"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen."


Day +1...Happy Halloween!

I had to succumb to the nausea meds, it just got too bad last night. Nothing else exciting to report. The doctors are saying maybe Day +10 to +12 when I can go home!! Trying to take it day by day for now. I started my neupogen shots again, trying to get my white cell count up and running again.

The kids are going to be celebrating Halloween at Grandma's and with Aunt Adrienne. Gabriel will be here with me at the hospital. It's 9 years today that we met. I'm so glad he'll be here tonight.

Until tomorrow!



Day 0 - Happy Birthday to Me!

Got my stem cells this morning. They gave me some serious Benadryl and that knocked me out until about 1pm today. It was over within thirty minutes and I am officially done with treatment! Now comes the watch and wait for my numbers to bottom out and then climb back up.

I'd say my biggest struggle is drinking enough fluids. I'm just not that thirsty, plus they have me hooked up to some IV fluids.

I'm getting ready to take a walk. I just finished some lunch and am ready to stretch my legs.

Hugs to all!



Day -1...and a pleasant surprise!

**edited to add**
The nurse just said I'm getting my cells TOMORROW!! Wow!! I'm not going to change my dates, yet again....today is Day -1 and tomorrow is Day 0. Overall, it's going to be a boring procedure, but it's my new Birthday and it means I am one day closer to going home. So, I am aiming for Day +10, that puts me at November 9th. Realistically, we're looking anywhere between Day +10 to Day +14. But, being the overachiever I am that's what I'm hoping for. woohoo!!
I had to change my countdown dates, since I have a day off tomorrow and Day 0 is Wednesday today is actually Day -2. That's ok because I am officially DONE with chemo!! I hope I never see another chemo bag for a very, very long time!! It was just a thirty minute bag but I had my cheeks packed with ice for at least an hour and then I ate some chocolate ice cream. To say the least, I was freezing but I hope it keeps the mouth sores away. We'll find out a week from today, that's when the side effects should be hitting.

I haven't had any more big 'd' episodes, so that's been good. I think. I'm still eating some, just not as much as before. Soup is filling (gasp!), and I'm not that thirsty either. I have to work on getting more fluids in. I did exercise again today. I walked 4x (1 mile!) around this huge ass floor. I refuse to let this sct bring me down and will hopefully be able to walk a mile every day until I get out. I'm not going to lie, it's so hard walking around and seeing the beautiful sky and world outside these windows. I feel like a caged animal sometimes, but I try not to let it get me down too much. I mean, I still have almost 2 weeks left. But to just be able to go outside is something I am looking forward to.

I got a nice surprise today. A visit from a dear friend, J.B. Thank you for visiting, it was a much needed lift for my spirit!

Off to order dinner and can't wait to watch tonight's Heroes!


p.s. Michelle, thanks for the note! Of course I remember you and I am so touched you sent me a very uplifting message, it's just what I needed! xxoo, b


Day -3...

Well, the Big D hit today....and I was actually wishing it here after suffering through some serious constipation. I've decided I don't like either. ugh.

On a good note, I finally got to see Gabriel today! That was nice. He brought me some much needed clothes and photos of the kids. I'm going to plaster them all over my room. And I love having my quilts here, I get compliments on them all the time and it gives me a chance to talk to the nurses about my fabulous friends from school and work.

Ok, I took some immodium, am on my last bag of chemo, and am waiting for my pb&j sandwich. Off to watch the baseball game...sorry Mel about those Rockies, I am pulling for them!



Day -4...

Another boring day, side effects wise. Nothing new to report. I woke up with a little tummy ache aka nausea but got some Zofran for my next chemo and it was gone.

They threw us a Halloween party this afternoon. I just got back from eating cupcakes, cookies, cheesey puffs, and fruit punch. Enough to make you throw up, lol! We were able to decorate our poles and also got to see some of the other sct patients on the floor. It was a lot of fun.

Tomorrow is my last day of this chemo combo, then Monday is Melphalan. Bring it on!



Day -5...

