Hello, and welcome to my blog!

With all thats going on in my world and so many supportive friends wondering about my journey, I decided to keep a blog so you can follow along. Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Hello friends, Ron here,

Well, it's been a few months now since Chari left and I see people are still coming to her blog to check in.

I think it speaks volumes about the love people have/had? for her …. and I.

I'm not sure of what to do with her blog going forward. I do plan to keep it up as a memorial to her but I also think I could add to it a bit now and then? I don't think you would mind? She might give me some crap about it though, after all, it is HER blog. I can hear her right now, ha.

These few months have been tough. There is a lot of thought processing going on for me, the kids too. Death is not something the western world likes to think on or talk about. Fortunately, our family and friends have been a big supportive blessing. I have been supported in more ways than I can list and it had helped with this journey tremendously.

I'm still dealing with it every day. You would think by now I would at least have accepted the fact that she is gone. No quite so. I still see her everywhere, at home on the couch, at her computer writing her blog, in the car sitting next to me, everywhere. My mind constantly thinks that somehow, she will be back, in just a little while….and then it fights and says no. It is a weird kind of struggle.

Other times I just appreciate all the years we had together and I think on all the memories we made. I wonder if life will ever hold that kind of happiness again. It is hard to look forward with any kind of clarity. A big part of this journey is just feeling a bit lost and purposeless.

I know that you, whomever you are, struggle too. It's easy to think about myself and my journey, but I often forget, you miss her too, you were a good friend, a good sister, brother, coworker, ect. We are in this grief journey together. We all miss her. We all loved her. We feel the pain together.

Thanks for checking in, thanks for caring, thanks for the thoughts and deeds.

The "send a note link" at the left will now come straight to me. Why don't you take a sec and say, hey! My spammer friends from Russia do it all the time…

I wish I had a cool sign off line like Chari's "All Is Well" but nothing is coming, so until next time…

Ron

Friday night Beer and Peanuts with Chari, Bill, Jay, Becky, and Me

Chari on Coconino Point

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Dear friends,
As Chari mentioned in her blog, one of her long term goals was to hike rim to rim across the Grand Canyon again. We have done it twice before in our fiftieth birthday years. We obtained the permit to do it this month (October 28th 2016) and Chari was so excited. She never let go of this goal until the last couple of months when we knew we needed to train and she just did not have the strength. It was a big blow but she stayed positive and we were planning another, less taxing trip instead. Maybe a U.P. drive.
The first canyon hike was fun and kind of a scary trip for us. People die here every year from being unprepared, accidents, etc. So we always had that in the back of our minds. It added to the adventure. We saw sheep, lizards, deer, and made a lot of trail friends. Charis favorite spot on the trip was an area called “The Box”. It is a stretch where the canyon walls are very close and very tall giving a boxed in feeling. On the way out we got caught in a rainstorm but we were prepared for that. A father and adult son were not. We came across them and the father had developed a severe case of hypothermia. His son was very worried and trying to get some help. We stopped, and along with another couple gave some of our supplies to keep him warm until rangers could get to them. Serious stuff. It was a long grueling hike out for me. I developed a case of Hyponatremia, this is when you lose the salts in your body from drinking too much and eating too little. Chari was worried. My mind got all hazy and all I wanted to do was rest. The fellow from the couple we were walking out with kept talking to me and as he did I forgot my troubles and just kept putting one foot in front of the other. That is how I got out. We finally climbed out a few hours after sunset. We were using headlamps to walk by. The running joke has always been about how slow I am. My motto has always been “Find your pace and stick to it”. So naturally at a gift shop after the hike, Chari bought me a glass turtle as a souvenir of the hike, that’s me…the turtle. That first hike was a huge challenge and accomplishment for us. We have wanted to backpack since we first got married 38 years ago and this was the first time we actually did it. It felt great and we were on top of the world. If you know Chari, you know once she does something she likes, she likes to repeat the same thing again. Thus 2 canyon hikes with a third one planned…
I made a video of our first trip across (10 years ago) and the family has watched it many times. A running joke at home when kids and friends were over was to shout “Hey, Let’s watch the Canyon”, and so we did, a lot.


In memory of Chari, I have posted a link to the Grand Canyon Video.
It is large and likely won’t be up for a long time. It is best downloaded from the Dropbox account and viewed on your personal machine as the quality suffers when watching it online.
I hope you enjoy it and seeing Chari in it. It is even more of a treasure to me now.
I so loved that little hiker girl…

Ron

Chari on Coconino Point in the Grand Canyon

Chari on Coconino Point

Friday, October 21, 2016

Dear friends,
Just a quick entry to let you know that the love of my life left today. Chari passed quietly by my side.
She carried thru her journey with grace, strength and dignity.
I will miss her forever.
Ron

Monday, October 17, 2016

Dear friends, guest bloggers Ron and Becky here.
I know there are many who come here out of care and concern for Chari, I thought it was a good idea to give an update of Chari’s health.  We came home from CTCA on October 6.  We started hospice care to manage the illness in the most comfortable way possible. They have been wonderful. Things have changed fast after our last hospital visit and continue to change rapidly every day.
Chari has been the most optimistic, positive person through all of it. Never complaining, getting angry, or whatever negative emotion there is. She has been a shining star all the way and she is still teaching us all of to this day.
She always thought it would be great to have a full blown miracle happen a “radical remission”, but God seems to have other plans for her, she has completed her mission here in this life. She is being called home very soon. She is as courageous in death as she was during this whole cancer journey, So beautiful. She is such a special amazing woman. She will be missed by many.
She is very comfortable and peaceful now with family members around her.                                                                                       
All will be well, Ron and Becky

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

To all of my caregivers, because everyone who reads this blog has been a caregiver to me. I love and appreciate you all.
I know my updates have been less frequent. The reason for this is, my health has taken a big swing. I have been in the CTCA hospital for about three weeks now.
During that time period, I have lost the use of my legs, bowels, & bladder, due to a tumor that strangled my spinal cord. I have also had a “permanent” drain added to clear the fluid from my lung.
I have had surgery and some radiation on the spinal tumor in the hopes that relieving the spinal pressure would restore my ability to walk.
This is the first time that I have experienced the hospital side of CTCA, other than the hysterectomy two years ago. I have to say that it has been a Godsend. Any and every procedure, operation, test, scan, therapy, counseling, prayer, etc. is all under one roof.
Today is the first day I have actually broke down in tears. Not because of my condition, but because of the love, compassion, kind heartedness, and the ties that I have made with all those involved in, or with, my care here over the last two years.
As I prepare to leave here tomorrow, I realize that I will more than likely, be bawling the entire way home.
Once home, there will be many changes and adjustments to make. Please feel free to contact me, pray for me, and love me as you have over the years. I believe in miracles, and I always will.
Just today, I was told that more than once over the years, patients who go home from CTCA, with hospice care, often return a year or so later to continue their care. I plan to do what I can to be one of these people. A favorite quote of a doctor here is: “Whatever a mind can dream, and believe, it can achieve. “- Napoleon Hill
I have just made it one if my favorites too.

All is well . . .
Chari

Friday September 23, 2016

Hey all, its guest blogger Becky here. I'm filling in for mom this week.
Mom has been going through a lot lately. 
The chemo that she started on in February, her body stopped responding to towards the end of June. In July she started on a new chemo that kicked her ass, literally. She received 3 treatments and has now decided to discontinue it. She has been feeling pretty lousy since the beginning of August.
This past weekend was a whirl wind, and so it continues.... My parents and I headed out to CTCA on Thursday 9/15 for mom's monthly routine visit.  Things were different this time, mom was barely feeling up to going.
She's been extremely nauseous, constipated, fatigued and weak.
She's also been dealing with fluid building up around the lungs that has required draining. 
This past weekend’s visit has turned into a very lengthy stay for mom.
On Friday she had lost pretty much all use of her left leg, and by Saturday the right leg was weakening. Some strange stuff going on!
On Monday mom had a surgical drain put in the lung area so draining can be done on a regular basis and not get too built up.
After several appointments, a cat scan, and MRI, the doctors discovered that she had a large tumor that had wrapped around her spinal cord, causing all the problems from the waist down.  A Nero surgeon performed surgery to remove the tumor yesterday.  Mom did well! They were able to get most of it, and are confident some radiation should take care of the rest. This could be a lengthy process. A physical therapist will be working with her.  The doctors think that after her recovery she will need to be in a rehabilitation hospital for a while. We don't have any time line at this point of when she will be released from the hospital.
We will be spending lots of time in Illinois, at CTCA, our second home for now.
I want to thank you all for your support, prayers, concern, love, hugs, food, cards, and flowers! Mom appreciates it all so much. Thank you, thank you!
My mom is a Rock Star, my inspiration, and a best friend! I'm so proud of her! All she has gone through... and all that she is going through. You amaze me! I love you to the moon!

Sunday September 11, 2016

I know people have been wondering how I am so, I figured I probably shouldn’t put off making a blog update any longer.
I was waiting until I felt good before writing it. But, I don’t know when that will be. On Wednesday, it will be three weeks since the last chemo treatment. I have felt crummy ever since.
The pain is controllable after the dosages were increased. So, pain isn’t really a problem right now. But, with the pain meds, I’m constipated all the time.
I have also had a lot of nausea and stomach problems. Because of that, I don’t eat much. Plus, foods just don’t sound good or taste good to me.
I am quite fatigued most days.
I had the fluid around my left lung drained again the last I was at CTCA. I went home with a drain that stayed in for a few days until there was nothing draining, and then Ron was able to remove it.
My goal, and desire at this time is to feel better. I have NO plans to continue the nasty chemo that I have been on.
My next appointments are scheduled for next Friday, September 16. We will be going to Zion on Thursday evening and returning on Saturday.
I hope to have a Vit C IV sometime this week if possible. Last week I just wasn’t feeling up to going anywhere at all.
My sister, Debbie is giving me massages on my arm for the lymphedema. She comes to the house, making it very convenient and a blessing for me.
I have also been blessed lately with many visitors, meals, cards full of kind words, and prayers from extended family & friends. I appreciate all of this very much. Thank you all for caring. I definitely rely upon you to get me through this.
Each time I go to CTCA, I have a list of appointments. The first appointment is for Port Access and blood draw. I usually see the same person for this. She is a nurse named Tina. I enjoy seeing her first thing in the morning. See always has a smile and kind words. She is concerned about her patients and always seems willing to go above and beyond for them. Tina is another person I have come to rely upon to get me through this . . .


Chari

Chari and Tina

Chari and Nurse Tina

Monday August 22, 2016

It’s early evening and we are on our way to Zion. Nothing but blue skies today. As we leave town, Ron shows me some of the damage from the tornado on Saturday. It touched down about 1\2 mile from our house. We received no damage at all. We are fortunate.
I am anxious for my appointments tomorrow. I hope to get the pain meds straightened out. The strength of the meds needs to be increased.
It seems like all I do is lie around these days. It doesn’t take much to tire me out.
I had plans to get together with friends three different times this past week. But, I ended up cancelling all three because the pain was bad and I wasn’t feeling well. I don’t like cancelling plans but, when I’m in a lot of pain, all I want to do is lie down and rest or sleep. I don’t function well when in pain.
While at CTCA, I will be meeting with someone from the Pain Management Dept. for the first time. It’s my last appointment before leaving for home.
I am seeing continued improvement in the rash and in the tumors that are visible.
Over the past 12 weeks, I have been a client of the Revive & Thrive project. This program is modeled after one in California. It provides four meals a week for cancer patients and their family. They use local and organic foods with a focus on a plant based diet. Ron & I are grateful to have received so many good meals. A session normally runs for 12 weeks. I came in the middle (week 6) of the previous session and have just finished week 6 of the current session. I asked the administrator to remove me from their list as I have completed 12 weeks. This way someone who is waiting can be added. She said it would take her a week or two to get someone else started, and told me to enjoy the extra meals I will receive. This is a great program. It has been a big help to me, and I highly recommend it to anyone dealing with cancer.
All is well . . .

Chari     

Monday August 15, 2016

I spent the day lounging around. I didn’t even bother getting dressed. There was nothing I had to do. So, nothing is what I did. It felt good and seemed to be exactly what I needed. My mom stopped over for a bit and to bring us dinner. 
I haven’t seen a significant improvement in the pain or tiredness I have been experiencing. But, I have noticed some improvement in the rash and I can see and feel that some of the tumors have decreased in size. This is encouraging and I am hoping and praying that the pain and fatigue will improve real soon.
I have been having a problem eating lately because things just don’t sound good. It’s hard for me to eat something that doesn’t even sound good. Usually it doesn’t taste good either.  Last week I was able to have lunch with some of the women I used to work with at Thresholds. I enjoyed seeing them and lunch tasted good.
On Friday, Becky’s friend, Stephanie flew in from Florida. I had lunch with them too. I was a little concerned about being able to eat. We went to San Chez which ended up being a great choice. With all of the tapas to share, we got to try a number of things that were all very tasty.
Becky & Steph spent the weekend at the lake with Ron & I. Jay joined us on Saturday. Friday night and Saturday morning it rained but, it cleared up after that. The trailer is a nice cozy shelter from the rain.
Because of the way I have been feeling the past month, I haven’t been able to train for our hike of the Grand Canyon. Because of my health, we have decided not to make the trip. This was a hard decision to make but, I can’t see myself hiking if I am not feeling well. I am disappointed as this was the second big goal I set for myself. I’m surprised how quickly things can change with cancer. In June, I was still feeling really great and I saw no problem in hiking the canyon then. Come July, everything changed. My oncologist told me they would work with me so that I would feel good enough for the hike. But, without training ahead of time, it would be foolish to attempt it. Ron & I will still take some kind of vacation this fall. 
Who or what do I rely upon to get me through this? I rely on my family to get me through this. Their love and support help tremendously. I am fortunate to have such a wonderful husband and two great kids. They do what they can to help me.
Another one of my doctors I rely upon to get me through this is Dr. Stephenson. In one of my earlier blog posts, I said he was the son of the CEO. That was incorrect. He is the son of the founder of CTCA. Dr. Stephenson is an osteopathic doctor. He is a doctor of internal medicine and is also trained in manipulative therapy. I may have a great deal of pain when I see him but, by the time I leave his office, I am pain free or else the pain has diminished a great deal because of the manipulative therapy. A while back, Dr. Stephenson told me he was going to help me get well. I don’t know if he knew the extent of my condition at that time. But, if he wants to help me, I’ll take it! Dr. Stephenson is the head of the Quality of Life department at CTCA and is a wonderful, caring doctor. He gives the ok for the vitamin C IVs I receive while at the cancer center. 
All is well . . .

Chari

Chari and Dr. Stephenson

Dr. T and Chari

Monday August 8, 2016

We had another long weekend at the lake. We just got home about an hour ago. The weather was perfect the whole time. Jeremy & Julie spent the weekend with us. On Saturday, Bob, Amy, Jacob & Justin came up. It was nice spending time with them. Becky also came up on Saturday and spent the night. Sunday, Steve & Ann stopped in on their way home from their cabin. It’s nice to have visitors and we appreciate them coming. I only wish I was functioning at 100% for everyone instead of where I’m at.
My visit at CTCA went well last week even though I wasn’t feeling the best. My oncologist told me that she believes the pain I have been experiencing is from tumor necrosis and that it would get much, much better. Tumor necrosis can be very painful which, it is in my case. It was good to hear that the chemo was actually doing some good by killing the cancer cells. I am now on OxyContin every 12 hours and Norco for breakthrough pain. The meds make me quite tired but, I was told that I’d get used to them and then wouldn’t be so tired anymore. So, I am very much looking forward to less pain and not being tired all the time.
My oncologist also told me that I was doing quite well considering what’s going on and that many people in my situation are down in bed. She said that most people with stage IV breast cancer don’t live longer than two years. I have already passed the two year mark and am grateful for each day I am given. I am buying time with the chemo but, in my case, I would be worse off without it.
While at CTCA, I saw a pulmonologist and had the fluid around my left lung drained. Not sure how much was drained but, it was a pretty good sized bag. I feel less pressure now in my chest since having the fluid drained.
I was also fitted for a lymphedema sleeve and glove. They are hideous looking but, if they help it is a good thing. I will probably get a colorful sleeve sometime soon and then I should feel a bit better about wearing it.
I received a very generous anonymous donation in the mail last week. It has been added to my “Go Fund Me” account and will be used for IVs and possibly a lymphedema sleeve. I am very grateful for all the donations I have received. It helps so much with all of the expenses we have had, and continue to incur.
I have wanted to get to the third writing prompt for some time now. It is: Who or what do I rely upon to get me through this? Well, for starters, without my faith in God, I don’t know where I’d be. I can’t imagine doing this on my own. I don’t think it would be possible. I rely on God to help me stay strong, positive, and to get me through each day.
I have many people that I rely upon to get me through this. I am not going to go through them in any certain order. Instead, I will try to write a little about them in future postings. Today, I’m going to introduce you to my oncologist, Dr. Tlemcani, or “Dr. T” which she is often called. I love her! She is very caring, compassionate, and doesn’t beat around the bush. I really appreciate the way she tells it like it is. She always listens to what I have to say, explains things well, and leaves all decisions about my care up to me. That’s the way it should be and I am very happy to have her as my oncologist. Dr. T is from Morocco and has a bit of an accent.
All is well . . .

Chari

Dr. T and Chari

Dr. T and Chari

Sunday July 31, 2016

A week ago I thought I was feeling better. But, it turned out to be only for the day. Since then I have had significant pain every day. Out of the past three weeks, there have been only five days that I have felt good. My quality of life has pretty much gone down the toilet. Tomorrow evening we will be heading to Zion. I have appointments on Tuesday and chemo on Wednesday before going home. I am dreading the chemo if it is going to make me feel like crap. That is pretty much the way I have been feeling since the last treatment. Yesterday, I noticed my left arm is considerably larger than normal. So, now I have lymphedema to deal with too. And here I thought I was going to be one of the fortunate ones who don’t get lymphedema. It seems odd that it would start after two years. But, I understand it can come on at any time after surgery on lymph nodes. I am looking forward to seeing my oncologist on Tuesday. I have a lot of questions for her and I am anxious to get some answers.
My hair is falling out again. It was a couple of inches long and coming in pretty good before it started falling out on Wednesday. I had Becky shave my head on Friday.  
There were a few bright spots in my week. I had a Vitamin C IV at the Born Clinic on Wednesday. I think it gave me a little bit more energy. I plan to continue them on a regular basis again. I also was able to get together with Carol and Deb Q. on Wednesday for dinner. We met at Houlihans which is on Burton and Breton. I was planning on going to the Fresh Thyme Market afterwards since it is close to the restaurant but, I wasn’t feeling up to it when the time came and just went home instead. The pain is the worst at night and in the morning.
My cousin, Lori stopped by on Thursday to drop off a loaf of yummy cranberry walnut bread. How sweet of her to do that! 
On Friday, Becky and I had lunch with Kathy Olsen. Her daughter got engaged recently and will be getting married next May. So, it is a very busy and exciting time for them.
After lunch we visited my mom. Then, later on Ron and I went up to the lake. Jeremy & Julie came up for the weekend too.
I am hoping I feel better this week and that it lasts for much more than a day.  I just want to feel like myself again. Prayers are very much appreciated. Thanks,
Chari

Sunday July 24, 2016

Here it is Sunday evening and Ron & I are sitting in the trailer at the lake. We decided not to have a camp fire but turn in relatively early tonight. So, I plan on going to bed as soon as I finish this. Ron will be working from here tomorrow and then we’ll head home tomorrow evening. It’s nice to have one more day at the lake. It’s supposed to be a nice day tomorrow. Today it rained all morning and cleared up later on.
It’s been a rough week for me. I felt good last weekend. Then, on Monday pain set in on my left chest and underarm area. I called one of my care managers at CTCA and was told that it was probably caused by the way the cancer is responding to the new treatment. Next, on Thursday my throat started getting sore and I noticed a few other areas in my mouth feeling tender. I figured this must be the “mouth sores” that I have heard about. I started using the Stomatitis Cocktail that I was given a prescription for during my last visit at CTCA. It is something that you swish around in your mouth and gargle with three times a day before meals. It took away some of the pain but not enough. On Friday, Becky called a care manager for me to see if there was something else that would help my throat. They prescribed a Lidocaine gel. This is used the same way as the other but, you don’t eat for an hour after you use it. It works well. I have been living on these two products along with pain pills. Ibuprofen during the day and Norco at night.
Today, I was finally able to say that I felt pretty good. It’s the best I have felt since last Sunday. I am hoping that I am over the worst now and the way I feel will continue to improve. I am seeing improvement in the rash and I think the pain is getting a little better. I can’t help but wonder, if after my next treatment, I will experience another week like the past one. I certainly hope not.
There were so many things I wanted to get done last week. But, since I felt so crappy, they didn’t get done. This week will be better, it has to.
Jim & Jan and Becky came up yesterday and stayed for the night. We enjoyed having them! We spent most of yesterday afternoon at the beach. We had a nice fire last night. We all slept in this morning while it rained, had a late breakfast, lounged around in the trailer (thankful to have such a nice shelter from the rain) and we got in a few games of washers before they went home.
I am so happy to be feeling better! All is well . . .
Chari

Ron, Chari, Jan, and Jim at Diamond Lake.

Ron, Chari, Jan, and Jim at Diamond Lake.

Saturday July 16, 2016

We are enjoying another weekend of R & R at Diamond Lake. Our neighbor held a Celebration of Life today for his wife who passed away last month. There was about sixty people there and lots of good food. The weather cooperated and it turned out to be a beautiful day.
Jeremy & Julie and Becky & Jay are here with us this weekend. Our friends Tim & Deb stopped in today for the celebration and to hang out with us for a while. It was great to see them. They are a couple of our friends who have spent a lot of time up here in years past when the kids were young. Just like us, they have a lot of good memories of those times we shared together.
This past Wednesday I had my first treatment of the “new” chemo. The drug I am on now is called Taxotere. It took about 2 ½ hours to administer. Not too bad. I had my normal low/no energy day yesterday. Today I am still quite sluggish. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. Along with the new treatment, I am now given an on-body injector of Neulasta. This gets attached to the back of my arm and 27 hours after the chemo was given it starts injecting me with a drug to stimulate the growth of “healthy” white blood cells in my bone marrow. In other words, it’s to keep my neutrophils good enough to prevent infection. When the injection is finished, I simply remove the device.
I was told that this new treatment should clear up the rash I have across my chest. It may take a little while is all. The sooner the better is all I can say. The rash is caused by the cancer spreading. It has spread to a couple new areas on my chest and there are some new spots on my liver. The PET scan I had a couple of weeks ago also showed I have some fluid around my left lung. On my next visit to CTCA I will be seeing a pulmonologist to get checked out to see if the fluid needs to be drained. The left side of my chest and underarm area is a little achy and I am looking forward to that getting better too. I am now back on a three-week schedule for treatments. We are all happy about that. Things were a bit too busy with the last schedule. My next appointments are scheduled for August 2nd. We have changed things up and are going to CTCA early in the week now so we have our weekends free to spend at the lake. This is working well since Ron can work away from home as long as he has his laptop with him.
Ron & I are planning on kicking off our training for hiking the canyon this coming week. We have been a little too busy to start sooner. Now that we will have more time, it is a must. We have a little over three months to get ready. That will be plenty of time as long as we stick to it. I am excited to train for it because it will feel like it is really going to happen. I will also be excited to reach the goal I set for myself, almost two years ago, of hiking the canyon again.
All in all, I am feeling pretty good and enjoying life.
All is well . . .

Chari

Thursday July 7, 2016

We had a great time at the lake for the long 4th of July weekend. It was Becky & Jay’s annual “Camp Shenanigans” weekend. Many people stopped in for a day, an overnight, or for the weekend. It was the first time Ron & I were there for the whole weekend. Other years, we went up just for a day.
Saturday we enjoyed the annual boat parade, the ring of fire, and fireworks galore! Sunday and Monday there were still some people around the lake shooting off fireworks.
Tuesday morning we had breakfast, packed up, and headed for home. Ron worked for a while and I did some laundry and a little grocery shopping. Then, we packed our things and left for Zion. Jeremy came with us and drove the whole way there. He really enjoys driving.
We are on our way home as I write this. Most of my appointments were yesterday. My bloodwork was good. It was about the same as two weeks ago. I have a rash on my left chest area that started about a month ago. It wasn’t much at the time and I thought it would go away. But in the last two weeks it has gotten significantly worse. I also have some nodules that have gotten bigger. So, I brought it up with at my appointment with Courtney the PA. she didn’t like what she saw and wanted me to have a PET scan yesterday. However, I wasn’t able to have a scan yesterday because the department was booked solid. So, I had one today after my chemo. It would have been ideal if I had the scan first, my doctor got the results and made any necessary changes to my treatment, and then I had chemo. But, the only later available time for chemo was 7:00 pm. I said no because we needed to go home today. So we stuck with the current treatment until I come back next week.
Courtney just called me with the results of my scan. Once again it is a mixture. Some things got worse, some got better, and there are new spots to monitor. Overall, the results were more bad then good this time. I don’t have a hard copy of my results like I usually do, but I can look at them online, which I will do later. I really like how quickly they get results to the doctor and patients at CTCA. It sure beats waiting for days or a week to hear. Now I can psych myself up for a change in my treatment that will start next week. Courtney said the chemo they are switching me to is also one that is pretty well tolerated by most people. I was glad to hear that. Hopefully I will tolerate it well.
My greatest concern is my quality of life. It has always been the most important thing to me. I don’t want to lose the quality of life I have had so far on this journey. Only time will tell I guess. I am planning on starting back up on the Vitamin C IVs and the UVBI treatments at the Born Clinic again as funds permit.
Tomorrow evening we will be going back up to the lake. I’m looking forward to it. I can rest up there instead of at home.
We will probably stop at a brewery today since Jeremy is with us and he wants to. I will have my usual tastes or, small beer, while Jeremy & Ron enjoy a couple of full pours. That means I will most likely be the designated driver for the rest of the way home. Jeremy is driving right now.
Despite the scan results showing the changes going on in my body, I feel really good.
All is well . . .
Chari

Jeremy's beer, Chari's beer, and Ron's beer at Greenbush Brewery.

