Tuesday, January 19, 2016

the real inspirations

I'm not a super woman.

Had to put that out there because often I get told that I am an inspiring person. I'm just a woman trying to deal with a bad situation in the only way I know how.

I have bad days. I don't go on my social media and post all about my aches and pains but they are there. Even as I sit here now typing, I am debating which anti-nausea med will work the best today. I tried to get a little bit done in the kitchen but after about 15 minutes I had to sit down because I was starting to feel woozy. I did manage to wash the dishes and they are air drying now.

This shit isn't easy. I have to go day by day and sometimes hour by hour to see how I feel and what I
can actually accomplish that day. Some days are very hard and I cannot do anything. I sleep the day away and hope the next day is better. Other times I am able to do a little housework or go to the store where I use the motorized carts because walking through a big store is too much for me. I get dizzy easily and need to sit because I am constantly fighting against low hemoglobin levels.

When I am having to be stuck by needles over and over because my veins are giving up on me, sometimes I want to scream.
There are many things that I don't complain about because I don't see the point. That doesn't make me better or worse than anyone else. There are a lot of people out there fighting their own battles with cancer, depression, Lyme disease, MS, CP or any number of things. We each have stuff going on in our lives that is a battle to each of us. Some people are not as public about it and that is okay.

I have chosen to share with you a part of my battle with cancer but I assure you, I am not inspiring. My personality dictates my choices and I've always been a fighter who doesn't let things defeat my spirit. There have been other things in my life that I have gone through just as, if not more, difficult as this and I am sure I will see more challenges in the future. Those too, I'm sure, I will face with the same stubborn determination that I have every other obstacle because that is who I am.

The real inspirations are my kids and you all. My children (ages 19,16 and 8) are a constant source of my fight and determination. No matter what a bad or good day I am having, it is them that keeps pushing me forward mentally. The desire to see them grow and become the amazing adults I know is inside them. Also, your support.... all of you who have read my blog, messaged me kind words, given to my fundraiser and generally shown me love and caring through this whole thing. With out you all, I would be much lonelier and scared but you all have been my rocks! You and my kids inspire me every day to keep moving forward and taking things as they come.

So while I cannot tell you what to do and think, I ask that you look to yourselves for inspiration because you inspire me. I'm just a woman trying to get through a rough time in her life the only way she knows how.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Things A Cancer Patient Wants Friends and Family To Know

I thought it was time for me to write a list of things a cancer patient might want their friends and family to know  about their needs.

1. Often we are cold or hot, our bodies change often, please stop complaining if you live with us that
Chemo Therapy
Electric Blanket

 it is too warm or cold for you. Our bodies are under a great deal of stress, please don't put us under mental stress by complaining. Just put on a sweater if you are cold or open a window in your bedroom if you are hot.

2. We do not know how we will feel day to day or even hour to hour, so if we make plans they should be considered tentative at best. Don't tell kids that we will be doing something because younger children have a harder time with plans that have to change the day of or before.

3. People say, "Let us know if there is anything I/we can do for you?". Generally we will say Thank You but never really ask for anything. It is not that we DON'T need something but we don't know how to ask with out feeling awkward. Better if you just do something, we will appreciate both what you do and not making us ask.  HERE is a link to a list of ideas for things that you could purchase for your friend or family member. Other helpful things are gift cards for gas, restaurants, Amazon, Netflix or a store card.

Don't ask, just do because if you wait for us to say something, you might be waiting a good long while! We really will appreciate the help, it is just hard sometimes to ask for it, especially for those who usually are the ones taking care of everyone else.

4. Unless you are someone who spends a lot of time with us and knows our culinary preferences and our family's tastes, don't send food. During cancer treatment, our taste buds can change and make everything horrible tasting or maybe even go away. We won't want to turn down the offer of food because we appreciate it, even if it isn't something we or the family would particularly like. I'm sure you would rather food get eaten, so your best bet is to maybe ask what our favorite snacks or beverage are and send those instead. Also, snacks are something we can take with us for those hours at chemo.