Well, the effects are slowly starting. I'm not as hungry as I have been and my counts are slowly dropping. I'm also noticing some minor nausea, but nothing that is interfering with my daily activities. I was given the ok to go downstairs and wash some clothes. woohoo! :) So, I got my daily hour long exercise in and now I'm relaxing after eating some lunch. I also stopped by the cybercenter to pick up some videos.

Pretty boring, eh? My nurse told me the really bad effects will start coming around seven days after Melphalan. bleh. My mouth is starting to get little sores, as much as I'm rinsing I think I'm going to get some bad mouth sores. bleh, bleh.

Liz said the blood drive was a success! Thank you to everyone who donated on my behalf. You all are amazing!!



Day -6...

Counting down to Day 0, that is when I get my stem cells back and when we start counting up to hopefully day +14, when I will get released.

So far, so good. That headache last night kept getting worse, so I asked for some meds and went to sleep. Another restful night....can you believe it? Chemo today has been good. Besides the hot flashes, nothing exciting to report. I am taking my mouthrinse every 30 minutes, I do not want nor need mouth sores right now. I haven't reacted to the new chemo, so that is promising. Oh and I found out the Melphalan is only a 30 minute bag! I told the nurse how could a bag so small cause so much havoc and he just laughed.

It's so beautiful outside right now, it's been clear and cool and I've been couped up inside. boo-hoo. I have a semi-decent view from my room. I did get the all clear to leave the floor after chemo is done. Hopefully the weather will be just as nice so me and 'poley' can enjoy it for a bit. But that won't be until November 1st, at the earliest.

I'm getting ready to don my gear - gloves and mask, so I can take a walk. Haven't done much but listen to music and watch movies on Netflix. I got a promo code for a 30 day free trial, perfect timing and I can watch movies on the laptop. Although, because of the hospital network's high usage it's best to watch early in the morning or late at night.

Today was my blood drive, Liz said it was going to be the best we have ever had. I'm anxious to hear how it turned out. And, Liz was kind enough to coordinate meals through the end of November for Gabriel and the kids. I have been blessed with a generous and gracious boss, co-workers, customers and friends!

Ok, off to walk the halls.

Until tomorrow...



Day -7 and The squeaky wheel...

aka patient from hell really does get the grease. The stc floors are 11 and 12 here at the hospital. The lymphoma floor is 6. I've never been on the lymphoma floor while having treatment in the past due to the overcrowding issues here. This time around I figured we had to be on the sct floor because it was such an intense procedure. So when I got the call from admissions that my room was ready but it was on 12, I passed it up. 12 is reserved for the allo patients, people getting stem cells from donors. That is considered a protective environment floor and I didn't feel comfortable going there. A few hours later, admissions called again saying my room was ready. Since I had told them I was waiting for a room on 11, I assumed it was on 11. You know what they say about assuming. Come to find out I was assigned to floor 10. I had been on 10 before, as my second treatment was there. It's the melanoma and sarcoma floor. It's also the floor where I had my reaction to etoposide. I don't have good feelings about the floor. The rooms are smaller and there is no bed for visitors. So I am pretty upset that I didn't get on 11 after being told I would. Normally, I am so not the squeaky wheel but this time was different. We're talking about my life here. I told the nurses last night I would not be getting any treatments on that floor. And since I wasn't supposed to be starting chemo until today, I asked not to be disturbed during the night. I ended up getting some much needed sleep. Back to floor 10. I just didn't feel comfortable having nurses take care of me when they've never dealt with the chemo drugs I would be taking. I asked about side affects of the drugs and they didn't know. Also, one of the nurse assistants didn't even know I was there for a sct! I wasn't putting my life in their hands just because they didn't have a room for me. The sct floor deals with these drugs everyday and they know the common reactions and are ready with the right meds to treat you with asap. This is MD Anderson, come on! Last night my nurse ended up telling me all the beds were full and that there were 25 people ahead of me to get in on 11. Who knew so many were getting scts?? So today I didn't let up. Anyone that entered my room, whether it be nurses, nurse assistants or doctors, I asked how it was going finding me a room. I also called my sct doctor and left a vm to see if she could help me get to the floor fast. My goal was to get on 11 and I didn't care how much a pita I was. And you know what? It worked. I got a call from the doctor on call and he said we needed to start treatment today or I would go home. Apparently some sct patients were being delayed due to the bed shortage. So I said ok, I'll start on 10 but I wanted to be sure I was transferred at sometime...preferrably sooner than later. Good thing was that my chemo drug today was short, only a 2 hour bag. This was about 1pm today. At about 4pm I got a call saying I had a room on 11!! WOOHOO! Persistence pays off!

