The First Day of the Rest of My Life

6/28/2011 06:29:00 AM Edit This 1 Comment »
I am now resting at home. My surgery was yesterday, and I cannot say enough positive things about the daVinci robot for surgery. I really feel good, and will have to force myself to not overdo it. Unfortunately, some of my family has a tendency to allow me to overdo it (i need to stop making things look easy). I am sitting here just 30 hours after surgery, looking at two baskets of laundry and thinking that I should fold it.
So, about the surgery. The news, so far, is really good. My surgeon said that, to the naked eye, they got all of the cancer, because it appeared to be confined to the uterus. I will not really breathe a sigh of relief until the pathology report comes back in about 3 days (ovaries and lymph node samples). I am very optimistic, and am sure that it will be good news. But I am also prepared if the battle isn't over yet. Either way, I feel so incredibly blessed and thankful. I know so many people who aren't lucky enough to get cancer-light! And there are so many other struggles that people face. I am humbled by the blessings that I have received, especially the beautiful family and friends that I have.
Until later, I wish all of you the best that life has to offer, and I thank you for stopping by and for your prayers.

Stampin' With My Peeps

6/24/2011 04:04:00 PM Edit This 1 Comment »

Hello Friends! Last Saturday, I spent the entire day stampin' with my Angel Company friends. We sure had a lot of fun. We always laugh a lot and share our joys and sorrows. It was wonderful therapy, and helped to relieve my mind about my worries. When we share our struggles, everybody helps to carry the load a little.
Surprisingly, I also got some card-making done! I have so many wonderful friends and family helping to carry my burdens that I made some thank you notes to have on hand. These little toads are from one of my favorite TAC sets (now discontinued - Boo Hoo). The DP is from Hip Hop. I've shown you the inside, too. I also made a couple of birthday cards for my granddaughters. Adelyn will turn two in couple of weeks, and her cousin Addison will be one, just three days later. The ladybugs are from a discontinued set, and the chickie is from a set called Cupcake Cuties. I colored the image with my Copics. I hope that the girls like their cards. The last card is for my bff Caren. She continues to amaze me with her strength, courage, and love of laughter and mischief. She is a breast cancer survivor, and has been through a lot. And she believes that each day is a gift to be enjoyed and reveled in.
I have spent the last couple of days wrapping up my classes and preparing lessons, quizzes, and tests for my substitute. I plan to take four weeks off to recover from surgery. I have also been keeping myself busy cleaning and decluttering and getting caught up on laundry. Keeping busy keeps me from getting too nervous and anxious about the days ahead. Also, I want to come home to a clean house, and the only two choices I had for that were either to clean my house, or go to someone else's. I am still keeping that as an option (LOL).
Just a couple of days left to wait, and I will be in Wichita. Surgery is first thing Monday morning, and it will be a long morning - but not for me, because I will get to sleep through it all!
I will update when I can. I thank you for the love and prayers. You just don't realize how very you mean to me.

The Next Step - My Spa Vacation

6/21/2011 10:51:00 PM Edit This 2 Comments »
Hello Dear Friends. Thank you all for the thoughts, prayers, and love. I draw strength from all of you and feel so very much at peace with my world. I am continually reminded how very blessed I am. I spent last Saturday laughing, visiting, and stamping with my Angel friends. I will try to post some pics of some of the cards I made.
Today my husband and I drove to Wichita to see an oncologist. It was an incredibly beautiful day, and some of my dear friends (thanks Diane and Caren) texted me love and encouragement and laughs as we drove. It made the trip much easier (2 and 1/2 hours can be very long if you are a little nervous about what awaits). My sweet friend, Caren, texted me a wonderful quote that she turned to in her battle against breast cancer several years ago. Caren is one of the strongest and most positive people I know. Here is the quote:
"Promise me you'll always remember...
You're braver than you believe,
and stronger than you seem,
and smarter than you think." - Christopher Robin to Pooh
Now for more about our visit. Everyone in the doctors' office was wonderful, and we really liked the gyn-onc. She was straight forward and listened and treated us as if I was her only patient. She thinks that we caught this little monster early (if this isn't enough reason far everyone to see their doctor for regular check-ups, I don't know what is - I had no symptoms). She also said that I am an excellent candidate for robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery using the DaVinci robot! I am so excited about this! It is state of the art and far less invasive than abdominal-incision surgery, which is the general protocol for endometrial cancer.
I will have surgery first thing Monday (6/27) morning. If all goes well, I will be released Monday evening or Tuesday morning (hospital stay for abdominal hysterectomy is typically 4-6 days). So my spa stay is shorter than I had planned! After my appointment at the gyn-onc I was able to get all of the preop lab and tests done at the hospital. I had a great nurse (with a delightful sense of humor) guide me through the process, and fill me in on all of the benefits of my "complete spa package" (like these cool compression boots during and after surgery to prevent blood clots). During the surgery, they will sample the lymph nodes and find out the stage of the cancer. Whatever it is, I know that I can handle it, with the help of God through my family and friends. And I don't intend to take things too seriously, either.
Once I get home, I am sure that my hubby and the (adult) kids still at home will cater to my every whim. Hah! That is a joke! Actually, I have been working very hard to make sure that everything is ready for me to take a vacation. I have a sub for my summer school classes, and have all of the notes, quizzes and tests prepared for him. If all goes well, I will be back in class for the last week of the summer session.
Stay strong, all of you, and turn to your friends and share that strength. You will never know how much you mean to someone else.

