Saturday, January 31, 2015

Happy 4th blog-anniversary to me!

  Happy  4th Blog-a-versary to me!

   My blog was supposed to be about being a grandmother, my faith, dealing  in vintage,  love of home and family. and decorating vintage style. I am sidetracked by my recent breast cancer diagnosis, which changes everything for me and requires my attention, uses up lots of time and energy, consumes my thoughts and prayers, as I fight this life-threatening dreadful disease, but I am compelled to write about my journey,  though I am still living my life to the fullest, loving my family,   totally immersed in my grandmothering role, which is probably why I am doing so well.
      Thank  you for following!   I love the many friends I have made through blogging, I am so grateful for their inspiration and encouragement.  I am still learning.
It's been freezing at the bus stop. but we bundle up and take Thomas down there.
Look at her little red nose! poor thing.
So excited for the snow!

Emilie is getting to be a lot of fun and doing new things.
She recently found her piggy-toes.

This baby loves to be held all the time, so grandma gets to sit or recline
and rest quite a bit, which is good for me right now.

Miss Emily and I nap together each day.
  Almost done with my chemo.  1 more treatment.  It is amazing,
I have been able to tolerate it so well.  God  has given me strength and hope and
 everyone is being extremely kind and helpful  to me.
  I have had every side effect they warned me about, but they were manageable.
They gave my a steroid, that helped with avoiding reaction to drugs and
generally gave me a feeling of well-being.

Here are some of my experiences with chemotherapy, and what I did about it.
Common side effects
  1. Alopecia, hair loss- Just get a cute wig and lots of gorgeous scarves and turbans!                                I sell them on my Etsy shop! , and I pencil on brows.       I  still line my eyes, or else I look like an alien, because my lashes are almost gone too.
  2. Heartburn or nausea and vomiting-  Pepcid, Doctor. will prescribe Tagamet if severe.
  3.  Diarrhea-   Immodium D, I just needed 1-2 dose 1 day a week
  4.  Fatigue and Achiness- Tylenol Extra-strength  caused by Hemaglobin count being down.
  5.  Hemorroids,   There are many bowel changes, and I got my first-ever hemorroid, and it's   small, but annoying.  I hate them.   I just use some wipes to stay comfortable with it. There are lots of creams  and pads in the drugstore OTC.
  6.  inability to fight infection-  caused by white blood cell count being low, Try to stay away from sick people, avoid large crowds, and frequently wash hands. Wear gloves to garden and do chores.  I fell and scraped my knee and elbow, and it took much longer than usual, 2 months to heal.  I get splits in my fingertips and trouble healing, so I use antibiotic cream and super glue any deep cuts until they heal.  
Less  common side effects,

 *Brittle finger and toenails, which may come off entirely.  The white  tips of mine are deeper and      my nails have gotten a bump in the middle, or ridge, so I've had to cut them back.
 * Neuropathy,  nerve damage, tingling, then causing no feeling in feet and hands.  Mine is slight and doesn't seem to be worsening, but some of my friends in chemo have a big problem with this.
 * Lymphedema-a serious problem with the lymphatic system , making your arm swell and retain water. I am watching for any signs of that,  and I'm  alarmed that so many woman I know have this complication. I do not have this problem, thank God.  I have to watch for signs after the surgery and treat asap if it develops

My best advice, if you get a breast cancer diagnosis is pray, pray, pray.  I don't know how anyone can fight cancer if they don't have faith, and mine is growing, as I go along this journey.  It's so simple to ask the Lord to help you, and he will answer your prayers and give you peace.  You just talk to Him, and ask for your healing and believe He will heal you. If you are not a believer, just tell Him that,  and he will reveal Himself to you if you want to know Him.   It may be through another person, or something you will read.  It will miraculously change you. You just come as you are. God loves you and wants you to belong to him. He will take care of you.
  You cannot go through breast cancer alone.
You are not alone, and you never need to feel alone. Please let me know if you need to talk.  I will be more formally offering support as I learn.. All the survivors I have met are most willing to be of help, offer comfort and advice,  and  provide information and I want to also.