So now I'm settled in and feeling more comfortable knowing I am being cared for by the right team. I am already having some side affects from the chemo, a dull headache and hot flashes. In the past, I got a headache a few times and it came about two days after treatment. So it surprised me that it came so soon. The nurse said if I need any pain meds just let her know. I'm such a sucker for pain, though. Pain=Life. Right???

So, my schedule is like this. Tomorrow through Sunday (the 28th) I get two drugs 24 hrs a day, one of which is etoposide. I can't remember the other one but it starts with A. I'm doing BEAM, I got the B part today. A and E for four days and then ending it Monday with M, Melphalan. That is the nasty one I heard. I know I can tolerate etoposide, and I heard the A is easy as well. Then on the 7th day (the 31st!) is when I should get my stem cells put back in me...they say it's your new birthday = Happy Birthday to me! My life is always changing around Halloween. I met Gabriel on Halloween and we had Olivia around Halloween. How nice to have another life changing event to occur on that day as well. I wonder if we'll be getting any candy here that day? :)

I'm going to try to update this blog everyday. I want something to go back and read to see how it went and how I got through it. We'll see how it goes.



So much harder than I thought it would be...

Nicholas just left for speech therapy on the bus and he was crying and pulling my shirt, asking if I would be home when he got back. Does he understand I won't? Can he comprehend that I will be gone for so long? My heart is breaking into a million pieces!!! I try so hard to be strong, for myself and for my family but right now I feel anything but strong. I feel scared, tired and sad. I still haven't packed for my trip. I'm just going to take a few things and then have Gabriel or my mom bring the rest in little increments. There's just too much to bring. How do you pack your life into suitcases?

I pray that these weeks go by so fast and that this will soon just be a bittersweet memory for me.



One step closer...

I am so glad today is over with. After giving ten vials of blood, I was ready for my bone marrow. Well, they were running about an hour behind schedule (surprise, surprise) so I went for my echo first. That was a piece of cake. Ultrasound on my heart wasn't bad at all. It reminded me of being pregnant and seeing the little heartbeating on the screen. Well, mine wasn't so little but you get the picture. Then it was off to the bone marrow department...

So, after having two bone marrow biopsies now (both at MDACC) I can confidently say that there is a difference in who you get. I had a pretty good experience the first time around and I was expecting the same today. Boy was I wrong! My first clue should have been the tech's scrubs...he was wearing a top that said Methodist....ummm, hello...you are at MD Anderson now???? The next clue should have been when he didn't know how to silence the blood pressure machine. oh, great! That's when I started to feel a bit uneasy about his capabilities. There are two people in the room during the bone marrow procedure and I learned why today. Since MDACC is a learning center, the tech performing the biopsy is less experienced than the one supervising. So, when this 6 ft, 200 lb tech was unable to break off a piece of my hip bone I quietly and tearfully requested that the other tech try. Apparently, my hip bone was not willing to give up a part of itself. I knew I had strong bones from the first biopsy, but a short pregnant woman was able to do it and I thought for sure this dude would be able to. Not so. The more experienced tech happened to be a woman and after finding another spot that wasn't quite so sore, she (a whole foot shorter and thinner) was able to do what he couldn't in 5 minutes. Note to self: Next time make sure to demand the more experienced tech to perform the bone marrow biopsy. On the bright side, I don't think I have to worry about falling and breaking my hip bone in the future.

I see my doc at 11am to go over the test results and should be admitted later tomorrow night around 7pm. Let's hope the tests still are negative and that I don't have to do that ever again!