My Life is Forever Changed

6/09/2011 03:15:00 PM Posted In Edit This 4 Comments »
Just about a week ago, my life changed forever. Really, that sounds like a profound statement, but doesn't my life actually change forever every single day? The past month has been a roller coaster of emotions (so cliche'). Truthfully, my whole life is a roller coaster. But this post is about what is happening now. I got a phone call following some tests, and heard the words that we all seem to dread, "You have cancer."
That was on Tuesday, May 31, while I was hauling a cart load of books from my old office in one building to my new office in another. I will forever remember exactly where I was at that moment. I will also remember how I felt. Surprisingly, it was more of a, "Wow, so this is how it feels to hear those words" and "Hmmm, even though they kept saying that it didn't appear to be cancer, there was always this nagging doubt".
I didn't feel mad or sad or anything, except maybe that it couldn't be, because cancer happens to other people. But I have found out over the last several years that I am "other people" (more about that in a future post). Over the past month, I had been researching like crazy, just in case. And in the past week, I learned more about endometrial (uterine) cancer than I could have imagined.
Right now, my life is kind of in a holding pattern. In some ways, nothing has changed. I am teaching summer school and just living a blessedly normal life. I feel fine. And I check the lab report that says "Endometrioid Adenocarcinoma With Squamoid Differentiation, FIGO Grade 1", just to make sure this is real. On June 21, I will be seeing a gynecologic oncologist (OMG, oncologist - why would I need to see an oncologist - that's for people with cancer...not me) in Wichita. At that time I will find out when I will have surgery. Waiting, waiting, waiting.
In a way, I can't wait until June 21, because waiting and not knowing is agony. The staging won't be determined until during and after surgery. On the other hand, as long as June 21 never gets here, I will continue to live in my "Gee, I can't have cancer, because I don't feel sick" bubble. But I am starting to get my ducks in a row. I have told my immediate family (husband Alan, and four children). We have told our parents and siblings. I have told my boss so that he could arrange for someone to take over my summer school classes for me. And I have told all of my "peeps" what is going on, because they are my friends. I know that I will need a support net for me and my family if things get rough. I have been blessed with a huge number of incredible friends, and I know that they will hold me in their hearts and pray for me. Knowing this is allowing me to keep a positive outlook, which is so important. I know that I have some tough times ahead, I am not in denial or foolishly oblivious. But I also know a lot of other things. Over the weeks to come, I will expound on some of them.
What I know (in no particular order):
- I have been incredibly blessed.
-Cancer (especially endometrial adenocarcinoma) is not an automatic death sentence.
-I am alive now, and each day is a celebration.
-I have more true friends than I could have imagined.
-I have an overwhelming sense of peace about this whole thing (yes, I have cried, and I am scared; but I know that everything will be okay - whatever that is).
-God has spent my whole life preparing me to face this next hurdle, and He will not abandon me now.
-This stuff we face helps build character, and I am apparently not yet enough of a character.
-Having a diagnosis of cancer cannot immediately wipe out my sense of humor.
-If any of your body parts are trying to kill you, it is best to get rid of them if you can. In my case, those bitchy little lady parts have been put on notice and will be evicted within the next month.
-There are worse things than cancer.
-If you pray for something, be specific. I kind of indicated to God that I wanted a break from teaching and would love a journey or vacation. I was thinking more along the lines of a cruise. I didn't mean an "Oncology Spa"!
Until my next post, pray for all of those folks who have it worse than I do. There are way too many to mention. Thank you for taking the time to share in my journey.