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Sunday, January 30, 2011

What Do 'They' Know?????

One of the things that I have learnt over the past ten years is how little the medical community really does know.  I don't mean that in a bad way, or to be judgemental. I mean, in the sense, as lay people we often think that when we go to the doctor we will come away so much more informed.   As usual, this is not the case.  It is a scary thing to learn, because it again tests your idea that there is actually a 'certainty' in life, that life can be controlled and manipulated somehow.   I have know this fact for some time now but it always surprises me how I forget it when I need answers to questions that I don't even know how to ask.

I first have to qualify this by saying that I love my doctor and we have a great relationship, a real partnership.   Not in the romantic sense of course, although he is very nice, good looking and very intelligent, (all the things I like in a man), a little too serious for my liking (he doesn't always get my jokes).   Mind you, considering the situation I see him in maybe that is an attribute not a limitation!!!!!!     I digress.....so I trust him and know that he has my best interest at heart....always.

I have not been feeling well and so off I go to the doctor, my oncologist.  As I said in another blog, it is often hard to determine what is seriously wrong and what is just normal day to day illness.   One way I have found to try and figure it out is through time.  I don't jump too quickly to the cancer side, I let things play out a bit, and most times I just get better.   My rule is that if two weeks or more go by without feeling well...then I consider going to my gyn/oncol (even getting the jargon down now).   So off I went.   Well he doesn't think it is anything that needs to worry us at the moment, BUT figures it might be a good idea to do some tests.   Well, that covers all the bases!   Then says that he is going to let me decide when I want something done, within reason of course, and so the ball is in my court.    That may sound like a good thing, but I sometimes take that to mean that I can just brush everything under the rug and pretend that I am fine.  I am really good at doing that.   Also, then I have to actually look at what I am feeling.   Not physically, but emotionally and mentally.   Am I afraid?   How afraid am I?   What am I afraid of?   Can I put the fear aside long enough to make a rational decision and not one based on fear? Am I going to decide to do something just in case?  So many questions, so little certainty.  So that is where I sit now.   Waiting for tests, measuring my fear factor (that was a TV show wasn't it), and deciding what to do.   Oh I hate these situations.  As much as I like to be in control, there are times when I wish that someone else would just make all the decisions and I could just blindly follow their lead.   Mind you, I can see myself following behind saying "are you sure?, maybe we should talk about this, I think I have a better idea,"   oh I am so confused.   

For the time being, I will wait to have the tests and then move to the next step.  It's that dreaded 'living in the moment' thing again.    I have parked the bus in case anyone is wondering....I am sitting in my big comfy chair knitting and feeling very sorry for myself these days......but it won't last!   For the time being though I am relishing the DENIAL!!!!....and busy knitting my daughter her birthday gift.   22 years.....and they said I wouldn't make it to her 17th!!!!!....see I told you WHAT DO 'THEY' KNOW!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"In the moment"

One thing I learn everyday is there is no such thing as Certainty!!!!   I suggest if you haven't seen the movie 'Doubt' you should.

Well, I bared my soul last night about how upset I was at the news about my niece and even went so far as to ask the question I always tell people not to ask "WHY".    Of course, my brain and my heart went to the unmentionable conclusion that all was lost......and then miracles happen.    Today I received word that they believe that the surgery they performed removed 'all' the cancerous cells in her lung.   I know that it may not be permanent but 'in this moment' things are wonderful.   YEAHHHHHHH

As I know in my deepest being.....'this moment' is all we really have anyways.   We are not guaranteed anything else and that is why it is so important to just live in the moment, not in the past or the future.  I have learnt this again through this event, but also through a less important but just as educational moment.   It is through my knitting that I am learning how truly important it is to live right in the moment and not allow my mind to wander to future or past events, or to try and solve problems in my head.    Alas, it is very telling if you do......you screw up your knitting!!!!!
I have been trying to knit a very intricate and detailed shawl.   I made a resolution that this year I would do that.....in the past I have made similar resolutions and to my credit have fulfilled a number of them so am determined to fulfill this one too.   So, as I was saying, I have been TRYING to knit this particular shawl.  I absolutely love it which means that I will persevere....but I am learning that I have a tendency to let my mind wander.   I will be knitting along watching exactly what I am doing, following the pattern very carefully (I even have a magnet board and ruler underlining the row) and all of a sudden I will do a stitch count and for some unknown reason I will either have too many or too few stitches.  Now, if you aren't a knitter, this may not see like a major issue....but when doing something this intricate one stitch too many or too few can make a huge difference.  Of course, then I spend forever trying to figure out what happened...which of course matters not because I still have the wrong stitch count...interesting that even in these times we still try to know WHY!!!! as if that matters at all.   Anyways, I realized that each time this happens it is due to my lack of focus and attention.  I am no longer in 'the moment' I have moved to some other time.   It has been very humbling to figure this out as I have always thought that I truly did live in the moment. I am constantly reminding people to do so too.  Obviously, I am not as perfect as I though and still need to work on this.   I am not upset at this revelation but rather grateful for it.  It just goes to show that even in the small day to day events of our lives we are capable of making some very helpful and interesting discoveries.    So, you don't need to be diagnosed with a terrible illness to learn this important lesson.......just take up knitting!