Since I will be in the hospital on Olivia's birthday (27th), we had a surprise party for her Saturday. One of her friends spilled the beans, so I had to work really hard aka mean mommy to be sure she was really surprised...and she was! Here are some pics from the party. We had fun playing games and eating lots of cake! All in all it was a great time. I still can't believe my 'baby' is 8. It seems like just yesterday that we brought her home from the hospital, this tiny 7lb beautiful baby girl and now here she is turning 8 going on 18! Time flies by and I plan on enjoying every minute of this wild ride.

The birthday girl finally arrives...Surprise!!!

Having fun and goofing off with friends...

Olivia and Taylor strike a pose...Maggie, Olivia and Taylor

Wearing one of her gifts and riding one of them!

Make a wish!!

Happy Birthday, baby!

Love Always,


Tickling my heart and other ouches for today...

Ok, so today I went in to change out my huge catheter for a smaller one. Let me try to give you a visual of what is in me. The picc line in my arm was a 5f, then the catheter that went in my collarbone area was an 11F and now they replaced that with a 7f catheter. Don't ask me what the f stands for, I'm just trying to compare the size difference of the three catheters. The picc line was for the salvage chemo I did recently and the 11f was for the collection of the stem cells (they had to have a big catheter to allow enough blood to be collected at once). Now that collection is over, I get a smaller one for the remainder of my treatment.

The picc line insertion was a breeze, I didn't feel a thing and they only used a local anesthesia. The collarbone cvc was a lot more uncomfortable, to say the least. Apparently they had to dig a tunnel (their terminology) and go through my muscle to do it. Luckily, I not only had a local but also an anti-anxiety shot to help calm me down. Well, this time around there was only a local and I wished I had the anti-anxiety drug. You know you're in for it when the tech says "Let me know if I tickle your heart." Tickle my heart?!?! WTF does that mean and why are you doing it??? My catheter is on my right side, so I asked him (just to be sure) why he was so close to my heart which is located on my left side. Well, he said my heart is actually closer in the middle of my chest. We need to inform all the millions of little kids out there - YOU'RE PUTTING YOUR HAND IN THE WRONG SPOT WHEN YOU SAY THE PLEDGE!! lol. At first I didn't feel anything different and thought I would skip the heart tickle. No such luck. As soon as it happened I knew what he meant by tickling my heart. It felt like my heart was fluttering and skipping beats. It was really weird but thankfully only lasted a second, although it made me lightheaded. As soon as he finished and pulled out the ginormous catheter I felt this warm woosh of liquid run down my shoulder. I knew immediately what that was. After having four kids naturally, any woman knows what that is. Warm blood rushing out. bleh. So now I've got this size 11f hole and he's putting a size 7f catheter in it. No wonder he kept pressing on it when he was done. The hole will close up around the smaller line, now I just have to make sure it doesn't bleed too much until then. And they said this wasn't going to hurt. Liars!

I also got a call from the coordinator. I will be having to redo the bone marrow (boo!) and echo on Monday. I will then see my doctor Tuesday as well as be admitted. I'll probably start chemo Wednesday, she likes to wait until the next day. At least that's how it was last time. I'm shooting to get out November 15th or anytime sooner. And then around December 15th I can take this catheter out and feel normal again!

But for right now, we'll take it day by day.



SCT - Part 2...

It's been a crazy week. My mom has been in the hospital since Monday night after having excrutiating stomach pains and bloody diarrhea. After much testing and worrying, it appears she has two benign tumors on her liver with the biggest one measuring 7cm. Her PET scan came back negative (thank God!) and she's going to be discharged sometime today. Her bleeding has stopped and she's feeling better with each day. She will be seeing a doctor at MD Anderson to see how they want to handle the tumors. For a minute there we thought we might be sharing rooms together. I am so relieved it's not cancer. I don't think I could have handled the sct and my mom's potential illness at the same time.

