My Chemotherapy begins today.

It has been quite an eventful three weeks since my last post.

Doctor appointments

Doctor appointments

I guess it has been well over a month now.  On July 22nd I had a PET Scan.  The findings from that was a dark spot on my left adrenal gland, my right Femur, and in my stomach.  The appointment with my surgeon on July 26th was to tell me of the PET Scan findings and subsequent tests that would be done to see if my breast cancer had spread to the darkened areas.

According to my surgeon, a dark spot on a Femur is an indicator of breast cancer.  If a spot is found near the hip, breast cancer is soon to follow.  In later days I would have a bone biopsy done.

August 3rd was the start of a pretty rough week.  I have been a one pack a day smoker for over 40 years.  I’ve tried to quit on numerous occasions, with not much luck.  I am under the supervision of an RN who specializes in Smoking Cessation.  Through her care I have been given a box of nicotine patches to help me quit smoking.  And a box of of nicotine gum.

The thing I have been able to keep uppermost in my mind is not the cancer or treatment, but the rich blessings I have received from hundreds of people around the world.  Each person let me know they were praying for me.  Through your prayers, encouragement, support, and the love you have freely given to me I feel POSITIVE that you all have had an enormous effect on my cancer.  This post is to inform you of what those prayers have caused and to tell you how grateful I am for each and every one of you.

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Earlier in the month of July I had been informed my breast cancer is fed by hormones, Estrogen specifically.  Then I was informed by  a nurse to the Oncologist that nicotine feeds the breast cancer.  And to top it off, I was later informed that all foods I consume feed the cancer.  This is truly a case of “Damned if you do and damned if you don’t”.  No winners here.

Before I met with the Smoking Cessation Specialist I had worked pretty hard for a couple of weeks to cut down on my smoking.  I was able to get a pack of cigarettes to last for 48 hours.  After I was being treated with the nicotine patch I gradually worked myself down to two cigarettes per day.  Stressful days I would have three.

That first week of the patches, having to write down the time I lit up and for how long I smoked….a few puffs, half a cigarette, or an entire one was really quite challenging to my temperament.  I had to indicate if the desire to smoke was “Low”, “Moderate”, or “Strong”.  Also I had to make note of WHY I lit up.  No matter what the reason was that I put down on the little paper, the end result was just plain old REBELLION.

On August 8th I had to go for the bone biopsy.  I would be put into another scanning machine to locate the dark spot on my Femur then the doctor would drill for oil.  I had a peek at the tool he used, after the procedure was over, much to my dismay.  A specially created drill bit that would do a core sample as well laid on the instrument tray.  That bit was every bit of 5 inches long!

Bone biopsy drill

Bone biopsy drill

Scanner for my bone biopsy

Scanner for my bone biopsy

I was awake through this procedure.  The nurses who monitored me and assisted the doctor had me lie on my stomach.  Once prone, the nurses were not very happy with where I had placed myself on the bed.  Each of them grabbed a bit of the sheet at my feet and speedily hauled me backward.  That was shocking if I do say so.  I’ve watched too many movies and television shows.  The speed at which I was jerked backward was very unsettling.  They giggled, I loudly blurted “Holy Sh*t”, which caused more giggling.

The nurse that monitored my vital signs told me she would give me a drug that would cause me to forget what was happening and another drug that would be a pain medicine.  What was I supposed to forget?  The amount of discomfort this procedure was going to cause or if my potty mouth was no longer in check?

I can say the drugs I was given made the stabbing pains in my left breast go completely away.  That was a comfort all by itself.  I had to remain awake to move around as needed for the drilling.  I would hear the drill motor going then it would stop.  I would be told to tip over to my left side just a little bit.  Then the bed I lay on would be mechanically moved into the scanning machine.  At a sufficient position a whirring noise would sound, the doctor would say something, the whirring would stop and the bed would come back out of the machine.  I was then instructed to lay flat once more and the drill motor would begin again.

When the procedure was finished, then and only then, did the doctor tell me to be careful for the next 72 hours.  No heavy lifting, no household chores, no strenuous exercise of any kind.  I could possibly break my femur and that would entail major surgery.  Thank  you Doc.  You could have warned me when I was a bit more lucid in my head instead of at the end of the procedure when I would be allowed to go to sleep.  I thought of breaking my leg for more than 72 hours.

I was in no pain at all by the time Joe came to take me home.  He had been told I would be held over for four hours and he was told to go get something to eat.  While he was gone they reduced the time to two hours, of which mere minutes of that time remained.  Poor Joe nearly broke a leg hurrying to my little part of the hospital to take me home.

Oh, Lord have Mercy!  That night.  The pain in my right leg was tremendous.  It was such that made my entire body shake from the intensity.  I had not been prescribed pain medicine.  Do you know what I did at 1:00 a.m. when the pain was too much?  Well I’ll tell you what I did.  I dug through my bathroom drawers and cupboards until I found a bottle of Hydrocodone which expired June of 2006.  I took one of those pills and waited for it to take effect.  By 3:00 a.m. I was blissfully asleep.

