Monday, 24 March 2008

Daylilies and Spurts of Energy

When others ask how I am doing, I reply, "Good". I have spurts of energy and then I am tired. When thinking about this "daylilies" came to mind. Each bloom lasts only one day, but as each flower stem will carry many buds, a mature plant will have many stems, so a plant will be in flower for many weeks.

I had a busy Easter weekend. We went to church for the Good Friday service. In the foyer after the service, I greeted an older couple with an embrace and exclaimed, "I made it!". Back in early December the husband had gone out of his way to encourage me. He had faced cancer and God had brought him through; God would bring me through it as well.

In the afternoon we got together with my mom's side of the family for a belated 70th birthday party for my aunt. While there I mingled with my relatives. I was tired when we got home and so I rested. Today, when talking with my sister, she said how her husband had remarked that I had acted like my usual healthy self.

Early Saturday morning we received a call from our bank manager. We could bring in our necessary documents so he could begin to process our financing. We need to purchase a vehicle as ours was written off as a result of an accident. We also needed to test drive the vehicle we were thinking of purchasing, and do grocery shopping as well. We managed to do all that and when I came home I laid down.

On Sunday morning we attended church. We were going to have my parents join us for a roast beef dinner later that evening. Since I was making a nice dinner and it was Easter, I decided to use my good china and silverware. I needed to polish the silver as it was tarnished, which only added to my workload. In between polishing the silver, peeling the potatoes, and setting the table, I rested in a recliner chair. I was exhausted by the end of the evening so others cleaned up, which was a blessing.

I may not have the energy and stamina that I once had before having ovarian cancer, but I am definitely a lot stronger and healthier than I have been since my diagnosis and treatment. I need to be thankful for the things I am able to do and accept my limitations without resentment. This is a season in my life that will not last forever. I need to appreciate the "daylilies" in my life until the "heartier flowers" are in bloom.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

The "Flowers" Of My Life

I recently attended Canada Blooms, an indoor gardening show that featured various garden displays; and flowers in bloom! It was a refreshing sight after so much snow! It got me thinking about my gardens; the flowers will soon be poking through. There is life in the bulbs of perennials, but it isn't obvious to our eyes until they start to break through the ground. Even though I cannot see my tulips or daffodils or crocuses, that doesn't change their essence of being. I too am like the perennial flowers in that it might not be obvious to my eyes that I look, or feel, like me; but my essence of being has not been changed with the diagnosis of ovarian cancer or the side effects resulting from chemo.

Soon my hair will begin to grow again. My strength is gradually returning. I know that a flower does not instantly appear in full bloom. It takes time for the flower to push through the soil; and for the stalk or stem to grow strong enough to support the flower when it is in full bloom. Not all perennials bloom at the same time; my tiger lilies bloom later than the daffodils, tulips and crocuses. As my strength and physical endurance, gradually and progressively, increase so too will I be able to take part in the activities that I did before this winter season of my life.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Enough, Already!

This recent snowfall of eighteen inches had many crying "Enough, already!" We have had lots of snow this winter and we were looking forward to milder weather. It is now March Break and Easter comes early this year. As my hair has again fallen out, leaving me with a bald head and odd-shaped patches of hair, I too cry out, "Enough, already!". I am tired of this winter season of my life and I long for spring.

Snow has its benefits in that it will help raise the water levels of the lakes and rivers. We did not get much rain last summer and the grass was burnt by the sun. I live near the Holland Marsh, which is Canada's main source of onions and carrots. The farmers use the water from the surrounding canals to irrigate.

These last two chemo treatments have their benefits in totally eradicating any residual cancer cells. The pathology report had shown cancer cells on the outside of the ovaries and fallopian tubes. My CA 125 level after my fifth chemo treatment was 12 (normal is 0-35), and I have had a sixth chemo treatment.

I am glad that this particular winter season of my life, in dealing with ovarian cancer, will not be repeated on a yearly basis! Just as the snow eventually melts; the temperature becomes warmer; and vegetation begins to grow; so too my winter season will come to an end. My new hair will probably start to grow and be visible when the trees are in bud! That is something I look forward to!

"As long as the earth remains, there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night." Genesis 8:22 (NLT)

"You set the boundaries of the earth, and you make both summer and winter." Psalm 74:17 (NLT)

"There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT)

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Milestones On The Road To Health

In the last two weeks I have passed two milestones on my road to health.

On February 27 I had my final dose of chemotherapy. It has been a difficult road with all of the various side-effects that I have experienced. I had such a positive outcome from my surgery that I resented the need for two more chemo treatments. When I had expressed my concerns to the oncologist it was explained that the cancer was responding well to the chemo and therefore they wanted to complete the cycle of treatments. I was encouraged to proceed with my final chemo treatment. After receiving this chemo my attending nurse presented me with a "diploma". This is what it said: "Community Cancer Clinic At Southlake Regional Health Centre is thrilled to present you with this honorary diploma in recognition of your accomplishment and perseverance in completing your chemotherapy treatment! Presented by your nurses, February 27,2008". Printed on the paper is a very young girl with her outstretched arms raised and her mouth open as if she is shouting "Yeah!".

Yesterday was another milestone in that it was the day I was discharged from St. Elizabeth Health Care; which had been ongoing since the beginning of October. The nurses came frequently, as needed, and have been an integral part of my health care. They have seen me at my lowest points and now they felt that I was healthy enough to no longer need their services. There was one nurse in particular, who I had seen the most and she is the one who saw me yesterday. I was given a card to mark the occasion and this is what it said: "Congratulations to you...(hurray for you)...(way to go - you're amazing)...(celebrate)...You did it!...(from start to finish)...(from then to now)...(from dream to reality...)"

While these milestones are to be celebrated, there is one milestone that I want to be true of me at the end of my life here on earth . The Apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy states: "As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me - the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his glorious return." 2 Timothy 4: 6-8 (NLT)

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Feeling Like "Me"

It's official - I am losing my hair again; the telltale evidence is on my pillowcase. I think that the main issue that I struggle with concerning my hair loss is that I don't look or feel like me. Hair really does help define our individuality and personality. I think that is why so much money is spent on hair products. I have noticed since being diagnosed with ovarian cancer and experiencing hair loss, I have become more purposeful in my choice of clothes, hats and earrings. I try various combinations to reflect the mood I am in. When I am feeling healthy I take great care in what I wear, but on days I am merely just coping I dress in the most comfortable clothes and don't even bother to put on earrings.

Everyone loves my wig, which is nice, but it isn't me. I don't know if I will be able to wear my hair in that style. My hair has a natural wave; the wig is always the same; straight hair mostly in place. I have a very deep "widow's peak", which I discovered as my hair started growing in. That means that when I have bangs they all clump to the centre of my forehead. Also, since my hair has a natural wave bangs only look good at a certain length and then I get "wings". When my eyebrows had fallen out I needed to use eyeliner pencil to draw or fill them in. I also needed to line my eyelids when my eyelashes had fallen out. I am not a big makeup user; I mostly go fairly natural except when I am going out somewhere. I needed to use coverup since my face had broken out as a result of the chemo. My skin was very clear in the two months I didn't have chemo. I look forward to when I will both look and feel like me. In the meantime, I want it to be said of me that my inner beauty shines through in spite of the condition of my outer beauty.

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God." 1 Peter 3: 3,4 (NLT)

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised." Proverbs 31:30 (NLT)
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