Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A year of Blogging

Yesterday marked one year of writing this blog. I am amazed at all that happened in 2008.
At Terry's suggestion, here are some highlights.

Jan- I became a board member of the Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation
Feb - Visited Woodloch Pines with the Lapchaks
March - Terry's shower and a visit to Columbia, South Carolina.
April - Trip to DisneyWorld for the Epcot Flower Show.
May- This was a big month. On the 10th of May , Mathew graduated with honors from Virginia Tech and was accepted there for grad school and Theresa received her graduate degree in Applied Math from the University of South Carolina. On May 24th Theresa married Andrew in a wonderful ceremony.
June - Traveled across country to move Theresa to El Paso Texas. Missed the award ceremony for the Spirit of Courage Award (a beautiful glass lighthouse) I received from the Wellness Community of Central NJ.
July - Cruised to Bermuda with the Pics and Slics. Attended the LiveStrong Summit in Columbus Ohio and got to meet so many more fabulous survivors.
August - Was a member of Team One Reason and raised almost $1000 for the LiveStrong Challenge in Philly,
Sept - Appeared on Godd Day Street Talk (Fox News) to raise awareness of Ovarian Cancer. Turned Edison, Woodbridge and CINJ teal for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Took a trip to Lawton Oklahoma to visit Andy and Terry.
Oct- Spent a few days in Asheville NC and visited the palatial Biltmore Estate.
Nov- Ok, this month s**ks in my book. I was diagnosed with a recurrence of Ovarian Cancer and had surgery to remove my spleen and resection my liver.
Dec - Kona, my 13 year old pug, passed on the 8th.( I still miss him.) Enjoyed a wonderful Christmas with all my children and friends.

Overall a pretty fantastic year with the support and love of my family and friends.

I hope 2009 brings happiness and good health to all I know.

Every Day is a Blessing

Monday, December 29, 2008

A good pre-chemo Doctor Visit and RU Bowl Game

Today I met with Dr Rodriguez my gynecological-oncologist and her nurse practicioner Mary Jane. I got the good news that my CT scan from last week showed no signs of disease. Hurrah! The physical exam results were also good so all we needed to go over was my chemo schedule. I'll have carbo and taxol again with the standard pre-meds. I will have chemo every 21 days and after 3 cycles I will have another CT. Since I don't have any visible disease right now we will follow the drop in CA-125 to know I am getting a response. CA-125 is normally elevated after abdominal surgery so we should see a pretty nice drop after my first treatment. I will have to deal with the hair loss, fatigue, drop in blood counts and neuropathy that comes with the chemo mix I am taking.

I will spend the afternoon watching the PapaJohn' Bowl game. I am a Rutgers alum so I will be cheering on the Scarlet Knights. Wish I could have been in Alabama for the Bowl.

Upstream Red Team!


Every Day is a Blessing!

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Wonderful Christmas Day

As I sat in the pew at Christmas Mass yesterday, I looked at my husband, my daughter, my son and my new son-in-law and I thought back to December 2005. It was five short months after my surgery and I was in the midst of chemo. Back in 2005, I was pale, tired and a bit achy. Yesterday, 6 weeks after my surgery for a recurrence, I was pale, tired, and a bit achy. But in between these Christmas' I have enjoyed life. On Dec 25, 2008, I was here to celebrate the birth of Christ yet again.

I have been given the greatest gift of all - Life!
What a joy to share this holiday with my family!

Every Day is a Blessing

Monday, December 22, 2008

CT scan Number 10

Today I had the 10th CT scan of my life. ( May it really is the 30th since I have a chest , abdomen and then pelvic scan done every time I go for a scan.) This scan will provide the next baseline for my treatment which starts in January. I wasn't able to get an appointment at CINJ to access my port but Jean a nurse in radiology had time to accessed my port so I didn't have to have an IV for contrast. I had the scans and immediately knew something was different. When Theresa came in to start my contrast I asked her what happened to the "british" accent for the voice that tells you when to hold your breath. (I 've written about this voice in the past.) . Well it turns out the voice had an Australian accent not british and was the voice of the technician who installed the 128 slice machine.It seems that lots of people were confused when the voice said"Carry on breathing". So they switched it to a very "American" voice( that of the technician who services the machine now) that tells you to "take a deep breath" and then "continue breathing" . When the scan was complete, Margaret who was the nurse who helped with my PET scan, came in to flush the lines and remove my access needle. The scan took a little longer but the care was wonderful. I gave both Theresa and Margaret a hug and told them "Merry Christmas" and that I would see them in 3 months.

Then Nick and I went to the RWJH cafeteria for a bite to eat. At the entrance to the cafeteria was the decoration shown above. The Hospital ran a contest where departments decorated their door. The tree is made up of plastic forks, knives and spoons. Pretty neat! The winning door had a large Grinch which spoke as you walked by , a Christmas tree and stockings with the photos of all the people in the department. What a festive door!