My cigarette smoking has stayed in the two per day for a few more days.  By the end of the week I had managed to get it down to one and a half.

On August 10th I saw my Oncologist.  She got a good hold of my left breast.  Raised it, lowered it, moved it the right and left.  She was not very delicate with her maneuvering either.  She squeezed it.  Put a micrometer tool under my breast, flopped it around while she adjusted her measuring device.  Jammed the toothy tool into the under part of my poor breast to get her measurements.  That was uncomfortable but worse was yet to come.  She began firmly feeling for the edges of my cancer.  Pressing deeply with her finger tips then squeezing firmly with both hands to find all the various separations, of which there are several.

When she was finished my lower jaw ached.

I was under a NO ASPIRIN restriction so I had to ease the discomfort with wimpy Tylenol.  I couldn’t use my Vanquish which I rely on.  I would have my stomach scoped the next day and would have a biopsy done which required the No aspirin restriction.

After visiting with  my Oncologist I went to see the Smoking Cessation Specialist.  I told her of my progress, which she was pleased.  I was a bit bummed because my smoking had increased to three the day before.  She performed some kind of lung test.  I would inhale a deep breath before blowing into a machine that would indicate how much of a smoker I am.  On my initial visit with this Specialist this test had a result of “16”.  She said that did indicate a 1/2 pack a day smoker.  On this day when I took the breath test it was on “5”.  She was really happy and told me that I was now considered a Non-Smoker.  So that made me feel better.

The cravings can be quite strong from time to time and hard to ignore.  I do make many attempts to distract myself during those powerful urges.  Sometimes I’m successful and other times I am not.  I have come to find that during stress is when I smoke more.

On August 11th I had my stomach scope done.  This time I would be put completely out with the aid of drugs.  Of course, while all the prep work was being done in getting the equipment ready for the doctor one of the nurses asked me if I had any questions or concerns.  Of course I did.  Not with the procedure as they were expecting me to pose my queries.

“How clean in that thing you will be putting down my throat?  I mean, am I going to end up with some terrible infection that is left over from a really sick person before me?”  I was serious.  I’ve read the articles on the internet and you know….if it is on the internet then it HAS to be true!

Both of the nurses began telling me how clean they keep their equipment.  I was told how they get inside to the different levels and thoroughly clean them.  They went on further to state that they have been where I was and their main objective was to make sure the equipment was clean enough for them to be tested and not get infected.

Hey, I was in the room and time was short before the festivities began.  A bit late now to be bailing out.  Besides, I was already hooked up to some pretty good drugs that were taking the edge off of my anxiety.

The nurse that would be in control of my drugs was the one who was working to ease my anxiety.  I remember her saying they were about to begin and that I would be going to sleep now.  Indeed I did go to sleep.  I felt them put some kind of weird thing in my mouth and put the elastic around my  head.  With my tongue I felt a round hole in the center of this thing set between my teeth. That was where the probe was going to be fed.  That is all I remember….UNTIL

I was partially awake and had an intense desire to swallow.  I could feel the probe far down my throat.  I tried hard to swallow, which was very difficult.  I lay there wondering how I could breath.  I concentrated on inhaling through my nose to see if I could, in fact, breathe.  I wondered at that hard tube being somewhere down my esophagus and tried to see if I could feel just how far down it was.  Then I felt the probe being pushed further down my throat and I heard myself groan.  Yep, the drugs were then pumped into me right then and there.

I don’t remember being moved from the room I had started in to awaken in the Recovery Room.  I thought the nurse was lying to me.  I was so disoriented and groggy that I have no idea if I said anything I would have been ashamed of were I not drugged up.  If I did the nurse was kind enough to let it go.  She stayed with me until I was able to stand and walk into the waiting area where Joe was.

Once home I went to my living room chair for a moment to quell the dizziness I felt and three hours later I made it out of the chair.  I had gone completely to sleep.

Friday, August 12th I had my normal stabbing pains in my left breast.  Sometimes it was really intense on the underside and almost unbearable.  I could rely on my Vanquish now that I was not having any further biopsies and could leave the Tylenol alone.

I had been spending quite a lot of time on my business paperwork the week before and on the days I didn’t have doctor appointments or biopsies.  I was making quite a bit of progress in getting that dreaded chore done.  Some days I would get into my third cigarette by nightfall.

I worked each day diligently.  Three hours or more to get that job done.  I had the various files sorted and in some stage of completion.

Data entry

Data entry

Completed files

Completed files

Personal files

Personal files

Now I had it to the point where I could get the finished files into one box.  I still have one month to go for the personal bookkeeping and a small bit for the business.

Completed files, bank statements, and personal files

Completed files, bank statements, and personal files

My breast was giving me some fits for quite a few days.  I had been scheduled for an Ultrasound on my breast for August 16th.  The stabbing pain was quelled with my Vanquish, which has 227 milligrams of aspirin in it, over the weekend and on Monday.  Tuesday the pain was pretty intense and constant.  I went back to my 10 year old Hydrocodone stash and took another one to ease my discomfort.

