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!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Ruth Update, November 26, 2007

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,

It has been a while since I sent an update, though I have posted a few things at the blog. Mainly, I have had no news on the cancer front. I feel weirdly well, actually. It is a bit disconcerting to know that I have an incurable, fatal disease, and I feel pretty well. Aches and pains, of course, but I am an out-of-shape fifty-year-old woman. I think my brothers actually have more aches and pains than I do. On November 17th, I walked three miles with a "help the homeless" walk-a-thon, and lived to tell the tale. I even baked pizza that evening! Paul and I did not keep up with our party, but it was mostly the youth group from our church, led by our athletic pastors. They waited for us at the end. At the start, I got to shake hands with Mayor Adrian Fenty of DC. I thought that was pretty cool. I want to know where he got those soft leather gloves! This evening, NPR's "All Things Considered" ran a piece on John and Elizabeth Edwards, and she spoke of how she feels pretty well most of the time. They also mentioned that women in her situation rarely survive past ten years. She and I are paddling the same boat. I do not know the extent of her mets, but I believe she had some organ involvement that I did not have at my last scan.

I got another one of those survey calls from my HMO. To the "how would you rate your health compared to other people your age," I actually asked the poor guy how a person with incurable cancer was supposed to answer that? I chose "fair." How can my health be "poor" when I am still going to work thirty hours a week, and baking bread and pizza?

In response to my last update, a friend of mine wrote: "Ruth, At least you have Paul to go through it with you everyday. Everyday thank God that Paul is at your side and that you have his good and steady love with you every day, you know? Don't take it for granted. OK?" My reply to that was: "I have been thanking God for Paul for years. He and his family are the best thing that ever happened to me, and I know I am unusually blessed." And it is the truth.

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.




Monday, November 19, 2007

Be proud of me! And Matt, too!

I walked three miles on Saturday, on the Walk for the Homeless. We lagged behind our party, but most of them were members of the church youth group. Paul, Matt, and Timmy stuck with me. Actually, Matt and Timmy went ahead for a while, but stopped to see some juggling, so we caught up.

Speaking of Matt, who is home for the week for Thanksgiving, he has a video on YouTube. My son, the magician!


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ruth Update, November 15, 2007

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,
Thank you all for your support.  My solo went well.  I stayed on pitch, anyway, and only wavered a little bit.  I did not burst into tears, but avoided eye contact.  I am sure that had something to do with it!
Also, the china cabinet arrived.  Please see my blog for some photos.  I need to get upstairs and help with washing china and crystal to load into it.
I had a treatment on Monday.  All went well, and the Aredia didn't even give me a fever the next day.  The Faslodex has already started itching, though.  It may be psychosomatic, as I know it is there.  I put cream on it, anyway.
Please pray for my friend Kathy.  She is paddling the same boat I am paddling, and needs support.  Isn't it true that, no matter how bad you think you have it, there is somebody who has it even worse?  Please pray for her in addition to me.
Get your mammograms.  Do your self-exams.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The China Cabinet

The china cabinet arrived today. Paul and I played tag team a bit. They were running late, and Paul had some mandatory training, so I came and relieved him. I snapped a quick picture and went back to work.

The young men who brought it were embarrassed to say that they forgot the light bulbs. One even remembered thinking about it when taking it apart at the show room. They will send them to us. Lights are sort of optional as far as we are concerned, but since it was made that way . . .

Paul is hauling boxes of china up stairs to wash the dishes. I will be making some doilies as soon as I get the yarn out of the attic.

One of the things I was worried about was the crystal wine carafe my Aunt Joyce and Uncle Ron gave us for our wedding, with six wine glasses. We had actually used that a few times, but I had not measured it, so I wasn't sure if it would fit.

Without the stopper, it just fit. And I wept.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Acapella music

Timmy and I were invited to a Sweet Adelines concert on Saturday. Timmy slept through it, but I really enjoyed it. It was hosted by the Vienna/Falls Church Chorus.

Their special guests were a men's quartet from New York: 'Round Midnight. They were very good. Now I need to find a CD.

I checked Amazon, but, though there are other things titled 'Round Midnight, they are albums by Miles Davis and Linda Ronstadt. They do have music on the site. Enjoy.


So, how did it go?

My solo went fine. I think it could have been better, but I stayed on pitch and didn't waver much. All my friends thanked me and said it was good.

