The old man said to me
Long before these crowded streets
Here stood the Dreaming Tree”
This crazy week is almost over and a glass of wine is in order.
What are you dreaming about tonight?
Can you believe I’m over halfway done with radiation treatment?! Me neither! Time sure does move fast. The fatigue is taking a toll on me but I mostly feel good. I’m tired but have a hard time sleeping sometimes, especially if I’m just trying to nap. My skin is turning a nice shade of red now and it looks as though I have an oddly shaped sunburn across the area being radiated. It’s starting to itch too so the doctor prescribed a cream to help with that. So now it’s Miaderm mixed with calendula oil and topped with a steroid cream 2 -3 times a day.
Sometimes it hurts, mostly under my armpit area but that comes and goes so it isn’t too bad just yet. The pain in my esophagus is finally under control, thanks to the medicine the doctor prescribed last week. I accidentally skipped 2 doses over the weekend and the pain immediately came back so I’m grateful the medicine helps!
Aside from that, I’m anxious to be done, simply because I’m ready to move on from this part. ☺
I hope you are all having a wonderful week and enjoying the change of season!
After the car accident that I was in over 10 years ago, I suffered from migraines and headaches for years. I saw many different doctors of varying types and tried tons of different medications. I eventually figured that it was something I needed to live with for the rest of my life. A few years later, I changed my eating habits and started walking regularly. I woke up one day and realized that it had been a week since my last headache. I couldn’t believe it! I have struggled with headaches and the occasion migraine since but nothing compared to what I once lived with regularly.
After my Herceptin treatment in March, I woke up the following morning with an intense headache. It lasted all weekend and Tylenol did little to ease the pain. This treatment, the same thing happened only the headache didn’t go away in 2 days. It lasted for 5 days and woke me up at night with its intensity. Tylenol took the edge off but only briefly and I spent a few days suffering through it before finally calling my doctor.
I called and asked to make an appointment prior to my next treatment because of the headaches and was transferred to the nurse instead. She was kind and asked me lots of questions before relying to the doctor. I was asked to get a CT scan of my head and sinuses to ensure nothing crazy was happening before deciding how to go about treating the headaches.
So Friday afternoon, I returned to the place that I originally found out that I likely had a form of breast cancer. It was odd, walking into that building and recalling the memories from my visit last July. So much has changed, in so many ways.
As I laid there and the machine whirled around me, I couldn’t help but feel anxious. I was relatively confident that the headaches were caused by the herceptin but I was also confident last year that I had mastitis and not cancer. It was hard not to worry. I put my fears aside and enjoyed my weekend. Team Gina kept me busy and having a blast so I didn’t think about it.
This morning my nurse called. I immediately felt my blood pressure rise despite how confident I had been. The “what if” creeped in and my heart raced. My oncologist reviewed my scans and everything looked PERFECT. ALL CLEAR. NOTHING OF CONCERN. The sigh of relief was intense. Even my nurse said she was hugely relieved.
It’s unclear what is causing the headaches but I feel pretty sure that it’s from the herceptin, simply because of the timing in which they come. I was given some tips on how to avoid them but also offered a script if needed to help alleviate the pain. Hopefully they won’t grow in intensity but if they do, I’ll get through it. Because my scan is all clear.
When we had the pleasure of meeting Will and the fellow board members for the Gina McReynolds Foundation, they invited us to spend the weekend at their biggest fundraiser of the year – a golf tournament. So this weekend, we did just that – and what an experience it was.
We arrived during a massive downpour on Friday night that caused the outdoor acoustic concert and dinner to be moved inside. The concert and dinner was held for the families they have helped and the volunteers assisting with the event. The room that we stayed in was one of the rooms that were generously donated by sponsors of the event. The moment we arrived at the golf lodge, we were greeted with big smiles and lots of hugs – and that didn’t stop all weekend.
Once checked in and settled, we headed to dinner where we met many of the volunteers and supporters of the organization. Dinner was delicious and we enjoyed listening to Tobacco Road play throughout the evening – the guitar player was even a pink guitar with Team Gina’s name on it! The guitar player promised to play it at all his events going forward too! We sat with another couple that we met upon check in and found out that we had lots in common. Will was right when he said he thought we’d get along great! The evening was lots of fun and left us excited for the following day’s festivities.
Saturday brought lots of sunshine and clouds that were so low to the sky, it felt like you could touch them. We spent the morning checking out the setup…it was incredible. The entire courtyard was transformed to prepare for the dinner and concert after the tournament. The lodge even allowed them to paint the pergola pink with ribbons! The clubhouse was packed with volunteers and all sorts of goodies that were donated for the raffle. Not to mention all of the golf carts that were loaded with donated gift bags for the golfers – over 240 golfers! The three of us got our steps in while we wandered around meeting tons of people and trying to take in all that was happening.
