day of chemotherapy for 6 hours. He was well taken care of and received a neck pillow from some second graders. Pinned to the pillow were the following words, in second-graders’ handwriting:

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine and shadows will fall behind you.”
“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”

Steve Pepper chemo chairThanks to the second grade teacher who took the time to teach her students about service and optimism.

Today was the 3rd day of chemotherapy. It was just a quick shot in the arm. No more for 2 weeks now. He is feeling a bit nauseated but is taking medication for it, and using peppermint essential oil. He is committed to staying active, which is highly encouraged by his care providers, so he is cleaning out the garage now. He also did some yard work. It was fun doing a project together. He has much more energy than I do.

I drove Steve to chemotherapy this morning, then to the bank and the grocery store. So I am getting practice driving. It’s scary but I am building up my confidence. I have to be very present and concentrate. My mind wants to wander. Still not planning to drive the freeway anytime soon.

This evening we are having a going-away party for my son Andy and his family. They are moving to Georgia. He will be my first child to move out of the state and I will miss him and his beautiful wife and daughter. I hope Steve will feel well enough to enjoy our noisy family of 4 kids, 2 daughters-in-law and 9 grandkids. And a couple of dogs. Fun!


Chemotherapy Starts Today

Steve SmilingSteve is spending 10 hours at the Huntsman Hospital today. Our daughter took us there at 8:30 for a blood draw and a meeting with the oncologist. She ordered a blood transfusion, which he will receive after chemotherapy today. He’s still pretty anemic due to losing a lot of blood from his bladder surgical site. His first day of chemotherapy started around 11:00. I bailed out at 12:30 and took the train home. Honestly I feel sad leaving him alone but I don’t feel well enough to sit for 10 hours. Our kids hooked Steve’s iPad up with Netflix, HBO Go, and Xfinity so he has tons of movies and TV shows to watch. He brought a stack of books, and he can do some Pest Control paperwork. So he’s got plenty to do. Our grandson’s girlfriend will pick him up and bring him home because she attends college nearby.

I am plagued with nausea and fatigue and can’t figure it out. My best guess is that it’s related to my eye. The pulsing is not getting better, and that may cause nausea and fatigue. Not sure but will find out next month when I revisit the eye socket surgeon. Steve says to look at the symptoms as a sign that something is changing in my eye, and let’s call it healing. So the symptoms may be a good sign. Yeah, that’s what I’m going with.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi 2 darkI have been working on being more active to fight fatigue so yesterday I washed my car. That’s unusual. I usually wash it about once a year. It sure looks better when it’s clean! Today I went to Tai Chi at the Senior Center. Tai Chi gives me an opportunity to be still. I must admit I found my mind wandering and began to focus on the health I have lost. I caught myself comparing today’s health to the health I experienced  when I was young, like a teenager. How dumb is that? So I changed my thoughts to focus on what I have now and what I can do now, like bend over and touch the floor, and not get out of breath when doing the Tai Chi poses. I noticed too that I was focusing on physical health, so I took a closer look at my emotional, mental and spiritual health. I’ve come a long way since I was a teenager and don’t want to go backwards like I do on my physical health. I also invited myself into the present moment repeatedly, which Tai Chi is made for. Many other people at the Senior Center who took Tai Chi hung around afterwards to socialize. That was great. I could forget about myself and focus on getting to know other people. We all have a story. It’s nice to be on the journey together.

Become Like a Child

I’ve been wondering about how I should “be” about my husband’s cancer and my delayed healing from brain surgery. Should I be a warrior and fight the good fight? Is this a battle? Should I play the victim? Should I be overwhelmed? There are probably lots of choices.  I was pondering this yesterday and at Sunday School we studied a scripture about becoming like a child when it comes to  afflictions:

” …yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and …becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father”  (from Mosiah 3:19 in the Book of Mormon).

This was very inspiring to me. If I become like a child and am patient, full of love, and willing to submit to this challenge, I think I’ll be OK. I am not comfortable being a warrior in a fight, or a victim, or overwhelmed.  It is difficult seeing my husband suffer, but I will “be” in the present moment and trust that all is as it should be. And as Cinderella’s mom told her, I will “have courage and be kind.” That’s what children do, and I can do this.