I'm back on track after having some time away from the hospital, well MD Anderson. I go in today to change out my catheter and then I'm supposed to see my doctor tomorrow. The coordinator said my bone marrow and echo tests were more than two months ago, so she was going to ask the doctor is she needed me retested. I am praying that I don't have to go through testing again. If I do, it will be Monday and then I will get admitted Tuesday for my 3 week (hopefully!) stay. I'm still waiting to hear back from them about the tests since nothing is scheduled yet.

So I finally have arrived for the sct. It's been a long three month journey and I am more anxious to get it over with than nervous about actually doing it. I'm just so ready to get on with my life post cancer. In January it will be two years of dealing with the hodge and I am ready to bury it for good!!



Pumpkin Patch!

What a beautiful day it was today. Luckily, I was finished with everything at MDACC by 10:00 a.m., which meant I was able to enjoy the rest of the day mostly going here and there but we ended it by hitting a pumpkin patch at our local church. Can't wait to carve these suckers....



Part 1 is over!!

YAY! I finished my collection today and I almost made it without using the bed pan. lol. I didn't eat or drink anything after 9:00 a.m. but those darn fluids got to me yet again. This time, I only had like 20 minutes left but I just couldn't hold it any longer. Oh well, at least that part is over.

I spent another long day at MDACC, 9 hours total!! My nurse told me my rbc's were low again and this procedure tends to lower them even more. After I was done collecting I was scheduled to get yet another blood transfusion. A huge Thank You to the person who donated on 10/03/07!! So, I finished at around 5:30 p.m. went to have some dinner and then went back at 6:30 p.m. to see if I could get in a bit earlier since they had originally scheduled me for a 9:00 p.m. transfusion. It worked! I was finally out of there at 9:15 p.m. Ugh, what a long day! But Melanie was kind enough to stay with me the entire time. And I met the coolest lady who was my neighbor today. We're scheduled to go into the sct around the same time. She reminds me of the Hallmark character Maxine. She's older and feisty and had us laughing practically the entire time there. We made a deal. She's bringing the cards and I'm bringing the dice and we'll meet up everyday for some games. lol.

I have to go back tomorrow morning for some labwork (they never stop!). I will see my sct doctor either Tuesday or Friday and then we'll go from there. So, this next week will be my off week and then comes the sct. Almost there.


Ok, so I'm no collection diva...

Maybe a collection diva-in-training since I only collected 3.96 million, which means I get to do this one more time this afternoon. Oh well, this time I'll have company. One of Seth's friends' mom is taking me today. She too has 4 kids, her youngest is in Seth's grade. She's a real superwoman, taking my kids along with hers to swimming and such when I was undergoing chemo and coming back still smiling!

Well, it wasn't the news I wanted to hear but at least I know I will be done today. yippee!!



Collection Day!!

So I just spent 12 hours at MDACC but that's ok because my counts were good enough to start collecting!! WOO-HOO!! And, my cdw-30 was 90K!! I don't know what it means, I just know everyone was really impressed by it and thought I would be able to get my 5 million stem cells in one sitting. Ok, so I'm not going to get my hopes up but I am secretly wishing that we did get it all today. I find out tomorrow morning around 10 a.m. I still have to go in at 12:30 for some blood work but if I am the collection diva that they think I am it will be a short visit. If not, that's ok but I'll have to collect again tomorrow afternoon. It wasn't bad at all, with the exception of the bed pan. I knew that once you got hooked up to the nifty blood machince you couldn't move, not even to go the the little ladies room. So I went minutes before I started, thinking I got this in the bag. WRONG! They also give you lots of fluids through an IV to keep you hydrated. As hard as I tried I couldn't hold it in any longer. I had a neighbor to the right of me, so that was even more uncomfortable. Now, not only did I have to go really, really badly but then I had to make sure it came out slowly so I wouldn't a) make a mess and b) let everyone know what I was doing. But then again, they did know since my curtains were pulled and she walked in with a bed pan. That was the most exciting part of the afternoon. Fun, eh? It only took 3 hours as well, and that went by rather quickly. I jammed to my music and actually dozed off for a few minutes. I'm sure talking to Mel half the time helped as well! Thanks for being there with me, M. :)


Dates keep getting pushed back...