The morning of the 16th I’m told I will have a biopsy done on my breast to get me started on treatment.  The bone scan came back negative for any cancer cells.  The stomach scope came back with an ulcer and I had some bacterial pockets in my stomach that would need treatment with antibiotics.  I have H. Pylori.  A bacteria commonly found in people that eat Sushi or undercooked food.  I don’t eat fish raw or cooked so I have no idea how I ended up with that bacterial infection.

Anyway, since I had been taking Aspirin then the biopsy and ultrasound would be postponed until Friday, August 19th.  That was today.  The doctor who would be performing the biopsy was kind enough to prescribe me a pain medicine that was current and I would not have to rely on my outdated supply any longer.  So I used that medicine instead of my Vanquish.

This is my left breast.  It is swollen with the cancer and is mottled purple underneath.  This is when it gets to be quite painful, even to the touch of my clothing brushing against it.  The sheet in bed can be very uncomfortable.

My left breast

My left breast

I decided to take this photo.  Today I begin the treatment phase and it is hoped that this will work.  Reduce the cancer tumor, make it less hard, shrink it enough that surgery can be performed to remove it.  I’m hoping that it will and I won’t have to go through Chemo.

Because the cancer has not spread to other parts of my body and remains localized in my breast I can begin the Research Study which will be for six months.  Every month I will have a biopsy done on the cancer to see what the “Ki67” score is.  That is the growth of the cancer.  If it continues to grow and the Ki67 score gets higher this Research Study treatment will end and I will have to begin Chemotherapy.  If the current treatment on the Research Study is working as intended, at the end of the six month period the surgery will be performed to remove the cancer in the breast and the lymph node(s).

During my treatment it is expected that I will have “Hot Flashes”, which I have deemed Power Surges.  Some flu like symptoms, fatigue, bone pain, headaches, and other nuisance symptoms that can be dealt with by generally ignoring them and just suck it up.

There have been reports of abnormal liver functions in the blood tests with Fluvestrant, the drug I am being treated with.  Cancer treatment has come a long, long way since the first diagnosis and treatment.  There are different types of breast cancer and each type is treated in a different way.  Today there are pills and shots for cancer treatment.  My study is to find out if Fluvestrant can be used alone as treatment for hormone related cancers, before surgery.

Currently, I am working on a financial report regarding the GoFundMe account my daughter set up for me.  I thought, those of you that have been so generous, you would like to know how the money has been spent.  I assure you, I have not trotted myself to the local craft/hobby store to find the most shiny and beautiful papers and embellishments.

Thank you everyone for your prayers, encouragement, financial support, and love you have so freely given to me.  I am so very grateful for the abundance I have been given.  Thank you is just such a small thing but it is all I have to give.

Leslie

Instant Gratification – Fan Template

sunshinelynable left a comment that made me say “YES!”  I totally forgot that I could trace the chipboard template pieces, scan them into my computer, make it a PDF file, then put it on my Template Page here on my blog!

So.  For INSTANT GRATIFICATION.  No waiting for the snail mail to arrive.  Do the following:

  1. Click on the TEMPLATE link on the right column of this blog.  Right under “Message In A Fold Pages”.
  2. Scroll down to the bottom.
  3. Click on FANTEMPLATE.jpg.pdf
  4. Download it to your computer
  5. Print it off on regular paper or card stock
  6. Cut out the two (2) fan pieces
  7. Trace the templates on chipboard
  8. Cut them out of your chipboard
  9. Then create your beautiful fan(s)

IT IS FREE!  NO CHARGE TO YOU.

Create a fan using the Fan Template

Create a fan using the Fan Template

If you want to see how this all comes together…my YouTube video is just below.

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

Leslie

My cancer treatment planner

My cancer treatment planner

My cancer treatment planner

I spent a number of hours online searching for a medical planner and could find NOTHING!  There was not a breast cancer, cancer, medical, or any other kind of planner that would be used for a long term illness record keeping journal.

If I were to mass produce this and offer it to the general public there are many things I would do differently.  This is a “Prototype” and I need to work out the kinks and bugs in it before I even consider putting this up for sale.

I am trying to find my way through the “Rich Mom University” course by Renae Christine.  I will have to do another post and title it “Be Careful What You Wish For”.  I’m not bashing Renae Christine’s course.  It is ONE AWESOME COURSE!!  It is a MUST  HAVE if  you are thinking about growing your Etsy store, an Online Store you already have, or if you are just thinking about selling handmade products anywhere.

My problem is….I have not yet been able to get fully into the course since my wonderful husband, Joe, purchased it for me way back in March when the Rich Mom University program was open for 10 days.  It won’t be open again until 2017.  Check out her Rich Mom Business FREE training to see a smidgen of what  she teachers in her RMU course.  You can get there at this link.  http://richmombusiness.com/about

My truck driving job kept me away from home.  I would listen to her coaching calls on my iPhone as I drove the highways.  Did you know there are cellular dead spots in a lot of places?  Well, there are.  Renae Christine would be answering a question from a fellow RMU participant and my phone would freeze.  This dear sweet woman, who has poured her heart and soul into creating a business plan…..a TITAN OF HANDMADE business plan, and her cute face would be frozen in the odd positions for many miles and several hours.