Every Day is a Blessing!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Livestrong Day 2009

I read the Livestrong Blog almost daily and was happy to read that next year LiveStrong Day will be on October 2nd. (You can read the blog entry here.) I am pretty happy that it will be in October. Why? Not just because it is the anniversary of Lance's diagnosis but because by then I should be strong enough to organize a pretty good event with the Livestrong Army Central NJ. A May date would have been cutting it close to the end of my chemo treatment. Now I just have to put my thinking hat on to organize a good event.

Every Day is a Blessing

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Big 'C' - Poem by Kathy Cawthon

"The Big 'C'"
by Kathy Cawthon, Survivor

"The big 'C'" I heard someone call it.
Another just whispered the word.
That we don't even dare to say "cancer" out loud
Gives it power it doesn't deserve.

So I'm giving that letter new meaning
And refusing to give in to fear.
I'm reclaiming the power for you and for me
By saying these words loud and clear:

Let the "c" be for "cure" and "compassion."
Let it stand for the "candles" we light.
And a "chorus" of voices shouting "You 'can'!"
To all who will take up this fight.

Let the "c" be for "cash contribution."
"Credit" or "check" will work, too!
Let it stand for "commitment" and "check- ups"
and "cheer"
And the "children" "counting" on you.

Let it mean that we know our "Creator"
Is beside us each step of the way,
And remind us to "call" on His strength and His love
And to "celebrate" every new day.

To everyone facing this "challenge,"
I say it's a fight we will win.
Tell all who will listen that, starting today,
The "c" is for "COURAGE," my friend.

Roger and Kathy Cawthon
The Cancer Crusade

Back in 2005 when I was first diagnosed, someone sent me a link to the Survivor Movie. From there I signed up for e-mails from Roger and Kathy Cawthon, both survivors who founded The Cancer Crusade.Their most recent e-mail included the Big 'C' poem. I know I have older relatives who still call cancer the big C.

Every Day is a Blessing


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The past week and what lies ahead

I have been spending the last week or so getting stronger and working on my Christmas crafts. I am walking more( when it isn't snowing) and have made occasional short trips out to church and to eat and one run to Kohls and Michaels ( for more craft stuff). Since I couldn't get out much, I did lots of online shopping. So the UPS lady stops here almost daily to drop off packages.

Next Monday I will have my pre-chemo CT scan. Yup, we need to get a baseline before we start even though after my surgery there was NO visible disease. I see my gyn -onc at CINJ on the 29th for an exam and on Tuesday Jan 6th, 2009 I will start chemo. I am going with the Carbo / taxol duo. Since I am over 2 years out of treatment I will give those another try. I look forward to a similar response and remission time as I had when I was first diagnosed. My friend asked yesterday if I was sad about starting chemo again. Honestly it is not something that I am looking forward too but I am willing to suffer the lost hair , pain in my legs and neuropathy to insure that all the disease is gone. I 've got way too much traveling to do in 2009- Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Alaska.

I can't wait for my children to get home this weekend! I loved yesterday's snow.



Every Day is a Blessing!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Kona 1995-2008

On Monday, we lost our family pet Kona to congestive heart failure. Kona was a pug who brought us 13 + years of joy.

After returning from a family trip to Hawaii in 1995 we decided to get a dog. My kids loved the movie "Milo and Otis" a tale of a pug nosed pup. When we saw Kona in the puppy store we thought his fawn coloring reminded us of coffee with cream so we named him after the famous Kona Coffee from the big island of Hawaii.
Kona enjoyed watching TV. Any time we put on an animal show he would bark at whatever animal was on TV. We never watched the Westminster Kennel Club show in its entirety because he barked at every breed- big or small. He was great with Terry and Matt and all their friends ( except maybe Jason) and would bark at visitors until they stooped down to pet him.

Kona was a great companion whose black mask slowly changed to gray. Back in 2005 when I was recovering from surgery and having chemo Kona was always at my side. If I was upstairs in the bedroom - he would sleep by my side of the bed. If I was in the kitchen he would sit under the table. When I returned from the hospital last month he began again the ritual of staying by my side. If I was in the family room he would be right next to my chair.

Dogs are man's best friend and Kona was our family's best friend.


Every Day is a Blessing

Friday, December 5, 2008

Operation Bling- A new NJ non-profit with a wonderful mission

On Wednesday two friends, Lynn and Lynn, from the northern NJ NOCC stopped by for a visit. I was thrilled to see them and so moved by a gift they brought me - a beautiful necklace from Operation Bling Foundation .

Operation Bling was founded by Chris Ferdinand, owner of Ferdinand Jewelers in New Providence, NJ. Chris's mom had passed away from ovarian cancer in 1991 and this past February her friend Barbara was also battling the disease. Barbara confided in Chris how she missed wearing her "Bling" to the hospital and/or treatments. Chris ordered sterling silver and cubic zirconium rings for Barbara and delivered them to her in the hospital. Chris felt that if the "bling" gave so much joy to Barbara imagine what it could do for other women on the oncology floor.

