Archive for February, 2008

Sugar free

Sunday, February 10th, 2008


Thursday’s chemo knocked me on my butt. They returned me to the extra strength dose I had been getting initially. In case I failed to mention it..the reason for this is that I developed some pain in my ribs. The pain was consistent with where the tests show I have cancer. So it isn’t new pain, new “can”, its pain from and existing area. My oncologist thought it best to return to the standard dose. And here I am knocked out. I was able to beat back the nausea a bit but the “fatigue” was really intense. I slept all day Thursday after chemo. And I slept all day Friday after acupuncture.

My acupuncture helped my insides stop shaking. It made the nausea go away. It helped me feel less despondent. But alas the chemo coma was in full effect. By Saturday though I had more of a clear head. I was able to take care of Clay, Kelly, the house. All of which seemed a bit in need. Kelly was amazing on my sick days but he was very happy to relinquish the role of primary caretaker and housekeeper. Not so fast there guy…I planned his day off with a fun filled activity for him and the boys…clean out the basement. And amongst the sounds of frustration and annoyance that floated up the stairs I think they really bonded. Bailey escaped the chore with a sleepover. But according to Kelly she was the prime offender of “just throwing stuff down there”. Now I am left with the task of sorting through 15 bags of clothing with her to figure out what we keep and what is for the thrift store. No more clothing for Bailey.

I gave up sugar for Lent. It is going pretty good. I was able to resist the lure of a tray of brownies with some Mochi ( a sugar free rice snack that you heat and eat, It puffs up and has a sweet and chewy/crispy consistency.) Anyway, I have had less and less cravings as the days have go by, only three or four so far. I have a long way to go. I also gave up shopping. I am allowed to buy food. That’s all. I am avoiding all websites that I used to browse as they are ultimately for purchasing cute things for my children, or me, or Kelly. I hope no one I know has a birthday. If you want anything I will have to make it and I am not a crafty person. You will get a macaroni necklace! That’s it. 40 days no shopping and no sugar. I feel closer to God all ready.

I guess I haven’t mentioned it in a while but I have continued to lose weight since my surgery. I have lost a total of 41 lbs since the day of mastectomy. I have lost 30 lbs since 11/24/2007. Honestly, I have just been eating much smaller portions than I used to. I drink almost 2 gallons of water a day. Which I think gives me a constant feeling of fullness. I do not get a lot of exercise but I do work out physical therapy twice a week. I have only missed one of those appointments. My weight change has helped my left arm, which is swollen with lymphedema. My physical therapist, Nicki, says it is getting smaller. I am wearing my unattractive sleeve nearly everyday. I notice that it keeps the arm from swelling. Especially if I do housework or pick up Clay. My cool Lymphedivas ( sleeve I save for when we go out. Most people think it is a fashion statement which is fine with me.

I have an interest in what others think of me. I maintain a bit of punk rock I don’t give a crap attitude as well, but sometimes I do wonder what people think when I am out in the world. When I was bald every stranger seemed to give me the pity face. They “knew” I had cancer. I hid in my house. I did not want to be seen. Now my hair has grown in. Strangers tell me they like my hair cut. My breasts are gone. I am totally flat chested. I thought everyone who saw me would think that I had a mastectomy. But they don’t. They think I am as flat chested as Olive Oil. Which is not as bad as you might think. People seem to look me in the eye more than they used to. I have actually run into people who did not know I was sick and several minutes in our conversation I point to my chest and it still seems to take them a second to understand that my boobs are gone. Ultimately, I appreciate the fact that my cancer is on the inside. I do not look like I am on chemo. I do not look like anything. I can be invisible if I want to. No one in the Target to give me the sad face.

It is hard for me to remember the time when I was not processing all this stuff. I think I will be on chemo forever. It has been 9 months. In some ways it is much less depressing than it used to be. I do not wake up in the morning with my first thought being you have cancer. I do not think about dying all the time. Most of the time I fall into the pattern of living. Living a normal happy life with my friends and family. And like anyone with a long term illness I talk about my medication and treatment. But I notice that now my friends talk more about them. When I was first diagnosed I was so overwhelmed and so were my friends and family. No one knew what to say. I punctuated every conversation with my experience. Now I do not feel the need to do this. Well except for here I suppose. Much of the time I am content to listen to others describe their lives. I feel like a stay at home mom. I talk about the baby’s development. I run errands. It is almost normal.

*On Sunday evening I had to make good with the macaroni necklace threat. It was in fact our lovely friend Ms. Duffey’s birthday. And  since she is so good to us I could not let the day pass without acknowledging her. So the twins and I made her a necklace made with penne pasta and decorated with a few sharpie markers. I bought a cake ( falls within the food category) but I also felt a lovely hydrangea and card were in order. I think I need to keep praying about the shopping thing. Oh well it was worth it. Anyway…Happy Birthday Eileen!!!

Fat Tuesdays and Ash Wednesdays

Thursday, February 7th, 2008


I suppose I should have written something before now, but I have been in toddler -land. All my activities for 2 days have been about Clay. We went to the playground and he spent an hour walking around and picking up stones. He would then attempt to put them in his mouth. I was able to convince him to hand them to me,thankfully. We did a lot of eating. Played with blocks. Wrecked the house. Threw toys. Threw food. Stuff like that.

To most folks that might seem a bit mundane. Maybe it is. But for me it is something of a miracle. I spent the last 7 months not being a full participant in my life or anyone else’s. I think what I am finding is a renewed spirit and energy. I have quality of life again. And honestly I had forgotten how nice it is to take care of myself and my family. I am looking forward to a time when I do not need a small army of people to come and help me.