You know what I mean.  You have a television that you can pause the program you are watching.  The face of the person on television at the moment you paused it.  Open mouth, one closed eye, or some combination that makes you look twice at the screen and chuckle.  Poor Renae Christine spent many hours frozen in an odd position.

Then I have been waylaid by doctor visits and other things for my breast cancer.  I get distracted by the paperwork I have to do for our business.  I have way to many excuses for not getting in to the RMU course.

Okay, I tend to get off track.  So, the changes I would make to this planner would first be make it with a 3 ring binder.  Not everyone is like me and would not appreciate having the spiral binding which prohibits insertion of different things.  Or even relocating the guts of the planner into different positions.

I have put in a pocket at the front of the book, inside the front cover, to hold the stuff you get from the doctor’s office each visit.  I have used a 13″ x 13″ scrapbook pocket that I cut down to fit in my planner.  There is a place for the business cards I seem to be given at each appointment I’ve been at.

Pocket insert to hold business cards

Pocket insert to hold business cards

The next section of this scrapbook layout thing was intended for stickers or photos you wanted to put on the layout.  Now it will be used for any prescriptions or small pieces of paper I need to keep that I get from the doctor visits.

Short pocket for prescriptions or small papers

Short pocket for prescriptions or small papers

The other side of the scrapbook pocket thing has a place to hold papers or embellishments you want to use on your layout.  I’m going to use it for something, I’m not quite sure what but I’ll figure it out.

A pocket for other things I need to keep

A pocket for other things I need to keep

And the last pocket in this scrapbook thing is for the 12 x 12 paper and other things a person would need to create a layout.  I can put 8-1/2 x 11 paper in it.  Things I get from the doctor office or notes and questions I have for the doctor so I don’t misplace them.

A full pocket for 8-1/2 x 11 paper

A full pocket for 8-1/2 x 11 paper

The Tabs definitely need work.  I used the tabs from the American Cancer Society folders they so generously gave to me.  Plus I had to use the WeRMemory Keepers Envelope Punch Board to create tabs for the things not included in the ACS file folders.  Right now they are working for me.

Tabbed sections

Tabbed sections

I had to go through my bead assortment to put some kind of a stopper on the ends of the spiral binding.  To keep them from working out of the holes at the top and bottom.  I used E6000 to hold the beads on.  We’ll see how long it takes before they fall off:/

Stopper bead at top

Stopper bead at top

Stopper bead at bottom

Stopper bead at bottom

I spent a couple days talking to my computer, hollering at it really, trying to figure out how to make my planner pages.  I have a Mac and had to learn how to use the document handling program called Pages.  Let’s just say it got quite noisy and abusive here until I got it figured out.

Planner pages inside my journal

Planner pages inside my journal

My intention is to be an active participant in my cancer treatment and recovery.  All of these doctor offices I visit give me forms to fill out on my Medical History.  I can’t remember what I put on the last form when I am confronted with a new form.  I have created a form that will, hopefully help me keep my dates and information straight.

I want to track my progress at each visit.  Weight, temperature, blood pressure, pulse rates.  I generally don’t ask my Family Doctor for that info when I go visit him.  I will be keeping track of that this time.  I have created a form for that.

Medicines.  Good grief!  Every doctor visit I have been accompanying Joe to his various doctors, the nurse ALWAYS  asks about his medications.  Some people in the waiting room have ziplock bags with their bottles of medicines.  I have created a form for all the medications I will be taking or have put in me if I go through chemo.

Lab results.  Blood work tests.  I don’t even know what my Blood Type is.  Now I will know.  I will be able to keep track of these results each time the test is done and have a place to record them.

Appointments with the various doctors and technicians that I will need to see, or have already seen.  The dates and times of the appointments, which doctor or technician, which facility I have to visit.  This information will be transferred to my monthly calendar and my weekly calendar.

Dates of mammograms, biopsies, chemo, radiation, or hormone treatments.

I’ve tried to think of everything I would need to have in my treatment journal.  So we will see if this is an awesome tool or a total flop.

Oh, and in case you are wondering what the cover material of my book covers are.  Wallpaper.  I  have a big roll of the stuff I got from my local big box hardware store for about $10.  I think it is quite pretty :D  It is very tactile.  Bumpy, smooth, visual texture, and so many things that keep this crazy woman that likes shiny things happy.

And, the plastic covers on the outside of my medical journal.  I have one on the front and one on the back.  I have cut down some plastic dividers intended to separate scrapbook paper in a holder.  Organized people like to keep their papers sorted by manufacturer and not by color.  These tabbed dividers work with sorting by color as well.  I have a ton of them in the dark recesses of a cupboard.  Now they will keep the rain, snow, sweat, and coffee spills from marring my beautiful covers.