Off I go to practice 'living in the moment'....another really good excuse to spend more time knitting!!!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sometimes I still ask WHY!

I feel like I have been a bit on the quiet side lately.  As I have mentioned before, even when one's life seems full of uncertainty and chaos, it doesn't mean that life around you stops moving.   My world has been like that lately.  I have problems that I don't want to have and often would like to pull the wool over my head and just pretend that everything will just go away.  I am even happy to knit that wool into something that  fits over my head!  Unfortunately that isn't going to happen.

  A few years ago, my niece was very sick with a childhood cancer (Whelms disease) and we all rallied around, doctors debated, and she was able to have a life saving bone marrow transplant in Toronto.    It was horrific on her body, on her parents emotional well being, and on the whole family's idea of what a child's life should be.   But, we were rewarded with a miraculous recovery, and she was able to go back to school after years of treatments, radiations, and numerous hospital stays.  We all cheered and breathed a sigh of relief.    Good things do happen........for a while.

Recently, I found out that the cancer is back for her too!   I have just not been able to face this reality so I haven't dealt with it.   I know that I must, and so today I attempt to write about it.  This is not easy and I may decide to stop without warning.   It is hard enough for someone my age to deal with such a horrible illness, and to feel that life is unfair.  But for a child to have to live with this situation is beyond imagining.   My childhood was not perfect (like most I would assume) but getting the measles was probably the worst thing I had to deal with at least until late teenage hood.   I was able to attend school, not that I wanted to most times, and very little was out of my reach athletically, recreational or even just basically in  friendships.   For her, she knows none of this.  She has been battling this disease for over five years (since she was 8) and so normal school days is beyond her imagination.   I don't get it.  I really don't get it.   How does a child deal with this and even have the potential to grow up with some sense of security and safety?    All she knows is that any thing could happen from one minute to another.    Most of us live as if we will be here forever and whine when we can't do everything we want exactly when we want to.

I guess, it is an opportunity to take a minute and to count our own blessings whether we are sick or not.  Have we lived a pretty good life?    Did we make it to adulthood healthy and basically happy?    Can we get up each day and go to work, school, or some other place without really thinking about it?   I am going to try really hard to appreciate the health that I do have, as tenuous as it is.   I have lived many many years, had great experiences (some lousy ones too) and don't have much to regret.    Maybe, my life isn't so bad after all. 

Please keep my niece in your prayers....she will need lots of them this time as she seems to have used up  all the science that seems to be available.   I will still have to sit with this news before I can totally accept it.  It may seem funny to some that I would publicly talk about something that I have trouble dealing with on a private, personal level.   I need to voice my thoughts, and sometimes just writing them down makes it easier to force the truths into my soul.      Would someone please find the cure to this awful disease..........

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Rational thinking......

Well, still feeling punky but made a compromise with myself.  I made an appointment with my oncologist for a weeks time.  That way if it is nothing it will be gone and I can cancel.   If it isn't, I am comfortable waiting a week to find out.   So as they say, life is full of compromises especially with cancer!

While I have been feeling under the weather, I have had a lot of time to think of past experiences.   Some have been not so good but others have reminded me of the funny things that happened.   You see, when you are diagnosed with a serious illness you think you are dealing very well, but the reality is, it is in the looking back that you see that you were actually probably have a nervous breakdown.   As time went on after my first round with this disease, I started to think about how things would be if I wasn't to make it.  I was being very rational and decided that I must leave this world at least in an organized fashion.  Anyone who actually knows me would say that this isn't necessarily an oddity for me.  So, I started to plan how I would do that.  The initial solutions were certainly harmless.   One thing I did was after Christmas as I repacked all the decorations I made little notes with each so that my daughter would know the history of them.   A little morbid I know, but I didn't want the stories lost because I wasn't here.   It took much longer to put away things, but I felt really stress free for awhile afterwards.   Most of the notes in the past nine years have disappeared, and I felt no need this year to do it again!!!! Instead, I have ingrained each year the stories into my daughters brain such that as soon as she sees the tree come out  she runs to a friends till its decorated!

