~ Of all the creations of the Almighty there is none more beautiful, none more inspiring than a lovely daughter of God. Who walks in virtue with an understanding of why she should do so. Who nurtures her spirit with everlasting truth. ~ Gordon B. Hinckley ~
I can not tell you how good this day is! This was the last day of radiation for me. That may not seem like much to some of you but to anyone who has had radiation because for head/neck cancer (or any cancer for that matter) it is a major big deal! To be honest, I tried to talk the doctor into letting me skip the last treatment so I could be done on Friday. I have a thing about things being even. Or all in a row. That's just how I am... But back to the point. I got to keep my mask that I had to wear each time. It's really more like a trophy to me but I think I am going to put it in the recycle bin. When you come around the corner having forgotten it's there, it is pretty startling! Take a look at it and you'll see what I mean.
Scary isn't it?! When I first started, that mouth hole wasn't there. It was only a small hole for my nose. Not that my nose is small or anything but the hole was just big enough for me to breathe through. Then one day I was really sick when I came in and they cut out the mouth hole "just in case."
You know what is even more scary? See those gray buckles on the side of it?
And see those buckles on the side and top of the head too? Those were buckled down to the table so I couldn't move. You know, they didn't want me to turn my head and radiate my eyeball or something. The Xs on the side and chin are measurements that help them know where to place their machine. Boy am I glad that's over! I do have a few battle scars that the doctor says look really good compared to some. He said they would probably heal relatively quickly.
Here is my poor neck and ear.
I know I've said this before but thank God for long hair! Remember how I told you I have no feeling in my ear and in parts of that side of my face? Well, last night I was sitting in the recliner and I felt something on my ear. God forbid there be anything on my ear so I just pulled it right off. I had no idea it was SKIN! I didn't feel it though, that's the good part. The not so good part is that if I had known I had skin falling off, I would have done something about it before it got so bad!
I saw the oncologist before I left today. I got my certificate of completion and I got to ring the bell so everyone could share in the joy that my treatment was over. I have lost 12 pounds since I started, most of them in the last 2 weeks. See if you can tell.
Well, and to be fair, my face was still somewhat swollen in the first picture. And I looked really tired. Now in the second one, I just look messy but that's kinda how I look sometimes, lol.
I'm looking forward to getting on with my life. They tell me the fatigue will wear off anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months. I'm thinking it will be more like 2 days!
OK, so I'm going to tell you a secret. I think I am addicted to food. Not that that would be so shocking in and of itself because I've kind of suspected it all along. And I'm not trying to make light of it because any kind of addiction is not funny at all. But here is the really twisted part of it all: I can't taste ANYTHING right now! I have never been so frustrated in my life! I guess it would be like someone who is used to smoking weed all of their life and then suddenly, when they do, they don't get high anymore.
I eat because, well, you know, we all have to eat to live. But I do not enjoy it AT ALL right now. It might not be so bad except that I love to cook. I love to try new flavors. I like to eat out at unfamiliar places. I remember the first time I went to Byblos Hookah Lounge. (First of all, it isn't what it sounds like. It's really not a lounge and please look up "hookah" if you don't know what it is). I was so excited to try Lebanese food for the first time. Then there is King Tut where you will find some of the best Egyptian food anywhere. And when I was on my vegan kick (which lasted almost a month) I was all gung-ho for the Spiral Diner and even the Mellow Mushroom with it's selection of vegetarian pizzas and subs. If you want to know the best German food or French cuisine in Fort Worth, I know where they are.
So now that I can't taste anything, it's as if I'm obsessed with food. I watch the Food Network and reminisce about the days of old. At times I make dishes and hope to heaven that I can taste it when it's done. Not so. It smells divine but ends up tasting like globs of rubber or wallpaper paste or hockey pucks. Here's another thing I've noticed myself doing. I look around on the Internet at recipes and just imagine what they would taste like. I don't know why I torture myself so!! I think I am truly a foodie at heart!
So here's my plan and I sure do hope it works. I have 2 more weeks of these treatments. After that, I have a week before it is my birthday. During that week, my taste buds better get themselves regenerated or else! And then, because I know I can't go hog wild (get it? hog wild? haha!) I am going to have one of these foods on my list each day until I get alllllll caught up. And not necessarily in this order. But maybe in this order, depending on who cooperates, lol.
1. My mother's best friend, Mary, is going to make me a blackberry cream pie. (And whatever else I can talk her into).
2. My sister-in-law, Dallas, is going to make me some chocolate chip cookies. (Jeff said you would)!
3. Hoo-ya's - a place in Denton that I haven't been to in forever but can't stop thinking about.
4. Whataburger with Liz Brown. (What a burger)!
5. Redneck Caviar, per my friend, Stephanie Holmes' recipe which she posted and I also can't stop thinking about.
6. Coffee (which is a given of course). And yes, I know it is not really a food.
7. Apple Pie.
8. Naan bread with Hummus.
9. A bacon, egg, & cheese biscuit.
10. Wedge Salad with feta cheese.
11. Macaroni and cheese like my Granny makes cuz I'm sure she IS the one who makes it in heaven.
12. Birthday cake!
13. Banana Pudding by Bruce Gilbert. (I hate to admit, it's better than mine).
14. And because I can't stop on unlucky #13 and because it is most important, Rosa's OR Taco Bueno with my parents because, well, that's just how we roll.