Okay, that’s it for today.  I hope you all are enjoying  your summer weekend.  Those of you in other far flung areas across the globe that are in the midst of winter, I hope you are enjoying nice weather and not freezing  your hoo-hoo’s off.

Leslie

Wellness through mind, body, and spirit

You read this everywhere.  Social media, magazines at the grocery store check out line, at book stores, and too many other places to name.  You see it in videos on YouTube and in the news.  What the heck does it even mean?  Especially to someone that has an eating disorder.

This is going to be long, please forgive me.  My only hope is that I can help someone else in their struggle with food and their body.

I’ve read that food can help a body heal from all types of cancer, not just breast cancer.  I’ve been encouraged by many these past couple of weeks to eat a more healthy diet.  I even went so far as to ask for help from my Facebook friends and family to help me put a daily menu together.  Why?  Because I don’t have a clue where to start.

Eating is something a person has to do everyday.  Food is energy for the body.  I’ve been told that many times.  This breast cancer thing has spun my head around – not that I’m afraid of it because I’m not.  It has caused some triggers in my brain to fire off causing an “Epiphany” of sorts.

I don’t speak of my past.  It is, just that, the past.  But I will have to share my past in order for you to understand what I have recently realized about me and my eating disorder.  I don’t have anorexia, or bulimia.  Anorexia sufferers are afraid to put on weight and know that food causes that to happen.  They avoid it like the plague in their struggle with it everyday.  Bulimics eat, then make themselves throw up.  They cope with this disorder until it gets the best of them and they eat non stop for a period of time.  Out of control it becomes.  Then they do what they know to do.  They go throw up.

I just don’t eat.  It is a waste of time in my opinion.  Cooking, cleaning, dealing with leftovers that will not be eaten.  I’m not hungry so why is everyone else in my family hungry?  Frankly, I can have, and have had, angry outbursts over this issue many times.  I do eat, though.  Late in the day.  Once a day.  Not all day long, just one large meal and that’s it.

I’m overweight.  I’m on the tipping point of being obese.  Am I ashamed of my body?  At times but not always.  Do I get frustrated at my body weight?  Yes.  How can I not lose weight when I don’t eat?  Well, my poor body is in “Starvation Mode” and has been for 61 years.

I’ve had enough therapists and counselors in my life helping me with other issues so I kind of know how this works.  How my past affects me today.  So now I will take you back there.

When I was about six or seven years old I was told by  my father that my mother didn’t want to have anything to do with me.  Now this is “hearsay” and I cannot testify to the veracity of his words.

The story he related to me was at the age of 3 months I had gotten sick with double pneumonia.  I couldn’t breathe.  He had just come home from a long day of brick laying to find my  mother in bed while I was mewling in an attempt to cry and breathe.  He told me he had asked my mother why she hadn’t noticed or taken me to the doctor.  According to my father, my mother’s words were “Just let her die!”.

My mother had some kind of mental illness.  She was in and out of mental institutions all of my childhood.  She would be gone for weeks or months at a time.  My father was a brick layer who traveled many miles for his work.  He would leave before day break and would return long after sundown.

So as you can imagine, I was left alone.  The feeding and diaper changing happened before my father left for work and after he came home at night.  The rest of the day was who knows what.

My sister and I grew up in an environment where food was not a priority.  We never had breakfast or lunch.  Dinner was hit and miss.  When our mother was  home from the mental institutions she would prepare dinner for us.  Our father was mostly absent.  He did cook a few times.  Today, I think I can only count about 10 times that we actually had food prepared by either parent for a meal.

That left my sister and I to fend for ourselves.  I do remember opening cans of spinach, draining the liquid, and eating it out of the can.  I do remember getting into trouble for doing so.  Big trouble.  I was told by my father that I was selfish.

This kind of an environment raises questions about a child’s self worth.

My sister and I didn’t get lunch at school when we were old enough to go.  Not on a daily basis anyway.  There were a few times we ate school lunch but by and large I spent my lunch period outside playing on the recess grounds.

My sister and I were placed in foster homes when I was 11 and she was 10.  By this time I was already quite overweight and malnourished.  My sister was malnourished as well, but she was not overweight.  I was shamed by our first foster family for me being so fat.  This was the first time in my life where breakfast was eaten before school.  We had lunch at school.  Dinner was served in the evening.  I remember eating like there was no tomorrow.  Again, I got in trouble for eating and was labeled as selfish.

My second foster family, I lived with them for the next six years.  Once again there were daily meals and I could not help myself.  I would eat anything I could.

I didn’t learn how to prepare food nor how to take care of myself when I came of age and went off on my own.  So, after I turned 18 and was out in the world on my own I reverted back to not eating.  Because I didn’t know how to prepare foods.  Frankly, I wasn’t interested in learning how to cook either.  I had better things to do with my time than waste it on cooking and cleaning.