That worked to relief my uneasiness for awhile.   Then about 10 months after I had been initially diagnosed, I had another brainstorm.   I should go through everything I have and get rid of things so my poor sad daughter won't have to do it after my death.  OK. OK.  I know it sounds awful but at the time it seemed completely reasonable and I did it slowly....I thought.    The first to go unfortunately was my daughters bunk beds...figured she would want to keep my bed and use it.   So, now she must sleep on the pull out couch but she had been sort of doing that since the beginning as she liked to be closer to me and I was downstairs and she was upstairs.   Very reasonable decision on my part!  Next, I got rid of the six piece dining set and cabinet.   She wouldn't want it anyways it was too old school.   And this continued for quite some time.   As my daughter remembers, every time she came home from school something else was gone.   The only time she balked at this lunacy was when she came home to find the pull out couch was gone.   "Where am I suppose to sleep now" she screamed...."with me"  I said!    It was finally obvious to others that something had to be said when I was using the lawn furniture in the living room as I had sold everything else.   So, if anyone out there is thinking like this just know that you aren't crazy, but perhaps there is another solution to your problem.....

The upside to this story is that shortly thereafter we had to move and it was really easy.   The downside is, I didn't die, and it was really expensive to replace everything.   So, you see although you may appear to be rational and dealing with things it is often better to look at what you are doing instead of what you are saying...Don't worry I haven't sold anything yet....although I was considering moving to PEI!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How to get a smile......

Having spent the past few days sitting around feeling sorry for myself I have actually found something to smile about.   I will say now, if you aren't feeling well and need to have something to put a smile on your face whether you want to or not you have to get a pet.   I have been watching my little dog and two cats as I sit curled up in my chair, and they are so crazy.  I don't mean bad crazy, I mean weird, funny crazy.    Do you ever wonder what they are thinking, or better yet if they are thinking.   The 10 year old dog (a whole story in itself), who is a girl and is named Bilbo Baggins ( my daughter's idea) decided when we got the cats a year and a half ago that she must be their mother.   So, to this day, has to clean them.  Well at least tries , the bigger yet kinder one even enjoys it!  Each morning she licks Squidjet (again my daughter's idea....there is a theme here!) till she is completely soaked and the kicker is Squidjet purrs and wriggles around like she is in heaven.  When she has had enough she simply walks away, with Bilbo following pulling at her tail to come back.  Meanwhile, Curia (my cat) tears around the place like she is possessed careening into and over things.  Then spy's me and climbs up into my lap and promptly goes to sleep.  This is our morning ritual while I sit and drink my coffee in a stupor....barely even considering moving let alone allowing someone else to clean me!

I don't know what I would do if I didn't have this miniature chaos to watch each morning.   No matter how I feel, I find myself either smiling silently or sometimes even laughing out loud.    I guess there is some truth to the idea that when you have pets you live longer......they certainly do entertain you if nothing else.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Simple decisions.....so complicated!

It has been awhile since I posted.  I haven't been feeling great the past few days and so I haven't really been doing my normal daily activities....one of those being blogging.   I am still feeling lousy but decided maybe this is a topic that I should reflect on.

