Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Always There for Me

Yesterday I took a ride up to the Wellness Community Central Jersey ( TWC) to visit with Ellen Levine, the program director. Ellen and I go way back. Well, way back when it comes to my cancer journey. Ellen used to be the Director of Social Work at CINJ where I was treated.

I remember the first time we met. Patients in treatment at CINJ can attend programs offered by different departments at CINJ that educate and support cancer survivors. So one day in November of 2005 my IV pole (chemo attached) and I took the elevator up to the 2nd floor for a workshop on how to get through the holidays when you have cancer and are in treatment. Ellen ran the program that day and talked about food, interacting with family and prepping for the holidays. Instead of feeling guilty about not being able to do the things we usually do at the holidays she recommended starting new traditions. That is just what I needed to hear since I was the type of person who always went a little over the top at the holidays- decorating, shopping, coooking etc.

A while later Ellen took over as program director at the Wellness Community in Pluckemin. I started to attend the Gynecological Cancer Networking Group as well as some of the other wonderful programs they offer. After returning from the Livestrong Survivors Summit in 2006 I approached Ellen about ideas I had. She guided me on how to approach CINJ to start a support group there and also reigned me in so that I would not head off in too many different directions and loose site of my goal of raising awareness of Ovarian Cancer. After I attended Livestrong day in DC in 2007 , Ellen and TWC willingly hosted a workshop"Advocacy 101" where Betty Gallo and I talked about how cancer survivors can advocate at the state and national level.

Yesterday we spent time just catching up - talking about how we were feeling, how our families were and my new home. I was glad too that Karen a TWC social worker who runs the Gynecologic Cancer Networking Group could join us for our chat since I haven't been to group in many months. I shared with Ellen and Karen how I was feeling about my role as a cancer advocate and where I want to concentrate my efforts as an ovarian cancer advocate. I love sharing ideas and plans with Ellen and Karen . They listen carefully and then provide advice that is right on target for me.

TWC is in an old house so when I was done speaking to Ellen and Karen I went up the center wooden stairs to see Eunice, Executive Director and Patty, Director of Marketing and Community Outreach.

TWC building is a warm comfortable place to visit but the people inside make you feel welcome at any time - making you a cup of tea - just like old friends would. Ellen , Karen , Eunice and Patty have always been there for me.

Every Day is a Blessing !

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I am Thankful for...

I am thankful for...
my husband. You are my rock, best friend and a wonderful caregiver.
I am thankful for...
my daughter. Your phone calls and google chats really make me smile. I know Andy's deployment has not been easy. You are a strong Army Wife;
I am thankful for...
my son. I can't tell you how much having you home for Thanksgiving means to me. You have shown me a strength and commitment that makes me proud.
I am thankful for...
my son-in-law. You gave up so much to keep us safe here at home. Thank you. Can't wait for you to come home.
I am thankful for...
family members and friends too numerous to mention by name. Your love and support is a blessing to me.
I am thankful ...
for my fellow cancer survivors. You inspire me and make this journey a bit easier.
I am thankful for...
my new puppy. Amber and her unconditional love. You are one spunky girl.
I am thankful for...
the doctors, nurses and social workers at CINJ. I would not be writing this if not for the excellent care you provided to me these past 5 years.

May everyone have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Every Day is a Blessing! I thank God for all the Blessings in my life.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Looking forward to many more years

I'm going to keep this one short. Today is my 32nd wedding anniversary. I love my husband Nick more than words can express. He has been my friend, my soul-mate and these past five years my caregiver. I am positive his love and support has made all the difference in the world in how I have been able to survivor my OC diagnosis.

I look forward to 32 more years.

Every Day is a Blessing!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Two Months...

is my limit. Two months is how long I can go without seeing my children in person, see their face and give them a big hug. I use google chat but seeing, hearing and actually being in the same room with my kids is something else all together.

At the end of October it was two months since I had seen my son. So Nick , Amber (our new puppy ) and I drove down to Virginia to see him. Did we really have to go? Probably not but I just really needed to see him. I came back so happy to have had time to have dinner, go shopping , play with his dog Murphy and just plain talk. Yes we talked- about the article he was writing, his part-time job, PhD programs and the crew team he coaches. I really love talking about crew. It is something we have in common and it brings back such great memories of when I was a coxswain for the Rutgers lightweight crew team.