There is never a time when your friends and family will be listening and paying attention to you better than now. Cancer affects not only you, but everyone who knows you and cares for you. 
So let your friends help you, you will need support, and help getting food in.   It's wonderful having them to pray with and for you, and give you comfort gifts.  You can ask them to run errands too, like returning books to libraries,  going to the post office , or minding your children.   Don't deny them the gift of letting them give to you.  They want to help and don't know how to help you if you don't tell them specifically what you need.  Sometimes a ride to the doctor's or going to chemo with you is helpful.

When I come home at night and take off my wig,  I think, Oh my God, how awful I look.
When I am tired, and alone. There are moments, when I look in the mirror, and say, what
 in the world will become of me?   But I don't feel sad for very long because I have hope.
 I sometimes feel troubled because of the financial hardship, but I have to not worry,
but trust that somehow everything will be okay.

  So happy, my chemo is almost finished.  Woo Hoo!
Then I have my surgery, but I have great news about that!
 My breast surgeon thinks I will do well with a lumpectomy,
 instead of a double mastectomy.  Much easier, but I will have
 to be extremely diligent because of risk of recurrence.
 After I recover, I will have 7 weeks of radiation treatments.
 Then it will be spring, then summer and I'm planning to be well,
and celebrate new beginnings.

I didn't  post at Christmas, so pardon me for posting these precious photos
of the kids at Christmas, a little late.  They're just too cute,  I must show you.

Christmas memories

Miss Emilie

The winter is lovely, Christmas with the kids was magical, didn't want it to end.
 But aside from having frozen pipes, I'm now enjoying the in-between season,
between the hectic holidays and spring frenzy-  clean-up and gardening chores.
 I enjoy the crisp, frosty air, and snowy scenes,
 Cuddling with the grand kids in front of the fireplace,
 Eating Julie's delectable chili, cooking hearty soups, wearing snugly PJ's,
 cozy sweaters and pretty new hats and scarves.
(Maybe I should write a new verse for "My Favorite Things",
since I've been singing it to Thomas at the bus-stop each morning.)
"Snowflakes that land on our nose and eyelashes"
"Silver white winters that melt into spring......."  he laughs as I dance around and sing.

 I just love my new hats lovingly made by dear friends for my cold bald head!

Dear Abbey, of  Little Birdie Blessings made this pink hat  for me!
Isn't that the sweetest thing !
My necklace is from another friend, Alicia,
 and it says, "God's got this!"
 I love these sweet thoughtful gifts of hope that show such loving care!
There is beauty and good in everything, The winter and all the seasons,
 and all the times of my life, including this cancer has brought about  many
good things.  many benefits.  I don't mind having no body hair to deal with.
  I didn't have allergies this past fall, because of the steroids in my chemo, no doubt.
 But most importantly, I know how loved I am, and how strong.
 Everyone has been so extra special kind to  me,  my step-daughter and sister-in-law
 making soup for me,  friends and neighbors bringing me good foods and treats too.
  I've received a few care packages as well.

I prayed  for God to teach me grace through this and a chance to share my faith
  and give glory to Him.  With God all things are possible, and I always knew that,
 but now  He seems more powerful, and I am so much more certain.
"And all things, whatsoever you shall ask in prayer
believing, you shall receive."    St. Matthew 21:22
 So this winter,  while I am fighting breast cancer,  and being healed,
 I  am dreaming of spring and summer, when l will be well once again,
and all the things I'll be able to do.
In the meantime, we keep as comfortable as we can, I'm cooking comfort food
 and made these  easy- peasey  chicken mini pies and everyone liked them.
 Easy Chicken Biscuit Mini Pot Pies
I can Pillsbury Grands Biscuits
1-2 chicken breasts or 1 1/2-2 cups leftover chicken , cut up in small chunks
1 small pkg frozen mixed vegetables
 1 can Campbell's cream of chicken or mushroom soup
Press the biscuits into  PAM coated muffin tin
 I separated some layers of dough to stretch the 8 biscuits into 12
mix chicken chunks, soup and vegetable and spoon into biscuit shells
 then bake about 25-30 minutes at 375.

