Ruth's musings

I have been dealing with breast cancer for a while, and have been sharing my journey with friends, family, and prayer partners. This blog brings all my updates together in one place, and leaves me free to muse on other parts of my life. Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Good news!

The number two son agreed to take the compressed math class. This means that, as a sixth-grader, he will be taking sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade math. Actually, he as already tested as knowing all the sixth-grade stuff, so it isn't as bad as it sounds. Unless you know my son and his homework and study habits. At least he likes math. Ask him to write something, though, and it is pretty painful for all concerned.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Another "Good News, Bad News" kind of day

The good news is that my number two son has been selected for an advanced math course. In it, he would be taking 6th, 7th, and 8th grade math in the 6th grade. He was selected for the program based upon testing he took in the 5th grade. This testing shows he already knows 6th grade math. Now, to get him to buy into the concept. His initial reaction was negative. I went to a meeting at his school this morning, and now have some more reasons to share with him that might tip the balance.

The bad news is that the mother of one of his classmates is now being treated for cancer. She and her son have some kind of syndrome that leads them to be more likely to get cancer to begin with, so they have been followed for some time. We hope it was caught early.

Another friend of mine is starting chemotherapy tomorrow. She found her cancer by doing a breast self-exam.

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Grill that beef!

My dear husband, Paul, has been doing more of the cooking lately, especially when I am not feeling well. He still usually checks with me before cooking something, to see if I have any ideas for him. We have a freezer full of beef, having bought a split half from Polyface Farms. When you order in bulk like that, they ask if you want liver. Paul always says yes.

My brothers will tell you that when we were growing up, Dad and I liked liver. Mom would cook it, but she didn't really like it. My brothers didn't like it. It is funny how that lined up. Dad and I didn't like sausage much, but Mom and my brothers did. We all ate what was in front of us, pretty much, and cleaned our plates, too. We have the weight problems to prove it.

Anyway, Paul didn't like liver too much as a child, but when he was a teen, he got anemia. Part of the treatment was to eat more liver. His mom is a good cook, so he got so that he liked liver. We have a book, Fifty Ways to Cook Everything, that has a chapter "Fifty Ways to Love Your Liver." I tried a recipe from there, with rosemary and marsala, I think, and served it forth. Paul promptly poured ketchup on it. Maybe that is why he can eat the stuff. Put enough ketchup on it, you can eat almost anything.

When I say I like liver, I mean in moderation. Trouble is, the butcher packs the stuff in one-pound packages and the boys will not even consider it. That leaves a half-pound of beef liver for me.

The other day, Paul suggested grilled steak and fried liver for dinner. I asked why he didn't grill both of them. He said, "Can you do that?" Anyway, he peeled potatoes and I mashed them and made fake gravy (beef bullion and Bisto), and he grilled the steak and the liver. I guess we should have checked the cookbook. He ate it, and I had a little. Shoe leather comes to mind. The steak was one of the big ones, but I don't know which one. It was okay, but a bit chewy. Of course, this is grass-fed beef, so it is not extra-tender. Tastes beefy, though.

If you have a better recipe for grilled liver, let me know. We probably should have been faster.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

How I got here, and the good things about chemotherapy

If you go all the way to the beginning of this blog, you will see that I said something about being here because I was just trying to respond to somebody else's blog. Meet Franklin I really like his cartoons. And I met him via the Yarn Harlot I have also been reading My Cancer by Leroy Sievers. I often read Leroy and say, "Amen, brother." I can really relate. I have never seen anything on his blog about the good things about chemotherapy, though.

1. No bad hair days. I sometimes have bad "no hair" days.

2. I don't have to shave my legs. Which was nice when we spent a week on the beach.

3. No eyebrow plucking. Oh, wait, I never plucked my eyebrows when I had them.

4. Those two ugly hairs that sprout out of the scar on my face that used to be a mole? Gone. Also some other extraneous hairs that you don't want to know about. Trust me.

5. I save money on haircuts. My husband gave me my last haircut using my grandfather's barber clippers. It was free!

6. I have an excuse to be legally stoned for two days every three weeks. Yes, I go to church in a narcotic haze. I think I remember the sermon. Also, I skip the bobbing up and down parts that we Lutherans seem to be so fond of on that Sunday.

7. My wig looks better than my real hair.

Really, it does.

Also, I only have to wash it every two weeks, if I wear it every day. I have started wearing it every day since I finally realized that it really does look better than my hats and scarves.

If you come to my door unnannouced, though, be prepared.

Earrings have become more important to me, too. Good thing my husband has developed a relationship with a jeweller.

Okay, maybe I look like Mr. Clean.

The most important good thing about chemotherapy, is I have found out how many good friends I really have. They have been sending us food, prayers, and help any time I need it. I am blessed with a wonderful family, and a larger than expected circle of friends. Thanks.

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

Ruth Update #21

August 26, 2006

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,

Thank you all for your continued support. I am doing pretty well today, and had a pretty "normal" week for the week after chemotherapy. I missed Monday at work. If there had been extremely important things to do, I suppose I could have gone in, but they told me that I could take the day off if I needed to. I rested a lot. I also had Matt drive me to the dentist. The dentist ground down one of my back molars (#15, I believe) to a nub and took impressions. I will be getting yet another crown. My face was all lopsided for a while. As usual, the worst part was the first shot of local ansesthetic. I did remember to ask my oncologist if I should go forward with this procedure, as I made sure it was scheduled after I got the results of the PET scan. Of course, I was in the office, paying my copay when I finally did ask her. She told me to take the high-powered antibiotic, Levaquin, that she gave me as a precaution before we went to the VI. One the night before, and one the night of the procedure. I am doing well. Oh, I said that already!

Why is it that I have been contacted about jury duty three times since we have lived in Northern Virginia, and Paul has never been called? The first time was for federal court, and I was extremely pregnant. They never called again. The second time, I forgot about it until the next day, but my group hadn't been called anyway. Now, they want me on September 19th. If the court doesn't let me out, I plan to wear a scarf or wig when I report, if I have to report, so maybe the lawyers will let me out of it. My wig looks too darned good! Not that I mind jury duty, but this is just not a really good time for me. I have set a reminder with Yahoo, just in case. I hope I will remember to call in this time! They told us we couldn't bring knitting needles or similar items. I suppose that means crochet hooks, too. Dang. I would need a good thick book, I guess.

