Shaggy bleached blond at 9 years old. He was on the heavy side but solidly built. Beat up old sports shirt. He stood solid in his shoes. He knew who he was and where he stood in the world and was fine with it. He had a sureness about him many adults wished they possessed. He followed the rules. He did ask his mom if it would be okay if he walked around. Off he went with his cousin, a boy who also had a devilish glint.
We are at zoo music. Paula Cole is the entertainment. Lounging in lawn chairs after a picnic of summer delights. Feeling good. Under the trees. On the grass. Surrounded by an amazing supply of people just right for people watching. Good to be with friends.
I just finished my 6th week of Cancer Rehab at the Healthplex. I am stronger. I have better balance. The program is doing what I had hoped. I am rebuilding. I will be healthier or I will have more stamina for the next round. Either way I’ll be better than I was without it.
Cancer victims have concrete problems. Cancer makes a person face his mortality. Suddenly life is no longer taken for granted. Survival becomes an issue. Add to that the scary thought of the big C spreading throughout the body. There is a feeling of loss of control. Unnerving! Life becomes uncertain forever. Still, many cancer worries are about everyday issues. Am I going to be able to function independently during treatment? Where do I turn for help? How do I get to the pharmacy for prescriptions? How to I make meals when I feel so sick? What if I become very sick during the night, will I die alone? How will I pay for my treatment? Are my friends avoiding me because I have cancer? Cancer can be fatal. Some cancers can be cured. Cancer can also be a chronic condition. There are many cancers that cannot be cured but can be managed. These cancers require careful monitoring and intermittent treatment. Cancer can recur. It can recur any time after treatment. It can recur after years of being monitored. Cancer treatment side effects can last forever. When you want to help a friend with cancer, offer concrete help. The most important help you can offer is to stay connected and be a resource for your friend. Call your friend. Text them. You might:
Drive a friend to a doctor appointment or a treatment.
Get them out of the house for a coffee or lunch.
Be clearly available if they need help when they are in treatment.
Pick up a prescription for them.
Call or leave a message to say you are thinking of them.
Offer to help with laundry, cooking, or light housework.
Drive them to family events and bring them home when they are tired.
If you are far away, send them greeting cards.
Many cancer patients feel deserted by friends and family once the initial crisis is over. It is frequently expected that a sick person will be treated and then will get back to normal. Well meaning family and friends will insist that sick time is over and it is time to get back in the routine. This is not how it works with cancer.
Cancer effects are long-lasting. Extreme fatigue is common. For cancer patients, treatment and then side effects can extend over a long period of time. Physical stamina may be diminished. Finances may be devastated.
Readjusting to a new normal takes work and it takes time. The most important thing you can do to help is to stay connected. Call. Text. Send Cards. Offer specific things you are willing to do to help. Be helpful in ways that work for you. Remember there are few quick fixes for cancer.
A $3.99 weekly bouquet from Trader Joe is one of my little pleasures. I love strong vibrant color, textures, fragrances. My bouquet shares its beauty from a unique table in front of my morning journaling chair. Being strongly visual I easily take pleasure in my bouquet as I sip my morning coffee.
I started to go to Trader Joe on a regular basis when I was having daily radiation treatments. I continued my new stop after attending a support group nearby.
Although my last radiation treatment was in March, I am still reeling from the whirlwind surgeries, radiation and medications. I don’t have the energy I would like to have. Progress is slow. However, little things in life are great pick me ups. What are yours?
Nice having many of my doctors in one place: endocrinologist, rheumatologist, medical oncologist. It is chronic disease alley. The pain clinic is also there. Haven’t been to that one yet. Lucky for us, the nurses and assistants are very helpful people. The place is always decorated for the current season or holiday. Coffee and tea are served as well as juices and graham crackers. There is never more than a few minutes wait. It is a welcoming, reassuring place. We even have our own lab. Never more than one person ahead of you.
Other areas of the hospital should follow their example. I don’t dread my appointments.
Dr L is an expert in her field. She is conservative, thoughtful and considerate. Her visits are never rushed. I am 100% confident in her choices for me.
I had not seen her(had talked to her on the phone) since my RAI (Radioactive iodine) treatment. The pill that had been presented to me in its 20# lead container was impressive and got my son’s attention that day. Being radioactive was fun only in that my meals were delivered to me. I read, watched movies and chilled. The next week I had a full body scan(doesn’t include knees down for some reason).
The complication came suddenly with severely inflamed salivary glands, throat, total mouth and tongue. Quite painful! Impossible to eat. Dr L ordered prednisone and soon my whole head and neck was feeling better. This is a common complication. Avoid it if you can. Drinking a lot of water is really the only help.
My Dr L’s appointment started as 20 minutes but ended up an hour. I have new cancer. The RAI might have helped it but in all likelihood it will still be there for the next ultrasound. Another surgery would be the next step. The suspicious lymph gland may not be receptive to the RAI, may be gone, may be something else. A biopsy might be next with possible external beam radiation. I’m still hypothyroid so more levothyroxin for now with a possible change to medication with T3 as well asT4.
Might just as well feel like a hero in your own movie.
It is amazing how the little things in our lives determine just our our day is going to be.