Spaghetti with Red Sauce
5. More about food... usually the doctors we are working with will give us a good general guideline of what they want us to focus on with our diet.  Some days, during treatment, it is all we can do to sip a beverage and maybe get down a few bites. Those few bites might be a corn dog, a lettuce wrap, some chips, a few veggies or whatever tastes okay at that moment. PLEASE, PLEASE I beg of you to not criticize or offer diet advice. We are getting dietary advice from god and everyone. We love the fact that you care enough to offer the advice but we get so much of it, that it becomes overwhelming.

6. Don't stop sharing your life with us. If you are someone who would talk to us about your crappy day before we got cancer, then tell us about it. If you are sick, feel free to share. Just because we have cancer and going through treatment, doesn't mean that your issues are not important to us. Also, listening to someone about their horrible boss or bratty kid or whatever will give us a mental break from our own problems. Much the same reason people watch drama filled talk shows.

Okay, that is all for now... part 2 might come later. If you are a cancer patient or survivor and have any suggestions for things you would love friends and family to know, feel free to email me (brandy) AT energysheep DOT com.

Monday, December 7, 2015

And The Band Played On

It has been a few months since I have written here and I would like to explain. My fight last year with cancer didn't end. It was discovered via CT Scan that I had cancer tumors in my abdominal wall. I had a biopsy to confirm and then surgery to remove the tumors. Six weeks later, after healing, I went to visit my chemo doctor. He said that my CR125 test was very high and he wanted to do a PET Scan. The PET came back and they found tumors in my liver.

This was quite shocking to me and I must admit, rather upsetting.  I asked the doctor how long I have left. He could not give me a time table but said that with remission he has seen people live 10 years or longer and in no way was he saying that I only have 6 months left to live.

kids, love, cancer, making arrangements
The plan for now is to do 3 rounds of chemo and then another PET Scan to see how the cancer is reacting. Obviously, we are hoping it will go into remission and I am keeping a positive attitude that is exactly what will happen and I will have many years left. Of course I have taken time to process the information and even cry to get to that positive attitude but I decided that to keep crying would do no one any good.

I do however have a practical side and am working on putting my affairs in order. I have children and am a single mother, so I have to make sure they will be taken care of in the event that this goes sideways.  I plan to consult with a lawyer in my state to see how much say I will be allowed to have in my will about where and how my children are to be raised. If you are a single parent with a questionable father or mother of your children, it is very important that you know what your rights are and your children's rights. States each have different custody laws and different ages where they will take what the kids want into consideration. If you are in a similar situation, please consult with an attorney.

My children are what I live and breath for and while I take care of the practical side, I also want to spend time with them. I want to build memories for them to look back on and know they were loved very much. One day I won't be here and the memories of me is what they will have to hold on to. I am not worried about buying them things... toys break, interests change, children grow. I want to make gingerbread men, take them to events, string popcorn for the Christmas tree, play games and snuggle up on the couch with popcorn and a movie.

Those are the important things and what my focus is on besides fighting cancer. This is my life and no matter how long that life is, I have my priorities together and know the person I am. Cancer doesn't change who I am, it will come or it will go but the tune of my life goes on.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Cancer and Big Girl Panties

My name is Brandy and I have cancer, it doesn't have me. I was diagnosed with uterine cancer in the Spring of 2014 at the age of 38. I had to have a complete hysterectomy and then went on to chemotherapy and then radiation.

That was a fucking hard time in my life. I tried to get through it the best I could, the way I get through things. I often pushed myself to do things for my kids, to do just a little bit of housework or try to accomplish some projects that needed done. I had no family to help me, no one was coming over bringing meals, no one was here but me and my kids. I had good days and I had bad but no matter what my day was, life kept happening around me. So here I would sit, lay, sleep and do what I could when I could. I knew if I had to run out to grocery shop, I would need time to rest later. I knew if I had a parent teacher meeting in the evening, I would have to rest up during the day. I would try to do as much as I could to still function and feel some semblance of normal.

I tried to keep positive and see all of that as a part of the journey of my life, as something I was dealing with and would overcome. Some days I could do that, other times I cried and felt like crap but one thing always there, always inside me was a fighting spirit. People who knew my journey told me that my attitude was inspirational. That warmed my heart but I wasn't trying to inspire anyone, I was just dealing with things the only way I knew how.