Jeremy's beer, Chari's beer, Ron's beer...

Thursday June 30, 2016

Things went well last weekend getting the trailer up to the lake and situated. It was a work weekend pretty much but, it felt good being there.
Our neighbor at the lake is always cooking something in his smoker. On Saturday, he invited us to come share some of his smoked chicken for lunch. It was tasty. He really enjoys company since he lost his wife to lung cancer earlier this month. He was happy to hear that Ron & I would be around quite a bit now that we have a new trailer. He even called a friend of his to haul away the old one. It feels good to be rid of it.
Out of necessity, we decided to hook up to city water and sewer. Our water took a turn for the worse last year. It was turning clothing yellow, and staining sinks and toilets. The work was completed on Monday. So, for the past few days, I have been catching up on laundry. I have to say, it’s nice not having to lug it somewhere else to wash it anymore.
On Tuesday my friend, Becky stopped over to visit. It was good to see her. She works nearby and we decided we would try to get together for lunch on a regular basis. I have known Becky for a long time. First from church we both attended years ago. Then, from 2009 – 2011, we went to Davenport University together. I will never forget the first day of Anatomy class. I was surprised to see Becky come in and sit down in front of me. When I said her name, she turned around and mentioned how she thought she was going to be the oldest one there. I laughed since I am older than she is. Plus, it wasn’t long before she realized that along with all of the younger students, there were many that were her age, my age, and even older. We both enjoyed school and a lot.
Today, I spent most of my time getting things ready to bring up north. That is where we are now as I write this. It’s getting late and is about time for me to turn in. It’s raining and that will make for some good sleeping. It’s nice and cozy here in the trailer. I am so grateful to have it. With the future being so uncertain, especially for me, Ron decided to spend some retirement money now so we could both enjoy it. He is so good to me. I hope to enjoy the trailer and being up at the lake for a long, long time.
Tomorrow is our 38th wedding anniversary. Darn, I forgot to bring up the special bottle of wine I was saving for a special occasion like this. But, Ron said we will go shopping and see what we can find.
I am feeling great. All is well . . .

Chari

Diamond Lake Campground ???

Diamond Lake Campground ???

The New Trailer

The new diggs

Friday June 24, 2016

I was working out this morning and remembered that I hadn’t done a blog entry this week. So, here it is.
I was right about my WBC going down some by Monday. That’s exactly what they did. They are now at 47.24, down from 53.35. I like seeing them below 50 again. The cancer marker is still down as well. Everything else is good.
When I saw Dr. Stephenson in the Quality of Life department, I asked him how the Celebration of Life event went the previous week. He said it went well. Dr. Stephenson is the son of the CEO of the hospital and he and his father are quite involved with the annual celebrations. I told him that I had a few years yet to go but, I would like to be a part of Celebration of Life one day. He said they would do their best to get me there. It was two years ago today that I was given the breast cancer diagnosis.
My next visit to CTCA will be on July 6th. How nice to have this break, especially, now that I am getting my energy back after Wednesday and Thursday. Just in time for the weekend.
Well, we did it. We bought a trailer for our lot up at Diamond Lake! It is very, very nice. We hope to get it up there later today. It will take some work getting it situated. But, once that’s done, it will be my new summer hang- out. Yippee! I can’t wait to spend time up there again. Of course family and friends are always welcome to come up to visit as long as we are there. We will not be loaning or renting out the trailer. This is a big investment for us and we will be very protective of it. Ron has put me in charge.
I have a ton of things to do today so, I will end this now and go get started.
I feel great! All is well . . .

Chari


Thursday June 16, 2016

Here it is Thursday already! We will not be heading to CTCA for week number two until Sunday. My friend, Deb Q. has a daughter getting married on Saturday and we will be attending the wedding. So, I will have appointments on Monday, chemo on Tuesday, and then we will come home.
Last week all went well. Because of the CLL, My WBC was at 53.35 which is the highest it has ever been so far. It varies so much and is always going up and down. Come Monday, it may be down some. Everything else was good, including the tumor marker, which went down a bit.
The Celebration of Life was going on last week while we were there. This is a celebration for all five year survivors and their families. I am not sure of all that is involved but, I do know that there was a special dinner on Thursday evening. Then on Friday there was some sort of lunch and festivities during the day. Every five year survivor gets a gold colored leaf on one of several decorative trees inside CTCA. They also plant a tree somewhere outside for each five year survivor.  How exciting for all those involved! I have a few years to go but, I hope to be a part of the celebration one day.
On our way home last Saturday we stopped to look at a travel trailer over in the Borculo area. Once we finished looking at the trailer, we were on our way home again and passed another one. So, of course we had to stop and check that one out too. They were both very nice. We need something newer for our lot up on Diamond Lake. The trailer that is on the lot now has been up there for many, many years and has seen better days. We used to spend a lot of time at the lake when our kids were young. Many of our friends have also been up there with their kids. We’ve had a lot of good times at Diamond Lake. I am looking forward to getting something nice up there and spending as much time as possible there during summer, having many more good times.
I just love fresh produce! Our neighbors gave us some asparagus and strawberries the other day. Yum! Sometimes I wish we had a big garden full of all the things I love. But, we seem to be a bit too busy running back and forth to CTCA that I’m sure it would be overrun with weeds in no time. Plus, when we are home, quite often I don’t have enough energy to even think about weeding a garden. I will just settle for being grateful for what our neighbors want to share with us and for the farmers markets in the area.
I have been sleeping so good lately that I haven’t even heard the thunderstorms the past two nights. Yesterday we were without power for a little while. I went to the gym and by the time I came home it was back on. Today, I found it a little difficult to even get out of bed so, I slept in.
I am feeling great! All is well . . .

Chari

Five Year Survivor Tree

Five Year Survivor Tree

Wednesday June 8, 2016

I am right on top of things this week! Thought I would get a quick blog entry done before tomorrow so I wouldn’t end up writing it on the way to CTCA again. Not that I don’t have time tomorrow before we leave but, I don’t usually think about it till evening.
Time goes too fast. It has been nice having two weeks off between visits but, I wish it was three like it was for a while. I’m going to have to see if I can work on getting that changed. Especially now that it’s June. I’d rather have more time for doing fun things instead of doctor appointments.
A few people have asked me if I could have my chemo treatments here. The answer is yes; sure I could, if I wanted to, and if I had an oncologist here, which I don’t. I don’t think I need an oncologist here at home. Many of the patients that go to CTCA also have oncologists in their hometown and some choose to have some treatments (usually radiation) in their hometown as well. However, most of them are content to have everything done at CTCA, and that is where I am at. Plus, I can have a Vitamin C IV (among other things) at CTCA each time I am there. I haven’t had one here at home for quite some time.
This past week, I have been fortunate to be able to get together with friends several times. On Friday, Becky & I had lunch with Kathy, my friend who I have known since high school. It’s always good to see Kathy and we had a nice time. Then, yesterday I met Deb E. for lunch downtown. I have known her since 7th grade. After lunch, we went to her place and she showed me around her neighborhood. She lives up on the hill that overlooks Grand Rapids and has family members that have been, and still are renovating many of the homes and buildings in the area. It was great spending time with her as it had been a few years since I last saw her. Late this afternoon I met Carol & Deb Q. at Founders for a bite to eat and a beer. Deb had never been to Founders since they moved out of the old Brassworks building so we thought she needed to check it out. She was impressed and surprisingly, the place wasn’t as busy as it normally is.
We have already heard from the Park Service for the Grand Canyon. Ron got an email yesterday to let us know that we have been accepted. We were surprised to hear so soon! In the past it took a few weeks to find out and it was by letter. We will be hiking at the very end of October. The actual dates are: October 28 – November 2. We are planning on spending two nights at the first two campgrounds on the Corridor Trail and one night at the third. This way we can take a couple of shorter day hikes without our big packs and have a little more time for relaxing too. Now that we know we are going, it’s time to start training! We will train at Johnson Park on the paved Scenic Drive, that is no longer open to vehicles, and also on a side hill that has a dirt trail. This will be a very busy summer!
Sometime soon I plan to get back to the writing prompts I mentioned a while back. I still have one more to cover: Who or what do I rely upon to get me through this? I think this one will be easy. If, and when something comes to mind for the last one of How has cancer impacted my life? I will make mention of it because it seems like there are so many things for that topic.
I feel good and am planning on hitting the gym in the morning. So, I need to hit the bed soon.
All is well . . .

Chari

Kathy and Chari

Kathy and Chari

Chari and Deb

Chari and Deb

Thursday June 2, 2016

I have no complaints about the beautiful weather we have been having! Today I was even able to get outside in the sun for an hour with my book. I really enjoy that time.
My Friday appointments went well at CTCA. Bloodwork was good. Liver & kidney function were both good too. Things really don’t seem to change much from week to week but I guess it’s still important to check.
 Following chemo this time, I have found it a bit harder to regain my normal energy level. Not only did I have little energy on Sunday and Monday (I was down for the count), but it dragged on into Tuesday and even yesterday somewhat. Today I feel better but still not my normal self. I went to the gym this morning. It was harder than normal but, I managed to get a workout in. I hope this is not going to be the new normal for me after chemo.
On our way home last Saturday we stopped at Three Floyds Brewery in Indiana. They are known for their beer and food so we thought it would be nice to check them out. People wait sometimes for an hour or more just to get in. We happened to get there before the waiting got too long. We waited just 20 minutes. Well, the beers we each ordered were very good and we ordered an appetizer that was very good too. But, the heavy metal music was totally unacceptable to us. Becky was with us and although Ron would have loved to try a couple more of their beers, the three of us agreed to get out of there after we finished the ones we had. The waiter was surprised and wanted to know if it was something he said or did. We just said no, we just stopped for one on our way home is all. I now wish I would have told him that we couldn’t stand the music but I don’t know if he would have understood the problem anyway since he worked there and listened to it all the time. I don’t know how anyone can enjoy a meal with that kind of music blasting away and am glad we didn’t order anything more than an appetizer.
Yesterday, I got up early to fax our Backcountry Permit Request Form for the Grand Canyon. I had my alarm set for 3:00 AM but it never went off. I woke up somehow at 4:40 AM and hurried down to the fax machine to take care of it. I like to get it out as soon as possible on June 1 for hiking in October. This is when they start to accept them, on the first day of the month four months ahead of the time you wish to hike. 3 AM here is 12 midnight there and that is why I was planning to fax just after 3. We should hear within three weeks whether or not we have been accepted. Not too worried about it as we have given them open availability for the whole month of October. I am so looking forward to making this hike again! Mark & Carol have decided not to join us after all. Jeff & Vickie have plans for a week right in the middle of October so, we’ll have to wait and see if it works out for them to join us or not once we are given our dates from the Park Service. I hope it works out for them.
Yesterday, my sister-in-law Amy brought us a delicious dinner. Today, my cousin Lori and my Aunt Lenora brought us an equally delicious dinner. We are blessed to have people who want to bring us meals and we certainly do appreciate it.
Tomorrow I hope to be feeling like my old self again. All is well . . .

Chari

Thursday May 26, 2016

Well, here we are again on our way to CTCA for week #2. After this visit, I have two weeks off, which will be nice.
Things went well last week. Bloodwork was good, cancer marker is down, liver and kidney function both good.
I was experiencing some pain last week but is better now. I don’t know if the pain was from the cancer or, because of my workout last Thursday morning. When I know I will get to the gym only a couple of days for the week, I tend to hit it hard. Maybe a bit too hard. Thursday I focused on my arms, shoulders, and back. Today I worked the same areas again but eased up somewhat. I purposely didn’t do as much. I don’t seem to be in pain so, that’s a good thing.
Who knows? It may be time for me to think about doing more cardio and less weight work. Maybe, I should take up yoga. I think yoga would be very good for me. But, I really don’t want to give up the weights just yet. I have enjoyed working out with weights for about 20 years now. I started in the fall of 1996. I remember because that is the year my sister Linda died.
This week, I am reading a great book called Peace Pilgrim. Peace Pilgrim is a woman who made a pilgrimage for peace by walking across the country more than once. The book is written in the woman’s own words. It is very inspirational, and a very good read.
It's been a quiet week for the most part. I’ve been tired every day. There is the typical couple of down days after chemo. That was Sunday & Monday. Then, I didn’t sleep well on Tuesday or Wednesday so, that is why I’ve been so tired. Hopefully that will change for the better real soon.
Feels like summer has come to Michigan with the heat that has set in. I am loving it. Last summer just wasn’t warm enough for me. We’ll see how this one pans out.
I have taken a break from having Vitamin C IVs at the Born Clinic. Prices went up, and it was quite costly before that happened. I am still having the IVs while at CTCA, and for that, I am grateful.
While I was having the Vit C IVs at the Born, I also started having what is called a UVBI treatment. UVBI is short for Ultra Violet Blood Irradiation. This was recommended by a doctor there who said it would benefit me. I started alternating them every other week with the Vit C IVs. When I put the Vit C on hold, I was still getting the UVBI treatments every other week for as long as I could. I think I have had just four of these treatments. They too are costly. So, I found it necessary to stop them as well until funds permit.
All in all, things are going well. I feel good other than the tiredness. I am very blessed to feel as good as I do. All is well . . .
Chari

Thursday May 19, 2016

The week has flown by! I meant to write this earlier but, it kept slipping my mind. So, I am writing this as we make our way to Zion. It will be a normal visit this time with no scans involved. Jeremy is with us this time and is doing the driving right now.
We really enjoyed the concert last Saturday night. Garth puts on an amazing show! It was very loud but, very good. I’m glad I had earplugs with me.
The rest of the week has been pretty quiet and uneventful. That is except for yesterday when I had lunch with my friends, Carol and Deb Q. Before yesterday, I hadn’t seen Deb for well over a year. It sure was good to see her and to have lunch with both her and Carol.
Things have been going well. I’m getting my workouts in usually at least three times a week. I am also soaking up some sun on nice days in my backyard with a book to read. I’ve always enjoyed my time in the sun. You just can’t beat a little natural Vitamin D.
It sounds like we have a bunch of warm sunny days coming finally and that makes me happy.
I feel great! All is well . . .
Chari

Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks

Thursday May 12, 2016

It’s been a good week! It’s hard to believe it’s Thursday already though. Time marches on that’s for sure!
I had an enjoyable Mother’s Day visiting my mom and then having a family dinner at Becky & Jay’s house.
Last night Ron and I met our friends, Mark & Carol, and Jim & Jan at White Flame Brewery. They just recently opened their kitchen so, we thought we’d check out their food along with having a drink. It sure was good to see our friends, as it had been a while.
I am in the process of trying to organize cupboards and things here at home. It’s time to do a good cleaning out, donating, and getting rid of things. I haven’t gotten too far yet. It will be my “work in process” for quite some time.
My latest visit at CTCA went well. Overall, we had good news.
My latest PET scan results are:
In my chest area the axillary lymph nodes have increased in brightness somewhat, a subpectoral lymph node has decreased in brightness, a high axillary lymph node has stayed the same, and an adjacent subpectoral lymph node has resolved.
A left flank nodule has increased a little in brightness.
A previously seen right axillary lymphadenopathy (lymph nodes) has resolved.
Two lesions along, or around my left breast implant have decreased in brightness, and another has resolved.
In my liver, the central right lesion has decreased. However, there is a new posterior lesion.  Also, a lesion at the junction of the right and left hepatic lobes has resolved.
In my spine, two of the lesions have decreased, and one has increased in brightness.
So, they are calling this a mixed treatment response. I love the way some things have resolved! It’s not perfect but, I’ll take it! Things could be a whole lot worse. As things stand, no changes to my treatment have been needed, and for that, I am grateful!
My next scan will be in August. I am planning on more things resolving by then.
I have been having chemo treatments once every three weeks and then again the following week. I will now be having them once every two weeks and then again the following week. This is the normal schedule. They let me try every three weeks to see how I would do with the treatment. I am still tolerating the chemo very well. I have not had any nausea afterwards, just a little constipation and one bout of diarrhea so far.
With all of our trips to CTCA, it’s easy to understand how it has become our home away from home. But, that’s ok. I am happy there, and still feel like it is the best place for me. Actually, I think it is the best place for anyone dealing with cancer but, of course I believe that everyone has to decide for themselves what’s best for them.
I am, and I have been constantly learning throughout this cancer journey. One of the latest things I am learning about is what’s called The Lifeline Technique which uses the subconscious mind to awaken the potential for healing and wholeness. I have read the book titled, The Power of Infinite Love & Gratitude by Dr. Warren R. Weissman. He is the developer of The Lifeline Technique. I am currently reading another of Warren Weissman’s books titled, Awakening to the Secret Code of Your Mind. I’m not going to try to explain what exactly the Lifeline Technique is all about, since I am still learning. I am just happy to say that I have a mind/body therapist at CTCA that knows the technique who is working with me. My chiropractor also knows it and is willing to work with me as well. They were both trained in The Lifeline Technique by Dr. Weissman.
Well, I am now the owner of a smart phone. I really don’t think they are very smart but, I suppose it was time for me to upgrade from what I was using. Ron gave me his old one and just got everything switched over on it today. Now I need to learn how to use it. Fun, fun! I’m becoming more of a “techie” all the time!
This Saturday we’ll be going to the Garth Brooks concert. I’m excited. It will be a great way to spend a Saturday evening!
I am feeling great.  All is well . . .

Chari

 

Mothers Day

Dinner Cruise at Marina Jack's

Thursday May 5, 2016

It’s so good to have the sunshine and warmer temps back after the cold, wet day we had yesterday!
My quick trip to Florida with Becky for “Girl’s Weekend” was fabulous! We flew with Allegiant so we had a straight flight into Punta Gorda Airport that took just a couple of hours. The airport is about 20 minutes from Stephanie’s house, where we stayed.
Our few days in Florida were full of sun and warm temps. The beaches were great! Friday evening we went to Venice Beach to watch the sunset and then to Sharkey’s for dinner. Saturday we spent the afternoon at Siesta Key Beach. It was very busy, as many others had the same idea of spending their Saturday there. The fine, white sand reminded me of sugar. When we finished at the beach, we were off on a sunset dinner cruise for a couple of hours. The food was delicious and the sunset was beautiful. On Sunday, we spent the afternoon at Boca Grande Beach, which is a good beach for shelling. It was a really hot day and Becky & Stephanie were already sunburnt from the day before so, if we weren’t in the water, we spent most of the time under the beach umbrella. We grabbed a late lunch at the South Beach Restaurant before heading back to Steph’s house.
Stephanie works as a hairdresser for James Griffith Salons in both Boca Grande and Venice. She will be leaving for Paris this Sunday, where she will receive additional education for her job. She is excited, and we are excited for her.
It was hard to leave Florida on Monday but, all good things must come to an end. It was so nice of Stephanie to have us come and stay with her. We are already looking forward to next spring when we will do it again!
Now that May is here, things should start to slow down a bit for me. After this weekend that is. We will be heading for Zion later today. Most of my appointments are tomorrow, including a P.E.T. scan. Saturday is Reiki and chemo. After that, we’ll have lunch and leave for home.
My next trip will be this fall, if everything goes as planned. Ron & I will be going to Arizona to hike the Grand Canyon with Jeff & Vickie, and Mark & Carol. It is almost time for us to request reservations for camping at the three campsites along the Corridor Trail. We will send in our requests on June 1, and then within two or three weeks (if I remember right) we should hear if we have been accepted. I am excited to hike the canyon again! 
On Sunday, for Mother’s Day, Ron & I, and Jeremy & Julie will be enjoying dinner at Becky & Jay’s house. This will be a nice change since Mother’s Day dinner has always been at our house. Jeremy & Becky are doing the cooking, that makes it all the more special!
I am finding that a lot of my warm weather tops and dresses are not port friendly. So, now when shopping for clothes, I try to make sure they cover up my port. It is very visible and not the least bit attractive so, I feel best covering it up. For some people, you can barely see their port. This is not the case for me, and is just one more way that cancer has impacted my life.
Well, I think it’s time for me to get outside for at least an hour in the sun and to do some reading. I am feeling great and enjoying life!
All is well . . .

Chari

 

Dinner Cruise at Marina Jack's

Dinner Cruise at Marina Jack's

After the dinner curise

After the dinner curise

Thursday April 28, 2016

It’s been a busy week! First at CTCA, and now I’m getting ready for a weekend in Florida with Becky.
My appointments went well at CTCA. It was just a basic visit with bloodwork, Vitamin C IV, Reiki, and chemo. As far as the bloodwork goes, the cancer marker is down a little from a month ago, my WBC is up some, hemoglobin & platelets are good, and liver & kidney function are both good. My next visit will be next week Friday. I will be having a P.E.T. scan then and we will find out how well the chemo is working. I am hoping and praying for positive results, as I seem to be tolerating the treatments well and would rather not have to make any changes.
Tomorrow morning, Becky & I leave for a girl’s weekend in Florida. We will be staying with her friend Stephanie in Northport, which is near Port Charlotte. I am excited to get a little sun and warmth for a few days. It will be a little different not traveling with Ron, which I have always done before. But, I suppose we could each use a change of pace and a break from each other.
Yesterday, my sister Judy, and niece Melissa, brought over breakfast, lunch, & dinner, along with snacks, and fresh flowers for my table! So, we have been eating very well. Oh, and Ron & I will be seeing Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood in a couple of weeks courtesy of Melissa. I am excited, it will be fun! It is something we wouldn’t be doing if it wasn’t a gift. Did I mention how spoiled I am? Well, it is certainly true!
I have been feeling good. Usually after chemo I have a couple of nights where I get severe night sweats but, it didn’t happen this time. I haven’t had a lot of energy for the past couple of days but, other than that, I am doing great!
All is well . . .

Chari

Thursday April 21, 2016

We had a great time in North Carolina! It was great seeing Jeff & Vickie, and Oriental is a charming little village.
On our way there, we stayed in Beckley, West Virginia Thursday night. On Friday morning, Ron drove us to a restaurant for breakfast and then I took over driving for a while.  We must have been so excited about getting to our destination, that for some odd reason, neither one of us bothered to look at the gas gauge before starting out that morning. We were in Virginia when I thought we were having car trouble. Ron was napping when I said, “Ron, something is wrong. Nothing is happening when I hit the gas pedal. What in the world is going on?” Well, it didn’t take long before I realized we were out of gas. I made it over to the right side of the road somehow and put on the flashers.  We soon saw a police car pulling someone over a little ways ahead of us. Then, a second police car pulled over another car just up ahead of us. Ron was on the phone calling our insurance company for roadside assistance. He was told it would be 45 minutes to an hour before someone would be there with gas for us. I was thinking one of the police officers (the one closet to us) would back up and ask if we needed help. Ron got off the phone and we watched as not one but, both police cars finished up with ticketing the drivers and drove off. I thought it was odd that neither had bothered to check on us. Then within a couple of minutes of them taking off, a police car pulled up behind us. He got out and asked us if we needed help. I said, “We ran out of gas but, help is on the way.” The police officer replied, “I don’t know who you called but, I can have someone here in a matter of minutes with enough gas to get you to the nearest exit where you can gas up. This is a free service we provide here in Virginia to help get people off the side of the highway as quickly as possible.” So, of course we took him up on the offer. Ron called the insurance company back and canceled the service call he had just made a few minutes earlier. It took about 10 – 15 minutes before the roadside service rep showed up with the gas. The police officer was pretty cool, nice, friendly, and he enjoyed a little jack-jawing and spitting chaw while the gas was getting put into our tank.
We were happy to get going again and laughed about how we had run out of gas. I normally always keep an eye on the gas gauge so, it was a bit unusual and rather silly for neither of us to notice we needed gas! I doubt it will happen again.  
Once we got into North Carolina, our next stop was Trader Joe’s to pick up a few grocery items. Then we were on our way again. It seemed like the closer we got to Oriental, the longer it took. We got tied up in traffic for a while but, when we finally made it, Vickie had dinner waiting.
On Saturday, Jeff & Vickie had a cook-out and a small get-together where we were able to meet some of their friends. Later, we rode bicycles around Oriental for a while before heading to New Bern, where we stopped at a micro-brewery and a tap house. It was a fun filled day for sure. Sunday, we took a ferry to Pine Cliff Recreation Area where we did some hiking. It was a great day for it and we had a really good time. Monday it was time to pack up and say good bye. It sure would have been nice to stay a little longer. Next time, we’ll make sure to plan on at least a couple more days. It was a quick but, wonderful stay in Oriental. We were shown true southern hospitality by good friends!
Before leaving North Carolina we stopped in Mount Airy. We saw Mount Pilot from a distance, and made it just in time for a quick visit to the Andy Griffith Museum before it closed. Ron was happy as he is a big fan!
We stayed in Beckley, West Virginia again on our way home. Tuesday, before leaving town, we made a quick stop at Tamarack, which is called “The Best of West Virginia.” It is a complex that includes handmade retail products, a restaurant, conference center, live entertainment, a fine arts gallery, & artisans at work. We bought a thumb piano while there. Very cool! It was the first time I had ever seen them.
We got home late Tuesday night so, we both slept in yesterday. I didn’t do a whole lot other than unpack and a little grocery shopping. My brother Steve and sister-in-law Ann stopped over. They gave me a quilt Ann made. It’s absolutely beautiful. I love it!
On Sunday, we will head to CTCA. I will have appointments on Monday and chemo on Tuesday before going home.
I am so blessed and feeling great! All is well . . .

