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!

Sunday, August 31, 2008


One of my husband's college degrees is in agronomy. We have a garden plot we rent from the county for a pittance every year, and that is his little farm.

He likes to save seeds from tomatoes from year-to-year and plant the seeds directly in the garden. This leads to a late harvest for us, and to some surprises.

Originally, we had some small, pear-shaped yellow tomatoes, and some fairly standard round, red tomatoes. Bees and plant genetics being what they are, we have quite a variety now. Some are very sweet, some a little more tart, and all delicious.

And prolific.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ruth Update, August 30, 2008

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,

Matt is back at school and Paul is on the way home from taking him there. Matt and I posted a couple of videos on YouTube before he left. Here's mine:

and here's Matt's:

We had fun.

I read somewhere recently that about six percent of women who are diagnosed with metatstatic breast cancer are still alive twenty years later. Sounds good to me, as long as I am still enjoying myself, and mostly, I am. There are so many chemotherapies available now, that I still have lots of things to try in hopes of being around for the ultimate cure.

I hope you enjoy the videos, silly as they are.

Get mammograms. Do self-exams.



Saturday, August 23, 2008

Ruth Update, August 23, 2008

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,
Remember how, last time, I said that after the trip to Disney World my knees would never be the same?  It looks like that might be true.  Actually, I have feared this was coming on for some time, as I would have pain in my knees now and then.  Last Sunday, three weeks after coming back from Disney World, I found that my right knee was hurting so much that I had trouble with stairs, especially descending.  My brothers have been telling me for years that it hurts worse to go down stairs than up them, and now I know what they are talking about.  I figured with a family history like that, it was only a matter of time.  I saw a nurse practitioner at my HMO on Wednesday, and she confirmed my suspicions.  She gave me some exercises to do, recommended I try glucosamine and chondroitin, and gave me a new pain drug, Lodine, generic name Etodolac.  It works really well!  I need to read up on the side- and long-term effects.  It is related to aspirin and Motrin, one of those "non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs," or NSAIDs. 
I reported this problem to my oncologist, and she does not believe it is associated with the drugs I am taking for cancer, and she had no objections to taking the glucosamine and chondroitin, either.  Early on in my journey, she told me that she very seldom sees bone metastases to the knees and ankles.  Hips and shoulders are much more common, and I am proof of that.
Last week I got a robo-call from my HMO.  The recorded voice wanted to confirm that I had a prescription for Fluoxetine.  I had to check my prescription bottles to be sure which one that was.  Ah, yes, Prozac.  I guess I can understand why they ask for the generic name rather than the brand name, but it does slow things down.  Anyway, I told the recording that yes, I had a prescription.  This recording sounded very concerned that I had not refilled my prescription when it thought I should, and asked me a bunch of questions.  I am being treated for depression, and I get a robo-call to follow up on me.  If it weren't so sad, it would be hilarious!  If they do that to me again, I think I will try answering "yes" to some of the triage questions, just to see if I would hear from an actual person.  My support group was rather amused, as was my family.
Before we left on our trip, I got a shipment of pink silicone breast cancer awareness bracelets.  They glow in the dark.  I knew I would buy some as soon as I saw them in the catalog.  I am a sucker for almost anything that glows in the dark.  I wish they glowed pink, but it is the same old green color.  I have found some online vendors who make custom awareness bracelets, and glowing in the dark is one option, at five cents more per band.  You know what mine would say, if I got some.
Get mammograms.  Do self-exams.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ruth Update, August 12, 2008