I don't think I am special or unique, I think I just do things the way that is best for ME. Everyone is different and handles situations in their own way. I don't want to be seen as better or worse than anyone else in the way I deal with things. This is MY way and it may or may not apply to others.

fighting to live, cancer, inner warrior, big girl panties
I also had great friends that would let me vent my frustrations when I had them. People who, while they don't live close, are near and dear to my heart. If not for them I would have felt a lot more isolated and alone. They encouraged me and believed in me and I was able to draw strength from that as well.

My journey isn't over, I'm on to the next fork in the road. I have two new cancer spots in my abdomen and have to have surgery and then on to more treatment. I am going to try to handle it the best way I can for me. Some days I will want to do nothing but then there is a voice inside me that says "Bitch, put on your big girl panties, suck it up and do something."

As I enter the new chapter in my journey, I hope to be able to balance things as I did before. I know my body will be going through a lot. I will need time to heal from surgery and I will need to rest to let my body fight. I also know that life will keep happening no matter how I feel. My son will still need to go to soccer, I will still have dishes that need done, meals that will need cooked (microwaved at the very least) and the holidays will come and go. I just have to keep organized and be able to fit in as much as possible. I will need to allow some flexibility for my body to get what it needs but I also will have to try to do as much as I can when I can.

You often have to take things day by day or even hour by hour but even the little things you accomplish can make you feel like you have had a victory. It could be just unloading the dishwasher, folding some laundry or even just getting up and getting dressed but each thing you can accomplish while fighting for your life can make you feel like you won a small battle. Give yourself a little cheer when you can get something done but don't get down on yourself when you cannot. Everyone's fight is different and you need to listen to your body and make the choices that are right for you.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Angry Mom With Cancer

I'm angry, I'm really f&*king angry right now. 

This is my body and my life and I accept that I have challenges to go through to fight my cancer. I can take all this and move forward and keep going on with treatment and surrender more time in my life to make sure I have a life.
activities, cancer, kids, life, fun times

What I am pissed off about is that my kids have to suffer with me. My 16 year old who asks me 3-4 times a day “Mom are you ok?” or “How are you feeling?” While he is still excited to be able to get a job and take drivers ed in school, he worries about me. He shouldn't have to worry about his mother, he should be able to be the teenager he is and not carry with him the troubles of having a sick mother.

I'm angry because when I do try to do something special, like take them to the Renaissance Faire, we cannot do all the things we would like to do because I am having a bad health day. I push myself to try to make sure they do have some fun but end up leaving early having done only 1/2 the things we would have liked to do.

When my 8 year old asks about doing some activity, I hate saying “We will have to see how I feel that day.” I hate for them to miss out on stuff that young people should be able to do because I am sick.

This is the suckiest part of being a cancer patient. Not what you are going through because when it comes down to it, you get up every day and deal with the sickness and the pain and push on but my kids didn't sign up for that. My kids deserve to be able to be kids and have something close to normal.

I've tried as best I could to still take them places and do things that they want but often they don't get the full experience of whatever we do because I just cannot stand for that long or I am over whelming tired and pushed myself to even get there.

kids, parents, mothers, cancer, cancer treatmentMy kids have been amazingly understanding but they shouldn't need to be. They deserve some semblance of normal. I try as hard as I can to do all I can for them and try to make things as normal as possible but mostly it doesn't feel good enough. I push myself when I know I should probably be resting and I know there is no way to prevent the impact of my cancer on my kids but I try to keep it as controlled as I possibly can. I try to find activities to do that will not be as taxing on me but it just doesn't feel good enough.

The 8 year old starts soccer this week. I want to take him to every practice and every game and show him that I will be there for him. Make sure he knows he can count on me. I'm worried though as I will be heading back to treatment how I will manage this. When I signed him up, I didn't know and now I have to make the best of it.

I am angry because I want to be the mom my kids deserve, not the mom who is sick.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Chemotherapy Stock Up List

Going through cancer treatment is hard, chemo was the hardest part for me. I am hoping you can benefit from my experience, so I decided to make a list of things to stock up on to make life a little bit easier during chemotherapy.