I’ll admit to cheap thrills. I am easy to keep happy. I love my first cup of coffee. I write in my journal and sip coffee while glancing at the colorful flower bouquet on my table. Feels good and is always a reason to jump out of bed. A good start to the day.
Some little things that I can do for myself include having my favorite coffee; journaling daily in long hand ( Julia Cameron’s THE ARTIST WAY); buying a $4 bouquet of flowers weekly at Trader Joe’s. Small things for a woman of little energy.
I seem to have too many days where I have too little energy. I have always been actively engaged. Feel good. Life is grand. Coping with fatigue, pain and fuzzy brain started with the sudden onset of rheumatoid arthritis and was completely foreign to me. Well, It is not a stranger anymore. My cancers seem to leave me the same way.
My love of wild life has encouraged me to feed the birds. Now I have added a water feature. Little caring things have grand results. I have a good time watching. It is hysterical to watch a Mourning Dove( mates for life, 10-15 years, apparently loves the water feature in my back yard) taking a bath in my bird bath. Sits in the water, dunks just like a duck, shakes out. Oh happy times. This is the same Dove who considers the bird feeder his favorite hangout. My gift to the birds is food and water. Their gift to me is a diversion that is one of my pleasures.
I have met many with cancer. One of their hardest adjustments to cancer is to realize there are things they cannot do anymore. This is big. This is tough. It was for me. I am eventually adaptable so I now focus on the things that I can do. There is still plenty that I can do. Makes life good!
What are the little things that you do for yourself that makes you happy ? I would like to hear from you.
My goal for this web page is to show others fighting the good cancer fight that there are wonderful resources to help you to survive and to thrive. This site is new and I have a lot to add. A person with cancer does not have to be alone. There are endless individuals, organizations and also professional who would love to help you on your journey. My plan is to introduce you to many in Albuquerque. We have much more than Breaking Bad.
If you are looking for something now. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and maybe I can point you in the right direction. You do have to do the work to survive and you are surviving by being here. Thriving is a challenge too. A little more fun than surviving but both are equally important.
I happened to find this support group posted on the bulletin board at the Health Plex. This was my first support group. This was the first one I was able to locate. It is sponsored by one of the older support group organizations: People Living Through Cancer. Visit their site for all the good things they do: http://pltc.org/
You will feel like you are among old friends with this group and Julie Turkel Hughes, LMSW. There is usually only four people and occasionally you might have Julie all to yourself. It is a wonderful place to test the waters with support groups.
The Group meets at the Presbyterian Health Plex at 6301 Forest Hills Drive NE.
Call 242-3263 for questions. You may just show up and it is free. Lots of value in making the effort to go.
In February 2014, between radiation treatments, I knew I needed a morale boost. I needed help. I needed a lot of help. I had reached the point of no makeup, my appearance was in the C- range and I was dropping slowly to the bottom of fatigue and discouragement.
I made the call to Jamie McDonald at 291-2006 and signed up for the
Look Good Feel Better Program. This program was started in 1987 when it was learned that makeovers really did help the morale and attitude of cancer patients. Three groups work together to make it happen. The Personal Care Products Council member companies provide funding and the excellent cosmetics. The American Cancer Society provided a national network to assist women with information and access to the program. The Professional Beauty Association/National Cosmetology Association provides expert volunteers to teach the program. Each year 50,000 cancer girls are given a huge bag of cosmetics in their individual skin tones and taught how to apply them. Visit their web site: http://lookgoodfeelbetter.org/ This wonderful program boosts morale and creates some very good memories during tough times.
My class was at MD Anderson Cancer Center. There were four of us. Terese Hasse, an expert in skin care for cancer girls, taught the class. Jamie McDonald worked in the class also. We were each given a large cosmetic bag full of famous name products. Each designed for our individual skin tones. Unwrapping the endless products was like Christmas. There was even nail polish and sun screen. It was every bit the uplifting experience my cancer buddies said it would be.
I wear the nail polish. I do enjoy the beauty ritual. Makes me feel fine. Make the call. Bring a friend, sister, mother. Come for you. Well worth it. I would like to know your reaction.
Classes are at MD Anderson Cancer Center, next to Kaseman Presbyterian Radiology Department. Call Jamie McDonald to reserve 291-2006
HIGH DESERT YOGA is a highly respected yoga studio in the Albuquerque community.
There are classes for everyone. There are many seminars available, too.
My favorite is a Tuesday cancer class given by the wonderful Patti Lentz at 11:15.
Just show up. Mats and other tools of the trade are available for use.
It is free. It is restorative yoga.
While I have been ill, Patti’s class has been a life savor for me.
Check it out. You will be glad you did.
“High Desert Yoga opened its doors in 1995 with the goal of graciously welcoming everyone to the study and practice of yoga. We seek to make the healing benefits of yoga available to all ages and abilities from youngsters to elders, from novice to advanced practitioners, including people with therapeutic needs.”
Woman, friend, mother, RN, photographer, gardener, writer, researcher, observer, swimmer. Pretty much the same as everyone else with my own little twist to things. RA, and three cancers and counting. Life is good despite the obstacles. It's worth the ride just to see the infinite variations of the human spirit.