I have joined the 21st Century and started a blog. So far, all I have done is post all of my updates in order, from the beginning in February. I plan to keep sending out these updates to my current list of prayer partners, and also posting them on the blog. I may also post some other "musings" at the blog. You may tell other people about the blog if you want. I intend it to be public, to an extent, anyway. I will try not to go overboard and post my every waking thought and opinion. I am still trying to figure out how to use it, and hope to improve it as time goes on. You may continue to reply to my updates via e-mail, or in "comments" at the blog. Just remember, all comments on the blog will be public!

Thank you for your continued support.

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Ruth Update #20

August 16, 2006

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,

The good news is, there is no new cancer, and the lesion in my hip is smaller. The bad news is, it is still there. When I got that news, my hip started hurting again. So, the plan is to continue with chemotherapy for three more cycles, that is one every three weeks for nine weeks, starting tomorrow. Then, another PET scan and a bone scan, and we will re-evaluate again. Good thing I washed my wig last week.

Sorry to be all excited about my "last" chemotherapy treatment when it was not the last one after all. We at least know that we are going down the right path, we are just not to the goal yet. Dang. I wanted my hair back!

Thanks to Ann G., who went with me to the oncologist's office for moral support. Paul is out of town this week, though he offered to come home if the news was bad. Since his class finishes tomorrow, I told him not to bother. I think the boys and I will go out to Chuck E. Cheese's tonight and be silly. Paul will be home tomorrow evening.

Thanks also to the J family, who scored tickets to Peter, Paul & Mary at Wolftrap and shared them with us. I got to sit in the second row in the orchestra pit! I was one row from the footlights! It was wonderful! The guys were out in the far reaches of the lawn somewhere. Ah, well. Sorry about that. It was a wonderful concert, if you like PP&M, and we do. I had a scratchy throat by the end, as the audience is expected to sing along, and we did. Mary Travers' long, straight hair is now short and slightly wavy. She was diagnosed with leukemia in 2004. Chemotherapy didn't work, but a bone marrow transplant did. They looked and sounded great, and their backup musicians were superb, as usual. They sang some songs we didn't know, too, but many members of the audience knew them, and we of course sang along on the choruses even of the new songs.

Thanks for your continued prayers and support.

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.


Ruth Update #19

August 8, 2006

Dear Friends, family and prayer partners,

I have an appointment for a PET scan on Saturday, August 12th at 11:00 AM. They won't give me any news then, of course. I get that the following Wednesday, August 16th, from my oncologist. My appointment is at 9:30 AM. I pray that the PET scan will be clear, but, more important, I pray that it will be accurate. I don't want a false positive or a false negative.

I was right about the little bit of hair that grew back during my extra two weeks off of chemo for our trip to the VI. It all fell out again. That is not so bad, but I got folliculitis all over again, too. This looks like a bunch of zits all over my scalp. It had cleared up from the first hair loss, and now I have it again! Ah, well, most people don't have to see it, anyway! The good news is that I had actual hair five weeks after a treatment. So, I should start sprouting again in . . . well, a couple of weeks, anyway. I still have the "peach fuzz" that I had been showing before my hiatus. You have to look at it in just the right light to see it, though.

Paul and Timmy are gone this week -- Paul is at a training session in West Virginia. I told him that I really, really wanted him to come home over the weekend, as it is a two-week course, and he agreed to that. He took our new to us second car -- a Chevy Blazer. He liked it because he wanted something to tow the Boy Scout Troop's trailer. We have the hitch and everything. Timmy is at Boy Scout camp. This is the first time he has gone to a sleep-over camp without his Dad. I haven't heard from him or the acting scoutmasters, so I guess things are okay so far. Matt and I have been enjoying ourselves. We went to see "The Night Listener" last night. We were supposed to see a Cappies show at the Kennedy Center, but it was sold out. Dang. And we found this out while at the ticket window at the Kennedy Center. Good thing we didn't pay for parking. We took the Metro. This evening we ran thither and yon around town and ate out. He is now passed out on the sofa. That is how I am able to get onto the computer!

I expect to next update you after my appointment with my oncologist.

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.


Ruth Update #18

July 30, 2006

Dear Friends, relatives, and prayer partners,

I have had my last scheduled chemotherapy treatment! Wahooo! Next, I will have a PET scan to see if there is any more sign of cancer. Then, the plan is to go on Femara, to replace the Tamoxifen I was taking before. I believe I will be on that for five years. After that, we will see.

Of course, if the PET scan finds anything, we may well be going down a different path. Please pray that all the cancer is gone, gone, gone!

Last night I was taking a walk with Paul, as we usually do before bedtime, when I stepped off a curb wrong, twisted my ankle and skinned my knee. I tried to walk home, but ended up sending Paul back for the car. I was hyperventilating for no good reason. Anyway, I got calmed down a bit, got home, up the stairs and cleaned up. A nasty scrape, but I put antibiotic ointment on it, so I have high hopes. The ankle is a bit sore, but not too bad. I don't believe it is sprained. I had a funny limp with a sore left ankle and right knee! I am not used to having a skinned knee. I'm 48 for goodness sake! (I'm also a poet and don't know it!)

Paul had brought home the first four ears of corn from the garden, and that is what we had for a bedtime snack after the tumble off the curb. Paul cut Timmy's corn off the ear, as he has braces, but the rest of us got to munch it from the cob. Yummy!

The nicest thing happened to me this week. My high school class had its 30th reunion this summer in Scottsbluff. I was unable to make it, but I did send in some information for the reunion booklet, telling everybody what I had been up to in the last ten years. Well, this week I got the nicest card from one of my classmates, somebody I knew, but can't say that we had been good friends. She just wanted to encourage me in the fight with cancer. One thing she told me was that she has a friend who had lung cancer and was given three months to live . . . ten years ago! As she said, miracles do happen! I have added Cathie to my list of angels sent by God for encouragement.

Thanks for your continued prayers and good wishes.

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.


Ruth Update #17

July 15, 2006

Dear Friends, Relatives, and prayer partners,

Sorry I haven't written in a while. I actually tried to send out a message just before we left for the Virgin Islands, but my ISP was not cooperating.