Not long after I turned 18 I met my children’s father.  We had three girls and one boy together.  That was a dreadful time in our lives.  All I’m going to say about that time is getting money from him to feed our children when he disappeared in our lives for long periods of time was extremely difficult.  I made sure my children had food to eat and didn’t worry about myself.

When I was pregnant with my last child her father served me with divorce papers.  Which I was thrilled to receive.  The thing I didn’t see coming was his family would take my other three children from me for the next 12 years on the pretense of taking them to the zoo and would be back in a couple days.

Once again.  Take care of my child to ensure she was fed but didn’t take care of myself.  Times were tough for us.  Money was a commodity that was not plentiful.  I struggled to keep her having lunch at school when she was old enough to go.  Breakfast was not something I made for her on a regular basis.  I was always in a hurry to get to work and would give her something to take along on our trip to daycare or school.  Our dinners were anything but healthy over the 11 years that my daughter and I grew up together.

My daughter and Joe’s youngest daughter got us together.  My whole life changed in 1990.  Now there were a whole lot of people, 5 of them, that wanted to eat.  What’s for breakfast?  What are we having for lunch?  What are  you making for dinner?  It was relentless.  It felt like I lived in the kitchen.  There were many angry outbursts over the whole issue of eating all the time.  What was WRONG with these people.  The three children that had been out of my life for 12 years came back in it.  Now there are 8 people asking me what we are eating.

Days passed.  Years passed.  The food thing never went away.  Everyone always wants to eat.  I don’t want to.

Now I am in a place where I am aware of my food issues and where they come from.  I think that my breast cancer is caused, largely, by starving my body for six decades.  This insight was whispered to me by God, triggered in my brain because of all the things I’ve been reading, or as simple as still being in touch with the therapy and counseling methods of introspection I’ve had in my life for at least 5 decades.  Whatever you choose to believe about my “awakening” is how it will be.  I choose to believe that I am at a place in my life where God knows I am ready for change.

As much as people don’t want to believe it, there is a vast majority of children who go to bed hungry.  Here in the United States.  Hungry children can’t focus in school because of malnutrition.  Joe has said he can’t believe there are children that are going hungry.  He didn’t experience that in his childhood so he can’t understand it.  I do.

I’ve created a meal plan for Joe and I.  Trying to eat healthy-er than we have before.  Neither Joe nor I are diabetic which is a miracle in itself.  Am I adhering to the meal plan?  Honestly, no.  I let my old habits and days events take over.  I still don’t eat most of the time but I am trying to do better.

Menu planning

Menu planning

I am getting more fruits and vegetables in our house.  I will, and do, eat them.

Salads

Salads

Grapes

Grapes

Berries

Berries

I am eating chicken.  Reluctantly though.  Fish….well that one will be a while coming.  I will celebrate adding more chicken in my meals first, then later I will THINK about adding fish.

Okay, so what are your childhood memories around food?  Do you love to eat?  How do you feel about food?  Do you eat to live?  Do you live to eat?  Or do you have to learn, like me, to just eat?  Basically I eat to shut off the growling in my stomach when I can no longer ignore it.  I’m working on it.  One day at a time.

Leslie

Joe had to sell his trailer.

Joe getting his work trailer ready to sell

Joe getting his work trailer ready to sell.

I posted this photo on Facebook last week, saying this made me sad.  My family and friends all reminded me that Joe loves me more than the trailer.  Which is very true and I am blessed to have him as my husband.

Still, it is hard to see Joe’s baby going away.  You see, this trailer was hand built by Joe.  He knows “Martha” as intimately as he knows me.

Joe chose the steel for her frame.  He chose a specific expanded steel that was welded into the trailer to securely hold our pickup for hundreds of miles.  Created very specific drawings for the steel pins that connect the two pieces together.  Every joint had been designed to move a particular way and the support pieces had to be a specific hardness.  The hydraulics running through the trailer were ordered by Joe with their own set of specifications.  All the electrical wiring was tied together where necessary, clipped to the frame in other places, heat shrunk at connections to keep out the elements.

For 10 years, Martha and Joe have been near constant companions.  He knows her quirks, creaks, groans, and what to do when she is having a tantrum.  And she does have them once in a while.  Martha has knocked him in the head several times.  Never hard enough to make him bleed, just enough to put a knot on his head.

Today, Martha is leaving us.

Transfer of ownership today

Transfer of ownership today

She is going to be in the care of another man that appreciates machinery as much as Joe does.  We are both confident that Martha has found a good home and she will help this man to keep a roof over his head and food on his table as she did for us.

The money received for the sale of Joe’s trailer will go towards our living expenses while I am being treated for my breast cancer.  The paperwork is going through the systems of the hospital, doctors, and clinics for my ongoing care.

Our daughter has created a GoFundMe Campaign to raise money from donors for my medical needs that will not be covered by the programs being put into place now for me.  If you wish to contribute you may do so by clicking on this link to “Leslie’s Pink Battle Brigade“.  Your donations are greatly appreciated.

