Sunday, August 18, 2019

#560 Take a Hike, Cancer




Goofy Grandparents at Twelfth Night

"Surely, two of the most satisfying experiences in life must be those of being a grandchild or a grandparent." -- Donald A. Norberg

As I take a moment in my hectic schedule to write this I am pleased to announce there is no time for thinking, pondering, worrying, etc. etc. etc. about cancer. It will have to take a back seat because I am preparing for a gargantuan distraction that will take my mind off the ongoing heart ache and anxiety this disease tends to create.

What event is so earth shattering that would remove this niggle in my head for a bit?  Grandchildren are a'coming and there are things to do to prepare for this much anticipated visit.  So, cancer can take a hike for a week while I bathe in the luxurious feelings of being Grandma G. to the most adorable children...ever!  (of course others will argue their offspring rate that adjective but we are all entitled to be bragging grandmas--so let me brag).

With meals to be made, toys to be acquired and beds to be assembled we are almost ready for their grand entrance.  It will be a glorious six days and, although I will be exhausted, it will be from hugs and building memories with these munchkins--not the cancer.

At night I am sure my weary head will hit the pillow but happily with not one trace of concern that my body is failing me.  The flurry of activity brought on by a delightful three year old and a lovable four month old will have made me this exhausted--and that's a good thing. I am anticipating my smile will be wide and my heart even wider as I float into a fairy land sleep with only dreams of what our next adventure will be.

Grandchildren don't need a lot of toys. The best thing a grandchild can have is a grandparent who gets down on the floor and plays with them.” -- Unknown

Yes, no time for *&^%$ cancer this week--oops, will clean up my potty mouth for a bit.  Despite the grim news from last week (buggers are growing on my liver) I will revel in a state of Grandma Utopia--if there is a place--and cherish every single moment with them.

Oh, I would be remiss in not mentioning how ecstatic I am about my eldest and his wife accompanying the cherubs and my other two visiting their niece and nephew.  My three children are still the limelight in my eyes but it has been years since they've sat in my lap and cuddled with a good book.  It's the circle of life for me to bestow my love to this next generation just as their grandparents did for them.

Onward and upward to a week filled with lasting memories for all of us.

Thanks for reading #560 of 7777.




Thursday, July 25, 2019

#559 Four Letter Words and All








The BHE recovering in style.

It comes at no surprise my being diagnosed with METS has transformed me into a foul mouthed swearing long shore man type of woman.  At the drop of a hat, the F-bomb spews out of this older (and I hope wiser) woman who should know better by using a preferable choice of words such as;  dognabbit, son of a gun and gosh darn it all.

Well, it seems the cancer has brought slight changes to my vocabulary and an attitude of--I don't give a flying rat's ass what anyone thinks. While in college the language was completely acceptable (at least in my circle of friends), however, my mother would have had the soap ready to wash out my filthy mouth and despair how she had failed to raise a "proper" daughter. (phrases such as: "You eat with that mouth?"  and "Not in this house!" still ring in my ears).

To redeem myself to my departed mother's good graces, I will use another four letter word that would have made her smile and knowingly nod her head in approval. 

The profound four letter word?  HELP.  This mighty word has also given me another companion to use, and that is HOPE.  Let me explain.

If you've kept up with the latest Gooze saga, you know Rob and I have been in a @#$%^ (sorry mom) turmoil of personal trials.  His bum quad is slowly healing and he now can drive, fix meals and even shower by himself.  With his above mentioned activities my level of stress has greatly decreased, however, I will admit the showering, well... it felt almost like the year 1978...but I digress.

My heart issues have been resolved and am now working out again and feeling grand.  Which brings me back to the four letter word--HELP.  Friends and family assistance came roaring in at a category 4 storm level and, before I could even mutter the H word, meals, flowers, good wishes and a delivery plan for the paper and mail were provided.  Their never ending attention was always present and any words of gratitude I could muster do not fully express how much it meant to us. A gigantic thank you will have to suffice.

A multitude of friends helping me plant this spring.
Which leads me to the other word in this combination of four letter wonders--Hope.  My active BHE was sidelined for the first time in his life, two major trips had to be cancelled and the approaching summer had the look of a fun sucker (thanks, Deb, for the word).  As help arrived we could see a bit of hope at the end of this whole saga and would eventually be able get through this muckity muck of disasters.  HOPE was around the corner reminding me of the quote,

"Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end".

This was a signal for me to alter my thoughts of taking Rob out to the back shed--insert a visual of a lame horse--that, indeed, we would eventually persevere. 

Yes, we are both doing much better thanks to the circle of friends and family.  I've learned a few things along the way as far as how to help others--for one, just do it-- text and say a meal is on its way or secretly deliver the paper to our doorstep.  It takes the pressure off the caregiver and taker to even understand what needs to be done and what to ask.  