Anyway, we had a wonderful time in the VI. Due to the lack of privacy in the cottages, and the need for "two deep" adult leadership at the Scout campsite, there was no cottage swapping, though Paul and I did get an evening in town to ourselves. We did have to buy some fish to bring back for the party. We got some fresh Mahi, and the next day, one of the Scouts seasoned it and fried it. I think it was the best fish I had ever had!. Our cottages had small refrigerators to hold the fish. Most of our meals were simple, prepared by the Scouts. Peter Pan and Mrs. Smucker are our heroes! We had a lot of PBJ sandwiches for lunch, and I missed a few meals, too. There was also a lot of fruit available for the picking. Matt's tree-climbing skills came in handy when a mango tree was found. We also became acquainted with soursop, also known as guyabana. There were small green fruits, too, that were mostly seed, but had a bit of tasty flesh. They were also handy for Scouts to throw at each other. Combine the missed meals with all the physical activity, and we all lost weight. Well, I don't know about Matt and Timmy, but Paul and I did.

Snorkeling was great. We got to see coral reefs and beautiful fish. I could have done some more, but, though I am a strong swimmer, I am not in good shape, and I was afraid to over do it, and, since Timmy is not a strong swimmer, I was assigned to be his swimming buddy, and I had to come back when he did. Also, there is the possibility of sunburn. Though we used sunscreen, it does have its limits. I got a little pink, but nothing bad. My bald head got pink, except for where my snorkel strap was. I am told it was quite a sight! It has faded by now. Also, since I had two weeks off of the regular chemo regimen, my hair started to grow back! I had some "peach fuzz" even before that, but now I have actual hair. Of course, I have resumed my treatment, so I would not be surprised to lose that hair in a few days. No worries, though. I have one treatment left now, on July 27th, and I expect to have an actual head of hair by Christmas. Maybe by Thanksgiving!

Thank you all for your continued prayers. If you would say a special prayer for my friend Belinda, I would appreciate it. She is scheduled for a mastectomy on Monday, July 17th. She found her lump by self-exam. I am not sure what her follow-up treatment will be, as they are still exploring options.

In conversations with people, when they have been telling me their troubles, they often say something like ". . .but it is nothing compared with what you are going through." I appreciate the sentiment, but when I hear other's troubles, I am often reminded about how blessed I am. I have a strong marriage and a loving family and circle of friends. I am, again, doing well in my treatment. Please don't think that I feel that I am somehow suffering more than anybody else. I care about you, too.

Get your mammograms. Do your self exams.


Ruth Update #16

June 18, 2006

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,

Physically, I am in great shape. Emotionally, I am still flying high from the Cappies last week. I am sending along a link to my Cappies Album on Yahoo. The young lady pictured with Matt in the "cover" shot is his girlfriend, Stephanie. Her mom took a lot of these pictures. If you want a higher definition edition of any of the photos, please let me know, and I will send it from the hard drive. I have others, too.

If you are in the National Capital Area, the Cappies show should be airing on your local school cable access channel. Please check the listings. We know it will air on the Fairfax County Schools channel (Cox channel 21), but we don't have a schedule yet. I am checking as often as I can. The show is over three hours long, but the good news is that Matt's award was one of the first presented, so he is in the first hour.

For those of you who don't know why I am so worked up, please see the Cappies website: Click on the "National Capital Area: VA, MD, DC" link for the local details that concern us, including the list of nominees and winners. In the near future, I hope to be able to order professional photos of Matt backstage.

Matt goes to Lincoln tomorrow for the International Thespians Society Festival at UNL, and on Saturday, we all fly to the Virgin Islands. My oncologist has given me the all clear and a prescription for antibiotics, just in case. I see my primary care physician on Tuesday, and expect an all clear from him, too. Matt hopes to see Andy in Lincoln, and Andy should be driving Matt to the airport on Friday, as he has to leave early.

So, until later (probably after July 3rd),

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.


Ruth Update #15

June 12, 2006

Dear Friends, relatives, and prayer partners,

My son, Matt Provance, stood on stage this evening in the Concert Hall at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, and said: "I would like to thank my parents, Paul and Ruth Provance, my theater teacher, R.L. Mirabal, and all the people at Lake Braddock Theater." Or words to that effect. In other words, HE WON! MY SON WON A CAPPIE AWARD! HE HAS A VERY HEAVY TROPHY! Unlike me, he was very cool. His award, for best performance by a cameo actor, was very early in the show, so I got to poke Paul throughout the evening, and say "He Won!"

Of the six nominations that his school received, they won two. The other was for sound. Matt could not have won without the help of Jason Wolf, who was nominated for fight choreography. They put fight choreography in with the dance choreography, and some dancer won. Ah, well. Jason gets part of Matt's award!

Okay, gotta try to get some sleep. Or wait up for Matt. Or something.

Heck, you can skip your mammograms and self-exams this week. Not really.

Dang, I am proud of him!


Ruth Update #14

Jund 3, 2006

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,

It has been a couple of weeks since I sent an update. As they say, no news is good news!

I had my fourth treatment on Thursday, so today I am floating on a sea of percocet. Better to be stoned than in pain, I guess.

Paul went with me last week to buy a new dress for the Cappies Gala. It is blue, with a rather plain, floor-length, skirt, and a top with a jewel neck, short sleeves, and beads. The top is a bit heavy, so I am praying that the weather will not be overly hot, though that may be a vain prayer in this area. The usual forecast from June through September is "hazy, hot, and humid, with a chance of afternoon and evening thunderstorms." We have already gone over ninety degrees, though for the next few days the forecast is for highs in the seventies. I hope this lasts through the eleventh. The best thing about the dress is it was on sale. Good thing, too, as one cannot wash or dry clean it with the beads. Only spot cleaning. I figure I will only get three uses out of it, if I avoid eating! Got some new shoes, too. Pretty simple white pumps, which I needed anyway. They cost more than the dress! I expect to get more use out of them, anyway.

Good news on the cancer front, too. The cancer marker in my blood has gone down to the "normal" range. This is the marker that first alerted my oncologist to the possibility that I had a metastasis. She is also going to order some more scans, to make sure I don't have anything else hiding somewhere. Since she is going on vacation the third week in June, and we are going to the Virgin Islands the fourth week of June, I imagine the scans will take place either in July or August.

More good news, my fifth treatment will be delayed two weeks so I can enjoy the trip to the Virgin Islands! I am so looking forward to that. If I haven't mentioned it, this is a Scout trip. The boys and Paul will be sleeping in tents on the beach, and I will be sharing a cottage with the scoutmaster's wife and daughters. We may do some swapping around so Paul and I can have a night or two in the cottage. I think it only fair that the scoutmaster and his wife get that opportunity, too, if they want it.

Thanks for your continued prayers.

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.