Find joy in the winter, even when it's cold and bleak, get yourself cozy inside.
 Winter will pass and spring will come. it always does, and we don't want to wish
 any time away.
  No winter lasts forever, no spring skips it's turn.
                                                                            Hal Borland
May snowflakes of joy
pepper your door,
while flames of mirth
 up your chimney roar!
Love, Linda

Friday, November 28, 2014

Good things coming out of a bad thing.

 I had another treatment today, and I am so happy to report that I am feeling so well!
 I think my eyebrows are thinning, but I also lost a couple pounds and feel like my clothes fit much  better, and I can wear some things that I never could squeeze into before!
Hell of a way to lose weight though, huh?
I am also feeling very sentimental and grateful, but this is good,
 and I am so much closer to God, and praying constantly!
 I'm finding it very easy to share my faith these days, and don't miss an opportunity,
while people are actually listening to me.
 I am really happy, despite the fact that I am fighting a life-threatening disease!
 I guess it's because of all the love and attention my dear family and friends are giving me!
 I feel stronger, and more courageous,  although I do get weak, tired and achy sometimes,
but it passes.  It's because of promises, like the one I found in Psalms 31:24
 I find new meaning in words such as " hope", and "courage" as I claim them as my new favorite words, my  affirmations. I am claiming these promises, believing them more profoundly.
 I don't really want to be around any negativity, but it really "can't touch me". 
I don't take it personal, in other words, as I am getting tougher. A tough old bird, I am.
So there are lots of good things coming out of this dreadful breast cancer experience.
Painting after chemo today! Poor selfie though.

Be of good courage and he shall strengthen your heart,
all ye that hope in the Lord.     Psalm 31:24

  Still working, I painted today after Chemo.
No, I am not taking it easy, my dears, I can't.
Maybe later I won't be able to do as much,
 but I am trying to stay very active
and  keep things normal.
Mom and me making a joyful noise!

I had a nice little visit with my Mom  too.
We talk on the phone every day, but she hadn't actually seen me
and I wanted her to believe me, that I really feel pretty good.
  She keeps asking, "Are you telling me the truth? Do you really feel okay?"
We still sing our song every night over the phone, it's a ritual, very sweet.
 Tonight we sang our song together in person.   

Mom's hands, holding the hymn book.
This is the song she sings with me every night.
"Does Jesus Care?", by Frank E. Graeff

I've been celebrating Thanksgiving each day, with a different part of my family,
love being with them!
and I am not sick of turkey, I love it, and I still want more pumpkin pie.
Tomorrow, I'll get me some at sister Beverly's and I'll see all the rest of my lovies!

May you be blessed with family and friends
 and lots of Thanksgiving gatherings and fun too!   
Then we'll be ready to all start Christmas!

Love, Linda

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Fight Continues

 Today, I started  a new chemo drug.  I'll be honest, I was a little frightened
 because I was comfortable with the routine and knew what side effects
 I was having and what to expect.
Now we're switching to a drug that many have a reaction to.
  I am starting  weekly infusions of  Taxol.
 It slows or stops the growth of cancer cells in your body.
 Prior to treatment I have to take Benadryl, Tagamet, and Decadron.    .

 Paclitaxel (Taxol)
So,  after the bloodwork  lab results , which turned out really great, the doctor examined me said my tumor has shrunken more, and then I was sent to the infusion room. My wonderful nurses started my IV drip.   I didn't have an allergic reaction.  I tolerated the drug infusion  well and my oncologist says that this drug will be easier on me, without the bad side effects the other drug had.

Music to my ears!
    It was a good day, and my oncologist is very pleased with the progress of my treatments!
Many friends are following my progress and perhaps someone reading this will be interested in my experiences in fighting breast cancer, and the protocol of treatments used.