Feeling unwell when one is healthy (a bit of an oxymoron) is often just considered part of normal life.  Feeling unwell when you have another illness such as cancer can be a real dilemma.   Am I just not well b/c I have a bug, maybe I ate something that didn't agree with me, or is there something percolating that I should be more concerned about?  The more complicated situation is the one where there is actually no real pain, just a vague undertone of not exactly feeling normal.  This tends to be a sign that sends the mind into a bit of a tailspin.   As I have come to understand, cancer really doesn't cause pain or real illness until you have had it for awhile.   The vague feelings of tiredness, nausea, lack of appetite are common in most illnesses but also the beginnings of the rumblings of a cancer that is growing.   So, I begin the mind games.   Well, I will see how long this lasts.  If it is gone in a week, I won't worry but if it goes on longer, then maybe I should see the doctor. It has been a week tomorrow!  Then I have to decide whether I call my GP and make an appointment to let her decide if it is just a bug or if it might be something worse.  That means tests etc before she decides.  OR ,do I take the initiative and call my primary nurse and see what she thinks over the phone?  Then hopefully get an appointment in a timely manner with my oncologist who will give me a physical  and then decide whether tests are necessary.  My preference is the second, because then I can either just go home feeling better or deal with whatever I have to deal with.  The first, although I trust my GP, always leaves the opening for making a mistake and not picking something up quickly.  Not that I am that worried at this point b/c it is relatively soon since the last time I saw him but he didn't really do anything we just chatted. That last statement is so not true b/c if I really wasn't worried I wouldn't have to talk about it.  As you can see, getting sick isn't quite as cut and dry as when you are not dealing with a serious illness.   So many possibilities, so little real knowledge, so confused still after all these years.  

Well, I will make up my mind in the next day or two, if I still don't feel well.   Having made this decision usually means that by tomorrow I will feel 100% and again have worried needlessly, and lost sleep because of it.   So. lets all take a minute and think positive thoughts that I will all of a sudden wake up feeling great and can just get on with life.    I feel like this blog was a bit of a ramble but it feels good to put down in words the crazy thoughts that spin around in my brain periodically.  Oh to live my life without cancer....can barely remember what that would be like....I hate this disease especially when it means that feeling a little under the weather can cause so much stress......probably shouldn't be driving when I am so stressed, and think I might take a few drugs tonight to get a good nights sleep, so anyone want to take the wheel?.....just don't drive too fast or over bumps b/c my tummy isn't doing too well...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hoping....for HOPE

The last few days I have done alot of thinking about how things were in the first couple of years.   I remember that I was reading everything I could get my hands on about cancer.  I read cookbooks that advised you what to eat and what not to eat.  I read biographies of people who had lived (and died) of cancer.  I tended to stick to gynecological cancers, firstly, they were women, and secondly I felt that they had a better understanding.  I now know cancer is cancer and the type might be different but the feelings are the same!   I also read medical books the best being "Spontaneous Healing" by Andrew Weil....I still have that one and still consider it one of the best I read regarding treatment and nutrition.  P.S.  the title is misleading it isn't about miracles!!!!!

My point at the time was to consume as much knowledge as I could because I tend to be the type of person that likes to become an expert on everything that effects my life.   And in some ways I think I did.  I certainly am a partner in my journey with my oncologist (he still knows a little more than me thought)!

Well, it seems I don't have that same urge anymore...to read all about other peoples journey's.   Yet there is still one little jewel that I have read and re-read and again this weekend pulled it out and placed it beside my bed.   It is a tiny little book (6" x 5") but it is a big book in my own journey with cancer.   The name of the book is "There's no place like HOPE" by Vickie Girard.  Unfortunately, I just found out that she is no longer alive having died in February 2007.   I am very sad....because in some way I know that no matter how well you do eventually this awful disease will win.   But alas, we all must die from something!

Anyways, the reason I bring this book up is because it has been such a source of  HOPE (aptly named obviously) for me and I would like to share some of the wisdom that I have taken from it.   Vickie is the one who taught me that you are living with cancer not dying from it, that I have cancer it doesn't have me, and most of all that I am not the only person that has heard stupid things said by very well intentioned people.   (Someday, I will write an entire blog on that subject)  She also articulated best how you fight cancer on three battlefields:   the mind, the heart and the body  ...and in that order.   " It is the mind that screams, the heart that cries , when it is still hard to believe that the body has cancer"...   Anyone with this disease remembers vividly that exact feeling when trying to wrestle with the initial diagnosis of cancer.    Mind you, if I remember correctly, I really believe that the second time it was even worse...and the third it was familiar (same initial feelings) ...   Finally, even this time it is giving me HOPE, but with a little heavier heart as I know that for Vicki her battle has been lost.