Ruth Update #13

May 19, 2006

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer partners,

Except for Matt being nominated for a Cappie, I have had a rough week. I am just now starting to feel better, and thought for a while that my sinus infection was back. I saw my primary care physician today, and he prescribed some nasal spray for my pollen allergies. He thought perhaps that my Claritin was not doing the job well enough. I turned down the Benadryl. I have enough potent pharmaceuticals to make me sleepy. In fact, I checked with him about what I was using, and he okayed the combination. I would hate to be accused of abusing anything. He assured me that as long as I kept getting all my meds at the HMO pharmacy, he would be able to keep an eye on my intake. I have been taking Ambien 10, Ativan, and one Percocet at bedtime. Works well, and I suppose it will until I stop taking it. I think I will leave out the Percocet tonight, as the pain has lessened.

Speaking of the Cappies, if you would like to attend the gala on June 11th, the tickets are $25. Since we are already buying four of them, I fear I will not be able to front the cost. Tickets and seating are limited. If you want to come, let me know ASAP, so I can order the tickets on Monday. (Yes, Tony, I have your order.) Of course, you would be sitting with the Lake Braddock fans, so if you are rooting for another school, please get your tickets from them! If you live in Fairfax County and have cable, you will be able to see the gala on tape, probably multiple times. In fact, if you could tape it for us . . . we haven't joined the cable generation. Yet. Cable broadband is looking better and better, especially after I downloaded RealPlayer last night on our dial-up connection.

I am halfway through my treatments. Thanks for reminding me, Lois.

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.


Ruth Update #12.1

May 15, 2006

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,

I was not well enough to go to work today, but did get some good news.

The Cappies awards are the local high school equivalent to the Tony Awards. The gala is on June 11th in the concert hall of the Kennedy center. I guess we will have to attend. ;-)

Check out the nominees for "Cameo Actor."

I are so proud.

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.

Ruth Update #12

May 14, 2006

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,

This has not been my best week. Last Friday, I shared with you that I had a sinus infection. My oncologist told me to take the Augmentin that my family physician's sub had prescribed, and to call her the next day if I still had a fever. I did. It was over 101 degrees F. Ever since I started this adventure in 2001, they have told me that anything over 100.5 degrees F was a serious matter. I thought I would end up in the hospital or something. Guess not. I called the oncologist and she phoned in a prescription for Levaquin, which is a really high-powered antibiotic. In '02, they would have me take that as a substitute for my immune system. Anyway, all my guys were on a Scout outing and had the car. Thank goodness one of the Scout Moms volunteered to take me to the pharmacy. She even brought along her satellite radio so I could listen to oldies! Also, she is from this area, so I just had to tell her one landmark and didn't have to give directions. Thanks, MJ! The antibiotic brought my fever down pretty fast, but I still have the stuffy nose and cough that always happens when I have a sinus infection.

Saturday evening, I did go to the concert as our friend and I had scheduled. It was just a few miles from home at GMU, so we figured we could leave if we had to. The concert was Mark O'Connor's Appalachia Waltz Trio, with Carol Cook and Natalie Haas. They played violin, viola and cello, and were very good. If you get their "Crossing Bridges" album, you will hear pretty much what they played. I bought the album, but the line for autographs was long, and I wanted to get home.

On Sunday, I stayed home. I didn't feel that I should go to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival with an acquaintance when I was sick. If Paul had been able to go with me, maybe. Ah well, maybe next year. I also missed church. In fact, I never got dressed all day.

Monday was a drizzly, miserable day. I was sick, but went to work anyway. I was cranky when I got home, and then Paul told me he would have to be out of town on June 21st, our 20th Wedding Anniversary. Then, I was really cranky. Paul and the boys went to Scouts that evening. Probably just as well that they were out of range of my bad mood. Later in the week, though, Paul told me that his boss had volunteered to take his place. His boss said his wife would have killed him if he had missed his anniversary! Of course, Matt will be out of town, so I guess we get to bring Timmy along! The next week, we go to the Virgin Islands with the Scouts.

I really didn't know if I would be getting chemo on Thursday or not. After checking my white blood cell count, which was acceptable, and determining that I had no fever, the doc said it was okay with her to proceed, if it was okay with me. So, we did. Now, I am really miserable, and the misery started a little earlier than it usually does. I did go to work Thursday afternoon and Friday, and I worked ahead a little, so I will be able to take Monday off if I need to. I think I probably will need to. One thing that was different for me this week was my red blood cell count was lower than usual, so they gave me a shot of Procrit to build it up.

I have recently read The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, by Michael Pollan. It is very interesting. It has to do with where our food comes from in this country, and looks at four different "systems," if you will. The first meal is from McDonalds. The author tries to follow a bushel of corn from a farm in Iowa to the table, or, in this case, the car. This was impossible to do, of course, but he was able to trace the general path of corn. He also bought a steer off a cow-calf operation near Sturgis, SD, and then went and found the critter at a feedlot in Kansas. His second meal was from Whole Foods, which is a chain of stores that specializes in organic foods. His third meal was locally grown in Virginia, including some chicken that he had helped kill at Polyface Farms, near Swoope, Virginia. He worked on that farm for a week, which was quite an adventure for him, a city boy. We have an order coming from Polyface, though we placed the order before I read the book. We have dealt with them before. The last meal, he grew, hunted, or foraged himself. Mostly. I highly recommend this book. You may never look at your dinner quite the same again.

Please pray for me to get over the sinus infection completely, and to endure my week after chemotherapy.

Happy Mother's Day!

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.


Ruth Update #11

May 5, 2006

Dear friends, relatives, and prayer partners,

I didn't get an update out to you last week. Not much happened in my medical life that week. Except for having to see the practice that installed my Medi-Port. My absorbable sutures didn't all absorb, and healing of the incision was not going on as it should. One of the nurses who gives me chemo was not happy with it two weeks in a row, so she sent me back to them. Without a referral from my HMO. The radiologists didn't charge me for that visit, thank goodness, and I got a referral for the next visit, this week. The best thing about that practice is the Irish accent of the nurse in charge of the clinical area. I could listen to her talk all day. Anyway, the incision is healing.

Matt did wonderfully well in "1984." Mainly, he got "beat up." In stage combat, the recipient of the "blows" is the one who has to do most of the work, and Matt was being "beaten" by the Party guards. He made it look disturbingly real, and he got some very good reviews from the Cappies critics. Bear in mind that the Cappies critics are high school students. Keep your fingers crossed that he is nominated for an award. The Cappies are the local high school equivalent of the Tony awards. The awards gala is held at the Kennedy Center.