Chari

 

Jeff and Vickie at Pine Cliff Recreation Area

Just hanging out at CTCA

Hanging out at Brewery 99

Hanging out at Brewery 99

Quilt Ann made for Chari

Quilt Ann made for Chari

Thursday April 14, 2016

We are on our way to North Carolina. Currently, we are in West Virginia. What a great day for traveling, full of sunshine!
We got a rather late start this morning, due to the fact we were both up too late last night. I was busy doing some packing, and Ron was getting some last minute work done and paying bills. Then, I woke up with a headache, which hasn’t happened in a long, long time. But, it sure had me moving slower than normal. Ron usually says he’s waiting for me whenever we are going somewhere. Ha! This time, I was waiting for him!
It was interesting driving through Ohio. We never knew how much Ohio is into sustainable energy. We passed a huge wind farm that spread for miles, with hundreds of windmills. Next, we passed a solar farm. Ron was getting really geeked. There’s a whole lot of farmland in Ohio as well. We passed two farms quite close to each other that seemed to have their very own family cemeteries, probably each no more than 10 ft. square.
West Virginia is a nice change of pace with all the hills. Or, mountains, if that is what you want to call them.
Not exactly sure yet, where we will stop for the night. We want to take advantage of the daylight and get as far as possible. I am grateful we are able to take this trip, and excited to see Jeff & Vickie tomorrow in Oriental, NC. It’s nice to be able to get away from the regular routine at home. It is much needed and will do us both good.
Last week, Kim, my “other” daughter was in town. Kim lived with us for a couple of years back in 1998 – 2000. She now lives in Pennsylvania. Becky & I had lunch with her, Jason, & Alison (Kim’s daughter) on Friday. Becky & Kim are very close. On Saturday evening, Becky & Jay had a get-together to celebrate Kim’s birthday, and the fact that they came up to visit. It was nice being able to spend time with them while they were in Michigan. They surprised me with what I call a “pampering” basket, filled with homemade soaps, bath salts, and lotions all made by a friend of theirs in Pennsylvania.
Friday evening I met my friend, Sue for dinner. It’s always good to see her, and she brought me some of her healthy homemade cookies.
On the two days I was hit hardest by the chemo, which were Wednesday & Thursday, we were treated to two delicious dinners from family members. It helps a great deal to not have to think about cooking when I have little, to no energy.
It was so nice to finally have lunch with my friend, Jan on Monday. We had been trying for a while to find a day that worked for both of us.
Later on Monday, my friend, Kathy stopped over with a basket of goodies. Teas, coffees, bagels, Panera gift card, and a couple of knitted caps made by a mutual friend of ours. Kathy & I decided to meet for lunch on Tuesday. She ended up treating me, which was a nice surprise.
So, how has cancer impacted my life? People spoil me! I’m certainly not complaining. All of the delicious meals brought to us, planning lunch or dinner dates and the time spent together while dining out, and the special gifts I am given from time to time, while certainly not necessary, they are very nice, thoughtful, and appreciated. The most important thing has been the love and friendship shown to me (and Ron), these are priceless and mean the world to me!
Our next trip to CTCA isn’t until April 24. We will be going on a Sunday again. My next treatment will be on the 26th. These breaks are nice. I am feeling good and am enjoying life!
All is well . . .

Chari

Alison, Kim, Becky, and Chari

Alison, Kim, Becky, and Chari

You won't see this on HBO...

Just wanted to let you know that there will be an encore presentation of "The Truth About Cancer: A Global Quest" 9-part documentary series starting on April 12th. This series is very informative and could be beneficial for anyone interested in preventing or treating cancer. If interested in watching this series you can sign up HERE. Feel free to share this link with others if you wish.

Wednesday April 6, 2016

I’m a bit out of sorts today just because of changing things up the way I did. It took me a while to realize it was Wednesday already.
Last Friday, Becky and I made a trip to the Fresh Thyme Market (I had already been there earlier in the week) so she could check it out. Of course, she liked the place as much as I do.
Saturday, Ron and I enjoyed the Cancer Fighters lunch & nutrition talk at The Grove restaurant. The food was delicious, and it was great meeting others from the west Michigan area. The weather only kept a couple from attending. Crazy Michigan weather! We never know what we are going to get.
When we left early Sunday afternoon for Zion, it was around 42 degrees here. By the time we were in the Chicago area, it was 70 degrees! I’m not kidding. They had snow on Saturday too but, it melted right away. Unlike ours, which stayed for most of the day. Monday it was at least 30 degrees cooler than Sunday in Zion.
It was another positive visit. My bloodwork was good. My WBC is less elevated from a week ago. My kidney & liver function are both still good. I had my chemo treatment yesterday and am already feeling sluggish from it. It seems to have hit me sooner this time. But, I am having an IV right now so, that should help.
I was able to get together for lunch with my friend Sheila, from Washington while at CTCA. She is the first patient I met on my first visit back in September of 2014. She was so upbeat and positive then, and she still is. She has been battling triple negative breast cancer for over five years. Triple negative is a very difficult type to treat. I learn something from her every time we talk. The first time we met, I learned that being positive is key to fighting cancer. Yesterday, over lunch we discussed a number of things. We share a lot of the same beliefs. One of the things we talked about was the word, terminal. She told me how much she disliked the word terminal being attached to the disease she had. She then went on to say that everyone is terminal. Everyone is born terminal. Makes sense to me. So, I am no longer going to use the word when I talk of the disease I have, like the way I did in my last entry. Instead of, “When one is faced with a terminal disease,” it should be, “When one is faced with a serious, or life threatening illness.” Sheila has had a positive impact on my life as so many others I have met on this journey. So, this one more way cancer has impacted my life.
I receive compliments from the staff at CTCA, about my smile, all the time. But, Sheila is the only patient to do this. She has told me more than once that my smile lights up a room like sunshine. Good to know. It will keep me smiling for sure!
Ok, so this just happened, a gentleman, who just finished with his IV, got up to leave and stopped to tell me, “I like your smile, it is very refreshing.” How cool is that? My dad always smiled a lot. I think I get it from him. I miss my dad.
I am planning on resting as much as possible today and tomorrow because I need it.
Next week we will be busy getting ready for trip to North Carolina to visit our friends, Jeff & Vickie. We will be leaving early Thursday morning. I am so excited to see them. It’s been almost two years.
All is well . . .

Chari

 

Just hanging out at CTCA

Just hanging out at CTCA

Wednesday March 30, 2016

Well some good news! My appointments at CTCA went well. My liver function is good. My white blood count is up some, but it does tend to fluctuate, same with the cancer marker. On Saturday, I had a wig consult before having chemo. I learned that CTCA provides a first wig to every patient, so I thought why not? The free wigs have been donated. After trying on a few, Tyler (the salon worker) found the last of the human hair wigs that were available for free. So, of course I decided to go with it. It is a medium length golden blonde color. Becky was with me and she was thrilled to have me get something she will be able to style for me. Pictures will be coming. We just need to take some good ones is all.
Chemo went well. I like to ask a blessing on it before it is given to me. I started this before the first treatment and will continue to do it before each one. After my treatment, we had lunch and left for home.
We did enjoy a nice family dinner on Sunday to celebrate Jeremy’s birthday. He turned 37 years old. Where does the time go?!
I had an IV on Monday. I am grateful that I am able to have these IVs. I believe they definitively help me to have a better quality of life. Tuesday I still didn’t have a whole lot of energy, but I was able to get a few things done. I was planning on having lunch with a woman, who lives near me, and is also being treated for breast cancer at CTCA. We have never met. It turns out, she somehow wrote down the wrong day and we did not get together. So, we have now rescheduled for tomorrow.
Today I ran errands and got some laundry done. I am also back into my gym routine and it feels good!
This Saturday Ron & I will be having lunch at The Grove restaurant in Eastown. This is a special lunch put on by Cancer Fighters, which is affiliated with CTCA. I am excited about it because it will give me the chance to meet others from the area, who are patients at CTCA. Plus, we have not eaten at the Grove before, so it will be something new. I think it’s great they are doing this here in my hometown!
Since we have the Cancer Fighters lunch on Saturday, and I reserved spots for us a month ago, we will not be going to Zion until Sunday this time. It will be kinda nice to change it up a bit. Now that I am no longer working, I have that option. I will have my appointments on Monday and chemo on Tuesday before heading back home.
Another way cancer has impacted my life is by getting me to take a good look at my faith. When one is faced with a terminal disease, I think it comes naturally to do a reality check and to think long and hard about exactly just what one believes, as far as God, life & death, heaven & hell, etc. I feel my faith has gotten stronger with everything I have been through and it continues to get stronger with each day. While the future may be uncertain, as it is for all of us really, I am not afraid of it. I plan to continue to live my life as best I can, and try to make the most of each day.
I have been feeling great lately, and I realize just how blessed I am to be able to say that.
All is well . . .
Chari

 

Chari in her everyday wig

Chari in her everday wig

Thursday March 24, 2016

As I sit here at the Social Security office waiting to talk to someone and turn in disability paperwork, I figure it's a good time to get started on my weekly blog entry. I just didn't get a chance to write it yesterday. It's been another busy week! Last Friday Becky & I had lunch with my good friend Kathy. I have known her since high school, and it's always good to see her. After lunch, we went to see Mom. She was babysitting Aiden, one of my great nephews. I call him my little boyfriend. While at Mom's, my sister Kathy stpped over. She no more than left and my sister Judy and my niece Melissa walked in. Judy brought me a bunch of head covers, and Melissa adjusted a bracelet she had previously made for me, so it would fit better. They kinda spoil me but,I love it! As always, it was great to play with Aiden.
Sunday I finally made it back to the gym after a month off. I never intended it to be a month off but, somehow it turned out that way. It felt good to be back and I was able to get two more days in this week as well. Happy, happy!
On Tuesday I met my friend Ruth for lunch before heading to my chiropractor appointment. This is the woman my chiropractor introduced me to, and I am so glad he did! We share a lot of the same interests. Then on Tuesday evening, we met Jim & Jan at Osgood's for a bite to eat, a drink, and some great conversation. Last night (Wednesday) I planned on meeting my friend Sue,for dinner. But, she surprised me by inviting a few other friends, Connie, Colleen, & Julie. We all worked together at pace Trailer Sales & Service years back. Colleen & Julie still work there. It was great to see all of them, as it had been quite a while. I only wish we had gotten a picture. Oh well, next time for sure. Actually, I need more pictures of all my times with friends.
Later today, we leave for CTCA. We will be there for the normal amount of time, returning home on Saturday. On Sunday we will be celebrating Jeremy's birthday with dinner at our house. Most likely, I will have very little energy but, it will still be a good time.
So, how has cancer impacted my life? It has given me the opportunity to be a patient at CTCA. The very first time I visited the hospital in Zion, Illinois, I thought it was a little odd being surrounded by people with cancer. It took me a bit to feel comfortable with the idea. But, it is after all, a cancer hospital. Since then I have met so many people from all across the country, I have many new friends who I run into occasionally when I am there, and I have also developed relationships with many of the staff members at the hospital and at the hotel where we usually stay. Like I have mentioned before, it has become our home away from home. I look forward to my visits to CTCA, which are now twice a month. When I tell people what a positive place it is, I can only imagine how hard it is to comprehend it without experiencing it firsthand. It is a far cry from where I started here in my hometown. I am so blessed to be a patient at CTCA! Not long ago, I was seriously considering going to Mexico for treatment that is not available here because the FDA won't approve it. I've gotten over that and have since changed my mind. I feel I was led to CTCA back in 2014 for a reason. I am comfortable there and will continue being a patient there as long as I am able. Plus staying here gives me more time with family and friends. I am at peace with this decision, as I am with the disease I have, and the outcome, whatever it may be. It took me a while to get to this point but, at least I have finally made it. I have grown so much emotionally and spiritually, which I believe was supposed to happen as part of this journey I am on. Last month at CTCA, I was able to have lunch with one of the chaplains. She was interested in hearing my story. She then told me that they have seen some miracles happen at CTCA involving healings. I told her, "I am waiting for my miracle, and that's ok, I can wait." She then looked me in the eyes and said, "You are already a miracle. You found out you were stage 4 on your first visit to CTCA, and here you are looking and feeling great! You just don't see too many stage 4 cancer patients this way." So, I have accepted the fact that I am a miracle already and realized once again just how blessed I am!
Next week, I hope to be less busy outside the home and focus on some of the things that need to be done inside my home. Might not be as fun but, I need to do it. All is well . . .

Chari

Wednesday March 16, 2016

So far I am really enjoying not working. It’s nice staying up late if I want to and sleeping in. It was around 8:00 when I got up this morning.
It’s been a busy, fun week! I’ve spent time with a few friends, and a couple of my sisters, I visited with my mother (which I try to do every Friday), and I got a chance to play with my newest great nephew. I also was able to chat with my friend Vickie, who called me from North Carolina.
Saturday, we went to the Chili, Brews, & Blues at the B.O.B. with Jim & Jan and Mark & Carol. It was a good time. The hot pepper contest ended in a three way tie, two females and one male.  Two of the winners were the same as last year. I can’t figure out how they do it.
On Monday I was on my way to the Born Clinic for my Vitamin C IV and was pulled over for speeding. I was in a bit of a hurry because I thought I was going to be late. After turning onto 52nd street from Kalamazoo Ave, the speed limit is 40 for a ways before changing to 50. Well, I guess I sped up a little too soon, and without realizing it, I was going 56 while still in the 40 zone. Oops!  The police officer asked where I was headed. I told him I was going to the Born Clinic right up the road a little ways and I didn’t want to be late. He asked what kind of clinic it was. I told him it is a Preventative Health Care Clinic, and I had an appointment for an IV to help with cancer. Anyway, after he came back to my car, after checking things out, he said, “Mrs. Dean, I need you to get to where you are going so please drive safely.” I thanked him and assured him I would drive safe. He didn’t write me a ticket! So, I guess he either didn’t want to mess up my perfect driving record or, he felt sorry for me. Whichever it was, it was nice of him and I am grateful for not getting a ticket.
I went shopping at the new Fresh Thyme Market this week. I absolutely love the store! They have a lot of organic produce and other products that I normally buy, and they have grass-fed beef too! They have prepared deli items and meals, which is very convenient, and nice to pick up once in a while. I see myself shopping here at least every other week if not weekly. The sale prices are amazing and on Wednesdays you can shop from two ads! The previous week’s ad, and the new week’s ad.
Ok, getting back to, “How has cancer impacted my life?” This past week, my hair has been falling out. My oncologist had told me that with the type of chemo I am on, I may not lose my hair, that it might just thin out. Well, it certainly has thinned out! I lose more of it each day. So, I’ve been wearing hats when I go anywhere. I will be getting some head wraps soon. I wasn’t exactly prepared for this, since I was thinking positively, and that meant thinking I wasn’t going to lose my hair.
Today, my friend, Carol treated me to lunch. After lunch, we went to the wig store at Breton Village Mall to see what they had. Oh what fun it was trying on wigs! I picked out two. One is short, for every day, and one is a longer, more exotic one. Ron had told me I needed a regular type one and something more exotic, and that’s exactly what I was after. While I was up at the counter to pay for them, Carol said, “Mark & I are paying for this one.” She had the short one in front of her. I told her “No, you are not. I have money to pay for them.” She insisted saying they wanted to do something nice for me and that they were going to buy me a wig. So, I left the store with new hair on my head (the longer one to surprise Ron), and new hair in a bag (a gift from close friends), how cool is that? What a fun day!
I am so blessed, in so many ways! Last week, I didn’t know how I was going to pay for my weekly IV. Insurance doesn’t cover the IVs. My daughter updated my Go Fund Me account last Friday and I received new donations, which I am very grateful for. The funds will go far in paying for IVs, supplements, etc. And, I was able to purchase my wig today because of the funds I received. Thank you, thank you so much!
I have been feeling really good lately, another blessing!
All is well . . .

Chari

 

Monthly lunch get together. Becky, Diane, and Chari

3 for luncht

Wednesday March 9, 2016

How has cancer impacted my life?
We met our friends Mark & Carol at Founder’s last night. It was great to see them, as it had been awhile. Because it is on my mind, I may as well start here.
Anyone that knows me very well knows how much Ron & I enjoy micro brews. We consider ourselves beer connoisseurs. Or, at least I was. I am now more of a beer “taster.” We have enjoyed visiting micro-breweries for years. I used to always know if and when a new brewery was opening up. Quite often on a Saturday, Ron & I would pick one to visit and go. It was always fun to visit a new place, sample their beer and meet other like-minded folk enjoying beer as we do. I don’t pay that close attention to them anymore. Plus, there seems to be too many popping up to keep track of.
Since being diagnosed with breast cancer, I have cut down my alcohol intake considerably. Alcohol can be a contributing factor in the disease so, it is better that I have little or none. I still love beer but, I am satisfied with tasting them. If I have a full beer, my limit is normally one and I make it last a long time. It’s still fun getting together with friends at one of the local breweries for a bite to eat and a brew. Founder’s has some wonderful sandwiches and salads!
Another plus of me not drinking much, is Ron can have a bit more if he wants because I can drive us home. Of course this doesn’t happen all the time but, it’s always an option. My drink of choice these days is a glass of dry, red wine usually sometime on the weekend.
That my friends is just one of the many ways cancer has impacted my life.
I have had two rounds of the chemo treatment so far. I haven’t been bothered with any nausea since I have medication to take for the first three days after each treatment to prevent it. I also have a medication to take, as needed for nausea but, I haven’t needed any yet. The first two days after the treatment is the worst as far as having no energy. Then it gradually gets better. I feel pretty good and am grateful I am not in pain.
All is well . . .

Chari

 

Chari got a new hat!

New Hat

The new fish tank at CTCA

Fish Tank

A night at Founders

A night at Founders

Wednesday March 2, 2016

Well, here is the latest on how cancer has impacted my life.  I plan to follow up with more on the impacts later. I was denied the Ibrance by our insurance company. It doesn’t really bother me too much. I figure it was not meant to be. Pain destroys hope, and hope is something I never want to lose. So, I started chemo infusion treatments last Saturday and have the second one this Saturday. I am at peace with this decision. I am being treated with Halaven. I was told this drug is very well tolerated by most. Sunday & Monday were pretty rough energy wise. I had very little energy at all. This is hard for me since I have always been a high energy person. The new treatment has helped the pain tremendously and for that I am grateful! Now I know a little bit as to what to expect as far as how I will feel the week following treatment. Not fun at all but, I’ll get through it. I am a fighter and am determined. My night sweats are way out of control, so I hope to find something that will help so I can sleep. I am exhausted today from lack of sleep last night.
It is bittersweet that my last day of work is tomorrow. However, it will be nice to sleep when I can, and for as long as I can. The potluck at work today was yummy! I will certainly miss all the good people I have worked with the past couple of years. I hope to visit when I can.
So tomorrow we head back to CTCA. I don’t mind at all since there is no place I would rather be for my treatments than there. It is like our home away from home.
I had trouble knowing how to sign off from my last entry. I left out the “All is well,” and heard about it from more than one person. It was hard to know what to write because I wasn’t feeling the best with the pain and all. But, I realize now that I need to stay in the right (positive) frame of mind for my own good.  
All is well . . .
Chari

Wednesday February 24, 2016

I was going start writing on how cancer has impacted my life but, I don't even want to get going on that. I just don't feel like it. So, maybe next week. During the past couple of weeks my pain has increased and the Motrin does not work very well. I take Norco (left over from previous surgeries) at night and it works well. We will be heading to CTCA tomorrow evening. I was originally scheduled for next week but, I decided to move it up because I have not been feeling the best. All the snow should be over by the time we leave, so we should have a troublefree trip. I got out of work at 12:30 today due to a power outage. One really can't do too much in the dark. I found out today that they are throwing a potluck for me next week to show appreciation for the job I've done. That's really nice. It feels good to be appreciated! Tomorrow, I start training the woman who will replace me. I'm planning on going in a bit early to make up some time and to hopefully get a bunch of work done. I am tired and my bed is calling my name. But, first I have a kitchen to clean up. Your thoughts and prayers are always appreciated. All will be well . . .

Chari

Wednesday February 17, 2016

Yesterday I turned another year older. I am now 58, isn’t that great? Ron surprised me by having flowers delivered to me at work. He is so good to me! This past Sunday, the six of us (Ron & I, Jeremy & Julie, and Becky & Jay) enjoyed a fabulous dinner at the Green Well to celebrate my birthday.
Last week caught me in a funk while I processed the info from my last visit to CTCA. I am feeling a little better this week. I have decided to resign from my job, so I can have some much needed “Me” time. I will be doing things I want to do and spending more time with family and friends. My last day will be March 3.
I have also decided to try another drug(s). It was about a year ago that I first heard about it. But, after much consult with my oncologist, we decided it would be better if I tried something else first due to the leukemia and the effect the drug could have on my blood. I figure I may as well give it a try now. I don’t have anything to lose. My doctor feels I could receive some benefit from it. So, if my insurance approves it, I will be starting Ibrance soon, along with Femora. The two work together.
The achiness I have been feeling in my left chest area, underarm, and back has gotten worse. I was told to try 800 mg Motrin every 6 hours. If that doesn’t work, I need to let my doctor know and she will prescribe something stronger.
Oh what a beautiful day it was! I love all that sunshine! Spring is only 32 days away . . .

Chari

 

Celebrating Chari's birthday at the Green Well Gastro Pub

Celebrating Charis birthday at the Greenwell

 

Tuesday February 9, 2016

How does it feel to be me today? SHITTY!
The results of the PET scan last Friday were not good. I knew something was going on, but I wasn’t expecting to hear that the cancer not only progressed, but showed up again in my spine, and the spots in my liver are worse as well. My oncologist, Dr. T, told me I still had a lot of options in the form of infused chemo therapy, if I wanted it. But, she also said that all the chemo would do is buy time. She told me she would support me in whatever I decided to do, even if I choose to do nothing, and she would be my doctor until I fire her. HA! I love Dr. T, and I don’t see myself firing her any time soon. She also informed me that if, or when I start to feel the cancer in my liver, I may want chemo for the pain. That was something new to me, as I had not heard that chemo helped pain before.
So, I have been busy processing all the info I was given, and I still am to a certain degree. One thing is for sure, I am not giving up. There is always hope! I truly believe that.
Despite the bad news, I still feel good physically. To me, that is huge. Looking back on my first visit to CTCA, I agreed to a plan that made quality of life, the most important thing. Well, I have to say, my quality of life has been amazing!
All is well . . .

Chari  

Having a meal at CTCA during our monthly visit

Ch Pic

 

Tuesday February 2, 2016

How does it feel to be me? Continued . . .
DIFFICULT – It’s difficult. Having cancer is the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to deal with in life so far. It’s hard to know what the best course of action is to take. Of course I’d rather not be on a chemo pill, and would like to treat the cancer naturally. But, there are many different natural protocols and also many different opinions as to what works. If I had known earlier, the things I know now, it would have made things much easier. Sometimes I feel like I am learning so much but, a little too late.
STRESSFUL - I often feel stressed, anxious, or worried. I wonder what the drug may be doing that I can’t see or feel. I get anxious about PET scan results. I usually have a scan every three months unless there is a reason to move it up. My last scan in December was inconclusive. So, I will be having one on my next visit coming up this Friday. I try not to worry about things I have no control over but, I have a ways to go with that. I’m a fighter and I always feel like I need to be doing something more, or something different than what I’m already doing. That’s fine if I really need to do, or change something. However, I am working on letting go, and letting God direct my life.
UNREAL – It still seems unreal at times. It feels like a dream, one I don’t ever wake up from.
HAPPY – I try to stay upbeat and happy no matter what is going on. For the most part, I have always been a happy person. So, I can’t imagine being down & depressed, at least not for long. There are too many things to be happy about.
LOVED – I feel loved. I have a very loving and supportive husband along with two loving and supportive adult children. I have my extended family, my friends, and God. I am truly loved.
HOPEFUL – I feel hopeful. I hope for vibrant health, sharing many more good times with family & friends, retirement with Ron, etc. Hope is a beautiful thing and I don’t ever want to lose it. There’s always hope!
All is well . . .