So, to all the passengers on my bus, I have obviously moved out of the denial stage into another one.  I think this one is called nostalgia which of course is not officially considered a stage of grief, but I think it depends on how many times you get to grieve the same thing.  I figure since this is my third time, I am allowed to be nostalgic about the past times and maybe even realize how much I have changed since then.    I am not sure how the present journey is going to unfold, and maybe I won't appear to be different, but know that my mind is always busy remembering.....and in this case it isn't necessarily a bad thing because it doesn't feel as bad as the past times.   I found out the second time I was officially a member of the club....so now I just have to accept that maybe I am becoming an Elder this time......so I will be driving slowly, and taking in the view. Any of you people need to get off for a break, just pull the bell and I will pull over.....this part is going to be o.k. even if I find myself alone....I have lots of memories to look at and a little book of HOPE in my pocket.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Ironies!!!!!

I am well, my future is not decided but then again who's really is, but I am very happy with how things went with my appointment and will continue to drive the bus although we may be moving away from Denial Ave and onto Anger Blvd.  I will keep you posted....as of right now I am still figuring things out......

Life is full of irony though.    In the morning I was the main character in my life, in the afternoon I was a supporting character in my life, and by evening I was simply a spectator.   It is very interesting how themes may run through your day that give you a much bigger and often better picture of your own life both good and bad.  I had my appointment at the Clinic in the morning, and as I said I was the main attraction.  The news was about me, the focus was on me, and the outcomes or the probabilities of what was to happen were about me.  I found it difficult at times but overall I thought it went well and had a positive feeling how things would be.   Then later in the day, I returned to the Clinic but this time simply as a support and a friend.  It was at this point the reality of the medical world was revealed to me.    The people within the medical community are the best anyone could ask for, but they too are limited by the facilities available to them to perform the duties they want to.  It became very apparent that things are not great within the hospital situation today.  Over the last nine years they have narrowed their resources to such a state that people are being placed in any spare spot.  It may takes hours to find a bed and then one is not even guaranteed that you will be placed in the best area for your particular disease.   But, then again, to be in a surgical ward when you have cancer is certainly better than sleeping on a gurney in the hallway. Some people are doing just that!  But the worst is that at a time when you are vulnerable and you are barely hanging on to your dignity they are now combining men and women in the same room.  I left that evening praying that by some miracle  I would not become sick (in my situation not a very realistic prayer).  I was really quite upset and  not nearly as up as I had been in the morning.   You often just worry about the physical trials that you must endure, and then to realize that you may have to worry about the incidentals as well can be very overwhelming.  Incidentals being such minor things as hospital beds, and nursing staff!!!!!!

I arrived home and made myself some tea and just sat and thought about all that I had been through that day.  I felt exhausted, I was upset b/c of the troubles my friends were having, and I was scared to death that I would have to go through hell with the hospital system in order to have my chemo.  How many times was it going to get cancelled b/c of a lack of beds was my worst fear!  As I said, there was a third part to my day, the spectator part.  I turned the news on to hear that the Governor of Arizona had changed some regulations regarding what was determined to be covered by medicare  due to financial resources. It seemed that she didn't think transplants should be covered and therefore 96 people in the state of Arizona would no longer be eligible to be covered for their transplant Out of a billion dollar budget the amount of 1.2 million just couldn't be found..   That meant at this point 96 people were going to DIE. According to the news, one man who was to receive a liver transplant on the day things had changed (the liver was given to another who had the dollars to cover the cost) died.  He was the father of two children.  OMG, economics was now determining who lived and who died.   I know this isn't new in the US but on this day at this time I was being made aware of such a horrible reality.   As I watched this, I realized that no matter how bad it may appear, our medical system trumps theirs anytime. As a Canadian,  I would receive care, maybe not in the style I have had in the past, but I would receive care.   I might have to wait for a bed, but I will get one.....things didn't seem quite so bleak in my world anymore.   So, although we may have problems lets all keep a perspective on things....really we are very fortunate in deed!!!!!

So, Thursday was a very busy, tiring day but it was also a very eye opening and humbling experience as well.   May we all remember, that sometimes no matter what role we are playing there is definitely someone who is  probably more than willing to trade places with us.    May God be with all those people in Arizona and please may the Governor have a change of heart!!!!!!!   Money can never be a determining factor where life is concerned......as the commercial says     'it's priceless'

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Day Before Syndrome

Driving down a familiar road is usually a mindless task and that is sort of how I have been feeling lately - familiar but mindless....but the bus has taken a bit of a detour and the road isn't going to be very smooth for the next little bit.   Just warning the passengers that maybe you might consider getting off before we get to our immediate destination.....its going to be a real downer!!!!!