I also got to speak to the early service on the wonderful topic of stewardship. As part of it, I told them how much the congregation meant to me. When I mentioned the casseroles, that is when I teared up. It is a wonderful congregation, and is like family to me.

Speaking of family:
L-R is Paul, Timmy, me, and my cousin Jan. She is treating us to dinner at the Malibu Grill, Fairfax. The waitress was kind enough to take the photo.
Here, Paul caught Jan and me talking. Nothing new about that. My throat was slightly scratchy by the time she left. We just kept talking all the time. Note the nice necklace I am wearing. Jan brought that as a nice gift from the "girl cousins" on our Moms' side of the family. They also gave me a nice leather-covered journal.
I like this shot of Paul and Timmy. Jan is taking a photo of them, and I got in on it.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Ruth Update, November 9, 2007

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,

My cousin Jan came to visit this week. She arrived Sunday evening from Nebraska, and we spent Monday taking Timmy to the International Spy Museum in DC (worth the money, by the way). On Monday evening, Laurel, the music director from St. Paul's came by so I could run through the song I am singing at church on Sunday: "Fill My Cup, Lord," to practice it and so Jan could hear it. At one point, I made eye contact with Jan during the song, and just totally dissolved into tears. No eye contact with anybody on Sunday, I promise you. Tears seem to be very near the surface these days. I think it is because of the hormonal treatments I am getting for my cancer. I will be addressing this with my oncologist. Anyway, Jan and Timmy were planning to go to the National Zoo on Tuesday, but Timmy seemed more content to sleep, so Jan was okay with that. I went to work that day, and Jan came by. We had hoped to get her laptop on the church's secure wireless system, but even though she, the pastor, and I worked on the connection, it only worked marginally. We just hope we did not destroy her connectivity completely. She bought me lunch, and took us out to dinner that evening. Wednesday morning, the airport shuttle came by to get her after I went to work, and she flew home.

I was feeling kind of bummed because Matt and I had not spoken since we were at Hershey Park, even though I had left a few messages and e-mails asking him to do so. This afternoon I was feeling really low, so I called him and got through. We had a nice chat. He got a compliment from one of his theater teachers who saw him in rehearsal for the first time, so he was feeling pretty good. We talked for a while and told each other of our love. At about nine o'clock this evening, he walked in the door. Sneaky kid had bummed a ride with one of his high school buddies so he could surprise us and see "Alice in Wonderland" at Lake Braddock Theater this weekend. It is so good to have him home, if only briefly. He is leaving Sunday morning sometime, and I have strongly suggested he make it to church. I promise I will not make eye contact with him while singing.

We will be pretty busy on Saturday, though Paul will be backpacking with the Scouts. The boys and I will be seeing "Alice" in the afternoon, and then I have tickets to a "Sweet Adelines" concert in the evening. I hope to take one of my sons with me. Matt plans to see "Alice" again, as they have two different people playing the lead because they have extra performances. That way, more children can see the play. I think he hopes to bring his girlfriend to the second performance.

On Monday, I will be having my next Faslodex and Aredia treatments. Paul has the day off, which is a good thing, since the china cabinet will be delivered on Tuesday morning, and furniture needs to be shuffled.

Please pray about my bone and joint pain, and my emotional state.

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.


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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Ruth Update, November 4, 2007

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,

Today, the bell choir added to the service at church. That bell piece I mentioned in my blog, that I had been doing for years and years? I screwed it up. I picked up my bells wrong on the hard part, and completely botched it. I knew before I started ringing, thank goodness, so I just kind of had to sit those measures out. Better to not ring than ring the wrong bells. I just could not find where I belonged. I am so mad. In case you have no idea what I am talking about, for those measures, I hold two bells in each hand in such a way that, depending upon how I hold my hands, they can ring separately. When you are used to ringing it a certain way, if you hold bells in the wrong hands, you can really screw it up. Good thing the organ was playing and the congregation was singing, so it didn't stick out too much. I may be the only person who noticed. Until now.

Anyway, I hope to redeem myself next Sunday. I will sing a solo during the offering at the 8:00 AM and 11:00 AM services at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 7426 Idylwood Road, Falls Church, VA 22043. Y'all come!

I have put a link on my blog for self-exams for men and women. It is in the right side bar, right near the top of the page.

So . . .

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.