Got a call from my sct nurse today and because I received blood Sunday we need to wait three days to check my counts. So, that means my Tuesday appt. is cancelled and Thursday is set...of course I have to be there by 8:00 a.m. I hate early morning appts. I'm just getting to bed when I have to get up just to be on the road to fight rush hour traffic. bleh. Anyway, if my counts are good then we could possibly start collecting Thursday. That's exciting. But for now, it's just a wait and see. Oh, I should also start feeling the side effects of the Neupogen shots since my white cell count is starting to come up...bone aches, joint aches, back aches, any kind of aches it's because of the shots. I had one night of aches while taking Neulasta (same kind of medicine) after my chemo treatments last time, so I'm hoping it won't be that bad this time around either. Keep your fingers crossed!

Oh, and guess what Liz scheduled?!? She's holding a special MD Anderson blood drive just for me at the building on October 25th from 10:00 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. How cool is that? Not to mention it's also a huge relief knowing I could have blood reserved for me while I'm in the hospital and not have to worry about any shortages. They are constantly running short of blood at MD Anderson and I will most likely need more transfusions during and after the sct. Since my body is still recovering from the chemo treatments and this next sct chemo treatment is going to be the big daddy of them all, it's going to really make my body weak. Just another reason why I love the people I work with and the company I work for.



I vahnt to suck you're bluuuuddd.....

But only if you're Type O Positive. All you other ones can go somewhere else. lol! I just spent my entire Sunday afternoon at MD Anderson. If you hadn't guessed it, my rbc's were 7.7 and my platelettes were 15. So, that meant this little lady was getting hooked up to some blood. Unfortunately, it took about 4 hours to even get the blood. Gabriel, Seth, Valerie and I went to have a little lunch before they dropped me back off at the hospital for the rest of the day.

Although it was a shaky start (my cvc line wasn't returning any blood, so I had to cough, lift my arm and do the chicken dance to get some blood coming out), all else went smoothly. The platelettes were first and took a little over an hour to empty the bag. Then the rbc's came and those took about two hours. A peanut butter sandwich and cheese crackers were my dinner. Nice, eh? Remarkably, I feel better already! I was so tired and weak this entire weekend, dealing with bloody noses, headaches and bruising from low platelettes that I was ready to get 'recharged'. Nicholas and I are jamming to music on the computer as I type this. :)

To the person who donated blood on 9/26/07 - Thank you! And a huge Thank you to the person who donated platelettes, especially since those are bit more time consuming to do. I realized today that I have now lost my ability to donate blood - EVER. I knew I wasn't in shape to donate anytime soon, but I always thought once I was over with cancer that I would be donating right along everyone else. Nope, once you have cancer that's it for you. You move over to the other side of the donation table. One of those rights we all have but don't realize how special it is until it's gone. So, for anyone out there reading this, please donate blood and platelettes (if you're up to it!) as often as you can.

You never know whose life you are saving.


p.s. If you're in Houston, you can even donate blood just for me. Just go to MD Adnerson and donate, then tell them who you want your blood or platelettes to go to. Pretty nifty.


SCT Part 1 - continued....

I went in Friday for my blood work. Most everything is fine, low, but fine. I have to come back Sunday for more bloodwork. Apparently, my rbc's were 8.5 and platelettes were 40, and are expected to go lower over the weekend. If they dip below 8 and 20 then I will need to get a lovely transufsion of rbc's and platelettes. No big deal. I had to get some blood while I was in the hospital because my rbc's were low, and all went fine. After that, I head back to the hospital Tuesday for more testing to see how my wbc's are doing. Friday, they were 1.3, down from 5.1 three days earlier. Still waiting for those Neuopogen shots to start doing their magic. Once the nurse sees the wbs count at a certain level, then we can start collecting (and I can stop injecting myself!). The only other thing I had to address was my magnesium. Apparently, this chemo I took affects your potassium and magnesium levels. Potassium levels were normal (yay!) but mag levels were low. I was able to pick up some tablets at Walgreens, adding yet another pill to swallow for someone who can't even do a jello shot! lol!!