Chari

Ch Pic

 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

How does it feel to be me?
WEIRD, that’s how it feels. After watching my father-in-law die of lung cancer in 1990, and my sister die of breast cancer in 1996, I decided that I did not want to die of cancer, and I began to change some things in my life.  I joined a gym and started a regular exercise program. Previously, I had exercised at home, but I wanted to add weight training and got hooked on it real fast. Next, it was time to change the way I ate. It didn’t happen quickly. But, as I gained knowledge about aspartame, MSG, other chemicals and additives in food, and GMOs, my diet gradually changed too. So, yes it feels weird to be me. When I was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2012 I figured I had inherited it (my dad had it as well) and accepted the fact that I had it. But, breast cancer too?! After that diagnoses I felt a bit defeated. Sometimes, I still feel a little defeated. I just don’t dwell on it.
UNFAIR - Sometimes I feel it is unfair that I have cancer, and to have two kinds of cancer seems totally unfair. Then, I remember, life is unfair. It’s just fairer than death is all. It boggles my mind when I compare my diet and lifestyle to others. Granted, it’s only been the past 18 months that I made the biggest diet changes. But, I ate as healthy as I knew how before that which included grass-fed (pastured) beef, free range chicken, organic vegetables, limited sweets, etc.
CHALLENGING – I feel challenged. Challenged to keep researching and learning all I can about battling cancer naturally. I enjoy researching topics that interest me but find there is never enough time for all of the research I’d like to do. I also feel challenged to meet the goals I set for myself like hiking the Grand Canyon this fall.  
FORTUNATE – I feel fortunate to have so many friends and family members who care about me and pray on my behalf. I feel fortunate to be able to be treated at the Cancer Treatment Center of America in Zion, Illinois. I feel this is the best place for me right now and I highly recommend it to anyone facing cancer. CTCA is integrative. They treat you like family and they offer everything they can under one roof. If the crooked FDA would approve treatments that have been proven to work in other countries, CTCA would offer even more. I also feel so very fortunate to feel as good as I do health wise. For the most part, I have felt great! I am grateful for this and hope and pray my good health continues. 
All is well . . .

Chari

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Today, I’m at Becky’s house getting my hair done, color, highlights, and a trim. I often make the comment about letting my hair go natural, but my hairdresser daughter thinks otherwise. I could come close to matching Ron, I think. As I sit here while the color is processing, I’m watching it snow. Oh, how I long for summer and the warmth of the sun on my skin. I need the warmth. I have turned into quite a wimp when it comes to the cold. I can’t help but wish I was counting down the days till we leave for Jamaica, like I did last year at this time. But, I’ll settle for counting down the days till spring, which by the way is only 62 days away!
This is our year for hiking the Grand Canyon. It's the second big goal I set for myself early on when I started this blog. I am excited about the hike even though it’s a ways off. If all goes as planned, and God willing, we will be hiking from rim to rim in October. We’ll train for it during the summer on the trails and hills at Johnson Park.  Training is a must for a hike of this magnitude (at least for us older folk) and I wouldn’t attempt it without being prepared. It sure doesn’t seem like it but, come October, it will be eight years since we hiked the canyon. Time flies!
Last week I mentioned I was thinking about writing on several different topics. But, before I do that I need to think about the topic awhile to help me come up with what I want to say. I just looked at the topics again for the first time since last Monday and I think I’ll just begin with #1, which is: How does it feel to be me? Hmmm . . . before I start I need to think about it for a while and, organize my thoughts. So, needless to say, it is not happening this week.
I’ve been feeling a little achy lately. The Xeloda I take can cause muscle and bone pain, so I’m thinking that is what it is, just another side effect.  Each side effect gets me thinking about quitting the drug altogether. Other than the achiness, I feel pretty good.
All is well . . .
Chari

Chari living on the edge near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon...

Chari up against the wall

Ron hoofing it out of that big hole...Yeah, Ron is a bit of a "Turtle" but...he "gets er done!" Ron's Motto: Pick yer pace and stick to it...

CTCA New Entrance

Monday, January 11, 2016

We had another positive visit at CTCA. Jeremy went with us this time to check the place out. My bloodwork results were good. I was told to stay on the Xeloda. I think I was told this because I had made a comment at one time that if side effects got too bad, or if I get tired of taking it, I would just stop. My oncologist & PA are getting to know me quite well.
I just finished my week on the Xeloda this past Saturday. I was happy to be done because my feet and hands had enough. This is usually the case by the time I finish my week on the med. Now I can enjoy a week off. I spent the day yesterday walking very lightly because my feet were burning. The tips of my fingers were feeling it too. I don’t like taking the drug but, things could be a whole lot worse. I am blessed to feel as good as I do!
I am thinking about starting something new with my blog. Recently, CTCA held a little workshop (I wasn’t able to attend) titled, Writing Through It: Exploring the Healing Powers of Journaling. The workshop explored the many ways that journaling can help a person through their cancer journey. They provided three writing prompts to consider ahead of time. They are: 1. How does it feel to be me? 2. How has cancer impacted my life? 3. Who or what do I rely upon to get me through this? So, now when I start thinking my life is so boring and I don’t know what to write, this will help.
I saw my chiropractor today. He is one of three people that suggested I check out CTCA back when I was looking for an oncologist. The other two people are, Kathy, a good friend of mine, and Ron. My chiropractor introduced me to another of his patients a few weeks back. He also provided a room for the two of us to talk in private. This patient healed herself of a brain tumor. It was great talking to her and finding out what she did in an attempt to heal herself. Come to find out, she did, and still does many of the same things I am doing. Things like: special diet, exercise, supplements, herbs, chiropractic, aromatherapy, visualization, reiki, EFT, meditation, etc.  I have a new friend and support, and one can never have too many of those!
I feel great! All is well . . .

Chari

Monday, December 28, 2015

Ahhh, it feels good to have the hustle and bustle of the holidays over for another year. It was nice getting together with our families and all but, it was a bit tiring.  It’s been a real treat though, sleeping in for four out of the past five days! Yesterday, I got up early to go work out. Today, I got up to check the forecast, called in, and then went and lay on the couch for a while watching morning shows, which normally I am not able to do. 
Last night, we finished up the holiday weekend by getting together with our friends, Mark & Carol and Jim & Jan. We haven’t made any plans for New Year’s Eve. Usually, it’s a laid back, stay-at-home time for us and probably will be, this year too.
It looks like winter is settling in for a while. I stayed home from work today because Ron didn’t want me driving on icy roads and I didn’t want to either. I was scheduled for a Vitamin C IV this afternoon but, ended up rescheduling for next week Monday.  I spent the day doing laundry and getting a few other things done here at home that wouldn’t have gotten done otherwise. It’s about time I get dinner started but, I wanted to write a quick paragraph or two before I do. I’m feeling good as usual. A few side effects, but not too bad. I have a little neuropathy in my fingertips and my feet still get really dry from the medication I am on. I have been using Bag Balm (recommended by my oncologist) on my feet morning & night, and on my hands as needed. It helps to keep the dryness under control. I sleep with socks on every night and gloves sometimes as well.
I received a rebounder as a gift, and will be using it regularly for sure. It has been years since I have had a rebounder and back then I had no idea how healthy an exercise rebounding is. It’s actually one of the best exercises a person can do and great for the lymph system. Happy rebounding to me!
All is well . . .

Chari  

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Last weekend I began my holiday goodie making and it is now in full swing. On Saturday we have the Dean party, and another next week. Needless to say, I am busy! I really enjoy making and giving my homemade goodies, it’s just a little difficult for me to stay out of them, is all. This year is a bit easier than last year though.
My chiropractor/kinesiologist is connecting me with a woman (patient) who healed herself of cancer. I will be meeting with her tomorrow after work. I am excited to hear how she did it. With everything I have read, I know that it is possible to heal oneself, and there are various ways of doing so.
Since my diagnosis, I have learned, and am learning so many things that I didn’t know before. Things like EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). It may sound a bit hokey but, if something so simple and easy works, and can be used for many different things, then it really isn’t hokey at all. I am also learning about something called Lifeline. I find all this so interesting! I have enjoyed researching topics of interest to me and learning new things for a long time. Because I have cancer, I feel like it is my job or hobby to keep on learning more so I can help myself and possibly others. My chiropractor said maybe I will write a book someday. That made me chuckle. Who knows what the future holds?
I feel great! All is well . . .

Chari

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The results of my scan last Friday were very positive with just a little bit of negative thrown in for balance I guess, because I see no other reason for it. For the second time in a row, the spots in my spine and sternum did not show up at all. I think it’s safe to say they are gone. That being the case, it is nothing but a miracle, and I’m claiming it! Also, the mass in my liver that showed up in the last scan at an SUV of 8.3 is now at a 7.06. That too, is wonderful, positive news! But, a girl just can’t handle too much good news at once, right? Actually, I think I could handle it really well but, that’s for another time.
The not so great news is hypermetabolic activity showed up in my left underarm area and the lateral chest area. The report mentions mild hypermetabolic lymph nodes, a hypermetabolic nodule, and hypermetabolic lesions.  My doctor has moved up my next scan to February, as that will tell her more.
Back to a more positive note . . . the much needed hospital addition is beautiful! We were able to take a tour while we were there. We were very impressed.
Just as I expected, the hospital was all decked out for Christmas inside and out. What a treat to see. All is well . . .

Chari

CTCA Lobby

CTCA Lobby

CTCA New Courtyard

CTCA New Courtyard

CTCA New Entrance

CTCA New Entrance

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

So, Ron says I’m a slacker since I haven’t made a blog entry in two weeks. Actually, I didn’t just “skip” last week, not on purpose, anyway. Last week I was busy making pies and getting things ready for the next day. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving as a family with Jeremy & Julie, and Becky & jay. Of course we all ate too much but, that is typical for Thanksgiving. I am thankful for many things. Like, family, friends, a warm home, a job, reliable transportation to get to that job, my health, and life itself, to name a quick seven,
Things are going well. I still have IVs once a week. I go to the Born Clinic for them now. Because I have a port, I need to have a nurse access it. There are no nurses (only medical assistants) at the Natural Health Improvement Center where I was going previously.
Tomorrow we make our monthly trip to CTCA. The newly completed addition to the hospital will be open. I am anxious to see it. Last month the new entrance was open when we were there but, that is all. The hospital will be all decorated for Christmas and will look amazing! Amazingly festive, that is.
I will be having a PET scan this time. It will be at 8:00 on Friday morning unless the time gets changed for some reason. We will know the results within a couple of hours. I am praying for positive results and would appreciate anybody that may be reading this to do the same. Thank you in advance.
All is well . . .

Chari

Chari working on her blog

Chari

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I don’t know why Wednesdays work so well for blog entries, but that’s the way it seems to be, at least for now anyway.
I sure am gonna hate to see the mild temperatures go. But, I’m sure all of the hunters will appreciate the change that’s ahead. The hunters in my family had no luck at all last weekend. Hopefully, this weekend will be different.
Well, the highlight of the past week was Friday evening. We invited our friends, Gary & Kathy to join us for a bite to eat and a concert downtown. We met at the Cottage Bar for quick bite, and then we were off to the concert. The concert was the first of the season for MAJIC -The Series. Music and Art for Justice in the Community (MAJIC) is a ministry of Bethlehem Lutheran Church that combines social justice with community support of the arts. Friday’s line-up was Ralston Bowles and Friends. Gary & Kathy had never heard Ralston before. I always get a little excited when we can introduce friends to his music, because they always end up liking it. Sure enough, Gary & Kathy seemed to enjoy it too. I’m glad they did. I’m also glad they surprised us by treating us to the evening of music by paying our way.  
Other than Friday, the rest of the week was pretty normal. I feel good. My feet are in much better shape while taking my medication one week on, and one week off. They are still discolored and peeling, but a lot better. I was told they will stay discolored till I’m off the drug. I don’t know yet when that will be.
Thanksgiving is coming up quick. I’m looking forward to a family dinner together.
All is well . . .

Chari

MAJIC Concert

MAJIC Concert

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Last night, I had dinner at the Olive Garden with my friend, Sue. I worked with Sue at Pace Trailer Sales and Service in 2007 until November of 2008, when I got laid off. It was so good to see her, and to catch up.   And, it was awfully nice of her to spoil me with dinner and some of her “Healthy” homemade cookies!
I had a good report last Friday at CTCA. My blood counts were good. Hemoglobin, hematocrit, potassium, glucose, etc. all good. Kidney & liver function good. Tumor marker down slightly, and no cancer cells floating around! Next month it will be time for another scan to see what, if anything is going on. It was a quick visit this time. We came home on Friday so we could attend Uncle Roy’s funeral Saturday morning. However, I was extremely tired on Saturday morning so, Ron went with his brother Larry and I stayed home. I hated to miss it, but I have to learn to take care of myself too, even if it means not being able to do everything.
Sounds like the cold winds of November kick in tomorrow. Becky just texted saying she is going out to the beach tomorrow to see the waves. I’d like to do that. It’s the little things like this that I appreciate even more now. I always thought it would be neat to live on the lake and watch the storms and such come in.
I feel really good lately. So far the first week of being back on my medication has been ok. We’ll see what happens during week two.
All is well . . .

Chari

Me and Sue

Me and Sue

Monday, November 2, 2015

What a great start for November weather-wise! Better enjoy the Indian summer while it lasts. I know Ron will be working hard on the carport to get as much done as possible.
It has been a busy week filled with good times with friends. We got together with Jim & Jan on Tuesday, at Osgoods. Then, on Friday, Becky & I had lunch with Diane. Saturday evening we visited and had dinner with Gary & Kathy, our friends from high school. It was nice getting together with them, I’d like to do it more often. Yesterday we took a ride out to Spring Lake to visit the Dutch Girl Brewery, with who else but Mark & our “good little Dutch girl” friend, Carol. We tasted quite a few of their beers. I liked the pumpkin beer, the DIPA, and the porter the best. The brewery will be opening a kitchen within the next month or so.
I take my current medication for two weeks and then there is a week off before starting the two weeks again. Well, by the time I finished the first two weeks, my feet were very dry. Since then, I have been applying lotions morning & night and sleeping with socks on. The second two week round finished early on Friday. My feet were turning color (red, purple) and becoming very sensitive. It felt like there were pins sticking in the soles of my feet. My hands also were getting red and prickly feeling. This is a typical side effect for this med and I was warned that it was likely to happen. I called my doctor in Illinois and she had me stop the medication early. When I start back up on Saturday, I am to cut the dose down a little. I really don’t like being on these drugs and am not sure how long I’ll continue them. It is a relief not taking them. My feet & hands feel good again.
I recently watched “The Truth about Cancer, A Global Quest” nine episode webinar. So much information! It ticks me off that successful cancer treatments used in Mexico & Germany are not approved to use in this country! I am seriously thinking about going to Mexico for treatment in the coming year, if it’s necessary, and if I can save up enough money.
We will be heading to Zion on Thursday evening. My appointments are on Friday. The new construction on the hospital is almost complete and new areas will be opening throughout the month. This week the new entrance and registration desk opens.
I have slept well for the past four nights, without waking up soaked. My hot flashes during the day have improved some also. If I have a hot flash during the day, I have found that using peppermint oil helps. I just dab a drop behind each ear and I start feeling a cooling effect right away. I think the acupuncture treatments I have been having are helping.
All is well . . .

Chari

Dutch Girl Brewery

Hot Harley Mama

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

I never thought it would be so hard to keep up with weekly blog posts, on a regular basis. Here it is Wednesday, so I better get to it!
I like the mild autumn weather. The sunshine makes for the best & the prettiest days.
Ron has been working on redoing our carport. It was in dire need of repair. He started on it last Saturday. It was cold, we even had a few snow flurries, but he got a good start. Fortunately, the weather improved after Saturday, and he has been able to continue working on it a little each day. Hopefully, it will be finished soon.  
I have a very low tolerance to the cold this year, worse than past years. I don’t know how I will cope with winter, and am not looking forward to it at all. It’s time to think about moving to a warmer climate. Southwest sounds good to me, Arizona maybe. Wouldn’t it be nice to just up and move if you felt like i? I wish it was that easy.  I will just be thinking about it, because we aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
I have heard that this winter will be a milder one. I hope it is. We don’t have any plans for a winter get-away this year. It helps if there is something to look forward to. Last year at this time, we were looking forward to Jamaica in February. It was fabulous! I could get used to an annual tropical winter vacation. It’s on my wish list.
I want to give a SHOUT out to our friends Jeff & Vickie! They retired last year to North Carolina, where they are originally from, and where the weather is considerably warmer than it is here. We were hoping to visit them sometime this month, but it isn’t going to work out. We miss you Jeff & Vickie! Thanks for keeping up with my blog. Will talk soon, love you . . .
I saw my plastic surgeon on Monday. I am pretty much healed from the surgery, and he has lifted all restrictions. He advised me to ease into things, instead of going full force, Hmmm, seems like he’s getting to know me quite well. I tend to go full tilt when given the ok. A couple of weeks ago, he gave me the ok to go back to the gym, if I took it easy and didn’t strain myself. I just haven’t made it back yet is all. Now that I don’t have any restrictions, I’ll make more of an effort to get there. Like, getting to bed earlier at night.
the area where the port was implanted is healing well too. I have a new bump now on the right side of my upper chest, where it is located. It’s very obvious. So, it may be visible quite often, depending on my clothing. On the bright side, the port will make things much easier, and it is only temporary.
While waiting for my appointment this week, I picked up a magazine and read Jackie Collin’s breast cancer story. Very few knew about her cancer because, she didn’t want sympathy. I can relate. I didn’t want everyone to know I had cancer either. I didn’t want sympathy and I didn’t want to be treated any differently than normal.
I had to get used to the idea, that a lot of people, now know I have cancer, ever since Becky started the Go fund Me Account. Which, by the way,  is a huge blessing!
I have been feeling great. All is well . . .

Chari

Jeff and Vickie - Miss you Guys!

Hot Harley Mama

Carport Deck Repair

Carport Deck Repair

Ron Kinda Hard At Work.

Grand Haven

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Another week just flew by, just a little faster than the one before. I’d like to slow down time just a bit. Not turn it back, like Cher (“If I Could Turn Back Time”), but slow it down some.
Fortunately, we were able to get together with Mark & Carol last week. It gave us a chance to catch up and hear all about their trip to Colorado.
We are in Zion, Illinois until Monday afternoon. I had most of my appointments this past Friday. There really isn’t much news to report. My bloodwork is pretty good. My WBC counts are up a bit, from 13.57 last month, to 21.09 this month. This shows that the Affinitor I was taking for a while, did have an effect on my blood.  Now that I’m not on it anymore, my WBC are going back up a little. Nothing to be concerned about at this time.
Yesterday morning, after breakfast, I had a Reiki session, and after that, a Guided Imagery & Relaxation small group session. I find the mind/body connection fascinating. I will be connecting more with my Mind/Body therapist while I am here, and at home over the phone. It is a blessing to have so many services offered all in one place here.
Ron spent a good part of the day working from his laptop in our hotel room.
Today, it was a beautiful day and we decided to make the drive to New Glaris Brewery again. It really is quite a drive. But, we figure, as long as we continue to make the trip to CTCA every month, we can drive to New Glaris at least once a year. It was definitely a good day to spend a couple of hours in their beer garden.
Tomorrow, I will be having a port put in. This will be used for the IVs I have regularly, along with other bloodwork, PET scan prep, etc. Because I have had lymph nodes removed from my left side, it leaves only my right arm for all of these things. My veins are getting shot, so the port will make things easier. We will be heading for home tomorrow afternoon sometime.
All is well . . .

Chari

Chari at New Glaris Beer Garden

Hot Harley Mama

Chari holding up a wall at New Glaris Beer Garden

So excited to be out riding

Ron and Chari enjoying a cold one at New Glaris Beer Garden.

Grand Haven

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Here it is Wednesday again already! My surgery was a week ago. I think things are healing up well. I see the doc on Monday for a post-op visit. I am not supposed to lift over 5 pounds for 4 weeks after surgery. This is one of the biggest challenges for me right now, 5 pounds is not very much. It is too easy to pick something up without even thinking about what it weighs. I try to be careful, that’s all I can do.
Another challenge is finding the right things to wear that cover up the surgical bra/vest that I need to wear for a month. It’s like a tight sports bra.
We celebrated Becky’s birthday early with a dinner at the Beltline Bar on Sunday. Her birthday is this Friday, but since Ron will be gone hiking this weekend, we did it early.
I went back to work on Monday. Everything has gone well. I don’t have to worry too much about heavy lifting there..
September sure did fly by! Now that fall has settled in it’s time to get out the sweaters. I can’t believe how cold it is in the mornings, brrr. I’m going to try to enjoy fall as much as possible, because I am not looking forward to what comes next.
I am feeling good, as usual. All is well . . .

Chari

UPDATE..... Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What a gloriously wonderful day it was! A beautiful first day of autumn for sure, and . . . wait for it . . .wait for it . . . I GOT FOOBS TODAY!! Surgery went well, and I am feeling fine! Finally, no more expanders in my chest! All is very, very, well. . .

Chari

Monday, September 21, 2015

I finally got my motorcycle ride yesterday. Yup, Larry loaned us his Harley. Larry is married to my sister Bonnie. Bonus! When we borrow their bike, I get to use Bonnie’s leathers. I wouldn’t have been able to do without them. I get chilled so easily it seems and yesterday’s temperatures weren’t exactly hot. To me, it seemed barely warm out. We took a leisurely putt on back roads out to the Alaska area first, and then out to Fallasburg Park. We caught the tail end of an art fair and festival. Before we left the park, I put the chaps on, and I sure am glad I did. We took a ride through Lowell, before heading for home. Even with everything I had on, I still managed to get a good chill before we got home. But, it was a good time. It felt good to be back on a motorcycle again.
This past Saturday, we went out to Pike 51 brewery for a celebration of some of their new beers. Ron tried a couple he said were good. The real reason we went was to listen to the band “Tail Shaker” play. We know Stan, the lead singer in the band, because of the time spent out at the Robert Thomas Brewery years ago. I felt like I was coming down with a cold so we didn’t stay long.
Sunday, I woke up feeling fine. So, I went to the gym for my work out and later we were off riding. This morning I woke up feeling crappy. The cold definitely set in. I didn’t work today, but tried to rest instead. If I am sick, I won’t be able to have the scheduled reconstructive surgery on Wednesday. I haven’t had a call from the hospital yet confirming everything, unless they called my work number. I’ll have to wait till tomorrow to find out. Maybe I’ll feel just wonderful by then.
This afternoon, I had an acupuncture appointment at the Natural Health Improvement Center. I really liked the acupuncturist, who also happens to be an herbalist. I am hoping to find relief for hot flashes & night sweats, and really anything he can help with.  Acupuncture is about balancing the body, which can help with many conditions. To me, it’s fascinating.
Other than this cold, I feel good. All is well . . .

Chari

Hot Harley Mama

Hot Harley Mama

So excited to be out riding!

So excited to be out riding

Out at Fallasburg Park

Grand Haven

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I led what I considered a healthy, prevention-oriented lifestyle. I have tried to eat well, organics as much as possible, real food instead of processed. I have exercised regularly for years. When I have learned something new that is health-related, I have applied in my life. Even though all of this didn’t prevent the cancer, it has been good for me. I feel like a healthy person with cancer.  I FEEL GREAT! I FEEL WELL! I never knew a person could feel so good while having cancer. Of course, I realize this could all change at any time. So, for now, I am going to be grateful for the way things are.
I had the PET scan on Friday. The results were surprising and interesting. The spot on my spine at T8 did not show up at all. The same thing for the spot on my sternum, nothing! I think that is amazing! The scan did show a spot in my liver that was brighter than the last scan. My next scan will be in December. Maybe by then the liver metastasis won’t show up, who knows? One can only hope and pray.
My medication is being changed again. I will be starting Xeloda after my reconstructive surgery. I continue to receive Xgeva injections for my bones. My oncologist gave me a couple of things to think about before my return visit: Receiving low dose radiation to my left armpit area; Having radiation beads inserted into my liver. So, that’s my homework for the next few weeks, to think about those things.  
On Saturday, before heading for home, we went to an Octoberfest celebration at Settlers Park in Kenosha. It was just getting started when we were there. We couldn’t stay long because of the drive ahead of us. It looked like it would have been a great place to spend the day.
As I said earlier: I feel great! I feel well!