Have you ever noticed that you can be thinking that everything is fine, and that you are in total control of your emotions and thoughts and then BANG....you go back in time to a completely different place.   Well today that  happened.  Not that this feeling is anything new or out of the ordinary for me.  It has been happening about once every three months or so for the past nine and a half years.    The DAY BEFORE MY APPOINTMENT day.   Even when I was healthy, and knew that I was feeling great,the day before would come and all of a sudden I would second guess how I was feeling and worry that maybe things were going on inside that I knew nothing about.   It is like a torrent of thoughts and sometimes even physical feelings that you just can't seem to get past.   There have been months. years even, that have transpired without any kind of problem and still the day before my regular check-up all the horrible thoughts come ....sometimes just old tapes from previous times but mostly the 'maybe's' and the 'what if's'.

Tomorrow I go to the Cancer Clinic and see the doctor I know pretty much ever thing that will take place and what we will talk about.   Still I hate the feelings that I will get as I walk into the clinic...my heart goes a little faster, my blood pressure I am sure rises, and I even get a little sweaty.   I try really hard to walk with my head held high and exude confidence as if this is no big deal and nothing out of the ordinary.  When you think about it, it isn't really out of the ordinary anymore.  It has actually become a regular occurrence in my life and you would think that I would be fine with it.   BUT NO, I still hate it and I know that no matter how I look, my insides are turning upside down the whole time.  I  bring my knitting or a book to pass the time but no one knows that I never read a page or even knit a row.  I just look like I do.   So tomorrow we do it again.    I have come to the point that I know if I don't take something b/f bedtime I will toss and turn all night.   So, I will take my drugs, read a little and then fall in to a fitful sleep.   This time, more so than others ,because again I must deal with the reality that those terrible cells have refused to die like they are suppose to.   The tumor is there, it has probably grown since the last visit, and now we must decide on a plan.   I hate the day before sometimes more than the day of.........

Well, for those of you still on the bus we have a long day booked for tomorrow.  First, we will all stop at Timmie's and top up on lots of coffee...then we will park for hours waiting at the clinic and then who knows  maybe we will take a joy ride later in the day just to unwind.    So, buckle up, (yes we have installed seat belts) and hang on this ride may prove to be a rocky one for the next little while.   I must admit I do enjoy knowing that there are some passengers on the bus with me....and remember no talking to the driver....well maybe a few whispers on the way home......

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011 - Ten Years...almost

I never would have imagined  ten years ago that I would be celebrating 2011.  It seemed unattainable for me and the idea of seeing my daughter enter her 22nd year of life was unthinkable....modern science and medicine is certainly if nothing else a reaffirmation that miracles do and can happen.

Ten years ago this month I felt the beginnings of what would turn out to be Stage IIIc, Grade 3, Clear Cell, Ovarian Cancer.   At this point I only knew that I wasn't feeling well and that no matter what I ate I felt worse.   The next few months would see test after test, including a pelvic ultrasound that would show absolutely nothing.   It is this reality that allows me today to understand that there is certainly time when one is diagnosed early.   It wouldn't be until May and June that I would feel absolutely horrible day in and day out and have huge panic attacks, days without being able to eat, and finally pain throughout my abdominal cavity.  Never once, not even in an unconscious moment, did it enter my mind that it might be something really terrible and life threatening.  I say this so that all of those out there that say  "how could  you not know"....you definitely can 'not know'!  Cancer does not make you sick until the 11th hour.  The day I finally went to the hospital because I felt so miserable, I went there from my place of employment thinking it would be a quick fix and I would be back at work within hours.   Well, ten years later I can tell you it is still as surprising to me today as it was that day.....to hear the doctor tell me "you have tumors on your ovary (I only had one) and throughout your abdominal cavity' .   My first thought was 'oh no how will I ever tell my daughter' and then I remember hugging a friend shortly thereafter and crying "I don't want to die"......

Well, I have lived for another ten years (less six months) so, if nothing else I do know what it means to never think you know how the future will unfold.  Today, I have a life I never imagined, I have friends I didn't know at the time, I have a job I never would have thought I would have, and I am content in a way that I didn't know existed.  I still refuse to say that my diagnosis was a 'blessing' because I don't believe blessings come wrapped in such negative forms....but I recognize the many blessings that I have received over the past ten years...and I am eternally thankful for them.  I look forward to whatever the New Year may bring...the blessings anyways...and know that every day that I wake up breathing is going to be a GOOD day.

Happy New Year and may you all be as blessed!!!!!.....