This weekend is supposed to be my "golden" weekend, and I had a lot of things planned. I am supposed to be at the theater downtown as I type, but Paul and Matt went in my stead. I have a sinus infection and have run a pretty impressive fever earlier this evening. I have started taking an antibiotic for it, and the fever has come down some. Infections like this are very scary for people undergoing chemotherapy as our immune systems are compromised. I got the antibiotics from the family practice at our HMO, and they did not keep me waiting at all. My oncologist is on call this weekend, so if I don't get better, I can call her to get a stronger antibiotic. Of course, I won't have a car as all my boys are going to a theme park with the Boy Scouts and will probably be taking the car. I also have a date for a concert tomorrow night, and a visit to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival on Sunday morning. All of that may have to be cancelled, though I am feeling better than I was earlier. Ah, the wonders of pharmaceuticals!

I had better take my medicine and go to bed.

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.

Ruth Update #10.1

April 23, 2006

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,

If you are interested in attending "1984," tickets are now available. For information on times and prices, please see:

To actually order tickets, to be paid for at the door, please e-mail We had hoped to have on-line ticket purchasing up by now, but naturally ran into a glitch. Maybe next season, when Matt will be a senior and get even better roles! In this production, he is a member of the ensemble, but has some "juicy" lines. He is also on the makeup crew, and specializes in bruising. Wonderful.

My prayer request for me is for insomnia. I can't seem to sleep no matter what medications I take. I will bring this up with my doctor the next time I see her. Ideally, I would not need sleep medication at all, but . . . Please pray that I get some good sleep.


Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.


Ruth Update #10

April 22, 2006

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,

Not a lot to say today. I had chemotherapy on Thursday, and have medicated myself to endure it. Paul and Timmy didn't go on the camporee after all as the forecast promised rain, so the troop cancelled their trip. They did some other Scout stuff, though, so I was still by myself a good part of the day. Once I took my percoset, though, I didn't really care!

The schedule goes like this: every three weeks, I have a chemotherapy treatment. I get drugs to prevent nausea, which also slows down the rest of my digestive system, so I am still trying to get the right dosage of laxatives and softeners. The day I get my chemo and the day after, I feel pretty well, as long as I take the laxatives. On day three and four I feel pretty lousy, with generalized pain. For that, I take the percoset, which also slows me down. I have said it before, it is the side effects of the drugs that you take to counteract the side effects of the chemotherapy that are the most annoying. Don't get me wrong, I really, really want those anti-nausea drugs.

Matt's play is next weekend. Tony is coming down on Saturday for the matinee. I will let you know when tickets are available to the general public. According to Matt, it may not be a good idea to sit in the front two rows. I have asked for seats on the center aisle, three or four rows back. As family members, and members of the theater boosters, we got to order the tickets early. I really think they should start selling tickets earlier, but maybe there is some rule I don't know about.

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.


Ruth Update #9

April 16, 2006

Dear Friends, Relatives and Prayer Partners,

I hope you all had a blessed Easter and Passover. Even if you don't celebrate either of those, I hope the sun is shining and spring flowers are blooming wherever you are. Our lilac bush only has four blossoms, but they smell heavenly, which is what I hire lilacs to do. The azaleas are blooming all over Northern Virginia, along with dogwoods, tulips, redbuds, and lots of other flowers.

Last Monday, I told you that my hair was falling out, but not too badly. On Tuesday, it started falling out in earnest. On Thursday, I pulled a lock for my oncologist, and she said "Ewwww!" She is really a wonderful, professional, caring person, but she also know how cancer patients feel. She said if it was falling out like that, it would not get any better, so Thursday evening, Maundy Thursday, I had a cheap haircut. Paul, Grandpa Davis' barber clippers, in the backyard, with Timmy taking photos. I am working on a photo album in Yahoo, and will send you a link when it is ready.

I feel pretty good. This is my "golden weekend," a few days before my next chemo treatment on Thursday. I will probably be sick on the weekend, and Paul will be gone camping with Timmy, and Matt will be working hard on his play that goes up the following weekend. I hope soon to have information for you to purchase tickets. It promises to be very intense, based on George Orwell's "1984." Anyway, I expect to spend most of next weekend whimpering in bed.

Take care.

Get your mammograms, do your self-exams.

Ruth Update #8.1

April 10, 2006

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer partners,

So, there I am listening to a radio program about humor and cancer, when my hair starts falling out. Not in huge chunks, mind you, but running my fingers through my hair gets more than the usual crop.

Here is the radio program: It would be CD#3.

Get your mammograms. Do your self exams.


Ruth Update #8

April 9, 2006

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer partners,

I am feeling pretty well today. I even helped make the weekly pizza yesterday by making the dough and the sauce. Paul put them together with the toppings and baked them. Last week, he and Matt pretty much did the whole thing. I took the opportunity yesterday to give Paul a lesson on the art of bread making. He has the science part down pretty pat!

On problem I am having involves some skin issues related to my radiation treatments. I will not go into the gory details unless you insist, but I would appreciate prayer for healing.

I spoke with a nurse at my oncologist's office this week. I wanted to know if I had a 90 percent chance of losing 90 percent of my hair. She asked around to see what had happened to the hair of other people who are on the same medication, and most of them had some thinning, but not complete loss. The last time, I had Adriamycin as one of my drugs. I lost every hair on my body, but it started to grow back when I was on Taxol alone. Abraxane is basically the same drug as Taxol, just a different biochemical delivery system. This I learn after taking my wig in to the "spa" for a new set. I picked it up Saturday. Dang, it looks good. I cannot put it on now, though, as I quit having haircuts when I got my diagnosis, and now it is quite long and just as thick as ever. The wig was sized to my bald head. Now I am exploring the possibility of getting my hair cut very short so I can still wear the wig, but not go completely bald. If I follow the same schedule as last time, my hair should start falling out this week. We will see how it goes. I have so much hair to begin with, it might not be a bad thing for it to thin out a bit. Paul took a "before" photo today, along with some pics of my wig. I may send them along with some "after" photos in a future update.