Oh wait, I forgot Taco Casa. That'll be another day. Makes me sick to think about it right now :(
So, that's only 2 weeks worth of what I'm craving. If you would like to add a day, feel free to go right ahead!
I don't have anything special in mind today to write about. I haven't been mulling over something that struck me like I normally do. Even so, my heart is full of a lot of things. Things that don't seem to go together in a story or an article and probably will not make sense but I have to get them out all the same.
We all know that hard things change people and either shape them or break them. A couple of years ago I faced something that almost broke me but, over time, I let it shape me a little bit. This year, I faced something that has shaped me. And the difference is, I didn't fight it. I accepted it and decided to trust God no matter what. Maybe it's because that was really the only option but, all the same, I did it willingly.
I have spent the last I-don't-know-how-many years working and working and working. Every minute was tied up trying to make ends meet and, to be truthful, I was wearing out. Not just physically but emotionally and spiritually. But still, I made myself keep going because that is what I thought I had to do. I can't lose anything, I can't go backwards, I can't stop, I can't give in, I can't look like a fool, etc, etc, etc. And then everything came to a screeching halt. I found out I had a tumor and would have to be off work for 2 weeks. Well, I took 8 days instead of 10 because I really thought I didn't have the time to fully recover. Then I found out my tumor was really cancer and I would have to do radiation. In my head I thought, "No big deal, let's get this done. I have to get back to work so I can make ends meet." Amidst all of the side-effects that come along with radiation treatments, I was determined to keep going and I didn't want to take off work.
God had other plans.
At some point, I had to give up. Not just physically but also in every other way as well. It is noble to keep fighting in the face of adversity. It really is. But sometimes, it is more noble to let it all go and admit that you can't. That is exactly where I found myself. I can't go to work because I can't perform my job well. I can't pay my bills because I now have medical bills that outweigh those other ones. I can't cook my own meals because nothing sounds good and everything makes me feel sick. I may as well go to bed.
So I did. I threw in the towel and went to bed. I wasn't depressed. Just very, very tired. I really had no other choice but to slow down. Well, not so much slow down, but just stop.
I just realized that there are so many things I've been missing. I've been missing the quiet time of just doing nothing. At all. I've been missing time with God. I've been missing how it is to pray for my friends and family like I should. I've missed the times of reflection instead of worry. I've really missed hanging out with friends. Just been trying to fix it all myself and never NEVER give up.
But Wednesday night on the way home, after I asked the little guy at Chicken Express for some mashed potatoes "and that's all" and then waited, trying not to throw up - I realized - I can't do this. I was never meant to do this. So I decided then and there: I can't make it to the meeting at church tonight, I can't make it to work tomorrow, I can't make it to my part-time job, and I can't make the bills go away. And I don't care because I just can't. Not anymore. So I gave up. I went home and went to bed and slept until 1pm the next day.
When I got up the next day, I still felt horrible physically but also felt a genuine peace that everything is going to be alright because I don't have to fix everything. Yes, I did mess a lot of things up, which is probably why I felt like I had to fix it too. But at some point, it is about grace and forgiveness, not making things even. Grace and forgiveness - two things I have been unable unwilling to give to myself. I'm not saying this is the sole purpose that I ended up with cancer. I'm not sure what the whole purpose of it is. But if having to endure that is what it took to give myself a break, then I'll take it gladly. God and I are good with each other now.
There's not way to wrap up this blog. So, that's all I have to say for now.
I've lost count! The radiation machine has been down so many times and I've had to make up some sessions on the weekend, I lost track of how many I have done. Anyway, I know I have 2 weeks to go. I think after this Saturday and Sunday I have 10 left. Here are my pics. Don't be alarmed, I think this will all return to normal.
Receding Hair Line Radiation Burn
This is that picture I promised to show you where I've lost a lot of my hair. You can't tell when I wear my hair down though. I am constantly finding hairs everywhere! And they hang on my sleeves and tickle my arms too. The second one is my face where they have tried to burn it off. I can't get over how big my ear is. They say that your ears and nose never stop growing, must be true. Thanks, Daddy.
I found a food that seemed to satisfy me although I couldn't taste it. French fries with ketchup. And I also enjoyed coconut flavored milk shakes. And as soon as I stumbled upon these I developed thrush. I thought that was for babies but apparently it doesn't discriminate based on age. I have a picture of that, only because I sent it to my mother asking her, "WHAT IS THIS??" But I won't show you that one. Yuck. And because of the thrush, I can't eat french fries or ketchup without feeling like my tongue is on fire. And the milk shakes make me feel sick to even think about them. So I'm pretty much living on ensure and mashed potatoes.
So yesterday, I finally surrendered and called into work. I didn't go yesterday or today and I also didn't go to my part time job. I see visions of money just slipping away... I was hoping not to miss much if any work so hopefully I will feel much better by Tuesday.
I'm not depressed. I know this is all a part of God's plan. Even though I hate it, I've learned so much from it and in the end I am almost sure I wouldn't trade it for wellness. I'm way tougher than I thought I could be. God is good all the time.