I confess, I feel quite awkward about  asking for your help.  I don’t ask for help.  I just figure out a way to make things happen.  This is a time when the situation is way beyond my control and I have Joe to think about.  As well as my adorable grandchildren.  My loving children, too.

In point of fact, it was my loving children that informed me they were going to create the GoFundMe Campaign and I was not allowed to refuse it.

There is a link to the right of this page.  A photo of me with one of my granddaughters in my lap.  Clicking on that photo will take you to the “Leslie’s Pink Battle Brigade” if you wish to donate at a later time.  This is the only time you will get this request from me on this matter.

To all of you who have contacted me on YouTube and Facebook.  Each of you that have given me your love, prayers, hugs, encouragement, and support I cannot thank you enough.  I have been overwhelmed by the love for several days now and am very appreciative of each of  you.

Thank you –

Leslie

Let’s do some Punching!

If you have an electronic cutter with shapes similar to what I have in punches you can use them.  Or even if you have a selection of nested dies you can do this.  Paw through your assortment of tools to see what you come up with.

My punch collection is from my days as a Stampin’ Up! Demonstrator.   Most all of them are no longer available (maybe on eBay).  I am using what I have on hand.

The inspiration for this current state of affairs is from watching quite a number of DIY Embellishment videos on YouTube.  You will find these at the end of this post.

As you can, plainly, see….I have one or two punches in my collection *eye roll*.

My collection of punches

My collection of punches

I have a plastic holder full of various shapes of craft paper….card stock and printed papers….that have been stashed out of sight until I was ready to tackle the task of cutting them into usable sizes for card fronts.  These papers are, instead, going to be mauled by my punches.

Collection of scrap paper

Collection of scrap paper

I have amassed quite a new collection of paper items that I have no storage space for.  Yay ME!  *groan*

Piles of punched items

Piles of punched items

Using some of the, CAN YOU BELIEVE IT, 500 coin envelopes I bought several years ago because I could not purchase less than that.  I have put each type of punch item in its own coin envelope.  I have selected an assortment of four (4) punch elements and roughly layered them together.  Attempting to figure out color combinations that work together.

My attempt at color coordination

My attempt at color coordination

These four (4) punches from Stampin’ Up! were used for this endeavor.  And you can see how I layered them together to create an embellishment for a card front.

My assortment of DIY Embellishments

My assortment of DIY Embellishments

Here is a better view of my creations.  I have used Tim Holtz “Chit Chat” word stickers on most of these.  I’ve also used a stamped sentiment I recently purchased from a dear friend who sells for “A Stamper’s Journey”.

My creations

My creations

I will have a YouTube video up later today or possibly on Monday (July 4, 2016) showing what I have done to create these.  You can then do the same, or something similar, with your punches or electronic cutters.  Hey, give  yourself the chance to have the “Go To” pieces for  your mini albums, scrapbook layouts, greeting cards, and even your art journals.  You may even find your creations rival those of K&Co., Anna Griffith, or whomever you adore and spend precious money on.

As promised, here are the videos that inspired me to give this a try.

Breast Cancer Diagnosis – Akin to drinking water from a fire hose

My dear friend, Maureen Criss Mathis, asked me if I felt like I was “Drinking water from a fire hose” and I had to steal her reference.  This is exactly like that.

Like  you, I’ve seen the many marathons for “The Cure” and all the pink ribbons.  I’ve heard the stories of the battles being waged by ordinary women with their individual type of breast cancer.  Let’s not leave the men out of this equation.  They get breast cancer as well.

You hear about the many who fall in the battle, many who are emotionally scarred and physically maimed, many who survive to fight another day.  Hopefully they don’t have to fight again after what they have been through.

I am totally blown away by the wealth of love and support I have been receiving, and continue to receive.

Frankly, I’ve had to spend quite a bit of time in prayer over this development.  I feel unworthy of all the love I have received.  Mostly, I’m having a sort of “Out of body experience” with this whole situation.  As if I am a spectator instead of a participant.  Hence, the unworthiness feeling I have.

I am learning that the “Obama Care” Insurance package is not quite as fabulous as everyone had been lead to believe.  There are people struggling with their own health issues and are foregoing treatment because they can’t come up with the huge….and I mean HUGE…. deductibles they are facing.  Paying $600 to $1000 a month for this insurance then find it won’t cover any of the medical costs until the deductible of $500 to $700 is first met.  Who has that kind of money, I ask you?

In all the reading I am doing, and the research I’m finding.  Breast cancer is, by and large, fully treatable.  The one medical issue that has a far larger death rate is Heart Disease.  Quite of number of breast cancer survivors succumb to a heart attack.

This was true of my research when Joe was faced with Prostate Cancer.  Studies have shown that men die WITH prostate cancer and NOT because of it.  Most men die of a heart attack or some other equally disastrous malady.

I can’t kick myself in the butt.  Really, it is no longer physically possibly for me to do that.  I had been able to do that in my younger days but not any longer.

