October 1, 2008 – Hurray, Yippee……………….I had my four month oncology appointment today and I am still in remission! They still have to get the liver function test and the tumor marker tests back but they expect nothing there based on my preliminary blood work. No anemia, no nothing! It has been three years now since my recurrence. Two years since the end of all treatment. Fitting for Breast Cancer Awareness month don't you think!
I am always a basket case the night before an appointment. The Heebie-Jeebies are constant companions! All those fears come sneaking back in to my consciousness from the deep place where I usually keep them safely tucked away. I don’t breathe a sigh of relief until I am out in the parking lot after the appointment. Then I even got a bit weepy simply from relief! Lordy – Weepy Wanda, Fearful Frieda, Hopeful Hanna and Thankful Thelma all went with me to see the doctor! Maybe one day they can all stay home when I go!
I had come across some great words, though, and I printed them out on pretty paper and took it with me for them along with a photo sheet of some of my newer art works. The words: “She didn’t just Survive……………She Became” Is that not just so cool? That hit me like a ton of bricks. That is how I feel. Everyone around me probably thinks I am the same but I know I am not. I am so much more alive than I have ever been and ready to take on any challenge. No fear (well maybe oncology appointments!) and ready to try new things. I wanted them to really see what I have done with the life they saved for me twice. The nurse said that it did matter to them as not everyone did as well as me (don’t I know that) and it was a good feeling for them. Please remember to tell your doctors “Thank You” once in awhile. Even the crustiest doctors will appreciate it. Anyway, they loved the words and my art work and want me to contact a woman who is doing a doctoral study on breast cancer patients and survivors who began to create art after being diagnosed. They know I created art before but I am off in such a different direction that they feel she may still want my input. I will write to her and see what comes of it.
Since all my tests have come back great, even the two PET scans and the brain scans, I do not have to have a PET scan in January like I usually do. Number one, my insurance will balk at paying for it since I have no symptoms and it has been three years since my last cancer. Number Two – I hate those things. So, I will have a CT scan and a pelvic scan instead. I don’t get out of tests completely but those are not so scary to me. I go back again in February and I may be ready to go to every six months instead of every four. He said he would leave it up to me. We’ll see if I am ready to go longer between appointments by then. If the Heebie-Jeebies will behave themselves I may give it a try. I just keep remembering that the last time I went to every six months the dreaded stuff came back! I will have to start sometime though, I guess. I always take fresh baked cookies in with me so all the nurses like me coming every four months!
October 8 – This is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I am pretty sure that by now there can be no one that is not “aware” of breast cancer. It is everywhere even when it is not October. In the past I have signed up for various “raise money for the cure” programs and have asked for donations but I am not going to do that this year. Why not? A variety of reasons. One – I despise walking in the heat for three miles! I did it last year but I didn’t like one step of that walk – well maybe the first five minutes was okay but from then on I wanted someone to come and rescue me from my misery! Miserable Mona was with me for most of that walk. Perky Polly started the walk but Miserable Mona finished it! Let me work out in my garden for ten hours, no problem, but walking and walking and walking – not so much! Of course that is purely selfish and I know it but I would rather just send some money in to them instead of torturing myself! There were tons of people there and most of them looked like they were enjoying themselves but I did see a few like me in the crowd. I think I felt obligated to do that since so many people support breast cancer awareness and research and I felt I needed to do that as “my part.” Okay, I am over that! My part is writing these journals, talking to anyone who needs me and sending a check in periodically to the Susan G. Komen Foundation! I think you have to find what you are good at and stick with it. I am not a good fundraiser. I am a decent writer.
Also, right now a lot of people are worried about how to pay bills and I am sure they are being inundated with requests for donations. I know I am. They all make you feel guilty if you do not donate to their cause but you know what? There is nothing for you to feel guilty about. Donate if you can and if you want to and if you can’t, so be it. If I donated to every cause for breast cancer or any other type of cancer or illness that asked me for money I would be in the poorhouse. You know what you can do and what you want to do, so go with your gut instincts. I know this is a bit heretical but I know that I get tired of always being asked for money and so I don’t like to ask it myself. I know how important all the research is, I am a direct recipient of all of it but I know we all have to fine our own way to “Race towards the Cure.” One of the things I do on a daily bases is to go to thebreastcancersite.com and click to provide free mammograms to people who need them. So I will leave you with this – Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you who helped me raise money in the past and thank all of you who have ever donated to breast cancer as I owe you my life. Please donate what you can to whatever organization you feel needs it and don’t feel guilty if you can’t right now. End of my fundraising…………………………….
One more thing. GET YOUR MAMMOGRAM!
Now an interesting note about medicine. I was away teaching last weekend and at dinner one night leg cramps came up in the conversation. I had just gotten my new prescription slip for my quinine pills to keep Evil and Vicious Leg and Foot Cramp Lucinda Faye at bay but hadn’t gotten it filled yet. A couple of people at the table told me that they had been taking it, too, but could not get it anymore as it was off the market, even with a prescription. Well, I was not happy to hear that! The conversation went on to homeopathic remedies and the one that all of them were using instead of the quinine was yellow mustard!!!!!!!!!!! Like French’s mustard that I use on my hot dogs???????????? Yep. Most all of them had a testimonial as to how fast it worked against the leg cramps, some as quick as thirty seconds. Well, you know I was a bit skeptical about that! They all carry little packets of mustard with them just in case. When the waitress came they asked her for some packets so I could have them with me, too, and guess what she says??????????? She uses it for heartburn??????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yellow mustard??????????????? Apparently one of those little packets is just the right amount. So I am now armed with lots of mustard packets. Jen was with me for this whole thing and when we got home on Sunday she did an internet search and guess what comes up as a treatment for leg cramps????????? You got it. Yellow mustard! Apparently it works because of the vinegar in its contents. Apple cider vinegar and pickle juice were also listed. Who knew? Jen came for dinner last night and brought me more mustard packets to add to my stash. So I am now Mustard Maude. But, hurray for me, I am also still Quinine Qually (I couldn’t think of anything else that rhymed!). My pharmacist said that quinine is off the market as a generic drug. My prescription was for Qualaquin which is a brand name and so I was able to get it filled. However, they had me wait to see if my insurance would approve it since it is expensive and he said that a lot of insurance companies are not approving it and that I may not want it if I had to pay out-of-pocket. Again, lucky for me, mine did so I only had to pay my co-pay and I saved 423.75 on that prescription??????????????????????????? Lordy! So I am good for now but will keep my mustard stash just in case. My only concern with the mustard is I am not sure I could swallow a packet of mustard!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Guess if I was hurting enough I could do it……………………….
Photo of the Week - I do want to get this out in the month of October so I am going to close with photos of some of my newest works of art. This flower grows right outside of my studio window and I photographed it at night. Artist Annie is happily at work. This flower is called an Angel Trumpet and they are some of my favorites. They are huge. From the pod to the end of the flower is a good two feet. This is what they do at night. During the day they are about halfway closed and have no smell at all. At night they open up all the way and the perfume they emit is, indeed, heavenly! I love irises and fruit, too. These are all large paintings measuring about 22” x 30” Larger views of these images can be seen on the gallery page.
Until next time.
Margot a.k.a Perky Polly (well in a bra they are both perky!), Miserable Mona, Evil and Vicious Leg and Foot Cramp Lucinda Faye, Mustard Maude, Quinine Qually
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