      I am receiving lots of messages that people are praying for me. I am so grateful for this.  Thank you for your thoughts and well wishes.   Thank God for giving me strength and healing my body!
  So many blessings coming my way!  More gifts are coming, someone sweet and generous sent us a turkey. I received a "care and comfort basket"   and  many beautiful cards and mass cards.

Care & Comfort Basket Bundle #13 was delivered today.
A wonderful Care and Comfort Basket from Hearts United Against Cancer,
a South Jersey non-profit organization that shows love and compassion
 to  patients going through  cancer treatment.
 I've been able to stay with my grandbabies on days
 I don't have treatments and it's been so good for me!
Miss Emilie is getting sweeter every day!
Grandchildren are the  best reward for getting old!  
Abby Abate's photo.
We are proud as peacocks of our lovely, dear Abby
 being a National Honor Society member too!
Vintage Treasures by Grandmalay's photo.
 A nice comforting  little tea break, with my vintage dishes and silverware.
I'm finding out how much I am loved. Here you see some special Hibiscus
tea from a dear woman I love,  and a beautiful pop-up card from another friend
 to tell me I am being thought of and prayed for.  I feel loved and blessed.   
       Now  I want to start helping prepare for our families Thanksgiving celebrations.
 Yes, Ted and I will be having 3 different occasions to be enjoying dinners
             and giving thanks with our blended families. There is so much to be thankful for.  

I wish our world could be at peace, that we would learn to love
one another and love God and our country the way we should.
 The TV news is heartbreaking!  I can't watch too much of it right now.
Be anxious for nothing, but by prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
                                                                       -Philippians 4:6
I'm trying to focus on my hopes, my dreams and all good things.
I am craving pumpkin pie!
I'll be baking some next week.

 Here's my simple wish for each of you!

 I hope you have a wonderful old-fashioned time with family and friends,
 and remember to say thanks  to God for all He has given us.
Our freedoms, our families to love, our friends so dear, all our blessings big and small.

Love, Linda

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Chemo is working! Yay!

First of all the good news, My chemotherapy is working!
 After the first four treatments (Adriamycin and Cyclophosphamide),
my tumor is shrinking and that really makes me happy.
 12 more weekly treatments to go!  It's another drug called Taxol.

Infusion room- I am receiving chemo through a port in my chest.
I have about four hours, of sitting.  I'm not used to sitting around.
And sometimes I am blessed with my sister or daughter accompanying me,
 and precious time to "jib-jab", as Beverly calls it..
But if I go alone, I get lots of correspondence caught up,
 and read or write in my journal.
 The cancer treatments are very time consuming and I have to return to the hospital for an important Neulasta  injection the day after also.  My blood cell counts  days later, have been great!
 There are some side effects like nausea, vomiting,  aches in joints and fatigue, but my symptoms have been minimal and manageable with the meds. they have prescribed.

My girls gave me this cute outfit, and it's cozy warm too.

But my other days  are very important either spent with the grandchildren
or working for my clients , painting and cleaning.

I love taking naps with Emilie on the days I watch her.
 She has just turned 6 months, and we have the most fun with her, she's such a joy!!
Mommy Julie and Miss Emilie,  at six months!

 And Aunt Amy and we love being very silly,
 with Halloween pumpkins and  other holiday fun.

My daughter made me this very special pumpkin!

Today,  after treatment I went to vote.  It meant so much to me- I almost cried, I'm so emotional!
 I really felt honored to have a chance to vote.
 Then I came home and saw this cute post on facebook.

Tommy, age 4, being creative with Aunt Amy and sidewalk chalk.
 No school today, but he still got lessons in civics and other things.

Be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen your heart,
all ye that hope in the Lord.
Psalm 31:24

So although I have  a lot to go through right now,  I have so much joy in my life.
 Family and friends are sticking by closer than ever, indulging me
 with sweet  presents and deep concern, so I'm feeling truly loved and blessed.
The prayers and thoughtful gestures have been tremendous and so comforting.

Just keep living your life to the fullest, and loving 
and trusting God and I know you'll be blessed!