Eventually naptime came and Jacob slept for a while. Afterwards, we headed back out just in time to hear the band start practicing. We had the amazing opportunity to meet the Tobacco Road band (I was too star struck to think about taking a picture – eek!) and the bass player even let Jacob play with his bass! Jacob was dancing away out in the grass having an absolute ball listening to them while setting up. He also had a ball soon after that playing with the golf balls around the putting area. Little man had a blast with all the different colors and trying to carry them all at once.
After the tournament ended, dinner was served and we had the opportunity to chat with some of the men and women who made the event possible. The amazing sponsors who give their time, money and effort to help make this event – this organization – possible is heartwarming. There was a live auction, a silent auction and a raffle…all made possible from donations.
Oh, and there was a pink fire truck! Not only was it a pink fire truck but it was a pink fire truck that was signed by survivors! They offered for me to sign it and I couldn’t uncap that marker fast enough. What an honor it was, to write my name on that fire truck stating that I am a survivor.
Once Tobacco Road Band started playing, Jacob started showing his dance moves again. We sat and listened to them play for hours – they were awesome. Eventually little man was tuckered out and fell asleep while I rocked him outside of our room. The music continued to play and the stars shined brightly in the sky above us. It was beautiful.
And if that wasn’t enough…we were surprised with a visit from Fred Stokes! He offered to let me try on his Superbowl ring, which I couldn’t pass up. It was huge and gorgeous! Such an incredible feeling to wear that and meet him. He even signed a copy of his book for us and chatted with us for a while. So cool!
Soon after that, we met the owner of Bear Residential Construction, who was the title sponsor for the golf tournament. Aaron is one of the reasons this event is possible and it was an honor to meet him.
The entire weekend was beyond amazing. There were a lot of tears, a lot of laughs and just an overwhelming sense of belonging. These people, they do this out of the pure goodness of their hearts. They genuinely, sincerely care about helping families like mine that are impacted by breast cancer. They opened their arms and their hearts to us and we embraced them.
I think what amazes me most about this weekend is that despite how hard they were working – and they were busting their butts the entire time – they still went out of their way for us. They continued to surprise us with unexpected meetings and opportunities, on top of what was already a fabulous weekend getaway. Everything about this organization, and the people who are a part of it, makes my heart smile.
I am blessed to be a part of the Team Gina family.
Have you ever had such an incredible experience that you aren’t quite sure how to articulate it? I want to do justice in sharing my family weekend with TeamGina but my heart is so full that I don’t know how to put it into words. I’ll be working on it today though…and be forewarned, it will probably be lengthy!
Hint: it included a pink fire truck, a football player and music.
I continue to be amazed by the serendipitous encounters in my life.
I remember, over a decade ago, finding moments like this and being happy about them. Now these moments seem to find me and I can’t help but be excited. I continue to meet the most incredible people, stumble upon perfect timing and wind up in the right place.
I feel like the path ahead is unknown and yet clear, simply because I have faith that it’s the one that I am supposed to be on.
I mentioned earlier this year that I am trying hard to stick with the basics when it comes to food. I am learning a lot as I go and am continuously shocked at what I’ve been eating. Even things I think are simple foods are loaded with preservatives and unnecessary ingredients. Not to mention the continued use of GMOs and pesticides, which is horrifying. It’s overwhelming at times but I’m making it a priority for my family.
We have a local farm that we visit most weekends to grab fresh fruits and veggies, most of which are organic. Knowing this weekend will be filled supporting Team Gina, I stopped there between appointments today so I could grab everything I want on hand for next week.
I don’t know about you, but this feels like the best $38 I’ve spent in a long time. Zucchini, cukes, tomatoes, potatoes, asparagus, scallions, onions, beans, lemons, apples, peaches, strawberries, bananas, 2 dozen eggs, cantaloupe and kale…I just need to grab some lettuce!
Happy Earth Day, friends!
Sometimes I write an entire post, save it and leave it on my computer. It sits there, untouched until I happen to come across it in my search of something. Today, this happened. I found a post that I called The balancing act. This post was written just two months ago and as I read it, I realized that my thoughts have already shifted ever-so-slightly from the way I felt when I first wrote it. Yes, I still feel a slight pang or a slight worry every time we talk of the future. But with each passing day, despite still undergoing treatment, I feel a little less afraid and a little more secure. It feels good to know that time does actually heal the mind along with the body. No, the future is still not guaranteed, but I am now looking forward to it as if it were, and yet still enjoying the everyday moments in life. That, for me, is the true balancing act.
Here is my prior post, written February 27th:
I read a quote on a blog I follow the other day. It said that writers often write about what they need to hear (sorry, despite searching I can’t locate the post that I read this in). Seems obvious, right? Well, I reread it a few times and it left me thinking quite a bit. This blog began as a way to share my story and yet somehow it also transitioned into a way for me to talk to myself too. So today, I’m going to do just that. I’m going to write about something that is on my mind regularly but that I don’t speak about often. But, it’s something that I need to hear and maybe, just maybe, someone else does too.