Hindsight is also one of the specters I have haunting me lately.  Had I told everyone back in December of 2015 or January of 2016 when I first found the lump in my breast I would have been a clinical “Stage Zero”.  A Non-Invasive breast cancer confined to a duct and considered “In Situ”.  Meaning it had not spread outside of the confines of the lump.

February 2016 I was at a Stage 1.  Either Stage 1 A or Stage1B.  That is when the cancer cells begin to break out of the duct and invade healthy tissue.  I think in February I was well past the Stage 1 since my lump was already far larger than 2 centimeters.  More than likely it had not spread to my Lymph Nodes at that time.

March 2016 and onward into May 2016 I think my breast cancer was invasive enough to be considered Stage 3.  There is a Stage 3A, Stage 3B, and a Stage 3C.  I fit somewhere in one of these three clinical stages.  My lump was far larger than 3 centimeters (which is 1-1/2 inches) and in some places it was 5 centimeters (3 inches).

Stage 4 breast cancer is when the invasive growth has left the breast and lymph nodes to make its way to other organs of my body.  Lungs, skin, bones, liver, or brain.

As if this information is not intimidating enough, there are further considerations.  What TYPE of cancer do I have?  Are there Hormone Receptors…..does the cancer feed off my Estrogen or Progesterone hormones?  Does my cancer indicate a HER2 Receptor status?  What is my Lymph Node status?

I don’t have that information at this time.  I probably won’t have that until after the July 4th holiday.  That information will then dictate whether I begin Chemotherapy, Radiation therapy, or an oral drug therapy.  I’ve been told my treatment plan will begin by reducing the cancer size and stopping its growth BEFORE surgery will be even considered.

In this information overload process I have learned that every single person is eligible for good medical care.  Hospitals CANNOT turn you away for a lack of Insurance or ability to pay for your treatment.

One of my daughters is an ICU Trauma Nurse at Denver General.  She has over 10 years of experience in her field and she did some research to find a clinic or hospital for me to go for treatment.  She has also made her recommendation of the Surgeon I am to initially see for my treatment plan based on her knowledge of the inner workings of hospitals and the continued education of the doctors employed by hospitals.

Another daughter who is a nurse in Kansas has been staunchly advocating the role of hospitals and doctors in the care of ALL patients.  No matter their financial situation or Insurance coverage – or lack of Insurance coverage.  Hospitals are there to help everyone who needs it.  According to my Kansas daughter, hospitals have staff well versed in the charities and the grants available to everyone for their treatment.  There are people at hospitals whose sole job is to guide the patient through the quagmire of paperwork and options to best help in their treatment and subsequent return to health.

Had I known this information at the start of 2016 I would not be in the position I am in today.

I have a huge fault….some may call it a SIN.  I have a lot of pride.  I do things myself.  I don’t depend on, nor do I ask others for help.  My other fault….SIN is that I am impatient.

So, due to my enormous faults….SINs.  I am now in the unenviable position of asking for help and having to be patient.

Please, I beg you.  If you know someone who is facing a major illness and they are putting off treatment because they can’t afford it.  HOUND THEM!  Tell them to get their butts to a doctor or, at the very least, the Emergency Room of a local hospital.  If the local hospital is not equipped to deal with the illness they HAVE TO tell the person where they can GET the proper treatment.

Finally….sorry this is so long.  For all of you, my dear friends, that have found my having breast cancer unbearable and you feel really sad for me.  I have a suggestion that I hope will help you to deal with this discomfort.  Be, what is the word I am looking for?  Disgraceful?  No that is not it.  Disrespectful.  Yes!  That is the word I am looking for.

If you want to send me a greeting card to show your support.  Here are the rules.

  1.  The sentiment HAS to be something OUTRAGEOUS!  For example:  “You can’t skip and be unhappy at the same time”.  Dylusions Quote Medley.
  2. I will even be open to:  “You would think that with all your Multiple personalities at least one would be likable”.  Dylusions Quote Medley.
  3. You HAVE to use your paper scraps.  Don’t run to your local craft and hobby store for a new pad of paper.
  4. If you have a YouTube channel, please share your creation and let people know that you are supporting someone with breast cancer.  This might give another card maker or paper crafter permission to express their love and support to someone they don’t quite know how to put in words what they are feeling.
  5. Private message me for my address, if you don’t already  have it.
  6. Prepare yourself to be honored.  I will be home for about a year now through this process and I will be making videos.  I will be showing the cards I receive and showing my appreciation for each of  you.

I am going to get through this.  With or without you.  I have a grandbaby that will be coming into this family in November or December.  I HAVE to be there to welcome her into this world.  I have twin granddaughters that are now 2 years old.  I have to be able to get out to the thrift shops to find frilly dresses and over the top jewelry for them to play dress up.  I have a grandson who is currently 7 years old who is far older than his years that needs to know that I love him and support his computer game adventures.  I have a husband, whom I adore, that is enveloped by a cloak of fear that I have to remove.  I have daughters, sons, daughter-in-laws, son-in-laws that I need to continue to love and support their lives.  I have friends that are in need of my support and love just as much as I need it from them.

Leslie

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