What's funny is that I felt better today than the rest of the week, even though by going off of my counts you would have that it was the opposite. I'm on Cloud 9, wrapped in love from all my family and friends! The mind is a wonderful thing!

Remember the sct apn nurse, Jill? I love her. At today's appointment she was already talking about when I get released! I need to look into staying at an apt. or hotel nearby, since I have to return to the hospital the following day after discharge. It should just be for one day, so I'm ok with that. I just thought how wonderful to be talking about stuff to do after this procedure...I was having a hard time thinking about anything but the hospital stay. That's where the road ended for me and I couldn't seem to see past it. So hearing her talk like my release will be here sooner than later was really hopeful.

Part 1 is almost over....and within a week we should know the schedule for Part 2.

Almost there.



God not only listens...

but he speaks through angels like you and me. I started this week below empty, and yet through the love of friends and family I am topping out at full!!

Work has always been real good to me. I love the company I work for and I love the people I work with. They came through again for me this week. We received a lovely package from them just now, one for me and one for Olivia (an early birthday present - Hannah Montana board game which was a HIT!). One of our customers, Marilyn K., quilts and she was the one who orchestrated this beautiful masterpiece! What I love is that even though everyone is either a Crescent employee, customer or vendor, their love and support is universal and they are all considered friends. I'm all out of tissue this week, but it's due to the good kind of tears. Happy tears, joyful tears, thankful tears.

My camera doesn't do any justice, so you'll have to believe me when I say this is beautiful! My kids seem to think so as well!

Liz, Lara, Rosemary, Ali, Mary, Warren, Robert, Gay, Kelly, Monica, Emily, Rhonda, Claudia, Michelle, Jim, Jose, Olivia, Kim, Mike M., Mike F., Becky, Phyllis, Lester, Barbara, Sam Juana, Candice, Neftali, Antoinnette, Debbie, Kathy, Dorothy, Brenda, Herman, Robin, Skip, Donald, Tom and especially Marilyn (the talented quilt maker!) - Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Words can't begin to describe how touched I am at your genersosity and caring, and I must say I am impressed at some of ya'lls art work! :) The words on the quilt will provide me the strength to get through this last hurdle.

May God bless each of you as much as he has blessed me.



Back home and second winds...

Wow, this time around was really different than my previous treatments. They did chemo at higher dosages non-stop for 3 days. Coming home I thought I felt fine, albeit attached via a backpack to fluids and zofran for 24 hours, but I was alert and hungry. So, my sister and I stopped to get a bite to eat which turned into a hair raising experience for her! Midway through lunch I excused myself for the little ladies room only to find that I had neither the energy nor the ability to carry what seemed like 50 tons of iv fluids. Somehow, I made it back to the dining area but beelined straight to a bench. A floor would have sufficed, but since we were in public I didn't want to embarrass my sis. The only thing keeping me from unconsciousness was the fact that I would be going back to a hospital. Seeing that I just left a 5 day stay, that was not happening. So, I kept my focus on the bowl of mints on the coffee table next to me and thankfully, within minutes of a fan being turned on above me, I was coming around. The only other time I've felt like that was when I got overheated at an amusement park. But even then I didn't feel as weak as I felt right then when lifting my arm took all the strength it had in me. That was scary. And that is why you don't do chemo and drive. Poor Adrienne, I bet it will be a long time before we do lunch again.

So, the first few days were slower recovering for me too. My mind was racing and alert but my body just couldn't keep up. I tried updating this blog sooner, but after a few keystrokes it felt like I had just done a thousand push ups. So, I rested and gave my body what it needed. Thankfully, yesterday and today I am feeling more like myself and am able to do my normal activities without the need for pillows or a mattress.

