Time to eat!

I love food. I always have. Growing up with a father who is a chef allowed me the opportunity to try lots of delicious recipes and unique foods – like the time my parents made homemade calamari and told me it was chicken. Good thing I fell in love with it!

One of the challenges with treatment is the metallic taste. The nausea is mostly controlled with medication but food aversions paired with a metallic taste makes it hard to eat. I still have my typical appetite and I usually eat the same things on the days after treatment – eggs, cereal, bacon, chocolate, bananas. Lemon heads also help but you can only eat so many before your tongue can’t handle anymore.

Water is relatively gross because of this so I drink a good bit of apple juice and ginger ale, which also helps to ease my stomach and give me some calories too. It’s also the reason that I avoid coffee for a few days, I can’t handle the bitter–metallic taste combination.

Another interesting side effect is pain when swallowing. I’m not entirely sure whether the cause of this is from mouth sores, which I have been lucky to have very few of, or a result of residual heartburn from the chemo. Either way, when I do eat after treatment it is a slow process due to the uncomfortable feeling I have when swallowing. Soft foods are helpful with this.

So I spend my “down” days daydreaming about the meals I will eat once I no longer taste metal. (This is normal, right? Anyone else daydream about food?) My husband’s grilled chicken wings, a juicy burger, a large Greek salad, Asian turkey meatballs and hibachi are all of the food’s that I have been drooling over this past week.

And guess what, folks? The metallic taste is mostly gone from last treatment so it’s time to eat! Just in time for the weekend, too. YAY!  Might even be time to enjoy a glass of wine…cheers to the weekend, friends!

What food do you dream about, that you just can’t get enough of?

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DAY 5 – DONE!!!

Collage 2015-12-09 16_06_25WARNING: This post contains excessive usage of exclamation points.

For this blog, there are days when I know exactly what I want to type and it flows freely from my fingertips. Other days I know the point that I want to make but have a hard time expressing it. Other days I write an entire blog post in my head and either forget to post it, run out of time or decide it isn’t worthy of a post. Then there are days like today, when I can’t type fast enough.

I had my checkup with the oncologist today, where we discussed this last treatment round. We chatted about the side effects, how I was feeling, the importance of rest and how my dear husband is handling everything. I asked lots of questions, and learned a bunch, about the logistics of the next stages of treatment. I even scheduled an appointment with the surgeon for the beginning of January!

When it came time for the clinical exam, the Nurse Practitioner (we switch weeks between her and the oncologist) asked, as she always does, whether or not I thought the tumor was shrinking.

Me: Well, maybe?

NP: (Laughs)

Me: I feel like, I want to say yes but just a little bit of yes. Like, I feel like it’s smaller but I can’t tell if it’s my mind playing tricks on me or if it really is shrinking.

NP: (Laughs again) I know you probably come in here like, please don’t tell me it isn’t!

Me: (Laughing – I love her!) I want to say yes, it is, but I can’t be sure so I’m hoping you’ll tell me I’m not imagining it!

NP: (Does exam) Meghan, it’s ½ a cm smaller than last visit! And it’s very moveable too.

Me: kljsdflkjadsl;kfja;kfjsdwuernsdf!!! I feel like maybe my lymph nodes went down a little too?

NP: (Examines lymph nodes, eyes get big) Oh yeah, these are much smaller – way smaller. (Smiles wide) And they are very moveable, showing no attachment to the anterior wall. This is great news!

Me: kasjdflkjasfiuwekndkjafldjslknfaslkdf!!!

MY TUMOR IS SHRINKING!!! And my lymph nodes!!!

Oh my, does that bring tears to my eyes. We have been at a stand-still, cancer and I, for the last 2 treatments and I’m beginning to win this tug-of-war once again! It’s about 2cm now, more than half the size of the original 4.2 cm size. Not quite the 1/3 of the original size that I was thinking but I’ll take it!

And who knows, maybe I’m cancer free completely right now and it’s just some scar tissue or dead cells working their way out. (wink)

Today is a great day, my friends. A GREAT day! I wish I hugged her.

Memory Lane

This past week, I was asked by two separate people if I could send pictures for a scrapbook / slideshow that they are putting together. Since I wasn’t feeling too awesome yesterday, I plopped myself on the couch with my external hard drive and started skimming through old pictures. Oh my, talk about a trip down memory lane! I had a surprisingly fun time reminiscing on the life that I have experienced in my decades here – bad haircuts, weird clothing choices and embarrassing faces had me laughing out loud. What started as a quick scan turned into hours of looking through pictures and sharing them with people. A nap or two in between made the day a bit more bearable. This was a helpful distraction from the way my body felt yesterday.

Scanning through all of these pictures had me thinking about the memories that I have of people that I have shared my life with – family, friends, and acquaintances. I have dozens of pictures that I may or may not have shared with the people that are in them. They are hidden away on this hard drive that I access periodically to find a certain picture or backup more pictures. And what about all of the pictures that I have stored in a box somewhere, before digital pictures were around? I can just imagine the tote I have tucked away in New York, filled with childhood memories.

When writing blog posts, I often search through old pictures or reach out to a friend or family member to see if they have the picture that I know exists somewhere. A trip down memory lane is always nice. It often brings me happy tears and a big smile, especially when it is a picture that I haven’t seen before!