On November 1st it was 2 months since I saw my daughter. Lucky for me I had made a reservation to fly out for a visit. This past Sunday I flew out to Kansas to visit her and her pugnacious pug Silvio. I made sure I was up early so we could eat breakfast before she left for work. We ate dinner together, made cookies, brownies and talked. Yup there it is again- all we did was talk. Well, we watched TV too, Dancing with the Stars and Gilmore Girls reruns. That reminded me of when we used to watch 7th Heaven and Felicity together. The added bonus was that I also got to talk to her husband, Andy, for the first time in 4 months. Andy is deployed to Iraq. I am so proud of him and her for "holding down the fort" here at home.

I don't really know if other mothers have this urgent need to visit their adult children every few months when they live far away. But, I sure do. I hope I can continue my 2 month visiting for many years to come.

Every Day is a Blessing!

Monday, November 15, 2010

OC risk and hormone replacement

I learned about this information in a pretty circuitous way. A friend, Sandy posted a link on her blog to an entry in the blog written by Margaret Polaneczky, MD The Blog That Ate Manhattan titled- "HRT Worries- This Time Its Ovarian Cancer again..." which peaked my interest in reading more about the study and effects of hormone replacement on the risk of ovarian cancer.

To summarize , at the recent American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention research meeting in Philadelphia an interesting poster on hormone replacement was presented based on the results from the European Prospective Investigation in Cancer and Nutrition Project (EPIC). Key findings to date of EPIC can be found here. The study was based on over 125,000 women and results were presented in the poster session named "Menopausal hormone therapy and risk of ovarian cancer in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition." Click here and scroll down read abstract #B101.The conclusion was "Our results are compatible with an increased risk of ovarian cancer for HT use, especially for women using estrogen-only therapy".

Dr. Polaneczky does an excellent job in her entry to analyze the HRT study in laywomen's terms. I strongly suggest you jump over to her blog and read it. Thanks Dr P.

Small amounts of things can help.Too much of things that can help can cause problems. So things should be done in moderation- including the use of hormone replacement therapies.

Every Day is a Blessing!Thanks Dr P.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Did I Really Forget?

I know this great group of women on Facebook. They are ovarian or gynecologic cancer survivors from the US, UK and Canada. We share a lot with each other and not just about this crazy cancer journey.

This morning when I checked in with the group, one of the ladies was saying how she had blood work done and has to wait till Nov 27th for the results. I thought to myself " Wow that's a long time to wait." I even commented on the page how I hate having to wait for test results. And then it dawned on me that I never got my CA-125 result when I had my port flush done in October. I can't believe that I actually forgot to call and get the result. And the other amazing thing is that I haven't worry about it either.

I got off the computer , called the nurse help line at my cancer center and left a message telling them that it was not am emergency but asked for them to call back my cell with the results. Sure enough a short time later the nurse called and said my CA-125 was 11.0. GREAT! My results have been between 10.2 and 11.8 since last August so I am really happy with the 11.0. Well within the range of error for the test.

I'm still amazed that I made it almost a month without needing those results. I think life has just been too darn interesting to worry about what my test results are. Now I get to wait until December for my doctor visit for the next official "All Clear!".

Every Day is a Blessing ! I am blessed by my Facebook survivors group and hope one day to actually meet the UK contingent in person.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Change- Change of Seasons, Change the Time, Change in Me

One thing about life is that there will always be change. Sometimes the change is slow. Sometimes it is so quick I want to shout out- "Slow Down".

I love the fall when the leaves change, the weather changes and we change the clock. Change is ok I just like it better when I'm the one who wants to change something. Don't we all.

Cancer caused a big change in my life. I was diagnosed - BAM - my life changed in an instant. Surgery and treatment happened but changing back to being free of disease well that went pretty slowly for me. I don't think I ever changed back to normal- at least the normal I had before I was diagnosed. I felt good but still had those side effects plus I felt I looked at things differently. No not rose-colored glasses but teal colored ones. I needed to make a difference in the world of ovarian cancer.

I was at my "new normal" for two and a half years and BAM I recurred. Another change - surgery and treatment and part way through a change in treatment ( you never can tell what changes this cancer stuff will cause!)

So I have spent the past year and a half getting back to my "new,new" normal. My feet still bother me and chemo-brain has really changed my thought process. I know what I want to say but I can't find the word or use the wrong word and don't even realize it. At a meeting this week I used bulletin board when I meant billboard. Yeah , I know both are boards but still it is a bit disconcerting.

My husband and I made a few good changes this year so far. We changed to a new home which now includes a new puppy. ( The photo above was taken 3 blocks from my new home.) I'm ready for some other changes too. I'll write about those soon.

Every Day is a Blessing! I am blessed by family and friends that did not change but rather stayed as my rocks on the journey.