If you have to jump right into chemotherapy and don't have time to shop, these are some good items for friends who want to help or even order online and have delivered.

1. Toilet paper. Stock up as much as you can, a 3-4 month supply would be ideal. You really will not want to run to the store when you are having a bad chemo day because you are on your last roll.

2. Paper towels. If you have to clean up anything, you need to do it quick and easy. So stock up on a good quality paper towel. Six to 9 rolls should cover it.

chemo, chemotherapy, supplies, stock up3. A small - medium size bucket. The reality of chemo is that it will make you sick. Sometimes the meds are not enough to keep everything down. Keep a bucket near you.

4. Small trash bags or plastic store bags. (If using store bags, check them for holes) Use these to double line the bucket. If you are going to toss your cookies, clean up should be easy. Even when you are feeling ok, leave the bucket lined wherever you are, stomach upset can come out of no where and just hit you.

5. Paper plates and plastic utensils. Worry about dishes as little as possible. Many people have dishwashers but you still have to rinse and put in, turn it on and put them away when done. For those who hand wash, standing there while sick is not what you want to be doing... stock up.

Plastic utensils, chemo, chemotherapy, supplies, stock up
7. Easy to make food. Often you don't feel like eating and things can taste awful or maybe you will lose your sense of taste all together. So stock up on easy to make items. Frozen dinners, soups, broth mix. If you have time ahead, make and freeze your own soups with great wholesome ingredients. When you do freeze your own, only do 1/2 portions. If you want more you can always heat more up but often you don't eat a whole bunch. Also, don't let ANYONE make you feel bad if the only thing that tastes right is Corn Dogs or Twinkies or some manufactured food. It is hard enough to eat during chemo that we have to eat anything that has some calories in it.

8. Liquids. Water, sports drinks, tea (not green tea because my doc told me that it makes the chemo less effective). Keep yourself as hydrated as you can because it will make it easier to take blood and start IVs.

9. Wedge pillow or extra pillows. If you can manage to incline your upper body, that can help with nausea and a floaty feeling head.

10. Laptop or a tablet. You will spend hours sitting with your chemo drip and there will be days when you really don't have the energy to get out of bed but you cannot sleep either. So have something handy to help with entertainment and staying connected to your friends. Get a movie streaming subscription too, there are plenty to choose from and wherever you get chemo probably has wifi.

If there is any other items that you can think of to stock up on ahead of time, please comment on what helped you.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

breath life

Here is my grand thought for today. As I await my CT Scan results, I have thought about life and death and sickness and health. I have decided that we are all going to die someday, there really is no getting around it and none of us know when the moment of our death will be.

I want to live like I am dying. I want to embrace life and try to do all the things I want to do. I have cancer and still I am in the same boat as everyone else, I have no clue when I am going to die. I believe it will be closer to when I am 94 instead of next year but ultimately I have no clue.

life, days, calendar, living, breathing, planning, experiencesI want to work hard every day and make it as full as I possibly can. I want to build my business successfully not to have new things but to have better moments. Having a success business will give me the means to have those moments. I want to be able to support my kids and be able to secure their future and at the same time, give them new experiences to help them develop as people.

So often I see people go through life thinking there is always a tomorrow. They can take that weekend away with their family in a few months. They can spend more time with their kids tomorrow. They can wait on life insurance because they are young yet.

NO... don't wait, do it NOW. Live like you are going to die and make the most of your life right now. Forget about possessions that you cannot take with you. Spend time with people you love. Build that business you have always wanted. Take that weekend away with your family. Spend the afternoon finger painting with your kids NOW. You cannot take that new car to the grave with you, but your friends and your family can have beautiful memories of time spent with them. Your kids can appreciate that you planned for their future even after you are gone.

Having cancer has given me a unique perspective on life. I love life and I want to live as long as possible but I want to live each day like it could be my last and appreciate everything life has to offer.

Take chances, make mistakes, find something you love to do.

Don't just have a life, LIVE. Breath life until the day you cannot breath anymore.