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,
We are having a new furnace/ac installed today, and I am staying home, out of the way.  It is so nice to have somebody to fill in for me at work when I need to have days off for things like this.  Thanks, Rosalie!
The trip to Disney World was great, but tiring.  I don't think my knees will ever be the same.  Thanks to a letter from my oncologist, I was able to get a special card that enabled our whole party to skip most of the lines, so we probably got to see more than most people do.  The guys were on their own when it came to roller coasters, though.  Most of the time they got speed passes, which means you reserve your time slot in advance.  One time, Matt and Timmy took the "single rider" line, which meant that they didn't get to sit together, but it was a much shorter line.  I will not use my special pass to get my boys to the front of a line of a ride I do not intend to board.  We did try renting a wheelchair on the third day, as my legs and feet were very tired, but we found that to be more trouble than it was worth, though at ten dollars a day, transferable to other parks, I thought the price was reasonable.  We could have gotten an electric scooter, but that would not have been much better, except Matt would not have gotten so tired pushing.
If you go to Disney World, and they have something that says "3-D," go see it.  It is actually a "4-D" experience, with added sensory experiences.  I will say no more!  Those polarized glasses are great for 3-D, much better than the old red and blue technology.  Even Matt, who has poor vision in one eye, could enjoy the experience!
You have my permission to skip "It's a Small World," unless you have a horrible song stuck in your head and want to get rid of it.  It will be replaced with one that is so sweet it will make your teeth ache.  We have done that ride, so you don't have to.  Don't get me wrong, it is well-done, as is everything at Disney World, but it just goes on too long.
We were able to get four-day passes for the boys and me, more cheaply than the three-day passes, but Paul and I had to go to a time-share presentation.  It's a good thing Paul has no trouble saying "no."  By the time we left, though, the woman who was assigned to us was working with another couple.  Maybe she had better luck with them. 
The Auto Train ride back was fun and comfortable, though I didn't sleep soundly.  Matt and Timmy "slept like teenagers," and Paul figures he slept as well as at home.  The food was good, too, and included in the fare.  If you don't have trouble sleeping in coach on airliners, you could take coach on the Auto Train.  We peeked into the coach cars, and it looks like they have plenty of leg room, and they promise the seats recline and have footrests.  As it turns out, meals are included there, too, though we in the sleepers got a wine-tasting (Virginia wines and munchies).  If you think you want to take the Auto Train from Virginia to Florida or back again, check with me.  I have a few tips for you!  Nothing like learning by experience.
I posted some photos of our trip on my blog
On the cancer front, it was certainly nice to take a month off, but my cancer markers went up about 100 points during that time.  Ah, well, I feel okay, and am back on Xeloda, the oral chemotherapy I was taking while on the IV Taxotere.  We will try that for a few months, and then have another PET scan to see how things are going.  My fingernails are slowly recovering, though I still fear getting yeast and other stuff under them.  I soak my nails in hydrogen peroxide to clean out any beasties that might be hiding there.
Thanks for your continued prayers and good wishes!
Get mammograms.  Do self-exams.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Phinally Photos

We begin our show in Birmingham. Paul's brother lives near there, and "Dreamland" is a popular BBQ joint. Just my speed! The food was good, too!

Once we got to Disney World, we found it really hot. Timmy found one of the cooling stations, and his abundant hair retains some evidence.

Some of the wildlife we found at Walt Disney World:

These birds were all over the place. Any birdwatchers in the crowd?

Yes, of course I bought ears.

Our host!

I think some of the "floats" in the Animal Kingdom parade are modeled after the toys that African children often make out of wire and other found objects. These are bigger, of course, and many of them are human-powered.

Oooh, look! More wildlife!

We were impressed with the production values of the whole place. The parades were performed to pre-recorded music which mostly came out of speakers along the street. Those are some amazing sound systems. Mostly, though, I wouldn't hurt myself to see the parades unless you have little children who love the characters. I wanted to hear more of the music from the movies, but they seemed to mostly use music composed for the parades, instead of the old favorites.

We found out that my kids are not the only ones who like to wear mismatched shoes. These little sweeties were from Mississippi, I think. Yes, their Mom and Grandma also took photos.

We kept looking for "iconically Disney" photos.

I didn't wear my wig in the parks, but didn't want it to miss the fun, either!

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