Second winds come right when you need them most. You can't make them happen any faster or any slower. I was feeling pretty wiped out emotionally earlier this week on top of being physically exhausted. It had been a lonely stay in the hospital and it felt like I used up all my reserved strength getting through it. My skin looks patchy - that's the chemo burning it and now it's scaling off bit by bit (ewww, sorry if it's tmi). I've gained 10lbs (that was hard earned weight that I had lost after gaining weight during the first treatment). I feel like I'm 50 going through menopause, these hot flashes are really starting to annoy me. And the list could go on and on....So when Gabriel was dropping me off at the hospital Tuesday morning to remove the back pack of fluids and check my counts, I lost it. I just felt so tired and I wanted this process just be over with. Poor Gabriel. He seems to get the brunt of it just because he's there. He was kind enough to surprise me this last visit and redo our room so that it was more relaxing for me to recover in. He painted everything, got new fixtures, mirrors, lamps, etc...And here I am getting angry that he's dropping me off when I knew that was the only way we could do it that morning. But I knew I wasn't angry at him. I was angry at this entire process and what I thought it has taken from me. I was angry that I had to go back to the hospital after I had just spent the last 5 days there. I was angry that I am still not finished with treatment. I was angry at cancer. So, I gathered up my big girl panties and sucked it in. God has a funny way of sending you angels just when you need them most. That happened to me twice Tuesday. Once was the sct clinic nurse, Jill. She is one of those people that light up a room with their energy and charisma. She immediately brightened up my day, not to mention saying bye bye to the bag of fluids was refreshing as well. So, then I got to ride home in style. Dad picked me up in the Hummer. Ahh, that's a nice ride. A little luxury never hurt anyone, right? Ok, so my day isn't as bad as it was starting out to be. Then, I get this lovely package from my dear friend Melinda. Well, it turns out it was from many more dear friends.

Inside was a beautiful quilt made by my wonderful Illinois Alpha Pi Beta Phi sorority sisters. Words can't begin to describe how I felt unwrapping something so beautiful and yet so personal. Reading the letter from Melinda, knowing you all took the time to lift my spirits meant so much to me. It really touched my heart and I can't thank each of you enough. My spirit thanks you. I swear, I called Melinda the first time bawling and I hadn't even opened up all the cards yet! So, you can imagine my surprise when I get through all the wonderful and funny cards and I find three American Express Gift Card envelopes. So I called her a second time, bawling again. Speechless. Just speechless. I hate the fact that cancer brought us together, but I love the fact that cancer brought us together. The quilt is beautiful and when I slept with it Tuesday night I could really feel the warmth and love that is in each of your squares. I like to think of it as one big group hug!! :) It is going to become a family heirloom and I am so proud to call all of you not only my friends but my sisters. What's funny is some of the stories you remember I had 'somehow' forgotten! So, it was a very nice trip down memory lane to one of my favorites destinations - Monmouth College! The cards, awesome personalized CD and quilt will be making a trip with me to MD Anderson on my last inpatient visit ever!! I also have to thank Mrs. Colleen Cudney and Emily for putting it all together for me (cuz we know Mel doesn't sew! haha!) . Amy B., Deb, Alicia, Tibbie, Vicki, Amy C., Beth, Colleen, Lindholm, Lisa, Melissa, Jill, Sharon, Kara, Westby, Jenny, Mary Beth, Crisco, Molly and Mel - I love you all for it and know that I am forever indebted to each of you.

Here are some photos of me, the kids and the beautiful quilt:

Ok, so back to reality....Off to the hospital I go tomorrow just for routine blood work and to see how the neupogen shots are doing. (I have to give myself two injections per day so my white cell count can skyrocket!) Then we're looking at collecting my stem cells next Tuesday or Wednesday and then I get a week off to recover and ensure my body is healthy prior to the sct BEAM chemo. I'm looking at admission the week of October 22nd and getting released the week of Thanksgiving. It will definitely be a special holiday this year with much thanks to be given.

I am so almost there, but my body and mind have felt weakened through this entire process. Must push on!! LIVE STRONG!! (I'm currently reading Lance's second book - Every Second Counts)

So, here's to my second wind, my special angels and God's love. All that I need to face this last hurdle of the process.

With much, much love,

p.s. Thank you tia Mary Jane for the cards, the kids love getting them. :)
p.p.s. or p.s.s.?! Since this was a monster of a blog, it took me a few days to get it all down on paper - so to speak. I hope you have enjoyed the photos of baldylocks!!