I’m wondering, how do you all share pictures amongst family and friends so that everyone can enjoy that moment in time (aside from Facebook)? Is there an easy and secure way to share digital and print pictures with a large group of people?

I will continue to share pictures as I come across them. If you happen to dig out the old albums or dust off the hard drive and find pictures that you’d like to share, please send them my way! I’d love to see them!

Giving up

I woke up at 2am with another hot flash and the inability to fall immediately back to sleep. I sat up, with my head in my hands, and had a thought. I don’t want to do this anymore. I sighed. I hate this.

The thought lingered for a moment and in my hot, sleepy daze I thought about what that meant. What would it mean to not do another round of chemo? What would it mean to give in to my cancer? What would it mean to say I’m done?

It would mean giving up.

In that moment, despite the pain in my bones, the fog in my head and the queasiness of my stomach, I was angry. I was angry at my cancer, at my chemo, at my hot flashes…but mostly at myself. Giving up has never been – and will never be – an option. The thought isn’t allowed here.

Yes, these days and nights are hard right now.

Yes, this journey has a long and winding road ahead.

Yes, I am scared.

Yes, I am still fighting.

No, I will not give up.

This morning my little man woke up snuggled next to me in bed and started dancing. His eyes weren’t even open yet but he was wiggling his little tooshie to the sound of the song in his heart. I am reminded of the song that was in my heart on Thursday.

Today will be a great day.

Because I am here.

Because I feel a little better every day.

Because I am blessed.

Because I am loved.

Today will be a great day – because I will make sure it is.

Tell me, dear friends, how will you make your day great?

The day after

The day following chemo treatment is mostly filled with chaos…in my head. I am still in a steroid induced haze of energy and quick thoughts that aim to be productive but mostly just help create this chaos. I am enjoying a coffee to help add some clarity (and reduce the chance of a caffeine withdrawal headache) but that sometimes makes me just want to run around a little more. That’s ok though, there is always something to do to keep busy. I will spend the next few days feeling down so I like the pump of energy today brings. It makes me feel a little more alive despite the chemicals floating around inside of me.

I anxiously await the arrival of 2 of my sisters and 1 of my nephews, who will keep us company over the weekend. It is supposed to be beautiful here so I hope that means a walk or two so I can get some fresh fall Florida air to fill my lungs.

Hydration is this afternoon, which I am actually looking forward to. I am excited to see whether or not there are any Love Jars remaining. It warms my heart to hear such a positive response to them. It is a small contribution that Team Red Phoenix can have in this world, but there is potential for it to have big, happy impacts. I hope that love continues to spread!

Happy Friday, everyone. I hope your day – and weekend – is filled with love.

The Love Jar Project

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They are complete! Although simple in their design, I hope that they will have a positive impact on the lives of those who take them.

Joe & I were not alone in this creation -they are made by Team Red Phoenix! The jars and fabric were both donated and my amazingly artistic friend painted the Red Phoenix symbol on them (which she created). She switched the ribbon out for other types of cancer too!  Even the stickers were bought with money donated just for these jars.

Each Love Jar is filled with sheets of folded paper.  Every piece of paper has a sentence or two that is meant to inspire positivity and hope.  Joe and I cut each saying, folded it and tucked it into the jar for someone to enjoy.

I am thrilled that one was taken almost immediately! I cannot wait to see how long it takes before I need to make more. I just love that they have the potential to brighten someone’s day, when they may need a smile.

If you are reading this and have one of the Love Jars – YAY!! Welcome!  Please share your thoughts on what it is like to have one. I would love to hear from you!

Spread the love, my friends!

A great day to be alive!

Some days I wake up with a song in my heart.  Today’s song is “It’s a great day to be alive”.  This song has always made me smile and I have lots to smile about today.

-Treatment number 5 has begun! While this week was a little crazy, I am glad to be here today. I have made it to the 5th treatment, something that seemed so far away in August.  The fact that I am here today means that I am almost done with this part of the journey!

-Tomorrow brings two of my sisters and one of my nephews! Yay! Although it isn’t a carefree weekend of festivities, it is time with my family to laugh and smile.  That, in itself, makes me feel better.

-I’m going to beat this. My best friend messaged me yesterday and told me that this treatment is going to be one of the hardest because it is going to be the one that takes over the cancer and kills it off, making progress on this tumor & lymph nodes. Ya know what? I believe her. And with all of the people supporting me this weekend, even if it is the hardest one, I know I’ll get through it.

-I dropped off the Love Jars today!!! It took a little longer than I anticipated but I was so excited to drop them off this morning. Everyone loves them and within 30 minutes, someone had already taken one. Yay!  I hope it brightens someone’s  day the way it brightens mine.  I’ll post pictures later!

-At the end of this year, I’ll be able to ring the bell to indicate that I am done with this portion of treatment! Just typing those words brings tears to my eyes!  How awesome is that?!

-Did I mention I won’t be sick on Christmas? My 6th treatment will be the Monday after, which means I should feel good that day!

So today, my friends, is indeed a great day to be alive! Enjoy this beautiful day  and hug someone you love for me today.