In March 2008 Operation Bling Foundation became a NJ non-profit with a mission to bring "Bling" to in-patient and out-patient oncology patients at local hospitals. Right now the group delivers Bling to patients at Overlook Hospital in Summit, NJ and Morristown Memorial Hospital in Morristown, NJ. The Foundation hopes to expand to other hospitals in NJ and eventually nationwide. There are rings, bracelets , necklaces and earrings that individuals may purchase to bring to their friends/ family that are being treated at other hospitals. Every gift comes in a gift box with the poem- What Cancer Cannot Do.

Please take some time to check out their website and make a donation or tell your family and friends about their mission and purchase some bling for someone in treatment. For further information please contact Christ Ferdinand at 1-877-BLING-03. ( 6 South Street, New Providence , NJ)

Every Day is a Blessing

PS A special thanks to Lynn , Lynn and all the northern NJ NOCC members who have kept me in their thoughts and prayers!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Neat Gifts and Support the LAF

My friend Brian and his wife Kristy have found a neat way to raise funds for the LAF as well as offer friends and family some very nice gifts. Below is a note he sent me that I thought I would share with all of you.
"My wife Kristy is holding a Holiday Shopping Party next Sunday, December 7th at our home with four vendors. For those who cannot make it to our house and our friends out of state we are able to supply online shopping for one of the vendors, Pampered Chef.

You will find they have a great list of products to chose from and two best reasons for shopping Pampered Chef is a percentage of the party sales will benefit the Lance Armstrong Foundation and all orders will arrive before Christmas. 10% will be donated to the LAF for party/online total sales of $599 or less. 15% will be donated to the LAF for party/online total sales above $600.

In order for donations to be made and delivery before Christmas you will need to place an order by December 7th. There is no better way to shop this holiday season. You can buy a gift for someone you care about and at the same time know you are helping support the fight against cancer.

How can you shop on line?

1. Go to
2. Click on ORDER PRODUCTS on the lower left side
3. Under “Already invited to a show and would like to place an order? type Lance Armstrong Foundation in the first box and click search for host.
4. Click on the hyperlink for Lance Armstrong Foundation / Kristy Dowd to start your shopping
5. When you proceed to check out you have a selection of shipping to Kristy or shipping directly to yourself. Please ship directly to yourself.

Please share this email will your friends and family. Thank you for shopping Pampered Chef and supporting the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!"

I have a number of Pampered Chef items. I can suggest the stoneware , the bread knife is awesome and the bakeware is great.



Every Day is a Blessing!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

She was a fighter, spunky and funny

That is how I will remember Sharon who lost her battle today with Ovarian cancer. She fought hard through surgery, more chemo's than I can remember, an NIH trial and numerous other challenges. She never stopped looking for a treatment that would give her more time with her two daughters.
I first met Sharon at the CINJ Gyn Cancer Support Group. She was spunky and had the best sense of humor. Boy, could she make us laugh. We laughed about wigs, painting on eyebrows and got serous when talking about our kids.

She was a blessing in my life and I will miss her. Yup , this is the hard part of the sisterhood of OC survivors losing those we have grown to love.


Every Day is a Blessing

Monday, December 1, 2008

Real Disney Magic

This past February we made reservations to be in DisneyWorld this week. We have been Disney Vacation club members for over 10 years now and love visiting in May for the Epcot Flower Show and again in December to see all the Christmas decorations and hear the Candlelight Processional. Gary Sinise has been my favorite Christmas story narrator so far- but I digress.

I knew when I got up on Saturday morning that I was not strong enough to make the two day trip by car to Florida. ( We would have left this morning.) Now, believe me I am getting stronger every day but the thirty minute drive on Thanksgiving Day in the car was not fun for me so I knew 20 hours was not going to work. We had already discussed renting a wheelchair so I could get around the Parks.

So on Saturday, we called Member Services at the Disney Vacation Club and spoke to Brandy. We explained that I had surgery on the 13th and was not strong enough to make the trip. First, we tried to postpone the trip a week or two (figuring I would feel better ) but there were no rooms available in any of the Vacation Club villas or Disney Hotels. She offered us a week in January but I told her I wasn't sure of my chemo schedule so I couldn't book that yet. We were ready to put our points in an Interval International account to book a trip outside Disney for some time next year or sadly lose them all together. Brandy asked me to hold on. When she came back on she told me - "Well since you had surgery we understand that your cancellation is not something that you really want to do and is beyond your control so we will allow you to use these points next year so you can come back to visit us again" Well at this point I am in tears and wishing I could give her a hug through the phone. She also told me to be sure to ask for her next time we make reservations because she wants to see how I am feeling.
As corny as it might sound that small action on her part is really the Magic of Disney.

Thanks Brandy. I look forward to next year's trip. And I will be sure to ask for you when I call.

And on Wednesday night,when we were scheduled to attend the Candlelight Processional, I will listen to the Processional CD we purchased a few years ago and think about next year's trip.


Every Day is a Blessing.