Our Nintendo Game Cube has been on the fritz for a long time. A while back, we took it in to be repaired, but the place refused to even try. So, Matt got on line and found instructions to repair a common problem with the system. We had to get a special screwdriver as Nintendo doesn't want anybody messing about inside. Some fellow in Hong Kong sells the screwdriver. Anyway, Matt was able to fix it, but it went on the fritz again a while later. Nobody seemed to have the desire to fix it again until this weekend. We had confiscated Timmy's hand-held games, and the online games he gets on the computer just didn't seem to challenge him. Also, we have password protected the log on to the computer, so he is not supposed to be able to get on. He decided Friday night to fix the GameCube. He is eleven years old and had the thing apart on the dining room table. Tim is now playing a James Bond game on the GameCube. While we would rather he be doing homework, we are also very proud of Timmy. Now, if he would just apply as much effort to his homework . . .

Okay, now for my rant of the week, which has nothing to do with my cancer or its treatment:

Remember a few updates ago, when I said I had had a good week? I mentioned that my favorite Oldies station had played my request while I was on the way home from radiation treatment? Well, this week the owners of that station fired all the on-air personalities and changed the format to "classic rock." This means they also fired the Beach Boys, the Monkees, the Mamas and the Papas, and Motown. Elvis has also left the building. About the only '60's music they kept was the Beatles (I suppose the Rolling Stones, too). They added '80's music to their play list. I was royally ticked off. I sent an e-mail to the station, too, to tell them how ticked off I was, and I cc'd it to the reporter at the Washington Post who covered the change. He said "I've gotten many negative reactions about the 'new' WBIG, but that's about the best-expressed one I've seen!" I promised the station that I would not only not listen to the new station, I would remove the presets for all 8 of the Clear Channel stations in the area. I shouldn't take this personally. Oldies stations all over the country are changing formats. In the reply from their marketing director, they suggested I buy an HD radio, as they are still playing '50's and '60's music there. Bummer.

End of rant.

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.


Ruth Update #7

April 2, 2006

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,

I don't have much of a pain in the neck anymore. The mediport implantation was surprisingly pain-free. Not like the one I had last time.

The mediport worked very well, too. I started chemotherapy on Thursday, and it went very smoothly.

Friday, I felt petty well, though I could tell something had happened the day before . . . just a bit off.

Saturday, it hit me. This type of drug (brand name Abraxane) gives bone pain. I am still trying to find the right combination of anti-nausea and pain drugs, both of which cause, er, lower intestinal blockage. This means eating lots of prunes and taking other medications.

Saturday evening, of course, we were disappointed by GMU's loss. But hey, they made it to the final four! Maybe next year we will go see some games in person!

This morning I went to church. One of my friends asked me what I was doing there. I said something about not letting it beat me, and then skipped out before the sermon and crashed on the sofa. I may well skip church the next Sunday after chemo. Everybody understands. It is not beating me, it is helping me beat the cancer.

Now, if you will excuse me, I think I will take some Percocet and eat some prunes.

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.

Ruth Update #6.1

March 29, 2006

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer partners,

Thank you for all your prayers and good thoughts. The mediport went in with no trouble. I have a little pain in the neck, which, I guess is better than being a little pain in the neck!

Chemotherapy starts tomorrow.

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.


Ruth Update #6

March 26, 2006

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,

I have had a wonderful weekend! I never cared about the NCAA men's basketball tournament before, but I have actually attended classes at George Mason University, and they have made it to the Final Four! I am amazed at how much I cared about the games on Friday and today. Okay, so I have never gone to a game in person, and the Patriot Center is three miles away. So, I am not a real fan. This week, I really, really care! Go Mason! Anybody got a Final Four T-shirt?

Also, my dear old friends Al and Jeanie Stirling were in town this weekend. I met them when I was a mere slip of a girl in the Army in Germany. At the time they were missionaries to the military. Now, they are missionaries to missionaries. They provide counseling to missionaries and their families in Eastern Europe. They are based in Budapest, Hungary, and they have been in country visiting their daughter and their supporters. They came to visit us and our church. On Saturday evening, we had dinner at the local Italian restraunt with them and our pastors, and they spoke at our adult Sunday School class this morning. Afterwards, we had a bite to eat, and we sent them on their way.

I was helping Matt with a family history project for school, and was calling relatives all over creation. Their first question to me was "How are you?" My answer was "I'm doing pretty well." Their response, in two cases, was "What's that supposed to mean?" I thought it was pretty funny. They meant well, I know. But hey, at the moment, I am doing pretty well. I have had a good weekend.

On Wednesday, at seven o'clock in the morning, I am to be at Fairfax Hospital to have the mediport implanted. The procedure is at eight o'clock.

On Thursday, at one-thirty in the afternoon, I get my first dose of chemotherapy.

I would appreciate special prayers at those times. I hope to get short updates out to you after the events to let you know how they went.

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.


Ruth Update #5.2

March 22, 2006

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,

My surgery didn't happen today. About 30 minutes before we were to leave, the surgeon called and cancelled the procedure. He just felt it wasn't safe to do since I have scar tissue in the areas where the medi-port was to be implanted. He listed all the things that could go wrong, but you don't want to know.

Anyway, a different procedure has been scheduled for next Wednesday, March 29th, to be done at the local hospital by a radiologist. I will still have a medi-port, but it will be into a different vein. The jugular. I knew you would say "ewwww!" I can hear you from here. Hey, the other one was in my superior vena cava, which is just as big! My oncologist gave her approval, but I know this is not her first choice, either. Hey, it's better than waking up in the ICU.

Probably your prayers for my safety affected the surgeon's decision. He expressed doubt about the procedure the first day I saw him, and after looking at my x-ray and discussing my case with other surgeons, he called it off.

Thanks for your prayers and good thoughts.

Get your mammograms. Do your self exams.


Ruth Update 5.1

March 20, 2006

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,

The pain in my hip pretty much went away with the naproxen. It was just bizarre that it could be so intense, so sudden, and then be taken care of with a pill like that. I didn't take one this morning, though, because naproxen, ibuprofen, and aspirin should not be taken before surgery, and I needed to prepare for my medi-port to be implanted. I had seen the surgeon last Monday, and he said he would contact the scheduler. As of Friday, I hadn't heard from the scheduler.

Today, I called him again. My medi-port goes in on Wednesday. Also, the pain started coming back. I was a bit concerned. I called my oncologist and spoke with the nurse practitioner on call. She told me to take acetaminophen and Percocet. She also said that this could be from the radiation. There is inflammation in the area, and the effects of radiation can last for months. Oh, wonderful.

Please pray for my surgery that it goes well on Wednesday. I plan to take Thursday off, too. Chemotherapy starts on Thursday, March 30th.