Chari

Octoberfest in Kenosha

Octoberfest in Kenosha

Octoberfest in Kenosha

Grand Haven

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

It’s raining out so, instead of going to get groceries, I decided to do this.
I fell asleep on the couch last night thinking I was going to watch a movie. Ha!
The extra-long weekend went extra fast too. Ron went up to Diamond Lake on Friday. I decided to stay home and get some things organized and have some “me” time. Ron came home on Sunday (a day early) because he wanted to do something special with me yesterday. Isn’t that sweet? We ended up out at Grand Haven. Surprisingly, it wasn’t quite as busy as we thought it would be and we found a great parking spot.
It was Ron’s idea, to first go check out a new brewery I had told him about. It is called Grand Armory Brewery. Instead of trying a sampler, like we normally do, we each ordered a full beer. Since IPAs are our favorite type of beer, that’s what we had. The brewery has two IPAs on tap and are they ever good! The kitchen was closed because they were having a buffet on the main floor, and games upstairs for the holiday. Ron grabbed a bite to eat while we were there, but I decided to wait a while. There was a two man cover band playing that was pretty good. I don’t recall the name of the band though. We had a really nice time and will go back. The beer tasted so good, that I ended up having three of them! That is my “old” limit and doesn’t usually happen anymore. I guess I splurged a little. The last time I splurged was over six months ago in Jamaica.
After the brewery, we went over to the The Brewhouse to eat. The Monday special is $5 burgers. I don’t eat much beef anymore, and when I do, it’s grass-fed beef. Well, it just so happened, they serve grass-fed beef! How cool is that? So, of course I had a burger. I even ate a bunch of fries, yumm. That was another splurge. After dinner, we walked around a while. Ron went inside of an ice cream shop, and came back with two good sized cones. Then, he tells me to just eat a little of it. I don’t normally eat ice cream anymore, sometimes just a taste (spoonful). But, I ate it. The whole thing.  Splurge number three.  
Today, I’ve been experiencing digestive issues because of what I ate. My body is not used to the combination of foods it was given. No more splurging for me for a long time.
On Thursday, we head to Zion for my appointments at CTCA. I will be having a scan this time that should tell us if the medication is working. I feel good, as usual. All is well . . .

Chari

Having Fun At The Grand Armory Brewery

Grand Armory Brewery

A Beautiful Night At Grand Haven

Grand Haven

Monday, August 31, 2015

Sunny and warm, I love it! It sure turned out to be a nice day. I thought I better get started on this entry as soon as I got home from work. That way I won’t forget about it.
The weekend flew by, as they normally do. It always seems so good when Friday comes around, but if the weekend could stick around just a little bit longer, that would be great.
A typical Friday for me, when I’m not at CTCA, is: 1). Go to the gym if I didn’t get my days in. 2). Have a Vitamin C or an H2O2 IV. 3). Grab a bite to eat at home or go out for lunch with Becky. 4). Run errands. 5). Visit my mother. 6). After 5, it’s BEER:30 and weather permitting, we sit on the porch and have beer/wine and snacks. 7). Eat dinner if hungry. 8). Clean up kitchen. 9). Get ready for bed. 10). Get some zzzzzzzzz. That pretty much sums it up. My Fridays fly by. Seems there is never enough time to do everything I want to do. Becky has Fridays off so we usually hang out and run errands together. Jay comes over after work and the four of us sit outside or inside, depending on the weather. Sometimes, others join us, making it a big deal. Last Friday, Jim & Jan stopped over. We always enjoy spending time with them.
Sometimes a rainy day is what’s needed to get housework done and Saturday provided just that. I can appreciate now, all I was able to get done.
Yesterday, we had a great time at Rafael & Betty’s. They have a cute little lake house on Baptist Lake. There were about a dozen of us enjoying the afternoon together for food and fun. I was able to do a little kayaking, so I was a happy girl!
Last week, I saw my plastic surgeon. The date for my reconstructive surgery is September 23. I am determined not to get too excited about it, just in case it doesn’t happen. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me. Oh well, I am doing great as usual.
All is well . . .
Chari

Monday, August 24, 2015

Here it is, the last week of August already. Ron turns 59 years old tomorrow. We had a family birthday dinner last night with Jeremy & Julie, and Becky & Jay.
I smile every time I think about a piece of mail I received over the weekend. There was no return address, and my name and address was typed on a piece of paper that was taped to the envelope. Someone sent me a beautiful, unsigned, blank card. There was a piece of white paper inside with a smiley face, and also a very generous cashier’s check to go in my cancer fighting fund. Whoever it is that wanted to be totally anonymous, you have succeeded! Thank you for wanting to help whoever you are, I appreciate it!
The “Go Fund Me” account is going well. I am blessed to have so many friends and family members that want to help. Thank you all for your love, prayers, and generosity! Of course,  not all of you are able to contribute monetarily, but please keep the prayers and positive energy coming my way.
Other than the family dinner, we didn’t really do anything fun or exciting over the weekend. A big part of one of our tree came down last week. So, Ron cut & cleaned the mess up on Saturday. We are waiting for a Saturday or Sunday, when the weather is good, and we have no plans, so we can borrow the brother-in-law’s Harley. It hasn’t worked out for us yet. I hope to finally get that ride within the next couple of weeks.
Overall, I am doing quite well. The water pills seem to be helping some, but I still have swelling. I am also having hot flashes and night sweats again. So, I am a little more fatigued lately because I’m not sleeping as good due to the night sweats. That’s about it for physical issues, not so bad, huh? The bigger problem seems to be a mental one. This whole cancer thing is so weird! I don’t feel sick, and yet I have this horrible disease. A disease that can fluctuate from month to month, causing me a great deal of anxiety. I need to learn to chill out more. I should have learned it a long time ago and maybe this whole thing (cancer) could have been prevented. Hmmm . . .

Chari

Tree Disaster, another project for Ron...

Raphael-Rich

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Last week, writing a blog entry slipped my mind completely. On Monday & Tuesday I thought about it, but then proceeded to forget about it again. So, today I am getting started early since I have a little time. Sometimes I think my blog is so boring that no one would want to read it. But, then I remember why I started it in the first place. I started it as a way of letting my friends & family know what is going on in my life. 
Last week Wednesday, Ron & I broke our boycott of the Summertime Blues to hear one of our favorites, Walter Trout. It was great to hear him again. After a liver transplant and recovery, which continues, it looks like he has been blessed with another chance at life. Walter put on one heck of a good show.
We made our monthly trek to Zion last Thursday evening. Becky went along with us this time. As usual, my appointments were on Friday. My bloodwork was good. My White blood cells have dropped some more. In July my WBC was 20.79. Last Friday it was 16.39. My WBC hasn’t been this low in a few years. This is good news as long as it doesn’t continue to go down until it gets too low. My RBC, Hemoglobin, Hematocrit, and others continue to go up and are getting close to normal.
I don’t know where the cancer marker is at this month because they don’t test for it every time. Next month I am due for a scan, which will tell us if the medication is working. I have been feeling great! I still have swelling in my feet and ankles. My oncologist prescribed a water pill for me. I hope it helps because I am unable to wear most of my shoes.
While at CTCA, I ran into my friend Sheila from Washington. I met her on my first visit to CTCA last September. Sheila is a five year breast cancer (stage 4) survivor as of this past June. We also saw Jim & Charity, our friends from Idaho. It sure was good to see all of them again.
We stopped at the Greenbush Brewery on our way home yesterday to grab a bite to eat and a beer. Originally, we intended to visit the Three Floyds Brewery in Indiana. But, there was over an hour wait to get in when we got there. So, we decided to save it for another time and went to Greenbush instead.
Today, I had a good work out first thing this morning, and am spending the day getting odds and ends done around the house.
All is well . . .

Chari
 
Oh, and one more thing, I must say that because of the Go Fund Me account Becky started for me, I don’t get stressed out about bills as much anymore. Love and thanks to all of you for your help!

Chari getting all Hollywood at CTCA bridge. She has been waiting all year to get on this bridge in the summertime.

Hollywood

Walter Trout At The Blues.

Hollywood

59 - Sunday, August 2, 2015

We just got home a little while ago from a very relaxing time spent up at the Burch cottage on Lake Miramichi. What a great time! It was fun cruising around the lake on the pontoon boat, lounging in the sun, kayaking, eating lots of good food, sitting around the campfire, and talking. It was a bit windy but, the weather cooperated for the most part, making for a very nice weekend. Always a bit sad to see another weekend come to a close, especially a weekend spent with friends.  
I’m wondering if we’ll get a good storm tonight, as windy as it is. If it’s going to rain, I prefer that it rain at night. Things are getting a bit too dry, so some rain would be good.
I am still not back into my gym routine. I just can’t seem to get out of bed early enough in the morning to go before work. It doesn’t work for me to go to the gym after work. Mornings are the best time for me to work out. Maybe this will be the week I get it going on again.
You know the saying “Live each day as if it’s your last?” Well, I have been thinking about that a lot lately and wondering just how you actually live each day as if it’s your last.  I did a quick search on the saying. Interesting, what I came up with. Following is a couple of links I thought were worthy of sharing. The first link tells a story and explains the meaning of the saying as being grateful for each moment of your life:
http://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/live-each-day-as-if-it-were-your-last.html
The next link tells how to live each day as if it were your last:
http://timemanagementninja.com/2012/03/how-to-live-today-as-if-it-were-your-last-enjoy-it/
What I have learned is that it’s about being grateful always, living each day to the fullest, and going for the gusto in life! “When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love ...” ― Marcus Aurelius.

Chari

Weekend at Burch Lodge

Lodge

Out on the Lake

Pontoon

Chari's favorite spot...the loft

Loft

58 - Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What great summer weather we are having! Sure it’s hot, but summer is supposed to be hot. Remembering back to the frigid days last February, I’ll take the heat any day.
Ron and I had a good time up north last weekend. We stayed at the Stone Waters Inn in Bellaire for a couple of nights. We enjoy staying at the Stone Waters because it’s within walking distance of Short’s Brewery, restaurants, and shops.
On Saturday we took a drive to Harbor Bay for an art fair. After walking around the art fair for a while, we decided to go find the Petoskey Brewery. We had lunch and a sampler of their beers. We give Petoskey Brewery two thumbs up!
On Sunday, after leaving Bellaire, we took a drive up the Old Mission Peninsula. I knew of a couple new wineries that had opened up and I kinda wanted to check them out. Hawthorne Winery was the first new one we found, and we brought home a bottle of their Pinot Noir. A little later we found the Bonobo Winery, where, we enjoyed a glass of wine out on the patio.  
With the mission of finding the new wineries accomplished, it was time to find a brewery, according to Ron. We had never been to Right Brain’s new location, so that’s where we decided to go. The place was quite busy for a Sunday afternoon. When we finished at Right Brain it was time to head home. I wish we had planned ahead and taken Monday off from work. It would have been nice to have at least another day to spend in the Traverse City area. Four day weekends are about right. Maybe next time . . .
It’s already Wednesday, so the weekend will be here before you know it. I am looking forward to visiting Tim & Deb at their cottage.
I feel great! Other than swollen feet and ankles, all is well . . .

Chari

Weekend At Stone Waters Inn

Weekend At Stone Waters Inn

Harbor Bay Art Fair

Harbor Bay Art Fair

57 - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Time flies! I don’t know where July is going in such a hurry. I wish it would slow down a little. I love the blue skies, sunny days, and warm temps.
Becky, who is always looking out for me, set up a Go Fund Me account yesterday to raise money for my healthcare costs. I have never liked, or been very good at asking for money. So, it took me awhile before I agreed to let her do it. Now, I am blown away by the amount that has been donated already! It’s good to know that so many people actually care.  God bless you all, for your generosity, thoughts, and prayers.  
I read a book recently called “Radical Remission” by Kelly Turner, Ph.D. The book is about surviving cancer against all odds and the nine key factors that can make a real difference. The book is filled with true stories of people who have beaten cancer with unconventional methods. I think the book is very good. These are the kind of stories everyone likes to read. The book left me very hopeful. You never know . . . I could be the next radical remission.   
Sometimes it seems like there is never enough time to do the things you want to do. But, last Friday we made a point of planning an evening out with friends. We got together with Mark & Carol and Jim & Jan for dinner at the Green Well, and then we walked over to the Richard App Gallery for a “Summer Circle” concert. The concert consisted of four singer/songwriters, led by Ralston Bowles (a local favorite), who took turns playing and singing. These small, intimate concerts are great! We really enjoyed it and look forward to the next one.
This Friday Ron & I will be heading up to Bellaire for the weekend. We will be staying at the Stonewaters Inn, thanks to Mark & Carol for the gift certificate. We haven’t been up there in a very long time. It will be a fun little get away.
This Thursday I see my plastic surgeon. If I am healed up enough, he will be putting fluid back into the left expander. It was necessary for him to remove fluid during my surgery last month so my surgical oncologist had enough room to work at removing the mass under my arm. It sorta feels like I am starting all over again with the “fills.” But, it shouldn’t be too bad (painful) since I am already stretched. Down the road a ways, I will still be getting some foobs (fake boobs). My sister, Judy, suggested having a Boob Party after I finally get them. Hmmm, new boobs are a good reason to celebrate I guess . . . not too sure about a party though.
All is well . . .

Chari

Summer Circle Concert at the Richard App Gallery

Raphael-Rich

56 - Monday, July 13, 2015

Finally it feels like summer! I love the warmer temps. I sure hope it lasts awhile. We had a great time yesterday getting together with a bunch of old friends. Thanks to Rich & Di for having everyone over. There was lots of good food, conversations, boat rides, etc.

We were at CTCA on Friday. Overall, things aren't too bad. The breast cancer marker is down to 27 from 44 last month. Of course part of that must be due to the fact that the mass under my arm has been removed. My white blood cell count is at 20.79, down from 37.93 last month. The rest of my bloodwork is looking pretty good this month too. I am now having bloodwork weekly to monitor the effects of the Afinitor. This drug can lower both my white and red blood cells. It is probably already lowering my counts. That would explain the significant drop in the WBC count. My red blood cells have dropped just slightly. We don't want those to drop too much as they were already a bit low to begin with. My glucose went up from 80 last month to 108 on Friday. This is a side effect of the Afinitor as well. I have never had high blood sugar before and I don't care to have it now either. The only other side effects I am aware of so far are swelling of my feet and ankles, and a cough that comes on once in a while. My oncologist ordered a CT scan to check my lungs and the results showed no lung problems. I sleep well and have not been bothered by night sweats lately. I am taking Melatonin and Evening Primrose oil at bedtime. These supplements have helped tremendously! I don't have many hot flashes during the day anymore and I love it! I had an acupuncture consultation and procedure on Friday too. I originally booked it for help with hot flashes & night sweats. But, since I am not having a problem with those right now, I kept the appointment just so I could learn more about acupuncture and to balance my body's energy. I was told that for chronic conditions, acupuncture is needed at least once a week. I will be checking into the cost of having it here at home. There is an acupuncturist right down the road from me at the Natural Health Improvement Center, the same place I go for IVs. Tomorrow I plan on going back to the gym. It's time to get back into my routine, and I know I will feel better once I do.

All is well . . .

Chari

Raphael and Rich Napierkowski at Napierkowski Park

Raphael-Rich

Chari, Deb, and Betty at Napierkowski's

Chari-Deb-Betty

55 - Sunday, July 5, 2015

Last Wednesday Ron & I acknowledged our 37th wedding anniversary. I wanted to say celebrated, but we didn’t do anything to celebrate it. So, “acknowledged” it is. Wow, 37 years sounds like a really long time. But, it sure doesn’t feel like it. Time flies! I can’t imagine life without Ron. I am truly married to my best friend.
The drain came out last week just as I had hoped. It’s nice not having it attached any longer.
Friday we spent the day at Diamond Lake. We checked out the Newago Brewing Co. on the way up. Yesterday we met Mark & Carol at the Bostwick Lake Inn. We hadn’t been there in a couple years. We had dinner on the deck, which was perfect.
It was a quick weekend. All is well . . .

Chari

Mark, Chari, and Carol at Bostwick Lake Inn

Ron, Anna, Chari at the Walldorff

54 - Monday June 29, 2015

The month of June has flown by! I keep waiting for it to get warm. Its summertime and temperatures in the 70s just don’t cut it with me. I feel chilled all the time. I need 80s for it to feel like summer.
Last week was pretty much uneventful until Saturday. On Saturday we got together with Jim & Jan at the Walldorff in Hastings. Ron & I have always liked the Walldorff, but we hadn’t been there in over a year, so it was nice to get back there again. The food is great, and there’s always a beer we like.
After we finished with dinner, we were standing outside for a bit, and all of a sudden a woman comes walking across the street towards us. It was Anna Hooten, whom Ron & I have known for years. Turns out the shop she works in, The Sugar Ribbon, is on the other side of the street, and the shop owner, Kendy (Way) Barble, is someone we knew from high school. Of course we had to go check out the place. What a cute little shop for women’s clothing and accessories. I found some things I liked, but I just didn’t have the extra money to purchase anything. I’ll have to plan ahead for next time.
I have my post-op appointment with my surgeon on Wednesday morning. It will be great to get the drain removed that I’ve had since my surgery. I’m getting a little sick of hauling it around with me.
I am continuing to heal well. I still struggle a bit with raising my left arm up all the way, but I am seeing improvement. It’s quite an incision I’ve got there. I am hoping to get back to the gym soon and that should help my arm get back to normal.
Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, & safe holiday weekend . . .

Chari

Ron, Anna, Chari at the Walldorff

Ron, Anna, Chari at the Walldorff

53 - Monday June 22, 2015

Tomorrow will be a week since my surgery. The week sure flew by. I think I am healing up well, but still sore. I felt like I needed one more day off before going back to work, so I stayed home today. Sometimes I think I should just stay home and not work at all. Then, I remember that it’s good for me to be working, and it helps pay for my supplements, IVs, medications, etc.  I’m grateful I work for a company, who is ok with me, taking time off when I need to.
The highlights of the past week have been: 1. My mother bringing dinner over, 2. Spending more time with my hubby, 3. Staying up a little later, sleeping in a little longer, 4. Becky coming over to color, wash, cut, and style my hair, 5. A phone call from my friend Vickie, in North Carolina, 6. Not needing many pain pills, 7. My sister Kathy, bringing me flowers, 8. Having more mother/daughter time with Becky, 9. Friday afternoon visit with my mother, 10. The opportunity to pick the neighbors’ strawberries, 11. Father’s Day dinner with Ron, Jeremy & Julie, and Becky & Jay, and 12. An extra day off, so now I am feeling pretty good!
All is well . . . Chari

52 - Tuesday June 16, 2015

Some things are just not meant to be. This was the case for having the combined surgery that I was so looking forward to. The axillary (under arm) mass removal turned out to be much more extensive than first anticipated. So, it was not possible to have the reconstructive surgery done today. It was a huge disappointment for me. But, I am adjusting to the situation, trying to adjust my attitude, and will be looking forward to having the reconstructive surgery after I heal from today’s procedure. So much for my trying to avoid having two surgeries, huh? Sometimes life just sucks!! CANCER SUCKS!!!!  I am tired of this roller coaster ride.
I am off from work till Monday. I plan to do some reading, research, and maybe watch a good comedy or two. After all, laughter is the best medicine. Smiling, laughter, and gratitude are three important things I need to focus on. I have a lot to smile about, and so much to be grateful for! I plan to keep on keepin on. Because, for me, the fighter I am, there is no other choice.  
Writing this short little blog entry today seems to have helped me, just by expressing my thoughts and all. Thanks for reading it.
I feel better already . . .

Chari

51 - Sunday June 14, 2015

My medications are being changed again. They are intent on finding something that will work on the cancer I have. This is a good thing I guess. I want something to work; I just hate taking the drugs. The change is due to blood work results and a PET scan I had on Friday. My bloodwork showed the cancer marker is up to 44. It was 34 last month. It’s kind of weird how it fluctuates like that. The PET scan showed increased brightness of the lesion in my spine. In February it was 7.8, it is 16.7 now. There is also a lesion in my sternum which has gotten brighter and is beginning to cause concern. The Faslodex and Arimidex were not working. I will start the new meds after my surgery. The new meds are Aromasin, which is an aromatase inhibitor, and Afinitor, a targeted therapy.
Becky went to Zion with us this month. She is used to getting good news because that is how it has been previously when she comes along. Well, this time it wasn’t so good. That’s life on the cancer roller coaster. Most likely I won’t have another scan for at least 3 months. Things could look totally different by then.
No matter what news we are given at CTCA, I still enjoy being there. I need to be there. It’s a positive place to be. The doctors and nurses are great. The patients are positive and encouraging to one another. There are many stories of how people have beaten the odds and are still hanging in there and doing well after many years. I enjoyed meeting a mother (patient) and daughter (caregiver) on Friday in the dining room. They were both named Yolanda, and were from Harrisburg, PA. They were very upbeat and it was fun talking and laughing with them. I hope to see them again on one of my future monthly visits.
Well, Tuesday is the big day for my surgery! I am so ready to finally get it over with. The mass under my arm has become extremely annoying. It gets sore at times, and I never know when it may start bleeding. It seems I am constantly trying to get stains out of my shirts. I will work tomorrow and then off for the remainder of the week. I will have a surgical drain for a short time and will be restricted as to how much I can lift for a while. I am praying for a successful surgery and recovery.
We like to break up the return trip home from Zion, and yesterday was no different. We stopped in Michigan City and had a beer and a bite to eat at the Shoreline Brewery. This was the second time for Ron and I to visit this brewery. The last time was back in September on our first return trip home.
Ron took some time earlier today to write down his thoughts on this crazy chapter of our lives. Here they are:


Hi Friends,
Chari has been bugging me to write an entry in her blog for a few weeks now and I have been dragging my feet on it. Well, she is down with some kind of stomach bug today and it is grey and raining outside and I figured this would be a good time to do it.
I’m not sure where to start or what to say so I’ll just ramble for a bit.
Everyone hits some bumps and ruts in life eventually, it’s different for everybody. So this is not to belittle or exaggerate anyone’s story. This whole cancer thing though, it’s an adventure. We have had so many different experiences. First the diagnosis and the thinking that comes with that, scary, thinking only the worst. Then surgery which we knew was only a temporary measure. Then “The Plan”. What do we do now? Where to go, what treatment? I’m so happy we found CTCA and could go there. It has been a very positive place for her and our family. It’s like an extended family and home to us.
I have to say, Chari is one incredible person. She has taken charge of her condition in ways that I’m still trying to wrap my head around. She has firm beliefs in how to best treat her body and has done her best to remain true to them. She has researched so many cancer related topics and is very good at winnowing down to the best stuff for her. But mostly it’s her attitude. She is so positive and hopeful. She has taught me a lot but, I still don’t think I could be as strong and persevering as her. She still works, goes to the gym regularly, as well as all the other stuff. If you didn’t know it, she appears like anyone else which I am so thankful for. She is enjoying life and when she is happy, we are happy!
We have received so much support from all of YOU! Thank you so much for the cards, emails, prayers, and pies. Yes, thanks for the pies! Chari won’t eat them because of the high sugar content so that responsibility falls on me. It’s tough but I’m willing to help her in any way I can. That’s just the kind of guy I am!
There, I did a blog entry….
Bye all,
Ron

The Yolandas

The Yolandas

CTCA Mission Statement

CTCA Mission Statement

50 - Sunday June 7, 2015

I am so much better than I was last week at this time. Just a few lingering cold symptoms left and they will be gone soon. I missed work last Monday because I felt so lousy. But, I feel healthy again now and that is what’s important.
Becky & I had a nice lunch with Diane (Becky’s mother-in-law) on Friday. I am enjoying these times to get to know her better.
Saturday was a full day. First, it was a graduation open house for our nephew, Justin. The food was amazing because Amy, my sister-in-law, is a fabulous cook. Next up, was a retirement party for our school teacher friend Carol. A nice party with more great food! To end the day we went downtown to Festival, with Jim & Jan to hear a favorite local singer/song writer, Ralston Bowles. He sounded great and we found ourselves wishing it could go on a little longer. I suppose for the artist, it’s a good thing to leave the audience wanting more.
It’s been almost a year already since I was told I had breast cancer. For me, the past year has been full of ups and downs. But, for the most part, it’s been good, considering what I’m dealing with. I have learned a lot, I have made a lot of changes, and I have felt great. I remember clearly the appointment I had last August with my medical oncologist here to go over my test results. Concerning how to proceed, he made it sound like it was his way or the highway. Well, we all know I decided to take the highway, and I am so glad I did. CTCA is great! I am thankful I am able to be a patient there.
I plan to ask Ron if he is willing to share a few of his thoughts on the past year. So, maybe next week, we’ll see.
On Thursday we head to Zion for my monthly appointments. Then, the following week is my surgery. Yippee!
All is well . . .