Fat Tuesday was not very fat. I felt no desire to indulge in anything prior to lent. I had decided that I should give up sugar since I am pretty sure I have a drug like addiction to it. I thought maybe I could try praying or reading the bible instead. So 40 days without sugar started today. Which brings us to ash Wednesday. I planned all week to go to church tonight. The near silent service at Circle has always been quite moving. In a very ritualistic way last year’s palm leaves are mixed with olive oil and used to anoint our foreheads. Josh always discusses the history of ash Wednesday. We write down our sin on slips of pieces of paper, the things that keep us from God, the things that we want to change. We seek to change. We burn these sins, we burn the paper. We make the sign of the cross on our foreheads. It is really so sad and so beautiful.

I was deeply affected. Praying that God might forgive me for my indiscretion, sin, behavior, etc. So often I feel like I am faced with a ticking clock. I must become a better person now! I don’t have a lifetime of Ash Wednesdays to get it right. Today. God needs to change me today. Not eating sugar probaly will not make that happen. Its a process of faith and time. Faith that God will change me. Faith that it will happen. And the time that it takes to see this change occur. It will take more than 40 days I am sure.

Tonight begins Lent. A period of change. I am waiting on God to change me. In the meantime I am going to rejoice in all that He has given me and continues to give me. Sweet things that are not made of sugar. My life is quite sweet actually. My family and friends are loving and kind. And the ability to enjoy them is much sweeter now since I know what it is like to not have the stamina to have fun with them. Life is sweet. I can live without sugar.

A note to my small army…

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008


This is just a quick message about meals. I put out a big mass email about meals. Only a few people responded. I just need a dinner for the family on Thursday chemo days and the day after. I have no one signed up at all for February and beyond. I think if you are up for cooking just tell me which day..Thursday or Friday. I will email you back with dates. Thanks to all of you who have made meals/bought pizza/had some one else make it. I am just too sick on those two days usually. And its not every week. Just chemo weeks. Okay, let me know


Saturday, February 2nd, 2008


Thursday was chemo day. And really it was rather uneventful. They increased my dose slightly. I felt a bit nauseous, but not that bad. Afterwards I went to see my pastor. We ate lunch and talked up a lot of different things. My kids. His kids. Life stuff. Church stuff. I found myself tearing up/crying. Sometimes it is hard to hold back emotions after chemo. They are right on the surface. For better or worse. I cried during chemo too. Everything seemed very overwhelming. This is not really my style. I am usually pretty happy and easy going about chemo. I like to be in a good mood. Make other people happy. Thursday was a challenge.

But I did not really cry for me. I was moved by things that are happening to others. My friend Jenni’s dad died Tuesday from cancer. I am sad for his family but happy that he was set free from his body. He was in so much pain. I am praying for their family. I felt very moved by some things that happened at our Sunday meeting. Just feeling very struck by a sorrow that seemed just below the surface for nearly everyone. The forced smiles and chit chat seemed to be covering up a lot of pain. I wanted to just hug everyone and tell them it was going to be ok, but that might have been awkward. All around me my friends are very sad. Is it the weather? I am not sure but I feel like I do not know how to help them.

I am tired and sick sometimes but usually I am not very sad. Much of the time it is easy for me to laugh and enjoy myself. I sing and dance with the baby. I have fun with Kelly and the kids. Often if I cry it is likely that something sweet and endearing happened. It is easy for me to get over things. I am over all the bad stuff let’s move on. Move on is my middle name. Thanks to my loving supportive friends. I have been blessed by all of you.

Friday I went to see Ed for acupuncture. He asked how I have been doing emotionally. And even though I felt fine most of the time I replied melancholy. I was tired and felt like my insides were shaking. He proceeded to hurt me/heal me for 20 minutes. After the needles were in place,I laid on the table listening to the rain pour down. Then hunger crept on me while I laid there. This is always interesting to me. How come acupuncture works so well and so fast? Sometimes people ask me how it works. I don’t know…something about Chi. But thousands of years of use can’t be for nothing. When I was at the Corsets event people told me how good I looked. I was tired but very happy. I did not really feel sick at all. I am not unhappy or on the verge of tears. And I feel good today too. I love Ed!!!

Next week is another chemo week. I am not really dreading it . My chemo will be restored to the original dosage. It is what my oncologist thought best. Only time will tell how I will react to the chemo. We’ll see. By for now. Thanks for being here, Andrea

More punk than you

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008


Corsets for a cure was last night and it was an amazing event. It was very impressive. Amy did a beautiful job. Like many other gallery opening on first Friday the corsets were exhibited on podiums. We arrived close to 7pm and there was already a decent crowd. I took all the older boys with me. They had a great time too. There were some close friends there of course. But there were also a lot of people I didn’t know. The corsets are up for auction until the end of the month at All the proceeds go to the Linda Creed Foundation. Thank you Amy for the raffle proceeds. Thanks to everyone who attended. And especially to the artists who took the time to produce such unique and beautiful garments/art. I am so glad I had the pleasure to meet some of you. And thanks to Fran from Linda Creed. And everyone from the Art Institute. You were all awesome.

The event garnered considerable press. It was covered in the City Paper, the front page of the metro section of the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Fishtown Spirit. The last two mentioned were quite long. I did not get to read the Fishtown Spirit article even though I was interviewed for it. Amy told me the last line of the story was commenting on me and it said, anyway you slice it she’s more punk than you. I loved that. I want to have a t-shirt with that on it. Cause I am you know.

All kidding aside, I am really happy and grateful that Amy did so much to put this altogether. Thank you Larue Miller for my glass bottle cokes. It was incredibly kind and thoughtful. And thanks again to all the artist

Much Love, Andrea