Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Broken Down, Cancer Treatment is Not so Scary

My dad went with me to chemo yesterday. I really enjoyed our time together and admire his bravery for joining me. From a parent's perspective, it must be really hard to accompany your child to something like chemotherapy. Especially when it is a recurrence of cancer for a child that had reportedly "slayed the beast" once before. I also think seeing my child with a picc line and a shaven head would be particularly difficult. A parent's own mortality staring them straight in the face by grace of, in this case, their eldest child.

Difficult as it may have been, I was really glad that dad came with me for my treatment yesterday. Mainly because broken down, chemotherapy treatments are not so scary. First and foremost, you will never experience a more caring atmosphere than in a chemotherapy suite. The nurses are angels, who seem to love what they do and share knowledge and thoughtfulness freely, never passing judgement and always with a smile. Secondly, there is a bond shared by those receiving treatment in the chemotherapy suite. Sometimes discussed openly, sometimes shared only through fleeting eye contact across the room. We are all there for the same thing. We all have hope. We meet other parents there with their children. Some younger than me even. Some much, much older. All ethnicities. All types. The environment is very kind. Lastly, the treatment does not hurt. Mainly due to my picc line, nurses efficiently yet cautiously administer doctor's orders week after week, while I sit comfortably in a recliner covered in warm blankets and drinking my green smoothie (and often eating my lunch too). Of course, depending what is going on, some weeks are more difficult than others for me, emotionally. However, my positive spirit to prevails, and I try to enjoy my time to just sit.

I was happy that my dad got to experience this. I was also glad that he and I had some alone time to just sit and talk. Not that we talked about anything earth shattering. But how often do any of us really get that chance? Personally, I have a really difficult time concentrating on anything while chemo is being administered. Reading is pretty much out of the question. I might get an occasional Face Book or Twitter post up. I might glance through a magazine. But other than that, I am all ears. My brother called yesterday. My sister in law, Kelly texted too.It is so very meaningful to me that they both checked in....despite all of what they have going on up in Portland. Anyway, there is something so calming to me to just listen. To have a conversation and really pay attention to each and every word. I do not care if we are only talking about the weather. Or even about the adventures of someone I barely know. I just like to listen and be listened too. I suppose it takes my mind off the poisons that are being infused into my body.

So, returning home yesterday, for the first time ever after chemo, I napped. With each treatment, I am getting more and more tired. Frustrating as it is, now that the kids are back in school it is easier for me to adjust my schedule to accommodate an afternoon snooze.

Following my nap, I attended a wonderful restorative yoga class at A Gentle Way Yoga, led by Lanita. For those not familiar with yoga, in the most simple terms, restorative yoga is slow and gentle, focusing less on changing position and more on breathing. During part of the class, Lanita suggested that "yoga can heal what can be healed," and as in all breathing exercises of late, I developed an acute awareness of my sick liver. It was then that I had a unique vision which took me several minutes to decipher. Coming to mind first was a beautifully marbled tumbled rock, the type you would find on a river or beach, made smooth through ages of tousling in the water. Through continued concentration, I realized that the black rock represented my tumors. I have been told that cancer cells are just regular cells that are missing the DNA giving them a productive function in the body. That being said, I forgave these helpless cells for not knowing what to do and gave them permission to leave and go back to the sea from which they came. I envisioned them being replaced by the soft, fine, delicate sand representing my "normal" liver cells. I realize that this vision seems very lofty, but in my experience with alternative therapies, these visions are very helpful and even promising at times. I never discount them.

Other than that, as I mentioned earlier, the kids went back to school last week. I am exhausted. Even exhausted enough to give my ticket to the San Diego Chargers' Home Opener to my son! However, my white counts, neutrophils and red counts are normal, or normal enough. So, that just means that I am tired from chemo and life in general. I can work with that, I guess. Diet helps.

I am still working on a raw diet. My goal is 75% raw. I am also focusing on the more alkaline foods. My diet demands that I eat little to no meat, preferring a good quality red meat or even better, fish to chicken (all cooked, of course). I have always like vegetarian dishes-so this suits me fine. I have discovered I really enjoy just about any salad with a little olive oil, pepper and sea salt and lemon sprinkled/drizzled over the top. I also am loving my kale, banana, lemon, celery and apple juice green smoothie. (Lemon goes into everything these days, as it acts like an alkaline in the body when digested.)

As far as my medical care, it could be a whole other post. However, Steve and I did see Dr. Sweet on Friday. We have scheduled my CT scan for September 29. From this, we will be able to tell if the chemo is working and how well it is working. I will have a follow up consult with Dr. Sweet on October 3 and will resume chemo again on October 10. More to come.

In closing, I am realizing that I need to post more often, in order to avoid these lengthy entries. Thank you for your patience as I ramble on and your dedication to reading my blog. It really does mean the world to me.


  1. I just love your Posts & Your Positive Attitude!!! YOU are at TRUE INSPIRATION For All Marsi!!!! I am so glad that our boys met through soccer & you have come in to my life!!! XOXOXXOXOXO Kim Pearson

  2. Pumpkin,

    I,too, agree yesterday was very special for both of us. I enjoyed my time with you and am glad I was able to get a better perspective of what you are going through. You're right, it is very difficult for mom and I to see you going through all of this. However, we are all very blessed that you have such a positive attitude, thus making it easier to accept your illness and the battle you fighting.

    We are very proud of you and love you very much,