Chari

Bob, Amy, Justin, Jacob

Bobs Family

Ralston Bowles at Festival

Ralston Bowles

49 - Sunday May 31, 2015

Here it is the last day of May already. Only 16 days from now is my surgery with the Dynamic Duo. Yes, I am counting the days! I am so looking forward to life without expanders and without this tumor under my arm.
My niece, Natalie, got married on Friday. I was coming down with a cold and not feeling the greatest. But, with the help from a couple of Ibuprofen, I did go and am glad I did. The bride was beautiful, of course. The reception was on the third floor of the B.O.B... For some reason, Ron and I have never been too impressed with the Gilmore Group restaurants’ food, but what we had at the reception was very good. We had a good time dancing a little, and just hanging out. I somehow managed to make it till at least 10:00 or later.
Yesterday, I felt totally lousy most of the day, and I have felt totally lousy most of today as well. This is one nasty cold. I am hoping I feel better by tomorrow for work. On that note, I am going to go make myself a cup of tea and go to bed . . .
Chari

Natalie & Nick Reception

Natalie & Nic Reception

48 - Sunday May 24, 2015

It is 10:00 on Sunday night and since I have no plans of getting up early tomorrow, I figured it was a good time for a quick blog entry.
When I went to the gym this morning, it felt almost like I had the whole place to myself, with so many people out of town for the weekend. Ron left on Friday to go hiking with his buddy, Tim. He got home about 5:30 today. He said they had a good hike, but it was the most difficult one they have had so far with some very rough and hilly terrain.
I had good intentions of getting a bunch of housework done, but didn’t get done nearly as much as I planned on. Yesterday it was so nice out that I couldn’t resist taking my book and pillow and lying out in the sun for a while. It felt good to soak up some sun. I hadn’t done that since we were in Jamaica. I am looking forward to more days like that.
Becky, Julie & I went to a bridal shower for Natalie (my niece) today. She will be getting married on Friday. Later, when Ron got home we met Jim & Jan at Founders for a bit. Don’t have anything special planned for tomorrow. It will just be nice to have that extra day off.
I finally have a date for the combined surgery. It will be on June 16. I am calling it surgery with the dynamic duo (my plastic surgeon & my surgical oncologist). Once again I have something to look forward to. All is well . . .

Chari

47 - Monday May 18, 2015

Last week I had something going on with my right foot. It started late on Tuesday as a pain on the bottom of my foot in the area just under the big toe. It seemed to get worse on Wednesday. By Thursday, I was limping around most of the day. When we got to Zion Thursday night, my foot was swollen up. So, come Friday, I had my first appointment of the day with a doctor in the Quality of Life department of the hospital. Normally, I see someone there to get Ok’d for a Vitamin C IV, but not this time. Even though my foot was a whole lot better than it was the day before, it was still obviously swollen. I told the doctor that whatever it is, it’s getting better. He wanted to rule out any blood clots since that can be a side effect from the medications I am on. The doctor made sure I got scheduled right away for a procedure to check out my veins. Some kind of Doppler thing, I’m not sure of the name. It was some sort of ultrasound. My veins checked out fine, no sign of any clots. I still don’t know what was up with my foot, but at least it wasn’t anything serious. It’s better now.
We received lots of good news while at CTCA. My white blood cell count continues to go down. It is at 31.92 this month. This is still considered high, but for someone with CLL, it is very good. Normal ranges for a typical healthy person are 4.00 – 10.50.
The breast cancer marker is now at 34, down from 43 last month, and the mass under my arm seems to have shrunk some!
On our way home Saturday, we stopped at the Karma Vista Winery in Coloma. After passing the sign (Peace, Love & Wine at exit 39) so many times on our way to Illinois, we figured it was time to stop. We brought some good wine home with us and filled up our wine racks.
We are not happy about WLAV changing the name & location for their summer blues series. For 23 years, we have enjoyed it being downtown. We looked forward to it every year. It was part of summertime in the city! Now that it has been moved, I don’t know if we will go. The excitement is gone.
No surgery date yet, still waiting . . .

Chari

46 - Monday May 11, 2015

 “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.” That song has been going through my head today. Mondays don’t always get me down, but rainy ones do. I just wanted to stay in bed this morning. And now, after 7:00 in the evening, the sun finally comes out. Better late than never. It’s always good to see the sunshine.  
I don’t have a date for the combined surgery yet. The schedulers seem to be having a difficult time finding a date that works for both docs. I have decided that since I have waited this long, a little longer isn’t going to hurt. It is a hard decision, but I would much rather have one surgery instead of two.
I had a nice Mother’s Day yesterday. I visited my mother for a bit and then had dinner with Ron, Jeremy & Julie, and Becky & Jay at our house. Grilled chicken breasts, vegetable skewers, and pasta salad, yum!
Last Friday our friend, Bill, who is also Ron’s co-worker, came over to visit with the woman he will be marrying in a few weeks. She is from Slovakia. Bill worked in Europe for a couple of years and that is how they met. She is beautiful, smart, and very likeable. I think she’ll be good for Bill.
On Thursday evening we’ll be off to Zion and CTCA again for my monthly appointments. I feel good and am very thankful for that.

Chari

45 - Sunday May 3, 2015

Today we had a surprise birthday party for Ron’s mother who turned 80. The family got together at Johnson Park for a picnic. It was good to see everyone. She was truly surprised too, so that worked out nice.
After the picnic Ron and I planted a bunch of Hollyhock seeds. The seeds were sent to me from a friend in Washington. The rain we’re supposed to get this week should help them get a good start. I just hope the frosty mornings are over with.  
My appointment with my surgeon went well this past week. He is willing to team up with my plastic surgeon for my surgery. He will be removing the mass under my arm, and my plastic surgeon will do the reconstructive surgery. This is exactly what I wanted and I am thrilled that it is going to work out. It will be so nice to have it done at the same time instead of two separate surgeries. The schedulers at both offices are working on a time that will work for both docs and I should hear early this week what they have come up with. There is still a possibility of it being on the 20th, but chances are pretty good it will be a different day. I’m really excited! That’s a little weird isn’t it? I mean who gets excited about surgery?  
Oh well, I am also that weird person (so I’ve been told) that likes to exercise. What can I say? Exercise makes me feel good and I really miss it when I don’t do it. Right now I figure I better get to the gym when I can because after I have surgery, I’ll be limited on what I can do for a while.
Sometimes lately, I feel like I’m losing my mind. For instance, yesterday when we got home from running errands, I go to unlock the house door, and I end up standing there pressing my car key unlock button! How ridiculous is that?! Ron and I both got a laugh out of it. Crazy little things like that are happening. I am blaming the medication I am on. I think it started with the Faslodex injections. I have brain fog. I also have increased fatigue. Foggy & fatigued, that’s me. Other than that, I feel great! All is well . . .

Chari

The Dean Family - 2015

Family at Johnson Park

44 - Sunday April 26, 2015

Ron and I just got back from a long walk at Johnson Park. What a beautiful day for it. I also got a workout in this morning at the gym, so I’ve definitely gotten my share of exercise in today. It feels good though, I have no complaints.
I had my monthly appointments at CTCA this past Friday. For the most part, my bloodwork was good. The CLL is of no concern at this time. However the breast cancer marker has gone up. In January it was at 26, on Friday it was 43. This number is considered to be in the high range. Prior to this, it was always in the normal range (if you can call it that), which is 1.0 – 35.0 U/mL. My oncologist has added Arimidex to my treatment plan. Arimidex is an aromatase inhibitor used to treat hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. So, now I am taking a pill everyday again.
 I had the last of the injections for the loading dose of the Faslodex. From now on I will get the injections just once a month. I continue to receive the Xgeva injections monthly as well.
As far as the tumor under my arm goes, my oncologist doesn’t see any problem with having it removed if that is what I want. I have a follow-up appointment with my surgeon here in town coming up this week Wednesday. I am going to run it by him and see if he’ll remove it. He has said in the past it isn’t absolutely necessary that I have surgery on it right away. But, I would really like to have it removed. It won’t change my treatment plan either way.  
On our way home yesterday we stopped to see Nick, Natalie & Boomer. Natalie is our niece, Nick is her future husband, and Boomer is their Golden Retriever puppy. Nick is in the Navy and is stationed in Waukegan, Illinois. Waukegan is just a short distance away from CTCA in Zion. It was good to see them.
Once we got on the road for home it started raining, and continued to rain until we got into Michigan. I drove us through most of the rain, which was no fun. Ron took over when we were just about to Michigan City.
We made another stop at the Lemon Creek winery to pick up a special bottle of wine for Becky. It is a gift to celebrate her new job, which she starts in a couple weeks. She will be leaving her manager position at Hair Masters on Alpine and begin renting a chair at Smash Salon on Plainfield. It is a big move for her and she is excited and a bit scared.  I’m excited for her; I think she will do great!  
After our quick stop at Lemon Creek, we headed back to Bridgeman and stopped at Tapistry Brewery. This is another new one for us that we have wanted to check out. We’re glad we did. It is a nice quaint little place with excellent beer. By the time we left Tapistry, the sky was clearing.  I dosed off on the ride home, but Ron said the sun was shining most of the way. According to the forecast, it looks like we will be seeing a lot more sunshine in the coming days. It should be a good week! All is well . . .

Chari

Johnson Park

Johnson Park

Johnson Park

Johnson Park

Tapistry Brewery

Tapistry Brewery

Tapistry Brewery

Tapistry Brewery

Tapistry Brewery

Tapistry Brewery

43 - Sunday April 19, 2015

Last Monday my nephew Andy became a father, and my “little” brother became a grandfather, to a baby boy named Aiden. That makes me a great aunt for the tenth time. A new baby in the family and the nice weather we had for a few days, made for a pretty good week.  
Yesterday, we met Mark & Carol at the Railtown Brewery, which is in Dutton. Mark & Carol, and Ron had been there before, but it was my first time. Ron ordered a sampler board of all eight beers that were on tap. After tasting all of them, I settled for an Imperial IPA, which was very tasty. While we were all enjoying our beer, Mark & Carol made it known that they too would like to hike the canyon with us the next time (October, 2016). Carol is retiring from her teaching job after this school year, opening up the time for her to go. So, if all works out, the six of us will have a great time! It will be fun having friends along with us. After we finished our beer, we went out for dinner at Real Arriero, a Mexican restaurant in Caledonia.
I am tired, it’s after 11:00 already, and that is late for me. Tomorrow, it’s back to work, so I need to get to bed . . .

Chari

42 - Sunday April 12, 2015

The past week seems to have flown by. Well, actually every week seems to fly by. Time flies when you’re having fun and even when you’re not.
On Thursday, we headed out a little bit later than usual to go to CTCA. But, it worked out well because we missed the bad weather that went through northern Illinois. It had passed by the time we arrived. Eight tornados? Wow!
The second set of my butt shots for the loading dose of the Faslodex is done. Another set to go on the 24th of this month and then monthly after that. We decided to stay just one night this time since all I had scheduled on Friday was a short visit at my oncologist’s office to let them know how things were going, the injections, and a Vitamin C IV. There was a slight hold up with the IV, so that slowed us down a bit. But, we were on the road for home right around 2:00.  The traffic was horrendous! Friday afternoon is not a good time for traveling around the Chicago area.  It took us well over two hours to get out of Illinois and that is traveling on Interstate 294 which goes around Chicago. I started out driving but got fed up with it after an hour and a half, so Ron took over. I don’t see us coming home on Friday again anytime soon.
We made a stop at Greenbush Brewing Company in Sawyer, Michigan. It was our first time at Greenbush. It’s a busy little place, with good beer and food.
On Saturday evening we had belated birthday dinner for Jeremy.  It was the six of us: Jeremy & Julie, Becky & Jay, and Ron & I. Our first burgers on the grill this year, yumm!
I think just about everyone one who has a motorcycle was out riding it today. It was a great day for it! I get the fever to ride every spring. Unfortunately, we don’t own a bike and haven’t for many years. Our friends Gary & Kathy stopped over on their brand new Harley. What a beautiful bike! It’s an Ultra Classic, the same as we would buy if we were to buy one. I’m just a little bit envious, but I’ll get over it.
All is well . . .

Chari

41 - Sunday April 5, 2015

After my entry last week, my friend Jim, asked in disbelief, “Why Idaho for a bucket list item?!” Is there anybody else wondering the same thing? Well, I have to ask, why not Idaho?
My interest in Idaho started quite a few years ago when I was working at Wyoming Floral. Sally, the owner/manager has a sister living in Idaho. Hearing Sal talk about what it was like in Idaho, with the mountains and ranches, really interested me. From then on, I have from time to time, thought it would be nice to visit the state. I love the west with its mountains and all, and Ron and I enjoy hiking.  I am thinking we can find a really nice hike in Idaho. If you are interested at all in what it would be like to hike in Idaho, try googling “hike in Idaho” and take a look at the images. It looks absolutely beautiful to me. Everyone’s bucket list is different, as it should be. Idaho just happens to be on mine. It will be awhile before we get there. My next big goal is to hike the Grand Canyon from rim to rim again. We decided we would do it the year Ron turns 60. That means if all goes as planned, in the fall of 2016 we’ll be hiking it! Our good friends, Jeff & Vickie are thinking about doing the hike with us this next time.
It was a good week. We met Jim & Jan for a beer at Osgood’s on Tuesday. On Thursday I got a call from my plastic surgeon’s office and was scheduled for reconstructive surgery. Friday, Becky and I had a nice lunch with Diane at the Rush Creek bistro. Also, on Friday my mom was taken to the hospital after passing out a couple of times and falling down. After running tests they found nothing major, just a bladder infection. So that was good news.  Last night we met Bonnie and Larry (my sister & brother-in-law) at White Flame for a beer before moving on to Pike 51/Hudsonville Winery for a bite to eat and another beer. Two beers is quite the splurge for me nowadays.
I am scheduled to get my foobs (fake boobs) on May 20th. It’s a little ways out, but at least I have a date. I want to feel comfortable again, and that is certainly not going to happen as long as I have the expanders in.
I haven’t felt any different after the first set of Faslodex injections I received a little over a week ago. So far, so good. I haven’t had any new side effects, just the same old things with the hot flashes and night sweats. I get the second set of injections next Friday, and the third set two weeks after that. I hope by the time I am done with the loading dose and on the monthly schedule, that there is a noticeable difference with the tumor. It is difficult not to be overly anxious and impatient, but I’m trying. I am constantly reminded that the cancer is there. Every time I move my arm I feel it. For example: When walking and swinging my arms, there is friction there from my arm rubbing against it. Also, after I work out, which I did today, it tends to be a little sore. So, obviously it has gotten harder for me to forget all about having cancer, which was so easy for me to do before. But, I am grateful for the health I have because I still feel really good.

Chari

40 - Sunday March 29, 2015

The trip to CTCA went well. Becky went with Ron & I this time. When we arrived at our hotel, we found out our friends, Jim & Charity, who we met back in September were staying there as well. It was good to see them again. Jim & Charity live in Idaho. We have never been to Idaho, but it is one of the top states I’d like to visit sometime. It’s one of my bucket list items.
Friday morning we were surprised to see a bit of snow on the ground. Not exactly what any of us want to see at this time of year.  Fortunately, it is the end of March, so it doesn’t stay long.
My bloodwork was good once again. I really like this trend. I saw the Hematologist on this visit. He said the CLL is not a major issue at this time and that the main concern is the breast cancer. He is waiting to see the slides from the biopsy. So, hopefully the hospital here will send those soon. I don’t need to see him again for six months unless there is a need.
My next appointment was with the PA at my oncologist’s office. I started on the Faslodex injections. The injections are given every two weeks for the first month and then monthly after that. A good thing about the injections is I don’t have to remember to take a pill every day like I did with the Tamoxifen. I take plenty of supplements every day, and don’t usually have a problem remembering to take them, but I always took the Tamoxifen separate from my supplements.
CTCA has had construction going on for quite some time now. When finished, it will be pretty much a totally new place. The goal is to be finished by fall of this year. One of our favorite spots (especially for Ron) to relax and spend time in, is the atrium. It is filled with comfortable furniture, plants, and a large two-sided aquarium. The atrium will be closed the next time we are there because it is going to become part of the new entrance.  As soon as the weather gets warm we’ll spend more time outside, which will fill the void of the atrium.
On Saturday at about 4:50 am, we were awakened by a fire alarm. So, we all got up and went outside for a little fresh air before going back to sleep. There was no fire. A faulty sprinkler that was leaking set off the alarm.
Yesterday, on our way home, we took a short side trip to the Lemon Creek Winery for a little wine tasting. Mmm, they make some very good wines. Love those dry reds. It was a nice break and well worth the time.
I haven’t been scheduled for my reconstructive surgery yet. I hope to hear something this week. I feel great! All is well . . .

Chari

Aquarium at CTCA atrium.

Fish Tank

39 - Sunday March 22, 2015

I heard from my surgeon this past week. He called me right after he talked with my oncologist at CTCA. The current plan is to see how the new medication will affect the lump under my arm. So, there will be no surgery on it just yet. After giving it much thought, I have decided to hold off on the Femara & Ibrance. I made my decision because of the possible side effects the Ibrance could have on my blood. The CLL complicates things. I may use the two medications at a later date if needed, but right now I am going give the Faslodex a try. I will be starting this on Friday when I am at CTCA. While I’m not too excited about butt shots, I am anxious to see if they help.
I have been given the okay to have the reconstructive surgery at any time. So, I will be calling my plastic surgeon tomorrow. It will be nice to get that surgery out of the way and to finally be rid of the expanders. Some people say boobs are overrated, and maybe so, but I sure do miss mine.  
Yesterday Jan, Ron, & I went to “Chili Blues” at the B.O.B. Jim was unable to go because he was sick. We tasted a variety of chili, listened to some good music, and watched a pepper eating contest. When the contest started there were seven contestants, six males and one female. Each of them was given one bottle of water.  Jalapenos were the first pepper to be eaten. Followed by cayenne, habaneros, and finally ghost peppers. The contest ended with a three-way tie. The one woman made it all the way to the end. The funny thing is, her eyes didn’t even water once, and she never broke a sweat. It was amazing! Don’t know how she did it. All the women watching were rooting for her. Ron says she cheated somehow. I don’t know how it would be possible to cheat at something like that. I think it just bugged him because she could do it.
I cannot stop yawning and am at a loss for words at the moment. I guess that means it’s time for bed.

Chari

Hot chili pepper eating contest, the three way tie winners.

Chili Pepper

38 - Sunday March 15, 2015

We just got home a little while ago after having a delicious dinner at Carrabbas, which is one of our favorite restaurants. It had been quite a while since our last dinner at Carrabbas, but I am happy to say that the Chicken Marsala is still just as good as it ever was! What a blessing it was to have the opportunity to dine out tonight, made possible by the thoughtfulness & generosity of our friends, Jim & Diane.
 I still haven’t heard anything from my surgeon regarding surgery to remove the mass under my arm. I was hoping on having him and my plastic surgeon team up. That way I could have the mass removed, the expanders out, and the implants put in all in one surgery. But, it’s not looking like that is going to happen. I will probably get something scheduled at CTCA when I am there later this month. I would still like to get the surgery done before starting on new medication.
I heard from my insurance company this past week. Most likely, by June, the medication (Ibrance) will be covered. Until then I can use what is called a “Co-Pay One” card, from Pfizer, and pay just $10 a month. That’s good news, because $10 a month is affordable.
Ron bought me a new laptop today. My old one died over a month ago. Now I have a touch screen & Windows 8 to figure out. It sure is nice to have something bigger than my Ipad again. I don’t know how people do everything on their phones. I don’t have an Iphone or smart phone yet and I really don’t want one. But, I know it’s only a matter of time.
The spring weather has got me thinking about spring cleaning. I don’t get too excited about cleaning. But, I should do some this year, and the sooner I start, the sooner it will get done. So, maybe I’ll spend next weekend cleaning. Or, maybe not.
I have been feeling fine, just a little tired. All is well . . .

Chari

37 - Monday March 9, 2015

I fell asleep last night before I had a chance to write a blog entry. I have been more tired than usual lately. Probably because I am not getting enough sleep most nights, due to waking up drenched in sweat. It is part of life for a lot of women during menopause. But, it may be worse with the Tamoxifen I am taking.
My oncologist in Illinois wants to change my medication because of the results of my last scan. I have a choice between a few different drugs. They all sound nasty, and all cause moodiness, hot flashes, night sweats, and possibly other things. I can try Arimidex, which has been around awhile, or Faslodex injections (butt shots), or Femara w/Ibrance. Femara has been around awhile, but the Ibrance is new. It is FDA approved, but all pharmacies don’t have it yet. It is also very expensive. My insurance doesn’t cover it. I have filled out paperwork to see if I can get assistance from the manufacturer. Since it is so new, I would be kind of a guinea pig, so they may help provide it. The combination of the two drugs is supposed to work well in stopping the progression of cancer. My biggest concern is the effect it could have on my blood. I already have problems with my blood because of the CLL. So, I would like to get any surgery out of the way before changing my medication. This way I would have time to heal.
I am not sure yet if my next surgery will be here or in Illinois. I have been in contact with my surgeon here. He wanted to talk to my doctor in Illinois (this was a week ago). I haven’t heard anything yet. It seems like I am always waiting for something on this cancer journey. Maybe I am supposed to learn more patience, which has never been one of my strong points.
Over the weekend, Ron and I attended a benefit for an old highschool classmate of mine who has ALS. The place was packed! I am sure a lot of money was raised with such a great turnout. The money will be used to purchase some much needed items to give him a better quality of life. The theme of the benefit was “Keep on Smiling.” This is exactly what he does. Instead of dwelling on his disease, he keeps on smiling.
I don’t dwell on my disease either, I try to stay positive and keep smiling as well. Sometimes I forget all about it, because I feel so good. I am grateful for each day, for my quality of life, for all the everyday things I am able to do, and the extra activities I enjoy. I am grateful for my husband, family and friends, and right now I am grateful for the sunshine and spring like weather we are having. I love seeing the snow disappear! And to think, just a week ago, it was a snowy mess out. That’s Michigan . . .
If any of you would like to see a short video Ron put together for Becky & Jay’s reception you can click on this link: Jay and Becky's Wedding Video

Chari

36 - Sunday March 1, 2015

What a great time last night!  The weather cooperated so travel was good to and from the reception, making for a very good turnout. It sure was great to see everyone! It’s a good feeling having all the business of the wedding & reception behind me. Now it’s time to relax a little and get back to life as usual. Ahhhhh, all is well . . .