“If we have a heart to learn and a willingness to follow the example of children, their divine attributes can hold a key to unlocking our own spiritual growth” (Jean A. Stevens, 2011).

Fatigue Fighter

fatigue clip artI am still experiencing quite a bit of fatigue. The way I have been dealing with it is to give in and lay down once or twice every day. Although it feels great to lie down, the fatigue didn’t seem to be getting better. I told my neurosurgeon I was fatigued and he said, “So am I.” He cracks me up. Anyway, Steve’s oncologist said that for chemotherapy patients, the way to fight fatigue is to stay active. So now I’m going to give that a try. Honestly, it seems to be working. The busier I am the less likely I am to lie down, and I do think I’ve got a bit more energy now. This is taking some commitment and courage, I must say. The couch calls to me. And I have to make sure I’m not overdoing it because self care is so important. It’s a balancing act but I think we are all doing that. I still practice meditation, prayer, essential oils, visualization, affirmations, etc. I’d like to add nutritious eating to this list, but I would just be lying.

Steve is feeling well today. I bought him his own phone so when he is at chemotherapy he can be reached. His first round will be 6 hours long so he may want to chat with someone.

Steve’s Treatment Plan

This morning we left the house at 8:00 to go to 2 physician appointments. We got back home at 3:15. We met with the surgeon and then with the chemotherapy physician (medical oncologist) and her team. They had a lot to say, and additional tests to run to make sure Steve is ready for chemotherapy. So here’s the plan: On Monday Steve will have an echo-cardiogram to make sure his heart can take the chemotherapy. He will also have a complete blood count to monitor his anemia. Depending on that, he may get a blood transfusion on Wednesday. Chemotherapy starts on Thursday. He goes in for 3 days every 2 weeks and will probably do it for 8 weeks.  That’s 4 “rounds.”  After round 3 he will have a CT scan to take a look at what the 4 nodules in his lungs are doing, and biopsy if needed. They are too small to biopsy now. Then about 6 weeks after chemotherapy ends he will have his bladder and prostate removed. Then he will have a recovery period for a few months. Right now his cancer is Stage 2, which carries around a 63% survival rate after 5 years.  Keep in mind that does not mean he has a 63% chance of surviving. It is just a statistic that is generally not applicable to individuals. They will re-stage it after surgery.

Steve will pray about the plan and decide if that’s the way he wants to go. At this point he is planning on it. Thanks to our daughter for driving today and thanks to all at the Huntsman Cancer Center.

Thin Blood

warfarin ratCongratulations to Steve. His warfarin (blood thinner) has reached therapeutic levels. Yay! It’s taken about a week and a half to get it up there. He gets his blood drawn twice a week to assess progress. It’s kind of ironic because he owns a pest control company and uses warfarin to kill rats. I guess what goes around comes around. He is feeling well and went to the grocery store today just like a regular person. No more blood in urine and no symptoms of clotting. Yippee! We are ready for tomorrow when he sees two physicians to develop a treatment plan. I plan to post the plan tomorrow afternoon.

Spring Storm

Snow with StormI don’t really want to blog about the weather, but I woke up to about 4 inches of snow on the ground and it has continued to snow all morning. I planned to go to Tai Chi class but decided that riding my stationary bike for 30 minutes would do the trick for today. This is the most exercise I’ve gotten since my husband Steve was diagnosed with cancer about a month ago. The picture here is called Snow Storm because it’s a picture of the snow outside my family room  window and my grandson Storm is looking out. Just a few days ago I posted pictures of my flower garden in the front yard and it was so spring-like. Now we are slammed with snow. I can’t help but see this as a metaphor for life. We make preparations (I had my garden tilled, I fertilized the lawn, I planted flowers, I pulled weeds) for life events, and then things don’t exactly turn out like we expected. What’s that saying? “Life is what happens when you are making other plans.” So true. However, there is goodness in the snow. It will add moisture to the grass and flowers so they will grow better. Adversity helps us grow. It’s just uncomfortable while it’s happening.

Steve is feeling great today and is planning to finally get the taxes done, before midnight.