I’ve mentioned before that if cancer teaches you nothing is, it is that life is short. Each day is a blessing and needs to be embraced like a long lost friend. I am grateful for the life that I am blessed to have and the family and friends that share it with me.
Have I beaten cancer? – YES!
Is cancer gone from my life forever? …yes?
I tend to be the type of person who overthinks and overanalyzes and questions each decision that I make because I want to ensure that I am truly making the best decision. Now, I have certainly had my fair share of split decisions and regrets but that has taught me to take my time and think through the decision before making it. I weigh the pros and cons of each, sometimes to exhaustion, and decide which choice is the right one. Cancer adds a layer of complexity to my decision making. A layer that I hate having and yet a voice in my head never lets me forget to consider.
This voice often asks me, will you be here?
It’s a question that has no answer and frankly, if it did, I don’t know that I would want to know it. But it’s there. The ever lingering question that has no purpose but to make my heart feel a slight pang and my breath catch a little.
See, the think about this question, is that it has always been there. Every day and every decision that we make, we rely heavily on the fact that tomorrow will be there and the day after that will be too. But it isn’t guaranteed and I probably should have been paying more attention to that fact long before cancer came knocking.
So every decision that I make, big or small, is a balancing act. I weigh my options and once I’ve mostly made up my mind, the little voice pipes up and asks will you be here? This causes my heart rate to rise slightly and break just a little. Then I think rationally through the question. If the answer is no, would I be putting my family in a poor predicament? If the answer is yes, will we be able to enjoy it?
My visit to the dentist back in August was uneventful in terms of my teeth but subsequently eventful in what occurred afterwards. Soon after that visit, my dental hygienist called me because one of the patients that she saw that day has a local foundation that assists breast cancer warriors. She had mentioned me to the founder of the organization and he had asked that I give him a call to see how he could help me. The thought was incredibly kind and it warmed my heart that she thought of me that day. Since I was starting treatment that week, I didn’t contact him right away but did eventually reach out to introduce myself.
Will is the founder of the Gina McReynolds Foundation and the cause is close to his heart, as he lost his wife to breast cancer when she was about my age. When I first spoke to Will, it felt like I was talking to an old friend. He knew a lot about breast cancer, understood the treatment that I was undergoing and the battle that my family and I were facing.
Fast forward to this month. I had a dentist appointment scheduled for the end of the month but asked to be notified if anything opened up sooner. When the office called me, I had two options but only one that really worked for my new radiation schedule so that’s the one I picked. After having my teeth cleaned, I said good bye to the wonderful ladies in the front office and they replied, using my name and wishing me a great day.
I walked into the waiting room and a man was standing in front of the reception desk. He looked at me, puzzled, and said “Meghan?” I smiled with a puzzled look in return and he introduced himself – it was Will, from Team Gina! I couldn’t believe it – what are the chances? We shook hands and chatted for a moment before his appointment and he invited us to meet the foundation’s board. So last night, we had the pleasure of doing just that.
Joe, Jacob & I spent the evening chatting with the folks that make up the board and getting to know more about them and the organization. They learned all about us, what we enjoy, about our families and more. The evening was full of laughter and lots of fun.
At the end of dinner, they surprised us with a gift from their foundation. It was a thoughtful, kind gift that I will forever hold dear. I cannot wait to begin giving back to this incredible, deserving organization.
It is moments like this in life that, despite my diagnosis, I am reminded that I am truly too blessed to complain. And I’m on the right path in life.
The last week of treatment and fatigue was beginning to weigh on my mind the last few days. So despite the crazy wind and chance of rain, we ventured to the beach yesterday – my happy place – to enjoy some time together. The ocean was rough with the waves crashing against each other over the sand bar and trying to steal Jacob’s sand pail. Each time the water came closer to where we were standing, Jacob would yell “oohhh, oohhh!” and jump back a little to stay away from it. As soon as the water began to rush back out, he would run towards it again. It made us laugh and he was having a ball doing it. He could sense the water was rougher than usual, battling amongst itself.
About halfway through the day, another family set up on the beach next to us. The mom stopped over to say hello and we started to chat about life. We joke & laughed and shared stories about our kids for a bit. She eventually joined her family again to help her kids bury her husband in the sand and Jacob fell asleep on my lap. It felt nice, normal.
Despite the rough sea in front of us, the wind blowing heavy and the slight clouds in the sky, we were all able to enjoy the beauty and grace of the day. It was a wonderful afternoon.
We don’t know what battles others around us may be fighting. A kind word or a simple gesture can go a long way and sometimes it is all a person needs to keep fighting. Spread the love, my friends.