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.

Ruth Update #5

March 19, 2006

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,

Well, I thought I got over my tummy trouble and we went out to eat last night. A wonderful Italian meal went straight through without stopping. Sigh. The good news is that I lost several pounds from not eating my regular diet. Not a weight loss plan I would recommend to anybody.

By "we" I mean the Provances and my brother Tony, who was in town to see Matt's play, Nathan the Wise. It was good, and Matt was great! You have two more chances to see this play at Lake Braddock Secondary School, this coming Friday and Saturday, March 24 and 25, in the Little Theater. I believe tickets are for sale at the door only, and are $8 each. Lots of room in the Little Theater. Curtain is at 8:00 PM.

This morning I awoke in pain. My hip hurt worse than it ever has. This was Percocet pain X 2. I missed church this morning, but did get to see a doctor at our HMO's urgent care clinic. One of the nurses saw that I was suffering and bumped me up the list a little. It still felt like forever before I got in to see the doc, but by then the pills had kicked in and dulled the pain a bit. I also didn't really care anymore. Anyway, after telling the doctor my sad tale, she determined that it was probably bursitis brought on by radiation, and she prescribed naproxen. I don't buy it, but the naproxen did help. I will check with my regular doctors tomorrow. It is just that the pain came on so hard and suddenly, and a week after radiation therapy ended. My hip was just fine last night, and this morning I was weeping from pain. She also told me to continue with the BRAT diet. The heck with that.

Thank goodness Tony was in town. We were able to coordinate with Paul as he got the boys to church. Tony brought me to church after I had made the appointment at urgent/after hours care. I managed to get to a little bit of Bible class, but missed church. Thank goodness also for Paul, who ran our car all over the Falls Church area to get me to the clinic, and get the rest of them to church and youth group. I missed a knitting class I had already paid $40 for, though. Dang.

I need to try to get some more rest. Thank you all for your prayers!

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.


Ruth Update #4.1

March 15, 2006

Dear friends, relatives, and prayer partners,

Remember at the end of my last update, I said I had tummy trouble? Well, it has been almost four days now, and I am still on the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast). Please pray for me. I am missing some good food, here!

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.


Ruth Update #4

March 12, 2006

Dear Friends, relatives, and prayer partners,

Thank you for your notes and e-mails about my last update. I got everything, from Bible verses, pretty pictures, jokes, and, you will pardon me, hell from a lot of people who were concerned about my issues of guilt and depression. The hell came from professionals in the field, too. Basically, I was assured that there is no reason to feel guilty. There are a lot of women who do their self-exams on a regular basis, get clinical exams, and mammograms, and still end up with metastatic breast cancer. I still think I could have caught mine earlier, but I am trying to feel less guilty about it. Please continue to pray for me. Also, there were only maybe two really bad days that week. By the time I told you all about it, I was feeling much better. I feel that I must be honest with you. I would not want you to think that I don't have any bad days. I may be a comedian, but I gotta take a break now and then! Also, Timmy was sick all week.

This week has been much better. I listened to my favorite oldies radio station on the way to and from radiation. I now and then yelled at Billy Joel for "Only the Good Die Young." It is such a musically great song with such morally reprehensible lyrics! I called in a request from the parking garage at the hospital and got to hear my voice and my request before I got home! I saw a car with a Nebraska license plate! On Friday, I woke up, and my hip didn't hurt! I still get twinges now and then, but the constant ache is gone, gone, gone! Yay for radiation!

The bad news was that Matthew got sick. He missed one day of school, and his fever went over 103 degrees F. He was well enough to go to rehearsal today, though. We didn't make him go to church, feeling he needed all the rest he could get. There are several other members of the cast and crew of Nathan the Wise who are also ill, including the director. And it opens Thursday. For more information, please see: If you want tickets, let me know ASAP. Since the Black Box theater only seats 80, those will probably go fast. They will be in the Little Theater next week, where seats are much more plentiful, and tickets are only available at the door.

With all the talk about self-exams, I went looking for a site that had information about them, preferably for men (remember Lance Armstrong) and women. The Army came through: We may be able to find more sites, but I thought this one was pretty good.

Since I am tired, and have had tummy trouble all day and feel kind of "drained," I will close for now. Thank you for your continued prayers.

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams (everybody!)


Ruth Update #3

March 5, 2006

Dear friends, relatives, and prayer partners,

This was the week that the battle was joined. I had radiation treatments every day, and will again next week. So far, I have felt a bit "sunburned," and in places that don't normally get any sun! Other than that, the treatments are easy to take. I lie on the table, the techs line me up by my tattoos, they leave the room and a lead door closes behind them. The machine makes some noise. Then, it rotates around to give me another shot from behind. I get up, get dressed, and go home. It takes longer driving back and forth than being treated.

I met with the radiation oncologist on Friday and asked that she show me a picture of my tumor. She had outlined it on an x-ray, but I have to take her word for it. Aside from a little irregularity at the edge of my hip bone, it didn't look much different from the rest of the bone. The area radiated is quite a bit larger than the tumor, for which I am grateful.

I have a consult with a surgeon on March 13th to discuss implanting my medi-port. I will be done with radiation by then, but this is the earliest my HMO could get me in. The appointments person said she would include a note to let me know if any appointments came open earlier, but I have not yet heard of any.

I must offer my apologies to those for whom I usually pray daily. One evening this week, all I could manage to pray was "Help me." I am still feeling pretty depressed. I think my doctors are more optimistic than I am. Don't get me wrong, I believe I have years left, but I fear I may die young. I need some more angels, I guess. Guilt is a big part of my depression. I firmly believe that if I had been doing my self-exams, I would have caught the cancer before it got into my lymph nodes. I may sound like a broken record on that, but I feel that if anything good can come of this, it is that I can influence somebody to do self-exams on a regular basis. And just to cover all the bases, men can also get breast cancer. I personally know one man who has been treated for breast cancer, and know of another. So, men, check yourselves out, too. At least you don't have to put up with mammograms! Sorry women. Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.

Love and thanks,

Ruth Provance
Ruth Update #2

February 25, 2006

Dear Friends, relatives and prayer partners,

This was one of those weeks when I spent very little time making money, and lots of time in the world of oncology. I had a bone scan on Tuesday, had my "simulation" at radiation oncology and a meeting with my Medical Oncologist on Wednesday. I think I worked a total of three hours those two days. It was so bad, I went in to the office on President's Day to get my urgent stuff done. The sad thing is, I had just signed up for automatic deductions to my new 403B plan at the church, and it just started in the last pay period. Now, I will probably be working less than my usual 30 hours per week, just when I started on this retirement plan. Ah, well.