Help and hope go hand in hand to recover from any malady--big or small.  Thanks family and friends for your caring gifts of love.  One benefit to your kindness is my foul mouth has taken a slight hiatus for now.  My mother would be happy.

One last quick reminder--Mark your calendars to visit the The Oregon Firefly Coffee Shop on August 3rd, 8-4 PM featuring our Art Show benefitting the More For Stage IV fund at the UW Carbone Cancer Center.   


Thanks for reading #559 of 7777.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

#558 One Trium Perfectum (The Rule of Three)


As year number five approaches with this *#$&(@% disease, my plan was to take it on in full force by swimming, walking a 5k to raise money for our More For Stage IV fund at the UW...  and writing a blog on how to live life to its fullest while dealing with MBC.  Yeah!  I'm still here!

The mistake was making a plan.  Ha! What a fool!  Plans have minds of their own and cancer or other life maladies don't wait for the best time to enter our lives.  In a somewhat brief summary I'll fill you in on the trials and tribulations of the Gooze Gang--there are three of us in this situation of mishaps and the phrase from, Things come in Threes,  says it in a more positive way than I think what is currently happening but it seems appropriate nonetheless : "From fairytales to hollywood blockbusters, “the rule of three” (Latin-"omne trium perfectum") principle suggests things that come in threes are inherently more humorous, satisfying and effective than any other number of things. "  

With that said, I'll start at the beginning of this saga when, last January in California, I had heart issues and spent some time with the ER docs and stress tests and everything else they could throw at me.  By the way this isn't even number one yet, but I digress.  The heart was good so my current treatment dosage, which had many side effects, was reduced to see if that would help.  It did...for a short time and then after arriving back in Wisconsin, the old ticker started reminding me that all was not well in the chest area.

Jumping ahead, my favorite onc immediately took me off the treatment and scheduled another cardiologist exam.  My cardio cath was scheduled for Wednesday of last week to possibly put in a stent or some other procedure deemed to cure me once and for all.  This is only the precursor of the list of threes--I think this makes it a -0.

Now for the real "list of threes".

Number 1

The previous Wednesday, my BHE called me from the ER after suffering an injury from a high leaping (according to him)  tennis fall.  It turned out to be a full fledged torn quad tendon catastrophe.  Ugly situation to say the least but after an ortho appointment and an MRI, he was to have surgery to repair his leg on the next Tuesday.  With two months of no driving, six months of recovery with PT and the entire time with a brace that won't let him bend his leg, the BWE (best wife ever--that's me) will be designated as his chauffeur, bather, cook and everything in between.  His status of BHE hasn't really slipped but now the roles have switched me from care receiver to care taker.  A role I am not quite ready to handle.

Number 2

So Tuesday was his big day for tendon repair--an outpatient surgery but painful especially for him (no comments on man pain vs woman pain) and I would be by his side to comfort and care for him until Wednesday. Unfortunately, the day before-- Monday morning--my chest pain became enough of a concern by my good friends and Rob that they carted me in to the ER to have me checked.  To make this saga a tad shorter, I spent the night and had the cath on Tuesday so both of us were in the hospital having procedures done on the same day.  No, we did not get a discount with a two for one stay.

The good news in this adventure is my heart is fine, the lungs didn't have a blood clot but they still don't know what the hell is wrong with me--other than the cancer is still there.  Rob, on the other hand, is slowly discovering the miracle of pain killers and how important they are after surgery.  He will survive this unless... no I really wouldn't hurt the man I love (I must keep reminding myself of our 40 years of marriage bliss and his past five years of being there for me.  So far his five days of my  caregiving compassionate response to his whining  whimpering  difficult recovery just might equal the whole five years of caregiving I received from him...)

Number 3

If you recall I said there were three in this comedy of errors calamity.  Our cat decided either the stress was too much for her or else she was looking for some personal care so proceeded to vomit 8 times in a 12 hour period. After trips to the vet on Friday night and Saturday morning and a nice little vet bill, she appears to be suffering from a curable UTI and is now relaxing watching us recuperate.  However, the carpet is a slight disaster but we've already hit our max at the magical number three so will forgo worrying about it.


We are now struggling our way back to the new normal in our home but thanks to the generous outpouring of love and food from our friends and neighbors, we will endure.  Everyone has stepped up to the plate to make sure we are mending and still speaking to each other every evening.  Phew!  What a ride.  We've paid our dues to the "Comes in three" saying and, hopefully, will look back at this with humor and a satisfied smile. (maybe when hell freezes over I might eventually see a silver lining in this shit storm!).