Saturday, November 03, 2007

Chocolate photos

Just to let you in on our day in Hershey, a little, anyway.

For the record -- this is me the day after my 50th birthday, and Timmy, on his 13th. Dang, another teenager!

Oh, yes, the scary ride. I wanted one of the up-and-down horsies! Instead, I got a boring, outside one. Ah, well, made for a good photo, anyway. Timmy is back there somewhere.

Timmy wanted his photo taken with a big Hershey's kiss. Yes, we bought that one, too.

I wanted my photo with a big Kiss, too!

We didn't bring that one home, though.


About those self-exams

I posted this link a while back, and I think it is time I did it again:

Self-exams for men and women


Ruth Update, November 3, 2007

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,

Please forgive me for my silence. I was busy for part of the week setting up a private blog for my cousins. We started out on e-mail, but I think I convinced most of them that a blog would work better. I could be wrong, of course.

Last Saturday, we celebrated Timmy's and my birthdays by going to Pennsylvania. We have finally ordered the china cabinet for which I have been lobbying for some time. I have a bit more leverage this birthday. Anyway, the perfect one was a floor model, so we got it inexpensively. I am sorry, I didn't take a photo of it. They have promised delivery by Thanksgiving, and it could be any time, actually. I am so looking forward to getting my wedding china out of boxes in the basement, and Mom's china out of boxes in the attic. We plan to actually use them! Really! I need to make some doilies to decorate the inside, since it has glass shelves and lights for display.

The place where we ordered it is in Lancaster County, which is Amish and Mennonite country. Paul would be perfectly content to get all of our future furniture there. It is solid oak and made by the company, with nothing imported. I don't know about the recliners, though we really should have gotten one of them, too. I reached too high, and tried to get a three-piece living room set. We are not sure we have room for it, so I couldn't push too hard. Shoulda gone for one of the singles. The recliner we have is really old. I nursed Matt in that chair when it belonged to my parents. Hardware is falling off of it.

After we had lunch at a buffet-style place (that prepares food for hard-working people), we went to Hershey Park for Timmy's present. This was fun. Timmy and Paul rode on two roller-coasters. I settled for the monorail train and got them to join me in the "Kissing Tower," which is re-named "Bats in the Belfry" for their Halloween festivities. It gives a nice view of the area without extra g-forces. We also visited "Hershey's Chocolate World," where, in addition to selling every single candy made by the company, you can take a little train ride through a simulated chocolate factory. Paul and I really liked the video at the beginning that showed the growing and processing of cocoa beans at the source. Timmy wanted to hurry on to the train ride. He waited. We enjoyed the train ride, too, but piping in the aroma of chocolate was kind of a dirty trick. There were also animatronic cows, and a bull took your picture. We bought some candy, but not the picture. Also some chocolate-scented body wash.

This is a down week for my treatment. I did notice an itchy area on my backside last week. Then, I noticed a similar one on the other side, strangely symmetrical. A light bulb went off in my head, so I called the triage nurse at my oncologist's office. Yes, indeed, this is a common side effect of Faslodex, which is administered once a month as two intramuscular injections. Antibiotic ointment and dipenhydramine (Benedryl) cream fixed me right up. It is a little harder to control the joint pain brought on by both the Faslodex and the Aredia. I am taking about the maximum dose of Tylenol, some of it as Vicodin, that I can take. My pain is more annoying than debilitating. I fear that I may have to start taking Vicodin during the day, since my cancer is in my bones, and that also causes pain. Maybe next weekend I will see how the Vicodin affects me during the day. I want to still be able to drive. There are lots of other pain medications I can explore with my oncologist. At the moment, she is dealing with pain of her own, as she had foot surgery last week. I will next see her personally in December. There are other docs covering for her, of course, if anything major comes up.

I am adjusting to my "new normal." I have been unable to attend the support group meeting I wish to join, but they had a special event on Tuesday, with an oncologist presenting the newest treatments, and some women who belong to the support group had a panel discussion. I feel much better, but still want to get with them to see what is working for them. I am also interested in participating in clinical trials. With our proximity to the National Cancer Institute, John's Hopkins University, and Georgetown University, it is not difficult to be involved in such trials. Another thing to discuss when my oncologist comes back to work.

Now, I have to get to work. My cousin Jan is coming to visit tomorrow evening, so we must get the house cleaned.

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.


Pictures should be posted at my blog soon:

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