Anyway, the news: I found out where the cancer tumor is -- in my hip bone, the ileum, just above the socket where the femur fits in to make the joint that moves so we can walk and dance. The pain might be worsened by use,but it really isn't. It is more a constant ache, and doesn't seem to be worse when I move. I will start radiation treatment on Monday, at 4:40 PM, Eastern Time, so you can up your prayer intensity at that time. It will be M-F for two weeks.

After that, I have an appointment for a surgical consult on Monday, March 13th. This is to discuss the implanting of a medi-port, a gadget that goes under my skin, just below the collar bone, and has a catheter that leads into one of my major veins for delivery of chemotherapy. Since I only have one good vein in my left arm, we think this is the best way to administer chemo, as the drugs tend to wreck veins. I had one last time, and was glad I did. This is an outpatient surgical procedure. My oncologist would like to start the treatment the week after radiation is done, but it looks like it will be delayed by 1) the placement of the medi-port; 2) Matthew's play, Nathan the Wise, opens on March 16th and his birthday is March 17th; and 3) our friends Al and Jean Stirling, who are missionaries based in Budapest, are going to be here the following weekend, March 25th and 26th. So, it looks like chemo will probably start the first week of April.

The drug my oncologist has chosen is Abraxane. It has its very own website, of course,, if you would like to look it up. The treatment should be six courses, 21 days apart. Yes, I will lose my hair during Lent, again, and the treatment will go well into the summer. She promises that I will probably be able to go the Virgin Islands with the Scout troop as scheduled. We may have to delay one of the chemo treatments, but therapy can come in many forms!

Thank you for your prayers and words of support, and the support you are offering in more tangible ways. Really, all you need to do for me is pray, but if you feel the need to do something more, you can give blood to any agency that will take it, or you can support an organization for breast cancer research. Paul and I support the Susan G. Komen foundation. They have a website, too.

Another big thing you can do for me: Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.


Ruth Update #1

This one was dated February 19, 2006

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,

I have had a little over a week to get used to the idea that my cancer has returned. I have been doing okay, really. One thing I want to clarify: In my first message, I said I had been "suffering from hip pain." That is a bit of hyperbole. My pain is more annoying than anything else, most of the time. It is Motrin pain, not Percoset pain. It had been intermittent, but, of course, got worse as soon as I got the news that it was not bursitis. At least, it seemed to get worse. I still manage pretty okay with Motrin, though I take Percoset at bedtime. I have been sleeping pretty well, too!

I saw my radiation oncologist on Friday. This is the same doctor who treated me with radiation of the chest wall. She assures me that this will be much easier to take. There will only be ten treatments, as opposed to about thirty for the chest wall. Also, she said that bone mets respond much better to radiation than soft tissue mets. Good news. This should clear up my pain.

I have a bone scan scheduled on Tuesday, with another visit to radiation oncology on Wednesday to get set up and marked (tattooed) for my radiation treatments. Later that day, I meet with my medical oncologist for more discussions. I hope to remember to ask her the questions that I couldn't come up with on the initial visit. I expect to start radiation treatments next week. They will be five days per week for two weeks, then done. After that, I expect to start chemotherapy, depending upon how we can schedule things.

God has been sending me angels. I spoke to one woman at Timmy's school, somebody I didn't know, and she said her aunt had gone through this kind of treatment four times, but has had a clean bill of health for seven years. That tells me to never give up. Also, never stop visiting your oncologist. A friend of mine, who has also gone through cancer treatment, sent me a note: "I know this must be incredibly hard, and if I were in your place, I would smack anyone who told me to keep a positive attitude or who brought me down to a negative attitude, so you just feel what you feel and do what you have to do. I'll just hang out here and pray that you'll feel the love and strength and protection and healing of God during your treatment."

Thank you all for your words of encouragement. They have warmed my heart. I hope to have some more news later in the week.

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.


Bad News From Virginia

This was my first mass e-mail, dated February 10, 2006:

Dear Friends and family,

Many of you know that I had a mastectomy in 2001 and chemotherapy and radiation in 2002. I came through all of that pretty well, but I did have six lymph nodes that were positive for cancer cells.

For a few months I have been suffering with pain in my hip, but due to the nature of the pain, my family physician and I were treating it as bursitis.

A few weeks ago, following my regular visit with my oncologist, a blood test showed slightly elevated levels of a cancer marker. We followed that up with another test, which also showed elevated markers. We followed that with a PET Scan. That PET scan showed cancer in my hip. The good news is that it did not show any cancer anywhere else. My oncologist is optimistic.

The plan now is to radiate the area, and follow it with chemotherapy. I will not be having major surgery at this time. I may get a medi-port installed, but that would only mean a day or two off work.

The last time I went through this adventure, a lot of people were praying for me. I hope that this will continue to happen. I have added you to my e-mail list of prayer partners in hopes of sending you updates on my condition and treatment, and any specific prayer requests I might have. If you do not wish to receive these updates, or wish me to send them to a different address, please just reply to this message to that effect, and I will remove you from the list or change the address. If I have sent to more than one of your addresses, please let me know your preferred address, and I will obey your wishes. If you have friends or relatives who know me and might wish to get these updates, you may forward the message, with a note for them to contact me directly to be added to the list. Please do not just forward these messages to everyone you know. Your congregation's prayer chain would be fine, but I don't want to take up unneccesary bandwidth.

For this message only, please forward to any of my friends or relatives that you might know. If they already got it, fine, I already have their address. If you didn't get this message directly from me, and you wish to get updates in the future, please contact me directly to be added to the list.

I hope that my updates in the future will not be so long.

Please pray for me. Please do your self-exams and get your mammograms. If I had been doing my self-exams as I should have been back before 2001, I may have caught the original cancer before it got into my lymph nodes, and I might not be in this pickle.

Thank you.

Ruth Provance
Dear Friends,

Actually, I was trying to reply to somebody else's posting, and I suddenly find myself with a blog! Okay, Matt, my son, has been encoraging me to do this for a while. Maybe it's time. I will start with posting all my latest updates that I send to my prayer partners. In fact, I will send all of them, in order, so you can get the whole sordid tale.

Other than that, we will see how things go.

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.