Stay tuned.  Never a dull moment at the Gooze household.

Thanks for reading #558 of 7777.


Thursday, April 25, 2019

#557 Hate Is A Four Letter Word

Loving life despite it all!

The definition of hate according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary is:

"intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury"

I've given some thought lately to the word, "hate".  What does it mean as it seems to be used by people who, with minimum prompting, will declare they hate the _________ (insert any sports team) or they hate winter (understandably after this year's polar vortex siege) or they hate _______________(insert any food that's applicable).  It is such an intense emotion and experienced by all at some point in their lives. 

There are numerous things I truly hate such as bigotry, mice, violence, war-- I could go on and on but after researching the definition of hate I have compiled my utmost hatred of this disease into Mary's Top Ten Things She Hates About Cancer. 

So here we go.  Preface everything with…

                                                         I absolutely hate

10. The changes both physically and mentally from Before Cancer to After Cancer; both have not been for the better.  
9. The time sucking hours of scans, appointments, lab work, worry etc. etc. etc. and the valuable space it takes up in my brain EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
8. Feeling a new pain--could it be the cancer cells going rogue...again?
7. The fear from the next treatment's possible side effects—will they be worse than the present ones? 
6. Hearing about another death in the MBC community.  Heartbreaking and so unnecessary. 
5. My entire 60's decade will be about cancer and not about thoroughly embracing retirement and doing triathlons.
4. Waiting, waiting, waiting for the scans, for the results, for the other shoe to drop.
3. Cautiously making future plans with the never-ending thought of not being around. 
2. The possibility of not seeing my grandchildren’s upcoming milestones or my children's future achievements. 

and the number one reason why

                                              I absolutely hate cancer...

1. The look in the eyes of my BHE (best husband ever) when he hears the word progression and the thought I may not grow old by his side.  Hate it, hate it, hate it with a capital H.

Actually I'm not having a pity party kind of day, just offering a glimpse of what living with this disease feels like every day.  The abbreviated list of ten has been pared down from a million and two reasons cancer is hated by everyone who deals with it on a daily basis.  It is a rotten villainous life sucking malady that, with help from the brilliant researchers and your generous donations, will be eradicated and no one will ever be sorry it is gone.

To work on that eradication piece, please consider a donation to my One Woman Many Lakes—More For Stage IV fund—at the UW Carbone Cancer Center.

Thanks for reading #557 of 7777+.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

#556 Over the Moon


Hiding the chubby bod behind the Best Husband Ever.

Alert--random babbling on my part.

First of all, the best medicine...ever... is spending time with an adorable two and half year old.  Seeing life from her vantage point for three days when we watched her while momma and daddy were off at a conference was priceless.  All the health issues preceding our visit vanished as I sat and performed puppet shows and colored masterpieces with crayons.  Maybe I could have my oncologist write a prescription--frequent visits with granddaughter will enable healthy cells to combat cancer.  Hmmm.  Not sure but it's worth a try.

On another note, it's been a wild few weeks as I have begun a new treatment due to progression. The never ending saga of MBC continues.  My shortness of breath issues are slowly getting under control while the energy level hasn't moved from the basement level.  A little nap in the afternoon helps and certainly makes me more pleasant to be around (according to Rob).

A couple of nights ago we did an evening hike--due to shortness of breath I aborted the mission of the mile climb and stopped a quarter of the way up.  The super moon gently rose over the hills as we watched from the elevated angle slightly above the homes.  It was magnificent and quite humbling as it slowly ascended in the cloudless sky.  I was in awe but in the back of my mind was the question, "Will this be my one and only super moon sighting...ever?"

Ten more years would be the next one I thought--well, you can imagine what someone with terminal cancer ruminates on long range plans--so I wanted to be sure I was present for this phenomenon.  Thanks to our all knowing google machine, I found this site that explains the entire background of the super moon feature.  https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/moon/super-full-moon.html.  Next year I will be out there watching it again.  Yes, I'm sure of it.  March 2020 is definitely doable--do you hear that, cancer cells?

Moving along on my babbling-- BHE Rob has begun brainstorming for next year's fundraising gigs.  Our last campaign was quite successful and will fund several promising grants for our researchers--more to come on the details of those possible life savers. I plan on swimming and shouting out about more resources but we could use your help.  If you have any bright ideas on a highly successful fundraising campaign, let us know or just go directly and donate to the One Woman Many Lakes-More For Stage IV fund at UW Carbone Cancer Center.  More money in the till means more time for us with MBC.