Love, Linda


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Going Bald!

   Here we are, facing chemo treatment #3, and I am feeling pretty good.
I was preparing myself, my sister gave me a pixie haircut for the weeks
prior to baldness to make the transition easier.
  But  then  I was upstaged by beautiful Joan Lunden shedding her blonde locks!
I was shocked that she has breast cancer!
It stunned me when her photo appeared, splashed all over the news,
 just as I was facing the same exact  thing!
 She's amazing. A couple months ahead of me, with the same treatment plan.
  Chemo to try and shrink it, followed by surgery, then radiation if needed. .
After a few tears, Joan inspired me.
 She says, "It's a tough, challenging journey,
 but I'm making it into something empowering!
I am cheering her on, I will follow her progress  with great interest.
I will pray for her, my sister, my hero.

Joan Lunden  'I'm a Warrior'
cover of People Magazine, October 6,2014
photographs by Ruven Afanador

Martino Cartier Salon, 304 Hurffville Crosskeys Rd. Sewell, N.J.
Yes, I got buzzed too!  Isn't he a hunk!
My family was there to cheer me on!
Amy, sister Beverly, me, Julie, and Miss Emilie.

      I started losing my hair, just as they said I would.  So I got buzzed and
 I got my gorgeous wig from Martino Cartier. He's  a wonderful stylist of South Jersey's 
premiere salon who gives beautiful wigs to women and children with cancer so they
 can feel beautiful,  and  by "Loving them more than the world has ever known, and
 making them feel cancer free,  if only for a moment", gives dignity and confidence.
 Thank you Martino, for taking away one of my biggest fears, that I would look sickly and unattractive.   Now I can try to keep things as normal as possible.

There, That's better!

He has a charity called "Wigs and Wishes" , powered by Friends are by Your Side
through which he also grants Disneyland trips to children and their families.
 I was thrilled to attend  his fabulous gala event at Lucien's Manor,  the other night,
 and he raised $250.000.00. 
Paula Abdul was there at A Night of Wigs and Wishes!

Daughter Amy was my date for the big night!

Fabulous decor and  extraordinary flowers and table settings at A Night of  Wigs and Wishes,
 powered by Friends Are By Your Side

  I am amazed every day by the courageous women who are fighting breast cancer
and surviving, then go on to encourage and inspire.
Survivors who are friends of my friends,  are calling me to cheer me on and tell me
 they are here for me if I need to talk.  Other patients   I meet at the hospital treat me
 like the newest "member of the  club".

Thank you Kathy, for this beautiful Mass Card.

     I am touched by the outpouring of love and concern by  my friends and family.
 So many wonderful people I am meeting because of this disease.

 People are praying for me. I believe that God is healing me.  I claim his promises.

"And all things, whatsoever you shall ask in prayer,
 believing, you shall receive."                                                                                                       Matthew 21:22

Having breast cancer changes everything now for the rest of my life.
 And my family's lives are forever changed.   Life-threatening, scary thing it is.
 Makes you realize that you could lose someone who you thought would always be there.

Amy got a side shaved off,  and  hot pink streaks in her hair,
 for support during Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

  I don't want to miss a minute. I hug everyone I see.   A little tighter, for a long time.

My little Emilie, now is 5 months old!

 I already knew the little things are really the big things,
 but this takes it to a new level .
 My faith is growing, I am clinging to the  healing words of scripture.
 because they give me courage and tell me that I am not alone.
 My friend Marie gave me a marvelous CD,  by Debra A. Groller,
that taught me that I am healed by Jesus' stripes!

"By His stripes you were healed." 
 I Peter 2:24

"That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet saying: He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses." 
                                                              Matthew 8:17

I am blessed to have so much support and love from my family. 
They are spoiling me with special gifts and treats, cards, calls and extra attention!
 My doctors and nurses are so diligent and caring.  Fox Chase Cancer Center.
So I am doing great!
Thank you  so much for your prayers and positive thoughts!

                                                       Love, Linda