Chari

35 - Sunday February 22, 2015

After an extremely busy week, I finally have time for a blog entry.
We had great time in Jamaica. What a blast! The weather was mostly sunny with temperatures in the 80s, just perfect!
Becky & Jay were married on Friday, February 13th. It was a beautiful wedding in a gazebo out over the water. After the wedding we had a champagne & hors devours reception on the beach.
We stayed at Sandals Royal Caribbean all inclusive resort in Montego Bay. It is a beautiful resort and I would highly recommend it to any couples (it is a couples only resort) going to Jamaica. The grounds around the resort are covered with flowering trees & bushes, and lots of lush vegetation. There are peacocks that wander around. I was able to pet the female, but the male wanted no part of it. He was very proud and did spread his feathers to show off for me one day. There are also a few cats that wander around the resort. The staff is incredible, very nice and very helpful.
Our resort had its own private island which is a short (2-3 min.) boat ride away. We spent a lot of time on the island. It was my favorite place for soaking up the sunshine, and I did a lot of that. It has two nice beaches and swimming areas. We spent our time on the beach that faces the resort. The other beach, which is on the opposite side of the island is clothing optional, so we didn’t bother going there. The island also has a bar, a pool, a shaded eating area next to a buffet that was open for lunch daily, a Tai restaurant, and a fire pit. We enjoyed dinner at the restaurant one evening. After dinner we wandered over to the fire pit and met a couple who are originally from Jordan, but now live in Georgia.
We had pretty good food while we were in Jamaica, especially the Jerk Chicken, yum! I ate my share of that.
I tried paddle boarding one day and did pretty well in the calm water. There was a point when I sat down (to avoid falling down) when the wake from a boat came my way. I also did a little snorkeling and kayaking.
Our time in Jamaica flew by, as I knew it would. Come Monday, the 16th (my birthday) it was hard to leave. Especially knowing what we were in for once we got home.
At the airport Monday morning we first had to go through customs. I was carrying a jar of colored sand from Becky & Jay’s sand ceremony. The sand ceremony is often used for beach weddings instead of lighting candles. The sand caused interest at customs, so I needed to explain what it was.  For our flight from Montego Bay to Charlotte, N. Carolina, we had Zone 1 boarding passes. What a treat, I thought. It meant we were going to board right after priority & first class. It was the first time we had ever been Zone 1. Well, just after my pass was scanned, I was told I had been selected for a random security screening. Just great. While this screening was going on, pretty much everyone else got to board. By the time I was able to board there was no place for my carry-on, or even my personal bag, which usually gets stashed under a seat. We were in row 4 and there was no seat in front of me just a wall. I was told I would need to check both bags. Ha, when nobody was looking I stashed my personal bag under my seat as best I could and covered up the front of it with my legs. It worked.
Once we got to Charlotte we first went through customs. Once again the sand raised interest. This time the customs agent took it out of the box and started turning it around on its side. I told him not to do it, because it had been part of a sand ceremony for my daughter’s wedding. He said, “I’m sorry, but I have to take a sample.” I told him it was sealed at the top with wax. It didn’t matter, he got some sort of sample. He also mixed up the sand quite a bit. It’s not quite the design it started out being.
Next came TSA. My luggage set off some sort of alarms I was told. So, once again my carry-on and personal bag (with the sand), were rummaged through and swabbed. Then I was given a pat down. I gave the TSA agent a heads up about the expanders in my chest, which are quite hard. But, when she got to that area in the pat down she seemed to freak out a little. So, I explained exactly what it was and why. Finally after x-raying my luggage a second time, I was let through.
Our flight was canceled due to an approaching ice storm. Our flight was at 6:00. The ice didn’t start till about 9:00. I guess that’s how it works . . . close everything down hours ahead of time. We spent the night in a hotel, in one of the last available rooms in the city, because of all of the canceled flights. We thought we were going to have two beds. However, when we got to the room it had only one. There were four of us traveling together. I offered to sleep on a rollaway bed. Jay slept on the floor. Ron & Becky got the bed.
I have been sore ever since. I think it is a combination of hauling luggage and sleeping in that bed.
Come morning, Ron helped the cab driver scrape ice off his windshield, and we were off to the airport. When we rescheduled our flight the night before, I was given a pre-check pass. This meant that I didn’t need to go through all the TSA crap again. I also gave the sand to Becky to carry because I was sore and it weighed down my bag too much. I was through the line in minutes. Becky got held up this time. It wasn’t because of the sand, but something on her hands that alarmed them. So, she was taken in a private room and checked out. Of course nothing was found. She was told that some lotions have ingredients that are used to make bombs and that could be why they found something on her hands.
We were all thrilled when we finally boarded the plane for Detroit. We hit a bit of bad weather on the drive from Detroit to home, but we made it safe and sound around 9:00.
Ever since I’ve been home I have been thinking of Jamaica. Oh how I miss the sun & warmth!
Last Wednesday I had my six month follow-up visit with the surgeon who did my mastectomy last July. It was good to see him again. I may have him remove the mass that was biopsied recently.
I saw my plastic surgeon on Thursday. I asked why he didn’t give me the biopsy results earlier. He said he had told Ron on the day he did it, that it was cancer. The paper I was given when I left the hospital that day said it was pending final results, so I was expecting to be given final results. It was just a case of miss communication I guess. When I told him I had called his office twice, he said he didn’t know anything about that. Obviously, there is a lack of communication with the staff as well. I just need to chill out more about things I guess. It’s not worth getting upset about.
Thursday evening we drove to Zion for my monthly visit. The roads were terrible once we got south of Zeeland. They didn’t get better until we were in Indiana.
My bloodwork was good once again. My white cell count continues to go down, which is good news concerning the CLL. They decided it would be a good idea to have a PET scan while I was there instead of waiting till March. So, Friday afternoon I had that done. I was told I wouldn’t have the results till Monday. But, they are really good about posting things in my chart online, so I checked it and the results were there. Thankfully, there are no new problem areas showing up. The spot on my spine has decreased a little more. But ,those certain few lymph nodes showed up brighter. Tomorrow, I should hear what, if any changes will be made to my treatment. I was able to have a Vitamin C IV while I was at CTCA and it didn’t cost me anything! I wish it was possible to have one there weekly.
On our way home yesterday we made another stop at Binnys. This time it was to pick up beer for the reception. Someday we will stock up on wine for ourselves because the prices are so good.
We were blessed with clear roads the whole way home. No bad weather.
It will be another busy week ahead. I have plenty to keep me busy at work, which is a good thing. On Friday we will be decorating for the reception, taking place on Saturday.
Other than the soreness I am experiencing from a pulled muscle or whatever it is, I feel great, and I am grateful for that! All is well . . .
Chari

Receptiontree

Receptiontree

Receptiontree

Receptiontree

Receptiontree

Receptiontree

Receptiontree

34 - Sunday February 8, 2015

I haven’t received the results from the biopsy yet. I called my plastic surgeon’s office twice last week and left a message asking for a call back, but I got nothing. I get a little irritated when I think about it. He took the liberty of doing the biopsy, yet he doesn’t bother informing me of the results. I don’t understand. I wish he’d never done the biopsy. Because, it’s a little difficult knowing it was done and not knowing the results. I really liked him until this happened. Maybe I should have everything done at CTCA.  I don’t know. I gotta let it rest for now.  After all, my original plan was not to do anything about it until my next scan in March at CTCA. I have more important things to think about . . .
Our daughter is getting married on Friday! Tomorrow evening we drive to Detroit, stay for the night, and take off for Jamaica on Tuesday morning. I’m excited! I feel great, and I plan to totally relax & enjoy myself on this trip, from the moment we touch down in Montego Bay, until the day we leave for home . . .

Chari

33 - Sunday February 1, 2015

Some people like roller coasters and some people don’t. I have never much liked them. Having cancer is like a roller coaster with its ups and downs.
Last weekend we were happy with my bloodwork results. This week I am getting used to the idea that there may be more cancer that needs to be removed. On Wednesday I was all prepped for surgery. It was supposed to be reconstructive surgery. Well, that never happened. My plastic surgeon was suspicious of an area under my arm, which I thought was only scar tissue. He decided to do a biopsy.  A sample was sent to the lab. I have not received the results yet. The surgeon did tell me that a pathologist that took a quick look at it and said it looked like carcinoma.
This is the same area that showed up brightly on the PET scan I had done at CTCA in December. The hematologist wanted an excision biopsy of it, but I wasn’t ready to have it done. I had planned on waiting till March (after my next scan) to do anything about it. I will probably call my plastic surgeon tomorrow and ask about the results since I haven’t heard anything. But, whatever the results are, I will still be waiting until March before taking the next step.
On the bright side, I will be able to do more water activities while in Jamaica. So, that’s a good thing! I really want to try paddle surfing (boarding) if I have the opportunity.  
Last Thursday Ron went out to get the trash cans up from the road and fell on the ice. He hit his head pretty good and was lying in the driveway when he was found by a passerby, who happened to be our neighbor’s son-in-law. He helped Ron into the house and informed me of what had happened. Ron was quite confused for a while due to a concussion. Fortunately, I was able to keep an eye on him throughout the day. I didn’t go to work on Thursday because of the procedure I had done on Wednesday. Thankfully, Ron is doing fine.
Last night we went to Timbers with our friends Tim & Deb. They surprised us by treating us to dinner. What a nice surprise! It felt good getting together again.
A week from this coming Tuesday, we go to Jamaica. We will be driving to Detroit on Monday evening, stay the night, and catch our flight on Tuesday. We will change planes in Charlotte, North Carolina, and then it’s on to Jamaica! Can’t wait to hit the beach for some sun & fun! It will be nice to get away from winter for a bit . . .
Chari

32 - Sunday January 25, 2015

It was sunny & 46 degrees yesterday for most of our ride home. Then, as soon as we hit Michigan it turned cloudy and a cooler 39 degrees. It felt like a spring day. After a stop at the Saugatuck Brewing Company for a bite to eat & a beer, we got home about 5:00. I was given a good report on Friday after my bloodwork. The cancer markers are still in the normal range. Also, for the first time in months, my white blood cell count has decreased significantly, and some things that needed to increase, like platelets & hemoglobin have done so. I hope to see continued improvement in the months ahead. After my appointments on Friday we went to Binny's Beverage Depot and stocked up on booze for the reception. It was our first time shopping at Binny's and we were quite impressed with the selection and prices. There are 30 Binny's locations around the Chicago area. We went to one in Buffalo Grove, which is about 40 miles from Zion. It was a fun little shopping trip and so nice to check another item off the To-Do list. The countdown continues . . . only 16 days until Jamaica & 19 days until the wedding! It's time to dig out some of my warm weather clothing. Maybe I'll get around to that this week sometime. On Wednesday I will be having outpatient surgery to remove the expanders and have the implants put in. It will feel good to get rid of the expanders. I am nearing the end of the whole reconstruction process. Yipee!! I have been feeling great lately and I intend to keep it going. I am blessed!
All is well . . .

Chari

Lets have some fun at Binnys!

Binnys

So much to choose from...

Binnys

Decisions, decisions...

Binnys

Wow, this is fun!

Binnys

Packing it up

Binnys

31 - Sunday January 18, 2015

I just love it when we get a January thaw. Now if the temperatures would stay in the 30 and above range that would be great!
Not too much going on this past week. The food tasting went well. Becky hired Donna’s Catering out of Marne. They also own the Inter Urban Café and that is where the food tasting took place. We really didn’t know what to expect and were quite surprised when the caterer brought out platters of roast beef & chicken for us to sample. There were four of us: Becky, Jay, Ron & I.  Ron absolutely loved the chicken and ate almost all of it himself. He then made the comment, “I bet you sell a lot of this chicken here.” The caterer, Bobby, answered, “We don’t sell it here (at the Inter Urban Café), and they don’t get all of my stuff (secrets). This is only for the catering business.” It’s kinda nice to keep the two separate I guess. Oh, and the beef was also very good, so I think with the two, it will work out well.
It seems like time is flying now and I am starting to get a little antsy (anxious) about everything. First, we have the trip to Jamaica in just 23 days from now, and then a big reception after we get home. I think I will have to force myself to chill out for the next few weeks. I hope and pray everything runs smoothly.
This coming Thursday we will be heading to Zion and CTCA for another quick visit. My appointments are on Friday as usual. Becky will be coming with for this trip and purchasing the booze for the reception while in Illinois. 
We have a busy week ahead of us. I am so thankful I am healthy!
All is well,

Chari

30 - Sunday January 11, 2015

Other than some lingering cold symptoms, I feel much better than a week ago. The biggest annoyance was having Pink Eye, which I hadn’t had since I was a kid. There’s nothing like waking up with an eye (or two) stuck shut.
Last night we met our friends Mark & Carol at Founders and were able to take in a bit of the Earthwork Music Collective Tour. We enjoyed what we heard of it. We seldom go to Founders for the music. I hate to admit it but, it’s a little hard for us to stay out much past 11:00. So, when a show doesn’t start until 9:30 or 10:00 it doesn’t give a lot of time for us older folks. We look around at all the younger people and realize their night is just starting when we’re ready to go home and go to bed.  Oh, to be young!
Today we visited with our friends Tim & Deb. It was really nice getting together with them. We just don’t seem to do it often enough. Why does it seem like the older we get, the less we see our friends? It shouldn’t be this way. Hopefully this year will be different, and we will see more of each other.
The wedding is quickly approaching. We will be in Jamaica a month from now, Yippee! We are busy getting the details for the reception finalized. Tomorrow we have a food tasting. Then, there is decorations and other supplies to take care of, and Ron & Becky need to decide on a father/daughter dance song. I am looking forward to it all. It will be fun!

Chari

Earthwork Music Collective Tour

Receptiontree

29 - Sunday January 04, 2015

To everyone reading this, I wish you a Happy and Healthy New Year!
When I think of my last entry, I have to laugh. I think I jinxed myself. I was fighting a cold early in the week. By Wednesday evening I was feeling pretty lousy. I have had a nasty head cold and sore throat since then. I don’t remember the last time I was sick and forgot how bad a cold can be. Today I feel tad bit better, but not much.  Needless to say, I didn’t finish out the year and start the new one feeling the way I thought I would that’s for sure! Surprisingly, I was awake as the New Year began, but only because I had been lying on the couch dozing on and off.
My appointment with the plastic surgeon last Monday never happened. I arrived at the office a little early and as I went to check in, I was told I wasn’t on the schedule for that afternoon. It seems that the woman (a temp) who had scheduled my appointment over the phone neglected to record it in the computer. So, now I am scheduled for tomorrow morning. I will probably go even if I am not feeling well, just to get it over with.
Other than work (a three day work week, not two), the only excitement for the week was getting together with Jim & Jan for a little while on Tuesday evening. We always have a good time with them.
I am looking forward to seeing Mark & Carol sometime soon and to hear about how their Florida trip went.
And, I am anxiously waiting to soak up some warm island sunshine . . . only 37 days till Jamaica!
Chari

28 - Sunday December 28, 2014

It was nice to see the sun again today. I think the mild winter weather we’ve been having is great! I would be happy if it continued on like this until spring.  
With the Christmas festivities over, it’s on to the New Year’s celebrations. Ron & I don’t usually do much for New Year’s. I usually fall asleep on the couch and he wakes me up when the ball drops. I have a terrible time staying awake while watching TV. There’s been many movies that I have seen only part of, because I’ve fallen asleep while watching them. It doesn’t matter if I am sitting up or lying down, I fall asleep. Not much fun at all. I have to be busy doing something in order to stay awake. Maybe we’ll play cards or something.
Another two day work week coming up! After work tomorrow I have an appointment with my plastic surgeon. We will talk about the implants that will be replacing the expanders and setting a date for this to take place. I am anxious to have the expanders out, but not too anxious for the surgery. It will be nice to get it over with; I just don’t want my white blood cell count to go any higher. It seems to go higher after surgeries due to inflammation, and takes a very, very long time to go down.
People keep telling me I look good. It’s nice to hear. I feel good too . . .

Chari

27 - Monday December 22, 2014

Wow, a two day work week for me! That doesn’t happen too often. I am going to be busy the next few days getting all my goodies made before the next party. It sure will be nice having Wednesday off so I can finish up.
Jeremy & Julie, and Becky & Jay will be coming over on Christmas Eve. Jeremy will be making us his annual prime rib dinner. He started this a few years ago and we all look forward to it. He is a very good cook. On Christmas Day, we will be getting together with my family at Deb & Bill’s house.
I did a little research on Richter’s Transformation (Lymphoma). Only 5-10% of people with CLL develop Richter’s. I am not going to worry about it, but instead, continue to be as positive as I can about all this cancer stuff. It looks like I will be finishing out this year feeling great and go right into the 2015 feeling the same. What a blessing not to feel sick!
Only 50 days till Jamaica and all is well . . .

Chari

26 - Friday December 19, 2014

Ok, so here is the latest scoop. After today’s appointments I have learned that the cancer marker has stayed the same, the spot on my spine has decreased slightly, there are lymph nodes that need to be monitored, and all restrictions have been lifted by the surgeon who performed my hysterectomy. It was a pretty good day with mostly good news.
I saw a hematologist today for the first time here at CTCA. I was scheduled to see one way back in September on my first visit here, but that appointment was canceled to make room for more important things, like tests. My white blood cells were quite high last month, so I was scheduled to see the hematologist today. My white counts are still high. A bigger concern though is some lymph nodes, one in particular, that have grown and showed up brighter on today’s PET scan compared to the one I had in September. I was told that it is possible that the leukemia is turning into a type of lymphoma, called Richter’s Lymphoma. The hematologist said there is no way of knowing without a biopsy. Well, after what I have been through the past six months, I no way am ready for another lymph node biopsy since it would have to be an excision biopsy. He said it would be fine to wait till after the next PET scan in March. If things stay the same it probably won’t be necessary, but if bigger and brighter, then it will be time to have it done. I am also to call if I start feeling lousy, such as extreme fatigue, pain, swelling, anything weird that I am not experiencing now.
I am a very complicated case because of the two types of cancer I have. They both can, and do involve lymph nodes. The breast cancer doctor said that it appears the Tamoxifen is working since the spot on my spine has shrunk, and there is a good chance that the lymph node in question is CLL. To find out the type it is would only require a needle biopsy. If it turned out to be breast cancer, I would be given a prescription (something stronger) to replace the Tamoxifen, but if it turned out to be CLL, it would not tell the hematologist enough without taking the node out. Also, it could also be a mixture of the two, as some were from the lymph node dissection I had in July. Complicated stuff, that’s for sure. I have decided to wait until after the next scan.
On a brighter note, it sure looks beautiful here. The trees all around CTCA are lit up. One of my favorite things about the holidays is the lights!

Chari

Christmas lights at CTCA, my hospital.

lights

25 - Sunday December 14, 2014

It has been a busy past few days. On Friday Becky and I went car shopping. She found what she was looking for late in the day. Hopefully tomorrow she will be able to pick it up.
Saturday I spent the day cleaning and making my usual goodies for the holidays. We have the Dean Christmas party next Saturday so, I needed to get a bunch of peanut brittle made and packaged up. Today I worked out at the gym and made some more brittle to take to work.
This is quite a challenging year for me as far as the goodies go. Since sugar feeds cancer, I try really hard to stay away from it. It gets difficult when I am making my fudge and peanut brittle for others and not having any myself. I’ve have had some very small tastes, but that is all.
On Thursday we will be heading to Zion for another quick visit. Like the last time, all my appointments are scheduled for Friday. We are hoping & praying for good results with the PET scan I will be having. We’ll be coming home Saturday in time for the party.
I am falling asleep here in front of the computer so; I guess I need to go to bed . . .

Chari

24 - Monday December 8, 2014

I’m still getting back into the swing of things at work. There have been a couple of things that I had some difficulty in remembering how they were done. Lol! It surprised me how being off work for five weeks, could actually cause me to forget how to do parts of my job! I’ve got it figured out now, and in spite of that, it’s been a good week.
Especially nice was the mid-week break at Founders with Mark & Carol, and Jim & Jan. It was good to see that Founders now has more parking available too. It seems like at a certain point in the evening the music got cranked up & the heat got shut off. I’m not sure about the heat part, but it did get a bit chilly in there.
Yesterday I went to the gym and worked out for the first time in almost seven weeks, and I sure am feeling it today. I’ll probably be feeling it for a couple days at least. But, I was expecting it. It’s always hard at first after being away from it for so long. In this case “no pain, no gain” is definitely true.
Over the weekend and this evening as well, I have noticed people driving crazier than ever around the shopping areas here. People are in too much of a hurry and no matter if you are driving into the entrance to the mall, driving in the parking lot, or walking into a store, you better be on the defensive or you may get creamed.
We got our passports in the mail today. Woohoo, only 64 days till Jamaica! All of the wedding details are coming along nicely.
All is well . . .

Chari

Jim and Jan Gettin Cozy at Founders

Receptiontree

23 - Monday December 1, 2014

I've been slacking a little. I like to stick with the first day of the week for my blog entries unless there is something going on. But, here it is Monday again so I feel like I should have had this done yesterday. Being back to work I found, leaves me tired earlier. Like right now, it's only 8:10, but I am ready for bed. I hope to have more energy once I get back to the gym regularly. We had a nice Thanksgiving at our house, with the kids and lots of good food. Becky had her second bridal shower yesterday. It was a really nice shower put on by Jay's aunts: Jan, Renae, & Jodi. She got a lot of great gifts. One of her gifts was a roasting pan, so maybe we will be having turkey dinner at her house sometime.
Today was appointment day with my plastic surgeon. I was given the last "fill" in the expander process. I know that many of you who are reading this don't have a clue what I am talking about, but I am really happy to be this far in the process and able to see an end in sight. Sometime after the first of the year I'll be getting my "foobs." I will have outpatient surgery to have the expanders removed and implants put in. Fortunately, there will be little to no down time with this surgery. This makes me very happy, because this surgery queen really needs a break.
It is starting to get busy with all the wedding plans. There are a lot of things to do yet for the reception. It's coming up really fast now and will be here before ya know it! And . . . only 71 days till we leave for Jamaica!
I am so thankful that I feel as good as I do . . .

Chari

Becky's Shower Pic. - Chari's Mom, Becky, Chari

Receptiontree

22 - Monday November 24, 2014

It was so nice to see the snow disappearing when we got home Saturday afternoon. The spring like temps were nice while they lasted. Looks like it's back to winter now. Only 78 days till Jamaica, happy, happy, happy! It was a bit hard going back to work today after being off for so long. But, the day went well, and I'll soon be back into the routine. Having people glad to see me return, makes it that much easier. I am looking forward to the Thanksgiving holiday and getting together as a family. Health wise I feel great! I have much to be thankful for . . .

Chari

21 - Friday November 21, 2014

We are here in Zion. We left home late afternoon yesterday and didn’t run into any problems with the roads. We were surprised that once we got about an hour south of town there was only a dusting of snow. By the time we got to the Michigan border there was no snow at all. We didn’t see any in Indiana, and we haven’t seen any here in Illinois either.
Today I had all of my appointments at CTCA. My four week post-surgical with Dr. Beck went well. He said I was healing up nicely. I was given the ok to go back to work on Monday. I can also return to the gym the following week as long as I don’t lift more than 20 pounds. The 20 pound restriction remains in effect until I see him again in four weeks.
Next was my appointment with Dr. Tlemcani (Dr. T), my breast cancer doctor. She went over my blood work and informed me that the cancer marker stayed the same once again! Next month I am due for another PET scan to check things out. After Dr. T, I met with the Naturopathic doctor, the Dietician, the Care Manager, and the nurse who gave me the monthly injection for my bones.
For my last appointment of the day, I scheduled a Reiki session. I was curious about what it was all about and now I know. It is very relaxing, and I am glad I took the time to check it out.
CTCA is all decked out for Christmas inside already. There are a lot of wreaths and tress decorated in red & white throughout the center. There is an outdoor tree lighting scheduled for December 3.
It was a gorgeous sunny day here and Ron wanted to take a ride this afternoon. Of course he wanted to find a brewery! I mean, that is what beer connoisseurs do, right? So, we took a ride to Tighthead Brewing Company in Mundelein, which is about 15 miles southwest of Zion.  We met a young man who had grown up in Mundelein who was back in town visiting. He told us that the owners of the brewery are big into rugby, and the name “Tighthead” comes from a rugby prop position. We sampled all five of the brewery’s regular pours and two of the seasonal pours. Our favorites were Chilly Water (pale ale), and Boxcar Porter (robust porter). One of the seasonal pours was a sweet potato red ale. I think it was called Yummy Yammy, or something like that, and it was quite tasty. Since I drink very little nowadays, Ron seems to be enjoying me being the designated driver. That’s ok, he deserves it. 
Tomorrow we head home. Seems a bit odd to be leaving already, as this is our first short visit here. Becky has informed us that the GR area is expected to get some freezing rain from 4 – 9 AM, so we will be taking our time that’s for sure . . .
Chari

Tree in Dining Room at CTCA

tree

20 - Sunday November 16, 2014

The countdown has begun . . . we leave for Jamaica on February 10. That is only 86 days away! I am so looking forward to this trip, especially now that we have a winter wonderland going on outside. Becky is starting to feel a bit overwhelmed with the wedding preparations that need yet to be done. On Friday we were able to get the invitations for the reception ordered, so she doesn’t need to think about that anymore. Now, it’s on to other things, like decorations, favors, etc.
We had the opportunity to spend time with our friends, Jim & Jan last night. It’s kind of funny when a night out winds down around 10:00 because everyone is getting tired.  Sigh, does that mean we are old?
My week starts out tomorrow with another visit to the plastic surgeon. I am hoping this will be the last one for the expander process. Taking a pain pill ahead of time worked quite well last time, so I will be doing that again. The rest of the week is filled with various appointments, IVs, chiropractor, follow up visit to discuss blood test results for thyroid, and then on Thursday we head to Zion again. I have appointments on Friday for bloodwork, followed by surgery follow up, & oncology follow-up. This will most likely be my last week off from my job, as I am quite sure that I will be given the ok to return to work. The following week I will be able to go back to the gym, finally. It will feel good to get back into my old routine again. 
I feel great! All is well . . .