One last rant to get off my chest.  Besides the loss of hair and looking like a chicken with a bad hairdo--I have found this new drug loves to add the pounds to the body.  Really?  I have to not only have crappy hair but now look like a Pillsbury dough girl with the emphasis on dough?  Ugh!  But as someone pointed out to me--"You are alive!" Yes I am and I'm grateful to be here but let me whine once more and then I will let the whole--Yikes!  I look like s&*t thing go and be cognitively aware I am still on the right side of the grass.

Enough for now.  Hug your loved ones a little closer tonight--just because.

Thanks for reading #556 of 7777.


Saturday, January 5, 2019

#555 An Anniversary of Sorts


My BHE keeps me sane.

                            "Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans."
                                                                      John Lennon

January 6th, 2012 (seven years if you do the math) I received the call that upended our world and spun us out of control. As with any traumatic event this one is so solidly embedded in my mind that it seems like it was only yesterday.  On the other hand, seven years is a long time to remember what life was like before that phone call. When the crying and disbelief subsided I thought how was I going to wrap my head around this, would I recover, and what about the lasting side effects?  I needed a plan because prior to hearing those dreadful words my biggest fear turning sixty were the wrinkles creeping around my eyes. Little did I realize what was in store for me on that cold January day.

After that fateful call I started the intense cancer regimen with surgery to remove the tumor, followed by energy sucking chemotherapy—and then to finish me off—six weeks of radiation blasts.  Finally I thought, after nine discombobulated months, life could return to normal and cancer would soon be a distant nightmare. 

Ha!  Normal and a distant nightmare? Dream on.  Plans do not always unfold as we would hope or envision them to do. If you've followed this blog you know recurrence with a terminal metastatic breast cancer diagnosis occurred a mere twenty months after the last radiation visit and now seven years into living with breast cancer I will share the lessons I have learned.

The physical part of ingesting strong anti cancer drugs and hormone treatments to control the estrogen is wearing and quite telling.  I would like to say I have aged gracefully but know I was shoved into this weathered appearance at a higher rate of speed than your average sixty-plus year old woman.  Okay, my hair has thinned and those wrinkles I was so worried about are tenfold but I am alive and still kicking thus should I really be complaining? Vanity has no purpose in this unchartered life.  Get over it I keep reminding myself.  Lesson one.

As much as I try to put a smiling face on to the world, some days the mental part can be the most difficult and turning up the corners of my mouth seems too much of an effort.  I struggle with the thought of my own mortality.  Yes, I could be hit by a bus tomorrow or, like my friend Heather often would lament, be eaten by a bear; but in reality, cancer has put a big bullseye smack on my life expectancy and it can be daunting to face that day after day.  Again, I follow the sage advice from Heather— every day matters—even the crappy ones.  Lesson two.

Some people in my situation see this whole experience as a gift--more empathy, more awareness to their surroundings, more appreciation for life, etc. etc. etc.  Bunk to that, I say.  This is not a gift.  I've learned things about myself and others I may have never known but to say it is a gift is like saying having one leg amputated would save me a ton of money when buying a pair of shoes.  No thank you. Lesson three.

But the gift that keeps giving are the supportive family and friends who have my back every single time.  One phone call needing assistance and they swarm in like an army of bees ready to do whatever is needed.  They are the living and breathing 911's of my life now.  Seriously, one phone call and they come running to help sans the lights flashing or sirens but with the same intensity of professional EMT’s. Humbled—lesson four.

Not really a lesson but one of my biggest verbal pet peeves—saying this is my “cancer journey".  I have journeyed to exotic places around the world and have a hell of a better time than this.  Skip that moniker and let's call it what it is...

       A really really &*%^#$ (fill in with your best swear word) disease.

Cells mutate, go rogue and become vile while taking up residence in places that should be left to their healthy comrades. Most of the time it is a random act attacking women and men who have been careful about their diets and included exercise as a regular life style. Or sometimes not.  What I have learned in these seven years with this giant load on my back is there is no rhyme or reason who will get that devastating phone call or the call to celebrate good news. Lesson five.

So I continue living day by day, learning as I go along and adjusting to this way of life that gives me a perspective a tad different from those of you with healthy cells.  Seven years since THAT phone call. As I reflect on this anniversary of sorts I intend to discover even more life lessons as well as hanging around for at least the equivalent of seven more dog years (remember 7x7 the formula for dogs).  

With this bit of knowledge bestowed upon you from one who sometimes thinks she knows the secret of living, please consider a donation to give those of us with MBC more anniversaries to celebrate.  Go to our One Woman Many Lakes MBC fund at UW Carbone Cancer Center--the More For Stage IV .  Thank you.

Thanks for reading #555 of 7777.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

#554 My Holiday Wish

Thanksgiving is fast approaching so will share my Holiday wish letter to our past supporters.
Happy Turkey Day to all!

Thanks for reading #554 of 7777.