Chari

19 - Sunday November 9, 2014

What a difference a week makes. I feel GOOD! During the past week I have felt improvement with each day. It sure is great to be feeling like myself again and to be able to get out and about.
We were even able to attend Founder’s Breakfast Stout Breakfast yesterday. Our friends, Mark & Carol got us tickets, while we were busy in Zion last month. It was a little soggy waiting in line to get in yesterday morning, but the food was good and the stout was excellent as usual.
I have been keeping busy reading and of course spending far too much time on the computer. Now that I don’t feel like I have to rest so much anymore, I’m going to see if I can get a few things done around the house before I go back to work.
For me, it’s all about feeling good. And, when I feel good, life is good!
Chari

Breakfast Stout Party at Founders Brewery

Breakfast Stout Party

18 - Sunday November 2, 2014

I don’t usually wish for time to pass any quicker than it already does, but I am looking forward to the time when I feel a whole lot better than I do right now.     
Funny, how just last week I was a little concerned about having to do nothing but rest. It turns out I haven’t felt like doing anything anyway. This latest surgery has taken so much out of me. I’ve felt like crap all week. Recovery is far more difficult than with my past surgeries. It makes me realize I’m not as tough as I thought I was.  As much as I don’t like taking pain meds, I’m glad I have them around, and now I know why so many were prescribed.
Tomorrow morning I see my plastic surgeon. I will be prepared this time. I plan to take something for pain ahead of time. Later tomorrow, I get back on my IV schedule. So, it looks like tomorrow is full excitement, sort of. We’ll have to see what the rest of the week holds.
Anyway . . . there are brighter days ahead!
Chari

A Card Sent from friends, these words say it all...

card

17 - Sunday October 26, 2014

We got home Friday evening. Since then I have been trying to take it easy and to rest. This is hard for me because there are always things I want to do, or think I need to do. When, really all I need to do is rest and heal. So, I am going to do my best this coming week to do just that, rest. 
Overall I am feeling pretty good. I have the post-surgery blahs is all. The pain gets a little better each day. Today, I went without pain meds to see if I could handle it. It wasn’t too bad. A bit uncomfortable at times, but tolerable. I plan to take something before turning in for the night so I can sleep well. I don’t like taking pain pills all the time and look forward to not needing them. It seems like my surgery was a long time ago, but it hasn’t even been a week yet. If I keep reminding myself of the time factor, I think it will help me to be patient and to rest . . .
Chari 

16 - Thursday October 23, 2014

Hey all! Mom got released from the hospital this afternoon, she is doing great! The three of us got dinner and are back at the hotel. She is taking it easy and resting, she gets tired very easily. The incision is healing nicely. We are planning on heading home sometime tomorrow as long as she is feeling up to it. We received some more good news yesterday. The genetic test results came in, and Mom does not carry the gene for breast cancer. This puts my mind at ease knowing that I won't have the 80% chance of getting breast cancer that may have been if she carried the BRACA 1 or BRACA 2 gene. Overall, it's been a positive week here at CTCA. Tomorrow we want to check out Gong meditation before heading home. This should be interesting, a great method for relaxation! Mom says "all is well." She will be back on this weekend some time. Bye for now!
-Becky

Breakers at Lake Michign Beach in Zion:

Beach

15 - Tuesday October 21, 2014

Hello all! Guest blogger Becky here!
Today was Mom’s surgery, she had a full hysterectomy done. The surgery went well, the mass in the uterus did not appear to be cancerous. Yay, some good news is always great! Dr. Beck (her surgeon) said “Thank you guys for the opportunity for me to give some good news, I don’t often get the chance to give good news.” Dr. Beck is a great surgeon, I have heard from several people. I instantly liked him from the minute I met him last week Friday. I also got to meet some other really awesome doctors, nurses and physician assistants. I felt 100% at ease with every single one of them! That’s pretty awesome to say!
 Mom is in some pain, but to be expected. I hope to see her chipper and smiling in the morning. She sure is a trooper! She is the strongest person I know, she inspires me every day! I love you Mom.
 It’s been a great experience for me here at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA). I have felt comforted ever since I entered this gem of a city called Zion, ILL. The spirit here is light, warm and energizing. The history of this city sure is something (I’m still learning about it) the first thing I really noticed was all of the streets here are biblical names, pretty cool.  Everyone here is so amazing, happy, positive, faithful and full of smiles! It’s a breath of fresh air for sure. Coming here I wasn’t exactly sure how I would feel. I was a little nervous and anxious on the way but overall I was excited.
To be completely surrounded by cancer patients and their families daily has been an amazing, upliftling experience. I never really thought those words would be coming out of my mouth. I have met some really neat people and made some new friends. The stories that I’ve heard since I’ve been here are so inspirational, truly God’s work. I feel truly blessed that God lead my Mom here. I am so happy with the CTCA, I would highly recommend it for anyone with cancer.
To be completely honest it will be hard for me to leave here. As far as I know we will be heading home on Saturday or Sunday. I will update again by Thursday evening. Thank you all for your support, and prayers.
Becky

Fighters pic

14 - Monday October 20, 2014

Everything went well with the colonoscopy. No polyps or anything abnormal there. It’s so nice to get good news! Tomorrow is the big surgery. It is scheduled for 9:00 AM. I hope and pray all goes well, and whatever is in my uterus is benign. I am anxious to get it over with. Mostly because I want to eat some real food, as this clear liquid diet is getting a bit old. I tend to recover well, and quickly from surgeries, so am expecting the same after this one. I will be in the hospital for two days following the surgery. We are planning on heading home on Saturday, if not before.
I was able to soak in the hot tub (thermo spa) for a while tonight. Figured I might as well take advantage of it while I can. It felt great!
When I was here at CTCA last month, I was curious as to what the logo, which is pictured in one of my earlier blog entries, meant. There is also a really nice statue of a boy and a dog near the entrance to the center. The boy and dog is part of the CTCA logo. So, what does it mean? Thinking it may be of interest, I have decided to share what I found out. Here it is, almost word for word:
The logo is affectionately known as “Tree-Boy-Dog.” It originated with the founder and chairman, Richard J Stephenson’s Family Crest and motto, “Celebrate Life.”
To celebrate the energy and hope of youth, Mr. Stephenson commissioned a vibrant painting which includes a young boy playing alongside his faithful puppy. An oak tree towers over the child like a watchful parent.
The Tree-Boy-Dog logo was chosen to represent the spirit of patients’ CTCA experience.
- The tree reminds us of our capacity to deal with the changes and problems that surround us; it reminds us to hold onto hope and persevere when faced with any challenge.
- The boy and his dog convey the optimism of youth and allude to new beginnings, soaring spirits, years of love, laughter and loyal friendship . . . the richness and joy of life and all it offers.
Cancer Treatment Centers of America plants trees in honor of every CTCA patient who has survived five years. They have already planted hundreds of trees. Their goal is to plant a forest.
Chari 

Collage Pic

13 - Saturday October 18, 2014

Picking up where I left off . . . having fluid put in the expanders is no longer bearable without pain medication. Last Monday ended up being a very painful day. After the plastic surgeon visit, I went to work. The pain got worse as the day went on. Come evening, I dug out some pain meds I had from a previous surgery so I was able to get a good night’s sleep. Now, I’m starting to wonder, is it all worth it for a set of foobs (fake boobs)?
We purchased a new(er) vehicle on Wednesday. It’s a Ford Escape, a really nice ride with fairly good gas mileage. I love it! Wednesday evening we were able to get together with friends again. Then, on Thursday after work, we headed to Illinois.
Yesterday (Friday) I had numerous appointments. Bloodwork; EKG; follow-up with the gynecological oncologist who will be doing the hysterectomy; a visit with the naturopath and nutritionist; I met the gastroenterologist who will be doing the colonoscopy; and I had a follow-up visit with the breast cancer team. My bloodwork showed that the cancer marker stayed the same. That’s really good news! I was told that I look great, and to keep doing what I am doing. I received the injection for my bones, and learned that it may have been the cause of the pain I’ve experienced after starting on it last month, along with the Tamoxifen. All is set for next week’s procedures. Tomorrow is prep day (fun fun) for the colonoscopy. I start a clear liquid diet, and continue it until after my surgery on Tuesday.
Ron worked from the room all day today, so it was nice having Becky to hang out with. I also had a chance to use the fitness room here at our hotel to get a little exercise in.
Kenosha, Wisconsin is only about 10 miles from Zion. So, tonight the three of us visited a couple of breweries there. First stop was the Public Brewing Co. and then the Rustic Brewery. We ordered samplers at both. Overall, we thought the Public had better beer. But, my favorite of the evening was a Pumpkin Porter from Rustic. Surprisingly, I have learned I can be satisfied at times having only sips of beer instead of having a whole one. 
Yesterday I met a new friend from Alabama, and today I ran into a friend I met last month while I was here. Things are going well here in Zion . . .
Chari

Brewery Pic

12 - Sunday October 12, 2014

This should be interesting, Ron & I are sharing one vehicle until we buy another. My car is done for as far as we are concerned. Last week it started leaking oil like a sieve. We brought it in for a cheap fix and we were told that there was so much oil coming out of it that they couldn't see where it was coming from. So, that's just one more problem on top of the others the car already had. While it certainly isn't the best timing, with everything else we have going on, I am glad to see it go. It's time for something new! New for us, that is.
Other than the car problem it's been a good week. I'm happy I was able to get a few workouts in. My favorite time of the week was Wednesday because we had a chance to get together with our friends, Jim & Jan, and Mark & Carol. I think the best way to break up the week is spending time with good friends. This needs to become a weekly habit again now that summer is over. Yesterday we did a little car shopping. Nothing is for sure, yet. Today we went to Costco and got passport pictures taken. Gotta get ready for that big trip in February!
We will be heading back to the Cancer Treatment Center of America (CTCA) in Illinois on Thursday evening. I have appointments scheduled for Friday. Then the following week Tuesday I will be having the hysterectomy. The physician doing the surgery requires a colonoscopy the day before, so I will be having one on Monday. I was told there is less chance of damaging the colon while doing the hysterectomy if the patient has had a colonoscopy first. Lucky me, huh? I am trying to psych myself up for another surgery, but it's a little difficult to do. I thought about postponing it for a while, but I really don't think it would be a good idea. I guess it's best to get it done and over with. Because of previous surgeries/procedures, I have a lot of scar tissue so it will be necessary to cut from the belly button down for the surgery. This is the old way of doing a hysterectomy and takes the longest to recover from. I’m not looking forward to that too much. On the bright side, while being laid up, I can catch up on some reading that I have wanted to do.
I will try to blog more while out of town, to keep everyone informed of what's going on. There may even be a guest blogger during that time. Becky is going with us, so she may want to say a few words. She feels the need to keep an eye on her mom and has a vacation coming, so we decided to let her come along. A daughter who wants to spend her vacation looking after her mom? Gotta love it, and I do, I love her dearly!
First thing tomorrow, I see my plastic surgeon. I will be glad when I am done with this whole expander thing. It is very uncomfortable, but bearable. Overall, I feel great! All is well . . .
Chari

11 - Sunday 10/05/14

What a difference a week makes with weather! 80 degrees and sunny last week, 50 degrees with rain and sleet this week! I spent part of the day yesterday putting away summer clothes and pulling out the fall/winter things. As I was doing this I remembered that come February, I will be getting some of the summer items back out to take to Jamaica. Now that is certainly a happy thought. It will be great to get away to somewhere warm at that time of the year!
Last night we went to a CD release at Founders for Nicholas James Thomasma. Some friends joined us and we had a really good time. Tonight we went out to the Beltline Bar for a family dinner to celebrate our daughter Becky's birthday. The Beltline is her first choice for a birthday dinner. Hard to believe she is 33 already! Where did the years go? I have been feeling pretty good. The back pain has gotten better. It seems to have shifted to my ribs now. It's not bad, just really annoying. Sigh . . . it is so not me. I am really tired though, and don't feel like writing anymore. All I want to think about is going to bed. I hope you all have a really great week!
Chari

Becky birthday pic

cd release

10 - Sunday 09/28/14

What a beautiful weekend! This is the kind of weather you just want to bottle up and stash away till the middle of January or February. Wouldn't that be nice?
I was able to take in a little bit of Art Prize with my daughter, Becky, on Friday. We stuck to the outside exhibits for the most part. We did go into the Ford museum but that's all. It was just too nice outdoors to go inside. We had a great time.
Ron went hiking with a buddy for the weekend on the North Country Trail. They try to do a section of it each spring, and another in the fall. He left me cash for shopping (sweet), so yesterday I went and had myself a little retail therapy. I did quite well too.
First thing this morning I went to the gym. I wasn't able to do my whole workout because of some back pain I am experiencing. This is a side effect of the Tamoxifen I am taking, and may be a sign of a good response to the medication. This type of symptom usually disappears quickly, so I am hoping it does for me. I have never been one to have many aches and pains and find it doesn't really suit me very well at all. While on the subject of Tamoxifen, some are wondering why I am not doing more than this and the monthly injections for my bones. Well, my oncologist at the Cancer Center in Zion, Illinois is a breast cancer specialist. She has prescribed these things according to the stage of the cancer. The stage was determined by the biopsy of the spot on my spine. Metastatic breast cancer is considered to be stage IV. It is not necessary to aggressively treat this stage of cancer, but to manage, or control it. After I have the hysterectomy I will probably be put on something stronger. I consider Tamoxifen to be a form of chemo because it is a chemical, and it is used for therapy. Hence the term: chemotherapy. It is actually hormone therapy. But, it doesn't really matter what it's called. What matters, is that it does its job. I had never heard of anyone managing or controlling cancer, until our visit to the center in Zion. So, this is a new term and concept for me just as it is for some of you who are reading this. Ron and I met a number of people who are managing their disease very well, and have been for quite some time. I plan on doing the same. We were told by one individual, that managing cancer to one person is like managing diabetes to another.
Tomorrow evening Ron & I are going to the Tip Top bar to hear some music. I am excited about hearing Peter Case, whom we have not heard before, and Ralston Bowles, who is one of our favorite local singer/songwriters. While at Art Prize I saw an exhibit with numerous quotes written on it. As I read one of the quotes, I was instantly reminded of a song of Ralston's called "Little Miracles." Below is a picture of some of the words that were used in the song.
Chari

art prize

9. - Saturday 09/20/14

It's good to be home. There's nothing new going on at the moment, which is a nice break after our little "adventure" in Illinois. I'm just enjoying a very relaxing weekend. Thanks for checking out my blog and sending me your thoughts. Ron & I both appreciate hearing from you.
While at the Cancer Treatment Center, I came across a little something in the gift shop that hit home for me. It is a magnet that will adorn my refrigerator with all the other flair. Here's a picture of it. Oh, and by the way . . . I choose to swim.
Chari

plan b

8. - Wednesday 09/17/14

It's been another sunny day here in Zion. Two in a row with number three on the way for tomorrow! It should be a great day for the ride home. Yesterday I had a consult and exam with a gynecological oncologist. The ultrasound confirmed the mass (1.8 cm) in my uterus. What it couldn't tell us is what it is. An MRI would reveal more, but is not an option in my case. I have a history of uterine fibroids, but this mass lit up during the PET scan more than normal for a fibroid. Without going into too much detail, a simple uterine biopsy was not possible, and would have been a bit too painful for an in-office procedure. I explained to the doctor that in order to avoid future problems, I had been giving a hysterectomy a lot of thought. After discussing options, I have decided to go ahead with it. The surgery will be scheduled for some time next month.
The final diagnosis for the spot on my spine is metastatic breast cancer, located at T8, or approximately in the middle of my back. The good news is that it was found early and can be controlled. I have started on monthly injections to strengthen my bones and also Tamoxifen, which is an oral form of chemo that blocks estrogen. I will continue with most of the supplements I was already taking, and the IV treatments will resume once I get home. I will be monitored regularly by phone and monthly when I return for injections and bloodwork. Other forms of chemo will be used as necessary down the road and radiation may be a possibility. I feel good about the plan so far and the integrative approach that is used here.
I have met so many people and heard their stories about how they are able to keep their cancer under control, that I am confident I can do the same. I am now a cancer fighter!
Chari

Chari working on a blog update

blogging

7. - Monday 09/15/14

Yesterday we had the whole day free so we took advantage of it and went on a drive to New Glarus, Wisconsin. New Glarus is a cute little town that is called "America's Little Switzerland." It was a bit of a drive, longer than we realized, but the sun was shining the whole way. The main reason we went to New Glarus was to visit the New Glarus Brewing Company. I'm not drinking much beer these days, but I still enjoy visiting breweries and tasting different beers. There were six beers available for tasting, so we ordered sample glasses of each. I took a sip or two of each and let Ron finish them. Then we each had a pint of the "Moon Man," a pale ale. Out of the six we sampled, this was our favorite. They have a beautiful beer garden for wandering at New Glarus and while there, we were fortunate to hear a couple of men playing alpenhorns. We were given logo glasses to keep just for ordering a pint, and a couple of coupons (with no expiration date) good for a free pint of New Glarus beer, to be used at any establishment in town that serves it. Definitely a good reason to make a return trip someday. The beer tasted so good! So, of course we had to buy some to take home.
This morning I had the biopsy done on my spine for the spot that lit up on the PET scan. They had to use a CT scan first to see if they could find it. It was very subtle, but they were able to see it and the biopsy was successful. We should know results in a couple of days. I don't feel like anything is wrong with me and that is good. Stupid cancer . . .
Chari

NG-Courtyard

6. - Friday 09/12/14

We thought we would be on our way home this evening, but our plans have changed. It is cold & rainy here just like it is in G.R. so it wouldn't have been a very nice ride home anyway. I am sad that we will be missing the Cottage Bar Chili Cook-Off though.
Ron is fortunate that he is able to work just about anywhere as long as he has his laptop. So, he will be catching up on work tomorrow. I am not sure what I will be doing yet.
I met with the oncologist assigned to my case today. The results of the PET scan showed a small mass in my uterus and also a spot on my spine. These both need to be checked out before a treatment plan is started. Today I was able to have an ultrasound for the mass in my uterus. We will have a consult for the results next Tuesday. A biopsy for the spot on my spine has been scheduled for next Monday, and we should know results for that on Wednesday. Once we know the results from both of these tests we will be able to come up with a plan. Right now it looks like the soonest we will be leaving Illinois is Thursday. I am wondering why a PET scan was never ordered in Grand Rapids. If I had jumped into treatment (which is what my oncologist at home wanted to do) without having this test done, it would have been the totally wrong thing to do. I think the only imaging test I haven't had now is an MRI. I am unable to have an MRI because of a metal plate I have in my left shoulder blade from my bicycle accident just over 14 years ago.
The genetic test was done yesterday. The results of this will take a while, not sure how long. I think it was important for me to have this done not just for me, but for my kids. I want to know if the cancer I have is genetic. My father was half Jewish. I learned a few years ago that CLL is more common in the Jewish lineage. On Wednesday when I had a consult with the genetics department, I found out breast cancer is also more common in the Jewish lineage. Since I have both of these cancers, it was necessary for them to take a tissue sample. With a blood or saliva sample, it would be difficult to get accurate results. If it turns out the cancer is genetic, then we will know it was caused by damaged DNA.
We are meeting new people every day. No matter what they have going on in their lives, they are all so positive. This is what I need. This is what everyone who is dealing with cancer needs. Ron & I are both so glad we came here. The staff is amazing! I am in very good hands . . .
Chari

CTCA-1

 

5. - Wednesday 09/10/14

A quick mid-week update. Things are going well with my evaluation here at the Cancer Treatment Center. Yesterday was the first day of appointments which ranged from registration, to nurse assessment, doctor consult, EKG, and blood draw. Today was filled with a genetics consult (which was very interesting), a PET scan, connecting with my nurse navigator, and a meeting with a chaplain. They use an integrative approach here which means they combine conventional treatments with naturopathic medicine, nutrition & metabolic services, massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, pastoral care, and more.
The food served here is non-gmo & organic. They also accommodate any type of diet, such as vegetarian, gluten free, etc. The food is very good and suits me just fine!
So far we have met people from Idaho, California, Wisconsin, & Michigan. We were told Johnny Van Zant (from Lynyrd Skynyrd) was here at the center this morning. We missed him, but I guess people were flocking around him for pics & selfies.
Tomorrow, I will be having another nurse assessment, meeting with a Hematologist, having a Mind & Body consult, and having a genetic test done. The staff here is very nice and very supportive. The people here as patients seem to be very positive, which is so good to see. Overall, I am very impressed with the place so far.
Chari

Curing Cancer

4. - Sunday 09/07/14

What a beautiful day! We just got back a little while ago from a bike ride on the trails at Millennium Park. It sure felt good to get out there on the bike, haven't done it enough yet this year, so I hope the fall season is filled with good bike riding weather.
First thing tomorrow morning I see my plastic surgeon, then it's time to work. After work I get an IV treatment, and then it's off to Illinois for a few days. I sure hope this trip is worthwhile, that we get some useful information, and it helps us in knowing what to do next.
I recently finished reading Suzanne Somers book "KNOCKOUT." She interviews doctors from across the U.S. who use alternative therapies for cancer treatment. Some of the doctors she talks with I was already familiar with from previous research. I highly recommend this book. It is full of information, and a great read. If money were no object I would probably go to one of the doctors mentioned in Suzanne's book. It would be nice if alternative medicine was on the same level as conventional medicine in this country. That way insurance would pay for it. Germany is far ahead of us when it comes to alternative medicine, their health system allows it. For someone who has the money, and doesn't want conventional cancer treatment, Germany would be a great place to go, or even Mexico for that matter.

Chari

"He who enjoys good health is rich, though he knows it not". Italian Proverb

Curing Cancer

 

3. - Saturday 08/30/14

The big Labor Day weekend is upon us, the last big hoorah of summer for a lot of people. With the weather being so unsettled, it’s been hard to decide whether to go on a quick camping trip or stay home and get things done around the house. We finally decided to at least take a quick trip up to Diamond Lake tomorrow and stay till Monday.
The Vitamin C IV treatments are going well. I had two of them this week and will have two more next week. Then the following week we will be traveling to Zion, IL. just north of Chicago, where I will be having an evaluation at the Midwestern Regional Medical Center (Cancer Treatment Centers of America). The center has some treatments that are not available here in Grand Rapids and our insurance works with them. I am looking forward to learning more about the center and the treatments they offer. I am especially curious about the Immunotherapy they use. There is also a Naturopathic Oncologist on staff that I am anxious to meet. As one who “thinks outside of the box,” this is a good step for me to take in visiting this cancer center.
Hope you all are enjoying the holiday weekend!
All is well . . .
Chari  

Diamond Lake

 

2. - Sunday 08/24/14

The beginning of another week already! I went back to the gym today for the first time since before my surgery. Being back at the gym and back to work, I feel like my life is getting back to normal a little bit.  Some of my co-workers told me I looked really good and healthy too. That is exactly how I feel. I feel good and I feel healthy. Of course my plan is to stay that way.
I feel a bit overwhelmed at times with everything that is going on. My appointments last week went well. I will be starting Vitamin C IV treatments tomorrow to boost my immune system. After researching other cancer centers, I think I have found one that will work for me. Now I’m just waiting to hear if our insurance will work with them.
Summer has always been my favorite time of year and it sure is hard to see it slipping away already.  I feel like I haven’t had enough fun yet. I need an up north get away! WLAV’s “Blues on the Mall” finished up last Wednesday. We were able to make five of them this year, which is certainly better than none.
Ron turns 58 tomorrow. The kids are coming over this evening for dinner to celebrate. We have set a goal to hike the Grand Canyon again in a couple of years when he turns 60. The first time we hiked it was in 2006 for his 50th, and the second time was in 2008 for my 50th.  For my 60th we will hike somewhere new. It will probably be out west somewhere with mountains. Ron told me I needed to have goals. I said my goal is to be healthy for our daughter’s wedding next February in Jamaica. He convinced me to have goals further away. We enjoy hiking, so there you go, two hikes years away.
By the way, Ron is thinking about posting a video he made of our first canyon hike. But he needs to figure out how to do it first.
I appreciate hearing from you, so feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks!

Chari

Chari hiking the Grand Canyon

1. - Sunday 08/17/14

Well, here it is Sunday evening already and tomorrow I go back to work. I have been off since July 18, which was the date of my first surgery. I feel like I need more time off just for research and reading a few books. But, I also need to earn a little money to help pay for medical expenses.
At my meeting on Friday with my oncologist, I was thrilled to hear that the scans I had earlier in the week came back clear. However, I felt quite uneasy with most of the rest of the meeting. He has known from the beginning that I didn’t want chemo & radiation. I saw one of my sisters go through all of that with a very poor outcome. Her life was pretty miserable while having treatment and ended up with the cancer spreading to her bones. She died at the age of 44. I cannot get that out of my mind.
I have done much research into alternative treatments over the years, and I know what is available. I brought just a little bit of information to my appointment last Friday. My oncologist wouldn’t even look at it. He claimed ignorance about alternatives. I wasn’t surprised, but I was irritated that all he could do was knock it even though he didn’t know anything about it. Of course he was ready and willing to get me started on conventional treatments. Funny, I always though D.O.s were more open minded that M.D.s.
What makes my case even more complicated, and what many of you may not know, is I also have Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL). I was diagnosed with this in late 2012. This is a type of leukemia that one can live with for a very long time. I was doing ok as far as dealing with the fact I had cancer (CLL) and didn’t let it bother me. I am at what is called the “wait & watch” stage of it. All that is done is regular monitoring with blood work. The last time I was checked for this, it had actually improved.
Well, on Friday my oncologist seemed overly eager to set up a bone marrow biopsy to check my white cells to see if I could start chemo. I know he is only doing his job, but I am worried about destroying my immune system with conventional treatments. Ever since the CLL diagnosis, I look for ways to boost my immune system because I know how important it is and have a hard time even thinking about destroying it even if it is “temporary,” which he said. There was a great deal of tension in the room and I told him I could not give him a decision and needed more time.
I am currently looking into a consultation with another oncologist. Before I got breast cancer, I was only seeing the oncologist I have to go over my blood work for the CLL. Now, after seeing him a number of times in the past couple of months, I can honestly say I really don’t click with him at all. My surgeon on the other hand is absolutely wonderful! A week ago today, he got back in town from his vacation and called me to see how I was doing! How many doctors do this? Not enough, that is for sure! I don’t see my surgeon again for six months, and that is only for him to see how I am doing.
Tomorrow I will be seeing my plastic surgeon and possibly have some fluid put in the extenders (the first part of reconstruction) which were put in place during the initial surgery. I have an eventful day ahead of me. So, on that note . . . I will sign off for now,

Chari

A Favorite Quote

There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do.

 

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